Lt. Gerald “Andy” Anderson RCNVR; the Last Canadian

  1. 9 August, 1945
  2. Onagawa Bay
  3. Gerald Arthur Anderson
  4. Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1D Corsair as Lt. Gerald Anderson’s FG-1D
  5. Gallery
  6. References and Sources

9 August, 1945

Corsairs of 1841 and 1842 NAS running up their engines in preparation for launch from HMS Formidable. HMS Formidable’s flight deck would have looked very much like this on the morning and afternoon of 9th August 1945.

By August 1945 the pace of operations on the Japanese Home Islands had been progressively increasing in an attempt to destroy as much of Japan’s ability to resist the impending invasion as possible. No one doubted the Japanese were a defeated force, not even the Japanese. Furthermore, just three days earlier Hiroshima had been destroyed by the first of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and unbeknownst to the pilots of 1841/2 – but known to Senior Officers – Nagasaki would later that day be destroyed by the second bomb. Despite this however, no one expected the Japanese to surrender.

Onagawa Bay

Late on the evening of 8th August Admiral Vian, leader of the British forces signalled his Squadron Commanders not to take any unnecessary chances in their attacks on Japanese targets. Pilots were told to limit staffing or bombing runs to one pass to limit risks.

The next day, one of the final offensive operations of the Second World War was due to take place. Of the six Canadians who had served with the Royal Navy’s HMS Formidable’s two Corsair Squadrons, Nos. 1841 and 1842 NAS, two of the surviving four who launched that day were Lt. Robert Hampton Gray and Lt. Gerald Anderson, both of the RCNVR.

An HMS Formidable No.1842 Naval Air Squadron Corsair shortly after landing. The large “X” tail marking identifies it as belonging to HMS Formidable while the dark (red or blue) propeller hub identifies it as 1842 (its sister squadron, 1841 had white pop hubs)

The raids on shipping moored in Onagawa Bay were planned in two waves, one in the morning and the other in the early afternoon. No. 1841 NAS led by Lt. Robert H. Gray attacked in the morning and its leader’s loss would have resonated throughout the ship as soon as it were known. Anderson flew as part of the second wave in the afternoon. Comprised mostly of No. 1842 NAS aircraft, call sign “RAMROD 3”, they were tasked with destroying any remaining enemy ships following 1841’s attack earlier that day..

This remarkable picture was taken from a Royal Navy Avenger on August 9th 1945 and clearly shows an attack on shipping in Onagawa Bay. It is impossible to know whether this was taken during the morning or afternoon attack but the mage gives an idea of the terrain and how the Japanese had used the shore features to protect the shipping under attack. (PAC C-5459)

NAS 1842’s attack was successful in sinking or damaging all but one of the ships in the bay. During his attack however, Anderson’s Corsair was damaged by ground fire the most significant of which being to his auxiliary fuel tank.  The resulting fuel leak left him dangerously short of fuel for his return to the Formidable.

By the time the carrier was in sight, Anderson’s fuel was at critical levels.  Allowed to land first, he turned his Corsair onto its final approach. Just moments from touchdown when it appeared that all would be well and he had made it back to the safety of Formidable’s deck, his Corsair’s engine coughed and then, starved of fuel, it cut out completely. His aircraft instantly lost speed and suddenly dropped, struck the after end of the flight deck and broke in two. The rear section immediately fell back into the ocean but for just a moment the forward half of the wreckage with an apparently unconscious Anderson slumped in the cockpit, came to rest on the flight deck. Then, agonisingly, it slipped slowly backwards and dropped into the Formidable’s wake.  The two halves of the shattered airframe sank immediately, there was no hope of recovery. Lieutenant Gerald Anderson was just 22 years old.

Gerald Arthur Anderson

Lt. Gerald Arthur Anderson RCNVR

Gerald Arthur Anderson was born 9th January 1923 in Trenton, Ontario Canada, the son of Arthur J. and Annie E. Anderson and died 9th August 1945, the last Canadian to die in the Second World War. While being the first, last, thousandth, or ten thousandth to die likely makes no difference to the individual concerned, it carries a poignancy for the rest of us that resonates three quarters of a century later.  

Anderson lost his life on the same day as Robert Gray VC, achingly close to the end of the war. Only Gray’s sacrifice is commemorated anywhere other than on anonymous lists of casualties though.

Below are two screen shots, one is a Google search for “Robert Hamilton Gray VC” and the other for “Gerald Anderson Fleet Air Arm“. One shows pages of hits pointing at Gray or articles that include him. The other, Anderson’s, gives a meagre result of mostly casualty lists.

Of course, Robert Gray is fully deserving of all the attention and commemoration he has since received and there is no suggestion here that it should be otherwise. His courage and sacrifice are undoubtedly worthy of his continued notoriety and serve as an example of those virtues.

