"Bolts From The Blue"
Part Two - American Jabo
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt
available online from Squadron.com
American Jabo - a
St Dizier, France
February 14th, 1945
My Dearest Alicia Jean,
Happy Valentines Day my sweetheart!
I received your letter with the newspaper clipping the other
day. How I love to hear from you and how jealous the other guys get when admire
your picture over my rack. The fella’s give me flak about how a bumpkin Tarheel
like me could ever land a lady like you…Lucky stars or something I guess. I
can’t believe the paper did a story on me! Heck, I ain’t even an ace yet, they
must be desperate for news down there in Raleigh. Hope the combat stories didn’t
scare Ma and Dad too much. It really ain’t as bad as they tell you, the Germans
hardly flies anymore so we just gotta avoid those dang guns. But we gotta a
smart bunch of guys here and the old man really knows how to lead his outfit.
Ain’t nothing like Brian has to put up with out there against the Japs. Heck
what was he thinking joining the Dang Marines anyway? How is the rest of the
family, I haven't…
The note was left unfinished on his rack with the folded newspaper clipping.
When the bell rang you ran….just ran. He had been scrambled that morning to
suppress some German armor about 30 miles behind the front line. After landing
the 22 year old Captain had some crackers and spam. Damn he hated spam.
He swore he’d never eat ham again after the war. After a quick belt of cold
coffee and half a cigarette it was up again, patrolling at 15,000 feet, above
the small arms fire, best endurance cruise, waiting for that static appeal to
come over the wireless.
When the call came for his section he recognized the twang in
the voice, his buddy Captain Tommy Johnson, a hillbilly from Cummings Georgia.
Tommy was doing his stint as foreward air controller, slugging up and down the
hills with ground pounders. Hell, the big dumb redneck said he even liked it,
reminded him of walking the hills of Georgia looking for whitetails, 'cept deer
don’t shoot back! All things the same, the young Captain was content to leave
stalking the woods to Tommy, for it didn’t agree much with him. Besides, just
one more kill would make him an Ace. What would the Raleigh Times have to say
about that? They already wrote a story about him on page seven and he only had 3
kills at the time. He just hoped they didn’t use that stupid yearbook picture
Snap outta it, quit your day dreaming, he told himself. More than one good guy
got hisself killed counting his chickens before they hatched. He was leading the
section Eastward into the rising sun, still scanning above, not completely
trusting his life to his top cover. “Never get so wrapped up in the attack that
you forget the Hun may be about,” the old man always preached. The old man was a
grizzled 27 years old, but he had been at it since the Eagle squadron days just
at the end of the Battle of Britain, and his word was as good as gospel. It was
about the only thing he’d trust his life too.
The target area was some gun emplacements just to the east of
the lines, west of a small town and a ridge beside a creek bed.. “Probably a
pretty place before the war” he caught himself daydreaming again, but today it
looked like the surface of the moon. “Man the artillery is pounding the hell
outta the Germans” but somehow they had failed to get into this depression. He
could see the white markers indicating the position of the front lines as he
continued his descent past 8,000 feet just south of the target area. His plan
was to split the section into two groups, his attacking from a Northeast
direction, the other from the Southeast almost simultaneously, taking advantage
of the low sun to help blind the German gunners. The ridge would also help, but
it also meant that he’d only have a few seconds to acquire the target and score
a hit. He quickly memorized as many features of the terrain as he could in the
run–in area. You didn’t want to have to go back and do the job again in this
business. Nope, the jerries would be even more ready and more pissed the second
time around. Already little glowing blobs were rising up to meet him, some
streaking left and right, the other slowly hanging in space increasing in size.
The slow movers were the ones that worried him. “Not today, not today,” he kept
thinking to himself as he always did during times like this, his lips
unconsciously moving with the unspoken thought anyway.
The ridge line flashed beneath him, and like a bolt from the blue he was upon
the target suddenly, snapping in some coordinated aileron and rudder to acquire
the target. It was a pair of 88’s , with Jerries ducking for cover everywhere,
cept one dumb asshole still shoving a shell up the breech of the gun. To bad for
him as the whole area lit up with flashes from he and his wingman’s tracers and
shells. As he released his pair of 500 pounders, his aircraft lurched upward as
if it had been hit…Damn, that scared him even though he knew the jolt was
coming. As he flew Westward low and fast, he craned his neck around to see the
other group leaving the target. As their bombs hit, the whole area lit up as
someone had found the Jerry’s ammo. As they passed over the American line, they
formed up to inspect each other for damage and begin the climb back to altitude.
The head count was still four planes, no damage, and a release from the ground
controllers for free hunting with the remaining fuel and ammo. As he had only
fired about a 3 second burst, he still had over two-thirds his ammo left.
He took up about a 060 heading, his favorite hunting area just east of here,
some airfields there that still held what was left of the once feared Luftwaffe.
