Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Requiem for a Friend, The Triplane That Is, Gone But Not Forgotten, A Cobra, and Was It Really That Long Ago

The King is Dead?

In recent days the scale modeling portion of the internet has been awash with rumors, reports, and a whole lot of outright speculation regarding the apparent demise of Wingnut Wings. In point of fact some scale modeling sites have been quite literally going nuts over the whole thing, with comments ranging from "so what" to "it's the end of Great War scale modeling". Many comments have been constructive, in a sad sort of way, while a few have been outright nasty and a few others have bordered on absolute lunacy. Those comments run the gamut, there's no doubt.

The one thing that seems clear and actually true is that WNW have shut down. It might be temporary or it might be permanent but as I type this they're gone with staff laid off and, one might presume, doors tightly shuttered. I can't add anything to what's already been reported on all those electronic magazines and boards other than to comment that I was heavily involved in the procurement of aerospace tooling and fixtures for a great deal of my time in the industry and that it's normal for whomever pays for tooling to own said tooling unless some sort of circumstance precludes it, so I'll hazard one guess (and one guess only) and say that Sir Peter Jackson owns the tooling for all of those exquisite kits. I would, in fact, be amazed if he didn't own it, at least for the time being, but that's still a guess on my part and nothing more.

Of greater interest are those marvelous Great War kits that Wingnut have given us over the past ten or so years. Those models have been brilliantly engineered and superbly rendered, and have truly earned every accolade they've acquired over the decade or so of the company's existence. In my world there aren't enough superlatives to describe them. I didn't buy each and every one, although for the most part I've purchased the kits that have spoken to me, and I've even built several. I'm a fan, pure and simple.

On the other hand, I'm also a realist. As much as I've enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, those kits, there are other manufacturers out there who produce 1/32nd scale First World War subjects. Roden (yes; Roden!) is one, and their kits aren't half bad. They require more work than the offerings of that New Zealand-based company and their decals have a reputation for being extremely difficult to work with, but the actual kits themselves are perfectly buildable and look great when finished, even though they do lack the finesse and fine detail of Wingnut's offerings. Then there's Copper State, who's Nieuport 17s are absolutely gorgeous, rivaling the best work of WNW. Unfortunately their entire 1/32nd lineup, at least as of today, consists of just those Nieuports, but with any luck that's only a temporary situation.

We also can't give up the notion that someone will purchase Wingnut's tooling, or maybe the company will reopen at a later date. Either scenario is possible, even if that possibility appears distinctly remote at this juncture. Stranger things have happened.

Worst case, Wingnut's kits will remain available on the secondary market, albeit at greatly inflated prices, while Roden and Copper State will continue to produce their own kits of the aircraft of The Great War. It's easy to be maudlin about the whole thing and fall into a state of grieving for Wingnut's  passing and on a strictly personal level I do indeed grieve the loss of their company, but I'm also extremely grateful for the time they were with us. I've enjoyed the kits and am proud of the way they look on the shelf. I'm truly happy that my time as a scale modeler included that brief span of time when they were alive and well, and thrilling us with unexpected new release after release. It was a special time, and they were a special company.

With all of that said, tomorrow is a new day. Maybe those marvelous kits will be back, either in the guise of a reborn Wingnut Wings or maybe under someone else's logo. Maybe they're gone forever. The point is we had them for a while. As a company they did wonderful things and they raised the bar substantially by so doing. We all gained from their existence in our polystyrene world, and our hobby was a better place while they were with us.

The King is dead. For now...

We Were So Close

Yes we were. The guys over at WNW had said they would never do a Fokker Triplane because there was already a very good kit (Roden) out there. They were right about that one; the Roden Tripes (a Dr.I and an F.I, in case you've forgotten) were, and are, very good indeed. They're a little fussy to build, as are all of Roden's offerings, and in consequence probably not good kits for the beginner in spite of the Dr.I's almost total lack of rigging, but they're definitely on the high side of ok. Wingnut's kit, which is apparently tooled and pretty much ready to go, would have been a better detailed and far more builder-friendly kit, of course, but it would seem that we won't see it anytime soon, if at all.

Those two Ukrainian kits are pretty much it these days for Fokker Triplanes in 1/32nd scale (and yes; I know Andrea makes one too, but it's not in the same league as the others), but there's another Tripe out there that's well worth your time---it's just in a different scale:

And here it is: Eduard's 1/48th scale Dr.I, in Lothar von Richthofen's Jasta 11 markings and half-finished as usual, but boy what a kit! It's several years old now and has seen the usual Eduard boxings: Profipack, Weekend Edition, Dual Combo, and as a star component of at least two special offerings, Der Rote Flieger and Du Doch Nicht, so it's also easy to find. It's a superb little kit, rendered semi-difficult only by the extraordinarily petite detail parts that grace its contents, and it's probably not the Triplane for the absolute novice, but it goes together like a fine pre-digital watch and it's every inch a Dr.I once it's completed.

You may, of course, ask why we would discuss this kit when the Great War modeling world at large is drooling for the Wingnuts kit they may never get, but it's only fair to mention that there are a whole bunch of excellent offerings out there in 1/48th scale too and they're well worth your time. They're just a little smaller, that's all!

Then again, if I were a betting man, which I'm not, I'd be willing to wager that WNW Tripe will show up someday. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, and maybe not under the Wingnut Wings logo, but I'll bet we see it eventually. Fingers crossed, etc, etc...

The Bad Thing on the Block

That particular appelation could apply to any number of military airplanes but in today's context we're referring to Grumman's F-14 Tomcat. It was a marvel when first introduced, first and foremost by being a polymorph that actually worked, and secondly by proving itself to be a fleet defence interceptor, or may just a fighter, par excellance. It wasn't perfect, of course; nothing ever is. It was in truth a little underpowered, at least in its early versions, the AIM-54 Phoenix it was designed to carry was far from an optimal weapon when viewed in a real world sort of context, and it took a lot of maintenance to keep it operational. It was also a world-beater for several decades of its lifespan in Navy service and it looked good. Here are a few examples to remind you of what once was. Note that these images depict the F-14A during what many consider to be its finest decade, spanning the years from 1979 to 1989, but none of the schemes are the classic Light Gull Grey over White.

160671 was with VF-51 when photographed on the ramp at Randolph on 12 May, 1979. While not an Easter Egg in the truest sense of that word, since she's in overall Light Gull Grey, her full-color CAG markings make her stand out from the crowd. She spent a brief period of time on display in a museum but was eventually reclaimed by the Navy for reasons unknown to us and sent to AMARC for storage. She was pretty when she was young...   Phillip Friddell

04 April, 1982, saw VF-101's 161134 on the towbar at NAS Corpus Christi. She's relatively plain for this era, in overall Light Gull Grey with subdued squadron markings, but she's still every inch a fighter. One of a number of Tomcats modified for the TARPS pod, she's now on public display in Florida.   Phillip Friddell

VF-154 was operating 161612 when she was photographed at Corpus on 14 April, 1984. She's got some color to her but not much; overall Gull Grey isn't the most flattering of paint schemes, but she's still a looker in spite of it. She ended up in storage, a sad but necessary end to a fine career.   Phillip Friddell

There's just something about Felix on a Tomcat; that classic Navy squadron emblem just belongs there. In this case, the emblem is on Fighting Thirty-One's 161868, also photographed at Corpus but a few years later, on 07 May, 1989. This is one of the two paint schemes that says F-14 to us.   Phillip Friddell

And here's the other: An F-14A from VF-84 photographed taxiing out to launch at Bergstrom on 14 October, 1989. The shot was an accident; I was by the taxiway waiting for something else, but the opportunity was just too darned good to pass up!   Phillip Friddell

There was a time when I bemoaned the retirement of this classic airplane, but that came into perspective and focus one afternoon when I began mentally compairing the Tomcat to Boeing's immortal F4B-4. After all, they had similar careers; both built as fighters (yes, I know the F-14 was technically an interceptor, but stay with me here), both were the best there was when in their prime, and both, as time passed them by, were ultimately relegated to the bombing mission prior to their retirement. They were really something when they were young, though, and we definitely miss those days.

