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Louis Gardner
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Flight 19 Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary Group Build A pair of Airfix 1/48 P-40’s and a 1/48 Hasegawa A6M-2

December 7, 2021 · in Aviation · · 33 · 2.1K

I have been extremely busy with all sorts of full scale life lately, and I have not had much free time available at the work bench. Because of this, I was not able to fully complete these models before the December 7th deadline. Sorry. I did my very best to complete this mission, please believe me.

Pearl Harbor... "December 7th, 1941, a date that will live in infamy."

I want to thank my dear Imodeler friends for participating in this "mini" group build. Without your assistance, this project of ours would not have happened.

I sincerely appreciate this team effort, and again I thank you all for your help.

Having a family with a long tradition of military service, (since 1776) and having an ancestor who was present here at Pearl Harbor during the attack, are the main reasons why I wanted to do this.

Never forget. Freedom is not free. These are all words we have heard on television, read in magazines or newspapers, or have overheard someone saying this... and it is very true. I wanted to do these builds for several personal reasons.

My paternal grandmother had a brother who was serving in the US Army, and he was stationed at Hickham Field during the attack.

He survived the events that occurred on that fateful morning, only to get killed several years later when he came home on leave. He was killed in a car crash before the War ended. My Grandma said that he was not the same when he came home, and how he was a "wild man"... After what he saw and what he went through that morning 80 years ago, I don't doubt that one bit.

The other main reason was because of a chance encounter.

I had stopped by to see some friends of mine who restore aircraft, exactly five years ago on December 7th, 2016. Please keep in mind this was a random visit, and not planned.

When I walked inside the hangar, I was greeted not only by my friends, but also by this absolutely drop dead gorgeous and beautiful . They told me the story about how it was actually there during the attack, and I knew that right then and there I would someday build a model of this very plane... The rest they say is history. I have been very blessed to have had access to some of the worlds most rare aviation treasures. These next pictures were taken on December 7th, 2016. The fat guy standing next to the plane is yours truly. 🙂

This P-40 was involved in a landing accident a month or two before December 7th. It was undergoing repairs and was stored inside Hangar number 4 during the attack that morning. This is a picture showing the actual hangar where it was undergoing repairs, and another P-40 that was destroyed while parked outside on that morning, a day or so after the attack.

Only by chance did the hangar survive the attack. The P-40 was repaired later in December of 1941, and became airworthy again. It was then completely destroyed a few months later (early 1942), sadly in a fatal flying accident, when the plane was flown into the upper hillside near the top of a Hawaiian mountain. I'm going from memory here, the pilot was killed, while flying in a fog bank and he didn't see the mountain top. The US Army retrieved the pilots remains, removed the weapons, and left what remained of the P-40 right there at the crash site, because it was very remote location and was not easily accessible.

It was rediscovered in the mid 1980's, then it was removed from the mountain, and the restoration process started.

So when I found a set of decals that were for this very aircraft I jumped at the opportunity to get a set. Using the 1/48 P-40B, I got busy and this is what I have done so far.

The P-40's are lacking all of the clear parts. They came with the kit, I just need to get them done and added. I simply ran out of time.

The kit supplied cockpit is good enough for me. If I can scratch a seat harness, the cockpit would benefit from that. I was crunched for time.

None of the canopy sections have been painted or installed.

On the Lt. Taylor plane, #155, it needs the "U.S. ARMY" lettering painted on under the wings.

The decals on this particular model had silvered horribly, and as I was cutting away the clear film after the decals had dried, I found out this particular decal didn't adhere to the model very well, and it started flaking off. So I will make a mask and spray it on soon. This is how it should look.

None of the small stencil decals have been installed yet on these two Airfix kits.

You can also see how the lighting affects the color. This should be OD-41 Green. I have previously built this Airfix P-40.

P-40 number 160 was flown by Lt. Taylor's friend, who rode in the Buick convertible at high speed along with Lt. George Welch to get to the airfield as quickly as possible. This is one of the decal options in the Airfix P-40 kit. Now as soon as I finish up the 1/48 Academy P-36, wearing the markings of Lt. Rasmussen, (the pajama pilot), I will have my Pearl Harbor P-36 / P-40 collection complete.

I picked out this next aircraft, "AI-154" because it was one of the very first, (if not THE very first) -2 that was lost during the attack. It is from the Japanese carrier Akagi, and was flown by a pilot, PO1C Takeshi Hirano.

These aircraft from the Akagi all had the tail code letters "AI", which was followed by a three digit number. gives you a lot of numbers and tail codes, where you can build almost any Zero from the Pearl Harbor attack you want.

