Mark Rossmann is back with three 1/48 VLR Mustang builds. This is a blast from the past as Mark built these 15th Fighter Group Mustangs back in 2007.
First up is the 45th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63483) 67 “Stinger VII”, flown by Major Robert W. “Todd” Moore. Major Moore was the highest scoring 7th Fighter Command ace with 12 aerial victories; 11 of those victories scored on VLR missions.
Major Moore’s first victory came on an ambush mission over Arno Atoll on January 26, 1944, during which he shot down a Mitsubishi Zero. He did not score again until the 15th Fighter Group started flying VLR missions from Iwo Jima. His last victory came on a VLR escort mission to Tokyo on August 10, 1945, during which he shot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki.
In addition to the 12 aerial victories, Major Moore was credited with 3 ground victories. He ended the war as the commander of the 45th Fighter Squadron.
Mark used the Tamiya kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 4 sheet (48-797).
An excellent article written by Tom Ivie on Major Moore’s service with the 15th Fighter Group during World War II can be found here: https://www.7thfighter.com/78th/moore/todd.htm
Next up is the 47th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63972) 185 “Black Rufe” flown by 1st Lt. William Hayden Sparks.
1st Lt. Sparks scored an aerial victory over Kakamigahara Airdrome on July 19, 1945, and was also credited with a ground victory on August 3, 1945.
185 “Black Rufe” was actually lost on the infamous June 1, 1945, Black Friday mission, but 1st Lt. Sparks was not assigned to fly that mission.
Again, Mark used the Tamiya kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 4 sheet (48-797).
Mark’s third build is the 78th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63973) 100 “Jeanne VIII” flown by Major James M. Vande Hey. Major Vande Hey was a veteran 78th FS pilot who participated in all of the 78th FS campaigns in the Central Pacific, and was squadron commander when the 78th FS arrived on Iwo Jima.
Major Vande Hey scored 4 aerial victories during his time with the 78th Fighter Squadron. His first two victories came on the January 26, 1944 ambush mission over Arno Atoll, during which he shot down two Mitsubishi Zeros.
His third victory came on the first VLR escort mission to Tokyo on April 7, 1945, during which he shot down a Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah. Major Vande Hey’s last victory came on second VLR escort mission on April 12, 1945, again to Tokyo. Upon landing on Iwo Jima, his engine stopped for lack of fuel and had to be towed back to its hardstand. Major Vande Hey had been in the air for over 8 hours. This would be his last VLR mission. After spending 40 months in the Central Pacific, and after logging over 1,500 flight hours, Major Vande Hey rotated home and was reassigned to a Stateside position.
James Vande Hey would make a career out of serving his country in the United States Air Force obtaining the rank of Brigadier General. Brig. Gen. Vande Hey retired on July 1, 1971, and passed away on December 21, 2009.
For this build, Mark used the Hasegawa kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 2 sheet (48-795).
Thanks again to Mark Rossmann for sharing his builds with us. More to come as Mark has done more VLR Mustang builds over the years. Very nice builds! Thanks also to Mark W. Stevens of the 7th Fighter Command Association for the photos of 1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks.
1. The Long Campaign: This History of the 15th Fighter Group in World War II; John W. Lambert; Schaffer Publishing Ltd. (2006)
2. 7th Fighter Command Association website/Mark W. Stevens. https://www.7thfighter.com/
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