Friday, August 24, 2018
Invaders You Probably Haven't Seen Before, Some Mitchells, Really, George?, A Car, Bad Thing On the Block, and A Couple From Norm
That's right; attitude. Yours. Mine. Ours. Attitude.
Several months ago I received a phone call from Rudy, who's the manager over at King's in Austin, telling me they'd just received a Wingnut Wings Junkers J.1 on consignment and asking me if I wanted it. It was a kit I'd missed first time around and the price was right---its previous owner had started it so it had to be sold at somewhat of a discount---so I said yes (with considerable enthusiasm, I might add) and made arrangements to get it into my hands. The kit arrived in Kendalia a few short days later and I immediately dropped whatever else I was working on at the time in order to begin construction on The Ugly Junkers. I was pumped!
The model was pretty much as I'd expected in terms of detail and buildability (I'm not sure that's a real word, but I'm going to use it so cut me some slack, please) and I was just sailing along with its construction when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune befell my universe. I was installing the struts onto the upper and lower wing stubbs, just like the instructions said to do, but I was trying out a bottle of Squadron's Plastic Weld, a product I'd never used before, and the stuff was a lot hotter than the Tenax I'd been employing for the past umpteen years. After all that time I was used to the way the Tenax behaved but was still learning the characteristics of the Squadron stuff and managed to overapply it to the attach points of the struts which in turn caused them to melt, although they didn't look like it when I plugged them into the mounting receptacles on the model's wings and fuselage. No; they didn't look it at all, but they'd softened past the point of being able to hold those big heavy Junkers wing parts in place and I had the unique pleasure of watching the entire structure literally crumble before my very eyes. The horror. The horror!!!
Anyway, I knew immediately what had happened, so I gave everything a couple of days to finish outgassing and curing, and then I reattached those struts to the wing stubbs but this time using the basic butt joints I'd accidentally created as my mounting indices and using a whole lot less Plastic Weld to stick the pieces together. Everything worked just fine too, until I went to slide the upper wing's outboard panels into place the next morning. It was deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra (the baseball catcher, not the cartoon character often mistaken for him) but I perservered and repeated the whole curing and installation process and viola: this time it worked! Hooray! (And yes; I know I should've just pinned them and moved on but I didn't do that so cut me some slack, ok?) The model was subsequently completed and now sits on the shelf with my other 1/32nd scale attempts at Great War modeling, but that's not the point. Here's The Thing:
If I'd had the exact same thing happen to me twenty years ago I would've put the tattered remains of the kit back in the box, put the box on the top shelf of the closet I kept my unbuilt kits in, and forgotten about it, or maybe just broken the model down for parts. If I'd tried to save the situation and had the same thing happen again, I probably would've introduced the entire project to the trash can, frustration being what it is. I didn't do either of those things this time, though. Passion never entered into the equation in any way and I took the disappointment as a challenge; it was just another thing I needed to deal with if I was going to complete the model. That passion part is important, because it's the thing that causes models to be trashed when they could be saved instead. Remember that Classic Airframes Curtiss P-6E I showed you a few months ago? It was the same sort of deal---I'd royally pooched the kit the first time around but I knew it was salvageable, so I waited until my head was in a better place and then I finished the model.
And that takes us to the moral of the story. If something you're doing, or have done, to a plastic model airplane that's supposed to be putting a little joy into your life is causing you frustration or, worse yet, causing you to lose your temper, then you've chosen the wrong hobby for yourself. I know that for a fact, because I used to be That Guy. My scale modeling life got immensely better for me the day I decided that there wasn't anything I could mess up so badly that I couldn't fix it, and there's no "shelf of doom" in this house, although I'll admit there is a shelf of delayed completion. There are exactly three models on that shelf, and they'll all be completed whenever I become re-interested in those projects again. I'm a modeler. I can fix the problems as they arise, most of the time anyway, and I do this for fun. Yes; I'm serious about accuracy, mostly, and I'm serious about the quality of the things I build, but only if that accuracy and quality result in the project being fun.
