World War 2 plastic models part 2


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World War 2 plastic models part 2

This page continues from World War 2 plastic models part 1.

World War 2 spanned five years, from 1939 to 1945. This page covers (broadly) the second half of that war.

Scale model plastic kit Lockheed Lightning completed

Academy 1/48th scale P-38 (F-5)

This Academy 1/48th scale kit is a photo-reconnaissance variant (F-5) of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. It has a span of more than 12 inches in this scale. As is often the case with modern kits, it does not include a pilot, which I had to source separately. The one part with a poor fit is where the nose joins on to the main fuselage at an angle; just on the port side, you can see where I used some filler (not very well finished).

Plastic kit model airplane

Academy 1/48th scale P-38 (F-5)

The fighter version was flown in World War 2 by Robin Olds, who later commanded the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing flying F-4 Phantoms over Vietnam. The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (‘Le Petit Prince’, ‘Flight to Arras’, ‘Wind, Sand, and Stars’) was killed flying a photo-reconnaissance example during World War 2.


My first combat was anticlimactic. I saw a few halfhearted puffs of flak but sure loved the hot-metal smell of my new P-38, the odors of oil, hydraulic fluid, ozone from the radio tubes, leather from the seat, and the faint whiff of residual perfume from the WASP pilot who had delivered it.

— from Fighter Pilot, the Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds, 2010


Photo of a 1/48th scale Curtiss P-40N

1/48th scale Curtiss P-40N

This 1/48th scale Curtiss P-40N is the Hasegawa kit. The green jacket is the wrong color. I will get round to repainting it one day.


Photo of a 1/48th scale P-51 'red tail'

I finished this 1/48th scale P-51 as a ‘red tail’ of the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

The accuracy of the artwork on the fuselage by the tail is questionable. One surviving pilot of the ‘Tuskegee airmen’ said they modified the ‘Chinaman’ figure, which some of these aircraft already had painted on them when they received them from a previous squadron, to resemble a black man (in self deprecating humour).

The figures are an inch and a half tall.


1/72nd scale Spitfire PR XI

1/72nd scale Spitfire PR XI

This 1/72nd scale (the gentlemen’s scale, apparently!) Spitfire PR XI has a six inch span and is five inches long. It is a ‘resin’ kit that I made in about 1996 and refurbished in 2019.

Invasion stripes only on the underside of the 1/72nd scale Spitfire PR XI

Invasion stripes only on the underside

The PR XI, which the Americans also used, was the only Spitfire that could fly from its base in England to Berlin and back. It was a Mk.IX modified by removing the guns and installing fuel tanks in the wings instead. They installed cameras in the fuselage, took out the armour plating, and replaced the armoured windscreen with a smoothly curved one. The oil tank was also enlarged and it was housed at the front underside at the nose, resulting in a different curve there from that of the Mk.IX.

Allied photo reconnaissance aircraft were usually painted in this fairly dark grey with a blue tint, referred to as PR blue.


Photo of a 1/72nd scale Airspeed 51 assault glider

My 1/72nd scale Airspeed 51 assault glider

According to a section about the Airspeed 51 in British designed and built Military Gliders (see the link farther on) by Glyn Bradney:

The overall number of Horsas built is not known. It’s certainly a minimum of 3800 and some sources say as many as 5000. Just under 700 were built by Airspeed at their Christchurch factory…

Christchurch is where I have lived (mostly) since about 1964. I even worked in what was the Airspeed factory, which later became a ‘machine shop’ making cast iron wheels for railway station trolleys and the like. A system in which people with degrees in software engineering are employed to sweep factory floors at the national minimum wage in a time of a ‘critical software skills shortage’ is surely broken. (To be fair, everyone had to sweep up at the end of the day.) I digress…

Airfix 1/72 scale Airspeed 51 photographed in 1994

Airfix 1/72 scale Airspeed 51 photographed in 1994

This is the 1/72nd scale Italeri kit of the Airspeed 51 Horsa assault glider. It has a span of more than 14 inches. The figures are one inch tall.


Photo of a 1/72nd scale Waco CG-4A assault glider

1/72nd scale Waco CG-4A assault glider

The US equivalent of the Airspeed 51 troop-carrying glider (note the absence of engines and propellers) was the Waco CG-4A.

The ‘glider rider’ paratroops who rode them to the D-Day landing grounds on and after June 6th, 1944, suffered a high casualty rate. According to one history I read, that was only because the landings were made at night, for which no training or other preparation had been made. To land a glider you have to be able to see. (That definitely is one of many things worse than sweeping factory floors at the national minimum wage.)

I read that Waco was originally the Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio. It was renamed the Waco Aircraft Company in either 1928 or 1929.

The cockpit details of this Italeri 1/72nd scale kit are fictional, so it needs a lot of work if you want that detail. Apart from that, it is a good kit. It has a 14 inch span.

It was remarkably sobering to see the hundreds of American and British gliders littering the fields and orchards. Some were intact, but many had run head-on into the hedgerows bordering every open space and lay there smashed in crunched-up heaps. Their invasion stripes stood out starkly against the green of the fields, and I felt a pang at the thought of the men on board those wrecks.

— from Fighter Pilot, the Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds, 2010

The helicopter replaced the aerotowed glider as the preferred method of inserting troops behind enemy lines after World War II.


My 1/32nd scale Westland Lysander, which I think is a Revell kit, is fairly large because it was a surprisingly large airplane.

1/32nd scale Westland Lysander

1/32nd scale Westland Lysander

About 1942 or 43 the RAF changed from green and ‘dark earth’ on the upper surfaces of most aircraft to green and ‘dark sea grey’. Bombers, however, continued with green and dark earth uppers.


Photo of a 1/48th scale Fairy Barracuda torpedo and dive bomber

1/48th scale Fairy Barracuda torpedo and dive bomber

Dr Dunston Hadley, long time medical advisor to the British Hang Gliding Association, flew Barracudas in World War II. This 1/48th scale model had a lot of resin parts, as distinct from the normal polystyrene. The hard resin parts are much harder to finish and assemble. They included a torpedo, bombs, and aft machine gun, all of which I omitted from this model. (It is so large and plain it would look better in 1/72nd scale I think.)


Several World War 2 fighter aircraft in 1/48 scale

Several World War 2 fighter aircraft in 1/48 scale

I finished the Hawker Typhoon (nearest) as one of those that shot down a Ju188 on the edge of the New Forest in May 1944. For some of the consequences of that event, see Shooting a line—my review of Requiem for a Wren, by Nevil Shute and Requiem for an aircrew, my review of a book about the mystery of the Exbury Ju-188. This is the Hasegawa kit. They also make a version with the earlier ‘car door’ style framed canopy.

Internal links

Clive James on the North American P-51 Mustang and Other Aircraft

Wooden wûnder — my Airfix 1/24th scale De Havilland Mosquito (in service after World War 2)

Airfix 1/24th scale De Havilland Mosquito

Below treetop height

External link

British designed and built Military Gliders by Glyn Bradney (Acrobat document)