Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Voodoos From the North Country, Plugging Away at the Wurger, Some SpADs, That Korean B-17, and Some Flying Forts

Those Wily Canucks Know How to Fly

We were talking about Voodoos a few issues back and even showed you a few photos of the 111th FIS/147th FIG out of Ellington AFB to illustrate the point (whatever that might have been). Today we're going to look at a few more F-101s, but with a special twist; these airplanes all belonged to the Canadian Armed Forces and were down here visiting during one of Ellington's air shows.

A lot of folks thing the F-101 is pretty much a straight-line airplane. Straight ahead, straight up, straight down; the key word is Straight. That great big honking airplane wasn't much at turning, or so we've all been led to believe. Sometimes you shouldn't believe everything you hear.

The year was 1980, and the event was Ellington ANGB's annual air show. The 111th flew F-101Bs at the time and apparently had some sort of, shall we say "arrangement" with Canada's 425 Squadron, because a flight of their CF-101Bs were parked in the 111th's squadron area when we got there to photograph the flying part of the festivities. At this point it's important to remember where we were standing during that show, because we were completely surrounded by pilots and GIBs from the 111th during 425's flying demo. In short, we were smack in the middle of Voodoo Land. Those guys from "The Texans" were all pros, mostly high-time aircrew with a great many hours on the 101. They would be a critical audience, to be sure, and we settled in to listen to their comments as we watched the show. And comment they did.

425 had barely left the ground when one of their birds cranked around hard, went roaring back down the runway climbing all the way up to, oh, three hundred feet or so, then popped into a/b and pulled into a turn that's allegedly impossible for the Voodoo to perform at any speed or altitude. That started the ball rolling, and for the next ten minutes or so the air over Ellington was filled with Canadian F-101s going in every direction and performing every maneuver possible. The demonstration was absolutely awe-inspiring, as were the comments from the guys in the 111th:  "Oh schmitt! Did you see that?!" "Crup! They can't do that!" "Schmitt! Why won't the Guard let us do that?!" "Good Lord; would you look at those guys fly that airplane!" And on and on it went. Those Canadians were good!

Somewhere in our archives (but not where they belong, which is why you aren't looking at them today) are photos of that demo, and you'll get to see them them just as soon as we can figure out where we filed them. Meanwhile, here are some other images from that magical day.

101056 must have felt right at home on the ramp at Ellington that day since the tenant squadron there, the 111th FIS/147th FIG, was a Voodoo unit too. It's hard to realize just how big an F-101 is until you've seen it up close, with air or ground crew around to provide a sense of scale. She was a Big 'Un!

Here's what 056 looked like from the other side. All of the CF-101s we've seen have carried a 1010xx serial number, with the last three repeated on the nose. 425's aircrew relied on the 111th's mechs for support; we didn't see any ground echelon Canadians on that ramp at all. It was a neat way to go to an air show.  Friddell

And away we go! 056 was just beginning to rotate when we snapped this one. Check out the heat distortion behind the a/b cans; we're sure the F-101 could get off the ground in military power, but we're equally certain we've never seen it done. The Voodoo was a brute of a fighter no matter how you looked at her.  Friddell

The gear's just retracted and she's heading up, "up" being defined as a couple of hundred feet or so. The guys from the 111th were convinced that the Alouettes never got any higher than 5 or 600 feet that day. We're willing to believe it.  Friddell

Ellington is outside of Houston, which means it's near the Gulf of Mexico, which in turn means that there's always a great deal of humidity in the air. 425's F-101s were pulling contrails for almost all of their demo, and flashing humidity off the airframe every time they pulled g. It was impressive.  Friddell

Nowadays it's commonplace for high-performance jet fighters to land without a drogue chute, but all the Century Series used them out of necessity, particularly on short runways. In this shot 056 has just recovered and is taxiing back to the 111th's ramp. The Canadians in that airplane were grinning from ear to ear as they went by, and so were the "Texans" watching them. It was yet another time we wished we could have been in the O Club during the after-airshow festivities!  Friddell

425 made it back to Ellington again in 1981, and 101064 made the trek with them. It was a damp day; note the tarp over the IR sensor on the nose. That light under the GIB's cockpit was used to illuminate other aircraft during night-time interceptions. Imagine tooling along in your corporate Lear Jet and getting spotlighted by a Voodoo in the middle of the night...  Friddell

