Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Modular Hawk on the Bench, More Hogs, Some Mustangs, And a Couple of Spiffy Skyrays

Long Time Gone

Or, where I've been. It's New Job time again---what an odd little economy we've more or less got---and we missed last week due to the requirements thereof. Missing a week isn't my first choice, but if I don't pay the bills I can't do this blog; it's a classic case of priorities, as it were. Anyway, we're back again and, I think, with some really special stuff; let's us get started, whaddayathink?

Another Modular Hawk

There's something about the P-40 that has an appeal for most modelers, and I have to admit I'm hooked on the airplane too. For me it's mostly the early ones, most specifically the "E" models in use in the SWP back during The Bad Old Days of WW2, but I'll occasionally do an "N" to break things up a bit and, if I'm really in the mood to shake the tree, I'll build one in 1/32nd scale. That's what's happening today or, more specifically, for the past three weeks. Here's where I am as of today:

First, there was the simple act of getting the kit. I saw a release notice on one of those internet scale modeling sites and immediately put in a call to My Favorite Local Hobby Shop, the employees of which were convinced that such a marvel did not exist and that I was, in fact, chasing the 1/48th scale Hase offering of same. It took about 6 weeks before I was able to convince them that the 1/32nd scale kit really existed, and another two weeks after that to get it. Oh well, I'm stubborn, and I wanted the kit. I kept after it, and I eventually got it. There's a lesson therein.

Anyway, I got the thing, and now it's mostly together and partially painted and, as usual, it's going to be finished as an aircraft from the 49th FG; this time the 7th FS using some exceptionally nice decals made by the folks at Zotz. We're not going to to a blow-by-blow account of how to build the thing, because I figure you've already got some modeling skills to your credit, but there are a couple of things that could stand mention.

First, everything on this kit fits, which is in direct opposition to the ranting, raving, wailing, and general silliness you may have read on the internet about Hasegawa's 1/48th and 1/32nd scale Warhawks. All it takes is a little care when you're removing the parts from the sprues and cleaning them up, plus a little finesse when you're aligning things and Zip-Zap-Zoop; you've got an airframe! The Hasegawa P-40s are eminately buildable.

Second, there's not much of an aftermarket for the type. The cockpit can stand some Eduardizing, as it were, but that's mostly to get the various placards, etc, that you'll need to complete the interior. Those placards, plus a set of belts and harnesses, will finish off the almost-adequate kit cockpit very nicely. (I've only seen one release of the "N" model in 1/32nd, the Every-Schoolboy-Used-to-Have-the-Picture 1 of 15,000 bird. The only decals given with the kit are for that airplane, making the aforementioned Zotz sheet an essential.)

Third, and as to be expected with any airplane assigned to the 49th FG in the Pacific during the war, there are some questions about the markings. We'll get to those in modest detail later, but the bird I'm doing makes for the usual Interesting Study in Contradictions Regarding Airplanes of the 49th. If any of you hold original photography on the airplane, please wait until I've completely finished the model and couldn't possibly go back and un-do the damage, then scan and send those photos to . Right on!

 Here's where we are so far. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that there's a lot of work to do on that spinner before we call it Done. Masking it most assuredly was not my finest hour! The transparencies have been faired into the fuselage but not yet masked and painted, and the major paintwork (sans those transparencies) has been done. I'm not certain about the cut line where the white conspicuity markings on the emennage meet the aft fus and may alter them later, or maybe not. Colors are Testor ModelMaster enamel, with RAF Azure Blue being used for the pale blue tail stripe; it seems to be an excellent match right out of the bottle. The poorly-masked spinner is done with USN True Blue, and I've used Insignia Blue forward of that little white trim stripe on the nose, because the photos I've got all seem to show a color that's slightly darker than the surrounding area up there. That may be because the white stripe makes it appear darker, but there's no way to know for certain without a color photo of the area and we already know that nobody's going to send in a photo until after the model is done, right?

The starboard side of the airplane, offered mainly because of those dark green splotches. They were the norm on AAF aircraft of the 1942-1943 era and seem to have been a standard feature on the P-40N. They also seem to have had a well-defined pattern rather than being just a random thing. The best explanation of them that I've seen, and the one that I'd recommend to you, is a drawing in Ian Baker's excellent Aviation History Coloring Book 44; Green Splotches, White Splotches; Another Look at USAAF Camouflage 1942-1943. As with all of Mr. Baker's offerings, this one is superb and well worth its modest price. The placement of the blotches on the model were taken directly from that monograph. Note the area under the canopy; it's OD to match the surrounding fuselage. You don't want to follow Hasegawa's painting instructions back there, gang!

We'll come back to this P-40 in a later installment, when it's a little bit farther along. Meanwhile, how about some Real Airplane Pictures for a Monday?

Props Are Good, and Hogs Have Props

You see a whole lot of Chance Vought F4Us on this site, and there are reasons for it. First, and most important to me; it's my site and I happen to like the airplane. Also, frequent contributors Jim Sullivan and Doug Siegfried like the U-Bird too, and they send in some neat stuff from time to time. Finally, there are really good kits of the Corsair out there in any scale you could think of, and of almost every variant ever produced. In my world that's motivation enough to do yet another photo essay on the type so here, without further ado, are some more F4U photos for your enjoyment:

A prime example of how to load one's britches on the flight deck. An SNJ takes the wire on the FDR while an F4U-5 gets stupid overhead. The adrenalin level in those cockpits, and on the boat, must've been something else---if you look carefully you can see the LSO coming out from behind his wind screen to marvel at the festivities. I'd love to see the plat camera footage on this one!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

133843, a Marine AU-1 from an un-named unit, shows off its pylon suite; the AU could carry a lot of ordnance! Of interest is the frequently seen Non-Specular Sea Blue anti-glare treatment on the upper fuselage decking and cowling.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The AU-1 saw considerable service in Korea during the "police action". This VMF-212 bird, "Miss Penny", is one of the more famous AUs of the period. Note the natural metal main landing gear and tail wheels, and the pylon suite. There are some oddly-shaped areas on the forward mlg doors, which could be painted a light blue but which are more likely to be silver duct tape picking up a blue sheen from the airframe. A mystery, as it were! Gotta love that arrow on the forward fuselage!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

A Korean War veteran friend of mine once called that particular place "a very cold corner of Hell". I suspect he was right. This photo shows 129362, an AU-1 of VMA-323, getting ready for a mission. The fuse extender on the 250lb GP bomb is remarkable, and could provide a neat touch to a model. The spAD in the background is probably an AD-2, although it's tough to tell from this view. The shot, most likely taken at Kimpo, portrays typical operations for the Corps during the Korean War.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Another AU-1, this time 129401 from VMA-323, sitting in a revetment. This shot reveals the exhaust pattern on a well-used Corsair, and may be of interest to modelers. Note that the squadron code ("WS") has been applied to the mlg doors as well as the usual vertical stab.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

If it goes up it will come down sooner or later! This landing falls into the "any one you can walk away from" category, and depicts an F4U-5N from VMF(N)-513 after a slight misfortune. The Corsair was a tough airplane and could take a lot of abuse, although that twisted aft fuselage would indicate that this bird became a parts source shortly after the picture was taken. A lot of profile illustrations show the squadron's -5Ns in overall black; a few of them may have worn that color but this aircraft wears the regulation Glossy Sea Blue.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Some MO Birds for the Morgan Boys

It's been a long time since I first met the Morgan Brothers, Rick and Mark, but I think they're from Missouri, or at least they have an interest in airplanes from that State. That said, here's a selection of MO NG birds from the early 50s in honor of that interest (and for our mutual enjoyment as well):

There was a time, Way Back When, when almost every American military pilot learned his craft in North American's T-6 Texan. Here's a fine study of a 110th FS/71st FG AT-6D in flight to start the ball rolling. Of special interest is the lack of national insignia on the fuselage, although the star is evident under the starboard wing. Most ANG fighter units had at least one AT-6 (later T-6) on strength for proficiency training. Neat shot!  G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

A pair of MONG Mustangs on the prowl. The large discs on the aft fuselage appear to be in black, although dark blue could be equally valid; your guess is as good as mine! Note that the second aircraft is carrying a nose number, while lead is not. Spinners appear to be white but may also be yellow. Fred Roos via Mark Ninkivil

Here's that disc again, this time on aircraft No. 5. The mystery deepens when you look closely at the image, because the spacing of the "MO" and "NG" would barely allow a conventional national insignia to fit between them, and there's no indication that one was ever there. Sounds like an opportunity for a Relief Tube entry to me!  Fred Roos via Mark Nankivil

