Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part VI – Pre-War Photos

First of the many! There was not a prototype Marauder, an exception to the rule. This is the first production B-26, 40-1361 outside the Martin factory at Middle River in Baltimore, Maryland. The first flight was on 25NOV40. Note the natural metal finish and pre-war USAAC tail markings. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
40-1361 again, this time with two other Martin designs in the background, a Maryland export bomber and U.S. Navy PBM Mariner flying boat. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
This profile view shows off the Marauder’s sleek lines. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Marauders on the ramp outside the Glenn L. Martin factory, Baltimore Maryland. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
A look inside the Middle River factory with fitters busy at work. Modelers note the top-opening cockpit hatches and details of the wing and engine construction. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
An atmospheric nighttime view of the Martin factory floor. Unique among the major combatants during the Second World War, the U.S. enjoyed secure production and training areas free from enemy bombing. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The early B-model Marauders carried twin .50-calibre machine guns in this tail position. This was changed in the B-26B-25-MA series and later. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Another view of the “business end” of the tail position. Note the fold-down panel under the guns and lack of metal framing at the end of the transparency. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Initial nose armament was a single hand-held .30-calibre. This was soon changed to a .50-calibre, and most Marauders were fitted with an additional four .50-calibres in cheek blisters plus an additional fixed gun in the nose all of which were fired by the pilot. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
A view of the nose position from below. The oval-shaped panel is a flat cut-out intended to give a distortion-free view for the Norton bomb sight. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
New production Marauders on the ramp at Middle River. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
41-17839 seen with a security guard after completion. She was later assigned to the 17th Bomb Group’s 95th Bomb Squadron and named “Air Corpse” by her crew. She crash-landed behind enemy lines following a mid-air collision over Sardinia, her crew was captured. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Grumman F2F / F3F Color Photographs

The Grumman F2F was a single seat fighter operated by the U.S. Navy from 1935 through 1939. It was a refinement of Grumman’s successful twin-seat FF-1 design, being both faster and more maneuverable. Here are three F2F-1s from VF-2B’s second section in an impressive display of precision flying. The Lemon Yellow tail surfaces indicate aircraft assigned to USS Lexington (CV-2).
The F2F had a 700 hp Twin Wasp Junior radial and a two-bladed prop. The wheels retracted flush with the fuselage sides and the fuselage was bulged aft of the cowling to accommodate them. This aircraft is from VF-7 assigned to USS Wasp (CV-7).
Grumman enlarged the design to improve stability and changed the designation to F3F-1. The -2 model incorporated a 950 hp Wright Cyclone engine and a three-bladed prop. The golden-colored varnish on the propeller blades was seen on several pre-war USN aircraft types.
The U.S. Marines also flew the type, these aircraft are assigned to VMF-1 at Quantico.
Here is a section of F3Fs flying along the California coast. The red tails indicate they are assigned to VF-5 from the USS Yorktown (VF-5). The F3Fs were the last biplane fighters operated by the U.S. Navy, being replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo in Fleet service.
The F3F was featured prominently in the Hollywood film “Dive Bomber” starring Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray. Here is a screenshot from the film showing the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-6, the True Blue tail designating assignment to the USS Enterprise (CV-6).
A beautiful aerial shot of VF-6s Second Section leader’s aircraft in flight. The unusual flight gear seen on the pilot is a movie prop pressure suit for the filming of “Dive Bomber”.
The surviving F2F and F3F biplanes were retained as advanced trainers until the end of 1943, based at NAS Miami and NAS Corpus Christi. Not the best quality photograph but it does show trainer markings on this F2F at NAS Miami.
A crop of a larger view of the ramp at NAS Miami in 1942 reveals several F2F and F3F trainers.  I found this photograph fascinating not only for the variety of obsolescent aircraft types but the odd mixture of paint schemes and markings.  Most of the Grumman fighters are wearing trainer schemes similar to Yellow Wing specifications, but overall Light Gray as well as Blue Gray over Light Gray camouflage schemes are present as well.  In addition, some aircraft display national insignia with or without red centers, and with or without tail stripes.  (80-G-K-13386 crop)

