Saturday, September 28, 2019
An Early Lightning, Part of a SpAD, An Unusual Zipper, A Contrast in SAMs, "Hun" Addendum, A Couple of Fords, and A Recce 'Doo
I'll Bet He Never Built It
He, in this particular case, being the guy who drafted the instructions for the WingNut Wings Halberstadt family of kits (all both of them!). I say this with a sense of considerable regret, because I'm a big, no; make that HUGE, fan of their kits. I've got several in the closet waiting for the inspiration to start them, as well as several (that Junkers J.1 you saw here a couple of issues back and several Albatri) completed and on display in my studio. They're big, as 1/32nd scale kits should be, they're well-detailed, as any decent kit from the 21st Century should be, they look absolutely great on display, and every one of them was a little fussy to build.
You heard me right; they were all fussy to build in some area or another, but not for the reasons that might immediately come to your mind. The pieces fit just fine, for the most part, and the industrial design of the kits leaves nothing to be desired. If you build any of them correctly they'll go together beautifully and without problem, but there's a major qualifier to that statement---you have to read the instructions, and not just for the step you're working on. No indeedy; you can't just follow the instructions and zip right along ala Tamiya or Airfix. You've got to read ahead to the next couple of steps too. Got to. Have to. Absolutely. Positively. You cannot, not ever, just take what you're looking at and accept it at face value because you will inevitably discover that the piece you need to attach in Step Whatever-It-Is could have easily been attached a step or two before but has, thanks to the way the instructions are written, become an exercise in patience and, perhaps, black magic, when incorporated when said instructions say to do it if you do indeed want that part to reside on or within the finished model. If you'd only known!
We're not, however, indulging in Sir Peter Bashing, nor are we particularly unhappy with the individual(s) who write the instructions for his otherwise superb kits. Our world is bigger than that, so let's jump right ahead to the part where we say what we actually mean.
The premise is this: We, which is to say me, are convinced that the instruction writer for some if not all of those outstanding WNW kits doesn't actually build the models he or she pens said instructions for, or at least doesn't assemble any of them the way the instructions that come with the kits say to do it.
Then again, we can remember the time another well-known kit manufacturer defined a new release of theirs as the most accurate of its kind ever released, an edifice right up there with the second coming of the significant religious figure of your choosing, and we can remember the folks who run a couple of prominent electronic modeling magazines announcing that it was indeed so, and even stating that those Kit's of the Second Coming had been measured, which they obviously hadn't been, and were spot-on accurate, which they equally obviously were not. For that matter, and while we're talking about on-line modeling magazines, how about those seemingly endless I'm Right and You're an Idiot disputes about accuracy that people all too frequently become embroiled in on their forums regarding kits that, as of the moment of that particular electronic dispute, only exist as CAD renderings?
OK; ramble, ramble, ramble; there he goes again! Is there a point to this drivel? Why yes; there is! Here's the part we're going to define as The Take-away for today's meandering:
Sometimes the people who write the instructions for our kits don't build actually them and may, in fact, have never even held the sprues of their constituent plastic components in their hands. (No; we're most assuredly not accusing WNW of that particular transgression so put that Orc, or whatever the heck it is, back in its box!). Sometimes the editors of electronic magazines get fooled by the previously impeccable reputation of a given kit manufacturer and don't actually perform their own due diligence on certain kits, and those Internet Flame War Guys couldn't possibly know the truth about a kit that doesn't exist yet. Further, those two seemingly unrelated things actually come from the same container; they're related and, somewhat sadly, becoming increasingly frequent in our polystyrene and resin world. And that, my friends, is the point. If you did it, then you did it. If you didn't do it and in point of fact couldn't do it or wouldn't do it but said or implied that you had, or did it wrong and claimed for all the world to see that you'd done it correctly, then you didn't do it and shame on you.
On a personal level, I've been involved with this hobby for a very long time and am generally able to figure out an after-the-fact way to deal with that part that should have been installed a step or two previously but wasn't, or measure the pieces of a kit before sticking them together (not that I always do it myself!), or throw the bovine defecation flag when someone who has yet to see the kit he or she is bashing engages in public and highly vocal criticism of it. I can do that, as can most of my modeling friends, but quite often the Brand New Modeler can't. The experience isn't there so that comment you just made, or that review, or that mis-step in the instruction sheet, jumps from being a mere point of humor or a minor annoyance into a really big thing that can actually cause serious problems for said Newby. It can also cause Said Newby to stop buying that particular brand of kit, or stop building a certain type of model, or maybe even leave the hobby altogether if the experience was bad enough.
In my own personal world figuring out what the guy who wrote the instructions actually meant is part of the fun of it, as is fixing the construction mistakes I inevitably make with or without that particular writer's unwitting assistance. It's somewhat less fun to buy a kit that someone gave a glowing review of, given the current asking price of most modern polystyrene kits of recent manufacture, only to find that it's not at all what I expected it to be or was told that it was. Caveat emptor is a very real thing and at the end of the day we're all the captain of our own ship, but it's nice when things are actually what they're made out to be.
Jumping On That P-38 Bandwagon
The modeling world is currently all agog at Tamiya's recent announcement of a 1/48th scale kit of the P-38F/G, and we have to admit that we're in there agogging with the best of them. It's a kit whose time has most assuredly come, and one that we can't wait to get our hands on. The early P-38s saw extensive combat useage in the Pacific, from the Solomons to the Aleutian Islands, and thanks to Bobby Rocker we've got a couple of examples of the former to share with you today.
One further note regarding this pair of photographs: Both Bobby Rocker and Jack Fellows think those airplanes were most likely sitting on the strip at Fighter Two on Guadalcanal and I'm in no position to dispute that. Thanks as always to Bobby, and to Jack, for sharing the photos and for their insight.
I Could've, I Should've and I Didn't, But It's Still Useful
By which obtuse title I mean the photograph we're about to view. I made my first attempt at aviation photography in 1972, at a Randolph AFB open house attended by the staff of the original Replica in Scale. It was a wonderful opportunity I totally wasted by shooting details of airplanes without taking more than one or two photos of an entire example of same. Here---See what I mean?
A Peculiar Zipper
As our readers may or may not remember the AIM-9 Sidewinder family of air-to-air missiles was a child of the Navy, but the birthing of that particular child came with a catch: The NAV was going to use the weapon in conjunction with its jet fighters, both already in service and projected, but there was a catch. It seemed that the Navy didn't have anything in service in the late 1950s that offered the performance it would have once the F8U Crusader and F4H Phantom II became available as production/service aircraft, which left a substantial gap in testing the Sidewinder under operational supersonic conditions. The obvious solution to the problem was to borrow a couple of the Air Force's supersonic Century Series fighters for the job, which in turn led to the loan of 3 F-104As to the Navy from the 83rd FIS' inventory, a task made easier by the type's impending 1960 removal from the Air Defense Command inventory.
Ground to Air Plastic
Norman Camou normally educates us all with those outstanding YouTube videos he discovers and submits for us every issue, but today the contribution is a little different:
While we're talking about such things, let's consider a new section for this effort. The title says we're a modeling publication when we rarely are, so how about submitting pictures of your models for publication every once in a while? The parameters are simple: Well built and reasonably accurate, and having something to do with the sort of thing we write about on these electronic pages, which is to say no dinosaurs, fantasy figures, etc---those guys already have their own sites and we do airplanes here, along with the occasional missile, so let's keep it to that, ok? Ok! If you're interested, please send your submissions to replicainscaleatyahoodotcom, but substituting the approprate @ and . symbols where we used words. (Get thee hence; accursed spammers!) This is strictly an ego thing on your part, by the way, because we can't and don't pay for photographs or anything else around here; it's a BLOG, for cryin' out loud, but we'd really like to see what you've been building!
More On Those MoANG Huns
Reader Joe Vincent, a man who might be familiar to many of you, logged 171 combat missions in the F-100D while serving with the 309th TFS/31st TFW between October of 1969 and September of 1971. He's very nowledgeable regarding North American's F-100 Super Sabre and sent us an addendum to our Missouri ANG F-100 piece when we originally published it, way back in 2017. It's been on our list of things to run ever since then, but it just never happened and it is, by golly, high time we took care of that particular ommission!
I added some comments about the MO ANG F-100C with practice bombs in your March posting. I think I may have clicked on the wrong thing when adding the comments because after I submitted them my browser had me on the Feb posting. (Actually, Joe, it wasn't anything you did. We've never printed reader comments because of the spammers and rarely ever look at the "comments" feature on the blog in consequence---apologies for that one!) Anyways, here are a few images to support my comments concerning the Bk-37 practice bomb rack. These are on OV-10s, but they are the same racks. A typical flight to the gunnery range would be loaded with a Bk-37 rack with 4 BDU-33 practice “slick” bombs on one outboard pylon, and an LAU-59 (7-shot) 2.75 inch rocket pod with only 3 rockets loaded on the other outboard. Also,the F-100s pictured with TERs on the inboards are carrying only 2 weapons per TER. My friends who flew them at Phan Rang say that they regularly carried three M82 bombs on them, but BLU-27 napalm and Mk117 bombs were physically too large. When they are loaded with fewer than 3 M82s it was because they were maxed out at takeoff weight and couldn’t carry more. One friend will send me photos of a Hun with eight M82s so I can forward it to you. As for the F-100C, I don’t know, but I doubt they were modified with the intervalometer release system and TERs. We brought the Ds back to CONUS to the ANG units to replace a lot of those Cs.
