Does Anybody Remember the Colby Books?
We sure do! They were a staple diet for every airplane-loving little boy in the United States back in the 50s, and we spent hours in the Sheppard AFB Elementary School library drooling over all those late-40s/early-50s bombers and fighters when we should have been studying. You could almost say they were a rite of passage way back then.
One of the stars of that series, at least to us, was the Grumman TBM Avenger in all its post-War iterations. None of us realized back then that it was old and tired by the time its picture showed up in those Colby books; how could any airplane named Avenger ever be out of date? It was every bit of that, though; a thoroughbred who's time had come and gone. The fascination of those post-War TBMs has lasted to this day, which in turn prompted an e-mail to Jim Sullivan, who's shared these images with us today. Colby fans, get ready for a treat!
firstname.lastname@example.org . J. Sullivan Collection
Big Bird, Batman, and Jolly Roger
Sometimes nose art isn't actually on the nose of the aircraft. Take these Voodoos, for example. The 111th FIS/147th FG was flying F-101Bs out of Ellington in the early '80s, and they had some of the most colorful F-101s ever assigned to ADC even without nose art (and, it must be said, very few of their aircraft wore any form of personal decoration whatsoever). With "nose" art they were something really special.
That's it for our Voodoo feature for today, but stay tuned. Shortly after these photos were taken some visiting Canadians took their CF-101Bs up for a little demo of their own, which caused amazement of the jaw-dropping kind among all of our newly-found Voodoo Driver friends. We'll look in on that particular party another time.
What Does It Take To Get Something Published Around Here?
Some places would regard that as a rhetorical question at best, but at our offices it passes for Fundamental Truth. The sad fact of the matter is that we receive quite a few submissions and sometimes they have to wait in line depending on publishing schedule and, to some extent, the whim of the editor on that particular day. We do eventually get around to everything, you understand; it just takes a while sometimes. Take, for example, our next feature.
Several months ago (it might have even been last year, but sometimes it's best not to count such things) we asked Jim Sullivan if he had any photography on the North American FJ-1 that he'd like to share. He did, of course, and he promptly scanned and sent it along to us. We, being as disorganized as we sometimes are, promptly filed it for use, where it's been until today. We will serve no Fury before its time!
A Smattering of Echo Bugsuckers
When we ran those Navy F-4 shots a couple of issues back we received an overwhelming response from folks asking for more Phantoms and, while we've never been accused of being overly-bright, we are smart enough to know A Good Thing when we see one. Today it's the Air Force again, with a collection of entirely unrelated F-4E shots for your enjoyment.
Some Folks Called Her Dumbo
She was born with the name Catalina, but her admittedly goof appearance and low performance quickly gave rise to the nickname "Dumbo" once she entered combat. It's true that she was big, somewhat underpowered, and totally without glamor, but by the time the shooting was over she'd performed almost every role imaginable including that of bomber and torpedo bomber, and had done at least moderately well each and every time she was given a new task. Here's a look at her during the war, courtesy of Bobby Rocker.
Do We Really Need All That Stuff?
We can remember it like it was yesterday. Life had just dealt us a hand we hadn't been expecting, resulting in one of those intervals known as Picking Up the Pieces, and we had begun modeling again after a several-year near-hiatus from same. Fate took us to Austin (we're in Texas, remember?) and to King's Hobby Shop. We prowled around in there for a while, totally confused by the vast proliferation of STUFF that had come into being during those years we were effectively out of the hobby and finally, after lots of soul-searching while finding a kit who's manufacturer we recognized, we approached the counter to pay for our newly-discovered treasure. The guy behind that counter asked if we wanted any aftermarket for the kit we were buying, to which we replied with something zippy like "I'm a modeler; I make that stuff myself!". He smiled. We paid and left.
Next time around we bought a kit and an Eduard "Zoom" set. The time after that it was a complete interior, and then resin wheel bays. We were hooked, and since that day we've pretty much bought aftermarket for every kit we've purchased. It's become automatic.
