Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Few More Martins, Stranger in a Strange Land, A Widow or Two, Strange Birds, Some Warhawks, and a Modeler's Question Answered

Just a Few More B-57s

In our view the Martin B-57 family represents something special; born in another country (Great Britain), the B-57 very quickly became Martin's own, serving in several variations and for several decades (although, it must be admitted, that service didn't last nearly as long as the B-57's sire, the immortal Canberra, did in RAF use) and in a number of roles. We took a brief look at the type a couple of issues ago and figured it was time to look at a few more pictures. You can, and we believe this to be entirely true, never have too many B-57 shots.

Most Americans think of black airplanes (the color is actually called "Jet") when they think of the B-57. That's mostly because the old odd-scale Revell kit of the B-57 came molded in black in its original iteration, but black is the image a lot of us have, so here's a black one for your edification. This pristine example was photographed at Reese AFB during 1955, and is missing the colorful unit markings generally associated with the B-57 in the night intruder role; 52-1536 was built as a B-57B but later converted to RB-57F standard.  Modelers might want to note the use of Mil-P-8585Y Zinc Chromate primer on the insides of the gear doors. Frederick

Here's a black bird of a slightly different flavor. An RB-57E from the Patricia Lynn program, 55-4245 was converted in 1963 and was in Vietnam when Denny Smith photographed her in 1965. This photo is interesting because it defines the colors of the speed brake wells and flaps; yellow Zinc Chromate. The "old" USAF markings are interesting in that every insignia, marking, and stencil to be found on the pre-War B-57 fleet is seen on this aircraft. It wasn't as though the Bad Guys had searchlights...   Smith

You can't tell the players without a program, and you can't tell the Bravos from the Charlies without a serial number list. This particular bird is a B-57C; 53-3831 was with Vermont's 134th DSES when this photograph was taken in the 1970s. That paint job is gorgeous but didn't stay on the airplane very long; she was subsequently converted to RB-57C status and went to the boneyard at DM in 1981.  Friddell Collection

Martin's Intruder was intended to be a light bomber and interdiction aircraft in USAF service, but spent most of its career in somewhat less-glamorous roles. 53-3851 is a fine example of that sort of thing; built as a B-57C, it was later converted to WB-57C standard and was in that configuration when photographed at McClellan in the early 1970s. She was assigned to the 58th WRS/9th WRW at the time, and probably looked much like this when she made her last flight to MASDC to await the smelters. It was a sad end...  Tyrpak via Picciani

Climbing out. 52-1503 had an interesting career---built as a B-57B-MA, she was first converted into an RB-57B, then into a WB-57B, in which guise she was written off in 1980. She was in here prime when photographed during her role as an RB-57, although we don't know the unit. Those antenna and the faded day-glo make her well worth modeling.  Ron Picciani

We haven't shown an RB-57G since we started running photos of the type, which makes today as good a day as any. 53-3906 is a good example to show, even though this particular photograph is in softer focus than we'd like. Originally built as a B-57B, the airframe was converted to B-57G status, then sent to Eglin to become a testbed for an M61 installation mounted beneath the bomb bay. She ended up at MASDC in 1973. Does anybody have a close-up of the gun installation that they'd like to share with us? If you do, you know the drill: The address is replicainscale@yahoo.com .  Rose

We'll look at a few more B-57s somewhere on down the road, but for now we've got some other interesting things to examine.

If Only He'd Taken a Picture of the Whole Airplane

Sometimes you come across one of those photos that's just so fascinating you can hardly stand it. This is one of them, a B-17G (44-83411, a B-17G-80-DL) that was photographed on the ground in Korea on 14 July, 1952. She was assigned to HQ 5th AF at the time, and we'll bet there was some sort of markings on the nose in addition to the then-standard U.S. Air Force logo, but we may never know for sure---this is our only photo of the airplane and it stops where you see it. We sure wish the photographer had taken the entire bird when he shot this, but then again we're happy with what we've got---it definitely beats nothing! If you ever want to model a Korean War Flying Fortress, this could be your baby.  Clutts via Kerr

Everybody's Got the Fever

Everybody but us, anyway. For those of you who might be scale modelers, the fact that Great Wall has recently issued a 1/48th scale P-61 won't come as any surprise; the release of the kit, plus the somewhat astonishing frenzy it's created on the modeling boards of the world, has given the scale modeling world a major dose of Black Widow Fever. One of our readers, Gerry Kersey of 3rd Attack Group.Org (see our links and pay him a visit, ya'll) has provided us with a couple of shots of P-61s from the 548th NFS so we can climb on the Widow Madness bandwagon too! Let's see what we've got:

