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Michael Smith
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75th AnniversaryBattle of Midway: U.S. Navy Aircraft with 1992 Autographs

August 21, 2017 · in Aviation · · 5 · 1.6K

This post was a little early on my weblog, but late to this build (I just saw it a few days ago) , but to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway net month I modeled one of each of the three types of carrier planes that operated from the U.S. carriers during the battle, choosing one from each of the three carriers. The aircraft I chose were ones piloted by aviators that I met and got an autograph from at the Admiral Nimitz symposium in 1992 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the battle while they were speaking on aerial combat in 1942.

SBD-3 Dauntless - Lt. Richard H. Best & ACRM(PA) J.F. Murray (VB-6) - U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)

Dick Best was kind enough to autograph my R.G. Smith print of him bombing the Japanese flagship Akagi as "C.O. Bombing Six, U.S.S. Enterprise Midway, 4 June 42." Wow.

F4F-4 Wildcat - Lt. (jg) William N. Leonard (VF-3) -U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)

Retired RADM Leonard autographed the oft-published photo of his F4F being launched from the Yorktown just as it was about to come under attack the afternoon of 4 June.

TBD-1 Devastator - Ens. George H. Gay, Jr & ARM3c Robert K. Huntington (VT-8) - U.S.S. Hornet (CV-8)

Ensign George "Tex" Gay - a Waco boy - was the only survivor of Torpedo 8's attack on the Japanese carriers the morning of 4 June. He spoke at the 1992 event and was kind enough to personalize his inscription in his book about his experiences. Getting the markings for his plane was a little difficult, since the squadron was changing its insignia before the battle, and most modelers put his "T-14" - or the earlier designation "8-T-14" forward of the star on the fuselage. But the Torpedo 8 film footage shots just before the battle showed at least some of the TBDs with the plane numbers behind and a little above the insignia, so I went with that.

The movie also showed each plane crew with their plane, and the shot with Gay and Huntington showed their torpedo personalized with a grinning snout, so I put that on my model as well. There is one discrepancy, however. Shortly before the battle, the squadron's commander John C. Waldron got the single .30 cal. machine guns operated by the tail gunner switched out for dual mounts. I didn't have a dual-mount, so I went with a single. When the parts box acquires a dual mount I'll switch it out.

This spring and summer is the first 1/72 aircraft I've finished in over 40 years, so my aircraft modeling technique is awful, but you have to start somewhere, and this seemed a good start! I built and painted these models at least ten or fifteen years ago, but hadn't finished them, and the anniversary motivated me to work on my airbrush technique and get them done. The next generation of models will hopefully be better quality and more accurate.

Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

5 responses

  1. Quite the collection to be envied by we fellow aviation buffs. Well done!

  2. Ditto of what Craig said. your models look great, and welcome sir!

  3. What great memorials to some real heroes! This is an enviable collection of planes & photos with autographs that you've done and collected, Michael.

  4. A great collection.

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