North American P-51C / F-6C Mustangs of the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Color Photographs

The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group operating in China. They were equipped with the North American P-51C Mustang as well as the F-6C, a reconnaissance version fitted with cameras. The F-6C carried the full armament of the standard P-51B/C, four .50 caliber machine guns and bomb racks. This is 43-25185, wearing the 118th’s distinctive lightning bolt markings.
Another photo of 43-25185 from a slightly different angle. Note the dirt on the 500-pound bombs beneath the wings. On 20JAN45 Lt. Glenn Geyer was shot down by flak in this aircraft while attacking a Japanese airfield. With the help of the Chinese, he was able to evade capture for three months until he could return to his unit.
A shot of 118th aircraft at Laohwangping. The unit painted on the lightning bolt markings in October 1944, and soon added the yellow borders to make them more prominent. Note the variation in the propeller spinners. Two of the aircraft wear the overall dark green camouflage commonly seen on Chinese Air Force aircraft.
A close-up of the nose of an overall dark green Mustang. Note that the gear legs and inside of the gear doors also appear to be painted, the wheel wells likely are as well. The pilot posing in this photograph has been identified as Lt. LeRoy Price.
Another view of the same aircraft seen in the previous photo, this time with Lt. Fred Poats. While there is a tendency when looking at photographs to associate the pilot with the aircraft, sometimes the pilots took turns posing with their friends, passing the camera around.
Lt. Poat’s assigned aircraft was named “Lady Marion”, seen here being guarded by a Chinese soldier. She was a P-51C-10-NT, serial number 44-11102.
Another view of “Lady Marion”. Note the absence of the yellow trim on the lightning bolt markings. Just aft of the lettering can be seen the outline where a pin-up had been laminated to the fuselage but has been blown off. A new “Lady Marion” has replaced her on the port landing gear cover.
Another Chinese infantryman providing security for a 118th TRS Mustang. This aircraft also lacks the yellow trim to the fuselage markings, but sports a yellow-black-yellow spinner.
A Chinese civilian crosses the airfield with an oxcart. The Chinese personnel seen in these photos would make an interesting and unusual figure set for modelers.
A 118th TRS Mustang comes in for a landing, carrying two 75 gallon drop tanks finished in Neutral Gray. The Mustangs in China were equipped with the HF/DF loops on the spines, and did not have access to the Malcolm hoods commonly seen on Mustangs based in England.

Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Glider Colour Photographs

The Airspeed Horsa was a British glider used during the Second World War. Inspired by German airborne and glider operations during the opening phases of the war, British and American forces hurriedly established their own airborne formations and developed gliders to support them. The Horsa made its first flight on 12SEP41, ten months after the initial specification was issued. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The design featured all-wooden construction. Production had minimal impact on other projects as the sub-assemblies were constructed in furniture manufacturing plants. The design carried a flight crew of two in a glazed cockpit. In an unusual change, a specification was issued to modify the design for use as a bomber.  This was known as the AS.52, and could carry up to four tons (3,600 kg) of bombs.  200 were ordered, but the bomber program was cancelled before any were produced. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Horsa could carry thirty troops or cargo up to a jeep and 6-pound anti-tank gun. To facilitate unloading there was a door aft of the cockpit on the port side. In addition the entire tail section could be detached using eight quick-release bolts, the control wires for the tail surfaces being cut with wire cutters.
The concept originally envisioned using the gliders to enhance the number of paratroopers carried by the towing aircraft – the paras would jump from the Horsas in flight and the glider would be towed back to base. This plan was soon shelved as the advantages of having the glider land at the objective became apparent.
The USAAF acquired 400 Horsas in a reverse Lend-Lease agreement, which were used during the Normandy landings. Compared to the 30 troopers carried by the Horsa, the American WACO glider could only carry 13.
Here a Horsa is being inspected by King George VI and Princess Elizabeth at Netheravon on 19MAY44. Note the aft fuselage has been detached for display. (Imperial War Museum)
Taken at a training unit at Brize Norton in June 1943, this glider displays black and yellow diagonal stripes on its underside. These were applied to indicate the aircraft was towing or being towed, an implied warning to other aircraft to be aware of the possibility of cables between or behind the aircraft. (Imperial War Museum)
With the end of the Second World War the glider forces were disbanded and the Horsas were either scrapped or sold as surplus. Enterprising civilians converted some into travel trailers or small cottages. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Grumman JRF / G-21 / OA-9 Goose Color Photographs

