Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Zip and a Peculiar 109

AheyBop-A-ReeBop; It's Friday Again!

It's amazing, simply amazing, how quickly the week passes. This one's been fun, and I hope you've enjoyed what we've done with it. Please remember that I'm open to your comments and criticisms should you be so inclined, which is an invitation to write and tell me all about it, within reason, of course. That address is . I'm also still looking for photographic material on the 21st TFW or 39th AD at either Misawa or Kunsan during the late 50s and early 60s; if you hold photography on the subject I'd sure like to see it!

Also, I've received a few requests for different views of particular aircraft that I've published. That's fair, and I'll help when I can, but what gets published is generally all there is at the moment so don't be unduly disappointed if I can't do much to help out with requests for additional shots. Believe me, I feel your pain!

Anyway, let's get right down to it with a couple of my favorite topics.

Sometimes the Zipper is a Tub

Lockheed produced two different "trainer" variants of the F-104 for the Air Force; the B model, which was a two-seat variant of the A, and the D model, which was a two-seater based on the F-104C. Both featured the enlarged vertical tail that would adapted to all subsequent Starfighters. The Bs and Ds may, to some extent, have been responsible for creating the rumor that the F-104 had no range to speak of (if you take things on internal fuel only, the Zip actually had a greater unrefueled range than the F-4 if the pilot could make minimal use of the AB) because it was the variant that most senior officers got to fly in, and a great many of those worthies wanted to fly fast, since Fast was seemingly what the F-104 was all about. In a jet Fast means afterburner and afterburner means Gas Guzzler with a capital G, which ultimately translates to Bingo Fuel and a bad reputation. You get the picture.

That notwithstanding, here are a couple of shots of my favorite airplane to end the week.

This photo was taken at the NWC at China Lake on 11 February, 1972, and shows an F-4D carrying an AGM-62 Walleye ("Seek-Bang 2" is notated on the back of the photo; does anyone have details on that?)  with F-104D-5-LO  57-1317 preparing to fly chase. The shot gives an excellent representation of the white upper wings common to either natural metal or gray USAF Starfighters. Although the original photo is annotated as being taken in 1971, the serial number presentation on the Phantom is more consistent with that found in the USAF during 1966-67, when Walleye was undergoing evaluation trials and entering initial service with the Navy.  USN LHL155048

57-1316, another F-104D-5-LO,  in flight out of NWC China Lake in June of 1967. This natural metal F-104D may have been flying chase for a Navy program since the original photo was taken by that service. Note that both slats and flaps are slightly deployed.  USN LO88757

F-104B-1-LO 56-3719 on the ground at Edwards AFB. Note the striped test boom and the number "80" that's positioned above the serial number. Even the tub is a Clean Machine!  USAF Photo

An absolutely gorgeous shot of F-104B-10-LO 57-1304 assigned to Air Material Command. The striping on the white vertical stab, tip tanks, and pitot boom is noteworthy. Modelers, take a look at the underside of the horizontal stab; it's natural metal. I have no idea which Lockheed photographer took this, but he was good!  Lockheed LA6637-8

Anybody who's ever been around tactical jets knows they're loud. Any airplane powered by the J-79 is really loud. And the J-79-powered F-104, with its bleed air systems functioning on the ground, is loud beyond belief. We can hope that the airman parking F-104B-1-LO 56-3723 is wearing earplugs (although I personally doubt that he is); he certainly isn't wearing any other sort of noise attenuation. Things were a little looser back in the 60s! This airframe ended up in the Taiwanese AF.   KAFB History Office, Neg No Unknown

3723 in the chocks at Kelly. Early on the Zip was given the PR nickname of "missile with a man in it". This view illustrates why.  KAFB History Office, Neg No Unknown

And here's today's Mystery Meat. The aircraft is F-104D-5-LO s/n 57-1315, and it was photographed at China Lake. There's a SysCom badge on the intake trunk just aft of the fuselage star, but there's also that what-ever-it-is hanging off the back end. At first that piece of sheetmetal appears to be some sort of test installation to reduce the airplane's not-inconsiderable IR plume, but it doesn't seem to be particularly well-attached to the airframe. I spent years thinking I knew what was going on here, but now I'm not so sure!
This bird ended up being transferred to Taiwan.   USN Photo, Neg No Illegible

Finally, Something on the Bf109!

And we say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, since valued friend Bad Brad says it so often (and, I can pretty well assure you, doesn't really mean it! I recently got hooked on the Bf-109E-3s and -4s that were used in the Balkans Campaign of 1941 because of their heraldry, and would like to offer a recent model of one of them as today's parting shot.

It's the Tamiya Bf-109E-3 done as the mount of Hpt Herbert Ihlefeld, CO of II(J)/LG 2 as photographed at Hesckemet, Hungary, at the beginning of the campaign. The aircraft was well-travelled before getting to LG 2 (JG 52 was a previous owner) and had apparently been involved in night fighter trials at one time. Surviving photographs show the installation of a Peil Gerat IV antenna cover on the aft ventral surface of the fuselage and irregular blotching over the upper-wing splinter pattern. I was drawn to the scheme because of the colorful theater markings and think the model to be a reasonable representation of the real aircraft, but this one's a little tough to figure out.

Oh yeah, and I owe you folks an apology. I wasn't really very happy with the quality of some of the photos of models that I published last week; they were a little too soft for my liking. Today I noticed that I'd somehow moved the camera's resolution off of "fine" and over to "really gnarly", which is what caused the problem. It's fixed now, and any other problems in resolution rest squarely on my shoulders. I can't blame the camera any more! Just thought you ought to know that...

Lordy, I love all that yellow! Don't you love all that yellow? I love all that yellow! Decals are from Third Group sheet 48-008, and paint is ModelMaster enamel. You can see the Peil Gerat installation pretty well in this photo. It was scratch-built from a piece of card stock and the gun camera fairing from a 1/32nd scale Hasegawa P-40E. Somebody probably makes one as aftermarket but I didn't have it when I built the model (or now either, for that matter!).

An interpretation of the light-colored blotching seen in the photos of this aircraft. Speculation is that it was either light blue or light gray; I used Helgrau 65 because there was already so much gray on the airframe. Is it correct? I don't know, but I don't think anybody else knows for sure either and it seems to match the tonal values in the black and white photos pretty well. Besides the blue, all the other blotching on this model was based on the 3 or 4 photos I had available of the real thing at the time it was built. With any luck it's reasonably close to being correct. That's part of the fun of modeling the Luftwaffe, you know...

At this point in time I have to wonder if you really wanted to see what the opposite side of the model looked like, but I wanted to show it to you so here it is. Not much different, huh? As a personal note, I tend to underweather most of my models on the theory that too much grunge makes them look bad.

A parting photo that shows what a thin coat of yellow I apply to these things. A lot of the yellow markings used by the Luftwaffe were temporary in nature and pertained to specific campaigns or operations, while even the more permanent ID markings were applied directly over existing paint. A fairly thin application of the yellow (or white, or whatever) allows some of the original camouflage to come through, which I like. If you decide you don't happen to like it, you might not want to do it. Choices, choices...

Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you next week.

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