Thursday, January 27, 2011

Those Other Guys, Some Post-War Mustangs, Some Stoofs, An Airplane That Almost Never Was, and a Couple of Happy Snaps

Some Airplanes You Wouldn't Normally Expect to See Around Here

It all started with Rick Morgan, who sent along a couple of MiG-21 shots for our consideration a few days ago. They looked familiar to me so I went into the archives and, sure enough, there were those Cuban MiGs, sent to me by Rick way back in those pre-internet days of yore. That got me looking at other former Soviet aircraft, which in turn takes us to the following highly disjointed and deceptively brief photo essay.

First, the Cuban Fishbeds that started it all, with Rick's comments:  (Here are a couple of happy snaps taken by VQ-2 EA-3B crew of Cuban MiGs on their wings while conducting missions off the Caribbean Paradise of Cuba in the late ‘60s.  No.500 is a two-seat Mongol;  the other (511) is a late-model Fishbed loaded with four Atolls. 

Here's what it looks like when you get Your Bad Self intercepted by a MiG-21. I really can't add a whole lot to what Rick's already said, except that that guy's close! Sometimes we forget just how sporty the Cold War could be!  via Rick Morgan

And here's the Mongol. Everybody smile pretty for the camera, ok? The UTI variant of the MiG-21 wasn't exactly a major threat in a knife fight, but it could still tote around an AAM or two, although this one appears to be unarmed.  It's a pretty airplane.  via Rick Morgan 

Most of us know Maddog John Kerr for his love of Warbirds, but his collection is extensive and often amazing. Here's an interesting shot from it:

Here's a fairly early Fishbed C on public display in China. It's possible this one was of Chinese origin, but equally likely that it was provided by the former USSR. Either way, it's a pretty airplane, albeit a relatively useless one in this particular variation. I'm guessing that's some sort of test boom attached to the nose since it's way too big to be a "normal" pitot static boom.  John Kerr Collection

Here's a Sov bird that isn't a MiG. It's in my collection but I have no idea who sent it to me; if anybody out there knows please contact me so I can put a proper credit line on it!

A Su-15 Flagon accellerates away from an unspecified US or NATO aircraft following an intercept. This guy's armed and ready to rumble; bet there was some excitement in the photographer's aircraft that day!  Friddell Collection

The former Soviet Union tried its hand at aircraft carriers, and the Yakovlev design bureau designed and built a strike aircraft for their flight decks. Initially known as the Yak-36 in the West and later corrected to its proper Yak-38 designation and code-named Forger by NATO, the type provided minimal tactical capability but was a great learning tool. The subsequent collapse of the USSR curtailed further development of the type. Warship enthusisasts will be interested in the detail shown at the edge of the flight deck in this October 1976 photo.  USN 1168236 

A bird farm's a bird farm, no matter who's name is on the boat. Here's another view of Kiev, this one taken in April of 1976 and showing a Soviet version of The Pack sitting on deck. This photo's pretty interesting because of the lowered elevator and all the electronics in view.  To the best of my extremely limited knowledge of such things this was the only operation scheme ever carried by the Forger.  USN 1173147

A Rough Day at the Office

Last time around I asked our readers for any photography they might have of US military aircraft in service in Japan immediately following WW2. It would be hard to beat these images, intitially provided by a reader and accredited in error to his collection but actually belonging to the owner of Swiss Mustangs, Martin Kyburz:

Sometimes you really wish you knew the whole story about a photograph. Unfortunately, we don't know very much about this one, although we do know that the airplane is a P-51D-30-NA assigned to the 431st FS/475th FG. The 475th's Mustangs were assigned variously to Tachikawa, Itazuke, and Ashiya AB. Japan during the February 1947 to April 1949 time frame and this photo could have been taken at any one of those facilities, although Tachi would seem to be the most logical since the airframe is still carrying late-War wing ID bands. Special Note: These images were initially provided to us by a reader who had taken them from an internet site that was thought to be defunct. We originally ran them credited to that reader's collection, but recently discovered that they actually came from the collection of Martin Kyburz and his Swiss Mustangs website. In addition to correcting that error, Martin was also kind enough to provide some historical information on the shot. It was indeed from the 475th FS and was assigned to Kimpo in Korea during 1947. On 8 December, 1947, the aircraft was involved in target towing duties while being flown by Lt. Duncan Palmer. We presume that Lt. Palmer survived the crash, although the P-51 did not. Our sincere thanks are extended to Martin for pointing out our error and allowing us to keep the images on our site. pf  Martin Kyburz/Swiss Mustangs Collection

And another view of the crash. Do any of you have further information on this airplane? It's quite a looker and we'd really like to know more about both the airplane and the crash, and maybe even get a full view of the airplane prior to its accident. Please contact us at if you can add to the story! Please see the caption for the photograph immediately above for clarification of the aircraft and corrected credit lines to the photos. pf   Martin Kyburz/Swiss Mustangs Collection

Some of Those Stoofs We've Been Promising

You may recall that Doug Siegfried flew the "Stoof", and that we said we'd run some photos of them a while back. Today's the day we start doing that, ya'll---it's time for the immortal Grumman S2F/S-2 Tracker to take the stage:

In the beginning...  Here's an S2F-1 assigned to the NATC performing flight test (and one might presume acceptance tests) on an early "Stoof". That pylon-mounted blade antenna over the cockpit is fascinating.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's what they looked like when they were operational. This particular S2F-1 is from VS-36 and shows us a gorgeous example of the GSB paint scheme. Modelers note the radome color and the landing gear struts. VS-36 wasn't carrying any specific squadron markings at this time so a model could be finished in this scheme using only letters and numbers from the spares box.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VS-21 added a little color to the Basic Blue with red lightning flashes on white cowl panels. The exhaust streaking shown is typical for the S-2 family and is present even when the rest of the aircraft is spotless, as this example certainly is. Bet that "BS" tailcode was tough to live with, though.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This photo's seen better days, and so have those "Stoofs" of the Oakland Reserves. The paintwork is faded and patched, and these early S2F-1s (note that blade antenna instead of a radome over the cockpit) have been around the block a time or two. The basic color is Glossy Sea Blue, although you'd never know it from this shot.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

A VS-37 S2F-1 runs up aboard the Princeton preparatory to launch, date unknown. There are at least three "Stoofs" running up in this shot, and I'll guarantee you that nobody on that flight deck can hear anything but radials and propellors! Note that the landing gear struts on these particular S2Fs are GSB, and that's a VS-21 bird parked alongside the island. I love this photograph!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

We'll take a look at some grey and white "Stoofs" next time, so stay tuned!

It Just May Be the Most-Kitted Never-Used Airplane of All Time

We're all familiar with the sadly heroic story of Japan's Special Attack units, colloquially known to most folks as Kamikaze. Most special attack sorties were performed with standard or lightly modified conventional aircraft, but there were a few purpose built designs in the the pipeline or, in a couple of cases, actually built. Today's model is one of the latter.

The Nakajima Ki-116 "Tsurugi" was one of those purpose-built special attack aircraft, but was a handful to fly even for an experienced pilot and was never issued to an operational unit; in point of fact, the type never really got past the test stage, but a substantial number were built and put into storage for the final battle for Japan that fortunately never came. There's one survivor of the type, and several kits of it have been released over the years, beginning with Nitto's 1/72nd scale offering in the mid-60s and ending, at least so far, with Eduard's early 21st Century release in 1/48th. There have been at least four kits issued all told, pretty significant for an airplane that basically never flew, and people have modeled those four kits in all sorts of goofy markings. What follows is our attempt at it.

Is that a shiny airplane or what? The real thing was built out of as many non-strategic materials as possible, which resulted in a largely wood airframe---the fuselage was skinned in steel, with aluminum wings, while the empennage was made of wood. Keeping in mind that none of these things ever saw combat, or even flew for that matter, caused me to finish this one as if it had just left the factory. There's no rust on the fus yet because steel is generally oiled after production, then wiped down prior to painting. The wings on this model are painted with Testor Metalizer "Aluminum", with the fuselage done in "Stainless Steel", which gives a nice contrast between the two metals. (The "buffing" variety of both colors were used and produced a really nice finish.) The tail is painted in a couple of shades of Testor JAAF Grey Green, while the anti-glare panel is faded black (a mix) and the surrounds to the upper wing hinomarus are done in Testor JAAF Green.

And the other side of the fus; a view useful for demonstrating structural detail but not much else. Eduard pretty much got everything right on the kit and it's a quick build---this one had about 14 hours in it from start to finish. The stickies worked well and everything fit like the proverbial glove. Sure wish we could have a kit of the P-40B done to this level of quality!

Here's what the upper surfaces look like. Nakajima painted on the national insignia and, in some cases, a surround of upper-surface color, during final assembly. This was done to simplify the painting of the Ki-115s intended final scheme of green over natural metal. Several photographs show the wings with the hinomarus applied to a band of green rather than surrounded by it, so that's what was done here. No attempt was made at producing a consistent color on the green, although the black of the anti-glare panel is pretty solid. Those caps on the forward fus are from the kit's minimal photo-etch fret and look better than the decals that are also included in the kit.

And a final view. There's no weathering, no staining, and just a tiny amount of dirt on the tires---this is a Clean Machine. The kit supplies two well-done bombs, one of 500kg and the other a whopping big 800kg weapon. Neither were installed since the airplane wouldn't have had ordnance mounted inside the factory. If you decide you can't live without a big honkin' bomb under your airplane, remember to flatten those tires---either bomb would put a whole lot of weight on that bird, and it would definitely show up in the sit of the airplane and the degree of inflation (or lack of same) in the tires.

Happy Snaps

We have a pretty cool readership around here. Most people's photos from work are pretty boring, but reader Kolin Campbell has a neat job and sent along a couple of photos to prove it:

Phil, here's two 'happy snaps' I took during the summer of 2009 while participating in exercise 'Northern Edge' up in Alaska. Had to join up on this big guy during one of our 'red air' periods. My wingman is in an F-18F (as was I). Let me know what you think.  Kolin

Well, Kolin, I think they're great! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing them with us.

If anyone would like to contribute this sort of photography, we'd be more than willing to open up a "Happy Snaps" section of the blog to accomodate contemporary aircraft. Any takers? Drop us a line at if you're interested.

A Shameless Plug for a Friend of Mine

You may have noticed by now that a lot of my friends are in the business, in a manner of speaking, and a couple of them are downright famous. Jim Sullivan falls into that latter category, and I'm willing to bet that most of you have at least one of his titles on your shelf if your interests run towards naval aviation. He's known to a lot of people as Mr. Corsair and with good reason; he's pretty much the ranking authority on the type, and he's just had a new book published that you might want to take a look at.

Jim Sullivan's latest, F4U in Action, Squadron Signal Publications, 2010. This is, if memory serves, Jim's 3rd "In Action" title on the "Hog", and it's definitely the best of the lot. The book contains 64 pages of mixed b&w and color photos as well as line drawings and color profiles. It's extremely well-written (but you'd expect nothing less of Jim) and the photo captions are highly informative. There are some fascinating new schemes portrayed and a great many of the photos haven't been previously published. It isn't the reference on the F4U, although I certainly anticipate that Jim will produce such a work for us one of these days, but it's a worthy addition to your aviation library all the same---it's definitely not just another thrown-together airplane book. This one is a Class Act from start to finish.

The Relief Tube

We've got one comment for today; new contributor Kolin Campbell has some thoughts on our "DNIF" P-47 photo from a couple of issues back:


Ran across your 'Replica in Scale' blog the other day - good stuff! Haven't checked out everything yet, but did take a look at some P-47N photos you had posted. You were wondering about the meaning of 'DNIF' painted on the nose of one of those beasts. To us Navy flyers, 'DNIF' stands for 'duty not involving flying'. It is what you DO NOT want to see written down by the flight surgeon or, heaven forbid, included on your next set of orders. I suspect the same acronym has been used in the military flying community for years. When you see 'DNIF' painted on that P-47N next to the scantily clad lady, though, I think you get the picture of what the artist had on his mind ... perhaps a not-so-unpleasant duty, in this case! My Dad is also a retired Naval Aviator (Spads, A-4s, A-7s), but his last flying gig was hauling VIPS in a T-39 that belonged to ADC, out of Peterson Field, CO. One of the generals he flew around was a former Ie Shima Thunderbolt pilot. His comment on overloaded P-47s and Ie Shima's short strip was that Republic forgot to attach a cement mixer to the prop so you could lay enough runway for yourself to takeoff.  Kolin 

Laying runway for yourself in a Republic product---some things never change! ("If anybody ever builds a runway around the world, Republic will build an airplane that can't take off from it!")

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

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