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Dana Bell

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About Dana Bell

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    Arlington, Virginia

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  1. Mosquito Photo Help?

    Hi Steve, Your third photo shows the group commander - Leon Gray - with his aircraft. As Christian noted, the spacing and orientation are slightly different in your second photo. All I can read is "Pilot Maj xxxx xxx xxxxx." Back when I was trying to track the 25th BG's missions (1977?), I recorded the date, mission type, and serial of each aircraft, but neglected the crew names and targets. If you can contact the USAF historical research agency at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, someone there may be able to check the eight mission reports for you - surely the pilot whose name appears on the aircraft must have flown at least ONE of those missions. The dates that you need to review are 3, 6, 10, 12, 22, 29, and 30 March 1945, and 18 May 1945. The Skywave was flown on 25 March. I don't know if you can see them in your shot, but that same image has eight white clouds with red thunderbolts to represent the eight Bluestocking missions. If there was any sort of mission symbol for the Skywave mission, I see no evidence of it. The name on the right side has always been an issue. Jeff Ethell came up with the slide, and my copy is a generation removed from his. The first letter is almost certainly a stylized capital "P" - but the top of the letter wraps around and stops just short of the middle of the character, so it could be a really strange "T." Next is an "a," then what looks like an "m" with an odd wrinkle in the border above it, then what seems to be an "e" (with "c" also possible). The next letter is partially on the edge of the nose glazing, partially on the glazing itself, and looks like an "l" with an odd wrinkle at the top - almost the number "1." The last two characters are completely on the glazing, an difficult to read because of the light shining through. First is almost certainly an "i," and the last is another "a." Jeff read this as "Pamelia" - even though neither of us had heard of such a name before, but a quick check of Google today (it didn't even exist back then) reveals that is is still a very common name. A French company (was it Skywave? That would have been a coincidence!) released a 1/72nd conversion kit for the Airfix Mosquito many years ago - they included decals for this bird, but their name looks like "Thusifer" to me. I'm not sure if anyone else does any version of the decals. I look forward to seeing your completed model - the 25th has always been my favorite WWII unit, and I get a kick out of any build of any of their aircraft. Cheers, Dana
  2. Mosquito Photo Help?

    Hi Steve, The aircraft was with the 653rd Light Weather Recon Sq, received by the unit on 6 Dec 1944. It flew only eight operational Bluestocking weather recon missions (with the first on 3 March 1945) and a single Skywave Loran calibration mission (on 25 Mar 45). I'm not certain what the aircraft was used for the rest of the time. The WX was the squadron code, with the F the individual aircraft code. The underwing markings weren't added until after VE day, though the individual letter was carried on the tail during operations. No luck on additional photos - I've got the two you showed, but I still can't read the text on the left side of the nose. BTW, I suspect the aircraft never carried any form of invasion stripes. Cheers, Dana
  3. Question on the prop on P-40B on Pearl Harbour Dec 41

    Hi Guys! There were two types (and colors) of prop painting, and both were seen on early P-40s. For antiglare purposes, the aft face was painted Maroon - and never on the forward face. You'll usually see the application stops a ways from the hub, not covering parts of the prop that would be blocked from the pilot's view by the forward fuselage. (I suspect this was where the Japanese learned to paint their props maroon.) The Maroon was NOT painted on the props of Tomahawks bound for the UK. The other dark prop painting was for camouflage purposes, and began to be introduced in 1940. To cut the reflection of a spinning prop in flight, the entire prop blade was painted flat black or (in rare cases) Instrument Black - a satin finish black used on instrument boards. Yellow tips were eventually added as a safety color to both types of prop, though they were rarely seen on the NMF/Maroon props. I can't say I've seen much use of Maroon by modelers, but every now and then you'll find the color in a contemporary color photo or an old wooden model. Cheers, Dana
  4. Grumman Duck photo with emblem of unit - which unit?

    Hi J-W, That's VS-64, an inshore patrol squadron based on Halavo in the Solomons when the photo was taken. The figure is a red turtle in a blue-bellied black shell with white wings; he carries a black spyglass and a stands atop a black bomb; the whole insignia is on an orange-yellow oval. (I painted this one up for a book, so PM me if you can't find it on line and I'll send you a j-peg.) VS-64 was flying Kingfishers at the time, and there were very few J2F-4s. One had the number "1" behind the cockpit; I suspect this one has a "2" - but that's just a wild guess... Cheers, Dana
  5. Glass panels in lower fuselage on Grumman Wildcats?

