Monday, March 21, 2011

A Fury You Could Build Right Now, Things You Never Saw, A Primordial Scooter, Some Equally Early Deuces, and A Couple of Teasers for Next Time

I Want a Second Generation FJ Fury and I Want It Now!

That said sounds a mite prickly, to quote a line from a recent movie about the Alamo, but it's true. Think about it; we've got kits for the First Gen FJ, the FJ-1, in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales, and they're buildable. We've got at least two different 1/48th scale kits of the Third Gen FJ-4/4B and one sort-of ok one (Emhar's, but there may be others; I don't keep up with the scale so I'm not sure what else is out there) in 1/72nd, but we don't have any sort of decent Second Generation FJ, said generation being comprised of the FJ-2 and FJ-3, in any scale. The Late and Largely Unlamented ESCI gave it a shot back in the 80s with a neither-fish-nor-fowl combined FJ-2/FJ-3 that was, simply put, a terrible kit. That was mostly because the manufacturer didn't seem to understand any of the differences between the two types or, for that matter, between the FJ-2/3 and its parent F-86---unfortunately, that's a common malady when we're talking about the FJ and Plastic Modeling.

That's really a shame, too, because there are so many colorful schemes for the Fury out there and because the type was one of the better 1950s Navy jet fighters. It's my guess that an accurate 1/48th scale FJ-3/FJ-3M would sell like the proverbial hotcakes---I'm betting that such a kit would literally fly off the shelves, and that the aftermarket decal people would make a small fortune doing markings for it. Maybe we'll see one someday...

Meanwhile, reader Brad Poling has provided us with a couple of neat XFJ-2 photos, a great way to start any day. Let's get right to it!

Bud Sickel delivered FJ-2 (the first production FJ-2) 131927 to the Navy on Dec 11, 1952. Attached are two photos of that a/c. My period prints do not have any info printed on them. I do not know where they originated. Also attached is Bud in an AP photo being catapulted in his XFJ-2 from the USS Coral Sea (If memory serves, this took place in November 1952). The picture of 133754 being catapulted I sent you previously was taken at the same time. As a side note, Bud was the first Naval aviator to reach 1000 hours of JET time. He was the assistant director of the Test Pilot School, Pax River at the time of his death.

And here are the photos:

Cat shot!  133754, one of the FJ-2 prototypes, goes flying. The cat bridle is falling to the deck and the aircraft is a little lower than Bud Sickle might have liked given his proximity to the deck, but then carrier suitability trials include a phase in which the aircraft under evaluation is launched at increasingly lower speeds, and with varying wind-over-deck conditions, to determine handling characteristics and optimal launch parameters. Being a test pilot is rarely easy.  Poling Collection

Climbing out. The aircraft is carrying a fairly high angle of attack and the canopy, open during the launch, has been closed. The FJ-2 saw limited operational use but is still a pretty airplane (it's a Sabre, isn't it?!) You could actually convert the F-86 kit of your choice into XFJ-2 configuration if you wanted to. That said, I'm holding out for a decent FJ-3!  Poling Collection

You Can Hide Your Mistakes by Throwing Away the Model

We've all been there, at least those of us who model. Seemingly endless research is followed by careful construction and modification of a kit, followed by painstaking detailing and finishing. The end result is a once-in-a-lifetime model that we can proudly show to anybody; a world-beater of the highest order. That's what we all aspire to. Sometimes we even get close to that aforementioned world-beater, but more often we don't and sometimes, every so often, we drop a real clanger in the name of Scale Modeling. This diatribe has nothing, unfortunately, to do with the former.

Want an example of what I'm talking about? (Say "yes"!) It's easy enough to find; let's go back to the early 1970s and the print edition of the original Replica in Scale. The feature article of the issue in question was the McDonnell F-101B/F Voodoo, and we (read "I" here) needed to construct a model for that portion of the article. Easy enough, even then.

The kit of choice was the late-60s Hasegawa offering of the RF-101C. The conversion to the two-seater required some modeling skills, but nothing too dramatic, and Jim had come up with all the detail information any modeler could possibly need in order to accomplish the task. The major part of that conversion revolved around the nose, which had to be replaced, and the addition of a second cockpit with appropriate one-piece canopy. The cockpit was a simple case of making an existing hole that much bigger and adding a simplified interior. The different nose (and it's entirely different, with no similarity to the RF nose at all) was fabricated by the addition of the cone from an Airfix F-4E, suitably wrapped/laminated in sheet plastic until the proper diameter was achieved, topped off with a liberal application of Green Stuff and a lot of sanding. The canopy was a vacuum form over the appropriate AirModel canopy, which was close to the right shape but way too thick for use, even way back then.

