If you're reading this post any time after it was first published, you may or may not know that we had an issue with the images within. We normally publish our photos as large as we possibly can so everyone can see the detail of the aircraft/markings, etc, but we had a problem with our 100th edition and about half the photos came out dramatically smaller than they should have. We found the problem and fixed it, so you can bring everything up to scanned size now, and we should have no further problems in that direction. Thanks for your patience and now, back to our program...
Who'da Thunk It?
Wow! Today's an amazing sort of day around here, a milestone of sorts as we said up there at the top, because today marks the 100th issue of the electronic version of Replica in Scale. Think about it; since February of last year we've somehow managed to crank out 100 of these things! Holy cow!
We knew, way back when we started this project, that it would be an ongoing effort with no finite number of issues and, just like Way Back in The Good Old Days, no set schedule. That no-set-schedule thing has proven to be a blessing, because there's been no pressure to make any sort of deadline. You'd think that would result in fewer installments, but such hasn't been the case thus far---there were times, way back in the beginning, when we were cranking out two or more editions per week. That's since settled down to weekly, more or less, and that's pretty much where we want to be. (And speaking of that, our intent is to publish every Monday, but last week's came on a Friday and today's is appearing on a Friday as well because of the holiday weekend. Schedule is still a fairly loose concept around here...)
Now then, how about milestones? We've had a couple, to be sure. There's the whole 100th issue thing for one, , although you'd think everybody would be down with that by now. The other milestones are the truly amazing ones, at least to us. The big one, as far as numbers are concerned, is the stat that says several thousand of you are looking in on what we're doing each and every week. We're grateful, we're more than a little amazed, and we'd like to say Thank You to everyone who takes the time to keep up with what we're doing. It's a humbling thing, to be sure, and we're grateful.
There are other milestones too, perhaps less tangible but definitely more satisfying in the long term. The most important thing that's come out of this project thus far has been the re-establishment of friendships with a whole bunch of folks from Back in the Day, people we'd lost contact with. You see their names here every week, because a great many of them have become our regular contributors. They're amazing people, each and every one of them, and this blog would never have become what it is without them, which brings us to the part where we say a heart-felt Thank You to everybody who's helped with the effort. In that regard we'd like to give a very special nod of appreciation to Jim Wogstad, who taught us more about doing this sort of thing than we ever could have learned on our own, and who's patient mentoring back in The Day has made this a far better publication than it would otherwise have been. Thanks, Jim!
Another big round of thanks is due to you, our readership. Your response has been extremely favorable from the very beginning of this project, and invariably supportive. It's a great feeling knowing that our efforts are appreciated, and we hope we can continue to deserve that response and support. Thanks, ya'll, for helping make this project a success.
So, what will the future bring? Heck if we know; we pretty much shoot from the hip around here! About all we can tell you about that is that this deal is very much a labor of love on our part, and an important part of that philosophy is that the site continue as a blog, so nobody has to pay anything to view it, and that we do the best we can with everything we put in here. We don't know about you folks, but we're looking forward to our 200th issue, and hope you're all with us when we get there.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled progamming...
We Really Like A-1s Around Here
We really and truly do. It was a neat airplane while still in service, and a couple of our contributors have had significant involvement with the type during its operational days. There are decent kits of it available in every scale except 1/32nd, and there are persistent rumors that a model will soon be available to fill that particualar niche too. It was a colorful aircraft when in Navy and Marine service, and its Air Force plumage wasn't too shabby either; it was, not to put too fine a point on things, a Classic Airplane.
Today's the day for another look at the A-1, but it's going to be a somewhat more focused look than you may be used to, because we're going to deal with one tiny moment in time. Let's go back to the Southeast Asia War Games and the 56th SOW, ca. 1968:
Those Things Aren't Supposed to Fly, You Know
We've all heard the jokes about flying only because they beat the air into submission, and all the other cliches that get applied to rotary-wing military aviation, but they're an essential part of the scene and perform missions that no other type of aircraft can. We don't run many photos of them around here, but Mark Nankivil has sent in some photography on the HH-43 and CH-54 that just may get you interested in helicopters.
