Monday, November 29, 2010

A Big Model Airplane, Not Bored With Fords?, A Coastie, A Nifty Crusader, and Some Nice Form

There Was a Time When I Didn't Build the Luftwaffe

But nowadays I do, mostly because I like painting blotches on things. That may be why I enjoy doing Japanese subjects too, but I'm not going to delve too deeply into such matters, quite possibly because those matters just don't matter all that much to me. I just like airplanes that look like that. (Oh Lordy, he's at it again...)

Anyway, a while back I started a 1/32nd scale ProModeller (read Hasegawa here) Me109G-4, but built it as a G-2 instead. It's an easy conversion, consisting mostly of opening up the tailwheel well, correcting the supercharger flange, and installing a different tailwheel, although I'm not happy with the tailwheel treatment and will have to go back and replace it some day. I might actually do that too, because I really want to have a proper G-2. Meanwhile, here's a look at the model, done to represent an aircraft of 2/JG 53 near Stalingrad during the summer of 1942.

Here's what the finished model looks like. The basic kit was a revelation when it was first released ten or so years ago and has held its age well. There are a couple of mistakes in the kit, which are minor and easily correctable, and the end result is very much a Messerschmitt in appearance. Note how big the tailwheel is in this view; it's the kit's unit with the strut added from brass tubing. It's a lot more appropriate for a G-4 or later, but my other option was the tailwheel out of an ancient Hase Bf109E-Something-or-Other, which was more of a mis-shapen blob than anything else. That tailwheel will be replaced with an appropriate one from one of the new Hasegawa Bf109F-4 kits as soon as I figure which one of the kit's two tailwheels I want to use on the 109F project.

Here's the left side, which illustrates a couple of things (besides a smaller tailwheel) that you need to do to turn a very acceptable G-4 back into a G-2. There's a cutout on the flange for the supercharger scoop that needs to be extended; use .010 sheet strip cut to shape, glued into the cutout, and sanded smooth. Look at the upper side of the kit's flange and you'll see exactly where the problem is and from there on it's easy. That little white post that the radio antenna attaches to is ceramic on the real airplane and is easily duplicated by drilling a hole in the fus and putting in a piece of plastic rod (with the top rounded off) after you've painted the airframe. There should be little springs on the antenna too, but I didn't want to sacrifice a watch to get some. The shoulder harnesses are Eduard and I think they look pretty good hanging there like that.
It also helps if you add the hand-holds on the corners of the windscreen (from plastic rod with the ends flattened and bent) and the canopy latch (Eduard). That's John Beaman's The Last of the Eagles behind the model on the right side. I personally consider it to be an essential reference on the 109 series, although you might not.

This view shows one of the kit's few significant failings to advantage (?). The spinner is too blunt as given, and doesn't look "right" if you know what you're looking at. Eagle Editions (and maybe others too) make a nice replacement if you want to go that route. I just drilled out the stocker and used it as-is. That tailwheel doesn't look quite so out of place in this shot, but it's still too darned big. Such is life...

Here you can almost see into the cockpit. There's a fair amount of Eduard in there, but there's also a lot of just plain modeling. If you're careful, a painted kit instrument panel looks a whole lot better than the photo-etched one, at least in my opinion. Those windscreen hand-holds really pop out in this view, as does the un-painted stretched sprue canopy cable (which is attached from the aft canopy to the main one and not to the radio mast, which this view sure makes it look like it does---that's barely a sentence, I think, but it was the best way I could think of to describe things). The gaps in the windscreen and the canopy aren't noticeable when you're actually looking at the model, but these photos are many times bigger than life and in consequence make those miniscule gaps look like The Grand Canyon. It just ain't so! JG53 sometimes used that black exhaust mask on their birds, which negates most of the exhaust weathering I did with pastels. Then again, that was the whole purpose of the real thing's masking in the first place, wasn't it? I also started to use QuickBoost exhausts but you really can't see enough of them to make it worth while. Maybe if I ever do one with the cowling off. Also, the sharp-eyed among you may well recognize the airframe I modeled since it's been in a lot of publications lately. If you're in that group, you'll also notice the style of that number 3 is slightly off. It's what I had, it worked, it kept me from cutting a two-part stencil, and right now it's under a heavy application of DullCote so it's probably staying that way for the foreseeable future. There was a time when I would have lost sleep over something like that...
All in all it came out ok, I think. Total build time was about three weeks (scattered out over several months) and that build time includes the hour or so it took me to put the broken wing back on it. (Don't ask!) Horrido, ya'll!

More of That Funny Looking Navy Airplane

Believe it or not, we're almost done with the Douglas F4D-1 for now, but I've got another couple of photos to share with you. However you feel about the airplane, it sure looks neat!

