This is the second part of project modeling the aircraft my grandfather flew in WW2. The first part, a 1/48 Tamiya F4F-4 representing his tour at Guadalcanal with VMF-121 and VMF-223 in the Fall of ’42, is documented here: http://cs.finescale.com/fsm/modeling_subjects/f/2/t/172718.aspx
This time I’m doing the ubiquitous 1/48 Tamiya F4U-1A. Neither the actual airplane nor the kit requires any introduction, so we’ll skip.
A bit of history
When VMF-121 returned stateside in early 1943, Joe Foss was given command of the newly formed VMF-115. My grandfather, Jacob Stub (pronounced “stoob”), newly married, and now a captain, joined him.
After a tour at Guadalcanal flying Wildcats, the Corsair was a welcome upgrade. In Eric Bergurud’s definitive history of the air war in the Pacific, “Fire In The Sky”, my grandfather commented on the Corsair (while throwing shade at both the Navy and the Hellcat):
This was taken in Santa Barbara just before they shipped off. That’s Stub standing just to the right of the downward propeller blade. Foss, with the mustache and officer’s cap, is kneeling in the center.
(He’s just a kid. They all are.)
As they trained in California, the air war in the South Pacific was raging, with Greg Boyington’s VMF-214 in particular racking up impressive records and making headlines back home. The young men of 115 were probably expecting a brawl and more victories to with it. After all, at Guadalcanal Foss had bagged 26 planes in just a few months. In a Wildcat. My grandfather, only 4, but most of his first tour he was a wingman, which is a low scoring position. Imagine what they could get done with a serious fighter.
But by the time they got back in theatre, the mighty Japanese base at Rabaul had collapsed, and the air war had moved on north and east. Professor Bergurud wrote me, “His second tour was on the Island of Emirau where he succeeded Foss as squadron commander. And like Foss, he never saw a Japanese plane during that time.”
At one point, Charles Lindbergh came to Emirau as part of his famous civilian tour of the theatre to consult on adapting the Corsair to a fighter/bomber role. When I was a kid, his name came up once in front of my grandfather, who snorted and dismissed him as a ‘horse’s ass.’
(He was generally a generous and kind person, but could get a little salty after a few. )
Foss (L), Lindbergh (R)
One last thing. Here’s an excerpt from the VMF-115 war diary, dated 22 August 1944:
That’s the day my mother was born (international date line aside). I imagine him sitting on his parachute in his plane on the way to or from dropping that thousand pounder on the E. Young Plantation on New Ireland, knowing that he was due to become a father any day, while my grandmother was in labor 7500 miles away.
My plan is to try to build a Corsair from VMF-115 at Emirau as it would appear on the afternoon of August 22nd, 1944. To that end, I’ve collected references and a bunch of goodies.
I understand that the Tamiya kit can make an excellent build out of the box, but I have a particular agenda here. I hope you’ll bare with me. Thanks for looking.