B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2616 THE BLUE GOOSE is somewhat enigmatic due to there being no known photographs of her. What is known is that the USAAF requisitioned her from an RAF order and that she was given a unique paint job at the Hawaiian Air Depot. From Fortress Against the Sun, pg 218:
“Interestingly, Waskowitz’ plane, the Blue Goose, was actually painted a bright, light blue. Perhaps as a test for a new camouflage scheme, B-17E 41-2616 had been given a coat, top to bottom, of Light Glossy Blue Duco paint at the Hawaiian Air Depot. With its highly unusual color, the B-17 and its crew were soon known to everybody.”
Unfortunately the exact shade is not recorded. I have included a Duco automotive color chart below, perhaps the paint is one of the blues on this card. My color is a mix of Mr. Color 34 with Mr. Color 115 (RLM 65) in a 2 to 1 ratio.
The BLUE GOOSE served with the 11th Bomb Group. She was lost off Bougainville on 29SEP42, shot down by antiaircraft fire while attacking a Japanese cruiser. None of her crew survived.
The model is back-dated from the Airfix B-17G kit. Markings are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.
Here is another Flying Fortress in the Hawaiian Air Depot camouflage, 41-2437. This is one of two HAD scheme Fortresses seen in John Ford’s documentary film of the Battle of Midway. The U. S. national markings were modified by ALNAV97 on 06MAY42 which directed that the red centers of the insignia should be painted over in white and that the tail stripes be removed. In this case the rudder was painted over in black. If you look closely at photographs taken of U. S. aircraft which were active during this period many of the white stars show signs of overpainting.
The kit is the Academy E model Fortress. I didn’t spend a lot of time detailing the interior of this one as very little can be seen inside. I did replace the engines with Quickboost resin which look much better. I also enclosed the wheelwells and added some detail there. The big change which is needed is the kit comes with a ball turret in the belly, and the HAD Scheme Fortresses which fought at Midway were all still equipped with the Sperry remote turret at the time (not the Bendix turret as most references erroneously state, which is different). For this model I used a Kora resin belly turret and scratchbuilt the sighting blister for it.
In the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack much of the American airpower in the Pacific lay wrecked, caught on the ground by the Japanese assault. Planes lined up in neat rows alongside airfields proved easy targets for bombers and strafing fighters. Even worse, there were multiple instances of gunners on the ground firing on any aircraft within range regardless if it was American or Japanese. To address these problems commanders ordered that aircraft were to be disbursed and camouflaged while on the ground, and additional national markings applied to aid recognition in the air. The Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) was tasked with making these changes.
The Hawaiian Air Depot scheme consisted of applying broad patches of colors from paint stocks on hand to break up the aircraft’s outline. Application appears to have been limited to medium and heavy bombers. The exact colors were not documented nor were lists kept of which aircraft were repainted. Fortunately there is surviving color film of four aircraft in HAD schemes, one B-18, one B-17C/D, and two B-17Es. The Dark Olive Drab 41 upper surfaces were broken up with Sand 26, Neutral Gray 43, Rust Brown 34, and Interior Green areas. There was no set pattern and not all colors may have been used on every aircraft. Photographs of B-18s and B-17C/Ds show no uniformity, but the B-17Es follow a general concept with variation in the color boundaries. In some photographs this color pattern “fingerprint” can permit the individual aircraft to be determined. Data blocks were masked off before the new camouflage was applied which allows the original Olive Drab background to show through. The undersides were not repainted
National markings were augmented by applying additional insignia to the starboard upper and port lower wing surfaces bringing the total to six. Thirteen alternating red and white rudder stripes were also added, but without the vertical blue stripe of the pre-war marking convention. The “U.S. ARMY” lettering remained on the underside of the wings as can be seen in several photographs. Individual aircraft serial numbers were applied to the vertical stabilizers in Orange Yellow, but the size and shapes of the numerals varied so modelers must pay careful attention. There are several photographs of HAD scheme aircraft without serial numbers, so in at least some cases these were applied later.
The application of the HAD scheme was short lived. The order was issued on 10DEC41, but when the 22nd Bomb Group B-26 Marauders arrived in Hawaii in February 1942 they received only tail stripes. Three B-17Es also received tail stripes but no disruptive camouflage. However, tail stripes and red centers to the national insignia were being painted out by some units as early as April to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru, and this was formalized by ALNAV 97 on 06MAY42.
This is the Academy B-17C/D kit, painted in the camouflage and markings visible in the color film taken of aircraft landing at Hickam Field in the weeks after the Pearl Harbor Raid. The tail is not clearly shown in the film, so I have taken the liberty of assuming this is one of the Fortresses which had not had her serial numbers applied yet.
Time once again for the weekly construction update. Firstly, the jinx plaguing this build manifested yet again. The long awaited second Special Hobby B-18 arrived right on time from Hannants, bringing with it the needed nose transparency for my HAD subject. Or so I thought. Upon opening the box, I discovered the same clear sprue as is in the kit I already had on the bench. Initially I figured I had gotten the wrong sprue, but on closer examination I discovered that the difference between the variants was not only in the clear parts, but that Special Hobby had tooled two different fuselages to account for the different nose configurations! You can argue whether that decision is clever or whether it is ridiculous, but it was absolutely unanticipated on my part.
What this means is that the B-18 I have been working on cannot be finished as either of the two known HAD ships and so has been re-boxed and moved to the Shelf of Doom, the first kit so fated in roughly the last twenty years or so. If I can research a proper ASW scheme I will finish it in that and take another shot at the HAD scheme with the new kit. The problem of the too-narrow canopy is still unresolved, and for the moment I have lost the mojo to keep fighting it. However I was able to resist the impulse to test-fly the model across the modeling room, so score a small victory there.
On to better news. The two B-17s are camouflaged and glossed, and I had enough Starfighter decal sheets in the stash to recover from last week’s insignia masking debacle. I was able to determine colors and patterns on visible sections of the airframes from photographs and make some educated guesses based on other HAD birds for the areas not shown. The photographs show five colors were used, although not all five may have been used by HAD on all aircraft (the B-18 only used four colors). I mixed the colors to match the chips in the Monogram Guide using Testors paints (which mostly behaved well this time). The colors depicted here are: Dark Olive Drab 41, Sand 26, Neutral Gray 43, Rust Brown 34, and Interior Green. Here are the models: