North American P-51C / F-6C Mustangs of the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Color Photographs

The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group operating in China. They were equipped with the North American P-51C Mustang as well as the F-6C, a reconnaissance version fitted with cameras. The F-6C carried the full armament of the standard P-51B/C, four .50 caliber machine guns and bomb racks. This is 43-25185, wearing the 118th’s distinctive lightning bolt markings.
Another photo of 43-25185 from a slightly different angle. Note the dirt on the 500-pound bombs beneath the wings. On 20JAN45 Lt. Glenn Geyer was shot down by flak in this aircraft while attacking a Japanese airfield. With the help of the Chinese, he was able to evade capture for three months until he could return to his unit.
A shot of 118th aircraft at Laohwangping. The unit painted on the lightning bolt markings in October 1944, and soon added the yellow borders to make them more prominent. Note the variation in the propeller spinners. Two of the aircraft wear the overall dark green camouflage commonly seen on Chinese Air Force aircraft.
A close-up of the nose of an overall dark green Mustang. Note that the gear legs and inside of the gear doors also appear to be painted, the wheel wells likely are as well. The pilot posing in this photograph has been identified as Lt. LeRoy Price.
Another view of the same aircraft seen in the previous photo, this time with Lt. Fred Poats. While there is a tendency when looking at photographs to associate the pilot with the aircraft, sometimes the pilots took turns posing with their friends, passing the camera around.
Lt. Poat’s assigned aircraft was named “Lady Marion”, seen here being guarded by a Chinese soldier. She was a P-51C-10-NT, serial number 44-11102.
Another view of “Lady Marion”. Note the absence of the yellow trim on the lightning bolt markings. Just aft of the lettering can be seen the outline where a pin-up had been laminated to the fuselage but has been blown off. A new “Lady Marion” has replaced her on the port landing gear cover.
Another Chinese infantryman providing security for a 118th TRS Mustang. This aircraft also lacks the yellow trim to the fuselage markings, but sports a yellow-black-yellow spinner.
A Chinese civilian crosses the airfield with an oxcart. The Chinese personnel seen in these photos would make an interesting and unusual figure set for modelers.
A 118th TRS Mustang comes in for a landing, carrying two 75 gallon drop tanks finished in Neutral Gray. The Mustangs in China were equipped with the HF/DF loops on the spines, and did not have access to the Malcolm hoods commonly seen on Mustangs based in England.

Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Glider Colour Photographs

The Airspeed Horsa was a British glider used during the Second World War. Inspired by German airborne and glider operations during the opening phases of the war, British and American forces hurriedly established their own airborne formations and developed gliders to support them. The Horsa made its first flight on 12SEP41, ten months after the initial specification was issued. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The design featured all-wooden construction. Production had minimal impact on other projects as the sub-assemblies were constructed in furniture manufacturing plants. The design carried a flight crew of two in a glazed cockpit. In an unusual change, a specification was issued to modify the design for use as a bomber.  This was known as the AS.52, and could carry up to four tons (3,600 kg) of bombs.  200 were ordered, but the bomber program was cancelled before any were produced. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Horsa could carry thirty troops or cargo up to a jeep and 6-pound anti-tank gun. To facilitate unloading there was a door aft of the cockpit on the port side. In addition the entire tail section could be detached using eight quick-release bolts, the control wires for the tail surfaces being cut with wire cutters.
The concept originally envisioned using the gliders to enhance the number of paratroopers carried by the towing aircraft – the paras would jump from the Horsas in flight and the glider would be towed back to base. This plan was soon shelved as the advantages of having the glider land at the objective became apparent.
The USAAF acquired 400 Horsas in a reverse Lend-Lease agreement, which were used during the Normandy landings. Compared to the 30 troopers carried by the Horsa, the American WACO glider could only carry 13.
Here a Horsa is being inspected by King George VI and Princess Elizabeth at Netheravon on 19MAY44. Note the aft fuselage has been detached for display. (Imperial War Museum)
Taken at a training unit at Brize Norton in June 1943, this glider displays black and yellow diagonal stripes on its underside. These were applied to indicate the aircraft was towing or being towed, an implied warning to other aircraft to be aware of the possibility of cables between or behind the aircraft. (Imperial War Museum)
With the end of the Second World War the glider forces were disbanded and the Horsas were either scrapped or sold as surplus. Enterprising civilians converted some into travel trailers or small cottages. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Grumman JRF / G-21 / OA-9 Goose Color Photographs

