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Stung By A Yellowjacket - Eduard P-51D


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I need to find some motivation to continue work on my F-84, but still have plenty of time for that.  So I figured I’ll start my thread here in the meantime.

 

I have plenty of planned subjects to choose from, including a couple for my yet to be built Wisconsin Aces collection, but I’m going to do a 361st bird for this GB.  Specifically, Jasper Joker II flown by Lt. Donald Vulgamore.  I’ll be building my first Eduard kit and using Aeromaster decals.  And of course using an excellent Schiffer Military History book for reference.

 

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Edited by Matt B
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Going to think out loud here for a moment about the appropriate markings for Jasper Joker II.  I like to reference actual photos of my models but that often sends me down bottomless rabbit holes and unfortunately I fell down another one.

 

So the profile that Aeromaster shows includes:

 

1.) Black theater bands on the wings and horizontal stabilizers

2.) Black wingtips

3.) Yellow rudder (the 376th FS color)

4.) 3 kill markings on the canopy rail in the form of backwards swastikas on a white circular background

5.) Yellow bands on each propeller tip below the standard yellow tip.

6.) Unshrouded exhausts

 

This profile lines up with the only photo I thought has existed of the plane.  The photo is undated, but seems to match up with what is represented in the decals.

 

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No problem, right?  Well, I did some more digging as I typically do to learn more about the plane and the pilot, and came across two additional photos.  Both say they were taken at Chievres airbase in Belgium when the 361st was briefly based there in the spring of 1945, but I do not believe that is correct for both photos.

 

In this first photo, crew chief Stanley Ziolkowski is shown servicing the engine.  The first thing I noticed right away is that the kill markings were not on a white background, but most likely yellow.  The other differences are that there's 4 lines above the data block that list the pilot, crew chief, assistant crew chief and armorer.  And lastly there is no additional yellow band on the prop tips, although there's a chance it was only applied to the outer side of the blades.

 

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In this second photo, we see Vulgamore, Ziolkowski and the assistant crew chief (unnamed) standing on the wing.

 

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This photo presents two more differences: shrouded exhausts and the absence of kill markings on the canopy rail.  Vulgamore's total kill tally was two aerial kills and one ground kill.  His first air kill was an Me-109 on Sept 12 1944 and his two other kills came on Sept 27 when he shot down an FW-190 and destroyed an Me-410 on the ground.  Even though the assistant crew chief is blocking the forward part of the canopy rail, the kill markings would've been visible had they been there.  Notice in the previous photo, the 2nd kill marking is right above the flare port.  Using wing root rivets as a guideline (along with the two black dots just above the rivets), the flare port in this photo should be just to the right of the assistant crew chief (his left), but appears to be patched over.  So I believe this photo was likely taken in Bottisham before Vulgamore scored any kills.  The other reason I believe that is because of the shrouded exhausts.  They are unshrouded in the other two photos, and from everything I've read on shrouded vs unshrouded, it seems more likely that the plane would have been delivered with shrouded exhausts and then later had them removed rather than the other way around.

 

So, where does this leave me?  Since there's photographic evidence showing the color of the kill markings is incorrect, my first thought was (and still is) to build the plane before Vulgamore scored his kills.  The Yellowjackets book shown in my first post includes a detailed description of Vulgamore's first kill, so I thought it might be cool to make a little vignette of post mission since Aerobonus makes a nice figure of a pilot climbing into or out of a cockpit and I figured I could modify it to show him holding up one finger to a ground crewman. 

 

But, this isn't the bottom of the rabbit hole.  The issue with wanting to build an aircraft on a specific date in the early fall of 1944 is that the markings were constantly changing with invasion stripes being removed and some groups changing camo schemes.  For the 361st, their markings were in the process of getting updated.  I've come to the conclusion that the extended yellow nose was present in September, but I'm not sure the colored rudders were.  Unfortunately the only info I can find on the colored rudders is that they were instituted in fall or late fall of 1944.  I also saw somewhere that suggested they weren't added until November.  I also can't seem to find many documented photos of 361st planes around September to see whether or not the rudders were colored at that point.  Plenty of photos from before and after, though.  My personal opinion is that colors were likely added after the group moved to Little Walden at the end of September.  The other marking I'm unsure of is the black wingtips.  The first photo clearly shows the wingtips were a dark color but I have not found any photos of any other 361st planes with black wingtips.  I have found photos of 376th FS planes with yellow wingtips which is what I would've expected Jasper Joker to wear, but that color in the photo is not yellow.  It is possible black wingtips were a one off, but when they were added is unknown.  I'm thinking this might've been like the rudders and was used to indicate the squadron a plane was in, or maybe it was an individual aircraft marker.  I'm almost tempted to leave off the black wingtips.

