Models keep coming up aces…

Last weekend was the P-47 Fighter Aces Symposium at the Hiller Aviation Museum, featuring four aces – Richard Fleischer of the 348th FG, Frank McCauley and Les Smith of the 56th FG, and David Thwaites of the 356th FG. It was an entertaining afternoon, and perhaps this nugget was the most interesting to come out of it: McCauley and Smith had been assigned the same flight and had flown many missions together, but this even was the first time they’d seen each other since 1944!

Unfortunately, we didn’t stage a model display at this symposium; I didn’t hear back from anyone about it, and so I decided to take this one off and go simply as a spectator. However, a couple people at the event asked me about the model display, since they’d enjoyed seeing it in the past, which is nifty incentive to work up a display for the next event, featuring Navy and Marine aces, on July 19 at the Hiller Museum (I’ll have names when they become available to me). I’d try to knock out a Corsair between now and then, but that would probably result in an extra-bent bent-winged bird, so I’ll fall back on my Alex Vraciu Hellcat instead!

That got me to thinking about the ace machines I have in my collection of built-ups. I’ve always tried to shy away from the over-done aircraft and leaned toward the “rank and file,” but I do have a big splash of aces in the case. To wit:

It’s pretty obvious why the aces command so much attention from modelers – they grabbed fame while flying and still command attention today, so people want to build their aircraft. Decal manufacturers respond to demand, so the aces are disproportionately represented in decal form. So that cycle continues. And, of course, a single-engine plane’s a quicker build than a multi-engine bomber or even a multi-place attack plane, so more fighters get built than any other type.
Here’s what the build queue at the workshop looks like right now:

  • Martin 167 Maryland (this week’s subject for work)
  • P-40E Warhawk
  • P-51D-5 Mustang
  • P-47D Thunderbolt
  • Fairey Firefly V

Of those, two are ace machines – the P-40E of Jim Morehead and (oddly enough) the Maryland of Adrian Warburton. So the pattern continues!

What proportion of aces ends up in your collection? And is it because the decals available happen to be aces, or do you seek out ace subjects for your models? I’d be interested to know.

Raising the Jolly Roger over San Carlos

Another aces symposium has been announced by the Northern California Friends of the Aces, this one on November 9 at the Hiller Museum in San Carlos. As was the cast last fall, this one will focus on Navy aces, and the focus is very sharp: the theme is Aces of VF-17 and VF-18, the “Jolly Rogers.” The men on the panel are scheduled to be Charles Mallory (10 kills), Billy Watts (8.75) , Bill Hardy (6.5), Ted Crosby (5.25) and Jim Pearce (5.25), all of whom were Hellcat aces. As always, the local club is planning a display; Cliff Kranz is building four Hellcats, he says, and he’s the kind of modeler who’s likely to finish them. I think we’ll do another Navy Aces display; that’ll give me a chance to break out my Alex Vraciu F6F-3 and the FM-2 of Joe McGraw (which I was supposed to be building for the navy aces event last October…!). If any other Bay Area modelers would like to participate, let me know.

The event’s at 12:15 at the Hiller Aviation Museum; for more information you can e-mail the Northern California Friends of the Aces.

Next Aces Symposium: August 31

Nothing could beat late August in Sacramento, could it? Unless it was late August in Sacramento on a concrete tarmac in the sun. Ahhhh!

Luckily, submitting yourself to those conditions would be purely voluntary on August 31. That’s when the Northern California Friends of the Aces are holding their next symposium, this one with P-40 aces at the Aerospace Museum of California. Barry Bauer is the curator there, and a scale modeler, and Phil Schasker, the president of the NCFA, is a friend, which has resulted in model displays at four different aces events now. This next one is scheduled to feature Bob Aschenbrenner, Jim Morehead, Joel Paris, Sammy Pierce and Lynn Jones. If you want to be part of the display, let me know–I’m already working on Jim Morehead’s P-40E, and anyone else with an ace’s P-40 is invited to attend and display. If you tell me whose plane you’re bringing ahed of time, I’ll make up a little display card for it (our displays are nothing if not informative!) These events are really great – how often do you get a chance to meet someone whose plane you’ve built as a model? Here’s a photo from the last one we did; that’s Barrie Davis and Art Fiedler, aces from the 325th FG, talking about the models (specifically, the decal sheet that has both of their planes on it – which they had never seen!).

Note Mike Woolson in the background – a faithful supporter of these things!)

If your tastes run toward blue planes, there’s another event on November 9 at the Hiller Museum in San Carlos, California for aces from Fighting 17 and Fighting 18, scheduled to feature Bob Coats, Billy Watts, Jim Pearce, Tilly Pool, Ted Crosby and Bill Hardy. Perhaps we can just go for a Navy thing there…

If you don’t want to be a part of the model display, but you still want to go, confirm a seat at (408)725-8095 or (925)609-9222 or e-mail the Northern California Friends of the Aces at

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