Painting things white, that is. Or yellow, or red, or any of the other bugaboo colors that give so many modelers fits when they try to apply paint to a new project. We've personally never had much of a problem with any of those colors, so with that as a point of reference, let's talk technical for a minute.
First, let's define the sort of paint we're going to be using. Your humble modeling editor (as opposed to your humble photographic editor) has been around the modeling world for a while and has developed a distinct preference for enamels and lacquers as opposed to the acrylics more and more people are using nowadays. It's not that we haven't used acrylics before; Floquil Poly S (the original formulation, thank you), Tamiya, and Gunze have all passed through our airbrushes, along with a home-brewed concoction of artist's acrylics thinned with tap water and a little isopropyl alchohol. All of the above worked just fine, but certain colors just never behaved the way we wanted them to.
We've also worked with the hobby-based lacquers and enamels; Humbrol, Pactra, Frontier HQ, Imrie-Risley, Floquil, Official, Testor, et al, and have found most of them to be far more user-friendly and easy to use, particularly for a novice. That statement sets the tone. We're going to be talking about enamels in this missive. Why don't you get your ventilation going, put on your respirator, and let's play with paint for a few minutes.
White is one of the Big Three in terms of the colors most novice and intermediate modelers have difficulty with, so let's start with that one. The challenge presented by white is simple; how do you get decent coverage without a huge build-up of paint, or runs, or that gritty sandpaper-ish finish we've all experienced at one time or another? The answer is simple, although it may not seem so at first glance.
One answer is so blatantly obvious that everybody ought to blush with embarassment if they haven't already thought of it: Use a good grade of paint. Floquil is great; lots of coverage even when thinned, fast-drying, and easy to manipulate. Testor is right behind it and that's Testor in any flavor of enamel, either the classic Little Square Bottle or the ModelMaster line. In stark contrast Humbrol, which used to be one of the best hobby paints you could buy, is presently made in China (or at least the last tin we personally bought was) and is, in a word, useless crap. That said, we're going to presume you're using something from either the current (modern) Floquil line or ModelMaster. You're on your own for anything else.
The second component is also simple, although it runs counter to what a newby's conventional wisdom might suggest: Thin your paint! We normally thin everything we use a minimum of 30%, and 40 to 50% is more the norm. We use multiple thin passes (just like you'd do if you were painting a real airplane or car) and we let the color build up---the color is thin so you aren't building up a thick, hide-every-detail layer of paint. The beauty of doing things this way is that you can allow your base coat to show through in places if that's what you need to do, for instance if you were replicating the white leading-edges of a mid-to late-War PTO aircraft and wanted to show a little weathering and fade.
That takes care of painting with white, so here's what we've learned: use good-quality paint and thin it. Learn how to paint with it, which means practising with an airbrush, not just squirting paint everywhere with it hoping things will work out for you. In short, learn how to master your material!
So how about painting with yellow? If you're moderately bright you've already figured that one out for yourself---painting with yellow is just like painting with white only using a different color, and a decent quality of paint is essential to your success. You can brighten things up a bit by applying a coat of white to your model first, but that really isn't necessary; we routinely paint FS13538 prop tips by masking and painting directly over the black prop blades.
That leaves us with everybody's favorite modeling color; red. By now you should have the drill down pat, and already have it in your head that you're going to be using multiple passes of paint to achieve the effect you want. There's one big difference to red, though---if you want a really bright red that just pops out at you (a tonal variation that's pretty much too much for most scale models, by the way), then undercoat with white first. The thing most folks don't understand about red is that it's just another paint and it'll behave that way if you don't let it spook you.
So where does that leave us? With any luck at all, you can now go straight out to your modeling desk, prep some paint, and apply a contest-winning coat of white, yellow, or red, to the model of your choice. Just remember that practice does indeed make perfect and you'll be ok. Once again, that's our story and we're sticking with it.
A Few More Shots of The Fastest Mustang
We ran a few shots of the fastest and most capable of all the Mustangs, the under-dog F-51H, a few issues back, but we had others we didn't run in that essay; time and The Great Move of 2012 got in the way and we just didn't accomplish what we'd set out to do. Old and valued friend Marty Isham had loaned us a great many color shots (which we ran) and a batch of black and whites (which we didn't, because we didn't have time to scan them before everything got boxed up); thanks to Marty here's our feature photo essay for the day.
