Vic Tatelman's B-25D
After reading Warpath Across the Pacific by Lawrence J. Hickey I knew an Air Apaches B25 model was in my future. In my opinion this is the best book on any air unit in WW2. Those low level photos from the attack missions are absolutely hair raising. You have to admire the courage, skill and bravery of the men of the 345th Bomb Group. When the decals came out for "Betty's Dream" I decided that was the one. After building it I set out to find the pilot Charles Rice, hoping he would autograph a print of the same plane. Unfortunately, I found out he had passed away.
From Hickey's book I learned Vic Tatelman was one of the pilots when Betty's Dream was used on the surrender missions. I went looking for Vic to ask him to autograph the print. I found him through a reunion organization. He's truly one of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of corresponding with.
Vic suggested I build a model of Dirty Dora II as it was a one-of-a-kind airplane. Timing was good....Accurate Miniatures had just come out with their gorgeous 1/48th scale B25D "Dirty Dora" (dedicated to the same Vic Tatelman!) and Dirty Dora II was based on a D model. I read Hickey's accounts and found a color picture in there which shows the dark blue is about the same as that on Betty's Dream. And Vic sent me a few pictures of the real thing. (For more of Vic's photos see the page Vic Tatelman's Photos.) That's how this project got rolling. Along the way the pilot Vic Tatelman told me the inside story behind this airplane. My condensation follows but for the full story see the accompanying web page Vic Tatelman's Stories).
In real life Dirty Dora II started out as the B25D ‘Sir Beetle’ which Vic had modified by grafting on an 8-gun nose of the B-25J. Why didn’t he just use a J? It turns out there was not an airplane suitable to the missions he was about to fly. In 1944 Vic was instructed to leave the Pacific theatre (he already had 51 missions in the famous Air Apaches) to study how German radars were being countered in Europe, and carry the lessons back to the Pacific. The brass believed the Japanese had received an infusion of German radar technology. They didn't want bomber losses to go up and something had to be done. Vic had some years of engineering in college before joining the USAAF and with his combat experience in the 499th Bats Outa Hell Bomb Squadron was a natural for the assignment.
He visited Bell Labs, Wright-Patterson, Eglin and the Pentagon to get acquainted with the state of the art in radar technology. He arranged to get a new radar homing device (one of the precious few!) to take back to the Pacific. The installation of the radar equipment and operator's station required the navigator's compartment in the D model. Recall that the J model has a forward turret…the navigator’s station was sacrificed to move the turret forward. But the firepower of the J's 8 guns was a devastating weapon and Vic directed that an 8-gun nose be grafted on. Thus Dirty Dora II came into existence as a hybrid B25 D and J. In addition to the new nose there’s a “T” antenna under the fuselage…the radar homing receiver.
This unique one-of-a-kind airplane was designated the B-25D-10-(D-3) and was built at the Biak (New Guinea) Depot under Vic’s personal direction. His idea was to detect, attack and destroy the radars rather than to spoof them electronically (the tactic in Europe). The missions required flying around in enemy territory alone to locate the installations and then attacking them by flying right into the teeth of whatever was guarding those stations.
In his book Bats Outa Hell Over Biak Max Ferguson says Vic is the only 499th pilot to have rotated back to the South Pacific for a second tour. I admire Vic for his technical prowess, courage, flying skill and dedication.
The paint scheme on DDII originated at Biak. Sir Beetle was stripped down to bare metal inside and out...any corrosion had to be found. Repainting was done with stocks on hand. As a result the interior is chromate green (not one of the factory schemes described in the Accurate Miniatures instruction sheet) and insignia blue is on the nose and cowl rings. An OD anti glare panel completes the exterior.
Click here to see photos of Dirty Dora II in the construction stages.
I used SnJ aluminum for the natural metal finish. I really liked the way it went down on the bare plastic. It's tough and can be masked over. But I was caught off guard by how rapidly the unused paint changed properties in the jar. After about a week or so I had to throw it away.
There are no decals on the market for DDII. My friend Avery and I split the cost of an ALPS printer. He gets to keep it at his home and in return makes the decals as needed. Avery did all that nose art...and the wonderful Apache on the tail. Thanks Avery, they all look terrific! And a thank you to Ed for providing the ‘J’ nose kit… Accurate Miniatures didn’t think to include one in their kit of the B-25D!
Today Vic enjoys making and flying his own helicopters! I have it from a reliable source aka brother-in-law Stan...Vic's work is meticulous. He took the Reserve Grand Champion prize in the 2001 Fun-N-Sun contest.
If you ever get a chance to meet Vic Tatelman you’ll be talking to the man who put in many missions as a low-level attack pilot and then invented a whole new tactic, one that’s at the heart of today’s bombing strategy….first, destroy the radars.
Richard Bender wrote a nice biographical summary of Victor Tatelman which you can find here... http://www.eaf51.org/newweb/Documenti/Storia/B25%20Pacific_ENG.pdf
Thank you, Vic, for your personal guidance on this project, and of course, your service to the country.
This site was last updated 01/29/08