Sunday, August 9, 2015
Flying!, Something Out of the Ordinary, Pirates, Hold That Tiger!, Charlie in Kentucky, and Some Scary Days
You'd never know it just by looking, but in theory this project is one heavily related to scale modeling, so scale modeling is what we're going to talk about today, or at least we're going to talk about one aspect of it---getting better at doing it.
Scale modeling is one of those learn-as-you-go things. No amount of reading the modeling boards, buying the overpriced how-to-build-the-whatever-it-is books, or buying the most expensive kits and tools can make up for a lack of basic skills. Nope; the only way you're going to learn how to build good models is to build until you acquire the skill-sets necessary to get you where you want to go. As a corollary, you're going to have to build "crummy" kits, or short-run kits (often the same as "crummy", in case you were wondering about that) as well as the latest whiz-bang marvels from the "good" manufacturers in order to develop the skill sets necessary to become a journeyman or expert modeler. There's no substitute for time in the saddle on this one---you have to put in the time to become a good modeler.
That said, here's a little trick that will help you more than you can possibly imagine in your ongoing search for improved skills: Change your modeling philosophy! That's right---change the whole way you look at the hobby.
To get to the point, most of us build unified models, for want of a better word, detailing them as we go along but always working on the philosophy that the model is the model and everything else goes into it or on it. It's one. It's a Whole. It's a model, but what's that model made of?
What if, instead of building a model, one each, of the object of your affection, we built a whole bunch of little models instead, and then put them all together in the big model? What if we made the cockpit a model, a project in and of itself, and then did the same thing for the gear wells, the gear doors, the landing gear, the wheels and tires, or anything else that's part of the greater assembly that becomes what you see on the shelf as a completed project? What if we built up a pair of 250lb GP bombs for our P-47 and made them models in and of themselves, stand-alone bomb models, properly assembled, painted, decalled, and weathered and capable of being added to said Thunderbolt, laid on the ground beside it in a diorama, or just displayed separately?
What if, instead of building an interior, we made the seat a stand-alone model that could be displayed outside the aircraft if desired? What if we did the same thing to the control stick that goes in that interior?
What if we did that with each and every subassembly of the model, in essence creating a scale model made up of many smaller scale models? Holy cow! That's revolutionary! Then again, maybe it isn't.
The simple fact of the matter is that those guys and girls who win the contests, most of them anyway, use that technique and pretty much always have. There's a reason those folks build models that look better than yours or mine; they're putting in the time to build up everything that's going to be seen when the model is finished and they're doing it one step at a time, as a series of mini-projects. You can call it super-detailing, and a lot of people do, but at the end of the day all those folks are really doing is building up a bunch of little models to the highest standard they're capable of and then installing them in the object that will become the completed model. That's it. That's all there is to it.
Of course, you're still going to have to learn all the basic skills in order to do things that way, and that takes us right back to the learning curve we were obliquely discussing at the beginning of this ramble. There's no getting around that one. On the other hand, that simple change of approach we just discussed will make things happen a lot more quickly for you as you progress with the hobby. It'll make you a better modeler, and it'll make you better faster than any other way we can think of. It's a win/win, if you catch my drift.
I rest my case!
Just For the Fun of It
Our first image for the day comes from Rick Morgan, who sent it out to a consortium of people with the comment that there was once a time when a military aviator could, within reason, jump into an airplane and just go flying.
A Little Known Invader
A while back we ran a couple of B-26C images from John Horne's collection that were of a variant unknown to a lot of folks; the RB-26C. Some 46 aircraft of that sub-type were available to the USAF's tactical recon wings at the start of the Korean conflict and were used extensively for night reconnaissance work therein, and more than a few went in hard in that most dangerous of occupations. The antenna suite of those aircraft make them unique among the Invader family, and John's been kind enough to mark up a photo of an 11th TRS bird to help us understand what's going on there.
Here, also from John's collection, is a shot of the AN/APA-17B:
I Wish We Knew
As has been mentioned a great many times before, Bobby Rocker is a constant contributor to this project. Most of the photography he provides to us is well-documented, but every once in a while he comes across images that aren't. That's the case today, as we look at several PB4Y-1 Privateer shots. Bobby doesn't know the unit or location, although we suspect they're stationed somewhere in or near Morotai or the Philippines in early 1945 (although that's an educated guess!). If you know what's going on, we'd like to hear from you! That address is, as always (just ask any of those spam dudes!) email@example.com .
Thanks again to Bobby for his unselfish sharing of the images of one of the most remarkable periods in our history!
