Monday, March 28, 2011

More Deuces, An Obscure Parachute, The Class of '38, and Some Nifty Post Cards

Doin' that Deuce Thing One More Time

Which isn't accurate, strictly speaking, because we're going to end up with several more installments before we're done with Convair's classic interceptor. I digress, however---last time around we looked at several of the "short tails", and frequent contributor Dave Menard has added a few more pictures to the mix, along with some comments. Let's jump right in and see what we've got:

It's an itty-bitty runway from the air, but that's where he's heading. This bird is from the Wright Air Development Center, a division of the ARDC, and was involved with cold-weather testing as a JF-102A. Those conspicuity markings really stand out!  Menard Collection

Here's a much better view of 802 in the air. The conspicuity-painted wingtips, which aren't very evident in our first shot, are shown to advantage in this photo. What a neat shot!  Menard Collection

Here's 802 touching down and showing off the tail markings. We don't have a good plan-view to define the wing markings but they were similar to the tail treatment. Note that the speed brakes are opened, although this editor can't see any sort of attachment for the drogue chute, indicating that it probably isn't deployed.  Menard Collection

Springtime in the Rockies it ain't. Here's 802 on the ground at Ladd AB in Alaska during the winter of 1955-56, doing cold-weather testing prior to service acceptance of the type. Sharp-eyed readers will note that once again we're playing the "Air Force, Air Force; Where'd They Put the U.S. Air Force?" game! It keeps us on our toes!  Menard Collection

Now that you've seen the Short Tail, here are a few Delta Daggers that might be more familiar to you:

In 1959 our friend Dave Menard was getting ready to deploy to France, but had time to shoot F-102A 56-1455 on the transient line at Peoria ANG Base in Illinois before he left. She's with the 18th FIS and is a relative Plain Jane by F-102 standards, but lack of markings don't hurt those classy lines one bit.  Dave Menard

The 496th at Hahn AB in Germany eventually ended up with some of USAFE's more colorful "Deuces", but 53-0810 wasn't among them when a young A1C David Menard photographed her in the spring of 1960. There's not one single non-standard marking on that airframe. Yet.  Dave Menard

We ran this shot several months ago, but Dave sent it along again and we're running it one more time, mostly because it shows a pair of F-102As from the 4th FIS at an air base in Northern Japan called Misawa. The checkerboards are red and black and these are some seriously pretty F-102s!  Menard Collection

The F-102 sired a two-seat trainer fairly early in the game; the TF-102A may well be the airplane that originated the use of the word "tub" to define the training variant of a tactical aircraft. The TF was ungainly and distinctly non-supersonic except in a dive, but proved a valuable tool for transition training. 56-2239 is with the 149th FIS/Texas ANG and was photographed at McEntire AFB in South Carolina. She's a pretty bird.  Jim Sullivan

You'd think an avionics update would be a relatively simple thing, with just a few changes to the airframe, but if you couple that upgrade with an overhaul you end up with airplanes that look something like the ones depicted in this photo taken at Greenville, SC, on 12 July 1968. It's a side of military aviation that few modelers ever get to see.  Jim Sullivan

We mentioned at the beginning of this installment that Dave Menard had some comments for us. We're guessing you'd probably like to read what he has to say, so without further ado:

31802 at time of photo was a JF-102A, assigned to Wright Air Development Center or Division of the old ARDC and looks like taken on the Patterson side of WP. She was also the Cold Weather Test airframe at Ladd AFB AK the winter of 1955/6 along with an F-101A. These were the last a/c to do CWT at Ladd, as the whole operation moved 26 miles down the Alcan Hiway to Eielson AFB AK. She has insignia red arctic markings on her outer wings as well as what you see in the photo, with an orange fluorescent band with white borders horizontal across the fin.

31806 the YF-102C was flown to Sheppard AFB TX to use as a Class 25 training airframe for newbie a/c mechanics to play with and it looks like that is where that photo was taken. (We also received a letter from reader Mike McMurtrey stating the same thing regarding the basing; good eye, Trey! pf)

31810 got the larger fin and speed boards, splitter plates and updates to wind up in the 496th FIS at Hahn AB Germany where I shot her nude in the spring of 1960. Will dig up a photo and scan it for your use if you desire. Yes! Please do that! pf

31812 the markings on this APGC bird(see badge on fin?)were the original ones put on at the factory. The curved over the wing U.S.AIR FORCE came later on but did not last long

41396 taken at George AFB CA where the 327th FIS was the first Deuce unit in the AF. In early July 1958, the whole sqdn moved to Thule AB Greenland to replace the F-89D equipped 74th FIS. Talk about some troops with tight jaws, wow! Can you imagine moving from George to Thule, hell, I'd be POed also.

