Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Brand New Year, Corsairs, a Zapped Bug Sucker, an Uncommon Boeing, Thuds, Stoofs, and Some Nose Art

Our First Edition for a Brand New Year

This is going to be what we might call a Brief Blog, but I wanted to do a little something to kick ff our brand new year with. I haven't rambled senselessly for a while, so let's start off with Some Thoughts On the Hobby:

Thought the First:  As scale modelers we've never had it so good. In spite of the worst economic times many of us have ever known the new kits keep coming, albeit at a reduced pace when compared to a couple of years ago. There's an amazing selection of aftermarket decals to choose from, and an equally amazing (if sometimes unnecessary) selection of aftermarket parts. To put the icing on the cake, we're also blessed with proliferation of reference works that we could only dream of back in those Halcyon Days of Long Ago.  It's truly a Golden Age for our hobby, doomsayers notwithstanding.

Thought the Second:  I think we should mostly build for fun. It's a hobby. When it's all said and done I try to do my best to get things right,  but at the end of the day it's still a hobby, and I don't go nuts over stuff I miss or mistakes I make, at least not most of the time, and when I do get bothered by such Intrusions into My World I either fix them and move on or, more likely than not, decide I can live with whatever the problem might be and, you guessed it; move on. My personal standards are still relatively high but nowadays I build for me, not for anybody else. In my world that's the way to do it.

Thought the Third:  Because I build for fun it rarely takes more than three or four weeks for me to finish something, and a kit such as the Tamiya Bf 109E can generally go from box to display shelf in three or four days if I can stay with the project with minimal interruptions. That takes us back to Thought the Second---it's a hobby and it ought to be fun.

Thought the Fourth and Final:  Because it's a hobby and because we're building for fun, we ought not make a given project harder than it needs to be. There's another side to that coin too, of course, because we won't get better as modelers if we don't constantly challenge ourselves, but a challenge is different from a ritual beating, and it's relatively easy to turn the hobby into just that. Challenge is Good. Beatings are Bad.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled ("Scheduled"? Did he say "scheduled"?) program.

A Few Things I Like

In the truest spirit of producing a brief New Year's edition of this missive, here are a couple of photos of airplanes that I like. Don't look for a theme because there isn't one; we're just going to look at some pictures that I think are neat.

Fighting Seventeen was the first Navy squadron to take the legendary F4U Corsair aboard a carrier, where they quickly discovered that it was a handful around the boat. That long nose, coupled with a short tailwheel strut and mushy main mounts (on the F4U-1), made for quite an adventure when trying to recover aboard ship. As a result, VF-17 ended up flying their first combat tour from shore bases, although the Navy was ultimately able to cure most of the carrier suitability problems by lengthening that tailwheel strut and stiffening up the oleos on the mains. This photo is from those early evaluations; better days lay ahead.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Somewhere in the South Pacific...   This F4U-1A could be the poster child for what some folks might call an Evocative Shot. 901 is from an unknown (at least to me) Marine outfit, and I have no idea where the photo was taken, but it's a fine study of a beautiful airplane. Modelers note that not all SWPAC Corsairs were beat to snot; every one of them was relatively new when they got there. This one probably got grungy pretty quickly, but it's relatively pristine here.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The AU-1 was the final American version of the "Hog". The type saw combat in Korea and survived far enough into the 50s to wear the then-new grey over white paint scheme in service. 129411 would be(and has been, come to think of it) a neat subject for a model. Check out that Glossy Sea Blue gas bag down there; it's a nice touch. The rudder of this bird is almost fully deflected, making it look as though the last four of the BuNo painted on the verticals have been applied incorrectly. The elevators are deflected too, making me suspect that some plane captain had a really bad day shortly after this was taken. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried


For those of you who may not have spent a significant portion of their adult lives photographing military airplanes, a zap is the application of an emblem or similar device to an airplane that ought not be wearing same. Sometimes such things are painted onto the airframe, although that particular method of application is generally highly frowned upon; mostly zaps are stickers or aviation decals (real "decalcomania", not the scale stickies we modelers use), easily applied and, most importantly, relatively easily removed. Here's an example:

The 178th FIS/119th FIG of the North Dakota ANG, known to one and all as The Happy Hooligans, operated the F-4D for several years. 64-0973, an F-4D-26-MC from the "Hooligans",  is an example of a bird that's been zapped by the Candian Armed Forces. This sort of thing used to happen fairly frequently during international (or even joint services) training operations. It probably still does. Don Jay Collection

