Thursday, October 27, 2011

Never One to Accept The Obvious!

Our Final Word On The Way Our Photos Run These Days

Or, to put it succinctly, I thoroughly messed up trying to tell everybody how to see the real photos on those ding-danged filmstrips all us bloggers have been blessed with. All you have to do is click on the image you want to see, then click on the dealie at the bottom left that says See Original Image or whatever it actually is. That darned film strip will go away. Click on the picture itself and it will enlarge if the photo is big enough to let it do that.

I need to learn to pay attention to what our readers are telling me, I think...

Be good to your neighbor and tolerant of me until we meet again!
An embarrassed but honest phil

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Special Note, With Special Thanks to One of Our Readers

Vexation, Get Thee Hence!

Let's get right to the matter at hand (for once), and make this short and sweet. Anyone who's read this missive lately knows I'm not especially crazy about the "improved" method of viewing photos that the blog software has recently adopted. I didn't think there was any way around it, but then I don't know a whole lot about computer programs or software either. One of our readers, Brad P., realized that, sympathized with our plight, and offered this solution:

Phil, regarding your blog photos:  If you click on "Show Original" while in that annoying film strip view, you still get the original size pic. I use Firefox and it works fine. It does add an extra step, but we still get the full res photo. Hope this helps.  Brad P.  (If you don't use Firefox as your browser, right click on "Open in a New Tab" and you'll get the same thing---just click on the tab and the photo will pop up just like before. pf)

Thank you, Brad, from the bottom of our collective hearts! Here's a gift for you (and everybody else, too) from the collection of the late Bill Peake as a way of showing our appreciation!

This F7U-3 was photographed while flying with VX-4, but once you get past that we don't have much to say about the shot except that it's a gorgeous air-to-air study of a classic (although we aren't sure just why that is) Navy fighter from the 50s.  Bill Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum

The Cutlass was an odd-looking airplane no matter which way you looked at it, but its ungainly lines have encouraged a great many otherwise-rational modelers to pray for state-of-the-art kits of the type, which they actually got from Fujimi in 1/72nd scale Way Back When. Us, we'd rather see a decent F-51H, but that's just how we are!  Bill Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum

Then again, this just might be what you'd call a Classic---we'd sure call it that! This particular F8F-1B was featured on the decal sheet that accompanied the timeless 1/72nd scale Monogram Bearcat kit way back when it was first released in 1968 or so. It's easy to see why they chose those markings!  Bill Peake Collection via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum

This Grumman JRF-5 was assigned to Annapolis when it's photo was taken in 1947. There's something about those little Grumman amphibs that's always fascinated us...  Bill Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum

And that's it for our special interim edition. Thanks once again to Brad P for his tip; we've tried his tip and it works!

Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again next week!

Monday, October 24, 2011

OK, What's Going On Around Here?, Hanging Out With Patsy Lynn, The Way We Were, Those Other Thunderbolts, and Oscar

WHAT Are They Doing?

That's the question I've been asking myself a lot of late, and I don't have an answer to it. If you've been with us for a while you'll remember that our photos have always been as big as we could run them, and the blog's software allowed you to click on the thumbnails to enlarge those pictures, then click them again for maximum image size if the original allowed such a thing. Then, a few weeks ago, the photo software associated with the blog was arbitrarily changed so that a click on any thumbnail produced a moderate-sized image in a "filmstrip" format, for want of a better word. That change also de-linked a whole bunch of our older photos so they couldn't be enlarged at all.

We experienced a week or so of that and then the photos went back to the way they'd always been, making both our readership and ourselves very happy that someone had apparently seen the error of their ways and fixed things. That was then.

One of the things we routinely do around here is explore the blog to make sure everything's working, and a week or so ago, during the course of one of those check-ups, we discovered that the images had changed back to that darned "filmstrip" thing again. We'd like all of our readership to know that we didn't cause the change---it's a function of the blog's software and we have no control over it. For the record, we don't like it either, and would change it back if we could. At this point we're just going to have to chalk it up to the fact that this is the way things are and live with it. There's a small up-side, if that matters to anybody---none of the old photos have de-linked this time around (at least not yet), so you can still access everything we've run up to this point. It's a Silver Lining of sorts, albeit a small one.

The bottom line is a simple one; all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that the folks who changed the way photos are presented for everyone using this particular blog software will see the error of their ways and change us all back to The Way It Was, although we're not going to hold our breath on that one. That's our story and, unfortunately, we're going to have to stick with it. Sigh...

Patricia Lynn Was Quite a Girl

When last we met, we gave a broad hint that we'd show you some black B-57s, which would infer we were going to show you some images of the aircraft from their early night intruder days. That actually was the plan, insofar as we actually plan anything around here, but Fate intervened in the form of Don Jay, who sent some photos of black B-57s that were just the least bit different than what we'd expected to show you.

