North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part IX – Early Mitchells

A fine study of a North American B-25A in flight. Forty B-25As were delivered to the USAAC beginning in February 1941. These were the first “combat ready” Mitchells, incorporating self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the crew. All photos are from the NASM Rudy Arnold collection.
This B-25A carries the “Thunderbird” markings of the 34th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group and early war national insignia. The B-25A is easily identifiable by the unique tail gun position and lack of dorsal turret.
While none of the B-25As deployed overseas, they did fly anti-submarine patrol missions from the continental United States. Here a 2nd Bomb Group Mitchell refuels from an Autocar tanker prior to a patrol mission.
Here crew members simulate a scramble for the photographer while B-25A 40-2200 warms up in the background.
Crewmen board a Mitchell from the 2nd Bomb Group. A retractable skid under the tail prevented a tail strike during take-off or landing. Modelers note the possible solution to the “tail sitting” problem in the form of the boarding ladder.
The Norton bomb sight was considered to be highly classified and was to be covered or dismounted when the aircraft was on the ground. Combat experience soon showed that the nose mounted .30 caliber machine gun was inadequate and it was quickly upgraded to a .50 caliber.
The tail gun position of the B-25A was unique in the Mitchell family. The rear portion was a clamshell arrangement, and opened to allow the gun to traverse.
Mitchells in the coastal patrol role overfly a small freighter. The two nearest the camera are B-25Bs, the furthest is a B-25A.
Armorers loading 250 pound bombs. Later in the war bombs were seen in the Army standard Olive Drab, but in the early days they were often Light Gray or Yellow as seen here.
The B-25B introduced a Bendix power turret in the dorsal position, and a retractable Bendix remote turret in the belly. It was felt that these turrets offered adequate rear protection so the tail gun was deleted.
A close-up of the Bendix ventral turret. This turret was unframed, consisting of sections of clear Perspex which were glued together. Also note the slots for the guns are unsealed, certainly a problem at altitude.

B-25 Color Photographs Part I here:

Special Hobby Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 隼 “Oscar” of Sou Okabe in 1/72 Scale

Last is the final production variant Ki-43-III pictured after the surrender in August 1945 at Nanking, China.  The assigned pilot was Sou Okabe of the 1 Chutai / 48 Sentai.  JAAF unit insignia were often stylized representations of the Sentai numbers, as seen here.  This is an example of a solid factory-applied scheme.  I painted the model using the colors called out in Aero Detail 29.  Special Hobby kit & decals.

Brotherhood of Heroes Audio Book Review

Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944

By Bill Sloan, Narrated by Patrick Lawlor

Audiobook, 11 hours and 48 minutes

Published by Tantor Audio

Language: English


Peleliu is a small island in the Palau Archipelago in the Pacific.  In WWII it was home to a Japanese garrison and a small airfield.  On 15SEP44 it was invaded by the first Marine Division in order to prevent the Japanese from using it as a base which might interfere with the planned invasion of the Philippines the next month.

The Battle of Peleliu remains controversial to this day because of the high casualty rate among the Marines and the negligible strategic value of the island.  The Japanese had shifted their strategy of contesting the beachhead and now were to concentrate on defense in depth from fortified positions.  Also gone were the massed Banzai charges which had proven to be ineffective and wasteful of manpower.  The American commander, Major General William H. Rupertus, anticipated a three-day operation.  The island would not finally be secured for more than two months.  Rupertus would be criticized for insisting that Peleliu be a “Marine operation” and resisting calling in the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, which was held in reserve.

This book draws on official histories for the overall operational picture, and published accounts for the anecdotes of Marines to give personal perspectives.  In particular, “With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa” by Eugene Sledge and “Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman’s Combat Odyssey in K/3/5” by Sterling Mace are quoted heavily.  Both were members of the same company. Sledge’s book is also one of three primary sources for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific”, so many readers will be familiar with much of this material.  With the reliance on these few sources, one gets the impression that K/3/5 was the only company which fought on Peleliu.

This is not a bad account of the fight for Peleliu.  However, it is heavily reliant on the works of Sledge and Mace, which are well-known and have themselves been previously incorporated into several other retellings already.  I didn’t see anything new here.  If you want to read just one book on Peleliu, pick up Sledge’s “With the Old Breed” and read his perspectives directly in his own words.

Women Warriors 195

F/A-18 Pilot Caroline Johnson
Anje Kretna, Serbian Helicopter Pilot
Soviet Machine Gunners
US Navy WAVEs with SNJ
US Army
Kurdish YPJ
Swedish Navy sailor guards the Royal Palace at Stockholm
US Navy
WRANS send off the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney
US Army helicopter pilot
Mamaev Bezmenov, Soviet A-20 pilot

For more Women Warriors, click on the tag below:

Vickers Light Tank Mark VIB Resin Prints in 1/72 Scale

This is a 3D resin print of a Vickers Mark VIB from a file available on Thingiverse. The lattice structures under the parts are supports needed during the printing process. These must be cut away and cleaned up, similar to sprue gates on injection molded kits, but there’s a lot of them!
Here are two prints cleaned up and ready to go, an AA tank on the left and a Mark VIB machine-gun tank on the right. There is some clean-up needed to smooth out the print layers, but otherwise these are comparable to models intended for the wargame market. Construction is simple – only two parts!
The vehicles were modified a bit to increase the level of detail. The rear stowage frame was replaced with sheet stock to reduce the thickness of the parts. The exhaust pipe was replaced with tube. This tank also got the dust shields seen on tanks used in North Africa.
In this case the application of primer is most useful for the identification and elimination of print layers. These are best removed by scraping with an eXacto knife and filling with Mr. Surfacer until they are gone.
Mr. Color paints were used for the Caunter scheme seen on Commonwealth tanks in North Africa. I applied these with ye olde hairy stick as the shapes proved difficult to mask for the airbrush.
Decals are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1065 for ANZAC armor in North Africa. The stowage box is a spare from the Plastic Soldier Stuart kits, the canvas roll was made from masking tape.
The commander figure is from the HäT British Tank Riders set. These are of the soft plastic variety. They look a bit underscale to my eye, but he fits nicely in the hatch opening.
Both finished models together. The resin prints are simple to model and details can be added to suit your tastes. I wouldn’t say the desktop 3D printers are all the way there yet, but the day is coming when they will augment the traditional kits. Another tool in the toolbox, certainly this is the Golden Age of modeling!

More photos here:

Special Hobby Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 隼 “Oscar” of Hideo Miyabe in 1/72 Scale

This is the Ki-43-II of Hideo Miyabe, 2 Chutai / 64 Sentai, operating from Palembang Sumatra during the Summer of 1943.  The diagonal stripe indicates the Chutai Commander’s aircraft.  Miyabe eventually rose to command the 64th Sentai, and was credited with 12 victories.  Special Hobby kit and decals, the fuselage Hinomaru decals were doubled up to prevent the command stripe showing through.

North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part VIII – 321st Bomb Group

The 321st Bombardment Group consisted of four Squadrons – the 445th, 446th, 447th, and 448th.  They deployed to North Africa as part of the 12th Air Force and began combat operations in March, 1943.  They fought throughout the Italian Campaign and in support of the invasion of Southern France, receiving two Distinguished Unit Citations.

Most of the photographs here were taken during the Summer of 1944 when the Group was operating from Corsica.  The photographer focused on the nose art and mission scoreboards.  Many of the paintings are the work of an exceptionally talented artist so be advised that some might consider a few of the renderings to be a bit risqué.

Modelers note that these B-25Js were delivered in overall natural metal finish and several aircraft had the uppersurfaces camouflaged in the field.  The color appears very dark, much darker than the standard Olive Drab used on most USAAF aircraft.  I am curious to hear opinions on this color.

Ave Maria was a 448th BS B-25J with an impressive scoreboard, her serial was 43-27636. The significance of the yellow three-lobed marking behind the nose escape hatch is unknown, but similar markings can be seen on other Mitchells from the Group.
A nice aerial shot of Ave Maria which reveals a number of interesting details such as the faded condition of the wing insignia and high demarcation of the field-applied camo. While chipped and faded, the upper surface color appears much darker than a typical Olive Drab finish.
Mama! was a B-25J assigned to the 447th Bomb Squadron. Some sources cite the name as “Pistol Packin’ Mama” which the artwork certainly implies but is not painted on the aircraft.
San-Antoneo Rose was still in the NMF at the time of this photograph, although the aircraft in the background has been camouflaged.
Readie Teddie was assigned to the 447th, another Mitchell with an impressive tally of mission markers. The details of the nose escape hatch have defied model kit manufacturers – the bottom edge is not in line with the rest of the nose glazing, and the two braces aft of the red handle are internal.
OH-7 is seen here in North Africa in 1943, she is one of the 445th BS initial complement of B-25Cs. Her serial was 41-13207.
Stuff was B-25J serial 43-27680 assigned to the 445th BS. She has the external armor plate protecting the cockpit area.
Big Jamoke is a NMF B-25J. She carries no mission markers, but the odd three-lobed marking is present again, this time in green.
B-25J serial 43-27551 of the 447th BS. MMR were the initials of the pilot’s girlfriend. The green marking may represent the artist’s signature. The upper surface camo avoids the transparency framing and appears darker than the faded anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit.

B-25 Color Photographs Part IX here:

Special Hobby Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 隼 “Oscar” of Major Toshio Sakagawa in 1/72 Scale

This is the aircraft of Major Toshio Sakagawa, CO of the 25th Sentai, Hankow China, late 1943.  Sakagawa was credited with 15 victories, including three P-51s in a single combat.  He was also credited with being the first JAAF pilot to down a B-24 over China.  He was transferred to the Pacific for the defense of the Philippines, but was killed on 19DEC44 when the transport he was riding in was shot down.

Against All Odds Audio Book Review

Against All Odds: A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II

By Alex Kershaw, Narrated by Mark Bramhall

Audiobook, 8 hours and 51 minutes

Published by Penguin Audio

Language: English


The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division was the only U.S. Division to participate in all the major campaigns in the European Theater – North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, Germany, and Austria.  Their first amphibious landing was in North Africa on 08NOV42 as part of Operation Torch, and they were either in direct combat or training for the next landing for the remainder of the war.

As one result of their constant combat, the 3rd was the most decorated U.S. Division, and had the greatest number of Congressional Medal of Honor awardees at thirty-one.  While telling the combat history of the Division, author Alex Kershaw has focused on four of these men, who in addition to the MoH also earned every other award for valor.  Captain Maurice Britt was the first to win the Army’s top four combat decorations during WWII – the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star.  A professional football player for the Detroit Lions before the war, he was also awarded four Purple Hearts, his last wound resulting in the loss of an arm.  Keith Ware was a draftee, who rose to command the 1st Division (“The Big Red One”) in Vietnam, where he was killed when his helicopter was shot down.  Ware was Audie Murphy’s Battalion commander, Murphy rose through the ranks to eventually command Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.  He was 21 years old when the war ended, and gained fame for his autobiography and acting career after the war.  Michael Daly landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 1st Division.  After being wounded, he came to the 3rd Division as a replacement.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Nuremburg during the last weeks of the war, where he was wounded again.

The exploits of these men are the threads which hold this book’s story together, but they are not the only tales of heroism told within.  While there was great propaganda value in keeping these stories in front of the Press, for the men themselves an award was often more valuable for the “points” towards a rotation home – each combat decoration was worth 5 points, and a total of 85 points earned in various ways was needed to go back to the States.

This is an unusual way to tell a combat history, but Kershaw makes it work.  Most readers will be familiar with Audie Murphy’s story, but the stories of the other soldiers featured here are just as inspiring and all are interwoven to varying degrees.  This is a good book, highly recommended.