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 Hobby Master Model 7010 F2A-3 Buffalo "2-MF-13" MCAS Ewa,Hawaii, April 1942 / Midway June 1942, Captain Kirk Armistead

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Kyushu J7W


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Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: Hobby Master Model 7010 F2A-3 Buffalo "2-MF-13" MCAS Ewa,Hawaii, April 1942 / Midway June 1942, Captain Kirk Armistead    Thu Mar 02 2017, 17:13

Producer - Hobby Master
Model 7010
Scale 1/48
F2A-3 Buffalo "2-MF-13" MCAS Ewa, VMF-221, Hawaii, April 1942 / Midway June 1942. Captain Kirk Armistead

Specifications (F2A-3) Up armored, wet wing, long range but heaviest and poorest performing.

General characteristics
Crew: one
Length: 26 ft 4 in (8.03 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
Height: 12 ft 0 in (3.66 m)
Wing area: 209 sq ft (19.4 m2)
Empty weight: 4,732 lb (2,146 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 7,159 lb (3,247 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Wright R-1820-40 Cyclone 9 9-cyl air-cooled radial piston engine, 1,200 hp (890 kW)

Maximum speed: 321 mph (517 km/h; 279 kn)
Cruise speed: 161 mph (259 km/h; 140 kn)
Range: 965 mi (839 nmi; 1,553 km)
Service ceiling: 33,200 ft (10,100 m)
Rate of climb: 2,440 ft/min (12.4 m/s)

2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) nose-mounted M2 Browning machine guns
2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) wing-mounted M2 Browning machine guns

MACS Ewa  was founded as an airship base for the United States Navy in 1925. The airship program was cancelled after 3 of the 4 dirigibles located there crashed during the 1930s. The base's upgrade to an air station began in September 1940, and on February 3, 1941 it was commissioned Marine Corps Air Station Ewa.

Marine Corps Air Station Ewa (MCAS Ewa)  was located 7 miles (11 km) west of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  By the onset of World War II, the air station had four runways and numerous hangars. On December 7, 1941, MCAS

Ewa was the first installation hit during the attack on Pearl Harbor
. All forty eight aircraft based there were destroyed.  It later served as the hub for all Marine aviation units heading into combat in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The base was closed in 1952 because its runways were too short for jet aircraft.

VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 in San Diego, California. On  December 25th of that year, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they moved to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa in Hawaii.  Here they continued to train and fly combat air patrol missions.  Parts of the unit was at EWA on March 1 when the Japanese launched operation K, the bombing of Pearl Harbor by 2,  Kawanishi H8K2 Emily flying boats.  The night was overcast, no intercepts were made and no damage done by the two raiders.  Pilot Lieutenant Hisao Hashizume aboard the Y-71 of the elite 801 Kokutai Fighter Squadron was later shot down near Midway by F2A-3's of VMF-221 that had been moved to Midway on a repeat of the same mission.  No small feat for the Buffalo as the Emily was fast and bristled with guns.

Through out the rest of the spring into May the rest of the units were shuttled to Midway in time for the battle on June 4.  The pilot of  2-MF-13 was Captain Kirk Armistead. of San Francisco California.  He would be awarded the Navy Cross for actions over Midway on June 4 1942. Though he only claimed a probable he was credited with 1 Val on that day before being shot up by the escorting Zeros.   VMF-221 would receive the presidential unit citation but its members had been virtually wiped out.   The casualty list is at the bottom of the review.  

2-MF-13 (Lucky 13?) at a still existing early 1942 Ewa Field revetment, flown in combat at Midway by Capt. Kirk Armistead, USMC. This badly shot up plane survived when most didn’t.

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first US Navy monoplane fighter and one of the first of the modern fighters available when the United States entered the war, with production beginning in 1938. In a competition to replace the F3F, the Buffalo went up against the Grumman submission of the XF4F-1  a double-row radial engine "classic" biplane. Navalized P-36 and P-35 fighters were also proposed.  The F2A Buffalo won & the XF4F went on to be redesigned and emerged as the monoplane F4F Wildcat.

The new Brewster fighter had a modern look with a stubby fuselage, mid-set monoplane wings and a host of advanced features. It was all-metal, with flush-riveted, stressed aluminum construction, control surfaces were still fabric-covered. The XF2A-1 also featured split flaps, a hydraulically operated retractable main undercarriage (and partially retractable tailwheel), and a streamlined framed canopy. However (as was still common at this time), the aircraft lacked self-sealing fuel tanks and pilot armor.  It was the smallest Navy fighter, single seat, set up to be carrier or land-based.  The early F2A-1 / B239 under armored & gunned versions were light and surprisingly nimble. These were the versions exported to the Finns.

 Both the F2A-1 and the early F2A-2 variants of the Brewster were liked by pre war Navy and Marine pilots, including Pappy Boyington, who praised the good turning and maneuvering abilities of the aircraft. Boyington is alleged to have opined "...the early models, before they weighed it all down with armor plate, radios, and other [equipment], they were pretty sweet little ships. Not real fast, but the little [aircraft] could turn and roll in a phone booth.  ( His language was actually very different in regards to the equipment adders, peppered with words we can't reproduce here.

  Eric Brown is quoted as saying after test flying one of the earlier export models.   My feeling after flying the Buffalo was one of elation tinged with disappointment. It was a true anomaly of an aeroplane with delightful maneuverability but poor fighter performance. Indeed above 10,000 ft. it was laboring badly."

Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced and the very early F4F monoplanes, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered the war and the A-3 had been put into production.  That did not stop orders from Britain, the Netherlands and Finland before WWII in Europe actually broke out.  Finland did not get their F2A-1's in time to fight the first war with the USSR, but when Germany invaded in 1941 they joined in what they called the "Continuation War",  using the F2A to great effect against the VVS units.  

While the Buffalo and Brewster have been much maligned the development paid off in other ways. This was a time of rapid aeronautical advancement. The aircraft was tested in 1938 in the Langley Research Center full-scale wind tunnel, where it was determined that certain factors were contributing to parasitic drag.

Based on the tests, improvements were made to the cowling streamlining and carburetor/oil cooler intakes, and the Buffalo's speed rose to 304 mph from 277 mph with no increase in engine power.  Other manufacturers took notice of this 10% increase in speed and efficiency, and wind tunnel tests grew to be standard procedure in the US.  Every other fighter produced by the US benefited from this initial research.

The increase in armament & armor on later models like the A-3 caused a corresponding increase in weight which deteriorated severely performance and flying qualities. The Navy was fed up with Brewster but wanted to keep the production capacity alive so ordered 108 of the newer planes. Existing engine technology and the limitations of the airframe did not allow the needed improvements to make it a viable fighting machine for the war in western Europe or south east Asia.  

The F2A-3 self-sealing tanks, added armor , ammo, fuel exacerbated issues with an already weak landing gear, made weaker by mechanics filing down rivets and bolts due to gear flexing that caused the gear doors and wheels not to close and seal completely. The defective fuel bladders that disintegrated in the tanks blocking fuel flow and sidelining a significant number of aircraft just before war broke out.

 The issues were never  resolved before production was terminated in 1943.  After only a few months of active duty in Allied service, the F2A Brewster Buffalo was replaced by the F4F Wildcat and the remaining planes were put to use as advanced trainers.

VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 in San Diego, California. In December of that year, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they moved to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa in Hawaii.

During the weeks that followed the outbreak of war, the garrison on Midway was steadily augmented. On December 17, the arrival of 17 Vought SB2U Vindicator dive-bombers of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB 231) arrived, completing the long flight from Hawaii. on the 25th more reinforcements were delivered. The 5 in seacoast guns of Batteries A and C, 4th Defense Battalion came ashore. Hours later, 14 obsolete F2A-3 Brewster Buffalo aircraft, the vanguard of Marine Fighter Squadron 221 (VMF 221), landed at Midway after launching from the USS Saratoga. They were originally part of a relief force bound for Wake Island, but were diverted to Midway instead after the force was controversially recalled on 22 December 1941, Wake Island fell on the following day. On March 1, 1942, VMF-221, VMF-222, VMSB-241 and their headquarters units formed Marine Aircraft Group 22 commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ira B. Kimes.

