Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Anton Hackl in 1/72 Scale

Anton Hackl flew throughout the war, his final tally was 192 confirmed victories.  He was one of the seeming rare Experten who was able to successfully transition from the East to the West, claiming 105 victories against the Soviets and another 93 against the Western Allies.  He claimed 34 four-engined bombers, making him the Jagdwaffe’s most successful pilot against the “heavies”.  He was himself shot down eight times and wounded four. The model depicts Anton Hackl’s Bf 109F-4 of 5. / JG77, flying from Oktoberfeld, Crimea, during JUN42. 

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Oberleutnant Hans Philipp in 1/72 Scale

Hans Philipp was credited with his first victory on the fifth day of WWII, a Polish PZL P.24 near Radomsko.  He continued to score during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross on 20OCT40 for 20 victories.  He then flew in the Balkan Campaign, where he added two Yugoslavian-flown Bf 109’s to his total.

JG 54 was re-equipped with the improved Bf 109F-2 for Operation Barbarossa.  Philipp continued to score steadily against the Soviets, who were overmatched in both equipment and in training.  In March 1942 he was presented with the Swords and had achieved his 100th victory, the fourth Luftwaffe pilot to do so.  A year later he had achieved 200 victories.

Philipp was transferred to the West to command JG 1 in April 1943 to combat the ever-growing streams of American heavy bombers.  Like many Luftwaffe fighter pilots, Philipp found the transition from fighting small groups of Soviet tactical aircraft to large formations of American heavy bombers and their escorts difficult.  On 08OCT43 he led his Geschwader against a formation of B-17 Flying Fortresses escorted by P-47 Thunderbolts.  His Fw 190A-6 was hit by defensive fire from a B-17, Philipp bailed out but was too low for his parachute to open and he was killed.  Some sources credit LCOL Robert Johnson, an ace with the 56th FG with downing him.  Philipp was credited with 206 victories.

The model depicts Philipp’s Bf 109F-2 of 6./JG 54 in Russia, July 1941. RLM 74 / 75 / 76 camo with 70 squiggles on the fuselage sides.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Oberleutnant Erich Rudorffer in 1/72 Scale

Erich Rudorffer served throughout WWII on every front where the Luftwaffe was engaged.  He downed A French Hawk 75 for his first victory in May, 1940 and his last flying the Me 262.  He fought against the Western Allies until June 1943 when he was transferred to the East as Gruppenkommandeur of IV./ JG 54.  He made the transition successfully and scored heavily against the Soviets.  He was credited with thirteen kills in one day on 06NOV43, all Soviet fighters.

In all, Rudorffer was credited with 222 victories, 136 in the East, 26 in North Africa, and 60 in the West (including 10 heavy bombers) and 12 on the Me 262.  He was himself shot down 16 times, taking to his parachute on 9 occasions.  He survived the war, and passed away in 2016 at the age of 98.

The model represents Rudorffer’s Bf 109F-4 of 6. / JG2 in France, September 1941.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 of Leutnant Max-Hellmuth Ostermann in 1/72 Scale

Max-Hellmuth Ostermann began the war flying the Bf 110 twin-engine fighter with ZG 1 during the Invasion of Poland.  He transferred to JG 21 flying the Bf 109 in time for the Battle of France, where he scored his first victory, a Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 on 20MAY40.  By the close of the Battle of Britain he had achieved eight victories.

Ostermann continued to score against the Soviets from the start of Operation Barbarossa, being awarded the Knight’s Cross at the beginning of September 1941 for 29 victories.  His score had risen to 70 by February 1942, when he was granted leave to get married.  Because of his small build and youthful appearance, he was briefly arrested for impersonating a Luftwaffe Officer on his wedding day.

