Thursday, May 13, 2021

Dazzle Them With Detail, A Strange Way to Get There, Early Forty-Niners, One From the 318th, Mizzoo in the Crisis, and Some Scooters


What Is It We're Trying to Do Here?

There's an old expression that's known to just about everyone that provides us with an interesting take on this hobby of ours: If you can't dazzle them with Brilliance, baffle them with Bovine Defecation, or something to that effect. We find the expression used frequently in the business world and in industry too, and it's one of those constants that, though trite, is also far more often true than not. It's a constant in life that applies to almost anything we can think of, from the person who knows everything even when they don't and trickling down to our scale models and other people's perception of them. 

Think about that for a minute, and allow yourself to drift back to the last contest you visited, or maybe even entered. Remember the model (imaginary in this instance) that incorporated every single thing a modeler could possibly add to it, both aftermarket and scratchbuilt, internally and externally, a killer paint job, and a wowzer set of markings that immediately drew your eye to it? You know the one. Whoever built it must be part necromancer to be able to build something like that! Then you begin to look more closely and The Truth slaps you in the face: Our drop-dead gorgeous model whatever-it-is was built off the very latest brand-spanking new just-released kit, the one that was designed by non-modelers using computer assisted design, and the airframe is significantly inaccurate, or a major detail provided with the kit is glaringly wrong and sitting there in all its uncorrected glory. But the detail! Look at the detail! Look at the markings! Look at the paint! Look at the inaccurate model...

I once knew a guy, back in the late 1970s, who was one of the best scale modelers I've ever known. He was a commercial artist by trade and his models were inevitably well built and beautifully finished, but they were rarely accurate because he didn't care about that at all; he just wanted to build the models. That was his choice and it was a conscious decision on his part. He knew his models were inaccurate and he didn't care. He also didn't try to hide the fact. He didn't fix kit inaccuracies, he didn't care if the scheme he finished the model with was appropriate to the variant he had built, nor did he worry about any of the other things most of us are concerned with. He just built the models, displayed them, and sometimes won contests with them because they were beautiful models. He knew what he was doing and why he was doing it.

Jump forward to today and take a look at some of the builds of recently issued kits. There are some gorgeous models out there, but some of the new kits are significantly less accurate than those we were building back in The Day. They're often easier to construct and highly detailed even without aftermarket, but they're wrong when taken as a true miniature replica of the airplane (or whatever) in question and even the considerable skills of a great many contemporary modelers can't hide a bad starting place. The question is: Did the modeler in question know the kit was inaccurate, and did he or she care? That's really what defines the whole thing.

Let's establish a premise here and presume that we're all building for fun on some level, even if we're beady-eyed Gotta Win That Contest at All Costs maniacs. There's fun in there somewhere, even for the most serious denizens of our scale modeling world, so the question then becomes why are we building.

I'm Old School, through and through. I try to build the most accurate models I'm capable of producing, although I'll admit I'm not as pedantic about that sort of thing as I once was. I try to build with kits that are as accurate as I can obtain, and I correct inaccuracies when I detect them in a "serious" project. When I want to just make things up and build a model I'll do a hot rod or some other model car, or maybe build a dinosaur for one of the grandkids. If it's serious I'll find the most accurate kit I can to start with. That's me.

Some folks, maybe even a lot of folks, don't do things that way because they don't know how to research, or don't know how to figure out which kits are "bad", or just don't care. That's ok too, because at the end of the day those individuals are buying kits and accessories, and are spending money on the hobby which in turn causes manufacturers to release other kits, which makes me happy as a modeler. 

At the end of the day it's your choice, right? In my world, the word "replica" says it all. 

And the beat goes on...

How We Get There Doesn't Matter

Here's a case in point: A great many of the models I attempt to build are of airplanes that flew in the Pacific theater during World War 2, and a couple have been of VLR (that's Very Long Range, for the acronym-challenged) Mustangs. Our friends at Eduard recently issued a VLR version of their whiz-bang semi-new P-51D kit, which provided inspiration, and Rudy over at LionHeart Hobby in Kyle had a kit on its way to me in no time. As it turns out my inspiration was well-founded, because the kit included all the various antennae to properly build a VLR P-51 in either of its iterations, plus both kinds of gas bags and no less that twelve different sets of markings. Woot!

Anyway, the time spent looking at that new kit made me wonder if our friends in the Czech Republic offered anything other than the basic kit as an overtree set, and it turns out they did---those VLR tanks! A quick audit showed I still had a couple of Tamiya P-51Ds in the closet, Rudy sent a set of VLR tanks, and a plan was born!

Here's the result of my epiphany, Mustang-wise, a VLR P-51D from 457th FS/506th FG at Iwo Jima in 1945. There are folks out there who will tell you they don't like the Tamiya P-51D kit, but I'm not one of them. This view shows the only significant issues with that particular model; that goofy cutout at the upper inboard corner of each flap where Tamiya made it easy for the same set of flaps to be installed in either raised or lowered position at the expense of accuracy, and the "bow" inside the canopy, which should have lightening holes in it but does not. Neither one of these things was a deal breaker for me, although it might be for you. You pays your money and you takes your choices.

Here's another view that simultaneously shows the smaller of those two Eduard VLR tanks with their associated sway braces and what happens to an image when you have little or no control over the depth of field when you take a photograph. (Yes, I know better, but I used an iPhone to take these pictures and aperture control wasn't part of that game!) Other note-worthy items include the AN/ARA-8 Uncle Dog fuselage antennae, which were made from Evergreen strip styrene, and the antenna mast under the nose, which is the kit-provided "normal" mast put in a different place. The decals were originally going to come from that Eduard kit but I ended up using one of the markings sets from Kagero's Red Series decals, for VLR Mustangs, instead. The model should also have the tiny AN/APS-13 radio antennae on the sides of the vertical fin but I've never been particularly good at adding tiny repetitive details to a model so I chose the lesser path of ignoring them on the model! 

This model still lacks final weathering and a set of zero-length rocket stubs to be called Done, but it's close enough to prove the point. That Eduard Special Edition VLR Mustang kit will provide you with two sets of tanks, which are the most challenging part of the build because they're so unique. There's only one set of antennae in there but those are super-easy to scratch up, and there are a lot of markings for the VLR birds out there; Eduard, Kagero, Exito, and AeroMaster all do them and I'm sure there are others as well. Your acquisition of one Eduard VLR P-51D, plus a little ingenuity and access to other far less expensive kits such as Tamiya or Airfix or the purchase of several of The Big E's own OverTree kits will allow you to build a whole bunch of colorful Pacific Mustangs if you want to do that. In the Good Old Days we called that "bang for the buck". Whatever you choose to call it, it's an approach that works in the modeler's favor and is absolutely worth looking into!

The Boys From Darwin

The 49th Fighter Group got its start during those terrible days following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They gained fame, and a measure of immortality, with their operations over New Guinea in the P-40 and, later, the P-38, and they were the figurative birthplace of Dick Bong, among other American aces of the Pacific War, but in the beginning, the very beginning, they operated around Darwin in defense of Australia. There's a fair amount of photography out there of the group in their early days, but some of it has been misunderstood over the years, a phenomenon not helped in any material way by the advent of The Internet Expert. 

 Your editor (that would be me) has long harbored an interest in all things Fifth Air Force, which in term led to making the acquaintance of Bob Livingston and Gordon Birkett. A photograph on one of those modeling boards caused me to contact Bob with a question regarding the markings of a particular 49th FG P-40E. Bob provided a partial answer and a recomendation that I contact Gordon Birkett, an early Pacific War collector and historian of some renown. Gordon was kind enough to lend his expertise to my original markings question on one particular airplane, and to expound upon it. That conversation led to more questions, of course, which in turn takes us to today's discussion. The images you're about to see all came from Gordon's collection and originated with the US Army Air Force and the Australian War Memorial.

This image, which shows the nose of Bill Hennon's Number 36 and Bob "Snakebite" Vaught's famous "Bob's Robin", was taken on the day of an AAF dog and pony show for the press. Hennon's airplane wears a red spinner cap, signifying his days with the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) in Java, while Vaught's Warhawk bears his well-known sharkmouth. At first glance we aren't covering any new ground here, since this photograph has been reproduced dozens of time in various books, periodicals, and on the internet, but let's take a closer look at "Bob's Robin". Specifically, check out the leading edge of the wings where the fairings covering the muzzles of the P-40's guns should be. Those fairings are missing from "Robin", as they were from several other 49th FG P-40s operation in the Darwin area, because they tended to crack and, in some cases, disintegrate when the guns were fired; Gordon commented that  The USAAF and RAAF always had trouble with these cracking or fracturing after continuous long bursts,..or worse being with a jammed 0.50cal bullet wrecking the leading edge. While we're at it, check out the wheel covers on Vaught's bird as well; see that white "spot"? It's deliberate, it's definitely in the photo, and we don't have a clue as to what it depicts or why it's there. We do suspect the wheel cover isn't the prescribed Light Grey, but we might be wrong on that one.   Gordon Birkett Collection

To add a little more to our knowledge of Vaught's #94, let's consider this color information from Gordon's files: 

#94    P-40E-1 41-24872    Lt. Robert H. Vaught O-382764 
Of particular notice, rarely realized that most have it all O/D which is unusual for a P-40E-1 prior to overhaul in late 1942. In examining the rear it seems its still disruptive RAF Temp B/G Camo around the rear fuselage Cockade, with nose and top cowls in O/D/Black.
Could be a trick of camera light had it not been the top of the cockade being darker. She was a bitser having been nosed over in March 42 down “south” and repaired at Archer Field with parts from P-40Es and P-40E-1s . His original P-40E-1 was 41-24797 which, coincident was also nosed over on her back in slow motion. And the source of the  fable of his second being ex RAAF is that his first became , after repairs, a RAAF aircraft in our first 25 aircraft batch. All mixed up in reverse.