I submit to you that my approach isn't a bad one, and that it can actually help you get a little more fun out of your hobby. That part you just broke, or that assembly you just messed up, are opportunities for you to grow as a modeler, and fixing those issues can be fun if you let it be. You'll be happier, the folks you know who have to listen to you whine when you mess something up and pretend they're sympathetic to your largely-incomprehensible-to-them plight will be happier, and your models will end up being better, all as the end result of a little change in your attitude. Nobody starts at the top in this hobby, and that includes the guys and gals who produce those museum-quality models you see in the magazines and at the contests. Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody has had their lunch eaten by a plastic model at one time or another. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't playing a straight game.
That's my story, etc, etc...
They Weren't All Black or Silver
Nope; a whole bunch of Douglas A-26 Invaders got themselves delivered to the 3rd Bomb Group in nasty old Olive Drab and Neutral Grey, and some of them stayed that way after the war. Thanks to the kindness of Gerry Kersey we can offer a few examples for you to enjoy:
The Ones Who Came Before
Sometimes we stumble on one of those images that just has to be shared, whether there's an essay to place it in or not. This photo is one of those!
As always, many thanks to Gerry, and to Bobby Rocker, and to all the others who care enough to preserve our history and heritage.
Some Early Thunderjets
We all know who George Laven was, right? We all know about that P-38 named "Itsy Bitsy", and we've all seen his outrageously-painted "Huns" and "Zippers", but how many of you have seen his primordial F-84B, way back in the days before his airplanes went wild with color? We're guessing very few of you have seen that airplane, but today's the day that's all going to change thanks to reader and contributor Ed Ellickson!
offering of the plank-wing F-84 in 1/72nd scale did offer the option for conversion. That's a shame, too, because there were some truly colorful early iterations of that airframe flying around in the late 40s and early 50s. Gotta love The Silver Air Force! Ed Ellickson Collection
Finally, Ed's a modeler as well as an historian and he wanted to do a model of one of George Laven's airplanes (see above!) but nobody makes those markings in a commercially-available sheet, so Ed was forced to do his own. What follows are the masters for his artwork, in case any of our readers would like to take their own shot at one of the 49th's more famous Thunderjets:
Thanks very much to Ed, both for sharing this remarkable photography and providing us for the ability to model "Itsy-Bitsy III" ourselves by way of his decal artwork!
But We're Not Done With George Laven Yet
Nope, not yet! Colonel Laven was widely known for his flamboyance and his love of the unusual. The following images are allegedly of a one-off automobile that was once owned by him and subsequently photographed at a contemporary (21st Century) car show. Ed found these on-line and provided them as a footnote to the Laven story:
OK; now we're finished with Col. Laven, for a while anyway. The Relief Tube is awaiting your comments, which you can send to replicainscaleatyahoodotcom !
Not To Be Messed With
That's a phrase that suits the late, lamented F-4 family to a tee! Originally designed as a Fleet defense interceptor for the Navy, it soon found itself in the service of the Marine Corps and Air Force as well, and spent its youth in an unforeseen combat in a relatively unknown part of the world, performing missions largely unrelated to those foreseen in its design parameters, and doing everything it was tasked with in a manner that could only have been described as outstanding. Don Jay was on the ramp at Udorn AB in Thailand on 11 May, 1972, and shot these images that he's sharing with us today:
7482 was less than six years old when Don snapped these photos, but her days were numbered. She was on yet another mission, this time near Haiphong on 25 August, 1972, when she was hit by groundfire and went into the sea. There were no easy days...
Short Films You May Want to Watch
Reader and frequent contributor Norman Camou has been at it again, much to our great pleasure. Get yourself a snack and take a look at these gems he's found for us on YouTube:
The first film is about US Navy carrier operations in Korea during 1951, while the second is a piece on the F2H Banshee shot in 1948. Both are well worth your time!
And, while we're talking about Norman's ongoing contributions to the project, let's take a look at THIS:
Not Your Normal Happy Snap!
The Relief Tube
No; not really, but we, or rather I, do have a request to make of you! I've recently almost, and I'd like to stress that word almost, completed a Tamiya F-51D done up as an aircraft from the 67th TFS ca. 1952, but I'm missing a decal!
Here's the model:
That email address is replicainscaleatyahoodotcom if you can help, or replicainscaleatyahoodotcom if you can't! Either way...
And that's it for today. Yes, Frank, I know it's been a really long time since I've published and I promise I'll try to do better in the future! Sheesh!
Anyway, be good to your neighbors, and I promise I'll try to see you again real soon!
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
A Quick How to Do It, One That Doesn't Need Any Help, Something You Didn't Expect, An Aggressive Cat, Closure, Before Her Chevy, and A Grumman
Just a Few, Please!
So there you are, or here I am; it really doesn't matter which one it is. Either way, it's that part of the day where we're looking at our favorite electronic scale modeling publication and we're perusing the section where people put their finished projects for the rest of us to admire. Mostly we're looking at three or four shots of a completed model, tops, but sometimes maybe we'll get a few more than that because the modeler has included interior and detail photos too. Looking at that sort of thing is a lot of fun, and often educational as well, in a polystyrene and resin sort of way.
That's most of the time, but every once in a while someone will get what we'll term Carried Away With Their Creation and post a whole bunch of photos of their shiny new model, and from every conceivable angle, which is to say they'll take a profile picture of one side, and then start clocking around the model while taking photographs every few degrees or so, even though those extra photos don't show much of anything we haven't already seen. The same thing is then repeated from above, and maybe looking down into a cockpit as well, photo after photo, on and on and on and on.
Sometimes a whole bunch of shots of a model can be useful to us, such as cockpit photographs taken in that manner thanks to the cramped and confined spaces in such images and the inherent difficulty of including everything in any given picture, there's rarely any real need for such merriment in any other circumstance.
Keep in mind that I'm not talking about detail photos here. I'm personally a big fan of properly lit and focused shots of interiors, ordnance, landing gear and such, and I encourage it. What I'm not a fan of, and I honestly doubt many other folks are either, are endless photographs of what is essentially the same view of the model, over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
OK, Phillip; so how do we do this sort of thing? Well; if it were me I'd photograph both sides in profile, an upper and lower view, and a couple of 3/4 nose and tail shots, plus the pertinent details, if any. What I wouldn't do, pretty much ever, would be to rotate the model and photograph it every few degrees. That's a forensic kind of approach, and maybe that sort of thing has been inculcated into us because of all those documentaries where the "investigators" take a small part of something and photograph it over and over and over until we've all been put to sleep instead of becoming amazed by the detail and completeness of it all. Forensics are for crime scenes in my world, while a few high quality photographs will generally suffice for even the best of plastic models. Maybe that's a holdover from the rapidly vanishing world of print magazines (a magical realm in which I once existed), where photographs cost money to publish and available space is at a premium, or maybe I just don't care to look at dozens of photographs of what's essentially the same thing, but to me the bottom line is this: Less is more as far as photos of model airplanes are concerned. It's a big world, to be true, but I'd personally rather see a few photos of a lot of airplane models than see a lot of photos of one. Your personal mileage may vary, of course.
That's my story, etc, etc...
Fixing That Albatros Undercarriage in Just Five Photographs
You may recall that we looked at the too-short undercarriage struts provided with Eduard's 1/48th scale Albatros D.V and D.Va kits a couple of issues back. Mention was made of how easy it was to fix them (and amazement was expressed that Eduard themselves have never taken the time or trouble to do that very thing). Here are a couple of photographs to illustrate the point:
This is where we start. You'll need a donor kit for an additional set of struts, or in lieu of that some styrene shapes, either airfoil (if you can find such a thing) or rectangular, to do the job. From a modeling standpoint it's obviously easier to start with a fresh kit but I really wanted to salvage this one, so careful (read that word again: CAREFUL) removal of the undercarriage was required. You can somewhat obviously skip this step if your kit has never been assembled.
One way or another you'll need to make up the approximate 3mm that Eduard left out of the length of those struts when they cut their molds way back there in the 1990s. The easiest way is to cut the raised attachment points off the struts you're going to modify---these struts are the ones removed from the kit above---and then cut that 3mm extension (which includes the aforementioned attachment points) and add it to the struts. If you have a donor kit things become extremely easy because the cross sections of the struts all match, which makes cleanup simple. If you aren't using a donor kit you'll be in for some sanding and probably a little bit of puttying too, but the end result will be the same.
Once you've successfully accomplished your splicing activity you'll want to put the struts back on the airplane (or install them for the very first time if it's a new build). These appear to need a little bit of cleanup down at the axle end of things, but that goes away once the axle/spreader bar is re-installed. (Remember, these are previously used parts on the model you're looking at.)
Here's where we've installed the spreader bar. In this case the wheels were already attached to it, a result of salvaging a previously-built kit, but it's easier if you start fresh with new components. Either way, you'll need to let things dry for a bit. I usually wait overnight for such miracles to occur, but your mileage may vary in that regard. The important thing is to make certain everything is sturdy and solid before you go any further so you can eliminate the possiblity of undercarriage collapse from your modeling pleasure. Critics beware: That prop and spinner are just sitting there and will be removed prior to re-rigging the model!
And here's the end result prior to rigging. The fix is not a difficult thing to do at all, and it's essential if you want your D.V/D.Va to look right once it's been completed.
One more thing before we leave this topic: Those short undercarriage struts are only found in Eduard's D.V/D.Va kits. Their D.I through D.III offerings are just fine in that regard, although their D.III kits have undersized wheels---Barracuda make replacements for that problem, although they mistakenly sell them as a fix for the D.V kits, which have short struts but adequate wheels! Go figure!
And the beat goes on...
While We're Speaking of Albatri
I mentioned that Eduard's Abatros D.I and D.II kits are ok as far as undercarriage and wheels are concerned, but nobody ever seems to build either one of those kits so I thought I ought to do that.
The model is 100% straight from the kit, which shows how nice the Eduard Albatri can look when they get everything right dimensionally! The rigging is .005 dia stainless steel wire, while the turnbuckles, cable attachment points, and control horns are all Eduard photo-etch. The wood-grain effect was done with yellow ochre oil paint applied over a base of Mr Color white, for those of you who are interested in such things.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!
What Happens When It's Over and Done
One of the things that happens when a war ends is the cleanup of the mess that was made during the time of conflict. Sometimes that cleanup involves clearing rubble and re-building ruined cities, but sometimes it takes a different turn:
Here's an example of one of those Different Turns. The ship is the former IJN light cruiser Kiso, and the place is Manila Harbor, ca. March 1945. A victim of the unwanted attention of TF38's air groups, she was sunk on 13 November, 1944, some 8 miles from Manila Harbor. She was refloated by Nippon Salvalge Company in December of 1955 and towed to Manila the following month for final scrapping. We've always admired the graceful lines of those early Japanese light cruisers and it's truly sad to see one in this condition.
We often think too many people glorify war, without realizing the terrible cost that both sides pay in any armed conflict. To an extent this photo brings that home, not only because of the dilapidated condition of the vessel but also because of the lives that were lost during the course of her sinking. It's food for though, isn't it? Robert Speith Collection via Gerry Kersey, 3rd Attack.Org
Note: Gerry Kersey, who provided the photo you see above, caught a huge error in the original caption:
With all due respect, the sunken vessel is probably not the Kiso and most assuredly isn't 1956 when it was raised. The Kiso was sunk 8 miles west of Cavite which lies over 10 miles east of these images. Also, Pier 7 is still being reconstructed. These images are from 1945, most likely March and April and marked so. You can also see the continued bombing of Manila in the background. I am adding additional images (not from the Spieth Collection) which show the successful blockage of the harbor in part by the Catalina's of the RAAF Black Cats mine laying efforts. Gerry
Here's an additional photograph of Kiso provided by Gerry in a string of photos of vessels sunk in or near Manila Harbor:
The photo is of Kiso in March of 1945, showing her damage from a different angle (and with her fantail awash). 80G-K-3557 via Gerry Kersey
Thanks to Gerry for taking the time to help us correct this clanger!
An Angry P-Boat
The Consolidated PBY served with the armed forces of the United States throughout the war, and distinguished itself everywhere it was used. We're all familiar with the exploits of the legendary "Black Cats" and their operations against Japanese shipping in the Solomons, but aggressive use of the aircraft didn't stop there:
No; it's not much of a photograph, but Holy Cow what a photograph! Taken from the port-side waist gunner's position of a PBY during an attack on DaNang in 1945, the image shows a Mitsubishi A6M5 receiving the full brunt of a strafing attack delivered by the Catalina. It's not at all what we would expect to see given the size and general cumbersomeness of the PBY, but it's not entirely atypical of the combat activities going on during the last days of the war. That "P-Boat" is flying at a fairly low altitude as well, which is somewhat remarkable when we consider the bulk and probable groundspeed of that aircraft. Yikes! Rocker Collection
For comparison, here's a shot of a late-War OA-10A in far more peaceful surroundings, illustrating what that waist position looks like. It's hard to imagine any PBY strafing any sort of target, but it was done, and more than once! Rocker Collection
A Long-Awaited Answer
You may remember our piece on Stanton Smith a few issues ago, where we mentioned that a couple of his 49th FW F-80 pilots shot up an airfield near Vladivostok during the early days of the Korean War. We asked at that time if any of our readership were aware of the incident, but no responses were forthcoming. We had pretty much given up on ever finding out what really happened during the event that caused Col Smith to be transferred from the command of the 49th to the 5th AF Air Staff in Tokyo, when a new, to us, anyway, model manufacturer named Dora Wings released a pair of P-63 King Cobra kits. The folks over at Modeling Madness reviewed the TP-63E version of that model and, lo and behold; there was mention of that strafing attack, including dates and the name and location of the airfield! They also linked to a Russian article on the internet that described the action; how lucky could we get! Here's an excerpt from that article:
When two American Shooting Stars strafed our regiment at the Sukhaya Rechka airfield, our command immediatelly sent the 303rd IAD from Moscow, which already flew MiGs. (on 08.10.1950 at 16.17 local time two USAF F-80C Shooting Starfighters from 49 FBG had breached USSR air border and attacked an airfield Sukhaya Rechka100 kilometers away from it. This airfield belonged to the VVS TOF, but right at this moment due to training procedure it was occupied by, 821 IAP 190 IAD. Mostly 1st Squadron of 821 IAP was hit. 7 airplanes were damaged, 1 P-63 burned to the ground, the rest were repaired. No human losses were suffered. F-80s made two strafing runs and returned to their home base. I. Seidov.).
It was the end of 1950. The war in Korea was already at full scale. We were ordered to start excercises wich required working from unprepared airfields. It had become common. Our 821st Regiment was transferred to Sukhaya Rechka. All three squadrons were on the ground at the parking spaces. On October 8, two F-80 Shooting Stars came and attacked our airfield. Official reports stated that one plane was blown up and six were heavily damaged, while I saw that at least twelve planes were damaged out of a regiment of 40 planes. In the official report, they made one pass and left. In reality they made two passes. They shot up the King Cobras that were lined up.
The entire article, which is actually an interview with former Soviet pilot V.N. Zabelin, can be found at this link:
Jim Wogstad and I were first made aware of this event when we interviewed Stanton way back in 1972, and Robert F. Futrell had written about it in his seminal The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953, first published in 1961. Your editor had been looking, albeit without an undue amount of effort, for documentation of the attack for the past 46 years!
Closure is a Very Good Thing...
No Chevrolet Here
Way back in 1944, back before Dinah Shore was seeing the USA in her Chevrolet on her weekly television variety show, she was an up and coming young startlet who, like so many others of her generation, did her part to help the guys at the sharp end of things. This photo tells it all:
Some Modeling Tips You Ought to Know
You all know who Norman Camou is by now, thanks to those nifty YouTube aircraft clips he's always finding and sending to us. Well, Norm's also a modeler, and he's come up with a couple of tool tips that are well worth your while:
I recently took apart an empty barbecue lighter to see how it worked. The propane tank has a valve with two o- rings that fit pasche (Type H) air brush cones. The ones that come in the air brush deteriorate after a few years of using thinner to clean, and these are perfect replacements. The brush in the photo is one I've been using to clear out spray cones. After using pipe cleaners for years I was amazed at how the brush got out paint plaque that hardened up near the outlet. The two cutters, one straight and one curved, are stainless steel and cut sprue right to the part edge. They stay sharp and have good heft. You can get them from almost any beauty supply section. You can also get tiny glass beads, thin adhesive tape of all colors, an so forth. Sally, our local beauty supplier, admits she gets modelers in for tools and other stuff. Norm.
Those tips are from Norm. For my part, I'll submit that I've been using a couple of discarded dental probes for scribing, prick-punching plastic parts for drilling, and manipulating small parts in interiors for the past forty years. What about you? Do you have any favorite tools that work really well for our hobby but aren't conventionally sold for it? Why don't you let us know so we can share the knowledge? That e-mail address, suitably boogered up to fox the spam crowd, is replicainscaleatyahoodotcom.
One Bad Cat
We are, of course, talking about Grumman's immortal F6F Hellcat, an often-overlooked fighter that many consider to be the best naval aircraft of The Second World War. You may or may not agree with that premise, but either way you'll have to admit it's a special airplane. Jim Sullivan has provided us with some interesting photos of the F6F, and it's time for us to share them with you.
The electrons had barely settled on that Hellcat illustrated directly above when I received answers regarding its VS-3 markings from both Rick Morgan and Barrett Tillman. Rather than garbling their explanations I thought it best to run their comments, first from Rick:
Phil- re the “VS” marked F6F you have on your newest blog, I’m pretty sure that’s part of the “Victory Squadron” traveling circus that ran around the country after the war to show off Naval Aviation. Barrett knows a lot more about the subject than I do. And, of course, the F6F actually outlasted the F4U, TBM and certainly SB2C in Navy service. Three Utility Squadrons still had F6F-5s and F6F-5Ks flying in Jan 1959, which is about three years after they’d completely retired the Corsair and Avenger. My ROTC CO, the legendary Dick “Brown Bear” Schaffert had his first tour with VU-10 at GTMO about 1957, initially flying Hellcats and pulling banners for gun shoots. Rick
And next from Barrett:
I didn't see the blog but yes, VS would have been the Victory Squadron, an immediate postwar USN-Treasury collaboration to fund the last bond drive. I knew Bill Eder, the CO, and wrote the only history of the unit that I know of for the The Hook in the late 80s. The guys had a real good time. One of the pilots became a father during the tour and saluted the new arrival with a glass of milk---another VS pilot said "It was the only non-alcoholic drink I saw him take the entire time." F6Fs, F7Fs, F4Us, and a coupla Japanese. BT
Many thanks to both Barrett and Rick for clearing this one up!
Many thanks to Jim Sullivan for sharing these photographs with us!
Speaking of Norman Camou
Earlier in this edition we mentioned Norman Camou's ongoing contributions to the project. Here's a short clip he found on YouTube that shows us how to fly the P-38. It's not a wartime film but rather a new effort, with a restored Lightning, but it's of considerable interest if you happen to be an aviator or just interested in what those classic fighters were like to fly.
And that's it for this time around. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!