Kasserine Pass/Tunisia Campaign Hasegawa 1:48 Free French Hurribomber
This is my second contribution to the Kasserine Pass/Tunisia Campaign Group Build…
Borrowing a page from David Leigh-Smith, I have imagined the following story to accompany my presentation of the Hasegawa 1:48 Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc “Hurribomber,” presented as a Free French-operated fighter bomber in the North Africa campaign leading up to the culmination framed by the Kasserine Pass Group Build It is therefore background work for the North Africa scenario, not Kasserine Pass itself.
Émile Richaud, the pilot, has arrived at his post in Egypt through a perilous journey. His family has a long and proud history of service to France. His father, André, a Great War veteran, survived Ypres and was wounded at Verdun, but recovered and established his family after the war, earning a decent living as a small businessman making specialized tools for Peugeot, though the Richauds resided in Paris. When the Germans overran France, Émile and his two brothers fought valiantly, but his elder brother, also a pilot, was killed in an engagement with 109s, and his younger brother, and infantryman, became a POW. At the urging of his parents, a bitterly sorrowful Émile parted from them and his sister and evacuated to England, eventually consolidating with compatriots to form the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres. Just before he departed for North Africa, he learned through clandestine channels that his sister had joined La Résistance (hence the news), and that his father had been impressed into service as a “guest worker”; he labored for pathetic wages at the Krupp plant in Essen, but at least there was food on the table back in Paris as a result. It is with a particular sense of deliberation, then, that Émile pilots his tank killer: not only had the German beasts rolled mercilessly over his homeland and childhood memories, but his own father was being forced to make them.
I capture Émile, hunched down in the cockpit, just as he’s pitched his Hurricane over in a dive upon a column of Panzers…
The Model and the Bird
This was Hasegawa’s “Croix de Lorraine” 1:48 Mk IIa/b Hurricane. I liked the kit just fine, but unfortunately some pieces were missing, including those wing sections that would have enabled me to properly configure the airplane as a Mk IIa or b! Well, I like the cannon in the wings anyway, so presto! we have a Mk IIc, which I decided to work up as a full blown “Hurribomber.” I had two problems, though: first, I didn’t have the actual cannon—just the proper wing pieces. Oh well, there goes my “out of the box only” oath. So, $15 later, I have the aftermarket cannon I need. Next, I pirated the bombs and bomb racks from another kit and was surprised how close they resembled photos I found of Hurribombers.
As for the Free French markings, I have searched and searched, and very little is available (without scholarship-level research) on the Free French in North Africa. I have included some artists’ renditions below, and my plane is something of a composite. It is clear that the French liked the tricolor camouflage, as is evident even in this black and white photo…
…but other items varied greatly, especially the insignia size, color, and applications. Sometimes the Croix de Lorraine was red, sometimes blue…
Furthermore, sometimes the Croix de Lorraine roundel was placed next to the standard roundels on the wings, sometimes not. Bernie Hackett gave me some much-needed advice by pointing out that exiled Free French troops would have had to content themselves with RAF insignia colors in French configurations, because beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to field supplies; we must think of wartime footing and not ideal circumstances all around. In any case, I didn’t like the decals. Even if I were to imagine the dubious scenario in which the French blue were available, the red of the decals was far too orange. What you see is the result of me using a circle cutter with Tamiya sheet mask; the tail is also painted. (I’m OK with the results so long as I’m not wearing my magnifying headgear.) The Croix de Lorraine insignia on the fuselage are modified decals because I wanted them blue, not red, and Hasegawa didn’t offer an option. As for the overall paint scheme, I painted as if the Hurricane originally had the middle stone/dark earth scheme (sharp edges between colors), then was modified in the field with yet another dark earthen color (soft edges), because this is logical to me and follows the artist rendition I present here. Colors are Mr. Color lacquers with a sparing use of enamels and acrylics at finishing stage where needed. I pre-shaded the panel lines then finished with water colors and weathering powders I bought cheap at a model railroading store.
The significance of this iteration of the Hurricane in North Africa is that fairly early on—at least a year and a half before Kasserine Pass—the Hurricanes began to be seriously outclassed by the newest 109s. The new generation P-40s, ironically, had far more parity with the Germans by that point than the older Hurricanes (to wit, our GB has some great P-40s built by Louis Gardner). Waste not, want not, though: Hurricanes were modified with the Hispanos and loaded with bombs, and became much more useful as tank killer/ground support aircraft.
Hurribomber being loaded with ordinance in North Africa
Overall, the model is an homage to my compatriots in the Kasserine Pass GB, and if I may be so bold (and take the risk of slighting someone, which is not at all my intention), I would like offer credit to some friends in particular: Louis Gardner and Tom Bebout, who’ve been so very supportive with multiple build contributions (others have made multiple offerings as well, or are in process, but these guys are over the top, especially the Legendary Louis!). Greg Kittinger is to blame for my adoption of the “wheels up” approach on the last couple of builds. I won’t be as dogmatic as he, but I like the option and his presentation technique is simply fabulous. I also liked his Hurricane built for the selfsame GB, which obviously prefigures mine. Bernie Hackett is a tremendous aid on the historical technicalities of these things and, most of all, the gift of perspective in a hobby that lends itself to losing that virtue altogether. Lastly, credit for my overactive narrative imagination, so shamelessly imposed upon you all, goes to David Leigh-Smith, whose running narrative is one of the more entertaining things on iModeler at the moment; if you haven’t caught it yet, you’re the poorer man for the loss.
13 additional images. Click to enlarge.