North American P-51C / F-6C Mustangs of the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Color Photographs

The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group operating in China. They were equipped with the North American P-51C Mustang as well as the F-6C, a reconnaissance version fitted with cameras. The F-6C carried the full armament of the standard P-51B/C, four .50 caliber machine guns and bomb racks. This is 43-25185, wearing the 118th’s distinctive lightning bolt markings.
Another photo of 43-25185 from a slightly different angle. Note the dirt on the 500-pound bombs beneath the wings. On 20JAN45 Lt. Glenn Geyer was shot down by flak in this aircraft while attacking a Japanese airfield. With the help of the Chinese, he was able to evade capture for three months until he could return to his unit.
A shot of 118th aircraft at Laohwangping. The unit painted on the lightning bolt markings in October 1944, and soon added the yellow borders to make them more prominent. Note the variation in the propeller spinners. Two of the aircraft wear the overall dark green camouflage commonly seen on Chinese Air Force aircraft.
A close-up of the nose of an overall dark green Mustang. Note that the gear legs and inside of the gear doors also appear to be painted, the wheel wells likely are as well. The pilot posing in this photograph has been identified as Lt. LeRoy Price.
Another view of the same aircraft seen in the previous photo, this time with Lt. Fred Poats. While there is a tendency when looking at photographs to associate the pilot with the aircraft, sometimes the pilots took turns posing with their friends, passing the camera around.
Lt. Poat’s assigned aircraft was named “Lady Marion”, seen here being guarded by a Chinese soldier. She was a P-51C-10-NT, serial number 44-11102.
Another view of “Lady Marion”. Note the absence of the yellow trim on the lightning bolt markings. Just aft of the lettering can be seen the outline where a pin-up had been laminated to the fuselage but has been blown off. A new “Lady Marion” has replaced her on the port landing gear cover.
Another Chinese infantryman providing security for a 118th TRS Mustang. This aircraft also lacks the yellow trim to the fuselage markings, but sports a yellow-black-yellow spinner.
A Chinese civilian crosses the airfield with an oxcart. The Chinese personnel seen in these photos would make an interesting and unusual figure set for modelers.
A 118th TRS Mustang comes in for a landing, carrying two 75 gallon drop tanks finished in Neutral Gray. The Mustangs in China were equipped with the HF/DF loops on the spines, and did not have access to the Malcolm hoods commonly seen on Mustangs based in England.

Eduard Grumman F6F Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook in 1/72 Scale

LT Richard Stambook flew various types of carrier aircraft during the war, transitioning from the SBD Dauntless to the F4F Wildcat, and eventually flying the F6F Hellcat with VF-27.  His best day was during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19JUN44 when he was credited with four – three A6M Zeros and a single D4Y Judy.  He scored his final victory, a Ki-45 Toryu “Nick” on 18OCT44. One week later the USS Princeton (CVL-27) was struck by a single bomb dropped by another D4Y Judy, the subsequent fires eventually leading to her loss.  Stambock survived the sinking and the war, an ace with eleven victories.

This model represents the F6F-3 Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook, VF-27, USS Princeton (CVL-23), October 1944.

Unsinkable Audio Book Review

Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the USS Plunkett

Authored by James Sullivan, Narrated by Jacques Roy

Audiobook, 10 hours and 9 minutes

Published by Simon and Shuster Audio

Language: English

ASIN: B08BPJJ6QJ

USS Plunkett (DD-431) was a Gleaves-class destroyer which was commissioned five months before the Pearl Harbor attack brought America into the Second World War.  Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she participated in the Torch landings in North Africa, the Invasion of Sicily, and the Anzio landings.  Off Anzio she came under sustained attacks from German aircraft, and was eventually hit by a 550-pound bomb which killed 51 of her crew.  After repairs Stateside, she rejoined the Fleet in time for the Normandy landings, the shelling of Cherbourg, and the invasion of Southern France.  She was on her way to the Pacific when the war ended.

This book tells the story of Plunkett from the perspectives of five members of her crew.  There are basically three threads to each story – the home front before and during the war which gives the men’s civilian backgrounds as well as those of their families; the wartime experiences and shipboard operations; and finally the author’s visits with the men and their families many years later to gather information for the book.  I found all three perspectives interesting for different reasons, but jumping between the five men and three timelines strained the continuity of the story.

