North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part V

One of the Airfix B-25Cs will be in a desert scheme. Here is the banded paint scheme in all its masked-up glory. The color separations are masked with “worms” of poster putty and Frog Tape from the hardware store. The turret opening and engine nacelles are plugged with foam to protect the interior.
The same model after painting with most of the masking removed. The scheme is Olive Drab and Sand over Neutral Gray, all three colors deviate a bit from the Mr. Color jars. The Olive Drab was mixed with tans and applied in layers to vary the shade, likewise the Sand was darkened up with darker browns. The Neutral Gray undersides were lightened with white mixes to accent the panels.
A similar technique was used on the other three aircraft which are all Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. There was considerable variation in Olive Drab shades on USAAF aircraft, due to differences in the original mixes and the also the way they weathered. I left the cowlings off the aircraft with intricate nose art so I could get at the nose area easier. DK provides a decal for the white cheat lines on the cowlings, but I chose to mask mine rather than try to get the color separations exactly right.
This is where things went sideways. The white lines on the nose art decals are printed in left and right pieces. The decals themselves are a dangerous combination of thin film and grabby adhesive, which makes them particularly resistant to sliding around for proper positioning. While I did separate some portions which looked like they could be problematic, my decal just refused to slide into position and soon was a torn ball of decal film and ink. Also note the gap in the white line between the decals on the top of the nose.
Dirty Dora was even worse. I cut away all the outer boundary portions of the white trim so I could have better control of each section – I made six sections in all. This didn’t solve everything, it appears the decal is slightly bigger than it should be. The inner lines on the bat wings are not supposed to touch the bottom boundary line. In addition, the scoreboard is miss-aligned and the whole nose art is further aft than it should be. With the decals on it was all was too depressing to even look at. After considering my options, I have stripped off the nose decals from both Dirty Dora and Pretty Pat and pushed ahead with the other two. I haven’t given up yet, replacement decals are on the way from Hannants. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap up this build next week!

Part VI here:

Airfix North American P-51D of Major George Preddy in 1/72 Scale

George “Ratsy” Preddy opened his account while flying P-40s in defense of Darwin with the 9th Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit group.  He was credited with two shared against Japanese aircraft, but was hospitalized after a mid-air collision with another P-40.  Upon recovery, he was eventually assigned to the 487th FS, 352nd FG flying P-47 Thunderbolts from Bodney, England.  Preddy was credited with two victories in the Thunderbolt, and earned a Silver Star for breaking up a Luftwaffe attack against a formation of B-17s.

In April 1944 the 352nd converted to the P-51 Mustang and Preddy began to score steadily.  He scored four on a single mission on 18JUL44. His best day was on 07AUG44, downing six Bf-109s during a single mission.

Preddy was rose to command the Group’s 328th Fighter Squadron as a Major.  During the Battle of the Bulge the Squadron was operating from a forward airfield located at Asche, Belgium.  On Christmas day he led a flight of ten Mustangs on a patrol.  Preddy downed two Messerschmitts, then pursued a lone Fw 190D flying over the front at low altitude.  Two other P-51s joined Preddy as they pursued the Focke Wulf at treetop height.  The aircraft crossed over American lines and were engaged by an M3 halftrack of the 430th AA Battalion mounting quad .50 machine guns.  All three P-51s were hit.  Two Mustangs were downed, including Preddy’s.  He did not survive the crash.

George Preddy was credited with 26.83 aerial victories, making him the eighth top-scoring U.S. ace.

“Cripes A’ Mighty”, piloted by Major George Preddy,328 FS, Bodney, Norfolk, Dec. 1944.  Airfix kit, Eagle Strike decal sheet IP7208.

North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part I – Production

B-25Cs roll down the assembly line at North American’s factory at Inglewood, California in 1942. The Mitchells in the foreground are nearing completion but are still missing their outer wing panels.
With the war on the factories were in operation round the clock and soon aircraft orders exceeded floor space. Aircraft rolled out of the factory and final assembly was performed on the Inglewood apron in the California sun. Here an unpainted B-25C leaves the factory doors to join others on the outside. Note that the aircraft are being painted even before the outer wing panels have been attached.
This Mitchell has received her wings and is nearing completion. Almost 10,000 B-25s of all variants were produced.
Edward doesn’t make a masking set for this job! Here workers mask off the nose transparencies in preparation for the painting of this Michell’s Olive Drab over Light Gray camouflage. Note that the canopy framing has already been painted, making the job a little easier.
A worker poses with a brand-new Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engine, giving an excellent view of colors and details of the engine, as well as construction of the engine dolly. The R-2600 developed 1,700 hp.
A worker checks the wiring harness of an R-2600. The paperwork traveled with the engine and is seen rolled up under her hands, and an identification number has been written in red on the crank case.
On the front of the firewall this worker is installing the engine mounts. These served as shock absorbers to reduce the transmission of engine vibrations to the airframe.
Workers install equipment in the nacelle and leading edge of the wing, a useful photograph for super detailers.
Engine assemblies awaiting installation after adding cowl rings and cooling flaps. The cowling opening was 36 inches (915 cm).
The moment of truth! An electric hoist is used to position the engine while final connections are made. The missing panels show the degree of access available for mechanics in the field.

