John Loisel's P38
John Loisel served in combat longer than any other US pilot. He had just been commissioned and was on a ship heading to the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was attacked. When it was all over in 1945 he had risen to the rank of Lt Col, commanded the 475th Fighter Group "Satan's Angels", and flew over 300 combat missions! According to his entry in The American Fighter Aces Album John Loisel finished WW2 with 11 victories. He stayed in the Air Force, flew in Korea, and retired in 1970 as a Colonel. The Air Force on-line biography can be viewed if you click here. The 475th FG maintains a web site (click here). You can find the men mentioned below in the roster of the 432nd Fighter Squadron. A web search on "John Loisel" turns up many hits if you want to learn more about this interesting man.
It was my privilege once to live in the same neighborhood as John. We met by chance in 1987 at an event that had nothing to do with aviation. He was then in his late 60s and I was immediately impressed with how trim, fit and vigorous he was. (Please click on the small image at left.) Sometime later my airplane buddy Ed told me who I had met. The next time I saw John I asked for an autograph and was cheerfully obliged. During the conversation John related how the "Screamin' Kid" got its name..."I was awfully loud as a young man!".
I moved to another state almost immediately but always had it in the back of my mind to one day build a decent model of the Screamin' Kid. That day arrived when Cutting Edge released their 1/48th decal sheet, Hasegawa brought out their P-38F/G/H kit, and I had run out of excuses. The kit itself was straightforward enough to build (at my pace this takes between a few months and a year) although aligning the booms was a challenge. After they were on it was time to enjoy the adult beverage of my choice!
As the millennium turned I was approaching the painting and decaling stages. Here's one of my nightmares: after you spend a year or so building, detailing and marking the model you finally show it to the pilot. Without hesitation he tells you "that's not how I remember it!".
Besides the nose art, what data stencils were on the Screamin' Kid? Well, I knew an expert on that and sent Col. Loisel a letter out of the blue 12+ years after we last talked. Fortunately he was at the same address, remembered me, and immediately I got a nice reply. Col. Loisel marked up the Data Placement sheet from Super Scale's 48-476 Lightning sheet. Practically all the fine stuff was eliminated and my specific questions were answered. For example, 'yes' on putting the Curtiss Electric stencil on the props but 'no' on the prop data plates. And the fuel tanks were made in Australia so most likely were plain. As a result of that exchange no doubts lingered about what went where.
And then I was surprised because arriving in the mail were 2 original wartime photos of the Screamin' Kid, a set of Col Loisel's Command Pilot wings, and his leather AF name tag. You can imagine how grateful and appreciative I was. Later on another surprise: one of his high quality embroidered ribbon bars for a dress uniform arrived in the mail.
My pal Avery has a good knowledge of Photoshop and a great scanner. He did a lot of work to clean up the minor blemishes and we're pleased to present the 2 photos here. Shown are 432nd FS pilots Bill Gresham, Howard Hedrick and Larry Renfro. The other picture is of Ken Lawrence, Screamin' Kid's crew chief. They're thumbnails...just click on them to see full sized images.
John's friend Paul Moore sent copies of a few other photos from John's collection. Paul also took the photo (above) of Col. Loisel in 2002. Thanks, Paul! Here's the gallery of his contributions.
In 2006 Col. Loisel sent a few new images
from his photo album including the P-39 he flew in New Guinea and
his F-84 from Korea (see image gallery just below).
As I finished the model I had high quality images of The Screamin' Kid and it was time to reevaluate the decal sheets. This image of the kid and lettering on Cutting Edge sheet CED48031 are compared to the real thing. Cutting Edge did an excellent job of capturing the nose art and the '161' (not shown). No problem here.
From the scanned image of the real photo it was easy to capture the 2 rows of white lettering for the names. After looking at the real thing I could not find any decals whose names I liked. Ditto for the data plate. The SerNo and larger rows of lettering could be read on the photo. The last few lines got pretty small but with the help of some reference material on P38 data plates it was easy to get it right. The decals I saw had too many lines, the wrong P38 type, the wrong serial number, or various combinations of wrongness. Even though it meant a significant delay at the end of the model project these details were going to be done right! But how to recreate these?
Woody Vondracek to the rescue! Here's the final result, comparing the images from John's pictures to Woody's dry transfers. The script work on the lettering is superb...there isn't a font for this, it's real artwork. BTW - Woody never goes to print unless the customer approves the layouts. If you don't like what you see blame me!
Paints were Aeromaster acrylics Neutral Gray and (faded) Olive Drab. After some dilution they go down well with my Paasche VL-3 internal mix airbrush. With those details tended to, everything went smoothly and the result is the model shown on the gallery page. Cutting Edge gives you nose art for both sides of the plane. Col Loisel confirms that it's only on the port side.
Finally, Col Loisel's wings, ribbon bar and name tag were integrated into a panel that sits next to the model in the display case. The ribbon bar shows an amazing record of accomplishment. There's a Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 oak leaf clusters (OLC) (i.e., four awards of the DFC!), the Air Medal with 10 OLCs, the Presidential Unit Citation with 4 OLCs and the Pacific Theatre ribbon with 10 battle stars.
Building the Screamin' Kid is one of the highlights of my modeling career. I was delighted to receive those wonderful items from a famous pilot, and I got to know John Loisel personally, if briefly. Three years in combat in the South Pacific...300 combat missions...11 victories...Fighter Squadron commander...Fighter Group commander...Korean War combat veteran. There can be no doubt John Loisel is an American Hero.
This site was last updated 11/26/07