Those Other Cobras

Anyone who's been paying attention to these pages must surely have noticed that most of the photos we publish from the Pacific War are related to the 5th Air Force. There's a reason for that: The Fifth is a primary interest of mine. That said it was, unfortunately, a really big war with a lot of participants. Here's an example of one that wasn't from General Kenney's Air Force, courtesy of Bobby Rocker:

A sharkmouthed Bell P-400 Airacobra of the 67th FS, 347th FG, sits poised for another mission on Henderson Field some time in late 1942. We're showing this particular photograph today to illustrate a potential point of confusion for those confronted with P-39/P-400 photography from The Bad Old Days in the SWPAC. Note the sharkmouth: The 8th FG of the 5th AF used it too, while assigned to the Port Moresby area of New Guinea, and their version of that classic artwork was very much like the one used by the 67th FS on Guadalcanal. A practiced eye can usually tell the difference between the units but not always. Danger; Will Robinson! DANGER!   Rocker Collection

Thanks as always to Bobby for continually sourcing these images and sharing them with us.

It Seems Like It Was Yesterday

But Operation Desert Storm took place back in 1991, some 29 years ago! My own personal tie to the operation was a long-standing friendship with Prowler ECMO Rick Morgan, whom I'd known since he was in flight school in Texas. Last issue's publication of a TA-4 photo from Allen Epps triggered Rick to send in this photograph of his crew during taken aboard the Theodore Roosevelt while he was assigned to VAQ-141:

Rick provided us with the call signs for his crew, so that's how we'll identify them here, from left to right: Kurly, Tums, Boris (Rick Morgan), and our newest contributor Pugsley (Allen Epps) as they prepare for their first daylight war mission. We aren't going to publish the names of Kurly and Tums at this time because we don't have their permission to do that.   Rick Morgan

They don't look that old, and their faces don't reflect the years of training or the strain of combat, but these guys are The Real Deal; a highly skilled crew engaged in electronic warfare combat operations with the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. While serving in the Gulf they flew daily support missions for Alpha Strikes, they jammed communications and, on at least one occasion, they killed a SAM site. They're typical of the guys who stand up, and have always stood up, when their country needs them, and we're lucky they, and all their brothers and sisters, are there for us. Let's raise a glass!

Happy Snaps

How about another air-to-air from Allen Epps to end this issue?

Over San Clemente Island with a pair of CT-33’s. We would run into the ship and “shoot” the CT-33’s as missile simulators then follow them as a third missile with an appropriate electronic signature.  Epps

Thanks, Pugs!

We're always looking for photography of American military aviation, by the way. If you'd like to contribute your images to this project, please drop us a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom using the appropriate symbology for the at and dot. We can't pay you but we'll make you famous, sortof, if you'd like to contribute your photos. How about it?

The Relief Tube

You may have noticed that we're actually publishing fairly frequently these days (a big YAY for that one), albeit with reduced content. We've been meaning to reduce the length of these things for quite a while because it's easier to do shorter issues than to put together the long ones that cause us to publish just a handful of entries per year. That's a particularly good thing to us and maybe for you as well, especially so since most of us are restricted to quarters at the present time. We'll try to get something out every couple or three weeks from now on, or at least until this Covid mess subsides and we all return to some semblance of normality. (Or maybe you could just keep to some sort of SCHEDULE, Phillip!)

In the meantime, stay safe, be careful, and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Knocking That Stash Down, Not So Tough, Iron Dogs in the Shop, Too Much to Ask?, and A Couple of Fantooms

A Trip to the Closet

Let's start this off by saying we're all a little short of a full load in the judgement department. We do goofy things, and we do them repetitively and with almost no thought. We spend money we don't need to spend, on things we don't actually need and may never do anything with. Ill-considered is a term that fits the phenomenon. Crazy is another.

I'm sure you've figured it out by now; I'm talking about The Monster in the Closet, the ruler of all scale modeling life, Moloch! Yes, I'm talking about...


Before you get started with what can best be described as The Lame Excuses or, worse yet, define me as The Enemy, take a minute and consider that I'm one of you. I'm a member of the tribe. I am, in point of fact, a plankholder, one of the founders of the feast as it were. I counted the unbuilt 1/72nd scale airplane kits in my closet once upon a time, during a visit home from college way back in 1970. There were in excess of 1,200 boxed and unbuilt kits in there back then, a great many of which were still in shrink-wrap. The theory behind their purchase was fairly simple since I also worked part-time in a hobby shop: A new kit would come out and I would automatically buy three; one to build, one to convert to a different variant, and one to keep as a reference copy. OR, I would buy more than three. I've always liked P-40Es, for example, so there were 8 or 10 Revell kits of same in that closet, along with multiple F4Fs, LS Zeros, and on and on and on, ad infinitum/ad nauseum.

The maturation of our hobby, which in theory paralleled a similar phenomenon in myself, resulted in a change of scale, to 1/48th and 1/32nd (read bigger boxes here) and the onset of that boon/bane of the 21st Century scale modeler's life; aftermarket, to the mix, which ensured that we had lots and lots of stuff to acquire because a whole bunch of kits were of the short-run get-'em-while-you-can variety, and aftermarket (to include decals) has always belonged in the Here Today Gone Forever (except on eBay) category. The end result of all this seemingly inoccuous proliferation of Stuff is The Stash, which is sometimes manageable but often not. Another result is the monetary expense of that collection of unbuilt polystyrene, but that's drama for a different day!

It seems as though there's something new for us almost each and every day these days; a new kit, new decals, new resin or photo-etch, new something that we think we have to have. We buy all of it, or a lot of it, or at least some of it, and we put it in the stash because we aren't ready to build it or incorporate it into a model. No; we just want it, so we buy it and put it away. It's ours. We have it, and we're going to put it with all that other stuff.

I did some figuring a few months ago. I'm a Baby Boomer so I'm aging a bit, and I'm old enough that I've optimistically got 10, maybe 12 years of modeling time left before something happens to take me out of the hobby. A typical kit requires between two to six weeks of my time, so the honest truth is that I'm likely to run out of Phillip long before I run out of kits to build. The advent of the present global health crisis has only added fuel to that particular fire, and being on lockdown here at the Polystyrene Ranch has confirmed a concept for me: I really ought to get off my lazy rear end and start building some of those kits, and using up some of the decals and aftermarket too.

Tom Gaj, a long-time friend and fellow traveler in the world of scale plastic edifices, has recently begun building some of the older kits he's got hidden away. His current project is a Hawk F8F Bearcat, which I'm assured will be followed by a box-scale Revell X-3. Neither kit is new or even remotely state of the art, the F8F dating from the mid-60s and the Stilleto from the late 1950s. Both can be built into outstanding models but they require both a love of the subject and a liberal application of modeling skills to get to that particular end result. Tom has both, and I'm looking forward to seeing the end results of his efforts, but that isn't the point. No, the point is this: He's building from his stash rather than adding to it. On a more personal level, I'm finishing up a Special Hobby Wirraway I began some three years ago, after which I'm considering a Special Hobby Guardian, or maybe just finishing that still-born Monogram F-100.