Shark Mouthed Cats
Those of you who are fans of naval aviation are probably well aware that VF-21 flew the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger operationally before becoming the East Coast RAG for the type. Rick Morgan recently came by a couple of fascinating photographs courtesy of naval aviation photography and historian Bob Lawson, and is sharing them with us today. Here are his comments about the photos:
Phil- a couple of shots for the blog. I got these through Bob Lawson; they show VF-21 F11Fs on Forrestal during a 3-month period with CVG-8 in Forrestal (CVA 59) off the East Coast in 1958. They were filling the ‘day fighter’ role within CVG-8 for this at sea period with VF-82, flying F3H Demons, holding the ‘night fighter’ slot. Within a few months the “Mach Busters” would be moved to the new Replacement Air Group, RCVG-4 and become a training squadron for east coast F11Fs and redesignated VF-43.
There's so much more we could say about the Tiger, but today's not going to be the day. Stay tuned, though; you just never know what might show up on these pages!
And We Thought We Had It Figured Out
It wasn't all that long ago that we were showing you a couple of straight up F-101C Voodoos that were serving with the Nevada ANG. That was an amazing thing because Nevada never officially flew the Charlie (their 101s were all of the converted RF-101H variety) and we duly published the photos at hand and moved on, saving another batch of photos for another day. We should've looked a little more closely at the photos, because there was another "real" F-101C lurking in the stack! Without further ado, but with a little bit of embarrassment, is an image of that aircraft:
And in the spirit of Better Late Than Never, Doug Barbier was apparently on line when we pushed the Magic Twanger to publish this edition of the blog---he came back almost immediately with an obvious answer to the reason those two ANG units had straight-up fighter variant F-101Cs on strength. Let's let him explain and spare everyone the wait for another edition and its Relief Tube entry!
Phil, If I had to guess, those F-101Cs assigned to Nevada were there for proficiency trainers while the fleet was converted to the H model. The Michigan Guard had half a dozen plain jane F-84F models at Detroit Metro back in the late 1950s for the same reason - there just were not enough of the recces available so they drove the basic fighter versions around just to get some flying time. And speaking of just jumping in and going - that is exactly the way it used to be. In interviewing one of our old Michigan Guard pilots, he told me that in 1949 he came out to interview with the squadron commander, was hired on the spot & the boss told him to go downstairs, grab a parachute, pick out a Mustang on the flight line & get himself current again. No paperwork, no verification, no I.D. badge, no nothing - just pick one & go. Even through the RF-101 era in the early 70s, we used to keep at least one RF-101C parked on the Guard ramp at O'Hare for our airline pilots to fly. Rather than get in off of a trip & have to go over to Detroit, there was a Voodoo sitting there waiting for them. When it was time for the UTA weekend, they flipped a coin to see who got to fly it over to Detroit. On Sunday, maintenance would have another jet ready to go back. It was a different time.... Doug
Where Were You in '62?
October of 1962 was one of the scariest times in American history, a month in which the Soviet Union and the United States looked each other in the eye, each waiting for the other to blink. There's a lot to that story, far more than we're able to cover in this modest effort, but we can show you a couple of pictures you probably haven't seen before that date back to that time and, more specifically, to The Cuban Missile Crisis. The possibility of Armageddon came in many forms in the Fall of 1962.
www.307bwassoc.org/ ) can provide some interesting details of this period in the wing's history. USAF via Mark Morgan
The Relief Tube
We've received several comments of interest in the past few weeks and it's time to share! First up is a clarification from reader Tom Smith:
Dear Phil, I just recently discovered the Replica in Scale blog and could not be happier. I am one of those "of a certain age" who remembers the original magazines as I bought them new at the local hobby shop. Finding the blog is like coming upon a long lost family heirloom. The medium has changed, the content is refreshingly familiar. I spent some time looking through past blogs and came upon a picture that brought a bit of a smile to my face. In the September 16, 2014 blog there was a picture from the archives of John Horne showing an A-26C on the ramp at Iwakuni AB circa 1951, tail number 44-34535. The name on the nose was "Noop Gnat II". Your description referred to the "Gnat". Don't know if anyone else commented on the name but it actually refers to one of the primary sources of inspiration for military men wherever they are (the order of these inspirations change depending on the then current situation). Take the name Noop Gnat and reverse the spelling for each. QED. Tom Smith
Here's the photo in question:
Here's a clarification we received a couple of weeks ago regarding that photo of "Little Sir Echo"that might be of interest:
About "Little Sir Echo" - this P-39 was flown in New Guinea by Lyndall Tate, a friend of my father's in the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group. I have been editing my father's diary and researching the history around it, and can add this to the discussion: Tate's wife was named Echo. (Back to Greek mythology: Echo was a nymph who was cursed by Zeus's wife Hera so that she could no longer speak except to repeat words. . . . I don't know why she was named Echo, but she was.) This makes the name on Tate's warplane of a piece with the names for the rest of the squadron (Maxine, Ruby etc). Tate may also have had a daughter named for her mother. I have read your blog before, while working on the diary, and it has been helpful. I do not know if the message that I posted (above) made it to your blog page, so if you can put it up, maybe other readers will be interested. The Pacific Wrecks speaks of two victory flags being painted on this aircraft, but I do not think Tate made any such claims or was awarded any victories. The earliest victory for the 82nd Squadron was by Delta Graham, in I think December 1943. (I think you have posted, or Robert Rocker has collected, a photo of Lt. Graham standing beside his P-39, "Maxine.) Tate stayed in the Air Force after the war, and eventually retired as a colonel or lieutenant-colonel. He was on a champion skeet-shooting team in the European area in 1956. In the earlier 1950's, they were at air bases in Texas, and in the 1960's in and around Bakersfield. Tate died in 2008. Echo I have not been able to trace but she may have died much earlier. Thanks, Allen Boyer
Thanks for the insight, Allen, and for your kind comments regarding the blog!
