Which means, of course, that we're talking about the world-famous (at one time, anyway) 45th Tactical Recon Squadron from Misawa AB, Japan! Everybody remembers the Polka Dots' RF-101s, probably more because Hasegawa put markings for them in intial release of their 1/72nd scale RF-101C kit than for any other reason, although it's possible that some remember them from their Korean War days in RF-51s and RF-80s as well. What more than a few people probably don't know (or remember, which is pretty much the same thing in my book) is that the 45th also had a romance with Republic's RF-84F during their time with the 39th Air Division at Misawa. Dave Menard was kind enough to share some images with us, so let's see what the Polka Dots looked like in their Thunderstreaks!
Oh yeah, I probably ought to mention that the 45th operated at least one hand-me-down RF-84K in addition to their more conventional F-models. Here's what Dave had to say about that:
Since you asked, here is what I know. At least one RF-84K was palmed off on the 45th TRS that I know of. Have no idea why or how many came to Misawa and possibly Kadena for use by the sister 15th TRS, but when SAC got rid of them, suspect that TAC did not want them, nor USAFE, so stuck PACAF with them. I had a 4x5 air to ground negative taken over Misawa's ramp during an inspection of some kind and all of the 45th RF-84Fs were lined up wing tip to wing tip along the eastern edge of that huge ramp. There on the end was a K, 254, I believe, but the neg was too damned "thin" to print! One could read the tail numbers on some of the a/c with a good glass but printing was impossible, darn it.
Heard from an old 45th head that when that K landed at Misawa, the tower informed the pilot he must have landed too hard as the stabs had bent down from the excessive force! One would need to get their hands on all of the record cards for all the Ks to find out where they wound up. MICH ANG got several and I think IOWA ANG also..............
Enjoy these now! cheers, dave
firstname.lastname@example.org if you do. We'd love to see these up close! Menard Collection
Before we go, it's only fair to tell you that MicroScale once did an RF-84F decal sheet and there are markings for a bird from the 45th included thereon. I don't remember if there's nose art on it or not (and am frankly far too lazy to go dig that sheet out of the hundreds of other MicroScale decals in The Airplane Room) but those polka dots are a darned good start, and the 1/48th scale kit of the Thunderflash isn't nearly as bad as the internet might lead you to believe it to be. I smell a project...
More Birds From Seward's Ice Box
A couple of installments ago we ran some T-33 photos taken at Elmendorf in the early 70s. One of our readers was stationed there a few years earlier than that time frame and sent in a couple of really tasty shots for us to admire. Let's take a look at what Richard Bitler has contributed to our Silver Air Force project:
The T-33s in your blog a few weeks ago brought back some memories and sent me digging through my slides that I took while stationed at Elmendorf, AFB from Dec. 1959 to Dec. 1961. I've attached a copy of one of the slides of T-33A, 56-1662. The date on my slide is Feb. 1961. Note the arctic scheme in orange instead of the usual red. All of the T-33s at Elmendorf at this time were in the same scheme. I have no idea when the scheme was changed from orange to red. And I have no idea what the object is on the underside of the fuselage near the trailing edge of the wing. Maybe some of you readers can shed some light on this.
Also attached is a copy of a slide I thought you'd be interested in, that was taken the same day, of two of the three RB-57As that were also at Elmendorf, 52-1466 and 52-4163. Unfortunately, I don't have the SN of the third one. Note the heavy black "line", on the wing tank just forward of where the orange ends. I remember seeing a crew chief remove a large circular filter from that slot after one of the a/c had returned from a mission. Also, there was an opening in the front of the wing tank. I guess that was air sampling. I stood up in the bed of a pick-up once, and got a look at the upper surfaces of the wings. The National Insignia was outlined in natural metal but the orange was continued around the "USAF", similar to what you see on the F-89s with the Arctic Red scheme. I assume the wings on the T-33s were the same. As you can see both a/c were in very clean condition. As to the unit these a/c belong to, I really can't say. Going through my notes, which are not all that good, the best I can come up with is the 5070th Air Defense Wing. Again, maybe some of your readers can shed more light on the unit(s).
You Can't See Much, But You Gotta Like What's There!
I figured we'd hear something from the Morgan Boys after we ran those MOANG Mustangs a few installments back, but I didn't expect this. Here's what frequent contributor Mark Morgan had to say about a really neat photo:
Enjoyed the MOANG photo sequence, here's something from across the river: two F-51Hs of the INANG 113th FIS, launching from Scott, photo, taken prior to the 113th returning to state control and the activation of the 85th FIS in its stead. I pulled the photo out of the 375th Air Mobility Wing archives. MK
Once More Into the WayBack Machine
which was, if I remember correctly, a regular part of the old (and treasured, at least by me) "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show". It's also a pretty good way to introduce our next segment, which concerns a decal brand I'll bet most of you have never heard of; Nordam.
