Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 of Oberleutnant Günther Rall in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 of Oberleutnant Günther Rall of 8. / JG52, Russia, SEP42.  Fine Molds kit.

Günther Rall flew this aircraft upon returning to 8. / JG52 after recovering from a broken back sustained when he was shot down on 28NOV41 after his 36th victory.  By the end of the month he had brought his score to 90.  The aircraft shows signs of overpainting on the fuselage sides.  Rall was superstitious about the number thirteen and preferred that number on his assigned aircraft.

Rall was promoted to Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 52 in July 1943 and in September was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.  In April 1944 he was transferred to the Western Front and command of II./JG 11.  Like so many Experten transferred from the Eastern Front, he found combat against the Americans and British to be a much different thing than fighting the Russians.  On 12MAY44 Major Rall found himself facing the P-47 Thunderbolts of Colonel Hubert Zemke and his “Wolfpack”.  Unable to evade or outrun the powerful Thunderbolts, Rall bailed out of his damaged Messerschmitt with a severed thumb.  He survived the war as the third-highest scoring fighter pilot with 275 victories.  Post-war he served in the German Bundesluftwaffe, retiring with the rank of the rank of Generalleutnant.

Günther Rall passed away on 04OCT09 at the age of 91.










Don Gentile’s North American P-51B Mustang “Shangri-La” Color Photographs

P-51 B/C Mustang kits in 1/72 scale all have had some nagging inaccuracies, usually in the cowling and / or leading edge of the wings. Modelers have long awaited an accurate kit, and now Arma from Poland has announced a new tool offering. Given their previous releases and the CAD renders, hopes are high that their kit will fill the void. In anticipation, I have begun researching the high-backed Mustangs. One of the more interesting and better documented subjects is Don Gentile’s “Shangri-La”.
Major Dominic “Don” Salvatore Gentile was one of the leading American aces in the European Theater. Ground kills were credited to a pilot’s totals in the ETO.  Including those some sources credit Gentile with thirty victories. Here Gentile poses for the press in his cockpit, Shangri-La displays twenty-one victory symbols.
Crew chief John Ferra helps Gentile with his seat harness straps. Several details are visible in this photograph. Gentile’s P-51B was serial number 43-6913, coded VF-T. Gentile volunteered for the RCAF and flew Spitfires the RAF’s Eagle Squadron, scoring his first two victories during Operation Jubilee.
Photographs from the starboard side are comparatively rare, the press preferring to include the artwork and scoreboard painted on the port side. Note the white recognition stripe on the wing, and the unpainted edge of the flap. The flaps and inner wheelwell doors on the P-51 were held in position with hydraulic pressure. When the engine was off the hydraulic pump was off and the pressure in the system dropped, causing the flaps and wheel covers to droop when the aircraft was parked.
Gentile poses by the nose. The ragged edge of the red paint on the spinner presents a quandary for modelers – an accurate depiction can be mistaken for sloppy modeling. Fortunately there is a way to avoid the issue in this case as the spinner was later painted entirely red as can be seen in the first photograph.
Gentile with his wingman John Godfrey. An ace in his own right, Godfrey named his Mustang “Reggie’s Reply” and was credited with 16.33 victories.
Another view from the same series of photographs, this one showing the identification stripe on the wheel cover and the red wheel hub.
Gentile_08_P-51 B Don Gentile
A beautiful color profile of 43-6913 by aviation artist Claes Sundin. If you are not familiar with Sundin’s work, you may view samples and order his books here:
The Press were very interested in Gentile’s accomplishments, and he played up the swashbuckling fighter pilot image. Returning to Debden from the last scheduled mission of his combat tour on 13APR44 the Press were waiting and Gentile put on a show, making several low passes for the photographers gathered below.
Gentile miscalculated his height and his propeller struck the ground. Shangri-La was destroyed, but Gentile walked away. 4th Fighter Group CO Colonel Don Blakeslee grounded Gentile on the spot.
Back in the U.S. the public affairs types were not yet finished with Gentile. He received a new “Shangri-La”, this time a P-51D, and went on a War Bonds tour. This aircraft displayed a wrap-around checkerboard on the nose and thirty victories.
Gentile in his dress uniform poses with his P-51D. Gentile survived the war but was killed in January 1951 while flying a T-33 Shooting Star trainer.

Tamiya Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 of Oberleutnant Klaus Faber in 1/72 Scale

Red 13 was piloted by Oberleutnant Klaus Faber from the airfield protection flight of JV 44, based at München-Rein in April of 1945.  Faber considered 13 to be his lucky number, he survived the war with two victories.  Red 13 got the Aeries engine & armament detail set, along with a whole lot of extra wiring.  This aircraft had partial striping on the underside, the stripes did not run the length of the fuselage.  The JaPo Fw 190D reference also shows partial striping on Red 4, Crandall shows it complete.  The fuselage inscription reads, “ ‘Rein MuB er’ und wenn wir beide Weinen!” Which means “In he goes even though both of us will cry!”

Tamiya Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 kit with Aeries resin engine, scratch wheel bays, and EagleCals decals.















Surgeon on Iwo Book Review


Surgeon on Iwo

By James S. Vedder

Hardcover in dustjacket, 211 pages, photographs, and index

Published by Presidio, Book Club edition

Language: English

Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches

Dr. James S. Vedder was the ranking medical officer assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment.  On 19 February 1945 the 963 men of the Battalion assaulted the island of Iwo Jima and were in continuous combat for over a month.  Over 700 of the men of the 3rd Battalion became casualties, those who were not killed outright passed through Dr. Vedder’s aid station.

Vedder was in charge of the Battalion’s Navy Corpsmen whether assigned to the aid station or the Marine platoons as well as the other Doctors and Marine litter bearers.  He was effectively the chief medical officer and senior administrator for an outdoor emergency hospital which moved, often under enemy fire, and saw a continuous flow of trauma patients.  Problems of personnel, supply, transportation, and casualties among his own men were his to resolve.

This is a day-by-day first-person account of the battle for Iwo Jima from the medical viewpoint.  It is not for the faint of heart.  The clean single bullet wound where the hero clutches his chest and says, “They got me!” is Hollywood trope.  Combat wounds are often severe and traumatic, Vedder describes in detail the process of stabilizing the casualties and evacuating them from the front lines to the hospital ships offshore.

The backdrop for this is two armies fighting over a small volcanic island and all the hardships which that entails.  There are several books written about the amphibious battles of the Pacific War but few from this perspective.  This is a fascinating read, recommended.


Hasegawa Heinkel He 111 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the Hasegawa He-111H-6 kit which was first issued in 2004. This will be my third time building this kit (fourth if you count the He-111Z as two) so this time I’ll be modifying it to H-20 standard, a rather simple conversion.

The kit has been criticized in some circles for having over-emphasized panel lines. There is some justification to this, although there are many examples of kits with panel lines which are worse. They are not far enough out of scale to bother me so I plan on leaving them as they are.

The detail sprues contain a few options. Hasegawa has provided three different types of exhausts which I believe covers all the major options. There are bomb bay doors or alternatively two different types of external racks which could be mounted in their place.

I also have on hand some Eduard PE frets. These were intended for the He-111Z Zwilling boxing, but I got them at a discount several years ago so there is enough to outfit two standard He 111s. I’ll be using the parts which are useful, but PE can be a pain to work with and many parts do not offer a significant advantage over kit parts so I’ll only use some. PE can be helpful as it gives you a choice but I don’t feel every part should be used every time.

Here is one application where the PE has some advantage. The kit wheelwells are a little on the shallow side and have some really inconvenient ejector pin marks. The top of the well is removed with a Dremel tool which deepens the part and then the interior is replaced with PE parts.

Not much of the interior is visible on this kit. The front cockpit greenhouse is the exception, and well worth the effort to add some extra detail. The clear parts have minimal distortion, also there is a sliding hatch over the pilot’s position so much of the interior in this compartment can be seen.

Here is the cockpit with several selected PE parts to enhance the detail. The most easily visible additions are the seat belts and the yellow wiring for the instruments.

Throttle levers are 1/700 ship railing, this allows for several levers to be installed at once and ensures that they all point in the same direction. I find this much easier to deal with than the separate levers on the PE fret.

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Dioramas in 1/72 Scale

I present three dioramas (or are they vignettes) featuring Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftracks in 1/72 scale.  The first is a Planet Models resin kit with Black Dog accessories.  The figures are mainly from Preiser set 72505, augmented with others from one of their Luftwaffe sets.  The crew has taken a break for lunch in the shade of a tree.  The dog is painted to resemble one of my own.





This scene is the Revell FAMO towing an Italeri sFH 18 Field Howitzer, both very nice kits.  The cargo is mainly Value Gear in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders.  Figures are a mix of Preiser and modified artillerymen from the Italeri kit. Value Gear here:





I have recently developed an affinity for tank transporters (like I needed another rabbit hole to climb in) so there will likely be more like this scene in the future.  This is the Trumpeter FAMO and transport trailer with a Zvezda Panzer IV.  Figures are from the CMK set designed for the FAMO and a few from Caesar, Value Gear stowage in the bed again.  I like the casual poses, particularly the bored guy on the back of the trailer.





Build links and more finished pictures here:

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part III

A beautiful photograph of Kingfishers in the “three tone” graded camouflage. The barred insignia with blue outline was in use from August 1943 through the end of the war. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

A Kingfisher aboard the portside catapult on the fantail of the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) during her work-ups in the Atlantic, August 1944. The crew appears to be conducting an abandon ship drill. Note the main float of the OS2U is painted Intermediate Blue while the wingtip floats are in Sea Blue.

Another Kingfisher aboard Missouri’s catapult, this example has the individual aircraft number 6 painted on the tip of the float. Missouri’s decks do not yet have their camouflage stain applied.

An excellent view of Missouri’s crane as a Kingfisher is recovered. The gun director tub for the portside 40 mm mount on the fantail is painted with the number “16”.

A Kingfisher is launched from Missouri’s starboard catapult. The catapults could be trained through a wide arc (even across the deck) in order to optimize the wind for launch. The Officer of the Deck was required to calculate the true wind and then determine the proper ship’s course and speed to optimize the relative wind for launching the aircraft.

At the end of the mission the aircraft is hoisted back aboard. Crewmen use steadying lines to keep the aircraft from rotating as it is suspended from the crane.

A well-worn Kingfisher is being rigged to the hoist for recovery. This evolution would present an obvious hazard to the aircrew in rough weather. Note that the wingtips and tail surfaces are painted in a lighter shade of blue, perhaps Blue Gray replacements?

An OS2U approaching the recovery sled towed behind the recovery ship. A hook on the underside of the Kingfisher’s float engaged netting on the sled, allowing crewmen aboard the ship to wench the aircraft into the optimum position for hooking up with the crane.  Practice bomb dispensers are under each wing. 

With the hoist secured the aircraft is ready to be brought back aboard. The sailor in the center of the photograph is maneuvering a boom into position to help steady the aircraft and prevent it from swinging.

A Kingfisher at the moment of launch in early-war markings. Note the position of the observer in the rear cockpit as he braces against the acceleration of the catapult.

A forlorn sight repeated around the world at the end of WWII. Among the types relegated to this boneyard are several surplus Kingfishers, their services no longer needed. Within the next five years advances in jet engine and helicopter technology would render the majority of even the most advanced WWII era aircraft designs obsolete in their intended roles.

Trumpeter Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack in 1/72 Scale

This is Trumpeter’s FAMO kit number 07203 which was issued in 2005.  This kit has been issued in several versions and boxings over the years and is still available.  Trumpeter’s kit is the most detailed FAMO and also contains the most parts by far.  Track are individual links and have separately molded rubber pads.  I found the kit to be over-engineered and fiddly.  The advantages in detail will not be visible from normal viewing angles, but if you wanted to display a FAMO with the hood panels open or over on its side this would be the place to start.  Value Gear cargo is in the bed.