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For reasons which defy logic, 1/72 scale modelers have never had an accurate P-51B/C Mustang until now. All previous releases have had one fatal shape error or another which was impossible to un-see and difficult to correct. Arma has hit this one out of the park, and it should be a license for them to print money well into the future without any of the inflationary consequences when the U.S. Government does it. The kits are accurate, well-detailed, and provide all the optional parts the average modeler could ever want. The engineering is superb, the only fit issue I encountered was a step at the forward edge of the windscreen which needed sanding.
My boxings were the “Expert Set”, which include a fret of photoetch and a set of masks, and here is where I will pick a nit. The PE fret adds little, I used the radiator parts but they are impossible to see without flipping the model over and using a flashlight. I used the PE seatbelts too, but nothing else from the fret.
The vinyl masks were a disaster. I understand there were supply chain issues when Arma released this kit and they were a victim of the global Kabuki tape shortage, but the vinyl masks tried their best to ruin an otherwise excellent modeling experience. They (mostly) stuck fine to the flat panels, but pulled off of anything with a curve. In the end the PE and vinyl masks were a mixed bag and significantly raised the price of the kit. Masks ARE a good idea however, I sincerely hope Arma includes a set in future boxings – this time using Kabuki tape, including inner and outer masks for the open panels, and (here’s a thought) making the seatbelts out of Kabuki tape instead of PE.
I understand Arma’s Ki-84 kit is currently selling even better than their P-51B/C Mustang. I have a batch on pre-order, and am looking forward to building those as well!
John “Tommy” Blackburn was an Annapolis graduate and was serving as a flight instructor when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He commanded VGF-29 aboard USS Santee (CVE-29) during the Torch landings. Most of their Wildcats got lost in bad weather, Blackburn himself spending three days in the water before he was rescued. He was then reassigned to command VF-17 “jolly Rogers” on the new F4U Corsair. At the time the Navy decided that the Corsair was unsuited for carrier operations and VF-17 deployed to an airfield on Ondonga, New Georgia in October 1943.
The deployment produced thirteen aces, including Blackburn with 11 victories. His best day was on 06FEB44 when he claimed four A6M Zeros. He survived the war and eventually rose to command the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVB-41) in 1958. He retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1962.
This is the F4U-1A Corsair of LCDR Tommy Blackburn, Commanding Officer VF-17, operating from Ondonga, New Georgia, November 1943.
LT Richard Stambook flew various types of carrier aircraft during the war, transitioning from the SBD Dauntless to the F4F Wildcat, and eventually flying the F6F Hellcat with VF-27. His best day was during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19JUN44 when he was credited with four – three A6M Zeros and a single D4Y Judy. He scored his final victory, a Ki-45 Toryu “Nick” on 18OCT44. One week later the USS Princeton (CVL-27) was struck by a single bomb dropped by another D4Y Judy, the subsequent fires eventually leading to her loss. Stambock survived the sinking and the war, an ace with eleven victories.
This model represents the F6F-3 Hellcat of LT Richard Stambook, VF-27, USS Princeton (CVL-23), October 1944.
Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the USS Plunkett
Authored by James Sullivan, Narrated by Jacques Roy
Audiobook, 10 hours and 9 minutes
Published by Simon and Shuster Audio
USS Plunkett (DD-431) was a Gleaves-class destroyer which was commissioned five months before the Pearl Harbor attack brought America into the Second World War. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she participated in the Torch landings in North Africa, the Invasion of Sicily, and the Anzio landings. Off Anzio she came under sustained attacks from German aircraft, and was eventually hit by a 550-pound bomb which killed 51 of her crew. After repairs Stateside, she rejoined the Fleet in time for the Normandy landings, the shelling of Cherbourg, and the invasion of Southern France. She was on her way to the Pacific when the war ended.
This book tells the story of Plunkett from the perspectives of five members of her crew. There are basically three threads to each story – the home front before and during the war which gives the men’s civilian backgrounds as well as those of their families; the wartime experiences and shipboard operations; and finally the author’s visits with the men and their families many years later to gather information for the book. I found all three perspectives interesting for different reasons, but jumping between the five men and three timelines strained the continuity of the story.
The book is at its strongest when describing the wartime exploits of the Plunkett. Her story is one version of the naval war in the European theater. I have read that she may have been the only Allied ship to have participated in all the major landings in Europe. Destroyers were the workhorses of the Navy, and she certainly was in the thick of things. There is a definite bifurcation in the book, events before the bomb hit off Anzio are covered in great detail, later landings are given only a cursory treatment to close out the story. I would definitely like to hear the fine points of her participation in the D-Day landings, Cherbourg, and Southern France, but they are missing.
Still this is an interesting tale of ships and the sea, and there is much which will be familiar to Navy veterans. Recommended for anyone interest in naval history.
Photographs taken at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (NMUSAF) at Dayton, Ohio.
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Kenneth Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1933 at the age of 17. He was trained as a Naval Aviator in 1937, earning his pilot’s wings while still a private. By February 1943 Walsh was a 1LT, serving with VMF-124 on Guadalcanal. He opened his account on 01APR43 with a triple, scoring another three on 13MAY43 which made him the first pilot to make ace on the Corsair. He continued to add to his score, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for 20 victories. He returned to combat in 1945, serving in the Philippines and scoring his last victory off Okinawa on 22JUN45. Walsh flew transports with VMR-152 during the Korean War, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1958.
The model represents the F4U-1 Corsair of Lt. Kenneth Walsh USMC, VMF-124, as it appeared while operating from Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 1943.