And this 101 just might show why the F-101B carried that spotlight. Look carefully under the pilot's cockpit and you can make out the outlines of the stars that used to be painted there. Decorations? Intercepts? We have no way of knowing, but given the Bravo Voodoo's mission we can make an educated guess. The silver scheme is noteworthy.  John Dienst

Mystery Meat. 101033 is from 425 Sqdn, but we don't know where the photo was taken or who took it. It's a great shot, though, and a fine way to end our look at the Voodoos of the Alouettes.  Friddell Collection

We Just Don't Know When to Stop Sometimes

That's why you have to endure yet another bout of Focke Wulf Fever of the Eduard Persuasion. The kit has already appeared on these pages once before, and you all surely know that we think it's a decent, if unnecessarily-complicated, rendition of Herr Tank's immortal fighter.

That part about being needlessly complicated has bothered us from the very beginning, and we addressed some of the kit's issues (to us, anyway; it's always possible that some of you may actually enjoy fighting with that sort of thing) when we first discussed the kit. We figured there was more to learn, though so we took The Plunge and started another one last weekend and, guess what? Yep! We learned another secret or two. Let's take a look:

One of the things everybody complains about when they build one of the Eduard Fw190s is that the covers to the wing gun bays don't fit in the closed position. There's even an aftermarket set providing resin replacements for them (although we can't remember who makes it). We've recently taken the tack that we don't want to buy aftermarket unless it's actually an improvement on the kit, and it seemed as though the stock Eduard parts could be made to work, so we tried an experiment.

The kit is Eduard's Fw190A-5, although what we've done here would obviously work on any of their Wurgers. If you look at the kit's instructions (unless you happen to be dealing with one of their "Weekend Editions", in which case you'll be doing good to even see the instructions) you'll note that they tell you to cut out the areas at the aft end of the gun bay opening following the definition given on the inside of the wings. You want to do that, and then very carefully fit those gun doors to the wing in the closed position. Once you're satisfied that they're as flush with the wing as you can get them, run a little Tenax or similar on the seam from the underside of the wing and allow it to dry. If you do it right you'll end up with something similar to what you see in the photo.

Some people build up their wings and install the complete assembly on the model, while others install the upper wings first and match the lowers to them. We tend to install the lowers, do whatever bodywork needs doing, and then install the uppers, and there's definite benefit to doing it that way if you're closing your gun bay doors on any of the Eduard kits. If you do it right you'll have a minimum of blending to do, and those doors will fit. Like everything else on the Eduard Focke Wulfs, you've got to watch your alignment, but that's what you do with every model you build anyway, isn't it? While we're here, there are another couple of things to notice. First, you don't want to install your shoulder harnesses until all of your bodywork has been completed. If you have to ask Why That Is you might want to consider a different hobby. Also, check out the mess we made by pulling the firewall out of there. You'll need it to close off the aft end of the gear wells and to install the spent cartridge case ejection chutes---oopsie! You'll also need the gun shelf, but you won't need anything that goes on it; just remember to cut off the gun barrels and cement them to the underside of the cowl gun panel before you close things up.

The cowling is one of those components that folks who write fancier than we do might describe as "challenging". It probably is a royal pain if you decide to build it opened up, but if you don't want to display the engine (and we never do) then the solution is easy. The cowl pieces all lock into place pretty easily once you've spent a minute or two figuring out how they fit together, so build up the assembly one component at a time, keying off the round part of the cowling and carefully applying Tenax or similar from behind as you go along. The cowling you see here required no filler at all, just a light sanding. Add the nose ring and you're done. Too easy, GI!

Here's one final shot to end today's study with. First, notice the spent cartridge case chutes at the aft end of the gear well. If you don't install that component you'll end up with a big honking rectangular hole in the bottom of your airplane, and you'll also lose a major feature of the Fw190 series in the process. As much as we're in favor of simplification you'll have to put it in there if you want the bottom of the model to look right. Next, check out that yellow ID panel and the paintwork surrounding the gear wells. In both cases, we find it's just a whole lot easier to paint them before assembly, while they're still really easy to get to and don't have any structure behind them to get dusted with overspray. We ended up doing minimal masking when we painted the leading edges after sanding the wing assemblies, and painting the bottom of the wing was a snap---no paint at all got in those wheel wells, thus eliminating touch-up in that area. As for that yellow panel, we paint it prior to assembly no matter who's Fw kit we're building. It just makes life easier.

