Friday, March 5, 2010

Ode to Misawa and Another Look at That '109K From Yesterday

Fond Memories of Days Gone By

My dad was career Air Force. He was a noncom; a First Sergeant pretty much from the time I was old enough to remember such things. Being young and not yet educated in the ways of the military world, I thought he was Just Another Guy in a Blue Suit; it took a few years for me to understand just how much clout a First Shirt really had. Holy Cow! A First Sergeant could do anything, and a First Sergeant generally had friends who were First Sergeants, and they could do anything too. During my high school days in Japan (1962-1965) my dad's title proved to be the golden key that unlocked many doors, but we'll talk about that a little later. First, let's talk about Japan, and why I'm spending this time in reminiscence instead of in the serious discourse of aviation history.

Misawa AB was a jumping kind of place when we got there late in 1962; two squadrons of F-100Ds from the 21st TFW, a squadron of RF-101Cs from the 45th TRS, and a squadron of F-102As from the 4th FIS for base defense. It was a neat place to be and, with all those hard-light afterburners, a noisy one! There was always something spiffy zipping around overhead, pretty much all the time. Folks, it was just golden! Well, it was golden for a while, anyway. Our Huns went away in mid-1964, transferred out to England AFB in Louisiana and then on to Vietnam and a career of mud-moving. The 45th left the following year (or maybe 1966; I'm working off of memory here rather than the documents I should be looking at), but not before I got to see one of their Voodoos painted in an early SEA camouflage scheme, standard-sized national insignia and all. The times were changing in the Air Force, but I was racing motorcycles at the time and didn't really care anything else, which was a shame because our next-door neighbor was NCOIC at the control tower and I had a standing invitation to go there anytime and take pictures anytime I wanted to (a consideration arranged by my dad, I suspect). I never did take any pictures of airplanes while we were there, but I did go to the tower to visit a couple of times. On one of those visits a Voodoo from the 45th came back from a mission with an emergency that involved (or so I was later told) several largish holes in the airframe of said RF-101, a condition that, whether it actually existed or not, resulted in the immediate removal of Young Phillip from the aforementioned tower and a re-thinking of the viability of dependents in an operational environment.

The reason I mention this is because Jim Sullivan is presently working on a 1/48th scale RF-101C conversion from the Monogram F-101B kit. Turns out he's going to mark it for a Guard bird (I was lobbying for one from the 45th), but all that talk about F-101s got me thinking about Misawa, which in turn leads us to today's photos. You'll notice that a shot of anything from the 45th is conspicuous by its absence; I have yet to buy a slide scanner and my B&W Voodoo assets are thin indeed. (Any of you guys got any 45th TRS photos from any era? I'd love to see 'em!)

 Our first shot is of an F-100F (58-1229) from the 21st TFW on the ramp at Misawa. It's carrying full Wing markings (note the replacement rudder) and is in overall silver with a natural metal aft fuselage section. A great many of the 21st's Huns carried names, but if this aircraft has one it's only on the left side and therefore unknown to us.   Dave Menard Collection via Wogstad

A pair of Deuces from the 4th FIS in flight over the mountains near Misawa (that may be Lake Towada below, but I'm not certain). Both are in ADC Gray with black anti-glare panels. 55-3463 has a standard black-painted radome, while 56-0959 sports one in natural fiberglass. Close examination of the orignal photograph seems to indicate that the dark splotches on the fuselage of both aircraft are discontinuities in the paint rather than blemishes on the negative. The wing fences on 463 are painted red, and the checkerboards are red and black. Note also that neither aircraft is fitted with drop tanks.   Bill Curry via Isham

The term "classic shot" is so overworked that it's become trite, but this photo could qualify for that title if anything could; F-100D 55-3765 from the 21st TFW in very close formation with F-102A 56-0960, better known to most modelers as "Red Striped Rascal" and so named because of the red command stripes on the fuselage. Of interest is the fact that, as in the photo of the two F-102s above, neither aircraft is carrying drop tanks. Those guys fly pretty good form, don't they?    Bill Curry via Isham

