Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Few More Deuces, Strange Birds at Agana, Michigan Mustangs and More, Is That An Avenger?, Thoughts On Eduard's Wurger, and That Little Northrop Jet

Almost the Final Batch of "Deuces"

This is the part where you get to look knowingly at the aviation friend of your choice and say something profound like "I bet he forgot all about the rest of those F-102s!" which, to be honest with you, I almost did. Still, we've got quite a few images of the airplane that we can share with you so a few more won't hurt anything, right? Right!

Every once in a while we come up with a photograph that can best be described as Mystery Meat. This is one such photo. 56-1249 was built as an F-102A-60-CO, and the picture appears to have been taken in Alaska, but that's all we know about the airplane. Any of our readers who possess any further information regarding the unit, time frame, etc, are encouraged to drop us a line at and help clear this one up.  Seawright via Friddell

Every once in a while you'll hear us talk about a fellow named Maddog, also known as John Kerr. He's got a reputation for coming up with interesting and unusual photography, but this one may be even more interesting and unusual than any of us ever thought. 56-1492 was just your average F-102A-80-CO until July 7th, 1965, when it was accidentally shot down by an F-106A over the Gulf of Mexico near Tyndall AFB; the pilot ejected and was rescued unharmed. 1492 is seen here in happier days, a little bit shopworn but carrying a couple of kills on her nose to make up for it. She's interesting in another way too; she's carrying an IR ball in front of her windscreen, a fitment only carried by F-102s configured to launch the AIR-2 Genie weapons system. Her fuselage is liberally spattered with blotches of Mil-P-8585Y Zinc Chromate primer. Leave it to Maddog...  Kerr Collection 

The ANG used the "Deuce" for quite a few years, and most of us are familiar with the aircraft in that guise. We're also used to seeing the type in the ubiquitous Aircraft Grey, but a small number of airplanes ended up painted in overall silver too; although most folks think of the 57th FIS in Keflavik when you mention that scheme, the 190th FIS/124th FIG of the Idaho ANG operated a few silver birds as well. 55-3427 was one of them. She was built as an F-102A-50-CO and was also a Genie-capable bird. She finished out her days as a PQM-102A.  Bob Hanes via Lee Bracken 

Way back there in the mid-1980s, your never-humble editor was in the habit of buying slides from Ron Picciani up in Pennsylvania. Ron had an absolutely amazing collection, and a considerable portion of it was available for sale as 35mm duplicates. This shot came from Ron's collection and is run here with a request: If any of you know how to get in touch with Ron, would you please pass on the address to him and ask him to get in touch with us? Meanwhile, we can honestly say that we know next to nothing about 56-1434 except that she was built as a -80-CO, was subsequently converted to PQM-102A status and was essentially destroyed in a manned flight in January of 1976. Can any of our readers fill in the blanks?  Picciani Collection

Since our modest publication is resident in Texas, it seems appropo to end today's "Deuce" installment with an air-to-air of some F-102s from the state. Only two Texas ANG units flew the F-102; the 111th FIS/147th FIG out of Ellington, and the 182nd FIS/149th FIG out of Kelly. This three-ship is from the latter, and is seen here formating over the base during the mid-60s. The 182nd's F-102s were relatively plain, carrying just a fin flash and squadron emblem on the tail, but the the 149th was a hot group during the era. Because of their esprit it was a grave disappointment to them when they had to trade in their "Deuces", and their interceptor mission, for F-84F Thunderstreaks later in the decade. All things must pass...  Kerr Collection

What Are Those Guys Doing Here?

When last we met we showed you a couple of interesting F-86 photos from the collection of Chris Williamson. He sent along a few other things as well, including the images that you see before you now. We don't know much about them except that they were taken at Agana, Guam, during the mid or late-1950s, but they're fascinating photographs and well worth looking at.