Part II here:

Hasegawa North American P-51D of Lt. Freddie Hutchins in 1/72 Scale

Freddie Hutchins scored his first aerial victory on 26JUL44 while escorting B-24 Liberators on a raid against Markendorf, Germany.  In August he was credited with four strafing victories in Romania.  On 06OCT44 the 302nd Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group was assigned another airfield to strafe at Megara, Greece.  This time Hutchens was not so lucky.  Pulling off his first run, his Mustang was hit by flak.  He managed to nurse his aircraft over a nearby mountain, but came down on the other side.  Although injured, Hutchins managed to evade capture and return to his unit with the help of local Greek civilians.  Freddie Hutchins survived the war, and went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever Audio Book Review

The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War

By John “Chick” Donohue and J.T. Molloy, Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner

Audiobook, 5 hours and 41 minutes

Published by Harper Audio

Language: English


Many great stories begin with questionable decisions made while drinking beer.  This is one of them.  It started in a neighborhood bar in Inwood, part of Manhattan.  In late 1967 public opinion was divided concerning the Vietnam War, and the locals in Georgie Lynch’s bar were worried that news of anti-war protests would hurt the morale of the servicemen from the neighborhood who were then serving in Vietnam.  They decided it would be great if they could buy the soldiers a beer so that they would know that there were still people who supported them.  Sitting at the bar was a man with the unique ability to actually have a chance at pulling it off.

John “Chickie” Donohue was a former U.S. Marine and a Merchant Seaman.  He had crewed ships to Vietnam before and thought he could do the job.  The next day word had gotten out, and local families had provided the bar with names and duty stations of their sons in Vietnam.  Chickie checked in at the Union Hall, and sure enough, there was a merchant ship leaving New York for Vietnam later that day.  Packing several cases of local beer, Donohue signed on to crew the ship.

After arriving in Vietnam, Chickie’s plan was simple:  His story was he was looking for his stepbrother with important family news, and could he hitch a ride to where his friend was stationed.  His civilian clothes were an unexpected asset, as many military officials assumed an American in civilian clothes in Vietnam must be CIA.  He had little trouble catching rides and drove or flew out to bring his friends (and their friends) beer from home.

The logistics eventually caught up with Chickie and his ship pulled out, leaving him “beached”.  There is a procedure for stranded Merchant Seamen to join other ships, but Donohue found himself stuck in Saigon while the wheels of the bureaucracy turned.  By then it was January 1968.  The Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive while Donohue was in a hotel in Saigon.

To say this was an adventure is an understatement.  While Donohue had lots of help and many lucky breaks, he was in the middle of several situations which could have ended very badly very easily.  This is a heartwarming story set against the background of the Vietnam War.  I can recommend this book, and it will soon be made into a movie for Netflix.

Women Warriors 187

Russian Soldier Olga Sizova
Maj. Jennifer Orton, a combat search and rescue CSAR pilot with the 39th Rescue Squadron flies the HC-130PN
Aviation Electricians Mate 3rd Class Michaela Zadra and Aviation Electricians Mate 3rd Class Brittany Felix reseal a panel on the wing of an F/A-18F Super Hornet USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, over Avenger Field, Texas PT-19
WASP pilot
US Army
US Marines
Russian Paratrooper
Canadian WRCNS aboard transport ship
Carey Lohrenz, US Navy F-14 Tomcat Pilot
ATA Spitfire Pilot

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North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

