Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka 桜花 Special Attack Aircraft

1-Ohka
The MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) was a manned flying bomb used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the closing stages of the Pacific War.  It was an air-launched kamikaze intended for use against Allied warships.  Construction was basic, consisting of a 2,600 pound (1,200 kg) warhead in the nose, wooden wings, and three Type 4 Model 1 rocket engines in the after fuselage.
2 -721NAGBetty
While there were several sub-types in development, the only Ohka type used operationally was the Model 11.  These were designed to be air launched, carried aloft by the G4M2 Model 24 “Betty” bomber.  The 711 Attack Squadron of the 721 Naval Air Group was one of the units tasked with launching the Ohka.  Here is a 721 NAG “Betty” with an Ohka semi-recessed into the bomb bay.
3-721NAGBetty_2
Fitting the Ohka into the bomb bay allowed the pilot to move about the bomber, only entering the Ohka when launch was imminent.  The Ohka had a nominal 23 mile (37 km) range, but until launch range was reached the heavily-laden bombers were very vulnerable to interception.  While this picture is likely of a model, it shows the carrying arrangement well.
4-VF17GunCamera721NAGBetty21MAR45_1
The first Ohka attack occurred on 21MAR45 when the 721 NAG launched eighteen G4M2 carrying Ohkas against U.S. Navy Task Group 58.1 operating off Kanoya.  TG 58.1 consisted of four aircraft carriers, two battleships, and numerous cruisers and destroyers.
5-VF17GunCamera721NAGBetty21MAR45_2
While the “Bettys” were escorted by over three dozen A6M5 Zero fighters, the American task group detected the Japanese raid on radar and was able to launch additional fighters to reinforce the Combat Air Patrol protecting the fleet.  In all approximately one hundred and fifty American fighters rose to oppose the Japanese.
6-VF17GunCamera721NAGBetty21MAR45_3
All the Bettys were destroyed before they got within range of the U.S. fleet, and roughly half the Zero escort was lost as well.  These pictures are from the gun camera film shot by a VF-17 Hellcat operating from the USS Hornet (CV-12) that day.
7-OhkaOkinawa_1
On 01APR45 U.S. Marines discovered fifteen Ohka on Okinawa.  Interesting diorama material for a modeler.
8-OhkaOkinawa_2
In the U.S. April first is a day for practical jokes, commonly called April Fool’s Day.  The Americans dubbed the captured Ohkas “Baka” bombs, in Japanese baka means “fool”.
9-OhkaOkinawa_3
In the wartime color photographs of Ohkas it is very common to see the wings and / or tail planes in a lighter color than the fuselage.
10-USSAbele
The first success for the Ohka was the sinking of the Sumner-class destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 12APR45.  The Abele was struck by an A6M Zero kamikaze in the after engine room and by an Ohka forward, she sank a few moments later.  In all seven American ships were hit by Ohkas, three being either sunk or damaged beyond economical repair.
11-OhkaCockpit_1
The controls of the Ohka were quite basic, only a limited number of instruments were provided.  These photographs show the interior of the restored aircraft in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.  (NMUSAF photograph)
12-OhkaCockpit_2
Another view of the cockpit.  (NMUSAF photograph)
13-OhkaFreemanField
During the Second World War the USAAF operated an evaluation center for foreign aircraft and related equipment at Freeman Field near Seymour Indiana.  After the war the field hosted an open house where many of the foreign aircraft were put on static display.  This is the Ohka displayed at Freeman Field, note the color of the fuselage, and the lighter wings and tail assembly.  One of the Type 4 Model 1 rocket engines lies beside the aircraft.  In the background is a Junkers Ju-290A-9 transport.

Airfix Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

B17GBuild_01
Next up is the Airfix new tool B-17G, specifically the “Eighth Air Force: B-17G & Bomber Re-Supply Set” boxing.  The model represents a late production Fortress with staggered waist gun positions and a Cheyenne tail turret.  It looks like Airfix has left some room for other versions, the cheek gun & windows are an insert, and the tail gun position is separate from the fuselage.  A modeler wishing to convert this kit to an earlier version would also have to address the staggered waist guns which were only found on later G Forts.  But that’s just crazy talk.
B17GBuild_02
The flight deck and bomb bay build up as a module which also incorporates  the wing spars.  This should ensure correct wing dihedral, which was a problem with the Academy B-17 kits.
B17GBuild_03
Here is a shot of the major interior components all built up.  This is more than adequate as it is difficult to see the interior detail on a completed Fortress model.  It is a little tempting to add more, but it would be wasted effort.  Note the cut outs for the cheek inserts on the nose.
B17GBuild_04
I did blank off the wing recesses with plastic sheet.  I am planning on leaving the bomb bay doors open and the wing interior was closed off from the fuselage on the real aircraft.
B17GBuild_05
Here the aft fuselage has been painted and given a wash of acrylic black.  The doors between compartments were made from sheet stock and painted to look like finished plywood.
B17GBuild_06
The flight deck was the only compartment which retained the sound deadening insulation on later Fortresses, if you see ribs they should be painted aluminum.  I made the pilot’s and co-pilot’s seat cushions from sheet stock.  I masked the inside of the cheek windows with masking tape, which was also used to fabricate seatbelts.
B17GBuild_07
An overall view of the interior.  You can get some glimpses of the interior after the fuselage is closed up, but I refrained from adding more details because you just can’t see that much through the transparencies.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/airfix-b-17g-flying-fortress-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part II

