Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part I

The USAAF 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group operated the Spitfire Mark XI from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England. The Mark XI was a Mark IX airframe with all armament and armor removed and extra fuel and cameras added, optimized for high-altitude flight. This is PA944 with invasion stripes under the fuselage. (All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer)
Another view of PA944 showing the wear and weathering of her PRU Blue paint scheme. Note the serial on her fuselage repeated on the vertical tail. Here is an interview with the pilot of PA944, John Blyth. Well worth watching here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3SrjLlcUY&t=1s&ab_channel=DAvenport3-2614
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
A close-up of PA842 shows the same finish as MB946 above.
A fine study of MB950 in overall PRU Blue before her serials were repeated on the tail. PRU Blue is generally represented by modelers as approximately FS 35164 or FS 35189.
MB950 from another angle. The PRU Blue degraded quickly, and this aircraft shows several areas where the paint has been re-touched.
A later view of MB950, showing the Dark Red under the exhausts and Olive Drab rudder. By this time her serials have been applied to the tail. Note the prominent exhaust staining. The Spitfire Mk. XI on display at the NMUSAF is serialed as MB950, although her markings do not match either version in these photographs.
Here are two PR Mark V “War Weary” aircraft used as hacks, EN904 and AR404. Worn-out aircraft were declared War Weary when they had exceeded their airframe life and/or suffered damage which precluded them from being pushed to their original design limits safely.
Another view of AR404 which reveals several details useful for modelers and a surprise – an RAF roundel on her upper starboard wing. This emphasizes the value of multiple views of the same subject, one can only speculate which insignia are on the other wing surfaces.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/20/supermarine-spitfires-of-the-7th-photographic-reconnaissance-group-color-photographs-part-ii/

Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part III

One of the thirteen YP-39 Airacobras in flight, probably in the Fall of 1940. The YP-39s were initially unarmed and lacked the various scoops which would appear on later variants, which resulted in a very clean look. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Another view of a highly-polished YP-39 which would make for an attractive model if you could pull off the mirror-like finish. This photo also provides a good view of the Curtiss Electric propeller. An unusual detail is the lack of yellow warning tips on the propeller blades, but this appears to be the case with many Airacobra photos. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
With war looming U.S. aircraft production swelled in 1941. This is the apron outside Bell’s factory at Buffalo, New York, where final assembly of a large number of Airacobras is being completed in the open.
Many Airacobras never left the States, but served as advanced trainers as squadrons worked up for deployment. This P-39 displays large “buzz numbers” on the nose which made the aircraft easy to identify if the pilot was performing unauthorized maneuvers.
This is a P-39 from the 354th Fighter Group while the unit was working up at Portland, Oregon during the Summer of 1943.
The Royal Air Force received approximately 200 Airacobras from and order of 676 before they cancelled the order. Only 601 Squadron flew the P-39 operationally with the RAF, and only on a single combat mission over the continent. Here RAF armorers make a great show of loading ammo bins for the camera.
A beautiful photograph of a P-39K during the Summer of 1942 showing the centerline drop tank installation to good advantage.
Access to the aircraft was through a “car door” on each side of the cockpit which could be jettisoned in case of emergency. This photograph provides several useful details for modelers of the aircraft and pilot’s flight gear. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
This is the unrestored interior of the P-39 in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum. This is a spectacular example of original colors and markings, as well as the wear patterns the aircraft would display while in service. (NASM)
In 2004 P-39Q serial number 44-2911 was found in Lake Mart-Yavr, above the Arctic Circle in Siberia. The Airacobra had suffered an engine failure and crashed into the lake on 19NOV44. The remains of pilot Lt. Ivan Baranovsky were still inside. The aircraft is currently on display at the Niagara Museum of Flight, near where it was built.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/06/23/bell-p-39-airacobra-color-photographs-part-i/

Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part II

A beautiful photograph of two early Airacobras. The camouflaged aircraft in the foreground with its engine running is a P-39C which appears to have no guns fitted. The natural metal aircraft in the background is one of the thirteen YP-39s built. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron did its advanced training on P-39Ns at Aiken Army Airfield in South Carolina. This is a fine study of one of their aircraft.
Pilots of the 118th TRS pose on the nose of one of their P-39Ns. The squadron deployed to the CBI where they finished the war flying Mustangs.
Another 118th TRS Airacobra provides a good view of the insignia on the “car door”, as well as standard markings for the Summer of 1943.
The flightline at Hamilton Field, July 1943 showing a P-39N of the 357th Fighter Group. Several Liberators and a Flying Fortress are visible in the background.
Five color photographs of the same aircraft, a rarity and a boon for modelers. The P-39 was known as the Airacobra I in Royal Air Force service. This is AH621, running up her engine at Buffalo New York in 1941. She was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force for evaluation but crashed on 26NOV41. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The aircraft is painted in the RAF Day Fighter scheme, U.S. equivalents of Dark Green and Dark Earth with a very light substitute for Sky on the undersides. Note the unusually high demarcation of the underside color. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Royal Air Force ordered 676 Airacobras, receiving their first in September 1941. The USAAC decision to eliminate the turbosupercharger limited their effectiveness over Europe, the RAF reporting poor climb rates and a drop-off in power at altitude. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Only No. 601 Squadron flew the Airacobra in Royal Air Force service, and they only flew one operational mission before the type was relegated to training and other secondary duties. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Approximately 200 of the RAF order was diverted to the Soviets. The Airacobra was enthusiastically received by the VVS, which operated almost exclusively at low altitude. Another 200 were requisitioned by the USAAF after Pearl Harbor and sent to the Pacific as the P-400. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/06/bell-p-39-airacobra-color-photographs-part-iii/

Vultee Vengeance Color Photographs

The Vultee Vengeance was an American dive bomber produced in Nashville, Tennessee. While it did not see front-line service with the USAAF, it did see combat over Burma with the RAF and in the South Pacific with the Australians.
An error in calculating the wing’s center of lift was corrected by a unique reverse sweep to the outer wing panel, resulting in the appearance of a gull wing from certain angles. Another unusual (but less apparent) feature was the wing was mounted with zero incidence to the fuselage on early versions to enable a vertical dive-bombing run.
In the USAAF the type was designated the A-31. It was used for training, liaison, and target-towing duties in U.S. service.
The Vengeance had a heavy gun armament for a dive-bomber, with four .30-calibre machine guns in the wings and another pair on a swivel mount facing the rear. Even so, it was expected to be vulnerable to fighter interception and was assigned to theaters where enemy air opposition was light.
Vultee increased the engine horsepower and changed armament to .50 caliber machine guns, the most obvious external difference being the switch to a four-bladed prop. In USAAF service the redesigned Vengeance was designated A-35, the RAF called it the Vengeance IV.  (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
In RAF service the Vengeance gained a reputation as an effective dive-bomber, rugged and easy to fly. It served in the direct support role against the Japanese in Burma and was deemed to be very effective. It was phased out in mid-1944 in favor of fighter-bomber types, which were more versatile.
The Vengeance was also popular with the RAAF, where it was valued for the high accuracy of its dive-bombing attacks. The RAAF withdrew its Vengeances from front-line service in the spring of 1944, the units converting to the B-24 Liberator.
A total of 1,931 Vengeances were produced, the vast majority at Vultee’s Nashville, Tennessee facility.
There have been several Vultee Vengeance kits produced in 1/72 scale, the most recent from Special Hobby. AZ Model and Dora Wings offer kits in 1/48 scale, and Combat Models made a vacuform kit for 1/32 scale modelers.

