Author Topic: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch  (Read 2809 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« on: November 27, 2013, 02:45:02 PM »
As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.  I've also submitted this to the Asiarama GB over at the What If Forums.



As deliveries of the big new Northrop escort fighter increased to units of the Fifth Air Force, additional veteran pilots would transition to their new mounts.  One of these was Captain Leroy V. Grosshuesch, commanding officer of the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group.  Grosshuesch had already scored seven victories flying Thunderbolts with 39th FS.  The 35th FG began operations from Okinawa with its P-61Fs in late June 1945, and on 12th August 1945, whilst flying this aircraft, he tallied his eighth and only P-61F victory, shooting down a Ki-84 Frank west of Bofu airfield, Honshu.  This was not, however, his first P-61.  His first was lost in an incident that would earn him the Silver Star.  On 30 July, Capt. Grosshuesch was credited with single-handedly sinking a Japanese destroyer off Goto Retto, near Kyushu. Grosshuesch's description of the action is below.

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So, on this day four of us were on a "search and destroy" mission over Southern Japan. Normally, this was a great mission where we were free to search for targets of opportunity. However it was not a good day because we had a heavy overcast at 1000 to 1100 feet, so our ability to see ahead was quite limited.

We found some targets and attacked them, but wanted to find something more. I headed in a westerly direction and on the horizon saw an island, which was Goto Retto, a Japanese naval base, but we didn't know that. The mountain tops were up in the overcast, but there was a valley between two of the peaks which formed a "V" shaped opening through which we could see the water on the other side. As we approached, we were surprised to see a destroyer followed closely by another one sail across the space. Our P-61's had no bombs that day, just our four machine guns and four 20mm cannons, but we decided to make a strafing pass, not expecting that we could do much damage except to the personnel. Because of the narrow opening, we had to go in in trail. We took them by surprise. I gave a burst on the destroyer in view, and turned left because the harbor was not very wide and on the other side there was a range of mountains, their tops all in the cloud cover. It was a fateful turn! The other three turned right which was a stroke of luck because that let them exit the harbor. If all four of us had been inside the harbor, like I was, the destroyers would have surely shot down some of us.

As I turned to the left, I saw directly in front of me the naval base, and they started to unleash their anti-aircraft guns. I quickly turned right hugging the far side of the harbor, which was not far enough away to keep me out of the range of the two, now alerted, destroyers. I had seen ack-ack many times before, but nothing compared to this. The sky was filled with tracers and explosions, and they were all aimed at me. I don't know what was behind me, but it was awesome in front of me. They seemed to be shooting above me, so I couldn't pull up through all that flak into the clouds. I had to dive but there wasn't much space to do that. I decided if I was going to get "it" I would do as much damage as I could before they hit me. I dived and turned into the rear destroyer. I let go a long burst aimed at the water line of the ship. I must have hit the ammo magazine because the destroyer exploded. It was a terrific explosion--a huge, gigantic ball of fire which I had to fly through because I was too close to avoid it. As I burst out of the fireball I was heading for the "V" under the clouds, so I exited the way I had come in.

One of the guys in the flight said: "What the hell was that?" Another voice said: "I think Lee dove into the destroyer." By then, my heart had gotten out of my throat so I told them that I was OK, but damaged. We got together and returned to Okinawa. I had sunk the destroyer, but my poor P-61 was so riddled with shrapnel and debris from the explosion that it had to be scrapped. I don't know what happened to the other destroyer, but it must have been severely damaged by the huge explosion so close to it.

At one of the reunions, one of the crew chiefs said: "I don't know what all he did, but I know one thing, he is one of the luckiest guys in the whole world." I couldn't disagree with that.


Cheers,

Logan

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 03:15:48 PM »
In case anyone was wondering, the action report is Grosshuesch's own words, actually.  I just added "and 20mm cannons" and replaced "P-51" with "P-61".  That really happened, and with considerably less firepower and airframe heft at his disposal!

http://cobraintheclouds.com/colonelleegrosshuesch.html

So, how far along was this when I started?  Short answer: not very.  Talos actually got me the layers for the 110 gallon drop tank before I finished Bong's "Marge".  Unfortunately, I just didn't have time to do it justice then.  About a week ago, I decided it was time to finish the job.  I'll post the progression below:









So, I think that turned out well.  It's actually a P-51D's long-range tank, commonly used in the Pacific.  They pretty much stuck to the standard 75 gallon drop tanks in Europe.









Wait, what are those black bars?  D-Day Invasion Stripes?  And why were they removed from the final profile.  So, quick history lesson here.  The Fifth Air Force in the Philippines painted black stripes on the wings and fuselage of their single-engined fighters in that theater.  This was to prevent their pilots from mistaking other US aircraft for Japanese aircraft.  Many units carried this practice over to Okinawa and the 35th FG did this with their P-51s.  The Fifth Air Force did NOT, however, do this with the P-38 Lightning.  Why not?  Well, how many Japanese fighters look like the P-38?  Exactly.  Well, the same would have held true for the P-61F, so I deleted them from the final profile.  They may yet make an appearance, however.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline taiidantomcat

  • Plastic Origamist...and not too shabby with the painting either!
  • Global Moderator
  • Stylishly late...because he was reading comics
Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 11:47:18 PM »
Damn this is awesome!  :o

Talk about the complete package, this things looks flawless and even your logic with adjusting the stripes tracks well  :-*
"They know you can do anything, So the question is, what don't you do?"

-David Fincher

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Northrop P-61F - "Little Girl" - Capt. Grossheusch
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2013, 03:37:39 AM »
Thanks, taiidan.  Some time ago, I said that it's reasons like those black stripes that make some Whif profiling even harder in some ways than real-world profiling.

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It's not just important for me to get the markings right, but to know WHY the markings are a certain way, then try to verify them with actual photos.  That's why my somewhat mocking title on the forum is "rivet-counting whiffer".  I'm the closest thing the Whiffing world has to a JMN.  I'm not that critical of other people's work, but I want mine to be right.

In fact, I think that making a historically accurate Whif profile is actually HARDER than making a 100% historically accurate profile.  Given good enough photographs of the subject, all you have to do is copy what you see in the picture.  You don't have to know what any of the markings mean, heck, you don't need to even know what kind of plane it is!

When you're Whiffing a profile, you have to know WHY every marking existed on the plane.  You need to put the red prop stripe in the right place.  You need to know that the white line on the tail is an LSO stripe and you need to change the angle for your plane compared to the real-world example you got it from.  You need to make up an aircraft type code if it's Finnish, make up a manufacturer code if it's Dutch, find an unused serial number series if it's British, etc.  These are all things that people figured out and did for you 70+ years ago if you're doing a REAL profile.  If you're doing a Whif, you need to step into the shoes of some underpaid clerk in a cold Finnish Ministry of Defence basement office and figure out what unused two-letter code is most logical for the aircraft in question.  This is both the fun and frustrating part of these profiles.  It takes sometimes hours of research.  For example, I bought about 2 books and joined a Yahoo group on NEI Aviation just so I could make an educated guess as to what codes the ML-KNIL and MLD would use on Vikings.  This isn't a problem for real-world profilers!

Cheers,

Logan