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 port 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.

Hasegawa Grumman Wildcat V of 842 NAS in 1/72 Scale

HMS Fencer (D64) was a Bogue-class escort carrier transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, where they were known as the Attacker class.  Fencer operated in the Atlantic in the convoy escort role, typically carrying a composite airgroup of Wildcats and Avengers.  This is a Wildcat V of 842 NAS which operated aboard Fencer during the Summer of 1944.  The aircraft is camouflaged in the Temperate Sea scheme, decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72-141.

Aircraft Carrier Hiryū Book Review

Anatomy of The Ship The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū

By Stefan Draminski

Hardcover, 336 pages, bibliography

Published by Osprey, July 2022

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472840267

ISBN-13: 978-1472840264

Dimensions:  10.3 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches

The Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū 飛龍 (Flying Dragon) was built to a modified Sōryū design.  While the two ships are often referred to as near-sisters, the Hiryu incorporated a number of revisions intended to strengthen her structurally, improve seakeeping, and reduce top weight.  The most obvious visual difference is that her island was located on the port side of the ship.  Only one other aircraft carrier, Akaki, was fitted with a port-side island.  At the time of her commissioning, Hiryū was the fastest aircraft carrier ever built.

Hiryū was commissioned on 05JUL39 and led a very active service life.  She supported the Japanese invasion of Indochina and the blockade of China.  Then she was one of the six aircraft carriers of the Kido Butai which attacked the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor.  She and Sōryū were then detached to bolster the attack on Wake Island.  After rejoining the Fleet in Japan, they next supported the invasion of the Duch East Indies, and then attacked Darwin and Java.  The Kido Butai then raided the Indian Ocean, sinking several Royal Navy ships including the aircraft carrier Hermes.  She was one of the four Japanese fleet carriers sent to support the invasion of Midway.  After U.S. Navy dive bombers hit the Akagi, Kaga, and Sōryū, Hiryū remained unscathed and was able to launch two strikes against the USS Yorktown (CV-5) which took her out of the fight. Her reprieve was not to last long, as she was in turn hit by dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown which led to her sinking.

Imperial Japanese Navy warships are fascinating, and any new additions to the published works are welcome, particularly in English.  For this book author Stefan Draminski was able to access surviving copies of shipyard drawings from Hiryū’s construction. He has used these to produce detailed line drawings and 3D renders of the ship’s hull and fittings.  Several of these are useful for modelers working on other IJN subjects as many pieces of equipment were common to other ships as well.  The cover lists 600 drawings and 400 3D renders.  I didn’t count them, but that sounds about right.  Several of the drawings are sections of the ship which reveal the internal structures.  There are also several full-page renders which show the aircraft spotted on deck for each wave of the Pearl Harbor strike.

Overall, a beautiful book on an interesting ship.  For the sheer volume of information it is quite a bargain.  It is easy to get lost in this book and spend hours going through the pages.  Highly recommended for all Imperial Japanese Navy fans.

Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units Book Review

Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units

Series:  Osprey Combat Aircraft 140

By Mark Chambers, Illustrated by Jim Laurier

Softcover, 96 pages, index, 30 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2021

ISBN-10: ‎1472845048

ISBN-13: ‎978-1472845047

Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches

The D4Y Suisei (Comet) was a Japanese carrier-based dive bomber, designed to replace the Aichi D3A “Val”.  It was initially powered by a license-built Daimler-Benz DB 601 twelve-cylinder inline engine which gave it an impressive speed and sleek profile.  Later versions were powered by a Mitsubishi Kinsei 42 fourteen-cylinder radial engine due to reliability and maintenance issues with the inlines.  The type suffered from an unusually long developmental period while various bugs were worked out, which delayed its service introduction until the middle of the Pacific War.  By then Japan had suffered numerous setbacks, and the general decline in pilot training and loss of aircraft carriers reduced the potential impact of the design.