Production line photographs here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/01/05/vultee-vengeance-production-color-photographs/

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Color Photographs Part II

A beautiful in-flight photograph of a Mosquito B Mk. IV. DK338 was later issued to No. 105 Squadron.
This is NT181, a Mosquito FB Mk. VI assigned to No. 620 Squadron at East Wretham.
NT181 again, from the front. The wear to the spinners and nacelle is interesting and would pose a challenge to the modeler.
Rockets proved especially effective against shipping. The armorers here wear leather jerkins, each man is attired slightly differently.
A Mosquito is “bombed up” with a little canine assistance. Compare the appearance of the bomb fins with that of the bomb bodies.
A South African Air Force FB Mk. VI of No. 60 Squadron photographed at Bari, Italy, September 1944. Note the spinners are different colors.
Another view of the same aircraft, serial number HP968.
One of the more attractive Mosquito schemes is the overall PRU Blue, as seen here worn by PR Mk. XVI of RAF No. 684 Squadron at Alipore, India. NS645 was written off in after belly landing at Saigon in November 1945.
Another beautiful shot of a Mosquito in PRU Blue. This is PR Mk. XVI MM364 at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire. This aircraft was passed on to the USAAF, where she served with the 25th Bomb Group.
KB424 served with No. 162 Squadron RAF, she was a Mosquito B Mk. 25.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/09/08/de-havilland-dh-98-mosquito-color-photographs-part-i/

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Color Photographs Part I

A fine aerial study of a Mosquito F Mk II of No. 456 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force in flight. The Mosquito was one of the most versatile aircraft designs of the Second World War and operated in a wide variety of roles. (World War Photos)
Wing Commander John B. Selby, DSO, DFC, poses in front of a Mosquito of No. 23 Squadron at Luqa, Malta, 27JUN43. He claimed four victories on the Hurricane, scoring his fifth with No. 23 Squadron on the Mosquito to make ace. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another posed Malta photograph from the same sequence, this offers several details useful for modelers. Note the chock with individual aircraft letter, uniforms, and the ubiquitous Malta stone revetment. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another No. 23 Squadron Mosquito over Malta. A fine view which conveys a sense of speed. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A view of the de Havilland factory floor at Hatfield, Hertfordshire during 1943, where the largest share of Mosquitos were produced. Note the mix of camouflage on the wings. In the left rear of the photograph is an odd mix with a PRU Blue fuselage and camouflaged wings!
A factory-fresh Mosquito at Hatfield being “inspected” by workers for the benefit of the photographer. A total of 3,326 Mosquitos were built at Hatfield.
The USAAF operated several Mosquitos under reverse Lend-Lease. This is a PR Mk XVI of the 654th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group. The Group painted the tail surfaces red after one of their aircraft was shot down in error by a P-51 Mustang. In the background is a reconnaissance version of the Lightning, the F-5.
Another Mosquito of the 654th Bomb Squadron, 25th Bomb Group. The Mosquito currently on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is painted in 25BG markings: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/de-havilland-dh-98-mosquito-mk-xvi-walk-around/
Count on the Americans to apply nose art! This is “Pamela”.
MT482 was an NF.Mk 30 operated by the USAAF’s 416th Night Fighter Squadron. It was lost with both crew members on 22APR45 while operating from Pontedera Air Base, Italy.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/de-havilland-dh-98-mosquito-color-photographs-part-ii/

Douglas C-47 / R4D Skytrain / Dakota Color Photographs Part III

C47_21_80-G-K-5297_R4D_Flag aircraft of Rear Admiral Osbourne B. Hardison, chief of Naval Air Primary Training, is checked out by ground crew at NAS New Orleans, circa early 1945
Not all R4D’s were camouflaged. This is the aircraft of Rear Admiral Osbourne B. Hardsion, Chief of Naval Air Primary Training. His two-star flag placard is visible beneath the pilot’s window. (80-G-K-5297)

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Another Navy R4D in a natural metal finish, this one is assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service.

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Another mission frequently assigned to the Dakota was casualty evacuation, as being performed by the Royal Air Force example seen here.