We don't know a whole lot about this PBY-6A except that it was used by the Coast Guard for SAR work out of Guam during the 50s. She's painted silver with the normal yellow-trimmed-black rescue markings, but once you get past that we're fresh out of information. The Catalina was a neat old bird, though, and this photo definitely takes us back to a different time and place.  Williamson Collection

Consolidated's PB4Y-2 was an extremely aggressive-looking patrol bomber when festooned with turrets and guns, but that appearance got a little goofy when the turrets were removed and replaced by more prosaic transparencies better suited to the type's Coast Guard mission as a search and rescue aircraft post-War. 6302 is showing considerable oil-canning on her skin (a characteristic of all Liberator variants including the Privateers) and generally looks tired and worn out, but is still filling a vital function. Williamson Collection

Sometimes you see a photograph and wish there were others go with it---this is one of those times! The Navy operated an up-engined hot-rod version of the classic C-47 Skytrain known as the R4D-8 (in pre-McNamara days) or, after 1962,  as the C-117D. This particular aircraft would have been an R4D-8 when photographed during the mid-50s and shows off the revised nacelles, squared-off wingtips, and modified vertical tail of the later variants. An earlier C-47 variant sits in the far right background for comparison.  Williamson Collection

Remember that part where we said the later R4D variants didn't look much like C-47s? Here's a fine shot of an RAAF Dakota landing at Agana that proves the point. Check out the tail group, the nacelles, and the shape of the wingtips; the "Super Gooney" was truly a bird of a different feather!  Williamson Collection

Postwar Michigan Mustangs

Those photos of South Dakota P-51s that we ran last time around got regular contributor Doug Barbier to thinking, and he pulled a couple of photos of  ANG Mustangs for us to look at today. Let's let Doug tell you about it:  Phil - re your comments on the early NG a/c without the stars. Until a unit received Federal recognition, they were not authorized to carry the USAF Star and Bar insignia. It took anywhere from a couple of months up to a few years for a unit to receive Federal recognition. Off the top of my head, it took the 171st FS a little over 2 years to gain it. In the mean time, they simply flew P-51s with no markings except for MICH NG. Many units left that area empty - some, like the photo you ran, put local insignia there.

Here are 2 scans showing NG P-51's from units that have not received Federal recognition yet. One is a 171st Fighter Squadron P-51D from Michigan sitting in the snow - either the winter of 1946 or 1947. Spinner is red / yellow/ red and is probably left over from the previous MINN NG unit we picked it up from. That photo via Jim Koglin. The in-flight shot shows just how variable the markings could be. The lead a/c has a buzz number, star & bar and NG stenciled on the tail - which implies it's from a unit that has already received Federal rec. Two is utterly plain - nothing except the serial number. The Wisconsin & Michigan birds are both from units that haven't received Federal rec yet.  It was a time of great changes....

Here's the snowbird that Doug was discussing. 44-73227 looks distinctly odd without some sort of insignia between MICH and NG, but that's how it was. As with that South Dakota bird we discussed last time around, this aircraft has a retractable tailwheel with associated doors.  Please see Doug's comments above for notes on the colors and markings of this one.  J. Koglin via Barbier

And here's the formation shot Doug was talking about.The lead aircraft is carrying its AAF buzz number ("PF" until the Army Air Forces became the Air Force in 1947, at which point the P-51 became the F-51 and the buzz number prefix for the P-51 changed to "FF"), while the others are all carrying some variation of Guard livery. That's quite a variety of markings in one place; all authorized but unusual to see in the same place at the same time. And, not to beat that whole Tailwheel Thing to death, all have retractable tailwheels.  Barbier Collection

An Addendum to Those Michigan Mustangs, and a Little More For Good Measure

When last we met we mentioned a couple of improperly-credited P-51 shots, and properly accredited them to Martin Kyburz and his web site Swiss Mustangs. Since then, Martin and I have had several discussions regarding both those airplanes and others, and he kindly offered to help us with details of the history regarding those ANG P-51 shots. We aren't always as bright as we could be but we weren't born yesterday either so we accepted his kindness without thinking twice about it, with the results that you see below. And no; your eyes aren't playing tricks on you---most of those P-51s are from units other than the 171st---they're included here because they further illustrate the markings variations found on ANG P-51s during this time period. It's a fascinating subject that you probably haven't seen the last of.