My point is this: I've got enough unbuilt kits to last a very long time at my present build rate. I still buy them, but only those I know I'll build. I buy aftermarket when a project actually needs it, or if I want a special set of markings that I don't already have. I haven't completely stopped expending money on the hobby but I've certainly tapered off quite a bit, and I'm enjoying things as much if not more than I ever have. It's not such a bad way to do things.

My two cents...

Short Run That Ain't Half-Bad

There was a time, not all that long ago, when mention of the kits offered by Special Hobby would cause a great many scale modelers to look the other way and change the subject. It wasn't for lack of trying on Special Hobby's part; their kit list was (and is) both extensive and fascinating, but the kits weren't for everybody, or even for anybody who wasn't fairly good at their craft. "Some modeling skills required" was a caveat with meaning.

Everything changes, though. I recently almost completed (that's my modeling life; I ALMOST complete things these days!) a Special Hobby CA-9 Wirraway, and here's the proof:

See what I mean? It's sortof finished but not really, since it's missing a little cleanup and weathering, plus a radio antenna and some more clutter around the wireless operator's free gun, but that's where it is right now. The kit was relatively painless to build and went together easily, with none of the assembly pitfalls I'd read about on other sites. I question the canopy, which is kind of squashed, and I really wish they'd provided a free gun (almost anything would be better than what I scratched up for this model!) and I really really wish they'd done a CA-1 instead of a CA-9, but I wanted a Wirraway for the collection and it definitely looks like one, in this case from 4 Sqdn RAAF out of Port Moresby ca. 1943.

A couple of quick notes for those of you wanting to build this one:

The reviews I read said that SH omitted the landing lights from their kit. They didn't do that; those lights are molded on one of the main sprues but are not identified in any other way. Look for two little round doo-hickies that have no apparent application to the kit and there you are!

The interior is allegedly inaccurate and I have to agree with that one, but I didn't correct anything on this model. It will never see a contest or, given the Covid Lockdown, any other living human being, so it's ok with me the way it is. The biggest issue in there, if you're building any sort of CA-9 used in or near a combat zone, is the lack of a free gun with the kit, but that's easy enough to deal with.

The engine doesn't fit the cowling according to several sources, but I had no issues whatsoever with mine. I trimmed the backside of the crankcase per the instructions and attached it to the airframe, slid the completed cowling it place over it, and attached the carburettor intake to the fuselage and cowling. The intake locked the cowling in place perfectly. (That intake is inaccurate as well, for whatever that's worth.) In a similar vein, the resin exhaust pipes aren't supposed to fit either, but mine fit perfectly without any sort of trimming.

The propeller is incorrect according to most of the reviews out there, and I whole-heartedly agree with that, but I didn't do anything about it on my model.

None of the reviews mentioned it, or at least I don't think they did, but the landing gear seems to be molded fully compressed, which causes the completed model to take on a somewhat squatty stance. The tailwheel is off a bit too, and poorly detailed on top of that, but it's also useable if you're building a placeholder, which I was.

That's my story, and so on and so forth...

Rode Hard and Put Away Wet

That's an old description that could apply to almost anything flown by the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War 2, but it's especially applicable to the aircraft that fought there in the early Bad Old Days. Bobby Rocker has offered a couple of images of the Bell P-39 undergoing depot-level repair in late '42 or early '43 for our consideration today, so let's get right to it:

The 29th Air Service Group had this 13th AF P-39D under repair in less than stellar circumstances late in May of 1942. Note the early national insignia, replete with red centers. We're guessing most of the visible wear and tear on that Airacobra came from extensive training and routine operational use since the date places it far too early for combat in the 13th's area of operations, but the photo is of considerable value since it illustrates how the SW Pacific environment abused airplanes. Of further interest are the sophisticated maintenance aids in use---the 29th was a first-rate outfit and those were their working conditions early in the war!   Rocker Collection

The 4th ADG was active in Australia supporting AAF activities in New Guinea. In this photo we see a pair of 8th PG Airacobras, a P-400 and a P-39D, somewhere in the depot-level maintenance cycle. The photo was taken at Mareeba, in Northern Queensland, in December of 1942, and you can bet those airplanes are in need of some serious maintenance. The camouflaged hangar tells a story of its own, reminding us just how tenuous things were during those terrible times.   Rocker Collection

Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for sharing these photos with us.

All I Want is a Decent Kit!

Some of us, myself included, grew up with the Revell, Hawk, Aurora, Lindberg, and Monogram kits of the mid and late-1950s, and a lot of us also had access to the Colby books that defined the US Navy and Air Force to a generation of wide-eyed kids. Those books, and at least three of those kit manufacturers, offered us kits of Lockheed's F-94C Starfire, an exposure that never left most of us. There have been kits of that airplane since the fifties, most recently an offering by the folks at KittyHawk, but none of them have truly done the airplane justice.

Is this a good-looking airplane or what? The F-94C just screams "1950s American Jet Interceptor" and it's very much a seminal part of the era. It's also a necessity for any collection of models depicting The Silver Air Force, but that KittyHawk kit isn't a particularly easy date, and the 1/72nd scale offerings currently available aren't all that hot either. Opportunity knocks, guys!   Ron Picciani

You'll note that the Starfire photo shown above is heavily watermarked by its photographer, Ron Picciani. That's because Ron, like so many of us, has had his photography ripped off and distributed all over the internet without either attribution or permission. That sort of thing is why we regularly deface the images shown on this site: Some of the kids don't play nice so we do what we have to do to try to keep them honest. For the record, Ron granted permission for the use of this image, and we're extremely grateful to him for that. He, and all those like him, were recording the real airplanes that inspired the models we make, and they were doing it when few others even cared. They were, and are, a truly special breed, and we all owe then a debt we can never truly repay. Thanks, Ron, for all you've done for us, and for our hobby!

A Fistful of Deltas 

McDonnell Douglas' immortal F-4 Phantom II was a fixture in America's arsenal for several decades, and the memory of their roar on launch and their shrieking howl when recovering lives strongly in what remains of my memory. Here are a couple of photos to remind you of those days of glory for the mighty Bent-Winged Bugsucker:

Oklahoma's 507th TFS, operating out of Tinker AFB, had the F-4D on strength for quite a while and John Dienst walked their ramp, camera in hand, back in June of 1983. Although an AFRES unit, the 507th adopted the same placement for "nose" art as the 182nd TFS of the TXANG; inside the nose gear doors. 760 has artwork there, along with the name "OUTLAW", a fitting description for the Mighty Phantom!    John Dienst

And here's 762 of the 507th, named "SMOKIN OKIE", a highly-descriptive moniker for the early F-4s. Neat airplanes on a beautiful day; we truly envy John that shoot. It just doesn't get any better!   John Dienst

Another D-model, this is 737 of the 301st TFW (Carswell) the morning before an airshow at Randolph in May of 1987. She's carrying an inert AIM-9, which makes her distinctly interesting and well worth shooting.    Friddell

And phinally (I'm truly sorry but I had to do that!), here's the 111th FIS' 65-0666 sitting on the ramp at Laughlin in March of 1987. The airplane is well-worn, which was unusual for any of the 111th's airplanes, but she still looked every inch a fighter. The F-4D's tenure with the Houston ANG was relatively brief, bridging the gap between their F-101Bs and their F-16s, but the Phantoms were every bit as impressive as any of the others!   Friddell

There are many F-4s to come on these pages but today just isn't The Day, so stay tuned!

Happy Snaps

It's been a while since we've run an air-to-air by one of our readers so we're definitely due for another one!

