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October 30, 2013 in Aviation

At the end of WWII the USCG flew a wide variety of fixed wing aircraft, from the B-17 Flying Fortress to the C-46 Commando. Looking for the perfect long range patrol aircraft, the Coast Guard acquired fifteen R5D-3 Skymasters. The USAAC had great success with the Douglas C-54 transport aircraft. Service of the transport was worldwide and during the three years of WWII flying an unequalled safety record was achieved. This record of reliability was attractive to the Coast Guard and the Service utilized these planes in Search and Rescue, International Ice Patrol, logistics, photo mapping and electronic tests. The USCG Skymaster was best known for patroling the 33,000 square miles off the Grand Banks from March to September. The searching and reporting of icebergs in the shipping lanes, as part of the International Ice Patrol, had the aircraft stationed in Newfoundland during the busy ice season. In 1965 the R5D was retired from service being replaced by the C-130 Hercules.
The 1:72 model is a Heller C-54 kitbashed into a USCG Skymaster. The windows were the biggest modification performed on the model. The CG decals were printed on my computer and the plane was painted in the Ice Patrol scheme using Tamiya paints. Just about all my planes are mounted on a brass rod, makes them easier to display all “overlapped” at different heights on a shelf.

6 additional images. Click to enlarge

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13 responses to U.S. COAST GUARD DOUGLAS R5D “SKYMASTER” 1959

  1. Very nice, Mike. Wish it was on MY shelf !

  2. Nice conversion of a basic kit.

    Too bad it isn’t mounted above an ice floe.

  3. Colourful and good-looking model! I have seen very few of the big Heller kits built, thanks for showing this one!



  4. Nice work…nice display…nice photography…just plain NICE.

  5. Very nice conversion. I especially like the choice of the Ice Patrol scheme for colours. I like Michael’s idea of having an ice flow for the base! If you ever want more work to do, go for it!

  6. Sooo, Mike – when ya gonna get the beeg H-K B-17G and do a USCG SAR?

    Nice work on this.

    • Thanks Tom
      Back in the late 1970’s I built Monogram’s 1:48 B-17(PB-1G) modified with a USCG paint scheme and a lifeboat slung under the bomb bay doors. In addition I’ve built two 1:72 scale B-17’s in Coast Guard service. Your build of the “great humongous” B-17 has my attention, I might attempt another PB-1G.
      It’s interesting, the Coast Guard was the last military service to operate B-17’s. On October 14, 1959 PB-1G 77254 made her final patrol landing at the CG air base in North Carolina. Semper Paratus!

  7. A strikingly crisp build. I really like it.

  8. Mike,
    Absolutely beautiful. Excellent job. I like the method you used to change the windows.

  9. Nice to see a solid, clean build that doesn’t look late for the scrap yard. Good job.

  10. The very best of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation, the Famous R5D aircraft, I was
    born in Elizabeth City, N.C., and The Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
    was my “favorite place to visit.” I remember the day when the USCG retired
    the very last PB1G in 1959, and the replacement aircraft was those Air Force C-54’s. It was fascinating to me to see the day all of those C-54’s flew into Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, for modernization and conversion to Coast Guard R5D’s at the Coast Guard Aircraft and Supply
    Center at CGASEC. After the R5D’s were worked on by the magnificent
    civilian and military aviation engineering specialist in those two large hangars, they looked like “Brand New” R5D’s when they were taken out, and parked on the CGAC&SC tarmac. During this time those “beautiful
    aircraft” were test flown, day and night around the skies of Eastern North
    Carolina. As a young high school student attending P.W. Moore High School in Elizabeth City, those R5D’s would fly right over our school, and
    hearing those engines, brought excitment to me, who wanted a career in
    the Coast Guard or Navy. I never forget a young Coast Guard Petty Officer
    whom I use to visit at the Air Station Entrance Gate right off of Weeksville
    Road, and he would let me watch all of the various Coast Guard and Naval
    Aircraft conducting various flight operations, such as touch and go’s, etc.
    An R5D was approaching runway 28, which flew right over the Guard Shack, and I will never forget that Coast Guard Petty Officer telling me that
    he was applying to Coast Guard OCS, so that he could go to flight school
    and fly one of those R5D’s. Another great moment was a “Hot July Summer
    Saturday afternoon,” when two R5D’s flew in formation on a low past over
    Elizabeth City, and landing with Midshipman from the U.S. Coast Guard
    Academy at New London, Connecticut, to participate in their Summer
    Aviation Orientation Course at CGASEC in the late 1950’s. The R5D’s were
    a perfect replacement aircraft for the PB1G’s, but the 1960’s brought another Super Aircraft that provided a replacement for the R5D’s, The
    Mighty HC-130’s. I will always cherish my memories and history of U.S.
    Coast Guard and Naval Aviaiton History, there is a “famous photograph”
    in U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Archives of a PB1G, an R5D, and a “new”
    HC-130 Hercules parked on the ramp at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth
    City in the early 1960’s. The R5D’s were “Always Ready” — Go Coast
    Guard Aviation. A Very Nice Job Mike, just like the ones coming out of
    the hangars at The Coast Guard Aviation and Supply Center, at CGASEC.

    Roosevelt Rick” Wright, Jr., PhD, Capt., USNR (ret
    Syracuse, N.Y.

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