The idea for the Grumman Goose begam with a request from several New York businessmen for a commuter aircraft. Grumman’s design was for a twin-engine amphibian which could seat up to eight passengers. It could also be appointed as a “flying yacht”, complete with luxury accommodations and a bar. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The potential utility of the design was not lost on the U.S. Coast Guard, who soon placed orders for the Goose outfitted for the Search And Rescuer (SAR) role. Pictured at Floyd Bennet Field in 1940 are two JRF and a Hall PH flying boat in the Yellow Wings scheme.
The U.S. Army Air Corps designated the aircraft the OA-9 and ordered 26 examples in 1938. These were used as light transports in addition to SAR duties. Another attractive scheme.
The British Fleet Air Arm also adopted the type, and the Goose was also operated by Canada. Here is FB486 in the Temperate Sea Scheme on a delivery flight in 1942.
A fine study of a Goose over the inhospitable Alaskan landscape.
After America’s entry into the war, the USCG used the Goose for anti-submarine patrol. At least two kills were claimed, but post-war analysis reduced this to one damaged. Here Coast Guard personnel load depth charges. Modelers should note the color and condition of the ordinance. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Goose was well-suited for rescue work, here is a posed shot demonstrating casualty evacuation. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The red surround to the national insignia dates this photograph to the Summer of 1943. An interesting detail is the retractable wheel, which was apparently painted without the benefit of masking the tire! (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

Russian Cruiser Moskva

The Russian missile cruiser Moskva was the lead ship of the Slava (Glory) class. Her construction began in 1976 at Nikolayev, Ukraine and she was commissioned into service on 30JAN83. She was renamed Moskva (Moskow) in 1996. She was planned to be the lead ship in a class of four, but only three were completed. Like most Soviet-era warships, Moskva was inactivated and underwent several abortive refit periods after the break-up of the Soviet Union, limited by Russia’s lack of funds. She completed a refit in 2020 which was intended to extend her service life to 2040.
The Slava-class cruisers were designed to operate with a Surface Action Group (SAG) against American Aircraft Carriers. As such, she was equipped with large launch tubes for sixteen P-500 Bazal’t (NATO reporting name SS-N-12 Sandbox) anti-ship missiles. Soviet doctrine called for massed attacks of long-range missiles in an attempt to overwhelm the carriers’ escorts.
The SS-N-12 design was upgraded, the current version is known as the P-1000 Vulcan. While designed as an anti-ship cruise missile, it is also capable of striking land-based targets. There are reports of Moskva using her missiles against Ukrainian land targets earlier in the current war. The Vulcan can be fitted with a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) conventional or nuclear warhead.
The Moskva was also outfitted with the S-300 Fort (SA-N-6 Grumble) area defense missile system. These were located in eight 8-cell launchers below decks forward of the helicopter hanger. The structure which resembles a cupcake to the right is the Top Dome radar used to control the missiles. This missile design has also been developed into a land-based version and has been continuously upgraded. The cannisters visible on the main deck along the aft superstructure are life raft containers.
During the Ukrainian War the Moskva operated from the port of Sevastopol in the Black Sea providing air defense for Russian naval units and directing aircraft. She was one of the ships which shelled Snake Island, and launched Vulcan missiles against Ukrainian targets ashore. After seven weeks of war her operating areas off the Ukrainian coast and patterns had become predicable.
On 13APR22 the Ukrainian Navy fired two Neptune anti-ship missiles at Moskva from the shore near Odessa. Moskva was operating approximately 50 nautical miles from the coast at the time. The operation was supported by drones which were intended to distract the crew. The Neptune is designed as a sea-skimmer, flying close to the water surface to avoid enemy radar. The “UFO” to the left of the photo is the cap from the missile tube.
Ukraine claims both missiles hit Moskva, and multiple other countries have confirmed the hits. Russia says the Moskva was damaged by an internal explosion and fire. This is one of two photographs which show the ship on fire and listing while other ships provide assistance. Russia claims the ship sank in a storm while under tow, but the sea appears calm in these pictures. At 12,500 tons, Moskva is the largest warship lost in combat since World War II.
The second photograph provides more details. There is damage to the hull forward of the stack which is a possible missile impact point, ironically located just below her port ADMG-630 close-in weapons system. Soot stains at multiple points along the hull are evidence of extensive fires below decks. Just visible behind the aft superstructure the masts and water cannon of a salvage ship can be seen. The life raft cannisters and ships’ boats are missing, indicating that the crew has already abandoned ship. Forward, the SS-N-12 cannisters appear intact, it is not known if Moskva had any of these missiles on board at the time.
Moskva carried a crew of between 485 and 510. Russia claims all were evacuated safely. Western media reports vary widely, with 54 said to be rescued, all lost, or 200 in hospital with burns. To prove at least some of the crew survived, the Russian MoD released photographs it claimed were of the crew parading at Sevastopol on 16APR22. Visible are an estimated 240 sailors being reviewed by Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov (left) and Moskva’s Captain Anton Kuprin (center), both of whom were claimed to have been killed in the attack.

