Tuesday, April 28, 2009


P-36A LT Harry Brown

This was my first attempt a building a Pearl Harbor aircraft. This is the old Monogram 1/72 P-36 Hawk kit from 1967. I had actually build it back in the 80's but I never finished it as I wanted to paint the model in natural metal and I screwed up on painting the Silver SNJ finish. So it sat in a box for many years until I had the urge to build it as a Pearl Harbor aircraft.

I had to locate most the parts and I bought a Squadron clear replacement window to replace the original one I lost. It isn't the best model I've build but it did start the passion for building and collecting Pearl Harbor aircraft.

This aircraft features LT Harry Brown's P-36A that was responsible for shooting down Japanese aircraft on Dec 7th 1941.

I do question the marking placements and some painting details that I got from the reference material. After collecting many photographs of Dec 7th aircraft I believe the markings on the tail should be black not white stencils. Also most photos of the aircraft national insignia on the wing put them on as one at the top and one on the bottom, not in four places. I could be wrong but I believe it's speculation and neither of the opinions can be proven right until we see a photo of the actual aircraft.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nakajima B5N2 Kate 1/72 Hasagawa

Although I mostly model US aircraft from Pearl Harbor, I was surprised to see this release at the Silicon Valley Kick Off Model Show 2009. Hasagawa is known for manufacturing short runs of previous released kits with new box art, decals and accessories. Hasagawa usually never promotes these releases and if you don't see it at the local hobby shop most likely you would not know that it even exists.

The original release of a Nakajima B5N2 (Kate) did come with decals for a Pearl Harbor B5N2 from the Hiryu. This reissue excludes those decals and includes the markings for two other Pearl harbor aircraft, one for the planner of the Pearl Harbor attack Commander Mituo Fuchida from the Akagi and markings for another aircraft from the Hiryu. Also included with this set is a three part resin bomb that should be used in place of the kit supplied torpedo.

Pro: Extra markings for two other Pearl Harbor aircraft, recessed panel lines, detailed engine, correct resin bomb.
Con: Interior OK, original decals for a third Pearl Harbor aircraft not included, thick windows (can be replaced by Squadron clear window).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

PBY-5 Catalina Academy 1/72

It's always great when a kit is released with decals for a Pearl Harbor aircraft and Academy's 1/72 PBY-5 Catalina Flying boat kit is such an example. Heck, the box even features a beautiful oil painting of a PBY flying over Pearl Harbor. This kit is a must pick up, with finely engraved panel lines, sharp features and markings for a Pearl Harbor aircraft.

If you have read about Dec 7th 1941, you would know that Kaneohe NAS was one of the worst hit that morning, with nearly all their PBY destroyed on the ground. Kaneohe NAS was home to three Patrol Squadrons, the 11th, 12th and 14th. Many pictures that you see of PBYs in flames in Dec 7th press photos are from Kaneohe NAS.

By 1941 most of the PBY were painted Navy Blue-Grey and if you cut one of the "1" off the "11" you will have 14-P-1. What is so famous about 14-P-1 is that it was one of the PBYs from Patrol 14 that engaged a Japanese C Submarine after the attack. With Lindberg on the eve of releasing a Japanese Pearl Harbor C Submarine in 1/72 you could build up an interesting display of two adversaries. Academy's PBY looks like a fantastic kit and is highly recommended.

PRO: Pearl Harbor Markings, highly detailed engine, recessed panel lines, large size for the scale, many aftermarket parts are available.
CON: Instructions don't state exactly what time period these markings are from, interior detail OK, tires are rubber and not solid wheel (can be replaced by True-Details wheels)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Steady Nerves & Stout Hearts

Names like Francis Hebal, Herbert Menges and Eric Allen JR may not automatically be easily recognized but you might already know their story. They were some of the US Navy Airmen from the USS Enterprise who flew into Pearl Harbor throughout the day on December 7th 1941. Flying SBD Dauntless and F4F-3 Wildcats they were unfortunate to fly through American and Japanese crossfire and many were shot down by friendly fire.

Steady Nerves and Stout Hearts by Robert Cressman & J Michael Wenger is their story. This 79 page black and white book documents their story on that fateful day in December. What is most valuable about this book is the the plane numbers, their pilots and crew and the fate of each aircraft are documented. Also there are many pictures of the actual aircraft that participated in the action with some aircraft photos taken within weeks of the attack.

The fate of each aircraft, pilot and crew is retold, some stories are humorous, like ENS Jim Daniels III landing Wildcat 6-F-5 at Ford Island but many more stories are painfully sad to read. The last chapter is also devoted to the Navy Airman who survived the ordeal and their later fate in WWII and after.

What is unique about Steady Nerves, Stout Hearts is that it isn't a broad brushed history of Pearl Harbor but a specific story about a handful of Navy Airmen who flew into history and beyond.

A must read if you are a Pearl Harbor modeler or a WWII historian.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

F4F-3 Wildcat Hobby Boss

Why has it been such a chore for model companies to release a proper F4F-3 Wildcat in 1/72 scale? Most every Wildcat model kit in 1/72 scale that have been released over the years have been the F4F-4 model. The major difference between the two versions? F4F-4 has folding wings and the F3F-3 doesn't. This can pose a problem as the Wildcats stationed at Pearl Harbor and the USS Enterprise on Dec 7th 1941 were F4F-3 Wildcats.

Hasagawa released a F4F-3 in 1/72 about 10 years ago but when one opened the box Hasagawa included the F4F-4 wings and asked the modeler to rescribe the wings in the F4F-3 version. So when I learned that Hobby Boss released a 1/72 Wildcat F4F-3 of I bought one immediately. Unfortunetley Hobby Boss include the F4F-4 wings which was a huge let down. Since this series of Hobby Boss aircraft is simplified for young builders the kit wing is one piece, it wouldn't have been too difficult to cut the mold for the F4F-3 wing. I should have a proper review of the finished kit in the markings of one of the six USS Enterprise F4F-3 Wildcat who were unfortunate to land on Ford Island on the evening of Dec 7th 1941.

Pro: Nice crisp Fusalag details, recessed panel lines fabric covered control detailed, Easy Build for younger modelers, excellent decals that can be rearranged to make Pearl Harbor marked aircraft, tray can be cut to accomidate lower fusalag anntana.
Con: WRONG WING, Over simplified construction, no interior details, No landing wheel details, solid body that doesn't recreate "floating" cockpit details.

P-36A Hawk Monogram 1/72

Although Monograms 1967 1/72 Hawk kit is quite dated it is the most easily available kit of the P-36A Hawk. Two of the Pearl Harbor Defenders 2nd Lieutenant Phil Rasmussen of the 48th PS and 2nd Lieutenant Harry Brown of the 47th PS used P-36A during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pro: Easily available, inexpensive, detailed engine, good fabric control details.
Cons: Must be modified from the export version that is included in the kit, raised panel lines, no detail in wheel wells, no cockpit detail.