 

So I've decided the markings I will do is no kill markings, no rudder color and no wingtip color.  But then I thought.....Vulgamore was a replacement pilot that joined the group in the late summer.  The only known plane he flew is Jasper Joker II, but that name suggests there was an original Jasper Joker.  So perhaps Vulgamore wasn't even flying in Jasper Joker II on the Sept 12 mission, maybe he was flying the first one.  But I keep going back to the 3rd photo that doesnt have any kill markings.  I thought maybe there is a chance the date is right and it was taken in spring 1945.  With the first photo not dated, its possible Jasper Joker II was delivered in the spring and the 3rd photo was taken before the kill markings were added to the new plane and before the ground crew had a chance to remove the shrouds from the exhaust.  But I've ruled that out based on the model the plane was, which was a P-51D-10-NA.  Had Vulgamore received a replacement plane in the spring of 1945, it would've been a later model such as a D-15 or D-20.  So if I have a photo of the plane without kill markings, I believe it was the plane he flew on the Sept 12 mission.  Then lastly, the only other marking that the plane possibly could've worn would've been invasion stripes on the lower rear fuselage.  I have found other 376th planes from late fall that have stripes on the lower fuselage but I was not able to find other photos of them to see if they were later removed.  In the first photo, Jasper Joker does not have fuselage stripes.  But without a date, its hard to tell for certain if the plane ever had them.  If the photo is from the fall of 1944, I think it definitely didn't have them considering there's other photographs of planes at the same time that did have them.  But maybe the photo is from the spring of 1945 and the stripes were removed by then?  I'm going with no stripes because I have a hard time believing if a plane made it to the fall with invasion stripes, that the ground crew probably never felt the need to ever remove them.  So I'm going to assume Jasper Joker never had them.

 

So this is a lot of rambling, but my favorite part of this hobby is the research.  In summation I will not be building the plane in the profile that is most commonly associated in color profiles and decal profiles, but I think I have plausible reasoning for why I'm doing it.

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I love these rabbit holes and explore them for my builds every chance I get.

 

I can’t see a flaw in your reasoning.

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Going by the serial number 414803 I would say it was delivered late August-September 1944. I don’t think the rudders where painted til early November as you pointed out. So it depends on the date you wanta build the plane. But looking at other P-51Ds around that serial number and lower then 414803 and up to 415500ish they had a Painted rudder with a unpainted strip that has the serial numbers. So I would question was the rudder completely painted yellow.

 

The wingtips do look painted imo. P-51Ds in other FS of the 361st had painted wingtips like Detroit miss, Tika IV and more so it’s very possible Jesper Joker did as well. Plus it would look cool imo

 

You made a good choice in Jasper Joker it’s a great looking plane. :D 

 

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1 hour ago, HarryHobbyin said:

Going by the serial number 414803 I would say it was delivered late August-September 1944. I don’t think the rudders where painted til early November as you pointed out. So it depends on the date you wanta build the plane. But looking at other P-51Ds around that serial number and lower then 414803 and up to 415500ish they had a Painted rudder with a unpainted strip that has the serial numbers. So I would question was the rudder completely painted yellow.

 

The wingtips do look painted imo. P-51Ds in other FS of the 361st had painted wingtips like Detroit miss, Tika IV and more so it’s very possible Jesper Joker did as well. Plus it would look cool imo

 

You made a good choice in Jasper Joker it’s a great looking plane. :D 

 


Good points!  I’m going back and forth on the wingtips.  Thanks for pointing out Tika IV, I hadn’t seen a photo of it before.  The reason I wasn’t sure about doing painted wingtips is because I was wondering if they were applied at the same time the rudders were painted as I hadn’t found a photo of painted wingtips without a painted rudder, but an in flight photo of Tika IV shows the painted wingtips without a painted rudder, so I may apply them after all.

