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Paul Mahoney
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Corsair chasing a shadow… or a zero… or… in the clouds

July 19, 2015 · in Aviation · · 16 ≡

Mid 1943 – a lone pilot has chased an unidentified aircraft into a cloud, and is now frantically searching for it. It is a fellow Naval Aviator? Is it an enemy aircraft? Or maybe just his own shadow?

“I Can't Identify that Aircraft!” was a common comment of US aviators in the early- to mid-war years. Realizing this, the US (and other nations) developed a program to train aircrew in the identification of all aircraft – friend and foe. Part of this program was the creation and distribution of ID models, all to a constant scale, to help visualize all types of aircraft. Interestingly, these models were all made to 1/72nd scale, and became the forerunners of one of the most popular modern-day modeling scales.
This vignette depicts an all too-common theme that played out across the skies of the world during World War 2. In this case, a 1/72nd scale Corsair is (ironically) in pursuit of an authentic WW2 ID model of a Mitsubishi “00” (Zero) fighter.
The Tamiya model was built mostly out of the box, with the addition of a pilot (comprised of the pieces of 4 different figures). Ailerons were deflected slightly to show the angle of flight, and landing gear modified to be shown in the retracted position. Decals are from the of Germany 1/72nd scale Corsair kit, and paints are a combination of Tamiya and Gunze Aqueous. The propeller effect was achieved by cutting a clear piece of acetate, scoring it with sandpaper to give the effect of motion, and shadowing in propeller blades with pastels.
The Zero ID model is from my personal collection, and is an authentic item from the time period.
The clouds were created using micro fiber fill, and held in place with hairspray. The ‘ocean' base is a piece of silk mat board, and the frame was a custom-ordered design.

Reader reactions:
3  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

16 responses

  1. You should be able to just make out part of the Zero in a few of the shots - it's almost directly beneath the Corsair - the wingtips and nose are barely visible.

  2. Very imaginative and well executed, Paul.

  3. Greetings :
    Very interesting display, very well planned out.

  4. I added a few Work In Progress shots - you can see the Zero in there!
    If you look in the finished photos, a wingtip is just visible directly beneath the Corsair's right wingtip in the first (title) photo, and you should be able to make out some of the Zero's tail structure just below the Corsair's fuselage national marking in the 3rd photo. It's slightly more noticeable in person!

  5. Paul this is a very creative way to display your model! I like it very much! Well done!

  6. Love the clouds, cool effect, spinning prop, and yes I can see the Zero, Nice work Paul. very nice.

  7. Hello Paul...Nicely done and quite creative presentation. It's always good to see a fine looking corsair build.

  8. Paul, imaginative idea to display models, and beautifully executed. The hide and seek aspect draws you in, where's Saburo?

  9. I like it Paul. The Corsair's spinning prop is pretty convincing too.

  10. Really like that plot.
    Poor pilot is sucking the padding out of the seat looking for ? What was it

  11. Paul, is that a wooden carved ID model, or a cast one? Both were used, guys in school carved the wooden ones using patterns supplied by the government, and companies like Cruver and Hawk did the cast ones in plastic, and some from plaster. Real small ones by Authenticast, say 1/200, in metal. Some are worth real money. GLMMAM has a 1/72 China Clipper, ours being the only one of that I've seen.

  12. Hi Bernard - it's one of the cast ones. I have a whole wall full of them - been collecting them for years. I have a few of the little Authenticast ones as well, but most of mine are the Cruver ones. I have a few oddball wooden ones too!

  13. great out of the box thinking...very cool

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