In the early days of SEA, it became apparent that the US military lacked good tactical intelligence and good maps/photographs of the area.The Air Force initiated the Patricia Lynn Program (aka Pat Lynn) to provide a more sophisticated intelligence gathering capability in SEA. Arriving in May of ‘63 at TSN, the first of six modified B-57Es, began flying the first jet combat sorties of this long war. Designated RB-57Es, they were modified to carry a KA-1, 36” forward oblique and KA-56 panoramic camera in the nose. Additionally, in the bomb bay, they carried two KA-1 vertical and oblique cameras and probably the most effective piece of equipment the K-477 day/night IR scanner. The initial crews were from the 6091 Recce Sq in Japan but the value of this aircraft lead to a permanent unit being assigned-Det 1, 460 TRW.

Flying in country and out country missions for 8 years, two aircraft were lost (55-4243 & –4264) and two were with the program from beginning to end. All the survivors flew over 7,000 hrs with one ac (55-4245) amassing over 8,000 hrs. Painted all black and very sinister looking, very little was said about the Pat Lynn program. Their effectiveness was shown in the MACV citation in 1970 stating that Det 1 had provided 95% of the battlefield intelligence during the Cambodian incursion-not shabby for four ac! Don

You have to get there if you're going to go to the party! 55-4245 was photographed at Elmendorf after a trip to the depot and prior to arrival in SEA. This view depicts some of the mods, the nose being the more obvious, and the black paint. 55-4245 survived combat in SEA to become a WB-57E, and ended up at MASDC in 1972, an ignoble end to a proud warrior.  Jay Collection

55-4264 wasn't so lucky. Hit by ground fire on 25 October, 1968, she crashed to destruction, although her crew escaped unharmed. This scan, unfortunately lacking somewhat in quality, gives us an excellent view of the Mil-P-8585Y primer used on the interiors of the mlg and nlg doors. Are you modelers paying attention?  Jay Collection

In stark contrast to the glossy black paintwork found on early B-57s, the Patricia Lynn birds all wore a workmanlike coating of flat black. Serial number presentations are found in both insignia red and in white (or, more likely, light grey) with little apparent rhyme or reason for the coloration. 55-4257 is shown here as she appeared at Tan Son Nhut in 1971; she subsequently went back to The Land of the Big BX and ended up at MASDC in 1979.  Jay Collection

Just another day in the 'hood. This is what a "normal" day looked like in the life of a Patricia Lynn bird, if such a thing as a normal day ever existed. The RB-57Es of the program produced results far in excess of their extremely limited numbers. If any of you are interested, the folks over at Zotz have a 1/48th scale decal sheet that includes a Pat-Lynn bird or two, and the Airfix B-57B kit (much-maligned of late but an excellent starting place with relatively little correction work required) or the somewhat-tougher-to-build Classic Airframes kit would both provide an excellent starting place. How about it?  Jay Collection

It Was, After All, a Very Long Time Ago

We were all young once and, in point of fact, we're reasonably certain that at least some percentage of our readership is young at this very moment. We, however, are not, which is as good a way as any to introduce our next piece. 

Some of us are fortunate enough to have worked at a job that somehow catered to one of our passions at one point or another, and for the staff here at RIS (which would, of course, be me!) that job was salesperson at Dibble's Arts and Hobbies from 1968 until 1970, when we/me/I left San Antonio to attempt to finish up college in another Texas town. A couple of things are germane to this this particular ramble:  

Germane Thing the First:  In 1968 Dibble's was arguably the best hobby shop in Texas if your interests ran to plastic model airplanes, and we/me/I worked there.

Germane Thing the Second: We/me/I had a passion for plastic model airplanes and was therefore leaving a percentage of our/my salary, defined for the purposes of this missive as Substantial, in the coffers of our/my employer. We were, for all intents and purposes, working for barter rather than money. 

It all worked out end the end, though and, when we stumbled on these photos of a far-away time a couple of weeks ago, we naturally thought of sharing them with you. Baby pictures, as it were...

The photo is somewhat out of focus, but it gives us all a great look at Shirley and Ray Johnson, joint proprietors of Dibble's. The Johnsons exemplified the concept of the Mom and Pop hobby shop, and were friends as well as employers and store owners. Take a look at them, because they typify a dying breed as the neighborhood hobby shop continues its slide towards inevitable and highly unfortunate  oblivion in this country.

Mike Salyers with owner Ray Johnson. Mike and I came close to buying a hobby shop in partnership after we left Dibble's. There's no telling how that would've worked out, but it probably wouldn't have approached the sort of facility Dibble's was at the time, no matter how hard we tried. Dibble's was The Bombdiggidy back then, ya'll. 

That's Mark Fluchette on the right. He finished school and went into the Army as an artillery officer; we're told he did well there. That's your never-humble editor on the left, providing Proof Positive to all the scoffers out there that we once had hair! It was, after all, A Very Long Time Ago. 