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A patient being transferred to a Skytrain with invasion stripes. This photo provides a good view of the boarding ladder and inside of the cargo door.

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A similar view of a U.S. Marine casualty being evacuated from Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.

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Not the clearest of photographs but some interesting markings with yellow and red identification panels. An earlier “55” aircraft identification number has been removed aft of the yellow 25.

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A paratrooper poses in front of a rather weathered C-47, the nose of which has been repainted. Compare the size and positioning of the Troop Carrier Command lettering with that of the photo of the paratrooper from last week’s post here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/douglas-c-47-r4d-skytrain-dakoda-color-photographs-part-ii/

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42-92862, a Skytrain of the 32nd Troop Carrier Squadron.

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Sad Sack hauling cargo is the subject of this nose art.

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Puddle-Jumper displaying some interesting details of propeller markings. Note the white trim to the carburetor intakes. One has to wonder if the nose art is intentional or the victim of an over-zealous removal of another marking. (LIFE Magazine)

Douglas C-47 / R4D Skytrain / Dakota Color Photographs Part I

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The Douglas C-47 Skytrain (R4D for you Navy types) is one of the classic designs of aeronautical engineering. Rugged and versatile, many are still flying today, almost eighty years after they were built – a testament to their design and construction.
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From a modeling perspective the C-47 offers many interesting possibilities. Here a USAAF C-47 is seen over Mindanao, Philippines in 1945. While the tail markings are somewhat unusual, the high degree of fading and wear to the finish is common to the type and can be a challenge to replicate.
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An adaptation of the DC-3 civilian airliner, Douglas produced over 10,000 C-47’s during the Second World War. Interestingly, the Japanese obtained a license to produce the design before the war, and built over 500 as the L2D. Similarly, the Soviet Union produced approximately 5,000 (counts vary) as the Lisunov Li-2.
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A U.S. Navy R4D is seen at Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic. It was called Ciudad Trujillo from 1936 to 1961, but is known as Santo Domingo today. Notice the paint has worn off the back of the propeller blades.
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Three Navy R4D’s in flight, demonstrating the effectiveness of their Blue Gray / Light Gray camouflage.
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The British received around 2,000 C-47’s under Lend Lease and gave the type the name “Dakota”. After the war many were distributed to Commonwealth and former colonial countries. Several of these aircraft are still flying today, including some with the South African Air Force in the maritime patrol role. 
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42-32892 served with the Soviet Air Force and was transferred to Aeroflot after the war. It crashed on the Taymyr Peninsula on 13APR47 with 9 fatalities, 28 were later rescued. The aircraft is pictured as it remained in 2012.
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Many civilian DC-3’s were pressed into military service before and at the beginning of the war, one of which may be this aircraft pictured in pre-war USAAC markings and insignia.
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Nose art on several C-47’s were photographed for LIFE Magazine at Townsend, Australia in 1943. These are two examples.

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Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/douglas-c-47-r4d-skytrain-dakoda-color-photographs-part-ii/

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc Trop of Sgt. George Beurling in 1/72 Scale

Sgt. George “Screwball” Beurling was the highest-scoring Canadian ace, with 31 credited victories, the majority of which were scored over Malta.  BR323 was one of the Spitfires he flew with 249 Squadron at Malta, achieving 5 victories with this aircraft in July 1942.  The dual drop tanks on the centerline were a field improvisation, the blue camouflage was applied in theater and has been interpreted in several ways.

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Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/airfix-supermarine-spitfire-mark-vc-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc Trop of 249 Squadron in 1/72 Scale

This is a No. 249 Squadron Spitfire Mk. Vc Trop defending Malta in the Summer of 1942.  Many of the Malta Spitfires were re-camouflaged locally and the colors used are still debated.  This example was finished in an overall “dark blue”, I have chosen Insignia Blue for my model.

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More completed Airfix Spitfires here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/airfix-rhaf-supermarine-spitfire-mk-vc-trop-in-1-72-scale/