Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of MM1 Donald Runyon in 1/72 Scale

Machinist’s Mate First Class Donald Runyon grew up on a farm in Alamo, Indiana and joined the Navy at the age of twenty-one.  He earned his wings as an enlisted Naval Aviation Pilot.  Assigned to VF-6 operating from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) in August of 1942, he scored a total of eight victories in the Wildcat during the Guadalcanal Campaign, including three Aichi D3A Vals and an A6M2 Zero on 24AUG42.  Rising to the rank of Lieutenant, he added three more victories during a second tour with VF-18 aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).  Runyon survived the war, an ace with eleven victories to his credit.

Hasegawa Grumman Wildcat V of 842 NAS in 1/72 Scale

HMS Fencer (D64) was a Bogue-class escort carrier transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, where they were known as the Attacker class.  Fencer operated in the Atlantic in the convoy escort role, typically carrying a composite airgroup of Wildcats and Avengers.  This is a Wildcat V of 842 NAS which operated aboard Fencer during the Summer of 1944.  The aircraft is camouflaged in the Temperate Sea scheme, decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72-141.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of Captain Marian Carl in 1/72 Scale

Marian Carl opened his account while flying from Midway Island on 04JUN42, downing a Zero.  He was among the ten fighters from VMF-221 to return to the island out of the twenty-five sent up that day.  Carl then deployed with VMF-223 to Guadalcanal, where he became the Marine Corps first ace, eventually raising his score to 16.5.  He returned to VMF-223 as Commanding Officer for a second tour in the Solomons, downing two more aircraft to bring his total to 18.5.

After the war Carl became a test pilot and set speed and altitude records.  He served in Vietnam, where he flew combat missions but refused official recognition or medals for his actions.  He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 1973.  He was killed in 1998, protecting his wife from a home intruder.  He was 82 at the time of his death.

Hasegawa Grumman Martlet III of 805 NAS in 1/72 Scale

805 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm operated in the Mediterranean protecting Allied merchant shipping.  In June 1941 they were based at Dekeila, Egypt, where they traded in their Brewster Buffalos for Grumman Martlet IIIs.  The model represents a Martlet III of 805 NAS in North Africa in 1941.  These aircraft were repainted in the field and the colors used are a matter of debate.  I used the Mid Stone / Dark Earth over Light Grey here.

Regardless of what is on the Hasegawa box, the basic kit inside is an F4F-4.  For this model the wings were replaced with Quickboost resin -3 wings and modifications made to the cowling.  The cockpit and wheelwells are True Details resin, an almost mandatory addition for the Hasegawa kit.  Decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72-141.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of LCDR Jimmy Thach in 1/72 Scale

This is LCDR John “Jimmy” Thach’s Wildcat which he flew during the Battle of Midway.  After the loss of USS Lexington (CV-2) at Coral Sea, VF-3 was quickly re-assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) for Midway.  Thach was credited with three Zeros while flying this aircraft, but it was pushed over the side after Yorktown was damaged.  Thach survived the war with six victories.  In addition to several Squadron commands, he served as Captain of three aircraft carriers.  Jimmy Thatch retired from the Navy in 1967 as a full Admiral.

This is the Hasegawa kit 51324 (AP24) F4F-4 Wildcat, built with the True Details resin cockpit & wheelwell sets.  This kit has been re-boxed several times with various stock numbers, but all versions contain the same sprues for the F4F-4.  The kit is excellent, but including the True Details set is almost a requirement to dress up the rather Spartan cockpit and close up the otherwise empty wheelwells.  I added some wire & Evergreen details to the interior and wired the engines.  Tailwheels on the carrier-based aircraft were scratched to better represent the solid wheels used there.  Starfighter decals sheet 72-114 was used for the markings.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat of LT Butch O’Hare in 1/72 Scale

This model represents the F4F-3a of LT Butch O’Hare of VF-2, “White 15”, BuNo 4031.  This is the aircraft O’Hare flew on 20 February 1942 while defending the USS Lexington (CV-2) from Japanese bombers.  He and his wingman were the only two Wildcats in position to defend Lexington from an attack by nine G4M “Betty” bombers of the 4th Kokutai, but the wingman’s guns jammed and would not fire.  Undeterred, O’Hare made four deflection passes through the Japanese formation.  He shot down three Bettys and damaged four others.  One of the damaged Bettys (carrying the flight leader, LCDR Takuzo Ito) attempted to crash into Lexington but missed, another ditched on the return flight.  O’Hare was credited with destroying five aircraft to become the Navy’s first ace, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

Markings are from Mark’s Starfighter Decals sheet 72-142 USN Hit & Run Raids Feb-Apr 1942.  All behaved flawlessly. The model got the Quickboost resin -3 wings, and the scoop on the top of the cowl was filled with superglue and sanded smooth.  The True Details cockpit and wheelwell set was also used.

Eduard Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat of CDR David McCampbell in 1/72 Scale

This is CDR David McCampbell’s F6F-5 Hellcat “Minsi III” which he flew while Commander of Air Group 15 aboard the USS Essex (CV-9).  McCampbell is the highest scoring US Navy ace, with 34 victories, all on a single tour.  He was also credited with 20 more aircraft destroyed on the ground, but unlike USAAF pilots his ground victories were not displayed on his aircraft per U.S. Navy policy.  His decorations included the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.

I could not resist a comparison shot of the Hellcat with the A6M5 Zero. The Hellcat is big! McCampbell participated in the Marianas Turkey Shoot (in the original Minsi), as did 320-85 from the Junyo. McCampbell was credited with 5 Judys and 2 Zekes on 19 June 1944, perhaps they met?