Modelling-ABC by Wilfried Eck
|Foreword: US Navy was not USAAF/USAF (never!).|
|On US Navy aircraft personal markings were not allowed (if applied not to regulations).|
|Repeat this for 100 times so you wont't forget it.|
USN and USMC aircraft had purely functional markings. Personal markings were officially banned. Excluding high ranking officers and some non official exeptions there wasn't even a personal aircraft. In a squadron there were more pilots than aircraft. Especially on aircraft carriers where operational losses reduced the number of available aircraft. The pilot flew the aircraft he was assigned to. One day maybe number 12, the other one number 5. Though Ensign George Bush mostly flew TBF number 2 the aircraft itself never carried "Barbara" inscribed below the canopy (his own statement). "Pappy" Boyington flew F4U Corsairs, but the photo showing him in number 86 wasn't his personal aircraft (he didn't have one). For the photo he just sat inside the next aircraft to him (his own statement).
The same goes for today. Names on the cockpit sill ("monikers") are applied by rank, the aircraft with the number "x01" being "assigned" to the squadron commander, "x02" to the executive officer, and so on. "x00" traditionally is for the air group commander (the first digit in a number shows the mission profile of a squadron, 1 and 2 fighters, 3 fighter bombers and so on). But what pilot actually flies a mission in 101 depends on his assignement of the day.
Markings part I- 1936 to 1941
Markings part II - 1941 - 1944
Markings part III - 1945
Markings Aircraft on Escort Carriers
Colours assigned to squadrons
Originally embarked infantry on US Navy ships the US Marine Corps ("leathernecks") today still is a specialised army branch of the US Navy, but unlike WW I or WW II very well equipped. As a speciality of the USMC every applicant for pilot training has to have a complete infantry training at first (from "grunt" to "mud mover"). Ranks are also different from Navy ones, duplicating those of the Army.
Marines homepage (type search by input): http://www.usmc.mil/
Marines history: http://www.usmc.mil/history.nsf/table+of+contents
Helicopter page: http://www.popasmoke.com/visions/
Marines page with lot of links: http://www.flymcaa.org/
Atoll halfway between the USA and the Far East (therefore its name). In WW II naming a battle of June 4th 1942 that proved to be crucical, Japan losing four aircraft carriers, 322 aircraft and with them most of their well trained pilots. This loss, though by pure coincidence (the Japanese carriers being hit just before launch of their aircraft) seriously impaired Japan's further advance, the known land bases being targets of US carrier attacks in the future. The loss of pilots was even worse, their replacements having to complete training prematurely and therefore in general being no equal to their Allied counterparts. The next staging point, Guadalcanal, proved to be the graveyard of the Japanese Imperial Navy air arm (see page G).
By directive of May 15th 1942 the thirteen red and white stripes on the rudder had been removed. All photos of this time show the rudder in upperside colour (Blue Gray). The general appearance of aircraft was very good though the size of the national insignia varied considerably. Aircraft were sprayed "Blue Gray" on all uppersides including the vertical stabiliser, undersides "Light Gray", damarcation wavy, sharp contours. As the upperside color wasn't specified, each factory came out with their own color, but contrary to many models "Blue Gray" looked according to its name. Neither was it plain gray nor light blue. Just blue-gray. See colours in German page "Originalfarben".
Japanese aircraft were in pristine condition (no chipped paint!), mostly in the usual greenish gray.
Creating miniatures of real or fantasy objects. In former times aircraft models were either created by paper or wood. Until the early sixties of the 20th century it was not uncommon to consider plastic modeling as a childrens occupation ("you just glue parts together"). To make plastic models different from pure toys (or wooden "masterpieces") plastic parts began sprouting rivets. The more the better. And sizeable ones! Then came the age of moving parts. A self respecting model had to have turning propellers and wheels as well as a retracting landing gear or else, a prominent manufacturer in this region being Monogram. Revell presented a 1/40 AD-4 Skyraider, where by moving the centrally mounted bomb the landing gear retracted; moving the elevators made the dive brakes pop out. Lindberg came out with working ejection seats and culminating in a very well working control stick in the TBF Avenger. The worst gadget I came on was the landing gear of a 1/50 Etendard by Heller. A gearwheel drive on the landing hook allegedly retracting the landing gear by means of threads and drums. It never worked. The hook broke off.
Scale was mixed during these times. In the US scale of the model seemingly depending on the size of the box, especially Revell producing very odd scales (though very good models as such). Lindberg, Monogram and Aurora came near 1/48 (accuracy sometimes being of second importance). In Europe Airfix and Frog ruled the market in 1/72 (certain Airfix kits being sold in plastic bags!), French kits from Heller were 1/50, German ones by Faller in 1/100 (rather crude, see page F in German part). Japanese kits in these times were rare items. Tamiya going for 1/50, LS for 1/72; Hasegawa appeared much later. There were some other manufacturers too, for instance Eaglewall in Great Britain offering 1/96 kits complete with glue and paint in little plastic bags, but gone long ago.
Paints were scarce in these days (the kits therefore having the colour of the original or what the manufacturer thought it to be). I remember mixing water paint with soap so it would stick to the surface. After this had dried models could even be handled.
Naturally all manufacturers concentrated on subjects which were easily sold. So there was a Me 109, a Spitfire, a Mustang and a Zero from the very beginning. Types not commonly known had to be scratch built. So a modeler taking his business seriously had lots of parts to take the needed propeller from this kit and the canopy from that (to be modified accordingly of course). Model magazines (Airfix Magazine being the forerunner) therefore dealed in great length where to cut, sand and fill to get somewhere near the desired model, the canopy being the greatest problem. If finished and representing the desired object the breast of the modeler swelled considerably, especially when admired by the not so lucky who didn't have the required propellers of a Gotha G IV (tips modified) in their collection of spare parts.
Today you have a vast assortment in every scale, kits being far more accurate. The modeler trying to show his skill having to resort to elaborate painting. Or buy some resin parts three times the price of the kit to show what the interior of the aircraft looked like. And so it comes most display models look alike. Heavily "weathered" with all service panels open.
Do modelers really have it better today?
Propulsion units to drive airscrews (by transmissions) or the aircraft as such (by jet exhaust). Either needed to create speed, this being necessary to provide lift and therefore carry you to Las Vegas.
In the German page some aircraft engines are shown with short descriptions. See page Originalfotos 9.