This shot is what you might call a Teaser; more P-61s than we've ever seen in one place before, and not one complete airplane in the bunch! Still, the shot provides an interesting look into the operational side of the Black Widow as well as a sense of scale when we compare the relative sizes of these P-61Bs and the crewmen around them. She was a big 'un...  3rd Attack Group via Kersey

She owned the night at conclusion of the Second World War, but the P-61 quickly faded into oblivion in the years following the end of the conflict. That somewhat sinister shape has fascinated both aviation historians and modelers for decades, yet her record was relatively mediocre when compared to that of the night fighters used by the RAF and Luftwaffe. There have been at least two 1/72nd scale kits of the type, as well as two in 1/48th (and, for the record, we still like the old Monogram kit just fine, thank you), which would indicate that at least a few people are willing to plunk down money for one. (If you plan on doing some of that money-plunking on the afore-mentioned Great Wall kit, you might also want to be prepared to rebuild the spoilers, which are incorrectly represented on the model.) That said, this view of one of the 548th's birds captures our fascination with the type.  It was a neat airplane in spite of itself.  3rd Attack Group via Kersey

The Federal Luftwaffe at The Goose

We recently showed you a couple of photos of RAF Tornados photographed on the ground at Goose Bay taken by reader Doug Barbier, and related his air-to-air assault on same. The aircraft you're about to see weren't intercepted by Doug, at least not that we know of, but they did share some ramp space at The Goose and are worth a look. The photos were taken in 1985 during Amagam Brave 85-1. We honestly don't know anything more about them than that; readers who may have some background are invited to comment at replicainscale@yahoo.com .

The Alpha Jet has been around for a couple of decades now, and we aren't aware of one single decent kit of it. That's a shame too, considering what a neat looking, and fairly ubiquitous, little airplane it is.  Barbier

There's even a variety of camouflage to make the airplane even more interesting. Still, it isn't exactly a Phantom, is it?  Barbier

On the other hand, this airplane is a Phantom. If memory serves this is an F-4F, but we've honestly never kept up with the German F-4s. Let the letters commence!  Barbier

OK, so we don't know our Luftwaffe F-4s very well! We do, however, know a good photograph when we see one, and this shot is worth the price of admission all by itself. How about it, Doug, did you hassle with these guys?  Barbier

Late-War Hawks

Or Late Warhawks, however you choose to say it. However we decide to break it down, it's been a while since we've looked at P-40s of any flavor---it's time to rectify that particular failing, we think!

The 35th flew P-40Ns out of Port Moresby for a time. Although of poor quality, this photo is fascinating for a number of reasons. First is that stripe in from of the white ID marking on the tail; it's not a stripe at all. Close inspection shows that it's overspray from the masking applied by the ground crew prior to painting. Then there's the national insignia, with its un-outlined white bars and, finally, the barely-visible marking on the nose. Is it artwork? A letter (our guess)? Dirty paint? We may never know.  Rocker Collection

Dick West flew with the 35th out of Finschhaven, where this photo was taken. The airplane is filty, but not so dirty as to obscure the national insignia. Take a close look if you will---can anyone spot any trace of a blue surround to that star? We sure can't! What a tantalizing image!  Rocker Collection

Bud Poole flew with the 35th too, although in this photo he could easily be mistaken for just another ground crewman. One thing that always strikes us about photos like this one and the one immediately above; those guys were young---for a while, anyway.  Rocker Collection

The 44th FS had the distinction of being one of the few AAF units to fly the P-40F in combat. In this photograph we see "Destitute Prostitute" stuck in the mud at Guadalcanal. The 13th Fighter Command fought a war that was every bit as nasty as the big one further to the northwest, but is rarely remembered today. They fought the same enemy, and the same climate and endless mud. Nothing changed much in the southwest pacific, no matter which Air Force you flew with.  Rocker Collection

Here's what happens when you overshoot a landing in the SWPAC. Flying fighters was a tough racket then, just as it is today. At least this one was a walk-away; not everybody got off so easily.  Rocker Collection

The 7th AF flew the P-40N too, and one of their units, the 45th FS, wore one of the war's more enigmatic schemes; a "coral pink" over what may have been light blue or light blue-gray. "Lackanookie" is interesting for that reason if no other, but take a close look on her centerline rack. We've never noticed a P-40 with a 55-gallon drum slung in that position before, but are willing to be educated if anyone knows the story behind this photo.  Rocker Collection

The P-40 really got around. These P-40Ks are hard down for maintenance at a 7th AF facility "somewhere in the Pacific". Under normal conditions that sort of maintenance would never have been done out of doors, but nothing was normal in the Pacific War. For those of you who have never been around aircraft maintenance, a word of explanation might be of interest. Take a look at that Warhawk in the foreground; the radiator has been removed, as well as the engine. That's not all, though---that engine bay is full of hoses, electrical leads and connectors, and precision fittings, none of which do well in an open-air environment, particularly one that's full of dust, mud, or sand. Oh, and one more thing; "open air" means you're out there when it rains. It was a lousy war...   Rocker Collection

The P-40 made it to China too. This N-model was photographed there while being moved by local manpower. It really didn't matter where you were once you got to a combat area in the Pacific or neighboring environs; facilities ranged from primitive to nonexistant, and you did what you had to do to make things work.  Rocker Collection

We invariably think of fighter operations when we think of the P-40, but the photo-recon guys used it too. This P-40N was assigned to the 110th TRS and was photographed just as it broke ground. The runway doesn't look too bad, but that's because it's made from PSP. Check out the areas to the sides of the runway, where things are a little worse. The P-40 was a ground-looper in any of its myriad of variations. Add that mud to the mix and you'd have a recipe for disaster!  Rocker Collection

What could have been. The P-40Q was designed to perform on a par with the P-51, and came close to doing it in certain flight regimes. Unfortunately, the P-51, as well as the P-38 and P-47, had become a mature weapon by 1944; there was just no demand for another piston-engined fighter in the inventory. Curtiss had been a prime supplier to the AAF as well as to air arms around the world, but the P-40Q was the company's swan song---they managed to stumble into the post-War era, but only barely. In one respect it didn't matter, though. The P-40 family had guaranteed Curtiss a place in history. It wasn't a bad legacy, all in all.  Rocker Collection

That "Fighting 22" Hog: The Final Word On a Classic

If you're as old as we are you've seen more than your share of aviation books and periodicals, which means you've also seen certain airplanes illustrated in more than one place. One of those airplanes is an F4U-4 from VF-22 that's shown up in several periodicals, as well as in Jim Sullivan's excellent "colors" monograph (for want of a better word) on the F4U. The airplane was even famous enough to be featured on an old 1/48th scale MicroScale decal sheet, a fact that caused us to build a model of it Way Back When, using the Mania/nee Hasegawa -4 "Hog" as the kit of choice.

To get to the point, more or less, we scratch-built an interior for that kit and did it up in a nice rendition of GSB, put on the decals (which included that tasty little sharkmouth for one of the gas bags), and sat it on the shelf where it languished for a number of years. We decided to spiff it up a couple of months ago and asked Jim Sullivan (who was, after all, the original culprit as far as inspiration to build that particular airplane was concerned) if he had any photography of the bird to substantiate the profile drawings we'd seen of it. It turns out he did, and those photos were a revelation. Wanna see what we mean?

Does this bird look familiar? Yep---it's C-317 running up at Wilmington, NC, during 1949. The airplane isn't wearing it's squadron emblem on the cowling, but if you look closely you can see that leering sharkmouth on the aux tank. Note the aircraft's finish, because that GSB isn't very shiny any more.  J. Sullivan Collection

 Here's a little better view. The scan isn't all that great, but it shows off the sharkmouth from the other side as well as some severe staining on the white of the fuselage national insignia. This is the infamous VF-22 bird of MicroScale fame, but wait! That bird's not from VF-22, but from VF-63!  The photo has been mis-identified for years, but Jim finally solved the riddle a while back. The only question that remains is that of the squadron badge on the nose, and we've got a photo of that too; unfortunately, it's a TIF image and the blog software doesn't support that platform so you'll have to take our word for it, but you can use that squadron badge if you want to---it actually was on the airplane at one point in time. Just remember to weather out that paintwork, and also do a fair amount of paint chipping on the inboard wing surfaces near the fuselage if you're going to build your model with the squadron emblem in place. Many thanks to Jim for clearing up this mystery for us!  J. Sullivan Collection

Happy Snaps

Let's go back to Keflavik for today's Happy Snap, courtesy of Doug Barbier:

The 57th FIS was your basic Sierra Hotel sort of outfit back in The Day, and the attitude bled through to everything they flew. 58-0540 was a T-33A-5-LO, and was beautifully-painted when Doug shot this air-to-air of her from his F-4E. The "T-Bird" didn't stay in service as a trainer for very long (15 years or so), but served faithfully in a number of other roles for nearly 40 years. That's not a bad record, all in all.  Barbier

The Relief Tube

Today's going to be one of those Scary Days when we don't have that many corrections or additions (those days always scare us, anyway), but we've got a couple all the same. Let's start with some additions to last issue's P-47N feature. First, let's hear from Dave Menard:

Phil, both of the Ns with pre-WW2 rudder markings were from the 56th FG at Selfridge Field, when they had one sqdn of 47Ns and one of 51Hs. Both types got these markings for a while and looked good indeed! The N 140 is from Lockbourne c.1948/9 and was assigned to the 332nd FG, the Tuskegee Airmen, at the time.  Cheers, Dave

And from Mark Williams: Phil, I'll bet someone has had to have sent you this already regarding that photo from the 24th. Note in the caption where it was taken.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:332d_Fighter_Group_-_F-47N_44-89140.jpg Oh well, I just read the blog this morning! Have a good day! Mark You might want to check out that link to Wiki that Mark provided; the photo that proves his point is a fine color image from some guy named Menard! It's a small world...

And as long as we're on the subject of those Ns, here's another comment from Mark that's worth reading:  Phil,  Me again. I think I got a lead on another mystery P-47N from your blog of the 24th. I found this photo in "Warbird Tech Vol. 23, P-47 Thunderbolt" showing 23rd Fighter Group P-47Ns on Guam in 1947. They sure look a whole lot like 44-88569 in your blog! You can see most of these have "L*" codes, and I see one coded "PB" on the far right of the photo. Based on the photographs, info found on the web site below, and assuming this information is correct, I figured out the 74th Fighter Squadron probably used P*, 75th FS used L*, and the 76th FS used B* codes.
This is a pretty amazing database actually! I also found there that 44-88705 belonged to the 414th Fighter Group, 413th FS. On the below site it is listed as a loss on 450907 on Iwo Jima. (Additionally, you can find information including losses for some of the other P-47Ns you have posted photos of on both of these sites.) http://www.accident-report.com/Serials/1944o.htm Hope this helps! (It's raining today, I'm off, and really didn't have anything else to do!) Mark  And if you're going to be that productive we hope you keep those rainy days coming, Mark! (It wouldn't hurt our feelings any if you could send a few of them to Texas too...)

Finally, here's a comment from Doug Barbier:  Phil, those two P-47N's with the striped tails - 488680 & PE-757 were both from the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge. Dave Schilling was the 'boss' back then and he and the P-47's went way back. They kept quite a few jugs even after the F-51H's arrived. I've been doing a lot of research on that era at Selfridge lately and it was good to see a couple of new photos.  Doug  That comment about Schilling's preference for the F-47 is fascinating. Of course, we've heard that he'd had some previous experience with the type...

We ran an F8F-1 Bearcat shot from the Bill Peake Collection at the Greater St Louis Air & Space Museum last time, and Dave Menard offered this comment:   Phil, that air to air of Bearcat 201 sure looks familiar as does the ground under her. I would bet real money that this was one of William T Larkins photos as he did a lot of air to air in the late forties/early fifties in USN, ANG and AFRes a/c
out in California and he did shoot 201 during one of the sorties. Try that today! cheers, dave 
Thanks, Dave!

Finally, our piece on Mom and Pop hobby shops struck a chord with at least one reader:   I am an airplane nut thanks to my dad. You might be interested to know he used to have his own "mom & pop" hobby shop back in the late '70s/early '80s, though he primarily specialized in RC. I had to work my tail off for every kit I got off Dad's shelves! Just for fun, here are some photos of my Dad's shops. (He ended up moving the original location twice. Once in our home town of Moses Lake, WA, then to Knoxville, TN before he had to give it up.)  Mark Williams  Here's the storefronts of one of those shops:

Thanks to Mark Williams for sharing this image from his youth with us. Support your local hobby shop, ya'll!

And that's all for this edition. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment