Monday, June 21, 2010

Nudging Along With Nate; Or Making Little Progress, A Tilt-Rotor That's Not From Bell, A CAG Corsair, A Few -5s, Inside an Electric Spooky, and Something to Move the Things That Go Bang

Somethin's Goin' On, But It Ain't Very Much

Depending on how you judge things last week might or might not have been productive. Your never-humble correspondent (that would be me) managed a week of modest accomplishments (including the riding of not one but two Ducatis!), but didn't get very far on "Nate". That's a relative thing, particularly if you judge Progress by my distinct lack of same regarding that Hasegawa A-4 we started oh-so-many-months-ago, but the "Nate" is actually coming along, more or less. The along-coming just isn't happening very darned fast, that's all.

There are a couple of issues, aside from the fact that I'm generally bone-tired these days and don't have much time for modeling, that are slowing down the completion of this extraordinarily simple kit. One of the things I've rediscovered is that the canopy frames of the transparencies provided for either kit variant are somewhat less defined than they could be, but then that was the norm back in the mid-1970s. I mention it only because I'm on my second round of canopy masking because I want it to look good; if you'll page back to my first installment of this whole Ki-27 deal you'll find a photograph of a model of same that I built a few years back. Nobody wrote in to tell me the canopy demarcation lines were ratty (and I'm grateful for that) but ratty they are, and there's no point in repeating that particular bit of poor workmanship on this model.

Another thing is the way the engine mounts, and the fact that there's nothing behind said engine to prevent you from looking straight into the cockpit when you hold the completed model in a backlighted position. I knew about the problem because I'd noticed it after I'd finished that first model, but had forgotten all about it (how I do dislike the aging process!)  when I built this one. If I can easily remove the cowling I'll put a baffle back there before I call this thing finished, but if I can't do that then I won't. The problem really can't be seen unless you know to look for it, but then we're aware of it, aren't we?

On a more positive note I did, however, manage to get all the initial striping done. You may recall that the aircraft being modeled had red stripes on the aft fuselage, vertical stab/rudder, and horizontal stab/elevators, the aforementioned stripes being trimmed in white. My approach to doing this was to perform a little careful masking (but not nearly careful enough, because I've got a couple of stripes to fix!) and painting, doing the "white" parts first. Next I'll mask the already-painted white trim and do the red, at which point the markings will be completed. Note that the "white" (there's a reason I'm using those little quotation dealies there) is actually Testor 36622 Grey; that's because it makes an excellent subdued white, which goes nicely with a pet theory of mine regarding pure white paint on small model airplanes. Feel free to do the same if you like the effect, or don't even consider it if it doesn't look right to you. This is, after all, a pretty subjective hobby.

Here's a 3/4 nose shot showing the not-quite-white white. There's a lot of taper on that aft fuselage and masking it was therefore a joy beyond compare, but a little caution ended up being all that was required to make things work. I had to cut the masking tape I use (Tamiya, I think), by laying out a strip on a piece of sheet sytrene and cutting against a draftman's straight-edge with a really sharp blade to get the width I needed---I think that sort of thing is available off the shelf but none of the San Antonio or Austin shops carry it---but the rest of the process was relatively simple.

Another view, partially redundant but another view all the same. Next up is application of the red, and I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to doing it, mainly because the masking's going to have to be really precise and precise I'm not. Guess we'll find out how it goes, huh?

And a view from behind. I'm not sure if the stripes on the horizontal tail are on the bottom surfaces too, but I didn't put them there---that's on the theory that in the 1:1 scale world this whole paint job was applied by somebody in the field, and getting under "Nate's" tail to paint anything would have been pretty tough, even if the aft fus was supported on saw horses or similar. If anybody can prove to me beyond reasonable doubt that this airplane had stripes down there I'll add 'em; otherwise it stays as-is. Note that I still haven't overpainted the anti-skid on the port wing---the more I look at That One Famous Photo the more I'm convinced that the panel was there, just covered over by dust or mud in a few places. I'll cater to that when I get to the weathering.

