Sunday, October 3, 2010

More From Misawa, On Warbirds, Tulsa Stratojets, More of That Warhawk, a Late Lightning, a Shape, and Getting Some Relief

Back to the North Country (Northern Japan, That Is)

Without further ado, or any ado at all for that matter, here are another couple of images from Misawa AB, Japan, taken during the late 1950s/early 1960s. Misawa was a humming sort of place back then, and seemingly a haven for all sorts of neat airplanes. Let's look.

A "Hun" on the ramp. Not too colorful, but a "Hun" nontheless. 56-3333 was an F-100D-90-NA, photographed shortly after her assignment to the 39th AD (most likely the 531st TFS) during the winter of 1964. Dave Menard was on the ramp trying not to get "detained" for taking this shot, while I was a sophomore at Misawa HS a half-mile away. 3333 was later converted to QF-100D status and expended. Long ago and far away...   A1C David Menard

This "Hun's" a little more like we'd expect to see. F-100D-40-NA 55-2870 was also expended as a QF-100D drone at the end of her life, but she's in all her 531st TFS livery in this shot. Sharing the ramp with her is F-102A-50-CO 55-3463 of the 4th FIS. That's the base steam plant in the background. Misawa's ramp was usually well patrolled and closed to non-authorized personnel, which makes me wonder about the two Japanese civilians visible in front of the small building on the left.   Menard Collection

I think we can safely say we've saved the best for last! SB-17G 43-39361 was built as a B-17G-110-BO, then converted to SB-17 configuration post-War. This shot was taken near base ops at Misawa in 1950, making it contemporary with some of the F-80s we looked at last time around. That must have been a fascinating ramp!  M. Zelnak via Menard

We Don't Do Warbirds Around Here, Except for This Time

A lot of my friends like Warbirds, and I have a couple of friends who prefer them to almost any other form of aviation. Me, I could take 'em or leave 'em, mostly because I don't much care for the way they get restored. If you're wondering what that might mean, try thinking of your average Warbird as a Great Big Model Airplane, being painted and marked by the person building same. Sometimes the results are pretty good, but sometimes they aren't, and it honestly kills my soul to see a vintage airplane all tarted up looking like a badly-done model airplane.

You could counter, of course, by saying that each airplane is privately owned and the owner gets to do what they want. I'd certainly agree with that notion, but my personal preference is to do it Right if you're going to do it at all, and a lot of warbirds just look odd to me. The modern com gear and associated antennae don't help, and I don't much care for those "N" numbers either, even though they're both necessary and, generally, tiny. It's a personal preference and nothing more. (On the other hand, we do get to hear and see them fly, for which I say a great big THANK YOU to all the folks who take the time and spend the money to keep those treasures in the air!)

That said, today I'm going to offer up a photo of a Warbird for your consideration:

Hoo-hah! If you have to own a Warbird, this is the way to do it. This sort of thing could almost make me like Warbirds!
Don Jay

On the Ramp at Douglas Tulsa

The old Douglas facility in Tulsa was quite an operation while in its prime, although a lot of folks aren't all that familiar with the place. It may therefore come as a surprise that a fair number of Boeing B-47s were built there under contract, while a bunch of them were overhauld and modded there as well. MarkNankivil sent these shots in several months ago, and todays a good day to run them.

There may be one or two of you out there who don't know what a nose dock is. This shot explains the concept better than words could ever do; a ramp full of B-47s are undergoing what would amount to IRAN on the Douglas ramp. At least three different fiscal year's worth of production are represented here. Of interest is the B-47 recovering on the active runway in the background.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Pretty birds all in a row. These Stratojets are of interest because they show us yet another sort of nose dock---that's two different kinds to use in a diorama, ya'll. Note the legend "Mod Unit" painted over the numbers on the aft fuselage. These B-47s are being reworked.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Sometimes You Just Get Bored, Ya Know?

Which is what's happened to me with two different projects (three, actually; theres that still-not-finished A-4C that we started this whole thing with almost a year ago). I've just gotten bored. Not burned out, I don't think, but seriously, severely bored.

First up in the Boredom Sweepstakes is that big P-40N I've been working on. It's almost done, in point of fact it's so close to finished that you can almost smell it, but I've ground to a stop on the thing. It's probably the masking of that doggoned spinner---the bottom half came out just fine but I've re-done the tip twice now and I'm still not happy with it. I've also been balking on the canopy and windscreen, both of which are easy enough to mask because of the way Hasegawa designed the kit (all the frames are engraved). That one falls into the realm of the cosmically unexplained; I just don't feel like doing it.

Anyway, here's where we got to before the project ran out of steam:

It's on its gear, has most of its decals, and now sports twelve, count-'em; twelve, individual exhaust stacks up there on the nose. A lot of the weathering has been done and it's been squirted with DullCote. In this view you can't really see what a mess the spinner is, but it comes right off of there and will soon be repainted. Well, maybe not soon, but it will be repainted. Someday. Those Zotz decals were interesting to work with too; the nose are went on as good as any decals I've ever used, while the national insignia suffered from a little bit of silvering, an issue that was ultimately resolved with the application of full-strength SolvaSet. Go figure.

