It's All in the Way You See It
In our most recent (and highly thrilling) edition of ongoing ramblings, edifications, and general silliness, you got to read a missive concerning my complete inability to get up the enthusiasm to finish a couple of models that are both so close to completion it's scary. You may or may not agree with the whole concept of the thing---that it's the pleasure you take from the building of the model rather than the completion of the model itself, but I personally subscribe to the theory. I think it's a valid notion and it goes without saying that I'm going to expound on it today. (That means I'm going to talk some more.)
First, our most recent premise was that you didn't necessarily need to feel somehow inferior or cheapened if you didn't actually complete everything single thing you started; it's perfectly fine to burn out on something if you get tired of it or become overwhelmed by it. Admittedly, you can't use that sort of logic if you're at work, and in particular if your job is that of an airline pilot or heart surgeon ("When he wakes up tell him I just wasn't feeling it today. Sew him up and we'll try again when I'm interested in doing it."). No; you can't do that sort of thing in real life, but you absolutely can if whatever it is happens to be your hobby.
Don't believe me? That's fine, but consider this before you skip to the next article in this blog: Most people who have a hobby are involved in it because they enjoy it and it relaxes them. It soothes their souls and makes them feel good. It relieves stress. It reduces anxiety. It makes their lives better. If you'll accept that as a premise, then you'll almost immediately understand why it's ok to put something aside if it becomes more trouble than it's worth. You can even throw it away if you want to, although I rarely take it that far myself, or you can put it away so you can work on it at a later date. At this very moment my personal shelf of opportunity (I don't buy into that whole Shelf of Doom thing, as we've discussed at least once before on these pages) includes, in no particular order, a Monogram F-106A that's been in work since it first came out in the 1980s, a Heller RF-84F of the same vintage and start date, a Monogram T-6 (yes; that one), a Hobby Boss FJ-4B, an Eduard Albatros DV, 1/110th-scale Revell HMS Bounty that I started in 1976, and two Fw190s. They've accumulated over the past 30 years or so and will all eventually be completed. Maybe.
The point of the whole thing is that it's a hobby of mine and only that, and if something I'm working on becomes more effort than it's worth I'll put it aside for a better day. That Albatros I mentioned in the previous paragraph is the one I used as a test subject to demonstrate how to do rib tapes with a colored pencil and it's done, completely finished except for a couple of little folded metal covers for the wings that I just can't work up the steam to make, and the rigging. It looks really neat and I can't wait to get it completed and on the shelf, but I'm not ready to do that just now because I'm thinking those tiny little covers are going to be a real pain in the patootie to make and I'm just not interested in that sort of thrash at the moment. That "Six" may never be finished, the RF-84F is right up there with it in the "enemy on beach, condition in doubt" realm, and, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. I'll build something else. I do this for fun.
So here's The Big Question of the day: Why do you build models? Is it fun? Does it soothe your soul? Does working on a model make you feel better? Those are questions that are well worth the asking, but you have to keep in mind that there's no "right" or "wrong" answer. It's a hobby. It's your hobby.
There's Never Been Anything Like It
There was a time, not all that long ago, when Conventional Wisdom said that you needed to fly high and really, really fast if you wanted to drop bombs on somebody. It was a wisdom that worked out just fine when the guys who were going to be defending against you didn't have anything more formidable than flak and fighters for you to contend with; both defenses were tough enough to deal with, but neither was something that could stop the show. Then, one day in 1960, a missile battery in the former Soviet Union managed to shoot down a dark blue airplane with no national markings that was flying a great many thousands of feet over their territory taking pictures of classified installations. The game had changed forever.
Convair's B-58 Hustler had been originally designed to contend with The World That Was. It was FAST; a supersonic bomber in an era when such things just didn't exist. It could carry a healthy weapons load in an era when one big honkin' bomb was enough for the mission, and it was highly advanced. It was also, after that day in 1960, far more vulnerable than it had been before as mission profiles shrank down into the weeds in order to avoid the newly emerging SAM threat. The whole purpose of the high-altitude supersonic bomber had disappeared in the wink on an eye and the Hustler quickly followed.