SpADs for Our Friends With the Boats
It could be construed as massively unfair to run a piece on Air Force A-1s and then neglect the guys who caused the airplane to exist in the first place, so we're tossing in a couple of AD-5s (or, if you happen to be a fan of that McNamara guy, A-1s) for your consideration. Fair is fair, right?
Strummin' That Banjo One More Time
Naval fighters of the 1950s are a fascinating subject, and to our mind one of the most interesting of the bunch has to be the McDonnell F2H Banshee family. The type was a bridge aircraft in the truest sense of the term, very much a product of the 1940s but lasting until the mid-60s with the Navy. During the course of its career it saw considerable change, first as a photo-recon bird and then, later, as a significantly enlarged fighter-bomber. We run shots of the "Banjo" from time to time because of that evolution, and also because we like the airplane. These photos define a little bit of the evolutionary process with the type:
Sometimes We Remember
A long time ago, and we'd be lying if we said we remembered exactly when, we ran a scan of a natural metal A-26 from the Air Guard Bureau. It was a crummy scan because the photo, which had originally been a slide, had been done as a print on that horrible wrinkled paper they used to use back in the 70s. We promised at that time that we'd run the photo again once we had the ability to scan slides instead of that awful print and that slide-scanning thing has finally come to fruition around here so, as promised, here's the photo.
What a Difference a Couple of Years Can Make
As most of our readers are aware, the current USAF is dealing with what we're going to term "a somewhat smaller force" than it had in days past. That's largely due to the seeming demise of what was once the Number One Potential Adversary, although there are still plenty of Bad Guys left in the world, but the simple fact is that American air power has morphed into a smaller, highly technological fighting force. The wind-down didn't happen overnight, or even recently, as these two photos will attest:
A Modeling Publication Ought to Have a Model Every Once in a While
We honestly don't do that very often because, much as in The Old Days, we're spending most of our time trying to provide our readership with primary resource material (that would be photographs, in case you weren't sure). Be that as it may, today is a special day for us, so we need to have a few pictures of a model airplane in this edition, that being some variation of The Right Thing to Do.
What's He Doing Here?
Our long-suffering readers have been enduring the vissicitudes of shot after shot of RAM 90 of late, and to our way of thinking there's no reason to stop while we've got momentum. Here, then, is a somewhat unexpected participant of that legendary (in our minds, if no-one else's) event:
Give the Right Guy a Camera...
Somebody really famous said this once, which makes it ripe for the paraphrasing: We hold this truth to be self-evident; a great many of our readers are military aviators, past or present, and a great many of them are really good photographers to boot. Some of them are exceptionally good photographers, a category occupied by contributor Doug Barbier, among others. In recent months you've seen a fair amount of Doug's work in our "Happy Snaps" section, but today we're giving him his own space. The airplane is the F-4E, the unit the 57th FIS, and the place is Keflavik, Iceland.
In honor of your 100th blog post, I've gone back to the scanner.... here are a few you won't see every day of the week. Keflavik Iceland, 57th FIS 1979.
1- #2 turning urea into vapor on takeoff. When the runway got icy, they put down urea. Trouble is the AB turned it into fog - Lead got the free pass, every one else had to wait until it blew clear and you could see.
2- The ramp on an icy early winter morning. Loftleider DC-8 taking the runway in the background. Early morning "sun" time... mid-day by the clock.
3 - 5-ship with T-bird leading enroute to the Reykjavik Airshow. We made it up as we went..... Tommy Porter, who was a T-38 IP with me at Willy was flying wing in an F-4 - I'll see if I can find the b/w print that Baldur shot from the ground, but lead sucked up the gear so low on a low approach there that Tommy was afraid he was going to land on the external tanks. He couldn't have been more than a couple of feet in the air
And a couple of shots of Iceland and F-4's.
