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Hugh Thomson

Douglas A-26B 44-34486 unit?

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I recently got some very kind replies to my request for information on the undersurface of a USAAF B-25J in the Mediterranean Theatre. I had thought of also doing the 1/72 Italeri kit of the Douglas A-26B in service in the Italian theatre as a companion to my MTO Hasegawa B-25J. The Italeri instructions offered decals for (amongst others) a Douglas A-26B, 44-34486, of the 47th Bomb Group in Italy in 1945. It had a bold red/range tail with the numbers '58' superimposed in black and yellow wingtips.

 

The problem is that the Osprey book on the A-26 ('A-26 Units of World War 2') says that the same aircraft, 44-34486, with the same bold red/range tail (and '58') was an aircraft of the 69th Reconnaissance Group in France in 1945. The site Wings Pallette does likewise: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/a/294/3/0#4

 

I have searched the internet and can't find any evidence to support either view - that is that the aircraft served with the 47th Bomb Group or the 69th Reconnaissance Group. Both Groups apparently used the A-26 at the end of the war though I can't find any photos of the A-26 with the 69th Rec Group.  Photos of various A-26s with the 47th Bomb Group are available but although these show that the aircraft carried a number on the tail, the number is smaller than that shown in the Italeri kit and there seems to be no sign of that red/orange stripe on the tail.

 

Any comments? Thoughts?

 

My gut instinct is that the 47th Bomb Group seems more likely. As I understand the USAAF followed RAF practice in NW Europe, using code letters on the fuselage whereas numbers on the tail and fuselage were used by USAAF Groups in Italy. If I can't get this confirmed either way I may wait for the new Kitsworld decals for the A-26 - they appear to offer markings for aircraft in NW Europe rather than Italy but they do look very nice.

 

Regards

 

Hugh

 

 

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I suspect Italeri got their scheme from the profile painting in Squadron/Signal's second book on the A-26, No.134.  There it is claimed to be of the 10th TRS 69th RG at Nancy, France in early 1945.  The wingtips are yellow.   I agree with you that this does not look like 9th AF markings (I can find no reference to anything similar in Rust's history of the Ninth) yet other than the number, it does not look like 13th AF use either.

 

There is a colour photo on the front of Warbird Tech 22 Douglas A-26 Invader. but this is a warbird ("Hard to get!") and neither the serial nor the wingtips are visible.  If the photo is captioned, I can't find it.  More importantly however, inside there is a photo of this aircraft on page 25, captioned as being at Barrackpore, Calcutta, India in September 1945.  It lacks nose art of any kind, and it is not clear (to me) whether the wingtips are painted or not.  Further on, page 97 shows the tail of a 12th BG A-26 (CBI) with an in-unit number of 31 on a broad band, but this is thinner with the bulldog badge of the 82nd BS between it and the serial.   Rust's Historical Aviation Album 10th AF Story has no mention of A-26s, but does mention the 82nd's habit of carrying its badge..

 

I reckon this is an aircraft of the 83rd BS 12th BG in India.

Edited by Graham Boak

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USAAF 8AF and 9AF stationed in the UK and on the continent used letter squadron codes and individual aircraft numbers. The 69TRG was a 9AF unit and would follow suite.  

USAAF 12AF and 15AF operating from North Africa and later Italy used numbers with squadron colors as identifiers, hence fairly easy to distinguish where the origins are. 

 

When 15AF/12AF moved far enough into the north of Italy and the second front in France was opened from the mediteranian, the 8AF/9AF/12AF/15AF units meet in France, often bombing same targets throughout europe and into eastern europe, balkans, Austria etc.

Hence photos from late in the war and in southern europe can easily allow a 9AF unit to be mistaken to be operated by 12/15AF and vice versa. 

 

More on the 69th Recon Group here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/69th_Reconnaissance_Group

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for your input.  There has to be some question mark over the actual unit represented by the Italeri markings. So I might put this on hold and get the new Kits World markings instead. Its not an MTO aircraft but 'Maggie's Drawers' of the 416th BG  looks good.

 

http://www.kitsworld.co.uk/index.php?EXTPICFILE=1&CATEGORY=7&SUB=4&THISPAGE=1&RADIOSORT=4&STRH=4641&ORDN=4747&STKNR=523&RNZ=869540

 

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The photo of the aircraft in India has the six gun nose and one 2-gun package under the wing (presumably each wing).  The canopy isn't clearly visible, but by then presumably was the later domed variety.  Points to bear in mind when choosing the example you wish to model - I don't know what comes in the particular kit boxing you have. 

 

The warbird with the same tail marking but hidden serial has the glass nose and clean wings.  I gather that private users preferred the glass nose (with which I agree) and several aircraft were modified postwar.

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Thanks Graham.

 

The Italeri A-26B appears to be an early production 6 gun aircraft - at first glance. It seems to have the earlier, but revised, version of the canopy.

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post I am going to give '58' a miss - I feel a little uncomfortable building a model of an aircraft where there is some doubt over its provenance (not that I am a rivet counter - far from it). But the Kitsworld decals seem to offer some possibilities - even if they are not Italian Front aircraft. 'Maggie's Drawers' (41-39360) of the 416th BG looks to be six gun A-26B with the revised early type canopy - there is a photo of this aircraft here:

 

http://napoleon130.tripod.com/id419.html

 

'For Pete's Sake' (43-22330) also seems to be an early six gun B-26B - there is a photo here:

 

http://www.kitsworld.co.uk/index.php?EXTPICFILE=3&CATEGORY=7&SUB=4&THISPAGE=1&RADIOSORT=4&STRH=4284&ORDN=2350&STKNR=522&RNZ=520129

 

I actually have two of the Italeri A-26B models in my stash and I may opt for both 'Maggie's Drawers' and 'For Pete's Sake' though it seems a bit dull doing two aircraft from the same Group - the kit itself gets iffy reviews so we will have to see. 

 

Interestingly Print Scale does 1/72 markings for an A-26C (with the perspex nose) of the 47th Bomb Group - an overall black aircraft. The 47th BG website says they used the A-26 toward the end of the war in Italy and the photos on that website imply that this may have included some black A-26C types.

 

Interesting aeroplane.

 

Regards

 

Hugh

 

 

 

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