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AVENGER 93 Loyce Deen 353

MEMORIAL
The sailor was 23 year old Loyce Edward Deen, an Aviation Machinist Mate (Gunner) 2nd Class enlistee from Altus, Oklahoma who served in VT-15 squadron assigned to the carrier USS Essex.

Air Group 15 was known as "The Fabled Fifteen" and received the most decorations. The Essex had some of highest decorated Aces in WWII, including top WWII Navy Ace Capt David McCampbell who shot down 34 planes in six months, including 7 in one day. Loyce was assigned to this Air Group.

Sometime during Oct 24th, Loyce was injured on the right foot from AA shrapnel. He wrapped up the wound and stayed on to fight the following day. He would later receive posthumously, a Purple Heart medal for this injury.

The Final Fight

Each day, reveille was sounded on the USS Essex's intercom at 5:30 am. Breakfast was served in the mess hall at 6:30am. Thoughout the night, the planes scheduled for the next day's mission were being prepared. On the flight deck, the Hellcat fighters were in front so they can take off first and protect the group and the carrier. In the rear were the Avenger and Hell Diver bombers and torpedo planes. After breakfast, pilots attended briefings in the 'Ready Room' to get their final orders, weather conditions and the plane that was to be assigned to them. That day, Lt. Cosgrove received tail number #93 - an new plane just acquired in Ulithi Atol a few days ago. Lt. Cosgrove's orders were to go after the Japanese cruisers in Manila Bay. After the briefing, Lt. Cosgrove joined his crew, Digby and Loyce, and they went topside to their plane. Loyce climbed into his gun turret for the final time. The VT-15 group took off mid morning and It would take about two hours to get to the Manila Bay and release the ordinance.

There, they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire from a Japanese cruiser and Loyce was killed from two AA shells. In the 2001 History Channel documentary film "Battle Group Halsey" interview, Capt. Cosgrove recalled, "Denzek told me over the intercom that Deen was hit bad.Then, Densek came back up thru the small passage way to sit in the cabin behind me. He stayed there until we landed."

The plane was so badly hit by 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) shells, the Navy decided to leave his body in the plane. In addition, orders also came down not to strip the plane for parts - which was quite an extraordinary tribute at the time since aircraft parts were scarce and in demand. He is the only known USN sailor to be purposely buried with his plane.

My sincerest thanks to Gregg Mastriforte for creating www.loyceedeen.org and allowing permission share his research. I strongly encourage everyone to visit the site, read more and then sign the guest book.
A Personal Note
As you can tell by the extemely brief account of Loyce Deen's final days it is a gripping one. One written by history and the man himself with the decision to remain with his "Brothers In Arms" and not stay on the hospital ship after the foot injury. There were moments in this build that I became truly sick and tired of it, yet when the decision was made to use the final 353 markings it completely reinvigorated my modeling soul. I have my friend Brian D. O'Neill to thank for that and for asking me to build him an Avenger in the first place.
Brief Overview
This is an actual Accurate Miniatures kit of the TBF-1C flown from the USS Block Island CVE-21. One of her sister ships was the USS Barnes CVE-20 so you get the personal connection. In the build, however, the markings and aircraft designation type will change several times. Montex masks, two sets of Eduard photo etch and countless hours of scratch building went into an already highly detailed kit. OH, and lest we forget the mind numbing amount of hours in research, which often doesn't get any mention by modelers in their articles. Also, my condolences go out to experienced modelers for the suffering they may experience while reading through comments directed at the inexperienced and those new to the hobby, I know you all understand so thanks in advance.

Full disclosure, this kit had been started prior to accepting the challenge with the rough engine, some wiring and scratch building completed, although that pales in comparison as to what was to come.
The Build
The second one of those plastic wires and push rods got neutered it was that "all or nothing" moment. Honestly I had no clue how much "all" would be... just wanted a better looking engine. The jury is still out on that one, but it was fun and great practice for future projects. Also I had the time and not the money for a resin Wright R-2600 twin cyclone. After some scribing, wires, paint and a decent wash it looks ok. AK xtreme metals were the star here with Tamiya medium field blue for the reduction cover plus various other colors.

It was a shame not to see a .50 caliber gun barrel in those holes on the wings, so I made them from some sprue and aligned them with bits of plastic. The tricky part was to get them looking right when the halves came together. Thus, when the upper and lower were glued it started at the gun location. Before this, holes were drilled out for the YAGI antenna posts. Many dry fits were done and to cut down on filling later I used really sharp files to get that nice edge. You won't see many tools or supplies pictured in these articles yet I suggest availing yourselves of a good set.

The "AM" kit and its reboxes have two types of tires. I like the ones with tread personally so a razor saw came on the scene to give em some love and affection. Don't worry... rubbers were involved so there weren't any accidents HA HA. Kidding aside, there was a thought of going down the aftermarket route, but the only real advantage is having a bulge and that can be done by tricking the eye after sanding them down. Other than that the kit detail is very good on the rims and some elbow grease handles the Goodyears.

There's no question that the interior of this kit is highly detailed. Not that the parts count is high, no it's how involved you want to get into it. Threw that crew hatch there are a ton of things to see. This is where the first set of PE came in. You can opt for a basic set or, in my case, go with the upgrade which gives you cowl flaps, wheel well details, ammo storage, bomb bay improvements, turret enhancement and so on. I must admit, since I'm not a fan of their products, this is one of the better Eduard sets. They even got the instructions half way decent. The exception is, get ready for it... a set of belts for the turret gunner's seat!!! I mean come on you guys you've been around since at least the late 80's or early 90's for sure... sigh. Anyway, even with all the extra touches more wires, beams, tanks, lights, instrument panels and hoses were added in every space someone would look. I hope by some of these photos that it payed off and with a wash to bring it all to life helped even further. It was one of the most enjoyable parts of this build. Vallejo made up the two distinct interior colors and, again, the color photo etch looks really sharp.

It was a satisfying moment to bring these three major components together and I'm extremely grateful to my friend Brett G at "plastic models by a regular dude" on youtube for sending the "F" clamps. You can do a web search for "F" clamps and get them from most hobby stores. Just make certain to add some rubber or gripping pads. The fit takes a tiny bit of bending that you will have already discovered during dry fitting, so make sure you have a good cementing strategy planned. For me it was glue, clamp, wait... simple because of how well it was designed. The lower right front edge needed a mm of material removed but that was a piece of cake even after the majority was already dry. Also, when you dry fit the instrument panel column you "may" have to shave the side wall detail a mm or two to get the fit you want.
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About the Author

About HG Barnes (HGBARNES)
FROM: ALBERTA, CANADA

H.G. Barnes is a former voice artist and sales/marketing executive. Currently ghost writing, he's recently published the first of many Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, and Adventure novels. He's been building model kits of every genre since memory to go along with his short stories, yet aircraft h...