Many thanks to Joe Vincent for this invaluable information regarding the F-100 and its air-to-ground weaponry, as well as apologies for our tardiness!
Inspiration, If You Will
We've already shown you some of Norman Camou's work in this edition of the project but there's more at hand! Norman sent us a Douglas photograph of a lineup of late-50s/early-60s Navy jet fighters that was heavy on the F4D Skyray, and coincidentally also sent a photograph of a pair of 1/72nd scale Tamiya "Fords" in differing squadron markings. We don't know if that's coincidental or not, but it provides an excellent example of how to turn inspiration into hardware, as it were:
Who Do That Voo Doo
OK, it's a corny lead-in, but it does pretty much tell you where this is going. Richard Franke was the quality manage at an aviation company I worked for many years ago, a man who had spent part of his career in the Air Force, with part of that time spent assigned to Laon AB in France during 1964. He photographed these 66th TRW RF-101Cs while he was there, and we're glad he did!
And that's what I know! Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Marty Isham is gone.
Marty was one of the early contributors to the original print version of Replica in Scale. We had never heard of him---back in those days few of the serious aviation photographers were well-known to the general public once you got past people like Bill Larkins or Peter Bowers and Jim and I were still the general public at that point in time---but we'd met Norm Taylor and he brokered the introduction to Marty for us, and to Dave Menard, and to several others as well. Marty and Jim forged a bond almost immediately, and from that day Marty's generosity and kindness could be felt in every issue of the magazine. He was a photographer and a collector, and a sounding board, and a seemingly unending source of information regarding the military aviation assets of the United States and, in particular, of the Air Defense Command, a subject about which he was both passionate and and authoritative. He was, as we quickly discovered, the go-to guy for the ADC. He was a friend.
He was also, as were (and are) so many others of his breed, kind, helpful, and willing to share. He was willing to teach. He was there when you needed him. On a personal note he was invariably helpful to me as I tried to make this reborn Replica in Scale a quality piece of work, and the days when the post office delivered packages from him full of slides, photographs, and documents to help with the latest project were joyous ones indeed.
Marty had been sick for several years and his ability to help others became increasingly diminished as he dealt with his health issues, but through it all he never lost his smile or his good disposition. Our conversations became less and less frequent as those months of illness turned into years, but he never changed his approach to life and you could literally feel him grinning that Isham grin over the phone as you talked. That was how he was. That was Marty. He's gone now, and it's doubtful we'll see his like again any time soon. Our time with him was special because he was special, and his passing is a sad day for us all.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Back in the Way Back, Scooters, Presents From Fred, Zips On the Ramp, Schlact Bird, Bad old Days, Lost, Invaders, Names and Planes, Doug, and The Morgan Boys
Let's jump in our Scale Modeling Blog WayBack Machine for just a minute and go back a few years, to 11 February, 2010. That's when I published the very first electronic edition of the reborn Replica in Scale. That first issue was a modest effort at best, brief of duration and covering just one model airplane, the Hasegawa P-40E. That initial blog was followed by many others, although I've never managed to equal, or even come close to equaling, the output of that first year, a measure of time in which I managed to create a whopping 79 issues in the span of 365 days. By contrast I was able to put out an all-time low of exactly 4, count 'em; 4, issues in 2018. Yikes!
Still, I've been able to maintain a core readership that has stayed with the project from the beginning, a readership that has assumed the mantle of old and valued friends for whom I am more grateful than you might imagine given the frequency of publication around here. The numbers keep growing, too, and we've got quite a few folks who have signed on as followers of the blog---I'm pretty darned grateful for that as well!
Something else has happened over the course of those eleven years; we've experienced an event I always knew could happen but never gave much thought to until a few days ago. It's a milestone of some magnitude for me, particularly given the frequency, or distinct lack thereof, of publication lately. This project, little old Replica in Scale, has substantially exceeded one million (that's one million!) reader visits since its humble beginnings some 10 years ago. It's a number I find incredible given the size of the staff around here (just me!), not to mention my frequently infrequent schedule of publication. Wow!