Taken on the ground at Lambert Field, this P-51D depicts a Missouri Guard bird early in its career. Note the pre-1947 national insignia (which appears to be greyed-out in finest WW2 ETO tradition) and the nose number. The early buzz number treatment is noteworthy; the P-51's "PF" became "FF" after the 1947 changeover to the USAF. It's really odd to see that greyed-out star on a post-War CONUS bird... G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

PF-105 flying a little form. There's nothing other than that nose number to indicate any sort of unit affiliation, although the aircraft does appear to have a red spinner. Of interest here is the oil streaking on the cowling, so typical of an operational Mustang. G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

And PF-106, bearing the nose number 16 and with an interesting spinner configuration; the aft portion is obviously in natural metal, while the forward part is apparently painted yellow (although it could just as easily be white). These guys were probably flying over Germany in the same kind of airplane just a few short years before! G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

Virginia Mayo was a popular actress of the day---here PF-650 (nose number 1) pays tribute to her. The photograph has obviously seen better days, but the airplane is pristine! Sure wish those guys had put a little more color on their birds---there's just not much there once you get past that red spinner. G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

Mustangs can crash too. This 116th FS P-51D exhibits all the classic signs of the results of a torque roll on takeoff. (A friend of mine once told me that his dad, who'd flown P-51s after the war, once informed him "you never straight arm a P-51!". Truer words were never spoken!) Then again, it may have landed long and flipped once it got to the over-run. Whatever happened, it provided a classic Bad Day for somebody!  G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil

A slightly later time frame, but once again torque roll seems to have been the culprit---look at the way the vertical stab is bent over. Everybody loves the P-51, but it's an airplane that can kill you in a heartbeat if you don't pay attention. Civil Mustang owners re-learn the lesson every year, it seems...  G. Sommerich via Mark Nankivil.

Remember the Skyray?

Frequent contributor Mark Nankivil's dad was a naval aviator during the 50s and 60s. Mark's sent along a couple of really nice "FORD" images taken by his dad, and I think that offers a nice round-out for our day:

Here's an F4D-1 from VF-20 getting ready to take on a little gas. The Skyray was a tiny airplane, and a ferocious performer. It was also woefully underarmed and short-ranged to boot, making it relatively useless in anything other than the fleet defence or point-defense interceptor roll. It was also one of the most beautiful jet fighters ever designed. This photo really defines the type's good looks.  Nankivil Collection

And THE F4D scheme, an F4D-1 from VF(AW)-3 out of North Island. This has got to be one of the prettiest fighter schemes of all time, even if those AIM-9Bs comprise the type's total armament!  Thanks, Mark!  Nankivil collection

The Relief Tube

Mark Morgan has sent along a comment or two on the F-94 photos we ran a few installments back:

Phil - WHOOPS, I goofed big time and left off a couple of items. The first shot with the 2nd FIS F-94As was taken at Nellis, the photo was marked by the Nellis photo lab on the back. I assume the event was oneof the early fighter gunnery meets.

The -94C shot is Burbank, my old plant (as distinguished from Plant B-1, which was further north near the railroad tracks). That hanger in the center background is where the Skunk Works was located while I worked there, 1/87-5/89, with the office building on the far side, out of sight. I fully expect that hanger had several U-2s under construction at the time this photo was taken; the aircraft in the foreground are pre-delivery F-94Cs and T-33As. Sad to say, this entire historic old complex is now gone, bulldozed in order for Lockheed Martin to get it off the California tax rolls. Sigh.. last time I rolled through there was May of '04 while I was doing the Noble Eagle road trips, was shocked to see everything removed..MK
A quick note from Tom Gaj regarding the Boeing T-43; the type flew its last operational mission last Friday, 16 September, out of Randolph AFB. The honors of that last GATOR flight fell to 73-1153. And another one bites the dust...
And please remember, I'm always looking for photographs and hard information on American military aviation of all eras, but in particular from 1919 to 1975 or so. If you've got anything of that nature that you'd like to share, please contact me at . I don't make money off this thing so you won't either, but full credit will be given for your contributions.
That's it 'til next time, so be good to your neighbor. We'll talk again soon.

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