North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part IX – Early Mitchells

A fine study of a North American B-25A in flight. Forty B-25As were delivered to the USAAC beginning in February 1941. These were the first “combat ready” Mitchells, incorporating self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the crew. All photos are from the NASM Rudy Arnold collection.
This B-25A carries the “Thunderbird” markings of the 34th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group and early war national insignia. The B-25A is easily identifiable by the unique tail gun position and lack of dorsal turret.
While none of the B-25As deployed overseas, they did fly anti-submarine patrol missions from the continental United States. Here a 2nd Bomb Group Mitchell refuels from an Autocar tanker prior to a patrol mission.
Here crew members simulate a scramble for the photographer while B-25A 40-2200 warms up in the background.
Crewmen board a Mitchell from the 2nd Bomb Group. A retractable skid under the tail prevented a tail strike during take-off or landing. Modelers note the possible solution to the “tail sitting” problem in the form of the boarding ladder.
The Norton bomb sight was considered to be highly classified and was to be covered or dismounted when the aircraft was on the ground. Combat experience soon showed that the nose mounted .30 caliber machine gun was inadequate and it was quickly upgraded to a .50 caliber.
The tail gun position of the B-25A was unique in the Mitchell family. The rear portion was a clamshell arrangement, and opened to allow the gun to traverse.
Mitchells in the coastal patrol role overfly a small freighter. The two nearest the camera are B-25Bs, the furthest is a B-25A.
Armorers loading 250 pound bombs. Later in the war bombs were seen in the Army standard Olive Drab, but in the early days they were often Light Gray or Yellow as seen here.
The B-25B introduced a Bendix power turret in the dorsal position, and a retractable Bendix remote turret in the belly. It was felt that these turrets offered adequate rear protection so the tail gun was deleted.
A close-up of the Bendix ventral turret. This turret was unframed, consisting of sections of clear Perspex which were glued together. Also note the slots for the guns are unsealed, certainly a problem at altitude.

B-25 Color Photographs Part I here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/09/28/north-american-b-25-mitchell-color-photographs-part-i-production/

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 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: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/06/29/bell-p-39-airacobra-color-photographs-part-ii/

Grumman JRF / G-21 / OA-9 Goose Color Photographs

The idea for the Grumman Goose begam with a request from several New York businessmen for a commuter aircraft. Grumman’s design was for a twin-engine amphibian which could seat up to eight passengers. It could also be appointed as a “flying yacht”, complete with luxury accommodations and a bar. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The potential utility of the design was not lost on the U.S. Coast Guard, who soon placed orders for the Goose outfitted for the Search And Rescuer (SAR) role. Pictured at Floyd Bennet Field in 1940 are two JRF and a Hall PH flying boat in the Yellow Wings scheme.
The U.S. Army Air Corps designated the aircraft the OA-9 and ordered 26 examples in 1938. These were used as light transports in addition to SAR duties. Another attractive scheme.
The British Fleet Air Arm also adopted the type, and the Goose was also operated by Canada. Here is FB486 in the Temperate Sea Scheme on a delivery flight in 1942.
A fine study of a Goose over the inhospitable Alaskan landscape.
After America’s entry into the war, the USCG used the Goose for anti-submarine patrol. At least two kills were claimed, but post-war analysis reduced this to one damaged. Here Coast Guard personnel load depth charges. Modelers should note the color and condition of the ordinance. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Goose was well-suited for rescue work, here is a posed shot demonstrating casualty evacuation. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The red surround to the national insignia dates this photograph to the Summer of 1943. An interesting detail is the retractable wheel, which was apparently painted without the benefit of masking the tire! (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

Special Hobby Seversky P-35 Build Part II

Assembly was straight-forward and the parts mated well. I did have a problem mating the fuselage halves though, the sides shifted after I had clamped them and I had to go back the next day and split the seam to re-align the parts. A bit touchy but it worked out okay in the end. Entirely a self-inflicted error.
Fit of the canopy sections was not up to the standard of the rest of the kit. Gaps were filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. Masking was done the old-fashioned way.
This one will be in a natural metal finish, in this case applied with Mr. Surfacer 1000, Alclad black primer, and Alclad Candy Apple Base. Shiny!
The kit decals performed well without any drama. The markings are for the pilot who would become the first USAAC ace, 1Lt. Boyd “Buzz” Wagner, 17th PG, Nichols Field, Philippines, Spring 1941.
The finished article. Not a bad kit overall, but my mishap with the fuselage alignment and the fit of the clear parts dampened my enthusiasm a little. In the end I don’t think it’s quite up to contest standards and I was happy to see it done. Not entirely the fault of the kit but mainly due to a series of my own unforced errors.

More completed pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/03/01/special-hobby-seversky-p-35-in-1-72-scale/

Pavla Curtiss AT-9 Jeep in 1/72 Scale

This is the Curtiss AT-9 Fledgling trainer, better known as the “Jeep” assigned to Mather Field near Sacramento, California in May 1942.  The model is built from the Pavla kit which is a limited run offering.  It requires some extra effort to assemble but the subject is unusual and has a pleasing shape.

Construction posts here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/pavla-curtiss-at-9-jeep-build-part-i/

Special Hobby Seversky P-35 Build Part I

The Special Hobby P-35A kit was released in 2012, which makes it comparatively recent release in my mind. The P-35 is an obscure subject, but one which is a bit underappreciated today. The was P-35 a step in the evolution of which eventually led to the P-47 Thunderbolt, I’ll be building mine as the mount of Lt. “Buzz” Wagner, who went on to become the first USAAC ace of the Pacific War.
The kit features recessed panel lines and crisp molding. No alignment pins, but again I don’t see that as a big deal.
The second sprue has detail parts, which in some cases are replaced with resin parts. There is also a small photo etch fret which is mostly useful.
The cockpit builds up nicely. The P-35 was unique in providing a jump seat for a passenger within the fuselage, complete with a window for the passenger. If there was another fighter design with this feature it does not come readily to mind. The engine was enhanced with push rods from Evergreen stock.
Here are the cockpit and engine all painted up. Belts are from the kit-provided PE fret. This is all basically stock, I didn’t feel the need to add anything cockpit, but the engine got push rods and wiring.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/02/25/special-hobby-seversky-p-35-build-part-ii/

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

C47_01
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.
C47_02_NASM-NASM-9A12408_Over Mindanao_PI_1945
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.
C47_03
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.
C47_04
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.
C47_05_R4D
Three Navy R4D’s in flight, demonstrating the effectiveness of their Blue Gray / Light Gray camouflage.
C47_06
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. 
C47_07
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.
C47_08
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.
C47_09
Nose art on several C-47’s were photographed for LIFE Magazine at Townsend, Australia in 1943. These are two examples.

C47_10

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