The book covers the Judy’s design history and operational service, along with reconnaissance, dive bombing, nightfighter, and Kamikaze variants.  The type was first used operationally when a developmental aircraft was used for reconnaissance, flying from Soryu during the Battle of Midway.  Similarly, the fourth prototype operated from Shokaku during the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942.  Notable successes were the sinking of USS Princeton (CVL-23) by a Judy Kamikaze, and the near-sinking of the USS Franklin (CV-13) by conventional dive-bombing attack.  Kamikaze operations are covered in detail, with a number of pages devoted to the tactics and procedures which they employed.  The final section is devoted to the use of the Judy as a nightfighter.

Like the rest of the Osprey Combat Aircraft series the highlight of the book is the full-color profiles.  These are well-rendered and thoroughly researched.  However, like most Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft, the camouflage was limited to the green over gray scheme with only some variation in the standard markings so there is not much variety.  The earliest profiles are of 1943 machines, so if you’re looking for the Midway or Santa Cruz Judys you’ll need to keep looking.  Despite that the book is well-researched and enlightening, and any book on Japanese aircraft (particularly in English) is most welcome.  Recommended.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair Mishaps Part I

CorsairMishap_01_VF-17-CV-17-USS-Bunker-Hill-July-1943
A birdcage Corsair of VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” bounces high during a landing attempt aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). The squadron was working up their new mounts during the first half of 1943, but a high accident rate led the US Navy to initially declare the Corsair unsuitable for carrier operations. Note the ammunition coveres prominent on the wings.
CorsairMishap_02_USS-Shangri-La
This Corsair has suffered a landing gear collapse and tail separation as the pilot is assisted from the remains of his aircraft. The ammunition covers on the upper wing were interchangeable, and this has led to the white bar of the national insignia being scrambled – a common occurrence and an interesting detail for modelers.
CorsairMishap_03_Bunker-Hill-VF-17-1943
One of several Corsair mishaps aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) is this VF-17 Corsair, showing details of the undersurfaces. VF-17 would deploy from land bases in the Solomons later in 1943, where they fought against Japanese aircraft operating from Rabaul. They went on to become the most successful Navy fighter squadron of the war.
CorsairMishap_04_USS-Essex-1945
A Corsair misses the wire and noses over aboard the USS Essex (CV-9) in 1945. The paintwork is very sloppy, showing overspray on the tail and runs on the side number. The shuffling of the ammunition covers on the wings has again scrambled the markings and contributes to the disheveled appearance.
CorsairMishap_05_VF-17-Bunker-Hill-1943
A deck crane is used to right this Corsair aboard the USS Bunker Hill. The ailerons appear to be replacements and are much darker than outer wing panels. The position and style of the insignia are standard for the first half of 1943.
CorsairMishap_06_HMS_Victorious_SumatraRaid
A Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair loses its drop tank while recovering aboard HMS Victorious during the Sumatra Raid, January 1945. While the Royal Navy Carriers embarked fewer aircraft than their American counterparts, their armored flight decks proved more resistant to damage.
CorsairMishap_07_USSPrinceWilliam
A bad day aboard the USS Prince William (CVE-31), a Bogue-class escort carrier. The Prince William spent most of the war ferrying aircraft to the combat zone.
CorsairMishap_08_VF-17 on the deck of the USS Charger, May 1943
A Corsair crashes through the barrier aboard USS Charger (CVE-30). Charger operated as a training carrier off the Atlantic coast.
CorsairMishap_09_F4U-7 15F-2 aboard the Bois-Belleau
A French Navy F4U-7 has nosed over aboard the carrier Bois Belleau. The ship was commissioned into the US Navy as the Independence-class light carrier USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24). She was transferred to the French Navy in 1953 and served until 1960.
CorsairMishap_10_Vought-F4U-4-Corsair-VF-4B-White-F227-landing-mishap-CVB-42-USS-Franklin-D-Roosevelt-1948-01
The Corsair served as the primary US Navy carrier fighter in the years immediately after the war, until new jet aircraft were introduced. Here a F4U-4 goes over the side of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42). Note the twin 20mm Oerlikon mount in the catwalk beneath the aircraft.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/07/28/chance-vought-f4u-corsair-mishaps-part-ii/

