A Perfect Storm
It happens to us all from time to time: We start on a kit with the intention of making it one of our very best, a showpiece in the collection as it were, and then things go wrong and that special project turns brown and smelly, and then goes south in a manner worthy of the headline news. All our time and effort goes gurgling down the drain, and we're left with little of substance to justify our labor. Don't try to tell me it's never happened to you because I don't believe it; not for a minute. It's Confession Time, boys and girls, and I'll go first!
The kit that I've compromised in this, the most recent iteration of an ongoing passion play, is the venerable (and venerated) Monogram AT-6 Texan, a polystyrene offering from the 1970s that is, up to and including the present day, the best available kit of the type available in any scale. It represents an iconic airplane too, one that's served in many air forces and navies, and which is flying in the hands of a myriad of private owners right up to and including this very minute. The airplane, and the Monogram kit of it, are classics.
To be perfectly honest about things, however, those venerated and classic old Monogram kits are, for want of a better term, somewhat cranky to build. It's not a case of bad dimensions, at least not most of the time, and it's not for lack of detail (some of those old Monogram kits have better and far more accurate detail than the very latest of modern wunderkits, so there!). It's not even the raised panel lines, that bane of modern civilization, that causes the Monogram kits to suffer. No; it's all in the fit of the big pieces, and nothing more. Treat any model from The Big M with the same sort of respect that you'd give to any of the more recent Known Bad Actors in our hobby, and I'm specifically thinking of Classic Airframes and similar ilk here, and you won't have any problems with your project. That is, of course, unless you induce those problems yourselves, which takes us to what may eventually become The Point of this discussion.
If you have a good memory, a handy tool to possess considering my current frequency of publication, you'll remember that I started a Monogram T-6 several editions or so ago, and you'll also remember that I promised to keep you abreast of the progress, or lack of same, of said edifice. After that things pretty much went quiet on the T-6 front even though the big pieces all got stuck together, puttied, and sanded, and the resulting semi-completed airframe has been sitting on the shelf, patiently awaiting its turn to be completed. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I more-or-less rediscovered the hulk and decided it was time to finish the model, which is pretty much when things started to go painfully wrong.
For starters, there's the paint. I'd wanted either a post-War SNJ or a T-6G of the same flavor, and I wanted it to be in that deep yellow that, to me at least, typified the Texan family during the '50s. As things turned out I'd accidentally purchased the perfect paint out of the closeout bin in a local hobby shop; a bottle of Floquil CNW Yellow that was not only the right shade of yellow but was also glossy; it was the dream paint for T-6s, SNJs, and Navy T-28s of that era. It was also a Floquil product, which meant it had been discontinued several years before, but I'd found a bottle! Good Fortune was smiling on my project, but not for long.
You might be inclined to think I'd pooched the paint-job, given the overall tone of this missive, but that wouldn't be the case. No; the paint was darn near perfect, even if I do say so myself. Disaster lay in other, post-paint directions.
Let's start with the landing lights, where I'd carefully installed a set of MV lenses, followed by careful blending of the transparent covers that went over them. I still, to this day, don't know why those covers frosted over on the inside like that, but they didn't do it for the months the model sat after they were installed. Instead, they waited until the model was painted, and then they frosted. Colorful language ensued, followed by the-adult-thing-to-do decision to leave well enough alone and move on to the decals. Those would be easy. What could possibly go wrong?
By this time I'd decided that the model would represent a post-War Air Force bird, since I had seen more than a few of them when I was a kid, but for whatever reason I changed my mind, choosing instead to build the SNJ-5 offered in my kit's decals. They seemed thin enough, the markings were accurate, and a yellow Navy bird with orange stripes could be just the ticket so I plunged ahead, starting with the fuselage band---the logic was that it would set the pace for everything else and that it could be easily removed if things went wrong during its application. It seemed like a good idea and it would have been, too, if that orange band hadn't been undercoated with white when it was printed, a process that really popped out the color but made the band more than a little thick, which required multiple applications of Solvaset in order to get it to lie down properly. Said decal solvent was working though, right up to that part where I decided I wanted an Air Force bird after all. The decals were still partially wet, so it would be a simple matter to put a piece of tape on them and just yank them right off of there. That's when I discovered that the aforementioned Solvaset had partially melted the decals right into the model's paint and they weren't going to come off! Sandpaper and a partial re-paint fixed the problem, but if you hold the model up to the light, squint, and hold your tongue just right, you can still see where it says "NAVY" under that pretty yellow. More colorful language ensued, and the increasingly adult Phillip counted his losses and moved on to The Next Disaster, which came as part and parcel of the anti-skid strips on the wings.
Anybody who's ever seen a photo of a real (as opposed to a Warbird) T-6 knows that those anti-skid strips are goofy, because they look like they're on there backwards. I knew that too, so I made careful plans to ensure they went on the right way, side for side, and made a list, checked it twice, and then put them on. That was when I discovered that all my careful planning was for naught and I'd managed to accomplish the very thing I'd planned so hard to avoid. Remember that colorful language part? Ok, 'nuff said.
I'd finally gotten to the part where I had to concede defeat to the model. It had won and I had lost, a status that made my discovery that the post-War T-6 family wears it's wingtip-mounted nav lights on the end of the wingtip rather than on the tops like the kit gives it a moot point.
The kit will be finished, although I'm guessing quite a few of you had surmised that it wouldn't be. It'll be a three-footer, my first in quite a few years, but it'll be on the shelf just the same. Smirking, I'm sure...
Sound of the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" playing in the background. Fade to black...
They Were Never Far Away
The American war effort during World War 2 was a manly thing, fought in an era when relatively few women were in the service and even fewer, not counting those astoundingly brave members of the medical corps, were anywhere near the front lines. That's true, right? Right?
Thanks, as always, to Bobby Rocker, a man who's taken the time and made the effort to collect photography covering all aspects of that war, and who's continued willingness to share that collection has made our understanding of the conflict a little easier. Official via Rocker Collection
This Ain't the Way It's Supposed to Happen
Or, to put it another way, sometimes it goes wrong no matter how good you are. A friend of mine sent me the link below a few years back---it's off a shooting forum but is 110% aviation, and is worth a read. You may even recognize the name of the guy who wrote it...
Shooting Star Redux
It must be Monogram Time around here today, because I've got a couple of photos of yet another product of Morton Grove to share with you!
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
A couple of weeks ago a group of my internet friends began a somewhat lengthy electronic discussion fueled by the last flight of the last flyable Avro Vulcan, an event accompanied by a very public (and, we're equally certain, very illegal) barrel roll as the final hurrah to the end of a most remarkable flying career.
All that discussion, a thread of e-mails and responses that lasted over a period of several days, reminded me that Jim Wogstad and I had made a trip to Randolph AFB back in 1979 to witness the arrival of a Vulcan B Mk 2 from 50 Squadron RAF. Its arrival from its home drome (RAF Waddington) caused quite a stir in Texas and resulted in a unique photo opportunity, a portion of which I'd like to share with you today.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out...
We've been running an informal series of McDonnell F-101 Voodoo shots over the past several issues and we're not done yet! Thanks to Mark Nankivil and the Greater Saint Louis Air and Space Museum, here are a few more photos of the bird for your perusal:
We've got quite a few more Voodoos to share with you, but that's going to have to be an adventure for another day. Many thanks to Mark Nankivil and the folks at the St Louis Air and Space Museum for sharing these images with us!
And the electrons were scarcely dry on the page when I received this comment from Doug Barbier:
That first Voodoo is from the 87th FIS at Lockbourne AFB, OH. You are right, since the Genies were carried internally, you rarely saw one hung on a -101. Just like pulling the plastic safety caps off of the Falcons on the Six - as soon as the load was complete, the last thing that happened was that the caps came off and the rails were retracted. Or the rotary door spun. Made it hard to get photos. Woodoos could not launch any armament with external tanks on, so they gave up most/all of their range when sitting alert. That and it turned them into a real slug, speed wise. Even a Deuce could outrun a Voodoo carrying tanks. Not allowed to jettison tanks on the home country you know....... a single tank configuration was quite common with them - it was the best trade-off between range and drag. Kind of like the 2 bag vs 3 bag F-16A. The c/l tank was empty before you got airborne, so if you carried one, it was merely drag for the entire flight. The only advantage was if you were going to be aerial refueled, it would help from that point on. But the drag vs fuel made it a real close thing even then. Doug
All Beat Up
And really dirty to boot! this shot, once again from Bobby Rocker's collection, shows us how beat to snot an airplane could get in the SWPAC:
The Relief Tube
Letters---we get letters...
But nowadays they aren't all what they seem to be. Not a day goes by that we don't receive a half-dozen or more spam e-mails. Most are from folks who want to sell us ball-bearings, or want us to send money to our new best friend who resides in Name-the-Country, or something else equally silly and obvious. Those things are a nuisance of the highest order and get deleted without being read; everybody who operates a web site gets that sort of thing. It's just part of the cost of doing business, electronic junk mail, as it were.
Lately, though, The Spam Clan have been taking a new approach, using relatively normal (to us, anyway) names and with subject lines that directly relate to something we've previously published in the blog. It's a clever approach, because it's sometimes hard to tell if it's a real communication or just more electronic mischief. It's also potentially dangerous to the site and to the project, since it's impossible to know what sort of malware, spyware, or other nastiness might be embedded in the message. Bad Pookie, as it were, and it's gotten to the point where it has to be dealt with, SO:
Beginning right now this minute, and continuing for as long as I deem it necessary, unless you're a long-time Replica correspondent you need to be really, really specific in your subject lines if you want me to open or respond to your e-mails. Make certain that I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you're a real person (and are who you say you are) writing a real e-mail having to do with something germane to the purpose of this blog. If the subject matter or the name seem at all questionable, the message is going to go straight to the trash can, or whatever they call that sort of thing on a computer. I hate to do it but it's necessary, at least for a while. Be patient!
And that's it for today. Keep those properly-identified electronic cards and letters coming, and we'll meet again soon!
Be good to your neighbor (but don't send them spam!).