He achieved his 100th victory on 12MAY42 but was wounded in the engagement.  He was presented with the Swords while recuperating.  Ostermann was shot down and killed on 09AUG42 by Arkady Ivanovich Sukov flying a LaGG-3.  His final score was 102. Max-Hellmuth Ostermann’s Bf 109F-2, 7. / JG54 at Dno, Russia, September 1941


Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Erich Leie in 1/72 Scale

This is Erich Leie’s Bf 109F-4 assigned to Stab / JG2 at St. Pol-Brias, France during the Summer of 1941.  His best day was on 23JUL41 when he claimed six Spitfires.   He was eventually credited with 118 victories (some sources say 122) and over 500 combat sorties.  He survived through most of the war, but was killed on 07MAR45 when he collided with a Yak-9 which he had just shot down.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 of Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke in 1/72 Scale

Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke joined the Luftwaffe in 1935.  He deployed to Spain with the Condor Legion but achieved no victories while there.  He claimed his first victory over a French Potez 637 in November 1939.  He was shot down and captured during the Battle of France, but was released after the French capitulated.  He fought briefly against the Russians during the opening of Operation Barbarossa, but III/JG 53 was transferred to Sicily in December. He moved back to the East in May 1942, transferring to JG 3 and becoming Kommodore during the siege of Stalingrad.  During this time his score rose to over 150 and he was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

In May 1943 JG 3 transferred back to Germany to defend against the American bomber onslaught which was then building momentum.  Although ordered not to participate in combat missions, he continued to add to his score.  On 23MAR44 he shot down a P-51 Mustang, but was himself shot down and killed by Mustangs of the 4th FG.  His final score was 162 victories and 732 combat sorties.

This is Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke’s Bf 109F-2, III / JG 53, Berck-sur-Mer, MAR41

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Walter Schuck in 1/72 Scale

Walter Schuck was assigned to JG 5 “Eismeer” on the Arctic Front, scoring his first victory (a MiG-3) on 15MAY42.  The Soviets fielded a number of Lend-Lease types supplied by the Western Allies in this theater, many of Schuck’s victories were over P-39 Airacobras, P-40 Warhawks, Hawker Hurricanes, and A-20 Bostons, along with a mix of Soviet types.  On 15JUN44 he was credited with his 100th victory, two days later was his most successful day, being credited with twelve victories.  On 16FEB45 he shot down two RAF P-51 Mustangs, bringing his score with JG 5 to 198.

Schuck was then transferred to the west to fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter with JG 7.  He continued to add to his score.  On 10APR45 he intercepted a formation of American B-17 Flying Fortresses, downing four.  He was then shot down in turn by a P-51 of the 55th FS, 20 FG flown by Lt. Joseph Petersburs.  Schuck bailed out but sprained both ankles upon landing, his war was over at that point.  He was credited with 206 victories.

The model is finished as the winter camouflaged Bf 109F-4 flown by Walter Schuck, 9. / JG 5, Petsamo, Finland, Winter 1942-43

