In Memory of Wilhelm (Bill) Herbert Peterson; 458th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group

The 506th Fighter Group lost another pilot when 1st Lt. Bill Peterson passed away on July 3, 2021. Wilhelm (Bill) Herbert Peterson was born on June 27, 1923, in Gary, Indiana. Bill’s family moved to Sebring, Florida early in his childhood, and Bill left high school after the 11th grade and enrolled in the University of Florida. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force Reserve and was in his last year of college when he was called up.

He started his basic flight training at Americus, Georgia, flying Boeing’s primary trainer, the PT-17 Stearman biplane, and then went to Greenwood, Mississippi, flying the Vultee BT-13 basic trainer. Bill continued his training at Dothan, Alabama, flying the North American AT-6 advanced trainer, and completed his flight training at Montgomery, Alabama, flying the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk where he received his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.

2nd Lieutenant Wilhelm H. Peterson (via Robert Grant)

2nd Lt. Peterson was assigned to the 458th Fighter Squadron shortly after the 506th Fighter Group’s activation at Lakeland Army Air Force base in October, 1944. The 506th was trained solely for very long range missions.

Below are two pictures of 2nd Lt. Peterson during tour of duty on Iwo Jima. The first is of 2nd Lt. F.H. Wheeler (front), 2nd Lt. Robert “Andy” Anderstrom (back left), and 2nd Lt. Wilhelm Peterson (back right).

(Myndret S. Starin via Dr. John Benbow)

The second is of C Flight of the 458th Fighter Squadron. 2nd Lt. Peterson is in the back row, fifth from the left.

C Flight of the 458th FS (back row, left to right – Myndret Starin, Robert Anderstrom, F.H. Wheeler, Jack Westbrook, Wilhelm Peterson & Paul Ewalt; front row, left to right – Edward Kuhn, William Lockney, Goldie Marcott, Donald Harris & Francis Pilecki) (Ralph Coleman via Dr. John Benbow)

1st Lieutenant Myndret S. Starin and 2nd Lieutenant Wilhelm W. Peterson were assigned to fly 580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” a P-51D-25-NA (Serial No. 44-72890). 1st Lt. Starin named the plane Shirley III, which appeared on the port side of the nose, and 2nd Lt. Peterson named the plane Augusta Wind after his wife, Augusta, which appeared on the starboard side of the nose.

580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” (Myndret S. Starin via Dr. John Benbow)

Unfortunately, we do not have a picture of 580 showing the name Augusta Wind on nose. Below is the only photo of starboard side of 580. Because the cowl panels have been removed for maintenance, we are unable to see the name Augusta Wind.

580 “Shirley III/Augusta Wind” (via Dr. John Benbow)

Bill flew many VLR missions to Japan and back during his tour of duty, and was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant while on Iwo Jima. Bill returned to the United States in early January of 1946, just in time to enroll for his final semester at the University of Florida.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Bill worked in the life insurance industry for 19 years, and then had a very successful practice as a certified public accountant. On July 3, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation.

On July 10, 2013, Bill gave an interview as part of the University of Central Florida Veterans’ History Project recounting his life and service to his country as part of the 506th Fighter Group. Bill’s interview can be found here: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/veteransoralhistories/172/

Mark L. Rossmann’s 1/48 15th Fighter Group VLR Mustang Builds

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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.

Major Robert W. Moore (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

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 L. Rossmann

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 L. Rossmann

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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.

1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks (via Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association)
1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks (W. Hayden Sparks)

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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 L. Rossmann

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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.

Major James M. Vande Hey standing next to his Republic P-47D Thunderbolt “Jeanne VII” in Hawaii (James M. Vande Hey)

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.

Major James M. Vande Hey (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

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.

Mark L. Rossmann

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).

Mark L. Rossmann

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.

References:

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/

As a condition of the use of materials from the 7th Fighter Command Association website, the following disclaimer is included: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this Worldwide Web server and related graphics is hereby granted, provided 1) That the use of the data will not be used for obtaining a profit of any kind, and 2) That the above disclaimer notice appear in all copies and that both that disclaimer notice and this permission notice appear. All other rights reserved. The name of “7th Fighter Command Association” may not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of this information without specific, written prior permission. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association makes no representations about the suitability of this information for any purpose. It is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association disclaim all warranties with regard to this information, including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall Mark Stevens or the 7th Fighter Command Association be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this information.

Decal Review: Eagle Strike Productions’ 1/32 Pacific Mustangs Pt. II (32003)

This is an older decal sheet released in 1998 which provides markings for the planes of the three top VLR aces: Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” (12 aerial victories); Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” (8 aerial victories); and Major Harry C. Crim, Jr.’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (6 aerial victories).

Eagle Strike Productions

This decal sheet is no longer in production, and is difficult to acquire. It shows up every once in while on eBay, but not very often. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of 1/32nd scale decal sheets in production that feature Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. Either you have to use what is available as far as after market decals, or learn how to create your own paint masks.

Eagle Strike Productions

The decal sheet is really good as far as accuracy of the markings, but it is not without its errors and omissions.

Eagle Strike Productions

Major Harry C. Crim, Jr. (531st FS/21st FG) – Major Crim was the 3rd highest scoring VLR ace with six confirmed victories, and the only fighter ace of the 21st FG. He joined the 21st FG in August, 1944, after serving with the 14th Fighter Group in Tunisia flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Unable to score any aerials victories with 14th FG, he scored his first two victories, a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony” and a Kawasaki Ki-45 “Nick” on April 7, 1945, the first VLR mission flown by the 7th Fighter Command Mustangs. His last victory, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, came on July 6, 1945 during a strike mission against Atsugi airfield. Major Crim was also credited with six ground victories.

Assistant Crew Chief Sergeant Stanley McCarro in the cockpit of Major Crim’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (Harry Crim via Tom Ivie/Carl Molesworth)

44-73623 was a P-51D-25NA, and Major Crim’s second VLR Mustang. The kill markings, mission markings, and ground crews’ names appear to be very good on the decal sheet except for Asst. Crew Chief Stanley McCarro’s name being misspelled. The only other deficiency in these decals is the artwork for the donkey/ass.

Major Harry C. Crim, Jr.’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]”

The photo above shows a portion of the canvas wheel well covers which were a standard production feature that were discarded by European Theater Mustang groups, but were maintained in place by the Iwo Jima Mustang groups as a means of keeping sand and volcanic grit out of the wheel wells.

After Major Crim rotated home, “My Achin! [Ass]” was assigned to Flight Officer Theo Gruici, who had Major Crim’s kill and mission markings and the names of the ground crew removed, and had a reclining nude painted on the fuselage. Most decal manufacturers have a nude on the left landing gear cover for Major Crim’s markings, but I have yet to see a photo confirming this. The nude on the left landing gear cover is mostly obscured by the 110 gallon drop tank in the photo below, and it raises the question whether there was a nude also on the right landing gear cover. After inquiring of others who have more extensive photo collections than I do, there does not appear to be any photos of the right side of the plane. Some questions will never be answered.

Flight Officer Theo Gruici’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

Major Robert W. “Todd” Moore (45th FS/15th FG) – Major Moore was the highest scoring VLR ace with 11 VLR aerial victories. He had one aerial victory with the 15th FG prior to arriving on Iwo Jima. 44-63483, a P-51D-20NA, was first assigned to Major Gilmore L. “Buck” Snipes and was named “Tom Kat”.

Below are the aircraft profiles from Eduard’s 1/48 Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima limited edition kit showing 67’s markings while flown by Major Snipes and by Major Moore. The profiles show the 45th Fighter Squadron’s original markings and the more simplified markings mandated by the 7th Fighter Command.

Eduard
Eduard

The three photos below provide some different marking variations for 67 “Stinger VII” during the time it was assigned to Major Moore. From these photos it appears that Major Moore was assigned to 67 during the time the squadron was transitioning from their original markings to the more simplified markings.

This is a Loomis Dean photograph which show 67 “Stinger VII” with an unpainted spinner and the diagonal wing bands still in place as evidenced by the bands wrapping over the leading edge of the wing. It also appears that rails for HVAR rockets have been installed under the wings which can be seen just above the drop tanks on the left wing. These were field modifications as rocket rails were not installed at the factory during Block 20 production.

Major Robert W. Moore with 67 “Stinger VII” (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

The photograph below, while not the best in quality, appears to show that the diagonal bands have been removed from the wings, but still are present on the tail surfaces. It does not appear that the spinner has been painted solid green yet. Please also note that the number 67 also appears on the main landing gear covers. This was common practice for 45th FS Mustangs. Unfortunately, the Eagle Strike decal sheet does not provide the decals for the landing gear covers.

Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII”

The last photo shows 67 “Stinger VII” with the simplified markings of a solid green spinner, green wing tips, green horizontal stablizer/elevator tips, and (assuming) green tail tip.

Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” (Robert W. Moore via Tom Ivie/Carl Molesworth)

Major James B. Tapp’s (78th FS/15th FG) – Major Tapp was the second highest scoring VLR Mustang ace with 8 aerial victories. All eight victories were scored in 101 “Margaret – IV” (44-63984), a P-51D-20NA. Major Tapp scored 4 aerial victories on the first VLR mission on April 7, 1945. He scored another victory on April 12, 1945, which represents the 5 victories on the decal sheet.

Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret -IV” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

As can be seen from the photo above and the photo below, the name “Margaret – IV” and the Bushmaster squadron emblem are on both sides of the nose. The photo below shows that there are additional markings on the right side of the fuselage below the canopy.

Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” (7th Fighter Command Association/Mark W. Stevens)

This last photo shows the markings on the right side of the fuselage which includes kill and mission markings. In addition to the name of the Crew Chief Sergeant Blanco, there is the name of another ground crew member which is undiscernable from the photo. This photo also shows that the 0 in the fuselage number is broken rather than solid.

Crew Chief Sergeant Blanco standing on the wing of Major Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” with unknown crew member in cockpit (via Brian Walter)

This is a very nice decal sheet despite some errors or omissions, especially in light of the fact that it was released in 1998. A lot of new information has come to light regarding the markings on these planes since this decal sheet was released.

References:

1. Very Long Range P-51 Mustang Units of the Pacific War; Carl Molesworth; Osprey Publishing Limited 2006.

2. The Long Campaign: The History of the 15th Fighter Group in World War II; John W. Lambert; Schiffer Publishing Limited 2006

3. Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima Instruction Sheet; Eduard (2020).

As a condition of the use of materials from the 7th Fighter Command Association website, the following disclaimer is included: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this Worldwide Web server and related graphics is hereby granted, provided 1) That the use of the data will not be used for obtaining a profit of any kind, and 2) That the above disclaimer notice appear in all copies and that both that disclaimer notice and this permission notice appear. All other rights reserved. The name of “7th Fighter Command Association” may not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of this information without specific, written prior permission. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association makes no representations about the suitability of this information for any purpose. It is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association disclaim all warranties with regard to this information, including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall Mark Stevens or the 7th Fighter Command Association be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this information.

Alex Parker’s 1/32nd Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang

Alex Parker built Tamiya’s Pacific Theater 1/32 North American P-51D/K Mustang kit into the 15th Fighter Group, 47th Fighter Squadron’s “Lil Butch”.

Alex Parker

Alex’s focus for this build was on a plane involved in the first VLR escort mission to Japan on April 7, 1945. Using the narrative of that mission from Carl Molesworth’s book Very Long Range P-51Mustang Units of the Pacific War, Alex decided on the Mustang flown by Captain Robert R. Down, who along with 1st Lt. Dick Hintermeier, shot down a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick). This is considered the first aerial victory over the Japanese Home Islands by a 7th Fighter Command Mustang. Captain Down would later shoot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo) on the same mission.

Captain Robert R. Down of 47th FS/15th FG with ground crew (Mark Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association)

Alex used Barracuda Studios resin tires to replace those unique rubber wheels that come with the Tamiya kit, RB Productions seat belts, and the brass replacement barrels for the Zoukei Mura P-51D Mustang kit (produced by Aber) to enhance the build.

Alex Parker

In addition to adding the wiring harness’ and spark plug wires, Alex incorporated other wires and hoses to detail Tamiya’s excellent rendition of the Mustang’s Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

Alex Parker

Alex added a seat back cushion seen in wartime Mustangs, and seat belts from RB Productions. Extremely nice additions to an already nice cockpit.

Alex Parker

The picture below shows just how busy the detailed engine compartment and cockpit look after the fuselage halves have been joined.

Alex Parker

Wire was added to the wheel wells to simulate hydraulic and electrical lines.

Alex Parker

In addition to the brass barrels, wire was added to the guns bays, and Alex did a great job of painting the 50 caliber ammunition.

Alex Parker

Alex used Alclad II lacquers for the natural metal finish. All of the squadron markings, national insignias, fuselage numbers, and the serial numbers were painted on. Since there are no commercially available decals for 150 “Lil Butch” in 1/32nd scale, Alex made masks for the national insignias, fuselage numbers, serial numbers, and the plane name “Lil Butch” using a Silhouette Cameo mask cutter. Mr. Color and MRP lacquer paints were used for the markings.

