Saturday, April 23, 2011

School Days, A Different Delta, A Couple of Demons, and a Tamiya Mustang

You Need Schoolin'; I Ain't Foolin' (With Apologies to Zep)

OK, it's a corny intro, but it's all I've got so we'll have to live with it. The point to be taken (and we've taken it at least once before on these pages) is that you've got to go to school to learn to fly, and you're probably going to do that learning in a purpose-built airplane called a trainer.

Regarding those trainers; nowadays we tend to buy them off-the-shelf from other countries, but it wasn't always that way. Nope, for a great many years we designed and built our own, but rising costs put the kibosh on that sort of thing, since it eventually became far more cost-effective to buy something that was already out there than to start from scratch, but the do-it-in-country approach produced a number of classic airplanes. We're going to look at a couple of them today. Call it nostalgia (except you'll have to be really old to personally remember one of them!).
Ever seen a Consolidated PT-3A before? If you haven't, today's your Lucky Day, because we've got a fine study of one for your consideration. The type was a direct descendent of the PT-1, with a different empennage and the installation of a Wright J-5 (R-790) radial. It was more widely used than you might imagine, with 130 PT-3s and 120 PT-3As being built before termination of production in favor of yet another set of mods that created the PT-11.  Friddell Collection

Remember that part where we said Consolidated built a bunch of PT-3s and 3As? Here's what an American Southerner might call a whole slew of them, both 3s and 3As, at Randolph Field on 25 June, 1939. I haven't tried counting them but there are more than just a few of them in this shot!  AAF G722-467J-PD via RAFB PAO

OK, so you never heard of the PT-3, but you've probably heard of this one and maybe even seen one fly or, just maybe, have flown one yourself---the survival rate for the immortal PT-13 is pretty high. This absolutely gorgeous ramp shot was taken at Randolph Field on 08 January, 1938. Click on this photo to enlarge it and spend a couple of minutes studying it. Now then; why is it we can get kit after kit of all the major fighters of WW2 but can't get a decent PT-13? What an ideal candidate for a 1/32nd scale model...
AAF G107A-467J-PD) via RAFB PAO

And here's another PT-13, or maybe not. The PT-13 became the PT-17 with an engine change to the Continental R-670-5, and the PT-17 became the most widely-produced of the Kaydet family. Wartime production demands quickly outstripped the available supply of R-670s though, and the PT-17 became the PT-18 with the installation of the Jacobs R-755-7, 150 of which were produced. That's a PT-18 shown above. Maybe some of our Czech readers could have a word with the folks at Special Hobby?  USAF via John Kerr

It's a Delta But It Ain't a "Deuce"

Nope, but it's sure a close relative to the F-102. The Delta Dagger quickly changed from being a cutting edge weapons system to an interim design that held the fort until a more advanced interceptor could be built. Convair's take on that more advanced design thing was the F-102B, which quickly morphed into the F-106A for budgetary reasons. Mark Morgan sent these "Six" shots to us last week, and since we're waiting for a special bunch of "Deuce" photos that haven't arrived yet, this seemed as good a time as any to run them.

The late, lamented Air Defense Command, aka ADC, was never a command to shy away from pretty markings as typified by these "Sixes" from the 5th FIS. The F-106 benefitted from the F-102's growing pains and was good almost right from the beginning. Pretty...  via Mark Morgan

Hoo Boy, is this neat or what? Another 4-ship, this time from the 318th FIS, poses over the Pacific Northwest near Mt Ranier. The F-106 was a higly effective interceptor, and one of two Century Series fighters that never saw service with a foreign air arm. (The F-105 was the other.) It was an amazing airframe that lasted for 3 decades in USAF and Air National Guard service and wore an amazing assortment of markings while serving with the regulars and the Guard, yet to date we've only got one elderly (albeit quite good) 1/72nd scale kit of the type, and one rapidly-aging 1/48th scale offering, plus the remains of a mere handful of detailing sets and a few decal sheets. You'd expect more.  via Mark Morgan

