Saturday, July 9, 2011

Get Those Guys Off My Boat, Another Jug or Two, Some Guard Mainstays, And a Couple of SEA Phantoms

The Skyhawk Hits the Big Time

Everybody knows the Douglas TA-4J had a lengthy career with the Navy's Training Command, and everybody knows that TraCom had a dedicated aircraft carrier assigned to it. What a lot of folks might not know is that the "Scooter" occasionally bounced off the Big Boats as well. Rick Morgan was on CV-65 USS Enterprise in September of 1987 and took these fascinating images:

Coming aboard. It's easy to forget how tiny the TA-4J really is until you have something nearby to put the size (or lack of it!) into perspective.This "Scooter" from TW-2 is in position for a textbook-perfect three-wire trap and is absolutely dwarfed by Enterprise's deck. There was good reason for that whole "Bantam Bomber" nickname!  Rick Morgan

Sometimes it's tough to find a parking place even when you aren't at the mall. This assemblage of "Scooters" includes aircraft marked for TW-2, TW-3, and VT-7, and at least one of them carries the legend "MARINES" rather than "NAVY" on the port side of the fin. It's interesting to see the way the Insignia Red under the slats is displayed when said slats are deployed. (On the A-4 the slats were aerodynamic and therefore extended when the aircraft was parked, the A-4Fs of the Blue Angels being the exception to the rule, and that exception being A Story for Another Day.)  Note the different styles and colors of the unit designators on the vertical stabs.  Rick Morgan

Taxiing out. Those TraCom birds were used pretty hard and their paintwork could suffer as a result. This TW-2 bird is a fine example; note the overall condition of her paint and, in particular, the badly-worn and faded paintwork under her starboard slat. The "Scooters" shown in this piece display two distinctly different wing-walk treatments as well; check out that photo of the pack that we ran just above this one for a perfect illustration of what we're talking about.  Rick Morgan

It's been fun, but it's time to go home now! 735 is one of at least two VT-7 aircraft that carries the "MARINES" identifier on the port side of the fin; the starboard side still reads "NAVY" on both aircraft. The Navy Reserves used to do it this way, but it's not all that common in TraCom. Note that, in direct comparision to our previous photo, this aircraft is immaculate and quite possibly just out of the NARF. Fly Navy!  Rick Morgan

Hey, That's Not Gabby's Airplane!

Republic's legendary P-47 Thunderbolt achieved fame and glory in both the Pacific theater and in Europe back during The Big One, but the airplane soldiered on for quite a while afterwards in the Guard and, to a far more limited extent, the regular Air Force. Those airplanes were tired and mostly gone by the time of the Korean Unpleasantness so their combat time was limited to the Second World War and a few skirmishes in Latin America, which means most folks aren't familiar with them in their post-War plummage. Today, thanks to the kindness of Jim Sullivan and Dave Menard, we're going to take a look at some of those almost-forgotten D models.

They're late enough to have their "PE" buzz number appended to the lower wings and fuselage, but other than that we don't know a whole lot about this shot except that it was taken in late 1947 and there are a whole bunch of "Jugs" sitting on that patch of PSP.  Jim Sullivan Collection

Virginia had this unusually configured F-47D on strength after the conversion to the "new" national insignia in 1947. That ADF football on the fuselage spine behind the canopy isn't very common on the "Jug" and really sets this one apart.  Jim Sullivan Collection

The year is now 1948, and here's what a whole bunch of 149th FS Virginia ANG P-47Ds look like when they're all running up at once. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that these aircraft are bereft of the fuselage star and bar, not an uncommon thing on Guard birds of the late 1940s.  Jim Sullivan Collection

New York's 136th FS flew the "Jug" post-War; here we see 44-32669 from that unit sitting placidly on the ramp. There were all sorts of ways to display the "NG" identifier on the Thunderbolt. Here's one of the more creative ones.  Peter Bowers via Menard Collection