Finally, for whatever it's worth, here are a couple of There I Was Stories that involve the F-102. Both come out of Misawa AB, Japan, ca. 1964-65:

Story the First: One of our neighbors in base housing at Misawa was a junior non-com who was assigned to the 4th FIS as an A and E type (that's Armament and Electronics, just in case you didn't know), and he came home with a pip of a story one morning. Seems he'd been working late and had witnessed the ground echelon changing out a pair of "Deuces" in the alert hangars. The replacement birds apparently got to their destination and backed into the alert barns with no undue drama, but the tug drivers must have been bored with things that night because the return to the squadron area with the airplanes that had until recently occupied said barns was a little bit sportier. A lot of Americans are hot rodders, at heart if not in fact, and the malady apparently afflicted the two young airmen driving the tugs; that's the only reason we can think of that would cause a pair of skilled and highly-trained young men to stop their tugs side by side on the taxiway, wait for the signal from a co-conspirator, and conduct an ad hoc drag race back to the 4th's hangar pulling their fully laden and armed F-102s behind them. There was fun, mirth, and, I'm told, an Article 15 for all of the active participants in the festivities. Nowadays the perps would most likely end up under the guardhouse, but this happened in the early 60s when things were, for better or for worse, somewhat looser.  How times have changed!

Story the Second: Misawa was in the process of losing its F-100s, which were being transferred to England AFB in Louisiana and then, a little later on, to Vietnam, Republic of. Losing the airplanes meant losing a lot of the personnel associated with them, which meant that some of my dependent friends were going back to the ZI with their parents. On the night in question, I was at base ops saying goodbye to one of my friends, who was prepairing to board the duty C-46 that made the Ass and Trash run between Misawa and Yokota, when an F-102 landed and made an extremely fast taxi towards the transient area. The pilot stopped the airplane at a fair distance from Transient, shut down the engine, opened the canopy, and slithered down the side of the aircraft. He was, not to put too fine a point on things, running when his boots hit the ground, passing the base fire trucks going the other way as he Beat Feet away from his apparently stricken airplane just as quickly as he could. We all stood there, waiting for Bad Things to Happen, but fortunately nothing did. Happen, that is. We watched for a while, then my friend had to board the C-46 so we all went home. It's been 45+ years since that event and I still don't know what I saw but it was great fun from a 16-year-old's perspective. I seriously doubt any of the Air Force guys involved in the drama shared my enthusiasm for it, however. Ah, memories...

Who Said the Japanese Didn't Have Parachutes?

Well, some Old Guys used to say they didn't use them, even though they were standard issue in both the Japanese Army and Navy air forces during the war. There was apparently a question regarding one of the parachute rigs on one of the many scale modeling boards a few days back and David Aiken, aka "Captain Bonzai" (bet you didn't think I remembered that, did you, David?) submitted several photos of said harness. David was kind enough to copy me on some of the correspondence, which allows me to run a couple of shots of the harness for your enjoyement. I'll let David tell you about it.

Sensei H. Sugiyama Shi sent six scans to illustrate the IJN A6M seat and harness, the parachute pack (zabuton), the harness worn by the pilot, and the connections. As he gathered these items, he still seeks the IJN "D" used (in photo 2) a IJA "rip cord" red handle for the assembly.

Hope this may help with the MANY questions.

David Aiken, a Director: Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

I don't know about you folks, but I often pose figures by my models, and these illustrations are of great value for that sort of thing. Many thanks to David Aiken and his Japanese mentors for allowing the use of the illustrations.  Aiken Collection

The Class of '38

About a hundred years ago, or at least it seems that way, Jim and I were hard at work on an SBD monograph that ultimately never got published. (I recently found and re-read the manuscript I'd written for said monograph and can honestly say that it's just as well; trust me on this one...) Somewhere in the evolution of the piece I'd loaned out a couple of photographs that were germaine to the SBD story. Jim found them a few weeks ago and sent them on to me---you've already seen one of them (the Northrop XFT-1), and there's really no place in our format for the other because of the way it's been tweaked by the USAAC. It's a neat shot, though, and well worth running. Here then is the Kelly Field Attack Section Class of 1938:

If you're an American you owe these guys, although it probably never crossed your mind to even remotely consider that. The photo was taken on 01 April, 1938. Within three years most of the people in this photo were hip-deep in a war, and I'm guessing a fair number of them died in it. That makes the photograph valuable to us all, I think, even though we can't see a whole lot of that A-17, although the gun fit and smoke tanks are of considerable interest to the modeler. Let's consider this one a tribute; thanks for your devotion and sacrifice, Class of '38.  Kelly Field 72861014 via Friddell Collection

You Meet The Coolest People on This Site

If you've spent much time exploring our modest offering, you've seen the links to the right of the page. One of those links is for a friend of ours named Jean Barbaud who, among other things, is one heck of an artist. You can see quite a bit of his work by clicking on his link, but I'd like to share a couple of his images with you here, because they're seriously cool. Please note that they're copyright, and that you can get a set of them (plus many others) by contacting Jean via the address given on his blog.

