Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa

The first American ace of World War II scored his fifth kill before his homeland was even in the War.

Let’s take a look at a significant, if lesser known accomplishment.

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Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2

By Spring of 1942 the first mass produced variant of the Bf 109 “G” was entering combat service.

Let’s take a look at one from that year, and an important fighter pilot.

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Avro Lancaster B Mk I

The Lancaster is another of the great, iconic aircraft of World War II. Also the last of the major Allied “heavies” that I haven’t featured yet at this site.

Let’s take a look at this very important British bomber.

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Posted in Bomber - Strategic, Britain | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Theme Build 5


It seems obvious to have a Theme Build of all one type of aircraft. And there’s a few types I have many examples of. I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I have so many Mustangs I hardly know what to do with them all. I have also have large numbers of Thunderbolts, and Warhawks, Bf 109s, Zeros, Spitfires and even Wildcats. So why did I chose Spitfire for my first type-based Theme Build?

Blame Eduard.

The Czech model company Eduard is currently putting out just exquisite quality kits. Beautiful detail and excellent fit. But more to the point, for some reason, they like issuing what they call “Dual Combos”. This puts two similar, if not identical kits in a single box. Often paired in an intriguing theme too. Combine this with the fact that until Eduard got to it, we really didn’t have a decent late-Merlin Spitfire in kit form (Mk VIII, IX or XVI). Or a Mk Vc. Or even a Mk II. It meant there was a gaping hole in my stash for certain marks of Spitfire until Eduard came to the “rescue”! Its really been easier for me to resist as they’ve recently released Mustangs, Zeros, Bf 109s… All of those previously existed as modern, nicely detailed kits. Okay, maybe one here or there if they did interesting markings and sub-variants (! But I could normally hold out for the single kit of those other types!).
But I seem to have acquired several interesting Dual Combo Spitfire boxings. You all may have noticed pairing up the same type doesn’t normally fit the way I work. But for a theme build it makes perfect sense.

So here we go, my first theme build featuring a single aircraft type. For the record, the four aircraft in this theme will be a Spitfire, a Spitfire, a Spitfire, then finish off with a Spitfire. Now if I can just choose which interesting “Dual Combos”! Its safe to say when you see the first Spitfire completed, the next one will be closely related. I would also add, the Eduard kits, even though they are single engine fighters, are a little more complicated than most other brands. So these will likely go longer than three weeks each. Although maybe by the fourth one I’ll be finding my rhythm…

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Panzer III Ausf.N

Panzer III is one of those weapons that went from state of the art, to obsolete over the course of the War.

Let’s take a look at the final form of this medium tank.

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Posted in Armor, Germany | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Republic P-43A Lancer

Among the less known types of the USAAF in World War II. Let’s take a look at an aircraft that was important as a development, if not for actual combat.

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Thunder Over Michigan – 2022

I’m running a little late on this one for this year. The one drawback to getting my wife’s help with taking better pictures than I could ever do, is then we need to find time to sort through and save the right ones! But I do have some good ones to share this year from the Air Show on July 16 and 17.
A couple things to mention about the show, it is held at Willow Run Airport every year and proceeds go to support the Yankee Air Museum. They have gotten much better in recent years about having a more “packed” event. Once the flying starts, it really goes non-stop through the end of the show. Food service seemed better organized this year than it has been. That’s all good.
They also stuck with the “drive-in” format. This is more mixed. I love having our vehicle right there with us the whole time. Its so much easier to bring along everything we might need or want during the day. No drama walking back to, and locating your car after. Especially when rain is in the forecast, its just better in almost every way. But I am very unhappy with the price points. The show is broken into two halves, two shows a day of about 2 1/2 hours each, at over $200 for each. The whole day is close to $500 for one carload. As I figure it, you’d need six people to make that a bargain. And some people do! But we didn’t, and even though I had a ton of fun I’m not sure I can justify this every year. Seriously its cheaper for me to drive to Dayton or Battle Creek for their shows. Now the good news is, Yankee Air Museum is a good cause, and the people are easy to work with. One of my tickets was “free” this year because of a short show I went to earlier this year that was completely rained out (tickets say such recompense will not be made, so bonus!). But I can’t really believe its even that profitable for them. The first show in particular (with no Blue Angels, but an F-16 demo instead) had A LOT of empty parking spots. I would guess over half empty. I know last year there were a lot of empty slots, even as the Museum boasted “sold out”; so I would guess they had corporate sponsors picking up the unsold tickets. Not sure if they can count on that every year? I hope they review this process before next year and consider some more affordable options.

The day started with this M18 Hellcat racing up and down the display area flying the Flag for the National Anthem. This is a compact tank destroyer, the fastest AFV of World War II. The drivers manual includes the warning “may be difficult to control above 60 mph on paved surfaces”. Dang. Now I want another Hellcat…
Also during the opening, Navy “Leap Frogs” jumped from a Sea Dragon helicopter to enter with the flag.
The first big act of the day was a performance by Collings Foundation’s F-100D Super Sabre. They boast as the only flyable Super Sabre in the World. It was fun to see this Cold Warrior. First airshow I ever saw as a kid had the Thunderbirds in this type (used through 1968).
Hurricane Mk XII put on a nice demo.
As did a Kittyhawk Mk III. I don’t recall seeing the colorful Kiwi South Pacific scheme on a warbird before.
The two then joined up and gave us some more low passes.
Climax of the morning show was an F-16 demo. Time for some serious noise!
Yankee Lady, Yankee Air Museum’s own B-17G was up on and off all day.
Nice flying demo by Spitfire Mk IX.
Quartet of warbirds flew together for a while. First time I’ve seen a Bf 109G in flight. Except it sort of isn’t. It was built in Spain as an Ha 1112. Then rebuilt to have a correct “G” model’s cowling. No Db 605 engines were available so its powered by an Allison V-1710. The Fw 190F is a new build, completed in 2019 and powered by an R-2800 (BMW 801s are also in short supply!)
“Georgie’s Gal” is a beautiful B-25J belonging to Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Different artwork on the two sides of the nose.
deHavilland Vampire put on a nice show! First time I’ve ever seen one fly. This is a first generation jet fighter, the second in RAF service and was being readied for service as WWII ended.
Blue Angels always put on a terrific show.
My favorite picture of the day!
Posted in Air Show, Museums | Tagged | 4 Comments

Island Infernos by John C McManus

This is book two of John C McManus epic trilogy on the US Army in the Pacific War, the sequel to “Fire and Fortitude”. That makes it a bit of an oddity, no doubt the Pacific War is usually about the Navy and Marines. Army history usually means Europe.

Yet the scope of Army involvement in the Pacific is actually huge. Best known would be MacArthur and his war in the South Pacific. As Volume Two here is all about 1944, this starts in New Guinea with a series of battles north and west up the northern coast of that huge island. Well before the end of 1944 New Guinea had become a backwater, so really this is the climax of that massive campaign.

There is also a fair amount here about China. Joe Stillwell and Frank Merrill may be the best known names in this part of the book. This would be warfare on a shoestring. Merrill’s Marauders (5307th Composite Unit) made quite a name for themselves with fierce combat in Burma. This theater involved very few resources, which led to the Marauders being used and used up. 1944 is also the year China lost most of its influence in the ongoing War effort. It was nearly impossible to make anything happen there, and Chaing Kai-shek was more interested in the civil war he knew was coming. This last finally led to less investment from Washington and the whole theater getting less involvement.

There is a full chapter devoted to the POW experience. Again, this is about 1944 so apart from some shuffling around between camps most prisoners were simply trying to survive it out at this point.

Finally, the Central Pacific gets a fair amount of attention. The previous volume had dealt with more of the Solomons campaign, but this has the Marshall Islands, Marianas and Angaur. The Marianas especially is a big chapter, largely due to the big controversy of the Marine General in overall command (Holland Smith) relieving an Army Division commander (Ralph Smith). No surprise, as an Army history this book is much more sympathetic towards Ralph Smith. But I would add, that seems to be the more recent trend of it; the relief seems to have a product of impatience and incomplete information.

1944 also meant the Central and South Pacific Campaigns finally coming together in the Philippines. Just Leyte here, subsequent actions, big actions on Luzon and elsewhere in the archipelago will be in the trilogy’s final volume. But it is particularly interesting seeing some of the stage set for those bigger battles. Also interesting to have the focus here on ground operations, no surprise I usually read naval and air.

Overall I would rank this as an excellent and thorough history. Every corner of the conflict seems well explored. Major personalities are looked at closely and how the Army operations tie into the “big picture” of the Pacific War is quite well covered. I will look forward to Volume Three
I do have one big complaint though, the writer gets very hung up trying to apply modern sensitivities to things. He frequently judges actions and comments as a 21st century academic. It makes me laugh, and steam, when he goes off on the insensitivity and “dehumanizing” practice of calling people “natives”… Oh brother, what have we come to. I guess I’ll have to stop calling myself an Illinois native. This hypersensitivity, and even worse, applying one’s own understanding of words and assuming the worst of people who are no longer even around to defend themselves (or tell you how it really was!) just staggers me. I truly am worried for what is being taught as “history” anymore. My big fear is a latent disrespect of those who went before us. And this is creeping into what is a military history, by a man who clearly loves the subject matter.

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Churchill Mk VII Crocodile

The heaviest tank used by the western Allies, the Churchill Infantry Tank proved very useful in spite of some notable deficiencies.

Let’s take a quick look at an important part of the British arsenal.

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Posted in Armor, Britain | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Theme Build 4 – Complete


This group all represented captured fighters(ish). From very early until shortly after the War.
These were all fairly simple builds, only the Do 335 got a little complicated, but that was mainly due to a more involved finish (natural metal AND translucent paint covering previous markings).

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3

Dewoitine D.520

Mitsubishi A6M2

Dornier Do 335A-12

I currently have enough captured aircraft I’d like to do that I can revisit this theme one more time. But it will be a while before I get back to it.
I’ll build a couple of tanks this summer before I return with a new theme.
Coming soon… Spitfire

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