Having the ability to create your own paint masks opens the door to almost unlimited possibilities as far as markings. The good folks over at Large Scale Planes have created a new website/forum for those interested in creating their own paint masks called Scale Model Paint Masks. Check it out here: https://www.scalemodelpaintmasks.com/

Alex Parker

Alex used pastels extensively in the cockpit, engine compartment, wheel wells, and on the exterior to weather the model. I like how the pastels along with clear coats do nice job in knocking down the semi-gloss appearance of markings and shine of the Alclad II natural metal finishes.

Alex Parker

Overall, an extremely nice build.

Alex Parker

Alex’s build thread on Large Scale Planes can be found here: https://forum.largescaleplanes.com/index.php?/topic/87527-p-51d-47th-fs-15th-fg-iwo-jima-1945-tam-132-done/. Alex plans on building Zoukei Mura’s 1/32 Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) in the markings of one of the Japanese Army Air Force units that participated in the defense of the Home Islands on April 7, 1945. Looking forward to that build.

In Memory of Jack H. Folsom; 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; December 7, 1922 – January 16, 2021

The 506th Fighter Group lost another fighter pilot when Jack H. Folsom went west on January 16, 2021. Jack Folsom was born on December 7, 1922 in Des Moines, Iowa. He showed an affinity for airplanes and flying at an early age winning several awards at the Iowa State Fair for model building and distance flying as a teenager.

He graduated from Des Moines Lincoln High School in January of 1941, and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jack was awarded his wings and a 2nd Lieutenant’s commission at Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona as part of Class 43-D.

2nd Lieutenant Jack H. Folsom

Like many 506th FG fighter pilots, Jack was a pilot instructor at Page Field in Fort Meyers, Florida, when he was assigned to the 457th FS shortly after the 506th FG was organized in October of 1944 at Lakeland Army Air Field. At Lakeland, the 506th FG pilots were trained specifically to fly very long range missions, and Jack flew over 10 VLR missions to Japan and back from Iwo Jima. During his tour on Iwo Jima, Jack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Unfortunately, we do not have any pictures of Jack while he was on Iwo Jima flying VLR missions. During his return to the United States after the cessation of hostilities, the contents of Jack’s foot locker were stolen depriving us all of a glimpse of that part of his life.

Jack H. Folsom

Upon his discharge after the end of World War II, Jack enrolled in Iowa State’s Aeronautical Engineering program and graduated in three and one half years. Jack worked for Boeing for 36 years, and retired in 1985 as the Chief Engineer at Boeing’s Renton plant.

Jack Folsom with 457th TFS Captain Eric “Gator” Maurer at the 2005 506th FG Reunion in Dayton, Ohio (Dr. John Benbow)

After his retirement, Jack, and his wife Dorothy, built homes in Port Townsend, Green Valley, Arizona, and in Buhl, Idaho, where their home overlooked the Snake River and Kanaka Rapids. Jack was a very accomplished wood worker in his retirement; a craft which he shared with others.

Jack Folsom with Ed Milner at the 2006 506th FG Reunion in Fort Worth, Texas (Ed Milner via Dr. John Benbow)

Jack’s obituary stated that “[h]is life of integrity, honesty, a strong handshake, his commitment to Jesus Christ, and love for his family were his hallmarks.” On January 16, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation.

Decal Review: Exito Decals’ “Pacific Warriors” Vol. 1 (ED48011 & ED72011)

Exito is a Polish company which was started in 2008 as an internet hobby shop, and expanded in 2010 by establishing a brick and mortar store in 2010 in Cracow, Poland. In November of 2018, they launched their own line of high quality decals in 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/32nd scales.

They recently released their 11th decal sheet entitled “Pacific Warriors” vol. 1, which includes decals for “501”, a 457th FS/506th FG P-51D-25-NA (44-72640) flown by Captain Evelyn Neff.

Exito Decals

Their decal sheets appear to very well researched. The decal sheet comes with a separate decal placement guide for each plane. On one side is the decal placement guide with photos, aircraft profiles showing decal placements, and color call-outs.

Exito Decals/Janusz Swaitlon

On the other side are larger aircraft profiles. All of the aircraft profiles are the work of Polish aircraft illustrator, Janusz Swaitlon. They are printed on thick glossy paper suitable for framing. Very nice touch on the part of Exito.

Exito Decals/Janusz Swaitlon

The decals are in register and printed by Cartograf in Italy.

Exito Decals – 1/48th Sheet
Exito Decals – 1/72nd Sheet

Exito gives you the option of two different markings for Captain Neff’s Mustang. The first option is the early 457th FS paint scheme with the green striped tail shortly after the 506th FG arrived on Iwo Jima as shown in the picture below. The nose art below the front of the canopy shows the half nude without a background.

