Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Plastic Dog is Done, Echo Uglies, The Last Thing You'd Expect to See, and Some Arachnids

So Whaddaya Want, Egg in Your Beer?

A few days ago I was performing my daily ritual of scanning the various scale modeling boards I visit, reading those forums I steadfastly refuse to put in this project, when I came upon a link to the soon-to-be released, brand spanking new Not A Copy of Anything Else 1/32nd scale Fw190F-8 from Revell. Luftwaffe aircraft that served on the Eastern Front are a specific aviation interest of mine so I clicked on that link with great anticipation and was greeted by a color photograph of a nicely-built ground attack Wurger. The model in that photo looked pretty good to me, especially since its real-world retail price would be less than half that of its only competitor in the scale, the Hasegawa kit. You could say it got my interest.

There were no comments tacked on to the entry at the time I read it; I must have come in right after it had been published. OK, then; nothing else to read here so let's move on to something else, which is what I did. Several hours later it was time for lunch, and I'd chosen to eat at my desk that day so I clicked back into that forum so I'd have something to read while I ate. Scanning down the list of recent posts, I found the Focke Wulf review again, but by then several comments had been appended to the original post, one of, if not the very first of which, was bashing the kit for having undersized bulges and an incorrect hinge line on the cowling. That post was followed by one defending the kit, which was in turn followed by a series of point/counterpoint rebuttals.

That made me start thinking about the whole deal. The kit had just been announced, an appealing photograph of a nicely-built model had been released to the public, and the drama had begun---it was the initial release of the Eduard Me109G-6 all over again! Then again, maybe it wasn't. Presuming the kit doesn't have any other major flaws, and presuming those bulges really are drastically undersized, all we really have is an opportunity. My guess is that any number of resin aftermarket companies are waiting in the wings, anxious to get their hands on a kit so they can release a resin correction set for however much of the cowling is gomed-up. Let's presume that the cowling is the only thing we have to contend with, and let's take a look at what some folks might call the worst case.

Let's say that cowling really is messed up, and those bulges and that hinge really do require fixing. Let's take the next step and say that somebody creates and release a resin correction set for same, and offers it for sale for ten or fifteen bucks. What do we have at the end of the day? Let's consider:

The Hasegawa 190 kits in this scale that I've been seeing for sale of late were all in the $75-100 USD range.The new Revell kit will likely go for 1/3rd to 1/2 of that if they follow their normal pricing structure. Add ten bucks or so for the inevitable replacement cowling and you're still saving a bundle by buying the Revell kit. Finally, consider that you bought the kit to build it, and modeling is modeling whether you're using the component supplied in the kit or a new one of resin. It all works out pretty much the same when all's said and done.

When we look at it that way, what's all the fuss about? As far as I know, nobody's ever released The Perfect Model Airplane kit, and I seriously doubt anybody ever will. In my world, fixing or replacing that cowling just adds to the fun of the thing. I build for fun, and I'll bet most of you do too. It's just my opinion, but I think that those of us who are interested in building a big FockeWulf ought to buy the kit, build it, and enjoy the experience presuming, of course, that there's nothing else so significantly wrong with the kit that fixing the cowling becomes pointless. I'm looking forward to it.

Enough said!

Iron Dog Revisited

When last we met, we discussed at some length the way to eliminate that nasty step between the canopy and fuselage on the Eduard P-39 family of kits. The photos you saw in that thrilling installment of the project could have been a big old hint that there was a model in the works, which there was. It's rare that I ever actually finish a project these days, but I managed to more or less complete that P-39, so here it is in all its Eduardian splendor!

Although most of us tend to think of the 49th FG when we think of The Bad Old Days of 1942 in the Pacific, the simple fact of the matter is that the 8th FG was the first to get to New Guinea, initially to Milne Bay and then to Port Moresby, where they held the line against the Japanese alongside Australia's 75 and 76 squadrons, who were flying P-40Es. The first American kill in New Guinea was scored by a pilot from the 8th; Lt Donald "Fibber" McGee, who accomplished the feat in a P-39D that was still wearing its pre-War corcardes on the wings and fuselage. He was flying 41-6941 when he scored that victory, and as luck would have it his airplane is relatively easy to model. The completed kit is the same Eduard P-39 we looked at last time around, with decals scrounged from here and there. The only tough markings to source were the nickname ("Nip's Nemesis") that was painted over the exhaust stacks and that letter "Q" on the nose. Fortunately for the sake of this project, the late-but-not-necessarily-lamented AeroMaster did a 1/48th scale P-39 sheet that included the markings for McGee's "Nip's Nemesis II". With the name and the aircraft-in-squadron letter in hand, the rest of the model was a piece of cake.

This photo shows the other side of the airplane, and provides us with a graphic illustration of why everybody says the wings on the Eduard P-39D are too thick---they are, although they're not so thick as to keep the finished model from looking good. Of more concern, at least to me, is the way the kit represents the wing guns. I didn't do anything about them on this model but probably will on the next one. And yes, Virginia; I know I haven't weathered the landing gear or gear doors yet. Patience!
Whether you like the way it looks or not is a matter of personal taste, but it was done with pastels no matter which way you lean regarding that subject. The interior is 100% stone stock with the exception of a set of belts and harnesses, although Eduard's Profipak version of the kit can provide you with all the bells and whistles if you need them for your own P-39.

So here's the bottom line, folks. The "Eduard Step" in their P-39 kit doesn't really exist, and whether it appears on a completed model or not is entirely a function of how well you perform your initial assembly when you're building the kit. To take things a step further, the kit provides us with the raw materials necessary to build a model that looks like a P-39, thick wing notwithstanding. Some modeling skills are required to get to that point, to be sure, but those skills are minimal in this instance. Finally, with Hasegawa kits being priced the way they are at the moment, the Eduard Airacobra suddenly becomes the deal of the day, so to speak. I've seen non-Profipak offerings of the basic kit for as little as $15 from time to time, and the average price for a full-blown Profipak offering seems to hover around thirty bucks or so, while the slightly better-detailed and far newer Hasegawa kits seem to go for around twice that. All the Eduard offering requires is a little elbow grease and TLC and you're there. It seems like a no-brainer to me!

Double Ugly Strikes Again!

I've been running a lot of F-4s lately, and the reader response that's been coming my way suggests that more than a few of you are enjoying the show. Rarely one to give up on a good thing, I've decided it's time for a few more Phantoms for your edification and entertainment. This time around we're going to look at a few E-models, with no rhyme or reason to the selection of the images shown other than that they're all post-Vietnam era. Let's see what we've got!

72-0140 was assigned to the 422nd FWS, 57th FWW, when Bill Peake shot her on the ramp at Nellis in 1980. She's in classic SEA warpaint in this view and the shot illustrates the ground activity that makes up such a significant portion of a tactical fighter's life. Later converted to QF-4E status, 0140 managed to survive two Air Force careers to join the US air show circuit after the turn of the last century (and boy; does it ever feel funny saying that!). As far as we know she's still around, a proud survivor of her species.   William Peake

The time was June of 1981 and the place the 57th FWW's ramp at Nellis. Every once in a while photos show up in the collection sans provenance (that means I don't know who sent the picture to me!), and this is one of those. I strongly suspect Marty Isham to be the culprit in this instance, but whoever the Mystery Photographer is, he needs to identity himself so I can properly credit the image. In the meantime, let's enjoy a ramp full of F-4s when they were in their prime!  Friddell Collection

Conversely, I do know who shot this photo! John Dienst was out doing what he does best, prowling an Air Force ramp with a camera, when he snapped 67-0327's portrait. She was assigned the 347th TFW in May of 1984, and had assumed the grey and greens camouflage so representative of the Group during that time frame. Check out that red star on her splitter plate---she popped a MiG-21 over North Vietnam in September of 1972. Most F-4s didn't survive the smelter, but 0327 ended up on public display in a park near Luke AFB. That's fitting, we think!   John Dienst

By 1984, the 57th FWW had partially gone Lizard, as depicted by 66-0379, shot by Kirk Minert on the ground at Nellis in September of that year. She ended up with the Turkish Air Force in 1987, but was in her golden years with the USAF when Kirk took her portrait here.  Kirk Minert

The F-4E was a fully-capable fighter-bomber by the mid-80s, and could carry a wide selection of weapons and their associated pods. 68-0373, of the 347th TFW's 68th TFS, was photographed carrying a Pave Spike pod at Nellis in April of 1986. She was one of the unlucky ones that succumbed to an operational accident---she took a bird strike over the Oconee Swamp in Georgia in October of that year and went down, taking one crew member with her. Military aviation has never been safe...    Rick Morgan

Although we're primarily covering USAF "Echos" in this edition of our ongoing salute to the F-4, Mark Morgan was on the 110th TFS/131st TFW's ramp in St Louis in December of 1986 and shot a couple of birds we just had to share with you today. 68-0528 is our Plain Jane of the shoot, as long as you consider a Phantom wearing a big honkin' sharkmouth to be a Plain Jane! She's podded and carrying Mk76 practice bombs on her TERs. Later in her life she was transferred to the Turkish AF and in 1991 she crashed to destruction, taking her pilot with her.   Mark Morgan

68-0338 was also a MoANG bird, but is wearing a tasty outfit of ACM greys along with that sharkmouth. A close look at her splitter plate reveals a surprise; one MiG kill painted with another going on while our intrepid photographer was there. Both kills were scored over North Vietnam during 1972, and the airplane ended up being a display aircraft for the Missouri Air Guard after her retirement.   Mark Morgan

Here's a close-up of 0338's scoreboard detailing her kills. The paint was scarcely dry on that lower kill when Mark shot this image, illustrating either the skilled professionalism or unbridled insanity of the typical aviation photographer! We're kidding about that, of course---Mark is one of the most accomplished and professional aerospace photographers we know, and we're delighted he took this shot. This is an "Echo" well worth modeling, we think!   Mark Morgan

Wing commander's aircraft tend to be on the pretty side, as exemplified by this 37th TFW F-4E taxiing in at Nellis in October of 1987. There's a lot of color on her tail but it would barely compromise her ability to hide at speed and at the altitudes she'd most likely be flying in a combat scenario. We'd like to tell you more about the airplane, but there's no serial number visible so we can't! If you've got more information on her, please drop us a line at and let us know a little more about her. It's the right thing to do!   Marty Isham

Here's a wing commander's bird that is identified! 73-1184 was assigned to the 4th TFW in October of 1987 when Marty Isham snapped this gorgeous portrait of her on the ground at Nellis. She survived her stint with the regular USAF to become a QF-4E drone, and was still extant as late as 2011.    Marty Isham

Many moons ago we showed you a black-and-white of an unidentified F-4E I shot on the ground at Bergstrom during the RAM 88 photo recon meet. She wasn't a participant but was just passing through, but her overall Mil-P-8585 primer coat, totally unadorned with any other markings, insured that she stuck out like a sore thumb! You don't see this sort of thing very often, do you? Anybody out there care to build a unique model of a Phantom?   Friddell

Let's end today's "Echo" Essay with this Air Force shot of the 57th's 68-0358 dropping bombs over the Nellis range. She ended up with the New Jersey ANG in 1990, and then on to South Korea in 1991. This photo of her while she was in her salad days is as good a way as any to end our day with the F-4, but stand by; there are more "Bugsuckers" to come! It's just a matter of time!    Isham Collection

What's He Doing Here?

It must seem like I'm always bragging about the photography that comes our way thanks to the generosity of Bobby Rocker, but the simple fact of the matter is that his collection is filled to the brim with unique and seldom-seen images. Take this one, for example:

In our Last Thing You'd Ever Expect to See category, we have this Culver  TDC-2 Cadet, come to grief in MAG-45's area on Falalop Airfield at Ulithi Atoll late in the War. The aircraft was originally designed as an aerial target, although it's difficult to imagine a need for "domestic" aerial targets in an operational theater full of the real thing. Still, someone thought it necessary to get at least one of them out to the AO; I wonder if one of the short-run Czech model manufacturers would consider kitting this one!   Rocker Collection

Shiny Scorpions

A few years back, John Kerr dropped me an e-mail to ask if I'd be interested in "a couple of neat airplane pictures" he'd come across. Anybody who knew Maddog also knew that his idea of a "neat" airplane picture could be be well-worth looking at, so I jumped at the chance and told him to send them on. He did, and I indulged in the appropriate oohs and ahs when they arrived. Then I filed them away and promptly forgot about them until earlier this week, when I re-discovered them. Here's what I found:

The F-89 family once held the fate of the United States in its slow and unwieldy hands, a sluggish and poor-performing interceptor that was the best we had to offer until the advent of Convair's deltas and their incorporation into the ADC. 53-2599 was an F-89D assigned to the 23rd FIW's 74th FIS, operating out of Thule AB in Greenland during the mid-1950s. "My Mommie II" is a gorgeous example of the type, and illustrates why the F-89 has such an appeal to aviation historians and modelers.   Mike Martinolick via John Kerr

Here's what the other side of the airplane looks like, shot as she taxis out at Thule. The front half of the F-89D's wing tanks served as a repository for an arsenal of 2.75-in FFARs, which explains the staining behind that big star on the front of the tank; 2599 has recently expended a load of rockets. If you're building a Scorpion and are interested in weathering it, that tank is one of the few places where such a thing would be appropriate.   Mike Martinolick via John Kerr

A four-ship of the 74th looks pretty for the camera aircraft over Thule. The aircraft in the foreground shows evidence of rocket firing, which adds additional detail to the staining not found in the photo of 2599.  As an interceptor the F-89 was a dog in the truest sense of the word, but it sure looked neat!   Kerr Collection

Although you might think this is yet another shot of F-89s over Thule, you'd be mistaken. 52-2152 is an F-89D from the 59th FIS and is not from the Kerr collection, but it's a pretty shot and it fits right into the them of this essay. The Scorpion was a big airplane, and the best we had for several years in terms of bomber defense, but it was always an interim interceptor at best. Its looks definitely obscured its lack of performance!   Smart via Isham Collection

And Another Thing...

I was in Hill Country Hobby in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago and found a Tamiya Fw190A-8 on the consignment shelves for what could only be described as an outstanding price. Since the kit is basically accurate once you get past the wheels, landing gear, and wing root gun access covers, and since I like that sort of thing (FockeWulfs, that is), buying it was a no-brainer. While I was paying for the kit I mentioned to Gary, the owner of that fine establishment, that the model was an easy weekend sort of project because everything fit so well on it, which led me to think some more on the subject while I was driving home. Here's the result of that rare burst of creative thought on my part:

This is an almost stone-stock 1/48th scale Tamiya Fw190A-8, but with a couple of minor improvements. The pitot tube and guns have been replaced by brass units courtesy of Master, while a set of Eduard harnesses grace the pilot's seat. The biggest change, and the one that made the most difference to the appearance of the model, was the addition of a set of late-War smooth-tread wheel/tire assemblies taken from a donor Eduard FockeWulf kit. That simple addition improves the kit's "sit" immensely, and makes the completed airplane look a look more like a real Fw190. The best part is that I didn't have to buy them since I've got several sets in the spares bin! There's also a stretched sprue antenna wire on the model, done in the droopy, no-retraction-reel-on-the-canopy late War Fw190 style.

The model represents an Fw190A-8 from JG-6 on the Eastern Front at the end of the War. The paint is my favorite ModelMaster enamel (the paint line so often discredited by the internet "experts"), and the decals are from wherever I could find them in my decal collection. More to the point of this ramble, the kit was begun on a Saturday morning and completed on the following Sunday---the entire project took approximately 7 hours from start to finish. I still need to paint the tip of the pitot tube, of course, but those of you who have followed this blog from its beginning know that there's always something left over for me to do before the model's actually completed. That's how I build things!

Anyway, the point is this: Every once in a while I get the bug to just build something and get it on the shelf. Most any recent Tamiya kit is a slam-dunk sort of thing, which makes a true weekend build an easy thing to do; instant gratification, as it were. The end result of this particular effort was an attractive (to me, at least; your mileage may differ) model of an airplane I wanted to add to my collection, and it took virtually no effort to get there. In my world it's good for the soul, and I thought I'd share the philosophy with you.

And now, it's time to get back to sanding seams on that Academy F-4J!

Happy Snaps

We're going off in a different direction with Happy Snaps today, thanks to an image sent to us early last week by Rick Morgan.

When Rick sent this photo he captioned it "And the boss said: Stand by to start jets!", a line often heard by Rick during his days in the NAV and an image appropriate for those of our readers who have recently experienced the severe winter weather that's graced portions of the northern and northeastern United States of late. The photo was taken during a NorPac cruise on the Coral Sea during 1983 and illustrates a facet of daily life aboard an aircraft carrier that we rarely get to see.   Navy via Rick Morgan

The Relief Tube

A funny thing happened on the way to the Blog. I was getting ready to begin extracting comments for this section and my e-mail started acting goofy, which caused me to shut it down immediately. I doubt it was being compromised but you just never know, and I'm a Better Safe Than Sorry kind of a guy so there you go; no Relief Tube today!

And then again, maybe there will be, sortof. A couple of hours after publishing this edition of the blog I received an e-mail from Gerry Kersey over at 3rd Attack.Org reminding me that the white OA-10A shot I'd run last issue and credited to Bobby Rocker's collection had actually been photographed by, and was from the collection of, Fred Hill. Apologies to Fred, Gerry, and Bobby for the gaffe, and the correction has been made! Thanks, Gerry, for your patience!

That said, we're going to stick a fork in this edition and call it Done. I've been receiving some really neat material of late so stay tuned---there's some Good Stuff to come. Until then, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.


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