And finally, here's a bird from the 318th in flight over Mt Ranier. The "Six" simply exudes class. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, an interceptor!  via Mark Morgan

A McDonnell Spook Revisited

We haven't heard from Mark Nankivil for a while, but he's introduced us to quite a bit of remarkable photography and we think it's time to look at some more of it. Today's subject is the McDonnell F3H Demon, one of many 1950s Navy jets that could have been a contender but was crippled by engine problems for much of its service life. On the other hand, it (and the F-101) are the direct sires of the immortal F-4 Phantom family, making the pain worth the gain, as it were.

Fighting Forty-One operated the F3H for a while. 143479 was an F3H-2 and a CAG bird when Duane Kasulka shot her at MCAS Yuma in December of 1959. She's getting a little worn but still looks great. Kasulka via Nankivil

Ever wonder what a big airplane like the Demon looks like when it's in the hangar deck? This April, 1956-vintage shot of one aboard the Forrestal answers the question. It's not as bad as stuffing a "Vigi" or a "Whale" in there, but it's bad enough!  Careful with that tug, Leroy!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Of course, sooner or later it comes out of the hangar and goes flying. This colorfully-marked VF-31 Demon is being towed to the cat prior to launch. I don't know about you guys, but I we could look at this kind of stuff all day long! Roos via Nankivil

The Demon had quite an angle of attack when sitting on the deck, as depicted by this F3H-2N from VF-112. Imagine manning up on a pitching deck in bad weather; it's a long way down...  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And finally, a shot taken at Miramar in January of 1963, when the F3H had morphed into the F-3B thanks to the joint services designation realignment madness. We've run this one before, but it's just too neat to omit; the airplane is gorgeous, it's from the last days of the Demon with the Fleet, and the photo provides a lot of detail for the modeler.  Duane Kasulka via Nankivil

Not the Tamiya Mustang You Wanted to See, But a Tamiya Mustang Nontheless

It's official; Tamiya's next 1/32nd scale kit will be the P-51D Mustang, with release scheduled for mid-summer of this year. It ought to be quite a kit, although there are any number of other subjects equally deserving of the honor, and we're guessing that a huge number of folks publicly proclaiming enthusiasm with buy the kit but never build it. Then again, we're a little bit prejudiced, since The Big T could have produced state-of-the-art 1/48th FJ-3Ms and F3H-2s instead, thus curtailing our ongoing whining about same. (We call that "prejudice", and are not ashamed of it. We want a Fury!)

Be that as it may, Tamiya has another Mustang out there that you can buy right now, in 1/48th scale. It's been released three times that we're aware of; once as a straight WW2 version, once in a "Korean War" release (the one to get because of the additional parts, mostly ordnance, that are included, plus the Aeroproducts prop), and once as a special WW2 release that includes a staff car. It's a good kit with a few minor glitches, such as a soft cockpit, a non-prototypical way of mounting the deployed flaps (important to the Mustang since those flaps were generally down when the airplane was parked), and a "rivet" pattern on the upper surfaces of the wings, towards the leading edge, that directly reflects a repair (most likely a doubler of some sort) on the real P-51 they scaled the model from. There's a fair amount of aftermarket available for the kit including a spiffy little F-6D conversion from QuickBoost, and more decals than you could imagine, although the majority of the latter are for European-based Second World War birds.

The kit is, like every other Tamiya kit you've ever built, quick and easy to get together, and you can tart it up as much as you want to with that aforementioned aftermarket.

This is what the 1/48th scale Tamiya Mustang looks like when built. The model represents an aircraft from the 458th FS/506th FG when flying out of Ie Shima on VLR escort missions in May of 1945. The interior is loaded with Eduard photo-etch but is still not quite where it ought to be, and the flaps were left alone since the model is pinned to that Eduard base (literally pinned, with cut-down insect pins in the wheels attaching the model to the base) and nobody will ever see the compromise Tamiya made in that area. The goofy rivet pattern specific to the P-51 warbird that Tamiya used as a full-scale reference has been filled, sanded and polished, and the exhausts were replaced with articles from QuickBoost. The stickies came from AeroMaster sheet 48-794 "The Iwo Jima Mustangs" Pt 1 and worked really well, but be forewarned that proper alignment of those stripes on the tail is a True Test of Manhood, and you will, in all likelyhood, utter a great many politically incorrect imprecations as a result of that test. The only visible mod required for a VLR (that stands for Very Long Range, by the way) P-51 is the fitment of the AN/ARA-8 radio homing device (nicknamed "Uncle Dog"), which is the reason for those two wooden antenna masts jst aft of the canopy. The kit's existing radio mast is still utilized, but moved to a position on the lower nose. The "Uncle Dog" masts were created using .020 styrene strip, in case you were wondering.

Her's a shot of the nose that shows the relocated kit radio mast to advantage. Those are QuickBoost un-faired P-51 exhausts and, although they're a substantial improvement over the kit representation of same, most folks will never notice the difference. Still, they're inexpensive and made me feel better about the model. This shot proves that duplicating a natural metal finish is an ongoing education. It would be fair to say there's a ways to go yet...

While we're talking about this particular Mustang, let's look at a couple of other things too. First, there's the background color of the pin-up under the windscreen. AeroMaster provided that background in red, yellow, and blue, stating that blue was the most likely color for that particular bit of art. Since the 458th's squadron color was blue that seems a very logical presumption, so that's the color we used. If any of you have a color photograph of this airplane that shows otherwise, we'd love to see it.

AeroMaster did four separate decal sheets for VLR P-51Ds, and there's also a decal sheet for that subject included in AJ Press's 506th Fighter Group, the History of 506th Fighter Group, Iwo Jima 1945, as well as markings included in at least one of Kagero's monographs on late Pacific War aircraft. We're extremely enthusiastic about the fact that so many markings variations are available for such a seemingly esoteric subject, but do have one minor complaint. There was a fair amount of what could only be described as "ribald" artwork on those Iwo Mustangs, but AeroMaster are the only folks to include that sort of thing on their decal sheets, and there's not much of it even then. The AJ book provides both drawings and photographs of pinup art on the 506th's birds, but includes none of it on their decal sheets. There's even one such aircraft ("The Enchantress") depicted on the cover of the book, for crying out loud! Some pinup art would've been nice, ya'll.

Finally, that base is a little-known Eduard offering that really helps out a static model such as this. They make two different sizes of that PSP base; this size for fighters and a larger one for light and medium bombers, and they're well-worth looking for, although it's possible that they're presently out of production. They're one piece and provide an adequate, but not outstanding, representation of PSP and look pretty good after painting and weathering. They're inexpensive and definitely worth the money. You can even use the nameplate from the appropriate Eduard photo-etch set like we did.  Just a thought, as it were...

One more note, this time of an historical nature. "Madam Wham-Dam" was lost on an escort mission on 01 June, 1945, when Harvey Sandrett, the deputy commander of the 506th, flew her into a storm while leading a strike. That makes you a little more aware of just how dangerous the VLR mission could be, I think.

Happy Snaps

In our last edition we provided a shot taken by Doug Barbier when he was an IP. Today's photo is also by Doug, but from his F-4 days with the Guard:

The B-52 was from the 410th BWg at K.I. Sawyer, and taken at 1,000 AGL in the upper peninsula, just below the base of the Keewenaw. Big MOA up there and we used to go up and work with the bombers at low altitude. 4+ hours down low chasing buffs with multiple A/Rs. Great fun! Doug

It definitely looks like fun! Thanks for sharing this one with us, Doug. And, as a reminder to our readers, if you've got any air-to-air you'd like to share with us (we prefer that you took it yourself, hence the title "Happy Snaps"), please forward a scan to us at . We'd really like to see it.

And that's it for today. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

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