About Mercenary Models

Welcome to Mercenary Models online. 

The Mercenary Models website is a platform to share my scale modeling portfolio.

I enjoy projects that have a story to tell and that I might also learn something from. It might be a well known or unique historical event, a subject that represents the exploits of a family member or friend or perhaps a unique object that helped shape world events.  Often all three are combined into one subject.

The projects are generally presented from most recent to some that were built over twenty years ago.  Most historical information is for context only and was researched from readily available sources online or from my personal collection. Most is general knowledge obtained freely from the internet and may contain slight inaccuracies.  If you have any questions, comments or corrections please feel free to reach out.  All feedback is welcome.  

Thanks for visiting!. 

Mercenary Models

Rex Barber.jpg

P-38 Lightning - Operation Vengeance, The Mission to Avenge Pearl Harbor

In early April, 1943 American cryptanalysts had broken the Japanese military code and learned that on April 18, Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was to conduct an inspection tour at Ballale Airfield. He would be transported by a Mitsubishi "Betty" Bomber. Quickly, the Navy conceived a daring plan to shoot him down.

Although the Navy initiated the plan, no Navy or Marine fighter aircraft could fly the mission. Their range was inadequate for the 1,000-mile round trip and an aircraft carrier could not approach a Japanese-held island without being detected. Instead, the USAAC 339th fighter squadron flying long range P-38 Lightnings was assigned the task.

Maj. John Mitchell, commanding officer chose 17 of his most reliable Lightning pilots and organized them into nine divisions of two aircraft each. The task of shooting down Bettys went to the four-plane Killer Division. Lt. Rex Barber was assigned to this division as the wingman for Capt. Thomas Lanphier.

Barber flew another pilot's P-38G with "Miss Virginia" painted on its nose. His own Lightning, "Diablo," was down for repairs. All the fliers got airborne except one member of the Killer Division who blew a tire on takeoff.

Another turned back after he found his fuel tanks were not feeding properly. The vacancies were filled by backups Ray Hine and Besby Holmes.

The group flew directly west from Guadalcanal and over the Solomon Sea. They flew just over the horizon to avoid detection.

The flight flew 50-100 feet above the waves. Flying that low in the tropics, heat, humidity and boredom became factors. Mitchell himself admitted to sleepiness. When another pilot nodded off, the tips of his props clipped a wave top, spraying seawater over his canopy that dried into a haze. Pilot Doug Canning kept alert by counting sharks; he spotted 48.

After two hours, Mitchell was convinced they had missed their target. On the final leg, a northeast turn toward Bougainville, he spied what he thought was a beach. At that moment Doug Canning (with 20-10 vision) shouted, "Bogeys 10 o'clock high!"

Sure enough, nearly straight ahead were at least two Japanese Betty bombers on a southwesterly course.

The chase was on.

The cover pilots immediately accelerated and climbed toward the spot above the bombers where escorting Zeros were expected to be lurking. The Killer Division headed straight in. Holmes could not drop his external tanks and pulled aside with Hine. This left Barber and Lanphier to address the matter of the Bettys.

Lanphier turned up and away to confront two Zero fighters that were diving down.

Barber was alone. His account of what then happened is this:

He spotted at least two Betty bombers and approached them from 90 degrees on their right. When Lanphier peeled up, he slid in behind one Betty. He lost sight of the other (which he later learned was under him). From this ideal position astern his prey, he opened fire on the bomber with his four .50-caliber machine guns and 20-mm cannon. He swung his Lightning back and forth, left to right, and raked the entire Japanese aircraft with bullets. He saw pieces of the plane's rudder and engine cowling fly off. The engine began smoking badly as the plane snapped left, its right wing narrowly missing Miss Virginia. The Betty then plunged into the jungle of Bougainville. Barber saw no other P-38s participate in the attack. He noted a column of black smoke coming up from the jungle.

The pursuing Zeros caught up with him and managed to inflict 52 hits on Miss Virginia including seven through the propeller blades. Barber sped low over the jungle treetops and out to sea where he encountered another struggling Betty, which he also shot down. He had now done all that he could so, low on fuel, it was time to get back to Henderson.

Excepts edited from an article published by the Oregonian online written by Donald P. Bourgeois, April 18, 2013.



South Pacific P-38G Lightning "Miss Virginia"


Battle of Britain, Spitfire Mk. I Flown by Flight Leader John Dundas

Late November 1940 John Dundas was recognized as the highest scoring pilot of 609 Squadron, he was highly regarded by his comrades and was well-liked. He passed on experience to younger pilots and was always willing to discuss tactics, particularly with Squadron Leader Michael Robinson. Dundas, even by this early stage in the war, was the only member of the original 'A' (Auxiliary) pilots still with 609. Dundas lamented the few who remained were the "sole champions of the Auxiliary attitude".