An unremarkable shot of a VC-8 TA-4 in the Puerto Rican op areas operating as missile simulators. Once the Navy got rid of VAQ-33, 34 and 35 the job really fell to the reserves and I flew with VAQ-209 from 95-07 so flew a lot of fleet support!   Allen Epps

What a neat image (and quite remarkable, in spite of Allen's modesty), and he promises more to come. How much better could things get?

The Relief Tube

It had to happen! Sooner or later I had to duplicate a photo in this blog---I've done it before, but with several years between the first and last times I did it. This time was different, with only two issues separating the times we ran a B-25D named "Mexican Spitfire". See if you can find them; you won't have to scroll back very far. Good grief!

Anyway, there's no excuse for it other than my ever-advancing seniority on life, coupled with the fact that my memory has never been especially good, so apologies are in order and I'll try really hard to make sure it doesn't happen again unless, of course, I forget...

Regardless of whatever it was we were talking about it's time to put this issue to bed, so be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Slightly Before Fame, A Mitchell, One More Mitchell, And a Pair of SLUFs

My Very Own Personal Want List

Yep; you read that correctly! While I don't think I've actually succumbed to the annual wish lists that beguile such a large percentage of the folks engaged in our hobby each and every year, I do have a small bucket list of airplanes that I think deserve to be kitted in my preferred scale of 1/48th. Two of the kits that would have been right up there at the top of any such list originating from me have recently been kitted; an FJ-2 with an FJ-3 in the pipeline too, and a P-51H, so there's hope but we've still got a ways to go so, without further ado, here it is. The List! (Please note, yet again, that I want these in 1/48th scale. I'm not trying to be hateful towards anyone that builds those other scales but it's my list, remember, so 1/48th it is!)

An F-100D done to contemporary standards, and including most of the variations for that aircraft in the box---all the various tanks and stores, all the pylons, at least two styles of refueling booms, both speed brake configurations, and a vertical stab that caters to the pre-Vietnam War "PACAF Mod". I would like for the kit to be done without provision for opening panels too, thank you very much!

A state-of-the-art F-100F, done to the same standards as the F-100D cited immediately above and with all the appropriated mods as previously cited. Second verse/same as the first, as they say...

An accurate and state-of-the-art RF-101C. We've already got a decent one, you say? Well, take a look at the shape and size of the nose on the currently available kit and compare it to photographs of the actual airplane. We need an accurate recce Voodoo that's relatively easy to built and that existing new-ish kit isn't it.

A slatted F-86 Sabre. This one's a no-brainer and, in all likelihood, a license to print money for anyone who takes the plunge, but nobody has bothered to do it yet. There ought to be two separate kits featuring type-specific fuselages and windscreens for the aircraft as well; a kit for the A and another for Everything Else. Optional panels should be restricted to the ability to do a Project GunVal nose and nothing more and, much like our kit for the "Hun", it should include all the stuff we could legitimately put under the wings. (Maybe, just maybe, there's one on the way since we've just seen a mostly-decent FJ-2 get itself released, but I'm not holding my breath just yet!). Oh, and throw an F-86H in there while you're at it, please!

An F-80, both as an A and a C, which probably means two kits. Yes; I frequently say I like the existing Monogram kit of the Shooting Star and I mean it, but it's time for something a little bit better, a kit without opened panels and including all the pylons and underwing stores affiliated with the airplane. This one's another no-brainer, I think.

An accurate MiG-15, with all the applicable underwing stuff in one kit. While it's true that there are a handful of kits of this most important of first-generation jet fighters already out there, they're all flawed to one extent or another. Much like the slatted F-86, this one is truly needed and, in all likelihood, another one of those licenses to print money for whoever decides to accept that particular challenge.

An accurate MiG-17, preferably in its later iterations as applicable to use in SEA. Think about it for a minute: The "Fresco" was one of those seminal fighters that saw active service in every corner of the globe wearing the national insignia of numerous air forces and we still don't have a truly good kit of it. And yes, Virginia; I would like all the applicable pylons and stores for it as well. I'd also like a MiG-17PF as a separate kit, but not at the expense of a good model of the day fighter.

An accurate F8F Bearcat, buildable right out of the box with no aftermarket required to achieve an accurate model. Really, people!

An accurate and state-of-the-art F9F, both in its -2 and -5 iterations. This one's another seminal aircraft and Monogram's kit is ok but it's also 40 years old, give or take. It's way past time for an up-to-date and accurate kit of this one!

And now, while we're Living Large; here are the Big Guns on my list:

A B-45 Tornado, preferably with the option to do an RB-45 from the same kit. Yes, it would be really big and yes, it's somewhat lesser-known, but it's also a seminal jet bomber that was used heavily by the USAF in its recce versions during both the Korean nastiness and the Cold War.

An accurate and state-of-the-art B-57; a basic B-model with the different noses and all the underwing stuff, as well as wing-gun mods, and all in the same kit. Yes, there already are two existing kits and yes, you can get there from here with either one of them, but both fall somewhat short of the mark and could stand replacing. It's too much to ask for an RB-57F as well, since only a handful of people (including me) would actually want one, but maybe someday...

A B-66, or maybe an RB-66. I'm not picky about the variant on that one. It's another mainstay of the Cold War USAF and an active participant in the early and middle years of the conflict in SEA, a seminal if somewhat inadequate airplane. 'Nuff said.

There's my list, then. Some, like the F-86 and MiG-15, are must-haves and I truly can't understand why we don't already have the kits in hand for them. Others, such as the B-45, might be a stretch but, like I said in the beginning: This is my want list, and it may or may not coincide with yours. We could probably get some of those kits too, the single-engined ones anyway, if all the world's manufacturers of plastic model airplanes would lay off the Bf109s, P-51s, and Spitfires for a while and issue some things that aren't already on the market in vast quantities.

For what it's worth!

Before She Hit the Big Time

Nowadays Curtiss AT-9 41-12150 lives in its restored glory as an exhibit item at the NMUSAF, but there was a time when she was just old junk down in Texas.

Roger Freeman, he of Old Kingsbury Aerodrome fame, found 150's hulk abandoned in South Texas, beginning a chain of events that resulted in the restoration of the airframe followed by its addition to the collection of that edifice once known as The Air Force Museum. Your editor (me) was poking around a disused hangar at what used to be Kelly AFB back in January of 1983 and discovered her recently recovered fuselage and wings sitting on skids prior to removal for restoration. Nobody had to tell me to take her picture!   Friddell

Here's a slightly different view of her. The lighting in that hangar was typically awful and I was shooting K25 off a monopod. It was a bit of a challenge but one well worth accepting!   Friddell

And here's what she looks like today, gleaming in a presentation of the markings she once wore early in her AAF career! A restoration team at Kelly performed a great deal of the necessary restoration work prior to shipping her north. What a treasure!   NMUSAF Photo

Thanks to Bobby

Bobby, of course, being Bobby Rocker. Here's a shot of "Mexican Spitfire", a 345th BG B-25D from The Bad Old Days for our consideration today:

The "Spitfire' bought the farm in September of 1944; a sad end for a proud Mitchell. There were no easy days in the SWPAC...    Rocker Collection

And to Gerry!

Here's another bit of B-25 nose art for your consideration. This time it's the 3rd BG's "King Sol". The photo depicts a fairly early B-25 strafer and no; we don't have an overall view of her yet!

We're guessing "King Sol" to be painted in a fairly deep yellow and the airplane is wearing early B-25 gunpacks, but aside from that we don't know much! There's a tantalizing sharkmouth at the lower left side of the photo and somebody's having fun with some belted 50-cal draped across her over-painted nose, but that's about all we know at the moment.   Richard N Davis via Kersey

Let's remember those young boys of so long ago who risked and, in far too many cases, gave all they had in the name of our continued liberty. We know it's redundant to say it again, but let's raise a glass...

Many thanks to Gerry Kersey for this wonderful image.

A-7s On Short Final

I was talking with a friend of mine this morning who tactfully, if somewhat forcefully, reminded me that it's been a very long time since our last visit. (Again, Phillip? REALLY?)

This extremely abbreviated issue is a response to Frank's admonishment but it is, quite unfortunately well and truly abbreviated. We're going to end it today with a pair of 23rd TFW A-7Ds photographed on short final into Kelly back in December of 1979:

A pair of SLUFs from England AFB's 23rd TFW drift by just prior to recovering at Kelly on 09 December, 1979. They're a tiny bit of a world now long in the past, but a world we remember with great fondness. No; they aren't the greatly lamented Silver Air Force, but they're special nonetheless, at least to us.   Friddell

The present global health crisis has changed, and will continue to change, a great many things in our lives. With any luck we will all return to normalcy in a few weeks but until that day please stay safe, and do everything you can to stay healthy. In the meantime, I'll try to publish these things a little more frequently---maybe we can take our minds off the crisis for a while by looking at old airplanes.

In the meantime, and now more than ever; be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Submitted Plastic, An Antipodian Aarvark, A Famous Hun, A Famous Airplane, A Bobcat, Another Model, and A Texas Voodoo

The Whole Thing's Just SILLY!

We're a silly bunch, you know, not to mention thin-skinned and egotistical, and some of us, not all but some, are experts on anything anyone could possibly have any expertise about. It's true, and all we have to do to prove it is to go someplace where a large group of our kind are congregated, or join one of those Internet scale modeling boards. Do one of those things and look around, maybe even just look at me since I enjoy this hobby too. None of us are exempt from the madness!

Let's begin with that part about being silly, and let's start that discussion by examining what it is we do. We build plastic models. Taken on face value that doesn't sound like much, and it honestly doesn't sound particularly silly either. After all, there's nothing wrong with having a hobby, and there are any number of learned people out there who will tell you a hobby is good for the mind and good for the soul. I can buy into that one, and have quite literally done that very thing if you take into account the unbuilt kits and unopened decals ("gotta get 'em while they're available") residing in the somewhat enormous walk-in closet sitting off my right elbow at this very moment. I don't count my reference library in the Silly category because I've been reading since age 5 (the same age I began modeling!), and doing that somewhat voraciously. That effectively means the references are actually two hobbies for the price of one, so they're ok. It's also what's known in The Real World as justification, but all those kits and stickies are another matter entirely.

Some of us also take ourselves very seriously because of our hobby. Very. Seriously. That's ok when we're with our peers, because a great many of them take themselves very seriously too, but there are a whole bunch of normal people out there ("OK, Friddell; define normal!" says my clinical psychologist friend Frank) who think the whole thing is, well; silly! Plastic model airplanes. Closets full of them, unbuilt or partially built. Shelves full of them too, built or partially built. Silly.

Then there's thin-skinned. We'll get into a disagreement or outright argument with people we've known half our lives, or people we'll never meet in real life because we know them over the Internet, over the finer points of plastic modeling or, perhaps more properly stated, each individual's own perception of same. I'm right. You aren't. It's that simple, but it's also devisive, it's damaging to all concerned, and it's silly.

Finally, there's the part where somebody's an expert and you're not. You don't know anything, but that person does and they'll by gosh let you know it; in person, in print, via electrons, or any other way they can figure to accomplish that task; all they require is an audience of some sort and they're off to the races. They're right, or I am, or you are; therefore nobody else is. Period. End of discussion. Well, it could be the end unless the discussion starts feeding off itself, becoming a sort of polystyrene breeder reactor, and then it goes crazy (and I mean straight-up bat-poop crazy here!). Friendships end. People get thrown out of clubs and organizations, or get banned from internet modeling boards, and it all happens because of a disagreement over something related to plastic scale modeling. If that's not silly, I don't know what is.

Now all that's out of the way, what if we agree to take a different approach to the hobby, and let's keep in mind that word: HOBBY. Our hobby, or any other hobby you might think of, can't possibly be any fun if your blood pressure is jacked up and those little veins on the sides of your forehead are all popping out because somebody disagreed with the kit you started with or didn't care for the way you painted your plastic model.

Please understand the perspective here: I'm not saying I'm right and I'm certainly not saying any of you are wrong in the way you go about enjoying this marvelous hobby of ours. On a strictly personal level I try my best to build accurate scale replicas of real airplanes at some point in their service careers, and I try to use the most accurate kits, decals, paint, and references I can find when I do it. I like to do these things. They're fun, and they soothe my soul, but when I make that jump from my own personal outlook on the hobby to telling somebody else how to do it in theirs the whole thing becomes---get ready for it---SILLY!

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

We Asked For It and We Got It!

Yes indeed; someone other than Norman Camou or myself sent in a photo of a model airplane they built!

Remember last issue when we mentioned that sometimes the folks in our hobby would talk about how they wanted a kit of a particular airplane and then not buy the resulting kit because it wasn't the variant they wanted? Well, boys and girls, this model illustrates one such badly-needed kit that would quite literally constitute a license to print money, a Korean War-vintage slat-winged F-86 Sabre! This particular example began life as a normal Academy kit with their standard in-the-box hard leading edged and fenced 6-3 wing. That's pretty much how all the 1/48th scale kit manufacturers treat the F-86Es and Fs, which means you have to take matters in your own hands if you want to replicate one of the myriad of slat-winged examples that were used in the KW. Cutting Edge did a conversion for us back when they were still a going concern, and it's their aftermarket set that Frank used here. Pretty nice, huh?

SO; if you really and truly want to pester the kit manufacturers about a brand new state-of-the-art kit of the Whatever It Is, why not ask for something the hobby really needs and has in fact needed for decades---a slat-winged F-86E or F? And no, Virginia; the F-40 doesn't count, because that takes us right back into Conversion Land if we're doing a KW bird. Nope; we want an out of the box, slatted Korean War-vintage Sabre so...

What do we want?  A SLAT-WINGED KW SABRE!!!

When do we want it?  NOW!!!

Whew! Anyway, thanks to Frank for the photo of his model. Now it's time for someone who isn't Norm, Frank, or myself to submit a photo or two! That e-mail addy is   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom so get after it, ya'll!

Were They Really Doing That?

A long time ago, back when we were still involved in the photography of military airplanes, we attended RAM 88, an international photo-recon competition held every other year at the late and heavily lamented Bergstrom AFB. As a means of providing inspiration to a certain segment of our readership, here's a photo for those of you who enjoy building dioramas:

That F-111C is from 6 Squadron RAAF and the ground crew in the photo are engaged at turning the airplane around between sorties. They did a seriously good job of that too, but they also inadvertently provided a bit of comic relief because of the number of people involved in that turnaround---one of my friends counted 21 different technicians in the photo! They also provided a legitimate and documented "you'll never believe it happened" modeling opportunity. How about it, ya'll? Can this be a diorama in your modeling future?   Friddell

Who Remembers "Triple Zilch"?

