Monday, November 29, 2010

A Big Model Airplane, Not Bored With Fords?, A Coastie, A Nifty Crusader, and Some Nice Form

There Was a Time When I Didn't Build the Luftwaffe

But nowadays I do, mostly because I like painting blotches on things. That may be why I enjoy doing Japanese subjects too, but I'm not going to delve too deeply into such matters, quite possibly because those matters just don't matter all that much to me. I just like airplanes that look like that. (Oh Lordy, he's at it again...)

Anyway, a while back I started a 1/32nd scale ProModeller (read Hasegawa here) Me109G-4, but built it as a G-2 instead. It's an easy conversion, consisting mostly of opening up the tailwheel well, correcting the supercharger flange, and installing a different tailwheel, although I'm not happy with the tailwheel treatment and will have to go back and replace it some day. I might actually do that too, because I really want to have a proper G-2. Meanwhile, here's a look at the model, done to represent an aircraft of 2/JG 53 near Stalingrad during the summer of 1942.

Here's what the finished model looks like. The basic kit was a revelation when it was first released ten or so years ago and has held its age well. There are a couple of mistakes in the kit, which are minor and easily correctable, and the end result is very much a Messerschmitt in appearance. Note how big the tailwheel is in this view; it's the kit's unit with the strut added from brass tubing. It's a lot more appropriate for a G-4 or later, but my other option was the tailwheel out of an ancient Hase Bf109E-Something-or-Other, which was more of a mis-shapen blob than anything else. That tailwheel will be replaced with an appropriate one from one of the new Hasegawa Bf109F-4 kits as soon as I figure which one of the kit's two tailwheels I want to use on the 109F project.

Here's the left side, which illustrates a couple of things (besides a smaller tailwheel) that you need to do to turn a very acceptable G-4 back into a G-2. There's a cutout on the flange for the supercharger scoop that needs to be extended; use .010 sheet strip cut to shape, glued into the cutout, and sanded smooth. Look at the upper side of the kit's flange and you'll see exactly where the problem is and from there on it's easy. That little white post that the radio antenna attaches to is ceramic on the real airplane and is easily duplicated by drilling a hole in the fus and putting in a piece of plastic rod (with the top rounded off) after you've painted the airframe. There should be little springs on the antenna too, but I didn't want to sacrifice a watch to get some. The shoulder harnesses are Eduard and I think they look pretty good hanging there like that.
It also helps if you add the hand-holds on the corners of the windscreen (from plastic rod with the ends flattened and bent) and the canopy latch (Eduard). That's John Beaman's The Last of the Eagles behind the model on the right side. I personally consider it to be an essential reference on the 109 series, although you might not.

This view shows one of the kit's few significant failings to advantage (?). The spinner is too blunt as given, and doesn't look "right" if you know what you're looking at. Eagle Editions (and maybe others too) make a nice replacement if you want to go that route. I just drilled out the stocker and used it as-is. That tailwheel doesn't look quite so out of place in this shot, but it's still too darned big. Such is life...

Here you can almost see into the cockpit. There's a fair amount of Eduard in there, but there's also a lot of just plain modeling. If you're careful, a painted kit instrument panel looks a whole lot better than the photo-etched one, at least in my opinion. Those windscreen hand-holds really pop out in this view, as does the un-painted stretched sprue canopy cable (which is attached from the aft canopy to the main one and not to the radio mast, which this view sure makes it look like it does---that's barely a sentence, I think, but it was the best way I could think of to describe things). The gaps in the windscreen and the canopy aren't noticeable when you're actually looking at the model, but these photos are many times bigger than life and in consequence make those miniscule gaps look like The Grand Canyon. It just ain't so! JG53 sometimes used that black exhaust mask on their birds, which negates most of the exhaust weathering I did with pastels. Then again, that was the whole purpose of the real thing's masking in the first place, wasn't it? I also started to use QuickBoost exhausts but you really can't see enough of them to make it worth while. Maybe if I ever do one with the cowling off. Also, the sharp-eyed among you may well recognize the airframe I modeled since it's been in a lot of publications lately. If you're in that group, you'll also notice the style of that number 3 is slightly off. It's what I had, it worked, it kept me from cutting a two-part stencil, and right now it's under a heavy application of DullCote so it's probably staying that way for the foreseeable future. There was a time when I would have lost sleep over something like that...
All in all it came out ok, I think. Total build time was about three weeks (scattered out over several months) and that build time includes the hour or so it took me to put the broken wing back on it. (Don't ask!) Horrido, ya'll!

More of That Funny Looking Navy Airplane

Believe it or not, we're almost done with the Douglas F4D-1 for now, but I've got another couple of photos to share with you. However you feel about the airplane, it sure looks neat!

Most of the time we see flight decks with blue skies above, and nice rolling (or maybe even smooth) seas. It was not, however, always so. This section of "Fords" from VF-101 are preparing to launch in what could only be described as poor flying (or launching, or even sailing) conditions. This shot may have originally come from a magazine and the quality's a little less than we normally prefer, but it shows a side of carrier ops we rarely see.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

I guess we had to do it, huh? Here's a photo of the all-time classic F4D scheme; 139162 is from VF(AW)-3, from their North Island period. It's a beautiful scheme, very much In Your Face, and definitely shows off the lines of the airplane to good advantage. Pretty...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Reason to be. You may remember that the F4D-1 was intended to defend the fleet.This shot illustrates the concept, with a pair of unguided, might-hit-'em-might-not unguided rockets streaking away from a VF(AW)-3 Skyray. It looks really impressive but the kill probability is small indeed. Those rounds were launched off the inboard pylons, but also note the expended FFAR pod hanging off the outboard starboard hardpoint. Optimisim, that...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

You didn't have to use FFARs all the time with the "Ford"; you could use Sidewinders too, as illustrated by this VF(AW)-3 bird about to be armed up with a pair of AIM-9Bs. Of course they didn't work in cloud and weren't exactly the soul of reliability in their early days, but they did manage to function most of the time and were a significant improvement on the unguided stuff. This is definitely a Plain Jane sort of scheme for this unit, and I honestly can't remember ever seeing one like this before. Modelers note the color inside the canopy framing.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Way back in our very first section on the Skyray I think I stated that they never made it to the Reserves. In the truest spirit of Never Say Never, here's a NavRes bird for your enjoyment/amusement/befuddlement. The caption on the original photo says the unit is VMF(AW)-215. I'm open to comments at . Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This ramp is the best reason I can think of to build 50s-early 60s Navy jets. Be still my beating heart!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Loudest Airplane the Coast Guard Ever Flew

Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't, but a former boss of mine who'd spent his SEA time as a C-123 loadmaster once told me, and not in jest, that he'd taken his last flight physical while in the Air Force and had the examining doctor ask him point-blank: "Do you enjoy music?" My boss answered yes, and the doctor responded "I don't know how you possibly could; you're stone deaf!" The Provider had a way of doing that back in those halcyon days when noise attenuation wasn't of any great concern to most folks. Excessive noise or not, we've never run a photo of a C-123 on these pages so it must surely be That Time. Here's a nice one:

Noisy? Yep! Capable? Oh yeah! CAPABLE! The C-123 wasn't much to look at, but it sure got the job done. The Coast Guard had a few of them on hand way back in the 60s and 70s, this being one of them. 4529 was a C-123B assigned to Kodiak, Alaska shown here sitting for her picture at Elmendorf on April 30, 1964. You can't tell it in a black and white photo but there are large areas of day-glo on the airframe (like everything in front of that chevron on the nose, for example). She's a pugnacious little bird, isn't she?  via Mark Nankivil 

Chance Vought's MiG-Killer

That would, of course, be the legendary F8U Crusader series, often called "the last of the gunfighters" in spite of the fact that all of its air-to-air success was gained with missiles. It's another type we've never featured previously (and we'd welcome photos of the type; please submit to if you're interested in such things). That said, this one's kinda special.

