Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat of Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-5) 


A U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat of Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-5) during a flight out of Guadalcanal. VF-5 had been based aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3). Most of her air group was flown to Guadalcanal after the carrier had been torpedoed on 27 August 1942. VF-5 operated 24 Wildcats from Guadalcanal but, after five weeks, only five aircraft remained operational. (Wikipedia)


How to paint my Wildcat?

Hard to tell the right shade of blue when you start searching on the Internet.


But I think Plane Dave has the answer…

F12 would be how I want my vintage Monogram F4F to look.


F12 was flown by Pug Southerland who was on this group picture.


Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)


Pug Southerland

At the beginning of the Battle of Guadalcanal, August 7, 1942, American forces shelled Guadalcanal and neighboring Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Soon after the attack began, 27 Japanese bombers and an escort of 17 fighters took off from Rabaul, Japan’s stronghold and strategic base in the South Pacific. Their mission was to bomb the ships that were supporting the American attack.

Lieutenant Southerland commanded a group of eight American Wildcats aboard the USS Saratoga as a part of VF-5. Due to planning errors and the loss of planes to a recent training exercise, this was the only fighter cover available to patrol the landing area. Southerland (flying Wildcat F-12) and his flight took off to intercept the Japanese bombers before they could reach the American ships.

Southerland shot down the first Japanese aircraft of the Guadalcanal campaign, a G4M1 “Betty” bomber of the 4th Kōkūtai, under the command of Shizuo Yamada. After shooting down a second bomber, Southerland was engaged in a dogfight with an A6M2 “Zero”, piloted by Yamazaki Ichirobei of the Tainan Kōkūtai. He lined up the Zero in his sights only to find his guns would not fire, probably due to damage from fire by the tailgunner from the second bomber he had downed.

Although he was now defenseless, Southerland had to stay in the fight. Two more Zeros engaged him, as Kakimoto Enji and Uto Kazushi joined Yamazaki’s assault, but he successfully outmaneuvered all three of them. Southerland analyzed their tactics. Two fighters worked their runs from opposite flanks, while the third waited to take its turn. He coolly and carefully executed his defensive maneuvers. The dogfight was spotted by Saburo Sakai. Sakai also joined the battle. These Zeros finally shot down Southerland’s Wildcat, striking it below the left wing root with his 20mm cannon. Yamazaki, Uto and Sakai shared Southerland’s Grumman kill. Southerland later wrote:

My plane was in bad shape but still performing nicely in low blower, full throttle, and full low pitch. Flaps and radio had been put out of commission…The after part of my fuselage was like a sieve. She was still smoking from incendiary but not on fire. All of the ammunition box cover on my left wing were gone and 20mm explosives had torn some gaping holes in its upper surface…My instrument panel was badly shot up, goggles on my forehead had been shattered, my rear view mirror was broken, my plexiglass windshield was riddled. The leak proof tanks had apparently been punctured many times as some tuel had leaked down into the bottom of the cockpit even though there was no steady leakage. My oil tank had been punctured and oil was pouring down my right leg.At this time a zero making a run from the port quarter put a burst in just under the left wing root and good old 5-F-12 finally exploded. I think the explosion occurred from gasoline vapor. The flash was below and forward of my left foot. I was ready for it…Consequently I dove over the right side just aft immediately, though I don’t remember how.[1]

As Southerland bailed out of his doomed Wildcat, his .45 caliber automatic pistolcaught in the cockpit. He managed to free himself, but lost his pistol, leaving him weaponless, wounded, and alone behind enemy lines. Suffering from eleven wounds, shock and exhaustion, Southerland struggled through the brush, carefully evading Japanese soldiers. He finally reached the coast, where he was found by some natives, who at the risk of their own lives, fed him and treated his wounds. With their assistance, he eluded Japanese ground forces and returned to American lines. Southerland was evacuated from Guadalcanal on the first patrol boat to land at Henderson Field, on August 20, 1942.

On February 14, 1998, the wreckage of Southerland’s Wildcat was found, including his pistol. Investigation of the remains confirmed these accounts of the dogfight.

