Tuesday, November 27, 2012

That Monogram Texan, A Couple of Forty-Niners, and How It's Done

Texan Redux

So here we are again, much further down the road than originally anticipated but back nontheless. When last we met we discussed Monogram's seminal AT-6 kit and gave you a few tips regarding the building of same. We're a little further along than we were before but still don't have the thing finished, so there's no model photography since there just isn't that much more to see, except that the bodywork is done and we've squirted yellow paint on the airframe and it's looking a lot like a T-6. We'll count that as an up-side (and ignore that run-on sentence we just made!).

A couple of weeks ago we got an e-mail regarding the project asking about the nuances between the various AT-6/SNJ variants. Since an understanding of what we're building is pretty essential to the whole modeling process, we figured today was as good a day as any to discuss those variations. (See how we gracefully slid out of having to show you pictures of something that isn't a whole lot further along than it was the last time we spoke? Clever, we are!) Here, then, is a quick and dirty overview of the T-6 Thing as it applies to the scale modeler.

BT-9, BT-14, BC-1/SNJ-1 and -2, A-27, and Harvard I: These are all beyond the scope of what we're doing here today, so we aren't going to cover them. There are, quite frankly, enough differences between the early members of this family and the later ones to make things more of a thrash than we're willing to get into right now. All we're going to say about the matter is that the mating of a Special Hobby 1/48th scale Wirraway with the Monogram T-6 kit, or maybe just the modification of the afore-mentioned Wirraway, could yield some interesting results Texan-wise, but we aren't going there just yet.

BC-1A, AT-6: You can start with the Monogram kit and not have to do a whole lot to it. You'll want to incorporate the provision for armament if not the guns themselves, but omit the wing gun. If you're doing a BC-1A you'll need to add a big honking DF loop between the wheel wells, and that's about it as far as visual differences are concerned.

AT-6A/B, SNJ-3 and -3C: At this point we're pretty much dealing with the model as Monogram intended for it to be built. You'll want to mount the gunner's seat facing aft and retain the kit's wing gun, and you can also add a pair of bomb racks if you'd like. The SNJ-3 is a dead look-alike for a standard T-6 unless you want to add provision for a tailhook, at which point your model will become a replica of an SNJ-3C (that "C" presumably means "carrier" and is the suffix applied to all shipboard-capable Texans).

AT-6C/SNJ-4 and -4C. This variant was built with the notion of saving critical aluminum by using wood for certain airframe components, and a great many of these sub-types were built that way. You can tell them from the other members of the family by serial or BuNo, of course, but you can also tell, at least on the silver ones, by the appearance of panels painted with aluminum dope. Another giveaway is the configuration of the panel lines on the aft fuselage, which are much-reduced from those of a "normal" T-6. Not all AT-6Cs and SNJ-4s had the wooden aft fus, though, so you'll need to pay close attention to your subject if you want to model one. You might also want to note that the 85 or so SNJ-4Cs operated by the Navy all had the aluminum rear fuselage.

AT-6D/SNJ-5 and -5C:  This variant is 100% visually compatible with the all-metal AT-6Cs and SNJ-4s. The only difference is the replacement of the 12-volt electrical system with a 24-volt system, which means you're pretty much dealing with markings variations and nothing else.

XAT-6E:  North American built one of these. It was an experimental variant that saw the Pratt and Whitney Wasp replaced by a 575hp Ranger V-770-9 inverted V-12. Superior streamlining outweighed brute force in this instance and the "E" model was the fastest member of the family, but the anticipated engine shortage never materialized and the XAT-6E became a sidebar to the Texan story. The airplane could make for a fascinating conversion were we so inclined, but we aren't, which means this is the last you'll hear of the variant on these pages.

AT-6F/SNJ-6:  This variant saw the elimination of all the guns and bomb racks. A revised aft cockpit cover (that would be the one at the very back end of the canopy stack) saw the elimination of most of the framing there, and the "F" could be fitted with an external 20-gallon aux tank, as well as a spinner virtually identical to that of the "G". It was also the last T-6 variant to use the tall antenna mast in front of the windscreen. The Navy doesn't think any of their SNJ-6s were ever fitted with tailhooks so we don't either.

T-6G/SNJ-7 and -7C: The Golf was an interesting airframe, re-manufactured from earlier variants and not a new-build per se. Modifications included the raising of the rear seat by 6 inches, and the addition of internal fuel bladders, neither of which would be visible on a model unless the builder was showing one in a totally torn-down overhaul scenario. The spinner of the "F" model was retained and made standard, and the canopies were simplified with fewer frames. A large, football-shaped DF loop was generally mounted aft of the canopy, although a smaller more handily-faired unit was often fitted, particularly on the T-6s used by foreign governments. The "Gs" were often flown without wheel covers (you can use a P-51 wheel and tire to duplicate this feature) and perhaps more often without landing gear doors. The tailwheel was similar in functunality to that of the P-51 but you don't want to go fitting a Mustang tailwheel to your T-6; it was the system that was modified, not the hardware. As a final note, the Navy had 6 SNJ-7s; three with and three without tailhooks.

LT-6G:  This was the Bad Actor of the family, modified for FAC and combat liaison work during the Korean fracas. The aircraft featured different com gear, six underwing hardpoints, and provision for the addition of gun pods. Their buzz numbers were generally prefixed with the letter "L", which makes the large "LTA-XXX" painted on the side a fair indicator of the LT variant if you don't happen to have a serial number reference handy. The Occidental kit of the T-6, which we aren't overly fond of, has most of the underwing equippage necessary for the conversion to LT-6G status if you just can't live without one in your collection.

All Those Foreign Members of the Family: We're going to leave those for somebody else to discuss; we're just doing the American versions here.

Our personal favorite Texan has got to be the T-6G, so we're including a couple of photos from Dave Menard's collection for inspiration to those of you with similar interests. You might want to note that we're making good on a promise here; since The Picture Pirates just can't seem to bring themselves to put credit lines on the photos they lift from this site, we're helping them out by forcing them to deal with something a little bit more substantial than what we've done in the past. We apologize profusely to our readership for taking this step but this thievery thing has got to stop somewhere.

This, to us, is what the T-6 was all about. Our earliest personal memory of the type was the the overall yellow ones we saw at Sheppard AFB as a child, and this one fits right in. Sharp-eyed observers will note the instrument bag in the aft cockpit and the lack of landing gear doors, although the aircraft is fitted with wheel covers. Menard Collection

A whole bunch of ex-USAF T-6Js (reconfigured "G" models) ended their days in the service of other countries---these are destined for the Federal Luftwaffe. Note the exhaust configuration, appropriate since these aircraft were orginally RAF Harvard IVs. Lighting can make a whole lot of difference in the way colors appear on an airplane, ya'll.  Lt. Col. D. Callahan via Menard

A significant photo; this shot was taken in 1955 by Dave Menard the week before he enlisted in the Air Force. Some people just have an eye for photography, and Dave is one of the best! Modelers may want to note the "No Step" legends on the leading edge of the wing, the anti-glare treatment, and the extremely visable zinc chromate primer inside the cowling. That red trim is really nice, don't you think?  Dave Menard

Finally, here's one for the folks who enjoy conversions. TA-608 was used by Captivair at Perrin AFB to teach cockpit and egress procedures. Notice the highly-modified cowling and that ramp full of T-6Gs. If there was one thing the Silver Air Force had a lot of it was Texans!  Col R. Merritt via Menard

Some Famous Birds

It seems like we say this every time we run any sort of photography from Bobby Rocker's collection, but he has some amazing images and we feel fortunate indeed to be able to share them with you. Today's offering is a somewhat different look at a couple of P-40Ns used by the 49th Fighter Group but apparently passed on to the 110th TRS late in the war. The shots all came from official sources and are therefore fair game for reproduction, but we wish you'd do the Right Thing and credit Bobby's collection if you decide to run them someplace else!

"Kansas City Kiddie" was originally with the 8th FS/49th FG. The photo shows the nose markings to what some folks might call good advantage, but the image is especially useful because we can see that underwing bomb racks were fitted to most of the 49th's "N" models. The suntan on those guys was a fringe benefit of assignment in the Pacific, but brutal working conditions and lack of sleep, even at this late stage of the war, meant that nobody was on a picnic!  Rocker Collection

"Island Dream" was another famous bird from the 49th. She's relatively beat up and tired in this photo but don't let appearances deceive you; the P-40 was a tough customer even in her dotage. "Dream" is bombed up and ready to rumble. Note the generally worn appearance of her wheel covers and prop blades, as well as the extensive staining.  Rocker Collection

"Daddy Please" was another old-stager from the 49th. Even her gas bag is beat to snot, and her general appearance borders on the disreputable. The overspray on her white leading edges is interesting, as is her prop. Old soldiers (and old airplanes) never die...  Rocker Collection

Rib Tape Redux

A while back we decided to show you how to simulate rib tape on a biplane using colored pencils as a quick and effective way to simulate the effect. We never quite got back to show you the completed model, although it's our intention to do that some day, but we found something else that might actually prove to be more useful to you in the long run.

You're probably all pretty sick of hearing that we moved a while back but move we did, and we're still finding stuff as a result. One of those things we recently found was a semi-ancient periodical entitled Historic Aviation, the February, 1969 edition of same to be exact. We were looking through it and there it was, right there on pages 26 and 27; an explanation of How Rib Tapes Work, or at least how they're applied to real airplanes. That's something we all ought to know, because it will create understanding which will, in theory at least, make us all better modelers. Read and heed, as it were.

The Relief Tube

It's been a long day and an even longer time since we've published anything, so we're going to call it quits for today, press The Magic Twanger, and get this bad boy in print. We'll be back soon (a LOT sooner than this wait has been) with another thrilling installment, so stay tuned. Until then, be good to your neighbor!


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