Hellcat theme 1/48 Hasegawa F6F-5 David McCampbell
As a continuation of the recent Hellcat themed articles, here's another one for your enjoyment tonight. This is "Minsi III", F6F-5 bureau number 70143. This is the plane in which he scored the last 23.5 kills of his 34 total.
This is another one of my Hasegawa Hellcats, built as a tribute to David McCampbell, who was the US Navy's highest scoring Ace during WW2. He earned his wings of gold on April 21st, 1938.
Not many people know this, but McCampbell actually served as a LSO (landing signal officer) from May 1940 until the USS Wasp was sunk near Guadalcanal on Sept 12th, 1942. He went on to become a LSO instructor teaching at NAS Melbourne Florida until August 1943. The last picture is a color photo I found online that actually captured McCampbell as a LSO in action on board a carrier.
In September 1943 he started VF-15 and later in 1944 he was promoted to the rank of Commander. A few months after his promotion, he became the Commander Air Group "CAG" of Group 15. This placed him in charge of all aircraft (fighter, bombers and torpedo planes) on board the USS Essex.
He was credited with 34 victories and survived the War. This made him the highest scoring American "Ace" pilot to live past the end of the conflict. The other two pilots who scored more kills than him were both from the US Army and flew P-38's in the Pacific. (Richard Bong with 40 kills, and Thomas McGuire with 38), but that's another story...
McCampbell also set a record with shooting down 9 aircraft on a single mission on October 24th, 1944. Right afterwards he returned to the Essex, but couldn't land because the deck was full. So he landed on the USS Langley instead. As he attempted to taxi away from the arrestor cables, his Hellcat ran out of fuel and he had to be manually released from the cable. Later the armorers found that he only had two .050 caliber rounds left amongst the 6 wing mounted machine guns... Talk about a close call.
Previously that same year during the Marianas "Turkey Shoot" on June 19th, he became an "Ace in a Day" by shooting down 5 Japanese planes (all reportedly "Judy" dive bombers). Later that afternoon on another mission he downed two more Japanese planes. This time they were the A6M "Zero" type planes.
He is the only US Navy Ace to become "Ace in a Day" TWICE ! I guess that's one of the reasons they called the Hellcat the "Ace Maker". I'm not trying to take away from this accomplishment by any means. Instead my intentions are to simply compliment what a great plane the Grumman Iron Works built.
He was awarded the Nation's highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor for these two particular missions. Sadly he passed away on June 30th, 1996. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
I have included several photos of the man and his machine along with one of his tomb stone in Arlington.
There has been some controversy about the kill marking locations and where the name "Minsi" were located. Some have said it was on both sides, others stated it was simply the port side, and yet others stated it was definitely on the starboard side only...
There were 3 planes named "Minsi" (and one named Monsoon Maiden) that he flew and I think that may be part of the controversy. I'm sticking with what I have presented since these wartime pictures show everything is on the Starboard side. Now with that said, someone will produce a war time photo showing something different. To complicate matters even more, I know of at least one restored Hellcat that showed the kill markings and "Minsi" on the Port side. I really don't know what is correct to be 100 percent honest...
Looking back at this one, I would have painted the wheel wells overall glossy blue if I had it to do over again.
The plane was built pretty much right out of the box. I sprayed it using Model Master enamels using an Aztek air brush, and didn't weather it at all. I presume it would have been well taken care of considering it was after all the "Bosses plane". From looking at the color photo it does look pretty pristine.
I hope you enjoy this one...
As always, comments are encouraged.