A Second Look at a Big Honkin' P-40, But Not the One You Thought It Would Be
It's been three years, give or take, since Hasegawa released their 1/32nd scale P-40E Warhawk kit. I was impressed with it the first time I saw it (and considered it to be the quantum leap that it is over the 1968-vintage Revell effort in this scale), but apparently most people weren't, since you almost never see them built. That's a pity, because it's a darned good kit. Let's take a look:
Hasegawa P-40E Warhawk, 1/32 Scale, Kit # ST29
We’ve needed a good 1/32nd P-40E forever, it seems. The Revell offering of same dates back to 1968; it was one of that esteemed company’s first three offerings in the scale. It was a ground-breaking model when it was new and it’s still possible to build an outstanding replica from the kit, but it definitely shows its age and getting a good model from it requires more than a little bit of experience on the part of the builder. In point of fact, your never-humble reviewer had one on the stack, ready to start, when Hasegawa announced the impending release of theirs. It’s a good kit. It’s also over forty years old, so it’s time we had a new one, right?
OK then, we’ve determined we needed a new P-40E in 1/32nd, and a new one we now have, so what have we got?
Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. They messed up the windscreen big-time by putting in an extra, totally nonexistent frame on each side. Some have surmised that they were trying to replicate the clear vision window that appears on the port side of the windscreen of the P-40L through N but messed up and put it on both sides instead. That may be what happened, but there’s another possibility too; I say that because the window etched in that windscreen has no similarity at all to the one found on the later ‘Hawks. Take a look at page 19 of Hess’ 49th Fighter Group, Aces of the Pacific, Osprey, 2004; there’s a photo there of Tom Fowler sitting in a P-40E at Darwin during 1942. Look at the windscreen, and you’ll see the “extra” frame, after which you’ll notice that it’s actually the windscreen bow, and it’s on the other side of the cockpit. It looks like an extra frame because of the angle of the photo, but it isn’t one. I’m thinking that photos like that one, plus a dollop of inaccurate drawings, led somebody to add this particular spurious feature to the kit. The Good News is that it’s entirely fixable; it took your correspondent (that would be me, for those of you not blessed with the gift of Victorian hyperbole) approximately 30 minutes to fix the canopy by the simple expedient of sanding out the old frames (taking care not to sand a flat in the windscreen) and hitting them with successively finer grades of polishing paper until the kit part was all shiny and clear again. It couldn't be an easier thing to fix.
A lot of folks have said nice things about the level of detailing in the cockpit, and it is indeed a nicely detailed cockpit. It is also, however, not entirely accurate and is oversimplified to boot. This is pretty much in line with what seems to be the standard from Hasegawa as far as 1/32nd scale cockpits are concerned: Provide an adequate, if not great, cockpit, and let the modeler replace it if they think they need more. Strange as it may seem, I don’t disagree with that philosophy at all. The stock cockpit is adequate for most needs, there’s always that Eduard photoetch set, and maye even a resin cockpit, although I'm not sure of that. You could also use the kit-supplied pilot figure if you wanted to dodge that particular bullet. He’s definitely not your Hasegawa Pilot Figure of Yore; this guy is excellent, well up to standard, and would make a worthy addition to the model were you so inclined. I wasn't, but that’s just how I am. You might like having the little guy in there.
Our final gripe, and it’s really more of a comment than a complaint, concerns the exhaust stacks. They’re entirely correct, beautifully molded, and fit like a glove. They look great on the model too, but some later E-models came with fishtail exhaust stacks, and all the kit provides are the earliest, tubular style. That will limit markings options to some extent—take a look at any of the several histories on the 49th FG and you’ll see what we mean. The 49th was probably the first outfit to be successful with the Warhawk in combat and they were initially equipped with very early E-models (including a fair number of “export” aircraft), but examination of photos shows both styles of exhaust treatments on their airplanes at Darwin. There's an opportunity for QuickBoost, I think...
There's been a lot of criticism of the way Hasegawa designed the fuselage on this kit, with some folks citing (and complaining about) the modular approach the manufacturer have taken with the thing. I strongly suspect that the folks doing most of the complaining haven’t actually built the kit yet, because all those pieces fit, and fit well. I was able to simply press the fuselage panels into place after they’d been cleaned up, then run a little cement in the seams and sand them smooth. The two halves of the tail are a little bit sloppy in their fit, it’s true, but they aren’t so bad that application of a little Modeling 101 won’t fix things toot sweet. You’ll also have to smooth out the lower aft fuselage after you’ve plugged the two holes back there, but that’s no big deal either. There goes another Cherished Myth Born of Internet Modeling right down the old tubes—the Hasegawa Warhawk is extremely buildable right from the box.
