Sunday, August 10, 2014
A Day of Dogs and Cats; Uh-Oh, Long Ago and Far Away, A Hellcat, A Nifty Boat, and A Bunch of Other Stuff!
Long ago and far away (or long ago, anyhow), your editor had hair, and said hair was not overrun with the silver and grey so indicative of an increasing seniority on life. You could buy a hamburger for a quarter at Burger Chef, and another quarter would get you fries to go with it. You could, in fact, have a meal for less than a buck if you stuck to the basics. You could buy a new Volkswagen Beetle for $1,200, give or take, or a Corvette for under $7,000. Everybody knew who the Beatles were, and you could still buy a real Coca Cola without having to import it from south of the border. Times were simpler.
Plastic kits of model airplanes were far less prolific in those bye-gone days, and the Scale of Choice for most people was 1/72nd. Airfix and Frog were co-Kings of the serious plastic modeling world, with Revell's burgeoning 1/72nd scale lineup a serious challenger to the throne and a couple of upstarts from the Far East called Hasegawa and Tamiya waiting in the wings. People built Revell B-57s and put them in 1/72nd scale collections claiming/hoping that they were "close enough" to the scale when they were, in reality, far too small. The same thing happened to the by-then ancient Revell F-89D which, in a similar vein, offered the opportunity to possess the only Scorpion in town outside of the tiny one offered in the Monogram Air Power set. Lindberg issued a small series of poorly-done Luftwaffe subjects in the scale and people snapped them up as fast as they could find them. Any kit was better than no kit at all.
Aftermarket didn't exist in any form other than a sheet of styrene, presuming you could find one for sale, and a tube of DuPont Spot and Body Glaze, aka "Green Stuff", was the modeler's best friend. Custom decals were limited to the offerings of ABT, HisAirDec, and a handful of others, and were stiff, thick, and often inaccurate. Testor, Pactra, and Floquil were the paints of choice, with the difficult-to-obtain Scalemaster, Frontier HQ, and Official lines offering slow-to-dry and dubiously tinted colors as "serious" alternatives to the more mainstream offerings. Airbrushes were generally Binks or Paasche single-action units and few people owned them. Weathering was limited to exhaust stains and heavily-overdone gun streaks if it was done at all.
All of the "good" scale modeling periodicals came out of Great Britain back then, with America's Scale Modeler offering a distant third or fourth-best Colonial alternative, and various IPMS/USA chapter publications offered the only serious insight into the potential of the hobby.
Things began to change in the late 1960s, with the arrival of Monogram's 1/48th and 1/72nd scale P-51Bs, kits that are laughed at nowadays but were ground-breaking in their day; their arrival was equal in stature to the buzz created by the release of Tamiya's recent 1/32nd scale F4U-1. Better and better kits followed apace and we eventually arrived, year by year and product by product, at the present time. Airplanes we never thought we'd see kitted are now being kitted, and we've got aftermarket, kits, references, decals, and paint quite literally coming out of our ears. We're inundated. Swamped. And, for the truly serious scale modeler, we aren't that much better off than we were way back in 1968.
Consider this: Those of us who build in 1/48th scale have waited years for a decent kit of any Grumman F9F-6 through -8 variant, and now we have a Cougar tub, with promised single-seaters to follow. We've wanted a single-seat McDonnell Voodoo of any flavor in that scale for just as long, and now we've got one. One of the major players recently decided to do the ultimate mid-war Me109G for us, and we got it too. All of those kits were highly anticipated, and all of them were major let-downs when they arrived; the F-101 and F9F-8T were both difficult to build and inaccurate to a considerable degree, while the much-bandied 109 was just too darned big for its scale, in addition to possessing some accuracy issues of its own. Given what came before, all three of those kits should have been as near to perfect as a plastic model airplane could be, but they aren't nearly as accurate as the kits Monogram was beginning to produce back in the late 1960s and are often as difficult, if not more so, to build in terms of fit. Where's the improvement? We certainly can't see one.
The point is simple. Those of us who were building back in The Day were ecstatic to get any new kit, no matter how poor it might have been (and a great many of them were damned poor), because that new kit gave us a shot at building something we couldn't have built before. The same thing could have been said about each new decal sheet or new manufacturer jumping into the game. We were grateful! We probably should be grateful for that big 101 we just got as well, and really grateful for the two-seat Cougar, except that after 45+ years those kits should have been a whole lot better than they are, and they're so far from the standards that Monogram, among others, set back in the aforementioned late 60s that some of our more knowledgeable friends won't even buy certain of the new kits, much less build them. Time marches on, technology improves the breed, and we're still getting kits that in some respects can't play on the same field with models the boys from Morton Grove were producing four decades ago. It is, if we accept the premise that there's a learning curve that should have been imprinted a long time ago, time for certain plastic model manufacturers to get with the program, if you catch our drift.
