It Must've Been a Bad Day
You know how it goes. You build a model, put it on the shelf and admire your newly-finished project, and go do something else. You come back later to admire it again and discover something you either forgot to do or did poorly, which causes you to perform a little bit of rework. That's how it is today.
We published yesterday, admired what we did, and walked away. When we went back to look at the fruit of our labors this morning we discovered that our proofreading skills had been, shall we say "limited" and there were typos and grammatical errors every place we looked! Since we try our best to put out a quality product around here all those mistakes took us straight into the realm of the unacceptable, so we're going to take a minute and fix a few things. If this is the first time you're reading this particular installment then you'll never know the difference so just keep on keeping on. If, on the other hand, you did happen to visit us yesterday some of what you read will be different; not radically so, but different nonetheless. It's not you, it's us. This time...
Jus' Ole Junk
That's what we call it, anyway. The internet scale modeling fraternity (to which we happen to belong, ironic as that may seem to those who know us well) has birthed a number of really goofy words and phrases over the years, a few of which are real side-splitters. Our personal favorite, albeit one having nothing whatsoever to do with this particular diatribe, is the use of the noun "pony" to describe any member of the North American P-51 Mustang family, a name by which said aircraft was never called while it was in active service even though at least one American decal manufacturer christened an entire series of sheets using that particular appellation. To each his own, we suppose...
Anyway, this isn't about that. Today's Totally Incoherent Rambling has to do with another Buzz Word Concoction; The Shelf of Doom. Everybody's got one in one form or another, although a great many of us have never bothered to call it anything nearly that dramatic, and certainly never bothered to name it anything so negative. Your editor even has one and yes; it's a literal shelf, but there ain't no doom about it.
Nope---in our world that shelf is not one of doom, it's more a shelf of delayed opportunity, a home for projects gone frustratingly awry for whatever reason. We don't consider any of them terminal projects; in our world that sort of thing gets its useful components removed and is then pitched---end of story. (San Antonio modeler Bob Angel coined the phrase Reduced to Produce for that operation, and we wholeheartedly agree with his terminology!) To prove the point, each and every Classic Airframes kit we've built has enjoyed residence on that particular shelf during some phase (or many phases!) of its construction, such being the nature of a great many of the kits belonging to that particular range of Occasional Plastic Purgatory.
The highly-desirable but frustratingly difficult products of that one manufacturer notwithstanding, we have to go right back to the whole notion that started this particular bit of silliness, which is the concept of a literal shelf of doom. Here's how we figure this ought to work: If the model is so bad it has to be banished to an honest-to-goodness shelf of doom then you need to pitch it. Throw it away. Dispose of it. Reduce to Produce! Allow us to give you The Southern Perspective if we may: It ain't a shelf of doom, it's a place we put stuff until we're ready to get back to it. It's a Land of Opportunity.
Shelf of Doom our patootie!
The First of the Fruitflies
A few years back the United States armed forces retired their last LTV A-7 Corsair IIs, replacing them with the far more capable (although it took quite a while to get there) F-18 family of fighter/attack aircraft. The venerable A-7 Corsair II (rarely called that in US service, but rather known as the "Fruitfly" to the guys with the boats and the "SLUF" to the blue-suiters; "SLUF" being an acronym that we'll let you figure out for yourselves, although the adjectives "Slow", "Little", and "Ugly" are in that name somewhere) was the premier American light attack aircraft of the late 60s through mid-90s.
The A-7 was a revelation when it first entered service with the Navy because it had it all as far as an attack aircraft was concerned; a sophisticated (for its day) fire control and weapons delivery system, long legs, and the hauling capability of a dump truck. On top of that it had been designed for ease of maintenance from the very beginning and offered an extremely good ratio of maintenance hours per hour flown. It was the Bombdiggedy of its day, and became a world-beater when it's Echo-version received a state of the art low-bypass turbofan for its power plant. The Air Force ended up buying their own version of it; the A-7D, thus proving that a Very Good Idea is just that, regardless of who's name is on the wrapper, and subsequent combat in SEA, Grenada, the Balkans, and a handful of other places more than proved its worth in an operational environment.
Today we're going to take a brief look at The Founder of the Feast, the A-7A, so let's see what we've got:
email@example.com ) during preparation for flight. Note how the old "Easter Egg" paintwork stands up to the elements in contrast to today's more effective (and far less colorful) TPS. There's something to be said for shiny paint. T. Ring
OK, we'll admit it---we're a little thin where A-7As are concerned and yes; we're actively soliciting additional images. (You know the e-mail address, right?) While we're waiting, we'll see about collecting some Bravo "Fruitflies" for next time. Stay tuned!
Just Chasing Airplanes
There was a time, way back in the 1980s, when an inordinately large number of well-known aviation photographers all lived in south Texas. We were privileged to know (and, hopefully, to learn from) several of them. That fact provides a lead-in to our next piece.
It was just a few days short of Christmas in 1979 when we got the phone call from Maddog John Kerr, the gist of which being that he, his son Paul, Dan Hagedorn, John Dienst, Lee Bracken, and Frank Garcia were going to drive to San Angelo to see some ex-Honduran AF F4U Corsairs that had been ferried up there for overhaul and a repaint and that I was going with them. It wasn't an invitation but rather a command (Maddog's like that sometimes), but it seemed to be The Right Thing to Do so I pulled some Kodachrome out of the refrigerator and beat feet over to John's place, where the four of us piled into his purple Gremlin for the ride north. It was, as they say, a trip to remember.
There are many ways to get to San Angelo from San Antonio, and we took the one that involved driving along a stretch of Interstate 10. We'd been whizzing along for a bit in some extremely foul South Texas Winter Weather when Paul Kerr, who was sitting in the back seat of that Gremlin with me, pointed out the side of the car and said "There's an airplane on that hill!" We looked and sure enough there it was; the remains of a Cessna 182 piled into the side of a limestone outcropping. Maddog allowed as how it had gone in the night before and the crash had made the previous evening's news. It was a sobering image, not helped any by the fact that it had just started to snow, making a dreary winter's day even gloomier.
Anyway, we turned off IH 10 and onto State Highway 87 towards Fredericksburg, plowing through what had turned into a regular South Texas version of a blizzard. We passed through Fredericksburg and headed north on the final sprint towards San Angelo, still in driving snow, when Maddog said "I've had enough of this defecation" (that's not really what he said, but this is a family-oriented site)and commenced to rocking back and forth in his seat, chanting "No Snow, No Snow". "Jeez, Maddog, what are you doing?" was the Burning Question of the Day, to which question the response was "I'm doing the snow chant so this will stop!" Yeah, right; like he's going to make it stop!But stop it did; we topped the next hill, the very next stinking hill, and drove out into bright sunshine with nary a cloud in sight. Maddog had stopped the blizzard! Holy Cow!
OK, maybe it wasn't really him, but the bottom line is that we got to the airport in San Angelo with no further adventures and were able to shoot those beautiful U-Birds to our heart's content, with nobody else on the ramp, and in decent weather. Dan was in heaven and the rest of us weren't too far behind. What follows is a tiny sampling of that afternoon's endeavors:
You can still see those Honduran U-Birds today on the American airshow circuit. As gorgeous as they are in their retro-American military livery, we prefer them the way they were when they arrived in Texas; pristine throwbacks to an earlier time. Yep; Christmas came a little early that year!
Star, Star (With Apologies to Keith and Mick)
Any of you who've been with us from the beginning know we have a thing for the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, affectionately known as the "Zipper". It was an airplane born well ahead of its time, one that was so specialized (as an air-to-air fighter and point defense "interceptor") that it was nearly useless until foreign sales forced it into the fighter-bomber role. Those later airplanes were really something, although still somewhat limited but the earlier ones, well, they were the earlier ones. You have to start someplace.
We were doing some rare cleaning of the files a few days ago and stumbled across a small package of F-104 photography we didn't use in that Squadron monograph we'd authored way back in the 90s. Those photos are definitely a hodge-podge of images and honestly not much to write home about, but they do provide some insight into the airplane.
Our adventures in our archives this weekend turned up some pretty neat F-104 photography which we'll share with you in later issues. Watch this space!
Today's Happy Snap isn't the one we'd planned on running today; up until five minutes ago or a different photo had held that place, but just moments ago we received a photo from Rick Morgan we just couldn't resist running. It's a Happy Snap of a different flavor:
Phil, here's a shot from my day chasing U-2s at Beale. Our escort was a Capt pilot who took us out in their Camaro. He told us that the Calif Highway Patrol gives them high-speed driving training once a year. They apparently were surprised that the USAF uses largely stock cars with simple lap belts and no roll cage, all while maxing at 100+ with one hand on holding the radio mike.
The aircraft in the picture is U-2RT 80-1091.
The car circles the aircraft prior to take-off as a ‘last-chance’observer and then follows to confirm the pogos come off. He then chases during landing to call distance-to-the-deck since the pilot’s field of view is so bad. The ground crew comes out, installs the training wheels and it taxis into the hangar. Rick
We can honestly say that Rick never ceased to amaze---thanks, Morgo!
The Relief Tube
Before we get started with today's installment I'd like to make a special request of our readers. Several months ago we ran photos of a model of a P-40E that was flown out of Darwin during 1942 by Benjamin "Bitchin' Ben" Irvin. You can imagine how surprised we were a few weeks ago when we received a letter from his grandson telling us that he'd discovered the blog and the photos of that model. The bottom line is that we'd like to build a model for him but don't consider the one already completed to be presentation quality. We've got the kit, but need the stickies; they're on an old 1/48th scale SuperScale sheet of assorted P-40s. If you've got said sheet and wouldn't mind parting with Irvin's markings we'd like to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Last week we ran a shot of a semi-derelict F-105D T-Stick 2 and stated we didn't know which aircraft it actually was. The contributor of the photo was old friend Maddog John Kerr, who provided the following insight and yet another photo:
I sure am glad to see you back in business. I missed my RIS. The F-105D, marked 78-002 is really 61-0044. Photo was taken at Brooks AFB, TX, on June 20, 1984. If I remember correctly they have a total of 6 F-105's there, including a couple of B models from the New Jersey ANG (I have slides I am sure) and yes they were being used for Battle Damage Repair airframes.. Found the slides and will scan and send: As for the # 78 starting on the bogus serial numbers I believe was the from the 78th CLS Squadron that did the BDR repairs. Some, maybe all, of these were later trucked up to Camp Bullis to the security training ramp. They may still be there. Photos to follow tomorrow. Cheers, old MD Kerr.
57-5797 B NJ ANG 78-005
57-5835 B 466TFS 78-001
57-5789 B NJ ANG
63-8363 G GA ANG
61-0110 D 457TFS
61-0044 D 457TFS 78-002
And here are the other T-Stick 2 photos:
We've said it before and we'll say it again; this is a sad end for a noble pair of airplanes!
And that's what we know for now. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.