B-18 Bolo Walk Around – Wheel Wells

Photographed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.

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Eduard MiG-15 Royal Class Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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After the major assembly is complete comes the chore of sanding.  This is always a low point for me but it is unavoidable.  Overall the fit of these kits is good, but mine needed some work to eliminate the seams around the intake rings and the panel under the nose.  Nothing which can’t be cured with a little elbow grease.  There were minor gaps at the wing roots on a couple of the MiGs which were addressed with Perfect Plastic Putty.
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My go-to primer is Mr. Surfacer 1000.  I checked all the seams and sanded and primed again to correct any errors.  The Mr. Surfacer is a good idea in general, but it is vital for a natural metal finish as it prevents flow lines in the plastic from showing through.  If a super shiny finish is the goal this is where you should start buffing, the smoother the surface the more reflective the final finish.
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I will be using Alclad for the NMF on this one, so the model received a coat of the Alclad black primer.  The NMF is unforgiving, so any errors must be corrected at the priming stages or they will show through the finish.
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Here it is under a coat of Alclad Dark Aluminum.  The Alclad dries quickly and results in a very hard and durable finish.  Still it is wise to keep handling the surface to a minimum so the model is moved and stored using the wire in the tailpipe.
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The nose of this particular aircraft was painted red with a cutout for the side numbers.  I measured the decal for the numbers with dividers and then transferred that measurement to masking tape which was applied to the appropriate areas on each side of the nose.  Then I masked off the rear border of the color and enclosed the model in a plastic shopping bag.  I find red is a very persistent color, it always manages to find a way onto unwanted areas unless you take precautions.

Academy B-17C/D in the Hawaiian Air Depot Scheme in 1/72 Scale

In the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack much of the American airpower in the Pacific lay wrecked, caught on the ground by the Japanese assault.  Planes lined up in neat rows alongside airfields proved easy targets for bombers and strafing fighters.  Even worse, there were multiple instances of gunners on the ground firing on any aircraft within range regardless if it was American or Japanese.  To address these problems commanders ordered that aircraft were to be disbursed and camouflaged while on the ground, and additional national markings applied to aid recognition in the air.  The Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) was tasked with making these changes.

The Hawaiian Air Depot scheme consisted of applying broad patches of colors from paint stocks on hand to break up the aircraft’s outline.  Application appears to have been limited to medium and heavy bombers.  The exact colors were not documented nor were lists kept of which aircraft were repainted.  Fortunately there is surviving color film of four aircraft in HAD schemes, one B-18, one B-17C/D, and two B-17Es.  The Dark Olive Drab 41 upper surfaces were broken up with Sand 26, Neutral Gray 43, Rust Brown 34, and Interior Green areas.  There was no set pattern and  not all colors may have been used on every aircraft.    Photographs of B-18s and B-17C/Ds show no uniformity, but the B-17Es follow a general concept with variation in the color boundaries.  In some photographs this color pattern “fingerprint” can permit the individual aircraft to be determined.  Data blocks were masked off before the new camouflage was applied which allows the original Olive Drab background to show through. The undersides were not repainted

National markings were augmented by applying additional insignia to the starboard upper and port lower wing surfaces bringing the total to six.  Thirteen alternating red and white rudder stripes were also added, but without the vertical blue stripe of the pre-war marking convention.  The “U.S. ARMY” lettering remained on the underside of the wings as can be seen in several photographs.  Individual aircraft serial numbers were applied to the vertical stabilizers in Orange Yellow, but the size and shapes of the numerals varied so modelers must pay careful attention.  There are several photographs of HAD scheme aircraft without serial numbers, so in at least some cases these were applied later.

The application of the HAD scheme was short lived.  The order was issued on 10DEC41, but when the 22nd Bomb Group B-26 Marauders arrived in Hawaii in February 1942 they received only tail stripes.  Three B-17Es also received tail stripes but no disruptive camouflage.  However, tail stripes and red centers to the national insignia were being painted out by some units as early as April to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru, and this was formalized by ALNAV 97 on 06MAY42.

This is the Academy B-17C/D kit, painted in the camouflage and markings visible in the color film taken of aircraft landing at Hickam Field in the weeks after the Pearl Harbor Raid.  The tail is not clearly shown in the film, so I have taken the liberty of assuming this is one of the Fortresses which had not had her serial numbers applied yet.

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American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Color Photographs Part 2