506th Fighter Group Association via Dr. John Benbow

The 506th Fighter Group Mustangs went to solid tails beginning in June of 1945 after the 7th Fighter Command ordered the three Mustang groups on Iwo Jima to adopt more simplified markings. The second option is 501 with a solid tail and the half nude nose art with a dark background as shown in the photo below. Again, nice touch on Exito’s part.

506th Fighter Group Association via Brian Walter

Kudos to Exito for releasing this decal sheet. Because they have labeled this decal sheet “vol. 1”, we can assume the future release of at least another “Pacific Warriors” decal sheet. Hopefully, volume 2 will include decals for another Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

Brian Walter, one of the 506th Fighter Group’s historians, was a contributor on the decal sheet for Captain Neff’s VLR Mustang.

Mark L. Rossmann’s 1/48 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki

Mark Rossmann submits his 1/48 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki. Mark used AeroMaster’s “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170) decals to represent the Ki-44-II Otsu flown by Captain Hatano, leader of the 3rd Chutai of the 47th Sentai.

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark also provided the following narrative with his build:

“B-29 Hunter – Ki-44-II Otsu -47th Sentai”

History: Nakajima Type 2 heavy fighter, the Ki-44 Shoki, was developed from the 1939 Air Headquarters (Koko Hombu) requirement for a different type of fighter. In all previous requirements, responsiveness, classic dog-fighting as in WWI, and agility were utmost; however, this requirement was for rate-of-climb, speed, and ability to withstand battle damage. Initial trials against the Zero saw it totally fail, and only equaled the performance of the Ki-27 and Ki-43.

Many changes were made, including a set of Ki-43 like “butterfly combat flaps fitted for improved maneuverability, and aerodynamic changes, especially to the engine housing. The aircraft was finally production ready with only 40 Ki-44-I’s built before the -II Otsu commenced production. The Otsu was the best of the series with a top speed of 376 mph at 17,060 feet with ascent to 16,000 feet in 4 minutes, 17 seconds, and armed with 4 machine guns. The -III Hei only had a few built before suspension in late 1944 in order to build the Ki-84.

With high wing loading, this created fast speeds for landing and tricky handling. It was thought fighter pilots with over 1,000 hours of flight time in their log books should only fly it. This caution was found to be unneeded and by late war it was decided relatively inexperienced pilots could handle it.

Mark L. Rossmann

Pilot opinion was subjective. Those that flew the nimble Ki-27 and Ki-43 disliked it intensely, as it lacked maneuverability and for its high speed landing. However, it was respected for its outstanding dive characteristics, rapid roll rate, and being an excellent gun platform consisting of a pair of 7.7 mm (.303 in) and a pair of 12.7 mm (.50 cal.) machine guns. Later, the “IIc” had a single 20 mm cannon replacing the wing mounted machine gun. Limited numbers of aircraft had devastating 40 mm wing mounts. Those willing to accept the plane’s characteristics and to exploit them were few and far between.

Limited success was partly due to only 1227 variants of this type being produced, which was 9% of the single engine JAAF aircraft produced during the war. It was deployed mostly in China, also in Burma, East Indies, and the Philippines. The Ki-44 (Ki for “kitai” which is airframe type number) Shoki (“The Demon Queller”, a Taoist temple deity traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings), or named by the Allies as “Tojo”, is mostly known for its Homeland Defense deployment against the B-29.

Mark L. Rossmann

The 47th Chutai: Nine aircraft were received by an experimental unit, the 47th Chutai “Kawasemi Buntai (“Kingfisher Flight, 47th Squadron”), commanded by Major Toshio Sakagawa at Saigon, Indochina in early September 1941. As a result of the “Doolittle Raid”, having laid bare the lack of a Home Defense lead by the 244th with its obsolete Ki-27s, the wake-up call ordered the 47th Chutai to return to Japan on April 25, 1942. The 47th was assigned to the 10th Air Division and rated as the “best” with many skilled pilots, even though the 244th gained most of the limelight.

In October 1943, the 47th worked its way into “Sentai” status at Choufu Air base. Its tail emblem was a stylized version of the number 47 with each Chutai (squadron) displaying it in its own color; for this model, yellow for the 3rd Chutai. It disbanded at the end of the war at Ozuki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, then operating the Ki-84.