Here lately things have begun to change, however. The first Great Revelation came when we bought a photo-etch set for a Bf-109E and discovered that the RLM 66 portions of the colored etch were closer in hue to baby blue than to any sort of dark grey. After that we began to notice other things too, and then we began to suspect that some of the more prolific manufacturers of aftermarket were occasionally making things up as they went along. That, on top of the ongoing color thing (because, unfortunately, goofy colors weren't confined to that one set of photo-etch), began to make us suspicious. As a result we began using less aftermarket and a little more Modeling 101 when we wanted details, and nowadays we often use no more than an instrument panel, console panels (if appropriate), and a set of belts and harnesses to spiff up our interiors.
You're quite possibly in the process of scratching your heads along about now, wondering why this would matter to anybody, but the fact is that it apparently matters to more than a few people. Several of the folks who regularly contribute to this site are modelers as well as photographers, and one of them began an e-mail conversation the other night commenting on the viability of certain items of aftermarket. During the span of that electronic discourse it was determined that most of us had begun using less photo-etch and resin on our models, and everyone pretty much commented on the not-altogether-infrequent lapses of accuracy on said bits and pieces. It was a consensus, so to speak.
So then, what does that prove? It could prove nothing at all, but then those guys just might be on to something. Think about it---you spend fifty increasingly-hard-earned bucks on a new kit, then you go right out and spend another fifty bucks, or even more, on stuff to improve the model, and you do that even though you probably haven't spent nearly as much time researching the aftermarket for accuracy as you have the kit. You just presumed the aftermarket was better because somebody was selling it. Hmmm...
Where does the truth lie, then? In our world it's somewhere in the middle of things. Some aftermarket is really good, and some isn't. We still buy it, and probably will continue to do so, but we're now a whole lot more cautious about what we actually stick on the model. Our advice to you is to do what you think is right, but you might want to have a few references around before you go randomly attaching extra parts onto your new kit. It might not be that much of an improvement after all. That's our story and, once again, we're sticking with it.
Today's happy snap comes from what is, for us, a somewhat unusual source; the brother of a friend. Lee Bracken was one of the mentors who helped us when we first became serious about aviation photography, and he shared a number of images with us when we began building our own collection. Several of those images came from his brother George, who had been an F-4 driver during the Late Southeast Asia War Games, and one of those photos is today's Happy Snap. Thanks, Lee!
The Relief Tube
We've got a couple of things to address today, so let's get right to it:
First, from Mark Morgan, is a little more information about those fascinating Strategic Support C-124s from a couple of issues ago: Phil - Great info and photos as always. To add to the discussion on SAC's C-124s, the SSS squadrons were:
1st SSS - redesignated from 1st Strategic Support Unit 21 Dec 48, Fort Worth AFB, transferred to Biggs AFB Dec 48, inactivated 1 Jun 59.
2nd SSS - Activated 14 June 1949, Biggs AFB; to Walker AFB 4/50; to Castle AFB 5/51; to Pinecastle AFB 9/56; inactivated 15 Jun 61.
3rd SSS - Activated 16 Feb 50, Hunter AFB; to Barksdale AFB 12/52; inactivated 15 Jun 61.
4th SSS - Activated 18 Feb 53, Rapid City AFB; to Dyess AFB 6/57; inactivated 15 Mar 61.
The 7th Logistics Support Squadron redesignated as an air transport squadron on 8 July 1964 and inactivated on 8 January 1966 at Robins AFB. It served as a geographically separate unit (GSU) of the 63rd Air Transport Wing from July 1963 through inactivation.
The 19th LSS was at Kelly AFB; redesignated as an air transport squadron (special) on 8 July 1964; military airlift squadron (special) 27 December 1965; military airlift squadron 8 April 1969; and inactivated on 22 Dec 1969. It was a GSU of the 62nd ATW/MAW.
Finally, the 28th LSS at Hill AFB redesignated as an ATS(S) on 18 January 1962; MAS(S) 8 Jan 66; and inactivated on 8 April 1969. It was assigned to the 1501st Air Transport Wing after Jan 62; the 60th MAW after Jan 66; and finally the 62nd MAW, after July 1967. MK Thanks, Mark!
