The Day I met Gabby Gabreski

"Thunderbolts flown by WW2 Aces" 

by Patrick Hawkey 



On Aug. 4 2001, Francis "Gabby" Gabreski, Walker "Bud" Mahurin and Gerald "Jerry" Johnson were reunited for a 56th FG pilot's symposium at Willow Run airport, home of Michigan's Yankee Air Force.  (Michael Gladych was scheduled to attend also, but unfortunately due to health reasons, had to abort the mission.)  The gentleman that put it together is Ed Kaminski, proprietor of The Military Art Gallery.  (  He has an interesting model collection consisting of 48th scale pieces flown by aces or other famous pilots he's hosted, and who've signed a wing of the model.  Ed commissioned me to build models of the P-47s flown by 56th FG aces for them to autograph.  Because these were to be vehicles for signatures, detail wasn't going to be as important as accurate markings.

Bud Mahurin's "Spirit of Atlantic City"
Monogram kit, stock except for the removal of wing racks.  (These didn't
appear on P-47s until the end of 1943 at the earliest.  Check your references.)  Markings are a combination of Aeromaster and Microscale decals.


Gabby Gabreski's HV-A
Stock Hasegawa kit, including decals from the "Special Markings" issue featuring Gabreski's A/C.  Note that the decal of the scoreboard illustrates Gabby's full 28 kills.  The pilot of this airplane pointed out that only 27 should be showing if the A/C is wearing invasion stripes.  No. 28 was added after the stripes were overpainted.
How many of YOU guys have had an ace point out a goof on one of YOUR models?


 Mike Gladych's "Pengie IV"
Stock Monogram kit with a second drop tank from the spares box.  Decals from the Tech-Mod sheet -- which were superb.  There is some controversy about the actual color of this airplane, so Ed Kaminski asked Mr. Gladych himself.  The reply was "dark blue."


 Jerry Johnson's "Jackson County Michigan Fighter/In The Mood"
This one was the challange.  Long ago Microscale did a decal sheet which featured this A/C, but it is long out of production, and I had to weigh the time and effort of getting my hands on one (no guarantee that I would), or doing the markings myself.  I opted for the latter.  The Jackson County etc. came from Woodland Senics dry transfer lettering.  The style wasn't exact, but darn close.  Serial number came from Aeromaster's yellow letters/numbers sheet.  The code letters came from a Microscale letter/number sheet and were outlined in black with a straightedge and drafting pen.  National insignia from Microscale.  

"Miss Moody" was the fun part.  I enlarged the profile painting of this A/C in the Squadron/Signal "56th Fighter Group" book to 48th scale on an enlarging copy machine, then traced the figure on to white decal stock.  I then painted her as you would a 3D figure, starting with an acrylic flesh tone base, then adding shadows and highlights with artist's oils.  "In The Mood" was likewise handpainted.

Stock Monogram kit and as with Mahurin's A/C, Johnson's was not fitted with wing racks.


Gabby Gabreski signs a model of his airplane while your truly looks on.
Brian James photo.

Photos and text by Patrick Hawkey and Brian James