OK, so why, tell us why, did we run what could easily be construed as an Ego Piece in a blog that normally shows only airplane pictures? The answer is easy. Reader/contributor/friend Frank Emmett and I were at King's in Austin recently, and were in Dibble's only a few weeks before, and in Hill Country Hobbies too. All three are within an hour's drive of our offices, and all three are excellent shops. If you read the various modeling boards you'll note one recurring them---the Local Hobby Shop is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, being replaced by corporate or internet facilities. That in turn brings us to The Point of this not-mindless-at-all ramble of ours.

Do you have a local hobby shop of the classic variety in your area? If the answer to that question is Yes, then we have to ask; do you actually support that local hobby shop? Do you buy most of your stuff there, or do you go there sometimes but buy most of your stuff at discount off the net? Think about those questions for a minute.

Do you buy off the net? So do we, sometimes. It's a viable way to get what we want when what we want isn't available locally, and most of the time it's a way to save a buck or too as well. Most of what we buy, however, comes from a combination of those three local shops we're so blessed to have within driving distance and Yes; one of them is a favorite and in turn receives most of our attention. The thing is, we patronize those shops even though we know the mail-order guys can beat the prices. Why do we do that?

The answer is easy. We happen to like the whole notion of going into our favorite hobby shop on a Saturday afternoon, seeing our friends, and buying that special kit/book/decal sheet/whatever while we're there. Read that again: We happen to like the whole notion of going into our favorite hobby shop. Now parlay that over to your own personal experience---do you have a Good Local Hobby Shop in your town, or in a town within easy driving distance of same? If you do, is it a shop you actually support? Well, folks, if you don't support it you darned sure ought to, unless you want to join that extensive club of people who lament the Great Local Hobby Shop they used to have in their community. It's in your hands, people. Stand up and patronize those local shops or shut up after they're gone. It's your choice!

A Jug is a Jug is a Jug, or Maybe Not

Everybody knows about the P-47 Thunderbolt and its sterling service during the Second World War, and everybody knows how it faded away into semi-oblivion in the post-War world. Today's the day we look at some more of those post-War P-47s, and we're going to focus on the rarest of the operational P-47s, the N-models. Are you ready?

Georgia's 128th FS/54th FG operated the F-47N for a brief period post-War and are seen taxiing out at Marietta during 1947. These aircraft are relatively clean, but notice the presentation of the "NG" logo on the vertical stabs, the "GA" back by the horizontals, and the last three of the serial number up on the cowling. There's not a lot of extraneous color, a fact that typified most of the Guard's Thunderbolts. Keep an eye out for those Georgia birds, though---color has a way of finding neat-looking airplanes!  Menard Collection

New England was a hotbed of P-47N activity during the post-War years, as typified by these colorful examples from Massachusetts' 101st FS photographed by Paul Paulsen in November of 1949. It's tough to come close to the wartime paint jobs worn by the "N"-models, but the 101st gave it a really good effort.  Menard Collection

Here's a taxi shot of another bird from the 101st---they just get prettier and prettier, don't they? Note the presentation of the "NG" moniker on the fuselage and vertical tail, the rocket launcher stubs beneath the wings, and the crew chief on the wing root. It must've been a fun job!  Paulsen via Menard

Delaware flew the N-model too; in this case an F-47N-25 from the 142nd FS/156th FG. Note the variation in presentation of the fuselage national insignia (which is entirely lacking, in case you were wondering)---some outfits used it, while others did not. It was fairly normal practice to see either the buzz number or at least a few digits of the serial number presented under the wings of the ANG P/F-47s. All those Guard airplanes looked the same except for the differences...   Besecker Collection via Menard

It took awhile to do it, but the folks in Georgia finally figured out that a little color could be A Very Good Thing, as typified by this four-ship from the 128th photographed in flight during the late 40s. The command stripes on 408 are particularly nice, we think.  Menard Collection

Gettin' ready. This Thunderbolt from Pennsylvania's 146th FS is shown cranking up sometime during the late 1940s. The markings were fairly bland, but those PA birds did manage to show a little color from time to time. Menard Collection

See what we mean? All you have to do is add a name and a splash of color on the vertical stab and rudder and a Plain Jane suddenly becomes glamorous. Oh, and check out that prop hub, too---anybody out there care to take a crack at modeling that?  Balogh via Menard Collection

The Territory of Hawaii flew the F-47N for a time, and had some of the most colorfully-marked examples of the type in service when they were in their prime with the type. Those days were long-gone, however, when 44-88566 posed for this farewell portrait in the early 50s. She went out with pride...  Menard Collection

Is she in the Guard or the regular Air Force? We'd guess the latter if you forced us to do that, based on the markings and that leather flying helmet the pilot's wearing, but it's anybody's guess. If you happen to know the unit, drop us a line at  and let us in on the secret!  Menard Collection

You don't have to guess with this one! The year is 1945, and she's regular Air Force through and through although, once again, we don't know the unit. She's a colorful bird, and that PE buzz number under the wing provided the icing on the cake!  J. Sullivan Collection

Here's today's "what goes up must come down" entry. The year is 1945, but that's all we know about the photo. If you can add to our knowledge; well, you know the drill...  J. Sullivan Collection

140 is Regular USAF too, and she's at Hamilton Field in 1948. Other than that it's a guessing game over here, but she's a fine example of her type and would be a snap for those of you wanting to model a post-War "Jug". Gotta love that 1940s Air Force!  J. Sullivan Collection

Let's finish up with yet another USAF bird from an unknown unit. The year is 1946 and she's wearing a whole lot of color but, once again, we're at a loss as to who owned her! If anybody out there knows (or has any other photos of the P/F-47N) please drop us a line!  J. Sullivan Collection

The Other Guys Were Pretty Gutsy Too

We've been showing you some of the images contained in Bobby Rocker's collection over the past several weeks, and commented repeatedly on what a crummy little war it was in the process. For today's installment, we're going to do something a little bit different and show you some aircraft flown by the Imperial Japanese Army. The following images are from official sources via Bobby's collection and, in this instance, concentrate on the Ki-43 Hayabusa. Most of the pilots of the aircraft you're about to look at are still in New Guinea, and the Philippines, and in China. It was a crummy war for everybody who fought in it...

A lot of people think of Lae as a JNAF base, but the JAAF was operating in the theater too, and this unidentified Ki-43-1 lies abandoned and in ruins at the edge of the runway there. With the right pilot the Ki-43, also known by its code name of "Oscar", could leave you talking to yourself, but most ended up as this example has; shot to pieces on the ground. The 5th AF knew how to chew up an airfield.  Rocker Collection 

The 33rd Sentai based out of Cyclops Airdrome for a while, and was decimated there. This particular Ki-43-II appears to be intact but is probably not airworthy thanks to the attention of General George's strafers. You can run, but you can't hide from General George!  Rocker Collection

You can stick it in the jungle to hide it, but that might not help very much either. #5 is another example of the Hayabusa from the 33rd and shows a fairly unique camouflage variation; the squiggly-blotchy camouflage seen on Japanese aircraft was applied at the unit level and generally in the field using whatever means possible. It rarely helped hide the aircraft from marauding A-20s and B-25s, but it was better than nothing.  Rocker Collection

The 77th Sentai was at Cyclops too, and their aircraft also wore field camouflage to try to hide them from 5th Air Force strafing and para-frag attacks. The camouflage didn't help very much at all. Rocker Collection

Cyclops could well be described as a graveyard for the JAAF---this is what's left of a Ki-43-II after a strafing attack. Modelers, note the definition of the anti-glare treatment aft of the cockpit.  Rocker Collection

Cape Gloucester was no different, as shown by this Ki-43-II from the 11th Sentai.  Rocker Collection

Or Noemfoor, where this 11th Sentai "Oscar II" appears to have been involved in some extremely recent ground action on Kamiri Aerodrome. Those GIs in the background don't appear to be on a souvenir-gathering expedition; weapons are at the ready and those grunts are focused on securing the airfield, not sight-seeing. Note the wreckage of the Ki-61 in the background. Few modelers ever think of this side of the equation when they're showing off their latest masterpiece. It's sobering food for thought.  Rocker Collection

The place is Boram, and the event is a para-frag attack against the JAAF aircraft based there. Those Japanese aircraft appear to be relatively intact in this photo, but most have been riddled by shrapnel from the 28-lb para-frags carried by the attacking 5th AF strafers and have become useless as fighting aircraft. As bad as things were on the ground for the Fifth, they were far worse for the Japanese. Rocker Collection

Sometimes the Japanese fighters were left relatively intact, as was the case with this Ki-43-III found more-or-less in one piece on Okinawa. This photograph is just full of detail for the modeler; notice in particular the nose of that under-wing aux tank. There are markings on the rudder too, but we'd be lying if we said we knew the unit.  Rocker Collection

Here's a fitting way to end our photo essay of the Hayabusa, because it graphically illustrates the way most of them ended up. The "Oscar" was quite an airplane, but ill-suited to the tactics of what was then modern air war. The pilots and ground crew of the JAAF were brave beyond belief and capable right up until the end of the war (it was a Ki-43 that caused the death of Tommy Lynch) but were no match for American air power or, equally importantly, American industry. Whichever side you fought on it all amounted to the same thing. It was a crummy war.  Rocker Collection

Happy Snaps

Today's Happy Snap features one of our favorite airplanes, the F-4 Phantom, as seen through the lens of Rick Morgan:

The primary subject here is F-4E 67-0320. It carries green camo and silver trim on the tail. 75-0633 is in gray camo with the German national colors (red, yellow, black) on the tail tip. The Silver Lobos of the 20th TFS conducted training in the F-4 for the Luftwaffe. The Whidbey wing used to send an EA-6B to work with the 35th TFW/20th TFS periodically to give their German students EW training. I was lucky enough to make the trip that time- It was great fun.   Rick Morgan 

Gotta love that shot---thanks as always, Morgo!

The Relief Tube

Last time around we ran a couple of photos of RB-57s with what could only be described as "interesting" underwing stores. We admitted at that time that we didn't know anything about them, which prompted the following responses:

First, from Don Jay:   Hi Phil. Just finished your latest edition of Replica in Scale and enjoyed the comments on the B-57s. I look forward to more-hopefully the Pat Lynn birds. You asked for feedback on some of the photos. Well here is my take; the photo of RB-57A –21449, is part of the ‘Heart Throb’ mission out of Japan. I believe you have captured a rare 6021 Recce Sq bird with some very interesting pods. They look like a combo of air sample pods and chaff dispensers. Don’t know the mod name for it but it resembles the electro-mechanical pod-mounted chaff dispensers-an an/ale type-possibly the AN/ALE-30/32. Your second B-57 A is an EB-57A of the 4713 DSES out of either Otis or Stewart-the latter closed in the Fall of 69. The pod is an AN/ALE type for dispensing chaff. Another rare bird as only 13 ‘RB’ models were converted to EB-57As. You can tell its an EB by the ECM antennas and the additional air scoops beneath the engine intakes for the constant speed generators that powered the EW equipment in the bomb bay.  Cheers, Don

Next, from Grant Matsuoka:  Phil, it's one of the sampler aircraft operated by the 6021st RS. I think that when AWS became the sole manager of atmospheric sampling in 1962, it may have been temporarily assigned to AWS, hence the later weather markings. But the AWS listings that I got from HQ AWS strangely didn't include 1962, but 1963 list has some B-57As, I believe, but no serial numbers. I think that it later was assigned to the 6091st RS, but had 3rd BG markings. The mission was sensitive, even today, if you think about Japan. The double sampling tanks appear to be rather rare and short lived. I've only seen in on 449 in an old Japanese aviation mag. Enjoy your blog. Best wishes, Grant

And from Dave Menard: Phil, that shot of Cranberry 52-1584 was taken at Chanute AFB ILL after duty at WP as I was stationed there when she flew in c.1970. She was not gray then, but got painted after arriving. The shot of "21449" at Yokota was not a 4758th DSES bird as they did not leave the ZI, but was probably in the 6091st Recon Sqdn. The A models used to switch tail numbers like mad so that is why the quotes around the number. The pods under wings have openings in their fronts so someone has been cloud sampling! That EB also has cloud sample pods under her.  Cheers, dave

And finally, from Marty Isham: G'Day... This B-57A was flying out of Japan in response to either Red Chinese or Soviet A testing. Those are Particulate Air Sampling pods under the wings. The a/c was never asgd to the 4758th DSES or ADC, 497,498 & 450 were. I think it belonged to a WRS det out of Kirtland. I learned early to not delve into atomic funny stuff.  Cheers...Marty

Here's a comment on that flying shot of the shark-mouthed A4D-1 we ran a few issues back. You may have actually seen this comment for all of a day or so but we deleted it due to software issues:  Hi, Phillip! Thanks for the latest RiS "update" including the VF-21 F-11 and A-4 photo! That one was new to me. Nice!! I recently took the time to read "all" the past issues and found tons of interesting documents. I forwarded some links to friends and wish a lot of viewers from France discovered your blog ;°)   Take care, Jean  Those of you who have been around for a while may recognize Jean as the Jean Barbaud who runs Jean Barbaud Cartoons. We link to his site and you really ought to visit there. He does some remarkable work and features links to a number of other fascinating (although not always aviation-oriented) sites---very much worth your while to visit there.

And finally, a comment on those Doug Barbier Tornado shots we ran a couple of issues ago from a reader known only as Kev:  Hi Phil. Nice photos of the Tornado's ( also known as Tonkas) at the Goose. Operating unit was No.16 Squadron although the top shot shows a No.15 (XV) Squadron bird on loan. Both units were assigned to RAFG for tactical strike duties. Cheers, Kev

OK, ya'll; we've officially got them old walkin' blues so it's time to sign off. We should, with any luck, be back next week. Until then, please accept our apologies for missing last week, and be good to your neighbor! We'll meet again soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some Thoughts On Painting, Some Unusual Intruders, Let' Take a Picture, Visitors At Goose, Early Cats, and Nothing But Trouble

Why Oh Why Does It Look Like That?

Those who know me, as well as those who read what's written here in addition to looking at the pictures, know that I spend a fair amount of time looking at the various internet modeling sites. It's good therapy if nothing else, and you learn from the experience most of the time. It's something to be recommended.

Of late, however, I think I've noticed a trend in paint jobs on some of those models, and it's probably not what you'd call a Good Thing. To wit; I've been seeing otherwise nicely-done models with paintwork that's been flawed by what Oldtimers would probably call orange peel. We've all done that sort of thing at one time or another---each and every one of us has---so those of you who might be laughing at the misfortune of others need to wipe that holier-than-thou smirk off your face and talk about helping to fix the problem. (I'll get off that soapbox now...)

