A few months ago I picked up the Osprey Air Campaign book on Rabaul. The effort to isolate this important Japanese supply base by air was long and pretty interesting. It also included American, Australian and New Zealand aircraft. The Rabaul campaign was closely linked to American and Australian efforts to secure New Guinea and the Solomons before launching offensives at the Philippines.
It’s the perfect campaign to generate games for Airwar 1940, at least the way I enjoy the game. Bomb stuff, intercept the bombers, shoot stuff down. It’s easy. And the usual suspects are there. For the most part, it’s the Japanese naval aircraft defending the island and shipping, while also attempting the occasional counter-punch. Zeroes, Vals, Kates, the usual suspects are the defenders. Lots of American naval aircraft-TBFs, F6F’s, SBD’s and SB2C’s, with some AAF B-25’s, B-24’s and P-38’s thrown in for good measure.
For sure, I’ll be doing some of both, but right now I’m more intrigued with our allies in this campaign, the Aussies and New Zealanders. The Royal Australian Air Force is an interesting collection of American and British planes that is fairly unique. Lots of P-40’s in its various iterations from E models to N’s. The RAAF also includes a few B-25’s, and acquired, eventually, a lot of B-24’s, mostly J models. But, the Australians also include a ton of British planes. Beaufighters and Beauforts were used against Rabaul. In addition, there are plenty of Australian Spitfires, a fair number of Mosquitoes and the domestically designed Boomerang, and a host of other planes used in smaller numbers.
New Zealand went an entirely different route, procuring only American aircraft for their somewhat smaller air force. The NZAF sent P-40E’s and SBD’s to bomb Rabaul. But they also flew various version of the F4U and TBF’s.
If this is a topic of interest, I’d encourage seeking out a copy of the 1970 The Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand Airforce in the Pacific by Rene Francillon. It’s an Aero Pictorial publication. No color photos unfortunately, but lots of black and white and lists of every plane type and numbers of each for both countries. My well-thumbed used copy was ten bucks and worth every penny.
I’ve painted my first planes. I’ve had four very nice Scotia P-40N’s for well over a decade and not quite sure what to do with them. So, I went with the white tailed Australians of 80th Squadron that mostly flew over New Guinea, but could have made it to Rabaul as well. The miniatures are well-cast, look right for the later model Curtiss fighter and were a joy to paint.
This squadron painted their planes Foliage Green, which was popular in the RAAF. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any Vallejo bottles labeled Folage Green despite having six sets of their air colors. So I went with US Dark Green from the Vallejo USAAF CBI set. It has a slightly greener cast than an olive and seems to suit both the Australian and New Zealand planes. After letting it dry I lightened it with a little bit of white and dry brushed and got a decent weathering effect. Then it was on to the white tails. Underside with USAAF light grey. Voila.
The marking were from I-94. I used set BR106 which is for the British in SE Asia, but include Australian markings. I used the squadron markings for 76th Sqdn., but who cares. They are great. They don’t go a long way. I think I’ll have enough appropriate markings to do my next batch of planes, six Beaufighters, but I’ll need to find a different solution. I’m thinking Flight Deck Decals .
On the Painting Table
I’m working on my Philippine figures for my Philippine project. I actually bought a few more in October, just before leaving for Hawaii. I am currently working on more bolo-armed troops from Miniaturas 1898. They are a pleasure to paint.
Beaufighters have a base color. They are just waitin’.
What I’m Listening To.
The Byrds-Younger Than Yesterday.
This is a great record, the last of the Byrds albums featuring the classic line up of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” David Crosby would leave for CSN, and drummer Michael Clarke moved on. The album is great and features three dynamite songs. “So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star” is a terrific Chris Hillman/Roger McGuinn composition full of those wonderful harmonies and jangly guitars the band was so famous for. “By Back Pages” is a Dylan cover, and a truly memorable version of this song. Crosby and McGuinn share the songwriting credit for Renaissance Fair, another great tune that reminds the album came out in February 1967, anticipating the Summer of Love.