On March 28th,1942 8 more F2A-3 were offloaded from the Seaplane Tender "Curtiss" AV-3 for the unit at Midway, and finally 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats were delivered from the Aircraft Ferry "Kitty Hawk" APV-1 on May 26th, 1942.  

Known to be delivered 28 March 42 by USS Curtiss:
F2A-3P  01521        MF-17
F2A-3    01528    ex VF-2    MF-10
F2A-3    01530    ex VF-2    MF-21
F2A-3    01562    ex VF-2    MF-13   [b]So we have a discrepancy on the HM model 01560 vs the actual tail number and the date that this aircraft was still at EWA.  Regardless 13 was Armisteads aircraft.
F2A-3P  01569        MF-5

The squadron’s first taste of combat came on March 10, 1942, when four of its pilots recorded the first aerial victory flying F2A-3's downing an enemy Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat.

By late May, the squadron had been augmented with the arrival of additional aircraft. VMF-221 had 21 F2A-3's and 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, all of which were essentially worn out "hand-me-down" from the Navy. Leadership of the squadron was passed to Major Floyd B. Parks, with Kimes taking command of Marine Air Group 22. Much has been written of the inferiority of the Brewster fighter, particularly with regard to the Midway engagement. Many of Park's pilots, fresh from flight training Stateside, had very little operational experience. This fact, combined with the overwhelming size and disposition of the Japanese force posed against the atoll's defenses, would have more bearing on the outcome than the operational capabilities of the F2A-3.

On June 4, 1942 at 0430am, only 15 minutes after an early dawn search group of 11 PBYs had been sent out from Midway to located his Striking Force, Admiral Nagumo headed carriers upwind and launched the Midway Attack Force

At 5.20 a.m., Midway reconnaissance sighted a Japanese aircraft carrier, and followed that with a report that enemy aircraft were approaching the atoll. Sixty-six operational fighters and bombers on Midway were ordered  into the air. Within minutes, every aircraft on Midway was sent aloft.

25 aircraft of VMF-221 took off at 0600, 4 June 1942, to intercept a Japanese air raid. The squadron consisted of regular USMC pilots and new USMCR pilots. The green 2nd Lt.s were usually wingmen to regular pilots. Tactically the squadron was divided into five divisions that operated independently.  Flying at 14,000ft  roughly 30 miles distant from Midway, the pilots of VMF 221 spotted a large number of Japanese Vals flying in V-formations with 36 accompanying Zeros.

 Parks led his squadron against the inbound Japanese armada, which combined air groups from Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu. In the lead were the level bombers, a "vee of vees" made up of Nakajima B5N "Kates", followed by the dive bomber formation of Aichi D3A "Vals" at a slightly higher altitude. The fighter escort was "stepped-up" behind the dive bombers, this disposition gave the pilots of VMF-221 a clear shot at the bombers for the first few passes. Once the Zeros were able to engage the Marine fighters, the tables were effectively turned.

When the Japanese planes were gone, the Midway air controller sent a message: “Fighters land. Refuel by divisions, 5th Division first.” The only response was a crackle of dead air. The message went out several times, and finally a general recall was broadcast. With “All fighters land and service,” When the smoke of the battle cleared, fourteen of the squadron's aviators, including Parks, had been killed in action; some observed to have been machine gunned in their parachutes,  four more had been wounded.

Those pilots who managed to shake off Zeros used high speed split-S or very steep dives (F2A-3 and F4F-3 alike). These were later found to be the best maneuvers to shake off a Zero. One F2A-3 pilot, Capt. Humberd, was able to outrun (by a small margin) a Zero at sea level and then commenced a head-on pass and shot his opponent down.  Only two of VMF-221's remaining were serviceable, effectively eliminating the squadron as a viable combat unit. Four of the squadron's ordnancemen were also killed when a Japanese bomb stuck the ammunition area near the airstrip at Midway. For their actions during the Battle, the squadron, as a component of MAG-22, also received a Presidential Unit Citation.

