Colorful Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Markings Part 1

The P-40 Warhawk is probably best known as the plane with the shark’s teeth, and the unit which started it all was the RAF’s 112 Squadron which first painted the famous marking on their Kittyhawk I’s in North Africa.  Here Lt A. R. Costello strikes a pose next to his aircraft at Sidi Heneish, Egypt.
The sharkmouth fit the contours of the P-40 particularly well.  112 Squadron aircraft soon became favorites of photographers, and pictures were picked up by several magazines eager to provide coverage of the war.
The magazine coverage made it all the way to China, where pilots of the American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” decided shark’s teeth would look nice on their aircraft as well.  Their aircraft and exploits soon became legend and are still one of the most recognizable schemes to this day.  Each set of shark’s teeth was painted by hand and differed in details.  (Robert Smith photograph)
The 343rd Fighter Group was activated on 03SEP42 at Elmendorf Field, Alaska.  It consisted of the 11th and 18th Fighter Squadrons on Curtiss P-40Es and the 54th Fighter Squadron on Lockheed P-38s.  A fourth squadron with P-40Es, the 344th, was added in October.  In command was Lt Col John Chennault, whose father of Flying Tigers fame inspired the Tiger nose art applied to the Group’s P-40s.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)
A lesser known application is this yellow nosed P-40E.  Supposedly there were two aircraft painted in these nose markings at Malaybalay, Mindanao while flying in defense of the Philippines, but documentation is lacking.
At least one of these aircraft was captured by the Japanese in airworthy condition.  It was given Japanese Hinomaru over the U.S. insignia, although the “U.S. ARMY” lettering is still just visible under the wings in this photograph.
Another view as the Japanese examine their prize.  Several U.S. types were captured and restored to airworthy condition on Java and the Philippines, including many P-40s and three B-17s.
A view of the starboard side of the nose from a Japanese magazine.  Most artist’s renderings depict the head as either being yellow, or yellow with red mottling.  The “bullet-riddled” description in the English caption is wishful thinking, there were several P-40s captured intact by the Japanese that were quite flyable.
The shark’s mouth marking remained popular with P-40 units, particularly those flying in the Chinese Theater.  Here is a P-40N of the 74th Fighter Squadron being fitted with rocket tubes at Kweilen, China in 1943-44.
Yet another variation seen in India, this P-40K of the 25th Fighter Squadron 51st Fighter Group is pictured at Assam Valley India in 1944.  A smaller mouth but larger fangs.

Luftwaffe in Africa Book Review


Luftwaffe in Africa, 1941-1943

By Jean-Louis Roba

Paperback, 128 pages, heavily illustrated, index

Published by Casemate, November 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1612007457

ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-7458

Product Dimensions: 7.0 x 0.5 x 10.0 inches

Germany was drawn into the war in North Africa by Mussolini’s ambitions.  Italy had little to gain by conquering the region; Germany even less so.  For the German Army and particularly the Luftwaffe North Africa did little more than provide an ever-increasing drain on assets which could have been better used in the Soviet Union.  Once the influx of American men and material began to be felt the Axis cause was beyond redemption.

This volume provides a good overview of the progression of the campaign in North Africa from the Luftwaffe perspective.  There were quite a large number of units committed over time but Germany was never able to achieve the concentration of force necessary to achieve her goals, attempts to supply the Africa Korps by air transport proving particularly costly.  Roba does a good job of tracking the constant redeployments, and describes the results of the major air actions as the campaign progressed.  Also included is the commitment of the Luftwaffe’s Fallschrimjäger.  The LRDG attacks of Luftwaffe airfields are mentioned as well but only briefly.  In the last third of the book there are several first-hand accounts from pilots which are interesting, although one from Arman Köhler’s diary appears to have been inadvertently omitted.

There are quite a number of photographs reproduced in this book, many of which were new to me.  They include some original color examples which are presented well and are generally well captioned.  There are also fifteen very nicely done color profiles, but these have only the briefest of descriptions.

Overall a nice presentation and a quick read.  A few first-hand accounts in the beginning of the book would have been welcome, but this book provides a good overview of the campaign.




Airfix Standard Light Utility Vehicles in 1/72 Scale

These are Standard Light Utility Vehicles which are part of the Airfix WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set.  One is included in each box, it is essentially a light truck and a quick build in 1/72 scale.  Many of the kit parts are molded on the clear sprue, but mine suffered from the dreaded Airfix flow lines so I cut the portions representing glass off and replaced the windshields with acetate.  There were also gaps at the sides where the cab joins the hood which I filled with Perfect Plastic Putty.  Other than that they build up nicely.