We may have mentioned once before that frequent contributor Mark Nankivil's dad was a naval aviator, but if you don't remember that, here's a reminder for you. This VF-154 F8U-1 was shot by Mark's dad just prior to launch on Hornet's 1958 WesPac cruise. The wing's been raised (you can see the actuating jack at the front of the center section) and everything's hanging, although the cat shuttle has yet to be attached to the nose gear strut. She's armed with at least one AIM-9B Sidewinder and is ready to rock and roll! The grey and white Navy was a seriously good looking Navy, ya'll.  via Mark Nankivil

A Phine Phormation Photo

I don't know why I spell stuff that way but sometimes I do. It may be because of my name, or it may be because of all the Phantom humor I was exposed to in the 60s and 70s, or it could just be because I find it amusing, but like I said; I do stuff like that sometimes. The thing is, I also always try to make up for it with something special, so here's Something Special to end our photographic day:

Mark Nankivil constantly amazes me with the material he submits, and I really like this form shot. Lead is a KA-6D from VMA(AW)-224, while the other three birds are A-7Es from VA-22's "Fighting Redcocks". Note that two of the three A-7s have their probes deployed, while the KA-6 is trailing a basket.  Both types of aircraft were a revelation in their day, and the "Fruitfly" (that would be the A-7s for those of you who don't speak Navy yet) even managed a distinguished career in that other American flying service, as well as in a number of foreign air forces.  via Mark Nankivil

And That's It For Today.

Blame it on the holidays or just blame it on me, but that's all there is for this installment. We don't even have a Relief Tube this time around, which is both gratifying and somewhat scary all at the same time. Stay tuned, though, because we've got some nifty USAF stuff coming up in the near future, as well as a few other surprises in store.

One final thing. You've probably all noticed that this humble effort is made up largely of the contributions of a number of very special people. We'd like to thank them all for helping to make Replica in Scale as popular as it seems to be, and also invite you to join in the fun if you're so inclined. We're always looking for photography depicting American military aviation. Our focus is primarily 1920-something to the mid-1980s, and we'd love to see what you've got in your collections. If you're interested in contributing drop us a line at . (Don't expect to be paid for doing it, though---we don't make a penny off of this so you won't either. That's fair, I think.)

Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on the C-119 in Korea, Some Early Tankers, The Mighty Stoof, and A Neptune,

It Really IS a Big Ol' Box, You Know...

It's easy to forget when writing this stuff that a large proportion of our readership has never actually seen some of these airplanes for real, at least not outside of a museum. For that group in our audience, a quick explanation about the C-119 may be in order.

The type was an airlifter pure and simple, designed to haul stuff, people, and light vehicles to wherever such things might be needed and deposit them where they could be of use. It was an adequate performer when empty (or nearly so), and was a little bit of an ill-mannered slug when fully loaded. That whole Flying Boxcar thing was highly appropriate as names went, because aft of the flight deck the C-119 was nothing but a big empty box with a rail system (those thingies with all the rollers on them) bolted to the floor for cargo handling. You could fly the airplane with the clamshell doors in place, or with them removed; the airplane really didn't care. And you could get stuff to where it was needed.

There was a time when it seemed like every ANG or AFRes transport unit in the country either operated the type or had operated it at some point in its recent past. The type was everywhere, including Vietnam (where its primary role was often that of gunship, but that's a story for another day...), but it gained a lot of its fame during the Korean War and shortly afterwards, when a number of American C-119s were used to help the French in their attempt to put down a nationalistic movement in what was once known as French IndoChina.

With all that said, the C-119 was a unique airplane, and is one very much worth modeling. I can only think of two plastic (as opposed to resin) kits of the type; Aurora's old stager (in 1/77th, I think) and Italeri's excellent 1/72nd scale offering. (There are almost certainly other kits out there as well but this isn't an Old Kits site so we aren't going to mess with that sort of thing---apologies if that matters to you!)

Anyway, we ran a couple of C-119 shots last time around, which in turn caused Mark Morgan to send in a few more. Let's look:

There was a time when Air Force squadrons possessed more than a handful of airplanes, as this shot of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing in Korea attests. It's virtually impossible, at least without each aircraft's record card, to determine which squadron this is in a black and white photo since the only thing that varied was the color of the "standard" unit markings. Sure wish we could see the rest of that nose art!!!  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Gettin' ready. Here's a C-119B from the 50th TCS/314th TCW preparing to drop members of the 187th Regimental Combat Team over Korea on January 15th, 1951. 48-0337 has her paratroop doors (a component of the clamshell cargo doors) opened and you can see the first trooper exiting the aircraft. Note the forward cargo doors are also deployed. I think there's nose art up there, but I sure can't make it out.  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

