North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

This is the Hasegawa B-25J with the canopy and nose pieces in place. My B-25J will be a strafer with the nose glazing painted over which allowed me to add weight in the nose. This view also gives an impression of what will be visible through the canopy.
This is one of the Airfix B-25C, this one will also be a strafer. The canopy masks are from ASK. The resin gun pack on the fuselage side is from Quickboost, it is a style not included in either kit but is needed for certain aircraft. The Evergreen panels represent the extra armor applied to this particular aircraft.
As things move along various sub-assemblies are painted so they will be available at the end of the build. I generally tape the smaller bits to cards for painting and to ease handling.
Here is a comparison of the main gear doors, The Hasegawa doors on top are just slabs but the Airfix doors are thinner and better detailed. I’ll make some replacements for the Hasegawa doors from sheet plastic. The main landing gear bay doors on the B-25 were normally closed, they only opened when the gear was actually cycling, so no need to add any detail to the bays.
I checked the Seamwork with Mr. Surfacer 1000, corrected any flaws and re-primed. This is the Hasegawa B-25H. I noticed some flow lines in the plastic on the Hasegawa kits. This is not an issue on a camouflaged model, but on a Natural Metal Finish the flow lines can show through if you don’t use a good primer.
Three of my subjects will be strafers from the 345th Bomb Group. These are beautiful aircraft with interesting combat records, but the intricate nose art makes them difficult to model. I’ll be using the DK Decal sheet for the markings. On DK’s web page they provide a PDF file so modelers have some chance to mask off the underlying colors correctly. Here I have printed out the PDF and laid Tamiya tape over the patterns to cut out the masks.
Here are the masks after some careful cutting.
The masks applied to the model for “Dirty Dora”. Even with the masking templates there are half a dozen ways this can still go sideways and ruin the models.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

There are two challenges for this build – preventing the models from being tail-sitters and the nose art. My worst-case scenario for getting enough weight in the Mitchells was this glass-nosed B-25C – all the others will be strafers and therefore weight can be added far forward in the nose.
Here the fuselages have been closed up. At this point I sanded seams and re-scribed any lost panel lines as the model is easier to handle. I went over the re-scribed lines with MEK to remove any burrs.
The main gear legs are the fulcrum point, just like a see-saw. Any weight aft of the main gear legs contributes to the model being a tail-sitter, any forward helps keep the nose down. Adding weight loads the main gear, but contrary to popular belief if the balance is perfect the nose gear bears no weight at all.
My build is a marginal case, but I think I’ll be okay when all the parts are on. The model will stay where you put it, either on the tail or on the nose. I will leave a way to get more weight into the engineer’s station if I need to.
Hasegawa just says to “use ballast if not using support”, and waits until the final step to remind you. They do provide a step stool to prop up the tail if you need it. This is the nose for the B-25H, which is the best place to start as it is as far forward as you can go. I glue the BBs in place with 5-minute epoxy, which will flow out of the gun holes if not sealed off.
The BBs are epoxied in place. This is a good chunk of weight at the end of the nose, and is therefore more effective than anything added further aft.
The Hasegawa B-25H will not be a tail-sitter, I used about 65 BBs in all due to being able to use the nose.

North American B-25 Mitchell Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

