P-51B in Slovak National Uprising (1/48 Tamiya P-51B)
First, a little background.
In the spring of 1944, the Czech Government in exile in London and various resistance groups began to believe that the German occupation forces had been sufficiently depleted by the war on the Eastern Front that there might be an opportunity to successfully revolt. Preparations began in March 1944, consisting of gathering soldiers, airmen, weapons, and ammunition. Resistance groups intensified attacks on the German garrison forces in Central Slovakia. In August, 1944, Soviet forces were only 40 miles from the border of Slovakia, and the resistance decided it was time to strike. Units of the Slovakian Army and Air Force rose against the Germans and began attacks on 29 Aug 1944. Sadly, there was a lot of distrust between the various resistance groups and the Slovakian leadership, and the attacks quickly faltered. Although the Uprising failed, an intense level of Slovakian resistance continued until the end of the war in 1945.
So, how did US airplanes end up taking part in this Uprising? It seems that on 7 October 1944, 6 USAAF aircraft (2 B-17s of the 483 BG escorted by 4 P-51Bs) flew into Tri-Duby Airfield in Slovakia. The bombers carried supplies for the resistance, as well as 3 OSS teams. They departed with 18 allied pilots that had been shot down in Slovakia, as well as 5 French partisans.
One of the escorting P-51Bs was 43-6583 of the 4 FS/52 FG, flown by 2Lt Ethan Allen Smith. The Mustang was nicknamed "Meg X". Records indicate that Smith made a forced landing upon arrival at Tri-Duby which destroyed the aircraft. Lt Smith was hurt in the landing and was taken to Zvolen Hospital in Slovakia (obviously in the hands of the resistance). Smith was returned to his squadron after two weeks in the hospital, and he eventually returned to active duty.
My mother's parents were from Prague and came to West Texas before WW2 broke out. Lucky me! So when I saw these DK Decals for the Slovakian National Uprising, it was a no-brainer to build one of the planes. I had a 1/48 Tamiya P-51B, as well as an Eduard interior set, and the decals, so the plan was put into motion. Spiros (@fiveten) and John (@johnb) had just started a team build on a pair of P-51s, and they graciously asked if I would like to join their group build. So, off we went.
First, let me say I am not an expert on P-51s, so all of the expertise is in the kit. If you have built the Tamiya P-51B, you know this kit all goes together well. I used almost no filler. Tamiya paints were used throughout. I used artist oils to add a wash and do a little weathering. The only additional work I did on the plane was to add some simulated piping between the drop tanks and the wing. I ran into a little trouble with the DK Decals. The first set of squadron codes I applied to the fuselage shattered into 20 pieces. At that point, there wasn't much to do except remove all the pieces and try the second code. The "WD" squadron code went on the left side perfectly. You won't see any photos of the right side of the plane since there are no codes on that side. I managed to locate another set of decals in Australia, and they are winging their way here as we speak. When they arrive, I will finish the other side of my plane.
Overall, a really fun build and once again, a very gratifying experience to build a plane with a group of very good and supportive modelers. Thanks to Spiros and John, and I look forward to seeing your Mustangs here soon.