There are lots of reasons for orange peel, air pressure being a prime culprit, but the Biggest Single Reason, and the reason that we're going to discuss today, is simple failure to thin the paint adequately before airbrushing. Don't believe me? OK, then, let's try a little experiment. Go grab a bottle of whatever you prefer to paint your models with, and make sure it's a new bottle that's never been opened or used. (Tester ModelMaster enamel in any flavor would be an excellent choice for the purpose of this discussion.) Shake or stir said bottle until everything is properly mixed, then take your pipette, or eye dropper, or whatever you use to feed paint to your airbrush, and---what else?---feed your airbrush straight from that bottle, with no thinning allowed! Now go paint something, and do it with all the techniques you would normally employ when painting a model. Try to cut in some fine lines. Cover some broad areas. Feather some edges. And maybe, or maybe even probably, look at that pebbling effect that will be exhibited by at least some of the paint. That's what's called orange peel, and you just made some! (Stop smiling; it's not a Good Thing!)

OK, now clean your airbrush, and thin the paint with the appropriate thinner or reducer, trying for an approximate 30% reduction. Make sure it's thoroughly mixed like you did before, and perform the same painting experiment. Most of that granulation is gone now, isn't it? And, as an added bonus, you're probably able to cut a finer line and better control your feathering too. Holy Cow---it's magic!

Or maybe not. The simple truth of the matter is that most paints have to be reduced in order to be used for air painting. They'll never work at their best potential if sprayed straight out of the bottle, period. And, just to complicate things a little bit, that 30% we told you to use as a reduction factor is really just a starting point until you figure out what works best for you. A lot of the stuff I paint with is thinned anywhere from 50 to 60%. Yes, I do second, and sometimes even third coats, but the stuff is really thin so it doesn't build up. Yes, it'll run if you don't know what you're doing; the answer to that particular problem is to practice until you've figured out your technique so it doesn't do that. And finally, yes; some colors work better with extra reduction---it may be my own personal Waterloo but greens can sometimes be a challenge, a problem easily fixed by fooling around with the reduction ratio some more.

There are a whole bunch of other things that will have an impact on your airbrushing as well, such as the distance of the tip from the workpiece, but they're topics for another day. For now, go out and mess with some paint and thinner if you aren't already aware of the magic of that relationship. The results just may astound you!

Bet You Thought We Were Talking About That Other Intruder, Huh?
Say the word Intruder around any gathering of aviation buffs and they're going to know beyond any doubt that you're talking about a member of Grumman's legendary A-6 family unless, of course, you happen to be discussing Martin's take on a certain English Electric product instead. Here are some examples of that to whet your apetite...

Mention B-57 to most folks and this is what they tend to think of---the B-57B. It's the variant most used in the Vietnam unpleasantness and looks a lot like the airplanes used by the USAF's various and assorted DSES squadrons post-War. 52-1584 typifies the airplane; built as a B-57B-MA, it managed to survive an active service career to wind up at the Kalamazoo Aviation Historical Museum in Michigan. Study its lines---it's what a B-57 looks like. Isn't it?  John Dienst

Or maybe you think of this as a little more typical. 53-3834 was a rare Charlie model, a B-57C-MA, and ended up in Pakistan. That billowing cloud of black smoke is typical of the Intruder being cranked by it's internal cartridge-starting system. It looked a lot more dramatic than it actually was.  Picciani Collection

If you happen to be of a certain age, you just may remember the B-57 this way. This section were flying combat in the southern reaches of Vietnam, Republic of, when photographed in the mid-60s. 53-3879 was a B-model and survived the conflict to be scrapped out in 1969, but 53-3833 wasn't so fortunate. Built as a B-57C-MA, she was shot down on 17 April, 1966; both crewmembers survived ejection and were rescued. Both aircraft were with the 8th TBS/405th TFW when this photograph was taken.  Picciani Collection

The B-57 went into the Guard relatively early in life, as demonstrated by this B-57C-MA photgraphed while serving with Nevada's 192nd TRS in April of 1963. The rotary bomb bay is partially deployed in this shot revealing the interior color, a useful note for modelers. 53-3828's markings are understated but classy in their own way.  Lawson Collection via R. Morgan

At the beginning of this essay we hinted that you might see an unconventional B-57 or two---here's what we meant by that. The airplane is an RB-57A-MA and she's seen here, allegedly with the 4758th DSES (confirmation is requested if anybody knows for sure) and coming in on short final at Johnson AB, Japan, in May of 1958. And, while we're asking for confirmation on this bird's unit, we'd may as well ask about those pods hanging off her wings too, since we've never seen anything quite like them before. Feel free to drop us a line at if you can identify them. There's no prize, but it's the Right Thing to Do.  Fritz Frederick via Picciani Collection

 Or maybe your tastes run more to EB-57As. This gorgeous example was photographed by noted collector Ron Picciani at Otis AFB in October of 1969, and gives us an outstanding view of her antenna suite, as well as a single version of that "mystery pod". Bet you didn't think any of those "pudding bowl" Intruders lasted that long, did you?  R. Picciani

Every family has a quiet kid who's always getting into trouble. In the B-57 clan that Quiet Kid had to be the RB-57D. Its capabilities were amazing given its time and place, and it served both the Air Force and the NASA. 53-3982 was unique in that it was built as an RB-57D, subsequently converted to EB-57D configuration, and eventually put on public display at Pima Air and Space museum. She was a well-used example of the type when photographed in 1968. Several RB-57Ds ended up in the air force of Taiwan pursuing what can only be described as Interesting Careers, but that's a story for another time.  R. Lawson via R. Morgan

Let's end today's essay with another photo depicting what most folks think the B-57 ought to look like.
55-4292 was an EB-57E. Initially built as a straight B-57E, she was subsequently converted to RB-57E, then EB-57E standard, in which guise she was photographed in Germany on 20 May, 1977 while serving with the 17th DSES out of Malmstrom. R. Rhys

So you got to see some B-57s today, but we'll bet you're wondering where the black ones were? Are we right? If that's true, and if you'd really like to see a couple of black B-57s, drop us a quick note at and let us know. (Or do essentially the same thing and forward some of your own B-57 shots if you'd like. We'd love to see them!)

A Tough Way to Make a Living

Our ongoing coverage of the air war in the Pacific has included both fighter and bomber aircraft, but up to this point we've neglected some of the unsung heros of that war; the photo-recon guys. Today we're going to put that right, and show you a few Lockheed F-4s from the 8th PRS while flying out of Port Moresby during late 1942 and 1943.

Port Moresby was one of the safer bases to fly combat operations out of, since the Japanese didn't come over all that much after the end of 1942, meaning you only had to contend with bugs, snakes, mud, heat, rain, disease, and butt-killing photo-recon missions. The 8th PRS operated out of 14-Mile Strip for a time, which is where "Eager Beaver II" was photographed. She was well-used, but equally well-maintained.  Rocker Collection

And here's a shot of "Hellzapoppin Hepcat", a name that adequately described the reception the 8th's F-4s received from the Japanese on a great many of their missions. The F-4's speed and altitude advantage made it a natural for the photo recon mission, but sometimes speed and altitude weren't enough.  Rocker Collection

Here's a fine shot of the 8th PRS lined up for their squadron portrait. Close examination of each individual ship will demonstrate the simple truth of military aircraft---no two are alike. This lineup would make a fascinating subject for a diorama, although your editor cringes at the very thought of trying to build this many F-4s (or any other P-38 variant) at one time!  Rocker Collection

Here's "Fainting Floozie II" with her pilot, Alex Gerry. Check out Gerry's flight gear; in the SWPAC you'd suffer from heat exhaustion on the ground, and freeze at altitude. Everything about that war was lousy, from start to finish.  Rocker Collection

Ben Armstrong was the 8th's CO during their stay at 14-Mile. Here's his ship, No. 02, undergoing maintenance on what appears to have been a balmy tropical day (although we doubt anyone actually present would have described it that way). The nose art has a dark surround to it---fresh paint or a contrasting color? At this remove it's hard to tell.  Rocker Collection

Although this photo may help clarify things somewhat. The 8th wasn't overly prone to featuring pinup girls in their nose art, which makes 02 a bit unusual. This detailed view would tend to make us think the dark area is a distinct part of the nose art---it's just too dark to be any shade of color normally found on an F-4.  Rocker Collection

"Limping Lizzy's" artwork is far more typical of that worn by the 8th during the Port Moresby period. We suspect the modern-day Air Force would be preparing an Article 15 for anybody openly smoking in an airplane. We also suspect that nobody at 14-Mile gave it a second thought unless the airplane was actually being fueled. Active war zones have a way of cutting through the defecation...  Rocker Collection

Let's raise a glass to the guys from the 8th PRS; to the ones who flew in a nasty war and lived to tell about it.  Rocker Collection

And to the ones who stayed in New Guinea. It was a nasty little war...   Rocker Collection

Brothers in Arms Out Playing At the Goose

We get so much seriously neat material from contributor Doug Barbier that it's sometimes difficult to decide which images to run, and today's photos are no exception. Doug shot them at Goose Bay while flying F-4s, and had this to say about them:  (Here are) A few RAF Tornado's at Goose. They thought they were safe at 500' and Mach 0.9. We were at 100' and Mach 1.2. They weren't safe. Drove up the middle of their 4-ship rocking our wings. Not sure they ever knew we were there until we pulled up in front of them. After they were dead, of course. To be fair, it was a lovely sunny day. They'd have owned the sky at night or in the clag!

Boy, would we have like to have been guests in the O Club that night! All photos by Doug Barbier

A Different Breed of Cat

A while back, more than a few issues ago, we ran a pictorial on the Grumman F6F Hellcat. One of the images used in that piece showed an F6F-3 launching off the side of the boat, straight out of the hangar deck. Long-time reader Pat Donahue went into his collection and found a couple of supplemental images for us. Let's see what he's discovered:

Coming aboard. This F6F-3 is early enough to still carry the corcarde without the bars, although she's in tri-scheme. Readers unfamiliar with the way WW2 air ops were conducted aboard carriers might be surprised to learn that the air groups were frequently loaded aboard this way, at dockside and before the ship left port. Donahue Collection

And here's a shot of an early Hellcat coming off the waist cat. It was what might be termed a "gutsy operation". Thanks, Pat, for sharing these with us!  Donahue Collection

Things Were Different Back Then

We haven't heard from Mark Morgan for a while, but he's made up for his prolonged absence with a unit patch that's just the least bit out of the ordinary. Let's take a look at what he's discovered:

Regarding that recent AM-1 , see the attached VA-735 emblem out of NAS Grosse Ile (which, coincidentally, is the subject of my next "The Way It Was" article in the winter edition of The Hook). At least in this instance, Mabel seemed perfectly able but oh my, that patch would never "fly" in our modern Navy. Like we said, things were just the least bit different back then...

Happy Snaps
Today's Happy Snap comes from Mark Williams and dates back to his days in the KC-135. We'll let him explain the shot:

I was a KC-135 crew chief on E-models in the Tennessee ANG, then went to the Ohio ANG on R-models, then on active duty on the R-model and the occasional T-model (former Q-model originally built for refueling the SR-71) from March, 2000 to March, 2007 when I became a C-130E/H Flight Engineer. In fact I just retired as a Master Sergeant on September 1, 2011. One thing I missed about flying on the KC-135 was the opportunity to take photos like this one. About the only thing I got to photograph from the Herk was other Herks, and interesting things on the ground! This photo was taken by me when I was stationed out of Grand Forks AFB, ND as a KC-135R Flying Crew Chief. This particular group of Hornets was taken in March, 2006. We picked them up in Japan, flew down to Guam, then to Hawaii where we promptly broke our boom fuel return manifold! A KC-10 took these Bugs back to the states, and my crew got a free week at Hickam! Well, the aircrew did, I had to help fix the plane when we got the parts in! Enjoy!  Mark Williams

The Relief Tube

Let's start today's relief tube with a comment from Mark Williams regarding that F-106B air-to-air from Marty Isham that we ran a week or so ago:  Hi Phil. I saw the question in this week's Relief Tube about that F-106B photo from Marty regarding the aircraft he took it from. It's a KC-135, and I ought to know. I worked on them long enough! As a matter of fact if I had a nickel for everyone of my photos with that same wingtip in the lower left corner of the frame, well, I'd have a bunch of nickels! Mark

And from Marty himself:  G'day...Waited a while to see what might show up about your/my pic. The 119th FIS F-106B was shot from the starboard porthole from the back of a KC-135E of the 150th AREFS on the way to the Six Out at Atlantic City. "Gordie" Cooper was the GIB. I was one of the guest speakers; boy, were my knees shaking! Date of the pic was 9 June 88.  Cheers, Marty

Mark Morgan has some more information for us regarding that Jet Mentor from our last issue: 

Phil - Concerning the 2 Oct 11 blog, the Kansas Aviation Museum on the west side of McConnell, north of the Boeing and Spirit plants, has B73 Jet Mentor N134B on display, only one I'd ever seen and I fully expect the only surviving example. The museum's in the original Wichita Muni terminal, brick and sandstone complete with tower, and is an outstanding work in progress, well worth a visit for anyone who's in the vicinity. The collection also includes one of the few remaining Beech Starships, N199FE. MK  Thanks, Mark---sounds like a road trip may be in order!

And now for a couple of comments on one of those GAF "Zippers", plus a correction on the "Guppy" supplement. First, we'll hear from Rick Morgan:  Phil: Fascinating shots of the USAF/German F-104Gs; I don’t recall ever seeing any with color on them. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the yellow/red/black colors are from the German flag. I flew a TA-4J into Luke in very early 1980 out of Alameda. The ramp was full of 104s; both of us marveled at how lovely they looked and how much fun they must’ve been to fly. The Seafire shot is tremendous- can’t say how many color shots of that aircraft I’ve ever seen! Small point- the T-2C F305 is from Pensacola’s VT-4 vice 9 (Meridian). Rick

OK, then---you're now to the point where you're probably wondering what happened to the rest of the comments that were here yesterday (presuming, of course, that you were here yesterday!). The answer's simple; we normally splice a lot of stuff from a lot of different formats into The Relief Tube, and yesterday's blog took things A Format Too Far, or so it would seem. There were problems with font size, the font itself, and some other oddball stuff that, quite frankly, drove us absolutely nuts! That's why you're now missing comments from Hubert Pietzmeir, Dave Menard, and Jean Barbaud. We took them out to try to fix things, but tonight's not the night we're going to do put them back in. Watch this space next week for an attempt at a re-run. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.