The idea for the Grumman Goose begam with a request from several New York businessmen for a commuter aircraft. Grumman’s design was for a twin-engine amphibian which could seat up to eight passengers. It could also be appointed as a “flying yacht”, complete with luxury accommodations and a bar. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The potential utility of the design was not lost on the U.S. Coast Guard, who soon placed orders for the Goose outfitted for the Search And Rescuer (SAR) role. Pictured at Floyd Bennet Field in 1940 are two JRF and a Hall PH flying boat in the Yellow Wings scheme.
The U.S. Army Air Corps designated the aircraft the OA-9 and ordered 26 examples in 1938. These were used as light transports in addition to SAR duties. Another attractive scheme.
The British Fleet Air Arm also adopted the type, and the Goose was also operated by Canada. Here is FB486 in the Temperate Sea Scheme on a delivery flight in 1942.
A fine study of a Goose over the inhospitable Alaskan landscape.
After America’s entry into the war, the USCG used the Goose for anti-submarine patrol. At least two kills were claimed, but post-war analysis reduced this to one damaged. Here Coast Guard personnel load depth charges. Modelers should note the color and condition of the ordinance. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Goose was well-suited for rescue work, here is a posed shot demonstrating casualty evacuation. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The red surround to the national insignia dates this photograph to the Summer of 1943. An interesting detail is the retractable wheel, which was apparently painted without the benefit of masking the tire! (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

North American AT-6 / SNJ Texan / Harvard Color Photographs Part I

The North American AT-6 was designed as a single-engine trainer for the USAAC. While performance figures are modest compared to contemporary fighter designs, the AT-6 was rugged, easy to maintain, and a joy to fly. Produced under license in several countries, the AT-6 and related variations served in several capacities with multiple air forces around the world and is still a popular Warbird today.
Even in its primary role as a trainer, the Texan could be armed. There was provision for a cowl-mounted Browning .30 caliber machine gun for gunnery training, with some versions mounting an additional Browning in the starboard wing. Here armorers load the cowl guns in preparation for a training mission, the photograph providing an excellent view of engine and propeller details.
The rear crew position could also be fitted with a .30 caliber Browning on a flexible mount for training aerial gunners, as seen here.
North American’s trainer spawned a bewildering variety of sub-types and related designs, many with additional modifications. In the U.S. Navy the type was called the SNJ, in Britain and the Commonwealth it was known as the Harvard. Figures vary depending on what exactly is being counted, but one estimate places total production at 15,495. Seen here are U.S. Navy SNJs at Naval Air Station Miami.
Navy training aircraft often carried yellow wings to increase visibility. While efforts were made to keep the aircraft clean, worn paint was generally not touched up and former front-line aircraft used as trainers were not generally repainted which resulted in some interesting color and marking combinations on the flight lines of training facilities. This SNJ at NAS Miami appears to have a worn application of Blue Gray on her fuselage.
Here a sailor performs brake maintenance on an SNJ, the angle of the photograph providing a view of the wheelwell interior.
Here a team of WAVE mechanics have removed the cowling of this SNJ, allowing the engine and accessory bay detail to be seen. The engine is a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp.
Many Texans in the training role were kept exceptionally clean, as can be seen in the mirror-like polish on the fuselage of this example.
“Bridget SQDN Baby” was used as a hack by a fighter squadron, and is seen at Mount Farm, England. Whether her acquisition by the unit was official or otherwise is not known.
Texans found their way into front-line service with several air forces over the years, this T-6 is serving as a Forward Air Controller with the USAF in Korea. Under the wings are white phosphorus rockets, used to mark targets for strike aircraft.

Royal Canadian Navy Coastal Forces Colour Photographs

During the Second World War the British Commonwealth operated a large number of small combatants of several types. These vessels were quite versatile, common fittings allowing for rapid changes in armament to adapt them to various roles. Here is Q050, an RCN Fairmile B on patrol off Newfoundland in 1944.
Taken from the same series, Q094 passes a small iceberg. The boats typically operated in groups of six, and could augment or replace larger escorts or patrol ships in coastal waters.
Armament could vary considerably over time and be configured to fit various roles. This is the bow 20mm Oerlikon cannon aboard Q094. The Oerlikon was a reliable and hard-hitting weapon and was used in a variety of mounts.
A closeup of the conning station showing details of interest to modelers. The rating is operating a signal lamp. Note the side light with the darkened trough.
A fine study of MTB-460, a Canadian G Type torpedo boat of the 29th Motor Torped Boat Flotilla. She participated in the D-Day landings on 06JUN44, but was mined and sunk with the loss of ten crew on 01JUL44.
A bows-on shot of MTB-460 at speed. Her main mast is offset to the starboard side, an unusual feature.
A large group of Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boats seen moored at Great Yarmouth in 1945. The group includes the Canadian 65th MTB Flotilla. The gun mounted forward is a 6-pounder (57mm) with a Molins autoloader, a heavy and potent weapon for a small craft.
A detail view of the previous photograph which allows a comparison of the equipment fit and stowage variations between individual vessels. A close study reveals no two are quite the same.

Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk Color Photographs

The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk was the last U.S. Navy floatplane designed for shipboard use. It entered service during the closing months of WWII, replacing the SO3C Seamew and OS2U Kingfisher. This Seahawk carries a surface-scan radar pod under the starboard wing.
The SC-1 was a single-seat monoplane, but there were accommodations for a passenger within the fuselage. The wings could be folded, hence the Intermediate Blue camouflage on the underside of the outer wing panels.
This photograph shows details of the accommodation ladder and beaching gear structure. The engine was a Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone rated at 1,350 hp, which gave the Seahawk a respectable 313 mph (504 km/h) maximum speed.
Here an SC-1 comes alongside the large cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) for recovery. As is apparent this could result in a wild ride for the aircraft, and both the aircraft and parent ship were somewhat vulnerable while the aircraft was being hoisted aboard.
Alaska’s SC-1 on the recovery sled. The sled was constructed of canvas and netting, the floatplane was provided with a hook on the underside of the float which engaged the net and allowed the aircraft to be towed by the ship while the hoist was attached.
A Seahawk is being hoisted aboard the light cruiser USS Manchester (CL-83) in 1948. By this time the Navy was beginning to replace its catapult floatplanes with helicopters for shipboard use. Note the white horizontal tailplanes and “USS Manchester” carried above her fuselage insignia.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part IX – 323 Bomb Group

The 323 Bomb Group had the distinction of being the first Marauder group to see action in the European Theater, flying their first combat mission from Earls Colne, Essex on 16 July 1943. The Group was known as the “White Tails” due to the white stripe on the vertical fin. 41-34955 was named “Mission Belle”.
A close-up of “Mission Belle’s” nose art, showing 95 mission markers.
“Rock Hill Special” was a B-26C assigned to the 323rd BG, 454th Bomb Squadron. Here Serial Number was 41-3485. Most sources include “Lucky Graki” as part of this Marauder’s name, but I have to wonder if that wasn’t the nickname of the bombardier.
Another view of 41-34854 which shows additional details of her nose art.
A series of four photos of the 454 Bomb Squadron’s “Flaming Mamie”, serial number 41-34997. A close examination of the nose camouflage reveals several variations of the tone of the Olive Drab paint.
Canopy details of “Flaming Mamie”. The side panels could be opened for ventilation while to overhead panels hinged to the side to facilitate a quick exit.
Sgt. John Daily poses atop Mamie’s starboard engine. The outboard engine panel has been replaced with an uncamouflaged example. The nacelle and leading edge of the wing offer a good example of paint chipping for modelers wishing to duplicate the effect. 41-31961 in the background was shot down by flak over Caen, France on 06JUN44.
The starboard side of “Flaming Mamie” shows more chipping and her pin-up nose art.
“Little Lulu” shows an impressive tally of 61 mission markers. She was assigned to the 323 BG / 454 BS.
B-26C serial number 41-34969 of the 456 BS being towed by a wrecker, diorama material. Note that the ground crew is well-supplied with sheepskin “bomber jackets.”
Marauder 41-31951 of the 454 Bomb Group carried “Thunderbird” on the port side of her nose and “USO” to starboard.
Officers pose by the nose of “Bingo Buster”, serial number 41-34863. Most modelers, myself included, depict bombs with a fresh coat of paint, and sometimes even the prescribed markings. Many photos show the condition of bombs to be much different, with worn paint due to storage outside in all weather conditions.
The 455 Bomb Squadron’s “Bat-outa-hell” displays 56 bomb and 3 decoy mission markers, along with crew names by each station.

Part I here:

Bell P-59 Airacomet Color Photographs

The Bell P-59 Airacomet was America’s first jet fighter design. It used a copy of Britain’s W.1 engine, which was produced by General Electric as the GE J31. It flew for the first time on 01OCT42. Pictured here is the prototype at Muroc Dry Lake in late 1942.
Like most early jets, the P-59 was underpowered and had a short range. Engine reliability was also an issue, constant maintenance was required. In fly-offs the P-59 was out-matched by both the P-38 Lightening and P-47 Thunderbolt.
On the other hand, the Airacomet was designed with a heavy armament carried in the nose. The first aircraft were equipped with two 37mm cannon. This was later changed to one 37mm cannon and three .50 caliber machine guns.
Cockpit layout was conventional. This is a photograph of the restored P-59B cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.
A total of 66 Airacomets of all types were built, including 20 P-59A and 30 P-59B production aircraft. The lackluster performance prevented the type from ever being used in combat and the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star being selected for service.
Two YP-49A development aircraft, 42-108778 and 42-108779 were delivered to the Navy for carrier compatibility trails. The Navy designated the type YF2L-1 and assigned them BuNo 63960 and 63961 respectively. Here 42-108778 is being examined by Navy personnel.
A fine study of two YP-59A’s in flight. While the type was not successful, it was used for training and familiarization flights to introduce USAAF personnel to the new technology.
This overhead view shows extensive wear to the Olive Drab over Neutral Gray finish of one of the the YP-59A development aircraft.
A 1947 photograph of a YP-59A named “Mystic Mistress” at an open house at Wright Patterson AFB. If you look closely, you can see an open observer’s cockpit has been fitted forward into the armament bay. Five Airacomets were converted in this manner, and were used during flight tests and to control other Airacomets configured as drones.

