Published in 2006 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., John W. Lambert chronicles the 15th Fighter Group starting with its activation in December of 1940 as part of the Hawaiian Air Force, to its baptism of fire in the defense of Pearl Harbor during the Japanese surprise attack on December 7, 1941, and ending with its sun setting VLR missions against the Japanese Home Islands from Iwo Jima in the last months of the war.
One hundred fifty two pages of text tells the story of the truly “Long Campaign” of the 15th Fighter Group, which was activated on December 1, 1940, in Hawaii, and ended the war on Iwo Jima in August, 1945. While the 15th FG got an early taste of aerial combat defending against the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the next 15 months would be spent on Hawaii defending against an anticipated second attack that never materialized.
The 15th FG’s opportunity to engage the enemy came again in March of 1943 when the group moved to Canton Island, and Lambert does a very nice job of describing the 15th’s moves across the Central Pacific (Baker, Makin, Milli, Jaluit, Abemama and Nanumea Atolls) , and their sporadic engagements with Japanese Naval Air Forces.
The book goes on to detail the Group’s return to Hawaii to transition into the Republic P-47D Thunderbolts in April of 1944. At this point in time, many of the pilots who had been in the Central Pacific forward areas had not got the opportunity of fire a single shot in combat. Lambert does a very nice job of capturing the frustrations of the pilots in not seeing any combat, and their eagerness to finally get in the fight.
That opportunity would come soon when the Group transitioned into the North American P-51D Mustang in November of 1944, and began training for VLR missions. The book really picks up during the Group’s transition to Iwo Jima, and finally their opportunity to engage Japanese Army and Navy fighters over the Japanese Home Islands.
This is a very well researched book, and Lambert does an excellent job in the early to mid chapters of the book setting forth the Group’s history when not a lot of combat is occurring. The appendices at the end of the book are very nice and helpful for those wanting to dig deeper into the individual members of the Group and their accomplishments. The only criticism I have of the book is that it does not have any aircraft profiles, color or otherwise. It would have been a nice touch to include color profiles of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, Bell P-39 Airacobras, Republic P-47D Thunderbolts, and North American P-51D Mustangs flown by the 15th FG, and their markings.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the 15th Fighter Group and the 7th Air Force/7th Fighter Command’s contributions in ending the war in the Pacific.
I have been researching websites that cover Japanese aviation in my quest to become better versed in the Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces that defended the Japanese Home Islands during the last months of the Pacific War. There are a number of websites on Japanese aviation just in the Japanese language. While I wish I was fluent in the Japanese language, acquiring the ability to read and speak a new language is most likely unrealistic at my age. There may be some truth to the saying you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Or it may be that the motivation the learn a new language is just lacking. Probably more of the later than the former.
One of the most comprehensive English language websites on Japanese aviation is the Aviation of Japan blog (http://www.aviationofjapan.com/). Started in March of 2008, the blog has a tremendous amount of information of interest to historians and modelers.
The blogger (“Straggler”) is Nicholas Millman, who is one of Britain’s leading researchers of Japanese military aviation and a member of the Pacific Air War History Associates. He is the author of three books in the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series; Ki-44 ‘Tojo’ Aces of World War 2 (100), Ki-27 ‘Nate’ Aces (102), and Ki-61 and Ki-100 Aces (114).
A significant number of posts focus on paint colors used on and in Japanese Army and Navy aircraft. This information provides greater clarity in an area that can best be described as confusing for modelers. The posts provide paint chips regarding the color, possible variations, and equivalents within recognized color standards. Mr. Millman was the expert that AK Interactive consulted when developing their Air Series acrylic paint sets for Japanese Army and Navy aircraft, and their Real Color acrylic lacquer equivalents.
In addition, Mr. Millman provides more in depth color analysis pieces in PDF that can be purchased on the website. They range from a 8 page analysis of Yellow Orange to a 46 page analysis of IJN Dark Greens, and some of the pieces are bundled. If you are striving for accuracy in your modeling of Japanese aircraft, these pieces are worth considering.
Other blog posts range from new kit reviews, nostalgic kit reviews, after market product reviews (decals, vacu-formed canopies and masks, and resin updates), book reviews, historical posts, and completed builds. Modelers can have their builds posted on the blog, and there are some truly fantastic builds presented.
There have been a tremendous number of posts to blog since 2008, and without doing the math, I would estimate that Mr. Millman averages around one post per week. To assist modelers and historians, there is a search function that will allow you to go directly to the subject you are researching. Very nice touch.
This is a fantastic blog for any modeler interested in Japanese aviation. Mr. Millman is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject and is very quick to respond to inquiries. Definitely a blog worth following.
Published in 2006 by Osprey Publishing as part of their Aviation Elite Units series, this softbound book has 128 pages and 30 color aircraft profiles. Written by noted aviation historian and author, Carl Molesworth, the book focuses on the air war over Japan as fought by the 15th, 21st, and 506th Fighter Groups after their arrival on Iwo Jima through the end of World War II. The text is supplemented with numerous photographs, many from the private collections of pilots who flew the dangerous and grueling VLR missions.