On November 1, 1944, the 47th saw its first B-29 homeland action when an F-13 photo-recon variant of the B-29 from the 3rd Photographic Group came in at 32,000 feet to map the Kanto plain. At 1300 hours, the 47th scrambled available Tojos and began their long climb toward the bomber. Leading was Captain Jun Shimizu, the 1st Chutai commander. As the formation reached 27,000 feet, the planes began wallowing and started stalling with some pilots dropping their noses to climb at a shallower angle. Captain Shimizu and his wingman, Lt. Matsuzaka, got within 3,000 feet of the F-13, struggling to keep their planes controlled, fired short bursts with no hits.

Mark L. Rossmann

The IIc version was armed with heavy cannons, using caseless ammunition with low muzzle velocity, which was effective in close attacks against B-29s. Using the IIc, there was a special kamikaze unit (a company of four aircraft minimum) of the 47th Sentai, which specialized in bomber collision tactics, called the Shinten unit (Shinten Seiku Tai – Sky Shadow) which was based at Narimasu airfield during the defense of Tokyo.

On February 10, 1945, a B-29 mission to Ota, the 47th Sentai intercepted. 1st Lt. Heikichi Yoshizawa flew inverted straight at the formation, then rolled upright flashing barely 30 feet above the Superforts, he slammed into one of them killing him instantly. That morning, he had pinned a small doll to his flying suit for good luck, telling his wingman, 2nd Lt. Ryozo Ban, “Follow me today!” Ban replied, “Yes sir, yes sir, I will follow you to heaven or hell!” Ban was hit by defensive fire and had to make an emergency landing at Shimodate airfield. Lt. Yoshizawa is recorded as the leading B-29 ace of the 47th with four B-29s destroyed.

By April of 1945, the P-51 “Sunsetter” units on Iwo Jima were escorting the B-29s. Japanese Army Air Force units were ordered not to engage the U.S. escorts, but to go after the bombers and to save themselves for the final defense. At this time, the 47th was transitioning to the Ki-84.

Mark L. Rossmann

The Ki-44, which was used on the eve of World War II in Indochina, evolved into a heavily armed fighter suited for attacking heavy bombers, something the Lufwaffe resurrected near the end of their “Defense of the Reich”. The “Tojo” was never destined to become a great fighter, or the mount of aces. Those who did make their mark in this aircraft did so by ramming B-29s at high altitudes or stalking them at low altitudes with the deadly 40mm canon. This was not what was envisioned in the original Koko Hombu” requirement.

Mark L. Rossmann

Model:

Kit: Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima Ki-44 II ko Shoki (Tojo) “85th Flight Regiment” (JT37)

Decals: Aeromaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170)

The only draw back to the kit was that it came with the scope site which protruded through the front windshield. Later built planes came with the optic site, which this has. I used “Formula 560” canopy glue to fill in the hole. It would have been nice if the optional site and windshield were available in the kit.

Paint:

A. Tamiya TS-17 Aluminum for fuselage and wings.

B. Testors Flat White for Home Defense bands.

C. Tamiya TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black for anti-glare panel.

D. Tamiya TS-47 Chrome Yellow for wing leading edges.

E. Tamiya AS-29 Grey Green (IJA) for fabric areas.

F. Vallejo Model Color Mahogany Brown 70.846 for propeller.

Final Note: In reference #2, last page, shows a picture of a Ki-44 on display at Wright-Patterson AFB. This last surviving “Tojo” was scrapped and there are no intact examples of this aircraft type left in the world. Another source says a wing center section is preserved at the Northwestern Polytechnical University Aviation Museum at Xi’an China.

References:

1. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF – Aviation Elite #5; Koji Takaki & Henry Sakaida; Osprey Publishing Limited (2001)

2. Ki-44 “Tojo” Aces of World War 2 – Aircraft of the Aces #100; Nicholas Millman; Osprey Publishing Limited (2011).

3. Japanese Army Air Force Aces of World War 2 1937-45 – Aircraft of the Aces #13; Henry Sakaida; Osprey Publishing Limited (1997).

4. World War II Airplanes Vol. 2; Enzo Angelucci & Pablo Matricard; Rand McNally (1978).

5. AeroMaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II. (1995)

6. Hasegawa Instruction Sheet (1995)

Thanks to Mark for submitting his build and article on the Nakajima Ki-44 II Otsu Shoki!

Iwo Jima Aviation Art: Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Over Iwo Jima by Ron Cole

There are some extremely nice Iwo Jima aviation prints featuring both American and Japanese aircraft. My favorite is of a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero with Mount Surbachi in the background by digital artist Ron Cole. The print shows the elegant and graceful lines of the Zero so well.

Ron Cole/Cole’s Aircraft

The subject of the print is a 252nd Kokutai Zero flown by JNAF ace CPO Tomokazu Kasai. There appears to be tri-color F6F Hellcats in the far background, so I am assuming aerial combat depicted in the print is of one the U.S. Navy’s early bombing missions against Iwo Jima between June 14, 1944, and August 5, 1944. From my research, it appears that the 252nd and 301st Kokutai were assigned to Iwo Jima in June of 1944, but I have been unable to determine when the 252nd was withdrawn.

The print can be purchased in sizes beginning at 13” x 19” up to 40” x 60”. Already framed prints can be purchased in sizes 13” x 19” and 24” x 36”. For serious collectors, Mr. Cole produces authentic aircraft relic displays which are prints that also include a piece of the actual aircraft. Check out Mr. Cole’s work at Cole’s Aircraft https://roncole.net/.

Japanese Naval Ace CPO Tomokazu Kasai – Born on March 8, 1926, in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture, Tomokazu Kasai enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Navy and began flight training at the Tsushima Kokutai on April 1, 1942. Kasai was initially assigned to the 263rd Hyo (panther) Kokutai which transferred to Tinian in the Mariana Islands in February 1944. His first combat was with a 7th Air Force B-24 Liberator over Guam on April 25, 1944. Between June 18th and July 10th during the United States invasion of the Marianas, Kasai was credited with eight victories. The 263rd Kokutai was disbanded due to attrition, and Kasai was reassigned to the 306th Hikotai of the 201st Kokutai.

Tomokazu Kasai

Kasai’s last assignment was with 301st Hikotai of the 343rd Kokutai (Japan’s Group of Experts) flying the Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden-Kai (Violet Lightning). He added two additional aerial victories, but on April 17, 1945, crashed and broke his leg which ended his continued participation in World War II.

Japanese naval ace Tomokazu Kasai recently passed away on January 9, 2021, in Amagaski City, Japan at the age of 94.

Hasegawa has re-boxed its new tool 1/32 A6M5c kit with decals for two 252nd Kokutai planes and air to air bombs. Japanese Naval Air Forces on Iwo Jima used phosphorus air to air bombs to counter 7th Air Force B-24 Liberators.

Hasegawa

A6M5 Zeros above the B-24 formations would release their phosphorus bombs which would explode over the formations sending phosphorus bomblets in a 300 yard wide pattern down onto the path of the bombers. Each 32 kg bomb would hold 75 steel encased phosphorus bomblets.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

While very unsettling for bomber crews, the phosphorus air to air bombs were largely ineffective. More 7th Air Force B-24s were lost to ordinary flak than to phosphorus bombs.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

References:

1. Genda’s Blade: Japan’s Squadron of Aces – 343 Kokutai; Henry Sakaida & Koji Takaki (Classic Publications 2003)

2. Japanese Ace Tomokazu Kasai Dies at 94; Jon Guttman (HistoryNet, January 15, 2021)

Happy 100th Birthday Burton W. Jones!

It is not often that a family gets to celebrate the 100th birthday of a loved one. Very few ever make it to that age, and that fact makes it all the more reason to celebrate that accomplishment. On February 1st, the Jones’ family and the 506th Fighter Group family get to celebrate the 100th birthday of Staff Sergeant Burton W. Jones (USAAF ret), who was a ground crew member in the 457th Fighter Squadron.

Burt was born on February 1, 1921, Whitesboro, New York, to Arthur and Mary (Briggs) Jones. He graduated from Whiteboro High School on June 26, 1939, was ordered to report on August 24, 1942, for his pre-induction physical, and then on September 8, 1942, to begin his basic training.

Private Burton W. Jones (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Because of a mechanical aptitude, and work experience in a garage and the Savage Arms Company, Burt was transferred to the United States Army Air Corps and began training as a armorer, and would later also be trained as an aircraft mechanic.

His first squadron assignment was the 24th Anti-Submarine Squadron working on North American B-25 Mitchells at Westover Army Air Field. From there, Burt was transferred to the 843rd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. With the 843rd, he spent time at the Kearney Army Air Base in Kearney, Nebraska, then at MacDill Army Air Field near Tampa, Florida.

