MiG Group Build : 1/48 Tamiya MiG-15 bis, Captain Pavel Milauszkin, 176 IAP / 324th IAD, Korea 1952.
This article is part of a series:
This model was built as part one of a project that I have been wanting to do now for a very long time. The recent MiG Group Build was the perfect opportunity.
This is the first half of the project…Please follow along and I’ll explain. It turns out this particular MiG-15 has a very interesting story behind it.
Not many people know this, but during the Korean War, the Soviet Union was sending some of their fighter pilots to fly and fight in the skies over North Korea. They were using “MiG Alley” as a training school of sorts. It was a very dangerous classroom, with real bullets involved !
These Soviet pilots were not allowed to fly over areas that were held by UN forces. If they had to bail out, they were under strict orders to kill themselves before being captured alive. Under no circumstances could they be captured alive.
This model represents a plane that was flown by a Russian pilot named Captain Pavel Milauszkin. He was an ace and had 10 confirmed victories. Now here’s where the story takes a little twist…
My Dad grew up in a tiny little town in Pennsylvania named Weedville. This little town makes up part of an area that is commonly called “Bennett’s Valley”. During WW2 and the Korean conflict, there were a lot of young men from the area who signed up for military service and were deployed overseas. My Dad was one of them… and he saw combat as an Infantry “Grunt” and as a “Tanker” in the Korean Conflict or “Police Action” as it has been called.
My Dad had an older childhood friend from his hometown named Michael Rebo. His nickname was “Mickey” and ironically his family was of Russian descent. The Rebo family had 5 brothers, and all five served our country in the armed services of the United States during WW2 and the Korean War era.
This next part of my article was partially copied from a local newspaper story and from an online website called “The Mount Zion Historical Society”. This is a dedicated website for military members of the surrounding Bennett’s Valley area in Pennsylvania. They also operate a small veterans garden and have brick pavers with veterans names engraved on them. These brick pavers are part of a walkway entering the area. My Dad has a brick paver with his name on it there too…
Prior to joining the US Air Force, Michael Rebo had served in the US Navy during World War 2 at the same time as four of his brothers also served in the military.
Mike’s oldest brother was Lt Joseph D Rebo- and he was a B17 pilot in the 8th Army Air Force, stationed in England. Joseph flew with the 351st Bomb Group, 510th Bomb Squadron (the “Devils”) from Polebrook Airfield in Northamptonshire, England. One of their most famous members from this unit was the American actor Clark Gable.
Joe might end up as the subject another build, if I can find out some information on any plane he flew. He is known to have piloted some B-17’s with the following names. “The Uninvited Guest”, “War Hawk”, “April Girl II”, and “John Silver” to name a few.
The one plane in particular I’m looking for is a B-17 that he belly landed on the “occupied” side of the channel after losing 3 out of the 4 engines on a bombing mission. This mission involved the crew in a flight that spared all their lives. One engine was lost due to flak while en-route to the target and a second engine after bombs away. Unable to keep up with the group they were now alone on their return. Over France the flight engineer called out “Two fighters-One o’clock high.” The German pilots were attacking from different directions. There was a cloud formation below them and Lt Rebo told the crew to hang on as he nosed the B-17 down in a steep dive. The fighters and the B17 began firing at each other. One fighter was hit and went down. Engine #3 of the B17 was hit, and had to be shut down. Flying on only one engine they had a 50% chance of reaching England. They decided to land their B17 in an open space along the French coast. They broke out the rafts and jumped into the Channel. Fortunately, they were picked up by a British Destroyer and made it back to fly another day.
After this happened, the crew was finally brought back to Polebrook…
Mike Rebo’s other brothers who served in WW2 are:
Staff/Sgt John H Rebo (who later retired as Chief Warrant Officer)
Tech/Sgt. Andrew Rebo in Army Intelligence
Army Private Alex Rebo in the European Theater
The Rebo family and the Bennett’s Valley area must have been proud of these five Rebo brothers’ service as veterans during World War 2.
