Personal Markings appeared on aircraft of every nationality. They ranged from colorful stripes or accent marks, to lurid creations covering most of an air frame. The most typically American way of personalizing aircraft was nose art.
There are a number of interesting pitfalls to recreating such artwork. After the jump, I’ll look at one favorite example.
Almost every squadron had an artist or two who earned extra dollars by doing custom art, usually nose art, for the planes/crews in their squadron. When the 6th Night Fighter Squadron was based in Saipan in 1944 they had the services of Sgt LeRoy F Miozzi, a gunner with the squadron. He is responsible for several spectacular creations, I hope to present a few of them in the years to come.
My first example of his work is “Nightie Mission”. This aircraft has been profiled countless times in books since the war, usually featuring a blue clad beauty. Since most wartime photography was black and white, no one knew any better. But several years back, Warren Thompson wrote the Osprey book “P-61 Black Widow Units of World War 2” and he was able to get a hold of Mr. Miozzi. He set the record straight on several of his paint jobs, including his custom pink color that he used for Nightie Mission.
To this day, this aircraft is a popular subject for after market decal printers (no surprise!). But blue remains the most common color for the gown. So I chose this Superscale Decal sheet because the artwork looks most like that described by Mr. Miozzi. And I caused myself another problem that I did not expect. Army Air Force camouflage orders required Insignia Yellow serial numbers on camouflaged aircraft. So I used the nice yellow numbers on the sheet and thought nothing of it.
Funny thing though. When the first Black Widows were delivered the Army Air Force was in the process of writing a new order for night flying aircraft, and shortly, the Black Widow would indeed be all black as its name suggested. Part of that new order included red serial numbers, as this was known to have lower visibility in the dark. Northrop was forward thinking enough, and casual enough about Army Air Force regulations, that those first few P-61s delivered in Olive Drab, received the red numbers that would be required in the not yet issued night colors order. I’ve seen the color photographs to prove it. Doh.
This subject is from the Monogram kit. This is another of those 1970s vintage kits. It has good detail, and is a good likeness of a P-61. But it has fit problems, I again used a lot of filler and did a lot of sanding. A couple of funny things about this kit. It is clearly meant to display the canopies and port engine cowling wide open. Wouldn’t want to hide all that nice detail! Well, I’m more interested in the clean look, so much time was spent trying to finesse (or force!) parts into a “buttoned up” condition. I’m mostly satisfied with the result. Except for the cowl flaps. For some reason, the kit’s starboard side cowl flaps are molded open, while on the port side they’re closed. It makes me laugh to think of the thousands (tens of thousands!) of Black Widow kits built all over the world that feature a well ventilated starboard engine but a closed up port one.