Douglas TBD Devastator Color Photographs

Here is a beautiful photograph of a TBD Devastator from a series taken for LIFE Magazine. This TBD is from Torpedo Six aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6), likely taken in 1940. Aircraft assigned to Enterprise carried blue tail surfaces, Enterprise’s call sign was “blue base”. Note how the Orange Yellow paint wraps around the leading edge of the wing, this was done to smooth the airflow.
Enterprise’s flight deck was stained Mahogany with Yellow markings, this was stained Deck Blue shortly before the U.S. entered the war. The object on the port side of the Devastator’s fuselage is a camera, used as a training aid to evaluate practice attack runs. The aircraft in the background has the mounts in place but no camera.
A flight of Torpedo Six’s Devastators off Hawaii, giving a nice view of the “Yellow Wings” scheme which was carried until December 1940. 6-T-16 is trailing a radio antenna.
The Devastator first entered Fleet service in 1937. While it was considered state of the art for its time, the pace of advancements in aviation rendered it obsolescent by the time the U.S. entered the Second World War. Midway would be the TBD’s last use in combat.
A portion of Yorktown’s airgroup seen ashore at a Naval Air Station, most likely North Island. In the foreground is the TBD of the commander of Torpedo Five, as indicated by the red fuselage band and cowling. The aircraft in the background are Northrop BT-1 dive bombers, just visible beyond them are three SBC Helldivers.
This is a still from the movie “Dive Bomber” and shows a TBD in the overall Light Gray scheme. The Light Gray scheme was only used until 20AUG41, when it was directed that carrier aircraft be painted Blue Gray on their upper surfaces.
While no Devastators are preserved in museums today, RV Petrel photographed this TBD on the bottom of the Coral Sea. This aircraft is from USS Lexington (CV-2) and was lost when the ship went down on 08MAY42. The preservation of the aircraft is remarkable, and shows her camouflage and markings to good advantage.
This is a screen grab from the John Ford film “Torpedo Squadron No. Eight” which was shot aboard USS Hornet (CV-8) on 15MAY42. Plane handlers run on either side of the aircraft carrying the wheel chocks. Modelers should note the wavy separation of the Blue Gray as it wraps under the wing.
Commanding Officer of Torpedo Eight LCDR John Waldron (right) and crewman RMC Horace Dobbs pose in front of their TBD. Waldron led Hornet’s Devastators in their attack against the Japanese Fleet at Midway, all fifteen of their aircraft were lost. Only one man, ENS George Gay, survived.

USS Missouri (BB-63) WWII Color Photographs Part III

Missouri firing from Turret One during her shakedown cruise in August, 1944. The heat and pressure of the guns disturbs the surface of the water during firing, which has led to the misconception that the ship was pushed sideways by the recoil. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4546)
A sailor adjusts one of the “bloomers” of a 16” gun. The bloomers were rubberized canvas over a metal frame and were designed to keep wind and spray from entering the Turret. During firing, the guns recoiled 4 feet (1.22 meters), which required the greasing of the barrel to ensure the bloomer frame didn’t bind, as seen here. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4535)
Missouri’s Commanding Officer, Captain William M. Callaghan is seen on his bridge. On the starboard side of the bridge was a single chair, which was reserved for the exclusive use of her Captain. The bridge was provided with windows which could be rolled down to prevent breakage during gun shoots. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4536)
A view from inside the 04-level bridge showing Captain Callaghan with his Officer of the Deck, LT Morris R. Eddy, and Yeoman First Class Arthur Colton. The Iowa class was normally conned from the O4-level bridge, but had additional conning stations on the O5 and O8 levels. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4537)
Missouri’s Executive Officer, CDR Jacob E. Cooper seen on the 05-level bridge prior to a gun shoot. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4538)
The 40mm quad Bofors mount on top of Turret Two. The forward turrets are trained to port, while the Bofors guns are trained to the rear of the Turret which gives an odd impression. In the background is USS Alaska (CB-1). (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-5579)
Gunner’s Mate Second Class Charles J. Hansen works on a Bofors gun. This is mount 13, as is painted on the gun shield. Hansen was a survivor of the sinking of the heavy cruiser USS Vincennes (CA-44), sunk during the Battle of Savo Island on 09AUG42. The tattoo on his right shoulder commemorates his fallen shipmates. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4510)
A view from the superstructure showing several signal flags and the two most forward 5”/38 mounts on the port side. Note “Mount #2” painted on the roof of the mount to the right. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4571)
Yeoman Third Class Betty Martin exiting the rear of 5”/38 Mount #9, which is painted on the side of the mount to the right. This view shows several details of the back of the Mark 28 twin mounts. These mounts were protected against shell splinters by a 2.5” (63.5mm) armored gunhouse. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4570)
Sailors man one of Missouri’s 36” (91.5 cm) searchlights. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4560)

