Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 4

A PBY-5A Catalina amphibian from VP-61 flies over the rugged Aleutian landscape in March 1943. Aerials for the surface search radar can be seen under the wings.

Another photograph from the Aleutians shows this PBY moored to a buoy with others visible in the background. Flying boat squadrons could be based in sheltered bays and supported from seaplane tenders, many of which in the US Navy were converted from flush-deck destroyers.

PBY_43_Puerto Rico 1939, Gov. William_P_Leahy
A pre-war photograph taken in 1939 shows a Catalina from Patrol Squadron 51 in the colorful yellow wings markings. Posed in front of the aircraft is the Governor of Puerto Rico, William P. Leahy.

PBY_44_Vice Admiral Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN, Stands in Center of Large Group of French and American Naval Officers at NAS, Norfolk, Virginia
VADM Patrick Bellinger presides over a ceremony at NAS Norfolk. The PBY is finished in the Atlantic ASW scheme of Gull Gray over White. Note the asymmetric demarcation of the color separation on the fuselage.

VP-94 transfers their PBY-5A’s to the Brazilian Navy in this ceremony held at Rio de Janeiro in October 1944. The aircraft in the background shows evidence of the US national insignia painted out under the wing.

A PBY-5A framed by the twin tails of the aircraft which supplanted, but never entirely replaced the Catalina in service, The Martin PBM Mariner.

Seen in high-vis post-war markings, this PBY-6 served in the Search And Rescue role with the US Coast Guard.

PBY_48_at Naval Air Station, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sailors perform engine maintenance at NAS New Orleans. The Catalina is in the graded camouflage scheme and carries the national markings authorized in August 1943.

RCAF ,PBY -5 Canso,  Jan. 1942 Photo; RCAF via James Craik
A beautiful in-flight shot of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso in flight in January 1942 in the Temperate Sea Scheme.

A Catalina on the ramp displaying her waist gun and rather intricate radio antenna rig.

Colorful Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Markings Part 1

The P-40 Warhawk is probably best known as the plane with the shark’s teeth, and the unit which started it all was the RAF’s 112 Squadron which first painted the famous marking on their Kittyhawk I’s in North Africa.  Here Lt A. R. Costello strikes a pose next to his aircraft at Sidi Heneish, Egypt.

The sharkmouth fit the contours of the P-40 particularly well.  112 Squadron aircraft soon became favorites of photographers, and pictures were picked up by several magazines eager to provide coverage of the war.

The magazine coverage made it all the way to China, where pilots of the American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” decided shark’s teeth would look nice on their aircraft as well.  Their aircraft and exploits soon became legend and are still one of the most recognizable schemes to this day.  Each set of shark’s teeth was painted by hand and differed in details.  (Robert Smith photograph)

The 343rd Fighter Group was activated on 03SEP42 at Elmendorf Field, Alaska.  It consisted of the 11th and 18th Fighter Squadrons on Curtiss P-40Es and the 54th Fighter Squadron on Lockheed P-38s.  A fourth squadron with P-40Es, the 344th, was added in October.  In command was Lt Col John Chennault, whose father of Flying Tigers fame inspired the Tiger nose art applied to the Group’s P-40s.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

A lesser known application is this yellow nosed P-40E.  Supposedly there were two aircraft painted in these nose markings at Malaybalay, Mindanao while flying in defense of the Philippines, but documentation is lacking.

At least one of these aircraft was captured by the Japanese in airworthy condition.  It was given Japanese Hinomaru over the U.S. insignia, although the “U.S. ARMY” lettering is still just visible under the wings in this photograph.

Another view as the Japanese examine their prize.  Several U.S. types were captured and restored to airworthy condition on Java and the Philippines, including many P-40s and three B-17s.

A view of the starboard side of the nose from a Japanese magazine.  Most artist’s renderings depict the head as either being yellow, or yellow with red mottling.  The “bullet-riddled” description in the English caption is wishful thinking, there were several P-40s captured intact by the Japanese that were quite flyable.

The shark’s mouth marking remained popular with P-40 units, particularly those flying in the Chinese Theater.  Here is a P-40N of the 74th Fighter Squadron being fitted with rocket tubes at Kweilen, China in 1943-44.

Yet another variation seen in India, this P-40K of the 25th Fighter Squadron 51st Fighter Group is pictured at Assam Valley India in 1944.  A smaller mouth but larger fangs.

