A Model With A Story

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

P-40E "Dollye," Flown By Lt Monroe (Monty) Eisenberg
8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group
Strauss Field, Darwin, Australia (June 1942)

By Mike Schine

P-40 Eisenberg

My Great Uncle Monroe (Monty) Eisenberg flew the P-40E Warhawk in the South Pacific during World War II. He was stationed at Strauss Field in Darwin, Australia, flew with the 8th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group, and helped fight off the Japanese advance on New Guinea and Australia during the Allied defensive struggle in 1942. Other notable pilots of the 49th Fighter Group included Maj Richard Bong, Lt George Preddy, Lt Col Gerald Johnson, Capt Robert DeHaven, Capt Robert Aschenbrener, Capt Ernest Harris, and Capt Andrew Reynolds. Lt Eisenberg was not credited with any aerial victories; however, he was involved in several scraps over Darwin.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

Uncle Monty was also a talented artist. He named his P-40E “Dollye” after his wife (my Great Aunt), and painted a nude picture of Dollye on the port side of the aircraft between the canopy quarter panel and the fuselage star. The aircraft met its demise on June 13, 1942 after a dog fight with a 3rd Kokutai Zero over Darwin. Lt Eisenberg nursed his damaged plane to base, but ground-looped his plane upon landing, flipping over and landing upside down. Fortunately, he was able to walk away from the landing accident.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

I was able to spend some quality time with my Uncle Monty, and really enjoyed his stories about the combat missions he flew during WWII, and the subsequent aircraft he flew afterwards (P-47s and P-51s). Upon his passing in 1999, Aunt Dollye gave me several black and white pictures of Uncle Monty and his P-40E.

As an aircraft modeler, it was always in the back of my mind to build a model of his plane someday. Then, in 2005, I was on Dave Klaus’s Meteor Productions website [this was several years back, obviously!], and came across one of the newly released PYN-Up decal sets (PYND48023, P-40 Curtiss Cuties #1). One of the aircraft depicted on the decal sheet was Uncle Monty’s plane “Dollye”, complete with the nude picture of Aunt Dollye. I was absolutely floored! At the time, I was stationed in Washington DC, so Dave Klaus’s Meteor Production warehouse was close-by. On the Saturday following my discovery of Curtiss Cuties #1, I went to visit Dave Klaus. I brought the black and white pictures of Uncle Monty and his plane with me. When I met with Dave that morning, I showed him the pictures, and told him how happy I was that he made decals for my Uncle’s plane. Dave asked if he could scan some of the small pictures, and he printed out a very clear enlargement of a small photograph I had. The resolution on his printer was excellent, and the picture he made for me was a tremendous reference.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

For the rest of 2005 through the spring of 2007, I had to put modeling aside in order to finish my bachelor’s degree. Then, I had to transfer back to sea duty for my sixth, and final, sea tour (Active Duty Navy). Models (built and un-built) and model supplies were put into climate controlled storage until spring 2009. I transitioned out of the Navy, got a job and bought a house. Modeling was able to commence once again, and I embarked on finally building my Uncle Monty’s airplane.

The 1/48th Hasegawa P-40E kit was selected over the AMTech P-40E because of the crisper detail, better cockpit and the excellent reviews that I read about the kit on the internet. I knew going into the build that I would have to contend with Hasegawa’s inserts which are used to build up different variants of the same aircraft. Nothing hard, but it did involve more seam filling than your average single-engine 1/48th scale WWII model plane. The kit is out of the box except for photo-etched gun sights, seatbelts, and of course, the PYN-Up decals.

I did make a sentimental addition to the model. The plane’s namesake, my Aunt Dollye, is still alive and well. I wanted to use a strand of her hair for the HF aerial, but her hair was too short. Still wanting to put that personal touch into the model, I ended up putting a lock of my Aunt Dollye’s hair inside the fuselage prior to gluing the wings to the fuselage.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

The model’s namesake, my Aunt Dollye and I.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

I used Model Master enamel paints. Panel lines were pre-shaded flat black, then for the top of the plane, I used a mixture of 75% olive drab, 20% field drab and 5% radome tan. I added a little white to the top color to paint the faded upper control surfaces. For the bottom, I used neutral grey. I airbrushed bottled Testors Gloss Lacquer over the model prior to applying the decals. The PYN-Up decals were applied without any drama, then another coat of gloss to seal them. On this model, I attempted using an oil wash for the first time. It was a learning experience, and I ended up doing several touch-ups to the paint job. I sealed the wash with Testors Dull Coat. Pastels were used for additional weathering, exhaust stains, powder stains behind the guns and oil/dirt on the bottom. Pastels were sealed with another coat of Dull Coat.

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

P-40E Dollye Lt Eisenberg & crewmen

– Mike Schine

 

NOTE: A few of the PYN-up Decals set for this bird, which includes a great ship with pin-up rudder artwork, are still available:

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For unknown reasons, Eisenberg’s "Dollye" has often been portrayed in profile paintings with the large white "Pegasus" marking that was actually applied to a completely different ship in the same unit. There are plenty of good photos showing the Pegasus on the other plane, and three good photos of Dollye with the female artwork on the mid fuselage. The Pegasus marking was never applied to this ship. Note the yellow aircraft number (often incorrectly portrayed as white) was painted on the fin on top of darker olive drab paint used to obliterate the serial number originally painted there. In all, an unusual and interesting combat ship from a little-publicized theatre.

The other The P-40F from the 85 FS/79 FG coded X2*8 carried a remarkably well-executed "shaded" painting of a nude woman on the left side of the rudder while in Tunisia in late 1942. Because of the angle of the only known photo of the full plane, it’s unclear whether the individual aircraft number was 8 or 9; of course we provide both in our decal set. Additionally, in some cases in the 85th the "X" was differently sized on the left and right sides, so we again provide you with both versions. In addition, the squadron insignia was hand painted on most aircraft and significant variations in the depiction are documented, including both white or yellow wings. Since yellow is more colorful and the photo does not provide such color detail, we’ve provided the yellow-wing version. Censors were active during the Second World War (in spite of what you see painted on this ship), and the 79th nude tail art figures were eventually given clothes to cover the naughty bits. Luckily for us she’s nude in our photo and that’s the decal you get!

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