And away we go! Static lines are streaming behind the aircraft, and weapons packs are spilling out of those forward doors. This probably isn't the Very Best Way to get into a war, but it sure looks impressive!  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Those clamshell cargo doors could be removed to allow big things such as jeeps and artillery pieces to be air-dropped. This photo shows 49-0106, among other 314th C-119Cs, lined up in preparation to launch with the clamshells removed. Kinda ugly that way, isn't it?  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

The C-119 carried some fairly ribald nose art during the course of its combat career. This isn't that, but it's still neat and, I think, worthy of modeling. "Oh Ged/Dilbert" sits on the ramp awaiting its next mission in this evocative shot. AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

A little bit bawdier, but still in good taste, "Jo-Jo" begins to taxi away from a dump of artillery rounds. Nowadays you almost expect the folks from OSHA to oversee combat operations, but there was a time when you simply did what you had to do...  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

A parting shot, as it were. It was a simpler time.  AMC Archives via Mark Morgan

Passin' a Little More Gas

We run pictures of tankers every now and again, but a lot of folks don't really appreciate the job the they do (the tankers, not the pictures). They're a force multiplier all out of proportion to their numbers and, like many other military airplanes, are going away due to cost, budget cuts, etc. Here's a thought or two from Don Jay on the subject, along with a couple of really neat pictures.

With all the 'political wrangling' going on about the KC-135 replacement, many forget what a significant factor air-to-air refueling is to our air forces. It is truly a combat multiplier. The US has been fortunate in having a tremendous capability in this department since the mid '50s. Lets hope our politicians don't erode this capability past the 'point of no return'. Here are some early examples of in flight refueling. I bet not many remember that TAC had its own dedicated tanker fleet many years ago.

The first is a KB-29 refueling an F-86. This was out at Edwards during the proof of concept for the Flying Boom project. The second is a KB-50 refueling the Thud out over the Pacific in 64. Note the use of the probe and drogue with the Thud, while the last one is a PR shot showing Tac's world wide capabilities-KB-50 over the Gulf of Mexico in the 62/63 timeframe.

In the beginning... Not the real beginning, of course, since the AAC was trying out the air-to-air refuelling concept back in the 30s, but the Dawn of the Jet Age and Flying Boom beginning. Here a KB-29 tries out the boom concept on an F-86. Note the "Sabre" has both flaps and gear down, and is still pulling a moderate angle of attack, while the KB-29 is going downhill to keep airspeed. It ain't as easy as it looks!  USAF via Don Jay

Over the Pacific in 1964. Another year would see KC-135As tanking the "Thud" both ways on missions to North Vietnam. Most PACAF fighter-bombers had a nuclear strike role in pre-Vietnam days, and the F-105 was quite possibly the ultimate expression of that mission as far as American tactical aircraft were concerned. USAF via Don Jay

TAC PR in action. You could actually tank three at a time of the KB-50, and it was done somewhat routinely, but not with dissimilar aircraft during actual operations. You can bet the throttles are firewalled on that tanker!  USAF via Don Jay
The Mighty Stoof

One thing about the Navy; they've never been shy about giving their airplanes nicknames. The Grumman S2F/C-1A family were no exception, with the S2F pretty obviously offering itself up for transformation into "Stoof". We've never run a "Stoof" shot on these pages, so today's the day!

You are now looking at what may arguably be the loudest recipricating-engined aircraft ever built. The S2F was nothing if not LOUD! 136648 from VS-30 sits on the ramp awaiting deployment. The "Stoof" was a fairly small airplane, and wouldn't be big at all in 1/48th scale. That's a hint, model manufacturers!  Mark Nankivil Collection

By the time this shot was taken off NAS Key West in August of 1973, the S2F-1 had become the S-2E. 151642 is from VX-1 and is stooging along with her MAD gear deployed. What a neat photo!  Mark Nankivil Collection

The "Stoof" was a natural for conversion to COD duty, and was more capable in that role than you might imagine. Here's 146039, a C-1A from NAF Misawa, on final at an unknown airfield, date unknown. Mark Nankivil Collection