We really like P-40s around here, and we've had a soft spot for the 80th FG since that article on the unit way back in the original RIS. Here's Jean's take on all that.  Barbaud

And, of course, a P-51D! George Preddy would've liked this one, I think.  Barbaud

"Big Viv" was prominently featured in a classic USAF short film called "The Geiger Tigers". We presume the film was Jean's inspiration for this drawing---what a classic.  Barbaud

And finally, a "Fruitfly" from VA-93. Many thanks to Jean for sending these along.  Barbaud

And, as a reminder, you might want to check out our other links too. They're all favorites of ours and well worth your time!

Happy Snaps

This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite parts of the blog, and we've got a pretty spiffy entry for this week's edition from reader and contributor Don Jay:
Hi Phil, Here is another submission for your in-flight section. This is an F-4E out of Korat. It shows the capabilities of the F-4E and it just looks ‘tough’!! Shows how down & dirty it can get if you use these ac in the way they were meant. Here is a 34TFS F-4E with CBU-24 and Mk 82s both with fuse extenders and selectable fusing. This was taken from the Lemon anchor track in early 71 enroute to the Rt 9/tchepone area of Laos during support for LamSong 719. For the modelers in your group-note the irregular painting of ‘-228.’ dj

Many thanks, Don. We've got another of Don's air-to-airs in the works for a later edition so stay tuned (and please feel free to submit some of your own photography if you've taken any air-to-airs of military aircraft---we'd love to see them. As always, the address is .)

The Relief Tube

We're going to take a little different approach to this department today, by looking at some reader's models.

First off is an overdue look at an XFJ-2 Fury done by reader Brad Poling. He took an unconventional approach to building his replica and ended up with a really neat model. Here's what he had to say about it:


The model was built using the Admiral toys 1/18 F-86 Sabre. As you know, the only Fury(s) one can build directly from the Sabre is/are the XFJ-2(s) and XFJ-2B Fury. It was no easy task as I had to totally dismantle the F-86. These "toys" weren't meant to be taken apart and much care (and patience) was required. I scratch built the nose gear using a wheel from a toy car for the tire rim and used the original Sabre tire on that "rim". The strut was made from a telescoping radio antenna. The gear door was modified and extended forward (though I should have extended it even more towards the nose). The gun ports were filled since the 755 wasn't armed. The tailhook, tail bumper, two barrier guards were all scratch built, as well as, their housings. The gunsight was removed. I borrowed the more appropriate wing tanks, seat harness, and navigational loop antenna from an Ultimate Soldiers F-86. The instrument panel was repainted (the original left a lot to be desired). I added a throttle control and landing gear up/down lever. All of the lettering (save for the small stencils) and insignia are painted (not decals). There are a few small errors (ie, the left wing insignia should have the very tip of the corner touching the wing slat), but overall I estimate it is at least 90-95% accurate. Not bad since I am not a model builder and this was only my second attempt as an adult. My only complaint with this model is the overall nose shape is just a little off. And the intake and exhaust had no detail (that is why I added the red covers). The Ultimate Soldier model was better detailed in this area, but lacked in others. I realize this isn't really the type of "model" you generally cover. However, since you've written on the Fury(s) so often, I thought you'd appreciate some info on the XFJ-2 program. BTW - 133755 was destroyed in a crash in 1953. While Bud Sickel was away with another squadron, a young Lt. took her up with instructions to fly no longer than 30 minutes due to a faulty fuel pressure gauge. Well, after 30 PLUS minutes of flying......he ran out of fuel and crashed. He barely escaped with his life. Brad

You can find Brad's photos at . They're well worth a look.

One of the really neat things about this project is the fact that we get to meet people from all over the world. One of those readers is Anton Kochetkov, who writes to us from Russia. He's a dedicated (and seriously good) scale modeler, and has sent us a link to his latest project, a rework of the old 1/48th scale Lindberg X-3. The forum he's posted in is written in Russian, but the photos speak for themselves and the site itself is really neat too, and worth your time. Please give it a look:

Thanks for sharing with us, Anton, and please let us know when the X-3 is finished! (And send pictures!)

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

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