With the Japanese fleets  location known,  every available Midway-based aircraft was thrown at Nagumo’s carriers. More than 50 planes without fighter escort mounted no fewer than five separate attacks against Nagumo’s warships during a roughly 90-minute period from 7.05 a.m. to just after 8.30.The B-17s are already airborne, heading for the transports, but they are rerouted to hit the reported enemy carriers.  

 Four Army Air Corps Marauders, which mounted attacks on the Japanese carriers almost simultaneously with the six Navy TBF Avengers. No hits were scored. These were followed less than an hour later by the 16 Marine Corps Dauntless dive-bombers of VMSB-241.

Most of the Dauntless pilots were inexperienced, and Henderson elected a glide-bombing run rather than a steep dive-bombing attack. Quickly, the Zeros pounced on the squadron commander, whose plane was seen spiraling into the sea with one wing afire.  Henderson field on Guadalcanal would be named for him.

At approximately 8.20 a.m 11 lumbering VMSB-241 Vindicators arrived.  Major Benjamin W. Norris knew the Zero fighters were likely to slaughter his obsolete dive-bombers and observed that the Japanese escort ships were putting up a veritable curtain of anti-aircraft fire. He elected to attack the closest targets, the enemy battleships, but without making any hits.  At least 19 American planes were shot down during the raids by Midway’s planes, no hits were scored but the Nagumo was said to have given grudging admiration for the unexpected ferocity of the US attacks. Only three Zeros had been downed in exchange.  

Although preliminary analysis might indicate that the gallant attacks were in vain, this is not the case. The Marine, Army, and Navy bomber pilots had stretched the Japanese combat air patrol resources to the limits of their pilots’ endurance. More Zeros had to be launched, and those aloft needed to land to be rearmed and refueled.  The stage was being set for the Navy carrier groups.  

Captain Kirk Armistead Navy Cross twice awarded the  Distinguished Flying Cross

Captain Kirk Armistead was one of the survivors and he provided an account of the attack by his division of six elderly F2A-3 Buffalos and one relatively modern F4F-3 Wildcat:

"At about 0620, I heard Captain Carey transmit "Tally-ho" followed by "Hawks at Angels Twelve, supported by fighters." I then started climbing, and sighted the enemy at approximately 14,000 feet at a distance of five to seven miles out (from Midway Atoll), and approximately two miles to my right. I immediately turned to a heading of about 70-degrees and continued to climb. I was endeavoring to get a position above and ahead of the enemy and come down out of the sun. However, I was unable to reach this point in time.

My guns were loaded with 2 tracers, 2 armor piercing, 1 ball and 1 incendiary every six rounds.  I was at 17,000 feet when I started my attack. The target consisted of five divisions of from 5 to 9 planes each, flying in division Vees. I figured this group to consist of from 30 to 40 dive bombers of the Aichi Type 99 SE DB. I was followed in column by five F2A-3 fighters and one F4F-3 fighter, pilot unknown. I made a head on approach from above at a steep angle and at very high speed on the fourth enemy division which consisted of five planes. I saw my incendiary bullets travel from a point in front of the leader, up thru his plane and back through the planes on the left wing of the Vee. I continued in my dive, and looking back, saw two or three of those planes falling in flames.    Some of the planes in my division centered their attack on the fifth enemy division. I zoomed back to an altitude of 14,000 feet, at this time I noticed another group of the same type bombers following along in their path.

I looked back over my shoulder and about 2,00 feet below and behind me I saw three fighters in column, climbing up towards me, which I assumed to be planes of my division. However, they climbed at a very high rate, and a very steep path. When the nearest plane was about 500 feet below and behind me I realized that it was a Japanese Zero Fighter. I kicked over in a violent split S and received 3-20 MM shells, one in the right wing gun, one in the right wing root tank, and one in the top left side of the engine cowling. I also received about 20-7.7 off a portion of the aileron, which mangled the tab on the aileron, and sawed off a portion of the aileron. I continued in a vertical dive at full throttle, corkscrewing to the left, due to the effect of the damaged aileron. At about 3,000 feet, I started to pull out, and managed to hold the plane level at an altitude of 500 feet.


Plane#  Bu.No.  Pilot                                                               Status
MF-13   01562    Capt. Kirk Armistead USMC                      Survived
MF-14   01563    2nd Lt. William B. Sandoval USMCR         MIA
MF-15   01553    Capt. William C. Humberd USMC            Survived
MF-16   01523    2nd Lt. Williams V. Brooks USMCR           WIA
MF-17   01521    2nd Lt. Charles M .Kunz USMCR               WIA
MF-18   01559    2nd Lt. Martin E. Mahannah USMC           KIA (his body washed up later)
23 (F4F-3) 3989  2nd Lt. Walter W. Swansberger USMCR   Survived

American dead were not buried on land. They were taken by PT boat and consigned to the sea.

    At approximately 0740 I heard the base radio call the fifth division and advise them to land, refuel, and re-arm. I could hear no reply, so asked for permission to land. I received an affirmative reply, so headed towards the area. I gave two recognition signals, circled the field, and was not fired at by anti-aircraft batteries. My hydraulic system had been damaged, but the landing gear and flaps operated normally. The right brake was inoperative. A successful landing was effected at approximately 0800.

What was left of VMF221 was sent back to Hawaii for new pilots and equipment.   It was re-equipped with the F4F-4.   Captain Armistead was promoted and reassigned to F4F's with VMF-224.  During the period between 1 September and 16 October 1942, Major Armistead destroyed two and one-half enemy bombers in aerial combat over Guadalcanal receiving the DFC for actions on September 12.  He would receive a gold star to his DFC in October of the same year for actions as the US forces advanced up the Solomons chain.  By this time he was a Lt Colonel.  His war would end as the XO of MAG 31 on Okinawa. He had seen the war from the depths of defeat to complete dominance of the air.

His second DFC award reads 2.5 victories to go with his 2 at Midway.  The combat action reports for VMF-224 indicate he brought down three planes with no shared. However he is not on an ace list, not that it matters.  He was there for the very worst of times and faced the best of the IJNAF.   His experience I'm sure saved many a new pilot that came through his unit in 44 and 45  with the advantages of superior aircraft and extended training.

 VMF 221 was later equipped with the F4U-1, -1c and - 1D, during the course of two more deployments overseas, VMF-  finished the war with a score of 155 victories, 21 damaged and 16 probables[/size]

The cockpit is surprisingly detailed.   The glass in the floor in the F2A-3 was eliminated but this was probably another weight gainer.  

In the shot above the underside shot you can see the raft container. It was useless weight for the marines. The planes dropped like rocks when damaged and the Japanese would not have hesitated to strafe the pilots in the rafts as they already had shown their willingness todo  so while hanging in their parachutes.  The casualty lists and at least one eye witness account bear this out.

Many official British historical sources blame the loss of Malaya and Singapore largely on the Buffalo's poor performance. However, the picture is not entirely that of an unmitigated disaster, and many Buffalo-equipped units gave a good account of themselves before they were overwhelmed by superior Japanese numbers.

The most successful Buffalo pilots were the Finns some with over 30 victories, and to a lesser degree the New Zealanders & Dutch, including  Sgt Geoff Fisken, 6 victories, LT. August. G. Deibel 3 victories .   Fisken had a distinct advantage over most Buffalo pilots at Singapore.  He was one of a handful who's job it was to test fly  assembled Buffalos at the Selatar assembly airfield.  This gave him almost 200 hours and unique experience in the type.  

The F2A-3 production was a example of the military decision makers just making a bad situation worse. The Navy wanted to keep the production capacity and elected to keep a poorly managed company and surpassed design in production. Though it was leading edge at its time, change was rapid and by the time the A-3 came along, today with the advantage of hindsight we can see it should never had been put in the front line.  But it was all they had to fight with..  Proper fighter tactics suitable to the aircrafts strengths, with the addition of  even a rudimentary early warning system allowing the pilot to attain an altitude advantage plus  pilot training showed just what it could do in the right situation.   Like many western designs it was tough and the armor protection paid off in pilots surviving to gain needed experience.

Some  books touching on the subject .  