Everything was coming along just fine with the project when your humble author discovered that there was an issue with the overall length of the model, to the tune of a couple of scale feet! Holy cow! They must've stretched the fuselage, and I completely missed it! Phooey! 

You need to know that when, not if, I make that sort of mistake nowadays I give one of those long sighs and introduce the Object of My Recent Affection to Mr. Trash Can. That's Now. Things were different Way Back Then, and I did my very best to save the project by taking my trusty razor saw and cutting the fuselage in two at what I deemed to be the appropriate place for the stretch. I added a plug to the model and made up whatever that missing length was imagined to be, and puttied and sanded a while. The result was a stretched F-101B that matched the specified length. All was well.

It all stayed well too, until I took the fuselage over to Jim's place so we could discuss the project during one of our weekly work-on-the-magazine sessions. He looked at it a while, admired all that putty work, then turned to me and said "what about the pitot tube?". The pitot tube! You know; the pitot tube---that thing that sticks out from the nose of the F-101B for exactly the amount I'd lengthened the fuselage of that model!

We didn't run any photographs of a model of the F-101B that issue, or any other for that matter. I did eventually build one, when Revell issued their superb 1/72nd scale B-model in the late 80s, but that Hasegawa conversion never got finished. I kept the hulk on my work bench for a couple of years to remind myself not to do that sort of thing anymore. It was a lesson that, sadly, I never quite learned.

Where It All Began

While we're exploring those Sunny Slopes of Long Ago, let's take a look ad the first version of Douglas' immortal A-4 Skyhawk. The A4D-1 was a goofy little airplane, revolutionary for its time but not terribly useful in its initial version.

Literally a shape of things to come. The A4D-1 was an amazing airplane, but it was limited. There was no provision for in-flight refuelling, and weapons carriage was limited to what could be carried on whichever hardpoint was available after the addition of gas bags to suit the particular mission at hand. The type became far more effective with the addition of MER and TER racks and proved itself repeatedly in combat thereafter, but it probably would have been an also-ran without those racks and definitely didn't have the range to be effective. It was, however, an excellent starting point. That beautifully-skinned rudder was an early casualty of the Skyhawk program; a nasty little aerodynamic buzz resulted in the externally-ribbed rudder we're all familiar with. Ed Heinemann once said he'd always intended to design a better rudder but never got around to it. Of such stuff are legends made.  Nankivil Collection

That Short-Tail Dagger

We could, if we were so inclined,  provide you with considerable boring detail regarding the F-102 program and its somewhat miraculous rise from the ashes, but we won't . What we will do is show you a couple of photos of those early "Deuces". The F-102 wasn't much of an interceptor when these photos were taken, but that was soon to change.

The "Deuce" started life as a short little fellow with no tail and a stubby shape. The airframe morphed its way into the production article in stages; here we have a 4-ship of early-production F-102As in flight. 53-1792 and 93 were F-102A-5-COs, while 1795 and 1796 were -10s. They don't look like much, but their progeny served ADC for over two decades before retirement. That was after they got all the bugs out...
Isham Collection
Of course, if you've got yourself a Brand New Airplane you have to show it off! 53-1802 poses for the public early in its career; check out the presentation of "U.S. Air Force" on the intake trunk and the aft-fuselage positioning of the star and bar. 1802 was serving with the ARDC at Wright Pat when this photo was taken but ended up in the museum at Eglin AFB where it eventually fell victim to corrosion, being expended as a range target. Rowland Gill Collection via Isham

53-1806 was somewhat of an oddball; its serial number should make it an F-102A-20-CO, but when photographed here it was in YF configuration as the YF-102C. All that day-glo made for a pretty airplane, I bet!  MacSorley via Isham

It's an interceptor, so let's go intercept something! The gear's coming up as F-102A-20-CO 53-1810 launches out of Eglin on an evaluation hop. She was with the 3211th Interception Test Group when this photo was taken, and survived (after conversion) until 1971 when she was delivered to MASDC for disposition.  Isham Collection

If it goes up it comes back down sooner or later. 53-1812 was the first F-102A-25-CO and is shown here while serving with the 3211th. She'll drop that drogue chute in a minute and taxi back to the squadron area to prep for another flight. Note that the national insignia has moved from the aft fuselage to the intake trunk, while the "U.S. Air Force legend has been reduced in size and moved to the vertical stab.  Isham Collection

We've been looking at test and evaluation airframes up to this point, but the short-tails made it into squadron service too, as illustrated by 54-1396, an F-102A-35-CO of the 327th FIS. The checkertail treatment on the vertical is repeated on the intake lips, and the national insignia has moved to the nose! They eventually got that national insignia thing sorted out, but it took a while to do it!  Robert Doer via Isham

The "Deuce" does look odd with that little bitty tail; this is more like it! 56-1319 is shown here while attending William Tell in 1972; the weapons bay doors have just transitioned and she's ready to launch. That's an interceptor, ya'll! 1319 was a relative latecomer, a -75-CO. This bird looks grey in the photo, but most of the 57th's aircraft were painted in aluminum laquer during this time frame. Isham Collection

How about an Oopsie to end this installment? 1316 was an F-102A-75-CO and was assigned to the South Dakota ANG's 175th FIS when this dramatic photo was taken. We aren't running the picture for sensationalism, though, but rather for detail; take a look between the main mounts and you'll see what the "Deuce's" barrier probe looks like in the extended configuration. 1316 survived this incident and was retired to MASDC in 1970. The F-102 was a tough old bird...  Isham Collection

A Modeler's Footnote, or I Wish I Hadn't Done That

Go back up to the beginning of this week's edition and you'll read about my trials and tribulations while I was attempting to build an F-101B model for an issue of the original RIS. Well, Gang; I built an F-102 for the magazine too, a 1/72nd scale model from the 1968-give-or-take Hasegawa kit. And it came out pretty good, right up to the part where it was time to paint it.

I was a Floquil guy back then, and real Floquil, as opposed to the contemporary They Call It Floquil But It Dang Sure Isn't product we have these days, was pretty much bullet proof. If you applied it correctly it would withstand almost anything, and that property was the catalyst, literally as well as figuratively, for one of my more profound modeling screwups. Read on:

The "Deuce" was done, painted, decalled (with Letraset if you're old enough to remember that particular product), and ready for a good glosscoat on the airframe to finish things off. The early 1970s weren't exactly the high point of scale modeling as far as gloss products went, most of what was available to us being relatively useless, but there was one product that was guaran-dang-teed to produce a high-gloss finish each and every time it was used; Krylon Clear Lacquer. That last word is important to our story because the product really was lacquer-based, which we all know is a Bad Actor if you spray it onto things that aren't lacquer, but I was painting with Good Old Bulletproof Floquil so it wouldn't matter, right? Right!

I had a Plan, and marched my Happy Self outside to spray my brand new F-102 model with Krylon. Since I was using an aerosol can it only took about three or four minutes to coat the model with the stuff, after which it took about 30 seconds for my aforementioned Brand New F-102 Model to wrinkle up into something that resembled the texture normally found on basketballs. Uh-oh...

The model was ruined, but we were always late back in those days (sort of like this very issue is; a commemoration of sorts, I suppose) so I had time to build another one and use something else for the final gloss finish and actually made my deadline.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Happy Snaps

You may recall that we run our "Happy Snaps" section in order to present air-to-air photographs taken by our readers. Here's a really neat shot taken by contributor Don Jay back when he was participating in The Late Southeast Asia War Games:

Don had sent along a couple of photos for use in this section, but this was The Money Shot, so it's the one we ran. Enjoy! Phil, (This) one is an F-105G of the 6010 Wild Weasel Sq out of Korat. Cheers, dj

What a gorgeous photo---thanks for sharing, Don!

The Relief Tube

I don't often do early corrections to these things, generally preferring to wait until the following edition to change or fix things, but I dropped a major clanger in the introduction to the two XFJ-2 photos we ran this week and I need to make things right! I had originally commented that reader Brad Poling had sent some comments to me via this blog's comments mechanism, which often results in lack of information at my end (full names and so on and so forth). That sort of thing makes crediting photos, etc., pretty difficult and, of course, I commented on that too. All that would have been just fine, except that Brad had indeed sent his comments via e-mail ( ) and I had his last name all along! I could chalk it up to the aging process, or to the fact that I'm an Adult Male and that's the sort of goofy thing we do, but the simple fact of the matter is that I messed up! Apologies to Brad, and many thanks for sending along those XFJ-2 photographs---they're a great addition to our ongoing study of the type.  pf