Part I here:

USS Missouri (BB-63) WWII Color Photographs Part II

Seven tugs push Missouri’s bow as the crew musters on deck. Interesting details are the floater net baskets on the back of the main battery turrets, and the painted numbers designating the 40 mm Bofers mounts. 40 mm #1 is painted on the top of Turret 2, while mount 17 and 18 are on the fo’c’sle. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4540)
The center guns of the forward turrets creating the characteristic fireballs. The pressure wave from the firing has just begun to disturb the surface of the sea. The 16”/50 gun was the most powerful ever mounted on a U.S. battleship, and could hurl a 2,700-pound armor piercing projectile 42,345 yards. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4549)
A night firing exercise for the secondary battery. Missouri carried twenty 5”/38 guns in Mark 28 twin mounts, five mounts per side. The 5”/38 is considered by many to be the most effective shipboard anti-aircraft weapon of the war, thanks in part to the VT proximity fuse of the projectile. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4550)
Missouri will always be remembered in history as the site of the Japanese surrender which ended the Second World War on 02SEP45. At the time, the ship was anchored in Tokyo Bay. Here the Japanese delegation stands before the table as General Douglas MacArthur leans over the documents.
A view of the superstructure during the surrender. Every vantage point is crammed with sailors and visitors anxious to get a view of the proceedings. A close examination reveals several precarious perches as sailors crammed into every available space to get a look.
A view of the signing from atop Turret 2. The Teak wood decks were painted Deck Blue (20-B) during her time in the Pacific in WWII.
General MacArthur gives his opening remarks during the surrender ceremony with Allied military delegations standing behind him. On the bulkhead is mounted the flag flown by Commodore Perry on the first visit to Japan by the U.S. Navy in 1853. Despite what has been claimed by some authors, the flag is not mounted “backwards”. Naval custom is for mounted flags to be displayed with the union (stars) forward, as if sailing into the wind.
Here is a rare treat, color movie film taken of the surrender by an Officer on ADM Halsey’s staff, Commander George F. Kosco. CDR Kosco’s family had the film restored and made available to the public. In it is footage of a 40mm Bofers mount exercising, the transfer of the Japanese harbor pilots from a Fletcher-class destroyer, and the surrender itself. Link here:
The rear part of the supporting structure for the armored conning station protrudes into the Wardroom at approximately Frame 91, forming part of the forward bulkhead. On this was painted a mural showing Missouri’s voyages. The mural remains in place today, and was updated by subsequent crews. Here are the original artists, Signalman Third Class Jose de la Torre, Jr. Signalman Second Class Gerald Parker, and LTJG Jack Reichart. Reichart hails from Muncie, Indiana, my hometown. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-6582)
After departing Tokyo Bay, Missouri proceeded back to the United States, passing through the Panama Canal in time to be reviewed by President Harry Truman in New York during the Fleet Review on 27OCT45. Along the way, the crew holystoned the Deck Blue paint from her decks revealing the Teak wood below. Modelers should note the Teak decks can be accurate with the Ms22 camouflage, but not during the war – and only for a brief time before alterations were made to her armament. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-6565)

Part III here:

