Martin PBM Mariner Color Photographs Part I

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The Martin PBM Mariner was a two engined flying boat which supplemented the Consolidated PBY Catalina In U.S. Navy service during the Second World War. The first Mariner was delivered to the Navy in September 1940, the last came off the production line in April 1949. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
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A fine side profile of PBM-1 Bureau Number 1259. Twenty PBM-1 were built, distinguishable by their round gun positions on the fuselage sides. The first Mariners were issued to Patrol Squadrons VP-55 and VP-56, this is a VP-56 machine. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
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A PBM-1 pictured in the yellow wings and aluminum dope finish. VP-56 received their Mariners in December 1940, just in time for the Yellow Wings era which officially ended in January 1941. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
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A PBM-3 on the ramp in the Dark Gull Gray over White Atlantic scheme. This camouflage was found to be more effective for anti-submarine patrols.
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A PBM seen from the rear being towed. Note the mix of camouflage schemes carried by the PBMs in the background, both the Atlantic ASW scheme and the graded scheme are represented.
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The most famous Mariner was the PBM-3C “Nickle Boat” of VP-74, so named because of her formation number “-5”. She was credited with helping to sink two German U-boats of the coast of South America, U-128 on 17MAY43 and U-513 on 19JUL43.
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A close up of the forward hatch of Nickle Boat showing her U-boat kill markings. U-128 had sunk twelve Allied merchant ships, U-513 had sunk six.
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A PBM-5 in overall Sea Blue finish is hoisted aboard the seaplane tender USS Norton Sound (AV-11). The Mariner is assigned to VPB-26. The Norton Sound supported Mariners operating from Saipan before moving to Okinawa.
PBM_09_Martin_PBM-5_Mariner_of_VPB-26_aboard_USS_Norton_Sound_(AV-11)_off_Saipan_in_April_1945_(80-G-K-16079)
A PBM-5 on the deck of the Norton Sound. The seaplanes could be hoisted aboard the tender for maintenance, but took off and landed from the water.
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A service boat refuels a Mariner. The flying boats would moor to a buoy in a sheltered anchorage, the crews and aircraft would be supported by a tender anchored nearby.

Azure FRROM Martin B-10 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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Yellow Wings schemes use a lot of yellow! I primed everything with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws and then shot three thin coats of yellow and broke out the masking tape.
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This is the scheme described in USAAC Specification 98-2113, Yellow No. 4 and Light Blue No. 23. The Light Blue was matched to the chip in Archer’s Monogram Guide by mixing two parts Mr. Color 115 with one part Mr. Color 34 and a touch of Black.
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A subtle detail which is easily overlooked is the color of the back sides of the propeller blades, which is Maroon.
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The kit decals are a tricky combination of brittle and sticky which requires care and a bit of luck to apply correctly. I managed to create a couple of chips in mine but was able to touch them up with paint.
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The walkways and exhaust panels were provided as decals but there was just no way they were going to work, plus they were printed in a gray which was pretty light. The walkways next to the fuselage should be dark, a “scale black”. In looking at photos of B-10s there are a wide variety of paint patterns behind and around the engines, including none at all in a few cases.
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I used the Kabuki canopy masks from Special Mask, a must-have for the complex transparencies on this kit. The masks performed well and the kit canopies are quite clear, allowing some of the interior detail to be seen.
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The finished model is a bit of work but looks great.  Antenna wires are 0.004” Nitenol.  I kept track of the time spent on this one, 19.5 hours in all.  I could see building another, maybe in Royal Thai Air Force markings.

