Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on the C-119 in Korea, Some Early Tankers, The Mighty Stoof, and A Neptune,

It Really IS a Big Ol' Box, You Know...

It's easy to forget when writing this stuff that a large proportion of our readership has never actually seen some of these airplanes for real, at least not outside of a museum. For that group in our audience, a quick explanation about the C-119 may be in order.

The type was an airlifter pure and simple, designed to haul stuff, people, and light vehicles to wherever such things might be needed and deposit them where they could be of use. It was an adequate performer when empty (or nearly so), and was a little bit of an ill-mannered slug when fully loaded. That whole Flying Boxcar thing was highly appropriate as names went, because aft of the flight deck the C-119 was nothing but a big empty box with a rail system (those thingies with all the rollers on them) bolted to the floor for cargo handling. You could fly the airplane with the clamshell doors in place, or with them removed; the airplane really didn't care. And you could get stuff to where it was needed.

There was a time when it seemed like every ANG or AFRes transport unit in the country either operated the type or had operated it at some point in its recent past. The type was everywhere, including Vietnam (where its primary role was often that of gunship, but that's a story for another day...), but it gained a lot of its fame during the Korean War and shortly afterwards, when a number of American C-119s were used to help the French in their attempt to put down a nationalistic movement in what was once known as French IndoChina.

With all that said, the C-119 was a unique airplane, and is one very much worth modeling. I can only think of two plastic (as opposed to resin) kits of the type; Aurora's old stager (in 1/77th, I think) and Italeri's excellent 1/72nd scale offering. (There are almost certainly other kits out there as well but this isn't an Old Kits site so we aren't going to mess with that sort of thing---apologies if that matters to you!)

Anyway, we ran a couple of C-119 shots last time around, which in turn caused Mark Morgan to send in a few more. Let's look:

There was a time when Air Force squadrons possessed more than a handful of airplanes, as this shot of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing in Korea attests. It's virtually impossible, at least without each aircraft's record card, to determine which squadron this is in a black and white photo since the only thing that varied was the color of the "standard" unit markings. Sure wish we could see the rest of that nose art!!!  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Gettin' ready. Here's a C-119B from the 50th TCS/314th TCW preparing to drop members of the 187th Regimental Combat Team over Korea on January 15th, 1951. 48-0337 has her paratroop doors (a component of the clamshell cargo doors) opened and you can see the first trooper exiting the aircraft. Note the forward cargo doors are also deployed. I think there's nose art up there, but I sure can't make it out.  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

And away we go! Static lines are streaming behind the aircraft, and weapons packs are spilling out of those forward doors. This probably isn't the Very Best Way to get into a war, but it sure looks impressive!  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Those clamshell cargo doors could be removed to allow big things such as jeeps and artillery pieces to be air-dropped. This photo shows 49-0106, among other 314th C-119Cs, lined up in preparation to launch with the clamshells removed. Kinda ugly that way, isn't it?  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

The C-119 carried some fairly ribald nose art during the course of its combat career. This isn't that, but it's still neat and, I think, worthy of modeling. "Oh Ged/Dilbert" sits on the ramp awaiting its next mission in this evocative shot. AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

A little bit bawdier, but still in good taste, "Jo-Jo" begins to taxi away from a dump of artillery rounds. Nowadays you almost expect the folks from OSHA to oversee combat operations, but there was a time when you simply did what you had to do...  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

A parting shot, as it were. It was a simpler time.  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Passin' a Little More Gas

We run pictures of tankers every now and again, but a lot of folks don't really appreciate the job the they do (the tankers, not the pictures). They're a force multiplier all out of proportion to their numbers and, like many other military airplanes, are going away due to cost, budget cuts, etc. Here's a thought or two from Don Jay on the subject, along with a couple of really neat pictures.

With all the 'political wrangling' going on about the KC-135 replacement, many forget what a significant factor air-to-air refueling is to our air forces. It is truly a combat multiplier. The US has been fortunate in having a tremendous capability in this department since the mid '50s. Lets hope our politicians don't erode this capability past the 'point of no return'. Here are some early examples of in flight refueling. I bet not many remember that TAC had its own dedicated tanker fleet many years ago.

The first is a KB-29 refueling an F-86. This was out at Edwards during the proof of concept for the Flying Boom project. The second is a KB-50 refueling the Thud out over the Pacific in 64. Note the use of the probe and drogue with the Thud, while the last one is a PR shot showing Tac's world wide capabilities-KB-50 over the Gulf of Mexico in the 62/63 timeframe.

In the beginning... Not the real beginning, of course, since the AAC was trying out the air-to-air refuelling concept back in the 30s, but the Dawn of the Jet Age and Flying Boom beginning. Here a KB-29 tries out the boom concept on an F-86. Note the "Sabre" has both flaps and gear down, and is still pulling a moderate angle of attack, while the KB-29 is going downhill to keep airspeed. It ain't as easy as it looks!  USAF via Don Jay

Over the Pacific in 1964. Another year would see KC-135As tanking the "Thud" both ways on missions to North Vietnam. Most PACAF fighter-bombers had a nuclear strike role in pre-Vietnam days, and the F-105 was quite possibly the ultimate expression of that mission as far as American tactical aircraft were concerned. USAF via Don Jay

TAC PR in action. You could actually tank three at a time of the KB-50, and it was done somewhat routinely, but not with dissimilar aircraft during actual operations. You can bet the throttles are firewalled on that tanker!  USAF via Don Jay
The Mighty Stoof

One thing about the Navy; they've never been shy about giving their airplanes nicknames. The Grumman S2F/C-1A family were no exception, with the S2F pretty obviously offering itself up for transformation into "Stoof". We've never run a "Stoof" shot on these pages, so today's the day!