As is common with Osprey aviation titles, aircraft profiles by Jim Laurier are included. The profiles are very nicely done and equally cover all nine squadrons of the three groups.
The following aircraft are included in the profiles:
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-64015; 15 Squirt, flown by Col. James O. Beckwith, CO of 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63483; 67 Tom Kat, flown by Maj. Gilmer L. “Buck” Snipes, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63438; 77 San Antonia Rose, flown by 2nd Lt. C. Douglas Reese, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63483; 67 Stinger VII, flown by Robert W. “Todd” Moore, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63822; 150 Lil Butch, flown by Cap. Walter H. “Sam” Powell, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63972; 185 Black Rufe, flown by 1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63619; 169 Danny Dawgmeat, flown by 1st Lt. Harry M. Tyler, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63973; 100, Jeanne VIII, flown by Maj. James M. Vande Hey, 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63353; 124 Button-II, flown by 1st Lt. Doyle T. Brooks, Jr., 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72641; 104 Sweet Rosalee, flown by 2nd Lt. Joseph P. Gutierrez, 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63755; 200 Miss Gene V, flown by Maj. Fred A. Shirley, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63719; 202 Little Maggie, flown by 1st Lt. Victor F. Kilkowski, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63898; 208 “AbORTion”, flown by Cap. Jack K. Ort, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63451; 227 Mary Alyce/My Miss Moe, flown by 1st Lts. Robert J. Lowers and John E. Montgomery III, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63733; 250 Dede Lou, flown by Maj. Paul W. Imig, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63756; 254 Sharpie, flown by 1st Lt. Robert C. Sterritt, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63975; 256 Fertile Myrtle, flown by 1st Lt. Clarence H. “Bud” Bell, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-73623; 300 My Achin! Ass, flown by Maj. Harry C. Crim, Jr., 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63781; 305 Shrimp IV, Cap. Charles G. Betz, 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63934; 313, flown by 1st Lt. John F. Galbraith, 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72557; 527 HEL-ETER, flown by 1st Lts. John W. Winnen/Philip G. Alston/Warren Clayton/Denny O’Hearn, 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63291; 531 “Nip ‘Nocker”, flown by 1st Lt. Wesley A. Murphy, Jr., 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72854; 540 Kwitcherbitchin, flown by Capts. William B. Lawrence, Jr. and Alan J. Kinvig, 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72607; 555 Madam Wham-Dam, flown by Maj. Harrison E. Shipman, 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72561; 552 Mrs. Beak, flown by 1st Lt. Edward H. Mikes, Jr., 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72558; 556 The Boll Weevil/“A Neat Package”, flown by 1st Lt. Bennett C. Commer and 2nd Lt. Henry J. Seegers, Jr., 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72547; 600 Tallahassee Lassie, flown by Maj. Thomas D. DeJarnette and Lt. Col. Harley Brown, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72588; 616 Shanghai Lil, flown by 1st Lts. Darrell S. Bash and Edward J. Linfante, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72587; 619 Hon. Mistake, flown by 1st Lts. James R. Bercaw and William G. Ebersole, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72855; 643 Providence Permittin’, flown by 1st Lts. Allen F. Colley and Leonard A. Diets, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.
This is an excellent reference book and a great read. Highly recommended and a must have if you are interested in the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups or the air war in the Pacific theater of operations.
This book is still being published and can be purchased directly from Osprey’s website (https://ospreypublishing.com/), or from any number of on-line book sellers. If you are not a page turner, it can also be purchased as an eBook in either an ePub or PDF format from Osprey’s website.
As modelers, we have differing motivations as to why we build models. Some build out of the sheer enjoyment of building and completing a model without concerns about accuracy of details or markings. My twin brother (yes, there are two of us), out of boredom from being at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, built a 1/72 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress for his first model. He enjoyed the experience enough that he bought a 1/48 Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang for his second build. Concerned about accuracy of the models he is building, or the decals he has used? Not in the least. He just enjoys completing a build.
On the other end of the spectrum you have modelers who strive for ultimate accuracy in not only detail, but also in the markings they use. The amount of detail added to their models (photo etch, resin and scratch built parts) and their ability to correct errors in shapes and contours is simply amazing. I wish my skills were at that level.
Everybody else falls somewhere in between. I am included in this vast middle ground of desires and abilities. What has drawn me to modeling is my love of World War II aviation, and the history of the pilots, planes and the different combatants. For those of us that love the history behind the planes we are building, good reference sites are a must.
There is a lot of information at a person’s fingertips regarding the United States Army Air Force groups that operated off of Iwo Jima. Some of that information can be found at a couple of websites, and other information takes a few more steps and a little more time to access, but nothing that takes a tremendous amount of time.