Source Wikipedia

About the original caption under the group picture…


Original caption

Tom Harmer told me he did not know who wrote the caption. It’s most certainly not his father when you look at the original caption!

Whoever wrote it, Tom told me I could edit the caption.


Half of these men died in the battle…?

I know this is not true. I know how many died.



Lieutenant (Junior Grade ) Donald A. Innis


Ensign Robert L. Price


Lieutenant (Junior Grade ) Charles A. Tabberer

Two more would die later over Guadalcanal when VF-5 pilots would join the Cactus Air Force.




Ensign C.E. Eichenberger
(arrived 11 September, 1942, killed in crash after combat 12 September, 1942)


Ensign G.J. Morgan
(arrived 11 September, 1942, missing in action 2 October, 1942)


My Remembered Hobby

This is post 500.

Amateur Airplanes wrote it especially for My Forgotten Hobby.

It’s just beautiful!

My Remembered Hobby

When Pierre asked me to write a guest post on My Forgotten Hobby, I was both honored and nervous. Pierre has been with Amateur Airplanes since close to the beginning, offering praise and encouragement whenever possible. At the infancy of Amateur Airplanes, I really had no concept of what Amateur Airplanes was going to be. I knew that I wanted to be here for other model builders to offer up my experiences and give advice when I had the knowledge to give it. People like Pierre helped me create my identity here and it has turned into much more than I originally thought that it ever would.

So enough about Amateur Airplanes. Let’s talk about My Forgotten Hobby for a minute. When I first started following Pierre, MFH was non-existent. When he began building the blog site, I immediately took interest. Not just because it was directed at my own hobby, but because it had a nostalgic appeal to me. The kits that are featured, as well as the stash, are what I remember about building model airplanes as a kid. Those kits were stacked on the shelves and I saw them quite often. My start in the hobby was building with my dad and uncle. We would go to my Uncle Carl’s house on Friday nights for “model night” to build our kits. I would work on my kits during the week too but the Fridays were the more prominent times. Good memories. Pierre has unknowingly brought those back for me and I very much appreciate that.

Another aspect that I love is that he builds these dinosaur kits. I will be the first to admit that I am spoiled in my era with the options that I have. Older kits to me equal an ulcer. I have tried them and I get frustrated with them. As much as I love seeing the old Monogram kits in Pierre’s collection, I get a huge pit in my stomach thinking about building them. Kudos to all of you who build the “vintage kits”. But it works so well for him and I love watching the progress. Frustration is bound to occur, but he handles it with grace and purpose. I always look forward to more because I cannot do this with these older kits. Pierre has brought back an era to the hobby and is sticking to it.

F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat

This is Post 499.

I started writing this blog on December 6, 2013.

It was just a way I had found to motivate myself in starting my forgotten hobby again, and build more than 50 model airplane kits I had in my stash.

I never intended to write that much, but I guess I got carried away. I should have known.

I owe a lot to Amateur Airplanes who is even more passionate than I am about building model airplanes and whose stash is a lot bigger than mine.

The F4F-4 Wilcat is my next project. It is somewhat special since I have been in contact with the son of Richard Harmer.




F4F-4 Wildcat of VF-5, over Guadalcanal circa August 1942

Monogram’s rendition of the Wildcat has been a part of my life since the 60s, and it still is. I can see myself in the early 60s, and can recall the shiny blue plastic in the box as well as the box top.


Little did I know back then that I would meet some 50 years later 36 unsung heroes, 36 fighter pilots from USS Saratoga’s VF-5, immortalized for posterity on a group picture taken on July 15, 1942.


Collection Richard Emerson Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)

I will tell you more about it in Post 501.

2016: Year In Review

My mentor…

amateur airplanes

Well, I am certainly a little late here with this post but I kind of wanted to go over last years builds and changes here at Amateur Airplanes. I also want to go over what we can hopefully expect out of 2017. Given the fact that this post comes as January is almost concluding, it’s safe to say that this year has started off slow for me. Nevertheless, I have some pretty different ideas for some future builds. Now I won’t reveal them just yet but I am truly giddy to get them started.