Here's a combined formation of ANG P-51s from both Wisconsin and Michigan in flight. The service record of each aircraft is detailed by Martin below:

44-63644: sent to the 15th AAF (MTO), departed US on 12th March 1945, returned to the US on 1st August 1945; assigned on 27th April 1947 to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG; soon thereafter transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; damaged in a landing accident on 24th June 1947 at Holman Field, MN, with 2/Lt. Robert R. Biglow (O-769686) - (this pilot had served with the 354th FG 356th FS 9th AAF [ETO]); transferred back to USAF on 9th May 1951, assigned to the 172nd FIS 4708th Defense Wing at Selfridge AFB, MI; lost in accident on 13th July 1952 when hit by friendly fire during a training mission and the pilot Gordon C. Hawkos b/o near St. Clair Highway, Richmond, MI; the a/c eventually was w/o on 25th July 1952 at Selfridge AFB, MI.

44-63664: assigned to the 445th AAFBU at Hamilton Field, CA; damaged in an undisclosed accident on 7th December 1946 with Vito V. Marchi; transferred on 2nd April 1947 to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG; transferred to the 431st FIS at Selfridge Field, MI, in November 1952 (this unit transitioned to F-86F in May 1953; assigned on 23rd July 1953 to the 175th FS 132nd FG ND ANG; lost with 175th FS 133rd FW when stationed at Sioux City AFB, IA in a mid-air-collision and ensuing crash on 25th September 1954 approx. 1 mi from Harbor Field, Baltimore, MD; the pilot Ove D. Stanberg was killed.

44-73313: sent to 8th AAF (ETO), departed US on 13th April 1945, returned to the US on 17th July 1945; transferred on 11th February 1947 to the 174th FS 132nd FG IA ANG at Sioux City AAF, IA; damaged in a landing accident at Sioux City AAF, IA, on 22nd August 1947 with Harry L. McGraw; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG on 3rd June 1948; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 8th FBG 36th FBS; lost on first combat mission on 8th August 1950, reportedly due to engine failure; pilot not known.

44-73139: sent to 8th AAF (ETO), departed US on 7th April 1845, returned to the US on 18th August 1945; assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG on 31st March 1947; taken on charge on 22nd April 1947; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG on 13th July 1948; reportedly transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG (to be proved), then breifly assigned to the 192nd FS 144th FG NV ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer); assigned to the 8th FBG 35th FIS on 8th August 1950; soon transferred to the 35th FIW 39th FIS and lost in action on 19th October 1950 - cause: vertigo, last seen flying through cloud cover over the target, aircraft flew into the ground near Sunchon; 1/Lt. Lamar Brindley Longshore (O-1908865), KIA; the a/c officially was w/o on 25th October 1950 which also could be the actual loss date; Brindley is a MIA case ad was DED on 31st December 1953.  Martin Kyburz Collection

A very similar formation, but this time consisting of Wisconsin ANG aircraft only. Those fuselage insignia are really choice, and the aircraft are bombed up. Since this was shot in the ZI we can only hope they're en route to the range! Here are Martin's details on the individual aircraft:

45-11534: assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG, sent to KWZ in on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 6131st WG 8th FBS and reportedly lost in action on 10th November 1950; 1/Lt. David G. Foss b/o due to mechanical and electrical problems and was rescued; interestingly this a/c also is reported as MIA on 13th November 1950 with the 8th FBG 35th FBS due to enemy action - my take is that this either is the s.o.c. date of above loss or the actual loss date - both date and unit needs further research.

45-11727: first entry is an accident at Amarillo AAF, TX, on 8th August 1945, while coming from Love Field, Dallas, TX (factory) with Harold B. Murray; first assignment was the 119th FS 192nd FG NJ ANG but the a/c soon was transferred to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 18th FBG 67th FBS; lost in action on 7th September 1950 - a/c caught fire, unsuccessful low-altitude bail-out, in Tsushima Straits 20 mi SE of Pusan, Korea; 1/Lt. Jack Arthur Lightner (O-2101906), KIA (on 47th mission).

45-11568: assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; transferred to the 185th FS 118th FG OK ANG on 18th June 1947; transferred to the 148th FS 112th FG PA ANG on 6th February 1951; involved in an accident on 4th April 1951 at Dover AFB, DE (no further details); transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG durin June 1951; reportedly damaged in an incident at Minneapolis, MN in July 1951 (also no forther details) - this ship also is reported with the 103rd FS PA ANG (no proof) and the 159th FS 116th FG FL ANG (also needs research).