North American AT-6 / SNJ Texan / Harvard Color Photographs Part I

The North American AT-6 was designed as a single-engine trainer for the USAAC. While performance figures are modest compared to contemporary fighter designs, the AT-6 was rugged, easy to maintain, and a joy to fly. Produced under license in several countries, the AT-6 and related variations served in several capacities with multiple air forces around the world and is still a popular Warbird today.
Even in its primary role as a trainer, the Texan could be armed. There was provision for a cowl-mounted Browning .30 caliber machine gun for gunnery training, with some versions mounting an additional Browning in the starboard wing. Here armorers load the cowl guns in preparation for a training mission, the photograph providing an excellent view of engine and propeller details.
The rear crew position could also be fitted with a .30 caliber Browning on a flexible mount for training aerial gunners, as seen here.
North American’s trainer spawned a bewildering variety of sub-types and related designs, many with additional modifications. In the U.S. Navy the type was called the SNJ, in Britain and the Commonwealth it was known as the Harvard. Figures vary depending on what exactly is being counted, but one estimate places total production at 15,495. Seen here are U.S. Navy SNJs at Naval Air Station Miami.
Navy training aircraft often carried yellow wings to increase visibility. While efforts were made to keep the aircraft clean, worn paint was generally not touched up and former front-line aircraft used as trainers were not generally repainted which resulted in some interesting color and marking combinations on the flight lines of training facilities. This SNJ at NAS Miami appears to have a worn application of Blue Gray on her fuselage.
Here a sailor performs brake maintenance on an SNJ, the angle of the photograph providing a view of the wheelwell interior.
Here a team of WAVE mechanics have removed the cowling of this SNJ, allowing the engine and accessory bay detail to be seen. The engine is a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp.
Many Texans in the training role were kept exceptionally clean, as can be seen in the mirror-like polish on the fuselage of this example.
“Bridget SQDN Baby” was used as a hack by a fighter squadron, and is seen at Mount Farm, England. Whether her acquisition by the unit was official or otherwise is not known.
Texans found their way into front-line service with several air forces over the years, this T-6 is serving as a Forward Air Controller with the USAF in Korea. Under the wings are white phosphorus rockets, used to mark targets for strike aircraft.

Royal Canadian Navy Coastal Forces Colour Photographs

During the Second World War the British Commonwealth operated a large number of small combatants of several types. These vessels were quite versatile, common fittings allowing for rapid changes in armament to adapt them to various roles. Here is Q050, an RCN Fairmile B on patrol off Newfoundland in 1944.
Taken from the same series, Q094 passes a small iceberg. The boats typically operated in groups of six, and could augment or replace larger escorts or patrol ships in coastal waters.
Armament could vary considerably over time and be configured to fit various roles. This is the bow 20mm Oerlikon cannon aboard Q094. The Oerlikon was a reliable and hard-hitting weapon and was used in a variety of mounts.
A closeup of the conning station showing details of interest to modelers. The rating is operating a signal lamp. Note the side light with the darkened trough.
A fine study of MTB-460, a Canadian G Type torpedo boat of the 29th Motor Torped Boat Flotilla. She participated in the D-Day landings on 06JUN44, but was mined and sunk with the loss of ten crew on 01JUL44.
A bows-on shot of MTB-460 at speed. Her main mast is offset to the starboard side, an unusual feature.
A large group of Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boats seen moored at Great Yarmouth in 1945. The group includes the Canadian 65th MTB Flotilla. The gun mounted forward is a 6-pounder (57mm) with a Molins autoloader, a heavy and potent weapon for a small craft.
A detail view of the previous photograph which allows a comparison of the equipment fit and stowage variations between individual vessels. A close study reveals no two are quite the same.