And while we're fixing things, Dave Menard's been contributing to these pages for a while but up until now had been silent regarding corrections. The silence has been officially broken and we've now got a small stack of corrections from Dave so, without further ado:

10 Oct 10 (Hmmm, 10-10-10!) ALL of those F-80As remained As until well after the Korean War, when the As became C-11s, and the Bs became C-12s No F-80A flew combat in Korea, but RF-80As did. The 49th got brand new C models in early 1950, and were combat ready just in time for the Korean War to start! That F-84G 11327 was not a CO's a/c, just normal unit markings The F-80As went back to the USA for use by ATC and then ANG/AFRES.

9 Dec 10 shot of two Thuds hooked up to a KB-50 over the Pacific in 1964-NOT! The Thuds are Ds of the 23rd TFS, 36th TFW out of Bitburg AB Germany, while the tanker is a KB-50J from the 420th AREFSQ out of RAF Sculthorpe UK. Since the fins are in solid color, this shot dates from 1961/2 time frame as the unit markings were painted on the a/c at Brookley AFB AL, which was the depot for 105s in USAFE. Yes, unit markings put on before delivery to gaining units, only time have ever heard of this happening.

OK, here are some from the 2 Apr 10 blog:

The markings on that NH ANG F-86L were not in "arctic" red but plain old orange fluorescent color, known as "conspicuity" markings. These consisted of bands around the nose, rear fuselage and outer wings, top and bottom. I shot some of these in May 1959 a few days before PCSing to France and an example is enclosed.

And here's the photo---Thanks Dave!  Menard Collection

The Fox Peter One det was the 31st SFW led by Col David Schilling taking their brand new F-84Gs over to FEAF. Fox Peter Two was Col Donald Blakeslee leading the 27th SFW out of Bergstrom to FEAF. That is Schilling stepping out of 058 in the one photo. That antenna sticking out of the top of the nose in the two photos of 058 was not nav equipment, but a plain old ARC-34 VHF or UHF radio.

That one B-29 shot with what you say(correctly)is a B-17G serial was either B-29B-40-BA 44-83893 or B-29B-50-BA 44-83983. It is very possible that you misread the number stenciled way up on the fin/rudder and it is very easy to do so what with the stencil style presentation.

In another blog, you have a camo'd F-102A with a tail code on it, captioned ready to deploy to the Far East. No Deuce in the states ever got any tail code period. First of all, these did not show up much before 1968, while the Deuce units went over in 1965/6. I never saw a Deuce during my three month TDY to DaNang in the spring of 1965, the one month TDY to Bien Hoa after the previous TDY, nor during my PCS tour with the 3rd TFW from Nov 65-Aug 66! Saw lots of gray ones at Clark, where the 509th ruled, but never a camo'd one. Did see camo'd Deuces at Travis from the C-124 I was in while taxiing out for T/O enroute to Bien Hoa that November however. Missed the IFR probes.

And finally:

Hello Phil

In reading your blogs about your time at Misawa sure brought back memories. Have a clarification however. The 21 TFW deactivated on 18 June 1960, leaving the two Hun units plus the 4th and 45th all answering directly to the 39th Air Division, which was a really goofy setup, as Air Divisions were then supposed to be composed to at least two Wings. Never found out who or where this second wing was either. I had served under a similar setup when up at Ladd AFB Alaska in 1956/7 as the three F-89D units were answering directly to the 11th ADIV after the 5001st ADW deactivated. Never found a second wing up there either! After the 8th Wing at Itazuke AB Japan sent their three sqdns of Thuds to Yokota, those units answered to the 41st ADIV, not a wing, as the 8 number wound up in Thailand! Amusing but confusing as Little Abner used to say.  Cheers, Dave

Many thanks to Dave and all the rest of our readers for helping to keep us honest. If you've got something to say or share, that address is . We look forward to hearing from you.

One final thing before we go. Dave Menard and I were both in Northern Japan during the same time period, way back in the early 60s, and while there we both developed a respect and fondness for the country and its people that's lasted a lifetime. In his final set of corrections Dave made mention of the tragedy that's befallen that part of the world, and we here at Replica want to extend our sincere sympathy to the people of Japan. We know you will recover, because that's the sort of place Japan is, but times are pretty tough right now and we want you to know our prayers are with you.

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

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