During the war B-17 Flying Fortresses were produced at three locations.  The Boeing plant at Seattle, Washington was assigned production code BO; Douglas at Long Beach, California was DL; and Lockheed Vega at Burbank, California was VE.  These codes were noted at the end of each aircraft’s batch number.  Each factory was supplied with equipment and pre-manufactured assemblies by various subcontractors.  While governed by the same set of regulations, variations in production practices and suppliers inevitably resulted detail differences.

In the first post on B-17 interiors I showed the standards for the “official” colors and appearance.  In this post I’ll show some of the variations and details of operational Fortresses.

Link to the first part is here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Link to Part 3 is here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-iii/

B17_01_FuselageFitters
Here is a very interesting color photograph of three fitters installing equipment in the aft fuselage of a Fortress.  While the official USAAF Technical Order specified the fuselage interior was to remain unpainted, here the longitudinal stringers were supplied to Boeing already primed.  Also note the supports for the gunners’ footrests are each primed, stamped, and annotated.

B17_02_PortWheelwell_LaceyLady_SteveHeeb
B-17G-105-VE serial number 44-85790 was purchased by a Mr. Art Lacey and displayed above his gas station / restaurant in Milwaukie Oregon.  In 2014 the aircraft was purchased by the B-17 Alliance Foundation and is currently being restored to airworthy condition as “Lacey Lady”.  It is a late-production Vega Fortress and is of interest because it remained unrestored, a virtual time capsule.  This is the interior of the port wheelwell looking aft.  While the skin of the nacelle is unpainted aluminum, the rear bulkhead and internal structural components have been primed.  (Photograph by Steve Heeb)

B17_03_MemhisBelleCockpit
This is a photo showing the cockpit of the NMUSAF restoration of B-17F-10-BO serial number 41-24485, the “Memphis Belle”.  This shows the Dull Dark Green color specified, FS 34092.  The boots on the control columns are Olive Drab canvas.

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress cockpit
Another restoration  showing the other color specified in Technical Order 01-20EF-2, Bronze Green.  In this picture the color looks a bit too bright due to the lighting, but it is useful as a general comparison with the previous picture.  I would doubly caution modelers attempting to directly match the colors in the photograph – the aircraft is a restoration and even if the restoration team got the color exactly right the photograph and your computer monitor may not capture the tone correctly.  Modelers should try to match FS 14058 but a little darker.

B17_05_B17B_WaistGun
A rare color slide taken inside a B-17B showing the port waist gun position.  On the early Fortresses the gun positions were in bulged “teardrop” blisters, the guns pivoted and rotated within.  On all Fortresses the after fuselage interior was specified to remain in natural aluminum.

B17_06_FortressIWaist
The B-17C eliminated the teardrop waist gun fairings but the fuselage cutout shape was unchanged.  Twenty B-17Cs were supplied to the Royal Air Force as the Fortress I.  Here is a view of the Fortress I interior as an RAF gunner poses at the starboard waist gun.  Note that the fuselage of the “shark fin” Forts is considerably smaller than the re-designed “E” model.

B17_07_B17E_FrankSherschel1942
A nice view inside a B-17E looking aft towards the tail.  The cylindrical object in the background is a chemical toilet.  The crew access door is just visible on the starboard side.  (Photograph by Frank Sherschel for LIFE Magazine)

B17_08_WaistGunner
A waist gunner in full flying gear.  Flying at altitude required oxygen and an electrically-heated flying suit – hypothermia and hypoxia were potentially fatal.  This gunner also wears an apron-style “flak jacket” to reduce injuries from shrapnel.  The cramped quarters and precarious footing are obvious, there was little room to spare and the gunners got in each other’s way.  Crews would often fly with only one of the two gunners, particularly later in the war.

B17_09
Another view of the aft fuselage, this time looking forward.  The waist gun positions on this Fortress are protected by armor plates which appear to have been primed.  The guns are fed from plywood ammo containers, and additional ammo boxes are stowed on the floor on either side of the guns.  In the background a crewman is making adjustments to the Sperry ball turret.