Grumman F6F Hellcat Color Photographs Part I

F6F_01_Yorktown_CV10
An early F6F-3 Hellcat positioned in front of the island of the Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10). The first Hellcats were delivered in the standard Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with national insignia in six locations. This photograph was taken in May, 1943.
F6F_02_-3_Hellcats_aboard_USS_Yorktown_(CV-10),_31_August_1943_(80-G-K-14833)
Yorktown again, but three months later. These Hellcats are finished in the graded scheme and feature the barred insignia with blue outline in four locations. The wings have extensive cordite staining from the guns.
F6F_03_-3s_on_USS_Saratoga_CV-3
Hellcats recovering aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3). Saratoga survived the war, only to be expended as a target for atomic bomb tests.
F6F_04_USS Lexington (CV-16), en route near New Guinea, early April, 1944
F6F Hellcats and SBD Dauntless dive bombers warm up aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) off New Guinea in April, 1944. Close examination of the photo shows kill markings displayed on Hellcats 5 and 20.
F6F_05_-Hellcat-MkI-FAA_18JAN45_HMS_Indomitable
Plane handlers sunbathing on the wing of a Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk.1 of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable, 18 January 1945.
F6F_06_USS_Cowpens_CVL25
Hellcats warming up on the light carrier USS Cowpens (CV-25) prior to the strike on Wake Island. US aircraft carriers stained their decks Deck Blue to make the ships harder to detect from the air.
F6F_07
Pilots and deck crew await the order to start engines. (LIFE magazine photograph)
F6F_08_VF11_Sundowners_USSHornet(CV12)_summer1944
Rocket-armed F6F-5’s of VF-11 Sundowners prepare for launch aboard USS Hornet (CV-12) in the summer of 1944. Avengers and Helldivers await their turns at the aft end of the flight deck.
F6F_09
F6F-5’s being serviced on the flight deck. The -5 Hellcats were finished in an overall glossy Sea Blue scheme. Here they are fitted with white drop tanks, a hold over from the previous graded camo scheme.
F6F_10_RandolphCV15
An F6F-5 secured to the deck of the USS Randolph (CV-15) with a Fletcher-class destroyer in the background. US carriers typically operated in Task Groups of four aircraft carriers, screened by battleships, cruisers, and up to sixteen destroyers.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/grumman-f6f-hellcat-color-photographs-part-ii-drones/

New York City Vintage Photographs Part III

NYC_21_Y1B17_09_RA
A flight of Boeing Y1B-17 Flying Fortresses banks in to fly over Manhattan on 28 March 1937. The bombers were assigned to the 96th Bombardment Squadron, which had twelve Y1B-17s on strength. At the time these were the only heavy bombers in the USAAC inventory. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

NYC_22
The Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth pulls into the pier with the skyscrapers of New York in the background. The Queen Elizabeth was a huge ship even by today’s standards – 1,031 feet in length and displacing 83,000 tons.

NYC_23_RMS_Queen_Mary_20Jun1945_NewYork
Here is the RMS Queen Mary in her gray warpaint. She served as a troop transport during World War Two and was capable of carrying as many as 15,000 troops at a time. Because of her high speed she was thought to be immune to attacks by German U-boats and made the majority of her trans-Atlantic crossings unescorted. She is pictured returning U.S. servicemen home on 20JUN45. Currently Queen Mary is preserved as a museum in Long Beach, California. She is reputed to be haunted.

NYC_24_Richelieu
The French battleship Richelieu on her way to the Brooklyn Naval Yard on 18FEB43 for repairs and modernization. While under Vichy control she was hit by the British battleship HMS Barnham and suffered an internal explosion in her number seven 15” (380 mm) gun in turret two. After her defection to the Free French she was outfitted for service in the Pacific.

NYC_25
The Dornier Do-X makes an eye-level pass along New York’s skyline on 7 August 1931. The largest aircraft of her time, the Do-X was powered by twelve 524 horsepower Bristol Jupiter engines which can be clearly seen in this view.