Through the graciousness of the Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum we have a few photographs of that incredibly beautiful airplane to share with you today. Let's take a look.
Why Can't They Get It Right?
As the Second World War was drawing to a close the various nations involved in that conflict were all heavily engaged in the development of new technologies, one of which was jet propulsion for military aircraft. All of the major combatants designed and built jet fighters (and bombers, in the case of Nazi Germany) or, at the very least, experimental designs that could have led to a combat aircraft, but only the United States, Great Britain, and Germany actually put such designs into service use.
In the United States, the first of such aircraft was the Lockheed P-80, a seminal design that spawned the P-80/F-80, the T-33, and the F-94. All of these aircraft have been kitted as plastic models (and the P-80 in wood) at one time or another, but for some reason precious few of those kits have been worth having, at least in terms of shape and dimensional accuracy, and it seems that the older kits are by far the better ones in terms of overall fidelity to the real thing.
As a case in point we'd like to offer the once-ubiquitous Lockheed T-33. A two-seat outgrowth of the basic P-80 design, it was built in the thousands and flown by air forces (and naval air arms) around the world. There was a time when anyone learning to fly military aircraft in a non-communist country was almost guaranteed to take at least some part of their training in the "T-Bird", and the type survived in service, as a hack and proficiency trainer, long after it had been superseded in actual service in its original design capacity. A great many examples survive to this day and more than a few are flying in civilian hands, which means there are a lot of real ones for the folks who design plastic kits to measure, yet the more recent polystyrene offerings of the type leave a great deal to be desired in terms of accuracy. (Our personal favorite kits are the Hawk offering in 1/48th scale and the Hasegawa kit in 1/72nd, the former of which is a survivor of the 1950s and the latter the early 1970s. Take that with however many grains of salt you'd like, but if we were going to build a T-33 those are the kits we'd start with). That said, we aren't going to offer a detailed look at any of those kits today, but rather a selection of photographs from the type's twilight years in the 1980s, in order to give the modeler an opportunity to build something a little unique. Let us proceed.
Under the Radar
Jay Miller is a name known to most aerospace historians. The series of publications he produced and, in many cases authored, are still considered to be essential references for their subject aircraft. One of those books is the subject of today's feature.
A Great Big Hog
To say that Jim Sullivan likes the Chance Vought F4U Corsair is a lot like saying that people like ice cream. A renowned author of naval aeronautica in general, Jim has made the pursuit of "The Hog", aka "Old Hose Nose", a life's work. He's a modeler as well as an author and photographer, and his display shelves sag under the weight of a substantial number of models of the Corsair. He recently took one of his earlier efforts and re-did it, and was kind enough to provide photos and a description of the adventure. We'll let him explain it to you:
Here's the Trumpeter F4U-1D kit that I had originally converted to an FG-1A. It has now been reworked as a F4U-1A in the VF-17 markings of Butch Davenport's #33 Corsair. The structural changes included the replacement of the front landing gear doors, the matching opening in the wheel wells and the replacement of the kit cowling with a corrected one from Vector and the 'wiring' of the engine. I did little to the cockpit as I had corrected it when I originally built the model. I'm pleased to add this one to my collection. Here's the story of the rebuild.
A number of years ago, probably eight or so, I purchased the 1/32nd Trumpeter F4U-1D Corsair kit. At the time I bought it I wasn't monitoring any of the modeling blogs so I had no advance idea of the built-in 'landmines' that kit contained. I went ahead with basically an OOB build except I used after-market decals. I noted the mis-shaped front landing gear doors and corresponding wheel well openings as well as the completely bogus cowl flaps---I have no idea why I didn't correct them on the original build. The other glaring error in the kit was the inclusion of a floorboard in the cockpit, since the early "U-Birds" didn't have it. Fortunately, I did deal with that by replacing the kit parts with a reasonably good resin cockpit set from True Details. As time passed, I really got tired of looking at that Corsair with the mis-shaped parts and I decided to rebuild it. I used the after-market cowling from Vector and robbed the front wheel covers from an old Revell Corsair. I corrected the wheel well openings with a little #11 surgery. I wired the engine with fine copper 'thread' and that was a pain as I couldn't dislodge the engine from the fuselage...I must have used CA glue on the original build so I had to wire it in a mounted position rather than on the modeling table where it would have far easier. After all the replacement parts had been installed, I re-shot the paint with Model Master enamel using a lightened dark sea blue (out of the bottle, it's a bit dark), the stock intermediate blue and flat white with just a tinge of gull gray added. I then clear gloss coated the areas where the decals would be applied. I went to the decals stash box for the red surround national insignia and pulled the #33 markings for VF-17 pilot, Butch Davenport's 2nd "Lonesome Polecat" which were on EagleCals decal sheet #EC32-20a. After the decals had been applied and dried thoroughly, I shot the entire plane with clear flat to blend the paint and decals. I hope you like the way she turned out.
Many thanks to Jim Sullivan for providing both the photography and the details of this project. With any luck it will inspire you to take a look at the older models on your own shelves and breath new life into one of them. It's the sort of thing we highly recommend.
Runnin' With the Pack
Bobby Rocker has been an essential component of this project from its earliest days. His remarkable collection of Second World War photography has allowed us a window on those days that's both provocative and informative. Here's a photo to illustrate the point.
Last time we ran a Happy Snap for you we presented a photo of an A-7 on a carrier deck. We figured it fit the criteria, even though the aircraft wasn't yet airborne, because it was shot by a naval aviator in an operational setting and because the airplane was from his air wing. We're extending that logic a little bit today and presenting yet another ground-bound image, but it's more than a little bit special. Let's take a look.
The Relief Tube
We only have a couple of entries for you today, so let's get going:
When we ran that "FORD" piece an issue or so back, we totally misidentified a towed target apparatus that was hanging off a port wing station. We received and printed a correction on that one almost before the electrons were dry (can that even happen?), after which we also received corrections from Tommy Thomason and Rick Morgan. Tommy sent along a couple of photos that provide a better view of what's going on here---take it away, Tommy!
Phil, it's a rig for towing a Del Mar (?) high-speed target. I don't remember what the designation was. It could be accommodated on a pylon of various aircraft. Tommy
Here's an F3H with the Del Mar target apparatus in place---note how it positions the target up and away from the airframe. This rig would make a unique addition to any scale model of an airplane that was cleared to use it but it would, to the best of our knowledge, have to be a scratch-build sort of proposition. The resin aftermarket can actually sell yet another set of Spitfire wheels or a new Me109 cockpit, but there's just not enough of a market to justify manufacturing something as esoteric as this. More's the pity! Thomason Collection
Also, one of those F-8s we ran last time around was a little more unique than we thought and no; it's not the obvious one. Let's let Rick Morgan tell us about it.
Phil- That shot of the NATF F-8L you posted is one of those aircraft you used to dream about catching on a ramp because of its rarity. NATF had ten aircraft assigned in June 1972 to support its role developing and testing carrier launch and recovery systems (catapults and arresting gear). This included a pair of A-4Cs and single F-8L, YF-4J, F-4B, A-7A, A-6A, A-3B as well as a U-1B Otter and HH-2C. The facility now normally uses aircraft up from Pax River for work. Rick
Wow---who would've known? (Obviously not me!!!) Thanks, Morgo, and thanks to Mark Nankivil for sharing the photo with us!
One final thing; you may have noticed that we're back on an almost schedule again. We intend to stay on it too, so get ready for the boogie. Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of the sort of thing that lies in store in the months ahead:
Meanwhile, that's it for this issue. We've got some interesting things planned for the near future, so stick around! Until then, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again real soon.