Most of you, probably, or at least most of you old enough to have ever possessed any of the old Profile Publications, because that very airplane, F-100D-69-NA, serial number 56-3000, provided the centerfold artwork for the F-100 edition of that seminal reference 1960s reference source. That artwork showed the airplane in its prime, back when it belonged to the Wing King of the 20th TFW in England. Here's a slightly different view of it taken a few years later:

After its service with the 20th, "Triple Zilch" was transferred to the Air National Guard and ended up with the 182nd TFS/149th TFG at Kelly, where it served until their transition to the F-4C Phantom II several years later. Somewhere during that transition process it was decided to take one of the Super Sabres assigned to the group and "Zilch" was chosen for that honor. She's on display at what used to be Kelly AFB right now this very minute but was still waiting for her trip to Corrosion Control for her Gate Guard Makeover when I shot this image back in November of 1979.   Phillip Friddell

There's an upshot to the story, too. There is, or at least was, an F-100D marked as "Triple Zilch" on display with the 20th, but it isn't the real one and never has been. Nope; that one lives at what's now called Kelly USA, right here in South Texas. We're personally still a little chuffed that Kelly, one of the oldest bases in the US Air Force's history, was killed off in one of the BRAC evolutions of the 1990s to become part of Lackland AFB, which was itself a WW2 offshoot of Kelly, but somebody there thought they ought to save this airplane, which is an Up Side, sortof, or maybe not. So much for heritage, right?

Anyway, you can still see the real "Triple Zilch" if you want to, but you've got to go to San Antonio to do it. We're just glad she was preserved!

Not a Miner

But most assuredly a Forty-Niner! Here's a nose-on image of "Snake Bite" Bob Vaught's 9th FS/49th FG "Bob's Robin" for your consideration:

It's possible we've seen this particular shot before, since "Bob's Robin" was frequently photographed during the 49th's Darwin days, but it's new to me. The image doesn't show us anything we haven't already seen but that airplane, shoved back into the bush for concealment, truly does tell a story.  Gerry Kersey Collection

Those guys from the early, dark days in the Southwest Pacific were really something. They stood up when they were called, and they set the bar for all who followed. Need we say it? Let's raise a glass!

A Bonus From Bobby

There's not a whole lot to say about this next photograph except that it illustrates an exceedingly well-worn P-38. We don't know the unit, the location, the pilot, or even the model variant, but the image is worth running for those of you contemplating building a Tamiya P-38. Don't pay undue attention to the shade of OD exhibited, color shift and real-life fading being what they are, but note the somewhat extreme weathering exhibited. Are you up for a modeling challenge on your new Tamiya P-38?

OK; have at it! The chipping exhibited here appears to go right down to bare metal along the leading edges of the wings---what a mess, eh? Good luck with that model!   Rocker Collection

So You Bought the Kit

And now you're looking for something to do with your Czech Model JRC-1 Bobcat, right? Here's an idea that might have escaped your consideration:

Jim Sullivan's personal photo archives are vast indeed, and you just never know what you'll find in there. Take this, for example; a Cessna JRC-1 Bobcat used by the station flight at NAS Atlantic City in 1946. The airplane is silver dope with a black anti-glare panel, and we're willing to go out on a limb and suggest the backs of the props are black as well. It's a simple scheme and would look great on that recent 1/48th scale Czech Model kit. You don't even need custom decals to do it, either; appropriately-sized black lettering in the font illustrated will get the job done, even though we can't read the BuNo on the vertical.    Ted Stone via Sullivan Collection

Another Way to Do It

There are a lot of folks out there who do what we'll call nostalgia modeling, taking older kits, maybe even from the 1950s, and building them for display, quite often on a stand. Say what you will about that old stuff, but those kits look pretty good when mounted on a stand and sitting on a desk. Take the concept (putting stuff on stands, that is) and bring it up to the present day, but using a near-contemporary kit instead of one of the old-timers, and you can get some amazing results. Take this model, a B-47E by Stan Kurcz, for example:

Holy cow, Martha, would you look at that?! This particular Stratojet is in 1/144th scale, which we presume makes it the MiniCraft offering, and it's a thing of beauty, as well as the perfect airplane for a display piece in that scale. The silver finish is predominately Alclad, with assorted subtle weathering techniques added. Stan hails from IPMS Butch O'Hare in Chicago and we've got a few other models of his to show you in the months ahead.   Stan Kurcz

The Stars at Night

That's the lead-in to a song about Texas, although our final airplane for today only has one star; a great honking big one back on the vertical stab:

Your editor (that's me!) shot this immaculate F-101B-90-MC, 57-0348, during a photo visit with Houston's ANG facility at Ellington way back in December of 1980. We loved the way the 111th FIS/147th FIG painted their brutish interceptors back the and we still love the paint job today. Check out that line mechanic for scale. Yep; the Voodoo was a big airplane!   Phillip Friddell

It Wouldn't Be Replica in Scale

Without a contribution from Norman Camou. Here's an essential piece on the struggle for Guadalcanal for your education and enjoyment:

No; this video isn't the usual WW2 footage with Lowell Thomas or similar doing the narration, but rather a scholarly symposium on the battle. It's well worth a watch---thanks as always to Norman for finding these gems for us!

Happy Snaps

Yep; it's another Happy Snap, the first in a while!

A KC-130T (162311) of VMGR-234 tanks a section of Grumman EA-6B Prowlers from VAQ-141 near Puerto Rico on 17 November 1989. It's a fitting image to close out 2019 with, and a sad reminder that we have to deface our otherwise superior photographic contributions because of those darned Picture Pirates. You guys really ought to be ashamed of yourselves...   Rick Morgan

The Relief Tube

Yes, really! We have a Relief Tube entry for this edition, from our friend Eric Methieu concerning the identify of a Piper YL-21 that we ran way back in September of 2011!


I suppose you already have the answers about two pictures of Piper L-21. 8 years ago!!! I think this aircraft is a Piper YL-21 Super Cub serial 51-6496. Thanks to Joe Baugher's site. 16496 is barely visible on the fin. 

Eric "Badluck" Mathieu from France

Many thanks for the comment, Eric---it's never too late to add to or correct a caption around here! We appreciate your contribution!

And that's it for this issue, and also for the year 2019! You've probably noticed how brief this installment is, but rest assured it's not the beginning of a trend! We haven't published a whole lot of late and it would have run this edition into next year if we'd continued work on it---the simple truth is we want to publish it now, before the year ends.  Please be patient and stay with us, because we've got a ton of really interesting photography to share with you in the months ahead, but until then be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!


Monday, November 18, 2019

So Many Choices, Texas Phantoms, A Polystyrene Fort, An Emil, An Aussie Hawk, Down in the Weeds, and A Couple From Norm

So Many Choices, Mostly Flawed

Or to put it another way; Huh?

A couple of days ago I was reading the handful of modeling boards that constitute the beginning of cognizance for me on most mornings and I noticed a thematic trend, or maybe I didn't notice a trend at all and am simply making this up for the sake of a lead-in to today's somewhat deranged meandering. Which one doesn't matter. You have to start somewhere, right?

Here's the premise. It's one you're all familiar with because it comes around a couple of times a year, each and every year, but it always amazes me so by simple association it must surely amaze you as well. Well, maybe it does or maybe it doesn't, but the topic of the hour is Kits I Want Somebody to Produce For Me. It's a simple topic if taken at face value: Nobody makes a decent kit, or makes one in my chosen scale, or makes one at all, of the (fill in the blank here), which happens to be my very favorite airplane ever, one which I want more than anything else in the whole entire universe, and somebody ought to do that. Somebody really ought to.

Let's think about Somebody who ought to make that kit for just a minute, because the term encompasses quite a bit of territory, starting with the guys who produce a handful of kits out of resin, maybe in their garage, and running right up to the big-name manufacturers of polystyrene kits, with all sorts of permutations within those boundaries. Somebody ought to devine (that means figure out) the kit I want, design and produce it to Tamiya standards, and sell it at a price I can easily afford, but that won't happen if I'm the only one who wants it, so lets take a poll, or have a survey, or do something, doggone it, because I/we really really want that kit!