Airfix Bedford Trucks in 1/72 Scale

These are the Airfix Bedford trucks which are part of their WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set.  You get one truck in each set but have the option of building it as either an MWC water tanker or an MWD light truck.  I purchased two sets so I built one of each version.  The kits are well engineered and go together without any surprises, the only down side is the clear parts had the dreaded Airfix flow lines and so the windshields were replaced with clear acetate.  I modified the water tanker by lowering the equipment boxes on the sides of the tank and replacing the walkways with P.E. from Brengun.

















Airfix WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set in 1/72 Scale

Here are some finished pictures from the 2013 Airfix RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set – or more accurately a part of that set.  This is just a portion of what is in the box – the David Brown tractor and bomb carts.  Below are the tractors from two sets and a mix of bombs and fuel trailers.  There are many more accessories and bits of equipment included, along with two additional vehicles.















Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 1

A beautiful shot of an RAF Catalina I in flight.  The RAF began operating the Catalina in 1940.  The aircraft wears the standard Temperate Sea scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Gray over Sky.
Another Catalina in the RAF Temperate Sea scheme, but this time in U.S. markings at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in August 1942.  A number of aircraft on British order were pressed into U.S. service after Pearl Harbor.
A PBY passes by Segula Island in the Aleutians.  While it makes for a visually interesting picture, the ruggedness of the terrain is also apparent.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)
This PBY illustrates the propensity in the Aleutian Theater to deviate from standard insignia protocols.   All the national insignia visible on this aircraft carry the red outline briefly authorized during the Summer of 1943, although by that time the insignia was not supposed to have been carried on the upper surface of the starboard wing.
Another LIFE Magazine photograph showing a PBY over the inhospitable Aleutian terrain.  Prior to the Pacific War the U.S. Navy had declared seaplane operations in the Aleutian Winter to be impossible, but wartime requirements soon forced a reassessment.
The PBY with its successor in the Aleutians, the PV-1 Neptune.  Both aircraft carry the mid-1943 style national insignia.
Crewmen performing engine maintenance on a PBY-5A of VP-31.  The spray strake on the bow is clearly visible, as is the search radar aerial on the port wing.
The USAAF operated the Catalina in the Search And Rescue role, designating their aircraft the OA-10A.  This white example displays a USAAF serial on the vertical tail and the streamlined radar housing which first appeared late in the PBY-5A production run.
The USCG also operated the PBY-5A, this example is seen in the Atlantic ASW camouflage scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White parked on the Marston Mat apron in Greenland.  Note the Quonset hut buildings in the background are all marked with the U.S. insignia.
A PBY-5A amphibian with its wheels lowered for a shore landing in the late-war camouflage and insignia.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)
PBY_31_PBY-5 trainers NAS Pensacola
These PBY-5As seen on the ramp at NAS Pensacola display a variety of camouflage and markings.  These aircraft are serving in the training role.  Of interest is the “V” tape visible on the aileron and wing of the aircraft at the bottom of the photograph, this feature can be seen in pictures of many PBYs.
A bombed-up PBY on the ramp in the Aleutians, in the foreground is a bomb cart carrying a 500 pound bomb and two depth charges.  U.S. ordinance can be seen in various colors and states of preservation, these appear to be in a Light Gray and are unmarked.

Airfix Bedford Truck Builds in 1/72 Scale

This is the Airfix Bedford truck kit which is part of their WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set.  You get one truck in each set but have the option of building it as either an MWC water tanker or an MWD light truck.  I purchased two sets so I’ll be building one of each.  This is the common component of both kits, the frame and the cab.
Most of the frame is molded as a single piece which helps speed construction.
Here is where most of the difference comes in, the water tank on the left and standard bed on the right.  I replaced the walkways on the tanker with PE parts from the Brengun set, those and some side mirrors were the only parts I used.  The grab handles were replaced with wire, a simple improvement which improves the appearance considerably.
Here is the bed with its canvas cover.  The canvas over the cab has a circular hump which was apparently less common than a straight canvas tarp, so I cut the hump out and filled it with stock on both kits.
The walkways and bins on the water tanker are molded on too high, lowering them a couple of millimeters makes a noticeable improvement.
Here are the major sub assemblies painted up, the water tanker in Dark Earth and scale black, the standard truck in Dark Earth with a lightened cover.
The kits were given a coat of gloss to prepare for decals and also to seal the underlying paint for washes.  The decals performed pretty well with a little coaxing.
Here are the trucks with a Tamiya black wash and a coat of flat.  The front windscreens have been replaced with acetate sheet as mine had the dreaded Airfix clear part flowlines.
These went together well and I enjoyed building them.  I have a soft spot for military softskins, these will look good in the collection.