Military aviation has never been an easy date, no matter how it looks from the outside. Thanks, Doug, for those remarkable photographs, and for sharing your memories with us.
Somebody Had to Go First
It's easy to take certain military airplanes for granted, because it seems as though they've always been there. That's particularly true when we're talking about classic airplanes such as the McDonnell F-4 Phantom. Here's some insight into that:
The Deuce Redux
You might think we'd be tired of the F-102 by now, but we've got that momentum thing going again so we're gonna to keep on chooglin' and take another look at the some of the aircraft belonging to USAF's first true weapons system. We like the airplane and we hope you do too...
firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what it was. Normally we'd consider this a mis-labled photo, but it's from an impeccable source so there's room for doubt. We'd be interested in the mods and the mission; anybody got an answer?
Kuykendall via Kerr
Bet You've Been Wondering When We'd Run Some of These
It was the late 70s, and the original print version of RIS had run its course to be replaced with a joint project of Jay Miller and Jim Wogstad called Aerophile. Jay soon left the publication, but Jim carried on with it and your editor assisted him with the writing and production of a couple of monographs, one of which covered the Grumman EA-6A and B electronic warfare aircraft. Replica contributor Rick Morgan had begun to work with us as both a contributor and an authority on Things Navy by then, forging a friendship that has lasted until this day. As a result of that friendship, a great number of original slides of Prowlers ended up in South Texas. Today's the day the lid comes off that box, with some exceptional air-to-air photographs. ZAP!
Invaders in the Peacetime Air Force
Up to this point we've run a couple of shots of WW2-vintage A-26s, plus more than a few from Korea and even a couple from the Vietnam War, so it's only fitting that we round things out (for a while) with some post-Korea birds. Valued friend and contributor Jim Sullivan has sent us some truly unique images, so let's get going!
Since this issue is a special one for us, we're going to offer two reader-taken air-to-air shots for your enjoyment today:
The Relief Tube
Before we get to our normal entries for this section, there's something we need to talk about. We get a fair amount of correspondence from our readers evrey week, and we try to either publish or answer every one of the messages, depending on which thing is the more appropriate to do. The point to be made is that we almost never let things go without a response of some sort, except for in one special circumstance which we're about to discuss.
We encourage our readers to offer up comments, criticisms, and to share photography with us at the email@example.com e-mail address. We don't encourage spammers, marketers, or other folks like that, but we hear from them too, and far more frequently than we'd like. Usually their messages are glaringly obvious, and most of the time they dump directly into our spam filter, but sometimes they manage to get through. We combat that sort of thing as best we can, but if you've tried to contact us and failed, try putting part of your message in the subject space on your header; as long as it's something to do with airplanes we'll check it out. If it doesn't fit that criteria, its a goner! And please, use e-mail rather than the "comments" feature on the blog itself, because we can't respond to you in that feature and we want the opportunity to look things over before they go to print. Thanks for understanding, Gang.
OK, now we're off the soapbox and back to business. First up is a comment from Marty Hogan:
Just wanted to say thanks for putting out those Phantom photos! I agree the world is a lesser place for the loss of the Phantom. I never got to see her fly in US service, but did see her a little bit in Egypt and Germany. That is one gorgeous bird! I'd love to see more phantom posts plus other Vietnam era birds and the F-14 if you could! Thanks- I LOVE your blog! Marty
The F-4 was special, Marty, and there's no disputing that! She was the iconic American fighter for nearly three decades, and you'll definitely be seeing more of her as we go along. And who knows; we may even find our way around to publishing a few more F-14 shots too---stay tuned!
Now we'd like to share a personal story with you. It has direct bearing on a feature we ran several months ago, back when we were covering the "Stoof", and specifically addresses those two shots of the burning TS-2A; call it closure, if you will.
Richard Adams is a pretty neat guy. I first met him when he was the biz-jet manager at the now-extinct Dee Howard Company, and we became friends. Richard's background is one of an aviation professional, and his entire career was spent in close proximity to airplanes, both military and civil. He was a naval aviator for a while, then later became personal pilot for former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe, and then went on to a career with Mr. Howard. He's been around.
He and I were talking back in February, and in the course of conversation I asked him if he'd seen the blog yet (he's not much on computers and doesn't have a whole lot of use for them). His answer was no, and I told him he ought to look in on it every now and again---one of his favorite airplanes is the "Stoof", and I told him about some of the photographs we'd run back when we were covering the type. I described that burning TS-1A to him, and his jaw dropped open. "Did it have a 3G tailcode?" Yep! "Was there a CH-19 hovering in the background of one of the pictures?" Yep! "I was there!" And it turns out he was, flying co-pilot in CH-19E 154 during the accident. You can see the helo in the background of one of the photos of that Bad Day on 2 November, 1964. There's more to it than that, however, because Richard's a thorough sort of guy, and he kept the article regarding that crash which appeared in the March, 1965 issue of Approach Magazine, and he loaned them to us. We've taken the liberty of using the piece to provide closure to our original piece; please remember that the following two items originally appeared in Approach. Here are scans of that article:
Finally, here's a picture we've been wanting to run for a while, but hadn't quite figured out a reason to do it. Today we decided we didn't need no stinkin' reason, so we're running the photo. Look on it as family history.
When you photograph stuff on an American military installation, and if you're shooting on a press pass, you'll have yourself an escort from the Public Affairs Office. That's a Fact of Life, and it's usually the only way you're going to be allowed on an active ramp. That's how it was on that sunny morning in April of 1986, when Jim and I were out far, far away from the maddening airshow crowd at NAS Corpus, shooting late arrivals as they taxiied. in. The CAF's RA-24B, painted up to resemble an SBD-3, had just recovered and been parked on the civilian portion of the ramp, and we decided it would be a great opportunity to get a frontispiece shot for that SBD book we were attempting to produce. Our escort, a young Navy enlisted man who was dressed in his very best whites because of the airshow, graciously agreed to take the photo, and his efforts produced the shot you see above. That wasn't the end of it, though. There was Adventure, albeit mild, to come!
While our Fine Young Escort was immortalizing us on T-Max 100, another CAF bird, this time a TB-25J disguised as a PBJ, had landed and begun his taxi to the very ramp we were occupying. That TB-25 was too big for the spaces left near the rest of the warbirds, though, and when he got to the intersection of the taxiway that we were occupying he turned away from us to get to his reassigned parking slot. Jim and I looked at each other and began a quick walk to get off that taxiway, which caused our escort to turn to us and say "Where are you guys going? He's headed away from us! There's no problem staying here."
That much was true; the B-25 had just turned off to the left and was well and truly heading away from us, maybe 100 feet away from where we were standing. Either Jim or I, and I honestly can't remember which one it was, hollered "You better move---you really don't want to be standing there!" at the escort as we continued to Beat Feet away from the centerline. He looked at us like we were nuts (not an entirely unfounded conclusion on his part, but we digress), turned back around, and watched as the Mitchell trundled off to it's parking space.
"Wow! You guys should've stayed where I was! That bomber was taxiing directly away from me, and I could feel the air coming off his props and everything---it was NEAT!" Jim and I looked at each other with the same sort of False Remorse look you give somebody who's just slipped on a banana peel and busted his keyster. Why, you might ask, did we do that?
Remember that part where we said our escort was wearing his best whites? His freshly-washed, crisply-ironed whites? Well, gang, they were still freshly washed, and they still had ironed creases in them sharp enough to cut metal with, but they weren't quite white anymore; the B-25 had seen to that when it turned away from us and its propwash sprayed down the entire area with fine droplets of Mobil's very finest aviation engine oil. I still laugh about it to this day, and I'm willing to bet Jim does too; almost-harmless fun unless, of course, you were the owner of that splotched uniform...
And that's what I know. Thanks again for looking in on our effort and, at the risk of being repetitious, thanks again for making this production the modest success it's become. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon!