We've all had those days. You know the ones; the kind where you get the urge to go start something, get all the stuff out so you can do just that, and get to work, only to discover that you can't stay motivated. (We're talking about scale modeling here---if you're thinking cutting the grass or painting the house, you're on your own!) I've had a couple of those days lately and I thought I'd share the experience with you.
Aerial combat on the Eastern Front during the Second World War has held a fascination for me for a great many years, and those who know me well also know that there are a great many finished models of VVS and Luftwaffe aircraft sitting in the collection. That said, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there would currently be a project on the bench that would reflect that interest. There are, in point of fact, not one but two of them sitting there, and they're both dead as a duck at the moment, almost finished but interminably stalled. One of them has gone back into its box (it's a big box), and the other presently resides on The Shelf of Opportunity, where it may well live for quite a while to come. Allow me to 'splain, Lucy...
The first of the Great Stalled Projects of 2013 is an Eduard Fw190F-8, done in a set of truly unique colors worn by one of the aircraft assigned to SG11 and carrying a Panzerblitz installation under each wing. It's sitting there almost finished, requiring only a cowl and prop, plus all those tiny little rockets (twelve of them, to be exact), to be called Done. The problem with it, and it's a Big One, is that Eduard royally pooched the cowlings on all of their Fw190s and it's not an easy fix. The kit looks ok if you open everything up (the way we suspect it was intended to be built), but when you look at it in profile with everything buttoned up the upper line of the nose is straight as a board and parallel to the lower cowl line when it should, in point of fact, be slightly tapered downwards. It's no big deal if you don't know it's there, but it just screams out "Look at me---I'm WRONG!" if you do. QuickBoost makes a correction cowl for that very kit, presumably because so many people can't seem to cope with closing up the one that comes in the kit, but that correction cowl is missing the taper too. The Bottom Line: I can't bring myself to try to figure out how to fix the thing so it's sitting, completely assembled, painted, and decalled, inside its box sans clear parts and cowling. It's probably going to sit there a very long time.
The next GSP is yet another Fw190, this time a Hasegawa A-4 done up in one of those tasty JG54 winter schemes. It's completely done, painted, and decalled. It's weathered. All it needs is its transparencies and a seat to be called Finished, but the kit seat is too wide to fit in the cockpit tub with Eduard belts attached to it. I've thinned out the seat sides and it fits now; all that remains to be done is to paint it, install the belts, and drop the thing into the cockpit so the windscreen and canopy can be added. That's it, that's all there is to it, but I just can't work up the enthusiasm to finish it so it's sitting up there on the aforementioned Shelf of Opportunity, just waiting for the final few things to be done so it can go on the display shelf. (Hasegawa boxes are a lot smaller than Eduard boxes, so it can't go back in there.) I suspect that it too will sit there for a Very Long Time because, once again, I just can't find the inspiration to finish the darned thing.
So why is that, you might say? What deeply-rooted psychological issue stemming from my childhood is causing me to procrastinate and continually avoid finishing those models? What's the reason?
(Keep in mind that in this modern age of ours there's an underlying reason for just about everything.) What unsaid thing is it that's keeping me from finishing those two kits? There's only one answer: I don't know!
The point to be taken here is a simple one. Not everything we build gets finished. I know people who go a little bit nuts if they get a model almost finished and then can't find the inspiration to put it on the shelf. I also have a friend who's got an unfinished 1/48th scale Bell X-2 (not an easy date, that one) sitting on the shelf ready for paint and decals. It's been there since at least 2004, and from what I can tell it's likely to sit there a few more years before it's completed if, in fact, it ever is. The modeler in question thinks that's a fine state of affairs and so do I. At the end of the day this whole deal is a hobby, something we do for relaxation and fun. If some aspect of it becomes Less Than Fun and we choose to put it away for a while, or even forever, that's ok. Keep that in mind as you sit at your workbench and this wonderful hobby of ours will remain just that. Obsess on it because you don't finish a project and you'll likely end up playing video games, with plastic modeling becoming just a distant paint and solvent-soaked memory of the fun you used to have.
That's my story and, as usual, I'm sticking with it!
That Gorgeous F-8
Yep, that one. Chance-Vought's immortal F8U Crusader. The F-8 was a revolutionary aircraft in virtually every respect, and it was pretty, too. Mark Nankivil recently supplied us with a number of images that were bound for the Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum Collection (a facility we highly endorse), and we'd like to share them with you today.
firstname.lastname@example.org ! R Burgess via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil
We'll run a few more Crusaders another day. Meanwhile, many thanks as always to Mark Nankivil for sharing images from his remarkable collection with us!
No Easy Days in the SWPAC
I think we can safely say we've all seen to many movies and read way too many books about the combat aircraft of the Second World War. Our next photo shows just how dangerous it could be even for the guys who weren't flying combat:
Neel Would've Been Proud
When we think of the 348th Fighter Group during World War II we inevitably think of the P-47D Thunderbolt, and with good reason. The group, led by Neel Kearby, took a fighter that was, at least on the face of things, totally unsuited to combat in the Pacific and turned it into a finely-honed killing machine through the simple tactic of playing the game in a manner that favored the P-47 instead of simply reacting to the way the Japanese wanted to do things. As a direct result of their tactical doctrine the 348th quickly became the highest scoring (and by a considerable margin) P-47 group in the theater. Still, the immortal "Jug" really wasn't the best fighter for flying the not-inconsiderable distances required to take the war to the enemy in that oceanic theater of operations, and by the time the 348th reached the Philippines they had acquired a more suitable aircraft for the long-distance war they were waging; the P-51D Mustang. Through the kindness of Johnathan Watson we're going to take a look at some of those P-51s today. Enjoy!
Kearby and The Duke
Everybody did what they could back in the Bad Old Days of the Second World War, and a number of Hollywood celebrities visited the combat zones as members of various USO troupes. This next photo illustrates one of those visits.
Under the Radar
Top Cover for America, John Haile Cloe and Michael F Monaghan, Anchorage Chapter, Air Force Association with Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Missoula, MT, 1984, 262pp, illustrated.
The Relief Tube
Today we're going to start out with a comment from Rick Morgan. It's not a correction this time, although we do appreciate that sort of thing if you're so inclined, and it points out some interesting information on that last batch of A-7Es we ran.
Phil: I was impressed by your selection of A-7E shots in the last installment. Three of them were truly rare shots of squadrons in short-lived (about a year or less) Air Wing markings. While most AirPac VAL units stayed with their air wings over several deployments. The VA-195 bird (NL413) was in CVW-15 markings (NL) for only a few months, Jan to Oct 1982, and never cruised with them. The Blue Diamonds (in this case NE312) made only one deployment with CVW-2 in 1984 between 14+ trips with CVW-9 (NG). The ‘Golden Worm” of VA-192 (NG300) is shown in CVW-9 code; and they only did one trip with NINE after many years with CVW-11 (NH). I’m CCing two of the only guys I know who seem to think stuff like this is important (!). As you say- Neat Stuff ! Rick
A blog member known to us only as Space Ranger has left this comment regarding the clanger we dropped last issue when we were attempting (with pathetic success, as things turned out) to describe the Douglas successor to the F4D:
Re: "Douglas F6D Skylancer." I think you mean Douglas F5D Skylancer. The F6D was that clunky ol' "Missileer" proposal.
Thanks, Space Ranger and no; we're not going to do an F-6D piece, just in case any of you were wondering!
About a hundred years ago (or at least it seems that way) we ran a piece that included some TBMs wearing a ZA tailcode. Periodically one of our newer readers will have a comment on one of those older pieces as in this instance, thanks to Marc Frattasio and Peter Jardim:
A while back ago you asked about the "ZA" tail code and the small circular insignia under the cockpit of the TBM shown on http://replicainscale.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html. The "ZA" stands for attack aircraft assigned to NAS Squantum and the insignia is the Squantum witch insignia. Prior to 1970 the individual naval air reserve squadrons did not actually "own" the aircraft that they flew. All the reserve aircraft on a reserve base were maintained in a pool from which the various reserve units on that base drew on their drill weekends or annual training periods. The base identification code letter assigned to NAS Squantum was the letter Z. During the period between 1947 and 1950 reserve aircraft in these pools also had a code letter that identified the type of aircraft. For example, A for attack, P for patrol, F for fighter, T for trainer, R for transport, etc. So "ZA" in the case of that TBM stood for an attack aircraft assigned to NAS Squantum. There were probably three or four naval air reserve attack or composite ASW squadrons at NAS Squantum at that time that flew this exact same aircraft. In 1950 the type code was dropped and all aircraft assigned to NAS Squantum just carried the Z on their wings and tails. To see what the Squantum witch insignia looked like go to www.anapatriotsquadron.org. Take care. Marc J. Frattasio
I just came across the page doing a search on Squantum and saw the TBM-3E Avenger. The "Z" is the Squantum station code and the "A" was designated for attach. Squantum had plenty of aircraft types and for a period of time before they switched to just having the "Z" on the tail they carried the type designator. I can't say for sure about the badge but chances are it was the Squantum Witch that some aircraft carried. At the bottom of this page where the patches are is an image of the witch. hope this helps, Peter Jardim
Thanks very much, Marc and Peter, and thanks for that link.
We got a number of comments from a group of folks that we choose to call The Usual Suspects regarding that appendage hanging off the "Ford" last time, but we also received the same information from another of our readers whom we don't hear from often enough. Here's a description of our former Mystery Structure from Rex, the Accidental CAG:
Hi, Phil. In regards to " That's quite an apparatus she's got strapped to her aft section but, as usual, we're clueless as to its purpose. (Tommy?)". Well, I'm not Tommy, but I nitpick every word he types online",(just kidding). That device is not attached to the aft section, you can see that it is mounted to the outer pylon. It is the Red gear for a towed target system, in this case the Del Mar target. Your pic is a neat companion to a color shot that Mr Olson must have taken at the same time, from a slightly different angle and then had published in the Ginter book. (we see less of the BuNo in the Ginter photo). One thing I don't see in either photo is any sort of Motor Unit, but, I don't know at what point the RMU would be installed on an aircraft---maybe they were installed the same time as a target? Hope this is of help. Rex
Thanks Rex, and I'm certain that Tommy extends his thanks as well! (And it goes without saying that we'd also like to thank Tommy Thomason and Rick Morgan for writing us with the correct description of that goofy-looking rig!)
And that's it for this time. Many thanks to all of your for your patience while we got our heads straight on that Picture Pirate thing, and special thanks to John Mollison for kick-starting us by way of his current "Hun" project. And, while we're thanking people, a special vote of appreciation needs to go out to Jenny, who repeatedly told us to stop 'cessing on the Picture Cretins and get back into the game!
Until next time, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!