Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Scooter Ordnance, Corrections, and a Happy Snap or Two

Expanded Horizons for Scooter Ordnance

As you surely all know by now, we've been more-or-less building a Vietnam-era A-4C for the past few installments of this deal. It's been slow going, mostly because I went off and got myself interested in something else, but it's still a project in work and I swear we'll finish it in the next week or two! Well, we'll probably finish it in a week or two. Maybe.

My habitual procrastination notwithstanding, there's more to be said about Scooter ordnance today, but we're going to widen the scope a bit and include those later 5-station variants (the Echo and Foxtrot), mostly because a couple of folks have asked about them. (That e-mail address is if you want to ask questions or throw your 2-cents worth into the pot.)

One of my long-time friends is a former naval aviator and noted author. Many years ago, a while after the original RIS had shut its doors and while I was working with Aerophile, he and I met began corresponding and trading slides. A lot of that correspondence was publication quality, and I've still got most of it in the files. That's where today's first piece comes from. It's not dated but a quick glance at the references listed at the top of the page (and I'm sure he had others he couldn't share at the time, but the ones he gave were all unclas and therefore ok to provide to a civilian journalist) shows it to come from the early 80s, and the pages he cites in those works gives a pretty fair pictorial overview of what the A-4 was carrying during the Vietnam War. I had originally given some thought to doing a quick re-write of the piece but there's really no point to doing it; it carries itself very nicely without any help from me, thank you!

You'll probably notice that the references to modeling refer to 1/72nd scale and nothing else. That's because 72nd was the scale of choice for most of us back then; there just wasn't that much available in the bigger scales at the time, and 99% of what was published was about models in that size. It doesn't really matter at this remove, because we're only interested in weapons fit today---this ain't no kit review, ya'll!

That said, and without further ado, here's our expanded A-4 weapons primer. Please note (as if you wouldn't figure it out for yourself anyway!) that I did it as a photo scan, a quick and dirty technique that I actually know how to do. Just click on the text and it'll magically become big enough to read!

A shot from CVA-31 Bon Homme Richard's 1970 cruise book showing "Jaunty Jan" an A-4E from VA-94, on the cat. Loadout is 6 Mk82s (1 each on stations 1 and 5, 2 each on TERs mounted on stations 2 and 4, with a 300-gallon gasbag on centerline. This is a typical load for the period.  USN via Morgan

A pair of VA-22 A-4Fs photographed in May of 1969. Of interest here are the MERs on centerline and the configuration of the drop tanks on stations 2 and 4. If the aircraft were bombed up the MER would be loaded with 5 bombs; the aft center mount would be left empty to avoid deck strike issues during the cat shot.  Once again, the photo is out of CVA-31's 1970 cruise book.  USN via Morgan

The kind of photo that model companies and some modelers love; an A-4F (BuNo155057) flying out of NAS Lemoore and hauling everything but the kitchen sink. It makes for a really impressive shot but in reality a Scooter dragging this sort of load around would have an extraordinarily small radius of action and would be relatively worthless as a combat asset as a result. Big Payload + No Extra Gas = No Range! You gotta get there before you can fight!  US Navy 1166520

A-4Es and Fs could be fitted with the AGM-45 Shrike Anti-Radiation Missile for SAM suppression (Iron Hand) work. Here an A-4F from VA-55 fires a Shrike during evaluations at China Lake in May of 1968.  US Navy KN-24543

The Scooter could do more than just drop bombs. A VC-1 A-4E (BuNo149977) hauls a target dart aloft from NAS Barber Point during 1974. Of special interest are the gas bags; this guy's planning on being up there for a while. Looks like it's going to be a busy day!  US Navy KN-22833

Time for Some Happy Snaps!