We've gained a lot of friends during that time and, sadly, lost a few as well---Dave Menard and Maddog John Kerr come to mind in that latter regard---but we've been able to keep on keeping on even as the frequency of publication has dramatically diminished. The project has devolved from a periodical of many issues per year back to an occasionatical (a term Jim and I used to use to describe the original print version of RIS way back in The Day) of just a few, but it's still alive and kicking with no intention of stopping any time soon.
Anyway, a million visits for a project as modest and unassuming as this one is deserves a little commemoration, I think, so this issue is going to be somewhat special. Look on it as a Thank You to everyone for staying with us during thick and thin. With any luck the best is yet to come!
In The Beginning...
Way back in the Way Back, so to speak, back in 2010 when I began this project, I'd lost contact with almost everyone I'd worked with during the print days of Replica in Scale. I wasn't building much of anything and I'd largely ceased collecting primary resources, so it was slim pickings in terms of what I could publish in the way of photographs of real airplanes---at that point in time I didn't even have a real slide scanner and was using the scan feature on my wife's computer printer for that task! I still had my files, and all those slides I took over the years, but the available resources were well and truly on the thin side.
Let's keep that in mind, because it's only fair that we begin this very special (to me, anyway) issue with a couple of photographs that are typical of, and to a great extent commemorate, the photo assets available to me in the very beginning.
Small photo essays like that were our bread and butter in the very beginning because we honestly couldn't do anything else at the time but things were about to change, and for the better!
While it's true that we'd lost track of the majority of our aviation friends over several years of inactivity, it's also true that we're a small community that keeps track of its own. With that as a basic premise it shouldn't surprise anyone that it didn't take long for those aforementioned old friends to find us, even though we didn't know how to get in touch with them. Some of those friends are sadly gone now; Dave Menard and John "Maddog" Kerr have passed, while Marty Isham has pretty much retired from the festivities, but Jim Sullivan and Doug Barbier have been taking up the slack throughout it all, as have the Morgan Brothers, Rick and Mark, Mark Nankivil and Don Jay, not to mention the herculian efforts of stalwart supporter Bobby Rocker. The photos that follow are an assortment from those guys. Thanks to all of you for your unflinching support!
Scooters From Sullivan
Jim Sullivan, a contributor to the original Replica in Scale and Aerophile projects, was one of the very earliest to find this electronic version of RIS. His talents with a camera are beyond reproach and his collection of images is remarkable. He's a fan of All Things Navy, and that love extends to the venerable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Here are some photographs from his collection to prove the point:
That's it for the "Scooter", at least for this time, but we've got a lot more waiting in the wings from Jim so stay tuned...
And Then Along Came Mark
Nankivil, that is! We received an e-mail from Mark early in the adventure; he said kind things about the project and provided us with a group of A-7 scans. Holy Cow---somebody I didn't know was sending photography and offering to send more. It was deja vu all over again, to steal a line from Yogi Berra. It was just like back in those fabled days of yore (that's really corny but I've always wanted an excuse to use it in print!) when we'd receive a package of photographs from someone we didn't know; a really special occasion and particularly gratifying since someone we hadn't previously spoken with had thought enough of the project to contact us and send photography. It impressed us (read "me" here; I'm bouncing back and forth between first and third person again) and it still impresses us!
Anyway, Mark jumped into the program early and has been a constant contributor ever since. One of the things he does is to assist the Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum with their photo assets, acquisitions which he sometimes shares with us as well. That's the case today; the photographs you're about to view were taken by Fred Roos and passed along to us. Note that we've abbreviated the museum's name in the watermarks on the images---yes; we're lazy. It's a flaw we/I can live with, so let's look at some pictures of airplanes!
That closes out this installment from Mark, but there's more to come a little further down the road!
Corroboration of A Photo We've All Seen Before
First, here's the photo:
If you remember, the USAF produced a series of lithographs/posters in the late 60s-70s. This was one of the first ones and initially was labeled USAF forces in Vietnam, then F-104s at Tan Son Nhut, and finally F-104s in SEA. So I am not sure what folks think when they see it. It is definitely Udorn RTAFB and shows the newly arrived 435 TFS. The clincher in IDing the base is the RF-101 flightline on the right. Only two places had the RF-101C, Udorn and Tan Son Nhut, and the ones at Saigon were not in the open but using some old French concrete revetments at this time. Anyway, it does show off the ‘zipper’ in good detail. Cheers, dj
Many thanks to Don. He's got a few more surprises for us today but before we get to them...
