Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Round of Memories, Tailhook Tommy, A Nautical Mishap, A Nautical Clanger, White Talons, Asian Skyraiders, Prowler Humor, A Jump Jet, and an Old Boat

Talkin' 'Bout a Schedule, or Maybe Not Exactly That

Here we are again, with another missed week in-between, or at least it's a missed week if you're expecting this missive to be weekly. In my world it's a weekly thing, no doubt about it, so we've just had a Missed Week. It's official. (That didn't make much sense, did it?)

There's precedent, of course. When we birthed the original Replica in Scale all those years ago we knew there was no way we could ever support a monthly magazine since the two of us (we started out as a foursome, but that fell apart pretty quickly) had Real Jobs to contend with in addition to the production of our Brand Spanking New Model Airplane Magazine. With Monthly gone by the wayside there were still options, of course: Bi-monthly, Quarterly, and Annually, to be specific. Annually was discounted right off the bat since nobody would want to wait for it to come out, while Bi-monthly wasn't much better than Monthly from a Real Job perspective. (I'll bet it makes some folks nuts when I capitalize stuff like that, but I enjoy doing it. It's a Small Price to Pay, right?) That left Quarterly as the only viable option, so we launched as same.

Things began to unravel from the very beginning when our lead article was delayed two or three times while the author waited for That Last Piece of Information to make the work complete, which resulted in our first issue coming out a couple of months later than we'd scheduled that particular event to occur. That first article set the stage for our schedule, and we never really caught up. We were consistent, though, because we never published anything early; Late was our claim to fame and Late is what we did. That wasn't what we wanted, but after we slimmed down to just the two of us Late was what we had, forced on us by that aforementioned necessity to earn a living and an earnest desire on our part to put out the best, highest quality publication we possibly could in spite of the circumstances. Jim and I used to joke about that "schedule" from time to time, to the point of calling ourselves an Occasionodical rather than a Periodical. We had to grin about it. It was the best we could do.

Jump ahead to Right Now, and to the fact that we sometimes miss a week, or at least a couple of days, in what I'm considering to be the publishing schedule. My typical work week involves days that are 12 to 14 hours long, including one weekend day, and it doesn't look like there's going to be relief any time soon so, once again, Replica in Scale finds itself in a situation where schedules are blown and things happen later than I'd like for them to. It's not my first choice and, in certain respects it's deja vu all over again, as that great American philosopher Yogi Berra once said, but at the end of the day it's what we've got. I have to grin about it. It's the best I can do.

That said, I hope you'll be understanding and patient with the schedule, and keep checking in. There's some Neat Stuff ahead, ya'll, and there's a small chance that it just might happen weekly. Maybe.

Another Shameless Plug for a Friend

I've already mentioned Rick Morgan's Tip of the Spear and recommended it to you without reservation. It's time, my friends, for yet another recommendation. You've seen correspondence and the occasional photograph from Tommy Thomason in these pages, and you'll see even more as we go along. I've known Tommy since 1984 or so, and have always been impressed with the quality of his work. He's written a couple of books on naval aviation too, and has been doing some exceptional work that I think you'll enjoy.

Here's a partial scan of the cover of Tommy's book on US naval fighter aviation aviation, U.S. Naval Air Superiority, Development of Shipborne Jet Fighters 1943-1962, Specialty Press, 2007. You're going to have to forgive the chopped-off cover of the book since its format exceeds the dimensions of my scanner bed, but the photo will give you an excellent idea of what to expect. This one's a must-have, folks. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Bad Day on the Boat

There's no need to remind anybody that naval aviation is about the most dangerous thing happening in the world of military airplanes. Here's a photo to prove the point:

Jim Sullivan got me seriously interested in Chance Vought's immortal Corsair, and I've been trying to collect images of that aircraft (which means I'd be tickled to death if you had any such photos and were willing to scan them and e-mail them to  ) for the past few months now. I know absolutely nothing about this particular photo except that it looks like it's been in a fire, probably as the result of a flight deck mishap of some sort. The "Hog" is a good-looking bird even when it's been beat up like this one has. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Somebody Needs to Look Closely 'Cause I Sure Didn't!

