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!
Part II here:
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)
Part IV here:
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)
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.
Part II here:
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 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 nose art applied to the Group’s P-40s. Note the subtle differences in the tiger heads on these two aircraft, and the variations in the application of the Aleutian Theater recognition stripes.
At the time the Japanese occupied Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian chain, but a more fearsome foe was arguably the weather. Mud, ice, and dust made living conditions miserable and operations difficult, if even possible at all. Here is a hillside covered in tents overlooking a flooded maintenance area.
The Group was credited with 22 victories during its combat tour. External drop tanks were a standard item, especially as the weather was a factor in the majority of missions.
Maintenance was performed without the benefit of hangers. The U.S. ARMY lettering is plainly visible under the wing of this P-40. Of interest is the sentry and the sidearm of the crouching mechanic.
More open-air maintenance. “Dell” wears a two-tone camouflage and the post-AUG43 blue bordered barred insignia. The back of the propeller blades have been almost completely stripped of paint by the ever-present dust and grit.
The 343rd did not apply tiger heads to all assigned aircraft, the practice appears to have been much more common earlier on. Here is a parking apron with a mix of markings. The far aircraft is still carrying the early 1943 national insignia, while the aircraft in the foreground displays the red border authorized from June through August of 1943. The green camouflage areas on the wings of the aircraft in the foreground do not extend to the ailerons – the added paint was sufficient to affect the trim.
It is very common to see the paint completely worn off both wing roots on Aleutian Warhawks. Finishes appear very worn in general, a nice challenge for the advanced modeler.
While “SNAFU MARU” does not carry a tiger head, she does have the distinctive yellow spinner and wheel covers. Dust covers are in place to protect the carburetor and radiator intakes against blowing dust. (LIFE photograph)
Another interesting study in contrasting markings in this color photograph. There is significant wear on the prop blades and wing roots of 0610 in the foreground. In the background 25 shows the remnant of a tiger head on top of her cowling, the side panels are likely replacements. Again there are variations of the theater marking stripes between the aircraft. (LIFE photograph)
Another nice photograph showing variations in the tiger head marking. The color of the landing gear legs is interesting. In the majority of photographs of the war in the Aleutians you see some combination of snow, dust, and mud. (LIFE photograph)
Not a P-40 but possibly an aircraft from the 343rd Fighter Group. A T-6 (or maybe an SNJ?) displaying an unusual camouflage, any guesses as to the colors? Where is our LIFE photographer when we really need him? This is presumably a hack, assigned unit unknown. The number “06” is visible on the cowl.
More color P-40 photographs here:
Although most commonly seen with floats, the OS2U could be rather easily converted to a landplane and it was not unusual to see them with conventional wheeled landing gear. Here a Kingfisher has ground-looped and torn off its gear. Note the 100 lb bomb under the starboard wing. The white bars on the tail surfaces were an Aleutian Theater recognition marking.
A fine color photograph of an Aleutian Kingfisher on a ramp made from Marston matting. She carries the white Aleutian recognition markings on her tail, the markings on the upper horizontal tail surfaces are just visible in this view. Her national markings are non-standard, the red outlines were authorized from 29JUN43 to 14AUG43, but at that time national insignia were only to be carried on the upper port wing and lower starboard, in addition to the fuselage sides.
Another view of the Kingfisher with too many stars, here is #3 again seen launching from the Omaha-class light cruiser USS Detroit (CL-8). Recognition stripes are just visible on the horizontal tail surfaces. Note the size of the wing insignia, spanning from the leading edge to the front of the aileron.
Another view of Detroit’s Kingfisher showing the placement of the underwing insignia. Detroit was one of two ships present at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and at Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender (the other being the USS West Virginia (BB-48)). She served in the Aleutian theater for most of the war, from NOV42 through JUN44.
A cold job, an OS2U being brought ashore on 08JAN43. Note the placement of the underwing insignia, and the retention of the pre-war propeller warning markings consisting of blue, yellow, and red bands. (World War Photos)
A scenic shot of a Kingfisher on a Marston mat seaplane ramp in the Aleutians. Her wing markings are unique. Perhaps the starboard wing insignia has been painted out to comply with the directive to reduce the national markings to four positions?
While not as well covered by the press as the action in the South Pacific, the Aleutian Theater was still a war zone. Here a Kingfisher has received damage to her wing and is being hoisted back aboard ship. (World War Photos)
Here is an interesting sequence showing several Kingfishers of VS-56 being moved by truck. In this view two kingfishers have already been loaded onto flatbeds while the third is being hoisted by a wrecker. Note the beaching gear is in place on the central floats, and the variation in height of the tail stripes.
An interesting subject for a diorama. The wrecker is a Sterling DDS235. All the trucks are equipped with snow chains.
Seven Kingfishers preparing to move out. An unusual traffic jam.
More VS-56 Kingfishers in a photograph dated NOV43, each with a different scheme. Number 14 in the foreground is in the blue gray over light gray scheme with a short tail stripe and national insignia without bars. The middle aircraft, number 12, carries the graded camouflage scheme, tall tail stripes, and her insignia appear to have the short-lived red outline. The last plane in the line is unusual in that she appears to be painted in the graded scheme but without any intermediate blue being present on the sides of the fuselage – the non-specular sea blue extends down to the white underside. (World War Photos)
More Kingfisher photographs here:
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.