A Token Model
Since this project is a technically a scale modeling publication by title, if rarely in actual fact (much like the later editions of our old print effort, come to think of it), it occurs to me that we ought to have a couple of photographs of aeronautical polystyrene replicas for your amusement and edification so, without further ado:
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:
We Get By With Help From Our Friends
Yes we do, and in that vein: Bobby Rocker discovered us pretty early on in the project and began contributing photography to us, something that continues until this very day, and I've come to feel that we quite literally wouldn't be the same publication without his help. Let's take a look at a random assortment of images he's supplied of late. There's a theme here---let's see if you can figure it out!
And while we're at it, let's raise a glass to Bobby Rocker, and Steve Birdsall, Jack Fellows, Justin Taynan, Robert Livingstone, and all the others who strive to tell the story of those terrible days so long ago. Lest we forget...
Gone But Not Forgotten
That would be Pacific Coast Models, a model company that specialized in polystyrene replicas of aircraft of the Reggia Aeronautica. Their range of kits, produced for them by such cottage industry stalwarts as Sword, were often a little tough to build but resulted in highly unique and the completed models, once finished, could be spectacular. Their later days saw them broadening their scope away from the Italian air force of World War 2 and producing such divergent kits as the Fw190A-1/2/3/4, Ta152H, Spitfire Mk IX, Spitfire Mk XIV, and Hawker Tempest. Excellent efforts all, those kits were simply too little and too late to save PCM; Tamiya's Merlin Spitfire kits and Special Hobby's Tempest in particular helped to put the nails in the lid, but Pacific Coast's kits are still out there and at reasonable prices, too. You can do some good things with them, to which end we'd like to offer up their Spitfire Mk XIV for your consideration:
This is a kit I truly enjoyed building, and I'm looking forward to building their Tempest as well. Yes; I know the Special Hobby kit is supposed to be better but I don't have a SH Tempest. I do have a PCM Tempest. I see logic in those statements although, as always, your own personal mileage may vary.
One final point has to be mentioned before we leave this particular topic: Although I didn't find anything especially difficult to deal with while building this model, basic, and even intermediate, modeling skills are required. Everything fits well for a limited run kit, and the model is relatively easy to get together, but the new guy or gal might well end up binning it (that's a British-ism for throwing it away) before they get it completed. It won't fight hard, but it most assuredly will fight back during the course of construction. I built this one a couple of years ago and specifically remember having to argue a bit with the wing-root fillets and the dihedral, and special care had to be taken with the interior installation as well. None of it was all that tough but you probably need to have both Modeling 101 and 102 under your belt before you take a crack at this one.
We miss PCM, and we miss the fine folks who birthed and ran it for so many years. The company's demise was truly a loss for us all but those kits are still out there, often ignored, and just waiting for the right modeler to come along. Tally Ho!!!
The Third at Yokota
The 3rd BG, that is. Here, thanks to Gerry Kersey over at 3rd Attack (see the link on the right side of this page) are a couple of photos of one of their B-26Bs while stationed at Yokota immediately post-War:
A Random Modeling Tip
Trumpeter, that modeling company we all love to hate, actually does some pretty neat stuff when you get right down to it. They kit a whole bunch of airplanes, among other things, that no other manufacturer would touch with with a ten-foot pole, and they've got a small line of modeling-related stuff as well in their Master Tools line, chief among which is their "Item No: 09937 Plastic Circle Board". It's exactly what its name implies, being a collection of rings and discs, all out of polystyrene. I've had two different hobby shop owners tell me that particular item invariably languishes on their shelves, rarely purchased by anybody. I think that's just wrong, and here's why:
You Gotta Have a Sense of Humor
Yes you do. It's helpful in everyday life and is absolutely essential during times of extreme stress, say, maybe, like in a war. The guys at the sharp end of things during the Second World War and the Korean Conflict had established and maintained a wonderful way of expressing humor and, to the extent possible, relieving stress, by putting names and artwork on their aircraft. The practice was both prolific and in some instances profound (not to mention occasionally profane), but the officers at the top end of things, at least in the Air Force, often frowned on such activities. Their notion was that such imagery was unprofessional and therefore not to be permitted to exist on their airplanes. They actually managed to keep a lid on things for a while during the 1960s, which is the reason you'll see so relatively little nose art on SEA-based birds during the 1966-68 time period, but the staff weenies in DC weren't the guys getting shot at and the aircrew that were at the sharp end of things quickly came to the conclusion that they'd do it if they wanted to or, more likely, could get away with it. While some of the resulting art was most assuredly on the raucous side, and occasionally obscene (think that famous pair of F-105Ds, "Cherry Girl" and "Pussy Galore" here), most of it was innocuous, while a great deal of it was humorous and some even thought provoking.
Don Jay spent a substantial portion of his youth in theater while serving with the Air Force. He's also a photographer and a collector of photography, and today he's offered us a few images of Vietnam-era aircraft art for your perusal. The artwork is special, and reflects a way of dealing with the stress and pain of a wartime aviation environment.
Many thanks to Don Jay for providing us with all of these images. They're a wonderful time machine into a tragic part of American history.
Life in the Frozen North
For those of you who might not know, we've been blessed from the very beginning of this project by the presence of a number of career aviators. Their insight and, often, their photography, has helped us to make this blog what it is. Doug Barbier is another plankholder; we knew him back in the days of the print Replica in Scale and also during the Aerophile project. He's another one of those guys with both a colorful Air Force career and a way with a single-lens reflex camera. Here are a couple of his photos for your enjoyment, taken when he was flying with the 57th FIS out of Keflavik during their F-4 days. The first set of photos are best explained by Doug, who was in Lockheed's immortal T-33A during the course of the adventure:
In the 1960's and 70's, the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at Keflavik airbase in Iceland maintained what was nearly a wartime status. Their mission was to intercept and identify any unknown aerial traffic that penetrated the Icelandic Air Defense Zone (ADIZ). And the Soviets kept them busy. I was stationed there as a squadron T-33 pilot during 1979 on a one year long remote tour. With only three pilots in the squadron, plus another half dozen "attached" guys who were serving tours in the Command Post, we had three "in commission" T-birds and life was good. Since the maintenance guys were much happier on the flight line turning wrenches on the jets than sitting in their quarters going crazy, we usually scheduled the T-birds 3 turn 3, turn 3 a day. This meant that each squadron T-bird pilot had his own jet and flew it three times a day Monday through Friday. The F-4 folks had all sorts of additional duties, including a minimum of two crews on alert 24/7/365. And they had about three dozen crews and a total of 13 F-4E Phantoms, of which 5 might be on the local training schedule - maybe. The remainder were either on alert, in maintenance or in depot in Spain, so flight time was hard to come by for them.
The T-33's were primarily stationed at Kef to provide target support for training new WSO's coming in to the squadron- most of whom had been dropping bombs and had not used the radar for air-to-air work since checking out in the jet and needed all the help that they could get. We also flew pre-planned navigation routes to calibrate the air defense radars on the island and acted as targets in the monthly "Fan Angel" air defense exercises. Target sorties usually had us loaded out with one ALE-2 chaff tank under one wing pylon and an ALQ-71 or -72 ECM jamming pod under the other. With this configuration, the T-bird was unable to make it to any other airfield than Kef so the wise pilots practiced hand flying ILS instrument approaches to touchdown in the nice weather, so that they could do it for real when the fog and low visibility rolled in. Your choices in that case were limited to die hot (in the wreckage), die cold (in the water), or land. When the weather was that bad, nobody was going to save you because they were never going to find you in time.
The Soviet armed forces carried out several very large scale exercises each year and when that happened, all local F-4 training was cancelled, any jets in local maintenance were hurried to completion and all F-4's were "cocked", crewed and put on alert. This left the T-bird guys with nothing to do but go sight seeing. But many times, there were over 150 "unknown" targets airborne near Iceland and only 8 to 10 operational F-4's. While the TDY E-3 "AWACs" could call for fuel from tankers based in the UK, there were no tankers available for the F-4's, so they had to constantly cycle back to Kef for fuel, leaving huge gaps in coverage. ADC frequently used single-ship scrambles, but even then, a 15:1 ratio was not in the F-4's favor.
In 1978, someone had the idea of putting a T-33 on alert, relieving a little stress on the F-4's and hoping to intercept a Bear with a T-33, something which had never been done. A T-bird had the external stores downloaded and was placed out on the alert ramp, cocked and waiting. They waited for a long time since the T-bird did not have the speed to catch a target on the east side of the Island, the Soviets had to cooperate and bring an "unknown" down the gap between Greenland and Iceland. This was the normal route for the TU-95 "Bear" bombers that were deploying to and from Cuba. Finally the big day occurred, the Klaxon went off and the T-bird was scrambled. Unfortunately, in their haste to get airborne the crew came around the corner from the high-speed alert taxiway onto the runway too rapidly and rolled one main tire off of the rim. While the aircraft was not seriously damaged, that ended that bright idea and the T-birds were relegated back to their normal role.