So 2016…Not my best year in terms of builds. On the plus side, it wasn’t my worst either. Twenty-five completed builds is what I was able to achieve here in 2016. A lot went on here that swayed that number last year. The new house sucked plenty of time away. The move and getting settled in…

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In Memoriam – John Leonard Greaves


I’ve been writing less about My Forgotten Hobby. I am much more active on my other blogs. In my research on the American squadron VF(N)-101 I had found a website earlier this week. It was a website about the Battle of Midway. Here is the link….

An image had struck me, that of a painting and the story behind it. I thought I should read it.

“The Other Sole Survivors”Torpedo 8 TBF Avenger at Midway – June 4, 1942


All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)

This is the story. (broken link)

The only survivor of a flight of six TBF Avenger torpedo planes struggles to return home to Midway Atoll after attacking the Japanese fleet. Flown by ENS Albert Earnest with radioman Harry Ferrier RM3c and turret gunner Jay Manning Sea1c, the badly damaged TBF has hydraulics shot out causing the tail wheel to drop and the bomb bay doors to open. Without a working compass, Earnest flew east towards the sun and climbed above the cloud deck where he could see the column of smoke rising from Midway in the far distance. Earnest managed to bring back the TBF using only the elevator trim tab for altitude control and successfully landed. Manning died in his turret and Earnest and Ferrier were wounded.

earnest ferrier

Earnest in cockpit and Ferrier on Guadalcanal


Jay Manning


There is another story to this story.

Yesterday I wrote to John Greaves to get permission to use the images from his paintings in one of my blogs that pays tribute to American pilots of the VF(N)-101 squadron.

But I didn’t expect this at all when his wife wrote to me instead of her husband…

GREAVES, John Leonard

John Greaves died unexpectedly and peacefully at home on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Airdrie, AB at the age of 52 years. John is lovingly remembered by his wife Janet, and their 2 daughters; Emma and Katy of Airdrie, his parents; Len and Eleanor, brother; Stewart of Abbotsford, B.C., Janet’s sister; Sandra (Sam) Hamilton and family of Saskatoon, SK. John was born in Calgary, AB on September 1, 1964. John and his family moved to B.C. prior to John and his brother starting school, eventually settling in Abbotsford where John attended Abby Jr and Sr High School. John attended Fraser Valley College where he pursued his passion in Art, then went on to further study in graphic arts and business at BCIT. A Memorial Service will be held at Aridrie Alliance church, 1604 Summerfield Blvd, Airdrie, AB., on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 1:30, with a reception to follow. Sandy Isfeld and Nathan Kliewer will be officiating, please join us in Celebrating John’s Life In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s memory to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 240, 2323 – 32 Ave. NE, Calgary, AB, T2E 6Z3.

Messages of condolence may be left for the family at

The source is here…


John Greaves’ works are reproduced here on this blog with the special permission of his wife Janet….

I give you permission to use his paintings in the two blogs you mentioned, with credit given to my beloved John, who had a passion for history and art.
Janet Greaves

In Memoriam John Leonard Greaves (1964-2017)

Brooks lg 01022014

Childers 20130628












Tom Cheek at Midway x

© John Greaves Art (with the permission of Janet Greaves)


A tribute to Richard "Chick" Harmer and US Navy Night Fighter Squadron VF(N)-101

In my search for more information to use on my blog paying homage to VF(N)-101 I had found this Website earlier this week.

It was about the Battle of Midway.

This is the link…

There was something that caught my attention.

A painting and the story behind it. I had to look and read the story.

“The Other Sole Survivors”Torpedo 8 TBF Avenger at Midway – June 4, 1942


All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)

Now the story behind the painting.