This Zero was strafing a B-17 and it's crew as they were running away from the burning bomber. I think that Hirano was fixated on his target, when he flew so low that the Zero struck the ground, damaging the fuel tank and bending the propeller blades. A few seconds later it bounced off a street, crashed into a palm tree, and then skidded into a building, killing several US Army personnel. The engine was ripped off in the process.

The late Jim Lansdale at wrote this excellent article on the actual events.

Here is another version of the same story. This one is located over at History net, and some of the events are different.

I have always wanted to build a Zero with the outer wing tips folded upwards. I picked up a resin wingtip set. This is the end result.

The Hirano Zero was built in my usual "Iron Werke" assembly line fashion, just as the P-40's were.

I custom mixed the "Ame-Iro paint. It looks like a very light green in some light conditions. Yet it looks a brownish shade of light tan or gray in others. Now I know why this color is so hard to describe.

I used Model Master enamels, FS 34201 SAC (Strategic Air Command) Bomber Tan, and added in Gloss White until I was happy with how it looked. This color was closely matched to surviving relics from various Zeros. The white was used simply to get the so called "Scale Effect".

I covered the front faces of the propeller using Bare Metal Foil. The back side was painted using a German Armor color, "1943 Chocolate Brown".

The canopy is crystal clear.

The Hasegawa Zero is very close to being completed. I still have to paint the tail wheel, install the propeller tip decals and add a radio antennae lead cable. I'm also going to paint the red fuselage stripe, and remove the decal since it doesn't match at all. The original decal shattered. This should have been avoided, since I knew the decals were close to 25 years old.

When I do complete these builds entirely, I will be sure to come back and post a more detailed article on each aircraft.

I'll end this story with these two pictures of the opposing forces from that awful morning, 80 years ago today.

Freedom isn't free. It can disappear at the blink of an eye, and it should be safeguarded. If not, all of the pain and suffering that was endured by our ancestors will be for nothing.

As always, comments are encouraged.

Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

33 responses

  1. Hard to believe its been 80 yrs! The Boomer generation will never forget. Yes, freedom is not free. It also takes a lot of work. Good to see you back with a new post, Louis. A fitting tribute to that Day of Infamy. Bring on the photos!

    • Eric, @eb801
      Thank you for stopping by and for checking out these builds. Unfortunately I have not been able to get much "quality time" at the work bench. Things have been rather hectic lately. This too will pass.

      I wanted to do this for several personal reasons. My grandmother had a brother who was in the US Army, stationed at Hickham Field during the attack. He survived only to get killed several years later when he came home on leave. He was killed in a car crash before the War ended. My Grandma said that he was not the same when he came home, and how he was a "wild man"... and after what he saw and went through I don't doubt that one bit.

      The other reason was by chance, I stopped by to see some friends of mine who restore aircraft on December 7th, 2016. It was a random visit. When I walked inside the hangar, I was greeted by this beautiful P-40. They told me the story about how it was actually there during the attack, and I knew that right then and there I would someday build a model of this very plane... The rest they say is history.

      Lest we forget. Thanks buddy !

  2. Looking good, Louis! I really like that Zero.

    • John, @j-healy
      It is great to hear from you. I sincerely appreciate the compliments on the Zero. I have not had much time for building lately, and I didn't get to fully complete these aircraft. But I did want to get them posted up for this anniversary date. I am very happy with how the Zero is looking... and in haste, I managed to break off not one, but both of the main landing gear struts. Thankfully I have fixed this minor fiasco.

  3. Amazing job, my friend Louis!

    • Spiros, @fiveten
      My dear friend, I thank you very much for these kind words. I also want to thank you again for building up your wonderful 1/32 scale Trumpeter P-40B. It is a work of art ! I commend you Sir !

  4. What a nice shot of the two most famous aircraft during that day, Louis @lgardner
    Two beautiful aircraft against each other once again, but more peaceful this time.
    What an enjoyable moment it was when you visited your friend. The expression on your face is obvious.

    • John, @johnb
      Thank you for the compliments on these builds. I am very pleased with how they are turning out. Please stay tuned as I will be posting another article on these aircraft in the future, once I finish with the building portion. I will try to post articles on each airplane, individually this time, and not combined as they have been done here.

      Yes it was an absolute joy to see this historic plane on the anniversary date... It was meant to be. I think I had a smile on my face for at least a month or two afterwards... 😉

      Thank you again.

  5. Nice work Louis -as always!
    Best wishes

  6. I like it and they look great, Louis!

    • Gary, @gwskat
      Thanks buddy ! I really like how your Pearl Harbor models look too. I don't know how you guys can build anything smaller than 1/48. My fat as sausages fingers, and poor up close eyesight have caused me to sell off all of my 1/72 scale kits.