Azure FRROM Martin B-10 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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This is the new tool Azure FRROM Martin B-10B kit, one of three boxings they released in 2020. The B-10 was considered to be quite innovative when it first flew in 1932, featuring an internal bomb bay, enclosed crew positions, and retractable landing gear. For a time it was faster than the fighters which might oppose it. I ordered one in U.S. markings as soon as it became available and it went straight to the bench when the good people at Hannants delivered it to my door.
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The kit is a limited run effort and has all that implies, both plusses and minuses. The panel lines are fine and recessed. Locating pins and tabs are missing for the most part. Personally I think too big a deal is made over this, most parts can be aligned perfectly well without pins and sometimes the pins can cause sinkmarks which require filling.
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The fuselage halves reflect a bit of clever engineering, they are split along the sides instead of along the top and bottom. The B-10 had corrugations along the top and bottom which would be at risk of being sanded off while eliminating the fuselage seam, provided the mold angle would allow them to be formed at all. The cowlings and nacelle parts are separate to allow Azure to provide for the different versions they are kitting.
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The engines are crisp and nicely molded. There are mold seams and a bit of flash on some parts to clean up, a consequence of the limited run technology. A little extra work in parts preparation, but that is why we practice isn’t it?  Back to chorin’, pitter patter.
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No surprises in the cockpit, and one benefit of the horizontal fuselage split is the angles on the cockpit components are relatively easy to get right. The bulkhead pieces all fit into locating slots inside the upper fuselage, so take care that they are all square to avoid fit problems later. One thing to watch for is the back side of the instrument panel has what looks like a thick ejector pin stub. Be sure to file this off as it will interfere with the fit later.
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Another area which needs attention is the wheel recess inside the wing. The part is too thick to allow the wing halves to come together. The best solution is to thin the inside of the part until the plastic is just starting to become translucent, then the wings should come together. You can see where the parts are touching by looking through the wing root opening. I have also thinned the wing trailing edges with a file.
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The wing mating joint leaves something to be desired, but is not difficult to fill. The round inlet on the wing leading edge inboard of the engine can be drilled out.
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Here is the cockpit interior under a coat of Alclad and a wash. I’m building this one OOB so everything you see here is what is provided in the kit.
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The fuselage joint is a bad seam but in a good place. The relatively flat smooth sides mean little detail will be lost here in sanding.
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I cleaned up the wing and fuselage seams as separate assemblies before joining them together.  The wings just would not fit!  It turned out the alignment tabs which protrude from the fuselage sides into the wingroots are meant to fit into slots on the inner surfaces of the wings but are too thick.  I recommend leaving the wing support (part H16) off and just butt-jointing the wings in place.  I cut the tabs off and was then able to get the wings on, but there were seams to fill.

Vought SB2U Vindicator Color Photographs Part I

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Filming is underway for the Warner Brother’s film “Dive Bomber” aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6) at San Diego, the following photographs are from that film. Enterprise has her flight deck stained Mahogany with yellow markings, she would have her deck stained Dark Blue in July 1941.

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An SB2U-1 of VB-3 “Black Panthers” displays the colorful “Yellow Wings” scheme in use prior to December 1940. The white tail indicates an aircraft assigned to USS Saratoga (CV-3).

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A close-up of the nose of a Black Panther SB2U-1, the solid red nose indicating the aircraft of the squadron commander. It would also carry a red fuselage stripe indicating a section leader and wing stripes in the section color.

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A view of the undersides showing placement of the wing insignia. Note the yellow upper wing color wraps around the leading edge of the wing to ensure smooth airflow. The elongated pods under each wing are practice bomb dispensers used for training.

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A fine shot of 3-B-3 from above showing the upper wing markings. The angled stipes on the vertical tail are to aid the Landing Signals Officer in determining the aircraft’s approach angle when landing aboard a carrier.

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3-B-3 landing at NAS North Island at San Diego. The Vindicator had semi-retractable landing gear which rotated 90 degrees into wells under the wings.

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The apron at NAS North Island packed full of carrier aircraft. In the left foreground is the squadron commander’s SB2U-1 Vindicator of VB-3 assigned to USS Saratoga. The first aircraft to the right is a Northrop BT-1 assigned to USS Enterprise as indicated by the blue tail.

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VB-3 Vindicators warm up on the apron at North Island. The top hat markings were carried for filing of the movie “Dive Bomber”.

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The VB-3 squadron commander’s Vindicator is in the foreground in this view, with a Northrop BT-1 in the background.

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In this scene from “Dive Bomber” SB2U Vindicators prepare to launch from the carrier while Douglas Devastators with folded wings warm up astern. The white tails indicate aircraft assigned to USS Saratoga, but the USS Enterprise was used for filming.

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Vindicators warm up on deck, revealing several details of the Yellow Wings paint scheme. In the background a Curtis SBC Helldiver is seen in the overall Light Gray scheme authorized on 30DEC40.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part II

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A training Kingfisher being refueled at NAS Corpus Christy while the pilot waits to board. The uppersurfaces of this Kingfisher have been camouflaged in Blue Gray but the float is Aluminum. Also unusual is the absence of fuselage insignia.  A pair of Consolidated P2Ys are on the water in the background.

