All posts by Gunther Arnold

Consolidated B-32 “Dominator” (Anigrand, Resin)

TYPE: Heavy bomber

ACCOMMODATION:  Crew of ten

POWER PLANT: Four Wright R-3350-23A radial engines, rated at 2,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 357 mph at 30,000 ft

COMMENT: The Consolidated B-32 “Dominator” was a heavy bomber made for the USAAF  during WWII, and had the distinction of being the last Allied aircraft to be engaged in combat during World War II. It was developed in parallel with the Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” as a fallback design should the B-29 prove unsuccessful. The design on which Consolidated based its proposal was similar to the Consolidated B-24 “Liberator”. Like the B-24 it was originally designed with twin fins and a large Davis-type wing, but with a longer, rounder fuselage and a rounded nose. The aircraft was designed to be pressurized, and have remote-controlled retractable gun turrets with fourteen .50 in machine guns. The turrets were remotely controlled from periscopic sights in aiming stations inside the aircraft. The sights were coordinated by a sophisticated analog computer system. The inboard propellers’ pitch could be reversed to shorten the landing roll or to roll back in ground maneuvers. The first prototype made its maiden flight on 7 September 1942. In 1943, the initial contract was signed for 300 B-32 but development problems continued. In order to resolve stability problems a B-29 style tail was fitted to the aircraft after its 25th flight. But this did not resolve the problem and a Consolidated-designed 19.5 ft vertical tail was added and first flown on the third XB-32 on 3 November 1943. By 1944 testing of the three prototypes permitted the USAAF to place orders for over 1,500 B-32s. The first production aircraft was delivered on 19 September 1944, by which time the B-29 was in full combat in the Pacific Area of Action. Beginning on 27 January 1945, 40 B-32A-5, -10 and -15 aircraft were delivered as unarmed TB-32-CF crew trainers. The B-32 only reached units in the Pacific Area during mid-1945, and subsequently only saw limited combat operations against Japanese homeland  before the end of the war. Most of the extant orders of the B-32 were cancelled shortly thereafter and only 118 B-32 airframes of all types were built (Ref.: 23).

Dornier Do 26D-0 (Airmodel, Vacu)

TYPE: Transport and reconnaissance flying boat

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four

POWER PLANT:  Four Junkers Jumo 205D liquid-cooled, opposed-piston diesel engine, rated at 880 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 208 mph

COMMENT: The elegant Dornier Do 26, sometimes referred to as the “most beautiful flying-boat ever built”, was of all-metal construction. Originally designed as a civilian transport aircraft for the “Deutsche Lufthansa”, the few aircraft built before  and immediately at the beginning of WW II were pressed into military service at the outbreak of the war in Europe.
The hull had a central keel and a defined step; the wings were of gull wing configuration, the outer sections being equipped with fully retractable narrow stabilizing wing-floats, instead of Dornier’s famous “water-wing” sponsons extending from the lower hull for lateral stabilization.
Its four Junkers Jumo 205 diesel engine, were mounted in tractor/pusher pairs in tandem nacelles located at the joint between the dihedral and horizontal wing sections. The rear (pusher) engines could be swung upwards through 10° during take-off and landing, to prevent contact between the three-blade airscrew and water spray created by the forward propellers. The tail unit was of conventional design, comprising a horizontal tail-plane and a single, vertical fin with rudder. Armament consisted of one 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in a power-operated bow turret and three 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns.
Only six aircraft were built and put into Luftwaffe service. They were used in the Norwegian campaign for transporting supplies, troops and wounded to and from the isolated German forces fighting at Narvik. During this campaign three of them were lost. Another Dornier Do 24C was lost on 16 November 1940, killing its crew, after being launched at night from the catapult ship “Friesenland” in Brest, France. The fate of two remaining aircraft, which in 1944 were still assigned to the “Erprobungsstelle” (Test Unit) in Travemünde, Germany, is unclear (Ref.: 24).

Curtiss SOC-2 “Seagull” (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Scout observation airplane, trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-1340-18 radial engine, rated at 550 hp

PERFORMANCE: 165 mph at 5,000 ft

COMMENT: The Curtiss SOC “Seagull” was an American single-engine scout observation biplane aircraft, designed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the US Navy. The aircraft served on battleships and cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. The wings folded back against the fuselage for storage aboard ship. When delivered  from factory or based ashore or on carriers the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear.
The SOC was ordered for production by the US Navy in 1933 and first entered service in 1935. The first order was for 135 SOC-1 models, which was followed by 40 SOC-2 models for landing operations and 83 SOC-3s. A variant of the SOC-3 was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory and was known as the SON-1
The SOC was not called the “Seagull” until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in addition to their alpha-numeric designations (Ref.:24).

Curtiss SOC-3 “Seagull” (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Scout observation float-plane, trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-1340-18 radial engine, rated at 550 hp

PERFORMANCE: 165 mph at 5,000 ft

COMMENT: The Curtiss SOC “Seagull” was an American single-engine scout observation biplane aircraft, designed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the US Navy. The aircraft served on battleships and cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. The wings folded back against the fuselage for storage aboard ship. When based ashore or on carriers the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear.
The SOC was ordered for production by the US Navy in 1933 and first entered service in 1935. The first order was for 135 SOC-1 models, which was followed by 40 SOC-2 models for landing operations and 83 SOC-3s. A variant of the SOC-3 was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory and was known as the SON-1
By 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U “Kingfisher” and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation Curtiss SO3C “Seamew”. The SO3C, however, suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The SOC, despite belonging to an earlier generation, went on to execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions.
The SOC was not called the “Seagull” until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in addition to their alpha-numeric designations.
When operating as a seaplane, returning SOCs would land on the relatively smooth ocean surface created on the sheltered side of the vessel as it made a wide turn, after which the aircraft would be winched back onto the deck.
When the SOC was replaced by the OS2U “Kingfisher”, most remaining airframes were converted into trainers; they remained in use until 1945. With the failure of the Curtiss SO3C “Seamew”, many SOCs in second line service were returned to frontline units starting in late 1943. They saw service aboard warships in the combat zone for the rest of World War II. This is one of the few instances in aviation history in which an older aircraft type, that was retired or sent to second line service, replaced the new aircraft type that was intended to replace it (Ref.: 24).

Grumman F7F-1 Tigercat (Monogram)

TYPE: Carrier-based fighter-bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22W Double Wasp engines, rated at 2,100 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 427 mph at 19,200 ft

COMMENT: In mid 1938, the US Navy had ordered a prototype twin-engine fighter from the Grumman Company and, by middle of 1941, preliminary flight-test data for this aircraft, the XF5F-1 (Grumman G-45) was available. Although the XF5F-1 suffered a number of shortcomings, it provided a useful basis for the development of a larger twin-engine fighter. Ordered in June 1941 and designated XF7F-1 this new fighter was intended to be operated from the forthcoming 45,000 ton carriers of the USS Midway class. It was the Navy’s first twin built in production quantities, and the first carrier-based fighter to operate with a tricycle undercarriage. Although classified as a fighter the aircraft was designed to operate in a ground-support role, for which it was heavily armed. In early 1944 an order for 500 Tigercats was given and deliveries began in April 1944. Operational problems and changing requirement let to restriction in the production program. After 34 F7F-1 had been delivered production switched to 189 F7F-3s, similar to the single-seat model but with more powerful R-2800-34W engines. Including two-seated night-fighter variants , the Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat, production totaled 250 aircraft. Too late for operational service in WW II, the Tigercat served with a few Marine squadrons after the war but was soon displaced by the advent of jet-powered aircraft. (Ref. 18)

Ryan F2R-1 Dark Shadow (MPM)

TYPE: Carrier-borne fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: General Electric XT31-GE-2 turboprop and General Electric J31-GE-3 turbojet

Ryan FR-1 Fireball (Airmodel, Vacu)

TYPE: Carrier-borne fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Wright R-1820-72W Cyclone 9, rated at 1,350 hp and General Electric J31 turbojet, rated at 1,600 lb s.t.

PERFORMANCE: 404 mph at 17,800 ft

Messerschmitt Me 108B Taifun (Fly)

Republic P-47D-25 Thunderbolt, 512 FS, 406 FG (Revell, Parts from Pavlamodel)