Next up is a matter of geography. We recently ran a shot of a cold and barren airfield (one to which we'd never personally been) and stated that it was Thule because that was what was written on the slide in question. Dave Menard disagrees with that identification and offers this comment: OK, that shot is not Thule, as I spent about 100 days TDY there in the spring of 1958 while loaned to the 509th AREFSQ from my unit at Pease AFB, the 100th FMS. Thule was way, way too far north for anyone crossing the pond to stop at. I suspect that the image my chums Dave McLaren and Marty Isham loaned you is either BW-1 Narsarsauq OR BW-8 Sondre Strom, both located in lower Greenland. I googled both SondreStrom and Nasrsarsuak/Narsarsuaq and there is an air to ground color image of the latter that clearly shows the end of the only runway really, really close to the waters edge! I just knew that it warn't Thule! Thule had a bunch of large hangers, big enough for one B-36 or two KC-97s.
BTW, NEAC was the Siberia of the AF in the late forties/early fifties, if an NCO or officer screwed up, they wound up with a set of orders for a year at one of those bases in Greenland! There was also an Air Rescue Sqdn in Saudi Arabia in the early fifties (why there I will never know!) that served the same purpose. cheers, dave We never were very good at geography! Thanks, Dave!
While we're talking about Dave, we've had a comment on our quick review of his book Before Centuries that may help those of you who don't already have that title. From a reader known to us only as Junkman9096: I agree completely about "Before Centuries". Also don't forget another, earlier book by David Menard "USAF Plus Fifteen". A litter more general in scope but it can be found dirt cheap on the internet. And a comment on the book from the author himself: Thanks for the plug on my USAFE book but right now the only way to obtain it is through the used books on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites for various prices. I put a bunch of my own money into it to make sure my dupe slides gathered over many, many years got run in color and not B&W! It was worth it. Cheers, Dave. The hard work payed off, Dave---many thanks for the effort you put into both those titles, and thanks to Junkman9096 for telling us how to get one for ourselves!
When we ran those photos from the Richard Adams collection last time around we requested help from our readers regarding unit identifications for the C-47 and R4D photos. Here's a response from Rick Morgan: Phil: Neat shots of the TRACOM birds in the latest blog. These were shot, of course, ‘back in the day’ when we still had hundreds of aircraft available (particularly, C, T and U types) to farm out to a lot of obscure operations spread throughout the world. Since many were older and not as neat as the A and F types they didn’t always get the photo coverage that the more glamorous F and A types did.
The Gooney Birds marked “Pensacola” are shown on the July 1965 Location & Allowance List (LAL) as belonging to Naval Air Basic Training Command (NABTC), which had 42 aircraft assigned directly to headquarters as hacks and support birds. At this point this list included two C-47s, an H and a J.
The VT-30 T-28B belonged to the A-1 advanced training squadron. It was probably used for instrument training in support of the A-1 training syllabus. The July ’64 LAL shows the unit had 19 A-1Hs, 7 T-28Bs and 42 (!) T-34Bs assigned at that time.
The Kingsville C-47 and C-45 were officially assigned to Naval Advanced Air Training Command with the base (Kingsville) being the functional operator. As Doug S mentioned in an earlier post, this was before TRACOM merged its two flight training parts (Basic and Advanced) and set up formal Wings at its bases. In the mid-60s this meant the NAS acted as a defacto Wing with a Captain (O-6) being the senior man on base. Kingsville had seven types of aircraft assigned in mid-1965; 2 C-47, 1 UC-45J, and UH-2B, UH-34J, UH-19F for SAR, back when each TRACOM base had its own such det. Rick And that clears that one up! Thanks, Morgo!
Finally, we received a really neat photo from Bob Perry and there's honestly no place to put it at the moment---we're getting ready to do a piece on the "Sabre Dog" in the near future, but it's going to be a while before it's ready. We really like the photo Bob sent, don't want to have to wait to run it and, since we pretty much get to set the schedule around here, today's the day you get to see it. Here are Bob's comments regarding the photo: Hi Phil. I thought you might be interested in this shot taken by my father at the Windsor Ontario air show in July 1959. It was an international show and there was lots of good stuff on display that day. I remember C-119s dropping paratroops, F-102s, Trackers, RCAF Neptunes and the new Argus. I can’t remember what else and can’t locate any more of my dad’s slides!
I’d never seen a Sabre before and besides this one the RCAF sent the Golden Hawks in their Sabre 5s. According to my notes this Sabre is an F-86D-60 but I have no idea of its unit or service history.Love the blog, keep up the good work! Bob Perry
email@example.com . Oh, and Bob; please keep looking for those slides!
And that's all we know for today, so be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.