Funny how the circle is a wheel...
How Do You Spell "Potpourri"?
We don't know either, but it's been a long time since we've published anything and we've accumulated a fair amount of stuff over the past few weeks, some of which is pretty neat, so we're going to temporarily deviate from our normal format and publish a few of the better things we've received of late, plus some airplane pictures. We hope you enjoy the show!
Rick Morgan found this one while surfing the internet and passed it on. It's pretty remarkable in and of itself and yes; it's a real photograph, not photo-shopped, of a real airplane that really did what the picture illustrates.
Well, there is only one way to do it and that is to forget to lock the wings after they have been folded down. Unlike the USN Phantoms ( I think), the USAF versions could not fold and lock the wings from the cockpit, it had to be done by the ground crew. We frequently put 3 jets together in a shelter at Selfridge - you stopped short, they folded the wings and you taxied in with about 18" on either side - almost like parking on a carrier. When you pulled out you stopped, they unfolded the wings, locked them (separate step) and off you went. The only indication that the wings weren't locked was a small pin (think half the length of your index finger and about the same diameter) that stuck up just inside the fold line. It was supposed to be painted red. That was it. No warning lights, nothing else. In the one I know about from Kef, both pins were painted gray - the same color as the wings - which made them very hard to see. The ground crew folded the wings down but forgot to lock them, the WSO did not see the pins sticking up (you couldn't see them from the front seat) and as they rotated for takeoff, both wings folded up from the air load. That was the saving grace - if only one had folded it would have been all over. But double ugly being the brute it was, the pilot just delayed the rotation a bit and they went flying. Since it was a maintenance test hop, they weren't loaded with the 3 external fuel tanks they normally carried, which was another very good thing as they would undoubtedly have exceeded the tire limit speed before they got going fast enough to fly with that much weight.They launched a chase ship to see what was going on, which was where the pictures came from - cameras were required on all alert jets to photograph the "opposition" and the WSOs were used to taking photos- burned down gas, did a controllability check to see what speed they were going to have to fly on final and landed. The only other photo I have seen was taken from underneath and behind the jet. I am "assuming" that it only happened once, but will have to find that other photo to see if they were carrying CAP-9s. It would be sad if they managed to do it twice! BTW---most of the ground crew at Kef had never seen an F-4 until they got to the Island. Most were C-141 or SAC guys getting their "required" remote tour and they showed up knowing absolutely nothing about the jets. Ditto for the T-birds. The mx chief on them had assembled them from crates but the other guys had never seen one before, which was the reason my 2 piece T-33 tailpipe became a "shorty" in flight - with the aft end of the exhaust pipe sticking out the rear end and the middle resting on the bottom of the fuselage - they remembered to bolt it to the engine but forgot to bolt the two portions together in the middle. When it fell apart in flight, it was not conducive to providing the jet much in the way of thrust and did a very good job of lighting up the overheat warning light - at 4,000' and 85 miles out over some very cold water - it took 83% rpm to maintain level flight and the overheat light went on a 82%. We dumped all the chaff to lighten it up, set the power at 82% and had a hundred feet or so of altitude left coming over the coast line, straight-in to the east-west runway... You learned to preflight!
And who'da thunk it? Thanks, Rick and Doug!
It Ain't Like It Used To Be
Back in the days of The Silver Air Force, each May saw every Air Force base worth its salt holding an open house in honor of Armed Forces Day. Constant reader Norm found one of those air shows on You Tube and sent us this link. Sit back, grab a Cold One, and take a gander at the stuff some of us grew up with!
The way we were, in a manner of speaking. Thanks, Norm!
A Spiffy Cat
Old friend Jim Sullivan seems to have taken yet another sabbatical from Chance Vought's immortal F4U to produce an interesting model of another Navy fighter from the Second World War. The markings are unique, and Jim provided a photo of the actual airplane to go with it.
It's the 1/48th Hasegawa F6F-3 and was a pleasure to build. When I saw the photo of the actual plane, the markings were quite unusual and I just knew I had to build it. It's from a Navy squadron that was island-based out in the South Pacific in 1944. Although I've tried, I have yet to nail down the actual squadron it was assigned to. My thanks go out to Pip Moss and Joseph Osborn who made possible the custom decals for the plane and pilot's name. It's pretty much an OOB build with the exception of the Eduard instrument panel and the TD weighted wheels and vac canopy. It's airbrushed with MM enamels. A fun build for sure and I hope you like the way she turned out.
Not One You See Every Day
You may be familiar with the various flying boats produced by the American aviation industry prior to the United State's entry into the Second World War. They were large, most of them, and designed to span the oceans of the world. The Pan American station at Wake Island, as well as those in other places in the far reaches of the pacific, were established to support a facet of air transport called "Clippers" (a PanAm term that apparently took off, no pun intended, and was generically applied to the whole gamut of aircraft which fell into the trans-Pacific flying boat category). That terrible war accelerated the development and employment of the big boats and the end of the conflict saw them relegated to history, but they were something when they were in their prime. Thanks to Bobby Rocker, we have an opportunity to view one of those clippers, but not in the guise you might expect.
It's All in the Details
Which is as good a way as any to describe our next photo.
USMC via Rocker Collection
It's no secret that we've got an interest in the events and aircraft of The Great War, and we've even built a few models of them for the collection, including several examples of that most graceful of First World War German fighters, the Albatros. The boys at Eduard made a great deal of their reputation for manufacturing superior plastic kits off their renditions of the Albatros DIII and DV, and those kits have been in production for quite a few years, which makes it odd indeed that both are possessed of significant problems concerning their undercarriage.
Of the two aircraft, the DIII has the simplest problem in terms of fixability (a word I sort-of made up on the spot, although I think the hot rod guys use it quite a bit too). Its wheels are too small in diameter, which makes the whole airplane look a little odd as a result. The solution to that particular problem is a simple one; call Roy over at Barracuda and ask him to sell you a set of his Albatros wheels. They're the right size and offer more detail than the kit parts to boot---it doesn't get much simpler than that.
That's the fix for the DIII. The DV, our personal favorite of the pair (of course!) has an issue far more profound. Here's a photo that explains it far better than we can with words:
You can buy a set of replacement struts from the really nice guy who runs Pheon over in England, should you be so inclined, but he's frequently out of stock on the item. We've been trying to persuade an American manufacturer of resin bits and pieces to work up a replacement for them and that may or may not happen---we have no way of knowing. What we do know is that Eduard seems to have no plans to replace those struts any time soon. The kit sells well as-is, so why should they, right? (Wrong!)
Anyway, if you're going to build an Albatros DV or DVa for your very own collection you're going to have to fix those struts if you want it to look right. Just sayin'...
A Tale of Lost Love
It's Rocker Day around here, we suppose, but Bobby's recently provided us with a whole slew of photos from the SWPAC and we figured we should share a few of them with you. for example:
And While We're on the Subject of Mud
Here's another image from the Rocker collection to show how bad things can be, even when they're good.
Reader John Horne sent us a bunch of A-26 Invader photography a while back (a practice that we whole-heartedly encourage; that address is firstname.lastname@example.org ). While we've already run a few of them, there are certainly more to go so without further ado...
We've still got a few shots from John's collection yet to run, but we're saving them for another day. If you can't wait until then and need another A-26 fix right now this minute, might we suggest that you sashay over to Gerry Kersey's 3rd Attack.Org site, which we link to on this blog. Gerry's doing a great job of preserving the heritage of the 3rd and his site is well worth the visit. Tell him Replica in Scale sent you!
A Warbird You Don't See Every Day
A couple of years ago we showed you a Pilatus P.2 trainer, formerly of the Swiss Air Force, undergoing restoration near Liberty Hill, Texas. She's complete now, and here's what she looks like:
Long Ago and Far Away
Although Greenland is a relatively long way from anywhere, it's also approximately halfway to everywhere, or at least it is if your idea of everywhere coincides with the distance between the United States and Western Europe. Back in the 50s it was normal for American fighter units to stop there when transiting between the two continents. An example of that is shown to us today thanks to the kindness of Mark Morgan.
In keeping with today's theme (a little bit of this and a little bit of that), here's a bit of photography that could have been termed gorgeous had we not defaced it in order to deter The Picture Pirates from stealing it to publish elsewhere:
The Relief Tube
Of which there isn't one today, except to say that we've decided that, effective this issue, we're going to run any photograph we know for certain to be of official origin sans (that means "without", in case you're a Picture Pirate and don't know what the definition of that word is) watermarking. We think it's the right thing to do.
On the other hand, we're going to continue to watermark anything we receive from any contributor that has been either photographed by them or is from their collection. Those of our readership who have grown up with the hobby in our contemporary age of Right Click and Save probably don't have much of a perspective on that whole provenance thing, but those of us who earned our spurs in print can tell you how difficult it is to search out the guys with the photography and, oftentimes, persuade them that it's ok to allow their photos to be copied and put into print, electronic or otherwise. Citing provenance is the right thing to do, and stealing (as opposed to copying for one's own private collection) is not. Just sayin'...
And that's it for this time. We had what seemed to be a non-stop series of personal events going on over the past six weeks or so which contributed in great measure to our present delinquency, but we'll try to do better in the future. Then again, we've made that promise before, haven't we?
Anyway, we're going to try! In the meantime, be good to your neighbor. We'll do our best to see you again soon!