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Ground crew wait beside a Kingfisher in the pre-war Yellow Wings scheme which was Aluminum Dope overall with Orange Yellow upper wing surfaces. They wear immersion suits to protect them from hypothermia.

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Another OS2U in the Yellow Wings scheme. Note that the aircraft number 32 is repeated on the cowling and on the fuselage. It is hard to imagine much of a conversation over the roar of the engine.

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Even in the middle of the war, many Kingfishers assigned to training duties had their upper wing surfaces painted Orange Yellow to make them more visible in case of emergency. This could be vital in the event of an aircraft downed at sea, as the fuselage and float color seen here demonstrate the effectiveness of the Blue Gray camouflage.

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A section of Kingfishers warm up their engines in preparation for a training sortie. Diorama builders should note the various designs of boarding ladders in these photographs.

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A beautiful study of a Kingfisher with beaching gear, which are detachable wheels which allowed an OS2U on floats to be hauled up a ramp onto shore. This aircraft wore camouflage but carried Orange Yellow upper wing surfaces, as can also be seen displayed on the aircraft in the background.

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A section of three taxiing for a water take-off. The weight of these aircraft is carried by the center float, the stabilizing floats on the wings are all clear of the water.

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The graded camouflage scheme was introduced in January 1943 and consisted of Sea Blue upper surfaces, Intermediate Blue sides, and White undersurfaces.

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A beautiful shot of two Kingfishers in early war markings preparing for patrol. This picture gives an excellent view of the beaching gear and bomb shackles under each wing.

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A Kingfisher heads down to the water from a Marston mat ramp in the Aleutians. The red outline to the national insignia was only authorized for a short time during the summer of 1943. This aircraft, like many in the Aleutians, carried non-standard insignia as the markings on the upper starboard wing were directed to have been removed several months earlier. The white stripes on the tail surfaces are theater markings.

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Instrument panel and cockpit details of a museum aircraft. Note the size and color of the pilot’s lap belt.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Color Photographs Part I

Kingfisher_01_RA
A beautiful photograph of a formation of OS2U Kingfishers assigned to the USS Mississippi (BB-41). Like most USN floatplane types of the period, the floats of Kingfisher could be easily replaced by conventional fixed landing gear for operations ashore. The aircraft are BuNo 1714, 1715, and 1716. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

Kingfisher_02__RA
Another aspect of one of Mississippi’s Kingfishers, showing off details of the Yellow Wings scheme. The blue tail indicates assignment to Battleship Division Three (BATDIV Three), the aircraft are from VO-3. The solid white nose indicating the lead aircraft of the second section. The Squadron’s insignia is visible on the fuselage just behind the pilot, “Oswald the Luck Rabbit” riding a bomb. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

Kingfisher_03
Here is a rather worn looking Kingfisher in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme and the enhanced national markings authorized from 23DEC41 to 06MAY42. Modelers note the oil streaking on the cowling and the wear to the paint on the forward float strut. The side markings indicate an inshore patrol squadron.

Kingfisher_04_HG
An officer walks between rows of Kingfishers in the wheeled configuration in early 1942. The white blocks on the vertical tails cover the Bureau Numbers of the aircraft, this is likely a security measure – either tape before the picture was taken or the actions of a censor afterwards. (NASM Hans Groenhoff collection)

Kingfisher_05
This Kingfisher is maneuvering alongside a battleship to be recovered. The side code 5-O-7 allows for identification of the aircraft’s squadron and ship assignment. The code identifies Squadron (5), Type (O for Observation, and aircraft number. Observation Squadron Five was assigned to BATDIV Five, aircraft 5-O-7, 5-O-8, and 5-O-9 were assigned to the USS Texas, BB-35. (LIFE magazine photograph)

Kingfisher_06
Another Texas Kingfisher comes alongside. Note the individual aircraft number repeated on the upper wing surface. This was common among Navy aircraft to aid in spotting aircraft. (LIFE magazine photograph)

Kingfisher_07
This Kingfisher carries the national insignia style in use from August 1943. The pilot and observer are watching the aircraft’s approach to a recovery sled, which was a canvas panel towed behind the ship. The Kingfisher had a hook protruding from under the main float which would engage the sled allowing the aircraft to be hauled into the proper position and winched back aboard.

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The fantail of the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71) with two of her Kingfishers warming their engines on their catapults. Quincy spent most of the war in the Atlantic Fleet, including supporting the invasion of Southern France and embarking President Roosevelt for a summit.

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Sailors posed in a 40 mm gun director tub on the fantail of the USS Iowa (BB-61) with one of the ship’s Kingfishers on the catapult behind. The Iowa class battleships typically carried two Kingfishers on the catapults ready for launch.

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A fine study of one of Texas’ Kingfishers. Considerable spray could be generated even in calm seas. The colorful markings were changed in May 1942, eliminating all red to avoid confusion with the Japanese Hinomaru.

Kingfisher_10B
The observer leans out of his cockpit as a Kingfisher comes alongside for recovery. One of the observer’s duties was to climb out onto the wing and secure the crane hook to the aircraft so it could be hoisted aboard.

U.S. Coast Guard Hall PH Flying Boat Color Photographs

HallPH2_01_USCG_V164
The Hall Aluminum Aircraft Corporation PH flying boats are an obscure type, little known even among aviation enthusiasts today. Nine PH-1s were built for the U.S. Navy, entering service with VP-8 in 1932. In 1936 the U.S. Coast Guard ordered nine of the PH-2 “Hall Boats”. (All photographs from the NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)

HallPH2_02_USCG_V164
The aircraft were finished in the standard “Yellow Wings” scheme of the 1930s with Coast Guard rudder stripes. V164 was lost along with three of her crewmen on 15JUL39 while attempting to evacuate a crewman with pneumonia from the research ship Atlantis off New York City.

HallPH2_03_USCG_V164
This photograph of V164 reveals several interesting details of her paint scheme. Note the black walkways on her fuselage and on the lower wing under the engines. The small trim elevators are also of interest.

HallPH2_04_USCG_V164
Three USCG Hall PH-2s in echelon formation pose for the camera. The PH-2s were powered by two Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engines each producing 750 horsepower. These gave the flying boats a modest maximum speed of 160 mph (257 km/h) but an endurance of 20 hours.

HallPH3_01_USCG
The USCG ordered an additional nine Hall PH-3s which entered service in 1941. These featured a revised cockpit enclosure and more aerodynamic engine nacelles, along with gun positions in the nose and aft of the wing.

HallPH3_02_USCG
After the U.S. entered the war the Coast Guard was administratively transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the U.S. Navy, the Hall Boats receiving standard U.S. Navy camouflage and markings. Depth charge racks were fitted under the lower wings and the aircraft were used for anti-submarine patrols along the Atlantic coast in addition to their rescue duties.

HallPH3_03_USCG
As was common with most aircraft which were in service prior to the change, the Hall Boats retained the pre-war convention propeller warning stripes of red-yellow-blue.

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Here a PH-3 has entered the water at the beginning of another patrol as the beaching crew remove the beaching gear (wheels) from the hull. Four depth charges are clearly visible under the lower wing.

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A PH-3 in flight demonstrating the effectiveness of the Blue Gray camouflage.

HallPH3_06_USCG
A PH-3 drops a depth charge for the photographer. While the Hall Boats made no claims for U-boats destroyed, they were quite active in their original role and performed many rescues. They normally carried a crew of six and could hold up to twenty additional passengers.

HallPH3_07_USCG
The nose gunner at his position. He was obviously exposed to the elements when manning the gun, and he was tethered to the aircraft with a broad leather belt and cable, just visible around his waist.

HallPH3_08_USCG
An interesting in-flight sequence of the nose gunner firing his weapon, which has been fitted with a telescopic sight and a unique ammunition container.

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Another view from a different angle which shows details of the wingtip float and insignia placement. The markings are standard for 1942-43 but there are no squadron codes or individual aircraft numbers applied.

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The Hall Boats served the USCG into 1944 when they were replaced with PBY Catalina and PBM Mariner flying boats.