Kaiten (回天) “Heaven Shaker” Manned Torpedo

The Kaiten was a manned torpedo employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the last months of the Pacific War. It was constructed by using the propulsion section of the successful Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedo, but with an enlarged forward section containing the pilot and a 3,420 pound warhead. The photograph is of a preserved example at the Yasukuni Museum in Japan.
The Kaiten were carried to the target area on the decks of fleet submarines, which could carry between four and six depending on the type. The pilot could enter the Kaiten while the submarine was submerged, but there was no way to recover the Kaiten once lunched. It was intended to be a one-way trip. The photograph shows I-361 with Kaiten aboard on 24MAY45, she was sunk with all hands eight days later.
A pilot poses with two Kaiten on the forward deck of I-36.
Pilots cheer from atop their Kaiten as their last voyage begins. Note the details of the securing arrangements.
Kaiten secured to the deck behind the conning tower as the crew musters on deck for departure. 89 Kaiten pilots were lost in combat, many before they could be launched. Eight IJN fleet submarines were sunk by American forces while transporting Kaiten to their operating areas.
The first employment of Kaiten was against the U.S. Fleet Anchorage at Ulithi Atoll. A total of eight manned torpedoes were launched from I-36 and I-47 on 20NOV44. One of these struck the oiler USS Mississinewa (AO-59) which emitted a column of smoke visible for miles. This was observed by the parent submarines, and assessed by the Japanese as the destruction of three aircraft carriers and two battleships.
The Mississinewa rolled over and sank, extinguishing the fires. One of the more surreal photographs from the war.
The USS Antares (AG-10) is most famous for sighting one of the five Japanese midget submarines attempting to enter Pearl Harbor on 07DEC41, which resulted in the USS Ward (DD-139) sinking the midget with the first shots fired of the Pacific War. Antares’ war with Japanese minisubs was not finished however, on 28JUN45 she was attacked by a Kaiten launched by I-36 off Guam. By this time she had been fitted with defensive armament, and sank the Kaiten herself with gunfire. An escorting destroyer, USS Sproston (DD-577) sank another, but the I-36 escaped. The strange story of the USS Ward here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/01/23/uss-ward-dd-139-apd-16/
The USS Underhill (DE-682) was the last victim of Kaiten. On 24JUL45 while escorting a convoy she detected a swarm of Kaiten launched from I-53. Defending the convoy aggressively, she depth charged the contacts. As she was passing over a Kaiten she had rammed, she was struck by a second and both exploded. She sank almost immediately with heavy losses to her crew.
The Imperial Japanese Navy intended to launch Kaiten from surface vessels to oppose the anticipated invasion of the Home Islands. They began modifying several ships to carry Kaiten, including destroyers of the Minekazi and Matsu classes, and the Kuma-class light cruiser Kitakami. Kitakami could carry up to eight Kaiten in her final configuration.
The Kaiten were carried on deck atop a rail and roller system. This is a launching trial aboard Kitakami.
The Kaiten were deployed by rolling them off the stern. The launching cradles would then separate, and the torpedoes would then attack the American fleet. The surface ships never launched Kaiten in operationally.
While small models, Kaiten kits have been offered by several manufacturers, including this pair from Fine Molds. Finished model here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/kaiten-japanese-manned-torpedo-in-1-72/

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Josef Zwernemann in 1/72 Scale

This is Josef Zwernemann’s Bf 109F-4 assigned to 7. / JG52 at Beryslaw, Russia, 14SEP41.  Zimmermann claimed his first victory, a Spitfire, over France in July 1940, but he was to achieve the majority of his victories against the Soviets.  He was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross when his score passed 100 in October 1942.  He was transferred to the West in Defense of the Reich in early 1944 where he flew the Focke Wulf Fw 190A-7 against American bomber streams.  On 08APR44 Zwernemann claimed a B-24 and a P-51, but was jumped by two more Mustangs and had to bail out.  He was shot and killed in his parachute as he descended.  In total he claimed 123 victories.

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Fine Molds Nakajima A6M2 Zero of CDR Taketora Ueda in 1/72 Scale

This aircraft is Tora (Tiger) – 110, the mount of the CO of the 261 Kokutai.  This aircraft features prominently in Thorpe’s classic Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings of WWII, being pictured on the cover, a photograph (below), and a color profile.  Very attractive, but also problematic.  The photograph shows a Type 21, with a dark finish on the forward fuselage and a lighter finish aft.  Various people (all of whom know much more about this than me) have interpreted the difference in colors as two greens, discoloration due to primer, dirt or fading, or even as the aft fuselage being painted red matching the Hinomaru.  Thorpe’s cover artwork depicts a Type 22 with the wing stripes and upper wing Hinomaru moved inward.

For my build I chose the primer interpretation and mixed the green a little lighter for the aft fuselage and sections of the upper wings, but I keep thinking it would look good in red.  Fine Molds kit, all stripes are painted, tail codes are Hasegawa decals.

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More Zero aces completed models here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/04/22/hasegawa-mitsubishi-a6m2-zero-of-takeo-okumura-in-1-72-scale/