The only survivor of a flight of six TBF Avenger torpedo planes struggles to return home to Midway Atoll after attacking the Japanese fleet. Flown by ENS Albert Earnest with radioman Harry Ferrier RM3c and turret gunner Jay Manning Sea1c, the badly damaged TBF has hydraulics shot out causing the tail wheel to drop and the bomb bay doors to open. Without a working…

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Where to put the figurines?

Everything has been completed except…

Where to put the figurines?

That’s the question I have been asking myself for two whole days.

To glue or not to glue, and if I glue the figurines where do I put them?


Nope, too dangerous…




They say not to spin the propellers…


Darn! The top turrret is glued…


Why is it glued?


How about this set-up?


Or this one?

Maybe glueing the figurines on the base instead and not on the model.


Looks good here!


Looks good here also!

Maybe I will let GP think about it and let her decide…

Next time…?

Packaging the whole thing!

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat

Plane Dave’s third build of Tamiya’s rendition of the Wildcat.


Plane Dave

Wake Island

Japan started the Pacific War with an explosive campaign of conquest and attack from Malaysia to Pearl Harbor.  For the allies, it was almost entirely bad news.  One of the few bright spots in those first few months of the war was the stubborn defense of Wake Island.


After the jump, one of the defenders of that tiny atoll.

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Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat

Easy to get addicted to Wildcats and Plane Dave’s blog isn’t?

Plane Dave

John Thach and His Weave

Early in the Pacific War allied air forces were badly outmatched by the Japanese.  The Japanese Army and Navy were highly selective and trained to an excruciatingly high standard.  Plus, they’d been at war with both China and the Soviet Union in the proceeding years.


The US Navy was the only regular military service that was able to have a positive kill ratio in those first six months (add The Flying Tigers if we count irregular units!).  John Thach was one of the key reasons.  After the jump, I’ll look at an important tactician and his weapon.

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A Tribute to the Cactus Air Force


While I kept searching for more and more information on VF-5 and on these mostly unsung heroes seen on the above picture shared by Tom Harmer, the son of Richard “Chick” Harmer, I stumbled upon this Website which will guide me for my next project on My Forgotten Hobby.

This is the link :

This is the introduction written by the author.


This site is dedicated to those men who helped defend the skies over the island of Guadalcanal during the period August 1942 through November 1942.

You might wonder why a website has been made just for this subject. It started merely as an exercise in web page development, but soon became a labor of love. I had just finished reading the book “Fighter Squadron over Guadalcanal” by Max Brand, and I found myself thinking the same thoughts that I had had when I had read “The Cactus Air Force” so many years ago.

What the men on Guadalcanal went through is hard to imagine for those who were not there. Thousands of miles from home, the Americans on Guadalcanal were under near constant attack from the land, sea, and air, with few supplies or support from the outside. During their time on the island they endured all of the hardships of the jungle (the weather, insects, and numerous tropical diseases to name a few…. virtually every man suffered from malaria to some degree). And yet despite all the hardships, they exhibited incredible heroism, dedication, perseverance, and fighting ability.

From a purely historical point of view, the campaign for Guadalcanal was an important turning point in World War II. It was the first offensive move for the U.S. in the Pacific, and the Japanese threw massive forces against the American invasion to make sure it wouldn’t succeed. When the smoke had cleared some four months later, the U.S. held the island (with its important airstrip), and the Japanese military had lost many of their most skilled aviators.

The Marines on the ground were able to hold the island because they had air superiority. They were not overrun by enemy infantry because many of the Japanese reinforcements headed for Guadalcanal were sunk or driven off by the “The Cactus Air Force” (the name for the pilots of the fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers who endeavored to protect the 1st Marine Division). Despite bad conditions, heavy losses, and always being outnumbered, the Cactus Air Force literally saved the day; in the process they made their mark on history.

I urge all of you to read “The Cactus Air Force” by Thomas G. Miller, Jr.
I would be amazed if you were not deeply impressed by the feats of the men who fought in this campaign. It should be read by everyone who needs to be taught (or reminded) that victory and freedom do not come easily. Reading that book made me proud to be an American; and proud of the accomplishments of our armed forces. It is to their memory that I dedicate this site.