The entire airframe has since been painted, although we haven't installed the engine yet. Total time thus far has been approximately 9 modeling hours. It's entirely possible to simplify the assembly of this difficult-to-build kit and take almost all of the angst out of the job in the process---we've thoroughly enjoyed the project to this point. We'll show you how to get the engine in there next time we convene.

SpADs in the North Country

The Douglas AD Skyraider was one of those ubiquitous airplanes that ended up performing just about every mission imaginable, and for a career that spanned several decades. The NavRes component at Grosse Il was one of the outfits that used the type, as illustrated by these images supplied to us by Doug Barbier.

The boys at Grosse Il operated the winterized AD-4NL for a while during the 50s, as typified by BuNo124753 which was captured at an airshow in 1955. The -4NL wasn't your every-day Skyraider; close study of the image will illustrate quite a few differences between the NL and the more prosaic standard "SpAD".   Some Guy Named Menard via Barbier

Glossy Sea Blue quickly turned to Lt Gull Grey over White, but the AD-4NL hung around through the transition. 124759 stayed around to serve into the late '50s, but the writing was on the wall. Notice the overall condition of that airframe; this bird's been rode hard and put away wet.  MAGHA Collection via Barbier

It's airshow time again! This time the aircraft is an AD-5, BuNo 132605, that was photographed at an air show at Selfridge AFB in 1962. The photo was taken by a budding aviation photographer named Doug Barbier with a Kodak Brownie---he tells us it was one of his first airplane shots. Doug had a good eye for composition even then!  Barbier

Our Readers Never Cease to Amaze Us

OK, here's the scoop. Last week we ran a photo of a B-17G taken by Bob Clutts in Korea, and in the caption we bemoaned the fact that we only had photography of the back part of the airplane. We also said we doubted we'd ever see the rest of that bird, and bemoaned our fate. Boy, were we ever wrong! The electrons were barely dry on the screen (the ink can't be drying on the paper anymore, can it?) before we'd received an image of the entire airplane from John Kerr, followed the next day by a second shot from Dave Menard. Here, then, is the rest of that airplane:

First came this shot from Maddog John Kerr, taken on the same day as the 3/4 rear view we published last week. This view shows part of the United States Air Force legend on the nose and forward fuselage, as well as the polished propeller blades and tri-colored prop tips.  Clutts via John Kerr

While this shot gives us an excellent view of the port side of the aircraft. Note the radome in place of the chin turret (and beware of the "antennae" that are apparently evident along the fuselage---they're telephone poles in the background of the shot!) Dave had this to say about the photo:  Here is a shot of ALL of VB-17G 411. Have no idea why the A after her tail number unless maybe this a/c was assigned to a ranking ARMY general maybe? I cannot see the name BATAAN on her nose so do not know if this
was assigned to General of the Army(five stars) Douglas MacArthur.  Menard Collection
Dave's comment leads us to yet another request---since we've been able to come up with additional pictures of the airplane, do any of you know her background? We'd love to hear from you if you do!  The address is replicainscale@yahoo.com
Ken's Men
The 5th Air Force was short of heavy bombardment assets almost from the beginning, losing the 19th BG in the early days of the war and having to almost literally start over from scratch. As a result, the 43rd BG held the line in the SWPAC until other units could be integrated into the force. The crews manning those B-17Es and Fs fought hard, they fought well and, before it was all said and done, they'd gained the nickname "Ken's Men" as a lasting tribute to their courage and skill. Here's a salute, both to the 43rd and to all of the B-17s that served in that theater.
We could easily start, and end, this essay with the photo you see here. The airplane is "Aztecs Chief" and she's in flight over Gizo Island in the Solomons. The B-17 was a tough bird and could haul an adequate load of bombs to the target but she had short legs when compared to the B-24, which meant her days in the Pacific were numbered. Still, she did her part in taking the war to the Japanese.  Rocker Collection

The 43rd operated the B-17E for a time; here's "Yankee Didd'ler/Wouldn't It Root Ya" on the ground between missions. That nose art wouldn't fly in today's Air Force, but New Guinea and the Solomons were a long way from anywhere in 1942 and 1943, and ribald artwork was generally held to be a morale builder. It was a very long time ago...  Rocker Collection

She was called the "Flying Fortress", but that didn't mean you couldn't hurt her. The caption that accompanied this photo said "The Old Man" shot to hell after returning from Gasmata. You can see traces of the damage in this photo---check out the shiny nacelle on the Number 3 engine. That's engine oil, and it's there due to battle damage. The B-17 was a tough cookie, and would usually bring you home.  Rocker Collection