“Construction begins with the cockpit” is passe but eventually every build gets there. The Airfix kit has good interior detail, but much of this will be hidden inside the fuselage. Airfix does give the modeler the option of open or closed bomb bays.
The Hasegawa kit has even less detail. The ammo boxes to the rear could be omitted without anyone being the wiser, and would lessen the weight to the rear of the aircraft a little.
I added some quick sidewall detail to the Hasegawa kit, but I didn’t go overboard. I’m firmly not in the “but I’ll know it’s there” camp, my interest in adding detail is directly proportional to the likelihood it can be seen. I did add the interior differences particular to the B-25H, mainly a radio in place of the co-pilot’s station and the Navigator’s seat moved back a bit.
B-25 kits are notorious tail-sitters. When adding weight you want to be as far forward of the main gear legs as practical. Airfix says to add 25 grams under the cockpit. I looked it up, three BBs are a gram, so 75 BBs. I filled under the cockpit, behind the instrument panel, the Navigator’s tunnel, and closed the forward crew access door and added the rest to the Engineer’s station. Only 72 BBs in total but I think it will be enough.
I was going round and round with the interior colors, just when I thought I’d reached a conclusion I found an exception or a contrary opinion. Zinc Chromate is a preservative mixture, not a color, and there was a range of final appearances. After I saw a discussion where it was offered that Zinc Chromate Green was actually Yellow I’d had enough. It may be but I was done. The bomb bay is Alclad Aluminum, The Bronze Green in the cockpit is a mix of Mr. Color 511 and 326, the Zink chromate is a mix of 27 and 511.
I was doing the props, wheels, engines, and bombs as I was going along, and then realized that on the B-25 the bombs would be interior parts and easier to install before the fuselage halves were joined. I finished a mix which included several 250-pounders from the Arma Mustangs, in all enough for a 2,000-pound bomb load each for six aircraft.
Here is the Airfix B-25C which will have a glass nose with the interior completed and washed.
An overhead view showing a few additions. The yellow seat cushions are actually photographs of real cushions, reduced to scale and printed on photographic paper. I used the same trick to make instrument detail on the fuselage sides. Belts are masking tape, and I added armor behind the pilot and co-pilot’s seats.
This is the Hasegawa fuselage before being closed up. Both of the Hasegawa builds will have gun noses so there is a little less concern about getting enough weight, but I was taking no chances. If I end up with a tail-sitter I can close the forward access hatch and add weight there, as one option.
In a controversial move, The B-25G and B-25H did away with the co-pilot and moved the navigator to the starboard seat. He was also to serve as the loader for the 75 mm cannon carried by these variants. The gun was derived from the main gun carried by the Sherman tank, and packed a wallop. It was carried in the tunnel under the cockpit, filled here with BBs.

Lockheed F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part II

An F-5 Lightning from the 22nd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (as indicated by the White rudder) at disbursal at Mount Farm, England, with another in the background. Spinners are in a dark blue. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another 22PRS Lightning, this is 42-67122 piloted by Lt. Jim Wicker returning from a mission to Mount Farm on 22APR44.
Major Robert Smith debriefs Lt Wicker upon his return, providing an excellent view of his insulated flying suit and life jacket. Compare the color of 122 here to the previous photograph. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Nose art was routinely applied to USAAF aircraft, with pin-up girls in many forms being the most popular subjects. “Dot+Dash” was the letter “A” in Morse code, she was F-5C 42-67128. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another pin-up seen on “Ginger Snap”. This aircraft was lost to friendly fire over Belgium on 01JAN45, her pilot escaping uninjured.
Some aircraft just carried a name, “Tough Kid” shows off the camera openings in the nose. Note the unusual fairing just forward of the windscreen. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
“International Geographic” 42-68205 shows off her well-worn Synthetic Haze scheme on the runway at Mount Farm. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A line of F-5s, which speaks volumes about the threat of Luftwaffe air attack against airbases in England at the time. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
This is 42-68205 “International Geographic” again, this time with her camouflage stripped off to bare metal. The squadrons within the 7th PR Groups wore color-coded rudders; Red for the 13th PRS, Green for the 14th PRS, White for the 22nd PRS, and Blue for the 27th. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
42-67389 was an F-5B, seen here taxying at Mount Farm.

Lockheed F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs

A pair of F-5 Lightnings of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group prepare for take-off from their base at Mount Farm, England. Cameras replaced the gun armament in the nose. These F-5s carry the remnants of Invasion Stripes under the booms. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
Another F-5 with Invasion Stripes, this is 44-23709 finished in the standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage. Lockheed finished F-5s in Haze, and then Synthetic Haze, before reverting back to the standard OD/NG, and ultimately Natural Aluminum.
At the unit level, some USAAF reconnaissance aircraft in Egland were repainted using Royal Air Force stocks of PRU Blue, or even Azure Blue in some cases. The “Florida Gator” carries sharks’ mouths on the outer sides of her engine nacelles, but not the inner sides.
43-28333 of the Group’s 13th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron carries the name “Lanakila”, which is Hawaiian for “Victory”. While Hawaiian names were a fashion in the Pacific Theater for a time, they were relatively rare in the ETO. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A beautiful in-flight photo as an F-5 from the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron takes off from Mount Farm.
A 13th PRS Lighting, this is 43-29009 at Chalgrove Airfield. The port access panel on the nose camera bay is open. (Imperial War Museum photograph)
A nice shot of two Lightnings taxiing at Chalgrove, revealing several details of the disbursal area of interest to modelers wanting to construct display bases or dioramas.
Likely the same aircraft as the previous photograph, this aircraft is devoid of serials or formation numbers, but displays blue spinners and red panels.
An interesting shot of cameras being installed in the nose bay of an F-5, the camera cases are sitting on the ground. Details of the propeller markings are also visible.
The same aircraft as the previous photo. Drop tanks are in place.

Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part II

Here are more photographs of American Spitfire Mark XI from the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron at Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England in 1944. MB 946 has an impressive mission tally. The lighter hue of the PRU Blue on the fuselage where the upper portion of the invasion stripes have been removed is worth noting.
Ground crew are used as human sandbags to keep the tail down as the engine of this Spitfire is run up. The concrete disk visible in the foreground is an anchor used to tie down the wings of the aircraft.
A beautiful view of “My Darling Dorothy”, PA892. Wheel hubs were finished in either the PRU Blue or natural Aluminum, as seen here.
Another view of “My Darling Dorothy”. An unusual feature is that it appears the outline of the U.S. national insignia has been overpainted in PRU Blue instead of the prescribed Insignia Blue.
Diorama bait as the Spitfires are being refueled. Note the row of bicycles to the right.
“Marcella” warming her engine prior to take-off.
Another view of “Marcella” heading towards the runway. In the background is a Cletrac M2 towing tractor.
MB950 showing several touch-ups to her PRU Blue finish. Her wheel hubs are also PRU Blue, the white stripes are there to indicate if the tire has slipped on the wheel.

All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/13/supermarine-spitfires-of-the-7th-photographic-reconnaissance-group-color-photographs/

Supermarine Spitfires of the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group Color Photographs Part I

The USAAF 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group operated the Spitfire Mark XI from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire, England. The Mark XI was a Mark IX airframe with all armament and armor removed and extra fuel and cameras added, optimized for high-altitude flight. This is PA944 with invasion stripes under the fuselage. (All photographs credit Imperial War Museum, Freeman collection, Robert Astrella photographer)
Another view of PA944 showing the wear and weathering of her PRU Blue paint scheme. Note the serial on her fuselage repeated on the vertical tail. Here is an interview with the pilot of PA944, John Blyth. Well worth watching here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3SrjLlcUY&t=1s&ab_channel=DAvenport3-2614
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
Not all the Spitfires were finished in the PRU Blue. Here is MB946 in an overall natural metal finish with a Dark Red stripe under the exhausts and black rudder.
A close-up of PA842 shows the same finish as MB946 above.
A fine study of MB950 in overall PRU Blue before her serials were repeated on the tail. PRU Blue is generally represented by modelers as approximately FS 35164 or FS 35189.
MB950 from another angle. The PRU Blue degraded quickly, and this aircraft shows several areas where the paint has been re-touched.
A later view of MB950, showing the Dark Red under the exhausts and Olive Drab rudder. By this time her serials have been applied to the tail. Note the prominent exhaust staining. The Spitfire Mk. XI on display at the NMUSAF is serialed as MB950, although her markings do not match either version in these photographs.
Here are two PR Mark V “War Weary” aircraft used as hacks, EN904 and AR404. Worn-out aircraft were declared War Weary when they had exceeded their airframe life and/or suffered damage which precluded them from being pushed to their original design limits safely.
Another view of AR404 which reveals several details useful for modelers and a surprise – an RAF roundel on her upper starboard wing. This emphasizes the value of multiple views of the same subject, one can only speculate which insignia are on the other wing surfaces.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/20/supermarine-spitfires-of-the-7th-photographic-reconnaissance-group-color-photographs-part-ii/

Arma Hobby North American P-51B of 1Lt Robert H. Powell Jr. in 1/72 Scale

Robert “Punchy” Powell hailed from Wilcoe, West Viginia.  He flew 83 combat missions with the 352nd Fighter Group and was credited with an Me 410 and Bf 109 destroyed with a further 3.5 aircraft destroyed on the ground.  His Mustang suffered an engine failure on take-off and was destroyed, but Powell extricated himself from the wreckage and survived.  He passed away on 22JUN16 at the age of 95.

Serial Number 42-106914 P-51B-15-NA “The West by Gawd Virginian” 1Lt Robert H. Powell Jr. 328th FS 352 FG, Eagle Strike 72-08 decals

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/