    Hi Thud4444, My favorite secondary source is the Aircraft Pictorial book: https://www.amazon.com/Aircraft-Pictorial-No-F4F-Wildcat/dp/B007RXXGZE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514828982&sr=8-1&keywords=dana+bell+f4f To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with the author, but he seemed to do his homework on that one. Despite the memories of a pilot or two, it was impossible to see the landing gear from the Wildcat cockpit. With his head fully aft, the pilot had a 13-degree view of the world below him. If his vision was extended an additional 5 degrees forward, he would - at best - be able to see the aftermost tread of the tires on fully extended gear. Didn't happen because it couldn't happen... I admit that I haven't done as much work on the P-38, but I've yet to see any downward windows in that aircraft. Martin Caiden tended to play a bit loose with the facts; I suspect that in Fork-Tailed Devil he was confusing the reflective mirrors set inboard of the nacelles to check on the gear retraction/extension. I spent two years researching the Corsair at the US National Archives - every document referred to the ventral window as the bombing window. (Because of the problems with carbon monoxide leaks, there were a LOT of documents referring to that window.) Having sat in a Corsair or two, I can assure you that there was no way to see the landing gear through the bombing window. Tom Wildenberg's well researched Destined for Glory describes the Navy's mid-1930s decision to hang bombs on all its fighters to suppress the anti-aircraft guns on enemy ships, giving dive bombers and torpedo planes a better chance of hitting their targets. The bombing window gave the pilot a better view when deciding to attack. Cheers, Dana
  6. Glass panels in lower fuselage on Grumman Wildcats?

    Hi guys, While there were probably many uses for the windows, they were officially listed as bombing windows. Cheers, Dana
  7. MTO B-25J Colour question

    Hi guys, I borrowed the original of "6S" from Pete Bowers several decades ago; although it may seem blue in this reproduction, it was actually OD. Cheers, Dana
  8. MTO B-25J Colour question

    Hi Troy, I had a very different image, and there was no question that the vertical tail was blue. Cheers, Dana
  9. MTO B-25J Colour question

    When the question of the 319th's tail colors came up many years ago, I asked Esther Oyster, a historian with the 319th's reunion association. Esther found no one who remembered black or white, but she did produced a beautiful color shot of one 319th B-25 with the cobalt blue tail. (Wish I still had a copy of THAT one!) The 319th certainly began repainting the tails of their A-26s in the Pacific, using the same blue. That didn't mean Roger was wrong in the C&M title - over the years, he has been proven right far more often than not! While the reunion group didn't remember the black, they didn't remember the white either. USAF photo 113601ac shows an OD 319th B-25J (43-3636, #67) over Vesuvius with a white-painted vertical tail. As for the transfer of a blue-tailed 319th Mitchell to the 340th, it certainly makes sense. The only question is: where did the 340th get the paint to over the old 319th battle numbers? Cheers, Dana
  10. Vought O2SU Kingfisher....surely a dumb question

    A few more details have come up since I wrote that piece for HyperScale. All OS2U-1s were delivered with colorful pre-war schemes and Vought floats and were assigned to ships. More OS2U-2s were ordered, a few with colorful pre-war schemes, the rest in camouflage. Those assigned to ships received Vought floats, those assigned to shore duties were issued Edo floats. The Vought floats did not perform well at sea, and were replaced by Edo floats soon after camouflage was introduced. (So anyone wanting to use an uncamouflaged scheme will need the Vought floats.) All OS2U-3s that were delivered with floats received the Edo versions. (Many -3s were shore-based trainers or assigned to inshore patrol squadrons, and were delivered without floats.) I hope this helps when matching color scheme to an after market float. Cheers, Dana
  11. Hi Torbjorn, I'll try to keep this simple, since Insignia Red was a very complicated story during WW2. There were four insignia reds to contend with: -- Glossy Insignia Red - the ANA color was not changed during the war, and was sometimes used on camouflaged aircraft -- Flat Army Insignia Red - still fairly bright, but not just a matt version of the glossy color -- Non-Specular Navy Insignia Red - another bright, though matt, color, different from the previous two -- British dull Roundel Red - much more of a brownish brick red In the 1942 ANA camouflage paint agreements, the Army color was to be dropped, the Navy color was to be retained for safety and experimental purposes, and the British color was to become the standard insignia color. This last part was an easy agreement, since the Americans had just decided to drop the use of red in their insignia. When the ANA camouflage chips were printed in 1943, the British color was called "Dull Red" and the Navy color was called "Insignia Red." It was usually the Navy color that turned up when red was reintroduced in the new barred insignia in spring 1943 - I've never seen a photo that I was convinced showed the use for the British color, and the Army may have used its own shade (just because they tended to pay lip service to the ANA paint agreements). In 1944 ANA Dull Red was renamed Insignia Red, while the bright, ex-Navy Insignia Red was renamed Bright Red. While a trained eye (Nick, are you there?) might see one shade as slightly bluer, none of them really looked purple to my eye. But since all sorts of paint were used when available, feel free to use the model paint that you find most satisfying. Cheers, Dana
  12. Hi Dana,

    you are the undisputed expert on WW11 US aircraft colours so I have a (hopefully) simple question relating to a TBM-3 I'm building - what colour were the fire extinguishers?

