Just Passin' a Little Gas Before We Head For the Fun
Don Jay spent some time in Southeast Asia during the late 60s and early 70s, and has contributed some remarkable photography to this effort as a result of that visit. Here's a photo essay of Thuds on the tanker:
It was fairly easy to get to Utapao from the other Thai bases and there was an existing 'orientation' program that allowed troops the chance to ride on a refueling sortie. Too many guys passed this up and went to the 'R&R' facilities at Pattaya beach. Being of moral fiber, I chose the orientation ride! Note that these photos have been published several times and places over the years and with the internet, no doubt will be published many times more. These were F-105s from the 355TFW out of Tahkli and are on a pre-strike tanker-I believe the Cherry Tanker track in Northeast Thailand.The B&W were a separate flight from -284. These were very typical loads for this timeframe as they were striking targets in Laos. Enjoy. dj
It's Quite a Change From the 5th AF to the Peacetime Air Force
But it's a change a number of airplanes made once the war was done. Quite a few North American TB-25 Mitchells ended up as trainers, liaison aircraft, and hacks, mostly in the ZI. It' a type that's rarely depicted outside the wartime environment, but it hung around until the very late 1950s, with a couple of military (as opposed to warbird) survivors making it into the early 1960s as well. The TB-25 even made it to the movies, co-starring with Andy Griffith and Nick Adams in the classic 1958 service comedy No Time For Sergeants! Jim Sullivan sent us a few examples; let's look:
I Was Thinking About Monogram This Afternoon
More specifically, I was thinking about their Century Series kits. Monogram was an amazing company when it was actually Monogram, way back when it was pretty much the king of the heap as far as good plastic model airplane kits were concerned. Even their earliest stuff was good, and that includes the wood and plastic kits that were sold right up until the beginning of the 60s, but their later models were simply magic.
That, my friends, is my opinion, and it's probably the opinion of most folks who were modeling when Monogram was a vibrant and highly viable force in our hobby. We, or at least I, could spend a lot of time discussing Monogram and their contribution to the hobby, but it's my intention to keep this brief in spite of my proclivity to do otherwise in almost any situation. That's also why we're going to discuss the Monogram Century Series in 1/48th scale for a minute or two. Turn that electronic page if you aren't interested; otherwise, let's see what we've got (or, more properly, had).
First, The Big M did kit the entire Century Series family of fighters which, in the classic sense, was made up of the F-100 through F-106. And yes, before you start writing; I know there were flying F-107 prototypes, and I also know that the F-110 and F-111 are considered by some folks to be in the Century Series too, but then by that logic you'd have to also include the F-117 since its designation was a 3-digit number beginning with "1". In my world the Century Series was the F-100 through F-106, period.
So then, what exactly did Monogram kit? I'm working off memory here, even though the 2/3rds-completed F-106A that got me started on this ramble is sitting a mere foot or so off my keyboard (inspiration, as it were), but the initial batch were the F-100D, F-101B, F-102A (eventually in both Case 10 and Case 20 wing configurations), F-104A/C (with a G in there someplace; I told you I was working off memory!), an F-105F/G (two different iterations of the same kit), an F-105D, and an F-106A. All were State of the Art for the time in which they were released, and only one (the F-104) has been better done by someone else since that time.
All of those kits were done with raised detailing (which is not quite the boogabear or model spoiler you've been led to believe it might be by the internet crowd), all were dimensionally close enough to be called accurate, and all had highly detailed cockpits and interiors that were only bettered with the advent of resin and photo-etched detail sets. There was no aftermarket to speak of back when these kits were released, although there are quite a few decal sheets available for them thanks to the Krasel Brothers (MicroScale and, later on, SuperScale). You could, were you so inclined, build yourself a darned good model with any of those kits. For that matter, you still can.
What prompted all this commentary, you might easily ask. The answer to that one is quite simple: Most of those kits came out between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, and nobody's done much better with the Centuries kitted and released since those days. Yes, it's true that we've seen an F-100 family birthed by Trumpeter over the course of the past 18 months or so, but the only area where they've significantly improved on the now-ancient Monogram offering of same is in the arena of buildability. If you want to choose an accurate kit of the "Hun", I'll take The Contender from Morton Grove every time. Somebody (Hobby Boss, maybe?) did an F-105D recently, but my story's the same: Give me the Monogram kit, warts included (and there are a couple of those warts sadly evident on the vertical stab of Monogram's D) every time. Hasegawa did manage to give us a viable F-104 family and in so doing made a significant improvement on what was arguably the Weak Sister of the the Monogram Century Series, but they also covered all of the flying surfaces with extremely heavy rivet detail that has to be filled prior to painting---there's no such thing as a free ride, I suppose.
