Friday, February 11, 2011

Not All Stoofs Chased Submarines, The Spit is Done, A Little More From Post-War Japan, and A Modeler's Bomb Load

Before We Get Started

Let's say hi to all the new folks who've started following Replica. Welcome aboard, everybody; we hope you enjoy what we're doing here and will continue to visit us. One thing you might want to note (and I know at least a few folks are wondering because I get e-mails saying they do): Apparently a lot, maybe even most, of the other blogs out there allow comments through the "comments" part of their blog's software. As previously mentioned (but a long time ago) we've never done that; guess we're just old-fashioned! Still, the comments and corrections are very important to us, which is why we encourage you to write directly to rather than using the "post a comment feature". We respond to everything except spam, and generally publish the comments in The Relief Tube, so we're definitely paying attention to what you have to say. We don't give out addresses or names, or anything like that, in case you were wondering/worrying about it. It's just easier, us being old-fashioned and all, to deal with things directly. And with that out of the way, let's move right on to, you guessed it; more "Stoofs"!

A Pretty Useful Little Airplane

We generally think of the S2F as a submarine chaser, even though we all know there were dedicated versions built specifically for COD and early warning duties. In today's thrilling installment of our S2F series we're going to look at "Stoofs" that served in roles that might best be categorized as None of the Above.

If the active-duty Navy flies a particular type of airplane, it's a fair bet that the Reserves will operate the type as well. Here's a prime example of that; an S2F-2 from NAS Alameda. Somehow the "Stoof" just doesn't look right in day-glo, does it?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And here's a view of 133261, another S2F-2 from Alameda. She's well-used but equally well-maintained, a hallmark of the Reserves. Airplanes rarely get as messy as some modelers like to portray them---less is more when you're weathering, ya'll!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's something you don't see every day. This "Stoof" is assigned to VA-122, the A-7 Corsair RAG, but she's not an S2F; she's an EC-1A, a rarity in the S-2 community. Comments are encouraged. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried.

And a pair of EC-1As from VAW-33. This would be an ideal time for Rick Morgan to jump in and provide us with some information on the type and its use in the EW community, since VAW/VAQ-33 is a heritage sort of thing for him. How 'bout it, Rick?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The utility squadrons used the "Stoof" too. Here's a fine example of a US-2C serving with VC-1. That airframe has seen better days, but the squadron badge on the nacelle looks pretty nice all the same; I'm particularly interested in the way the Engine Grey faded on that airframe! The utility squadrons were definitely among the unsung operators of the S-2.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VC-5 was another operator of the US-2C. Here's 133347 doing what the utility squadrons do best. Of particular interest is the presentation of the BuNo on the mlg door---you just don't see that every day. The Utility "Stoofs" would make into a really colorful model, I think.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The US military had quite an infatuation with the Skyhook concept during the 1960s. This photo shows a NATC "Stoof" rigged out for that mission. We're all familiar with the system's operational use on the C-130, and we ran a couple of shots of a similarly-equipped C-123 here a few issues back, but who would've thought you'd ever see the installation on an S-2!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And the Skyhook in action---that must have been quite a ride! The test subject (the very brave test subject) is in process of being winched into the hatch that lives in the space formerly occupied by the ventral radome. What a way to make a living, huh?  Sure wish we had a closeup of the art on the side of that nacelle!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

When next we meet we'll take a look at some S2F photos that have thus-far escaped classification in our ongoing essay. Stay tuned!

Another Big Airplane, or Where Am I Going to Put These Things When They're Done?

Which is a non-too-clever way of saying that the 1/32nd scale Tamiya Spitfire Mk VIII project is complete. The model is a snap to build and I think it looks pretty good when it's finished. Anybody want to see some pictures?

Let's start with a view of the entire model. We've all seen/read/been-exposed-to the hype on all the internet modeling sites, but for once a model so-described actually deserves all those accolades, and more. So far we've seen a Mk IXc, a Mk VIII, and a Mk XVI off the basic molds, and the way Tamiya's designed the kit would make it a relatively simple thing to make the rest of the Merlin-engined family from the Mk V onward. We (that's Journalese for "me") weren't too crazy about the kit decals, but everything else is pretty darned good, kit photo-etch included. Oh yeah, that blivet off the port wing is one of the two optional aux tanks provided by the kit; the other one is on the model. You'll have quite a few extra parts hanging around when you're done with this one!

Here's the other side, and you still get to see that extra tank as a bonus! It (the tank) is jacked up like that because of the mounting pins---it's a simple matter to remove the 30-gallon tank that's on the airplane right now and replace it with the bigger one(45-gal? 60?) shown, or remove it entirely. The Mk VIII was a relatively late addition to the RAAF's fighter force; the model represents A58-526 of 79 Sqdn as seen at Morotai during 1945. By that time the squadron was performing long-range mud moving for the Allies and the aux tanks were a necessity for most missions. The airplane is weathered, but not as heavily as it could be except for the exhaust stains which are extremely prominent in the surviving photos of UP-L.  The kit includes those ubiquitous metal hinges to allow the control surfaces to deflect but I don't like that sort of thing and locked the ailerons, elevators, and rudder in place. I also closed up the cowling---that beautifully-done Merlin 61 is in there but I didn't care for the fit of the cowling pieces, magnets or no magnets, and locked down the cowling too. You pays your money, you takes your choice...

The width of those white ID stripes on the leading edge of the wings seemed to vary a lot from airplane to airplane; those on 526 were relatively narrow and were done with a thinly-sprayed dirty white, which let quite a bit of the underlying camouflage show through. The same technique was used on the spinner, while the prop blades were painted with a faded flat black. (The real props were "plastic" on this airplane, so there's no metal showing through this time, just a highly-weathered finish!) Those exhaust stacks are separate, all twelve of them, so you'll need to be careful with their alignment and no; you can't ask me how I know that! In one of the model's rare failings, Tamiya provides a port for the gun camera at the base of the starboard wing root, but there's nothing in there. I added a camera from plastic tube, but it sticks out a little further than it should because I decided to do it after the wing was buttoned up; that really should have been done while everything was in pieces---live and learn! The sharp-eyed among you will note the complete lack of an antenna wire on the model; the Mk VIII retained the mast but didn't use an external aerial for the radio.

The lighting's a little goofy here, but I wanted to show you that aux tank and the bomb racks and bombs, all of which are included with the kit. Given 79 Sqdn's mission at the time the bombs make an excellent addition to the model, and they're detailed enough that all you need to add are the arming wires! One thing about those bombs, though; Tamiya provides both nose and tail fuses in photoetch and tells you to use both, but it would be relatively rare to find both of those fuses on a weapon at the same time. It's far more likely that you'd find either the nose fuse in place or the one at the back, but the type of fusing would have been entirely dependent upon the mission being flown. I opted for the nose fuses because they're easily seen and were probably the ones most often used. They add to the model, don't they?

This shot shows us the fuse again, and also the nose art, which came from the excellent decal sheet found in Kagero's "Top Colors 18",  Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII  , Lublin, 2010. Those decals performed flawlessly and were among the best I've ever used, the set providing the nose art, fuselage codes, and serial numbers shown here as well as markings for an additional ten or so Australian Mk VIIIs. You can see the arming wire on the bomb to advantage in this photo, as well as the photo-etched propeller for arming the bomb's fuse. That bomb rack is a thing of beauty too, easy to assemble and absolutely fool-proof, always a Good Thing where I'm involved! Those wing roundels are from the 1/32nd scale Victory Productions sheet and worked a whole lot better than the kit decals did (stiff as a board, they were!). Fin flashes, and that little white stickie on the front of the aux tank, came from the kit but everything else was sourced from aftermarket. I usually blame myself when decals don't work, but the kit decals were really special. Fortunately, there's a fair aftermarket for Mk VIII stickies these days...

This photo gives us a better idea of the actual colors on the model, and shows off a little bit of the cockpit to boot. The kit's cockpit is excellent as-is, but Eduard's cockpit set for this model helps things more than you would imagine and I definitely recommend using one on your model. (Conversely, the kit's Sutton harness works just fine; no point buying more aftermarket for that area and Eduard doesn't provide a harness with their interior set---go figure!) All the paint was Testor ModelMaster enamel, with weathering done with pastels or a combination of airbrushing and pastels, that last technique being used for the exhaust stains. Note that there's no lettering inside the cockpit door of this airplane; some Australian Spitfires had it there, but a whole bunch don't, so I left it off. You might also want to be aware that the crowbar molded inside that door isn't usually red on real wartime airplanes---that's an affectation of  the contemporary Warbird scene and modelers who want a little extra color in the cockpit. The crowbar was generally grey-green on wartime Spitties.

It's deja-vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say! The kit could actually stand a little more in the way of detailing, and I really really really wish Tamiya would stop using those gimmicky rubber tires on their premium kits, but this thing sure looks like a Spitfire when it's done. Total build time was about two weeks, but I didn't superdetail anything---that particular activity would have extended the time it took to finish the kit by a considerable margin. My personal preference is to inactivate all the working features, but that's just me. This is easily the best kit I've worked with during the past couple of years, and it's raised the bar substantially for models in this scale.

And that's it for the Spit. (That sounds odd, doesn't it?) You really have to wonder what Tamiya's going to do next. It'll be tough to top this one!

A Few More From Long Ago and Far Away

It's no secret that I've got a thing for the post-War US Air Force in the Far East. The whole concept is pretty neat, I think, particularly since some of those airplanes carried their wartime markings into the late 1940s. Dave Menard has provided a few more shots for us to drool over; let's take a look!

The 3rd BW (previously 3rd Attack) got A-26s late in the war, and took them to Japan when they were assigned occupation duty. These A-26s are carrying pre-USAF stars and bars, which places them at either Atsugi, Yokota, or Johnson, but I have no idea where this photo was taken (or when). The aircraft are all carrying either names or nose art, but are too distant from the camera to make out what any of it might be. So near and yet so far...  Menard Collection

What a neat lineup of Invaders! The OD over grey scheme lasted quite a while after war's end, both in the Far East and in Europe. Check out the noses on those B-model A-26s; both 6-gun and 8-gun variations are depicted in this photo; take your pick! Anybody got a time machine?  Menard Collection

Look at the Big, Black Airplane ya'll! Northrop's P-61 stayed in the Far East for several years both as a night fighter and, in guise of its cousin, the F-15 Reporter, in the photo recon role. By the time of the Korean Unpleasantness they'd been replaced by F-82s, probably a Good Thing for all concerned. It's possible, although I'm not at all certain, that this bird is from the 547th FS; if any of our readers can clarify that point I'd be grateful. The address is, as always, .  Menard Collection

They're most likely P-51Ds, and they're in Japan post-1947. Past that, I just don't know, but it's a neat ramp all the same. The Mustang nearest the camera appears to have a white stripe under the wing, and check out that OD and grey C-46 at the end of the line. Menard Collection
44-73812 is a P-51D-25-NA, and she's on the ramp somewhere in Japan. The tail striping on the Mustang at far right suggests the 35th FW, but I'm not at all certain of that. Still, 812 is carrying a name ("Dee") on the nose and is well worth modeling.  Menard Collection
And finally, some Mustangs from the 35th, probably at Yokota post-1947. 44-73641 is another P-51D-25 and, I think, is featured on a couple of old MicroScale decal sheets. "Tornado" is painted on her nose, and that red cheat line, along with the pre-War AAF rudder stripes, really sets her apart. The Mustang to her right wears command stripes and we can make out part of a name ("Mother..."). If only the photographer had been shooting from a slightly different angle that day!  Menard Collection

We're starting to go somewhere with our post-War 5th AF project, I think. If any of you have anything else from that era (I'm particularly looking for 475th FG P-38s in Korea post-War) please let me know. We'd love to run them! As always, the address is .

I Suppose You Could Do It, But Why Would You Want To?

Republic's F-105 was designed and built as a tactical strike fighter, and was configured from the very beginning to carry an internal bomb load. Changing times and a rapidly evolving world stage called for a change of plans, and the type spent most of its days hauling externally-mounted iron bombs to targets in Southeast Asia instead of streaking across Eastern Europe at the speed of light. Somewhere in the evolution Republic needed to figure out what sort of bomb load the Thunderchief was capable of carrying...

Boy, is that a bunch of bombs or what? 61-0095 was built as an F-105D-15-RE and is seen here during armament tests, most likely at Eglin, in the early 60s. That load of Mk 82s looks really impressive, but carrying that many bombs would've given the airplane a totally useless radius of action. 0095 saw duty with the 421st TFS in SEA and was lost on 24 March, 1966, during a strike up North.   Republic B-11019
An early bird; 58-1173 was an F-105D-5-RE and is shown here carrying a full load of M117s en route to the range. Once again, radius of action would have been a major issue with this bomb load---she would've made quite an impression, but she wouldn't have gotten very far from home. 1173 was one of the lucky "Thuds", surviving the war to be surplused out to MASDC in 1981. A few survived...   Republic B-11353

The Relief Tube

It's a Slow Day correction-wise, but we've got a kudo from a reader that I'd like to share:

Hi Phillip,
I was an avid modeler....a long, long time ago. I had all the Replica in Scales and most of the Aerophille, and found them to be the BEST reference information available....I ebayed them 5 years ago and with them most of my model airplane collection....built & unbuilt. I have donated most of my built models to a local CAP Hq. My IPMS # was 1273. Anyway I still do research on the 7th & 40th squadrons whenever I get an itch to read about airplanes. I am mostly about hot rods now....  I am so glad I found your will provide me with much reading and oggeling of pictures....chuck shotwell

Thanks Chuck, and please feel free to share any photography you might come up with on the 7th and 40th! Meanwhile, do any of our readers enjoy hot rods? If so, please check out the blog site Chuck linked to above; there's some really neat stuff there if you happen to be a gearhead. (I just finished restoring an old 1/25th scale '32 Ford roadster for Jenny's bookshelf, so Chuck's site was a real treat for me!)

While we're in that vein, I don't know how many of you go to the "Links" part of this site. There wasn't one for a really long time, you know, because I was far too computer-challenged to figure out the incredibly simple and intuitive software that allowed me to add such things to Replica. You might want to try them out if you haven't before; there are some neat sites out there and I think you'll enjoy them.

Meanwhile, that's what I know for this week. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

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