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About Mercenary Models

Welcome to Mercenary Models online. 

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

 
I enjoy projects that have a story to tell and that I might 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 those built over twenty years ago.  Most historical information is for context only and was not extensively researched unless noted otherwise.  Most is general knowledge obtained freely from the internet and may contain slight inaccuracies.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out.  All feedback is welcome.  

Thanks for visiting!. 


Joe Bianco.

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

Capt. Tom Lanphier, Jr., Lt. Besby Holmes and Lt. Rex Barber, three of the four "Killer flight" pilots, pose before one of the lightnings from the 339th FS the day after the mission. The fourth member, Lt. Raymond Hine did not return and was never found

 

South Pacific P-38G Lightning "Miss Virginia"

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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

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

Chuck Yeager

 
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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

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"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"

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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

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"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

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"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.

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M6A1 Seiran

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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.

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F4U-1D Corsair

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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.

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TBM-3 Avenger

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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

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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."

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SBD Dauntless

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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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Contact Us

Questions, comments, requests? Feel free to reach out.

210-204-3414

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