It was once considered a Good Idea to make airliners, or at least civil transports, out of bombers. Boeing went down that road with both the B-17 and the B-29 (not to mention the B707 to KC-135 thing, although that one went the other direction, from airliner to tanker). The transport you see here is the Boeing 307, which was based on the B-17. It wasn't a bad airplane, but tricycle landing gear and a need for better capacity kept it out of the big time. It looks pretty cool in spite of all that, and was a good airplane that just happened to be built at the wrong time. If we had a 1/48th scale kit I probably wouldn't build it, but it's still a neat airplane. Nankivil Collection

A Pair of Pretty Thuds

Last time around we saw an example of an F-105 that survived both North Vietnamese AAA and the smelter to end up in the back lot of a truck repair facility. Here's something a little closer to the beginning:

In the Beginning...  54-0099 is the second of two JF-105A-1-RE Thunderchiefs built, shown here proving the feasibility of buddy pack refueling with 54-0102, one of three F-105B-1-REs constructed. The "Thud" could tank off either probe and drogue or a boom, although both methods resulted in a cockpit full of JP-4 fumes. 102 ultimately ended up on public display, a rare survivor of her type.  USAF via Don Jay

A Taste of What's in Store

You may remember, but then maybe not, that we ran a couple of Grumman "Stoof" shots a while back. That elicited a comment from Doug Siegfried (of Tailhook Association fame) to the effect that he'd been an S2F driver for the greater part of his Navy career and would sure like to see us run some more pictures of his favorite airplane. As much as I love that bird (and I truly do, an addiction that dates back to my childhood) I don't have much in the way of photography in my own personal collection. Mention of that sad fact led to action on Doug's part, which will result in several installments of S-2s and C-1s over the next few months. Here's a taste:

It seems as though every single airplane that the United States operated during the ten years between 1959 and 1969 was equipped to fire the AGM-12 Bullpup. That list of aircraft includes the "Stoof", as demonstrated here by an S-2E from VS-21. Shooting a command-guided missile from a slow airplane was a recipe for Certain Disaster in an operational environment, but to the best of our knowledge the type never made an actual war shot with the weapon.  It was probably a Good Thing.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Some Nose Art From Desert Storm

If you've been following us for a while you'll recall that we periodically run nose art photos taken by Rick Morgan immediately following his combat tour with VAQ-141 during Operation Desert Storm. You've seen most of it, but for some reason we never got around to running the A-6 photos that constitute the final installment of the series. It's time to correct the ommission, I think.

You may recall that the nose art found on certain of the aircaft assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt immediately post-War was the result of an ad-hoc competition within the air wing. "The Big Stick" was VA-65's entry in the competition. Aside from the nose art this is a useful shot for modelers; check out the deployed curtain and canopy bow detail that's shown in this photo.  Rick Morgan

And here's "Heartless", VA-36's entry in the competition. Note the mission markers beneath the wing root and the intake cover. Yes, Virginia, that's a real, honest-to-goodness cover purpose-made for the A-6 family; it's far more practical than the "hard" type of cover around the boat.  Rick Morgan

Our First Relief Tube of the New Year

When last we met Don Jay sent us a comment regarding The End of Kodachrome. Here's a follow-up to that comment. It's the end of an era.

This makes me sad, ya'll.  via Don Jay

I ran some early FJ-3 photos a while back, and immediately thereafter ran a comment from Tommy Thomason regarding the hard-wing FJs that we didn't look at in that particular piece. He mentioned he'd sent a photograph of same, which you didn't get to see because I couldn't figure out how to open it. I've since worked past that particular Act of Random Stupidity on my part and can now show you the photo that Tommy wanted you to see last time.

BuNo 136153 is an FJ-3M from VF-51 and shows the hard (slatless) wing to advantage, and if you look at the front of the wing root you can see what Tommy was referring to when he said the aircraft was missing the little fairing that ran up against the gun bay door. And, speaking of guns, this bird has obviously just returned from the range; note that it's slick, with no underwing tanks, and there's a considerable amount of blast residue and gun lubricant all over the nose by the cannon ports. Thomason Collection

When we ran those most recent OP-2E photos I made comment about the racks hanging off the wing stations, mistakenly referring to them as TERs. I should've known better! Here's a correction from Rick Morgan:

(The rack in question) is a Practice Multiple Bomb Rack, usually held Mk76 or Mk106 Blue Bombs, frequently used by A-4s and A-6s Stateside. Jim Rotramel tells me the PMBR is an A/A37B-3.  Rick

Thanks, Morgo! Rick also sent along a photo of a PMBR from the era with sensors attached, thus defining the reason VO-67 was using that particular piece of equipment at the time. Those of you who can still remember things (and I'm obviously not part of that group) may recall the caption to an A-4 photo we ran way back when this blog first got started where we described a practice bomb dispenser attached to said "Scooter" as a "Banger Board". Those Neptunes were carrying "Banger Boards", I think.

And that's it for our Very First Edition of 2011. Stay tuned; we've got some really neat stuff coming to you during the coming year. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

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