Those Navy Guys and Their PBYs: The Aleutian Solution
By Elmer Freeman
Paperback, 267 pages, illustrated
Published by Kedging Publishing Company July 1992
Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches
This is a first-hand account written by an member of a PBY (Patrol Bomber, Consolidated) squadron operating in the Aleutian Islands during the first part of the Second World War. Freeman starts out on the beaching crew hauling flying boats up the ramp with VP-41, but is advanced to aircrew and eventually a Plane Captain with VP-42 when they deploy. Winter operations with the PBY in the Aleutians were considered impossible before the war but were something which had to be done when the war started, although with considerable difficulty and risk.
Freeman describes in detail the various procedures and duties involved in PBY operations, and the specific challenges posed by the Aleutian weather. I found the specifics fascinating. Installing the beaching gear (wheels) on a flying boat so it could be hauled out of the water up a ramp was a choreographed operation. Life aboard a seaplane tender was no vacation, Aviation Machinists Mates stood engineering watches alongside the ships’ crew when underway. When moored to a buoy, the aircrew posted watches aboard their aircraft, which were equipped with bunks and a small galley. At times the aircrew preferred to live aboard their aircraft rather than ashore in tents during the Alaskan winter. Freeman describes all the operations of a PBY squadron fighting against both the Japanese and the weather.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a hidden gem, offering insight into a little known theater of the war and aircraft operations which are not as well covered as the carrier or bomber types. There are numerous photographs, all produced on a full page. Freeman’s writing style is relatable and easily accessible, he strikes a good balance between providing detail and keeping the narrative flowing. My only suggestions for improvement are this book should be in hardback, and the paper could be a higher quality to display the photographs better. A good read, highly recommended.
As an aside, I picked up this book at the Half Price Books sale for $2.00. I love a deal! On the back cover is a retail sticker from “Skagway Alaska”. I have to wonder how the book moved from Skagway to the Lower 48, eventually to wind up in my collection. Each book has its own story.
The Japanese Target A mini-sub (Ko-hyoteki ko-gata) was a two-man submarine which carried two torpedoes. Their name was part of a deception plan to pass off the type as an ASW training vessel. They were designed to be transported to the target area on the deck of a fleet submarine, then to infiltrate an enemy harbor and torpedo the ships within. Five participated in the Pearl Harbor attack, where one may have torpedoed the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37). On 30MAY42 three mini-subs infiltrated Sydney Harbor, one firing two torpedoes at the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29). Both missed Chicago, but one sank the depot ship HMAS Kuttabul. Two mini-subs attacked Royal Navy ships in Madagascar on 30MAY42, damaging the battleship HMS Ramillies and sinking the tanker British Loyalty. Mini-subs were also active in the Aleutians and in the Solomon Islands.
This is the Fine Molds kit in 1/72 scale. It is a simple build with no vices. The kit comes in two boxings, the Pearl Harbor version as built here, and a Sydney attack version which has a cable cutter on the sail.
The Type 95 Ha-Go light tank was the most numerous Japanese Army tank of the Second World War, with over 2,300 produced. Armament was one 37mm gun and two 7.7mm machine guns. When it was designed in 1935 it was comparable to the light infantry support tanks of other nations, but was obsolete when the Pacific War began. The first tank-vs-tank battle fought by the US in WWII was between Type 95s and M3 Stuarts on Bataan on 22DEC41, and Type 95s became the only Axis tanks to operate on US soil during the Japanese invasion of Kiska in the Aleutians.
The kit is the 1/72 scale offering from Dragon, kit no. 7402. Molding quality is excellent, as is the fit. There are PE screens for the mufflers, and the tracks are Dragon’s famous DS type which accepts normal modeling glues. I encountered no problems during construction, this is one of those kits which just falls together. The white ball markings were carried by tanks of the IJA 9th Tank Regiment on Saipan, site of the largest Japanese tank assault of the Pacific War.
WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT― Thomas Jefferson