 

And I agree, if I were to paint the rudder, it wouldn’t be completely yellow, I would leave a silver strip for the serial like photos of other planes suggest.  I think that was a mistake in Aeromaster’s profile.  They also got the serial wrong as the last digit should be 9, not 3.  I still think I’ll go with an unpainted rudder if I’m going to do the plane as it looked in mid September.

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Interesting subject and researches. You mentioned that Vulgamore was a replacement pilot, in which case I wonder whether he ever flew the original Jasper Joker, or whether Jasper Joker II was assigned to him as his first aircraft when he joined the unit. Also interesting are the photos where the lower cowling panel is presumably a replacement, as the "tails" of the capital Js are missing. If you can find photos of the unit's other aircraft around the same time, I would say it would be a fairly safe bet that Jasper Joker II would match - things like wingtips were unit identifiers so all aircraft *should* have been marked the same.

 

BTW, I've heard of Aeromaster being called "errormaster", so perhaps the mistake in the serial number isn't all that surprising :( 

 

Just my tuppence-worth, of course!

 

Looking forward to seeing this one come together.

 

Cheers,

Mark

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, 2996 Victor said:

Interesting subject and researches. You mentioned that Vulgamore was a replacement pilot, in which case I wonder whether he ever flew the original Jasper Joker, or whether Jasper Joker II was assigned to him as his first aircraft when he joined the unit. Also interesting are the photos where the lower cowling panel is presumably a replacement, as the "tails" of the capital Js are missing. If you can find photos of the unit's other aircraft around the same time, I would say it would be a fairly safe bet that Jasper Joker II would match - things like wingtips were unit identifiers so all aircraft *should* have been marked the same.

 

BTW, I've heard of Aeromaster being called "errormaster", so perhaps the mistake in the serial number isn't all that surprising :( 

 

Just my tuppence-worth, of course!

 

Looking forward to seeing this one come together.

 

Cheers,

Mark

 

All good points!  I too have wondering about the missing bottoms of the Js and that the cowling might have come from the previous aircraft.  As for the name of the plane, Vulgamore is the one who came up with it to honor his hometown of Jasper, Ohio.  It's anyone's guess as to how long the original Jasper Joker lasted.  Maybe it was a B or maybe it was an early D-5 that suffered some sort of mechanical failure early on.  It wasn't uncommon for some pilots to quickly go through multiple planes.  For instance, the decal sheet also includes markings for Betty Lee III a D-15, flown by William Kemp.  In August, Kemp was wounded by a flak burst when a chunk came through his windscreen.  In the Yellowjackets book I have, there's a photo of him with his arm in a sling holding the shrapnel next to the hole in the glass.  The framing structure suggests the plane he was flying was a B.  Just a month later, Kemp was flying Betty Lee II, a D-10, when he shot down 3 planes on the same mission Vulgamore got his first kill.  So sometime within the month, he made a switch in planes.  Then in late October he switched again when Betty Lee II suffered an engine failure on takeoff and crashed, which led to him being assigned the D-15 that became Betty Lee III.

 

Now I just need to get the lead out with my F-84, so I can start on my Mustangs!

Edited by Matt B
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59 minutes ago, Matt B said:

All good points!  I too have wondering about the missing bottoms of the Js and that the cowling might have come from the previous aircraft.  As for the name of the plane, Vulgamore is the one who came up with it to honor his hometown of Jasper, Ohio.  It's anyone's guess as to how long the original Jasper Joker lasted.  Maybe it was a B or maybe it was an early D-5 that suffered some sort of mechanical failure early on.  It wasn't uncommon for some pilots to quickly go through multiple planes.  For instance, the decal sheet also includes markings for Betty Lee III a D-15, flown by William Kemp.  In August, Kemp was wounded by a flak burst when a chunk came through his windscreen.  In the Yellowjackets book I have, there's a photo of him with his arm in a sling holding the shrapnel next to the hole in the glass.  The framing structure suggests the plane he was flying was a B.  Just a month later, Kemp was flying Betty Lee II, a D-10, when he shot down 3 planes on the same mission Vulgamore got his first kill.  So sometime within the month, he made a switch in planes.  Then in late October he switched again when Betty Lee II suffered an engine failure on takeoff and crashed, which led to him being assigned the D-15 that became Betty Lee III.

 

Now I just need to get the lead out with my F-84, so I can start on my Mustangs!

Fascinating stuff, Matt, and as you say it's surprising how quickly some pilots went through aircraft.

 

I'll be following your build with great interest.

 

Cheers,

Mark

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Good mroning 

And I would like to add that It also happened that one aircraft was used by several pilots , who decorated it with the kill markings they had won aboard that aircraft. 

 

Best regards 

Patrice 

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Obligatory sprue shot before I start cutting things out.  Like others, all my canopies are already detached before I even opened the bag.  Decided I’m going to do the D-10 first.  Still mainly working on my F-84, but the goal is start on the Mustang later this week, most likely with filling the wing panel lines.  I’m still waiting on an Ultracast seat and some Brassin exhausts but those should be here soon. 
 

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Posted (edited)

Ok, got a (small) start on this.  The kit seat is more than usable but I like the detail on the Ultracast seat a little more since it has a back cushion and the small bar that was bolted on the top of the seat frame.  The seat adjustment springs are molded on the back of the seat but Eduard has these molded on the seat armor, so I snipped those off, smoothed the surface and the seat fit perfectly.  I also put a dab of mr surfacer 500 on the headrest since there was a small sink mark in it.
 

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Edited by Matt B
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Mistake #1.  Yesterday I attached the seat and today I detached it.  Because I realized I would be unable to attach the shoulder harness to the back of the seat the way it’s supposed to.  There is very little space between the seat frame and the bar attached to it, and I was unable to thread it through.  So, VMS debonder to the rescue.  I slathered it on, waited 10-15 minutes and it popped right off.  Now, I will paint the armor and the seat separately, attach the shoulder harness and then I will attach the seat last.


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And while I was messing around with that, I decided to skip ahead several steps and do the instrument panel since I was curious as to how the Eduard Space 3D decals worked.  I think it looks good.  It came out well despite mistake #2 which was applying them but realizing they have no self adhesive, so I wicked in some thin CA around the edges.  This was my first time using 3D decals, so chalk that up to a rookie mistake and me not taking the time

to learn how they work. 
 

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Nice saves on both those issues, and great progress! The IP looks impressive. 

 

I'm a bit bothered about the shoulder harness on mine now....  :hmmm:

 

Cheers, 

Mark 

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41 minutes ago, 2996 Victor said:

Nice saves on both those issues, and great progress! The IP looks impressive. 

 

I'm a bit bothered about the shoulder harness on mine now....  :hmmm:

 

Cheers, 

Mark 

You’ll be fine if using the kit seat.  Because the harness just goes over the frame.  On the Ultracast seat the harness has to be threaded through a thin bar on top of the seat frame that isn’t present on the kit seat.  Plenty of room on the kit seat to attach the harness once the seat is attached.    
 

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Last update for today.  Gloomy and cold outside all day, so got in plenty of bench time.

 

I got the main base painting done on the cockpit components and will try to wrap up the cockpit later this week.  Right now I’m waiting for a wash on the seat to dry (it’s just stuck on the armor with blue tack) and waiting for the oil paint on the cockpit floor to dry.

 

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For the floor I used a base of Tamiya XF-59 followed by burnt umber artist oils and dragging a mineral spirit dampened brush across it to create the wood grain.  I probably should’ve gone a little lighter, but I was working with the paints I had on hand.  The photo makes it look darker than it really is too so I should be ok.  When that is fully dry I will then apply some chipping fluid followed by a coat of flat black and then use a stiff brush to create some scuff marks.

 

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On 18/03/2024 at 10:42, Matt B said:

For the floor I used a base of Tamiya XF-59 followed by burnt umber artist oils and dragging a mineral spirit dampened brush across it to create the wood grain.

That’s really effective. 👍

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On 17/03/2024 at 23:42, Matt B said:

For the floor I used a base of Tamiya XF-59 followed by burnt umber artist oils and dragging a mineral spirit dampened brush across it to create the wood grain.  I probably should’ve gone a little lighter, but I was working with the paints I had on hand.  The photo makes it look darker than it really is too so I should be ok.  When that is fully dry I will then apply some chipping fluid followed by a coat of flat black and then use a stiff brush to create some scuff marks.

Brilliant wood grain technique! I was planning something similar for mine, but using Citadel Seraphim Sepia shade, but forgot...... :facepalm:

 

26 minutes ago, Wings unlevel said:

That’s really effective.

Definitely!

 

Cheers,

Mark

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