Airfix Standard Light Utility Vehicle Build in 1/72 Scale

This is the Airfix Standard Light Utility Vehicle which is part of the WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set.  It is essentially a light truck, and a quick build in 1/72 scale.  Many of the kit parts are molded on the clear sprue, but mine suffered from the dreaded Airfix flow lines so I cut them off.  Saves on the masking anyway!
The forward part of the canvas cover is also molded on the clear sprue in order to provide for the small side windows.  I masked those off both inside and out.  In this picture you can also see some of the small added details – door handles, side mirrors, and gear shift levers.
The underside is blessed simplicity, molded as a single piece with only the forward axle to add.  This did take a little time to remove mold lines but I prefer the one-piece frames.
A coat of Mr. Surfacer revealed some issues.  There was a gap at the forward edge of both doors and the clear firewall part was concealing two ejector pin marks in a prominent location.  These were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty and smoothed with a wet Q-tip.  An easy fix for a potentially tricky problem.
Both vehicles were painted in the Dark Earth and scale black camouflage.  Seats and benchtops were painted Olive Drab.
The window frames were replaced with 0.02” Evergreen stock.  I had to make new side mirrors as I managed to knock off the originals during painting.
There are a few decals provided in the kit, which I used.
Windshields were made from acetate dipped in Future, wipers were made from stretched sprue.
I weathered one vehicle but left the other relatively clean.  The weathering was intended to be a light misting of dust but I didn’t pull it off well and so the effect is not quite like I intended.  I may play with it a bit more but I’m calling it done for now.

Airfix WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set Build in 1/72 Scale

The Airfix RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set might best be described as a “diorama in a box”.  Inside is a broad sampling of vehicles and equipment used by the RAF for ground support of its heavy bomber aircraft.  Just add the bomber of your choice, some figures, and a base and you’re in business.  The kit was first released in 2013 and was roundly acclaimed by modelers for its utility and versatility.  I bought two.
The sprues are molded in Airfix standard light blue soft plastic.  The level of detail is good.  There was no flash on my examples, but there are mold lines to be removed and a few ejector pin marks in unfortunate locations.  These three sprues contain various ordinance loads and miscellaneous equipment, along with a David Brown tractor and fuel trailer.  This will be the subject of this build post.
Additional sprues contain parts for the two vehicles in the kit – a Bedford truck with an option to build one of two variants, and a Standard Light Utility Vehicle.  I will show the construction of these kits in future posts.
I also purchased two sets of Brengun’s photoetch to dress up the models.  However, as I got to each opportunity to replace the kit parts with items from this set I became painfully aware that I would be substituting effectively two-dimensional PE parts for three-dimensional kit parts.  In most cases the Airfix part was the better representation, so I ended up using very little from this set.
These are the assembled fuel trailers.  There was some shrinking along the locating pin locations which I filled with Mr. Surfacer.  The lack of locator pins is a common criticism of limited-run kits, but their presence cuts both ways.  The door handles were cut off and replaced with wire, a quick improvement which improves the detail substantially.
The underside of the fuel trailer shows some seams and ejector marks which I didn’t bother to fill on my examples.  There is some nice brake line detail molded in.
The sets each have three bomb trollies which are a useful item and can be displayed loaded or empty.  Here are two loaded with 8,000 pound and 4,000 pound “cookies”.  I have replaced the lifting eyes on mine with wire loops.
Additional trollies are loaded with conventional 1,000 pound and 500 bound bombs.  I thinned the tail fins and made wire lifting eyes here as well.  If you purchase an Airfix Lancaster kit it does not provide any of these standard bomb types, so you’ll need to get a re-supply set if you want to load up your Lanc.
The David Brown tractor builds up quickly, having only eighteen parts.  This would be right at home on a farm if you wanted to model a more peaceful scene.
The underside shows several ejector marks and does require some quality time with an exacto knife to remove mold seams from the frame.
Here the camouflage of Dark Earth and scale black is applied using poster putty for masks.  The models were then shot with GlossCoat, decaled, and washed with Tamiya black panel line wash.
Here are the finished models.  The kit decals performed well, even the bands on the bombs which I was a little apprehensive about.  Airfix has released a similar set for U.S. subjects, and I hope they were successful enough to warrant issuing additional sets in the future as they are quite nice.

Airfix Gloster Gladiator Mk.I in 1/72 Scale

This is the Gloster Gladiator Mk. I of F/Lt Marmaduke Pattle at Amriya Egypt in 1940.  Pattle was a South African serving in the RAF during the Second World War and is credited with being the highest-scoring ace in the RAF.  He is credited with fifty victories, fifteen of which were on the Gladiator.  He was shot down and killed by Bf 110s of ZG 26 over Piraeus Harbor, Greece on 20APR41.

The Airfix kits are a pleasure to build.  The engineering of the struts and gear legs is well thought out, and eliminates the alignment issues common to many biplane kits.  The Airfix instructions are also outstanding.  The camo and marking guides are in color and are to scale.  There is also a rigging guide which sets a high standard which I hope other manufactures to attempt to emulate.  All rigging is shown in keyed scale drawings from the front and plan, with detail insets illustrating the optimal installation sequence.

Airfix kit, markings are from the Pavla kit.