USS Missouri (BB-63) WWII Color Photographs Part I

Commissioning day, 11JUN44 at the New York Naval Yard. The crew and distinguished guests are gathered on Missouri’s fantail for the formalities. Missouri was the last battleship commissioned into the U.S. Navy, and the last remaining battleship in the world to be decommissioned in 1992. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-3858)
A classic photograph of Missouri underway in her Measure 32/22D camouflage. She was the only battleship to wear this pattern, which consisted of Light Gray (5-L), Ocean Gray (5-O), and Dull Black (BK) bands. Decks were painted Deck Blue (20-B) and Ocean Gray (5-O). (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4575)
A profile view of Missouri’s port side camo pattern, with a Navy K-Type blimp on anti-submarine patrol overhead. Missouri only wore her Measure 32 camouflage for the first few months of her service, by the time she deployed for combat duty in the Pacific she had been repainted in the more common Measure 22. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4576)
A slightly different angle from the previous photo, with the Large Cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) in the background. The two ships went through their shakedown cruises in the Atlantic together in August 1944. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4523)
Missouri firing her forward 16”/50 caliber guns during her shakedown cruise. To the right of the photograph all six projectiles can be seen in flight. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4515)
An OS2U Kingfisher observation plane on Missouri’s port catapult. The Kingfisher, like other Navy floatplanes, could be easily converted to land operation by substituting conventional wheeled landing gear for the floats. In this case this has resulted in an anomaly which is generally missed by modelers – the main floats on Missouri’s Kingfishers appear to be in the pre-war Light Gray and don’t match the graded scheme of the aircraft. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4528)
Another Kingfisher on the starboard catapult revealing several details. The Kingfishers were carried for Missouri’s work-ups in the Atlantic, but were replaced with Seahawks before her combat deployments in the Pacific. For modelers, the Kingfishers go with the Measure 32/22D camouflage, Seahawks go with the Measure 22. Also note that in the two photographs showing the Kingfishers the teak deck has not yet been stained. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4597)
This view of Missouri’s fo’c’sle reveals details of the camouflage pattern applied to the decks and turret tops. USS Alaska (CB-1) maneuvers ahead. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-5584)
The Iowa-class battleships displaced 58,000 tons fully loaded. Her eight boilers could produce 212,000 horsepower, which could drive the ship at over 30 knots. Here Missouri throws off a bow wave while at high speed during her sea trials. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4533)
A leadsman prepares to take a depth sounding as the ship approaches an anchorage. The bottom of the weight was hollow, which allowed the leadsman to report the type of material on the seabed below. (U.S. Navy 80-G-K-4542)

Part II here:

Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) Color Photographs

The Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) were conceived as one of several types of landing craft intended to support the German invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion.  They were constructed by combining two large bridging pontoons with a cargo deck to form a catamaran arrangement.  Power was provided with either truck or aircraft engines located within the pontoons, and a small pilothouse was constructed in the center.  The ferry could carry any vehicle in the German inventory, including Tiger tanks.  The stability of the catamaran configuration was not lost upon the Luftwaffe, who converted several into flak barges after the cancellation of Sea Lion.

Here is a beautiful series of color photographs taken by Carl Rosenquist on 13AUG42.  The occasion was a review of several Siebel Ferries on Lake Ladoga by German and Finnish officers.  Photographs are held by SA-Kuva, the Finish National Archives.

Reviewing officers in place on the fo’c’sle of a small gunboat, the second officer from the left is a Finn. Behind them is a 20 mm flak gun.
Further aft other members of the crew are seen around the pilothouse as a signalman communicates via semaphore. MG 34s are ready with mounts on either side.
The Luftwaffe employed two basic versions, the SF40 Leichte (light) and SF40 Schwere (heavy). This is the light version, armed with four 2cm/65 Flakvierling 38, one at each corner, and a 3.7 cm Flak-Lafette C/36 atop the pilothouse.
The armament of the heavy version was even more impressive, up to four 8.8 cm Flak 36 and two 2 cm/65 C38. Here an SF40 plows by the reviewing boat giving a good view of the pontoon’s construction.
Here is another heavy SF40 with her crew manning the rail. When configured as flak barges they carried a compliment of 40 to 50 men. The Luftwaffe was responsible for anti-aircraft defense in the German military and provided the crew. This one is still in her winter camouflage.
The same barge seen from astern. There was variation in the configuration and armament of these ferries, this one only carries three 8.8 cm guns. Close inspection reveals none of these vessels are exactly alike.
Another ferry passes the reviewing boat with her crew at the rail. This view shows details of the armored gun mount construction. Note the starboard 2 cm mount is missing two of its barrels.
A stern view which reveals details of the engine room access and exhausts. The gun mounts on this ferry each have their own rangefinder. The nearest mount is also missing two of its barrels.
Another ferry approaches with her crew at the rails. The pontoon hulls were originally designed to be bridging units, and while rugged and easy to construct, they were not very hydrodynamic as evidenced by the excessive bow spray.
A view as the flotilla passes by. The Siebels were designed from the outset to be transported by road or rail, and could be disassembled to be hauled overland if needed.
Another Siebel seen in the Black Sea in July 1941. This one is armed with two 8.8 cm guns on the bows and two 2 cm amidships and has a different superstructure configuration. (Bundesarchiv)
Generalleutnant Kurt Steudemann, Inspector der Flakartillerie, talks to Luftwaffe crewmen manning the rangefinder of a SF40 Schwere. The heavy Siebels mounted a rangefinder for the 8.8 cm guns atop the pilothouse. (Bundesarchiv)

