Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Finished Hillbilly, Still Truckin' Along With the FJ, Looking Backwards, and Another Zipper

And the Nate is Done

It shouldn't have taken this long to do it, except I didn't have a whole lot of time to finish the thing. The Bottom Line is that it's finally completed, and there are some photos below to prove it.

The kit itself is a treasure, and has held its age quite well against its more modern competition (of which there is absolutely none in 1/48th scale!). You'd never know the thing was pushing 40, and it's easy to see why Hasegawa keeps reissuing the kit. It's quite a tribute to those guys at Mania that the model is viable after so many years, and that it produces such a great replica with very little work on the part of the builder. We've already discussed most of what was done in our previous installments, but there are a couple of things worth noting before we get to the photos.

First, the canopy (either one) fits relatively poorly, but it does fit after a fashion and the gap created by its attachment is nothing a little bit of white glue can't fix. I'm not sure but I don't think anybody makes a vacuum-formed replacement for it, but with a little effort you can use the kit part with no ill effect.

Second, the upper portion of the landing gear struts (those little post thingies that stick up through the wing over the main mounts) really do look better if you cut the kit representation of same off the wings, drill an appropriate-sized hole, and insert a piece of plastic rod after the airframe is painted. The tiny bit of extra work is well worth the effort in terms of final appearance.

Third, the pitot tube is very much over-scale. The one on my model wasn't rebuilt, but it should have been. It's a lesson relearned, so to speak.

As for painting, which we'd may as well discuss, all of the colors are pretty much out-of-the-bottle. The lower surfaces are Testor IJAAF Gray-Green enamel, while the upper surface brown is Testor RAF Dark Earth. The lighter of the two greens is new Floquil Coach Green (which honestly bears no resemblence whatsoever to the real Coach Green---so much for progress!) while the darker shade is Floquil Pullman Green, which doesn't in any way resemble its honored predessesor either. I think they work together fairly well in this case, but you're more than welcome to do it another way if you don't care for the shades or tonal values. (And if you do, please send along a picture or two of your model---I'd really like to see what you're doing out there! The address is .

See, I told you it was done. The stripes aren't perfect but I can live with that, although the ones on the real airplane were a little more precise than these! The tops of the landing gear oleos are painted to match the top surfaces of the wings---that's a guess on my part but it's a logical one and that's how I did it. Feel free; etc, etc.... Weathering is minimal because the airplane in That One Famous Photo doesn't look too gnarly, or at least it doesn't to me. The base is a bamboo cutting board (appropriate, that), while the figure is from a Fine Molds Ki-10 Perry. And yes, the white glue on the radio antenna is still drying. I'm not terribly patient these days...

And a better view of those stripes. I really like the way the colors work on this one, and it's definitely something different for the JAAF shelf! Banzai, ya'll!

Still Crankin' Along With the Fury

We should've finished up with the FJ series a couple of installments ago, but the photos that Doug Siegfried sent along were just too good to ignore, so tonight we're going to take a look at the Ultimate Fury, the FJ-4, also known as the F-1E and AF-1E in the McNamara realignment of America's military aircraft designation system in 1962.

Your Humble Servant first began to care about the FJ back in 1980 or so, which was when he (that would be me) decided to put together a unit list. I sent it off to our mutual friend Rick Morgan for annotation and correction and he was was kind enough to re-do it and send it back to me. Here, with considerable apologies to Morgo, is that compilation from Way Back When, scanned in from its typed (anybody out there remember typewriters?) original. It'll be easier to read if you remember that Rick appended both previous and subsequent aircraft types to the lists.

Rick was quite a scholar even then, and these lists definitely show why his books are so darned good. You might note that I did a little editing on the sketch of the Marine emblem on the last page. If you were in the Nav or the Corps you know what the missing phrase said. If you weren't, it may not matter. I covered it over just in case there might be folks of a sensitive nature reading this thing. Oh yeah, and please note that there's no attempt whatsoever to edit the piece.

And now for a couple of pictures:

Here's a gorgeous photo of 143549, an FJ-4B from VA-144. Note the color inside the wing fold; it ain't yellow green! Modelers take note: the airplane is lightly weathered.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

GMGRU-1 hung some interesting stuff off their FJs. Note how the pylon sweeps around to conform to the aft end of this particular store. Kindof makes you wish somebody would do a decent set of 50s/early 60s-vintage tanks/stores/pods/etc., doesn't it?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The FJ-4 was a transition aircraft in many ways, and a lot of them ended up in utility squadrons. 139439 is shown while serving with VU-7; colors are Engine Gray, Chrome Yellow, and International Orange. It was an ignominious if colorful end to the career of a great fighter.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VX-5 flew the Fury in several variations. Their treatment on the -4 was particularly pretty, I think, and this shot of 139549, an FJ-4B, displays it well.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

When most of us think of VF-126 we think of the late, lamented West Coast F-14 RAG, but they were the Real Deal when they were VA-126 flying the FJ-4. Love those markings!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And another really pretty FJ-4B scheme, this one from VA-151 on display at an airshow. In reality the FJ series wasn't much of an attack aircraft, putting the lie to their assignment to attack squadrons, but then no other Navy jet of their era was much better. It could be argued that the A-4 only became viable with the advent of the MER and TER, while the A-6 represented the next generation of VA birds. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Saga of Reptiles and Scales

No, this isn't another flying dinosaur thing, gang. It's a true story from Those Good Old Days when Jim and I were trying to birth the original RIS which does, I suppose make it old, but it ain't that old, ya'll! Stay with me and I'll tell you a tale.

Jim and I had met in the late 1960s, back when I was going to college and "working" at a San Antonio hobby shop. We'd talked about the mutual disappointment we felt in regard to the modeling magazines available to us, and then decided we could do better than those other guys were doing. It couldn't be that tough, could it? And no, at the end of the day it really wasn't that tough to do the magazine, although I'll admit the business end of it was a little tricky.

Anyway, we'd decided that a modeling magazine, one done our way, was in our future, so we began work on our Very First Issue. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of planning, and a substantial (to us, at least) infusion of cash, but The Big Day came and we submitted our copy to the printer (a quick-print sort of place, because it was all we could afford for that first issue) for production. What we got back wasn't bad at all, and served its purpose well in terms of launching the magazine. It was the bill that surprised us.

That first bill wasn't all that bad in monetary terms; just a few hundred bucks (we're talking early 1970s, remember?), but the printer's invoice was for a periodical called "Reptiles and Scales". It was hilarious then, and it's funny now, at least to me. It's possible that it wasn't terribly humorous to the poor soul who wrote it out, since we called the owner of said Quick-Print-Sort-of-Place and told him about it, but we thought it was a riot. It didn't take a whole lot to amuse us back then, I guess.

There's no moral to this story, and there really isn't much of a punch line either, but it caused us to refer to ourselves as "Reptiles and Scales" for years to come. It could've been worse.

A Well-Used Zipper

Don Jay sent me this F-104A a while back, but I'm just now getting around to publishing it:

This F-104C-5-LO was photographed at Edwards back in the mid-60s. The aircraft is 56-0934, and it's shown prior to being transferred to NASA as a space re-entry trainer. This is one of the few times, not counting the use of the aircraft in SEA, when a Century Series fighter appeared as heavily weathered as most modelers depict them.  via Don Jay

Better Late Than Never

Which is what we could've titled this installment since it's appearing almost a week later than it should have. Life got in the way again, ya'll! Anyway, I'll try to do better next time, so until then be good to your neighbor.


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