You are now looking at what may arguably be the loudest recipricating-engined aircraft ever built. The S2F was nothing if not LOUD! 136648 from VS-30 sits on the ramp awaiting deployment. The "Stoof" was a fairly small airplane, and wouldn't be big at all in 1/48th scale. That's a hint, model manufacturers!  Mark Nankivil Collection

By the time this shot was taken off NAS Key West in August of 1973, the S2F-1 had become the S-2E. 151642 is from VX-1 and is stooging along with her MAD gear deployed. What a neat photo!  Mark Nankivil Collection

The "Stoof" was a natural for conversion to COD duty, and was more capable in that role than you might imagine. Here's 146039, a C-1A from NAF Misawa, on final at an unknown airfield, date unknown. Mark Nankivil Collection

A Teaser to End the Day

It's just one lonely little photo, but what a photo! I've got some Vietnam-era Lockheed Neptunes in my collection that I keep thinking I'm going to publish one of these days, but I honestly like this one better. It's a colorful way to end the day:

The P-2 (nee P2V) Neptune got around. This colorful example is from VX-3 and is a DP-2E; note the missing tip-tanks and truncated aft fuselage. She's configured to haul Ryan Firebee drones and has apparently done a fair amount of it; note the wear on the red stripes over the wings and the extensive exhaust staining on the cowlings. The P-2 family led a long and exciting life. We'll run a few more photos one of these days...  Bruce Trombecky via Mark Nankivil

The Relief Tube

We've run a few photos of the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray of late, and I must admit I've made some less than flattering remarks about her suitability as a carrier fighter. That, of course, led to a letter, which in turn has resulted in a response by two of our regulars, Tommy Thomason and Rick Morgan. As everybody knows by now, we don't run any sort of forum here, but it's neat to get differing thoughts on things all the same. Me; I still think the airplane was more of an exceptionally high-performance sport plane than anything else. As for Tommy and Rick, let's let them tell it for themselves.

First, some thoughts on the "Ford" from Tommy: 

The main knock on the F4D was that it didn't have a useful weapons system for all-weather intercepts of jet bombers, which was its raison d'etre. The unguided rockets weren't accurate even when fired by radar. Guns had a low probability of kill as well, even in visual conditions against a jet bomber, because of lack of firing time in a head-on pass, accuracy in a beam attack, and difficulty of closing in a tail chase*. The Sidewinders couldn't home in cloud. Unlike the F3H, the F4D was never provided with a Sparrow capability. One CAG said he'd rather have F2H-4 Banshees than the F4D Skyrays assigned to his air group. There were always fewer F4D squadrons deployed than F3H squadrons. When the Phantoms arrived in the fleet, the Skyrays were all replaced first.

*Contrary to published reports, the F4D was not supersonic in level flight by the usual standard (you could dive it to supersonic speed and then level off, but the airplane would then slow and go subsonic) even when powered by the J57, with which the F8U was easily supersonic. Douglas spent an inordinate amount of flight test effort attempting to get the Ford supersonic in other than a dive, but was unable to according to no less an expert than Hal Andrews. The F5D configuration, with a better fuselage-fineness ratio and thinner wings like the F8U, was the answer. T

And from Rick, who also adds a note on the F3H Demon:

Phil: OK…. Comments on the latest blog. On the F4D; simply put, it was a show dog, not a war dog. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful aircraft- I love its looks, however even with its record flights it was not a great fleet aircraft. Designer Ed Heinemann said in his bio that he thought the follow-on F5D was the proper aircraft for the fleet. Capt Gerry O’Rourke (author of the great Night Fighters Over Korea) wrote a great piece for Naval Institute’s “Proceedings” that said it was a poor carrier aircraft, short on range and with a lousy instrument layout. His money quote was that it “…..came aboard looking like a drunken sailor off liberty”. The F4D was rapidly replaced by the F3H in the fleet, it was short-legged and not a great carrier aircraft.

As for the F3H; it wasn’t much better. It had longer range than the F4D and was a better ‘boat plane’ behind the CV but not much else. When you talk to Naval Aviators of that period, most seem to be happy they didn’t have to see combat in their aircraft, at least until the F8U and F4H showed up. Rick

And finally, unless I remember something else and add it later, here's a modeling comment from one of our readers. A few issues ago I ran some photos of a Hasegawa P-38G that I've been working on for, oh, the past two years or so. The purpose of said photos was to illustrate some weathering techniques, but therein lies the rub. The P-38 had handed propellers to counteract torque. The kit accurately depicts that and, if you happen to be in a hurry, you've got a 50% chance of getting it right. Unfortunately, that also provides a 50% opportunity to get it wrong. Wanna guess which way I went? Well, gang; there's no longer any need to guess. Let's let sharp-eyed reader Rob Rocker drop the dime:

Hello Replicia in Scale , the Props on the P-38G model are on the wrong side their rotation is not correct , the correct rotation on a P-38 both props turn in towards the fuselage from the bottom . Best regards, Bob Rocker  I just can't get away with nothin'...

But I can say goodbye for today. We'll meet again soon. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor.

No comments:

Post a Comment