Very few people think of Rhode Island when they think of fighter aircraft, but their National Guard flew them briefly after the war. 44-32927 sits on the ramp at Providence in this classic shot; note the squadron badge and presentation of the Rhode Island ANG designator. Menard Collection

New England was apparently a hotbed of fighter activity as far as the Guard was concerned, with large numbers of F-47 and F-51 units concentrated there during the late 40s and early 50s. This gorgeous example is from Massachusett's 131st FS. We're guessing her paintwork is red and white over a natural metal airframe with flat black anti-glare panels, and her markings are simple enough that she could be modeled with no requirement for decals beyond national insignia, letters and numbers. Anybody out there looking for a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary subject to build?  Besecker via Menard Collection

If you frequent any of the various modeling periodicals or internet boards, you'll eventually read where somebody or other is lamenting that it was the F-51 that went to Korea rather than the F-47. It's a little-known fact that some National Guard P-47 units were still around at the outbreak of that particular party, and that at least a couple of them were Federalized as a result of the conflict. 44-32894 belongs to either New Jersey's 141st FS or Virginia's 149th, and it's shown here getting ready to get ready to rumble. The Air Force saw things differently, though, and the somewhat limited supply pipeline for the Thunderbolt plus large numbers of F-51Ds and Ks already in the Far East guaranteed that it was to be the Mustang's war.  Menard Collection

Here's a nose shot of 894. We could argue the point that this airplane belongs in your collection of Korean War models since its parent unit was Federalized for that conflict---there's logic there, and it would definitely be a conversation-starter among knowledgeable modelers! Any takers?  Menard Collection

Republic built a whole bunch of Thunderbolts during the course of just a couple of short years, but in the post-War world there just wasn't any room for a piston-engined fighter, no matter how good it was. A few airplanes of the species had survived both conflict and the passage of time and one lived on to be restored by the factory in honor of the type's 20th birthday in 1961. Here's 44-32691 in all her restoration glory, gleaming in the sunshine. She looks proud, doesn't she?  Menard Collection

This isn't our favorite picture of the "Jug", but it defines how a great many of them ended up. A substantial number of the species survived conflict to be scrapped at the end of the war, while some of those that had served in the Pacific were simply bull-dozed into the ocean. A handful survived in Latin American, and a tiny percentage of P-47s are flying today as Warbirds. The airplane deserved a better fate.  Menard Collection

At some point in the very near future we'll take a look at the post-War P-47N, so hang around. We'll make it worth your while!

And While We're Talkin' About the Guard

We've been traveling down the post-War ANG path quite a bit of late, and there's certainly no reason to stop now! We've mostly covered piston-engined fighters so far, but Mark Nankivil has provided us with a couple of photos of Guard birds that aren't fighters. We think you'll like 'em!

When we were in elementary school (that "we" being Third Person Speak for me, in case you hadn't figured it out yet) the TB-25N was a normal part of life; Sheppard AFB was still operating the type as a trainer and it wasn't at all unusual to look up and see one chugging along overhead. That, plus a featured role for the airplane in the movie No Time for Sergeants, pretty much guarantees that it's a favorite around here, which makes this TB-25N of the Missouri ANG a special treat. Oh yeah, and check out the way the ANG markings are presented on this airframe!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Our next-door-neighbor's sons had this enormous yellow T-6G hanging from their ceiling when your editor was a kid at Sheppard in 1957. That makes it yet another personal favorite, and also means that we really like this photo from Mark's collection. The airplane is pretty typical for an ANG T-6; late-model canopies, an ADF football, and lots of yellow paint. Beauty!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

The Bent-Wing Bug Sucker at War

Since we've been riding that F-4 horse of late, it's only appropriate that we run another shot or two of them today. These are from the collection of Chris Williamson and depict aircraft involved in the latter days of the Vietnam conflict.

There's just something about an F-4D with a towel rack on it that makes us want to reach for the old Monogram F-4C/D kit. Here's a fine reason why; this example is undergoing last-minute maintenance at Udorn during the early 1970s. She belonged to the 435th TFS/8th TFW when the photo was taken, and was very likely involved in the early deployment of "smart" munitions to the theater. The photo is probably a little bit faded and those SEA colors were notoriously prone to fading all by themselves without help from anyone's camera, but this shot provides a great illustration of how paint went south in the field. Camouflage pedantics beware!  Williamson Collection

It's good to be home. The airplane is an early F-4E and is from either the 307th or 308th TFS/31st TFW, and appears to be coming off a combat mission. The year is probably 1972, and she's a well-used Phantom. Have we ever mentioned that we like the F-4?  Williamson Collection

We don't know how you might feel about it, but this airplane is carrying a load full of hurt that we'd just as soon avoid. She was with the 13th TFS/432nd TFW when this photo was taken, and is another LORAN-equipped F-4D. A lot of those towel-racked Delta-models had black bellies and spent more than a little time dropping laser-guided munitions, but this bird is configured for an in-country strike. Check out that emblem on the intake splitter!  Williamson Collection

Happy Snaps

A few weeks ago Doug Barbier, former fighter pilot and photographer extraordinaire, sent us a small series of air-to-air F-16 shots for this section of the blog. Here's the final one in that series for your enjoyment today.

You gotta admit it; Doug Barbier knows his way around a camera. This beautifully-marked "Electric Jet" is from Michigan's 191st TFS and was taken shortly before they gave up the fighter business for good. It was a sad day for all concerned but obviously a wonderful photo op. We miss the 191st, though...  Doug Barbier

The Relief Tube

And here we are again, with another batch of corrections, additions, and comments, which is as good a time as any to ask that our readership feel free to write us regarding same. The address is and we answer our mail. We also welcome contributions as long as they fall within the rather obvious parameters we've set for the project, so please consider contributing photography if you're so inclined!

We're going to start off a little differently than we normally do, with a request for help on a project. If you've got any previously-unpublished pictures of the 58th FG in the Pacific during WW2, would you consider scanning them (at a high resolution, please, since they're intended for print publication rather than electronic) and forwarding them to that now-famous address? Friend of Replica and author Frank Emmett is working on a monograph of the unit and could use a few more photos. Full credit will be given for any images used. And now; back to our never-scheduled corrections and comments!

We were talking about FH-1 Phantoms a couple of issues ago, and made mention of those yellow covers on the nose. Tommy Thomason thought about that for a while and offered this thought:   Looking more closely at those yellow "access panels" on the FH-1 color picture, I'm pretty sure that they are yellow zinc-chromate painted vents, added after delivery to resolve some problem like compartment cooling or gun-gas buildup. They would have come from McDonnell, primed but unpainted, and locally installed. Apparently painting them the exterior color was a low priority. Another example of an unpainted fleet modification is attached, the gun-gas vent on the F9F Panther nose.  T

Here's Tommy's photo of the gun gas vent on an F9F to substantiate the thought that those covers are yellow zinc chromate (Mil-P-8585T). Based on this shot we'd tend to agree.  Thomason Collection

Another one of our readers sent in the following comments regarding the TAF-9 photos we ran last issue. The clanger we dropped on that one was large enough to merit instant correction, but here's Rex's comment on the mistake:  Phil, those "TF-9As" would have been either TAF-9Js if they were single seaters or TF-9Js if they were two seaters, both were based on F9F-8 which became F-9J, or F9F-8B which became AF-9J. Hope this helps!   RexTN  Thanks, Rex! (You just never know what we're going to mis-identify next!)

A further note and some insight on that whole TraCom thing from one who was there is provided by former "Stoof" driver Doug Siegfried:  Phillip, the shots of TraCom were over the top. Great shots of the real oldies. By the way - a correction. In the summer of 1971 the Naval Air training Command was reorganized for the first time since late 1945. TraCom disestablished the Basic and Advanced Training commands and coordinated all flight training through eight new training wings under the single base concept. The new TraWings 1 thru 8 were to be at NAS Meridian, Chase, Kingsville, Corpus, Whiting, Pensacola, Saufley and Glynco. The wings at Glynco and Saufley were disestablished when the two bases closed. There were no Tra Wings in 1964. The squadrons belonged to the base and the the Basic and Advanced Training Commands. Great shots all the way around.  Cheers, Doug  Many thanks, Doug!