If you saw one side you have to see the other. That awful spinner demarcation is shown to advantage (?) here, but the view also shows us the nice tire/wheel ensemble provided with the kit. All P-40 wheels were spoked alloy, but the pre-N versions mostly seem to have worn wheel covers. The wheels, and therefore the tires as well, on the P-40N were of a smaller diameter than those that came before, this being because the N-model was a "lightweight" variant of the Warhawk. The Hase kit gives both early (big, as found on their P-40E and K offerings) and late wheels, a nice touch. I didn't manage to mess up the demarcation on the wheels, although in fairness that's mostly because the wheels themselves are separate components, not molded to the tires. Yay, Hasegawa!

The sharp-eyed among you may also notice that the images are a little soft this time. That's because Jenny just got me a Brand Spanking New Digital Camera and I don't have a clue how to use it yet. This is what happens when you close your eyes and jump right in. It'll get better...

And the Other One I Burned Out On

Everybody builds a P-38 sooner or later, and nobody builds more than one, or at least nobody I know does. I think that's because the airframe is a pain in the wazoo to model, with alignment issues abounding in most kits. This one got started over a year ago, and it's been sitting like this for the past six months. All it needs is some touch-up and its transparencies but, once again, it's stuck where it is.

This photograph has been deleted by the staff of RIS.  ed.

Here's Hasegawa's P-38G marked as "Hold Everything" from the 431st FS/475th FG ca. 1943. The decals are AeroMaster (the decal company that some of the Internet Experts love to hate) and went on without a hitch. They're a lot more accurate than I could've done by hand, and gave me an opportunity to build a colorful mid-War SWPA Lightning from the Pacific's premier P-38 outfit. The kit doesn't quite have that characteristic P-38 "squat" and the mlg doors are a bear to align, but otherwise it wasn't a tough build at all. The Hase Lightning kits have a reputation for being difficult but I'm here to tell you it just ain't so! They do have too many pieces in some areas, but if you're the least bit careful you end up with something that sure looks like a P-38.

Here's the whole reason for this model getting built. Almost everything our side flew in the Pacific ended up looking beat to pieces after a short period of operating off dirt airfields in the tropical sun. This P-38 is actually an exercise in fading; there are at least four shades of OD, plus a little zinc chromate primer courtesy of a colored pencil (lightly sprayed-over with one of those afore-mentioned olive drabs so simulate paint worn down to primer) on that airframe. I think it looks ok but I'm not quite done with it yet. Time will tell. Time might also tell if the transparencies ever get painted...

Almost a Boring Airplane

Sometimes you come into a photo that's just plain boring until you start paying attention to what it is. Here's an example:

143562, an FJ-4B from VA-216, is about as Plain-Jane an airplane as you can get. This example is on the static line at an early-60s airshow and is nothing to write home about until you notice what's hanging underneath it. I'll guarantee you nobody at that airshow knew what it was! (PC? What's PC?)  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's another one that's pretty boring; this time it's an FJ-4B from VA-146 in flight. The shot's of interest to us because of the weathering on the pylons (note the Mil-P-8585 Zinc Chromate showing through) and the Corrogard on the leading edges. Although the shot's a little soft, it also gives us a fair idea of stencil placement, even though you can't actually read them.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried
VF-216 again, and still no squadron markings! There's a colored fin tip but that's just about it---143569 is just about as plain a fighter as you'll ever see. We've included it because it provides a lot of detail for the modeler. The sharp-eyed among you (and I'm presuming that to be just about everybody) will notice the lack of underwing stations. I'll bet the FJ was a joy to fly in this condition!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And one final FJ-4B shot, just to show we haven't given up on colorful airplanes. This VF-151 bird is sitting in the static line at yet another un-named airshow, but this time sans hardpoints and with a little bit of color. The squadron markings are subdued and tasteful and really work well with the Fury's lines. The tiny little stars around the tail of the big star are a nice touch.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Relief Tube

We've got a couple of comments and corrections ( ) to share with you this week. Let's see what's going on:

First, from Don Jay:  Hi Phil, Just looked at your latest edition of replica in scale. Some info for you:

The T-birds are not mine but I can help to pinpoint the time frame for you as between 10/78 and 4/79. In the background of -3679 is 53-5285 which arrived 10/78 and departed 4/79. I think (caution) that all the T-Birds belonged to the 21st Composite Wing. They were used for targets, ecm-spoofers, liaison, and to keep  (the) HQ staff happy with some flying time. Thanks Don! Now, will the real owner of those T-Bird photos please stand up?!

And a kudo from a reader known only as Yeepie Jeepy:

I've always loved the FJ-4. I'm not sure why. they look pretty ungainly on the ground with that long nose wheel strut. On the other hand, they look really good in flight. Kinda like the Sabre Jet's brawny cousin. Thanks for sharing the pics.

Thanks Yeepie, and thanks for giving me a chance to define something for our readers. Although most blog sites allow reader comments with moderation (or sometimes without---how crazy is that?), we don't do that around here. I mention this so nobody takes offense if a comment doesn't show up on the blog---we'd love to hear from you but please send your comments to rather than to the comments part of the blog. It's easier for me to deal with it that way since this is still a one-person show. And I couldn't agree more with Yeepy about the FJ!

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbors and we'll meet again real soon.

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