843rd BG(H) Ground Crew (Burton W. Jones via Priscilla Heburn/Evan Jones)

In May, 1944, then Sergeant Jones was informed that he had been transferred to the 457th Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group which had recently been formed and was in the process of organizing at Lakeland Army Airfield. At Lakeland, he was trained on how to service and repair the North American P-51D Mustang, and its in-line, liquid cooled Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

Sergeant Jones, and the rest of the ground echelon of the 457th Fighter Squadron took a troop train from Lakeland to Seattle, Washington. They arrived on Iwo Jima onboard the H.M.S Bloemfontein, a converted Swedish hospital ship. The long overseas journey started in Seattle with stops at Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and finally Iwo Jima.

Sergeant Burton W. Jones on Iwo Jima (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Burt began writing his memoirs at the age of 73. The following is what he wrote about his first night on Iwo Jima:

“Whether it was by providence or whatever, it was just our luck to hear some night fighters, Black Widow P-61 night fighting aircraft warming up on their strip. They were at the foot of Mount Suribachi on Motoyama air strip number one [South Field]. We soon got the word that the Japanese were coming in from Japan to bomb the island. You could hear the P-61s taking off. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes later when it looked like the 4th of July. Incendiary and tracer bullets were whizzing across the sky in every direction! I was going through our first of many bombing raids on Iwo Jima.”

After the war in the Pacific ended, Burt accumulated enough points to leave Iwo Jima by mid-October, 1945. He transitioned to Saipan, and during his short stint on the island, was assigned to the 882nd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on Boeing B-29s. Burt arrived back in the United States on December 3, 1945, returned home on December 13, 1945, and was honorably discharged from the United States Army Air Force on the same day.

Burton W. Jones at World War II Memorial (via Priscilla Heburn & Evan Jones)

Happy 100th Birthday Burton!

Special thanks to Burton’s daughter, Priscilla (Jones) Heburn, and his nephew, Evan Jones, for providing information and photos for this post.

Kit News: Lone Star Models’ 1/48 Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer (48723)

One plane that has been neglected by the mainstream injection molded model manufacturers is the Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer. Patrol bombers tend not to get a lot of love. While I often see the PB4Y-2 on a lot of modelers’ informal “wish lists” of kits they would like to see manufactured, that interest has not translated in a new injection molded kit being released.

This is not to say that a kit of PB4Y-2 has never been released. Matchbox released a PB4Y-2 in 1/72 scale way back in 1980. Revell reissued the kit in 2009, but the kit is seriously lacking by today’s standards.

After market manufacturers have stepped into to fill that void. Since Monogram’s release of its 1/48 scale Consolidated B-24J Liberator in 1976, several after market vacuform and resin manufacturers (Attic Aircraft, Concise Models & Graphics, Cutting Edge Modelworks, Koster Aero Enterprises, Wilde Sau Resin) have produced conversion parts to convert the Monogram B-24 kit into a PB4Y-2 Privateer. I have seen some really nice PB4Y-2 builds converted from the Monogram B-24 kit.

Mike West of Lone Star Models recently announced the upcoming release of a 1/48 scale full resin kit of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, with white metal parts, metal main landing gear struts, vacuformed clear pieces, and a large decal sheet. The price of the kit is listed at $290.00 which does not appear to be out of line since it is an all resin 1/48 scale four engine bomber.

Lone Star Models

Below are pictures from Lone Star Models’ website showing some of the resin, white metal and vacuformed kit pieces.

Lone Star Models
Lone Star Models
Lone Star Models

I have purchased several resin products from Lone Star Models over the years and have been impressed with the level of detail and the quality of casting.

If you are contemplating purchasing this kit, there are few things you need to know. First, Lone Star Models is a one man operation. Mike West does all of the product development, casting, order processing, and shipping. Because of a high demand for his products, he has to periodically shut off ordering on his website so that he can catch up with casting, processing, and shipping orders. If you are expecting a quick turnaround after ordering this kit, you might be disappointed.

Second, from time to time, this kit will not be available to order on Lone Star Model’s website (https://lonestarmodels.com/). As I am drafting this post, the kit is listed as “Out of Stock”, which means that Mike has sold the stock he has on hand. Once he has built back up his stock, it will become available to purchase. This is just one of the ways Mike has had to resort to so he does not fall too far behind. If you want to order this kit, you just have to be patient.

Since the kit has not actually been released yet, there have not been any on-line reviews as of yet.

A Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer kit has been on the top of my “wish list” for the last decade, and I have not seen any indication that any of the mainstream model manufacturers (Eduard, Hasegawa, Revell, Tamiya etc . . .) are even contemplating producing a PB4Y-2 in the foreseeable future. This may be a modeler’s only option for a complete kit for quite some time.