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40E Warhawk 343rd Fighter Group Aleutian Tigers in 1/72 Scale

This is the excellent Special Hobby P-40E Warhawk kit with markings from DK Decals Aleutian Planes sheet 72030.  The aircraft is one of those assigned to the 11th Fighter Squadron 343rd Fighter Group seen at Adak, Alaska in the Summer of 1943.  I added some detail to the cockpit and installed the canvas dust covers in the wheelwells using masking tape but other than that did very little to the kit.  The P-40s in the Aleutians suffered an extreme amount of paint wear at the wing roots.  One problem with the camouflage is this particular aircraft did not have the Medium Green spots on the upper surface, an error on my part.





















Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part IV

After a second coat of Future (Klear) to seal the decals I washed the panel lines with the black Tamiya wash.  If you remove the excess wash from the surface in the direction of airflow it accentuates the weathered look.  After that I began experimenting a bit.  The wing root joints were chipped with the silver Revlon Modeling Silver Chipping Medium and the area dirtied up with a slightly darker shade of Tan applied with a small piece of sponge.

Here is the P-40E showing the extreme of wing root chipping.  The Olive Drab camo has some toning applied with the airbrush.  Over that are slightly different shades of Olive Drab stippled on lightly with sponge held in tweezers.

The Neutral Gray undersides received the same treatment.  I like the effect so I’ll likely continue to try to refine the technique.

Here is the 343rd Fighter Group “Aleutian Tiger” using DK Decals.  I tried brushing on the Medium Green spots on the wings and the tail surfaces, the Mr. Color paint looks good under the clear coats.  I will admit to an error here – 0610 was one of the Aleutian Warhawks which did not have the Medium Green spots over the Olive Drab.  That’s what I get for having the wrong picture on the bench on painting day!

This P-40K of the 26th Fighter Squadron / 51st Fighter Group was built using the kit decals.  These are printed by Cartograph and performed flawlessly.  You do need to pay attention to the exact period you want to represent with this aircraft’s markings though, they changed over time.  I chose to show my model in later markings with five victories, shark’s teeth, blue outlined insignia, and Olive Drab areas on the tail and carburetor intake.

All five together for a group picture!  Now that these are done, I’ll be needing some more!



The Special Hobby P-40 family are great kits.  The fuselages and wings are separate tools where required to represent the different sub-types, and alternate detail parts are provided to accommodate the more subtle differences.  Two different styles of drop tanks and a 500-pound bomb allow for the most common stores load outs.  The kit decals are excellent and the marking choices are good ones and there is no end to alternate schemes available from the aftermarket.  The kits have good cockpit detail and build up well straight from the box which will make them a perfect choice for contest modelers looking for an OOB entry.

The only real fit issue is at the instrument panel cover and windscreen joint (parts B14 and G1).  I recommend attaching the cover to the instrument panel first and then inserting the assembly into the fuselage rather than waiting until the end of the build to fit the cover.  You will still need to remove some material to get the front windscreen to seat properly so don’t skip the test-fitting here.

The wing / fuselage joint is a tight fit and can be easily thrown off by mold seams.  This is one joint which should be glued with MEK-based “thin” cement as this will dissolve any minor imperfections and result in a good seamless fit.

If you follow the kit instructions the radiator assembly will sit too far back in the nose, it needs to be move forward a bit.

The kit tires are smooth treads, most P-40s had variations of diamond or block treads so check your references.  If such things are worth your money there are resin replacements available in several different styles.

If I could change one thing it would be for Special Hobby to include Kabuki tape canopy masks.  Eduard makes some for these kits, but they are $7 – $10 per set, which is roughly three times what Eduard charges for their P-40 mask sets meant for kits from other manufacturers.  Not sure what the problem here is but I hope it doesn’t become a trend.

Sell your 1/72 scale Hasegawa P-40 kits.  The leading edge of the Hasegawa wing sits 2-3 mm too high up on the fuselage on these kits and there is no way to “unsee” this once you figure it out, and no practical way to fix it.

Bottom line is these are great kits and fun builds.  And who doesn’t like the P-40?

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part III

One of the Warhawks will represent a machine of the 343rd Fighter Group in the Aleutians.  The gritty sand of the airfields there got into everything and wore away the paint on the wingroots of the aircraft, this is evident in almost every picture you can find.  This is a chipping technique I have used in the past with some success.  The areas to be chipped are first painted with Alclad Aluminum, and then sealed with a coat of Future (Klear).  Then Micro Mask is stippled onto the areas where you want the chipping, in this case along the seams of the wingroot.

I then covered the area with a Zinc Chromate primer color and camouflaged as usual.  When everything was dry the paint on the worn areas was removed with masking tape.  You have some control over the process at this point, the chipped areas will expand the more you apply the tape, at least to a point.