44-73253 (not '463 !): assigned to the 116th FS 142bd FG WA ANG on 2nd April 1947; transferred to the 123rd FS 142nd FG OR ANG on 6th February 1951, sent to KWZ sometime in 1951 as attrition replacement; eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 17th June 1952.  Martin Kyburz Collection

Here's a lineup of Minnesota aircraft in what could be considered a normal environment (at some times of the year, anyway...).

44-72705: assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; involved in a landing accident at Homan Field, MN, on 9th July 1948 with Eugene R. Wayne; later transferred to the 4750th TG 4750th TS at Yuma County Airport, AZ; involved in a forced landing there on 20th May 1953 with Raymond E. Stratton; eventually sent to Air Materials Area, McClellan AFB, CA, for reclamation.

45-11408: assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; later sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 35th FIW 39th FIS, lost in action on 30th November 1950; a/c hit by ground fire, belly landed 3 mi W of Tok-Chon, SAR effort unsuccessful; Lt. Col. Gerald M. Brown; POW.

44-72962: sent to the 8th AAF (ETO) - departed US on 20th February 1945 - returned to the US on 2nd October 1945; assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG (transfer date 5th February 1947); involved in a crash-belly-landing at Scott Field, IL, on 14th June 1947 with James A. Brennan; involved in taxying-accident at Homan Field, MN, on 14th October 1948 with Arvid O. Dahl; yet another accident on 11th November 1950 at Hector Fargo Airport, ND, with George J. Game; apparently the a/c caught fire; transferred to the 133rd FS 101st FG NH ANG on 12th January 1951; heavily damaged during a storm in August 1951 while hangared at Holman Field, MN (have a small photo); not repaired and salvaged on 9th October 1951.

45-11410: assigned tthe 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG, later transferred to the 167th FS 123rd FG WV ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 51st FBS (P) and later to the 67th TRG 45th TRS, nicknamed "Fujigmo"; eventually transferred to the ROKAF in 1953. Martin Kyburz Collection

Our previous coverage of Joe Foss' Mustang in service with the South Dakota ANG prompted Martin to send us this view of F-51D 44-73578. The history on this one is as follows:  Assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st July 1947; involved in an accident on 9th June 1951 at Sioux Falls Municipal Airport, SD with Lloyd G. Olson; assigned to the 54th FIS at Rapid City, SD, in November 1952; assigned to the 496th FIS at Hamilton AFB, CA, in March 1953 (unit transitioned to F-86D in September 1953); assigned to the 107th FS 127th FG MI ANG at Detroit-Wayne Major Airport, MI, on 10th September 1953; transferred to the 126th FS 128th FG WI ANG on 1st October 1953; transferred to the 113th FS 132nd FG on 1st December 1953.  Martin Kyburz Collection 

When last we saw 44-73564, just last issue, she was serving with the ANG. Her life subsequently became what might be termed somewhat more exciting, as exibited by this shot; she survived this belly landing at K-46  in Korea to be eventually assigned to the ROKAF: 44-73564: officially assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st March 1947; involved in a crash belly landing on 29th March 1947 (yup, two days earlier, which proves that the USAAF paperwork sometimes lagged behind the actual proceedings) - the incident occurred at Sioux Falls AAF, SD, the driver was William J. Downey; sometime later, the a/c was transferred to the 176th FS 128th FG WI ANG before being shipped to the KWZ during Fall 1950. Upon arrival, the ship was assigned to the 18th FBG 39th FIS and flew numerous missions, until the a/c was damaged in a take-off accident on 26th January 1952 at K-46 Honegsong AB, Korea; apparently the engine quit after take-off and the pilot. Lt. James H. Hall performed a good belly-landing, the a/c was considered repairable. After repairs, the ship briefly served with the 18th FBG 12th FBS, carrying the nickname "Ruth's Ruthless Russ" until eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 6th January 1953. Lt. James H. Hall, btw, is 'credited' with another accident before his assignment to the KWZ: while training at Luke AFB, AZ, with the 3602nd AMS 127th AMG, he was involed in a ground-collision during a training mission 10 mi SE of Sentinel, AZ, but brought his slightly damaged a/c (F-51D 44-74634) safely home. Martin Kyburz Collection

Here's another view of 564 after her belly landing in Korea. It was a bad day for all concerned, but that ordnance laying on the ground by the aircraft proves it could have been a whole lot worse than it was. Any landing you can walk away from... Martin Kyburz Collection

Were They Really in Korea Too?

