Mustang and Thunderbolts…

This week I switched allegiances from the P-40 to the P-51D. This Mustang ought to come out well, if only I can get enough time in to get her painted and get the decals on her. I’ve been away from her long enough to appreciate the build: Obscureco P-51D-5 tail, Obscureco P-51 wing with dropped flaps, Tamiya kit, Cooper Details interior. I’m going to add some photoetched rails to the side of the cockpit (a prominent feature; why don’t more detail sets include them?) and a vacuformed canopy in place of Tamiya’s silly two-piece sliding canopy. The prop is done, the wheels are done, and it’s mostly a matter of painting.

This model will become Lt. Bartolomeo Tenore’s “The Prodigal Son” of the 354th Fighter Group, and it’s largely devoid of trim except for the very large inscription under the exhaust stacks on the left side and the star-spangled blue band on the nose. (Does anyone have any biographical information on Tenore? I have precious little, and I’d like to flesh out the story of this pilot as I’m building the model.) This week, I hit the decalled band with flat coat and carefully masked the decals off with small bits of paper, then masked over them to preserve the blue nose while I painted the anti-glare panel and the rest of the model. It’s never easy, this natural metal stuff.

In the meantime, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of some photos from Ralph Sallee’s collection. Ralph lives up in Montana and was a member of the 379th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group, and he scored two kills on Boxing Day, 1944. He’s contributed some priceless material for the book I’m working on about the group, and these images may really help preserve the record – and maybe, If I can nudge certain people, result in some decals. Also this week, Sean McCleary, grandson of Lt. Ken McCleary, sent me a photo of his grandfather by his plane, hand-colored, by the looks of it. That plane appeared on the 1998 IPMS Nationals Decal sheet, by the way; “Wheelboy”/”The Tennessee Cannonball” was a P-47D-15-RE and was one of the many planes painted by George Rarey. Sadly, the site Damon Rarey kept that initially interested me in the group is gone, but I hope I can unearth more images of the real paintings on aircraft during my research.

Speaking of George Rarey, here’s a shot that Andy Anerson snapped back in 1944 of Rarey’s crew chief, John Benson, showing the mission markings applied to this Jug. Other group P-47s had similar markings – was Rarey painting those, too?




  1. Here are some more Rarey nose art pics!

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