The Seventh Fighter Command website (https://www.7thfighter.com) covers all of the fighter groups that were stationed on Iwo Jima. It covers the 15th, 21st and 506th Fighter Groups (P-51D Mustangs), the 414th Fighter Group (P-47N Thunderbolts), and the night fighter squadrons (P-61B Black Widows). The 414th Fighter Group did fly VLR missions in the Republic P-47N Thunderbolt in the last few weeks of the war in the Pacific.
While the website has a large collection of photos, including many of the United States Army Air Force’s collection for the 7th Fighter Command from the National Archives, the real resource is its webmaster, Mark W. Stevens. When I first became interested in the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Groups, the 7th Fighter Command website was the first website I found, and Mark was the first person I reached out to in my quest to learn more. Over the years, Mark has acquired a tremendous amount of information and photos regarding the 7th Fighter Command. Mark has always been helpful, and willing to share his information and resources. If you have questions regarding the 7th Fighter Command, or are researching a specific plane or pilot, Mark is the person to contact. Mark’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Like Part I, Part II of Kagero’s “Fighters over Japan” is a softbound book with 34 pages. However, instead of covering Japanese Army Air Force and United States Army Air Force fighters as Part I did, Part II focuses mostly on Japanese Navy and United States Navy fighters. In addition, there are only 15 aircraft profiles, but each profile shows both sides of the aircraft, a top view, and at least the undersides of the wings.
There are four aircraft profiles of USAAF fighters in Part II, but the only Iwo Jima VLR Mustang included is 300 “My Achin!” Ass, flown by the CO of the 531st FS, Major Harry C. Crim.
Again, like Part I, what this book lacks in meaningful text describing the air war over Japan in the last few months of the Pacific War, is made up in the fantastic color aircraft profiles by Polish artist Janusz Swaitlon.
The 15 color profiles in the book cover the following aircraft:
Mitsubishi A6M5c Model 52 Hei Zero, No. 03-09, Serial Number 32374, flown by Joto Hiko Heiso Takeo Tanimizu of 203rd Sento Hitokai.
Mitsubishi A6M5a Model 52 Ko Zero, No. YoD-126, Serial Number unknown, flown by Shoi Sadaaki Akamatsu of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).
Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-152, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Susumu Ito of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).
Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. 352-20, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Yoshihiro Aoki of the 1st Hikotai, 352nd Kokutai.
Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-1183, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Ei Fukuda of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).
Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden Kai Model 21 Ko, 343-B-30, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Yoshishige Hayashi, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included).
Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-A-15, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Naoshi Kanno, 301st Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai.
Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-B-03, Serial Number unknown, flown by Hiko Heisocho Hiroshi Ohara, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included)
Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair, No. 167, BuNo. 57803, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Roger Hedrick, VF-84, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) (decals included).
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, No. 9, BuNo unknown, flown by Lt. Hamilton McWhorter, III, VF-12, USS Randolph (CV-15) (decals included).
Chance Vought Corsair IV, 115-X, KD 658, flown by Lt. Robert H. Gray DSC, No. 1841 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Formidable (decals included).
Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt, 42 “Passionate Patsy”, Serial No. 42-29091, flown by Lt. Ralph Barns, 310th FS, 58th FG, 5th AF.
North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, 300 “My Achin!” Ass, Serial No. 44-73623, flown Major Harry C. Crim, CO of the 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, 10 “Little Girl”, Serial No. 44-64124, flown by Captain Leroy Grosshuesch, 39th FS, 35th FG, 5th AF (decals included).
Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, 08 “Cheek Baby”, Serial No. 44-87996, flown by Lt. Durwood B. Williams, 333rd FS, 318th FG, 5th AF (decals included).
A very nice decal sheet is included which provides decals in 1/32nd, 1/48th, and 1/72nd scales. While decals for Major Crim’s 300 “My Achin!” Ass are not included, the decals include several JNAF fighters that participated in the defense of the Japanese Home Islands. One of those is the decals for Chui Ei Fukuda’s Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden, who is believed to have been shot down by Major James B. Tapp, CO of the 78th FS, on April 19, 1945.
Major Harry C. Crim – 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.
In an obvious publicity photo, then Captain Crim (left) discusses fighter tactics with Brig. General Ernest M. “Mickey” Moore, while Major DeWitt Spain listens in front of a 531st FS Mustang parked under the wing of a B-29.
Janusz Swaitlon – Janusz Swaitlon is a professional military history book illustrator specializing in aircraft profiles. You can purchase aircraft profiles from Mr. Swaitlon. I have purchased two aircraft profiles from him in the past; Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” (78th FS, 15th FG), and 1st Lt. William Sak’s 528 “Enchantress” (457th FS, 506th FG). He emailed me the digital files of the aircraft profiles, and I took them to a commercial printer and had them professionally printed. His aircraft profiles are top-notch. Check out his website at Janusz.swaitlon.eu. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Like Part I, this book is no longer in print, but you can still find it on Amazon at inflated prices.