Author Topic: Northrop P-61F - "Putt Putt Maru" - Col. MacDonald  (Read 6766 times)

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Offline Logan Hartke

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Northrop P-61F - "Putt Putt Maru" - Col. MacDonald
« on: July 15, 2013, 08:36:42 pm »
As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.  I've also submitted this to the Beyond '46 GB over at the Beyond the Sprues Forums.



After the unqualified success of the famous mission to kill Admiral Yamamoto in the summer of 1943, the Fifth Air Force spoke with Northrop about the possibility of developing a variant of the P-61 to serve in the very long range day fighter role. This variant would be primarily intended to escort the B-29 in its missions over Japan. After a visit to Northrop to inspect the mockup of the fighter escort proposal, Northrop was given a contract to build 500 long range escort fighters. In order to speed up the development process, the AAF contracted Northrop to build several prototypes to test the various aspects of the new variant. Two XP-61D prototypes would test the turbo-supercharged R-2800 engines on converted P-61As. Two XP-61E prototypes converted from P-61Bs would test the new two seat center fuselage layout with guns in the nose. Finally, a single XP-61F prototype would combine the new features in a final flight test program as the first production aircraft were coming off the line.

The urgency afforded the program would pay off, and the XP-61F first flew in the autumn of 1944. In an effort to further speed up the process of getting the aircraft into combat, experienced P-38 Lightning pilots were sought to train units on the P-61F. Shortly after marrying his sweetheart, Marge Vattendahl in February 1945, Major Richard Bong was asked to return as an instructor to his old unit, V Fighter Command, the first combat unit slated to receive the new aircraft. In preparation for this, Northrop customized a newly completed P-61F for Maj. Bong’s demonstration tour. Based on his famous P-38, the presentation aircraft carried his full 40 kills, the red markings, and even the signature “Marge” photo print.

In spring 1945 both he and the first P-61Fs would arrive in the Pacific and begin combat operations. In order to convince the units coming from P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s of the big new fighter’s considerable speed and maneuverability, famed Northrop test pilot Johnny “The Maestro” Myers accompanied Maj. Bong and put the new aircraft through its paces in front of the best pilots in the PTO. After one flight, they were convinced. The P-61F was the best fighter in the theater and soon it would get a chance to prove itself.



You can see in the detail shot above how much work Talos put into the fantastic graphics for this profile.  On Bong's P-38, the photo of Marge was a pasted on print that was hand-colorized by a member of the squadron.  It often came off in flight and had to be replaced.  Just like the original, Talos painstakingly colorized this one himself.  He went through a number of iterations, but I think you'll agree that it all paid off in the end.  He did the "Marge" text on the aircraft and the customized kill markings, as well.

Cheers,

Logan
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 09:04:27 pm by Logan Hartke »

Offline scooter

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Marge" - Maj. Bong & Johnny Myers
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 02:36:32 am »
That's awesome.  Are we going to see Thomas McGuire's "Pudgy" as well? 
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Marge" - Maj. Bong & Johnny Myers
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 07:23:57 am »
Sadly, that's one of the only "ace" P-38s that I can't really do.  The timelines don't work out.  He was dead before this variant would have gotten to combat units.  You're likely to see some of the other famous V Fighter Command aces get a P-61F, though.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Marge" - Maj. Bong & Johnny Myers
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 09:12:02 am »
Good to see this has been nom'ed for a Whiffie, it deserves it!

:cheers:

Guy
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Offline Captain Canada

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Marge" - Maj. Bong & Johnny Myers
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 04:35:56 pm »
Nice one !

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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 10:49:20 pm »
As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.  I've also submitted this to the Beyond the Sprues GB over at the Beyond the Sprues Forums.



As deliveries of the big new Northrop escort fighter increased to units of the Fifth Air Force, additional veteran pilots would transition to their new mounts.  One of these was Captain Leroy V. Grosshuesch, commanding officer of the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group.  Grosshuesch had already scored seven victories flying Thunderbolts with 39th FS.  The 35th FG began operations from Okinawa with its P-61Fs in late June 1945, and on 12th August 1945, whilst flying this aircraft, he tallied his eighth and only P-61F victory, shooting down a Ki-84 Frank west of Bofu airfield, Honshu.  This was not, however, his first P-61.  His first was lost in an incident that would earn him the Silver Star.  On 30 July, Capt. Grosshuesch was credited with single-handedly sinking a Japanese destroyer off Goto Retto, near Kyushu. Grosshuesch's description of the action is below.

Quote
So, on this day four of us were on a "search and destroy" mission over Southern Japan. Normally, this was a great mission where we were free to search for targets of opportunity. However it was not a good day because we had a heavy overcast at 1000 to 1100 feet, so our ability to see ahead was quite limited.

We found some targets and attacked them, but wanted to find something more. I headed in a westerly direction and on the horizon saw an island, which was Goto Retto, a Japanese naval base, but we didn't know that. The mountain tops were up in the overcast, but there was a valley between two of the peaks which formed a "V" shaped opening through which we could see the water on the other side. As we approached, we were surprised to see a destroyer followed closely by another one sail across the space. Our P-61's had no bombs that day, just our four machine guns and four 20mm cannons, but we decided to make a strafing pass, not expecting that we could do much damage except to the personnel. Because of the narrow opening, we had to go in in trail. We took them by surprise. I gave a burst on the destroyer in view, and turned left because the harbor was not very wide and on the other side there was a range of mountains, their tops all in the cloud cover. It was a fateful turn! The other three turned right which was a stroke of luck because that let them exit the harbor. If all four of us had been inside the harbor, like I was, the destroyers would have surely shot down some of us.