A flight of RF-101Cs, but not from the 45th or even from PACAF! This photo depicts a flight of Voodoos from the 66th TRW operating out of Laon AB in France in the early 60s. 56-0099 and 56-0129 have yet to receive their unit markings but the other two aircraft carry the striped tails of the 66th. These aircraft are all natural metal with OD anti-glare panels. The photo is included here because I wanted some natural metal RF-101s for Jim. There you go, Amigo!   USAF via Franke

Finally, here's a shot of RF-101C 56-097 serving out its days with an unknown ANG unit. This well-worn aircraft depicts the SEA camouflage scheme for the Voodoo to good advantage. The "stripes" on the fuselage, wingtips, and vertical tail are formation strip lights. I'd love to have a credit line for this shot, but it's one of many that ended up in the collection without any indication as to who might have shot it (or where, or when). If it's your photo, please e-mail me at and I'll go back and credit it properly!

Another Crack at Yesterday's Me109K

When last we met (a phrase I've appreciated since college days when one of my professors used to use it as his standard greeting to me, primarily, I think, because I cut his class more often than I attended it, but we digress...) we were discussing the application of 1/48th scale AFV and softskin kits to aircraft modeling. The airplane that illustrated the piece was a Hasegawa Me109K-4 done up for a bird from JG53 ca. 1945, and I noted that I'd knocked off part of the radio antenna suite during the course of photography. Well, it turns out I also managed to trash the trailer end of the fuel hose, and I want a do-over! Here then, and with considerable apologies to my friend Brad ("Finally! Something new on the '109!"), are a couple of photos of the Recently Repaired Regensburg Rascal. (And yes, I know the real thing probably wasn't actually built there, but I couldn't have said what I said if I'd stuck with the literal unpoetically-licensed truth. Lighten up over there, will you---this is a hobby, for cryin' out loud! Where's your sense of humor?)

A basic (and no pun intended for once) shot of the overall piece showing that I really did repair the antenna like I said I would. It also shows the lanyard that secures the 109's canopy when it's in the opened position (done with stretched sprue) and the way the shoulder harness is thrown over the cockpit sill. That's a pretty normal way to see it when the aircraft is prepared for flight, and easy to do by simply bending (gently bending, ya'll, because the paint will crack if you do that gorilla thing) those Eduard belts. The figures, which I barely mentioned yesterday, are from Aires' kit No. F4001, "H.J. Marseill-His 50th Shootdown". They've been slightly modified and painted with oils. I can't remember where I got the map, but it helps add some life to the piece too.

This photo shows the repaired fuel hose on the ProModeler trailer. The hose comes with the kit, but said kit doesn't provide any means to transfer fuel from the trailer to the aircraft, thus resulting in a trip to Your Favorite Local Hobby Shop to buy an HO scale nozzle of some sort from the train department. I found one that fit the hose like it was made for it and works well with the diorama. An easy detail to add, and one that cost next-to-nothing.

This photo shows the Eduard hand tools we talked about. They're photo-etched and are included in Set 8501 "Luftwaffe Pilots and Ground Crew". They help make things more believable, I think, which brings us to something that isn't believable at all: Lichen used for shrubs. Most model railroading stuff is really well thought-out, but lichen isn't one of those things. It's been used for shrubs and bushes since the dawn of time and it's never been especially convincing in that role on anything I've been priviledged to examine. It isn't convincing here either, and will be removed in the very near future. Just so you know...

A lot of photos of the '109 on the ground show a cover laying across the wingroot. It's there to prevent damage to the aircraft skin and it's about as ubiquitous an item as you could possibly find. The real ones seem to have been made of canvas with wood (most likely) or aluminum cross pieces to help keep the mechanics et al from slipping off the wing and depositing themselves in the mud. This one was made with a strip cut from aluminum foil (because it's easy to shape, easy to paint, and wrinkles nicely when that's required), with rectangular pieces of Evergreen plastic for the steps. It's simple and effective, I think.

This final photo shows how well everything works together on the model and helps turn it into a scene. The airplane itself could stand with a little more weathering, maybe, and someday I might actually get around to doing that (and cleaning off the edges of the base while I'm at it!) but it works well enough for now.

This particular diorama got itself started because I needed a home for the Tamiya Kubelwagen and wanted to see how ProModeler's fuel cart looked when it was complete. I'm most assuredly not a diorama guy but I think it came out ok, pretty much in spite of itself but ok nontheless. Ain't nothin' to it but to do it!

Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you next week.

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