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  1. I have ordered the new 1/72 expert set from arma hobby for this build. If online reviews are to be trusted it promises to be exquisite. (images from arma hobby below) I’ve also ordered some AM (which will please our gratious GB leader @trickyrich eduard wheels, a yahu IP, some 3d printed exhaust stacks and a reference book. The kit comes with some nice extras too… and among others, markings for ‘Evalina’. Here’s Arma hobby’s write-up of the airframe’s story… ’A P-51C with the charming name “Evalina” was the first and, as it turned out, last fully airworthy North American Mustang to be captured by the Japanese. Intensive tests followed by demonstration flights at combat units convinced both veterans and commanders of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force that their most recent “acquisition” was a truly fantastic aircraft – the fulfilment of every fighter pilot’s dreams. The North American P-51C-11-NT Mustang with registration number 44-10816 (manufactured at the Dallas plant in Texas as 111-28949) was the personal aeroplane of First Lieutenant Oliver E. Strawbridge. At the turn of 1945, the fighter was stationed in China with the 26th Fighter Squadron, itself an element of the 51st Fighter Group. The unit’s combat trail had started in India and proceeded through Burma and China, ending in French Indochina, a territory that comprised present-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. But by the time the war drew to close, “Evalina” had not been flying with the unit for months… A rather unfortunate event had led to its capture by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. “EVALINA” ENDS UP IN JAPANESE HANDS In truth, the circumstances of the incident have still not been fully clarified. We do know that on 16 January 1945 the pilot landed “Evalina” on the Chinese airfield of Suchin, which was still held by the Japanese. While the Americans concluded that this was the result of a navigational error, Japanese sources mention an emergency landing – and then muddle the story still further. Namely, some maintain that the aircraft belly-landed in a rice paddy near the base, but according to others the fighter made a normal landing necessitated by a technical fault. Practically all historians reject the former version of events, logically assuming that Japanese ground crews would have been incapable of repairing damage sustained by an Allied fighter during a wheels up landing made in difficult terrain (especially as there are no extant documents suggesting that such repairs had actually been performed). This would appear to be supported by the fact that later, when “Evalina’s” tail wheel leg suffered only slight damage, it was simply left locked in the down position. Whatever the case may have been, the chance acquisition of a virtually brand-new and fully functional Mustang was a godsend to the IJAAF. It was no surprise, therefore, that the aircraft was collected and flown to Japan, where it underwent detailed testing, by one of the leading aces of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force – Major Kuroe. At the beginning of the war, Yasuhiko Kuroe was a pilot with 47 Dokuritsu Chūtai (47 Independent Squadron), which flew prototypes and pre-serial production variants of the Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo) fighters over Malaya. After the campaign drew to a close, however, he did not return with his unit to Japan; instead, he was transferred to Burma, to 64 Sentai, on the insistence of its legendary commander, Colonel Tateo Kato. Fate tied him to 64 Sentai for nearly two years, during which time he achieved the majority of his 51 aerial victories. In the spring of 1944, Kuroe was ordered to return home, where he was assigned the role of air combat instructor and test pilot. He flew many Japanese aircraft, captured Allied aeroplanes, and even Bf 109E-3/4 and Fw 190A-5 fighters received from the Third Reich. He also carried out intensive tests of “Evalina”, and went on to demonstrate the Mustang at a number of fighter units of the Japanese Homeland Air Defence (Hondo Boei Butai), giving detailed presentations of its strengths and weaknesses, and outlining optimal battle tactics. Numerous veterans of 3, 18 and 59 Sentai later recalled that his lectures and displays helped them get out of the firing line of enemy P-51s, basically saving their lives. Although he was shot down thrice and thrice wounded, Major Kuroe survived the war in good health. Counts made on the damaged aircraft which, somehow, time after time got him back to base determined a total of more than 500 bullet holes. After the war he became an ardent proponent of the recreation of the Japanese Air Force, and following the establishment of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) he was appointed commander of No. 3 Squadron, which operated Sabre jets; soon after, he was promoted to the rank of Major General. His colourful life came to an end on 5 December 1965. He drowned during a fishing trip, a favourite pastime of his, under circumstances that have not been fully explained to date. Major General Kuroe was just 47 years old. THE RIDDLE OF “EVALINA” The final act of our story took place several dozen years after the end of the war. In the nineteen eighties and nineties, growing interest in the wartime activities of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force led to the publication of numerous press articles and monographs. “Evalina” also became rather widely known, both among World War II history buffs and modellers. Strangely – albeit in a sense logically – it was taken for granted that since the aircraft had been regularly flown by Oliver E. Strawbridge, he must have been the leading protagonist of the whole unfortunate event. Whereas… Around the mid-nineties, First Lieutenant Strawbridge’s granddaughter, Sara, finally shed some light on the riddle. Namely, she stated that although she had never met her grandfather (due to family reasons), she knew with absolute certainty that he had not been the pilot of the Mustang on that fateful day of 16 January. Furthermore, she informed that her grandfather had served in the USAAF until the very end of the conflict and had never been a Japanese POW. From what she recollected, he had died in 1987 in the USA. The name given to the aircraft, “Evalina”, was that of his then girlfriend. Their love fizzled out, however, and after the war First Lieutenant Strawbridge married a woman by the names of Ruth Anne. The topic was taken up by a few historians, with the renowned Henry Sakaida first and foremost among them. Finally, it was determined that the Mustang had been piloted by First Lieutenant Sam McMillan, Strawbridge’s friend from the 26th Fighter Squadron. Captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, he survived the war and returned home. When this research was being conducted, First Lieutenant McMillan was still alive, living in his hometown in Connecticut. However, due to his age and state of health, he did not assist in clarifying the circumstances of the incident. Sakaida published his conclusions in “Flight Journal” magazine sometime around the year 2000 (although it would seem that they are not widely known today). “ maybe i should build it with the barrel at the rear end ( see above ) This is a tiny kit compared to my usual builds and scales, I’m looking forward to the challenge of building so small. I’m a serial project starter. Hopefully this one reaches full fruition.
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