Most of the time we see flight decks with blue skies above, and nice rolling (or maybe even smooth) seas. It was not, however, always so. This section of "Fords" from VF-101 are preparing to launch in what could only be described as poor flying (or launching, or even sailing) conditions. This shot may have originally come from a magazine and the quality's a little less than we normally prefer, but it shows a side of carrier ops we rarely see.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

I guess we had to do it, huh? Here's a photo of the all-time classic F4D scheme; 139162 is from VF(AW)-3, from their North Island period. It's a beautiful scheme, very much In Your Face, and definitely shows off the lines of the airplane to good advantage. Pretty...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Reason to be. You may remember that the F4D-1 was intended to defend the fleet.This shot illustrates the concept, with a pair of unguided, might-hit-'em-might-not unguided rockets streaking away from a VF(AW)-3 Skyray. It looks really impressive but the kill probability is small indeed. Those rounds were launched off the inboard pylons, but also note the expended FFAR pod hanging off the outboard starboard hardpoint. Optimisim, that...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

You didn't have to use FFARs all the time with the "Ford"; you could use Sidewinders too, as illustrated by this VF(AW)-3 bird about to be armed up with a pair of AIM-9Bs. Of course they didn't work in cloud and weren't exactly the soul of reliability in their early days, but they did manage to function most of the time and were a significant improvement on the unguided stuff. This is definitely a Plain Jane sort of scheme for this unit, and I honestly can't remember ever seeing one like this before. Modelers note the color inside the canopy framing.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Way back in our very first section on the Skyray I think I stated that they never made it to the Reserves. In the truest spirit of Never Say Never, here's a NavRes bird for your enjoyment/amusement/befuddlement. The caption on the original photo says the unit is VMF(AW)-215. I'm open to comments at . Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This ramp is the best reason I can think of to build 50s-early 60s Navy jets. Be still my beating heart!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Loudest Airplane the Coast Guard Ever Flew

Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't, but a former boss of mine who'd spent his SEA time as a C-123 loadmaster once told me, and not in jest, that he'd taken his last flight physical while in the Air Force and had the examining doctor ask him point-blank: "Do you enjoy music?" My boss answered yes, and the doctor responded "I don't know how you possibly could; you're stone deaf!" The Provider had a way of doing that back in those halcyon days when noise attenuation wasn't of any great concern to most folks. Excessive noise or not, we've never run a photo of a C-123 on these pages so it must surely be That Time. Here's a nice one:

Noisy? Yep! Capable? Oh yeah! CAPABLE! The C-123 wasn't much to look at, but it sure got the job done. The Coast Guard had a few of them on hand way back in the 60s and 70s, this being one of them. 4529 was a C-123B assigned to Kodiak, Alaska shown here sitting for her picture at Elmendorf on April 30, 1964. You can't tell it in a black and white photo but there are large areas of day-glo on the airframe (like everything in front of that chevron on the nose, for example). She's a pugnacious little bird, isn't she?  via Mark Nankivil 

Chance Vought's MiG-Killer

That would, of course, be the legendary F8U Crusader series, often called "the last of the gunfighters" in spite of the fact that all of its air-to-air success was gained with missiles. It's another type we've never featured previously (and we'd welcome photos of the type; please submit to if you're interested in such things). That said, this one's kinda special.

We may have mentioned once before that frequent contributor Mark Nankivil's dad was a naval aviator, but if you don't remember that, here's a reminder for you. This VF-154 F8U-1 was shot by Mark's dad just prior to launch on Hornet's 1958 WesPac cruise. The wing's been raised (you can see the actuating jack at the front of the center section) and everything's hanging, although the cat shuttle has yet to be attached to the nose gear strut. She's armed with at least one AIM-9B Sidewinder and is ready to rock and roll! The grey and white Navy was a seriously good looking Navy, ya'll.  via Mark Nankivil

A Phine Phormation Photo

I don't know why I spell stuff that way but sometimes I do. It may be because of my name, or it may be because of all the Phantom humor I was exposed to in the 60s and 70s, or it could just be because I find it amusing, but like I said; I do stuff like that sometimes. The thing is, I also always try to make up for it with something special, so here's Something Special to end our photographic day:

Mark Nankivil constantly amazes me with the material he submits, and I really like this form shot. Lead is a KA-6D from VMA(AW)-224, while the other three birds are A-7Es from VA-22's "Fighting Redcocks". Note that two of the three A-7s have their probes deployed, while the KA-6 is trailing a basket.  Both types of aircraft were a revelation in their day, and the "Fruitfly" (that would be the A-7s for those of you who don't speak Navy yet) even managed a distinguished career in that other American flying service, as well as in a number of foreign air forces.  via Mark Nankivil

And That's It For Today.

Blame it on the holidays or just blame it on me, but that's all there is for this installment. We don't even have a Relief Tube this time around, which is both gratifying and somewhat scary all at the same time. Stay tuned, though, because we've got some nifty USAF stuff coming up in the near future, as well as a few other surprises in store.

One final thing. You've probably all noticed that this humble effort is made up largely of the contributions of a number of very special people. We'd like to thank them all for helping to make Replica in Scale as popular as it seems to be, and also invite you to join in the fun if you're so inclined. We're always looking for photography depicting American military aviation. Our focus is primarily 1920-something to the mid-1980s, and we'd love to see what you've got in your collections. If you're interested in contributing drop us a line at . (Don't expect to be paid for doing it, though---we don't make a penny off of this so you won't either. That's fair, I think.)

Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

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