During July 1979, the Soviets were running another of their exercises and Capt. Tom Callahan and I were airborne in the Lockheed racer. I always carried a camera ensconced in my helmet bag, "just in case" something interesting would present itself. I was in the back seat and had just finished a heavyweight simulated flameout approach and was starting the go-around when the tower told us to contact the GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) immediately as they had a pairing for us. That was unheard of, so while I was getting the power in and the gear up, Tom contacted the GCI and the first words we heard were: "Sloe Gin 91, you are paired, two targets 290 degrees range 135 miles". I had the jet cranked around to the heading that they gave us before we reached the end of the runway and gave control to Tom while I started unearthing my camera.
Unfortunately, the GCI folks were used to the much faster F-4's and while we left the throttle buried in the forward end of the quadrant (ignoring the 30 minute limit on full power operations - we were not going to let this one get by us), the initial vector left us "cold" and they had to keep slowly turning us to the left to try to get some cutoff. Thankfully the two Bears were at 23,000 feet as our T-bird was unpressurized and we could only legally go to 25,000' before running into the danger of possibly coming down with the bends or some other type of "evolved gas" problems. By the time the range was down to 20 miles, we had a "tally-ho" on a flight of two Bear bombers but we could see that the geometry was still not in our favor - they were going to cross our nose and put us into a tail chase which we would lose. It was absolutely "VERBOTEN" to talk directly to the Bears, even though we knew that they were undoubtedly listening in to our conversations with the GCI folks, so I pressed the microphone button and made a general statement to the effect of "gee, it sure would be nice if they could slow down about 15 knots so we can keep up with them". Sure enough, the trailing Bear pulled back his power and we managed to complete the intercept, although the leader was now a couple of miles past us. The swept wing planform of the Bears allowed a high-subsonic cruise and the straight wing of the T-bird gave us a limiting Mach of 0.8. They were faster... They were also very loud. When you got close, you could not only hear, but feel the vibrations from those thirty-two contra-rotating prop blades. We called the ID on two Bear Foxtrots - the anti-submarine version - and flew alongside for several minutes while I took some photos. The whole time, the second Bear was falling further and further behind his leader, but then again, he had never seen a T-33 and we had never seen a Bear, so it was all good. We finally got an F-4 on station after what seemed like an eternity - we were still burning neutrons at full power trying to keep up - passed the escort off to him, pulled the power back to save the engine and headed for home. After writing up the overtime on the max power limit so that the maintenance guys would check the turbine blades and exhaust for cracks, we went back to the squadron with big grins on our faces. Those were immediately extinguished when we found the Air Forces Iceland Commander screaming in the face of our squadron commander about "creating an international incident" and having a "non-combat coded jet intercepting a Soviet war plane". It did not matter that the USN Rear Admiral (his boss) had personally approved the pairing and was laughing his head off about it.
Anyhow, the whole event was hushed up and nothing else was ever said or heard about it, except for the fact that we became "Discrete 1" and "Discrete 2" on the squadron "hack" board that listed the first dates of the intercepts. The person who was the most disappointed about the whole affair was one of the F-4 pilots who had been up at Kef for nearly 5 months and had not yet intercepted his first Bear. He had been scrambled and sent east about 3 minutes before we got paired to the west. We got a Bear. He got a missed intercept and had to try to live down the fact that the T-bird guys got a Bear before he did. Doug Barbier, February 2019
Next up is another shot Doug didn't take, this time of his "T-Bird" performing a bubble check near Keflavik:
That's it for this round of photography from Kef, but you might want to check in with us next issue when we'll highlight some more of Doug's photography, featuring the 57th's F-4s. Stay tuned!
The Brothers Morgan
That would be Mark and Rick, of course. I met Rick first, while parked off the south end of the runway at The Late Lamented Kelly AFB while shooting arrivals on a Sunday afternoon. That chance meeting led in turn to an introduction to Rick's older brother Mark, and both have been firm friends ever since. Rick and Mark have gone on to become authors of note and have always had an exceptional talent with finely-ground glass attached to an SLR body which, in turn, takes us to today's final photo essay.
First, let's take a look at some ground studies of Northrop's seminal F-5 Tiger II, in this case in service with the NAV's adversary squadrons back in the 1980s:
Now, let's take a look at a page from Rick Morgan's past, back in the mid-80s when he was flying with VAQ-139 aboard the Constellation. There's potentially quite a bit to see from his service during that time but today we're going to spend our efforts looking at VFA-25's F/A-18As:
Thanks as always to The Brothers Morgan, who have been with this project from the very beginning and continue to help as we move along in this journey!
Norman Camou is another of our regulars, and periodically sends us links to the really neat stuff he finds on YouTube. Here's one such example:
Thanks, Norm, and Keep 'Em Coming!
Under the Radar
There was a time, long ago, when there was no internet. There was no way to easily access a great deal of the information we now take for granted, such as USAF serial numbers and their relationship to the airplanes we were all researching and writing about, but even back then we had THIS:
If ever there was a work we could describe as seminal to the amateur aviation enthusiast, this would surely have been it. Extremely modest in presentation, its 71 pages were chock full of information we just couldn't get anywhere else back in 1969. There was an explanation of the way the USAF of the time designated their airplanes and assigned serial numbers, there were photographs (albeit on the tiny side) to illustrate the point, and then there was the heart of the matter; page after page of serial number entries, to include block numbers and pertinent notes. As a research tool it was as good as things got back then and the information contained within its small format (6-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches!) is still entirely valid today. We suspect a large number of our readers have never heard of this tiny missive, but it's well worth acquiring if you find one for sale. We ordered ours direct from England way back in The Day, mostly because Frank Emmett forced us to do it, and have never regretted it. It once was, and could still easily be, a must-have for the serious aviation enthusiast's library. We highly recommend it.
Yes! Happy Snaps! It's been forever since we've run anything in what has become a dormant part of the project, but that's only because we haven't received anything of that nature from the military aviators in our readership for a very long time. I'm not sure why that is, but that's most assuredly the way it's been for a while. This is a special edition for us, though, so we're going to dip back into the files and find something to run. (That's a fancy way of saying we stumbled on this while looking for F/A-18s a little while ago...)
The Relief Tube
We haven't run one of these in a while either, so today must surely be The Day.
Alan Moore was going through our back pages and found a quick essay we'd done on PB4Y-1 Liberator nose art and offered this:
Dear Mr. Friddell,
I came across your blog today and while browsing I found Mr. Bobby Rocker's PB4Y-1 photos under the heading, "I Wish We Knew." All four Liberators (Only the PB4Y-2s were Privateers, BTW.) are VB-111 aircraft. (The squadron designations were changed to VPB-xxx on 1 Oct 1944.)
(746) Doc's Delight is BuNo 38746; (750) The Snooper is BuNo 38750; (38) 906 Reputation Cloudy is BuNo 38906; (38) 913 Rugged Beloved is BuNo 38913.
More information can be gleaned from VPNavy.com:
VP-111 History at VPNavy.com http://www.vpnavy.com/vp111_1940.html . Additionally, Rugged Beloved has a Facebook page: In Memory of the Crew of PB4Y-1 #38-913 the "Rugged Beloved" Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RuggedBeloved/
Finally, researcher Terence Geary has compiled a listing of all Navy Liberators and Privateers and it's available at Aviation Archaeological Investigation &; Research: PB4Y USN Aircraft Airframe History List https://aviationarchaeology.com/src/USN/PB4Y.htm Hope this helps.
Sincerely, Alan Moore Geneseo, NY
Thanks very much Alan, both for the corrections and for the web sites!
Finally, and in our One of the Many Reasons We Love This Hobby Department, we recently ran a piece about the construction of a 67th TFS F-51D we built in which we mentioned we'd messed up a couple of the numbers in the 1960s-vintage Stoppel decal sheet we were using for our buzz numbers. We put out a cry for help on these very pages and Thomas Lundgren, in Denmark, took the time to contact his friend Jacob Stoppel to inform him of our plight. Mr. Stoppel still had a couple of partial decal sheets on hand and was kind enough to send them along, thus letting me put another KW Mustang on the display shelf. Many thanks to Jacob and Thomas for that kindness and to all of you as well, for making this hobby of ours the absolute pleasure it's been for most of my life. You're an exceptional bunch!
That pretty much wraps up this special edition of Replica in Scale. My sincere thanks go out to all of you, both those who have been with the project from that extremely modest first issue and to those who have joined along the way, for making it what is is today. Thanks for your continued interest, your ongoing encouragement, and yes; your corrections. You're all as much a part of this adventure as I am and I'm grateful to each and every one of you!
A million visits. WOW!
Anyway, with any luck we'll see you again soon but until then, be good to your neighbor!