Here's how it works. Somebody starts a thread on one of those boards by asking which airplane the readership most wants to see produced in whatever medium may be under discussion, which in turn produces a veritable cascade of I Wants from Said Readership. Some of the I Wants will have considerable merit, some will be somewhat questionable, while a large percentage will fall into that rabbit hole that  lives out there in They Don't Know How This Works In The Real World Land. Don't believe me? Try these on for size, then:

The B-36, in 1/48th or 1/32nd scale. Yes; that very thing actually shows up on lists from time to time. There's at least one kit out there in 1/144th, and there's Monogram's magnificent effort in 1/72nd, but that latter offering never sold well when it was new because of size and cost so bigger might not necessarily be better---maybe that one's not such a great idea after all...

American jet fighters of the 1950s, to include the Century Series. Almost any of those could be legitimate to some extent, because most of the available kits are old and getting older by the minute, or of extremely mediocre quality, but there's a catch. (There's always a catch!) There are folks out there who would like a state-of-the-art Lockheed F-90, or a Chance Vought F6U, but you can count those folks on the fingers of one hand (which means zero interest from the big name manufacturers) and besides, we can't even get a slat-wing F-86 in most of the available scales, much less a Pirate. Add to that general mayhem the rather obvious fact that the variant of our hypothetical 50s jet fighter that someone actually chooses to kit won't ever be the one people will go out and buy, even if that variant is the exact same one they put on their Gotta Have One lists. They'll ask for a C-model and get it, and then bemoan the fact that they didn't get an A-model too or instead of. Go figure, right?

'Tween the Wars and Great War biplanes of any sort are in there too, and I have to admit the prospect of that one definitely gets me excited, but the folks who manufacture kits of such things are few and far between and the kits are almost invariably poor sellers, Wingnut Wings notwithstanding.

One-offs of any era. Decent kits of airplanes like The Spirit of St Louis will sell, usually. So will the true oddballs, but they'll only sell to a small circle of enthusiasts and therein lies the rub!

People who make short-run kits out of resin, or by way of 3D printing, or vacuumforms, or with tissue paper and popsicle sticks, tend to do it as a labor of love, but at some point even the most altruistic of those folks would like to receive some degree of adequate financial compensation for their efforts, if only to cover their costs as opposed to producing their short-run kits at a continual loss. The big companies who produce kits out of injection-molded polystyrene have a completely different business model; the guy in the garage can break even and consider it a Good Thing because he loves what he's doing, but those big guys who have employees and overhead to deal with need to make a lot more money than that, an event that will never occur if they chose to invest in 1/32nd scale kits of the legendary (and entirely mythical) Humbly Pudge Heavyish Bomber.

There's the kicker then, which also happens to be The Point: You want one of whatever-it-is, you get a bunch of people on those modeling boards excited and wanting one too, and some manufacturer, large or small but almost inevitably either heavily dedicated to the hobby or just not very bright, takes the bait and produces one. Its retail cost, medium, and degree of sophistication reflect the slings and arrows of research, tooling, production and probably overhead, and that guy who started the whole thing in the first place decides not to buy one because it costs more than he wants it to, a price that, in the eye of the requestor, is often just barely more expensive than Free. Most of his friends don't buy one either, possibly because they never really wanted one in the first place. The eventual bottom line gets us to the inevitable part where the manufacturer thinks twice before ever going down that road again. Don't believe me? Look around!

One the other hand, we're actually getting some of the things we thought we'd never see, like that new F-51H that, so there's always hope. I wouldn't hold my breath over the Humbly Pudge bomber, though...

Phantoms in the TXANG

San Antonio's 149th TFG has been in the fighter business for quite a while, and for a portion of that career, back during the late 1970s through the late 1980s, were flying the legendary Double Ugly, the mighty McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II. I used to get out to their ramp from time to time and would like to share one of those adventures with you, from a shoot in November of 1979.

Here's a fine example of a Charlie-model F-4 in TXANG service. 63-7419, an F-4C-15-MC Phantom basks in the sunshine on the 149th's ramp at what used to be Kelly AFB. There's no tailcode, but otherwise this particular example of "Double Ugly" could have been any one of a great many F-4s in service with the Air Force, the Guard, or the Reserves during that era. 419 was undergoing pre-flight when I took this photograph.   Friddell

There's nothing quite like a sunny ramp full of Phantoms to get your interest up! 63-0625 was an F-4C-20-MC and there was absolutely nothing special about her that day except for the "TEXAS" ribbon across her vertical stab. Things look fairly placid in this particular shot, but the 149th was, and still is to this day, a highly professional and proficient fighter outfit. Did flying the F-4 help that image back in The Day? Oh yes it did!   Friddell

Modern aircraft, "modern" in this case being anything built for the USAF after 1955 or so, are often covered in stencilled warnings and instructions and 64-0750, an F-4C-23-MC of the 149th, illustrates that practice to an almost ridiculous extent. Yikes! On a more modeler-friendly note, the 149th was tasked with the air-to-mud mission during the late 70s, as attested to by the gun pod and TERs attached to this airframe. If I were a betting man, I'd say she was on her way to move a little sand at the gunnery range on Matagorda Island but then again maybe not. Still, she is loaded with that pod...   Friddell

64-0827 was wearing a pod that day as well, and she's got TERs on her inboard stations too. Modelers take note of that gas bag; it's dented and the paint demarcation line on its nose cap doesn't match that of the main tank body. The devil's in the details, as this F-4C-24-MC attests!   Friddell

In somewhat striking contrast here's a view of 64-0879, another F-4C-24-MC, carrying nothing underneath her airframe other than the inboard stations, although those are fitted with TERs. It's hard to call the Phantom II a pretty airplane no matter what configuration a given airplane might be in, but the type does look kindof classy when it's all cleaned up.   Friddell

I'm personally not a very big fan of straight-on profile views of airplanes; I think they're just too darned clinical and sterile, but a lot of people prefer that. Here's a view of 64-0918, an F-4C-25-MC, that I photographed for those who enjoy such things. Let me be clear about that last statement, though; if you'd care to submit photographs of American military aircraft for possible use on this site (at   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   ) I'm perfectly cool with clinical side views! They aren't a first choice, doggone it, but who am I to ever say no to a decent picture of an airplane?    Friddell

That's it for today's look at the immortal "Phantoom", although you can pretty much bet you'll be seeing more of the type in the months ahead. We're fond of the Phantom II around here, dontchaknow? 

One Big Honkin' Flying Fortress

By now you've all noticed that certain folks show up repetitively on these pages. One such individual is Norman Camou, who has supported us with a seemingly endless supply of really neat YouTube links to aviation topics and, more recently, with photographs of some of his models. Here's yet another example of the latter:

HK happens to make an extremely attractive B-17G kit in 1/32nd scale, and Norm turned his talents to building one of them a while back. This photograph says a lot for the overall quality of the kit and, more importantly, for Norm's not-inconsiderable talents. The completed model is a big 'un, and takes up a fair amount of space when on display, but the kit has been designed in a manner to allow the wings to be removed and reattached, thus simplifying storage when the beast isn't on display. We like it!   Norman Camou

Norm's B-17G is seriously cool, but that shot is also the only photograph of a completed model we've received here since I asked for such submissions last issue. No, wait; Frank Emmett did send me a couple of pictures of some model railroad buildings he's working on for a mutual friend of ours, but nobody else has, so I'd like to re-extend the invitation to you all. Remember that title: Replica in Scale? That "replica" part means models, ya'll! I happen to like what Norm's doing, and I tend to like what I'm doing as well but it's a far bigger world than that so how about it? Do you build? Do you build to a reasonable standard? Then you're our guy or gal! Photos should be in JPG format if possible and large enough to present well. You don't get paid for them, nor do you receive any sort of prize, but you probably will get your fifteen minutes of fame if we publish one of your photos. That e-mail addy, suitably gomed-up to mess with The Spam Brigade, is  replicainscaleatyahoodotcom  .

Willy in the Balkans

Or one of his creations, anyway. This one's a reproduction of a JG27 BF-109E-7 in use during the latter stages of Operation Marita, Mr Hitler's ultimately flawed excursion into the Balkans, and is from the much maligned 1/32nd scale Eduard kit:

Several years ago our friends over at Eduard made an attempt at breaking into the lucrative 1/32nd scale model airplane market but their premier attempt fell flat. The list of things that needed correction on that initial kit was lengthy and somewhat damning, and the kit was a severe disappointment in consequence although it was, and remains, quite buildable. In this view you can see one of the significant issues; Eduard's treatment of the fabric control surfaces. I rather obviously didn't fix them, but you could if you wanted to. I also didn't bother to put the hand-holds in the windscreen corners and I really should have done that, but such is life!   Friddell

This photo shows something I actually did correct, and you should too if you choose to build this model: As things come out of the box the slats on the wing leading edges are just too darned deep, chord-wise, and look pretty silly if you know how the real airplane appears in comparison. Fortunately the fix is an easy one, simply a matter of laying in a filler strip in the slat well (which is actually incorrect on almost every 109 kit ever made that allows for dropped slats, not just Eduard's, because there isn't any deep slat bay there at all) and then trimming back the slat itself. The mlg tires and wheels on this model are from an Aires accessory set meant for the 1/32nd scale Bf109F family, while the lawn-tractor tread has been sanded off the kit tailwheel and said edifice slightly reshaped. It looks ok, don't you think?   Friddell

On the other hand, the Eduard kit just isn't very good when taken as a serious replica of the E-series Bf109s. There are some dimensional issues that are difficult to address in addition to other flawed details, and there's actually no point in building one if you have the far better Dragon offering available to you BUT that's with a huge caveat. The kit is extremely buildable, and it looks pretty good once it's done, but like we said, it isn't accurate out of the box and getting it up to a higher level of fidelity to the real thing is a chore at best. It can be done, of course; just go over and visit the fine folks at BritModeller and look for examples of what some of their contributors have done with the kit if you don't believe me. The point is that a decent-looking, if somewhat inaccurate, model can be produced from the kit. Would I enter this model in a contest? No; I would not. Would I put this model in my 1/32nd scale Luftwaffe collection as an adequate representation of a late Emil? Yes I would, and in point of fact I have. It's all something about the eye of the beholder, if I'm not mistaken...

A Nifty Warhawk From Bobby

An issue of Replica just wouldn't be the same if we didn't offer a photo or two of the war in the Pacific from Bobby Rocker's extensive archives. Let's begin with a really nice P-40N:

This is such a neat photo I had to run it, although I don't know all that much about it. It was taken on Biak in 1944, which should make it from either 78 or 80 Sqdn RAAF, but I'm not sure which. What I am sure of is that it's a well-worn P-40N (Warhawk Mk IV) and its overall appearance makes it a wonderful candidate for a scale model. Notice in particular the generally disreputable appearance of the lower wing between the landing gear fairings and the outer guns, and the heavy lead deposits on the exhaust stacks, the result of cruising the aircraft with an extremely lean throttle mixture. The devil's in the details, as they say, and there are a whole bunch of those details visible here!   Rocker Collection

Just How Low Is Low?

Yep; that's a rhetorical question, and one that makes no sense without a context. Let's consider the American 5th Air Force in the Southwest Pacific as context then, because Low had a whole lot of meaning for them, at least where their attack aircraft and medium bombers were concerned.

How about this one for starters? It's somewhat of an enigma in our world since we don't know the serial number, nor do we know if there's different artwork on her port side, although we'd willing to bet there is. What we do know is that she was an A-20G with the 90th BS in 1944, and she was one impressive-looking airplane!    Rocker Collection

Of course, there was a price to be paid in the SWPAC, even if you were in a smokin' hot outfit and flew an airplane like the B-25G. By 1943 the odds were mostly in your favor, but that didn't eliminate the danger altogether because, besides the Japanese, you still had to contend with capricious weather and extremely poor operational conditions each and every time you got in the airplane. We don't know for sure which one of those things did in this 499th BS Mitchell, but we suspect the place to be Owi Island and it would appear her crew got out ok. It wasn't always that way.   Rocker Collection

Here's a really poor photograph of another B-25G, this time undergoing maintenance, for your consideration. Think about what you're looking at for a minute, and let's put it in the proper context. Let's pretend like you're doing major repair work on your car, and let's pretend you live in the Florida Everglades and your driveway is on the edge of a swamp. Let's add heat, humidity, bugs, snakes, and the occasional air raid to your repair efforts. That was every day for those guys; every stinkin' day, and they got it done every day. Every stinkin' day!  Rocker Collection

Every once in a while Bobby will send along a photo that's carrying a caption. Such is the case with this shot of "Mexican Spitfire", a B-25D from the 500th BS of the 345th BW. She's obviously seen the elephant more than a few times, and will eventually see it one time too many. There were no easy days in the 5th AF, not ever.   Rocker Collection

And Now For Another Havoc

Just one, but it's a SPECIAL one! Take a look and see if you don't agree!

Ok; everybody who's seen this photo of an 89th BS A-20 undergoing field maintenance (in the truest sense of that term, we might add) raise your hand. Got it! Now; everybody who's seen this image more than once, including right here on this very site, raise your hand again. Yep, it's true. We've all seen this airplane before, but most of the prints out there are pretty iffy at best and you can't really see the airplane, which means you can't tell she's carrying nose art and the name "Daisy Mae", along with a bunch of mission markers. This particular image is better than most and you actually can see those things this time around. Don't thank us; thank James Gallagher!    James P. Gallagher

There are two sides to every story---here's the largely unknown other side of "Daisy Mae"! This photo defines even more details about 0146; note in particular the U.S. Army logo still under her wings. Many thanks to Gerry Kersey for sharing this image from Gus O'Donnell, 89th BS crew chief.  O'Donnell Collection via Kersey

And finally, just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any better, here's a detail of the name, mission markers, and part of the nose art on "Daisy Mae"! Jack Taylor was her pilot and we'd like to raise a glass to him and all those like him. They were a special breed!   John Taylor Collection via Gerry Kersey

Many thanks to Gerry Kersey, both for correcting some misinformation we had on this aircraft and for supplying the additional images. The help is greatly appreciated!

Links From Norm

Frequent contributor Norman Camou, a man who's becoming ever more prominent on these electronic pages, sends in all sorts of really neat aviation-related links, sometimes several a week. Here are a couple of them for your enjoyment:

First is a link to an A-4 story from the Naval Institute's on-line magazine that might be of interest to you:

And then THIS jewel, off of YouTube and an absolute must-see if you have any interest whatsoever in the Naval air war in the Pacific:

And finally, there's this:

A few minutes with any of these should prove well worth your time!

See You Later, Alligator!

Which is a relatively goofy way of saying we're done for this particular issue. We should be back once more before we're done with 2019, though so watch this space and be good to your neighbor!