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:
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.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part IV – 344th Bomb Group Continued

A fine example of nose art with an impressive mission tally is “Yo-Yo Champ”, a B-26B of the 497BS.
Ground crew pose with the 497BS Marauder “Lethal Lady”, 42-95986. The bicycle was ubiquitous around air bases in England.
“Six Hits and a Miss” is a reference to the six-man crew of the B-26. She served with the 495BS. Modelers note the highly-polished surface of the oleo strut on the nose gear and dual alignment scissors.
The panel below the cockpit of “Mary Ann” has received a fresh coat of Neutral Gray prior to the artist beginning his work. This is 42-10754 of the 494BS.
Major John Caitlin poses with flak damage. “Flak” is an abbreviation of the German word Flugabwehrkanone which translates as anti-aircraft gun in English.
“Shopworn Angel” of the 495BS would make an interesting diorama subject. Her serial number is 42-95917, side codes Y5-J. She appears little damaged except for her prop blades and the open roof hatches would allow cockpit details to be easily seen.
“Smilin’ Joy” of the 497BS. Note the bombs and equipment stacked casually in the background, a common feature of operational airfields.
The artwork of “Piccadilly Willy” is applied to the camouflaged armor panels while much of the remaining paint has been stripped.
Another example of camouflaged armor panels on a stripped aircraft is “You Can’t Miss It!” of the 494BS.
“Rum Buggy” was serial number 42-95924 of the 495BS.
“Maffrey’s Mottled Marauder” lacks the crew names which adorned most of the aircraft of the 344BG. ATC refers to the Air Transport Command.
“Tom’s Tantalizer” exhibits an uncommonly clean appearance, the result of being completely uncamouflaged with the exception of the paint serving as to reduce glare on the nose forward of the cockpit.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part IV – 344th Bomb Group

The 344th bomb Group was composed of four squadrons, the 494th, 495th, 496th, and 497th Bomb Squadrons.  They operated from Stansted Mountfitchet, England from February through September 1944, where the majority of these color photographs were taken.  After the invasion they relocated to Cormeilles-en-Vexin which was just outside Paris until April 1945, finishing the war in Florennes Belguim.  The Group was assigned to the Ninth Air Force and operated the Martin B-26 B/C.  Most mission assignments were tactical targets in support of ground operations, the Group was very active during the invasion of Normandy and the ensuing breakout.  These photographs display a selection of nose art applied to the Marauders.

Most USAAF aircrew applied names to their aircraft, and many featured accompanying artwork as well. “Valkyrie” of the 497BS features particularly professional examples of both.
This Marauder was 42-95875 assigned to the 495BS. Her port side carries her mission markers along with the name “Bunny’s Honey” …
… while the starboard side of 42-95875 carries the name “The Buzzard”. One has to wonder how many aircraft carried nose art or inscriptions on both sides, the markings on the unphotographed side which could now be lost to history.
The work of a talented artist, this is 42-95952 of the 497BS “You’ve ‘Ad It”. Airmen were conscripted from all walks of life, resulting in professions and trades from every part of society being represented in the ranks.
Often the aircraft carried humorous nicknames, this is “Facsimile” of the 496BG, which advertises “All the Comforts of an Airplane”. Many of the 344th’s aircraft featured very professionally applied lettering.
“Johnny Come Lately” shows off an impressive mission tally but no artwork. She was serial number 42-95896 assigned to the 497BS.
The 344th must have possessed a professional signmaker in their ranks, as evidenced by the quality layout of the logo on “Rosie O’Brady”.
Two ships from the 495th ready for take-off, “Rosie O’Brady” (Y5-P) in the background and “Lak-a-Nookie” (Y5-O) in the foreground.
A series of shots showing the “Terre Haute Tornado” 42-95906 of the 497Bs over time. Here she is after completing four missions.
The “Terre Haute Tornado” again, showing Lt. Jack Havener in April 1944 with his finger in a shell splinter hole. While the Marauder enjoyed to lowest combat loss rate of any USAAF bomber type, they were not invulnerable to enemy fire.
The “Tornado” again, showing an impressive mission tally and painted-out invasion markings on her wing.
Another spectacular example of nose art, this is 42-95903 “Hard To Get” of the 497BS.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part III – 322nd Bomb Group Continued

