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Bill Koppos
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"Yonder they come!" December 7 (8) 1941 Philippines

December 6, 2016 · in Diorama · · 14 · 2.8K

Built this little dio a couple years ago, in line with my lifelong interest in the Philippine fiasco of '41-'42. Tried to represent a mad scramble of the 34th Pursuit squadron at Del Carmen field on the Day of Infamy. The opening title is not really accurate, as this was heard yelled at Clark field, but the 34th was reacting to the huge pall of smoke that could be seen from that major base in the distance. Squadron leader Sam Marret needed no orders from Group to scramble and so they did. Several of the worn-out P-35A's the 34th flew dropped out due to mechanical failure, but the rest ran into those highly maneuverable mystery planes which turned out to be the A6M Zero. Amazingly none were shot down but they were shot-up, and began an education which went on until 1945. Sam Marret lost his life 2 days later attacking an invasion convoy when he pressed his attack on a transport too close, being killed in the resulting explosion.

The dio starts with the 1/48 / P-35A. I did some interior work and some improvement on the fuselage spine/canopy shape. We really do need a new (, please?). 's 1942 staff car was close enough for a base hack, and the figures are modified CMK, Tamiya and .

Another small tribute to the men of the Greatest Generation, currently residing at the American Airpower museum in Farmingdale NY. A fabulously detailed account of the Philippine fighters is available in "Doomed At The Start" by William H. Bartsch.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

10 additional images. Click to enlarge.

14 responses

  1. Beautiful diorama.

  2. Bill, really great to see the P-35 done! And done so well! Agree a new one would be nice, even a P-43.
    I've always been interested in the Phillipines debacle. Ever read Walter D. Edmonds "They Fought With What They Had"? It's depressing.
    Just a fine diorama, nicely illustrating what happened. Behind from the start.

  3. Another KOPPOS beauty! Great job Bill, and it looks great on display at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale NY!

  4. Nice job, Bill...I like it!

  5. Really nice diorama, lots of action there!

    The P-35As in the Philippines did actually have a Swedish connection as they were meant for Royal Swedish Air force but were not delivered to us but brought to the Philippines instead. We recieved 60 planes but the next batch of 60 was diverted.

    For colour photos of P-35As in Swedish markings in the Philippines look here

    A Swedish J 9/P-35 was donated to the USAF museum in 1971.

  6. Nice looking work, Bill. Really enjoyed the short story.

  7. Nice job Bill and a great looking dio.

  8. Good job, Bill, I especially like the staff car.

  9. Great looking dio and a very nice Hawk!

  10. Thanks much Dudes. Went back and looked at my copy of "Doomed"-Two corrections-Sam Marett is the correct spelling, his P-35 was consumed when depth charges on the minesweeper he was strafing blew up. God rest them all.

  11. Wow Bill this is great. Thanks for remembering an important part of history too.

  12. A very nice diorama

  13. Nice work, Bill. I was fortunate to know Lamar Gillet, the only P-35 pilot to shoot down a Zero - it dropped out of the clouds in front of him and he fired and it exploded. He later survived the Bataan Death March and 3 years of slave labor in the Home Islands.

    These airplanes are little-known, but here's what he told me. They were in pre-war NMF, and then in October 1941, they painted the upper surfaces with Olive Drab. They had no primer, so the first time an airplane flew through a monsoonal rain storm (the monsoon hangs around in the PI till mid November), the paint looked like it had weathered 20 years, came off in big flakes. He said their greatest enemy was the New Mexico National Guard who manned the anti-aircraft defenses and shot at everything, just to be sure.

    Nice work on this diorama.

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