P-40 Tomahawk #49 flown by Tom Hayward of the AVG Third Pursuit
Curtiss Hawk P-8133 #49 flown by Tommy Haywood.  This aircraft was originally assigned to Frank Swartz.
R.T. Smith next to Chuck Older’s P-40 Tomahawk #68 - May 23, 1
Robert Smith posing in front of Charles Older’s #68, P-8109 at Kunming, 23MAY42.  Older’s aircraft displays ten victory flags.  In addition to pay and expenses, the Chinese government paid a $500 bounty for each Japanese aircraft destroyed.  Modelers note the refueling stains on the fuselage and the paint worn off the back sides of the propeller blades.
AVG Third Squadron P-40 Tomahawks parked at Kunming - May 1942.
Several Hell’s Angels Hawk 81s at Kunming, May 1942, displaying the Third Group’s red stripe.
R.T. Smith in the cockpit of P-40 Tomahawk #40 in Kunming, China
Smith again, this time in the cockpit of #40 at Kunming, 23MAY42.
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A group of AVG pilots pose for the camera.  Erik Shilling is on the nose, William Bartling is next, with Frank Adkins is in the cockpit.  Charles Bond and Robert Little are standing on the ground, Joe Rosbert and George Paxton are on the wing.  The photograph was taken at Kunming on 11APR42 by LIFE photographer Clare B. Luce.  Luce was elected to Congress later that year.
Refueling stop at Yunnan-yi, China - May 28, 1942
A group of “Hell’s Angels” pose for the camera in front of Charles Older’s #68 at Yunnan-yi on 28MAY42.  They are (sitting) Robert Smith, Ken Jernstedt, Bob Prescot, Link Laughlin, and Bill Reed.  Standing are Erik Shilling and Arvid Olsen.
R.T. Smith and Chuck Older at the Chinese Air Force Academy at Y
Older and Smith after an awards ceremony on 06JUN42 at Yunnan-yi .  They are wearing their new Chinese Fifth Order of the Cloud and Banner and Star-Wing Medals.  Note the Flying Tiger pin on their left breasts and Chinese Officer’s caps.
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A “blood chit” which identified the AVG pilots as friends to the Chinese in the event that the pilot was shot down.  These were sewn onto the backs of flight suits and jackets.  The inscription reads, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him.”
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James Howard went on from the AVG to command the 354th Fighter Group in Europe.  On 11JAN44 he single-handedly defended a group of B-17s from attacks by more than thirty Luftwaffe fighters for more than a half hour, breaking up their attacks and destroying four in the process.  For his actions that day he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, telling the press, “I seen my duty and I done it.”  Here he is posing with his P-51B serial 43-6315 “Ding Hao!” (American slang for the Chinese phrase for “very good”), displaying his six Japanese kills from his AVG days above six fresh Luftwaffe victories.
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The American Volunteer Group flew operationally from 20DEC41 through 04JUL42.  During that time they claimed 297 Japanese aircraft destroyed, losing 14 pilots in combat.  21 AVG pilots made ace, claiming 5 or more victories.  Top scorer was Robert Neale, credited with 15.55 victories.

Revell of Germany Panther in 1/72 Scale

Revell’s Panther is a very nice kit, and gives you the option to finish it as an Ausf. D or an A.  Link and length tracks again, but here the kit design allows you to leave the running gear off for easier painting.  I added the various handles with wire, and blanked off the see-through openings on the engine deck with a casting of the inner engine component detail from a Dragon King Tiger.

 

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Oba, the Last Samurai: Saipan 1944-45 Book Review

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Oba, the Last Samurai: Saipan 1944-45

By Don Jones

Hardcover in dustjacket, 241 pages

Published by Presidio Press June 1986

Language: English

ISBN-10: 089141245X

ISBN-13: 978-0891412458

Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9 inches

Sakae Oba was a 29 year old Captain in the Imperial Japanese Army.  He was a combat veteran who had served in Japan’s campaigns in Manchuria and China, where the Japanese army had known only victory.  In February of 1944 Oba and his regiment were transferred from Manchuria and boarded a transport ship, bound to reinforce the Japanese garrison defending the island of Saipan in the Marianas.

War in the Pacific was vastly different than the war in China.  Oba’s transport, the Sakuhato Maru, was torpedoed and sunk by the USS Bluefin on 29FEB44.  (Note: The book is mistaken about the identities of the ships involved.  Oba’s transport was actually the Sakito Maru, sunk by two torpedoes from the USS Trout (SS-202).  Trout was in turn depth charged and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Asashimo.)  After a day in the water Oba was rescued by a destroyer, still in possession of his sword and sidearm but little else.  While slightly less than half of the troops aboard survived the sinking, they arrived on Saipan without equipment or supplies.

Oba’s part in the defense of Saipan was command of an ad hoc unit primarily operating as a field hospital.  When the Americans landed on 15JUN44 the unit took to the hills.  As the situation for the Japanese deteriorated, Oba and his command grew more and more frustrated with the Americans’ use of supporting arms – naval gunfire, aircraft, and artillery fire had caused the Japanese significant casualties long before they even saw their first U.S. Marine.  On 07JUL44 the Japanese launched the largest Banzai charge of the Pacific War, losing over 4,000 men.  Two days later the island was officially secured.

Oba’s war was just beginning.  Convinced the Imperial Navy would arrive to push the invaders back into the sea, Oba organized a group of Japanese soldiers, sailors, and civilians and hid out in the island’s rocky interior.  He fought a guerrilla war against the Americans, conducting ambushes and stealthy infiltration of U.S. camps to secure food and medical supplies.

The book ends with Captain Oba marching his men out of the hills to surrender to the American Marines on 01DEC45, three months after the war had official ended and more than a year after Saipan was declared secure.  I would have liked to have seen one more chapter covering their return to Japan and their efforts to rebuild their country and their lives.  How did they get back and what did they find when they got there?  Very little is written about the demobilization of the militaries after the war but it must have been a particularly surreal experience for the Japanese.

I was inspired to re-read this book after reading several posts about the end of the Pacific War and occupation of Japan on G.P. Cox’s Pacific Paratrooper blog.  A very interesting account of the war from a Japanese perspective, and a unique perspective at that.  Recommended reading for anyone interested in the Pacific War.