Check out the Douglas Skywarrior photo re-published below. I said the photo was taken while the aircraft was in the process of being launched. Sharp-eyed Tommy Thomason points out that we're actually looking at a bolter, which is painfully obvious when you look closely at the photo. Thanks, Tommy!

And here she is; a bolter for sure. Arghh!  Frank Garcia

Up in the Air, Junior Birdmen

Northrop's T-38 family has spent the past 45+ years training pilots for the Air Force. Here's a reminder of what used to be...

There was a time when all USAF trainers were painted glossy white. Here's a four-ship from the 12th FTW at Randolph AFB, taken during the mid-1970s. The 12th trained instructors, among other duties---these guys fly pretty good form, don't they?  RAFB History PAO

It's easy to forget that the T-38 is a thoroughly supersonic aircraft. During the 1980s the type started showing up in the Air Force's Aggressor program with a vengeance. Here's a blue on blue example from the 479th TFW; AT-38B 71-3203. I shot this one at Laughlin AFB on 28 March, 1987.  Friddell

Look Out, Dad, You've Been Had By a (Vietnamese) Spad

It's a well-known fact that some Vietnamese units did poorly during that particular war, but I've never heard a bad word spoken about the VNAF. I was going through some archives looking for something that had nothing whatsoever to do with the A-1 when I rediscovered these shots. I have little or no information on them, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing them.

An unknown VNAF A-1 taxis out at DaNang in March of 1968. The bomb load appears to be 4 Mk82s and a pair of M117s.  I. Gandara

Gettin' ready for the boogie. This SpAD is armed with a load of Mk82s and is getting ready to launch. This airplane's just been cleaned, and displays little of the staining so common to the A-1. That'll change as soon as the engine cranks!  I. Gandara

Pride. This VNAF A-1 driver poses for a Happy Snap before a mission. In contrast to the airplane in the previous photo, this airplane looks like the Skyraider normally appeared when in operational use. Anything that could leak did leak, and that slick under the wing is oil from the A-1's engine. This airplane is filthy; modelers take note! I. Gandara

Humor is a Good Thing

Contributor and friend Rick Morgan spent a fair part of his career as a naval aviator in the Prowler community. His brother Mark (another contributor to these pages) did the following cartoon for Rick to commemorate the fact. I'm not sure how I managed to get a copy of it but I think it's pretty cool and am offering it for your consideration today:

Pretty neat, huh? Kindof makes me wish Mark had had the time to do a comic book to go with that cover!
Mark Morgan

Jumping Jack Flash, or Maybe Just a Harrier

It was radical when it was new. It was a seriously neat, if sometimes flawed, airplane. Here's a quick tribute to the Alpha model of same:

A pair of AV-8As are operating off the FDR in the Med as captured by this November, 1976 photo. The IFR probes were generally removed for ops, but the Alpha model of the Harrier never went to war. The bird was dangerous to fly in certain flight regimes but was quite an airplane nontheless.  US Navy 1168917

Mystery Meat. I know absolutely nothing about this shot, but it gives a neat perspective on deck operations with the AV-8A, so here you are. Note that the IFR probe has been removed in this photo.  US Navy

It's a soft, fuzzy shot, and I don't know the unit or the boat, but this photo gives a pretty good idea of the sort of space the Harrier was capable of operating from when at sea. It was a force multiplier par excellence.  US Navy

And Now for Something Completely Different

We're always showing pictures of carrier aircraft on this site, so it's somehow fitting that we're going to end this installment with a photo of an aircraft carrier:

Here's something you just don't see every day; a photo of CV-4 USS Ranger negotiating the Pedro Miguel Locks of the Panama Canal. It was a simpler time...   Friddell Collection

That's All, Folks!

For today, anyway. We'll try to get back on schedule for next week. In the meantime, be good to your neighbor!

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