Easily the most well-known Marauder is B-26B-25-MA “Flak Bait” of the 449 Bombardment Squadron. She holds the distinction of having survived more combat missions than any other American aircraft of the Second World War, with 206 missions completed. Flak Bait was preserved after the war, and is currently undergoing restoration at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Flying low over the English countryside is the 450th BS “Bag of Bolts”. At the end of the war, the Marauder boasted the lowest combat loss rate of any USAAF bomber type.
A typical scene as Marauders of the 450th BS taxi into position for take-off at Bury St. Edmonds, England.
“Bluebeard II” begins her take-off run. The B & C subtypes were essentially the same, the B models were manufactured at Baltimore, Maryland, the C’s were built in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Clark’s Little Pill” at the head of a line of 451st BS Marauders awaiting their turns to take off. A total of 5,288 Marauders were produced.
Diorama bait! Engine maintenance in progress in the open. Note the paint wear and fading on the cowling in the foreground.
Bombardier Clayton Allen displaying his flight gear and details of the flexible .50 caliber nose gun. Crews often painted their flight jackets with mission tallies, nose art, and squadron insignia.
Squadron formations were the norm, and often all four of the Group’s squadrons would be assigned. Note the use of Neutral Gray to make the national markings and side codes less conspicuous.
The mission’s payload is being delivered. The stabilizing tail fin assemblies were separate from the bomb itself, and weren’t necessarily finished in the same color. Many bombs show signs of rough handling and outdoor storage such as dirt and corrosion.
Another airborne shot of “Bag of Bolts”. The US Olive Drab paint faded to a variety of shades, often reflecting the differing paint mixes used by various sub-contractors. No aircraft component was ever rejected for deviating from the color standard for Olive Drab paint.
The “Renegade” returns from a mission. The landing gear legs appear longer in this view because the oleos are fully extended without the weight of the aircraft to compress them. This is where the Marauder gained her reputation as a “widowmaker” – the required landing speed was much higher than other types, and inexperienced pilots who slowed below the recommended 150 mph (241 Km/h) speed stalled.
The crew chief directs his Marauder into the proper spot on the parking apron. With the mission complete, the crew can de-brief and get some rest, but the maintenance work was just beginning.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part II – 322nd Bomb Group

The 322nd Bombardment Group (Medium) was composed of the 449th, 450th, 451st, and 452nd Bomb Squadrons.  Their initial combat operations were as part of the Eighth Air Force operating from Bury St. Edmonds, England.  They operated Martin B-26 B & C Marauders during the spring and summer of 1943, when photographers from LIFE Magazine took these color photographs.

A group shot in flight gear in front of a B-26B of the 450th BS, Pappy’s Pram. This photo shows the USAAF B3 sheepskin jacket to good advantage, along with other details of equipment and gear. Given that all these men are posing with cameras and show no insignia or markings on their gear they may well be the LIFE photographers who took this series of photos.
Marauders of the 322ndBG taxiing into take-off position. The red surround to the national insignia was authorized only during the summer of 1943. Note that the side codes and insignia are painted in the same Neutral Gray color as the undersurfaces to subdue the markings.

Nose art of 41-18022 “El Diablo”, ER-U, assigned to the 450th BS.  Modelers note the hard demarcation between the upper and lower surface colors as well as the chipping on the nose wheel door.
Details of the defensive armament are visible as this B-26B taxies by. There were three gunners located in the aft section of the B-26 – a tail gunner, a dorsal turret gunner, and a gunner operating single hand-held .50 caliber guns in the lower fuselage to defend the beams.
A fine study of Lil Joe II of the 452nd BS in the air. The Olive Drab paint used on the upper surfaces was notorious for fading to a number of different shades, this was particularly apparent when component manufacturers used different paint mixtures. This B-26B shows significant wear and chipping to her finish, as well as evidence of touch-ups around the cockpit and ventral turret areas.
“Colonel Rebel” of the 449th BS in the air.
A clearer shot of “Colonel Rebel” taxiing on the ground. She was a B-26B, serial number 41-18289.
Some Marauders were fitted with additional forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns, aimed by the pilot and serviced by the bombardier. This is reportedly the starboard side nose art of 41-31744 of the 449th BS, which carried the name “Hank’s Yanks” and mission tally on the port side.
A formation of 449th BS Marauders with 41-31757 “We Dood It” in the foreground. Three-ship groups formed larger squadron and group sized formations to concentrate their defensive firepower for mutual support.
Nose art of the 450th BS “Fightin’ Cock”, showing twenty mission markings as well as two decoy runs.
Nose art of the 449th BS B-26B 41-31767 “Ginger” showing nineteen mission markers and six decoy runs. Another study in uniforms and flight gear, the pilot is seen wearing a “flak jacket” and apron, designed to protect against shrapnel but an obvious liability in the event of a water landing.
Ginger’s pilot and co-pilot pose in the cockpit for the photographer, showing details of the glazing. One might be tempted to think of the upper surface color as a uniform Olive Drab, but study of close-up shots such as this one reveals several different tonal variations to the paint as well as areas which have been re-painted.