A bird on the butts! This P-40E or E-1 is chocked and raised for gun harmonization but back in the States, at the factory rather than in Australia. The photo isn't the best quality but does a wonderful job of depicting those guns with the muzzle fairings removed. It also provides us with a great view of the color demarcation between the upper and lower surfaces of the wings; modelers take note!  Gordon Birkett Collection

Here's "Texas Longhorn in all her glory, once again defining the lack of gun fairings on the wings. This image is from a newsreel and isn't very good in terms of clarity, but it really illustrates the lack of gun fairings as well as the different color of paint surrounding the guns, yellow Mil-P-8585 Zinc Chromate primer perhaps? We should probably stress that not all of the 49th's aircraft had those fairings removed in service, but enough of them did to warrant further investigation.   Gordon Birkett Collection

Here's our final P-40E of the day, "Bitchin' Ben Irvin's famous "The Rebel". It's another one of those 49th FG airplanes, this time from the 9th FS, that most of us are familiar with, but are we really? This airplane actually did have gun covers on the day of that famous grip and grin session, but the markings were different than those we're most familiar with.  Gordon Birkett Collection

Here's Ben in front of his now-famous Number 75, providing us with much better detail of his winged Pegasus emblem painted on the fuselage behind the cockpit. The photograph is a famous one that clearly defines his aircraft's artwork but wait; there's more!   Gordon Birkett Collection

The side number that's presented on the tail of Irwin's Number 75 is repeated under the nose of his airplane as well. This isn't the only 49th FG Warhawk that duplicated its aircraft number in that position; Preddy's Number 85 "Tarheel" comes to mind that regard, but not every airplane within the group had one displayed there.  Gordon Birkett Collection

Let's end today's 49th FG photo essay with a photograph you may not have seen before. It's Irwin's Number 75 again, but it's the second Number 75 and this time there's a name on the rudder, "Bessie", that has so far eluded us. Several 49th FG pilots had more than one P-40E and marked them similarly; this one is far from being the only example of that practice.  Gordon Birkett Collection

Here's further information from Gordon's files detailing #75:

FY41    CW#    C/N    OZ date    RAF#    Theatre    Serial/Box/Group#    Unit    Oz Del    Date sent\arrived    Loss Date     US Off     Marking    Remarks
41-25164 949    19675        ET488    SUMAC/LEFT    #75    9thPS/49thPG    SS NYC ex Netherlands Contract .    9/03/1942    26/12/1942    27/12/1942    #75 "The Rebel"   (Ex Defence Aid Netherlands (One of 18) Flown in at Batchelor 10/05/42 with #74/#86 & #99) Capt Bill Irvin's 9thFS 49thFG  Winged Pegasus Motif, his till 04/06/42.Eng# 42-33889. Current 9th FS 07/08/42 .Lt John Landers 26/12/42 PNG  #75. s/d that day.

There's more to share from Gordon regarding the 49th in those bad early days but that will have to wait for a bit. In the meantime, thanks very much to Australian friends Gordon and Bob for their help with this fascinating part of our mutual aviation heritage!

Where's Bobby?

Bobby Rocker, that is! It's been a while since we've seen anything from Bobby, but that's mostly because it's been awhile since we've published an issue of the blog. Let's make amends today with this wonderful shot of an Airacobra in the Central Pacific:

"My Gal Sal IV", a P-39Q, was assigned to the 72nd FS/318th FG on Makin Atoll on the island of Butaritari in December of 1943 when she posed for this picture with the squadron mascot. Note the paint treatment of the nose landing gear and lack of yellow warning paint on the propeller tips. Larry Bell's airplane company seem to have been a bunch of free-thinkers where paint and markings were concerned. There are hard and fast rules for such things but Bell seems to have broken them about as often as they paid attention to them!

Something else that's worthy of note in this image: The airplane is relatively clean as are the pilots posing with it, and everyone looks healthy and well-fed. The hardstand, probably rolled coral, is pristine and the background is that of a tropical paradise, which is in harsh contrast to the images we normally display of airplanes serving with Fifth AF in New Guinea. That doesn't mean that things were any safer, because over-water flying is never truly safe, especially in a single-engine aircraft, and there was still a motivated and highly skilled enemy to contend with. The climate, physical plant, and operational conditions were far worse in and around New Guinea but that doesn't mean much. Operation flying in combat is tough regardless of where you do it. Don't misunderstand the photograph because the image it projects isn't necessarily the reality of the situation.   Rocker Collection

Heading for Berlin

The year 1961 saw the Cold War make one of its period excursions to the brink of nuclear war, triggered by a crisis in Berlin. Several Air National Guard units were Federalized as a result of that crisis, one of which was Missouri's  110th TFS:

"Show Me" an F-84F-30-RE (52-6368) sits on a rain-swept ramp in 1961, an evocative symbol of the Cold War at its worst. She was the squadron commander's airplane and ended up on public display after being stricken from service. It's difficult to imagine that she would have fared well against the Bad Guys in Europe during that terrible Fall of 1961; we fortunately never had to find out.    Mark Nankivil

Scooters at Fallon

Reader and scale modeler Fred Drummond spent his time in the Navy flying EA-6B Prowlers and had the opportunity to photograph a great many military aircraft during that time. We're going to share a couple of his A-4E shots with you today. All of them are of aircraft assigned to VC-12 as adversaries and were flying out of NAS Fallon in August of 1987 when they were photographed by Fred.

First up is a grey on grey Echo, BuNo 151064. The "Scooter" was often used by the Navy to simulate the MiG-17; the two aircraft were close in both size and performance, if not in appearance.  Fred Drummond

149973 bore a tiger-striped grey on grey scheme. The staining out of that off-board drain is typical of the Skyhawk regardless of variant. As interesting as the paintwork on this airplane is, it would appear as a medium grey airplane at any sort of distance.   Fred Drummond

152004 wore a fairly colorful blue on grey scheme, which might have proven fairly effective low over the water. It's utility in an air-to-air scenario might have been questionable, but it certainly made for a pretty airplane!   Fred Drummond

Let's close with the other side of 149973. These aircraft are all configured to go play with the big kids and may have provided some of the best flying in the Navy during their period of active service.    Fred Drummond

Many thanks to Fred for sharing these images with us!

The Relief Tube

Well, I'm relieved that we finally managed to publish something after a hiatus of nearly 6 months, but that's nothing to brag about! We'll try to do better in the future---'nuff said!

Happy Snaps

We'd like to share another image from Fred Drummond with you, this time an air-to-air taken during his time in the Prowler:

The Prowler in the photo is with VAQ-130 doing an Operation Deny Flight mission. This would have been during the March 1995 timeframe. We were doing a cruise on the Ike, but our squadron got the call to deploy to Aviano to continue to support operations while the carrier and the rest of our air wing went on port calls.  Fred   Fred Drummond 

Thanks, Fred! 

Do any of you have photography you think might be of interest to our readers? If you do and would like to share them with us, the e-mail address, slightly garbled so I don't have to endure the folks who like to troll such things, is   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   . Put an @ and a . in the appropriate places and you're home free. 

That's it for today, ya'll, but we're still alive and well over here. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again soon!


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Ballast, Some Hun Addendum, A Nifty Mitchell, and Some Long-Nose Voodoos


Weighing In on the Century Series

But not the way we usually do it, with an editorial that might or might not have any relevance to anything you're doing. Nope; this time we're going to expound on something practical for once! 

As you may remember, I've said fairly often that I look in on a select few modeling sites when I first crank up this electronic device every morning, something I've been doing for years now. It's a good idea in many respects because it provides a fresh perspective that just isn't available by sitting here all by myself on the ranch, doing things the way I've always done them without considering there might be another way to accomplish whatever it is I'm interested in accomplishing on that particular day, but there's a flip-side of that coin to be considered as well.

Take, for example, the art of making an airplane with tricycle landing gear actually sit on that gear without rearing back on its haunches, which is like the model saying "Poop on Yoop because you tried and I won anyway"! You know what I'm talking about, right? You figured it all out, did a few mental calculations, measured things, put some ballast in there someplace, and you still ended up with a tail-sitting model airplane! That's something that's happened to us all, although I'm going to say that it hasn't happened to me personally in a very long time because I actually learned something back there in the early Seventies, back when I melted the nose on my brand new Hasegawa A-4E kit trying to use CerroSafe, or more likely Rose's Fusible Metal, as a ballast material (which you actually can do, but not until you've studied and somewhat mastered The Art of the Heat Sink, which we aren't going to get into today). That little misadventure caused me to spend some time studying when and how to ballast a scale model airplane, which in turn ties in with something I've read many times on those boards I mentioned a paragraph or so above. 

It seems as though there's a periodic interest in modeling airplanes from the Century Series which, for our purposes today at least, will be defined as the F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106, and maybe the F-110. You'll note that I didn't count the F-107 in that listing; I could have, but it was never operational and in my world isn't a true member of the club. You may disagree with me and it's fine if you do, because it doesn't matter very much once we (I) actually get on-topic!

Here's the deal, and the question that inevitably prompts it, straight off the discussion boards on those modeling sites: "I want to build a (pick the Century Series aircraft of your choice here) and I need to know if I should add ballast to the nose of my model." The question inevitably brings a bunch of answers and you can tell who's had issues in the past, who hasn't, and who's giving advice based on something they've never personally done themselves once you begin reading the replies. It's a valid question, however, and an important one, so an answer is required---fortunately, it's an answer that isn't all that hard to find!

Here's what you do, with a Century bird, or with anything else that sits on tricycle landing gear:

First and foremost, if the kit's manufacturer provides either ballast or, in some instances, information on how and where to put your own ballast in the model, you should follow their lead and do that. There's a reason for what they've done and you'll rue the day if you don't follow that advice!

Ok; that was pretty obvious. What if there's no ballast, no instructions to use ballast but you still aren't sure? That's an easy one too. Just tape all the big pieces of the model together so what you've got is an object that mostly resembles the completed airplane, find out where the main landing gear legs plug into the aircraft structure and, using a couple of the fingers on one of your hands placed at those landing gear mounts, hold the a airplane up (loosely but securely---if you drop it it isn't my fault!), and see how it balances. If it wants to tip towards the nose, you're Golden. If it wants to tip back towards the tail, you need to put ballast in the model, and if it sort of goes back-and-forth between the two, you want to err on the side of caution and use ballast as well. Further, if you end up actually having to add ballast, you'll want to place it as far toward in the nose of the model as you possibly can get it; that's a basic lesson in physics that will result in you needing less weight to do the job, which means less strain on your model's landing gear once the thing is finished and sitting proudly on your display shelf. (Sometimes, like with a P-38 or P-39, you'll still need a lot of ballast but Moment is your friend and placement really does help! Trust me on this one)

And NOW (taa-daa!), let's get to the point of this thing specifically regarding the Century Series. The F-100 is a teeterer and often wants to squat, so ballast is a very good idea for the Super Sabre regardless of variant. The F-105 may need it depending on what you plan on hanging under the wings so it's best to err on the side of caution and stuff a little weight up in the extreme nose. None of the others need it at all! How's that for simple? 

