Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Color Photographs Part I

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff collection unless otherwise noted.

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The first of many! This is the first production C-46A, serial 41-5159. It left Curtiss-Wright’s Buffalo plant on 11APR42 and was accepted by the USAAF two months later. Too late for the colorful “yellow wings” era, the Commandoes left the factory in the standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage until late in 1943 when they were delivered in Natural Metal. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

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The first Commando flying alongside another Curtiss product, the P-40E Warhawk. Notice the differences in the national insignia between the two aircraft. The C-46 still retains the red center to the insignia which was ordered to be removed from USAAF aircraft on 15MAY42. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

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The seventh production C-46A demonstrates its utility as a troop transport for the photographer. The Commando could carry up to forty fully-equipped infantrymen, seen here exiting the aircraft via the vehicle ramps.

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41-5166 again, demonstrating the cargo capacity. The spacious fuselage allowed a wide variety of bulk loads to be carried, with room for more in a separate compartment in the lower fuselage. Here a Jeep is being unloaded using the cargo ramps; up to three Jeeps could be carried at a time.

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A rather worn Commando in colorful markings, the distressed paint job would make an interesting challenge for a modeler.

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A C-46A displaying the red-outlined national insignia authorized for a short time during the summer of 1943. On many USAAF types subassemblies were provided to the primary contractor already painted in whatever shade of Olive Drab the subcontractor deemed appropriate, resulting in tonal differences in aircraft components.

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By late 1943 the USAAF had begun to establish air superiority and ordered that aircraft be delivered in their Natural Metal finish. This sped production, lowered costs, and saved weight on the finished aircraft.

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The C-46D featured doors on each side of the fuselage which allowed for the rapid deployment of up to fifty paratroopers per aircraft. A fine photograph showing paratroopers posed in the open doorways.

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Seventeen of the “E” model Commando were completed, but none were finished in time to be deployed. The C-46E featured a stepped “airliner” windscreen which makes them appear similar to the rival Douglas C-47 Dakoda at first glance.

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Factory-fresh C-46F’s outside of the Curtiss plant at Buffalo, NY in Chinese markings. 44-78627 never made it to service, being lost on her delivery flight to Chinese forces.

Hasegawa Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of Hiroyoshi Nishizawa in 1/72 Scale

The highest-scoring Japanese naval aviator was Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, credited with 87 victories.  A Japanese photographer shot several in flight photographs of UI-105, which was flown by Nishizawa while assigned to the 251 Kokutai operating out of Rabaul in May of 1943.  On 25OCT44 he led the escort group during the first Kamikaze mission in the Philippines, claiming two American aircraft.  The following day he was flying as a passenger on a transport plane when it was attacked and shot down by two US Navy F6F Hellcats.  Nishizawa died in the crash.

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Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 Book Review

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Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2

By Chris Goss, profiles by Chris Davey

Series:  Osprey Combat Aircraft 129

Softcover, 96 pages, appendices, 30 color profiles, and index

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472829638

ISBN-13: 978-1472829634

Dimensions:  7.3 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches

State of the art when introduced in the mid-1930s, the Dornier Do 17 was fast approaching obsolescence at the beginning of the Second World War.  It was intended that the “Flying Pencil” would be able to out-run defending fighters, but such was the pace of aeronautical development that it was not considered fast even for a bomber by the start of the war.  Coupled with its poor range and limited bomb load it was destined to be replaced in short order, but along with the Heinkel He 111 the Dornier Do 17 made up the medium bomber arm of the Luftwaffe for the first year of the war.

The Do 17 served with the Condor Legion in Spain, and in the Battle of France.  In the Battle of Britain losses mounted and several units began transition training to the new Ju 88.  Surviving units fought in Greece and in Russia, but by 1942 front-line units had converted to the Ju 88 or the more powerful Do 217 development of the design.  Still, some Do 17s soldiered on in auxiliary roles through the end of the war.

This work tells the story of the units which flew the Do 17 in Luftwaffe service and in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.  Much of the text reads as a loss list, with dates, places, and crew names given for the aircraft involved.  Being a type with marginal performance figures, attrition was constant and the detailed listing of losses soon becomes repetitive.  The profiles offer little relief, as the vast majority are finished in the same standard Luftwaffe bomber camouflage scheme of 70 / 71 over 65, with a little variation provided by the Condor Legion schemes or those aircraft wearing black distemper for night raids.

Overall there are no surprises here for those familiar with Osprey’s Combat Aircraft series.  The format follows the familiar formula with photographs and color profiles.  The repetitive nature of the writing provides some useful information for amateur researchers, but tends to make recreational reading a slog.  Good for picking a specific Do 17 as a modeling subject.