At 18,000 feet they opened into a combat spread, wingman and leader close enough
to offer support but not so close that constant attention was needed for
formation flying. His wingman was William Morris, a 21 year old Second Looey
from Springfield Missouri. A likeable sort Bill was, with one kill to his
credit, he had left Texas A&M to enlist in his junior year.
After about fifteen minutes, at the end of his eastbound leg, the young Captain
thought he saw a glint off to the southeast. He rocked his wings, signaled his
wingman as he assumed a 140 heading to close. Yep, about 3000 feet higher, 8
miles out, a lone FW 190 heading West-North-West. Not exactly the classic
position to stage a bounce. The young captain squeezed every inch of manifold
pressure he could outta the Pratt and Whitney, and it snarled back in reply. He
hoped to acquire an altitude advantage while closing the miles between them.
Suddenly the FW rolled right rapidly, turning to the southwest. His nose began
to drop and he increased speed. Obviously they had been spotted. Then young
Captain realized at once that his adversary was green. Trying to dive away from
a Jug! His only chance had been to claw for altitude and press the attack. Maybe
he was spooked by being outnumbered, or maybe he thought he hadn’t been seen. It
didn’t matter as his ticket was gonna shortly be punched…..
The German continued diving westward as the distance was closed. In a practiced
motion the Captain flicked the cover up arming his eight fifties. He was gonna
close to point blank and saw this poor idiot in half. At about 500 yards the FW
seemed to fill the gunsight and windscreen. Suddenly the German rolled over on
his left wing and dove for the earth, the young Captain stabbing a quick burst
on the firing button, tracers flying into the FW’s right wing.
The FW dove like a mad man for the deck, while the young Captain
lazily lagg rolled in behind him. The ground was rushing up at the German and
time and altitude were not on his side. As the FW was forced to shallow out to
avoid hitting the ground, the young captain saddled up behind him, taking his
time, checking a glance back to see Lt. Morris right back where was supposed to
be, guarding his six. As the yardage closed, he flashed one last glance around,
then began firing at about 800 yards. Hits all over and almost immediately the
canopy flew off the 190. Suddenly a man tumbled free, his leg smashing the
horizontal stabilizer on the way out, sending him cartwheeling yards past his
airplane. His fifth kill! He looked reward to see if he saw a chute, but as he
did the sky literally exploded around him. All below the ground had become alive
with German triple A. Suddenly he remembered he was only 2500’ high nearly 85
miles behind the German lines. Before he could look foreword again he saw a
bright flash around the nose of Lt. Morris’s fighter. The flame reached rearward
as the big fighter rolled over on its right wing. The canopy never slid back and
there was nothing on the R/T. Within 3 seconds the aircraft impacted the ground
at about an 80 degree angle. Bill didn’t have a chance…
As quickly as it appeared, suddenly the ground fire was gone..just evaporated.
He was racing westward, scanning rearward, and feeling quite alone now. Suddenly
that fifth kill didn’t matter as much. There would be no celebration tonight. He
just wanted to get back to his side of the lines.
Academy's 1/48 Scale
The Kit is Academy’s 1/48th scale P-47 D bubble top. It has been
reviewed many times before so I will spare you. I found it to be an enjoyable
build, with small gaps to fill on the underside wing root. The cockpit was
replaced with a resin one from True Details. Yes I know it has 9 spoke wheels
also, as the 6 spoke wheels for the D had almost no tread detail. I have a spare
6 spoke set which I intend to rescribe one day…one day!
This was my first foray into natural metal finishes after
getting back into the hobby.
The finish is Floquil Old Silver, which goes on like a charm.
Only one coat! I masked right on top of this with plain old Scotch transparent
tape…no lifting! On top of this was sprayed a coat of ModelMaster Metalizer
Sealer. This dried rock hard, giving the Floquil an oxidized aluminum look. This
stuff looks good in my opinion and is bullet/idiot proof. Burnt umber oil paints
were used to wash in the panel lines.
The decals are Eagle Strike, my first time using them. In
register, reacted well to Micro Sol, just had a little time getting the red
paint on the cowl ring to match up. Had too apply a circle template over the
nose art and mask, blending the red paint onto the decal flash. Since it was a
NMF bird, I trimmed all decals to the edge, except the tail code, and still had
no silvering whatsoever. After drying a coat of MM Metalizer sealer sealed up
the decals nicely. Great stuff IMHO.
The sub assembles were added, MV lenses, and plumbing for the
Drop tank. The Red fuse stripe should be added after gluing the cowl/engine in
place, to ensure alignment. The plastic gun barrels were not used, instead
gluing small brass tubes in the respective hole with a tiny bit of 5 min epoxy
to give some adjustment time. Last but not least the Curtiss Electric
Asymmetrical prop was painted and decaled.
Academy's 1/48 scale Thunderbolt was an enjoyable build from
start to finish. I can’t wait to get started on that Pacific N version next.
I’ll try to keep the fairy tail shorter!
To be continued...
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Article Copyright © 2002 by Stan Pearce
Page Created 16 February, 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007
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