There are the usual optional “not for use” parts on the trees, and we can hope that the E, K, and N models released to this point won't end up being the end of the line for this particular family of kits. A bomb and a drop tank provided for external stores. Hasegawa also supply us with the ring and bead sight that sat on the forward fuselage of every P-40E ever built, but the ring part of that ensemble is an unusable blob of solid plastic—replace it with an etched one out of your aftermarket collection and move on.
The wheel wells are adequately detailed, but you should know that the P-40E was fitted with canvas wheel well liners at the factory so you may not see much of that particular detail at all, depending on how you choose to model that area of the airplane. The flaps are molded up, which is a Good Thing in our books since few real airplanes are parked with flaps down, certain North American Aviation products notwithstanding. The main gear struts are modeled properly, being compressed but not overly so, and the model has that P-40 “sit” to it.
All the clear bits are provided, including a fair number that you may opt not to use (for the nav lights) or be instructed to omit or paint over. Such is the nature of The Modular Hawk. One thing you probably will like is the way the quarter panel windows and windscreen are handled (those accursed extra frames notwithstanding). Hasegawa’s approach to these components makes short work of a normally tricky part of any P-40 build. The actual canopy is provided twice to cater for either an open or closed canopy. Whichever you choose, sand off the little triangular doublers found at the base of the windscreen back by the canopy. Those show up on later P-40 variants, but generally not on the E model.
Surface detail on the airframe is subdued and appropriate, and could provide a standard for other manufacturers to follow. In keeping with their more recent efforts, Hasegawa have molded the holes in the ends of the blast tubes for the guns, a nice touch for sure and one that kept me from drilling off-center holes in 6 guns—YES!!! Dimensions are right in there, and the model looks like a P-40 once done. Furthermore, everything fits. Amost no filler was used in the construction of this thing. (And regarding filler, there are 5 little panels in the nose that do have to be filled in for an accurate E. Hase shows you which ones to fill; it just can’t get much easier than that!)
Decals are provided for two aircraft; John Landers’ “Texas Longhorn” (ET601) from the 9th FS/49th FG ca. 1942, and Ed Rector’s #104 from the 76th FS/23rd FG as operated during July of 1942. Those decals are a little thick by contemporary standards but lay right down when applied and are perfectly usable, far better in fact than Hase's poor (and largely unfounded) reputation for crummy decals would suggest. This last is a Good Thing, since there are few aftermarket decals in production for the P-40E in this scale, at least not right now this minute.
All things said, I like this kit, and I like it a lot. The shortcomings, and in particular that goofy windscreen treatment, guarantee that this is only a really good kit, but not a great one. It could’ve been great, you know, and it wouldn’t have taken much effort for Hasegawa to do it. Still, it’s got to be one of the best P-40 models ever done, and it’s a worthy stable mate for Hase’s quarter-scalers. Thanks, Hasegawa!
The Relief Tube
Well, once again I've missed the obvious on a Navy airplane (and am really surprised we didn't hear about it from Tommy or Rick!). Here's a correction on one of those F4D shots from Mark Nankivil:
...the posts you made earlier with the Skyrays should be VF-23 for the one being refueled. The Skyray did have a quartet of 20mm cannons along with the Sidewinders. That's my Father on the VF(AW)-5 example. My friend Mark Frankel has a book coming out from Specialty Press on the Skyray and Skylancer - I've reviewed some of the chapters and provided some of the photos in the book including the cover photo which was from a slide my Father shot 53 years ago! Sure glad I kept them safe all these years.
We ran a shot of a Warbird last time around, and I knew the caption would get a comment or two. Valued friend and one-time mentor Maddog John Kerr has been shooting Warbirds ever since I've known him and had this to say about that:
Yes Phil, it is me, old warbird lover, and yes I agree that a lot of them are no where close to correcting markings, paintjobs radios, etc. However, you need to come out the darkness and check out some of the great restorations of the past 10-12 years. Old Mad Dog.
John included a shot of a restored Brewster FG-1 that definitely looked like The Real Deal, but he didn't take the picture so I didn't run it. I'm holding out for some Maddog originals on this one! How about it, Maddog?
And That's What I Know
Which means it must be That Time again. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again real soon!