Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Blast From The Past and Some Colorful Canucks

A Little Bit of Color for the Big Bang

Those of you who remember Replica from before, when it was printed on real paper and was published every once-in-a-while (we somewhat, but only somewhat, called it an occasionodical, although we really did try to do it quarterly), may have fond memories of a piece we did on United States aviation ordnance (aka "The Bomb Issue"). I don't think anybody's ever done anything that was substantially better than that piece, which was the brainchild of Jim Wogstad, and we considered it groundbreaking way back then. I helped with the piece but it was really Jim's baby, and as far as I know he's still gathering material for the ultimate US aviation ordnance book, a much-needed reference work that I sincerely hope he publishes some day. I promise it'll be worth the wait when it gets here. 

Anyway, our original article offered a few photographs, drawings, and color notes, but no actual color reproductions 'cause we just couldn't afford the process! Color was relatively expensive to put in a magazine back in the early 70s and we made the decision to abstain, even though a whole bunch of our photography was originally that way. It was everybody's loss.

Fast-forward to Right Now. The world is computerized, mostly, and everything that was originally in color can be in color now, no extra charge! Just push that Magic Twanger, Froggy, and watch it all happen. It's about danged time, too! That takes us to todays lead piece, which consists primarily of the relevant color pages from TM 9-1900 (June, 1945), which is entitled "Ammunition, General", and covers all the conventional ordnance the Army was using at that time. We aren't interested in artillery rounds at the moment, or mortar shells, or mines, but we are somewhat interested in the bombs, or at least we should be after reading all those letters to the various internet scale modeling boards asking what color American bombs really were way back during The Big One. What follows is three pages of illustrations that are relevant to that line of questioning; two on bombs and one, a topic of which we didn't address in that article of Long Ago, on machine-gun ammunition. And yes, I know machine-gun ammunition isn't a bomb, but the stuff is found aboard Second World War airplanes in great abundance and some of you detail the belted ammunition when you build in the larger scales---consider this a fringe benefit of sorts, ok? Also, you'll probably notice that we don't do anything with Navy ordnance today, which means no yellow bombs or depth charges. (The AAF used yellow bombs too, early in the war. Go back to Yesterday's Thrilling Episode and take another look at that photograph of the B-26 at Port Moresby; those bombs are yellow, my friends, but TM 9-1900 was published in 1945, long after any remaining yellow bombs had been expended, so there are no yellow bombs here today. Sorry, gang!

You'll notice that the bombs are illustrated in two colors: OD and gray. Explosive and incendiary bombs were painted OD, while chemical weapons (rarely if ever seen in the field) were gray. Practice bombs were blue. Further, the HE bombs were defined by yellow bands around the nose and tail, while incendiary bombs got purple bands, chemical weapns got green ones,  and drill or inert weapons were striped in black. HE bombs had two stripes at the nose and tail if the filler (explosive) material was Composition B (Comp B), while Tritonal-filled bombs got three stripes. That's the Quick and Dirty of it and it doesn't cover all the various permutations; digging deeper is in order!  There's lots of stuff on aviation weapons in that spiffy little tech manual and we'll continue to run a page or two from time to time. Stay tuned on that one---we aren't through with this topic yet!

Anyway, enough of this rambling. Here are the pages as promised:

Basic bombs. You'll notice there are no fins or fuses present; these are just the colors of the bomb casings. The heavy bands you see around the diameter of the weapons were for handling and storage and were removed before the bombs were loaded into the aircraft. Fins were generally installed before winching the bomb into (or, in the case of tactical aircraft, beneath) the aircraft. For safety reasons fuzing was done once the bomb was secured to the airplane. In this illustration the purple bands indicate an incendiary weapon, the green bands define chemical weapons (the number of stripes, along with stencilling, identify the kind of gas contained in the bomb), while the yellow stripes tell us the weapon is filled with high explosives.

Special-purpose bombs. Note that there is a bomb type identified as "drill"; that one's for use for ground training and is not dropped from an aircraft---the blue practice bomb is used for that sort of thing. The single yellow band around the smoke bomb indicates a filler of white phosphorus; two stripes would indicate thermite. The 4-lb incendiary at the bottom of the illustration was unpainted and is the one you see dumping in clusters from B-29s over Japan.

And finally, machine gun ammunition. We're not going to say much here; this illustration is provided so you'll have some idea how to paint things if you're modeling an aircraft with a turret or free gun. Just remember that ammunition belts usually contained a mixture of ball and tracer ammunition, mixed in with armor piercing from time to time. You're going to have to do your own research to figure out your loads.

A Progression of Colorful Canadians

Ask anybody who knows me and they'll tell you I'm a sucker for the F-104. Everybody has a favorite this-airplane or that-airplane and the Zipper is my favorite jet, period. Nothing else even comes close in my very own personal world. Canada built and operated the F-104 (as the CF-104G) for a number of years, providing NATO with additional tactical nuclear strike capability. Their 104s are long-gone but most assuredly not forgotten. Here's a selection of photographs illustrating the progression from natural metal finish to the riotous color of the Zip's final days in Canadian service. Enjoy!

Yee-haa! That's gotta be fun! A CF-104 launches a pod of CRV-7 rockets over Primrose Range at CFB Cold Lake in 1974. Of particular interest are the red stripe around the inlet and the red horizontal stab; the horizontal stab was painted that way to help find the aircraft if it was forced down while the intake stripe is indicative of service with the AETE. The Zip was primarily used for nuclear weapons delivery by the CAF. The aircraft went into service sans guns, which were installed when the aircraft went back to the conventional strike role later in its career.  Canadian Armed Forces  AEC-74-130

I would call this the "RAF" scheme, or maybe the "NATO" scheme, although its official name was "variegated camouflage". It was intended to hide the aircraft on the ground and at the low (and we mean low here, folks!) altitudes where the 104 hung out in Europe. This shot was taken at CFB Baden on 20 November, 1985.  Canadian Armed Forces  BAC85-3775

The "RAF" scheme evolved from an overall olive green, which was the original tactical scheme for the CF-104. This 439 Sqdn machine wears it well as it cruises over the picturesque German countryside during the mid-1980s.  Canadian Armed Forces

Every once in a while you have to show a little color; Wild Bill Hickock said that, I think. This 417 Sqdn Starfighter was painted in a special momemorative scheme in 1983 and is seen in flight over CFB Cold Lake. Note that this aircraft still has provision for the M-61. This is a Clean Machine!                       Canadian Armed Forces  AEC83-942

In 1982 421 Sqdn had been around for 40 years and in Europe for 30, and commemorated those events with this spectacularly-painted Starfighter. Manfred von R would've been proud of those guys, I think!     Canadian Armed Forces  ISC82-2209

104838 of 439 Sqdn wakes up the inhabitants of Hohenzollern Castle in June of 1977. If memory serves this particular aircraft is wearing its Tiger Meet colors and must have presented quite a sight (and sound!) to anyone near the place; note that the Zipper is actually below the roofline of the castle, which sits on a hill. Noise abatement? What noise abatement?   Canadian Armed Forces  PCN77-510

A four-ship from 441 Sqdn over Lake Constance, Germany, in July of 1979. Both types of CAF tactical camouflage are shown to advantage in this shot. Of particular interest is the tight formation being held; the F-104 predated fly-by-wire technology by a number of years, and this sort of form work is a testimony to the airmanship of the CAF. Flaps and slats appear to be slightly deployed, presumably to keep pace with the photo ship. Camouflage it ain't, but Lead is flying a really pretty airplane nontheless.                           Canadian Armed Forces PCN80-28

A trio of commemorative F-104s in flight near CAF Baden in 1986. If there's such a thing as ghosts there were probably a lot of Great War-era German aviators cheering for these guys that day---what a riot of color, what a display of airmanship, and a fitting shot with which to end this photo essay.  Canadian Armed Forces  BAC86-745

And that's about it for today. We'll talk again soon.

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