Battle of The Kasserine Pass: Tamiya Dewoitine D-520 Aeronavale
It's early morning on a cool November day in 1942. The Allies have commenced "Operation Torch" with the invasion of N. Africa. 4 Dewoitine D.520's of Escadrille 2AC lift off from the Axis base of Port-Lyautey, mission to strafe the landing craft as they try to unload the invasion forces. Along with Hawk 75's (Curtiss P-36) and DB-7's (A-20 Havocs) on the runways also to attack the invasion force. Enroute to the target Lt Pierre Villeze notices in the distance several Hawks in combat with American naval F4F Wildcats. His wing man calls out a flight of aircraft heading towards Port Lyautey, SBD-3 Dauntlasses escorted by Wildcats. For the most part French pilots were already reluctant to attack the Americans and Allied forces with most wanting to fight for the right side. Still already flying combat against RAF aircraft, attacking the base at Gibraltar during the year it has been a rather eventful time for Pierre. Now as some tracers whizz by his canopy, as his flight has been bounced on by a pair of Wildcats. He breaks up hard left as he tries to evade his attacker looking quickly for his mates as he continues his turn away from the attack. Ever since the first flight took off earlier in the morning and attacked the beach unopposed. It has been downhill every since. Aircraft returning to re-arm only to be attacked by Anglo-American fighters and bombers destroying aircraft arming and warming up on the runways. It has been chaotic ever since. By 10:00 am the main runway is unusable at Port Lyautey Air Base, the order is given to withdraw to Sidi Yahia Rharb. Unfortunately this base is not very suitable to accept aircraft like the D-520 as it barely a plowed runway. As several D.520's suffered damage when landing. Which was already a problem for the Dewoitine with landing gear failures. Only 2 aircraft will land without damage. Pierre managed to evade his attacker and turn around to head back to base. On the way he sees 4 Wildcats about to do a run on the airbase, he manages to shoot at one of the Wildcats, and gets a probable. At the end of the battle when in hindsight why even fight the Allies, 19 aircraft were destroyed, the squadron commander was lost, 3/4 of the D.520's were wiped out. All for just 2 probable victories. Such is the fortune of war. Port Lyautey fell to the Allies soon after, and the N. African campaign was just starting. The French sided with the Allies soon after.
Tamiya's D.520 as far as I know is the only mainstream kit of the nifty little French fighter in 1/48th. Upon opening the box, it is amazing that it doesn't have very many parts, yet the engineering and approach that Tamiya has with this builds up to a very nice gem of a kit. Using Eduards zoom set to enhance the cockpit and Berna's excellent decal sheet for the Aeronavale markings. Being French, it will provide a unique scheme that is quite an eye catcher. Even the cockpit interior presents a color you will not see in another aircraft. Unless the Morane or other French aircraft used it, I will have to look into that if I build let say a Potez or Bloch aircraft of this era down the road. I used a mixture of RLM blue with USN Blue Grey and white to get as close to the interior blue used in the D.520. The exterior was Lt Blue/Grey, USN Blue Grey,MM enamel Burnt Sienna and French Khaki Green. With MM Yellow and Red for the tail and red for the spinner. Doing a little more research after the build, I found images of the actual aircraft that is on the decal sheet, depends on what time frame the photo's were taken, which the date is unknown, looks like the lower section of the nose should be yellow with a red stripe as well. Not unlike some of the D.520's where you see some had the nose fully painted in theatre markings of yellow with red stripes. Another battle that you don't read much about was the combat missions between French and Allied fighters. Wildcats vs the D.520's and Hawk 75's. I would like to thank David Thomas first and foremost for an excellent suggestion and historic significance of this major battle. Though we didn't win this one, it was a lesson learned by the Allies. And because of this setback we changed how we approached the Germans DAK, and prevailed. Next to those who encouraged and advised during the build. And those who submitted excellent work to represent the men, equipment and aircraft used during this campaign. What a great job y'all did. Thanks for the opportunity to honor the men who fought on both sides. Thanks for viewing.
27 additional images. Click to enlarge.