The term "coming home" could be a relative one, though, as demonstrated by "The Horse", which bellied in at Tadji. Check out the cowlings---those engines are all individually named. The B-17 was tough...  Rocker Collection

Tough or not, the B-17 paid its dues in the Pacific. "Black Jack" is still out there today, and is now a popular diver's attraction. The crew probably didn't have recreation in mind when they put her down in the ocean that day...  Rocker Collection

The 403rd BS flew out of Milne Bay in the early days. It didn't matter how big your airplane was; the ground conditions were terrible and the missions were often worse. The Tainan Ku was an occasional opponent during the days in New Guinea, and they were a tough date in anybody's book. Ask the guys who flew and fought against them.  Rocker Collection

"RFD Tojo" was an E-model and is seen here in flight, showing us all the elegance of the B-17's classic design. During the early days it wasn't unusual to see the pre-War U.S. ARMY designator under the wings, although it didn't last long. It's a fairly safe bet that the E-models all carried it, but the Fs generally didn't. Note the name painted on #3's cowling.   Rocker Collection

Taking off! This "Fort" was photographed while launching from Momote Air Strip on Los Negros. The mass bombing raids of the 8th Air Force were nothing more than a dream in the Pacific where small formations were the norm. The B-17 was bristling with guns, but sometimes guns weren't enough to guarantee you got home again. Rocker Collection

If you were important enough you might rate your own B-17 as a VIP transport. In this instance the VIP was General George himself.  Rocker Collection

Other generals flew in the type as well. The moderately-famous individual in the center of the photograph was observing the paratroop drop on Markham Valley from 41-24537 the day this photo was taken. The B-17 could do it all.  Rocker Collection
Happy Snaps
If you can't be in the cockpit, the next best place to be is in the boomer's station on a KC-10, which was the vantage point used by Mark Williams to take today's Happy Snap.
We aren't known as particularly big fans of the F/A-18 family, but markings like these could go a long way towards changing our minds. Mark shot this VMFA(AW)-225 F-18D over the Pacific near Hawaii. It's a beautiful shot and a great way to end our day. Thanks, Mark!  Williams
The Relief Tube
It's easy to get in trouble around here, particularly if you're in a hurry. Our last P-40 piece typified that, as illustrated by these comments. First, let's hear from Jean Barbaud: Bonjour, Phillip! Thanks for the latest issue! The P-40s photos are, as usual, excellent (but) I think I can see the (faint) blue disc surrounding the star, on pic#2 (enlarged version). Pic#6 is nice, but I believe the "drum" is only stocked on the ground behind the P-40N, not hung under... (the braces don't match with the "drum", and it looks like there are at least one or maybe 2 other drop tanks on the ground, behind that one)
Pic#8: that looks like a 23rdFG P-40N, very similar to a well-known picture of another one taxiing along a chinese coolie. Take care, and a suivre !...  Jean.

Jean also took a minute to mark up a copy of the photo for us, as shown above. Here is an enlarged jpg, Phillip. I added the braces with yellow lines. Thanks for the great pics, again. More P-40s coming next year, I hope ;°) Thanks, Jean, and yes; there are definitely more P-40s to come!

We also heard from Tom Gaj: Hi Phil. Trying to decide if you were kidding or not in your description of "Lackanookie" having a 55 gallon drum slung under the fuselage. Close examination of the full-size image shows the can on the ground with chock in place, well behind the plane. Tom  I wish I'd been kidding, Tom. I really do. Unfortunately, I just wasn't paying attention. Again!

And finally, Frank Emmett sent us a similar set of comments, which have somehow disappeared into the maw of our computer. We'll just call it operator error and leave it at that, with apologies to Frank!

There were some sins of omission in our recent P-47N piece as well. Those "Jugs" with the AAF stripes on the tail turned out to be from the 56th FG, and we've got some clarification for you regarding them. First, 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 Airman, at the time. Cheers, Dave

And, for some icing on the cake, a photo from the collection of Doug Barbier showing "that other airplane" the 56th was using at the time:

Phil, The 56th Ftr Grp bird looks to have a yellow spinner & tail, with the red / white /blue rudder. And yes, those are some of their P-47's in the background. No other information on it. Barbier Collection

Finally, we'd like to remind our readers that we're always looking for material, particularly photographs. If you've got anything you'd like to share with us, the address is replicainscale@yahoo.com . Thanks for dropping in today, and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

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