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Blunting the Sword (Jan 1943 - Dec 1943)

Blunting the Sword (Jan 1943 - Dec 1943)

The Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) was the World War II area of military activity in the Pacific Ocean and the countries bordering it, a geographic scope that reflected the operational and administrative command structures of the American forces during that period. (The other areas of the Pacific War -- the China Burma India Theater, the South-East Asian Theatre, and Manchurian Theatre -- had their own respective command structures, independent of PTO.)

The Pacific Theater of Operations was one of two areas in which the United States initiated offensive combat operations against the Axis in late 1942. This included operations by the 32nd and the 41st Infantry Divisions on New Guinea, the Americal Infantry Division on the Gilbert Islands, and the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. The other area was the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, beginning with Operation Torch in November.

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Japanese Mitusbishi A6M3-22 Zero Fighter - Pilot PO2/c Shoichi Sugita, 204th Kokutai, Lakunai A/D, Rabaul, New Britain, 1943 Japanese Mitusbishi A6M3-22 Zero Fighter - Pilot PO2/c Shoichi Sugita, 204th Kokutai, Lakunai A/D, Rabaul, New Britain, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Aside from the early-morning raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, perhaps the biggest shock for American forces in the Pacific was the outstanding performance of the Imperial Navy's main carrier fighter, the beautifully proportioned Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen.

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USN Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - 22-C-13, VC-22, USS Independence (CVL-22), April 1943 USN Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - 22-C-13, VC-22, USS Independence (CVL-22), April 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - 2nd Lieutenant Donald L. Balch, VMF-221, Guadalcanal, 1943 USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - 2nd Lieutenant Donald L. Balch, VMF-221, Guadalcanal, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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Imperial Japanese Army Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa "Oscar" Fighter - Sgt. Kushiro Otake, 25th Sentai, Nanking, China, 1943 Imperial Japanese Army Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa "Oscar" Fighter - Sgt. Kushiro Otake, 25th Sentai, Nanking, China, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) was numerically the most important fighter used by the Japanese Army Air Force during the Pacific War. It remained in production from the beginning of the Pacific War until its end in August 1945.

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USN Grumman F4F Wildcat Fighter - USS Manila Bay (CVE-61), 1943 USN Grumman F4F Wildcat Fighter - USS Manila Bay (CVE-61), 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

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USN Grumman TBM-1C Avenger Torpedo-Bomber - George Herbert Walker Bush, VT-51, USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), 1943 USN Grumman TBM-1C Avenger Torpedo-Bomber - George Herbert Walker Bush, VT-51, USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was an American torpedo bomber, developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps and used by a large number of air forces around the world. It entered service in 1942, and began major use during the Battle of Midway.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Alexander Vraciu, VF-6, USS Independence (CVL-22), 1943 US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Alexander Vraciu, VF-6, USS Independence (CVL-22), 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Lt. Daniel G. Cunningham, White 15, VF-17 Jolly Rogers, Ondonga, November 1943 USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Lt. Daniel G. Cunningham, "White 15", VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Ondonga, November 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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USN Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Commander James Flatley, White 00 CVAG-5 USS Yorktown (CV-10), May 1943 USN Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Commander James Flatley, "White 00" CVAG-5 USS Yorktown (CV-10), May 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USN Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - White 00, CVAG-5 USS Yorktown (CV-10), August 1943 USN Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - "White 00", CVAG-5 USS Yorktown (CV-10), August 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - Devastating Devil, 46th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group, 7th Air Force, Makin Island, Autumn, 1943 USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - "Devastating Devil", 46th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group, 7th Air Force, Makin Island, Autumn, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit.

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USN Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat Fighter - VF-10, USS Enterprise (CV-6), Guadalcanal, 1943 USN Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat Fighter - VF-10, USS Enterprise (CV-6), Guadalcanal, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

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USN Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-2), 1943 [Open Dive Brakes] USN Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-2), 1943 [Open Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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RNZAF Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - No. 25 Squadron, Piva, 1944 [Open Dive Brakes] RNZAF Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - No. 25 Squadron, Piva, 1944 [Open Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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USN Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver Dive-Bomber - VB-17, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), Raid on Rabaul, Nov. 11th, 1943 USN Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver Dive-Bomber - VB-17, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), Raid on Rabaul, Nov. 11th, 1943 [Closed Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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USAAF Boeing P-26A Peashooter Fighter - 30-49, Last USAAF Peashooter, Guatemala, 1943 USAAF Boeing P-26A Peashooter Fighter - 30-49, "Last USAAF Peashooter", Guatemala, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

The American Boeing P-26, nicknamed the "Peashooter", was the first all-metal production fighter aircraft and the first pursuit monoplane used by the United States Army Air Corps. The prototype first flew in 1932, and were used by the Air Corps as late as 1941 in the Philippines.

