This is the first model I have completed since early July of this year. It feels rather nice to break up the logjam, and hopefully with the advent of fall weather I can get inspired to continue on this streak. I currently have a total of 4 less than I completed last year (35 vs 39) so exceeding that record is in sight. I was hoping to crack 52 – one completed each week on average – but that may be a model too far. Well, there are still most of three months left on the clock.
This model is an unabashed what-if. There are those in the IMC that find such things to be absolutely abhorrent; it is bad enough that some people will build models of Luftwaffe wet dreams, but producing a model in historically inaccurate markings – intentionally – is a violation that borders on the quantifiably evil. If that describes you, then you’d probably better stay clear of 72 Land for a couple of weeks because the two emerging from the production line after this one will be in this genre also. I won’t even describe the Bomber Command B-36 that is currently resting on the Shelf of Shame.
Basically I was idly considering one day why some aircraft types were never used by another branch of service or country. The real-world answer didn’t take long: interservice rivalry, “not-invented here” syndrome, performance or characteristics that just didn’t make any sense when one tried to fit the aircraft into a role it wasn’t designed for. But that doesn’t mean that some USAAC fighters wouldn’t look disturbingly cool in overall Gloss Sea Blue.
A bit of trawling on the net determined that others had considered this idea long before me. There were color sideviews and completed models of various non-existent types. If you are interested in the subject and are not familiar with the site, the What If Modelers forum (to be found at What If Modellers will give you a grand introduction to the concepts. Some truly wild things get turned into three dimensional plastic there. Both of the first two I considered had been done on the site more than once.
It was a simple concept. Imagine that a major frontline fighter was a disaster for some reason, and then consider what might replace it, and in what markings. Say the F4U1 Corsair tanked and the Navy had to rely on navalized P-51s. Yes, many navy pilots would rather put an engine on a seagull than take seconds on an air force fighter, but go with the flow here. So these navalized P-51s would likely get a tailhook, folding wings, and the paint job mentioned earlier. And then I looked at the reverse: no P-51s available, so the USAAC bought themselves a bunch of F4U1s and painted them up in Olive Drab and Neutral Grey for European service. (OK, given the timeframe it would more likely be overall natural metal finish, but I really wanted OD and grey).
I spent some time in the stash. I didn’t particularly want to expend a Tamiya kit on these what if types since I still have some P-51 decals I’d like to use on a real world example. But I had a nice Hasegawa P-51D that would serve well. And, coincidentally, it was already partially painted and assembled in some prior era of modelling. Before long, it was all together and masked for painting, and out came the Xtracolour GSB.
By the way, the tailhook for the F1J1 Sea Mustang came from the Corsair kit I used, since clearly it would not be needing it. Would a Mustang need beefed-up landing gear to cope with carrier launches and landings? Probably, but remember, I was approaching this as a Visualist, not an Engineer. So the markings were the most critical item.
While the paint was curing I looked through the decal stash. I found an old MicroScale sheet (72-511 if you’re interested) where I had used most of the markings, but there were still a couple of options remaining. I selected VF-76 based in the famous deep-water coastal port of St Louis. The markings, while not flashy, would fit on the surfaces they needed to. They performed as well as ever, considering how old this sheet probably is.
This is completed model #410 (#35 for the year), finished in October of 2012.