There were also 4 Gardner brothers serving in the ETO as Infantry “grunts” at the same time, but that’s another story… One that almost follows the same plot line to the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. Our family lost two brothers killed, and had the other two seriously wounded in a matter of 108 days. One brother jumped into Normandy as part of the 101st Airborne, and was later wounded at Bastogne. Someday I’ll cover these stories too…
“Mickey” looked up to all of his veteran brothers, but especially his older brother Joe for being a pilot-
Joe enticed Mike to join the Air Force to become a pilot.
Before joining the U S Air Force, Mike Rebo attended Penn State University, using the new GI Bill, then went on to complete his pre-flight training at Perrin AFB in Texas, and finally his jet training at Williams AFB, Arizona. Soon First Lieutenant Rebo, now a fighter pilot flying F-84 Thunderjets, was assigned to the 9th Fighter Bomber Squadron -The Flying Knights- (49th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 12th Air Force) in South Korea during the Korean Conflict.
My Dad told me that on occasion, Russian speaking pilots could be heard talking on the radio during combat over the skies in Korea. Mike Rebo, with his family being of Russian descent, was also fluent in speaking Russian… and occasionally he was reported to “taunt” the Russians verbally over the radio while flying in his F-84. Marine Corps Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington did this same thing occasionally with the Japanese in WW2…
On November 10, 1951, while on a combat mission, his flight of 12 F-84Es was attacked by an enemy flight of 24 to 30 MIG-15s 30 miles southwest of Pyongyang, North Korea. The American pilots didn’t stand a chance as the MiG’s sliced through them like a knife goes through hot butter. The F-84’s were armed with ordnance for a bombing mission, which was quickly dropped to help them maneuver against the MiG’s in a swirling dogfight where they were outnumbered at least two to one… in the MiG’s favor.
The last radio traffic from Mike was that he was wounded and was going down. He and his airplane were never found… at that time.
He was initially listed as Missing in Action.
The whole “Bennett’s Valley” community rallied around Mike’s Russian immigrant parents, while they were awaiting word from the Air Force. It was later on December 31, 1953, that Mike was officially presumed dead, with his official death date listed as November 10, 1951. The same date he was shot down and killed by Captain Pavel Milauszkin… flying this very MiG-15.
Mike’s wife, Mona J. Woodring Rebo of Medix Run, Pennsylvania, posthumously received the Air Medal and Purple Heart for his meritorious action in battle from General Rogers at Luke AFB, Arizona.
Lt. Rebo was also awarded the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal, plus his flight unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.
Lt Michael Rebo’s name is inscribed and honored in the courts (the “Tablets of The Missing”) representing American servicemen missing from the Korean War at the Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii. A memorial marker also has been placed in the Morningside Cemetery in DuBois, Pennsylvania.
Now Michael Rebo, (along with his brother Joe), have been honored as a “hero” by the Mt. Zion Historical Society and as one of its initial “Heroes of Air Power” with their recent articles appearing in a local newspaper on these two brothers.
As it turns out, Mike Rebo was actually shot down and killed by the pilot who flew this very same MiG-15 that I have presented to you here. Mike was represented as a little red star on the side of this MIG-15, and is one of the 10 confirmed kills made by Captain Pavel Milauskin during the Korean War.
Mike’s partial remains were only recently repatriated several years ago from North Korea, when they were handed over at the DMZ that runs between the border of North and South Korea today. DMZ is an abbreviation for De-Militarized Zone. The present day “DMZ” follows the lines of the front after the war had stabilized, which began to resemble the trench warfare that was fought during the First World War. It is currently a hot spot… with land mines, barbed wire, observation towers and foot patrols. Occasionally a few rounds have been known to cross the border, and there have been several infiltration attempts made.
After DNA samples were obtained from his surviving relatives, and a positive match was made by the Department of Defense, Mike was finally returned to his family.
1st LT. Michael Gordon Rebo
9TH Fighter Bomber Squadron
Aircraft Type: F-84E
Aircraft Serial Number: 51-549
If anyone has any information or photos of this particular plane please contact me. I plan on building up a model of Mike’s F-84E in the very hear future, using the Revell 1/48 kit as a tribute to my Dad’s childhood friend. It will look very close to how this one does in my kit stash… The markings will be very similar to the one shown on the side of the box with red and white diagonal stripes.
I wish to thank Dmitry Stropalov @starfar and Sebastijan Videc @inflames for their advice and assistance with researching the proper colors that were used on this MiG. This model would not have been as authentic without their assistance. Thanks again gentlemen. I sincerely appreciate your help.
Going on now to the kit build:
It was built using the Tamiya 1/48 scale “Chrome Plated” edition. It went together very easy. Not much to say here other than this: If I had a choice I would go with either the chrome plated version or the regular plastic kit if you can find one. There is also a clear edition that was produced. This would show the engine detail very nicely if you wanted to build one. They include a separate set of clear fuselage parts in this particular kit.
All of these are very nice models………….. but you have to scrape away the chrome plating in the glue joint areas on the chrome plated edition. Plus the plastic seems to be a different formula and is a darker color gray on the chrome kit. The glue didn’t take too well in some places during assembly, and required some additional work to get things to stick on the chrome kit.
I also had a problem with getting the radio antennae to stay put. I kept breaking it off… My fault, not the kit’s.
A small nose weight is included, and it keeps this one from being a tail sitter. A very nicely detailed engine is also included. It can be displayed since the model is designed to come apart in the middle section of the fuselage allowing this. However, since I decided to add the radio antennae cables, I can no longer separate the two fuselage sections. This would pull away the antenna that I made using EZ line. A separate little trolley cart is included with the kit to support the tail assembly if you decide to do this. It’s a very nice touch and gives you options.
In the very beginning, I had planned on building this model using the regular MiG-15 kit, and covering it with bare metal foil. But partway through the build I found a “Chrome Plated” version online that was for sale at a price that I couldn’t pass up.
So I made the purchase and used the chrome plated version so that I could make the deadline in time. I still used various shades of Bare Metal Foil in the locations that I had scratched the chrome plating.
The plating is very thin, and is easy to damage if you’re not careful. The seam lines were also covered with foil too. I think this is a great little kit, and wish that Tamiya would start producing them again. Currently they are discontinued… too bad as they really build up nicely. No putty was needed anywhere. The fit is that good.
I decided that I would try something new on this build. I used the stretch thread called “EZ Line” for the radio antennae. This was done after I went online and found pictures showing how the antennae cable was routed on the real MiG-15.
Tamiya has done a fine job in my opinion with the air intakes. They also incorporated the landing light and gun camera rather nicely. Here’s a close up photo of this.
The real MIG-15 had various exterior finishes from what I have read. Some were reported to have left the factory in a bare metal finish, with a clear lacquer protective coating applied to the outer surfaces.
Others were reportedly painted using the same clear lacquer, but with a slight twist. They added a small amount of aluminum paste to the formula which would give an overall appearance of being painted in a shade of aluminum.
I chose to model my plane with the flaps deployed, although most of the pictures show them being raised when the aircraft is parked on the ground. I wanted to show the details that Tamiya provided right out of the box. I chose to leave the speed brakes in the closed position, but that too is another option you have if you’re building one of these little jewels.
The cockpit is mentioned as being a bit sparse by some. However it looks good enough for me “as is” right from the box. No additions were made other than to use a set of “Aero Master” aftermarket decals.
I made a work in progress build journal here, in the MiG Group build section. I have three other Tamiya MiG-15’s currently underway. I plan on finishing these others up with various Chinese and Soviet Union markings.
There’s a lot of great builds going on in this MiG group build area. If you haven’t looked for yourself, you don’t know what you are missing. Here’s the link to the build journal for this MiG in case you are interested.
I have always said that freedom is not free. This build is a testament to those who never made it home, and how former enemies can eventually become friends.
Lest we forget….. POW / MIA At least now Mike’s surviving relatives have some closure. I wish that Dad was still alive to have seen this happen.
I have been thinking about having a Korean War group build that would start on June 25th, 2020, and end a little over 3 years later on July 27th, 2023. This would be exactly 70 years to the date afterwards. It would be our remembrance to the “Forgotten War”. Anything that was used during the conflict could be modeled. This leaves a lot of opportunities to build things from either side, and would also include equipment operated by the UN Forces, as well as the Chinese and North Koreans on the other side.
What are your thoughts on this ?
Comments are encouraged.