NYC_26
A Swedish Airlines DC-4 seen over Manhattan in 1946. It did not take long after World War Two for the international airline industry to establish regular routes between major cities around the world.

NYC_27_Goose_01
Three U.S. Coast Guard Grumman JRF-2 Goose (Geese?) fly formation over New York on 10 April 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

NYC_27_Hall_PH3_01
Another Coast Guard amphibian in pre-war livery, this time it is a Hall Aluminum PH-3. This photograph was taken on 21 February 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

NYC_28_Nautilis(SSN571)_13MAY56
The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) enters New York harbor on 13 May 1956. The Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and the first to travel to the North Pole under the ice sheet.

NYC_29_Ranger(CV-4)_HudsonRiver_1939
The aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) travels up the Hudson River in 1939.  Considered too slow for combat in the Pacific she operated in the Atlantic for the majority of the war.  She supported the landings in North Africa on 8 November 1942, where her fighters engaged Vichy French aircraft and her dive bombers hit the French Battleship Jean Bart.

Part IV here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/10/new-york-city-vintage-photographs-part-iv/

Shattered Sword Book Review

DSC_5535

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

By Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully

Hardcover in dustjacket, 640 pages, appendices, notes, and index

Published by Potomac Books, November 2005

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1574889230

ISBN-13: 978-1574889239

Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.8 x 10.0 inches

The Battle of Midway is regarded by many historians as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.   Many articles and books have been written about the battle.  Most of them are wrong.

Shattered Sword examines primary source material to tell the story of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective.  Furthermore, the analysis does not just start with the battle, but examines the Japanese plans from a strategic perspective and shows the effect of the Imperial Navy’s doctrine on the conduct of the battle.  The internal competition with the Imperial Army had a much larger role in Japanese naval operations than is generally realized, and this had huge implications in both the campaign planning and distribution of forces.

The authors also take a deep dive into the design and equipment of the four Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway and how these factors affected the operation and employment of the air groups.  By determining what was possible for the ships and crews to do, they have ruled out several persistent myths about what the Japanese did do and have set the record straight.  Doctrine also plays a huge role in the decisions which are made in any engagement, as navies fight as they train.  An Admiral decides what to do when, doctrine determines how those orders are to be executed.  Here again the authors have been able to show why the Japanese fought as they did.

The surviving records have provided several details which are not present in other works on the subject.  The authors have been able to pin down the times of launch for individual aircraft as well as the names of aircrew.  From this they have been able to determine the number of Zeros over the Japanese fleet at any given time during the morning of 04JUN42.  This also conclusively dispels the myth that the Japanese were launching their own strikes against the American carriers when the Dauntless’ dives began.  There are also a few surprising facts revealed in these records, such as the ineffectiveness of the Japanese anti-aircraft fire, which only accounted for two American aircraft.

I am confident that this book will be the definitive history of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective for the foreseeable future, at least in the English language.  There is room for the story to be told from the American viewpoint with the same scholarly rigor and level of detail, but that history is more readily available to the reader even if it is not compiled in one volume.  This is not a quick read, but well worth the time for anyone wanting to understand the Battle of Midway.  Recommended without reservation.