As I turned to the left, I saw directly in front of me the naval base, and they started to unleash their anti-aircraft guns. I quickly turned right hugging the far side of the harbor, which was not far enough away to keep me out of the range of the two, now alerted, destroyers. I had seen ack-ack many times before, but nothing compared to this. The sky was filled with tracers and explosions, and they were all aimed at me. I don't know what was behind me, but it was awesome in front of me. They seemed to be shooting above me, so I couldn't pull up through all that flak into the clouds. I had to dive but there wasn't much space to do that. I decided if I was going to get "it" I would do as much damage as I could before they hit me. I dived and turned into the rear destroyer. I let go a long burst aimed at the water line of the ship. I must have hit the ammo magazine because the destroyer exploded. It was a terrific explosion--a huge, gigantic ball of fire which I had to fly through because I was too close to avoid it. As I burst out of the fireball I was heading for the "V" under the clouds, so I exited the way I had come in.

One of the guys in the flight said: "What the hell was that?" Another voice said: "I think Lee dove into the destroyer." By then, my heart had gotten out of my throat so I told them that I was OK, but damaged. We got together and returned to Okinawa. I had sunk the destroyer, but my poor P-61 was so riddled with shrapnel and debris from the explosion that it had to be scrapped. I don't know what happened to the other destroyer, but it must have been severely damaged by the huge explosion so close to it.

At one of the reunions, one of the crew chiefs said: "I don't know what all he did, but I know one thing, he is one of the luckiest guys in the whole world." I couldn't disagree with that.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 10:54:04 pm »
That's magnificent Logan!  :thumbsup: :bow:

One of my fave aeroplanes, in all it's variations. And the 'action report' is superbly done as well.
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 10:58:12 pm »
Thanks, Kit!  The action report is Grosshuesch's own words, actually.  I just added "and 20mm cannons" and replaced "P-51" with "P-61".  That really happened, and with considerably less firepower and airframe heft at his disposal!

http://cobraintheclouds.com/colonelleegrosshuesch.html

I'll be posting the "build" details on the Beyond the Sprues forum thread, so keep an eye out for it there, Kit!

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 11:18:12 pm »
Ahah!  ;D

I automatically assume that EVERYthing on here is the subject of someone's imagination. Now you've 'upgraded' Grosshuesch's mount and thrown me a curve ball.  ;D

I like the way you've transferred his aircraft's title from one type to the other, are the red/white rudder colours from his P-51 too?
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 11:54:09 pm »
Yes, indeed.  The majority of my profiles are somewhat more grounded in reality.  In fact, if I've got a direct quote or citation, it's pretty safe to assume that I grabbed it from somewhere else and edited it to fit.  The markings are entirely from his P-51D.



The blue on the spinner and on the engine come from it, as do the tail stripes and two command stripes.  I don't know if they'd have done them on the booms AND the center fuselage, but I did.  I originally was copying the black bars, too, but something I had read was nagging at me, so I did some more research to jog my memory.  So, quick history lesson here.  The Fifth Air Force in the Philippines painted black stripes on the wings and fuselage of their single-engined fighters in that theater.  This was to prevent their pilots from mistaking other US aircraft for Japanese aircraft.  Many units carried this practice over to Okinawa and the 35th FG did this with their P-51s.  The Fifth Air Force did NOT, however, do this with the P-38 Lightning.  Why not?  Well, how many Japanese fighters look like the P-38?  Exactly.  Well, the same would have held true for the P-61F, so I deleted them from the final profile.  They may yet make an appearance, however.

The new part of this profile is also the 110 gallon tank under each wing.



Cheers,

Logan

Offline TallEng

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 03:37:50 am »
That really is rather nice  :thumbsup:
It always helps to have a good back story.

Regards
Keith
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Northrop P-61F - "Putt Putt Maru" - Col. MacDonald
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2013, 09:24:01 pm »
As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Another Fifth Air Force ace to fly the P-61F long range escort fighter variant of the Black Widow was Col. Charles H. MacDonald, commanding officer of the 475th Fighter Group.  Each of ‘Mac' MacDonald’s assigned Lightnings were named PUTT PUTT MARU, and he continued this tradition when he converted to the P-61F.  The fifth PUTT PUTT MARU (P-61F-1-NO 43-14024) has Col. MacDonald’s 27 victory flags painted under the canopy.  This is what Col. MacDonald wrote about long-range combat operations in the Pacific after transitioning to the new P-61F Widows.

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Up to the present operation, our missions were averaging around seven hours of flying.  For these missions it is necessary for each pilot to know, unequivocally, the maximum performance of his aeroplane.  It is more important for a fighter pilot in the SWPA to know how to get the most distance and the most time from his gasoline than to know the minimum speed from which he can do an Immelman.  Of course, a good fighter pilot should know everything, far from the least of which is how to shoot.  Never fire long bursts.  This procedure not only wastes ammunition, but heats the guns to the point where the bullets lose speed and direction.  With the new aeroplanes our enemy is developing, and the psychological effect of fighting closer to his home land, I do not doubt that we will have to revise our opinions and our tactics.


Here's a detail shot of the nose art on this profile.  I have to admit, I am quite proud of how the markings on this aircraft turned out.  I had to do a lot custom work to get those to turn out alright, more than I expected.



I hope you all like it!

Cheers,

Logan