  7. coming along nicely! Well done.

    • Hey Greg ! @gkittinger
      Please stay tuned, as I have plans to post a better / more in depth individual articles for each of these models once they are completed. I'll have to take the pictures over again too, since a lot of things are not quite done yet.

      Thanks for the compliments.

  8. Fantastic build! I happy that you made group build! Decals that you used were from Kit or aftermarket set? I was sure that Airfix always give good quality of decals. About Hirano. I read that he recived AA fire, that hit on oil instalation. He fall down and crashed on the street. Relations of people that seen him was that He was no in one piece, and someone throw his head to dumster!

    • Lis, @lis
      Thank you for your comments. I have read where Hirano's body was buried as an "Unidentified Japanese Airman" in Hawaii on December 9th, 1941, after his fingerprints were recorded. I have never heard this story before about his head being tossed though. That would be very sad if indeed it did happen.

      I have read stories, and I have been told stories first hand by veterans that fought in the Pacific (and Korea) that on occasion Japanese (or Chinese / North Korean) skulls were sometimes taken as trophies. They were bleached and stripped of the flesh. Some were even sent home as "souvenir's". This is morbid by today's standards, but back then during the war, we all had a habit of dehumanizing the enemy, thus making it "easier" for our own troops to kill the opposing enemy. This happened on all sides, and war crimes were committed by almost all (if not every one) of the warring Nations.

      I wasn't there, so I can't comment on what I would have done, if I was in the same situation. It's very easy for us to talk about what we would, or would not do, in a situation like this, but it's a whole different atmosphere if someone is trying to kill you...with every means available to them.

      Thank you very much for the kind words on these models. I do have plans to build up several more and I will start a build journal in your new group build. I want to build a model of LT. Rasmussen's P-36 using an Academy 1/48 scale P-36 kit.

      I have read where Hirano's Zero was hit by anti aircraft fire on one account. In another version of the same story that was posted at, he was flying so low that he actually struck the propeller and drop tank on the runway causing damage to his Zero where it would not fly anymore. These different versions of the story are covered in the two links that I posted in the article. It seems we both chose the same History Net article, for some of our information on Hirano, so great minds do think alike.

      I used some of the kit provided Airfix decals on these P-40's. Various 1/48 scale Hasegawa decals were used on the Hirano Zero. On the P-40 that is numbered 284, I used a set of Wolfpack Decals, part number WD48015. They worked very good.

      Thank you for your comments, and I am looking forward to building something for your new group build.

  9. Beautiful work, Louis, and your story finally solved the mystery for me of whether the Army pilots were flying P-40s or P-36s - it was both!

    • Robert, @robgenev665
      Thanks for the compliments. I sincerely appreciate this. I have found that there were not only P-40's at Pearl, but several other types of US fighters were involved. The US Army had P-36's that were either left with bare metal, (like Phil Rasmussen's plane #86) or they were camouflaged in a similar manner as these P-40's were, wearing OD-41 over Neutral Gray.

      The US Navy had a contingent of aircraft arrive at Pearl that day from the USS Enterprise. These aircraft were SBD Dauntless and F4F Wildcats. Some were actually shot down by American gunners as they attempted landing. These planes were camouflaged in Blue Gray over Gray. There were also some USMC aircraft stationed nearby that were wearing overall Light Gray. This is a fascinating subject, or I'm an aviation geek, (or maybe it's a little of both).

      • Louis,
        Do you know if any of the Marine aircraft were SBDs? I have an SBD-1 I want to build in light grey, maybe I could build it as a Pearl Harbor survivor...

        • Robert, @robgenev665
          I am certain the USMC did have SBD's at Pearl Harbor. I have an Accurate Miniatures 1/48 dual kit that contains a Dauntless and a SB2U Vindicator. Both planes are from the Marine Corps, and they are painted in a solid overall light gray color, with white letters and numbers denoting the unit designation and aircraft numbers. They also have the US Star with the red center, but they don't have the red and white tail stripes painted on the rudders. The rudder stripes were recently painted over, and they are still slightly visible under the light gray.

          The instructions state the SBD-1 Dauntless is from VMSB-232, while the SB2U-3 Vindicator is from VMSB-231.

          Here are two pictures I took to show you what they looked like.

          Hope this helps.

  10. That is fine work Louis! I appreciate your article so much; freedom isn't free and we owe everything we have in our lives today to the brave men and women who preserved freedom for much of our world from 1939 to 1945. Thanks Louis! ?