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USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - Devastating Devil, 46th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group, Makin Island, August 1943 USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - "Devastating Devil", 46th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group, Makin Island, August 1943 (1:32 Scale)

The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N2 Kate Torpedo Bomber with Carrier Deck - Aircraft Carrier Zuiho, April 1943 Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber with Carrier Deck - Aircraft Carrier Zuiho, April 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Nakajima B5N (Allied reporting name: Kate) was the Imperial Japanese Navy's standard torpedo bomber for the first years of World War II. While the B5N was substantially faster and more capable than its Allied counterparts, the TBD Devastator and Fairey Swordfish, it was close to obsolescence by the time of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52  Riesen Zero Fighter - Oita Naval Air Squadron Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Riesen "Zero" Fighter - Oita Naval Air Squadron, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service.

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Imperial Japanese Army Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 Hamp Fighter - Second Air Staff Sergeant Shoichi Sugita, 204th Squadron, Rabaul, 1943 Imperial Japanese Army Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 "Hamp" Fighter - Second Air Staff Sergeant Shoichi Sugita, 204th Squadron, Rabaul, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - "Marines Dream", VMF-214 "Black Sheep", 1st Lt. Edwin L. Olander, October 1943 USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - "Marine's Dream", VMF-214 "Black Sheep", 1st Lt. Edwin L. Olander, October 1943 (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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RNZAF Grumman F6F-5, MK. II Hellcat Night Fighter - No. 804 Squadron RNZAF Grumman F6F-5, MK. II Hellcat Night Fighter - No. 804 Squadron (1:48 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Fighter - VF-24, USS Santee (CVE-29) US Navy Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Fighter - VF-24, USS Santee (CVE-29) (1:48 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N1 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber - Aircraft Carrier Ryuho, 1942 Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N1 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber - Aircraft Carrier Ryuho, 1942 (1:72 Scale)

The Nakajima B5N (Allied reporting name: Kate) was the Imperial Japanese Navy's standard torpedo bomber for the first years of World War II. While the B5N was substantially faster and more capable than its Allied counterparts, the TBD Devastator and Fairey Swordfish, it was close to obsolescence by the time of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N1 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber - Usa Naval Air Group, 1943-44 Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N1 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber - Usa Naval Air Group, 1943-44 (1:72 Scale)

The Nakajima B5N (Allied reporting name: Kate) was the Imperial Japanese Navy's standard torpedo bomber for the first years of World War II. While the B5N was substantially faster and more capable than its Allied counterparts, the TBD Devastator and Fairey Swordfish, it was close to obsolescence by the time of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

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USMC Douglas SBD5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-16), Gilbert Islands, 1943 USMC Douglas SBD5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-16), Gilbert Islands, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. IC Fighter-Bomber - No. 30 Squadron, Port Moresby, New Guinea, March 1943 RAAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. IC Fighter-Bomber - No. 30 Squadron, Port Moresby, New Guinea, March 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Developed as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Beaufighter was a two-seat all-metal fighter using components from the Beaufort torpedo-bomber. First flown on July 17th, 1939, the Beaufighter eventually equipped 52 RAF squadrons, giving outstanding service during World War II, in particular as a night-fighter and torpedo-bomber (where the aircraft were affectionally known as 'Torbeaus').

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Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Riesen Zero Fighter - Tetsuzo Iwamoto, 253rd Fighter Group Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Riesen "Zero" Fighter - Tetsuzo Iwamoto, 253rd Fighter Group (1:48 Scale)

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Floatplane - Takuma Naval Air Group Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" Floatplane - "Takuma Naval Air Group" (1:48 Scale)

Recognizing the possibilty of a war with the United States, the Imperial Japanese Navy, in the autumn of 1940, saw the need for providing fighter cover for amphibious landings in situations where carriers would not be available.

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USAAF Lockheed P-38J Lightning Interceptor - Major Thomas McGuire, "Pudgy IV", 431st Fighter Squadron "Red Devils", 475th Fighter Group, August 1943 USAAF Lockheed P-38J Lightning Interceptor - Major Thomas McGuire, "Pudgy IV", 431st Fighter Squadron "Red Devils", 475th Fighter Group, August 1943 (1:48 Scale)

It was fast, heavily armed and extremely versatile. And many believe the Lockheed P-38 Lightning  to be the finest American fighter of WWII. Its low-drag, aerodynamic shape and heavy weight enabled this twin-engine, twin-boomed aircraft to accelerate to high speeds faster than any previous warplane, making it a potent fighter and a superb fighter-bomber.

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