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 regulated 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/

Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Glider Colour Photographs

The Airspeed Horsa was a British glider used during the Second World War. Inspired by German airborne and glider operations during the opening phases of the war, British and American forces hurriedly established their own airborne formations and developed gliders to support them. The Horsa made its first flight on 12SEP41, ten months after the initial specification was issued. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The design featured all-wooden construction. Production had minimal impact on other projects as the sub-assemblies were constructed in furniture manufacturing plants. The design carried a flight crew of two in a glazed cockpit. In an unusual change, a specification was issued to modify the design for use as a bomber.  This was known as the AS.52, and could carry up to four tons (3,600 kg) of bombs.  200 were ordered, but the bomber program was cancelled before any were produced. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The Horsa could carry thirty troops or cargo up to a jeep and 6-pound anti-tank gun. To facilitate unloading there was a door aft of the cockpit on the port side. In addition the entire tail section could be detached using eight quick-release bolts, the control wires for the tail surfaces being cut with wire cutters.
The concept originally envisioned using the gliders to enhance the number of paratroopers carried by the towing aircraft – the paras would jump from the Horsas in flight and the glider would be towed back to base. This plan was soon shelved as the advantages of having the glider land at the objective became apparent.
The USAAF acquired 400 Horsas in a reverse Lend-Lease agreement, which were used during the Normandy landings. Compared to the 30 troopers carried by the Horsa, the American WACO glider could only carry 13.
Here a Horsa is being inspected by King George VI and Princess Elizabeth at Netheravon on 19MAY44. Note the aft fuselage has been detached for display. (Imperial War Museum)
Taken at a training unit at Brize Norton in June 1943, this glider displays black and yellow diagonal stripes on its underside. These were applied to indicate the aircraft was towing or being towed, an implied warning to other aircraft to be aware of the possibility of cables between or behind the aircraft. (Imperial War Museum)
With the end of the Second World War the glider forces were disbanded and the Horsas were either scrapped or sold as surplus. Enterprising civilians converted some into travel trailers or small cottages. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Luftwaffe Rescue Buoys

During the Second World War the Luftwaffe deployed a series of rescue buoys or Rettungsboje along the Continental side of the English Channel. The buoys were intended to provide shelter for downed airmen until help could arrive.
There were several similar buoy designs employed in this effort. Luftwaffe aircrew called them Udet-Boje after Ernst Udet, who directed their development. The British nicknamed them “lobster pots” due to their box-like shape and bright yellow paint schemes.
This contemporary magazine illustration shows the internal layout. The buoys were provisioned with food, dry clothing, medical supplies, and various means of signaling the need for rescue. There were also basic creature comforts such as playing cards, radio, and board games to alleviate boredom. Supplies were to be immediately replenished by rescuers to ensure the buoys were always fully equipped and ready for the next use.
The buoys were not secured in the typical manner using multiple anchor points and chains, but were moored using a single anchor line so ditching aircrew would have a visual indication of winds at the surface and could ditch their aircraft in a favorable position for the crew to reach the buoy. Consequently the buoys would occasionally part their moorings and wind up washed ashore like this example.
Retrievals were often performed by dedicated rescue aircraft of the Seenotdienst, the Luftwaffe’s rescue service. Here is a Heinkel He 59 in a high-visibility rescue scheme. These aircraft were suspected by the British of performing reconnaissance in addition to their rescue duties, and the RAF was ordered to consider them legitimate targets.
Seeing the value in the concept, the British developed their own version which was deployed along the English side of the channel. With a more boat-like hull, perhaps seakeeping was marginally improved.
Many aircrews were saved by the buoys on both sides of the Channel. For their parts, aircrew in distress took their chance for survival and used what ever rescue buoy they could reach, only the identity of their rescuers determining whether they would be held as PoWs or returned to their units.

A short but very well-done video description here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b44TxTuLB0&ab_channel=MilitaryHistoryinaMinute

Royal Air Force Air Sea Rescue Launch Color Photographs

During the Second World War the Royal Air Force operated a fleet of small boats and aircraft with the primary mission of performing search and rescue operations. They were organized as the RAF Marine Branch (much to the chagrin of the Royal Navy) with the motto of “The sea shall not have them”. The service eventually grew to over 300 High Speed Launches and 1,000 other vessels of various types.
While the RAF Marine Branch was formed with the intention of rescuing RAF airmen downed at sea, in practice they rescued airmen and sailors of any nation under the ancient seafaring tradition of coming to the aid of any person in danger at sea. By the end of WWII it was estimated that the Marine Branch had saved the lives of over 8,000 airmen and 5,000 sailors.
An unusual view of High Speed Launch 2586 on a beaching dolly provides a fine view of her hull form. This is a British Power Boat “68 footer” derived from a torpedo boat design. Armament was intended for self-defense and was contained in power-operated turrets as used on RAF bombers.
This is a series of photographs showing the acceptance inspection of HSL 2562 in February 1942. The inspection team is comprised mainly of personnel from the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
The launches carried high visibility markings for easy identification as rescue vessels and to help coordinate rescue efforts from the air. These photographs reveal several details of interest to modelers.
Despite their humanitarian mission, the boats were subject to attack. Visible here are splinter mats around the conning station to help protect the crew.
All photographs are from the collect of the Imperial War Museum.

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/

Brewster SB2A Buccaneer Color Photographs

The Brewster SB2A Buccaneer has the dubious distinction of being regarded as one of the worst aircraft designs of the Second World War. Its performance was unspectacular, its structure weak, it lacked maneuverability, and it was overweight.
Desperate for aircraft to combat the German invasion, several countries placed orders for the design before the prototype had made its first flight. France ordered 250, the Dutch 162, Britain 500, the US Navy 140, and Australia 243. The British named the type the “Bermuda”, shown here are FF841 and FF840 in British colors. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Australia cancelled their order in favor of the Vultee Vengeance when the Bermuda’s problems became obvious. Britain took over the French order, the USAAF took over part of the British order as the A-34. Shown are a flight of Buccaneers in the U.S. Navy camo of Blue Gray over Light Gray and 1942-43 markings. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Brewster suffered from poor management, unskilled labor, and worker strikes. The problems interfered with production and became so bad that the Navy seized Brewster in April 1942, but even this did not completely rectify the deficiencies. Brewster-produced aircraft gained a reputation for poor construction and workmanship among pilots and ground crew throughout the war. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Buccaneers were deemed unsuitable for combat. Most were used in second-line duties as trainers, target tugs, or hacks. Several were scrapped right off the assembly line or left derelict instead of being repaired. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Wartime propaganda efforts tried to give the impression of serviceability, but no Buccaneers or Bermudas ever saw combat.
Despite its dismal record and obscurity, kits are available of the SB2A. 1/48 scale modelers have a vacuform kit from Vac Wings, and Special Hobby offers a 1/72 scale kit.

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)