The book is at its strongest when describing the wartime exploits of the Plunkett.  Her story is one version of the naval war in the European theater.  I have read that she may have been the only Allied ship to have participated in all the major landings in Europe.  Destroyers were the workhorses of the Navy, and she certainly was in the thick of things.  There is a definite bifurcation in the book, events before the bomb hit off Anzio are covered in great detail, later landings are given only a cursory treatment to close out the story.  I would definitely like to hear the fine points of her participation in the D-Day landings, Cherbourg, and Southern France, but they are missing.

Still this is an interesting tale of ships and the sea, and there is much which will be familiar to Navy veterans.  Recommended for anyone interest in naval history.

Women Warriors 168

Ukraine
Serbia
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USAF CAPT Zoe Kotnik with F-16
Spanish F/A-18 Pilot
Soviet Sniper Rosa Shanina
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Russia
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Ukraine
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Lithuanian Iron Wolf Mechanized Brigade
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Royal Navy Engineering Officer
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IDF
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Norway
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First ATA pilots with Tiger Moth
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US Navy
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USMC Sea Cobra Pilot
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WRENs moving submarine torpedo at Portsmouth, 29SEP43
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USAF F-16 pilot Major Wendy Hendrick
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ATA pilots with Hurricane
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Arma Hobby North American P-51 B/C Mustang Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

Painting has begun! Many of the Mustangs in this batch will be in an overall Natural Metal Finish (NMF) or a variant. This is a misnomer in the case of the Mustang, as the wings were painted in an Aluminum lacquer to help preserve laminar flow over the wings after the panel lines had been puttied. I didn’t fill the panel lines, but the Aluminum lacquer was simulated by adding a bit of Alclad white primer to their aluminum. The fuselage, tail surfaces, ailerons, and flaps were Aluminum. The panels behind the exhausts were sprayed with Stainless Steel, cut with a few drops of Aluminum.
This is why I hate vinyl masks. The vinyl doesn’t like curved surfaces, here they have pulled up allowing the Interior Green paint underneath. Fortunately the kits provide both this type of canopy and the Malcolm hood, so there were spares to replace the worst of these. I used the vinyl masks as templates to lay out masking tape replacements, cleaned up the parts, and tried again. Hopefully Arma replaces these masks with Kabuki tape in future releases.
Loads of masking tape was used on these builds. First the camo, then the stripes, then antiglare panels and/or unit markings. Most of the models wound up getting three applications of tape before all the colors were on.
One aircraft wore a field-applied scheme using RAF Dark Green over Medium Sea Gray. The Dark Green is a mix of Mr. Color 340 Field Green and 123 RLM Dark Green, the Medium Sea Gray is 306. Something a little different from the rest of the herd!
The standard USAAF finish for the first few years of the war was Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. Sounds simple, but Olive Drab faded to a wide range of shades, and didn’t start out as a uniform color anyway. I filled the airbrush cup with mixes as I went down the line. In extreme cases the O.D. could fade to a shade close to the tan I used here but I didn’t go past a 50/50 mix.
Only rarely should something be truly black in scale, most black paint looks better if it’s lightened a little. The black on this model is a mix of Mr. Color Black and Tire Black. The base color here is Alclad Aluminum, with a lightened mix on the wings to simulate the Aluminum Lacquer. Stainless Steel was used for the exhaust panels, and the Bright Silver Candy Base was applied to the leading edges of the flaps.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/04/15/arma-hobby-north-american-p-51-b-c-mustang-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

Tamiya Vought F4U Corsair of 1LT Kenneth Walsh in 1/72 Scale

Kenneth Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1933 at the age of 17.  He was trained as a Naval Aviator in 1937, earning his pilot’s wings while still a private.  By February 1943 Walsh was a 1LT, serving with VMF-124 on Guadalcanal.  He opened his account on 01APR43 with a triple, scoring another three on 13MAY43 which made him the first pilot to make ace on the Corsair.  He continued to add to his score, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for 20 victories.  He returned to combat in 1945, serving in the Philippines and scoring his last victory off Okinawa on 22JUN45.  Walsh flew transports with VMR-152 during the Korean War, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1958.

The model represents the F4U-1 Corsair of Lt. Kenneth Walsh USMC, VMF-124, as it appeared while operating from Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 1943. 

Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Glider Colour Photographs

The Airspeed Horsa was a British glider used during the Second World War. Inspired by German airborne and glider operations during the opening phases of the war, British and American forces hurriedly established their own airborne formations and developed gliders to support them. The Horsa made its first flight on 12SEP41, ten months after the initial specification was issued. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The design featured all-wooden construction. Production had minimal impact on other projects as the sub-assemblies were constructed in furniture manufacturing plants. The design carried a flight crew of two in a glazed cockpit. In an unusual change, a specification was issued to modify the design for use as a bomber.  This was known as the AS.52, and could carry up to four tons (3,600 kg) of bombs.  200 were ordered, but the bomber program was cancelled before any were produced. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Horsa could carry thirty troops or cargo up to a jeep and 6-pound anti-tank gun. To facilitate unloading there was a door aft of the cockpit on the port side. In addition the entire tail section could be detached using eight quick-release bolts, the control wires for the tail surfaces being cut with wire cutters.
The concept originally envisioned using the gliders to enhance the number of paratroopers carried by the towing aircraft – the paras would jump from the Horsas in flight and the glider would be towed back to base. This plan was soon shelved as the advantages of having the glider land at the objective became apparent.
The USAAF acquired 400 Horsas in a reverse Lend-Lease agreement, which were used during the Normandy landings. Compared to the 30 troopers carried by the Horsa, the American WACO glider could only carry 13.
Here a Horsa is being inspected by King George VI and Princess Elizabeth at Netheravon on 19MAY44. Note the aft fuselage has been detached for display. (Imperial War Museum)
Taken at a training unit at Brize Norton in June 1943, this glider displays black and yellow diagonal stripes on its underside. These were applied to indicate the aircraft was towing or being towed, an implied warning to other aircraft to be aware of the possibility of cables between or behind the aircraft. (Imperial War Museum)
With the end of the Second World War the glider forces were disbanded and the Horsas were either scrapped or sold as surplus. Enterprising civilians converted some into travel trailers or small cottages. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Hasegawa Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless of LT Dick Best in 1/72 Scale

This aircraft is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942.  The crew was LT Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray.  This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best scored the only hit which led to her eventual loss.  Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

This is the Hasegawa SBD-3 kit, dive flaps were replaced with Quickboost resin, there’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps.  The cockpit was also replaced with resin, canopy sections are from Falcon.  The bomb is from True Details.  The small window forward of the bomb is molded closed, it was opened up and given glass with Micro Krystal Klear.  The landing light is a small section punched from the inside of a candy bar wrapper, these are very reflective.  Decals are from Starfighter’s Midway sheet and performed quite well, as expected. The spinner is True Blue.  This a throwback to the Yellow Wing days, when Enterprise’s air group tail color was Blue.  Enterprise’s call sign was “Blue Base”.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates Audio Book Review

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History

Authored by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, Narrated by Brian Kilmeade

Audiobook, 4 hours and 52 minutes

Published by Penguin Audio, November 2015

Language: English

ISBN:  9780698411890

Muslim slave traders had long raided coastal areas along the Mediterranean, going as far back as 710.  Settlements were looted, and captives could be sold into slavery or ransomed for profit.  The Ottoman slave trade increased as shipbuilding skills improved, with the raiders venturing as far as Ireland.  Between 1580 and 1780 an estimated 1.25 Million Europeans had been taken by slavers, and many parts of the northern Mediterranean coast were abandoned.  By the end of the 18th century the most active raiders were from the states of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco along the Barbary Coast.  Their tactics had evolved to privateering, seizing shipping and ransoming the ships and crews.  Those sailors who were not ransomed were enslaved.  Many European nations found it easier to pay tribute to the pirate states in exchange for safe passage than to oppose them militarily.

Before the American Revolution, American shipping was protected by Great Britain, and during the Revolution by French allies.  After independence from Britain the American were on their own, and paid tribute for safe passage like many European nations.  Still there were seizures, with American sailors enslaved or ransomed.  The Barbary leaders demanded ever-increasing tributes.  Jefferson had had enough, and responded that, “they shall have their payment in iron!”  Congress authorized the construction of warships, which were dispatched in several expeditions to blockade the Barbary ports.

This book details the diplomatic as well as military maneuvers of what were to become known as the Barbary Wars.  There were several interrelated efforts between 1801 and 1804, some better conducted than others, with a much more decisively resolved crisis in 1815.  As a result of standing up against the Barbary pirates, the new American nation gained in prestige with many historical firsts for the USN and USMC.  The audiobook suffers a bit from Kilmeade’s awkward cadence and odd pronunciation of “Gilbralta”.  This story is often overlooked, but was a vital precedent in American history which set the tone for the country going forward.  Recommended.