Monday, August 23, 2010

What Came Before, Return of The Relief Tube, A Couple of Shooting Stars, Another V-Thing, A Connie, Yet Another Zipper, Yet Another Spad, and a Request

When We Were Kids

I've been working on a P-40 these days. It's a Big 'Un---the 1/32nd scale Hasegawa P-40N---and this morning (it's Sunday right now, although it won't be when this finally publishes) I was adding some of the larger pieces to it prior to painting when it struck me that some things never change. There's the obvious, of course; I'm pushing the age when I can begin drawing Social Security, and I'm still building plastic model airplanes. That probably means I've never really managed to grow up which is, in my world, A Very Good Thing.

Not growing up isn't what this is about, though, but more about how we all got here, or more specifically how us Boomers got here. That, of course, ties us to that Aurora P-40, although an Aurora P-40 wasn't my first kit and, truth be known, we aren't really going to talk about that particular assemblage of plastic. We are going to talk about models for a minute, though.

First thing in my very own plastic world was an un-named (although I strongly suspect it was a primordial Airfix kit) plastic-bagged Messerschmitt Bf109-more-or-less-F-or-G that my mom bought for me in Blair's Supermarket in Canton, Georgia back during the mid-50s. It was molded in black plastic and it was pretty small, perfectly suited for a 5-year-old. It also turned purple anyplace a small child might apply an overabundance of cement, which meant that mine was mostly purple---purple and black make for neat camouflage if you're of the right mind set, you know. It got built, got played with, and ultimately got destroyed by the aforementioned playing, but it was a start; a Beginning, as it were.

After that one of my teenage cousins (Jerry Smith) built a Revell F-94 for me and then, after his return from a remote tour at Chitose, my dad managed to successfully struggle through the viscitudes (I think that's a real word) of assembling a Revell H-19 that he let me have. That was it. I was hooked.

All the birthdays and Christmases to follow were filled with polystyrene, and I'll bet that I built almost everything that Revell, Aurora, Hawk, Comet, and Monogram had to offer during those years including---you guessed it---a bunch of Aurora P-40s. None of 'em looked like much by the time I was finished with them, but they got me firmly interested in plastic modeling and now, some 56 years later, I'm still hooked. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I still build to the same standard as I did way back then, but that's how it goes and, in all likelihood, constitutes a story for another day. The point is, I still get a kick out of the hobby.

That takes us (finally!) to the point of this ramble. I've loved plastic modeling from the time I saw my very first built kit at my cousin Jerry's house way back in the 50s, and I still love it. It's been a life-long hobby that's educated me every step of the way and taught me patience, motor skills, and a desire to learn everything I can about the stuff I'm interested in. It hasn't been a bad ride, all in all, and I'm figuring there are still quite a few years to go before age/creeping senility/whatever cause me to stop doing it. It's been a great little hobby for me, and I hope you've enjoyed your time with it as well. We could all do a whole lot worse.

Well, Why Not?

Way back when we first came together with this thing I mentioned that I needed to reinstate a section from the original Replica in Scale called "The Relief Tube" but that I wasn't going to because some other pub (electronic or print; I really can't remember) had cribbed it. A recent e-mail from friend and Replica co-founder Jim Wogstad went a long way towards changing my mind about that particular thing, so here, right now, on these very pages (or electrons, or whatever you want to call it), is a re-birth of sorts. Yep, you guessed it; it's the Return of the Relief Tube. As before, it's going to be a place for corrections, additions, and stuff that just doesn't fit anyplace else. For me it's a Welcome Back sort of deal. You'll find the kickoff edition appearing at some point real soon. It's the Right Thing to Do.

I Really Want a State-of-the-Art Kit!

We've got the Lockheed F-80 in two different scales now, and in quarter-scale too if you count the old Monogram kit. The Monogram offering is a good one, but is definitely showing its age and I'm thinking it's time for somebody to pony up and give us a decent 1/48th kit of same. Here are a couple of photos to show why:

Here's a teaser from the 49th TFW for you, probably from the 8th TFS and most likely taken at Taegu (K-2) during the Late Korean Unpleasantness. The C-47A (43-48003) is probably from the 21st TCS/374th TCD. USAF via AMC History Office via M. Morgan

The Navy operated the F-80 as the TO-1, although they used it as a trainer rather than a first-line fighter. Here's 33841 (AF 47-1388, actually an F-80C) to illustrate the type. Mark Morgan sent both of these photos and provided the information attached; this bird is probably from the Naval Reserve Component at Moffet Field, although it could also have been taken at NAS Whidbey or Sand Point as well.  USAF via AMC History Office via M. Morgan

So how about it, somebody! Please give us a kit!