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Color Photographs Part I

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff Collection

SB2C_01_HG
The XSB2C-1 prototype first flew on 18DEC40, here we see the aircraft in its original configuration over a snowy landscape, resplendent in the Yellow Wings scheme. Notice the shape of the tail and the width of the panel between the cowling flaps and firewall.
SB2C_02_HG
Here is the XSB2C-1 prototype BuNo 1758 again, as re-built after August 1941. Here we see the engine has been moved forward 12 inches (30 cm) and the area of the vertical stabilizer has been increased. More photos of the prototype in this configuration are posted here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/curtiss-xsb2c-1-helldiver-prototype-color-photographs/
SB2C_03_HG
A fine study of an SB2C-4 from the nose. There is a Yagi radar aerial under each wing and the leading edge slats are extended. The Zinc Chromate Green primer on the landing gear and covers shows clearly. The yellow warning tips on the propeller blades have an unusual stripe.
SB2C_04_HG
The same aircraft from a different angle. The interior of the wing fold is also in Zinc Chromate Green primer, unlike the wing folds of the Avenger which were painted in the upper surface camouflage color. Recognition lights are carried under the end of the starboard wing.
SB2C_05_HG
A posed photograph of the wing 20 mm cannon being “loaded” on an SB2C-4. The aircraft carries a large identification number 254 for its delivery flight on the nose. In the background we can see that aircraft carries the number 2625 in an unusual script on her tail. Also notice the wing fold color on the background aircraft is red.
SB2C_05b_HG
Another view of 254 from the same series, this time with the wings folded. Note the interior of the wing fold on this aircraft is painted in the Zinc Chromate Green primer.
SB2C_06_HG
Another SB2C-4 but this time in an overall Orange Yellow scheme.
SB2C_07_HG
The USAAF also operated the Helldiver as the A-25A Shrike. Note the repetition of the serial number under the wing of “Torchy Tess”.
SB2C_08_HG
An in-flight shot of 41-18774 in her standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage with Medium Green splotches.
SB2C_09_HG
Nose and landing gear details of an A-25A Shrike. 900 Shrikes were produced, cut down from an initial order of 3,000 as the USAAF learned that fighter-bombers were more effective and versatile than dedicated dive bomber designs.
SB2C_10_HG
Forward fuselage details showing the red stenciling and canopy details. No USAAF Shrikes saw combat, many were passed on to the USMC which used them mainly in training and auxiliary roles.
SB2C_11_HG
The Royal Australian Air Force ordered 140 Shrikes but cancelled the order after receiving the first 10. While the color of this negative has shifted it does show the RAAF markings to good advantage.
SB2C_12_HG
The Curtiss production line showing the different primer shades used on the various components. National insignia have already been applied even though the final camouflage colors have not. A-25A serial number 41-18774 can be seen in the background.

Boeing F4B-1 Conversion in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Monogram F4B-4 kit which back-dates it to the earlier F4B-1 using the RareBits vacuform fuselage and a Radial Engines & Wheels resin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine.  Not overly difficult and the result is version which you don’t see much at the model shows.  I scratchbuilt a cockpit and added lots of plumbing to the engine.  The aircraft is marked as the Squadron Commander’s aircraft from VF-5 “Red Rippers” assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1932.  The decals were sourced from several Starfighter Decals sheets.

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Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver Prototype Color Photographs

Here is a nice selection of original color photographs of the Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver prototype, Navy Bureau Number 1758.  These are from the NASM Archives, Rudy Arnold Collection.

BuNo 1758 was completed on 13DEC40 in time to wear the Navy’s colorful Yellow Wing scheme.  Foreshadowing a troubled program, the prototype suffered three crashes.  On 09FEB41 the prototype sustained minor damage due to an engine failure but was repaired, only to be damaged again due to landing gear failure May.  The aircraft was rebuilt at this point to reduce engine overheating and stability problems.  The forward fuselage was lengthened by one foot (30 cm) in an effort to improve stability.  When this proved insufficient the vertical tail surface was enlarged.  Cooling flaps and propeller cuffs were installed and an oil cooler scoop was added under the cowl.  The prototype was lost to structural failure during dive tests on 21DEC41.

Although some sources claim these pictures were taken during the aircraft’s maiden flight, the modifications noted above are present fixing the date as AUG41 at the earliest.  The Curtiss-Wright test pilot seen here is Robert Fausel.  Interestingly, earlier Fausel was credited with destroying a Japanese bomber over China as a civilian Curtiss factory representative.