Republic XF-12 Rainbow Color Photographs

The Republic Rainbow was designed to fulfill a 1943 requirement for a reconnaissance aircraft able to reach an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), a speed of 400 mph (640 kph), and a range of 4,000 miles (7,400 km). All these criteria were exceeded. The design used four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines, each developing 3,250 horsepower. The prototype made its maiden flight on 04FEB46. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Rainbow’s design emphasis was on minimizing drag, and the result is considered by many to be one the most beautiful aircraft of the time. Cooling air and turbocharger exhaust was discharged through the back of each engine nacelle, the resulting thrust was calculated to produce the equivalent of an extra 250 horsepower per engine. Pictured is an unmarked Rainbow prototype along with a P-47 Thunderbolt and RC-3 Seabee for comparison.
The Rainbow lacked cowl flaps, which would have increased drag. When additional engine cooling was needed the entire cowling moved to open a slot to increase airflow. Another novel feature seen in this photograph is the pressurized cockpit visible behind the clear aerodynamic nosecone, which was unpressurized.
Two aircraft were built, serials 44-91002 and 44-91003. The fuselage contained a fully-equipped photo lab so that photographs could be developed on the return leg of a reconnaissance flight. The second prototype performed a mapping demonstration dubbed Operation Bird’s Eye, which mapped a swath of the continental United States from coast to coast in less than seven hours. The finished photo mosaic was 325 feet (99 meters) long. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Rainbow came too late to serve in the Second World War. Despite its impressive performance, jet-powered designs held greater promise and the USAAF decided to make due with modifications of existing types until the jets entered service. The second prototype was lost after an engine explosion on 07NOV48, while the first was retired in June 1952 and expended as a target.
No Rainbows survive today. For those wishing to add a Rainbow to their model collection, Anigrand produces a resin kit in 1/72 scale. While a little pricy, it is a large model. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

Sikorsky HNS-1 / R-4B / Hoverfly Helicopter Color Photographs

The Sikorsky HNS-1 is generally considered to be the first successful helicopter to enter military service in series production. It was known as the HNS-1 by the USN, R-4B by the USAAF, and Hoverfly in British service. It flew for the first time on 14JAN42. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
This is BuNo 39040 flown by Coast Guard LT Stewart Graham in 1943. Graham made the first successful helicopter sortie from a ship on 16JAN44, taking off and returning to the British freighter SS Daghestan. Notable in this photograph is that the helicopter is fitted with landing skids instead of wheels.
The Coast Guard was interested in developing the HNS-1 as a rescue platform, but convinced the Navy department to fund the program as an anti-submarine aircraft. Here is BuNo 39040 again, demonstrating the rescue hoist for the press. The helicopters were dual-serialed, Navy BuNo 39040 was also listed as USAAF s/n 43-46525. The Coast Guard used the last two digits of the Bureau Number as the side number. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The HSN-1 could also be fitted with inflatable pontoons for landing on the water, details of the pontoon installation are visible in this photograph. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
More details of the pontoon installation can be seen here on BuNo 39043 / s/n 43-46544. The helicopter has been fitted with a canvas-covered litter on the starboard side. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Navy and Coast Guard operated their HSN-1s on the East Coast, developing operational procedures for the SAR and ASW missions. The first successful helicopter combat rescue was performed in the China-Burma-India theater in APR44, extracting four survivors from the jungle after an aircraft crash. The R-4 was also deployed to the Pacific for liaison flights by the USAAF in May44.
The steamer Governor Cobb was converted by the Coast Guard to evaluate shipboard helicopter operations. She was fitted with a flight deck and armament and commissioned as USCGC Cobb (WPG-181) on 20JUL43. She landed her first helicopter on 15JUN44, but the poor condition of her engineering plant limited her effectiveness. She is seen here with HNS-1 (R-4) on the right and HO2S (R-5) helicopters.
With the official end of the war in Europe on 09MAY45 German forces were ordered to cease hostilities and surrender to the Allies. The Type IXC/40 submarine U-858 was operating off the U.S. coast and surrendered to the U.S. Navy on 14 May. Here is the U-858 with a prize crew off Cape Henlopen, Delaware with an HNS-1 and blimp overhead. Modelers note the amount of chipping on the conning tower of the submarine.