The Return of the V-Thing

Just when you thought it was safe to come out, John Kerr sent us another V-prefixed NAVRES bird from the late 1940s:

A "Beast" by any other name. Here's a NAVRES Curtiss SBW-4E of an unknown New York unit and yep, it's carrying a V-prefixed BuNo (V60166). Note the weathering on the national insignia; the rest of the airplane appears to be pristine! Naval Aviation Museum via Kerr.

That Douglas Tulsa Shot Revisited.

If you're following this thing with any degree of regularity, you probably remember that ramp shot from Douglas Tulsa that I ran a few installments ago. You remember, it was the one with the "Connie" in it. Mark Morgan checked his archives and came up with a far better shot of the airplane, so let's have a look:

(Re) the Douglas/Tulsa ramp shot, I'm 99.99% sure that Connie in the background was one of the three JC-121Cs: 51-3841 (ex-RC-121C/TC-121C), 54-0160 or 54-0178. See the attached; amazingly enough, I pulled this photo out of the AMC archives. Didn't have a date or location listed but I'd say it's an airshow at a reserve base, what with the C-119s in the background; the only marking on the back was "US Army." Apparently the Army and Air Force used the three birds for airborne electronics test. AMC via M. Morgan

You May Well Be Sick of Them, But I Can Never Get Enough of the Zipper

That said, here are two more photos of same, taken by Stephen Miller and forwarded by Don Jay. Enjoy!

Stephen Miller's caption pretty much says it all. I like this shot because it shows the F-104's leading edge covers in place, something you rarely see on photographs. Miller via Jay

And a JF-104A for your consideration. Note the "Snoopy" cartoon above the "U.S. Air Force" legend, and the striped pitot boom. There appears to be a yaw van attached to that boom---the Devil's in the details! Miller via Jay

Sometimes Something Reminds You of a Time and a Place

That's how it was for Don Jay after we ran those VNAF spAD photos last time. He sent a shot along for us to look and, and provided a better caption than I could've to boot:

Phil, Enjoyed the last article and liked seeing the VNAF A-1. Here is one that I took flying out of NKP-it belongs to the 602SOS. Our friend Jim Sullivan made a model of this. I like this photo especially as it shows the wear and tear of the a/c. Note the pilot has the sliding hatch moved back-only thing missing is his scarf in the breeze! dj Note the application of the aircraft name on the nose, and the weapons load of Mk 82s and rocket pods. The centerline fuel tank is overall 34079 with a black tip. Don Gay

The Relief Tube, The Very First One

By now it must be abundantly clear that I get by with a little help from my friends, which results in some really cool photography to grace these electronic pages. You'll notice the same names appearing beneath the photos I've been running, and you need to know I'm always looking for more material. That leads us to a crass request for you to share any photos you might have if they fit into what passes for a format around here. If you're interested, please scan the material and e-mail it to . I'm a lot more interested in original photography than anything else, and will give an appropriate credit line for any photo published. (And no; I don't buy photography. This blog is 100% a labor of love and there's no money involved. I don't make any so you don't get to either! Seems fair to me...

Friend and author Frank Emmett is looking for photographs of 58th FG aircraft during WW2 and Korea for use in a book he's preparing. I've seen the manuscript and can attest that it's going to be the history on the group when it's done. Frank's asked me for pictures, but I really don't have anything. If you do, and if you'd like to help The Cause, please forward them to me at the usual address and I'll send 'em on to Frank. All photos will be properly credited, etc., etc.

And a Final Word on that "Nate" piece. David Aiken sent this along, and it helps clarify the undersurface color of the model to a great extent:

Aloha Y'All,

According to the Japanese maintenance/erection manual via JACAR (shown below) the "official color" of the Nakajima Type 97 Fighter was:

「機体の外面は灰緑色塗料を塗施す」 or

"Fuselage exterior paint coating is gray-green"

灰緑色 = Hairyokushoku = ash-green color, hence "gray-green."

The second attachment is the Hess-Ives paint mix document found by K. Owaki a few years back showing the Japanese Army aircraft colors. Using the original numbers given these RGB values were posted in 2006 at:

AFTER posting, we began the comparison to other "knowns". Nick Millman and Ken Glass determined that some of the colors were flawed...due that the Hess-Ives Color System RGB notation used by the Japanese Army/Navy had changed since World War II. Cheers,

David Aiken, a Director: Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

Meanwhile, Hubert Pieitzmeier, of F-104 web sight fame, has provided the following correction to one of the myriad "Zipper" photo captions we've run lately: Regarding "This Zipper's a Tub", The 69th TFTS operated the TF-104G while training German pilots to fly the "Zipper". This one's AF61-3076 in all her BiCi glory. Of interest are the white-painted upper wings and the similarly-painted underwing tanks. Don Jay  Hubert's correction is as follows:  It is SUU-21 practice bomb dispenser. The TF-104G had to carry it on a pylon (as on the centerline for the F-104G) because of the wiring.

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor and I'll try real hard to publish again in a week or so!

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