    1. Dana Bell

      Dana Bell

      Hi Tim,


      I have to admit that I'm not really sure - there were a number of standard color changes during the war, some because there had been no standard, some because the Army and Navy needed to coordinate.  I've never found the files on fire extinguishers (or, for that matter, oxygen bottles!)   From what I've seen, many of the early extinguishers were brass or unpainted aluminum color, with the embossed manufacturer's name plate in black or some other contrasting color.  By midwar, red seems to have been approved, though there could have been other colors used too.


      Wish I had more to offer - I still have plans to spend a day tracking down the answers, but there's already so much else to do! 






  13. Star and bar markings on late war USN aircraft

    Hi SA (and thanks Troy), There are two little-known issues with the white-only late-war US star: 1) The Navy and Grumman agreed that the blue background was unnecessary against a dark blue background and dropped it. At the next meeting of the Army-Navy standards group, the Army was upset and demanded that the Navy use the agreed blue and white insignia. The Navy relented and wrote to Grumman ordering a return to the full insignia. The blue back ground would again be dropped after the war, when the Army/Air Force found that they didn't need the Insignia Blue on their night fighters. (Note that there were a lot of wartime Navy aircraft without Insignia Blue on their national markings - the good idea seemed to have caught on regardless of orders from higher up!) 2) The photos that Grumman sent with their original recommendation showed a white star tangent to an Insignia Blue disc with white bars added - but no Insignia Blue border to the entire marking. I've seen no written explanation for this variation, but it appears to me that Grumman wanted to use up some old star-and-disc decals and simply add white bars. That is just a guess as to the reason, but there are a few wartime images that seem to show the same insignia variation, while most images show the white-only version. Vought may have never gotten around to the change before it was cancelled. All wing panels were made by Briggs, and though there is early correspondence about problems with the insignia paint, later correspondence talks about handling the insignia decals. (Sand the leading edge to smooth the airflow, etc.) Vought and Goodyear might have continued to use up their stock of decals until after the war. Officially, there was only one wartime Glossy Sea Blue, though Vought drawings show Non-specular Sea Blue as an anti-glare panel. (The two paints were different colors, as well as having different gloss factors.) At one point Vought discussed applying a gloss coat to the upper surfaces of existing four-tone scheme wing panels. This would have been close enough for government work, but the Navy said no. Still, one wonders what might have happened to the Navy's rejection as it slowly worked its way through channels? (There was a second Glossy Sea Blue, but it wasn't introduced until after the War.) Cheers, Dana
  14. P-40B/C Hawaii Early 1942 markings

    Hi Relja Sorry to say, it's not legit for Pearl Harbor. The camouflage swept up beneath the tail was only seen on P-40s and P-40Gs - neither of which was assigned to Hawaii. The Bs and Cs sent to Hawaii arrived with camouflage, Insignia Blue (not black) "U. S. ARMY" beneath the wings, two wing insignia, two fuselage insignia, and no rudder stripes. After 24 December 1941 Army and Navy aircraft stationed there added red and white (no blue) rudder stripes and two more wing insignia (usually, but not always, oversized). Most of the aircraft carried large white 2- or 3-digit aircraft numbers on the fuselage. The red dot and rudder stripes were overpainted beginning in May 1942. Squirt shows most of these markings changes, but the wing blocks the position where the fuselage numbers would have appeared, so we don't know if they were present or not. Cheers, Dana
  15. Color question regarding USN change from flat to glossy finish

    During 1943 the Navy found glossy paints were easier to maintain than flat paints; the glossy paints also reduced surface drag. An interim scheme was introduced using Glossy Sea Blue, Glossy White, and Glossy Intermediate Blue (which was to be numbered ANA 624 - though it never was). The scheme was (officially) in effect for several months, though very few photos show this three-tone glossy camouflage. The overall Glossy Sea Blue was adopted for fighters in early 1944, and for all carrier-based aircraft later the same year, gain for ease of maintenance and drag reduction, with the added advantage of the ease of application for a monchromatic scheme. Cheers, Dana