Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan Color Photographs

The Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan was the result of a 1941 USAAC specification for a high-wing, twin engine transport aircraft. The aircraft was to have the same performance specifications of the successful Douglas C-47 transport then in production, but the airframe was to be of all-wooden construction in anticipation of wartime shortages of Aluminum. Seen here is 42-86913, one of eleven YC-76 development aircraft produced, with Curtiss-Wright AT-9 “Jeep” twin-engined trainers. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The airframe was constructed of Mahogany plywood, which led to a heavy airframe. Power was provided by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines, each rated at 1,200 hp. Even so, the Caravan proved to be underpowered, and failed to meet performance requirements. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The first flight was on 03MAR43. The test pilots reported severe vibrations. On its second flight the prototype came apart in the air, killing both aircrew. A week later the tail assembly came off a second Caravan in flight, again resulting in the loss of the crew and the aircraft. Additional testing revealed instability and numerous weaknesses in the wooden structure. Efforts to correct these problems only added more weight, thus further decreasing performance. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
With a total of twenty-five Caravans built, the C-76 program was cancelled on 03AUG43. The effort was a costly failure, and the projected shortage of Aluminum never became an issue as the industry was able to increase production capacity. Curtiss shifted production over to the C-46 Commando, a very successful transport design. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Today, the C-76 Caravan is relatively unknown, even amongst aviation enthusiasts. Its construction history is a cautionary tale, and its poor performance and short active life ensure it will remain among the forgotten aviation designs. That is, unless you are interested in 1/72 scale. Anigrand released a resin kit of the C-76 Caravan in 2019, proving once again that we live in the Golden Age of modeling! (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

Martin B-26 Marauder Color Photographs Part V – 387th Bomb Group

“Mississippi Mudcat” was assigned to the 387th Bomb Group, 559th Bomb Squadron. She had a long career, completing 149 missions but was shot down by Bf 109s on 23DEC44. Serial number 41-31657, code TQW.
This is “Heavenly Body”, a B-26B assigned to the 387th Bomb Group, 558th Bomb Squadron. She was shot down by flak over Grimbosq, France on 08JUN44. Serial number 41-31664, code KXA. Modelers note the contrasting chipped areas – rivet heads, gun fairings, and nose wheel door and that the nose shows signs of repainting.
41-31677 was assigned to the 556 Bomb Squadron and named “Jisther” by her crew. The name was carried in the same script on both sides of the nose. The starboard side also carried the wolf’s head artwork seen here …
… while the port side carried Stork artwork and an impressive scoreboard. “Jisther” completed 95 missions. On 06AUG44 she was involved in a take-off incident when a flare was accidently discharged into the cockpit, hitting the pilot 1st. Lt. James H. Brantley. Brantley exited the aircraft but was struck and killed by the propeller. “Jisther” continued taxiing and crashed into a hanger and was written off.
Seen at her home field of Chipping Ongar in 1944, “Hangover Hut” displays an impressive scoreboard. She completed a total of 152 missions, and was one of the few Marauders who flew on the 556th Bomb Squadron’s first mission on 31JUL43 and survived to fly on the last on 17APR45. Serial number 41-31694, code FWF.
Serial Number 41-31696 was named “Roughernacob” by her crew. On her 111th mission on 12AUG44, she was hit by flak and lost fuel. Unable to return to England, she crash landed near an airfield in France. Her crew survived the crash but the aircraft was written off.
This is Serial Number 41-31900, coded FWT of the 556th Bomb Squadron. Proving there is no name too unusual for a USAAF crew, they have named her “Short Snorter”.
“Lucky Lady” flew her first mission for the 387th Bomb Group’s 556th Squadron on 21APR44. Her serial number was 41-35062, side codes FWN.
“Lucky Lady” did not live up to her name. On 21MAY44, only a month after her first mission, she experienced a total instrument failure upon take-off. Immediately returning to Chipping Ongar, she clipped another Marauder and ran off the end of the runway. Ultimately, she was written off. The 387th Bomb Group’s distinctive “tiger stripes” are visible on the tail.
“The Big Hairy Bird” is well-known for her outlandish nose art and is a favorite of modelers. Not so well known is that she was originally assigned to the 397th Bomb Group (with diagonal tail stripe), and later transferred to the 387th Bomb Group (tiger stripes) as seen here. Her serial number was 42-96165, while with the 387th she wore side codes KXT.
The 556th Squadron’s “Top Sarge II” wore fuselage code FWJ. She completed an even 100 missions, and flew on the Squadron’s last sortie on 26APR45. The mission was aborted three minutes into the flight when it was reported that the target area had been overrun by U.S. troops as the German resistance collapsed.
Seen at St. Simon – Clastres, France in 1945 is 43-34119 “Off Limits” of the 558th Bomb Squadron. She was written off shortly after the war after crashing on 20MAY45 in Jumet, Belgium.

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.

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.