For finer chips I augmented Revlon Modeling Silver Chipping Medium.  This comes in other useful colors as well and has a very fine brush built into the cap.  You can also see I have begun to distress the Olive Drab camouflage by dappling on slightly different shades with bits of sponge.

For segmented schemes poster putty is used.

Here all the main paintwork has been applied and everything has received a coat of Future in preparation for decals.  That was my intention anyway, but as you can see I began applying insignia before I remembered I needed to shoot the photograph!

After the decals had thoroughly dried another coat of Future was applied to seal everything in preparation for washes and weathering.

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part II

Curtiss produced the P-40 with canvas covers in the wheelwells to prevent water and dirt from entering the wing.  These were often removed in the field, exposing the internal structure.  Special Hobby has molded in the structural detail.  This is good, as it is much easier to represent the covers than to scratchbuild the internal detail.  Here I have used masking tape for the canvas, seams can be eliminated with superglue and Mr. Surfacer 500.  Easy to do if you want the change.

The fuselage is closed up with the instrument panel inserted.  The instrument panel is a tricky fit, I would recommend installing it at the same time the fuselage halves are joined to allow some wiggle room.  Modelers who wait to install the “dashboard cover” piece until later report that it is very difficult to get a good join.

I experimented with glues on this build.  The P-40E was built with superglue.  This left a seam to be filled at the wing root, but ensured there was no danger of a sinking seam along the fuselage joint later.  The other kits were joined with MEK from the hardware store.  The MEK yielded a much better join at the wingroot, effectively liquefying any imperfections and allowing the parts to settle in properly without any gaps.  I was worried that the fuselage seams might draw in over time but that did not happen on this build.

The biggest thing Special Hobby could do to improve these kits would be to include a set of Kabuki tape canopy masks.  Eduard does make some, but for some reason they are asking $7 – $10 per set, which is half again the cost of the kits.  Outrageous!  I masked the canopies the old-school way with Tamiya tape.  Not the most entertaining way to spend an evening but I saved $50.

Hawks on a stick!  Seamwork was checked with Mr. Surfacer 1000, any problem areas filled and reprimed.   Ready for paint!

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part I

I usually build models in batches, I find this is much more efficient than just building a single kit.  It also helps compensate for my difficulties in deciding which paint scheme I like best.  This will be a small batch of five Special Hobby P-40 Warhawks.  I think of Special Hobby as more of a limited run manufacturer, but they continue to improve their game and are becoming more like Eduard in some ways.

A sprue shot of the P-40E kit.  The top sprue is specific to the P-40E, the smaller parts sprue is common to the entire family.  Molding is crisp with finely recessed panel lines.  There are optional parts for the props, wheels, cockpit, and exhausts to account for the differences between variants.  Two styles of drop tanks and a 500 pound bomb give you some options for hangy bits.  Optional parts on the clear sprue provide the opportunity to pose the canopy open or closed.  Cartograph printed the decals, there are marking options for four different aircraft and complete stencils.  There is no P.E. and no canopy masks.

To accommodate the different variants Special Hobby tooled alternate fuselage and wing sprues.  Here you can see the difference between the short fuselage P-40K (upper) and long fuselage P-40N (lower).  I bought two of each of these kits for this build, but my boxes included only one -K fuselage and three for the -N.  I contacted Special Hobby’s customer support and they sent me some parts for an A-20 Havoc, but eventually it all got sorted.

The floor of the cockpit is the top of the wing box, as it should be.  Side panels are separate pieces so the depth can be properly molded without introducing sink marks.  I added seat belts from photographic paper.

The cockpit again after detail painting and a wash.  I didn’t add anything here other than the belts, it all looks quite good right out of the box.

There are different panel pieces for the different variants, so pay attention to the instructions. Instrument panels themselves are more photographic paper.  I have deviated from the build sequence by attaching the gunsight and top pieces to the panels in an attempt to avoid a fit problem with the canopy later.  This was partially successful; I did get the top piece secured but had to do a little trimming to get the canopy to seat well.

The chaos on the bench due in no small part to the Recent Unpleasantness.  The two B-17s were nearing completion but some desired insignia masks were delayed by shipping issues related to  the Wuhan Flu.  The P-40s were held up by the fuselage parts mix-up so I started on the Tamiya P-47.  As that was nearing completion the correct P-40K sprue arrived so I got started on them.  Last week I received an email saying the Serbian Post was back in action so the B-17 masks are on the way.  Hopefully everything on the bench will be moving to the case in short order and I can get this mess cleaned up!

Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 3

A view of two Catalinas wearing a mix of camouflages and markings.  The nearer aircraft is in the Atlantic ASW scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White and wears the blue-bordered insignia adopted in August 1943.  The aircraft in the background is in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with the earlier national insignia which still carries the yellow border used during the Torch landings in North Africa.