28 November, was busy for 609 Squadron. Several scrambles and alerts came through against Bf 109s. The last came at approximately 15:30 Greenwich Mean Time. Dundas was once again piloting X4586. Two squadrons, 152 Squadron and 609 made contact with Bf 109s from Jagdgeschwader 2 ("fighter wing 2"), led by the most successful German ace of the war thus far — Helmut Wick. Minutes after contact had been made and the battle joined, Flight Lieutenant Fieldsend heard the familiar voice of Dundas shout "I've finished a 109—Whoopee!". Squadron Leader Robinson congratulated Dundas but nothing was heard from Dundas, or his wingman Pilot Officer Paul A. Baillon, flying R6631.

It is believed Wick had shot down Baillon in a diving attack for his 56th aerial victory. Baillon managed to bail out, but was never recovered. Momentarily distracted, Wick flew across Dundas' path. Dundas fired a short burst, hitting Wick's Bf 109 at around 17:00 German time, over the sea near the Isle of Wight. It has also been suggested that Wick fell victim to Pilot Officer Eric Marrs, who also made a claim in the battle. Wick was seen to bail out of his aircraft, but he was not rescued and his body was never found. Moments later Dundas was probably shot down by Wick's wingman, Rudolf Pflanz who claimed a victory and saw the Spitfire crash into the sea with the pilot still inside. Like Wick, Dundas' body was never found. On 24 December 1940, Dundas was posthumously awarded a second DFC. It was announced on 7 January 1941 in the London Gazette. with the citation :

"Flight Lieutenant Dundas has continued to engage the enemy with outstanding success and has now destroyed at least twelve of their aircraft and damaged many more. On one occasion he pursued an enemy aircraft from Winchester to Cherbourg, finally destroying it. He has shown a magnificent fighting spirit which has inspired the other members of his flight".

Excerpts edited from:https://peoplepill.com/people/john-dundas-3

No. 609 Squadron, Supermarine Mk.I Spitfire flown by Pilot Officer John Dundas, Nov. 1940

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RAF "Jug"

P-47D RAF No. 73 OTU (Operational Training Unit), Egypt 1945. This plane represents the plane flown by Chief Instructor, Sqn. Ldr. "Nobby" Clark.


RAF P-47 Thunderbolt


"The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down."

Chuck Yeager


Chuck Yeager's P-51D Mustang

Glamorous Glen III

Initially Chuck Yeager trained as a mechanic, but in 1942 he learned about an Army Air Forces initiative to increase the number of American combat pilots by accepting applications from enlisted men with no college education. Yeager applied in December 1942 and was accepted for flight training. He earned his wings the following March.

As member of the 363rd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, Yeager took possession of his first (P-51B) Mustang that he named “Glamorous Glen” after his fiancé, Glennis Dickhouse. Yeager later upgraded to the iconic P-51D Mustang, which he christened “Glamorous Glen III,” his third Mustang to be named for his fiancé.

Later after the war on October 14, 1947, Yeager would be the first person to break the sound barrier in level flight while flying the Bell X-1 rocket plane over California’s Mojave Desert.  That plane was famously named Glamorous Glennis for who by then was his wife.


P-51D Mustang "Glamorous Glen III"

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F6F-5 Hellcat

VF-34 USS Monterey CVL-26

I was asked to build this F6F-5 for the great grandson in the markings this Hellcat represents as a Christmas gift, December 2021.  This Hellcat belonged to fighter squadron, VF-34 aboard the USS Monterey, May - October 1945. All markings were painted using stencils I had to produce from scratch. Only decals are the black tail numbers. Light weathering with watercolor wash and some pastels. It’s mounted on a base using the Eduard PE Carrier deck. The name plate commemorates the squadron, carrier and pilot, Lt. Commander John Ryan of Kingsville, Texas who passed away a few years ago in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to participating in air strikes against Japan he and his squadron took part in the flyover of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay after the surrender ceremony. He had an interesting career after the war flying the F7U Cutlass at demonstrations sometimes alongside Chuck Yeager, both flying the latest in Navy and Air Force jets attempting to best each other setting speed records in soon to be operational jets for each branch of the service. This was a fun and rewarding exercise.


F6F-5 Hellcat


"The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of this world."