Our last F-102 installment included a photo of F-102A 56-1334. Marty Isham and Dave Menard both sent unit IDs on that one, and Dave also added some comments regarding the F-84F factory shot we ran:

Hi, Phil. Two more (corrections) for you! That Deuce 61334 is from the 332nd FIS, who was based at beautiful Thule AB Greenland, not Alaska. I was TDY up there during April, May and June of 1958 and know those hangers well! Also, that factory fresh F-84F was 53-6776, not 56, as there were no F-84s built with a higher FY than 1953. That shortened tail number was a result of some moron in HQ USAF deciding that radio call numbers (the official name for tail numbers) should only be four digits. This meant that many a/c got totally SNAFUed numbers for a year or so til sanity returned. I know of one F-86D 210035 that wound up with 2035 as her number. Will try to dig up some shots of this farce to send along. Oh, yes, the Thunderbird F-84Fs got the four digits only scheme. Since they flew that model in late 55 and then into 1956, that will help ID possible dating for future photos perhaps? Great job on the blog, usual. Cheers, dave 

We'll run that shot of 52-10035 in a minute, but first let's hear from Marty about that "Deuce":  Hi Bud...just a bit of a geography lesson, the 332nd was based at Thule AB, not Alaska, from July 60 to Apr 65, last 5 a/c left to Perrin. Hanger space only allowed 12 a/c. 332nd inactivated on 1 July 1965.  Cheers....Marty
Thanks as always, guys! And here's that F-86D that Dave mentioned:

                                                                                   A. Pendleton via Menard
                                                                                             Menard Collection
Look closely at these photos, then read Dave's explanation above. Sometimes it's possible to overthink a problem and come up with a truly goofy solution...  Menard Collection

It's not often we get to see where the airplanes we feature ended up, but reader Kevin Kuhn found one of them on display:  It was with some amazement that I opened the first photo in your selection of Texas Voodoos to see F-101B 57-0308, a Voodoo I've become quite familiar with over the past few years. By some weird twist of fate, she's now the gateguard at Wilmington Airpark (ex-Airborne Airpark) in Wilmington, Ohio. As I go to school just south of Cincinnati, and live in Columbus, I've tried to stop and photograph her whenever I'm traveling between the two cities. Her presence is probably a result of the airport's former status as Clinton County Air Force Base, but I'm at a loss as to why, as I don't think it was ever a fighter base, and the only Voodoos in Ohio that I'm aware of were based in my hometown of Columbus, at Rickenbacker AFB. I've attached a pair of photos of the old lady as she appears today; she's looking a bit rough but she's still a proud bird standing her guard post. They're probably not nearly as interesting as the in-service pictures but if you'd like to publish them go right ahead, just credit me as Kevin Kuhn.

I've only seen one other photo of 308 while in service, found here:
To be honest I'd never expected to find any photo of her while in service, let alone two. If you happen to come across any photos of F-86H 53-1528 while still in service please let me know, as she's another airframe I've got some connection to. I'm a big fan of your blog-only discovered it recently but the wealth of photographic information contained in it is astounding. Enjoy the photos, and keep up the good work!  Kevin Kuhn  Thanks, Kevin, both for your kind words and for the photos!

She looked a lot better when she was in active service, but at least 308 ended up with a home that didn't include incorporation into a set of cookware. Many thanks to Kevin for providing these photos. (And if any of our readers have a photo of F-86H 53-1528 in their collections, please consider forwarding it to us at . Kevin would enjoy it and we'd like to see it too!)  Both photos by Kevin Kuhn

As a final note, we don't do much with aircraft of the Second World War around here, but we've recently been offered some extremely interesting images that we think you'll all enjoy. We'll begin looking at a few of them next issue but until then, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

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