Not the best picture but another mix of different camouflages.  Noteworthy is the pin-up artwork on the tail of the aircraft on the left.  Personal markings or artwork were common on USAAF aircraft but much less so with USN / USMC operated aircraft.  The artwork and the serial on the tail indicate these are USAAF OA-10As.

A rather worn PBY-5A over the ocean.  The white dots over the rear fuselage are insulators for an extensive array of antenna wires, also note the ASV radar antenna under the starboard wing.

Diorama bait!  Here the USS Gillis (AVD-12) refuels a PBY astern in Aleutian waters while three Higgins 78 foot Patrol Torpedo Boats nest alongside.  The Gillis was a Clemson-class Destroyer converted to a seaplane tender, but still retained a significant compliment of guns & depth charges and could function as an escort vessel.  She was credited with damaging a Japanese submarine with depth charges while in the Aleutians.  (via David Knights)

Passing documents to the co-pilot of a VP-51 PBY. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

Here the beaching crew is preparing to bring a PBY-5 up on the ramp using wetsuits and a small dinghy.  This involved attaching wheeled beaching gear to the aircraft and then hauling it up the ramp using a towing vehicle or block and tackle, and had to be done in all weather conditions and temperatures.  Note the repainted areas on the wing of this PBY. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

The hauling lines are attached aft and beaching gear is being secured to the fuselage sides.  The crewman standing in the waist blister is recovering the sea anchor, a canvas device used to orient and slow the aircraft on the surface in windy conditions. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

Line handlers stabilize the PBY while it is being readied to come up the ramp. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

A PBY-5 approaches the ramp while the beaching crew stands by.  In warm weather the men in the water could get by with regular swimming trunks. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

An Oliver tractor is being used to haul the PBY-5 up the ramp.  An additional set of beaching gear is positioned on the ramp, standing by for the next aircraft. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

A Case tractor is secured for towing on the seaplane ramp. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

The PBY is ready to move. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

A nice airborne shot of a pre-war PBY-5 seaplane.  684 PBY-5 seaplanes were produced before production shifted to the PBY-5A amphibian. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 1

A beautiful shot of an RAF Catalina I in flight.  The RAF began operating the Catalina in 1940.  The aircraft wears the standard Temperate Sea scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Gray over Sky.

Another Catalina in the RAF Temperate Sea scheme, but this time in U.S. markings at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in August 1942.  A number of aircraft on British order were pressed into U.S. service after Pearl Harbor.

A PBY passes by Segula Island in the Aleutians.  While it makes for a visually interesting picture, the ruggedness of the terrain is also apparent.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

This PBY illustrates the propensity in the Aleutian Theater to deviate from standard insignia protocols.   All the national insignia visible on this aircraft carry the red outline briefly authorized during the Summer of 1943, although by that time the insignia was not supposed to have been carried on the upper surface of the starboard wing.

Another LIFE Magazine photograph showing a PBY over the inhospitable Aleutian terrain.  Prior to the Pacific War the U.S. Navy had declared seaplane operations in the Aleutian Winter to be impossible, but wartime requirements soon forced a reassessment.

The PBY with its successor in the Aleutians, the PV-1 Neptune.  Both aircraft carry the mid-1943 style national insignia.

Crewmen performing engine maintenance on a PBY-5A of VP-31.  The spray strake on the bow is clearly visible, as is the search radar aerial on the port wing.

The USAAF operated the Catalina in the Search And Rescue role, designating their aircraft the OA-10A.  This white example displays a USAAF serial on the vertical tail and the streamlined radar housing which first appeared late in the PBY-5A production run.

The USCG also operated the PBY-5A, this example is seen in the Atlantic ASW camouflage scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White parked on the Marston Mat apron in Greenland.  Note the Quonset hut buildings in the background are all marked with the U.S. insignia.

A PBY-5A amphibian with its wheels lowered for a shore landing in the late-war camouflage and insignia.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

PBY_31_PBY-5 trainers NAS Pensacola
These PBY-5As seen on the ramp at NAS Pensacola display a variety of camouflage and markings.  These aircraft are serving in the training role.  Of interest is the “V” tape visible on the aileron and wing of the aircraft at the bottom of the photograph, this feature can be seen in pictures of many PBYs.

A bombed-up PBY on the ramp in the Aleutians, in the foreground is a bomb cart carrying a 500 pound bomb and two depth charges.  U.S. ordinance can be seen in various colors and states of preservation, these appear to be in a Light Gray and are unmarked.