Yep, they were. The United States operated a wide variety of aircraft types in theater during the Korean War, one of the lesser-known being Grumman's classic TBM Avenger. The Navy's premier torpedo bomber of the Second World War had become a utility type by the time the conflict began, but was used extensively and served well by the Marines during the early days of the war. Jim Sullivan provides these unique images of a couple of Korean-based TBMs for us to enjoy today:

The TBM-3R was a fairly rare bird, but performed unique service with the Marines on the Korean penninsula. This gorgeous example, BuNo 53587, was assigned to HEDRON-3 when photographed on the ground in 1951. The ball turret and ventral gun have both been removed; there was a lot of space in that chubby Grumman fuselage, rendering the aircraft suitable for any number of missions. Jim Sullivan Collection

The year is now 1952 and 53702, a TBM-3E from VMO-6, is taxiing out at Yonpo, possibly carrying wounded out of the combat zone. Unlike 53587, her turret is still in place. Either one of these Avengers would make a fascinating model and could certainly become a jewel in any collection, because of their relative obscurity if nothing else! Jim Sullivan Collection

Watch these pages, ya'll; there's more of the post-War TBM to come!

It Ain't Really As Bad As It Seems

Several months ago we ran a quick piece on the 1/48th scale Eduard Fw190 family. The comments within that article were based on a Weekend Edition Fw190A-8 that was under construction at that time, and the conclusion was reached that the kit was perfectly buildable, if somewhat fiddley. We'll stand by that comment, but the model is now finished (it took a while, but we lost interest in it over and over and over...) and sitting on the shelf; looking back on the project has given a little food for thought, which in turn brings us to a final round of comments (unless we think of something else later on). To wit:

You absolutely need to get the wing spar in the right place, perpendicular to the wing and correctly centered right-to-left. If you don't do that, nothing else will fit. Not now, not ever.

The cockpit is excellent, and you can easily get by with a Weekend Edition kit in that area, but you're going to need belts and harnesses to make it look good. Eduard is going to sell you brass one way or another!

The engine is overly complicated and there's little point in building most of it unless you plan on displaying your model with the cowling opened up. If the model is going to be presented in a buttoned-up condition, you can leave off a whole bunch of stuff and use only the two banks of cylinders, the induction system, and the crankcase assembly. The engine fits perfectly inside the cowling and can be easily positioned in there after it's painted and locked into place with a little Tenax or similar. Yes, it's cheating. It also works, and eliminates a whole lot of fiddly work trying to get those engine mounts in there. As with so many things in life, you need to do what you think best...

That spiffy little fixture they give you to properly set the exhaust pipes is absolutely critical if you plan on displaying the engine, but totally unnecessary if you don't. A Quick and Dirty Fix is to cut off the last 1/8th inch or so of the stacks and glue them inside the cowling sides in the appropriate places. All you're going to see of them on a finished model are their tips where they sit just inside that cowling, so the exhaust tips are all you need. Cheating? Maybe. Good for the Soul? Oh yeah!

The landing gear is beautifully engineered and will fit almost perfectly if you follow the kit's instructions (put the doors on the struts before you mount them to the wings!), and if you properly aligned that wing spar back when we told you to do it. If said spar is off in any way you will learn many new and highly colorful imprecations, as educated folks like to say. Don't say we didn't warn you...

There's no reason we can think of to have a separate rudder and ailerons in that kit, or any other for that matter, since real airplanes are almost invariably parked with the control surfaces locked in the neutral position. The kit's fit well and don't really hurt anything, but you might want to resist the temptation to pose them.