    • Thanks Gary ! @garybrantley
      I couldn't agree with you more. I fear that we have as a society have either forgotten, (or it's not being taught in schools today), about what went on during this very pivotal era that you mentioned. I have been told by a teacher that some high school books being used today cover World War 2 in TWO paragraphs... and of course the USA was the aggressor. That to me is simply disgusting.

      The USA went from having a military that was ranked as #39 (I believe) in the world, to a dominating world wide super power that was the sole owner of a nuclear weapon in a matter of several years. Things very well could have turned out much differently if only one or two things were different back then.

      Back then our society was taught different ethics and values from what we have today. Granted some things were not right, but nothing is wrong with having a good work ethic or morals. Now it seems that good is bad, and vice versa. No one will accept responsibility for their actions, and don't even get me started about taking a knee for the flag. This is not the "proper" place for that.

      God help us if we ever get in a situation like WW2 again. Can you imagine how today's "me first" society would deal with gasoline or food rationing ? Need a new set of tires ? Yeah... right. How about that little victory garden in the back yard ? Not happening today. We are too consumed with our own little world to care about anyone else.

      So I'll get back to talking about modeling again. Cheers, and back at ya my friend... 🙂

      • Cheers to you as well Louis! In my classroom, students were taught about WWII for 17 years and I made sure they understood what was happening in the world that led up to that. We had assemblies each Veteran's Day and a group of elderly VFW members came to our school to raise the flag for the ceremony. Each year, I saw high school students clowning and laughing all the while and showing not one shred of respect.

        Back in my classroom, my 8th graders heard all about it! ? I told them how disrespectful their older friends and siblings had been, explaining that those old men and women had once been young and strong and brave and they and millions others just like them saved our world. They were told every year that they owed everything they had to those people. I was a very independent teacher; I taught from my own curriculum and the students were very successful with it. I'm afraid that many younger teachers simply don't understand or even know what I taught my students. And someone is to blame for that too. ?

        • Gary, @garybrantley
          I commend you for taking the time to teach your students what really happened. What is even more appreciated, is that you took the time to let them know what their upper classmates did was wrong, and why we owe a debt of gratitude that we can never repay to this generation... These brave men and women saved the world. Had they not stood up for what they believed in, the world would be a much different place today. Maybe we should take a lesson from them.

          I am a US Army veteran, and our Gardner family has had a long standing military service tradition, almost identical to that of the character played by Gary Sinese in the movie "Forrest Gump" as Lieutenant Dan. Our family has lost members in every War our Country has fought from 1776, when Colonel Thomas Gardner raised his own militia against the Red Coats. To this day it's still called "Gardner's Own" and is active as an Infantry unit in the US Army. Colonel Gardner was mortally wounded at Breed's Hill often known as Bunker hill, and General George Washington attended his funeral the following day. It was said that he would not allow his own son (who was serving under him as a Lieutenant) to see him, until he had recaptured one of the cannons back from the Brits. Needless to say, his son wanted to see his dad so as things turned out, he was able to finally see his dying father later that day...

          Thank God that my Dad broke the family curse when he served in the Korean War. Dad was wounded in Korea, but he didn't die... or I wouldn't be here. Dad had been in the Army for 12 years, when he decided to relinquish his Army career when they had just cut orders to send him to Vietnam in 1962, as a Special Forces advisor teaching the South Vietnamese how to fight. Had he not decided to hang up his hat and not re enlist, I might not be here either.

          My favorite teacher taught us history in High School. I owe a lot to him, as he sparked my interest of the subject, and it eventually blossomed into my love of history to this very day. His name was Jeff Ridgedill.

          Thanks again for the response, and your proper teaching methods. We need more teachers like you.

          I salute you Sir.

  11. Very nice work Louis (@lgardner).
    I am starting to belive that the idea of the group build was established in the end of Youre building project:)

    Once again thanks for having mee in the group and motivating me to first quick build ever.

    • Hello Lukasz @dalixan
      I sincerely appreciate your compliments on these models that I built. I had a lot of fun building and painting them, but sadly I have not had much time lately to complete them. These were started several months ago, but I have been switching between these and several other kits. I should have concentrated on finishing these up first. Lesson learned, well maybe 🙂

      I can not take the credit for starting the Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Wake, Ceylon, group. That one was started by Lis, and it's the group where you built a magnificent looking A6M. Full credit for that group should go to Lis and not me. Yes you are correct about the this smaller Pearl Harbor group being started a while ago. I think this one might have been going on for up to a year ago, possibly even more.

      Sorry for any confusion... However, should you decide to join us in any other group, such as the Empire of Japan, The Korean War or even the Luftwaffe groups, please feel free to do so, (if you have not already joined these). These groups I mentioned will be running for a while to come, except for the Korean War group, which will end in the summer of 2023.

      I would like to see you build something in any or all of these groups if it's possible.

      Thanks again.

  12. Hey Louis,

    What a group of builds! A really fitting memorial, your research is, as ever meticulous, and a real strength of your build process. It just means you keep delivering outstanding results!

    I'm glad you did a Zero from Agaki - it links out builds. I'm so impressed by your build here: your paint job is again the clean trademark look you have developed - I can't wait to see what you do with the new Eduard tooling. Many congratulations again - I wonder what Flight 19 will get up to next!

    • Paul, @yellow10
      First off, thank you for the kind words. This sincerely means a lot to me, hearing a compliment that nice coming from a builder with the skill set that you have.

      As far as the finish goes: I recently had an idea to mix Mr. Leveling thinner 400 in together with Pledge (or Future clear floor acrylic, whatever it's being called today) at a 50/50 ratio. This seems to work out very well. The clear acrylic flows out nice and smooth, plus it dries rapidly. The only downside is that if you apply decals too quickly, and the clear has not had several days to completely dry, you can experience a cloudy or milky looking area to develop where it gets wet from the decal water. This will usually dry again and eventually it will disappear. If it doesn't completely go away, then you have to spray on another layer or two of the clear acrylic mixture on top of everything, (which you should do anyway to seal the decals in).

      As far as the Zero AI-154 from the Akagi goes: I chose that plane mainly because there are a lot of pictures available of it that were taken after the crash. For many years now, I have seen this picture of a burned out B-17 at Pearl. It turns out this very plane is the B-17 the flight of Zero's from the Akagi were strafing when Hirano's Zero from either struck the ground or was hit by AAA.

      It was a very nice coincidence that you decided to build a model of the Akagi. I too thought it was very cool that our builds were actually linked, besides the Pearl Harbor theme.

      I have ordered a pair of the new tool 1/48 Eduard Zeros, and I expect them to arrive on the doorstep very soon, as they have been marked shipped. So please keep an eye out for that one ! Like you, I am super stoked about that new kit release.

      I also picked up a set of the Aviatic 1/32 Fokker D-VII decals for the "Seven Swabians", and will use the 3D printed / resin upgrades you sent me on the WNW kit soon. I sincerely appreciate that very kind gesture. This will be a new build journal as part of our Luftwaffe group soon.

      As far as what our Flight 19 group comes out with next is going to be a good question... Any ideas ? You can send me a PM if you don't mind.

      Thanks again !

      Take care my friend, and have a very Merry Christmas.

  13. Great entries from the Louis iron works. @lgardner

    • Lis, @lis
      This is the first time I have seen this video. Yes, you are correct, it is a very interesting one to watch. Thank you ! The way it is laid out, and especially how the original Japanese pictures were described is very professional. The graphics showing the layout of the ships and how each attack run was made is very impressive too. I learned a whole lot here.

      I noticed, at roughly 10:10 in this video, you can see when the Arizona exploded. Did you happen to catch the small secondary explosions that happened just after the main hull of the ship exploded ?

      I found out what these were earlier this year when I watched a documentary on the Pearl Harbor attack. Apparently, these were 16 inch main rifle powder bags that were exploding like fireworks. These powder bags were used to propel the main turret ammunition from the barrels of the guns The powder bags were ejected from the hull of the Arizona from the forces of the explosion, and they exploded only split seconds later outside the ship.

      There was also a small tsunami wave created by the force of the ship as it was lifted out of the water by the force of the magazine explosion. When the Arizona settled back into the water, it caused the Tsunami wave. They estimated these waves to be at least 30 to 50 feet high, and they swamped the nearby shores. You can see the waves crashing into the shore shortly after the main explosion.

      This is the first time I ever saw a video like this, that detailed the attack minute by minute. I found it to be very informative on this horrible day.

      I would like to know roughly which one of the high level bombing aircraft made the drop that struck the Arizona with the crippling blow, and hit the magazine well where the powder was stored. I would really like to build a model of that plane if indeed it is known which one it was. I think we can narrow it down a little. From best I can tell it was one of the five planes in the second "V" formation that dropped the bomb. Judging from the overhead photo, it could have been the lead plane in the "V", or even the plane next to the lead plane on the Port / left side of the formation.

      Now if we can figure out which plane it was and somehow determine the tail number... We know what carrier these planes came from. Any help here with this would be sincerely appreciated.

      Again I thank you very much for sharing it with us.

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