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Women Warriors 110

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US Navy Master At Arms Rachel Higuera
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Poland
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Swedish soldier with Carl Gustav rocket launcher
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IDF
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Poland
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US Marine with M 777 Howitzer
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Mexico
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LCOL Shawna Kimbrell USAF F-16 pilot
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19 year old Soviet sniper Roza Shanina, 59 confirmed kills
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Ukraine
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IDF
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Germany
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US Navy WAVE
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Russia
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IDF
Anastasia Apaseikina Russian Mi8 Pilot
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Test pilots Dorothy Dodd Eppstein, Hellen Skjersaa Hansen, Doris Burmester Nathan and Elizabeth Chadwick Dressler front of a B-25 medium bomber.
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A6M Zero Aces Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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A metal rod in the nose makes a good place to handle the model while painting and a convenient way to keep it off the bench while drying. The camo on all these Zeros utilize the same color palette which makes painting more efficient.

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For some reason I always feel “almost done” after the decals are on, but that’s not really the case, is it? Maybe it’s because you can finally start to see something which resembles the finished product developing from the mass of parts. The major sub-assemblies are all complete but there are several smaller parts still on the sprues.

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Decaling is completed here. Quite a few decals, actually. The Tamiya and Fine Molds kits both included extensive stenciling, the FM sheet especially. I purchased a few of the Hasegawa kits at shows, one of the decal sheets in those was ruined, a few more were the older type with the light reds and ivory whites. I used TechMod sheet 72116 for the Hinomaru and Aviaeology sheets for the tail codes to provide the needed replacements. Additional codes were made from an HO scale train sheet from the LHS.

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Here’s the underside of one of the Hasegawa Type 22s, showing the incorporation of the replacement wheelwells. Brake lines are 32-gauge beading wire, tow hooks are HO scale lifting pad eyes. The brake lines run down between the main gear leg and the covers, between the attachment points. The Tamiya covers are molded with a space between the points, the other covers were slotted with a razor saw. The Tamiya kits also came with parts for the U-shaped retraction arms for the inner doors, arms for the other kits were fabricated from wire.

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I used a “sludge wash” to bring out the panel lines, which is just thinned acrylic paint mixed with a small amount of dish soap. I generally like just enough contrast to get the panel lines to show up. A medium grey was used on the underside, but black was used on the uppers because the green is so dark.

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A group shot of all the kits together.

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SUMMARY:

Hasegawa – While they do not have the detail nor refined engineering of the other two manufacturers, these are still good, solid kits.  The main strength of the Hasegawa line is the variety of types offered – from the A6M1 to the A6M8, and everything in between.  Weaknesses are the very basic cockpits and shallow wheelwells.  Overall the shape looks good.  The vertical fin is a little too broad in chord, but that is easily fixed.  The cowling on their A6M2 is a bit small, which is noticeable when compared directly to the other manufacturers (see photo above, Hasegawa kit on the left).  For many of the versions, a Hasegawa kit is still the best place to start.

Fine Molds – These are great kits, some of the best offered in our scale.  Fine Molds kit the A6M2, A6M3 Type 32, and A6M5.  They offer great detail and outstanding engineering.  Their A6M2 kit has several options including open cowl claps, lowered landing flaps, open canopy, and wing tips which can be posed folded.  The main drawbacks are price and their unique distribution method as bundles with two issues of Model Graphics magazine.

Tamiya – The Tamiya kits are every bit as nice as the Fine Molds kits, but in different ways.  Asking which is best is like trying to figure out which Victoria’s Secret supermodel is the prettiest.  The details are superb and the engineering allows the kits to just fall together.  If I were looking to purchase new Zero kits today, the Tamiya A6M2 or A6M5s would be my first choices.

Aftermarket – I used three aftermarket parts on these builds.  The Hasegawa kits all got True Details resin wheels, the Tamiya and Fine Molds wheels looked fine to me.  All the kits received Eduard photoetch seatbelts, from set 73001.  Eduard provides different style belts for the Mitsubishi and Nakajima-built aircraft – something I would not have caught otherwise.  The center section of the canopies are all Squadron vacuforms, the other sections are kit parts.  The front section of the Squadron canopies will not fit any of these three kits, even though they are intended to replace the Hasegawa parts.  I also used the Eduard canopy mask set CX006, which saved a lot of time.  Aviaeology supplied tailcode numerals, and Techmod supplied Hinomarus where needed.

Martin PBM Mariner Color Photographs Part II

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A PBM-3 prepares to enter the water from a ramp. The aircraft is finished in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme and 1942-43 national insignia.

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Same scheme, different markings. This is a PBM-1, distinguishable by the round gunner’s position on the fuselage side. She carries the red and white tail stripes and red center to the national insignia us use until May 1942. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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Another PBM-1, this one with an oversized “2” on the fuselage. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

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A PBM-3R refuels from a boat, the red flag signifies the handling of fuel or explosives. The PBM-3R was a dedicated transport version, this one is assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service.

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Sailors wash down a Mariner with fresh water to reduce the potential for corrosion due to salt water. The Mariner had a bomb bay in each engine nacelle, the bomb bay doors are visible in this view.

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A Mariner in the Atlantic ASW scheme launched down the ramp while a crewman leans out of the fuselage to detach the beaching gear. This is a PBM-3S assigned to VPB-206.

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A waist gunner mans the starboard fuselage gun. The oval shaped structure to the right is a wind deflector which was deployed when the fuselage hatch doors were open.

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In March 1944 this Mariner suffered a loss of power while flying over the Arizona desert. The pilot, a LT Fitzgerald, had no choice but to land the aircraft on its hull. Due to the strength of the hull there was relatively little damage. Here the aircraft is being leveled with the help of a makeshift scaffolding.

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Trenches were dug beneath the hull and beaching gear was installed which allowed the aircraft to be towed free. The aircraft was repaired and was able to take off under its own power from the Wilcox Playa.

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A Mariner undergoing engine maintenance. The workstands and miscellaneous equipment scattered around in the vicinity are worthy of note for diorama builders.

Dragon Mistel 6 Composite in 1/72 Scale

Most aviation buffs are familiar with the Mistel composite aircraft used by Germany at the end of WWII.  These consisted of Bf 109s or Fw 190s mounted above unmanned Ju 88s, to which a large warhead was fitted.  The pilot in the fighter aimed the Ju 88, then detached while the bomber flew on autopilot to (hopefully) impact the target.

The Mistel composites’ low speed made them vulnerable to interception, so German designers proposed three variants based upon jet aircraft.  Mistel 4 utilized Me 262s for both the upper and lower components.  The Mistel 5 design used the He 162 as the piloted aircraft, with an Arado E 377 purpose-built payload which was also jet propelled using two BMW 003 engines.  The Mistel 6 was to utilize an Ar 234 C/E upper component, and an unpowered E 377 lower.

Dragon kits the Mistel 5, which contains an He 162, a powered E 377, and a take-off trolley.  They also make several versions of the Ar 234, which include the Ar 234 C/E with four jets.  Modeling a Mistel 6 is possible by combining the two kits.

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Dark Waters Book Review

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Dark Waters: An Insider’s Account of the NR-1 The Cold War’s Undercover Nuclear Sub

By Lee Vyborny and Don Davis

Hardcover in dustjacket, 243 pages, appendices, photographs, and index

Published by New American Library January 2003

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0-451-20777-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-451-20777-7

Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.0 x 9.2 inches

The NR-1 was a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine, unique in many respects.  Its stated purpose was scientific research, survey, and rescue, but it also performed clandestine military operations, many of which remain classified today.  It was the smallest nuclear-powered vessel in the world, displacing only 400 tons with a length of less than 150 feet (45 meters).  It was never commissioned into the U.S. Navy but was administered through the Nuclear Reactors department, one of several manipulations which kept the program firmly under Admiral Rickover’s control.

Author Lee Vyborny was one of the commissioning crew (a “plank owner” in Navy parlance) personally selected by Rickover.  As such he was present during the construction and fitting out of the ship and was part of the crew responsible for developing her operational procedures during her first missions.   He is uniquely qualified to record the story of the construction of the ship and training of her crew.  Vyborny pulls no punches in discussing the technical obstacles and budget over-runs which delayed the NR-1’s construction, and he relates Rickover’s controlling nature and infamous temper.

Only a select few of the NR-1’s operations are described here for security reasons.  Her well-known retrieval of an F-14 Tomcat and the AIM-54 Phoenix missile she carried from 2,000 feet (610 meters) below the North Atlantic is related, along with routine aspects of shipboard life which give the reader a good feel for what it was like to serve aboard her.  I was surprised at how vulnerable the tiny submarine was and how close it came to disaster on several occasions.  Her reactor was only able to produce 160 HP which gave NR-1 a maximum speed of five knots, barely enough power to get her out of trouble.  Getting entangled in nets or cables or stuck in the muddy sea floor could have proven fatal.

This account is interesting and well-written, and provides an insight into the guarded world of the submarine service and covert operations.  I was constantly aware that the author was leaving out as much of the story as he was able to tell, but what is there is fascinating.  Perhaps someday the NR-1’s entire history will be open to the public but I doubt I’ll still be around to read it.  This is a good book with a great story, recommended.