• Yoav Efrati

Israel's War of Independence Mustangs - Hasegawa 1/48 Scale

Updated: Aug 1

President Turman's support for the establishment of a Jewish state in the November 29, 1947 United Nations vote was not followed up with the military aid needed for the Jewish settlers to survive the Arab onslaught that followed. Operation “Yakum Porkan de Shmia” - (salvation will arise from the heavens), was set in motion to obtain airplanes at any cost and from any where in the globe for the fledgling state of Israel. The leaders of the fledgling nation saw that only air power could literally bridge the Jewish settlements and population centers separated from one another by hostile Arab villages throughout Israel., Israeli purchasing agent Yehuda Arazi, was able to purchase P-51D Mustang fighter planes from an arms merchant in Mexico. The first two Mustangs were loaded on board a merchant ship named "The Enterprise" along with a pair of Piper Cubs and 2,000 AN-M30A1, 100lb bombs. The Enterprise managed to circumvent the British naval blockage set up along the Israeli coast line and docked in Israel on August 16, 1948. Two large wooden crates labeled "EARTH MOVING EQUIPMENT" were hastily transported to an orange grove in Hertzelia where the sand cleared to form a secret improvised air field. The Mustangs were assembled under the cover of camouflage netting spread over the orange grove trees, while Egyptian Spitfires and RAF Mosquito recognizance airplanes nicknamed "Shufti Kites" roamed over Israeli skies.

One of two P-51D Mustangs seen during final assembly at the Hertzelia improvised air strip in late October of 1948.

Engine run up for one of the two P-51D Mustangs, seen at Hertzelia improvised air strip in late October of 1948.


On October 15th, fighting resumed and operation "Ten Plagues", later renamed operation "Yoav" was set into motion. Most missions concentrated on bombing the Egyptian forward airbase of El Ahrish from where Spitfire and C-47 Dakota bombers staged their raids into central Israel; and the Egyptian army headquarters set up at the Iraq Al Sudan fortress overlooking the Faluga pocket along the Ashkelon Hebron road. On 16 October 1948, IAF headquarters notifies all ground units that 101 squadron fighter planes were painted with new identification markings consisting of a red spinner and red and white vertical fin stripes. The 101 squadron’s dedicated mechanics work was divided between preparing the aircraft for combat missions and assembling the two new fighters. Work on the Mustangs was of such high importance that even on the Jewish Yom Kippur Day of Atonement Mustang assembly continued. By October 20, both Mustangs were ready for operation and were painted with the squadron's stripped rudder, red spinner and white and blue empennage identification stripes and tail numbers Daled-190 and Daled-191. The mustangs took to the air for their first combat mission on 21 October 1948 in their natural metal finish, conducting recognizance missions over Lebanon and Syria, a day prior to a cease fire that was agreed upon a day later. With the end of "Operation Yoav" on 22 October 1948 and winter weather softening the dirt runway in Hertzelia, the 101 squadron is moved on 09 November 1948 to the former RAF base at Castina, later to be know as Hatzor Air Base.

On 20th November 1948, Wayne Peake flying P-51D Daled-190 took off from Hertzelia improvised air strip at 12:40pm on a one hour mission in which he intercept the elusive "Sufti Kite" that conducted weekly overflights over Israeli air space. The intruder flew at an altitude of 9km and was shot down using the Mustangs internal guns. The crew perished as the aircraft fell into the sea of the coast of Ashdod. Peake claimed it was a 4 engine silver finished Helifax, to which the British government later claimed it to be a reconnaissance Mosquito. Mustang Daled-190 was renumbered with the number 40 and during operation Chorev 101 squadron pilot Boris Senior attained two air to air kills; on 05 January 1949 the downed a REAF Maccii 205 and on 07 January 1949 the downed a REAF Spitfire.

Boris Senior is photographed standing next to P-51D Mustang D-190. On 07 January 1949 he claimed downing an Egyptian Maccii 205 while flying D-190 by which time it was identified with the fuselage number 40.

P-51D number ד-190, one of two P-51D Mustangs introduced into operation on 21 October 1948, two days prior to the end of Operation Yoav. The dirt strip indicates that this photo was taken at Hertzelia airfield prior to the 101 squadron's move to Hatzor AB a month later.

Show in flight is Mustang ד-191 with its new fuselage number 41 and two air to air kills attained.

A current representation of Mustang 41 at the Israel Air Force Museum.

Building Hasegawa's 1/48 scale P-51D Mustang

The Hasegawa kit I used for my “Operation Yoav” Mustang, kit number J14, dates back 28 years. The kit comprises of five parts trees consisting of recessed detail and ample options including cuffed and uncuffed propeller blades, shrouded and unshrouded exhausts, standard and “Dallas” canopies, long tube rockets, rail mounted under wing rockets, tear drop fuel tanks, paper fuel tanks and 250 pound bombs.

The cockpit details is basic and features raised instrument panel detail and seat with molded on seat belts. After completing the 3 step cockpit assembly, it was sprayed with Testors Model Master FS 34151 interior green. Photos were needed to identify the black painted components. The cockpit floor was brush painted Humbrol 110 brown prior to highlighting the cockpit details with a dry brush of Revell 371 off white and a wash of Tamiya X19 smoke. Revell number 90 silver and 330 red and yellow were used to add some color.

Tail wheel strut A6 and wheel B14 were drilled through and reinforced with a metal rod. Steps 4 and 5 engine radiator were painted Humbrol Iron and given a wash of X19 smoke.

Bomb rack installation option is shown in step 7 and the appropriate lower wing holes need to be carefully selected for the installation of bomb racks B4 and B5. Assembly of the upper wing halves atop the one piece lower wing was trouble free;

Due to the thin wing trailing edges, Testors liquid cement was used instead of the usual green top Tamiya welding cement I used for the rest of the build. Assembly of the fuselage, wings and horizontal stabilizers required no filler. Patients and care was needed when cementing the machine gun barrel tips to the wings, I was lucky, none flew out of my tweezers into oblivion. To provide my model with a spin able prop, each cuffed blade was drilled at its root and reinforced with a metal rod. The kit provided nose mounted propeller stub was removed and replaced with metal tubing. Each blade was cemented to part A20 swash plate (prop base) to ensure identical pitch angle, prior to painting. The spinner A19 was left off to be painted separately.

Mast antenna B1 and landing gear struts B12 and B13 were bored along their entire length using a saw blade to accept a .015 stainless steel piano wire cemented in place with cyanoacrylate cement. Bomb shackles C7 were attached to the bombs per kit instructions and drilled through to insert a pair of brass wire pins each.

Windshield D4 forward edge was attached to the fuselage using Revell contact cement at the locations where it touched the fuselage. Gaps along the curved areas of the windshield were filled with two part clear epoxy.


Painting:

IsraDecal sheet IAF-7 Israeli Mustangs blue used on the Stars of David had to be mixed for paint application on the empennage.

Humbrol 134 (RAL5008) and Humbrol 14 were mixed to achieve the proper blue as seen on the decal sheet. Prop tips were sprayed Humbrol 154 Insignia Yellow over white. Spinner and vertical fin rudder tip were sprayed Revell SM330 Red over white 04. Upper engine cowling, windshield and canopy frames painted Revell SM302 Black. Spinner base, canopy frame upper wings and outboard lower wing surfaces were sprayed Revell 90 silver diluted with lacquer thinner. Once dry they were coated with a layer of Future Klear to protect them from peeling once masked with Tamiya Tape. The panels surrounding the exhaust stacks were sprayed with Revell silver tinted with gloss black. The remaining fuselage was sprayed Alclad Aluminum with no black base coat underneath. Alcald Aluminum spray application directly on Hasegawa's hard plastic exhibited no signs of crazing.

A very old IsraDecal IAF Mustang decal sheet IAF-7 was found brittle when in contact with water. After the first decal broke, all subsequent markings were coated with a brush layer of Testors Model Masters enamel based Gloss Clear. The decals were applied over a layer of Future Klear and softened from above with Solva Set decal softener. Once dry, each decal was coated with another layer of Future Klear. Once all markings were applied, the kit's recessed panel lines were enhancement with a brown and black and oil paint wash diluted with turpentine. Additional stencils were taken from Aero Master P-51 data sheet also long out of production yet found to be flawless during application. Once all decals were applied and covered with a layer of Future Klear acrylic layer, oil paint diluted with turpentine was applied to enhance the panel lines and dirty up the lower surface of the airplane. A diluted mixture of Revell no.9 "Tire" black and lacquer thinner was applied to provide smoke staining around the wing leading edge gun fairings and aft of the exhaust stacks. The model was sprayed with a layer of semi-gloss clear and silver, yellow, red and green reflective lenses were cemented in place with clear two part epoxy at the lower wing identification lights, wing tip position lights and wheel well landing light.

Photos of the completed model:

Photos of 101-squadron fighter planes that participated in the "Operation Yoav" - on 21 October 1948 these three aircraft were operational.

Conclusion:

Hasegawa's 1/48 P-51D Mustang stands the test of time; being easy to build, having adequate internal detail and plenty of optional external stores.


Acknowledgments:

I would like to thank my friends Ra'anan Weiss and David Lee for providing me the photographs and valuable historic information which made this article possible.








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