Mark Rossmann is back with two 1/48 North American P-51D Mustangs from Tamiya and ICM. In this dual build, Mark covers both marking options for Mustangs of the 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; the early striped tail and the later solid tail.
Initially released in 1995, Tamiya’s 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang was a significant improvement over prior kits in the areas of accuracy, details, and engineering. Many of these kits have been built over the years and a lot show up on model forums. For beginners or novices with just basic skill sets, it can be built into a really nice kit worth sharing with the rest of the world. For those with advanced detailing or scratch building skills, the kit can be transformed into competition winning model. Even by today’s standards, it is still an excellent kit.
Mark has used the Tamiya kit to build 531 “Nip Nocker”, a P-51D-20-NA (Serial No. 44-63291) assigned to 1st Lieutenant Wesley A. Murphey, Jr. 1st Lt. Murphey shot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon), and damaged a Mitsubishi A6M Zero on the July 16, 1945 VLR strike mission to the Nagoya/Bay of Ise area. It is not known if “Nip Nocker” was assigned to another pilot in addition to 1st Lt. Murphey. Unfortunately, official squadron and group records do not go into that level of detail.
1st Lt. Murphey would continue his service to his country in the Air National Guard during which time he would attain the rank of Captain. He also served as a civilian instructor pilot for the United States Air Force, and ended his career at the Federal Aviation Administration. 1st Lt. Murphey passed away at the age of 89 on March 30, 2007 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
For his solid tail 457th FS Mustang, Mark used the ICM kit to build 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil-Toddie” (44-72557), a P-51D-20 NA. ICM’s 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang is basically the same kit as the Tamiya kit, and therefore, can be built into a very nice model.
Mark used the decals from AeroMaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 2 (48-795) for this build. A nice decal sheet, and the only after market decals for 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil-Toddie”. No other kit, in any scale, contains decals for this Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.
While this decal sheet has been long out of production, you can still find it on eBay from time to time.
“Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie” was first assigned to 1st Lt. John W. Winnen and 1st Lt. Philip G. Alston. The plane name “Hel-Eter” was a combination of shortened names of the 1st Lt. Winnen’s wife Helen and son Peter.
Two other pilots are known to have flown 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie”; 1st Lt. Warren Clayton and 1st Lt. Denny O’Hearn. I have not been able to find any records regarding if, and when 1st Lts. Clayton and O’Hearn were assigned to fly 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie”, but there is good evidence to suggest that was the case.
Warren Clayton wrote on the back of the above photo: “Hel-Eter, crew chief Sgt. Simon, and me. Good combination, Warren”. This strongly suggests that 1st Lt. Clayton was assigned to fly this plane.
However, as was common in other theaters of operation, a pilot might fly a plane was he was not assigned due to the availability of planes for a mission. A good example of this was 1st Lt. Chauncey Newcomb. 1st Lt. Newcomb was assigned to 514 “Erma Lou” with 1st Lt. Francis Albrecht, but scored his two aerial victories in 522 “BuzzBuddy”.
Thanks again to Mark Rossmann for sharing his dual 457th FS builds with us!
Our good friends in the Czech Republic at DK Decals have been busy producing new decal sheets, and one of the recent 1/32 releases focuses on P-51D/K Mustangs over the Pacific and Australia.
This decal sheet provides markings for a 458th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group P-51D-20-NA Mustang (44-72602) 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” flown by Captain Goldie Marcott.
Below is a very nice color photo of Captain Marcott kneeling on the wing of “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer”. The photo shows the twin wooden Uncle Dog antenna on the rear fuselage.
The fact that there are 20 mission markings and another name (“Julia’ll Fool Yer”) on the right side of the nose, suggests that another pilot was assigned to fly 575, but there are no records that I can find to either confirm or dispel this thought.
Below is a wonderful photo of the left side of the nose of 575. It not only shows the beautiful and graceful lines of the Mustang, but shows the small pin-up art in front of the name “My Madge” which is very nicely reproduced on this decal sheet.
Captain Marcott was the flight leader of “C” Flight of the 458th Fighter Squadron. His Crew Chief was Staff Sergeant Francis R. Sundbergh, and his Armourer was Master Sergeant Amil V. Wittenberger. He was not credited with any aerial victories or ground victories.
There is not a tremendous amount of information on Captain Marcott that can be gleaned from the internet. In looking through the 458th FS records, I was able to determine that Captain Marcott’s hometown was Crete, Nebraska, which is less than an hours drive from the author’s residence in Beatrice, Nebraska. The next step in my research will be to determine if there are any of Captain Marcott’s relatives in the Crete area.
I have also reached out to Master Sergeant Amil Wittenberger’s son, Robert, to gather additional information and photos on Captain Marcott, Staff Sergeant Sundbergh, and Master Sergeant Wittenberger. I really enjoy researching the pilots and their ground crew.
This is an very nice decal sheet and kudos to DK Decals for including the markings for Captain Marcott’s 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” on the sheet. If you are not interested in the markings for Captain Marcott’s Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, the sheet provides markings for several other Pacific Theater Mustangs such as Major William Shomo’s The Flying Undertaker/Snooks 6th”, and Lieutenant L. E. Curdes’ “Bad Angel”. This decal sheet is highly recommended for anyone interested in Pacific Theater Mustangs.
