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.

Hasegawa Grumman F4F-4 of Captain Marian Carl in 1/72 Scale

Marian Carl opened his account while flying from Midway Island on 04JUN42, downing a Zero.  He was among the ten fighters from VMF-221 to return to the island out of the twenty-five sent up that day.  Carl then deployed with VMF-223 to Guadalcanal, where he became the Marine Corps first ace, eventually raising his score to 16.5.  He returned to VMF-223 as Commanding Officer for a second tour in the Solomons, downing two more aircraft to bring his total to 18.5.

After the war Carl became a test pilot and set speed and altitude records.  He served in Vietnam, where he flew combat missions but refused official recognition or medals for his actions.  He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 1973.  He was killed in 1998, protecting his wife from a home intruder.  He was 82 at the time of his death.

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.

Hasegawa Curtiss SOC Seagull Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

This is the underside of the float version after checking seams with a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1500. The lower wing part is thick near the fuselage. This one had some sink marks, but the other one didn’t.
Here is the float resting on the cart. I have added several circular inspection covers which were missing from the mold. The kit parts include a flat raised portion along the upper surface of the float which actually had a corrugated appearance. I filed off the flat surface and replaced if with lengths of 0.030” Evergreen rod to better represent the actual appearance.
This is what “negative modeling” looks like. I attempted to paint the section markings on the upper wing, but the red paint infiltrated under my masking. Either the masking was not burnished down well enough or the thinner reacted with the adhesive, or maybe a little of both. In any case, I sanded off the offending red, repainted the Orange Yellow, and used decals instead.
The floatplane will be in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme, seen here under a layer of Glosscoat ready for decals.
Decals are from Starfighter sheet 72-135 USN at Midway and went on without any problems. These are the major components ready for assembly. The paint is still glossy at this point, I will apply the final flat finish after the rigging is done.
These are the major components for the wheeled version. Decals are from Yellow Wing Decals with the green tail stripes painted on. The red on the cowling was darkened a bit to match the red on the decals.
Rigging was done with 0.005” Nitinol wire, measured with dividers and secured in place with Micro Liquitape. The Liquitape never totally dries out but remains tacky which allows any wires which come loose to be simply re-applied. The radio antenna wires are 0.004” Nitinol.
The finished models. They need some extra added details but build up reasonably well for 53-year-old kits. They will have to do as they are the only 1/72 scale SOCs in town and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

List of improvements:

Landing light drilled out.

Elevator hinges replaced.

Molded-on streamed antenna on port side replaced.

Aileron linkages replaced with Evergreen rod.

Gun trough drilled out, gun from tubing.

Float access ports added, top surfaces replaced.

Hand grabs added on wingtip floats.

Cockpits replaced with Starfighter resin.

Engines replaced with RE&W resin, engine wired.

Pilot’s grab holes cut into upper wing.

Rigged with Nitinol wire.

Cart built for floatplane.

Mass balances added for ailerons.

Exhausts drilled out.

Propeller shaft is off center, replaced with rod. Steps added on float struts.

More finished photographs here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/04/05/hasegawa-curtiss-soc-seagull-aboard-uss-honolulu-in-1-72-scale/

Hasegawa Curtiss SOC Seagull Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Hasegawa first released their SOC-3 Seagull kit all the way back in 1969. It has been periodically re-released since then with new decals, most recently again this year. Both of my boxings are from the early 1970’s, so I have no idea how the tool is holding up. While many modelers will only build newer kits (and for good reasons in many cases), the Hasegawa kit is the only game in town for 1/72 scale modelers and looks to remain so for the immediate future.
U.S. Navy observation aircraft of the era could be fitted with either floats or wheels as needed. In the case of the SOC, they could also be fitted with arresting gear and flown from aircraft carriers. Hasegawa has kits with either wheels or floats. For this project I will be building one of each.
Parts breakdown is what you would expect for the time. There is some molded-on detail which should be replaced to be more accurate, and several small details which have been omitted. Lots of areas which will need improvement but nothing fatal.
You get one sprue of “feet” for your SOC which determines the configuration of the build, but unfortunately not both. My floatplane kit was molded in white which doesn’t show up as well in the photographs.
Fortunately for modelers the aftermarket has not neglected these kits. Radial Engines & Wheels makes a beautiful Pratt & Whitney R-1340 which goes a long way towards dressing up the front. Mark comes through yet again with a cockpit set and several decal sheets. While I will be modeling the canopies closed using the kit parts, the interior is still quite visible and needs improvement.
What difference does half a century make? The kit supplied engine is on the left, the RE&W resin engine is on the right.
Here is the Starfighter interior built up and ready for paint. Installation was drama free, you just need to sand the instrument panel piece a little to get a tight fit.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/03/25/hasegawa-curtiss-soc-seagull-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/

Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “THE BLUE GOOSE” in 1/72 Scale

B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2616 THE BLUE GOOSE is somewhat enigmatic due to there being no known photographs of her.  What is known is that the USAAF requisitioned her from an RAF order and that she was given a unique paint job at the Hawaiian Air Depot.  From Fortress Against the Sun, pg 218:

“Interestingly, Waskowitz’ plane, the Blue Goose, was actually painted a bright, light blue.  Perhaps as a test for a new camouflage scheme, B-17E 41-2616 had been given a coat, top to bottom, of Light Glossy Blue Duco paint at the Hawaiian Air Depot.  With its highly unusual color, the B-17 and its crew were soon known to everybody.”

Unfortunately the exact shade is not recorded.  I have included a Duco automotive color chart below, perhaps the paint is one of the blues on this card.  My color is a mix of Mr. Color 34 with Mr. Color 115 (RLM 65) in a 2 to 1 ratio.

The BLUE GOOSE served with the 11th Bomb Group.  She was lost off Bougainville on 29SEP42, shot down by antiaircraft fire while attacking a Japanese cruiser.  None of her crew survived.

The model is back-dated from the Airfix B-17G kit.  Markings are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.

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Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/converting-the-airfix-b-17g-to-a-b-17e-part-i/

Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “Honi Kuu Okole” in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Airfix B-17G Flying Fortress kit to represent B-17E 41-9244 “Honi Kuu Okole”, which served with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups in the Pacific.  She was one of a group of four B-17Es requisitioned from a Royal Air Force order by the USAAF, the others being serial numbers 41-9196, 41-9234, and 41-9235.  The aircraft were finished in the RAF Temperate Sea Scheme and British markings, the insignia were replaced with U.S. markings but the camouflage was retained.

There was a fad among U.S. aircrews in the Pacific to give their aircraft Hawaiian names.  According to Lawrence J. Hickey’s “Kens Men Against the Empire”:

“Sometime during its combat service with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups the aircraft acquired the nickname HONI KUU OKOLE.  Whoever named it thought the name meant “up your ass” or perhaps “kiss my ass” in Hawaiian; a more literal translation of the phrase would be “massage my buttock.”

The aircraft was in the thick of the action, racking up a total of 87 combat missions and an impressive scoreboard.  Her luck ran out on the night of 21MAR43 over Rabaul when she was shot down by a J1N1 Gekko (Irving) nightfighter piloted by SFPO Shigetoshi Kudo of the 251st NAG.  Only two of the crew survived the crash.  Bombardier MSGT Gordon Manual evaded the Japanese until he was rescued by the USS Gato (SS-212) on 05FEB44, waist gunner SGT Robert Curry was captured and executed by the Japanese at Rabaul.  SFPO Kudo would go on to become the first nightfighter ace of the Pacific War.

Photographs of HONI KUU OKOLE focus on her scoreboard.  I have depicted her with replacement parts in U.S. colors and touch-ups in Olive Drab along the locations where the de-icer boots would have been removed, all probable but the specifics are speculative.  Her U.S. insignia are in the sizes and locations of the RAF insignia they replaced.  Decals are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.

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Second conversion here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/15/airfix-boeing-b-17e-conversion-the-blue-goose-in-1-72-scale/