Supermarine Seafire Color Photographs

Seafire Ib NX942 of 736 Naval Air Squadron is seen in the background as Sub-Lieutenant Harold Salisbury adjusts his flight helmet for the camera. The photograph was taken at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton in September 1943. Complete fuselage codes are “AC-E”.
Ratings are seen fueling Seafire X4652 at Yeovilton, September 1943. Agricultural tractors were often used as towing vehicles. Yeovilton is currently the home of the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
A Seafire in the foreground at HMS Fledgling. Also visible are a Corsair, a Martlet, and two Barracuda. Poking out of the hangers are two Sea Hurricanes and a Hellcat.
A crop of the previous photo shows the wear on the paint at this Seafire’s wingroot. HMS Fledgling was the Royal Navy’s aircraft maintenance school. In April 1943 it was decided to use the facility to train WRENs as aircraft mechanics in order to release more men for front-line service.
Here is a series of outstanding color photographs taken aboard HMS Indomitable at Scapa Flow in March 1943. Indomitable was working up following the repair of bomb damage suffered during Operation Pedestal, the famous convoy to Malta. In the background is the Avenger-class escort carrier HMS Biter (D97).
A crop from the previous photo focusing on Seafire Mk IIc MB189 of 880 NAS. The aircraft are being spotted on Indomitable’s flight deck. Note the plane handlers have placed their chocks on the Seafire’s wings.
A fuel lighter passes down the side of Indomitable with Seafires of 889 NAS on deck. While U.S. Navy aircraft carriers were built with wooden flight decks during WWII, those of the Royal Navy were armored.
A magnificent view of the Indomitable’s camouflaged island structure behind two Seafires.
A Reserve Flight Lieutenant poses on the wing of his Seafire. Modelers note the amount of wear to the paint on the leading edge of the wing. This photograph has sparked discussion concerning the color of the underside of the nose and removal of the tropical Vokes air filter.
Three unidentified pilots with their flight gear donned over their dress blue uniforms, which seems a rather impractical outfit for flying. On the left is a Sub-Lieutenant of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Aviation), on the right is a Sub-Lieutenant of the Royal Naval Reserve.

Lockheed F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part II

An F-5 Lightning from the 22nd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (as indicated by the White rudder) at disbursal at Mount Farm, England, with another in the background. Spinners are in a dark blue. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another 22PRS Lightning, this is 42-67122 piloted by Lt. Jim Wicker returning from a mission to Mount Farm on 22APR44.
Major Robert Smith debriefs Lt Wicker upon his return, providing an excellent view of his insulated flying suit and life jacket. Compare the color of 122 here to the previous photograph. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Nose art was routinely applied to USAAF aircraft, with pin-up girls in many forms being the most popular subjects. “Dot+Dash” was the letter “A” in Morse code, she was F-5C 42-67128. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another pin-up seen on “Ginger Snap”. This aircraft was lost to friendly fire over Belgium on 01JAN45, her pilot escaping uninjured.
Some aircraft just carried a name, “Tough Kid” shows off the camera openings in the nose. Note the unusual fairing just forward of the windscreen. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
“International Geographic” 42-68205 shows off her well-worn Synthetic Haze scheme on the runway at Mount Farm. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A line of F-5s, which speaks volumes about the threat of Luftwaffe air attack against airbases in England at the time. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
This is 42-68205 “International Geographic” again, this time with her camouflage stripped off to bare metal. The squadrons within the 7th PR Groups wore color-coded rudders; Red for the 13th PRS, Green for the 14th PRS, White for the 22nd PRS, and Blue for the 27th. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
42-67389 was an F-5B, seen here taxying at Mount Farm.

