Tom Cleaver

 MSRP: $16.00 each

 Notes: Two aircraft per sheet.

 Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?

“Doc” Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all the close calls he's had.

Yossarian: Why can't you ground him?

“Doc” Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me. 

Yossarian: That's all he's gotta do to be grounded? 

“Doc” Daneeka: That's all.

Yossarian: Then you can ground him?

“Doc” Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.

Yossarian: Aah!

 “Doc” Daneeka: There's a catch.

 “Doc” Daneeka: Sure. Catch‑22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him 

Yossarian: Ok, let me see if I've got this straight. In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.

“Doc” Daneeka: You got it, that's Catch‑22.

Yossarian: Whoo... That's some catch, that Catch‑22.

Dr. “Doc” Daneeka: It's the best there is.

            The B-25s based on Corsica have perhaps interested modelers more than any other group of B-25s other than the 345th “Air Apaches”, in large part due to a book written by a navigator of the 488th Bomb Squadron of the 340th Bomb Group - “Catch 22" by Joseph Heller is ranked as one of the greatest war novels ever written, and is Heller’s memorial to the men who flew from the “USS Corsica” in 1944-45 during the air war over northern Italy and southern France.   

            Photos show the Mitchells in a variety of finishes, mostly field-applied camouflage over factory-delivered natural metal finish, with lots of weathering.  The airplanes were “ridden hard and hung up wet,” making them perfect choices for modelers who love to paint and create highly-original finishes.

            Up till now, it has been impossible to do any of these airplanes, at least if a modeler wanted authentic markings.  Michael Kloppenburg, a modeler in Fayetteville, North Carolina, decided he wanted the markings enough to take the time to design three well-researched decal sheets that include six B-25Js - four from the 489th Bomb Squadron of the 340th bomb Group, and two from the 321st Bomb Group’s 445th and 447th Bomb Squadrons. 

            Each sheet has superb markings with excellent reproductions of the “racy” nose art.  The sheets include all individual markings for each aircraft, plus stencils and national insignia sufficient for one airplane. The nudes on the nose art are of similar artistic reproduction quality to the Pyn-Up decals released by Cutting Edge a few years back.  The decals are printed by Cartograf of Italy and are in perfect register with full, rich color.

            The instruction sheets include reproductions of contemporary color photographs of the airplanes.  I took the time to check over the original photos and to discuss them with Michael, who agrees that it appears most likely that these airplanes were painted with RAF camouflage paint over unprimed natural metal surfaces, with US paint (most likely Medium Green applied at the factory) for the anti-glare areas on the nose and inner engine cowlings.  What others are calling “Olive Drab” looks suspiciously like RAF “Dark Green,” while the grey lower surfaces of those airplanes completely painted looks an awful lot like RAF “Sea Grey Medium.”  This “educated guess” is also supported by the fact that RAF paints in the quantities sufficient to repaint several entire B-25s would be more likely to be available in-theater than would the U.S. paints.  The possibility has been raised by another modeler that since Corsica was French, occupied by the Italians from July 1940 to 1943, that French and Italian paints might also have been used.  This is entirely possible, so that the results could be airplanes painted with any number of different paints in different combinations - none of which can be proven one way or the other by the Kolourpolizei - leaving modelers with wide latitude for “creative license.”

            Bombshell Decals says these are a “limited edition,” so if you want some really great markings for those Monogram B-25Js stuffed in your stash, you can’t go wrong getting these sheets.  But don’t wait, they’re going fast.

            The decals are so good that I have decided to have five other good modelers join me in doing all these markings on different kits (naturally, your editor is not in this group as he is neither a good modeler nor able to get anything of this size done in a mere two plus months. Tongue in cheek for the first part, reality on the second. Ed).  The “group review” will be here at Modeling Madness around Christmas time.

            These decals are highly recommended.  Now you can do “Catch-22" for real. 

Buy them at Bombshell Decals. revised

Tom Cleaver

October 2009

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