Under the Radar
We haven't added any sort of new department since the installation of "Happy Snaps" some months ago, so it must surely be time to do it again. Our Brand Spanking New section is going to be called "Under the Radar" and will be an infrequent review or announcement of things new, either plastic or published, that seems to have been ignored by the rest of the modeling world. There are a ton of people doing homegrown publishing on the internet so duplication of effort may well (and probably will) exist, but with any luck most of what runs in this space will be new to you.
With that as a premise, let's go right to our Very First Edition of "Under the Radar":
Glory Days; The Untold Story of the Men Who Flew the B-66 Destroyer Into the Face of Fear, Wolfgang W.E. Samuel, Schiffer Military History, 2008, Hardbound, 429pp, illustrated.
The B-66 Destroyer family falls handily into the latter category. It's electronic warfare variants were a constant in SEA air ops from the beginning of combat missions over the North until the last unit left the theater in March of 1974. Jay Miller's AeroFax title has long been the standard reference on the airplane (albeit a nearly unreadable one because of the tiny size of the type face employed) but it's long on technical description and short on operational history, which is where Glory Days comes into the picture.
Wolfgang Samuel was a B-66 pilot, a retired colonel, and his personal history of life with the B-66 is both engaging and highly informative. It's a personal narrative with the history of the aircraft interwoven into the story, so the reader shouldn't expect the abundance of technical information that makes Miller's effort so valuable to the historian, but the narrative fleshes out the operational side of the B-66 story much as Jack Broughton's books perform that function for the F-105. The airplane's strengths and weaknesses are explored in considerable depth, as well as its developmental and operational history, all in sufficient detail to enable the reader to understand just why so many of those photos of USAF strike missions over the North included an EB-66 in the shot. The B-66 was critical to the mission; not the optimal platform but what was available, and its combat crews performed superbly in a high-threat environment. It's not just a history of the type's service in Vietnam, but provides a fascinating look into the world of one of the Air Force's most underappreciated combat aircraft.
Originally published in 2008, the book has gone largely unheralded in the aviation community. That's a shame, because it's definitely worth acquiring; it belongs on the bookshelf of any historian or enthusiast with an interest in the Cold War or the air war over SEA. We recomend it highly.
After the War Was Over
Republic Aviation's F-105 Thunderchief won its spurs in a combat environment it was never intended to fight in, and a large percentage of the combat force was lost as a direct result of the fact that it was the best tactical fighter-bomber the USAF had at the time. Everybody knows the story, but a lot of folks don't seem to remember that the "Thud" saw squadron service after the conclusion of hostilities.
The Powers That Be recognized the F-105's failings and an attempt was made to upgrade the airframe into a more survivable combat platform, which in turn gave birth to a mod known as "Thunder-Stick Two". A total of 30 F-105Ds (or 31, depending upon the source used) were modified into this configuration in a program that began in 1966, although few of the aircraft so modified (the distinguishing external feature of which was an enlarged dorsal spine or "hump" added to house the new LORAN gear) saw combat past the assignment of a handful of aircraft to the theater to provide proof of concept. Although some aircraft did see service with regular units of the USAF, most ended up with Carswell's 457th TFS/301st TFW, an AFRes unit stationed in Central Texas.
While we'd love to show you photography of the handful of T-Stick Two birds that were evaluated in SEA, we don't have any (which is a big hint for anyone who might have such images to offer to share them!). What follows is a small collection of aircraft from the 457th. We hope you'll enjoy them.
Where You Gonna Put That Extra Gas, Mister?
By the end of the Second World War most of the planet's air forces had learned the value of range extension via use of external fuel tanks. North American's P-51/F-51 family had a far better-than-average unrefuelled range to begin with, but the addition of auxilliary tanks allowed her to fly virtually anywhere in western Europe, and to perform butt-killing missions to Japan with the 20th AF. Since the Mustang family survived well into the post-War era, and since so many kits are available of the aircraft, we figured our readership would enjoy having a little bit of additional information regarding this often-overlooked aircraft component.
The Sargent Fletcher company was a major player in US military aviation for a number of years, producing a great number of aircraft-specific external tanks and pods for all sorts of airplanes. The following images are from their one of their 1970s-vintage catalogs and provide dimensions and specifications of two different tanks with application to the P-51D/K/H.
When last we met we told you we'd be back with another Happy Snaps entry this time around. A promise is a promise, so here you go!
The Relief Tube
We don't know how you feel about things, but it's a definite relief to us to have a "real" issue in print again! That said, here's a small accumulation of comments we've piled up over the past several months. We did some significant picking and choosing here in the interest of keeping things brief because we've had a LOT of comments. Here's a sampling of them:
About a hundred years ago we ran some photos taken by Rick Morgan depicting a nose art contest held aboard the Theodore Roosevelt while she was en route back to the CONUS in the wake of Desert Storm. Matt Norton was one of the folks responsible for the application of that nose art, and he had this to say about it:
I am the guy in the green shirt. To fill you in a bit, headgear (cranial) is not required on the flight deck when NOT under flight operations. The artist has his cranial on because he was working on a ladder much of the time. Yes, during flight ops, headgear is mandatory.
I was there to assist the artist by mixing the paints and look after the paint guns and air brushes. We had a lot of fun applying it and a sense of pride when done. VAQ-141 was one of the few squadrons on board that took advantage of the opportunity to apply nose art.
Unfortunately, I do not remember the artists name and there is not a good shot of his face here. My memory would be sparked if I could see his face. May have a better clue packed away with my Navy things.
Matthew S. Norton
Night shift Corrosion Control supervisor
Thanks for the clarification, Matt, and apologies for taking so long to publish your comments!
And from Dave Menard regarding our first F-51H installment:
Loved the H Mustang stuff and well recall them overhead in the early fifties and getting into fur balls with Navy reserve Corsairs and Bearcats out west of Chicago! Now, straight and level only.
Here is a civvy H taken in East St Louis in the spring of 1971. When she cranked up, sounded like a sewing machine. Use if you desire and I took it! cheers, dave
And here's one on that wooden B-26 Marauder model we showed so many months ago, from Tom Sanders:
The B-26C is a Strombecker Recognition Model originally manuactured in 1942. It is interesting that Strombecker used the dimensions of the "prototype" (first constructed) for the dimesions yet marketed it as a B-26C (Omaha, NE Martin Plant). It is in 1/72 scale that was originated as a standard in the UK. The landing gear, doors and package guns are add-ons and should be kept (in my opinion) as they are vintage to that particular model. Steve Remington at Collectair.com just posted one of my Strombecker B-26 models under the "Strombecker Story" about 3/4 down the page.
Thanks, Tom! It's great to have that information available.
And there's more; so much more, but we've quite frankly run out of steam for today. Here are a couple of further comments from the editors (us/me) to wrap things up:
We've recently heard from several of our UK-based readers informing us that the screen formatting of RIS over there has been an issue of late. We've asked some of our friends around the US to see if they've been having problems too; so far it seems to be confined to our friends in Britain. We'd like very much to hear if any of the rest of you have experienced any issues with the site.
In that vein, we frequently do that copy-and-paste thing when we run the Relief Tube, an action that seems to wreak havoc with Blogger's software in terms of font and type size. That's why these Relief Tube entries tend to wander all over the place in terms of different sizes and font presentation---we are, as we've said so many times in the past, dumb as the proverbial post when it comes to computers, so bear with us. We just may get this all figured out someday (although nobody here is holding their breath on that one!). Patience is a virtue.
Finally, and in the best tradition of not letting a thing go until we've worked it to death, we've been informed by people we trust of the identities of a couple of the folks who have been playing fast and loose with our photography. That means, in simplest terms, that we now KNOW WHO YOU ARE, so cut it out! For those of you of an honest nature (which would be most of our readership), please feel free to right-click and save to your heart's content; just give provenance if you reproduce the images anywhere.
That's it for now, so be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.