Lockheed F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs

A pair of F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group prepare for take-off from their base at Mount Farm, England. Cameras replaced the gun armament in the nose. These F-5s carry the remnants of Invasion Stripes under the booms. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another F-5 with Invasion Stripes, this is 44-23709 finished in the standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage. Lockheed finished F-5s in Haze, and then Synthetic Haze, before reverting back to the standard OD/NG, and ultimately Natural Aluminum.
At the unit level, some USAAF reconnaissance aircraft in Egland were repainted using Royal Air Force stocks of PRU Blue, or even Azure Blue in some cases. The “Florida Gator” carries sharks’ mouths on the outer sides of her engine nacelles, but not the inner sides.
43-28333 of the Group’s 13th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron carries the name “Lanakila”, which is Hawaiian for “Victory”. While Hawaiian names were a fashion in the Pacific Theater for a time, they were relatively rare in the ETO. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A beautiful in-flight photo as an F-5 from the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron takes off from Mount Farm.
A 13th PRS Lighting, this is 43-29009 at Chalgrove Airfield. The port access panel on the nose camera bay is open. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A nice shot of two Lightnings taxiing at Chalgrove, revealing several details of the disbursal area of interest to modelers wanting to construct display bases or dioramas.
Likely the same aircraft as the previous photograph, this aircraft is devoid of serials or formation numbers, but displays blue spinners and red panels.
An interesting shot of cameras being installed in the nose bay of an F-5, the camera cases are sitting on the ground. Details of the propeller markings are also visible.
The same aircraft as the previous photo. Drop tanks are in place.

Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part II

Here are more photographs of American Spitfire Mark XI from the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England in 1944. MB 946 has an impressive mission tally. The lighter hue of the PRU Blue on the fuselage where the upper portion of the invasion stripes have been removed is worth noting.
Ground crew are used as human sandbags to keep the tail down as the engine of this Spitfire is run up. The concrete disk visible in the foreground is an anchor used to tie down the wings of the aircraft.
A beautiful view of “My Darling Dorothy”, PA892. Wheel hubs were finished in either the PRU Blue or natural Aluminum, as seen here.
Another view of “My Darling Dorothy”. An unusual feature is that it appears the outline of the U.S. national insignia has been overpainted in PRU Blue instead of the prescribed Insignia Blue.
Diorama bait as the Spitfires are being refueled. Note the row of bicycles to the right.
“Marcella” warming her engine prior to take-off.
Another view of “Marcella” heading towards the runway. In the background is a Cletrac M2 towing tractor.
MB950 showing several touch-ups to her PRU Blue finish. Her wheel hubs are also PRU Blue, the white stripes are there to indicate if the tire has slipped on the wheel.

All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer

Part I here:

Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part III

One of the thirteen YP-39 Airacobras in flight, probably in the Fall of 1940. The YP-39s were initially unarmed and lacked the various scoops which would appear on later variants, which resulted in a very clean look. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Another view of a highly-polished YP-39 which would make for an attractive model if you could pull off the mirror-like finish. This photo also provides a good view of the Curtiss Electric propeller. An unusual detail is the lack of yellow warning tips on the propeller blades, but this appears to be the case with many Airacobra photos. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
With war looming U.S. aircraft production swelled in 1941. This is the apron outside Bell’s factory at Buffalo, New York, where final assembly of a large number of Airacobras is being completed in the open.
Many Airacobras never left the States, but served as advanced trainers as squadrons worked up for deployment. This P-39 displays large “buzz numbers” on the nose which made the aircraft easy to identify if the pilot was performing unauthorized maneuvers.
This is a P-39 from the 354th Fighter Group while the unit was working up at Portland, Oregon during the Summer of 1943.
The Royal Air Force received approximately 200 Airacobras from and order of 676 before they cancelled the order. Only 601 Squadron flew the P-39 operationally with the RAF, and only on a single combat mission over the continent. Here RAF armorers make a great show of loading ammo bins for the camera.
A beautiful photograph of a P-39K during the Summer of 1942 showing the centerline drop tank installation to good advantage.
Access to the aircraft was through a “car door” on each side of the cockpit which could be jettisoned in case of emergency. This photograph provides several useful details for modelers of the aircraft and pilot’s flight gear. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
This is the unrestored interior of the P-39 in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum. This is a spectacular example of original colors and markings, as well as the wear patterns the aircraft would display while in service. (NASM)
In 2004 P-39Q serial number 44-2911 was found in Lake Mart-Yavr, above the Arctic Circle in Siberia. The Airacobra had suffered an engine failure and crashed into the lake on 19NOV44. The remains of pilot Lt. Ivan Baranovsky were still inside. The aircraft is currently on display at the Niagara Museum of Flight, near where it was built.

Part I here: