Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Mangled Marauder, Some Bug Suckers, and The Dora is Done

A Rough Day at the Office

Let's start the day with a photo of one of my favorite 5th AF units, the 22nd Bomb Group. This photo depicts "Glen-Win" after its miraculous landing on 13 May, 1942. One of six B-26MAs from the 408th BS that raided Vunakanau Airfield at Rabaul that day, "Glen-Win" was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the target and barely made it back to Seven Mile Drome, where it was attacked by three Mitsubishi "Zeros" from the Tainan Ku while on final approach. The Marauder was badly shot up and the the tail gunner killed, while the pilot and navigator were wounded in the attack. This photo shows "Glen-Win" shortly after belly landing alongside the airfield at Seven Mile.

"Glen-Win" on the ground after the harrowing mission of 13 May. Aside from the history of the event this photo is of interest due to the details it exhibits. The port engine was feathered prior to landing, giving us a view of the natural metal propeller blades and the maker's decal. Also note the open pilot's escape hatch; this provides an excellent view of the plexiglass reenforcement strips on the inside of the clear panel. You can also make out several details of the radio mast and antenna attachment in this shot. Finally, take a look at the tonal value of the OD uppersurfaces of this B-26. The airplane is heavily faded by the New Guinea sun, something to remember when Lone Star Models releases their long-awaited B-26MA conversion set.   AF Museum via Charles Worman

How 'Bout Some Bent-Wing Bug Suckers?

Working on the theory that you can never have too many F-4s, here's three aircraft of a four-ship of F-4Cs from the 182nd TFS/149th FG (it was a group back then, not yet a wing) out of Kelly AFB during the mid-80s. The photo was taken from the back seat of No. 4.Nowadays the 149th is the RTU for the F-16, but in the 80s it was a straight-up fighter outfit. Some aircraft carried nose art, but it was only to be found inside the nose gear doors! I'm not certain if that was by regulation or commander's preference; sure wish they'd put that nose art on the nose instead! 

Those guys fly good form! The ANG has always been manned by high-time aircrew, most of whom are in the Guard because they love military aviation. The 149th is most assuredly a class operation!  149th FG Photo

Waiting their turn to pass a little gas, a pair of F-4Ds from the 25th TFS/432nd TRW out of Udorn formate off the wing of the tanker in 1974. Note the "towel rack" antenna for the LORAN fitted to 68-803, the black undersurfaces, and what appears to be an ALQ-119 beneath its fuselage.  762 carries a tiger's paw on the fin tip, and sports the more typical white undersurfaces. Also of interest is the PACAF badge on the tail of both aircraft.  Tom McDonald via Friddell

Want to ruin somebody's day? Here's a Phantom about to go and do just that. The aircraft is an F-4C from the 389th TFS/366th TFW on the ramp at DaNang in March of 1966, and the stores are nape cans. A MER is evident on the centerline.  Gandara via Friddell

The Dora Done; Reduction Has Produced, Or Don't You Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Sometimes I actually finish stuff. You'd never know it by that A-4C that's still sitting in WIP (that would be Work in Progress, in case you didn't know) waiting to get painted, but our Fw190D-9 rework that was starged last Friday is complete. Done. Finis. We've already talked about why I wanted to do Black 12, and modeling philosophy, and darned near endless details of what was going to happen, so now let's talk a little bit about the real airplane so we can put this thing to rest. (Do I hear a sigh of relief out there? Me too!)

Lt. Theo Nibel must've been the luckiest man in the Luftwaffe on New Year's Day of 1945. Assigned to 10/JG 54, he was flying his third combat mission during the ill-fated Operation Bodenplatte when he suffered a birdstrike that forced him to make a belly landing in a field near Wemmel, Belgium. Belgian policemen broke the canopy to free him, making him a PoW and quite possibly sparing him the fate that was met by so many other Luftwaffe fighter pilots that day. His aircraft, w/n 210079, was only slightly damaged and provided the RAF with their first intact long-nose Focke Wulf for examination. Built by Focke Wulf at its Sorau assembly plant, Nibel's Dora was an early example of the type and exhibited paintwork typical of that facility, with the addition of some light blotching and yellow tactical markings on the lower cowl and rudder. The wreck was extensively photographed and a detailed (for the time) report was made of the camouflage and markings. The aircraft was taken to England for further examination and ended up a derelect, being scrapped shortly after the war.

As anticipated, almost all the work done to rebuild Black 12 was accomplished in the paint shop. A whip antenna was added to the ventral fuselage and an antenna suite run between the canopy and vertical tail, while the bump that simulates the tensioning system on the FW190's canopy was removed to replicate Nibel's aircraft---it had either been removed or, perhaps, never installed on the real aircraft, but that was it for additions/corrections to the model. The Tamiya "Dora" has an issue with the fuselage cartridge case ejection ports (the representation of same is inappropriate for the D-9) but that wasn't corrected on the model. It's mostly hidden by the drop tank and associated rack (which may or may not have been installed on Nibel's aircraft for Bodenplatte, but I put it on, there being a 50% chance that it's correct and should be there) anyway, which could be another way of saying I wanted an easy rework, not a major one. There may be a problem with the shape of the propeller blades too---I think I remember reading that someplace---but I didn't fix them either. It seemed to be the thing to do at the time.

Here,  then, are your final Fw190D-9 photos for a while. The project was quick (about 5 hours total) and easy, and allowed me to put the model back on the display shelf instead of into storage or the trash can. You may or may not want to build a "Dora", but I highly recommend R to P as a modeling strategem. It's a painless way to spiff up a collection.

A starboard view of Black 12. Colors and camouflage pattern were taken from the JAPO book. Nibel's aircraft must've been about half a notch off of Brand Spanking New when he bellied it in; it was a clean aircraft. The model might eventually end up with just a tiny bit more mottling, but probably not. Oh yeah, there's a radio antenna on the airplane too, but you really can't see it very well in these photos. Ah, the wonders of scale thickness...

In tribute to the late Paul Harvey we have The Other Side of the Story. The exhaust staining looks goofy but matches the existing photographs of Nibel's machine, while the dust on the MLG doors is speculative. Weathering is held to a minumum because of the overall condition (nearly new!) of the real thing. Note the washed-out treatment of the yellow paint on the rudder.

A tight spiralschnauze that only covered half the spinner was apparently the norm on the "Doras" of 10/JG54. This would've been a bear to do back in The Good Old Days, but Eduard makes a masking set of spinner spirals (an interesting combination of words, that) for the 1/48th scale Fw190 that makes short work of the problem. If you build models of any of the Focke Wulf 190 family it'll be the best five bucks you ever spend!

And that wraps things up for today. As always, be good to your neighbor and we'll talk again soon.

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