All of DK Decals’ sheets are very well researched, and they are quality decals that are easy to use. My hope is that they release a 1/32 decal sheet that is solely devoted to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs, just as they did in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.
This is AeroMaster’s first decal sheet dedicated solely to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. Four additional sheets on Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs would be subsequently issued by AeroMaster.
This sheet 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).
In addition, it provides markings for a 458th FS, 506th FG Mustang, 551 “Delta Queen”, flown by Captain J.B. Baker, Jr.
Originally issued in 1995, the decals are pretty accurate, but more accurate photo documentation has emerged to show there are omissions and errors on this sheet. Onto the planes, pilots and the decals.
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.
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.
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.
Major James B. Tapp (78thFS/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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, the kill and mission markings on the right side of Major Tapp’s Mustang are not contained on this decal sheet.
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”.
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.
Below 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.
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 this decal sheet does not provide the decals for the landing gear covers.
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.
Captain J.B. Baker, Jr. (458th FS/506th FG) – Captain Baker was the Flight Leader of “A” Flight of the 458th FS, and was assigned to a P-51D-20NA (44-72579) which was numbered 551, and he named “Delta Queen”.
Captain Baker was credited with one aerial victory, a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki which he shot down on a June 23, 1945 escort mission to the Nagoya and Kobe areas. He was also credited with a probable, a Mitsubishi JM2 Raiden during an strike mission against airfields in the Tokyo area, and two ground victories.
Missing from this decal sheet are the dive angle markings on the wings which were applied to all 506th Mustangs. This sheet also provides two markings for the plane name “Delta Queen”, one is red and one in yellow. While the general consensus is that the plane name is yellow, it is nice to have both options.
This decal sheet was designed and sized for the Tamiya kit. I am not aware if the decals for the dark blue stripes on the tail of “Delta Queen” will fit properly on the Airfix, Hasegawa, HobbyBoss, ICM, Meng, and Revell/Monogram kits.
This is a very nice decal sheet, but it is no longer in production and is difficult to find. It shows up on eBay every so often, and Ultracast has one in stock at an inflated price of $34.95. If you are wanting to build a 1/48 Iwo Jima VLR Mustang with one of these markings, I would recommend buying the Eduard’s Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima Limited Edition Kit (#11142). The decals in this kit include accurate markings for all of these planes (plus markings for 8 other planes).
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.
On February 1st of this year, the 506th Fighter Group Association helped celebrate the 100th birthday of Staff Sergeant Burton W. Jones, who was a ground crew member (mechanic and armorer) with the 457th Fighter Squadron. Staff Sergeant Jones was assigned to 541 “Kwitcherbitchin”, flown by Captains William B. Lawrence and Alan J. Kinvig.
Burton’s family was hoping that he would receive at least 100 birthday cards from family, friends and well wishers. Burton actually received over 300 birthday cards!
On October 25, 2021, we were informed by Priscilla Hepburn-Jones that Burton had passed away. Like other members of his generation, Burton returned from the war and became active in his community serving in many civic organizations.
On October 24, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation. Burton’s obituary can be found here: https://www.uticaod.com/obituaries/k0030474. Our prayers are with Burton’s family during this time of loss.
Robert A. Gourley was born on December 14, 1924, in Greer, South Carolina. Bob graduated from Marion High School in 1940, and entered into Davidson College in 1941 as part of the ROTC program. Like many others of his generation, his post-secondary education was put on hold during the time he served his country in World War II.
Not wanting to be placed into the infantry, Bob enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He earned wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona in 1944. In October of that year, 2nd Lieutenant Gourley was assigned to the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group shortly after the group’s activation at Lakeland Army Air Field. At Lakeland, the 506th FG was trained specifically to fly very long range missions.
When deployed to Iwo Jima, half of the squadron’s fighter pilots ferried their brand new P-51D Mustangs to San Francisco, where they were loaded on the escort carrier Kalinin Bay and set out for Tinian. The other half of the pilots, which included 2nd Lieutenant Gourley, took a troop train to Seattle, and then boarded the converted Swedish hospital ship, the Bloemfontein. They sailed from Seattle to Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and then finally to Iwo Jima.
Lieutenant Gourley would fly a total of 11 VLR missions to Japan, and would be promoted to the rank of Capitan before being honorably discharged. Upon returning home, Bob re-enrolled in Davidson College and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music.
Bob was a recognized community member faithfully contributing to his community in many ways. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and served as choir director for over three decades. He was also active in the local Kiwanis Club and the Masonic Lodge. Bob played in a community band well into into eighties, and enjoyed playing golf.
On September 4, 2021, we lost another member of the Greatest Generation. Bob was 96, and was the last living fighter pilot of the 462nd Fighter Squadron.
In 2014, Bob gave a video interview as part of the McDowell Legacy Program, “Reflections of the Past”. In his interview, Bob speaks of his entry into the United States Army Air Force, and missions flown from Iwo Jima to Japan. The YouTube video of Bob’s interview can be found here: https://youtu.be/P-HsME_vCKI.