B17_10_AmmoBoxes
In the two previous photographs the crew had carried additional .50 caliber ammunition in boxes, and these boxes are commonly seen in or around operational aircraft.  This is a nice color photograph of an ammo dump which shows the stenciling and variations in colors of these boxes.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

B17_11_B17Gcaptbonnett
A B-17G Bombardier identified as Captain Bonnett poses at his station.  The device leaning to the right is the control for the Bendix chin turret.  Note the details of the seat and lap belt.  There is no acoustical insulation installed on the sides of the nose compartment, the Alcoa sheet aluminum product stenciling is clearly visible.

B17_12_B17GNose
The interior of a B-17G nose section looking aft.  Plywood ammunition boxes for the cheek guns are to the left, the Bombardier’s control panel is to the right.  The sides of the compartment are unpainted aluminum, but the rear bulkhead is covered with Olive Drab or Dark Green canvas, part of the acoustical batting to help reduce noise in the cockpit.

B17_13_TSGTRobertSiavage306BGB17F
TSGT Robert Siavage poses in the Radio Compartment of his 306 Bomb Group B-17F.  His .50 caliber gun is stowed overhead.  This aircraft still retains the insulation in this compartment, although crews often removed this in the field.

B17_14_LtBobWeltyB17GRadar
A color shot of LT Bob Welty posing inside a B-17G after returning Stateside.  This photograph is interesting as it shows the interior of a “Mickey” aircraft which carries an AN/APS-15 radar in place of the Sperry ball turret.  These were used as pathfinders when the target was obscured by overcast.  The receiver equipment was mounted in the Radio Compartment forward of the bulkhead.

B17_15

B17_16
Two photographs showing the color and stenciling of the seat cushions carried by B-17s and other U.S. aircraft.  The cushions could also be used as flotation devices.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to have a place for collecting all the little details dug up while researching information to build a model and putting them in a single place where they can be organized and located again when needed, along with  notes explaining what was found.  On several occasions I have revisited a topic later only to find that I can’t remember why I thought a particular component was a certain color or when the wheel tread pattern changed on the landing gear.  Writing things down here helps with all that, and if you guys can use this information too then saving you time is a bonus.  So with that in mind here is some information on B-17 interior colors for anyone wanting to model a Flying Fortress.

The Boeing B-17 remains a popular aircraft and there are a lot of photographs out there of restored B-17s, both on the Warbird circuit and in museums.  There are even a few of these pictures on this blog.  This is actually a mixed blessing for modelers, while you can get a good feel for the layout and structure of the Flying Fortress, many (if not most) restorations paint the aircraft with preservation as the priority instead of accuracy.  This has resulted in lots of “Interior Green” inside of the aircraft where it was not used in actual production.  We then carry these errors on to our models, further reinforcing the mistake because it matches what we have seen either in person or in reference books.

I’m going to present the information on B-17 interior colors in two parts.  This first section will present the official specifications from Technical Order 01-20EF-2 B-17F Airplane Erection and Maintenance Instructions, and official Boeing factory photographs of production aircraft which reflect the specified standards.  The second section will be variations from these specifications, along with details and colors of some of the installed equipment.

B-17 Interior Color Summary from T. O. 01-20EF-2:

  1. Paint everything Aluminum unless otherwise noted. This includes the entire fuselage interior (except for the flight deck), wheel wells, cowling interiors, bomb bays, bomb racks, landing gear (on uncamouflaged aircraft) and the inside surface of the bomb bay doors.
  2. The cockpit area should be Bronze Green (FS 14058 but a little darker) or Dull Dark Green (FS 34092).
  3. Early B-17s had insulative batting for noise reduction installed in the nose compartment, flight deck, and radio compartments. This was covered with neatly upholstered Dark Green or Olive Drab canvas cloth.  Crews often removed the batting in theater, the underlying airframe was left unprimed in natural Aluminum. Later production Fortresses reduced or omitted this covering in the nose and radio compartments.  If you have rib detail showing on a Fortress interior, it should be natural aluminum.
  4. Plywood was used to fabricate many interior structures such as ammo boxes, the navigator’s table, compartment doors, and walkways. These were covered in two coats of varnish and were often left unpainted, especially in later production.
  5. Radio equipment and instrument panels were black. Oxygen bottles were yellow.  Fire extinguishers were left in natural metal.  Walkways were covered in a rubber non-slip material.  Interior components were provided from numerous subcontractors, so there can be some variations in details and finishes.