Luftwaffe Rescue Buoys

During the Second World War the Luftwaffe deployed a series of rescue buoys or Rettungsboje along the Continental side of the English Channel. The buoys were intended to provide shelter for downed airmen until help could arrive.
There were several similar buoy designs employed in this effort. Luftwaffe aircrew called them Udet-Boje after Ernst Udet, who directed their development. The British nicknamed them “lobster pots” due to their box-like shape and bright yellow paint schemes.
This contemporary magazine illustration shows the internal layout. The buoys were provisioned with food, dry clothing, medical supplies, and various means of signaling the need for rescue. There were also basic creature comforts such as playing cards, radio, and board games to alleviate boredom. Supplies were to be immediately replenished by rescuers to ensure the buoys were always fully equipped and ready for the next use.
The buoys were not secured in the typical manner using multiple anchor points and chains, but were moored using a single anchor line so ditching aircrew would have a visual indication of winds at the surface and could ditch their aircraft in a favorable position for the crew to reach the buoy. Consequently the buoys would occasionally part their moorings and wind up washed ashore like this example.
Retrievals were often performed by dedicated rescue aircraft of the Seenotdienst, the Luftwaffe’s rescue service. Here is a Heinkel He 59 in a high-visibility rescue scheme. These aircraft were suspected by the British of performing reconnaissance in addition to their rescue duties, and the RAF was ordered to consider them legitimate targets.
Seeing the value in the concept, the British developed their own version which was deployed along the English side of the channel. With a more boat-like hull, perhaps seakeeping was marginally improved.
Many aircrews were saved by the buoys on both sides of the Channel. For their parts, aircrew in distress took their chance for survival and used what ever rescue buoy they could reach, only the identity of their rescuers determining whether they would be held as PoWs or returned to their units.

A short but very well-done video description here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b44TxTuLB0&ab_channel=MilitaryHistoryinaMinute

Royal Air Force Air Sea Rescue Launch Color Photographs

During the Second World War the Royal Air Force operated a fleet of small boats and aircraft with the primary mission of performing search and rescue operations. They were organized as the RAF Marine Branch (much to the chagrin of the Royal Navy) with the motto of “The sea shall not have them”. The service eventually grew to over 300 High Speed Launches and 1,000 other vessels of various types.
While the RAF Marine Branch was formed with the intention of rescuing RAF airmen downed at sea, in practice they rescued airmen and sailors of any nation under the ancient seafaring tradition of coming to the aid of any person in danger at sea. By the end of WWII it was estimated that the Marine Branch had saved the lives of over 8,000 airmen and 5,000 sailors.
An unusual view of High Speed Launch 2586 on a beaching dolly provides a fine view of her hull form. This is a British Power Boat “68 footer” derived from a torpedo boat design. Armament was intended for self-defense and was contained in power-operated turrets as used on RAF bombers.
This is a series of photographs showing the acceptance inspection of HSL 2562 in February 1942. The inspection team is comprised mainly of personnel from the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
The launches carried high visibility markings for easy identification as rescue vessels and to help coordinate rescue efforts from the air. These photographs reveal several details of interest to modelers.
Despite their humanitarian mission, the boats were subject to attack. Visible here are splinter mats around the conning station to help protect the crew.
All photographs are from the collect of the Imperial War Museum.

Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk Color Photographs

The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk was the last U.S. Navy floatplane designed for shipboard use. It entered service during the closing months of WWII, replacing the SO3C Seamew and OS2U Kingfisher. This Seahawk carries a surface-scan radar pod under the starboard wing.
The SC-1 was a single-seat monoplane, but there were accommodations for a passenger within the fuselage. The wings could be folded, hence the Intermediate Blue camouflage on the underside of the outer wing panels.
This photograph shows details of the accommodation ladder and beaching gear structure. The engine was a Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone rated at 1,350 hp, which gave the Seahawk a respectable 313 mph (504 km/h) maximum speed.
Here an SC-1 comes alongside the large cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) for recovery. As is apparent this could result in a wild ride for the aircraft, and both the aircraft and parent ship were somewhat vulnerable while the aircraft was being hoisted aboard.
Alaska’s SC-1 on the recovery sled. The sled was constructed of canvas and netting, the floatplane was provided with a hook on the underside of the float which engaged the net and allowed the aircraft to be towed by the ship while the hoist was attached.
A Seahawk is being hoisted aboard the light cruiser USS Manchester (CL-83) in 1948. By this time the Navy was beginning to replace its catapult floatplanes with helicopters for shipboard use. Note the white horizontal tailplanes and “USS Manchester” carried above her fuselage insignia.