UPDATE #2: Thanks again to our fellow modeler Mike Hammill, we now have some additional material on the crew of the rather famous B-24J Madame Pele. Mike sent the photos and crew info shown immediately below:
UPDATE #1: Every once in a while (and it happens more often than you might think), I receive a really nice note from a person related to the pilot or one of the crew members of an aircraft we’ve created a decal set for. A few days ago I received the following note and photos:
My father was the crew chief for the B-24 Madame Pele. I have a nice picture of him with his crew taken in next to the Madame. I would like make a nice model of his plane to go with the photo.
This is what the Madame Pele looked like in 1944. My father John Delbert Hammill was the second one from the right. He was the crew chief and this was his crew.
The money for the B-24 Madame Pele ($340,000.) was raised by high school kids in Hawaii. They raised the money, they gave her its name, Pele the Hawaiian fire goddess.
(Son of John D. Hammill)
During my research in the National Archives for more material on the Ploesti, Romania, oil refineries low-level bombing mission, I came across a couple of original 8" x 10" prints of these photos of Madame Pele. They’ve probably been published in books and on websites before, but I’m offering them here in significantly higher resolution than ever before available.
(Click to enlarge)
This aircraft was paid for by the schoolchildren of Hawaii and named in honor of the volcano goddess of the islands. Given the style and subject of the artwork actually painted on the plane, one wonders whether any of the children were allowed to see photos of this Liberator until they were, say, 34 or 35 years old!
The name “Madame Pele” has occasionally been represented in color profiles as yellow, which it most certainly was not. Our best guess is that the name was orange to coincide with the orange lava flowing from the volcano.
(Click to enlarge)
Some time after the nose art was applied, a mounting plate with four dipole “stick” antennas was mounted on each side of the nose. On the starboard side this long rectangular plate partially overlay the nose art as you can see in the photo at the top of this page. A template for making this mounting plate is given in my decal set instructions (see below).
The deicer boots on the wings and vertical stabilizers were extremely worn at the time these photos were taken. They were not removed, as was common in some units, but were actually abraded away, leaving areas of oxidized aluminum showing through patches of worn black rubber deicer boot.
(Click to enlarge)
The photo above seems to imply the underside color was very dark, perhaps even black. This is NOT correct, but is actually an artifact of the photo which is a greatly enlarged small segement of a much larger photo (the remainder of the photo was irrelevant to us here).
Here’s the PYN-up Decals set we did in 1/72 & 1/48 for this ship; have a few of each available.
PYN-up Decals Liberated Chics #1 PYN-UP! NOTE NOTE NOTE: If you tried to order this decal set earlier but it would not appear in your shopping cart, I apologize–the problem is now fixed. B-24J-120-CO, “Madame Pele,” 11 BG/98 BS; B-24H-10-DT, “Jamaica?” (play on the words “did you make her,” with different artwork on each side of nose), 466 BG/785 BS, Lt Larry Booth. Truly incredible nose art, executed in our unparalleled PYN-up technology!
PYN-up B-24 Liberated Chics #1. Liberators with dramatic nose art: B-24J-120-CO, Madame Pele, 11 BG/98 BS; B-24H-10-DT, Jamaica? (different artwork on each side of nose), 466 BG/785 BS, Lt Larry Booth.
B-24 National Insignia – Early. This set includes all the early national insignia applied to B-24s, including the original 65" cocarde-only star (Freeman "Type 1" US national insignia), the original star with yellow outline as applied to many aircraft flying from British bases for better identification by British defense forces; and the RED-outlined 45" star-and-bar used from June 1943 to September 1943 and later (Freeman "Type 3"). Since the 8th Air Force (and some factories at certain times) painted out the white in the star (or star-and-bar) with light gray paint to reduce visibility, we’ve included light gray overlay decals in case your model requires them. Please note that my second set covering later B-24s (CED48272) will be available in the next increment of decals I make available.
B-24/PB4Y National Insignia – September 1943 to 1947. This set includes the late war national insignia applied to B-24s, PB4Y-1s, and PB4Y-2s, including the 45″ fuselage and wing US national insignia (stars & bars) in Insignia Blue and Insignia White applied to nearly all B-24s and the huge 65″ fuselage stars applied to the early Willow Run built B-24Hs. Since the 8th Air Force (and some factories at certain times) painted out the white in the star (or star-and-bar) with light gray paint to reduce visibility, we’ve included light gray overlay decals in case your model requires them. In fact, many photos exist showing natural metal Liberators with grayed out national insignia (kind of defeats the purpose, but regulations are regulation!) We’ve also included a nice selection of Hamilton Standard prop logos. Finally, don’t forget that you’ll need national insignia for the 1/48 PYN-up Decals sets, which do not include them.
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