 Another photo of the survivors.  Armistead was sent on to Guadalcanal in August.  Little R&R for a man who just survived so much.  You would think he would have been sent home but the pipeline of pilots wasn't cranking quite yet.

FIRST DIVISION (F2A-3)  Parks went in first and got the bulk of the Zeroes attention.  This prevented the others from being wiped out to a man.

Plane No.  Bu.No.  Pilot  Status  
MF-1  01518  Maj. Floyd B. Parks USMC  MIA  
MF-2  01548  2Lt. Eugene P. Madole USMCR  MIA  
MF-3  01525  Capt. John R. Alvord USMC  MIA  
MF-4  01537  2Lt. John M. Butler USMCR  MIA  
MF-5  01569  2Lt. David W. Pinkerton Jr. USMCR  MIA  
MF-6  01552  2Lt. Charles S. Hughes USMCR  Did not engage, Turned back due Engine problems  

Plane No.  Bu.No.  Pilot  Status  
MF-7  01552?  Capt. Daniel J. Hennessey USMC  MIA  
MF-8  01541  2Lt. Ellwood Q. Lindsay USMCR  MIA  
MF-9  01524  Capt. Herbert T. Merrill USMC  Bailed out WIA  
MF-10  01528  2Lt. Thomas W. Benson USMCR  MIA  
MF-11  01568  Capt. Phillip R. White USMC  Survived  
MF-12  01542  2Lt. John D. Lucas USMCR  MIA  

Plane No.  Bu.No.  Pilot  Status  
MF-13  01562  Capt. Kirk Armistead USMC  Survived  
MF-14  01563  2Lt. William B. Sandoval USMCR  MIA  
MF-15  01553  Capt. William C. Humberd USMC  Survived  
MF-16  01523  2Lt. Williams V. Brooks USMCR  WIA  
MF-17  01521  2Lt. Charles M .Kunz USMCR  WIA  
MF-18  01559  2Lt. Martin E. Mahannah USMCR  KIA (his body washed
up later)  
23 (F4F-3)  3989  2Lt. Walter W. Swansberger USMCR  MIA  

Plane No.  Bu.No.  Pilot  Status  
MF-19  01520  Capt. Robert E. Curtin USMC  MIA  
MF-20  01550  2Lt. Darrell D. Irwin USMCR  Survived  


Plane No.  Bu.No.  Pilot  Status  
22  4008  Capt. John F. Carey USMC  WIA  
24  4000  Capt. Marion E. Carl USMC  Survived  
25  3997  2Lt. Clayton M. Canfield USMCR  Survived  

26  4006  Capt. Francis P. McCarthy USMC  MIA  
27  2532  2Lt. Roy A. Corry USMC  Survived  
28  1864  2Lt.Hyde Phillips USMCR  Did not engage; a/c out of order.  

Total Losses for June 4th, 1942 for VMF-221:
Aircraft: 12 F2A-3, 2 F4F-3
Pilots: 13 MIA, 1 KIA, 4 WIA  

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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PostSubject: Re: Hobby Master Model 7010 F2A-3 Buffalo "2-MF-13" MCAS Ewa,Hawaii, April 1942 / Midway June 1942, Captain Kirk Armistead    Wed May 03 2017, 11:51

Here is mine fresh from paradise. Kyushu's review is totally thorough as are most of his so just one picture of mine. Mine's only unique because I purchased it in Hawaii. If your ever stuck in Kauai there's a hobby shop walking distance from the Marriot resort near the airport that actually has a stunning amount of die cast and model kits. I was going to hold out for the HM "Midway" Buffalo but this one looks great in real life so I got it. Now thanks to Kyushu's review it was apparently at Midway just the same. Only comment I will add is the landing gear was tricky to assemble in the gear down position.

Those who don't learn about the past are doomed to repeat it
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Kyushu J7W


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Join date : 2017-02-18
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PostSubject: Re: Hobby Master Model 7010 F2A-3 Buffalo "2-MF-13" MCAS Ewa,Hawaii, April 1942 / Midway June 1942, Captain Kirk Armistead    Sun May 07 2017, 17:44

Nice catch and a hobby shop in Hawaii. Truly paradise Smile

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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