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.

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.

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:

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.

Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part I

The Bell P-39 Airacobra was originally intended to be a high-altitude interceptor, featuring a turbo-supercharger and heavy armament centered around a 37mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. To allow for a heavy concentration of guns in the forward fuselage, the engine was mounted behind the pilot and drove the propeller via a long transmission.
Wind tunnel tests resulted in several refinements to the design, and Bell delivered a total of thirteen YP-39 development aircraft, one of which is seen here. The USAAC preferred aircraft optimized for low-altitude work, so the turbo-supercharger was dropped from the design. This Airacobra is unarmed.
Bell submitted a modified design for competition for a U.S. Navy requirement for a carrier-borne interceptor. The result was the XFL-1 Airabonita, which was designed using a conventional tricycle landing gear configuration. Note the tailhook under the fuselage.
The Airabonita failed its carrier qualifications due to weak landing gear. Only a single prototype was produced.
A flight of P-39Ds, the large “buzz numbers” on the forward fuselage denoting training aircraft. Note the prominent exhaust stains along the length of the fuselage.
A pair of P-39Cs of the 8th Pursuit Squadron are seen here participating in the 1941 Carolina Maneuvers in 1941. The red cross markings are carried in six positions and designate the aircraft are part of “Red Force”. The individual aircraft numbers are repeated on the leading edge of the wings. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
A posed photo purportedly showing the loading of the guns of a P-39C armed with a 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. A close examination reveals the “armorer” on the wing is a Captain. Modelers note the overspray where the white band on the nose was masked off. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
P-39Ds at Selfridge Field during the Summer of 1941. They belong to the appropriately-named “Cobras” of the 39th Pursuit Squadron, 31st Pursuit Group.
A close-up showing the emblem of the 39th Pursuit Squadron on the “car door”, along with details of the fuselage.
Diorama bait as a P-39F of the 54th Fighter Group is being serviced in the open at Adak, Alaska. The effects of the harsh environment are evident in the condition of the paint and weathering of the camouflage.

Part II here:

North American AT-6 / SNJ Texan / Harvard Color Photographs Part II

A beautiful aerial photograph of two USAAF Texans from Luke Field in early 1943. The two Texans are immaculate, even at this early period they are in an overall natural metal finish.
A US Navy SNJ in an interesting paint scheme. Some modelers look for photographs of WWII-era SNJs in the elusive “Three Color” graded scheme, but this is not one of those. This SNJ appears to be in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with a Light Gray vertical tail, and a replacement port wing in Non-Specular Sea Blue, likely with White undersurfaces.
A Navy Lieutenant in front of an SNJ-2 in a Yellow Wings scheme. Again, note the immaculate condition of the aircraft and paint job with a high-gloss finish.
Two Navy WAVES washing down an SNJ at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 1944. At their peak over 83,000 women were serving in the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. (80-G-K-15001)
Another Navy SNJ warms up its engine. It wears an overall Natural Metal Finish with Orange Yellow wing bands and a white rudder. Many Navy trainers were given Orange Yellow markings or overall paint schemes to make them more visible in the air and warn other aviators of their pilots’ trainee status, resulting in the nickname “Yellow Peril” being applied to the trainers. (80-G-K-13381)
USAAF pilot trainees posing with an AT-6 for the camera. Literally hundreds of thousands of pilots earned their qualifications on the Texan in more than three decades of service. This photograph offers an excellent view of one of the many canopy framing configurations carried by the Texan.
In Commonwealth service the type was known as the Harvard. The Canada Car and Foundry built a total of 555 Harvard 4s under the designation NA-186, many of which trained pilots for the RCAF.
A USAAF Texan displaying markings typical after May 1942, when the red center of the national insignia was removed to prevent confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru. The “U.S. ARMY” lettering under the wings was dropped to speed up production, but was generally not removed from aircraft if already applied.
Texans soldiered on in the trainer role for many years after the war, and even performed combat roles in Korea and Vietnam. The type proved to have all the capabilities necessary for the Forward Air Control mission, directing strike aircraft to their targets. These Korean War LT-6G Texans of the 6147th Tactical Air Control Group in their sandbagged revetment would make a good diorama.
Another Texan from the 6147th TACG over Korea. Note the replacement cowling – the different sheen of the natural metal panels and anti-glare panel in black vs. the Olive Drab on the forward fuselage. The racks under the wings are for white phosphorous rockets, used to mark targets.

Part I here:

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?