But; Gerald Anderson died that same day and like Robert Gray didn’t get the chance to enjoy the peace for which he had fought no less courageously. While Gerald Anderson didn’t receive a Victoria Cross (and I make no suggestion that he should – it is an award for extraordinary feats of courage and, too often, selfless sacrifice), nor is his loss particularly commemorated, I would argue that because the price he paid was fully equal to Gray’s, and was indeed equal to all of those who died, it therefore deserves an equal measure of commemoration. That is why the model below is Gerald Anderson’s Corsair, not Robert Gray’s.


Tamiya 1/48 F4U-1D Corsair as Lt. Gerald Anderson’s FG-1D

Tamiya’s Corsair kits are rightly considered to be the best offerings in 48th scale. Over the years I’ve built a few and they come together without effort.

I chose to include some 3D decals in this build and originally intended to use the Ventura decals too, but I switched plans and painted the markings.

Build

Tamiya’s Corsair fits superbly, and there’s not a lot to write about this one tother than that. The 3D decals look very nice in the cockpit which I painted in the usual manner of black base, Interior Green and then a wash and drybrush to accent the details.

I took some time on the engine, choosing to add the ignition lines using lead wire and panting according to references.

There are three key (obvious) modifications necessary to convert the Tamiya kit to an FAA Corsair (Anderson’s Corsair was a Goodyear built FG-1D) ; the first is to fill the boarding step in the starboard inside wing flap, and the second is to shorten the wings by removing the ends to the first panel line. Thirdly, there’s the addition of an air intake mounted on each fuselage side. I did the first two as I went but decided to leave the air intake until the end, though I mounted the base plate for the intakes prior to painting.

Paint

My original plan was a to weather by actually chipping the Glossy Sea Blue paint with a toothpick. To that end I painted the entire model with Yellow Zinc Chromate and sealed that before applying the GSB.

While I was at it, I painted up the ancillary parts such as undercarriage, bombs and fuel tank.

Markings

The markings were where the build began to take on its identity as Gerald Anderson’s Corsair. Various sources have his aircraft identified as KD546 with the squadron number of 130. In discussion with several individuals with a far deeper knowledge of squadron records than mine, it quickly became apparent that both the squadron and serial number could not be those.

It’s quite certain that Anderson’s aircraft was in fact KD456 based on squadron records as well as loss records against production numbers. The squadron number is harder to determine. Based on a trawl through the records of aircraft losses, replacement and transfers the most likely options were either 127 and 128. Later searches confirmed that 128 was offloaded at Australia after the war leaving 127 as the most probable option.

I designed the masks for the marking and set to with the painting. The FAA roundels were a little tricky but I was happy with how they turned out. The remainder of the markings were easy to apply. I did not apply any stencil decals as the images of KD431 at the FAA Museum (see below) seems to show that there were none visible.

The paint masks worked well and the FAA markings looked suitably accurate on the model.

Weathering

The Corsair at the Fleet Air Arm Museum KD431 is a Goodyear built FG1, just as Anderson’s was. Upon its donation to the museum, the airframe was stripped of its topmost paint layers to reveal the original FAA Paint. This, in turn revealed the weathering the airframe wore at the end of the war and has been a boon for modellers ever since.

Photo Credit “Merlin101” at Britmodeller

As mentioned earlier, I intended to chip the GSB to reveal the YZC underneath. This worked quite well, but I didn’t like the lack of control having gone through the YZC to the bare plastic in places.

I tried with coloured pencils instead and was more pleased with the results; they were comparable to the actual chipping but I had more control, could fix mistakes easier and seemed more in scale somehow.

In addition to the chipping, I shaded the fabric-covered control surfaces and wing sections, also changing their finish to a more flat finish compared to the glossy blue on the metal. I was particularly pleased with how the elevators looked after I finished them.

KD456 was re-embarked aboard Formidable only three weeks before its final operation on 9th August. I didn’t make it too grubby as it would have had a full overhaul prior to reissue to the squadron, but I did weather it to a similar extent as KD431 because they were more or less contemporaries and would therefore have presumably the same level of wear and tear.

Finish

The final tasks were focused on attaching the bits and pieces. The underside required the undercarriage and doors, bombs and fuel tank. The uppers included the air intakes on the fuselage (for which I used some adapted PE).

Last, the wings were attached which went very smoothly as I’d previously checked for fit. Anderson’s Corsair was finished.



References and Sources

As usual, I was the beneficiary of some great advice and assistance from a few individuals on the forums at Britmodeller.com. Particular thanks go to Ian G. (under the moniker “iang“) who was instrumental in my choice of serial number as well as aircraft number for Anderson’s Corsair.

The walkaround section at Britmodeller was pivotal in deciding how I chose to weather the model.

If you are interested in following the build as it unfolded, as well as the research that led to the choice of markings, the full build diary is logged in the Britmodeller Aircraft WIP Section.


Copyright ©2023

This article, its text, and photos of the model is my original work and is protected by copyright in its entirety, except where noted.  All research sources are listed in the References and Credits section above, including photos from official sources. All other images and quoted content were sourced from the internet and are used here under protection of fair-use.  Any copyrighted content will be happily removed and/or credited forthwith upon request by its rightful owner.

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