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part V – 387th Bomb Group

“Mississippi Mudcat” was assigned to the 387th Bomb Group, 559th Bomb Squadron. She had a long career, completing 149 missions but was shot down by Bf 109s on 23DEC44. Serial number 41-31657, code TQW.
This is “Heavenly Body”, a B-26B assigned to the 387th Bomb Group, 558th Bomb Squadron. She was shot down by flak over Grimbosq, France on 08JUN44. Serial number 41-31664, code KXA. Modelers note the contrasting chipped areas – rivet heads, gun fairings, and nose wheel door and that the nose shows signs of repainting.
41-31677 was assigned to the 556 Bomb Squadron and named “Jisther” by her crew. The name was carried in the same script on both sides of the nose. The starboard side also carried the wolf’s head artwork seen here …
… while the port side carried Stork artwork and an impressive scoreboard. “Jisther” completed 95 missions. On 06AUG44 she was involved in a take-off incident when a flare was accidently discharged into the cockpit, hitting the pilot 1st. Lt. James H. Brantley. Brantley exited the aircraft but was struck and killed by the propeller. “Jisther” continued taxiing and crashed into a hanger and was written off.
Seen at her home field of Chipping Ongar in 1944, “Hangover Hut” displays an impressive scoreboard. She completed a total of 152 missions, and was one of the few Marauders who flew on the 556th Bomb Squadron’s first mission on 31JUL43 and survived to fly on the last on 17APR45. Serial number 41-31694, code FWF.
Serial Number 41-31696 was named “Roughernacob” by her crew. On her 111th mission on 12AUG44, she was hit by flak and lost fuel. Unable to return to England, she crash landed near an airfield in France. Her crew survived the crash but the aircraft was written off.
This is Serial Number 41-31900, coded FWT of the 556th Bomb Squadron. Proving there is no name too unusual for a USAAF crew, they have named her “Short Snorter”.
“Lucky Lady” flew her first mission for the 387th Bomb Group’s 556th Squadron on 21APR44. Her serial number was 41-35062, side codes FWN.
“Lucky Lady” did not live up to her name. On 21MAY44, only a month after her first mission, she experienced a total instrument failure upon take-off. Immediately returning to Chipping Ongar, she clipped another Marauder and ran off the end of the runway. Ultimately, she was written off. The 387th Bomb Group’s distinctive “tiger stripes” are visible on the tail.
“The Big Hairy Bird” is well-known for her outlandish nose art and is a favorite of modelers. Not so well known is that she was originally assigned to the 397th Bomb Group (with diagonal tail stripe), and later transferred to the 387th Bomb Group (tiger stripes) as seen here. Her serial number was 42-96165, while with the 387th she wore side codes KXT.
The 556th Squadron’s “Top Sarge II” wore fuselage code FWJ. She completed an even 100 missions, and flew on the Squadron’s last sortie on 26APR45. The mission was aborted three minutes into the flight when it was reported that the target area had been overrun by U.S. troops as the German resistance collapsed.
Seen at St. Simon – Clastres, France in 1945 is 43-34119 “Off Limits” of the 558th Bomb Squadron. She was written off shortly after the war after crashing on 20MAY45 in Jumet, Belgium.

Curtiss-Wright P-40 Warhawk Production Color Photographs Part III

A series of color photographs detailing the production of early P-40 Warhawks at the Curtiss-Wright Plant at Buffalo, New York, Summer 1941.  With war in Europe and U.S. Army Air Corps orders exceeding the normal capacity of the plant, production spilled out into the open air around the factory.  LIFE Magazine photographer Dmitri Kessel took this series of pictures, part III.

A finished P-40 taxis at the Buffalo Airport.
Running up the engine during final assembly.
Delivery pilots in flight gear, with brand-new Warhawks.
A fitter at work inside a fuselage at the Curtiss plant.
Final engine adjustments.
A good view of the radiator assembly under the engine.
Details of the propeller markings.
A Warhawk on a test flight. “247” is marked on the cowling ant the vertical tail.
“247” again, showing the standard four-position placement of the national insignia.
A new Warhawk in formation with another Curtiss design, an SBC-4 Helldiver.

Curtiss-Wright P-40 Warhawk Production Color Photographs Part II

A series of color photographs detailing the production of early P-40 Warhawks at the Curtiss-Wright Plant at Buffalo, New York, Summer 1941.  With war in Europe and U.S. Army Air Corps orders exceeding the normal capacity of the plant, production spilled out into the open air around the factory.  LIFE Magazine photographer Dmitri Kessel took this series of pictures, part II.