David Hanson, webmaster

On David’s website I found a small picture of VF-5 pilots, some background information, and a list of its pilots…


During this time ‘Cactus’ became the unexpected host of another fighter squadron: (U.S. Navy) VF-5  with 24 Wildcats arrived from the carrier Saratoga. The Saratoga had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, and it sent most of its air group to Guadalcanal while it was out for repairs.  The arrival of this big, confident squadron with twice as many planes as the two Marine outfits put together gave a real boost to the Cactus Air Force’s sagging morale. While lacking the experience of the battle-hardened Marines, the Navy pilots of VF-5 soon learned the kind of fighting required, and they began their tour with six credited victories in their first engagement. This meat-grinder of a campaign exacted its price, however; out of the 24 F4Fs that arrived on September 11th, only 5 remained.

Pilots (arrival date, remarks)

Lcdr LC Simpler (9/11, Evac 10/16)
Lt WE Clarke (9/11, Evac 10/15)
Lt HW Crews (9/11, Evac 10/5)
Lt HM Jensen (9/27, Evac 10/16)
Lt DC Richardson (9/ 1 1, WIA & evac 9/12. Returned 10/12, Evac 10/16)
Ltjg FO Green (9/11, Evac 10/15)
Ltjg HL Grimmell, Jr. (9/11, Evac 10/15)
Ltjg ET Stover (9/11, Evac 10/15)
Ens FJ Blair (9/27, Evac 10/16)
Ens MK Bright (9/11, Evac 10/6)
Ens BF Currie (9/11, Evac 10/5)
Ens CE Eichenberger (9/11, Killed in crash after combat 9/12)
Ens JA Halford (9/11, Evac 10/14)
Ens DA Innis (9/11, WIA & evac 9/13. Returned 10/11, evac 10/16)
Ens JM Kleinman (9/27, Evac 10/15)
Ens MV Kleinmann, Jr. (9/11, Evac 10/14)
Ens RL Loesch (9/11, WIA & evac 9/13)
Ens HA March (9/11, Evac 10/6)
Ens JB McDonald (9/27, Evac 10/14)
Ens GJ Morgan (9/11, MIA 10/2)
Ens FR Register (9/11, Evac 10/14)
Ens MC Roach (9/11, Evac 10/14)
Ens WM Rouse (9/11, WIA & Evac 10/15. Missing on ferry flight 10/21)
Ens JD Shoemaker (9/11, KIA 9/29)
Ens JM Wesolowaki (9/11, Evac 10/14)
Ens WW Wileman (9/11, KIA 9/13)
NAP RM Nesbitt (9/11, Evac 10/15)
NAP LP Mankin (9/11, Evac 10/14)

Pilots from other Squadrons who flew with VF-5

Lt CW Rooney (VF-71, 10/5) *
Ltjg RH Keaton (VF-71, 10/5) *
Ltjg RH Myers (UP-71, 10/5, Evac 10/16)
Ltjg CW Tucker (VF-71, 10/5, MIA 10/9)

* Remained after 10/16 to fly with VMF-121. Date of evacuation not in records.


USS Saratoga circa June/July 1942

This blog really began with a model aircraft carrier built back in the late 50s.

A tribute to Richard "Chick" Harmer and US Navy Night Fighter Squadron VF(N)-101


Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)

Source Wikipedia


U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS (CV-3) alongside Naval Air Station,
Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii (USA), circa June or July 1942

I have always been attracted by aircraft carriers since I built a model of the USS Essex CV-9 in the late 50s or early 60s.


This is really how this blog started in 2015 when Gunnar Kelly sent me this picture of his father on the USS Enterprise.


There are many pictures of CV-6 on the Internet, but there are very few pictures of the USS Saratoga circa July 1942 floating around on the Internet.


In my search for what happened to Richard Emerson Harmer on August 24, 1942, and his fellow pilots of VF-5,  I am trying to find all that  I can about them by using this book I bought last week.


Richard Harmer’s name is listed…

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