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Hi Here is another pair of models to add to my USAAF Station 150 / RAF Boxted collection. They are both from the delightful "P-51B Pioneer Mustang" set by "Sweet". I bought this and the "P-51 B/C Prisoner of War Mustang" by the same manufacturer from HLJ last year at a ridiculously low price. The 354th Fighter Group was a new group formed at Hamilton Field, California on November 1942 and their initial equipment was the Bell P-39N Airacobra. Maj James H Howard, a former US Navy fighter pilot who had resigned his commission to join the AVG "Flying Tigers" in June 1941 assumed command of the 356th Fighter Squadron in May 1943. Howard had been credited with 2.333 aerial victories and four strafing kills whilst flying P-40C/Es over China and Burma. The men of the 354th FG set sail for the UK in October 1943 not knowing what they would be flying on their arrival. They were ecstatic to learn that they would be equipped with the brand-new Packard-Merlin powered P-51B Mustang, becoming the first unit in England to fly the type, thereby earning the "Pioneer Mustang" monicker. After a brief stop-over at RAF Greenham Common, the group arrived at Boxted in November 1943 and were joined by 24 combat-ready P-51Bs by the end of the month. Boxted had been built as a bomber base and was fully-equipped with runways, taxyways, hardstands and a hangar, along with other buildings and living accommodation in the form of Nissen huts. The Pioneer Mustang Group flew 55 missions from Boxted, losing 47 Mustangs against claims of 169 enemy kills, before they were moved to their rather basic new home of Lashenden in Kent in April 1944. After the relative comfort of Boxted, some men likened their new home to a Boy Scout camp with tents and fox holes, cold showers and outdoor latrines! The kits were a pleasure to build, with a little filler on the wing to fuselage joins required, but from that they fell together, although I'm not too happy with the fit of the canopies or spinners. These are built "ANA" (absolutely nothing added) and were painted with LifeColor Olive Drab over Neutral Gray after I had painted and masked the white recognition markings. I applied the decals over a Klear coat and sealed everything in with a brush-applied coat of W&N Galeria Matt Varnish, followed by a light, streaked wash of Raw Umber. "DingHao!" was flown by the now CO of the Group, Lt Col Jim Howard (the individual letter code "A" denoting that the machine was the CO's mount.) This was one of the first machines in the Group to be fitted with a "Malcolm" hood. "Ding Hao" is a Chinese expression of luck that Howard brought with him from his time with the AVG. "Killer" was flown by Capt Robert W Stephens, CO of the 355 Fighter squadron, who achieved 13 kills in the ETO. The instruction sheet: And on the reverse, the comprehensive decal options available in the box: The models and box with a penny for scale! And finally with a 1/72 HobbyBoss P-51B with home-made decals to represent "Ding Hao!":
I built these three side by side in January and then completely lost interest in them (and modelling) after the decalling stage. With the family away for Easter, I mustered the enthusiasm to get them finished. They are built from the box with the addition of tape seat straps and decals from Kits World and the spares box. Despite being an expensive kit, the P-38J was not an easy build - in fact it was one of the worst-fitting kits that I have built recently. Lightnings were not normally based at Boxted (Station 150), but this one was attached to the 61st FS and given HV codes and the red markings.Used on July 25th 1944 by Col. Hub Zemke, it made an emergency landing at Boxted after being severely damaged by flak. The stars and bars and stencils were from the kit decal sheet, and the codes were from the "Kits World Mustang Numbering/Lettering/Kill Markings Camouflage Finish" sheet. The aerial is Ez-Line attached using super glue and accelerator. The HobbyBoss kits, by comparison were cheap and delightful to build (apart from the poorly fitting canopy on the P-47D.) The rather plain Thunderbolt was Capt Robert Johnson's assigned machine in early 1944. He shot down three enemy fighters flying this aircraft. The codes were from the same Kits World sheet as the Lightning (and may be a bit small). The tail number of 276234 was created from the kit number of 276594. This involved reversing and inverting the number "5" to create the "2" and cutting off part of the loop of the "9" to create the "3". The P-51B is my salute to Lt. Col. James Howard of the 354th FG in early 1944. "Ding Hao!" is a Chinese expression of luck from Howard's time in the Far East flying with the AVG. The codes and tail number were from the the same Kits World sheet as the Lightning and Thunderbolt. The kill markings and the nose art are home-made decals. All the models were painted with Lifecolor Olive Drab and Neutral Gray. I randomly misted some lighter OD to achieve a patchy finish and then a light wash of Raw Umber that was streaked with cotton buds. Finally, exhaust staining was achieved with Mig Black Smoke pigments. I was hoping that finishing these three might motivate me to start my Airfix Tiger Moth, but I'm not sure that my modelling interest has yet been restored! Thanks for looking. You can see my other Boxted builds here.