What about if I hang a lot of stuff under the wings, you might well ask yourself? Won't that change things? The answer to that one is mostly no, with the caveats stated above regarding the F-100 and F-105. Voodoos and the Deltas definitely DON'T need ballast, not ever, nor do the Phantoms (F-110s). Any model of an F-107 will.

Here's today's lesson, then: If you aren't sure about how to resolve a modeling problem, and that's any modeling problem, try thinking it through for yourself before you commit to a course of action. Yes; it's far easier just to throw the question out on one of those internet boards and hope you'll get back a useful anwer or two (you probably will!), but that's not going to help you grow as a modeler, so look on it as more of a last-resort kind of thing. Get in the habit of trying to figure things out for yourself first. It may take a while, but your work will begin to improve and you'll grow as a modeler. 

And that's what I have to say about that!

Some More Thoughts and a Few Corrections Regarding the "Hun"

It's true, so very true: Our last issue was devoted in its entirety to the North American F-100D and how to model it as it appeared in The Late SouthEast Asia War Games. Reader response has been great, but it was inevitable that a couple of tiny mistakes would creep into it and a couple of last-minute additions showed up as well, so we're going to address them today, albeit briefly!

Major Stewart and Sgt Eliason stand in front of "Snooper", an F-100D from the 90th TFS at BienHoa in 1968. Note the FS36622 inboard pylons, the M117s hanging off those pylons, and the RHAW gear barely visible under the nose of the airplane. This is a classic late-war "Hun".   Lt Col Stewart via Don Jay

The Wonderful World of the Internet has remained mostly quiet regarding our last issue but Ben Brown took a look at it and offered some comments and a correction or two. Normally we'd put that sort of thing in our Relief Tube section but the changes are significant if you happen to be building a model of the F-100D so they're here instead.


In our last issue we stated that the interiors of the landing gear and speed brake wells were painted silver. While that's true for the doors for those areas, the interiors themselves were generally painted in a medium green color. Ben pointed that out, Doug seconded the motion, and I've corrected it here and will, in theory at least, go back and correct it in the article as well. Maybe.

That Pesky LWNAVS Duct

Photos of that PACAF Lightweight Navigation System duct are few and far between (just watch them start coming out of the woodwork once this gets published, though!) but Ben had a couple of photos in his collection and has provided them to us:

Here's a side view of one iteration of that duct. Keep in mind that the term "standard configuration" doesn't seem to apply to that particular item, but they were all similar to this. Those of you who notice minutia in photographs have probably already seen it; those stripes in front of the serial number ought to be Insignia Red, not black, but the image is of an F-100 that's up a pole in the wilds of Texas and we're probably lucky they got it as close as they did when they painted the airplane!    Ben Brown Collection

And the other side. Compare these photos to the one we ran last issue---the ducts are almost but not quite the same, a condition to be expected when we recall that the mod was done within PACAF and didn't come with the airplanes!    Ben Brown Collection

Here's that photo again, provided so you won't have to go back and forth between issues to see it. Note that it's sortof the same, but not really---no two were alike!    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

The RHAW Fairing on the Vertical Stabilizer

Ben and Doug had both noted that it's wider from side-to-side when the RHAW gear is installed, which is how the Monogram kit depicts it. The original fairing is narrow, not much wider than the position lights that live immediately below it. That configuration is provided in the Trumpeter kit. 

Here's the narrow variation of that fairing, as would have been found on pre-war "Huns".    Ben Brown

And a view of the fairing showing the slight additional width after the installation of the RHAW gear.   Bill Spidle via Ben Brown

A Drop Tank Detail Everyone Misses

Yep, everyone but Ben! You may recall that the pylon that attaches those 335-gallon gas bags to the wings of the "Hun" are permanently attached to said tanks and have a fairing on their nose that I don't think anyone other than Ben and, come to think of it, Doug Barbier, had mentioned. I didn't pick up on that detail during editing but, once again, Ben came to the rescue with photos!

This tank is a derelict that Ben photographed at what used to be The Carolinas Aviation Museum. Ignore the vegetation and concentrate on the front of that pylon. None of the available plastic kits of the F-100, and that's any F-100 in any scale, captur this feature at all and you may choose to ignore it as well, but don't say you didn't know it was there!    Ben Brown

That's it for today's additions to the "Hun" project, but don't be surprised if you see more as we go along. Look on it as an ongoing story...

A Special B-25 From Bobby

We didn't run anything from Bobby Rocker last time around because of our special Super Sabre issue, so here's an image to make amends:

"Doodle" was a B-25D from the 399th BS/345th BG and was stationed at Dobodura when this classic shot was taken. Names, artwork, mission markers, sharkmouth, squadron colors on the cowlings; this Mitchell's got it all! Of particular interest are the blast shields just forward of the package guns, and the "eight-ball" placed within the sharkmouth. If ever there was a B-25 that deserved to be modeled...   Rocker Collection

Bobby, thanks VERY MUCH for this one!

Voodoo Child, A Slight Return (with apologies to Jimi)

Rick Morgan sent some interesting RF-101C photos to us a couple of weeks ago, and they seemed to be a good way to end this issue since they're a little bit on the I-didn't-know-they-flew-those side of things; they were operated by the 153rd TRS/186th TRG of the Mississippi ANG. The photos came about as an aside to Rick's first assignment as he drove from Missouri to Pensacola to begin Navy flight training; he'd heard that the 153rd still had Voodoos as they awaited transitioning to the RF-4C and he planned his trip accordingly! These shots were all taken at NAS Meridian during that trip (Not the TraWing One T-2s in the background of the photos); many thanks to Rick for sharing them with us.

56-0229 ended up on public display, a fate that unfortunately eluded most Voodoos. The 101s on this ramp are just about ready to fade off into the sunset due to the 153rd's impending transition to the RF-4C, but they're still in pristine condition. Of interest here is the earlier version of the ANG shield; several varieties could be found on the tails of those Mississippi birds. You can still see this one on display at Robbins AFB, in Georgia.   Rick Morgan

Here's a detail image of that early ANG device. These airplanes were photographed by Rick in 1978 and twelve-year-old tactical airframes often show their age, but the birds of the 153rd don't. It used to be said that the airplanes flown by the Guard were often in better shape than those flown by the regular USAF because everyone in the units was there by choice. We don't know whether that's true or not, but these airplanes indicate that there might be something to it.   Rick Morgan

56-0185 shows off its late-style ANG badge, slime lights, and overall clean appearance. She ended up being a survivor too, and can currently be seen on dispaly at Niagara Falls International Airport in New York, presumably as a tribute to The Boys From Syracuse during their time with the 'Doo.   Rick Morgan

Here's the earlier presentation of the ANG device, which is to say there's no device at all! All three presentations were to be found on the RF-101Cs of the 153rd TRS at the same time, which could provide a valuable lesson to the scale modelers among our readership. Also of note here is the total absence of auxilliary fuel tanks on these aircraft. The Voodoo family were plumbed for external gas bags but it wasn't unusual to see them flown without tanks at all, or with only one, because of the drag and stability issues they created.
   Rick Morgan

Relatively few F-101Fs were built but it was fairly normal to find one or two in the operational Voodoo units regardless of variant flown. The two-seaters were invaluable for ongoing training and check rides. As an interesting and fascinating aside, Rick told us he was informed by his escort on this shoot that the Voodoo tub was faster than the unit's RF-101Cs because it had the B-model's "big" engines.   Rick Morgan

It's been a while since we've shared anything from Rick's camera with you, and we're please to be able to publish these today. Thanks, Morgo!

The Relief Tube

Not really, but we do want to leave you with this:

Here's a fitting way to end this edition of the blog; a super image of a UH-1Y (166768) of HX-21 taken by Mike Wilson at St Mary's Regional Airport on the 22nd of this month. Let's hope that guy wearing the red suit and sitting in the door is going to bring all of us a better 2021! Many thanks to Mike for sharing this one.

Be good to your neighbor, enjoy they holidays, and stay safe during these trying times. We'll meet again soon!


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Modeler's Guide to the Monogram F-100D in Vietnam; A Special Issue of Replica in Scale


Overthinking the Problem

There's a mostly-finished Meng Fokker Triplane sitting on my display shelves now. The kit was gifted to me by my wife, who thought I ought to have one, and I decided that when it hit the workbench I would just build the darned model without trying to identify and correct every tiny thing that might or might not be wrong with it. For once that philosophy wasn't much of a leap of faith because of the kit's alleged birth at the hands of those guys in New Zealand, but it was still somewhat different from the norm around here.

The initial part of the drill, the interior, was pretty straightforward since my library included several substantial references dedicated to the F.1/Dr.Is and the office of the real airplane was a simple one anyway. A little stainless wire for the control cables and a little more for the crossbracing that existed in the tubular fuselage structure and the game was on. Careful painting and decal work (for the instrument faces) resulted in a decent cockpit which was a Good Thing because, although there isn't very much actually in that cockpit, every bit of it can be seen from above. Detail is our friend!

That other Great War bugaboo related to the interior, sortof, is the forward-firing gun installation, a drill not made any easier by all those cooling vents in the barrel shrouds on the "Spandaus" commonly found on German scouts of the era. I'll tell you all right now; I can roll a marble, I can roll a tire, and I can roll out a pretty mean biscuit, but I can't for the life of me roll one of those photo-etched barrel shrouds of the sort provided by Eduard, Meng, and the late and highly lamented Wingnut Wings and have it come out with any semblance whatsoever to a ventilated tube. I can, however, modify the kit gun of your choice with a Master Barrel set into a pretty effective replica of the aforementioned "Spandau", which was the path chosen for the Tripe.

Everything else on that kit pretty much flew together, with the only real glitches being provided courtesy of the not-quite-finished tooling apparently used to produce the kit, although it must be mentioned in Meng's defense that the cleanup required because of those glitches, something that would never have been allowed to happen with a "real" WNW offering, is absolutely No Big Deal in the real world unless you're just dead-set on thinking it's a genuine Wingnut Wings model, which it is not. That's all a matter of preference and perspective, of course, and is in point of fact another flavor of overthinking a problem, albeit in a different direction than the one we're going to discuss today. 

Here's the deal, and the point of our discussion today: Most of the airplanes used in the Great War had propellers made of laminated wood, a superior manufacturing process that put those spiffy "stripes", for want of a better term, in the propellers. It looks really cool and it pretty much defines the props of that era. It's also a son-of-a-gun to model correctly for most people, of which I could be considered to be one. 

Anyway, there are lots of different ways to achieve that faux laminated finish, and I'm pretty sure I've investigated each and every one of them, or at least I've investigated them if they've shown up on YouTube, Britmodeller, or with any of the other usual suspects. Some of those methods produced propellers that looked absolutely great, and some produced props that were somewhat less than that, but most of them shared one thing in common; they all involved multiple steps to get to the finished product. In my world that meant multiple ways for things to go significantly off the rails so I went looking for a way that wasn't necessarily any better than the ones that I was looking at but that was something I could actually do, being more than a little simple-minded about such things.

The process I ended up with was simple beyond belief. The test prop was painted in a flat wood color and allowed to dry for a couple of days after which the laminations were drawn on with an appropriately colored artist's pencil using period photographs as a guide, and that was followed up with very light brushing over the whole thing with Burnt Sienna oil paint and a clear coat of whatever it was I ended up using for that. The hard part was paying attention to those period photos and matching what I was seeing, on both faces and also in the area of the hub. A good figure painter could probably do the whole thing in oils and skip the pencils entirely but they were simple and they worked---for me.

Here's the point to be taken. There was a problem, one that's got a track record of being a little tough to solve, and I thought it through in a way that would work for me with the least possible complication and monkey-motion. The end result was a decent laminated propeller, and I've been practicing on others since all of the WNW kits, and therefore Meng's Triplane as well, contain multiples of that particular item. That leads us to the notion that Simple is GOOD and most of us can do simple most of the time, right?

Remember the KISS principle? I rest my case!

So You Want to Build An F-100D From the Vietnam War?

Maybe you do and maybe you don't, but I did, and I was serious enough about it that I even drug out an initial-release Monogram kit I'd started six or seven years ago and never gotten around to finishing and, by Golly, FINISHED IT! It was a good kit, just a little bit fussy in the way The Big M's jet kits often were; and an excellent starting point if you wanted to build yourself a model of North American Aviation's legendary "Hun". The completion of that kit caused me to drag out a whole bunch of resources that I hadn't used in quite a while (think "where did I file that" but liberally sprinkled with naughty words and you've got the idea...) but the end results were every bit as good as I hoped they'd be and I learned some things along the way. It's those Learned Things I'd like to share with you today, but let's set a parameter right off the bat---this piece isn't the end all and be all of F-100 modeling information but rather a look at the airplane in it's glory days, during the conflict in SouthEast Asia. No Thunderbirds, no ANG (even though they did fly the type in 'Nam), and no two-seaters (not yet, anyway), just the F-100D "over there", from 1965 til its end in-theater in 1971.

Let's get a couple of things out of the way before we get started, though. First, everything you see here will apply to any F-100D kit in any scale. I chose the Monogram kit because I usually build in 1/48th and I much prefer the offering from Morton Grove (I told you I was working with an old kit!) to Trumpeter's, but that's my choice and you're certainly welcome to your own in that regard! That takes care of kit selection, right? 

Next, we're going to jump right into Do Yourself a Big Favor territory and make a couple of suggestions. First, go visit Mister Google, or whomever your search engine of choice might be, and look for everything Ben Brown has published on the Internet regarding the F-100. He knows his stuff and what he's written---there's not that much, truth be known, but it's vital to the curriculum as some folks are wont to say---will save you a great deal of pain as you progress with your model. Once you've done that you can say a huge THANK YOU to Doug Barbier who, along with Ben, is the go-to guy on things relating to the "Hun" now that Dave Menard's gone. Finally, go back to revisit the aforementioned Mister Google and look for anything F-100-related that's got Joe Vincent's name on it. He was a "Hun" driver who drove it in anger back in The Bad Old Days, besides which he's a modeler and a writer too. All three of these guys are well worth taking the time to look up if you're so inclined and they have all contributed significantly to the HUN 101 primer you're about to read.

One more thing: North American Aviation, and the US Air Force, changed small but visible things on the F-100D about as often as most people change their socks and underwear, which means you almost HAVE to have a photograph of the airplane you want to model. Not a drawing or a painting, no matter how pretty those things might be, but an honest-to-goodness photograph. You gotta have it, GI; there's no other way to do this correctly because those changes really do exist but they're minute changes at best and photographs are your friend. The Devil's most assuredly in the details on this project!

Getting Started

First, you'll need to get a kit, and I have to stress we're dealing with the classic 1/48th scale Monogram offering only, at least in terms of what I built. I personally don't own a Trumpeter F-100 so none of what follows is intended for that kit, although the basics of what goes where will bleed over to any kit from anybody (which is, after all, the whole point of this article, because we're dealing with how the real airplane looked---this is most assuredly NOT a How I Built It exercise!). Ben Brown has written extensively on the Trumpeter offering if you feel the need to go that route. 

Next, you'll have to get right with what you want the model to be; that's particularly true if you've chosen the Monogram kit. It's an oldie, first released in 1980, and it's got raised panel lines (the horror!) and an interior that's simplified, in theory anyway, by contemporary standards. The intake trunk is nonexistant and the exhaust follows suit, which reminds me of all those kids who used to look into those places in the real jets on display at airshows way back in the '50s just to see what was in there. I personally don't do that with my models but you could. What I'm trying to say here is that you can make the modeling experience as simple or as complicated as you'd like, effort and aftermarket-wise. Just remember that a straight out-of-the-box build is going to result in a straight out-of-the-box finished model, although with Monogram's kit that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In that vein, a fair amount of aftermarket exists for the Monogram kit and you're welcome to use it should you feel the need, but you can get a decent model without without ever touching resin or photo-etch if you possess even minimal modeling skills. Doug Barbier, who's a significant contributor to this piece, is of the opinion that the kit's instrument panel and cockpit sidewalls are just fine and actually better than the existing aftermarket and I'm not going to dispute that, although the seat could definitely stand replacement. I personally didn't mess with either the intake or exhausts but let's keep in mind that I build for ME, and not for contests or even other people so my standards are my standards. Yours probably differ. 

The kit's surface detail is raised, and a lot of folks will condemn a model for that perceived failing. There are many ways to deal with the issue, ranging from doing nothing at all to sanding off everything and scribing in the panel lines. I've also seen effective results achieved by the simple act of sanding off the kit's raised lines and drawing new ones in the right places on the finished model with a fine pencil and a straight edge to put the panel lines where they're supposed to be. This actually works great on a camouflage-painted surface but, once again, that's your choice. 

One thing, or actually two, that will render your life easier with this kit and about which I'm just super-pedantic involves dealing with the flying surfaces. Monogram chose to split this kit's fuselage halves horizontally, which is a well thought-out way to deal with the fuselage spine and main landing gear bay, but those fuselage halves often warp and need a little TLC if you want them to fit properly, a feat not made any easier by the fact that the tailplanes come molded to the lower fuselage and the wings are connected to one another by a web, which means you're trapping them between the upper and lower fuselage halves as you assemble the model. On the face of things it's another brilliant design feature from the boys in Morton Grove but in reality it makes a warped fuselage, with all its attendant fit problems and a resultant need for gobs of sanding and filler material, almost inevitable. I get around the issue by cutting the web between the wings and then cutting the horizontal stabs off the fuselage. That makes aligning and building the fuselage a simple thing indeed and the wings can be added whenever you want to do that. Just be sure to cut the locating pins off the wing web (they're those little bumps you see next to the wings proper when you look at the top of that web) and figure out how you want to re-attach the stabs---that particular operation can range from a simple glued butt joint to pins and bearings; the choice is yours. 

The other thing of the two that will simplify your life, Monogram F-100-wise, is to try to find an old Morton Grove/Made in USA version of the kit. I'm talking the original issue in the white box here, and there's a reason for doing that. Some of the versions molded overseas have quite a bit of flash in really awkward places such as on the wing fences and transparencies. Yes; we can deal with the problem, but why would we want to do that when we can just side-step the whole mess? Save yourself a fair amount of personal angst and take the time to seek out the original-issue iteration of this one, Kit No 5416. Throw away the decals, which were marginal even when they were new, and keep everything else. You don't have to thank me...

Those are the major things you'll have to deal with. Everything else is a relatively simple matter of looking at photographs of the airplane you want to model and duplicating what you see there. The absolutes you'll have to deal with are modifying the drop tanks to the standard wartime 335-gallon variety (they're on each and every "Hun" flown in theater regardless of date) and scratch-building some simple RHAW gear if you're modeling a late jet, and as an afterthought, probably replacing the pitot boom too because the kit one is, shall we say "delicate" and you'll never get the mold lines out of it without breaking it. 

We Ought to Have Some Drawings

So that's where we're going to start out. Doug Barbier, in conjunction with the late Dave Menard, came up with a composite drawing several years ago that defined pretty much everything that could be on an F-100D during the period of the Vietnam War. We've taken that drawing and broken it down into a set of four separate ones, defining in a visual fashion the way the airplane looked in-theater from one significant period of operations to the next. We're not presenting them as any sort of locked-in-stone definition of the way the jet looked because there was always overlap between the time changes were initiated and the inevitable bleed-over from one phase to another, which is a somewhat confusing way of saying the drawings should be taken as a general guide and not a message from the mountain. You really need to be looking at photographs too; we'll be saying that over and over in this piece, and those photographs should be what defines your model.

Here's your basic silver-painted jet---this drawing defines the immediate pre- and early war phase of F-100D operations in Southeast Asia. It's a busy little drawing because it defines a lot of stuff and you need to be careful with it because it would be a rare aircraft indeed that had all of the various antennae in place all at the same time. The APW-11 antenna on the vertical tail, for example, was almost entirely gone by the time the airplane began combat operations. Note the UHF Comm antenna under the nose up behind the pitot boom; it won't stay there very long because it's sitting between and directly in front of the quartet of M39 cannon the aircraft is equipped with. This is not an especially good place for it to live, as will be learned within a very short period of time once combat begins in earnest.

You should also be on the lookout for the duct on the lower vertical stabilizer leading edge, down by and slightly above the "kink" in the tail, and its affiliated fiberglass panel on the left side of the undersurfaces back near the exhaust. These things signify that the jet was fitted with the Lightweight Navigation System, a PACAF mod dictated by the large areas of water they operated over pre-war. The panel for the LWNAVS is well-defined but the duct is another story entirely, often being hand-formed at the squadron maintenance level early on. If the duct is there the panel will be there too; if it's not, there will be no fiberglass panel. Finally, the LWNAVS was a PACAF mod only and once the war got going F-100s were coming into theater from just about everywhere, which means that not all airplanes had it. Let's all say it together: Look at the photographs to be sure of the jet you're modeling! There's a listing of serial numbers around here someplace, right by the ones that define which aircraft were Bullpup capable, that will help you out, nav system-wise.

Here's the jet as it normally appeared during 1966 and 67, during the early days of camouflaged aircraft. The grey fin tip will normally be overpainted and the antenna fit is modest indeed, although the one for Bullpup might still be there. This is about as basic as things ever got, but an increasingly sophisticated enemy ensured that changes to the essential simplicity of the F-100D would be required.

This drawing defines the way the airplane generally looked during the late-1966 through 1968 time period, which covers the appearance of tail codes on the jet. There's still no RHAW gear on the airplane but the TACAN antennas are moving around a bit, as is the UHF Comm antenna. That black antenna cover just in front of the RAT exhaust cover could be overpainted with no adverse consequences and begins to show up overpainted with green more and more frequently.

Finally, here's the jet in its late-war configuration, to include the AN25/26 RHAW gear under the nose and on the tail and accompanied by dorsal and ventral warning beacons. Those RHAW antennae are distinct and pretty much have to be on a late aircraft and, as of this date at least, nobody in the wonderful world of aftermarket offer them for sale. Fortunately they're easy enough to make from scratch, as we'll discuss later.

Here's a drawing shamefully borrowed from one of the many F-100 manuals to define what those antennas were called by the Air Force.    Doug Barbier Collection

And finally, here's the F-100 page from my 19 January, 1967 edition of T.O. 1-1-4 Exterior Finishes, Insignia and Markings Applicable to Aircraft and Missiles. It's early enough to define the Air Force's idea of how the jet should be painted throughout the war, but keep in mind that the drawing didn't always reflect reality. Remember that part about having a photograph of the airplane you want to model?    Friddell Collection

That's it for the drawings but remember that they're a guide, not an absolute! Some things will only show up in photographs; as an example of this, Dave Menard (Mister F-100 for those of you who didn't know him) once related to Doug that the horizontal stabilizers weren't handed and could be swapped from side to side during maintenance. It wasn't done often but it did happen, which resulted in at least a couple of cases in "Huns" configured with the camouflage greens and tan facing downwards on one side, while the nominal undersurface light grey was facing upwards on the other. This is definitely a case of it-was-done-but-find-a-picture-to-prove-it-on-your-model, but it does make the point. (The mind wanders to a contest table and the know-it-all judge of your choice...)

Let's Look At Some Pictures

Right, then! You've got your kit, you've got A Plan for it, you've looked at the drawings, and you're ready to rip! Let's take a look at some annotated photographs that might point you in the right direction, Super Sabre-wise:

First, here's a benchmark of sorts to establish what we're going to be starting from. 55-3568 was an F-100D-55-NA in service with the 8th TFW at Osan back in 1959, some five years prior to the beginning of the Vietnam War, but this photo shows the "Hun" in its pre-war/early-war condition and is definitely worth a look. Note how relatively clean the airplane is, without a whole lot of anything to mar the smooth lines of the jet. Pay particular attention to the tip of the vertical tail because that APW-11 antenna will go away pre-war and you'd be truly hard-pressed to find an airplane with it installed by 1964. In the same vein, this airplane doesn't appear to have a field arrestment hook fitted and it's configured for the SIOP mission too; that's a Mk-7 (on a dedicated pylon) on the middle station of the left wing where we'd expect to see a gas bag. The stores on this airplane are a pair of 200-gallon tanks on the inboard stations, a 450-gallon bag on the starboard mid station in conjunction with that nasty blivet that's hanging off the port mid, and no outboard pylons. The jet is heading off to sit on the alert pad for a few hours in wait for a call that thankfully never came.   Bob Dorr via Sullivan Collection

Here's a classic shot we've all seen a hundred times before (and yes; that pun was intentional!) of an F-100D-85-NH sitting on the ramp at Bien Hoa during the summer of 1965. There are three things of significance here from a modeler's standpoint: First, the jet is clean, with nothing visible in the way of external antennas. Second, it's painted in overall silver lacquer, the result of participation in Operation Lookalike. Finally, it's about to be loaded with a bomb that's not at all what you think it is. Conventional wisdom would define that particular weapon as an M117, although that specific bomb had yet to put in an appearance with the F-100s in Vietnam. Instead, we're looking at an AN/M65A1 1,000lb general purpose bomb left-over from the Second World War, or maybe the Korean fracas, that's wearing a streamlined tail section. That's one of those things that's almost a constant, although we don't like saying "never" or "always" around here, but a silver "Hun" in 1965 is 99.99% certain to be lugging around left-over WW2 bombs and nothing newer in the Big Iron Lump Go Boom department. Oh, and check out those jazzy crew ladders too; they're normally yellow with silver rungs but those are tarted up a bit. The devil's in the details!   Barbier Collection

Here's our final Early Bird for today; 55-3712 "Pahodee Tiger" from the 416th TFS at DaNang in 1965. We're beginning to see antennas sprouting on the airplane now, including that slanty-looking one for guiding the AGM-12 Bullpup missile. We mention that one specifically because any airplane carrying the Bullpup has to be configured for it and that configuration includes a guidance antenna. There's a list of "Huns", by serial number, that could actually carry the weapon appended to this piece as a general guide but Modeler Beware! Just because the missile came with your kit doesn't mean the airplane you're modeling could necessarily carry it! One more thing, and this one's in the What a Blessing category: The top of that U.S. AIR FORCE lettering keys off a panel line on the real airplane, making alignment of that particular decal a piece of cake for the modeler! Is that convenient or what?    Don Kilgus via Don Jay Collection

The Air Force had been experimenting with camouflage in Southeast Asia as early as 1964 and by mid-1965 airplanes painted in the now-classic SEA Scheme were beginning to appear. This jet is a fine example of one of those early birds, and there's a lot to discuss here. First off are the antenna blades we can see, which are typical for the 1965-66 time frame, as well as the camera installation visible just aft of the crew ladder; this was on the left side only if installed. The inboard and outboard weapons pylons are in natural metal (sometimes overpainted with silver lacquer) throughout most of the war. although the outboard ones sometimes show up painted in 36622 Grey towards the end of the "Hun's" involvement there. The landing gear struts, and inner gear doors were painted silver throughout the war although the occasional 36622 nose wheel will pop up from time to time; wheel wells and speed brake wells were usually medium green. That triangular red doo-hickey on the main wheels is part of the airplane's anti-skid braking system but is often left in silver paint, while the black-painted panel immediately aft of the canopy was frequently overpainted as the war progressed. SPECIAL NOTE: We discovered a typo on the image after it was too late to easily do anything about it: the small blade antenna we're identifying as a TACAN antenna was actually an IFF antenna. Please note accordingly!    Denny Smith

56-3191, an F-100D-75-NA from the 309th TFS/31st TFW, was undergoing preflight prior to a non-combat mission when this image was taken on 25 November, 1967. A couple of things are of interest in this shot. First, the horizontal stabilizers were normally fixed in the full-down position as is well-illustrated here, which aided the crew chief while servicing the drogue chute. They're almost always like that and should be depicted that way on your model. Next is the suite of items at the aft top of the vertical stabilizer. There's no RHAW antenna on this airplane; that's not going to come along for another year or so, but the anti-static wick, position lights, and fuel drain mast were always there from the first days of the war until the last, as were a set of anti-static wicks way out on the aft corners of the wingtips. Silver or camouflaged, early or late; those things were always there. This specific airplane is carrying a markings anomaly as well; a "dirty" fuselage national insignia. Was it really dirty or deliberately toned down? We don't know, but it adds a nice touch to an otherwise plain jet.     Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Another classic shot, this time of a pair of D-models from the 309th TFS heading for some mischief during the 1969 time frame. Take a look at the anti-static wicks on the wingtips and vertical tail, and at that silver inboard pylon. On the F-100D the drop tanks were attached to the pylons rather than being separate components and it was normal to see them painted the same color as the tank. The inboards and outboards were a different matter entirely in that they started out in natural metal or silver lacquer and mostly stayed that way throughout the war, with very few exceptions. Note also the thin line of camouflage green on the top of the refueling probe.   Friddell Collection

This marvelous image shows us a whole lot that's of value to the scale modeler. Most of the details are annotated on the photo but there are a couple of things that are worth discussing, and they're all back there on the tail. First, note that duct for the LWNAVS up just above the kink in the fin. It's that home-grown duct we were discussing earlier and this isn't the only way they looked, but it's doubtful you'll find a better shot of it! Next is the way the paint has burned off the aft fuselage, over the hot section. Modelers like to do this area in vibrant purples and blues over natural metal and sometimes it really did look like that, but what you're seeing here is far more common, with the metal under the paint showing up as a straw sort of color. You'll also want to pay attention to the very distinct way the paint burns off that metal. This photo defines the colors of the afterburner "petals" as well.

Finally, take a look at those segmented stainless steel "fingers" that run top-to-bottom just in front of what most modelers call the afterburner can. They cover up the cable for the drogue chute, which is attached to the base of the fin, runs under those "fingers", and ends up below the tail where it finally attaches to the parachute. It's only on the left side of the airplane and that's how it looks most of the time.    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

Here's the entire reason the back end of the F-100, any F-100, looks the way it does---that big honkin' afterburner generated a lot of heat that ended up being transferred to the aircraft's skin.  Also of interest in this shot are the way the late inner landing gear doors are articulated to clear anything that might have been on the centerline weapons pylon that wasn't used in Vietnam. They're found in conjunction with the notched-out speed brake that was also modified to clear objects hung off the centerline of aircraft performing the SIOP mission, both of which are provided on the Monogram kit. Take a look at the spine of the forward fuselage too; that panel that's tipped up is actually the exhaust cover for the Ram Air Turbine and would only have been deployed in an in-flight emergency involving a total loss of engine power or, as seen here, during maintenance.    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

This is what we might describe as a dirty airplane but it's a wonderful shot for two reasons. First, it shows that LWNAVS antenna cover that's on the rear fuselage in a clear and concise manner and, secondly, it shows off the way the gun blast residue stains the fuselage of an F-100---modelers take note, because almost all of the staining is beside or directly in front of the gun ports, not streaming out behind them! (That's a normal thing on almost any airplane that shoots guns, by the way, but it's also a discussion for another day.)    Friddell Collection

Those single-seat regular USAF "Huns" still serving in the 1970-71 time frame were all equipped with RHAW, which means a little bit of scratch-building on the modeler's part. This photo is unfortunately incomplete but it does a good job of showing the afterburner section plus the stuff hanging off the trailing edge of the vertical stab and the deployed RAT exhaust cover. This airplane is representative of a late F-100D but keep in mind that it would have had a RHAW fairing on the nose too.    Friddell Collection

The 416th TFS got into the game early, back in the days of the silver "Huns", and stayed almost until the end. "The Blue Fox" was assigned to the squadron during that late period and once again displays all the hallmarks of a RHAW bird. The squadron color was blue, hence the name on the nose and the blue/trimmed white fin tip. Of particular interest in this shot are the fully-deployed inner main landing gear doors and speedbrake; those doors might or might not have been deployed but it was a relative rarity to see the speedboard dropped when the airplane was on the ground.

So we've seen the drawings and we've looked at some photographs. Now, let's look at some lists that make sense of the whole thing!

Aircraft With the Lightweight Navigation System (LWNAVS) by Block and Serial Number

As previously mentioned, this was a modification unique to a number of the aircraft assigned to PACAF during the late 1950s and early 1960s and which can be identified by a duct just above the kink in the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and a fiberglass panel on the left side of the aft fuselage. The mod was apparently done at the squadron or possibly depot level in the Pacific and it seems that no two ducts were 100% alike, although the fiberglass panels were. Doug Barbier spent quite a bit of time tracking down those airframes equipped with the system and has compiled a listing of the airplanes that had the mod. Please note that he isn't entirely certain of its completeness so we aren't either, but it's a significant start and is most assuredly more information than we had before! 

55-2795, 2837, 2845, 2849, 2853, 2855/56, 2861.

55-2865, 2870, 2878-79, 2881, 2883, 2889, 2892, 2901, 2903/04/05.


55-3502, 3508, 3512, 3516, 3518, 3521/22, 3525, 3528, 3530, 3532, 3534/35, 3541, 3543, 3545, 3549/50, 3553, 3555, 3558/59/60, 3562, 3564, 3566, 3568/69/70, 3572/73/74, 3576, 3580/81/82, 3585/86/87, 3589/90/91/92/93, 3595, 3598, 3600/01.

55-3602/03/04, 3608, 3611, 3613, 3615, 3618/19/20, 3622/24, 3625, 3628, 3630/31/32, 3634, 3639/40/41/42, 3647, 3650, 3653.

55-3740, 3745, 3762, 3765/66, 3780, 3782, 3784/85, 3793, 3803/04, 3806, 3809, 3811/12/13/14.


56-3259, 3263/64/65/66/67, 3269/70, 3272/73, 3275/76/77/78/79/80, 3282/83, 3285/86/87, 3320, 3324, 3326/27/28/29/30/31/32/33/34/35/36, 3338/39/40/41, 3343, 3345/46.

Aircraft with -NA block numbers were built in Los Angeles while those carrying -NH block numbers were built in Columbus. You probably already knew that but we wanted to be sure...

AGM-12 Bullpup Compatible Aircraft by Serial Number

You would think the AGM-12 Bullpup was the most important air-to-ground missile ever fielded by American military aviation when you see how many kits feature it, but in point of fact its combat history was less than stellar, short in duration, and relatively few aircraft were ever modified with the command guidance equipment necessary for its employment. As far as we know there is no previously published list of which Vietnam War F-100Ds were actually Bullpup capable before this one; Doug spent quite a bit of time auditing photographs, looking for aircraft configured with the guidance antenna under the nose or with the missile hanging off a pylon, and came up with the following list. We make no claim as to its completeness but, as with the list of LWNAVS airframes, it's a start. Just remember when you're looking at photographs of "Huns" from the war years; no guidance antenna equals no capability to employ the missile.

Known Bullpup-Capable F-100Ds by Serial Number, various Block Numbers:

55-2814, 2818, 2821, 2841, 2894, 2903, 3548/49, 3559, 3569, 3603/04, 3622/23, 3655, 3363, 3366, 3376, 3681, 3689, 3695, 3717, 3739, 3774, 3791, 3797, 3884, 3889, 

56-2912, 2916, 2928, 2944, 2963, 2979, 2981, 2986, 2989, 2999, 3000, 3011, 3033, 3037, 3054/55, 3063, 3120, 3122, 3162, 3168, 3179, 3239, 3245, 3264/65, 3285, 3305, 3318/19, 3329, 3333, 3335, 3340, 3374, 3379, 3383, 3415, 3425, 3437, 3448, 3462, 3923

Many thanks to Doug for his patience and fortitude looking at all those photographs to assemble this provisional list!

F-100D Units Operating in Southeast Asia 1965-71

Although the F-100 was a critical component of Air Force operations during the war in Vietnam there were never many units assigned to the theater. Here's a brief list, possibly incomplete, of the regular USAF units we know to have been there at one time or another. Remember that this list accompanies an article that's concerned only with the F-100D, at least for now.

3rd TFW at BienHoa AB, Nov '65-Jun '66

510th TFS (CE)
531st TFS (CP)

31st TFW at TuyHoa AB Dec '66- Fall '70

306th TFS (SD)
308th TFS (SE, later SM)
309th TFS (SS)
355th TFS (SP)
416th TFS (SE)

35th TFW at PhanRang AB Oct '66-Spring '71

352nd TFS (VM)
355th TFS (VS)
614th TFS (VP)
615th TFS (VZ)

37th TFW at PhuCat AB Spring '67-Spring '69

355th TFS (HP)
416th TFS (HE)
612th TFS (HS)

Note that this listing does not break out the squadrons by month/year, nor does it detail the way the squadrons jumped around from wing to wing and base to base. The 355th and 416th were both assigned to multiple wings (the 31st and 35th TFWs) during their time in-country. This is a basic listing and we'd like to learn more if you have additional information. Please send any corrections to   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   should you feel so inlined.

Early Deployments to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, The Silver Jets

In the spirit of a gift that keeps on giving, Doug continues to come up with things we really need to know about the "Hun" over there. Here's a brief description of the deployment of those silver F-100Ds to the theater:

First deployment were 6x a/c from the  510th TFS from Clark AB RP, to Don Muang A/P Bangkok Thailand 16 Apr 1961 under "Operation Bell Tone", ostensibly to provide air defense for the Thai capital.

18x Squadron sized deployments to Thailand starting 18 May 1962 under "Operation Saw Buck" rotational exercises.  First units from Cannon and England AFB's.

After a USN RF-8 Crusader was shot down over Laos on 22 May 1964, 8x F-100D from the 615th TFS (401 TFW England AFB, LA) deployed to Da Nang AB, RVN with  Col. George Laven in command.  The first F-100 strike against an enemy in-theater was flown on 9 June 1964 against targets in the Plaines des Jarres, Laos.  

An additional 8x F-100D from the 615th  TFS deployed to Da Nang  after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964.  They flew both MIGCAP escort missions with the F-105 and ground attack missions into Laos.  In addition, two squadrons deployed from Cannon AFB to South Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  1 ea from the 27th and 474th TFW  (effectively at least 3 Hun squadrons in RVN then)

First combat F-100D loss was a/c 56-3085, shot down on 18 Aug 1964 in Laos.

Starting 14 December 1964, Barrel Roll sorties against NVA in Laos.  
During the Flaming Dart against NV targets, Huns continued to act as MIGCAP
Operation Rolling Thunder in Mar 1965 - MIGCAP.  4 April 1965, Cpt Don Kilgus (416th TFS) claimed a MIG-17 kill. This was the only time that the F-100's tangled with MIG's. Shortly after that, ground attack south of N. Vietnam only

Aircraft from the 416th TFS Silver Knights deployed to Clark, then to Da Nang in March 1965, then to Bien Hoa mid-June. Nov 1965 Than Son Nhut, then Phu Cat in Apr 1967 and Tuy Hoa in May 1969

481st TFS "Crusaders" from 27 TFW  Cannon AFB deployed to RVN under "Operation Two Buck 16" - 16th TDY deployment of F-100s to RVN-  on 12 Jun 65. 18x a/c.   LTC Harold Comstock CC.  Arrived Tan Son Nhut (just outside Saigon) on 21 June 1965 - the first jet tactical fighter unit to be based there.  Departed back to CONUS by 27 NOV 1965 but left the jets behind for other units to use!!  Most, if not all jets camouflaged by then.  

415th TFS from 3 TFW, England AFB, LA replaced 481st, supposedly on a permanent basis.  Jets arrived already camouflaged c. mid Nov 1965.  

429 TFS  Bien Hoa  TDY July-Nov 1965  from 474 TFW Cannon AFB, NM

Early TDY's came from PACAF tasked TAC wings or PACAF based wings - Cannon, England, Clark and Misawa known.

The Way They Actually Looked

We're going to make a leap of faith and presume that anyone who's reading this piece is doing it because they want to build a scale model of the F-100D during its time in The SouthEast Asia War Games. Close examination of a great many photographs leads us to several conclusions, which we'd like to share with you.

First, it's incredibly easy to over-weather a model of the F-100D as used in Vietnam. Yes; some were heavily used and yes; they got weather-beaten and heavily stained---SOMETIMES---but more often than not they were kept in relatively decent condition with minimal chipping and overall weathering. If you forced us to a conclusion we'd have to say that the early camouflaged birds, pre-tailcode (1968) were the dirty birds of the family, generally speaking. On the other hand, the bellies of any of the jets could get a little nasty, a condition not helped at all by the white-ish 36622 paint under there after camouflage started being applied, but mostly they looked reasonably well kept. That means---are you ready---that you should look at photographs of airplanes from the unit and time period you're interested in before you begin chipping and staining things, and then weather your model appropriately.

Then there's that darned aft fuselage. The skin was in close proximity to the afterburner that lived back there and paint didn't stay on that area for very long at all, but once again you need to key what you're doing to photographs of the real thing. It's probably better to aim for a modest  and convincing burnt paint over stained metal look rather than trying to duplicate entire panels in pretty irridescent colors. That discoloring certainly happened on the "Hun" and you can see vivid examples of it on airplanes that started out unpainted in the pre-war days, back in the '50s and early '60s, but even then you're more likely to see tannish-colored staining rather than the shimmering purples or blues we so often find on scale models. 

All of these airplanes will be carrying 335-gallon drop tanks and will have a bent refuelling probe, and they'll all have the "band-aid" reenforcement straps on the wings that live up by the fuselage, just like Monogram gave us in their kit.

By now you've probably figured out that what we're trying to say here is simple: It's easy to look, but sometimes it's hard to see what you're looking at. Photographs are your friend if you've got the sense to use them, but we also know that not everyone has accesses to photographic resources so Doug Barbier came up with a couple of easy rules to define what an F-100D model ought to look like during those different time periods, and they're well-worth sharing:

Early war, in silver paint: Most unit markings are small and on the vertical stab (most of them...), with mission markers and occasional nose art. There won't be a whole lot in the way of antennas but the guidance antenna for Bullpup could be seen on some jets well into 1967. In terms of ordnance, the jets might be carrying AIM-9s on those goofy "Y" launchers, or old (WW2 and Korean War leftovers) bombs, or more contemporary napalm, rocket pods, or SUU-7 cluster bomb dispensers.

The early camouflaged jets (prior to the beginning of tail codes in 1966) are pretty much the same, antenna-wise, as their silver predecessors. Low-drag bombs (the Mk series) are coming on line in both low and high-drag configurations and that  faux-ubiquitous M117 that everyone mistakenly puts on their early F-100 models is finally making its appearance. Napalm cans, rocket pods, and CBU launchers are still distinct possibilities.

By 1967-68 new antennae are evident here and there. RHAW gear is possible after 1968 and usually evident after 1970, and post-1968 aircraft in some wings employ TERs on the two inboard wing stations---go back a couple of issues for Joe Vincent's photographic overage of the racks actually fitted to wartime "Huns" and the loads they carried. 

Let's Be a Little More Specific

Doug Barbier has been studying the "Hun" in Southeast Asia for a couple of decades now, and has kindly provided this addendum to us:

AGM-12B Bullpup  {modifications complete by late 1959,  1st squadron not operational until Dec 1960, only 4 squadrons operational by June 1961 and only approximately 200 a/c actually received it}  Out of service by 1966 and guidance antenna & joystick removed by 1967.

Small trapezoidal antenna above intake lip. some by c.1959, but many not until 1966.

Buzz numbers removed from fuselage of all silver F-100s starting by mid-1965, possibly as early as  late 1964.  Finished by early 1966.  481st TFS was in the process of removing them from their jets in RVN during mid-to-late 1965.

Camouflage paint - started by fall 1965, all completed by mid 1966.  Most initial paint jobs carried out by unit painters using fax guidance and were therefore highly individual.  Most aft fuselage hot sections were initially painted, but since the paint burned off rapidly, this practice was quickly discontinued.

Aircraft serial numbers & USAF markings went to 6" high letters & numbers on the fin.  Initially any combination of white/white, white/black, black/white or white/white could be seen (painters choice) but were later standardized to black USAF over black serial number.  Prior to adoption of camouflage paint, the serial number on the tail was painted in black 12" tall numbers and the "U. S. AIR FORCE" lettering on the forward fuselage was painted in Insignia Blue (by T.O. at least) using 15" tall letters.  Star and bar markings prior to camouflage were 25" dia on the fuselage sides and 35" dia stars on the lower right wing and upper left wing.  After camouflage, 15" diameter stars were generally carried in all positions.

Small trapezoidal antenna below the windshield / cockpit area - added c.1966.

UHF blade antenna below forward fuselage ahead of gun muzzles - added c.1966 but relocated to fuselage spine by 1968 due to frequent breakage.

AN/APR-25(V)/26 RHAW fairings added underneath intake lip and on aft face of vertical fin above fuel dump c.1967-68.

Combat documentation camera capability added starting c.1968.

Band aids on bottom of wing - at the fuselage joint and scab patches on upper fuselage - temporary mods added starting late 1967, replaced by major depot mods  possibly stretching through 1970.

Unit Tail codes - added to combat jets in SEA starting c. 1968.     

Rotating anti-collision beacon on top & bottom of fuselage added c.1969.  The lower recognition light was moved forward when the bottom beacon was added in the original location of the recognition light.

Some a/c had a floodlight under a teardrop shaped housing on the wing, inside of the fence added c.1969.

Note:  The small trapezoidal antennas mounted all over the aircraft varied in function and location over time. For example, the F-100 Dash-1 simply calls some of them "identification radar" antennas and does not differentiate between radar beacon nor IFF/SIF usage. The best way from a modeling viewpoint is to simply look at photo's showing where they were located at a particular time on a particular jet and add or delete them as necessary.

Weapons Used By the F-100D in SEA

This was a topic that was slated for another issue but Doug performed that miracle we all participate in from time to time (or at least those of us who research and write do!) and Found Some Files He Thought He'd Lost. As it happens that's a very good thing for Doug and a great one for us so, without further ado:

There are two very important things to remember about weapons carriage that modelers (and model manufacturers) are forever getting wrong.  The first is that just because the aircraft was cleared to haul something doesn’t mean that it ever actually DID it in the real world.  The second is that armament is not simply hung haphazardly.  Armament is chosen for a particular type of target and can only be hung on stations that have been tested and approved to carry that particular store. You can’t just hang anything you want anywhere you want.  You’re into fantasy modeling at that point & if you’re going to take that much time & effort to build a great model, you may as well get the stores right as well.

For example, if you were fragged to attack an area target in the Mekong Delta, unfinned nape would be the weapon of choice because it tumbles after release and covers a wider area on impact. If a target is below the jungle canopy, finned nape is the only way to go because they go in straight and can penetrate the trees before exploding.  Likewise, the "daisy cutter" fuse extenders on the Mk-82 bombs had a purpose---they caused the bomb to explode higher and spread shrapnel farther, making them a good antipersonnel weapon, while the normal version was better to blow up targets such as buildings and trucks, so there are many combinations of weapons that you would simply never see together on the same jet.  There are roughly a dozen full pages in the 1966 pilot’s Dash-1 manual dedicated to what can be hung and where on the F-100D, and I’ll try to simplify them shortly.

Next, which way do the fins go?   There are two ways that any finned weapon can be hung on a mounting; either with a “+” (plus) configuration or an “x” (X) configuration when referenced to the ground.  The Sidewinders on an F-100D were in a “+” configuration.  Note that this is extremely unusual and virtually every other Sidewinder-capable jet carried them in an “X” configuration.  All other conventional stores and the 275/335 gal tanks on an F-100 had the fins in an “X” configuration.  Finally conventional weapons were nearly always loaded symmetrically, that is the same type weapon on the same station locations relative to each other (outboard & outboard, inboard & inboard, etc.).  

 One final item before I get off my podium here: ALL published photos of early SEA "Huns" carrying so-called “750” pound bombs are captioned incorrectly.  Even though they were commonly called ‘750’s’, they weren’t.  The M-117 was the first true 750 lb bomb in the U.S. inventory and it didn’t show up until later in the game.  Jets in those early deployments, during the Silver Days back in 1964 and 1965, were hauling around leftover WW2 era AN/M65A-1 1000 lb bombs with conical fins replacing the old WW2 box fins.  They were also using leftover Korean war vintage fuses in them, which resulted in a high level of ‘dud’ bombs.  And, for a while, there were so few of them available that many times a jet would launch on a mission with only two bombs loaded.  The way to tell which bomb is actually being used is to look at the noses. If there were lots of thin yellow stripes, if there were stripes on the aft or mid section of the bomb, if there weren’t any stripes at all, or if it just looked like it had been sitting around weathering in the open for a couple of decades, it was the old M65 (or an M64 – the 500lb version, which was also used early on).  The later 750 lb M-117 both looked a lot newer (fresh paint & no weathering) and had only one 2” wide yellow stripe around the body of the bomb, located 3"behind the nose.  The newer Mk-8X & M-117  series of bombs did not start dribbling into theater until mid to late 1965 and did not become common until 1966-67 due to expenditures exceeding production rates of the new bombs - there really WAS a bomb shortage.

Given the complexity of the discussion, I'll try to simplify things for us from a basic modeler's perspective. During the conflict in SEA, the standard configuration for F-100D's was a NAA Type I pylon on the inboard wing stations, 335 gallon external tanks on the intermediate points, and a NAA Type III pylon on the outer wing stations.  I should mention here that the fuel tanks were integral (one fixed piece) with their pylons and that the pylon was aerodynamically shaped on the leading portion to ensure that the tanks went away from the jet if they were jettisoned, instead of into it.  Because of this design feature no truly accurate F-100 pylons for the middle stations exist in plastic or resin.  

 For most of the war, weapons pylons were left in natural metal and carried a multitude of colored stenciling.  The pylons also had unique streamlined "fairings" on the lower sides between the two suspension lugs.  As the war progressed, those fairings were cut back in the middle - increasing the drag but making it easier to rapidly hang weapons from them.  Some times the pylons were painted during this modification and in that case, the stenciling was minimal or nonexistent.

Some munitions could only be loaded on the outboard wing stations.  Examples include the SUU-7 CBU tanks and SUU-25 Flare dispensers.  And if you saw a napalm tank loaded on an F-100, it was virtually certain to be a 750 lb variety, either the BLU-1B or the welded case BLU-27.  Both finned and unfinned versions were used but generally not mixed on the same aircraft.

 Prior to the arrival of the F-4 Phantoms, F-100D's were used on MIGCAP missions, escorting F-105's over North Vietnam.  For those missions, the very unique NAA Type IX integrated AIM-9B pylon/launchers were carried in place of the Type I's on the inboard wing stations.  From the front, these looked like handed, inverted "Vee's" and each carried two of the early Sidewinder missiles.  No pylons were hung on the outboard wing stations but the two 335 gallon external fuel tanks were carried.  All these jets were in the silver lacquer paint and not camouflaged.

Late in 1967, many of the jets were modified to be able to load Triple Ejector Racks (TER's) on the inboard pylon.  While this did increase the amount of munitions the Hun could carry, it came with additional restrictions on what could be loaded.  But by the time the TER's became available in quantity in SEA, the end was near. If you choose to use them, remember that they could only be loaded on the inboard pylons and only one type of weapon could be loaded - no mixing was allowed.  Acceptable munitions loads were restricted to 3x Mk-81 (rare) or Mk-82 (common) bombs or 2x unfinned nape cans on the outer stations ONLY.
SEA Combat Loadouts - Changes over Time

The ordnance carried by the F-100D in SEA varied greatly over the years that the "Hun" was at war.  Fuel tanks were always carried on the mid-wing stations and neither the 200 gal inboard nor 450 gal ferry tanks were seen in combat and the inboard Type I pylons were always in place except for early war MIGCAP missions and the Type IX pylons replaced them because of the perceived need for an air-to-air weapon, or for the 13 odd sorties where the 481st TFS launched Bullpup missiles from Type X AGM-12-specific inboard pylons.
For attacking ground targets in 1964, leftover WW2 and Korean era munitions were the only things available. The preferred weapon was the 1,000lb M-65 but when those couldn't be had, the 500 lb M64 versions were loaded.  

Unfinned napalm was loaded for open country while finned napalm containers were used if they had to be dropped through the jungle canopy.  

"Hard" targets in Laos and Cambodia called for 4x M-65's, while "Soft" targets within S. Vietnam, either an M-65 or M-64 inboard with napalm, rockets of SUU-7 CBU (ALWAYS loaded outboard) was common.  Occasionally, late in the war, CBU-49 was used if it was available.

Other than a few SUU-7/A pods there were no CBU’s available until mid to late 1965 and that’s about the time the new generation Mk-82 series 500 lb GP bombs and M-117 750 lb GP bombs – both in the slick & retarded (HD or ‘snakeye’) version - started to trickle in as well.

During early 1965, “In Country” loads were frequently 2x LAU-3 rocket pods on the O/B pylons and 2x M65 on the I/B pylons.  A 4x M65 configuration was frequently seen, as was napalm I/B and the M65 O/B – or vice versa. As an example, between June and November 1965, the 481st TFS (which was TDY to S. Vietnam from Cannon AFB, NM) expended  3,829 “750” bombs (virtually all of which were the old M65 variety), 1,681 500 lb bombs (again, virtually all being WW2 vintage M64’s), 155 Mk-82 ‘Snakeye’ retarded bombs, 2,952 napalm canisters, 50 LAU-3 rocket pods (that is only 25 jets worth),  646 SUU-7 CBU canisters and 25 AGM-12B Bullpups, (13 missions worth total) in addition to countless rounds of 20mm.  Notice that there were lots & lots of napalm & M65’s, fewer 500 pounders and virtually no LAU-3’s or Snake used here. And, if you don’t see it on this list, it never got hung on a Hun in Vietnam in 1964 or 1965 – which was the ‘silver jet’ era.

By late 1966 the old WW2 era bombs were gone, the new munitions were common and the Hun was concentrating on “In Country” missions as the more capable  F-4’s and F-105’s took on the dangerous missions up north.  As a direct result of the mission change, the combat loads changed as well.  

Radar guided, medium altitude “Skyspot” bombing missions generally used 4x 
MK-82’s with fuze extenders, while Defense Suppression missions against AAA guns used either CBU-2A or LUA-3 rockets. At this point, “Hard” Targets in Laos and Cambodia rated 4x M-117 ‘slicks’ and the “Soft” targets in the south could be virtually any mix of GP bombs and Napalm, but   
 were initially 750 Lb M-117 slicks and 750 lb Napalm, or 500 Lb Snake and Napalm.

By 1968 the “fighter pilots friend” –“snake and nape” – became the most common load.  Different Wings tended to load these in different locations, so you’ll have to check photos to be certain what your own model should have, but the most common load was a single Mk-82HD inboard with napalm outboard, per wing.  However, the 31st TFW seemed to prefer things the other way around.  Other common loads would have been 4x Mk-82 HD or slicks,  M-117s I/B and nape or LAU-3 rocket launchers O/B.  Nape I/B and SUU-7 O/B was seen from 1967 to 1971.  In 1971, right at the end of the Hun’s combat life in Vietnam, one aircraft in a section loaded with 4x Nape and a wingman loaded with 4x Mk-82 Snakes became common. 

Munitions Colors,  Generally Speaking                                                

SUU-7 CBU canisters were painted white in 1964-65 but then switched to olive drab by mid-late 1967 or so.

LAU-3/A Rocket pods were either gloss white (esp early) or olive drab and may have had a red dot on the nose.  They virtually always had the aerodynamic nose and tail fairings in place.

Napalm containers (750 lb standard) were almost invarably natural metal and may or may not have    carried a 2” wide red stripe near the nose.

M64 & M65 bombs were VERY weathered WW2 olive drab shades and had 3 or 4 thin yellow stripes around either the nose, the tail, or both. They were mated to newer conical fin assemblies (vs the old WW2 ‘box fins’) that were generally a darker shade of olive drab, since they were newer.

Mk-82 & Mk-117 bombs were (fresh) olive drab and had a 2” wide yellow stripe 3” behind the nose of the bomb.

AIM-9B "Sidewinder" missiles were gloss white with clear glass IR seekers. 

AGM-12B "Bullpup" missiles were also gloss white overall.

All of these weapons carried stencils and a few carried placards as well. That sort of detail is beyond the scope of this work, but there are a great many examples of each available in photographs both in print and on the internet.

Modeling Aftermarket

You might think that this would be the perfect time for us to list all the stuff that's available to enhance or accurize a model of the F-100, and Doug was kind enough to provide just such an extensive list of what's out there for the airplane, but we're not going to run it today.

With that said, there's quite a bit more aftermarket of all kinds available than you might think, from decals to resin to photo-etched details. That includes the weaponry carried too, and the only areas where accurate aftermarket are not available, at least as far as we know, involve the RHAW gear and the early-war Y-shaped AIM-9 pylons. You can steal RHAW gear that will work, for the nose anyway, from the incredibly complete and extremely expensive DACO detail set for the F-104, but you're on your own for an accurate set of Sidewinder rails for an early-war air-to-air fit. On the plus side, scratch-building that RHAW gear isn't especially hard to do, which matters a lot if you're building a late jet.

And Speaking of RHAW

It's an essential part of the F-100D during its last few years Over There, and it's just not available for your model unless you build in 1/48th and want to steal the sensor from your DACO F-104 improvement kit, and even then you only end up with the one for the nose. Fortunately, it's a simple matter to make a set for your "Hun" using a piece of plastic and a file. Doug was kind enough to provide a dimensioned sketch of the RHAW gear and a couple of photos---look at them closely because they're useful indeed!

Is this a modeler's sketch or what? The thing is, it gives us the shape of the more difficult of the two RHAW installations from a modeler's perspective and does it with dimensions too. You might want to put Doug's picture on the piano for doing this for us!    Doug Barbier

Here's that nose RHAW from the left side. Note that the sensors are missing from that blanked-off circular port. Once again, photos are our friend!   Doug Barbier

And from head-on. The photo isn't the best but it defines how the nose sensor looks from dead ahead; notice how the sensor openings are stepped rather than on the same plane?   Doug Barbier

Finally, here's the RHAW installation back on the tail. Note how it's faceted and not especially big, and how it has the same blanked-out ports for the sensors. The anti-static wick, position lights, and fuel dump mast are all evident here as well.   Doug Barbier


We'd been thinking of doing this piece for quite a while and a recent urge on my part to build a Vietnam-era F-100D model provided the impetus for the project, but credit needs to go where credit's due; first and foremost to Dave Menard, aka Mister F-100 but also, and substantially, to Doug Barbier, a long-time friend who's been trying to make sense of the nuances of modeling all of the Century Series aircraft for many years---Doug, you ought to write a book! We'd also like to mention Ben Brown, who was successfully figuring out the Monogram F-100D kit long before most of us became interested in it in any serious manner, and Joe Vincent, who has modeled the "Hun", written about it, photographed it, and flown it in combat. 

Then there are the guys who shepherd the history and preserve the photography, and who sent images when we asked for them: Don Jay, Jim Sullivan, Mark Aldrich, and Mark Nankivil, in association with The Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum, all responded to requests for images and insight, and we're grateful to them for the help. Thanks, Guys!

Some Final Thoughts

The F-100D isn't a Spitfire or a Mustang, but quite a few kits of it have been issued over the years. Unfortunately, the only one of them that's actually accurate out of the box is the 1980-vintage Monogram kit, which leaves the 1/72nd and 1/32nd scale guys, as well as those who don't like raised panel lines, in the lurch. Keep in mind, however, that everything in this article, which is slanted towards the Monogram kit, has direct application to any of the others and the main thing, the BIGGEST thing, is, yes; to look at photographs and duplicate what you see regardless of which kit you're using.

In terms of the real airplane, we'd like for you to consider this: Much like another North American Aviation product that was active in a war that took place in the same region only 15 years before, the "Hun" was in the Far East in some numbers when the decision was made to send combat aircraft to Vietnam. It had little room for growth even when it was new because it was, after all, the very first of the Century Series family of American jet fighters and in consequence its ability to live in the big war up north became ever smaller as the years passed, but it did its job and it did it well down south, supporting the guys in the mud in all weathers and in darkness. When troops in contact required air support it was, as often as not, the "Hun" that answered the call. 

The glory, F-100-wise, and the lasting fame, tended to go to the Misty Fac guys and to the earliest of the Wild Weasels and rightfully so because of the nature of their jobs, using a barely-viable airplane over North Vietnam and doing that job until more capable systems could come on line. Those "Hun" drivers and GIBs earned every single accolade they were given, but don't sell the guys short who were moving the mud in South Vietnam. Theirs wasn't easy work, and it wasn't any safer, just highly  dangerous in a different way. 

Then there was the ground echelon, the unsung heros who kept the Air Force combat capable throughout the war, often in less than optimal circumstances. Talk to one of those guys now and they'll tell you they were just doing their job and, in so many ways, that's exactly what they were doing, but there was always more to it than that. At the end of the day it was a team, which we so often fail to remember when we build our model airplanes.

This started out as a regular blog with a small F-100D feature article, but things very quickly got out of hand as Doug and I began bouncing ideas off each other and suggesting ways to improve the piece. In short time it assumed the stature of a stand-alone work, almost but not quite a monograph, and morphed into what you see here. We enjoyed doing it and sincerely hope that you enjoyed it as well. Comments, corrections, or additional photography can be addressed in the usual way to   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   . 

Happy Snaps

Yes indeedy, but we're going to do things a little bit differently this time around and show you one of our photographers being photographed:

Doug Barbier has been a friend for a very long time and is an excellent photographer as well as a noted author and modeler. He's also a retired Air Force and Air National Guard fighter pilot and was photographed flying this F-16 during the time he was with the Michigan ANG, an unusual event for him because he was normally the guy taking the pictures of someone else! It's only fair that you see what he looks like since he was a significant contributor to this special edition of the blog, as well as the sole author of its "let's be more specific" and weapons sections and, perhaps most importantly, as Chief Fact Checker and Sanity Officer. Many thanks to Doug, and we hope you enjoy this issue of the blog as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

Stay safe and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!

Lest we forget...