Friday, November 18, 2016
Even More Neptunes, An Evocative Cat Shot, Another Forty-Niner, A Pair of Classy Rides, The Herky Bird in Her Element, and A Treasure
It Can't Be That Hard, Can It?
To cut straight to the chase, as it were, I've had an opportunity to build quite a bit over the last several months and that opportunity has led to an observation of sorts. It's one of those things you've probably noticed in your own world too but maybe never thought too much about, or maybe you thought about it a lot. Either way, it's one of those Fundamental Philosophy kind of things that we all encounter from time to time (and for once I didn't succumb to the temptation to say "phundamental" instead of the real word "fundamental"---your thanks and gratitude are appreciated even though I'll probably revert to form again at some later date), and here's what we're talking about:
Let's presume your own personal production rate is prolific enough that you crank out a model airplane every month or so, or maybe even more frequently than that. Let's also presume that your modeling interests are sufficiently varied to allow you to build a variety of subjects, making use of kits from a variety of manufacturers in the course of your endeavors. Finally, let's make the assumption that you pay attention to what you're doing and actually take notice of what's in the boxes those kits come in, and then let's think for a minute in the semi-abstract, ignoring things like accuracy, the level of detail, or whatever else may normally consume your attention when you first pop the lid open on that brand new kit. Let's be very literal, ya'll, and only consider those pieces sitting in the box and what you can make from them. (Aha! they said in unison as their comprehension of his latest bout of madness set in!)
Ok; maybe you aren't getting it quite yet---I tend to be somewhat obtuse on my best days and pretty much incomprehensible on my bad ones---so I'll explain.
For starters, let's take the 1/48th scale Tamiya Bf109E and examine the pieces sitting in the box. Think about what you see in there and what you can actually do with the kit and you'll figure out pretty quickly that The Big T have released the model as a couple of different variants (the E-3 and E-4/E-7), yet the only difference between one kit and another are the decals and the windscreen and canopy set. Those kits are variant specific, period, which can be expensive if you're paying full retail for one of them and aren't entirely certain where you want to go with the model.
Now let's examine the several year old Airfix model of the same airplane. (Yes; the canopy for the E-4 is well and truly gomed up and there are a few other piddly issues as well, but remember we aren't talking accuracy right now.) It includes multiple windscreens and both canopy styles, a tropical filter, an aux tank with rack, ordnance, and different wings to cover the armament differences between the variants. As far as I know all those goodies are in all the different boxings of that kit, allowing you to build pretty much any 109E variant no matter which kit you purchase.
Or, how about the Me109G-10 in 1/32nd scale? Hasegawa has a kit of what we'll call the "normal" G-10 variant with not much in the way of optional parts in the box, and it sells in the mid-70 dollar range in the United States. Revell/Germany recently issued their own kit of the G-10, but in the less commonly found Erla-produced variation, and that kit includes three different tailwheel covers, two different tailwheel legs specific to the G-10, three different types of rudder (actually four if you consider they also provide a standard "small" tail with the model as well), three different tire/wheel assemblies, two oil cooler assemblies, and two canopies. They didn't include wing inserts to cover those Erla-built G-10s that featured the earlier, small wing bulges, but that's about all they missed and the model goes for 26 bucks here in South Texas. Yes, there are corrections required and the aftermarket resin guys do well with the kit, but it's so inexpensive to start with that it really doesn't matter very much in the long run and I can't think of any other manufacturer out there who can offer that much value for under thirty dollars. If you happen to be on a budget and you want a G-10, this kit very nearly has it all. Shazbot!
Tamiya isn't the only offender when we're talking about one variant per box, of course. Take a look at Eduard's revamped Me109G (and now F) families of kits. There are currently a number of releases offered of those airplanes and they're all variant-specific, but there honestly aren't that many differences from one round-nosed 109 to another until you start hitting the late-War variations, so all the different components necessary for any F or G-1 through mid-War G-6 could easily go in one boxing with the later variants in another, and I suspect Eduard could keep their current pricing even with the inclusion of all the "extras" that would entail. In point of fact, those new Eduard 109s are chock full of "extra" parts marked not-for-use, so one kit can build quite a few sub-variants. They just don't advertise it that way, thus encouraging the unsuspecting to buy lots of "different" kits for little reason other than, maybe, the decals.
And the Beat Goes On (and on, and on), but wouldn't it be nice if the various manufacturers would put all the stuff for the minor variations of a particular aircraft in the same box instead of spreading it out over a bunch of individual kits? The very same Eduard that offers all those different 109 kits released their seminal P-39 with everything for every Airacobra variant and you can quite literally build any P-39 production model ever built, other than the American TP-39 or Soviet-modified two-seat trainers, right out of the box regardless of what the kit is called. Eduard has re-released the model numbers times as different variations, but the only difference between any of them has been the instructions and decals and whether or not the kit was a "ProfiPak" or "Weekend Edition" offering. Once again we'e talking about lots of kits issued but the same stuff, and a lot of it, in the box. In the Old Days we called that "value for money and, speaking of that very thing:
Love them or hate them, the once-revered Monogram used to do exactly that sort of thing back in the early and mid-60s, providing enough extra stuff in their kits to allow us to build an assortment of variations from any particular kit. They weren't always correct in what they offered in those boxes but that's not the point---they took the trouble to do it rather than adding a small extra sprue and forcing us to buy a new kit if we wanted a different variant of a specific airplane. It was a good way to do things back then and I humbly submit that it's a good way to do it now as well, so hats off to the reborn Airfix, Revell of Germany, and the handful of others who go the extra mile to provide the serious scale modeler with value for money in their kits.
Hey kit manufacturers, do you hear that thumping sound? That's Opportunity knocking! How about it?
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out
Two issues ago we ran a feature on early Lockheed P2V Neptunes for your edification and entertainment, but that edition hadn't been up for even 24 hours when we received another photo, this time from Mark Nankivil, that we absolutely positively have to run today!
We really meant that Safe to Come Out part too, because a casual conversation with old friend and Replica contributor Jim Sullivan turned to that very same Navy patrol bomber the other day, which in turn resulted in a few more P2V and P-2 shots you really need to see, which takes us to
The Son of Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out!
We've known Jim Sullivan since the mid-1970s, and the depth of his collection has never failed to amaze us. Here are a few examples of P2V-related collection depth depth for your perusal:
Jim was kind enough to provide us with a number of Neptune photos for this essay, but we're going to stay with the Glossy Sea Blue birds for today. We'll finish things up with a few dogs and cats next time around---stay tuned!
A Patrol Bomber of a Different Flavor
Since we're on a patrol bomber kick around here it's probably time to illustrate an airplane that wasn't manufactured by the folks at Lockheed. This shot from Bobby Rocker's collection that defines the breed to some extent:
Protect and Avenge
Yep; we're talking about one of our all-time favorite SWPAC fighter groups; the 49th, and we're going to offer you yet another photograph from the ever-remarkable Rocker collection:
Thanks as always to Bobby for his ongoing generosity and for his dedication to finding and preserving images such as these for posterity!
USAFE Hot Rods
Ok, not really, but the photo we're about to share with you does have a theme of sorts:
There's not a whole lot to say about Lockheed's amazing C-130/L-100 family of transports that hasn't already been said many, many times before, but we found some more Mystery Meat in the collection a couple of weeks ago and the photos are worth sharing with you today. Let's see what we've got this time!
We haven't done a whole lot in the way of military transports around here and it may be getting close to time to do something about that situation. What do you think? (You know the address, right?)
Well Traveled and Well Worth a Look
It's an odd concept when you first consider it, but a great many photographs assume a life of their own as they become public and travel from the original photographer to enthusiasts and historians. We offer this image as a case in point:
It's been at least a couple of issues since we've run any sort of Happy Snap so it must surely be time to do it again! We're big fans of Rick Morgan's photography around here and coincidentally have a great deal of it in our files, which somewhat coincidentally takes us to today's image:
The Relief Tube
It's that time again, but with a caveat. Some of the comments you're about to read are fairly old and weren't picked up by us for publication when they first arrived here---as everyone surely knows by now, we don't run a forum of any sort in conjunction with the blog, so it's pretty important that we run comments when we receive them. We apologize for the delinquency although, us being us, we can't promise it won't happen again! Please bear with us, etc, etc...
Way back in August we ran a photo of a 405th BS B-25J with the comment that it was taken in the Philippines---Bobby Rocker caught that one for us and sent the following correction:
This is a 405TH BS B-25 at Nadzab in early 1944---a B-25 can't make it to the Philippines from Nadzab as you describe in the caption. The B-25's couldn't attack the Philippines until around September 1944 when the 5th and 13th AF moved to more forward bases. Best regards,
Thanks for keeping me honest, Bobby, and apologies for taking so long to put this in print!
Next up is a comment from a reader known to us only as Big Red Lancer and concerning one of the F3H Demon shots we ran some time back:
That photo of F3H AB-105 with the chief... There were NO cranials at that time. All we had was Mickey Mouse ears and goggles. No float coats, just our green jerseys... and no Flight Deck pay...
It was a different time... Many thanks for the comment, Lancer!
Next up is a correction from Duane regarding a P-40E photo we ran back in our 7 August issue:
The P-40 is an E model. Parson Posten refers to John Posten, formerly of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines.
Norman Camou is a reader who sends us links to really neat stuff from time to time. He found this YouTube link and sent it to us a month or so ago, but we pretty obviously sat on it for a while. We think it's great and expect you'll enjoy it too:
In theory the link will work just fine, but you can always do that copy and paste thing if it doesn't!
Thanks for sending this one, Norman---it's really, really good!
Finally, here's another one of those after-we-published corrections for you! When we captioned the shot of that "Dog" sitting beside the 300SL we mis-identified it, basing our information on a mis-captioned photo we ran in the print issue of this project Way Back When. Doug Barbier caught it (although I'm guessing it was also correctly identified when Rick originally sent it and I somehow misplaced the information). Here's what Doug had to say regarding the airplane:
Phil, I suspect that someone has already mentioned this, but that Wing King USAFE Sabre Dog actually belongs to the 526th FIS, based at Ramstein AB, GE (which also explains the Mercedes) and was the 86 FIW Boss bird between 1958-1959. Also in that vein..... the 32nd FIS was based at Soesterburg AB, Holland (also assigned to the 86th Wg), while no interceptors were based at Weathersfield - although plenty of them showed up for the Open House days. Keeping track of the USAFE units in the 50s is a full time job in itself. OTW, another great issue. And I completely agree with your opener on extra parts for various versions in the kit world.
Thanks, Doug, and a reminder to all our readers: We're just as likely to make a mistake as anybody else is and very much appreciate your corrections and comments. If you see something you'd like to comment on, or something that needs fixing, please drop us a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom. This project is very much a joint effort and we couldn't do what we do without you!
That's it for this time around, ya'll, but we've got some interesting things in store for you next time so stick around! In the meanwhile, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!