You can display your gun bays opened up if you want to. We didn't, so we cut the ends of the barrels off the cowl guns and glued those pieces into the underside of the cowling. That makes assembly a whole bunch easier and far less frustrating that might otherwise be the case. You'll need the cowl gun mount assembly (which goes into the wing assembly very early in the process) because the guides for the spent rounds needs to end up properly in place over the case ejection chutes in the center section of the wing and because part of that assembly is what mounts the front of the windscreen to the airplane, but nothing else is required if the model is closed up.

The kit provides lots and lots of little round pieces to simulate things like guns, antennae, and the like. None of them work very well, thus making extruded plastic rod your friend. Hasegawa can help you too, since they offer a set of turned brass guns and pitot for their own Wurger kits. Yes, the package says "Hasegawa" and the contents are meant to be used on Fw190 kits from that manufacturer, but your model will never know the difference if you don't tell it.

The transparencies are generally excellent, but the "blown" canopies aren't and are best not used. The 190's canopy "squashed" inwards when it was opened and Eduard gives you an optional part to show this. It's a neat touch. And the headrest assembly is fiddly; patience is a definite virtue, folks...

The decals in each and every iteration of this kit are superb, right up there with the best you can buy. There's no need for aftermarket unless you just don't care for the schemes included in your particular kit.

So, how does this kit stack up? The simple truth is that once it's finished and on the shelf it's superb, and fully lives up to its reputation as King of the Wurgers if you do your part. There are some minor problems with the kit; slightly-thick vertical stab, inaccurate prop blades, and fuselage cooling slot panels that are too short top to bottom, but they don't impact the finished model unduly and don't have to be addressed unless you want to do that. The model looks good sitting next to the offerings of those other companies and can easily be a star in your collection, but patience and some modeling skills are most assuredly required. This is not, and we can't repeat that often enough, a kit for the novice modeler. And the term "Weekend Edition" is quite possibly inaccurate too, because even in its most basic form this kit will take longer than that to crank out unless you just don't care what you end up with. Such is life.

Here's your basic 3/4 side view of the completed Eduard Fw190A-8. This one started life as a Weekend Edition kit, but the markings came from Eduard's initial release of the model and are for one of Walter Dahl's airplanes, and this is as good a time as any to say yet again that Eduard's decals are superb! Easy to apply, beautifully printed, and without a trace of silvering anywhere. They're among the best stickies we've ever used! The kit gun barrels, at least for the wing guns, have been replaced with plastic rod (and the pitot needs replacement too, although that hasn't been done yet) and a big chunk of the engine is MIA; that particular collection of detailing is somewhat less than you might expect and therefore wasn't used; the same thing applies for the cowl and wing guns. The cowl gun decking is easy to align improperly, a condition that's beautifully illustrated by this model (!), but we aren't going to go back and fix it. We will, however, be more careful in that area the next time we build one of these things. Oh, and that's the kit's drop tank on my custom-made drying rack in the background, although it may or may not end up being used. Given this kit's reputation as a Tough Date it came out ok, we think.

Here's what it looks like from the front. There's a little bit of final weathering and staining yet to go (check out the landing gear struts for an example of what's still needed) but it's pretty much done otherwise. This is one kit that definitely benefits from the use of Eduard's own aftermarket; they produce a zoom set specifically for their Weekend Edition A-8 (go figure!) and the parts, even those for the exterior, are so much more petite than the kit's plastic items that the expenditure is well worth the money. That spiral on the spinner was done with Eduard's generic FW190 spinner spiral masking set, five bucks very well spent!

A short way into this project I was convinced that each one of the several Eduard Fw190s in my to-build pile would be converted into high-end detail sets for Tamiya Wurgers. I've since changed my mind on that, but still wouldn't recommend these kits to anyone without a fair amount of modeling skill at their disposal. You're going to work for your model with this one, Gang!

A Neat Little Airplane

Everybody knows about Northrop's F-5/T-38 family, although not that many people model it. It's not for lack of kits, because of late we've seen most members of the family become available in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales and even in 1/32nd,  and certainly not for lack of color, performance, or service use. Maybe it hasn't seen enough combat; who knows? The thing is, that spiffy-looking little jet has seen service all over the world, and has provided advanced jet training to pilots of the US Air Force for over 40 years. It's a neat airplane. Contributor Mark Nankivil sends us quite a few images, and his last batch included some outstanding shots of the Freedom Fighter and Talon. Let's take a look.

The F-5A (originally the N-156) Freedom Fighter was designed to be small, inexpensive, and combat capable. It was all of those things and more, but didn't have a whole lot of range and really didn't fit in very well with the force the Air Force thought it wanted. Brief use in SEA with the Skoshi Tiger program proved its combat effectiveness, but it was a lightweight fighter and just didn't fit in, even though NATO loved it. This particular shot of an unidentified F-5A shows just how small the aircraft was---a properly-flown F-5 could give the Phantom driver of your choice fits but that only mattered at Red Flag. The F-5A (and subsequent F-5E) just may have been the best fighter the Air Force barely used.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

It's easily confused with the T-38 at first glance, but the two-seat F-5B was a fully combat-capable fighter too. The entire F-5 family was low to the ground, making ordnance fit somewhat problematical; MERs and TERs just didn't work out with that airframe. Still, it could hold up its end of things if required. Those tip-tanks didn't hold much gas, but they sure looked good!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

The F-5B was a two-seater based on the F-5A, and the subsequent F-model had the same relationship to the F-5E (which we didn't cover this time around, prefering to save that variant for a separate piece on aggressor aircraft somewhere down the road). Here's one of the prototypes in the process of becoming airborne; the type's sleek lines are shown to excellent advantage in this photo.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Off we go...  The F-5's more civilized cousin, the T-38A. Agile, forgiving, and a great performer (the Thunderbirds used them between the F-4 and the F-16, if you recall) the T-38 is the airplane most people think of if you're talking about learning to fly in the US Air Force. It's still the USAF's advanced jet trainer after all these years, although the airframes are getting tired. This gorgeous shot is a good way to end our day, don't you think?  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil
Happy Snaps

We almost never run photos of the Electric Jet around here, so today's as good a day as any to remedy that.

Doug Siegfried does good work, we think. Here's another example of his photography; a Michigan Guard bird in flight over Lake Huron shortly before the 171st lost their F-16Cs during the course of a mission realignment. The Michigan Guard's signature tail treatment looks especially good on the F-16. Thanks, Doug! Doug Barbier

 The Relief Tube

Well, we knew we couldn't skate for long; there were no entries in what must surely be our most popular department last week, but we're making up for it today. First off is that goofy not-quite-tri-scheme-but-not-quite-not SNJ-4. We specifically asked Tommy Thomason what he thought about the scheme, and he sent us this in reply:

My guess is that it was repainted "locally" in the tri-color scheme (the vertical fin/rudder would also be blue grey if it were still in the older scheme) but the darker blue has faded on the horizontal surfaces (note the darker blue on the side of the fuselage above the wing, at the vertical portion of the juncture of the fin and horizontal stabilizer, and the over spray aft along the rudder). I can't explain why more of the side of the fuselage forward and aft of the wing isn't the same color as the fin/rudder, but this scheme was subject to interpretation when done in the field (also see . The left wing is almost certainly a replacement that was kept in the shade, so to speak. T

In our piece on two-seat Scooters we mentioned the nose gear on that VF-126 bird, which is painted red. For those of you not familiar with such things, red is universally used within the aviation community, both commercial and military, to flag parts that are not airworthy. At first glance we thought that we were dealing with nothing more than that; a nose gear that was not cleared for flight and that had been installed in that particular "Scooter" for some undefined reason. Some variation of that is undeniably the case, but the plot thickens, as some folks like to say from time to time. Tommy Thomason is one of our go-to guys for Things Navy, and he provided an interesting observation when we asked him about that gear: 

Huh - hadn't noticed that before. See attached for a comparison of the nose gear with that of an A4D-1 and a TA-4. My guess is that it is a temporary substitute for a nose gear that has been removed for maintenance or overhaul and no flight worthy spare was available. Red is the traditional color for things that should be removed before flight or are not flight worthy. It looks like there is a collar on the piston so the nose doesn't go too far down when the engine is removed. Note that it is not only missing the nose gear steering stuff, the shimmy damper and yoke angle look more like an A4D-1's than the later nose gear's. T