A busy photograph showing aircraft in various stages of completion outside the Buffalo plant. This photograph is often shown reversed, but the fuselage access door under the insignia was on the aircraft’s port side.
A good view of workstands for the diorama builder.
Workers posing for the photographer with an unpainted Warhawk.
Several details visible here, the engine has leaked a lot of fluid.
Watertower with the Curtiss logo. A wide variety of completion progress between the airframes visible here.
Two fuselages on stands outside the plant.
Even the area outside the plant was crowded, although not as badly as inside.
Another photograph normally seen reversed, given away by the pitot tube on the port wing of the aircraft in the background.
Details of the engine, with the assembly number marked on the cowling.
A view of the paint shop, with components being coated with zinc chromate primer.
The transportation arrangement for the trip to the Buffalo airport.
When transporting the aircraft by truck wasn’t fast enough, the aircraft were flown to the Buffalo airport from the Curtiss parking lot. A P-40 takes off in the background.

Curtiss-Wright P-40 Warhawk Production Color Photographs Part I

A series of color photographs detailing the production of early P-40 Warhawks at the Curtiss-Wright Plant at Buffalo, New York, Summer 1941.  With war in Europe and U.S. Army Air Corps orders exceeding the normal capacity of the plant, production spilled out into the open air around the factory.  LIFE Magazine photographer Dmitri Kessel took this series of pictures.

The assembly line moves outside, which makes engine tests a bit easier.
Tail assemblies in primer.
Wing assemblies, showing useful details of the flaps and wheel wells.
Fitting the canvas cover into the wheel well in the wing. These were sometimes removed in the field.
Working on the underside of the wing panels. Flap details are visible again in the background.
Crowded conditions inside the plant. Note the style and color of the “ARMY” lettering under the port wing, “U.S.” was under the starboard.
Stacks of wing spars.
Fuselages early in the construction process.
Fuselages in various stages of completion, again note the crowded conditions.
Engine tests outside. Note the identification code taped to the fuselage in the foreground.
Tanks in the paint shop receiving primer.
A bonus photograph of a wingtip from another Curtiss design, a rather obscure type in production at the same time as the Warhawks. Any guesses as to the aircraft?

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Color Photographs Part II

A beautiful in-flight photograph of a Mosquito B Mk. IV. DK338 was later issued to No. 105 Squadron.
This is NT181, a Mosquito FB Mk. VI assigned to No. 620 Squadron at East Wretham.
NT181 again, from the front. The wear to the spinners and nacelle is interesting and would pose a challenge to the modeler.
Rockets proved especially effective against shipping. The armorers here wear leather jerkins, each man is attired slightly differently.
A Mosquito is “bombed up” with a little canine assistance. Compare the appearance of the bomb fins with that of the bomb bodies.
A South African Air Force FB Mk. VI of No. 60 Squadron photographed at Bari, Italy, September 1944. Note the spinners are different colors.
Another view of the same aircraft, serial number HP968.
One of the more attractive Mosquito schemes is the overall PRU Blue, as seen here worn by PR Mk. XVI of RAF No. 684 Squadron at Alipore, India. NS645 was written off in after belly landing at Saigon in November 1945.
Another beautiful shot of a Mosquito in PRU Blue. This is PR Mk. XVI MM364 at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire. This aircraft was passed on to the USAAF, where she served with the 25th Bomb Group.
KB424 served with No. 162 Squadron RAF, she was a Mosquito B Mk. 25.

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Color Photographs Part I

A fine aerial study of a Mosquito F Mk II of No. 456 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force in flight. The Mosquito was one of the most versatile aircraft designs of the Second World War and operated in a wide variety of roles. (World War Photos)
Wing Commander John B. Selby, DSO, DFC, poses in front of a Mosquito of No. 23 Squadron at Luqa, Malta, 27JUN43. He claimed four victories on the Hurricane, scoring his fifth with No. 23 Squadron on the Mosquito to make ace. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another posed Malta photograph from the same sequence, this offers several details useful for modelers. Note the chock with individual aircraft letter, uniforms, and the ubiquitous Malta stone revetment. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another No. 23 Squadron Mosquito over Malta. A fine view which conveys a sense of speed. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A view of the de Havilland factory floor at Hatfield, Hertfordshire during 1943, where the largest share of Mosquitos were produced. Note the mix of camouflage on the wings. In the left rear of the photograph is an odd mix with a PRU Blue fuselage and camouflaged wings!
A factory-fresh Mosquito at Hatfield being “inspected” by workers for the benefit of the photographer. A total of 3,326 Mosquitos were built at Hatfield.
The USAAF operated several Mosquitos under reverse Lend-Lease. This is a PR Mk XVI of the 654th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group. The Group painted the tail surfaces red after one of their aircraft was shot down in error by a P-51 Mustang. In the background is a reconnaissance version of the Lightning, the F-5.
Another Mosquito of the 654th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group. The Mosquito currently on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is painted in 25BG markings: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/de-havilland-dh-98-mosquito-mk-xvi-walk-around/
Count on the Americans to apply nose art! This is “Pamela”.
MT482 was an NF.Mk 30 operated by the USAAF’s 416th Night Fighter Squadron. It was lost with both crew members on 22APR45 while operating from Pontedera Air Base, Italy.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part IV – 344th Bomb Group Continued

A fine example of nose art with an impressive mission tally is “Yo-Yo Champ”, a B-26B of the 497BS.
Ground crew pose with the 497BS Marauder “Lethal Lady”, 42-95986. The bicycle was ubiquitous around air bases in England.
“Six Hits and a Miss” is a reference to the six-man crew of the B-26. She served with the 495BS. Modelers note the highly-polished surface of the oleo strut on the nose gear and dual alignment scissors.
The panel below the cockpit of “Mary Ann” has received a fresh coat of Neutral Gray prior to the artist beginning his work. This is 42-10754 of the 494BS.
Major John Caitlin poses with flak damage. “Flak” is an abbreviation of the German word Flugabwehrkanone which translates as anti-aircraft gun in English.
“Shopworn Angel” of the 495BS would make an interesting diorama subject. Her serial number is 42-95917, side codes Y5-J. She appears little damaged except for her prop blades and the open roof hatches would allow cockpit details to be easily seen.
“Smilin’ Joy” of the 497BS. Note the bombs and equipment stacked casually in the background, a common feature of operational airfields.
The artwork of “Piccadilly Willy” is applied to the camouflaged armor panels while much of the remaining paint has been stripped.
Another example of camouflaged armor panels on a stripped aircraft is “You Can’t Miss It!” of the 494BS.
“Rum Buggy” was serial number 42-95924 of the 495BS.
“Maffrey’s Mottled Marauder” lacks the crew names which adorned most of the aircraft of the 344BG. ATC refers to the Air Transport Command.
“Tom’s Tantalizer” exhibits an uncommonly clean appearance, the result of being completely uncamouflaged with the exception of the paint serving as to reduce glare on the nose forward of the cockpit.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part IV – 344th Bomb Group

The 344th bomb Group was composed of four squadrons, the 494th, 495th, 496th, and 497th Bomb Squadrons.  They operated from Stansted Mountfitchet, England from February through September 1944, where the majority of these color photographs were taken.  After the invasion they relocated to Cormeilles-en-Vexin which was just outside Paris until April 1945, finishing the war in Florennes Belguim.  The Group was assigned to the Ninth Air Force and operated the Martin B-26 B/C.  Most mission assignments were tactical targets in support of ground operations, the Group was very active during the invasion of Normandy and the ensuing breakout.  These photographs display a selection of nose art applied to the Marauders.

Most USAAF aircrew applied names to their aircraft, and many featured accompanying artwork as well. “Valkyrie” of the 497BS features particularly professional examples of both.
This Marauder was 42-95875 assigned to the 495BS. Her port side carries her mission markers along with the name “Bunny’s Honey” …
… while the starboard side of 42-95875 carries the name “The Buzzard”. One has to wonder how many aircraft carried nose art or inscriptions on both sides, the markings on the unphotographed side which could now be lost to history.
The work of a talented artist, this is 42-95952 of the 497BS “You’ve ‘Ad It”. Airmen were conscripted from all walks of life, resulting in professions and trades from every part of society being represented in the ranks.
Often the aircraft carried humorous nicknames, this is “Facsimile” of the 496BG, which advertises “All the Comforts of an Airplane”. Many of the 344th’s aircraft featured very professionally applied lettering.
“Johnny Come Lately” shows off an impressive mission tally but no artwork. She was serial number 42-95896 assigned to the 497BS.
The 344th must have possessed a professional signmaker in their ranks, as evidenced by the quality layout of the logo on “Rosie O’Brady”.
Two ships from the 495th ready for take-off, “Rosie O’Brady” (Y5-P) in the background and “Lak-a-Nookie” (Y5-O) in the foreground.
A series of shots showing the “Terre Haute Tornado” 42-95906 of the 497Bs over time. Here she is after completing four missions.
The “Terre Haute Tornado” again, showing Lt. Jack Havener in April 1944 with his finger in a shell splinter hole. While the Marauder enjoyed to lowest combat loss rate of any USAAF bomber type, they were not invulnerable to enemy fire.
The “Tornado” again, showing an impressive mission tally and painted-out invasion markings on her wing.
Another spectacular example of nose art, this is 42-95903 “Hard To Get” of the 497BS.