It's now possible, but only just, that this thing will be completed in time for next week's installment, but then again maybe it won't be. I will serve no Ki-27 before its time!

The Will Was There, But the Way Was Lacking

Bell wasn't the only aerospace company interested in the tilt-rotor concept; Curtiss Wright put in their two cent's worth too in a short-lived early-60s program. We haven't run anything by Mark Nankivil in a while, so let's take a look at a couple of photos he's sent in:

Here's 61-2197 in all its glory. Those 4 props were spun by a pair of Avco-Lycoming T55-L-5 engines buried in the fuselage. The first prototype crashed during testing, which greatly influenced the cancellation of the program. The surviving airframe ended up at what used to be called the Air Force Museum.  Greater St Louis Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And here she is in low hover. I'm one of those folks who thinks the whole tilt-rotor thing is a great idea, but nobody was quite ready for it in the 60s! Let's file these photos under "great ideas gone wrong".

A Correction Is In Order

Author and Friend Tommy Thomason was heavily involved in the development of Bell's Tiltrotor and sent in this comment regarding the X-19. While I don't normally print corrections the same day I run the original piece I had the chance to do it this time so, without further ado:

Strictly speaking, the X-19 was not a tilt rotor, because the lifting devices were propellers (high disc loading, no cyclic pitch), not rotors. They were very unusual propellers, because they were designed to maximize "radial lift." (Trust a propeller company to come up with a propeller solution to vertical flight.) Pitch, roll, yaw, and height control in hover were accomplished by changing the propeller pitch, which in a helicopter (or a tilt rotor) would be collective. Note that the X-19 was also not a tilt wing, since the wings did not pivot with the propellers. (The reason to tilt the wing was to get it out of the way of the propeller downwash so thrust was maximized.) On the X-19, the download on the wings was minimized by flaps. The tradeoff in not tilting the wing was a reduction in thrust in hover versus a reduction in drag in low speed flight while the thrust was angled mostly upward, some contribution in lift from the wing during conversion to and from cruise, and the avoidance of wing stall in low-power descents which was a problem with tilt wings.

Probably more than you wanted to know...

We now know a whole lot more about the X-19 than we did before; many thanks, Tommy!

Corsairs Can Be CAG Birds Too

If you mention the Chance Vought F4U-5 to almost any modeler or aviation historian the first thing you'll probably hear is reference to the type as a radar-equipped night fighter. The -5 did indeed see a great deal of service in that guise, but it also flew as a day fighter without that clunky radar pod. Here's a shot from Jim Sullivan that shows just how pretty the late "Hogs" could be:

This is F4U-5, BuNo 121846 of VF-61, while serving as Air Group 1's  CAG bird during 1952. The spiraled prop hub and striped vertical tail are noteworthy, as is the use of matte sea blue paint ahead of the cockpit. A squadron badge on the nose puts the finishing touch on a beautiful example of the -5. The exhaust stains on the fuselage are noteworthy.  Sullivan Collection

UPDATE, LATER THAT SAME DAY: And now for yet another same day correction! Rick Morgan caught a couple of errors regarding this shot and sent in a more complete description of the bird, plus a unit correction. Apologies to all for the error, and gosh I wish those other guys hadn't cribbed our "Relief Tube" thing...

Phil: Fascinating shot of the CVG-1 F4U-5 tonight, but it’s not VF-61. Fighting-61, the “Jolly Rogers”, were with CVG-6, assigned to Midway, with F9F-2s at that time. T-01 is indeed one of the CAG birds, one of two assigned directly to the Group (as in the 1/52 Location & Allowance List) along with a single AD-4Q, two TOs and four SNB-5s for use as hacks (obviously when land-based for the last two types). Although assigned to the Air Group, they were actually maintained by one of the subordinate units under it at NAS JAX. At that time VF-11 and -12 had F2H-2s, VF-13 and -14 F4U-5s, VA-15 with AD-4/4L.

The assigned strength was 16 aircraft for each squadron, plus 8 for the CAG. I can’t quite make out the insignia- it should be the Air Group’s but I don’t recognize it. As for the name on the side, it’s not the CAG (CDR Richard Rogers at that time) although it might be the Group’s Ops O.


Thanks, Morgo!

Not All Korean War -5s Were Night Fighters

And to prove the point, here are a few more shots from Jim Sullivan's collection for your consideration:

Loaded for bear, this F4U-5 of VMF-212 prepares to launch at Kimpo during 1952. The "Hog" proved to be an outstanding ground support aircraft, although the type suffered relatively heavy casualties when performing the mud-moving mission in Korea. Somebody had to do it...  Sullivan Collection

The mains are just beginning to retract as this VMF-212 bird gets airborne. She's armed with 6 rockets, a napalm can, and a drop tank; asymetrical centerline stores were the norm in Korea for all the Corsair variants. Barely visible are eyes and a mouth on the gas bag.  Sullivan Collection

Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. This VMF(N)-513 -5 has bellied-in at Kimpo during 1952 and suffered relatively minimal damage in the process. Odds are that she was back in the air within a couple of days of this mishap. The Corsair was a tough old bird!  Sullivan Collection

Corsair Color

How about a couple of color photos to end today's salute to the "Hog"?

Fighting 42's BuNo121928 sits on the ramp in mid-1949. Of interest are the yellow tips to the vertical stab and wings (note the probable color shift; that's a chrome yellow rather than the faded out pastel shade implied by the photograph), the aluminum wheels, and the highly-weathered condition of the airplane. It was rare for a peacetime Corsair to get this nasty; VF-42 must've used their airplanes!  Sullivan Collection

And finally, a -5 of VF-14 (USS Franklin D Roosevelt) prepares to trap during October of 1953. This is a clean aircraft and contrasts with the VF-42 bird shown directly above. They're barely visible in this shot but the black and white striping on the tailhook is visible if you look closely.  Sullivan Collection

Did You Ever Wonder What's in There?

The Douglas C-47 family had a last chance for glory during the Vietnam War, serving as a gunship, an EW platform, and a transport, among other roles. The EC-47s were an interesting lot and I thought we ought to see what the Air Force did to the airframe.

This page from 1C-47(E)N-1 shows the interior configuration as installed. The C-47 proved an ideal platform for the EW mission as long as nobody was shooting back; high-threat environments weren't the place to be in this bird. The airframe was modified into three distinct variants, the EC-47N, EC-47P, and EC-47Q, served throughout most of the conflict. There are a couple of pretty good kits of the "Goony Bird" out there, you know...

What's That Little Wagon Under The Bomb?

Those of you who are old enough to have built the Monogram SBD kit surely remember that it came with a little wagon to put the big bomb on if said bomb wasn't attached to the airplane, and you probably remember it in a lot of WW2-vintage photos of flight decks as well. It was about as ubiquitous a piece of equipment as anything could be, and I'll bet you don't even know what to call it, or at least you didn't before today! The time has come, and it's about time, too! Here then is the Bomb Skid, Mk 1 Mod 1 for your consideration:

The Mk 1 Mod 1 was an extremely simple piece of gear and was capable of handling the 1,000 lb GP bomb. Note that the bomb is mounted to face aft on the skid, and is meant to be secured by a hold-down strap. There are brakes affixed to the wheels---they're actuated automatically when the skid is lowered onto the flight deck. It couldn't be any simpler!

And here's how to put the bomb on the skid. How easy can this get?

You could install a Mk 3 adaptor and carry rockets around too. That little bomb skid was a pretty effective device!  And in case you were wondering, the illustrations all came from our old friend The Aviation Ordnanceman's Manual, 1958 edition.

That's All There Is, There Ain't No More

So we'll see you in a week or so. In the meantime, be good to your neighbor!

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