Here's a photo Tommy sent along for clarification. Our VF-126 TA-4J nose gear is in the middle. Thomason Collection

Martin Kyburz from Swiss Mustangs (see our Links section for access to his excellent web site) has provided us with some additional information on that pair of South Dakota ANG P-51Ds we ran last issue:

44-73564: officially assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st March 1947; involved in a crash belly landing on 29th March 1947 (yup, two days earlier, which proves that the USAAF paperwork sometimes lagged behind the actual proceedings) - the incident occurred at Sioux Falls AAF, SD, the driver was William J. Downey; sometime later, the a/c was transferred to the 176th FS 128th FG WI ANG before being shipped to the KWZ during Fall 1950. Upon arrival, the ship was assigned to the 18th FBG 39th FIS and flew numerous missions, until the a/c was damaged in a take-off accident on 26th January 1952 at K-46 Honegsong AB, Korea; apparently the engine quit after take-off and the pilot. Lt. James H. Hall performed a good belly-landing, the a/c was considered repairable. After repairs, the ship briefly served with the 18th FBG 12th FBS, carrying the nickname "Ruth's Ruthless Russ" until eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 6th January 1953. Lt. James H. Hall, btw, is 'credited' with another accident before his assignment to the KWZ: while training at Luke AFB, AZ, with the 3602nd AMS 127th AMG, he was involed in a ground-collision during a training mission 10 mi SE of Sentinel, AZ, but brought his slightly damaged a/c (F-51D 44-74634) safely home. And:

45-11417 (Joe Foss' ship): officially assigned to the 17th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 8th April 1947. Sometime in 1948, this a/c was transferred to the 169th FS 136th FG IL ANG at Peoria ANGB (Municipal Airport), IL, and was damaged on 21st December 1948 in a landing-accident (ground-loop) there, with pilot Ralph A. Cotton at the controls. The a/c was still with the 169th FS early 1950, but also was shipped to the KWZ during Summer 1950 and is recorded in an accident of undisclosed nature on 13th August 1950 in Japan (most probably Johnson AFB); it was, however, briefly assigend to the 8th FBG and later assigned to No. 2 Sqdn SAAF "Flying Cheetahs" as # 375. On 11th February 1952, the a/c was lost in action when it developed an oil leak which led to mechanical failure (engine-trouble); Capt. R.A. Harburn was unable to jettison his bombs and subsequently crashed while trying to return to K-46 Hoengsong AB; Capt. R.A. Harburn was KIA.

Thanks for detailing the service careers of those two airplanes for us, Martin! Those Mustangs definitely got around!

Finally, we asked for clarification/correction on that white "Deuce" that was identified as an F-102D a couple of issues ago. That ID was based on the information printed on the slide; the original source of the image was/is a pretty impeccable sort of guy which made us wonder about it even though we'd never heard of such an animal. Reader Mark Williams responded to our request for input on this aircraft and has sent his thoughts on the matter:

First off, I really enjoy your RIS blog! I read your 100th "issue" and was very impressed. I saw you had a photo of that white F-102, and you asked for comments. I figured you would get a bunch of responses, but when I didn't see any mention of it in the past two "Relief Tube's", I thought I'd drop you a note.

That is not an F-102D. No such thing, as far as I've ever heard, but I'm not an expert, just an old airplane nut! (Oh, and a soon-to-be retired, C-130H Flight Engineer!) What I do know is that it's actually the first F-102A (56-1400) converted to a PQM-102 by Sperry Flight Systems, and painted in Sperry "colors." I recall seeing a photograph of that aircraft in the old Wings of Fame magazine (I can't recall the issue number), and if I remember correctly it actually had "SPERRY" painted on it for a short time, though I may be thinking of an F-100. In any event I'm pretty sure that photo was taken at Holloman AFB in 1979 as I found another photo of it in the Aircraft Resource Center website forums taken from a slightly different angle.(I tried to contact the guy that posted the photo on ARC, but he never got back to me.)

Again, thanks for putting together a super site. The photos are amazing, and the finding out their history is even better. I hope this helps. Mark O. Williams

Thanks, Mark!

And now we're at the point where we can safely say that's all we know for today, so it's time to go. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

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