Every once in a while we'll receive a request for information from a reader that we can't field. Here's one such inquiry, regarding a post-War 49th FG P-51D:
Hi Phillip,.....I'm looking for some photographs of P-51s in the 49th from April 30, 1947 to May 27, 1948. My Dad's P-51 (from the 40th FS, 35th FG) was transferred to the 49th during that time frame. In May of 1948 it was sold/given to the IDF and served there till it was really obsolete. Long story but it is NOW being restored in CA. I visited it a month ago, it's in pieces but about 70% original. I want to give the owner some options of the final markings of his a/c. I have photos of it while in the 40th FS....but none while it was in the 49th FG. I don't know which squadron it was assigned to in the 49th. My Dad was in the 7th FS of the 49th FG from late '48 to early '50 but was flying the F-80 then. Anyway....any assistance or advice you could give would be much appreciated.
The comings and goings of any and all of the 5th AF units during the immediate post-War period is of considerable interest to us as well. If you can help, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org . Spammers need not apply!!!
And one final note before we go: We're constantly on the lookout for previously unpublished F-104 material around here, and have recently had an inquiry regarding testing of the AIR-2 Genie missile on an F-104A bailed to the NAV at NAS Point Mugu. Photos would be great, but any information at all would be of considerable help. By now you surely know the address...
That's it for this thrilling installment, but with any luck we'll see you again soon. Until then, be good to your neighbor!
Saturday, July 4, 2015
An Enigma, An Unusual Voodoo, Georgia Hogs, Able Mabel, Bugsuckers in the Corps, Oopsie, and Some Mystery Meat
A Very Long Time Ago
Some of us are survivors, and it's recently occurred to me that I am him. A survivor. Not quite older than dirt but not far from it, if you catch my drift; a man with occasional perspective. For the purposes of this blog, most of my perspective tends to lead me towards comments regarding something or other I've read on one of those modeling sites I'm always talking about, but today's going to be different, sortof, because today I'm going to ramble on in an entirely mindless way about certain of the cherished model airplanes of my past. Please feel free to come along for the ride if you'd like, or jump right to the next section if you'd rather not do that.
We've already discussed my very first I Built It Myself plastic model airplane, that Me109-Something-Or-Other that my mother bought for me way back in 1956. It was a game-changer for me in terms of setting the stage for an interest in Things Polystyrene, but it was far from the only model I ever "put together" back in that childhood of the 1950s, so we'll leave it in the back pages of Replica and go on to other things. With any luck we'll get you thinking about the old models in your own lives.
After that first seminal plastic kit there were others, and a great many of the earlier ones had "Aurora" printed on the box. Those Aurora kits were really something if you were a little kid in the mid-1950s, because they had few pieces, were molded in colors, and could be put together and subsequently played with in the space of an hour or less. My very first Aurora kit was their infamous Yellow Zero, and I honestly can't remember a whole lot about it except that after it was completed I showed it to my dad, a man who had first-hand experience with wrecked Zeros on the ground at Buna and Lae, and who promptly told me he couldn't remember any yellow ones but anything was possible since the ones he'd seen were all shot to pieces and it was hard to determine the colors. That modest success and parental acceptance led me to my next yellow airplane, an Aurora SNJ, which turned out to be a tough date in comparison to the Zero because it had a lot more pieces to put together, a few of which were beyond the capabilities of a budding six-year-old modeler. At the end of the day it did get assembled, mostly, but my recollection is that it was by and large a collection of glue shapes rather than plastic parts.
At that point in things I was one for one (if we don't count that very first 109) and ready for another challenge, albeit something a little simpler to build than that botched-up Texan, so I got an Aurora P-40E. That P-40, in common with most of Aurora's other single-engined WW2 fighters, was a simple kit so my confidence in my own abilities was somewhat restored, which is probably why my next effort was a Lindberg Ju87. That green "Stuka" was a quantum leap ahead of any of the Aurora kits I'd built previously, but it had a lot of pieces, several of which were involved with the construction of the flaps and bombs. You can guess the rest, I suspect, but at the end of the day it really didn't matter much in the world of backyard dogfights, and I was happy, more or less, with the results.
Next up was a revelation---my first Monogram kit. That silver Invader looked better than anything else I'd built up to that point, and was easy to get together. It was just the sort of reassurance I needed in order to continue building, and was a sight easier to put together than the tan Revell B-24 ("Buffalo Bill", remember?) that followed it into my "collection".
Another favorite kit was the Hawk SBD/A-24 (the SBDs were molded in blue and the A-24s in silver, but they were both the same kit). Easy to assemble and relatively sturdy, they were the queens of the fleet in those swirling backyard dogfights we all indulged in back in those days. In that same vein, the Hawk SNJ (yellow) and T-6 (silver) were also favorites with the added bonus that the Hawk SNJ could be a Japanese airplane too, since it was yellow just like the Aurora Zero. That made it a multi-threat kind of a model, just what a Little Kid needed for his air force.
There were two game-changers in all of that, kits that took all of us way past our simplistic starting places. The first came in 1958, when Monogram released their mostly 1/48th scale TBM. It was a challenge to build since every single thing on it that could work did work, which made assembly tough for a kid, but the end result was amazing. That kit was, simply stated, an epiphany; a model that took those of us who were interested into an entirely different world of modeling.
The other game changer came in 1962 when Revell added a 1/72nd scale B-17F (the "Memphis Belle") to its then-limited catalog of same-scale airplanes (as opposed to the previous box scale that was where they hung out). That kit had it all if you were a kid; it was relatively big (although not quite as big as Lindberg's older 1/64th scale B-17G) and was relatively easy to build. In addition to that, the model drove me to discover Revell's new (thanks to Revell GB) line of 1/72nd scale fighters. I was already a devoted modeler by then, but after 1962 there was absolutely no turning back for me.
There were other kits in between that primordial 109 and the "Belle", of course; Revell P-39s and B-57s, Strombecker Temco TT-1s, Monogram C-47s and Blue Angel F11F sets, an Aurora P-51H, the big Aurora bombers, and a myriad of tiny Comet kits to flesh things out. There were Hawk and Aurora biplanes too, although in my world they all ended up being monoplanes until Revell made it easy with their little Sopwith Camel.
The point to be taken here, if indeed there is a point, is that most of my life has been spent with polystyrene in it in some way or another. I built when I was a kid, when I was in high school, and when I was in college; not every day, of course, but the hobby was a constant in my life. It still is, right up to and including This Very Moment, and I can't say enough good about it. All those kits taught me patience, and how to think things through. They honed my motor skills, and led me to a life-long passion for history. They introduced me to serious photography and ultimately led me to an assortment of friends that I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world. Like any good hobby, modeling made me a better person as well (or at least I think so; your mileage may differ in that regard!).
There's a nascent movement afoot in our modeling world these days, one that involves the assembly and painting of vintage kits for use as display models on stands, as they were originally intended to be way back there in the late 40s and early 50s. That movement is called Retro-Modeling, I think, and it looks like a lot of fun to me. A cleaned-up, painted and decalled Aurora P-38 would look awfully nice on a plinth, sitting here on my writing desk.
I think I'm going back
To the days I knew so well in my youth.
I truly do love this hobby of ours!
OK; What IS That Stuff?
Back in the late 1960s a San Antonio friend of mine, Bob Angel, and I used to play a game we called Stump the Champs. It was a simple game---all you had to do was correctly identify the airplane in a photograph or recall and recite some sort of aviation trivia---and it's one that leads us to today's first photo.
email@example.com and let us know what we're looking at? Rocker Collection
And the electrons were scarcely dry on the page when I started receiving explanations of the "mystery gear" on that Banshee. The most comprehensive answer came from Our Man in Argentina, Pablo Ziegler, so that's the one we're going to include to explain what's going on here:
Dear Mr. Friddell, I have been scratching my head looking at that Dauntless picture. I didn't know anything about the purpose of the ventral pod or the cowling bulges, but after a while I came across this picture...so, now I know the aircraft is 42-6783, and the picture is from the early 50's. A little more research lead me to (a link that states) "QF-24A-DE Dauntless c/n 1538, originally A-24A-DE 42-6783 was re-manufactured as drone aircraft, redesignated RA-24A in 1948." I get more information from another source: http://www.joebaugher.com/usattack/a24_3.html "One A-24A-DE (42-6783) was modified at Wright field as a radio-controlled drone and designated RA-24A-DE. This aircraft was still in service in 1948, when the A designation category was dropped by the USAF. At that time, the aircraft was redesignated QF-24A-DE (in the fighter sequence) and given a new serial number of 48-044." So, may be I can be proven wrong, but it seems the mystery is solved! Warmest regards from Buenos Aires, PZ
Please note that Pablo had provided links to the first two web sites but for whatever reason I couldn't get them to properly copy and paste here---if you want to try them for yourself drop me an e-mail and I'll send them to you.
Many thanks to Pablo, and also to Mike McMurtrey and Norman Camou for writing in as well.
Bet You Haven't Seen This Before!
On the face of things it couldn't be easier---the 192nd TRS/152nd TRG of the Nevada ANG operated McDonnell RF-101Gs and Hs beginning in the late 1960s and running into the mid-70s. Here's a shot of one of those recce Voodoos, but there's a catch!
Before we leave this particular piece we'd like to extend a word of thanks to Ben Brown, who pointed out that there was a second, not-quite-per-spec camouflage scheme for the RF-101G/H that didn't match the F-101 scheme specified in T.O. 1-1-4. Our conclusion is that the scheme was a depot-level and non-standard interpretation of the authorized pattern. It's a neat addendum to the Voodoo story and we're pleased to be able to present it here.
U-Birds in Georgia
You'd think that I'd have learned by now---I'm always receiving these really neat photos and I publish them, then wait for an acknowledged authority on that particular airplane to contact me and tell me what's going on. Today's a new day, and it's no different than any other in most respects, so here are some F4U-1A shots for your perusal and edification. They're here via the kindness of Bobby Rocker and illustrate Corsairs on the transient ramp at Robbins AB in Georgia during the 1940s. Enjoy!
firstname.lastname@example.org . We don't know if you'll be glad you did, but we sure will be! Rocker Collection.
A Polka Dot Surprise
Last issue we showed you a few RF-101Cs from the 45th Tac Recon Squadron taken during their camouflaged days in Vietnam, and we mentioned their first excursion into that theater, at least in the Voodoo, occurred in December of 1961 during the Air Force's Able Mable deployment to the region. Mention of that program caused us to think back to things we'd seen but couldn't quite place, and a subsequent search turned up this image:
Phantoms of a Different Pheather
VMF-232 is one of those squadrons that goes Way Back, tracing its lineage to its establishment in 1925 as VF-3M, followed by a series of designation changes and running through assignment to Tsientsin in the late 20s, the ZI (San Diego) in the 30s, Pearl Harbor (as VMSB-232) in 1941, Guadalcanal, and Esprito Santo (as VMTB-232). A series of assignments throughout the Central Pacific found them on Okinawa at war's end, after which they were decommissioned for a short period of time, only to be stood up again as a Marine Reserve fighter unit, VMF-232, a designation that has taken them into the 21st Century.
We're not interested in any of that at the moment, however. Today we're more concerned with what they were doing in November of 1982, when they were flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4S on a det at Nellis. Thanks to the kindness of reader Scott Wilson we've got a few unusual examples of "Double Ugly" to share with you today.
Many thanks to Scott for his kindness in sharing these images with us today!
Addendum: Shortly after publishing this we heard from Rick Morgan, who assured us that most of the aircraft that we identified as Js were, in fact, early conversions of the F-4S. Thanks, Morgo!
So That's How They Worked!
17 May, 1941, was a special day in the service career of a young Ensign Tennes, who got to try out the flotation gear installed in his F4F-3. Let's take a look:
Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for this fascinating look into our past.
OK; What Does It Mean?
Those of our readers who aren't familiar with the way things are done in military aviation may not be aware that most aircraft evolve over their service lives, and that sometimes that evolution involves experimentation. Here's an example of what we mean:
http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2015/07/call-sign-boron.html for further details of the program.
The Relief Tube
Yep, that's right! We've got a couple of comments to publish this time, so without further ado...
Last time around we showed you a few U-birds, with a comment on one photo regarding the paintwork. Pat Donahue was able to fill in the blanks for us:
Phil, I think that you are looking at a weathered "graded tone" application. To only areas with intermediate sea blue were the vertical tail and outer wing panel bottoms. The sides of the fuselage and cowl were painted using 2 colors: a base white application and a hazy overspray of dark sea blue to APPROXIMATE the intermediate sea blue then a solid application of dark sea blue on the upper surfaces. With this application it seems that the swath of paint approximating intermediate sea blue is pretty narrow especially noticeable on the cowl. Dana Bell has done some work on this in his first volume of the F4U. I think this application was more prevalent among Goodyear produced machines and like the haze painted recon P-38s it did not weather well.... A couple of other shots of this paint application. Cheers, Pat Donahue
Way back in the beginnings of this project we ran more than a few shots of 1940s-vintage NavRes birds, and asked for clarification from our readers in a couple of instances. We received this response a couple of weeks ago to one of those questions:
Phil, (regarding) Your 2011/07/some-turkeys-splitter-art-its-about (article), it includes the following paragraph (and question): "This TBM-3E was caught running up at NAS Squantum in 1947 and, like 91433 above, she's well on her way to being all used up. There's a badge under the windscreen, but we can't quite make it out, and we've been through all our assets and are stumped by that Zulu Alpha tail code. If you know the unit please drop us a line at email@example.com . J. Sullivan Collection "You may have already discovered the meaning of the ZA tail code mentioned above. However, if not, I found the following information at this webpage: http://www.airtalk.org/tail-codes-for-1940s-early-1950s-reserve-airfields-vt27077.html. Here are the codes through 1949:
F Jacksonville (also used by Oakland 1948)
I Grosse Ile
L Los Alamitos (also used by Akron 1948)
N Spokane (1948)
R New York (Brooklyn)
U St Louis
W Willow Grove
X New Orleans
Also in 1946 a second letter was used to indicate squadron type:
Thanks, David, and thanks for taking the time to provide that list!
One more thing before we go---if you read any of those modeling boards you've probably read by now that Jerry Campbell, the founder and long-time owner of the Squadron Shop, has passed. His contributions to our hobby are considerable, and it's difficult to imagine how our hobby would be had he not had the vision he had. Like so many others we had a direct link to him---he was an early advertiser on the original RIS project, and a major distributor as well. Those things are pretty well-known to those who happen to own an early copy of the magazine. What's not generally known is that Jerry once tried to buy the project to use as Squadron's in-house magazine. We didn't want to sell it, so the deal never went through, but you have to wonder where our extraordinarily modest publication would have ended up if we've done it.
That said, one of the giants of our hobby is gone, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. His vision, and the actions he took to realize it, improved plastic modeling beyond all recognition. Thanks, Jerry, for what you gave to the hobby! You'll be missed.
And that's it for today. We're already working on our next issue, so maybe (hopefully?) you won't have to wait another month and a half for our next thrilling episode, but until then be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!
Friday, May 15, 2015
Better Than You Thought, A Couple From Eniwetok, Some Door Art, Phollowing a Phantom, Classy Dogs, and Voodoos in The 'Nam
Everything Old is New Again
I think I've said that before but, if I haven't, I should have. After all, most things in life are repetitive, and whether or not they're new to any of us really comes down to our own personal perspective on things---the title of an old Byrd's song, Funny How the Circle is a Wheel, comes to mind in this context. That circular evolution, to coin a phrase that somebody else probably came up with long before I ever thought of it, can explain a lot in The Big Picture of Life. It can also explain quite a bit in regard to The Far Smaller Big Picture of Plastic Modeling.
Take, for example, the ubiquitous Messerschmitt Bf/Me109 family of Second World War fighters, a collection of aircraft variants about which everything there is to know is known. We've figured that one out, and we've got all the bases covered, or at least we thought we did. Just a couple of weeks ago, back towards the end of March, several of those ubiquitous scale modeling boards I'm always mentioning discovered a Brand New 109 Variant; the Me109K-6. It's an airplane that looks like the far-more-common Me109K-4 except that it's carrying a 30mm cannon buried in each wing, along with a permanently-installed gun camera. That's right; a late-war 109 built with a pair of cannon inside the wings rather than slung underneath in gondolas. It was a revelation!
That revelation came to light in a photograph of American GIs sitting on the hulk of one of the aircraft, and the news of that photo spread far and wide and being disseminated somewhat faster than a speeding bullet, to steal an old expression. That dissemination was rather quickly followed by an illustration of the sub-type, a 3-dimensional inboard profile that showed the location of the significant components of that variation to include the somewhat astounding wing gun installation, which in turn caused the expenditure of a great many electrons as both common folk and authorities pounced on The New 109 Variant with both feet. A New 109 Variant! Shazbot!!!
Or is it really new? The gun installation in those wings was uncomfortably familiar, as was the drawing that was offered in a forum or two as corroboration of the installation as a "standard" feature, projected or actual, in the never-produced in quantity (as far as we know) Me109K-6. That discomfort led me to the bookshelves, to a 1973-vintage Monogram Aviation Publications work by Tom Hitchcock entitled Messerschmitt 'O-Nine Gallery. There, residing in all its splendor on page 49 of that once-cherished but now largely debunked study, was the same 3/4-view inboard profile of an Me109K-6 (and, to throw a little fuel on the fire, a follow-on Me109K-8 to go with it!). We'd known about that "new variant" since 1973!
It's pretty normal these days for certain segments of those who reside within our hobby to discredit the older works that live out there in Reference Land. Often that's for good reason, since nowadays we all have information at our fingertips, via the Internet, that only the most hard-core collector, scholar, or enthusiast had at their disposal Back in the Day. Anybody can go on the 'net nowadays and glean information that was impossible for most of us to access a mere 20 years ago (presuming, of course, that said information is accurate in the first place, but that's a topic for another day...), which in turn means that a lot of the information that was published way back then is considered suspect by a great many enthusiasts, particularly the younger ones. The "Thorpe Books" come to mind when we consider that point, as do several other volumes that were once standard references but are now largely ignored by most modelers. It's a mistake to do that.
Consider this if you will: Serious research did not lie fallow for decades awaiting the invention of the Internet to come along and legitimatize it, and the foundation of a great deal of the information now available to us all came about as the result of the labor of a great many historians and authors who only had printed references to work with, and often had limited access to those. While it's true that a great many of those older publications were, and still are, flawed to some extent, that was never for lack of trying and, contrary to contemporary popular opinion, a great many of those older and now ignored references actually do have something to offer. Take that old Hitchcock 109 reference, for example. It's true that a lot of what's in it is flawed, but it's equally true that a lot of what's in there isn't. Funny how that works, isn't it?
Should we all run out and buy every old aviation book we can find, then? No probably not; the newer stuff truly is better in most respects than anything that came before. What we should do is be a little less quick to jump on the old stuff as worthless, because a great deal of it is far from that, and almost all of it laid the foundations our modern researchers and writers use every day as they create the new references we look on with wide-eyed amazement. Think about it and, while you're at it, think about Thomas Hitchcock, and John Beaman, and Don Thorpe, and all those other guys who led the way with the references they had available at the time. Long ago, in a faraway land...
That Other Wildcat
When most of us think of the Grumman Wildcat family, we tend to think of F4F-3s holding the line in those Bad Old Days of early 1942, or of F4F-4s clinging to a muddy Henderson Field and doing the best they could against overwhelming odds. Those things are an essential part of the Wildcat story, but they're far from being the only part of it. The last of the American service variant of the type was intended to be built as the F4F-8, but ended up being constructed by General Motors and named the FM-2 instead. It was a pip of an airplane too; slightly lighter than the F4F-4 and with a bigger motor and a paddle-blade propeller to go with it (and a larger vertical stab to offset torque). Its gun suite was reduced to the F4F-3's original two guns per wing, which offered both reduced weight as well as the opportunity to carry more rounds per gun, and it was plumbed for a pair of 58-gallon auxiliary tanks right from the factory. It was in every respect the best of its breed, and thanks to Jim Sullivan we're going to take a quick look at it today.
VC-10 in June of 1944, and has apparently done a bit of a headstand on the flight deck. In some situations the damage would have been deemed repairable, but by mid-1944 there was no shortage of fighters aboard American aircraft carriers and it would appear that B19 is on her way over the side. Note her missing canopy and the various panels removed from the fuselage and wings, although the engine and prop are still on the airframe---the engine would have required a complete inspection and overhaul after a prop strike and the effort just wasn't worth it, so she's taking the plunge with her powerplant installed. The NAV had a lot of airplanes in 1944! Sullivan Collection
Old Hose-Nose Again
Bobby Rocker's been sending us some interesting photos of late, two of which are presented here today. Let's go to Eniwetok Atoll in mid-1944 and take a look at the goings-on there.
firstname.lastname@example.org . Drop us a line if you know what's going on here! National Archives via Rocker Collection
Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for these images; his collection never ceases to amaze us and we're extremely grateful for his participation in this project. Thanks, Bobby!
So Where's the Rest of It?
Sometimes we find photos that prompt us to look for other photos, and this is one of them:
email@example.com is the address and we'd love to hear from you! John Dienst
They Rarely Stay in Just One Place
It's a common misunderstanding regarding military aircraft, I think. A lot of people have it in their heads that an airplane leaves the factory, gets itself assigned to a squadron of some sort, and stays there until it's either pranged, shot down, or sent off to the scrapper to become pots and pans. The truth of the matter is quite a different story---those airplanes move around from unit to unit much like their pilots do. Even the trainers bounce around a bit, and the tactical aircraft tend to go from unit to unit far more frequently than you might imagine. Reader Scott Wilson has been sending us a great deal of photography lately (a practice that we strongly encourage, I might add), one group of which tailed a specific F-4C-18-MC from its service with Kelly AFB's 182nd TFS/149th TFG to its final duty station with Oregon's 123rd FIS/142nd FIG. Scott's documentation effectively followed her tracks throughout her post-USAF service with the Guard and thus provides us with an interesting look at one of our favorite airplanes.
There's one more thing we should mention prior to leaving this particular piece; Scott moved around quite a bit during his time with the Air Force and the Guard and rather obviously knows how to use a camera. There's a lot more of his photography where this came from, so stay tuned!
Just Can't Get Enough of Those Iron Dogs
Particularly not when they look like these do. At first glance our next photo looks pretty normal, and we suspect most of you have seen at least one of these airplanes before. What you haven't seen are the way they're marked, so sit back and get ready to be amazed!
Maybe you're smarter than we are and knew it all along, but those scallops are news to us. As nearly as we can recall we first saw a photo of "Little Sir Echo" (named after Bing Crosby's 1939 song by that title) sometime back in the late 1960s, and we'd never noticed those scallops until just recently. That proves something about the fine art of paying attention, we think, and it also reminds us once again how fortunate we are that Bobby Rocker has spent the better part of his adult life collecting photographs of American military airplanes!
It Was Big and It Was LOUD, But the Polka Dots Were All Covered Up
And, up until it was replaced by its more effective younger brother, the RF-4C, it was also the best photo recce platform the USAF had ever possessed. It was big and it was heavy, and it most assuredly wasn't much at turning, but by the time McDonnell had gotten around to the Charlie variant of its RF-101 family they'd pretty much figured out the photo recon thing and the Voodoo was the perfect airplane for the mission. The RF-101C was available and in service in the Far East when the United States first began air operations over Laos and the Republic of Vietnam, and was heavily involved in the Able Mable operations begun by TDY Voodoos of Misawa's 45th TRS and operating out of Thailand during December of 1961.
By the time The Big War had begun, the 45th had changed stations and moved from its long-time home on Northern Honshu to Tan Son Nhut AB in Vietnam. Photographer Rick Burgess spent some time at that base, and we're privileged to share some of his photography from those days courtesy the kindness of Mark Nankivil and the Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum.
Our next three shots are all pretty much the same photo from some perspectives, but they're all interesting in and of themselves so we're going to run them all. If you don't particularly care for RF-101s this might be a good time to skip to a different part of the blog!
And now it's Bonus time here at Replica in Scale, at least for the modelers among our readership. If you're interested in building your very own Vietnam-era RF-101C you might have an interest in the next couple of images.
Here's a scan of a real, honest to Goodness 45th TRS patch I bought at the base exchange in Misawa, during 1964, just for your edification. I kept it all those years so I could show it to you today!
And that's it for today's look at the Voodoo, but we're a long way from done with the type. Stay tuned!
Under the Radar
Since we haven't talked much about books lately (or much of anything else, for that matter), we probably ought to get back in the groove before you begin to think we no longer know how to read! Today we're going to look at not one, but three---count 'em, THREE---volumes, because they're essentially one book, and we're going to say right from the start that you'll be doing yourself a considerable disservice if you only read one of them. It's a continuity thing if you will.
We purchased these books together and read them in sequence over a period of a couple of weeks. We recommend that you do the same, because the three volumes are essentially one book that's broken down into three manageable parts. They are, without question, essential to any library that focuses on the air war in the Pacific. Bruce Gamble is a remarkable and gifted writer and we can easily see these books remaining the go-to references on the subject for a great many years to come.
Not Quite a Happy Snap
Every once in a while we receive a photograph that we know had to come from some sort of official source rather than one of our readers, but that fits into our Happy Snaps section anyway. This is one of those shots:
The Relief Tube
It's been 5 weeks, give or take, since last we met, and most of our letters have been of the "where are you and why aren't you publishing" variety so once again we're going to slide right past offering anything in the way of corrections. On the other hand, there are a lot of photographs up there for you to look at, which means there are many opportunities for me to make a mistake! That address once again is firstname.lastname@example.org . If all those spam dudes can find the address then so can you, so don't be shy!
And that's it for today. Be good to your neighbor and with any luck we'll meet again soon!