This is the Hasegawa B-25J with the canopy and nose pieces in place. My B-25J will be a strafer with the nose glazing painted over which allowed me to add weight in the nose. This view also gives an impression of what will be visible through the canopy.
This is one of the Airfix B-25C, this one will also be a strafer. The canopy masks are from ASK. The resin gun pack on the fuselage side is from Quickboost, it is a style not included in either kit but is needed for certain aircraft. The Evergreen panels represent the extra armor applied to this particular aircraft.
As things move along various sub-assemblies are painted so they will be available at the end of the build. I generally tape the smaller bits to cards for painting and to ease handling.
Here is a comparison of the main gear doors, The Hasegawa doors on top are just slabs but the Airfix doors are thinner and better detailed. I’ll make some replacements for the Hasegawa doors from sheet plastic. The main landing gear bay doors on the B-25 were normally closed, they only opened when the gear was actually cycling, so no need to add any detail to the bays.
I checked the Seamwork with Mr. Surfacer 1000, corrected any flaws and re-primed. This is the Hasegawa B-25H. I noticed some flow lines in the plastic on the Hasegawa kits. This is not an issue on a camouflaged model, but on a Natural Metal Finish the flow lines can show through if you don’t use a good primer.
Three of my subjects will be strafers from the 345th Bomb Group. These are beautiful aircraft with interesting combat records, but the intricate nose art makes them difficult to model. I’ll be using the DK Decal sheet for the markings. On DK’s web page they provide a PDF file so modelers have some chance to mask off the underlying colors correctly. Here I have printed out the PDF and laid Tamiya tape over the patterns to cut out the masks.
Here are the masks after some careful cutting.
The masks applied to the model for “Dirty Dora”. Even with the masking templates there are half a dozen ways this can still go sideways and ruin the models.

Part V here:

Hasegawa Mitsubishi G3M2 “Nell” of the 901 Kōkūtai in 1/72 Scale

This is the Hasegawa G3M2 “Nell”.  The subject aircraft was found on wrecked Naha Airfield on Okinawa on 1 April 1945 and was extensively photographed by American troops. It was assigned to the 901 Kōkūtai, a maritime patrol unit which was equipped with several different aircraft types.  The “C” marking on the fuselage side was a visual aid to formation flying while on anti-submarine patrol; at the proper distance the “C” would appear to be a closed circle.

The model was built out of the box, with only tape belts added to the interior.  Hinomaru were painted using Maketar masks, the remaining markings are kit decals.

Douglas TBD Devastator Color Photographs

Here is a beautiful photograph of a TBD Devastator from a series taken for LIFE Magazine. This TBD is from Torpedo Six aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6), likely taken in 1940. Aircraft assigned to Enterprise carried blue tail surfaces, Enterprise’s call sign was “blue base”. Note how the Orange Yellow paint wraps around the leading edge of the wing, this was done to smooth the airflow.
Enterprise’s flight deck was stained Mahogany with Yellow markings, this was stained Deck Blue shortly before the U.S. entered the war. The object on the starboard side of the Devastator’s fuselage is a camera, used as a training aid to evaluate practice attack runs. The aircraft in the background has the mounts in place but no camera.
A flight of Torpedo Six’s Devastators off Hawaii, giving a nice view of the “Yellow Wings” scheme which was carried until December 1940. 6-T-16 is trailing a radio antenna.
The Devastator first entered Fleet service in 1937. While it was considered state of the art for its time, the pace of advancements in aviation rendered it obsolescent by the time the U.S. entered the Second World War. Midway would be the TBD’s last use in combat.
A portion of Yorktown’s airgroup seen ashore at a Naval Air Station, most likely North Island. In the foreground is the TBD of the commander of Torpedo Five, as indicated by the red fuselage band and cowling. The aircraft in the background are Northrop BT-1 dive bombers, just visible beyond them are three SBC Helldivers.
This is a still from the movie “Dive Bomber” and shows a TBD in the overall Light Gray scheme. The Light Gray scheme was only used until 20AUG41, when it was directed that carrier aircraft be painted Blue Gray on their upper surfaces.
While no Devastators are preserved in museums today, RV Petrel photographed this TBD on the bottom of the Coral Sea. This aircraft is from USS Lexington (CV-2) and was lost when the ship went down on 08MAY42. The preservation of the aircraft is remarkable, and shows her camouflage and markings to good advantage.
This is a screen grab from the John Ford film “Torpedo Squadron No. Eight” which was shot aboard USS Hornet (CV-8) on 15MAY42. Plane handlers run on either side of the aircraft carrying the wheel chocks. Modelers should note the wavy separation of the Blue Gray as it wraps under the wing.
Commanding Officer of Torpedo Eight LCDR John Waldron (right) and crewman RMC Horace Dobbs pose in front of their TBD. Waldron led Hornet’s Devastators in their attack against the Japanese Fleet at Midway, all fifteen of their aircraft were lost. Only one man, ENS George Gay, survived.