Link to Part II here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-ii/

Link to Part III here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-iii/

Boeing-B-17E-interior-1
Looking aft into the nose of a B-17E, the bombardier’s seat is in the foreground, the navigator sat in a seat behind him facing the port side of the aircraft.  This compartment is completely covered in the sound-deadening insulation.  An unpainted (not red) fire extinguisher is mounted to the aft bulkhead.  Note the armor plate behind the bombardier’s seat, and his yellow seat cushion.  Note that no structural ribbing is visible, and the details of the upholstered canvas covering the rear bulkhead.  (All photos credit Boeing unless otherwise noted)

Boeing-B-17E-interior-1b
The nose compartment of the B-17E again, this time looking forward.  The Navigator’s table in the left foreground appears to be black enamel on an aluminum frame on this Fortress.  The armor behind the bombardier’s seat is primed.  A Browning .30 caliber machine gun is mounted in the lower right of the nose glazing, four additional mounting sockets are visible in the photograph.

Boeing-B-17G-interior-Nose
A similar photograph but a later variant, this is B-17G-60-BO serial number 42-102955.  This aircraft was later assigned to the 510 Bomb Squadron / 351 Bomb Group and given the name “Chatterbox II” by her crew.  The bombardier’s chair is now an “office” style and is unarmored.  It rests upon the circular housing for the Bendix chin turret which he controls.  To the right and left are the Navigator’s .50 cal cheek guns with their plywood ammo boxes mounted on the floor to the right.  The Navigator’s table, also made of plywood, is in the lower left corner.  There is no acoustical insulation installed forward of the bulkhead.

Boeing-B-17G-interior-Navigator
B-17G 42-102955 again, the photographer has pivoted to the left to show the Navigator’s plywood table and the front side of the bulkhead, which displays the dark Olive Drab canvas covering.  The inside of the aircraft’s Aluminum skin is covered in the Alcoa Aluminum Company’s stenciling, identifying the sheet metal used on the airframe as ALCLAD 24S-1.

Boeing-B-17C-cockpit
This is a really interesting find, this is the cockpit of a B-17C.  There are several differences from later variants visible here, including the lack of armor behind the seats, different oxygen bottles behind the pilot, raised flightdeck flooring, and early style control wheels.  A more subtle change is the position of the photographer himself – in the B-17E and later versions he would be standing where the Sperry dorsal turret structure would be installed.

Boeing-B-17G-cockpit
This is the cockpit area of a B-17G before the pilot and co-pilot’s seats are installed, giving an excellent view of the instruments and control layout.  Compare this photograph with the B-17C cockpit in the previous picture.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-3
The bomb bay is the next compartment aft of the flight deck, here is a view looking forward.  This is an unfinished B-17E.  Several components are awaiting installation but this gives an excellent view of the structural elements.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-4
A finished B-17E bomb bay looking aft.  Safety lines are in place to help keep crewmen on the narrow catwalk between the bomb racks.  The Alcoa stenciling is visible on the aircraft skin confirming the bomb bay is unpainted.  If you look in the lower corners of the photograph you see that the wing interior is sheeted off from the bomb bay.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-5
Next is the Radio compartment looking forward.  The Dark Green or Olive Drab covering for the acoustical batting is in place here as well.  Seats are in unpainted aluminum and are unarmored.  Radio equipment is in black.  The control cables running from the cockpit to the tail surfaces pass through on either side overhead.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-6
Looking aft in the radio compartment is more radio equipment and another door leading aft.  Mounted to the bulkhead to the left are two hand cranks for manually lowering the flaps in case of hydraulic failure.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-7
B-17E fuselage interior looking forward showing the waist gun positions.  This photograph is particularly interesting as it shows the remote sighting installation for the unmanned Sperry Model 645705-D belly turret.  This gun installation was not successful and was only installed on the first 112 B-17Es produced, serial numbers 41-2394 through 41-2504.  The gunner operated the sight by laying on the floor facing aft between the feet of the already cramped waist gunners.  The belly gunner’s side scanning windows are clearly visible, two on each side, immediately above the steps.  Control cables are overhead.  For those who believe the belly turret was a Bendix design, please see here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/the-b-17e-and-the-myth-of-the-bendix-ventral-turret/

Boeing-B-17E-interior-8
The tail gunner’s position before attaching to the aircraft.  The racks on either side held the .50 cal ammunition boxes, the belts were fed through the guide trays mounted on either side.  The gunner faced aft and knelt on the padded rests while sitting on the bicycle type seat in the center.

Boeing-B-17E-interior-9
The tail gun position from the exterior.  Formation lights are installed below the guns, which are fitted with aluminum flash hiders.  Movement of the tail guns was obviously limited, firing arcs were not improved until the design of the Cheyenne tail turret for the B-17G.

TO_01-20EF-2(1)

TO_01-20EF-2(2)

 The two most relevant pages for Flying Fortress interior colors from Technical Order 01-20EF-2 B-17F Airplane Erection and Maintenance Instructions, for your reading pleasure.