The late, lamented Kelly AFB was once the depot for B-36 maintenance, among other things. Here's a fine shot of the B-36 docks taken during 1954-1955 when the Peacemaker still ruled the skies. Between the ramp and the hangars you can see at least 8 of the monsters either undergoing maintenance or being prepared for delivery to their parent squadrons. The B-36s absolutely dwarf the B-50s and C-118 also visible in the photo. Engine runups were performed on the apron at near-left; note the extensive staining from engine oil. The mess came with the territory back in The Old Days of reciprocating engines and is a point often missed by dioramists!  KAFB History Office

I used to spend a lot of time at aviation facilities back when I was actively doing photography. The folks at NAC Corpus Christi were always just super, and would often allow me to shoot from the control tower catwalk, which is where I photographed this VT-27 T-34C back in 1987. The upper surface conspicuity markings are shown to advantage here and might be helpful if you plan on modeling a Turbo Mentor.
Phillip Friddell

And finally, a T-28B, also from VT-27 but a bird of a different era. BuNo 138247 was shot by a coworker of mine at a Corpus Christi open house in 1980 and really shows off the special paintwork on Triple Seven. The single star in the blue field seems to indicate that the aircraft was assigned to someone of flag rank, possibly the commander of CNATRA. Does anybody have any more information on this one?  Franke via Friddell Collection

'Scuse Me For a Minute While I Wipe That Egg Off My Face

I could've known better. I should've known better! If you were to go into my library right now this very minute you'd find, almong other things, a stack of F-104 references some 18 inches high. That stack is comprised of manuals, photos, and various technical reports. It's pretty extensive and moderately comprehensive, and could help somebody write a pretty decent book on the Zipper if they bothered to read the stuff to be found within. As for me, I did read all that stuff once, but it was a very long time ago while I was working on a project for the late Nick Waters. I haven't touched it since, at least not until yesterday when I got the bright idea to run some CAF Zips as a photo essay. In theory it was a Good Idea. In practice it fell a little bit short...

If, and I emphasize if, I'd bothered to refresh my memory regarding the CF-104 before I published the piece, I probably wouldn't have made the mistakes I made. But I didn't, so I did. Yikes! Here's a correction I received from Jim Bates up in Canada, who's rapidly becoming my authority on things that fly (or flew) in The Great White North. So then, and without further ado:


Saw the CF-104 pics on your blog. A few short corrections/comments:

1. The CF-104 was the CF-104 in Canadian service. There was no CF-104G. There was however a CF-104D which was the Lockheed build duals that Canada flew. Oddly the CF-104 was originally going to be the CF-111 which was a carry over from the fact the RCAF assumed they were getting F11F Super Tigers and the politicians had better ideas.

2. The guns were not originally fitted to the CF-104s as they were just nuke bomb trucks. When they switched over to the conventional bomb truck role in the late 60s the M-61s were fitted and carried until retired.

3. The red strip on the inlet of 704 was more for test purposes as it was operated by AETE...see the big red X on the tail. I assume it was to make it easier to see for the photo ship during weapons trials.

4. Actually the overall green scheme predated what you call the RAF/NATO scheme. The overall green scheme started to appear in either the very late 60s or early 70s. (I can't remember off the top of my head.) The RAF/NATO scheme appeared in the late 70s and was the final scheme the CF-104 carried in CAF service. The checkerboard four ship was taken around the time of the changeover.

And technically the green/gray over gray scheme is called the variegated camouflage scheme.

Pat Martin has done a series of books on CAF and RCAF (and Royal Canadian Navy) finishes that have all kinds of great information if you have an interest in (R)CAF stuff.
Cool to see the second A-26 photo. Thanks.

And thanks to you, Jim, for keeping me honest! I haven't seen any of Pat Martin's books but it sounds as though they're well worth obtaining; thanks to Jim once again for pointing out a resource many of us may not have been aware of.
Remember, folks, that you can write to me at the address with comments, corrections, or maybe if you'd just like to pass along a photo or two. I enjoy hearing from you!
Be good to your neighbor, and check your references before you publish!

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