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Frank Cronin
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P-51B Flown by Captain Gilbert O'Brien , 357th FG

July 3, 2013 · in Aviation · · 12 · 1.9K

With the advent of WWII Gilbert O'Brien resigned his position as a draftsman with the US Navy Department and joined the USAAF. Upon completion of flight training he was assigned to the 357th FG, 362nd FS, at Hamilton Field California, flying P-39 Aircobras. In November of 1943 the Group moved to Leiston, England. (with a short stop at Raydon Wood first) The closes village to Lieston was Yoxford. Thus the title "Yoxford Boys" came about.

In September of 1944, after 10 months of combat, Captain O'Brien was reassigned back to the US and instructor duties.

Captain O'Brien remained in the Air Force and retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1968. He had 7 confirmed victories.

He passed away in 1984 at age 68.

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12 responses

  1. Another interesting biography and a well finished model. I wonder what we would be making models of if it wasn't for all these conflicts?

    • George,

      Thanks for the nice compliment. It does beg the question, what would we build if it were not for conflict. Unfortunately, conflict in it's worst form begets beauty. I think what we are building here is the beauty we see in these aircraft and in fact in other objects of conflict. For myself, and I believe for a lot of others, what we build is an homage to all those, from whatever country, that were a part of whatever conflict they were deemed to participate in.

      Speaking of beauty, I read your comments on the 1/32 Tamiya Corsair. That is beauty. I pre-ordered one and look forward to it's release. I have also looked at your previous articles and you are a very talented modeler. Best to you.

    • We would all probably be building automotive models I would think. Makes me wonder had R.J. Mitchell been an automotive designer, what his cars might have looked like. Or Willie Messerschmitt's for that matter.

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        said on July 5, 2013

        Willie Messerschmitt did design a car! After the war Germany was forbidden to design and manufacture war planes. Messerschmitt produced a light weight 3 wheeler with a tandem seating arrangement - google it in images to see what i mean. I don't know how successfull they were but I remember seeing them on the road over here when i was a kid.

  2. I love your stuff Frank - you always bring in the personal, which is what it's all about.

  3. Nicely said George, well done Mustang. You are correct in modeling these Birds of Prey, when inviting people over even those who can be quite "stuffy", usually friends from my church, who may look at my Luftwaffe display, the Swastika's that are on the tail. Give me a discerning look which I am anticipating. I explain the history of War, with related scripture from the Bible in my explanation. We are human, with human emotions that the dear Lord blessed us with. And unfortunately to wage war as well. And the Bible is a perfect example of how Man has been at war for thousand of years. And WWII is one of those moments of history that reflects this. This in not to glorify these machines that was used to defend our nation, and those that were used against us, but to honor those men who flew them. This is why we still get to continue to celebrate the 4th of July.

    • Hi folks, I hope you didn't think that it's wrong to model warplanes, far from it, I just wondered what you'd be modelling if they didn't exist. Lots of people model other stuff, model railways for example...

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    said on July 4, 2013

    Great Mustang Frank - i've always prefered the lines of the P-51B to the D. I like/agree with your thinking regarding why we build replicas from darker times, and thats why I like hearing about individuals and their achievements in relation to the models we build. Good job all round!

  5. Like Gregor, I also prefer the lines of the P-51B over the D. I assume that this is the Tamiya offering? Nicely done though I have to ask about the invasion stripes are they historic or is it artistic license? All of the pictures and profiles I have seen of O'Brien's "Shanty Irish" have been sans invasion stripes. Don't get me wrong, I am no rivet counter and I think the stripes look great, just wondering if there was a picture/reference that I missed. Anyway, excellent job on an excellent kit!

    • Seamus,

      I love that name.

      Thank you for the nice compliment and before I respond to your comment about the stripes, let me say that I like them and I think they really enhance a model that had worn them. I never use decals for stripes I alway paint them. To your comment. Are they historic? Yes. Did I take license with them? Yes (a bit).

      Let me explain...

      but first you can take me to task for the amount of "victory" marks in this scheme. His final full victory was on 7/29/44, AFTER, D-Day. He got credit for 2 1/2 probables which may account for the eighth mark.

      Stripes were put on a number of aircraft, including Fighters, the day before D-Day. They were to remain on the a/c for 30 days. After that time the top portions were to be removed. At the end of 1944 orders were that ALL stripes were to be removed. (I will bet that some were not) As I said I like the stripes and knowing that they had to be on this a/c on 6/6/44 I put them on. Perhaps to have been more accurate I should have left off two victory marks. But what the heck I liked them the way they are. another thing about putting on invasion stripes is that it is common with or without decals that they all be applied in perfect mask. In reality some of the stripes were applied with whitewash and large brushes or brooms. It was a "hurry up and paint every airplane before tomorrow" event and very little effort went into it. But then again if one was to do that on this small of a scale it would look silly.

      I also think the "B" is the best looking. I asked Clarence Anderson (Old Crow) which one he liked the best and he also said the "B". So all of us are in good company. The same with me on the the Corsair, I like the "Birdcage" better. Now if only Tamiya would put out a 1/32 P-51B we would all be happy men.

      I like your work and enjoy all of your comments to myself and others. best to you and take care.

      • Ahh, there's the rub. I totally overlooked the time period. So yeah, at some time O'Brien's Mustang must have had invasion stripes on it. Good on you for thinking outside the accepted references.

  6. P.S. I also prefer O.D./Neutral grey Mustangs (B/D) over NM Mustangs.

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