DSC_5536

SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part II

Mishaps_13
A VB-18 Helldiver seen flat on the deck of the USS Intrepid (CV-11). The flight deck shows no visible damage but the prop tips are bent.
Mishaps_14_VA34_KersargeCV33_SEP48
The US Navy continued to operate the Helldiver briefly in the post-war era. Here an SB2C-5 comes to a spectacular end aboard the USS Kersarge (CV-33) in September 1948.
Mishaps_15_VB92
A VB-92 Helldiver goes over the side of the USS Lexington (CV-16) with a second Essex-class carrier in the background. US Navy doctrine at the time was to operate carriers in Battle Groups of four, along with numerous escorts.
Mishaps_16_VB92_Lexington
Another mishap aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) as the prop of this Helldiver chews up the deck. On advantage of the wooden deck is that it could be repaired quickly.
Mishaps_17_VB2_Hornet
Crash crews aboard the USS Hornet (CV-12) respond quickly as this VB-2 Helldiver impacts the island.
Mishaps_18_WaspCV18
The Helldiver was notoriously hard to control at low speeds resulting in another collision with the after 5”/38 gun mounts aboard the USS Wasp (CV-18).
Mishaps_19_SB2C-4E_VB85_Shangri-La_13MAR45
With a long nose and a short tail the Helldiver displayed a tendency to nose over if the tailhook missed the arresting wires but the landing gear did not. This mishap occurred aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38) on 13MAR45.
Mishaps_22_SB2C-3_IntrepidCV11_30OCT44_assignedHancockCV19
A Helldiver hangs suspended over the side of the USS Intrepid (CV-11) on 30OCT44 after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The odd thing is the tail markings indicate the aircraft was assigned to the USS Hancock (CV-19) at the time.
Mishaps_23
A view of the same Helldiver from below shows just how precarious the situation is. Aside from the bent prop the aircraft appears relatively undamaged.
Mishaps_24_SB2C-4E_VB97__Shangri-La
This SB2C-4E has come in too low and struck the ramp of the USS Shangri-La (CV-38).

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/21/sb2c-helldiver-mishaps-part-i/

SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part I

Mishaps_01_Hancock
A Helldiver noses over next to the island structure of the USS Hancock (CV-19) revealing details of the underside. Modelers should note the oil staining from the radial engine and the cordite streaks on the wings from the shell casing chutes for the 20 mm cannon.
Mishaps_02_BunkerHill
The tail gunner of this SB2C-1 searches for the missing tail of his Helldiver after recovering aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). The aircraft is from VB-17 during her workups on 19JUL43. VB-17 would fly their Helldivers against the Japanese at Rabaul in November during the type’s first combat action.
Mishaps_03_Lexington
This overall Glossy Sea Blue Helldiver has nosed over and bent its prop, as well as damaging the wooden deck to the right of the frame. The deck crew appears interested in the starboard wheel.
Mishaps_04_SB2C_Ticonderoga
Fire crews move in on this SB2C aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The fuselage has suffered a structural failure just behind the cockpit.
Mishaps_05_SB2C_VB15_Hornet_2JAN44
This Helldiver from VB-15 appears to have lost its tail surfaces due to a collision with another aircraft. Ideally recovered aircraft would have been spotted forward of a wire crash barrier to prevent just such an occurrence but this one did not make it in time. The carrier is the USS Hornet (CV-12) on 02JAN44 during work-ups.
Mishaps_06_SB2C_USS_Ticonderoga_January_1945
The tail hook has missed the wire but the landing gear did not, causing this Helldiver to nose over aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), January 1945.
Mishaps_07_SB2C1_VB17_Bunker_Hill
An SB2C-1 of VB-17 misses the wire and careens into the island of the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).
Mishaps_08_SB2C-4_VB87_Ticonderoga_06JUN45
The geometric triangle recognition symbol identifies this SB2C-4 as belonging to VB-87 from the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The aircraft went into the water on 06JUN45.
Mishaps_09_SB2C-3_USS_Ticonderoga_1944
Another USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) Helldiver having a bad day. The leading edge extension on the outer wings were interlocked with the landing gear and extended to increase lift at low speed.
Mishaps_10_SB2C-3_VB-82_ChargerCVE30_21JUN44
A training accident aboard USS Charger (CVE-30) has left this SB2C-3 of VB-82 over the side with damage to the wing. The crew has already thrown the pilot a life ring. Escort carriers did not operate the Hellcat in combat.
Mishaps_11_SB2C-4E_LexingtonCV16
The SB2C-4E has lost her engine after impacting the after 5”/38 twin turret on the deck of the USS Lexington (CV-16).
Mishaps_12_SB2C-4E_TiconderogaCV14_VB8
This SB2C-4E has become tangled in the arresting wires aboard USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). By this time the Ticonderoga’s airgroup has traded in their geometric triangle recognition symbol for the more easily described letter “V”.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/11/04/sb2c-helldiver-mishaps-part-ii/