Anyway, there's a point to all this and yes; I'm finally going to get to it. Every single member of the Air Force's Century Series, every single type, was significant in its own way. Each airplane was a showcase for ground-breaking technology at the time it was introduced into service, failures notwithstanding, and every single one of them had a lengthy service life. All but the F-106 had distinguished combat careers as well (and even the Six deployed to Korea during 1968 in response to the Myaguez incident), making them ideal candidates for modern, up-to-date kits.
In one respect we're fortunate, because those old Monogram kits have held their age extremely well, although the ones made in MG are more crisply molded than the ones now made overseas. Still, wouldn't it be nice if we had a really good "Hun" to work with instead of yet another F-18? Or a really good out-of-the-box RF-101C? I'd buy 'em---how 'bout you?
Picture-Taking Bug Suckers
There was a time when your correspondent (me) used to take pictures of airplanes and, thanks to the advantages provided by a press pass, both with the original RIS and with its more-or-less successor, Aerophile, was able to go to some neat places and photograph some seriously cool stuff. That all came to an end shortly after the F/A-18 got into the Fleet and began replacing virtually every airframe there, even though in point of fact most of them needed replacement, and I lost interest in photographing predominently grey airplanes. (That's why you don't see much of anything past the mid-80s on this site; it's a Personal Interest kind of deal...)
Some of those shoots were really special, with a particular fondness in my memory for the two photo recon events I worked at Bergstrom AFB; RAM 88 and RAM 90. Those were international recce meets that were held every two years and there were lots of neat airplanes in attendance from numerous units, mostly American and Luftwaffe RF-4s with a smattering of TARPS-equipped F-14s and an Aussie "Aardvark" or two to spice things up (and, at RAM 90, a pair of RAF Jaguars too, but that's a story for another day).
But, as usual, we digress. Most of my images from those shoots only exist in negative form and this point and I doubt I'll be printing much of anything anytime soon, but here are a couple of teasers for you to enjoy in the meantime:
Hey Look, It's a Hun!
Don Jay and I were e-mailing back and forth about the Late SEA War Games a few days ago and it was somehow mentioned that we hadn't run any F-100s here in quite a while. Don's got a fondness for the type and sent along a couple of shots to remedy that particular situation.
It's Finally Done and I'm Glad of It!
OK, let's take a quick survey: All of you who have built a Hasegawa P-38G raise your hands. Now then, all of you who actually enjoyed the experience, raise your hands! Yep, it's just like I thought...
Most of us like the way the P-38 looks and its service record speaks for itself, but it's never been an easy aircraft to model, not with those twin booms, twin tails, and goofy canopy to contend with. Nope, it's a Test of something-or-other to build; there's no doubt about that. Take the one you're about to see as an example. It was started nearly two years ago and worked on in fits and spurts until it finally hit the paint shop a few months ago (well, nearly a year ago, but who's counting?) where it languished waiting for another bout of enthusiasm/masochism to strike. It's finally done, or as done as it's ever going to get. Here's how it turned out.
The Relief Tube
Either I'm not making mistakes or you guys aren't catching them any more---we've only got one correction this time around, and that's regarding the goofy nose that was on one of the A-26 shots we ran a few days back. Frank Emmett tells me he thinks it's the nose for the still-born 75mm gun project Douglas tried with the airframe. Anybody out there have anything showing the gun installation in place? Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do.
Now for a request. Don Jay has been collecting photography of airplanes related to the Vietnam Fracus for a number of years, and has sent in a couple of shots along with an inquiry:
While researching the battle of Dak Seang in Ap of 1970, I came across these photos. They were reported to be photos of an A-1 shot down at the airfield at DakSeang. The only problem is that this isn't the airfield at DakSeang and I find no record of this A-1's loss during Ap 70 timeframe. Can anyone help correctly ID this incident? Don't know who the photographer was but they were military and the date may be April/May of 70 but suspect that is an error. Area is in the A-Shau valley near the tri-border area. dj
And finally, Tommy Thomason has some comments regarding the paintwork on the VF-17 F4U-1 I ran a couple of installments ago: The VF-17 F4U picture in your New Year's blog is an excellent example of what I call the Norfolk paint scheme for lack of a better explanation. See http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/01/ww-ii-color-scheme-anomaly.html
Tommy Thanks, Tommy.
And that's it for now. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.