Admiral Halsey


South Pacific Corsair

Spirit of 76

On August 14, 1943 this F4U-1 Corsair "Spirit of 76" from VMF-215 flown by Major Robert G. Owens, USMC was the first planes to arrive at the newly captured airfield at Munda, New Georgia in the Solomon Islands where they began operations to cover the landings on Vella Lavella.


F4U-1 Corsair "Spirit of 76"

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

F4U-1 Corsair Spirit of 76

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Spirit of 76_016.JPG


M577 Command Vehicle, 11th Cavalry, Vietnam 1969

Blackhorse scoreboard

M577 Command vehicle commanded by Cpt. Michael B. Hartgraves while serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Division, Vietnam in 1969. Among other decorations, Cpt. Hartgraves was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart during his tour. The model depicts a time when his Platoon, F Troop, was attached to an Australian unit on patrol. The M577 he inherited had a somewhat garish body-count scoreboard on one side. One evening his and the Australian unit were "ambushed." In the darkness a rather one sided firefight ensued. Upon daylight it was discovered, unfortunately, the ambush was a herd of pack elephants used by the North Vietnamese to haul supplies. The next evening the Aussies (with their own ambush in the middle of the night) decided to poke fun at their American allies by embellishing the command vehicle "score board" with the previous nights tally shown in yellow.

This model was presented to Capt. Hartgraves on his 80th birthday.


M577 Command Vehicle




"The first lesson is that you can't lose a war if you have command of the air, and you can't win a war if you haven't."

Jimmy Doolittle

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Jug over Europe

Little Chief

1944 P-47 Thunderbolt with the 56th Fighter Group flown by Frank Klibbe.

During World War II, Frank Klibbe became a U.S. Army Air Forces ACE, credited with shooting down 7 enemy aircraft in aerial combat.

After the war he transferred to the new U.S. Air Force, and retired as a Colonel


P-47 Thunderbolt Little Chief




"Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always.  These proceedings are closed."

General Douglas MacArthur


The war is over!

Destroyed A6M1 Seiran

Designed to fold up and fit in a hanger on a Japanese submarine, the A6M1 Seiran was conceived to sail under water and be launched to attack the Panama Canal. It never happened.  This Seiran was found partially destroyed by American air strikes near Tokyo at the end of the war, it's mission never realized.


M6A1 Seiran


VF-84 on USS Bunker Hill

Roger Hedrick

F4U-1D Corsair readies for takeoff from USS Bunker Hill, February 1945 to attack the Japanese home islands.


F4U-1D Corsair




TBM-C Avenger

Navy WWII Torpedo Bomber

The TBM Avenger replaced the much maligned TBD Devastator as the main torpedo bomber after the Battle of Midway.


TBM-3 Avenger


Big Jim Streig

VF-17 Ace

Big Jim Streig standing next to his F4U-1A Corsair somewhere in the Solomon Islands 1944.

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F4U-1A Corsair








Lt Leppla (rt.) and Radioman Liska

USS Lexington SBD-3 Dive Bomber crew

Lieutenant John Leppla who, with his gunner D. K. Liska, flamed four Japanese planes the first day of the Battle of the Coral Sea before executing a bombing attack on the carrier Shoho.  Day two of the battle, Leppla sent his SBD-3 Dauntless plunging into the deadly enemy torpedo planes heading for the Lexington. Not only did Leppla send three of these Japanese bombers careening into the water below, he also saved the life of a fellow Dauntless pilot with a daring attack on a Japanese Zero about to shoot down the American pilot. Later, Commander James Flatley chose John Leppla among other dive bomber pilots, to form his new fighter squadron, which would become famous as the "Grim Reapers."


SBD Dauntless


F4U-1 Corsair

2nd Lt. Kenneth A. Walsh, VMF 124

A member of VMF-124 since September 1942, Walsh was one of the most experienced pilots in the Marine Corps' first Corsair squadron to enter combat. The unit had arrived on Guadalcanal in February 1943, and was immediately committed to combat. Walsh claimed his first three Japanese planes on 1 April 1943 and two more in his next combat action on 13 May 1943, becoming the first Corsair pilot to achieve fighter ace status. Walsh raised his score to 20 victories by the end of August 1943, including two combat actions over the Solomon Islands which earned him the Medal of Honor. 

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented Walsh the Medal of Honor on 8 February 1944.  Walsh returned to flying combat missions in April 1945, serving with VMF 122 and was awarded his 7th Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement from 28 April to 12 May. 1945.  Walsh scored his last kill while serving as the Operations Officer of VMF 122 over Okinawa on 22 June 1945.


F4U-1 "Birdcage" Corsair


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