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part I – 320th Bomb Group

A formation photograph of Marauders from the 320th Bomb Group’s 441st Squadron. Modelers note the variety of camouflage and markings, remaining paint where the cheek gun packs have been removed, and the extensive oil staining under the nacelles.

A beautiful study of B-26F 42-96322 of the 441st Squadron.

Although not the highest quality photo, it is comparatively rare to have photographs of both sides of an aircraft – let alone in color.

A 441st Squadron formation banks away while their target burns in the background.

Another 441st Squadron ship, this is 41-34891 “Missouri Mule”, a B-26C. The red cowling faces and propeller hubs are a Group marking.

Thumper II is another 441st Squadron ship. She is B-26C 42-10778.

Here is a close-up of Thumper II’s nose art, note the mission markers extend to cover the landing gear door.

“Bell Ringer” was B-26C 42-107534. One of the cheek gun fairings remains in place on her port side but does not carry a gun.

A close-up of “Belle Ringer” nose art and scoreboard, which also extends to the landing gear cover.

A 442nd Squadron B-26G seen from above, showing fading and wear to her olive drab uppersurfaces.

Most of the 320th Bomb Group’s 444th Squadron carried shark’s mouths in addition to nose art applied by the crews. This is B-26C 42-107733 “My Darling”. Her formation number was 99.

Another 444th Squadron Marauder with the shark mouth is 42-10782 “Ol’ Folks”, which carried formation number 98.

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)

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

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

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.

C47_25_Vella Lavella
A similar view of a U.S. Marine casualty being evacuated from Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.

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.

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:

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

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

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 II

42-100646 displays one of the more extremely faded paint jobs. She was assigned to the 47th Troup Carrier Squadron and is seen in Germany just after the war.

A formation of C-47’s showing various degrees of wear. The vertical stabilizer appears to have faded more rapidly, likely the assembly was painted with a different Olive Drab paint formulation by a sub-contractor, similar to the B-17. The wing in the foreground shows details of the weathering.

The same formation as the photo above. The factory Olive Drab finish on some of the C-47’s has shifted to a variety of browns and buffs.

The C-47 was also utilized as a glider tug, seen here towing the Waco CG-4 Hadrian.

Paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion prepare to board a C-47. The “Triple Nickles” were a segregated unit utilized as “smoke jumpers” in the Pacific Northwest. Their mission was to extinguish fires set by Japanese Fu-Go incendiary balloons, 9,300 of which were released during the winter of 1944-45.

Paratroopers don their parachutes. 43-48910 displays extensive fading and the remnants of the code “CK –“ on the fuselage aft of the cockpit.

Lieutenant Clifford Allen smiles for the camera. Each paratrooper carried 150 feet of rope to enable them to descend safely in the event their parachute became tangled in trees or the mountainous terrain.

Troop Carrier Command C-47’s bank over the Oregon back country.

A close up of the nose of C-47 42-92095 showing details of the Troop Carrier Command insignia and nose art. The number “442” has replaced at least two previous identifiers.

This is the nose of 43-48910, also seen in previous photographs. The “CK –“ code behind the cockpit is visible, as are the remains of other codes under the Troop Carrier Command insignia. These aircraft would make for interesting modeling subjects!