A Teaser to End the Day

It's just one lonely little photo, but what a photo! I've got some Vietnam-era Lockheed Neptunes in my collection that I keep thinking I'm going to publish one of these days, but I honestly like this one better. It's a colorful way to end the day:

The P-2 (nee P2V) Neptune got around. This colorful example is from VX-3 and is a DP-2E; note the missing tip-tanks and truncated aft fuselage. She's configured to haul Ryan Firebee drones and has apparently done a fair amount of it; note the wear on the red stripes over the wings and the extensive exhaust staining on the cowlings. The P-2 family led a long and exciting life. We'll run a few more photos one of these days...  Bruce Trombecky via Mark Nankivil

The Relief Tube

We've run a few photos of the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray of late, and I must admit I've made some less than flattering remarks about her suitability as a carrier fighter. That, of course, led to a letter, which in turn has resulted in a response by two of our regulars, Tommy Thomason and Rick Morgan. As everybody knows by now, we don't run any sort of forum here, but it's neat to get differing thoughts on things all the same. Me; I still think the airplane was more of an exceptionally high-performance sport plane than anything else. As for Tommy and Rick, let's let them tell it for themselves.

First, some thoughts on the "Ford" from Tommy: 

The main knock on the F4D was that it didn't have a useful weapons system for all-weather intercepts of jet bombers, which was its raison d'etre. The unguided rockets weren't accurate even when fired by radar. Guns had a low probability of kill as well, even in visual conditions against a jet bomber, because of lack of firing time in a head-on pass, accuracy in a beam attack, and difficulty of closing in a tail chase*. The Sidewinders couldn't home in cloud. Unlike the F3H, the F4D was never provided with a Sparrow capability. One CAG said he'd rather have F2H-4 Banshees than the F4D Skyrays assigned to his air group. There were always fewer F4D squadrons deployed than F3H squadrons. When the Phantoms arrived in the fleet, the Skyrays were all replaced first.

*Contrary to published reports, the F4D was not supersonic in level flight by the usual standard (you could dive it to supersonic speed and then level off, but the airplane would then slow and go subsonic) even when powered by the J57, with which the F8U was easily supersonic. Douglas spent an inordinate amount of flight test effort attempting to get the Ford supersonic in other than a dive, but was unable to according to no less an expert than Hal Andrews. The F5D configuration, with a better fuselage-fineness ratio and thinner wings like the F8U, was the answer. T

And from Rick, who also adds a note on the F3H Demon:

Phil: OK…. Comments on the latest blog. On the F4D; simply put, it was a show dog, not a war dog. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful aircraft- I love its looks, however even with its record flights it was not a great fleet aircraft. Designer Ed Heinemann said in his bio that he thought the follow-on F5D was the proper aircraft for the fleet. Capt Gerry O’Rourke (author of the great Night Fighters Over Korea) wrote a great piece for Naval Institute’s “Proceedings” that said it was a poor carrier aircraft, short on range and with a lousy instrument layout. His money quote was that it “…..came aboard looking like a drunken sailor off liberty”. The F4D was rapidly replaced by the F3H in the fleet, it was short-legged and not a great carrier aircraft.

As for the F3H; it wasn’t much better. It had longer range than the F4D and was a better ‘boat plane’ behind the CV but not much else. When you talk to Naval Aviators of that period, most seem to be happy they didn’t have to see combat in their aircraft, at least until the F8U and F4H showed up. Rick

And finally, unless I remember something else and add it later, here's a modeling comment from one of our readers. A few issues ago I ran some photos of a Hasegawa P-38G that I've been working on for, oh, the past two years or so. The purpose of said photos was to illustrate some weathering techniques, but therein lies the rub. The P-38 had handed propellers to counteract torque. The kit accurately depicts that and, if you happen to be in a hurry, you've got a 50% chance of getting it right. Unfortunately, that also provides a 50% opportunity to get it wrong. Wanna guess which way I went? Well, gang; there's no longer any need to guess. Let's let sharp-eyed reader Rob Rocker drop the dime:

Hello Replicia in Scale , the Props on the P-38G model are on the wrong side their rotation is not correct , the correct rotation on a P-38 both props turn in towards the fuselage from the bottom . Best regards, Bob Rocker  I just can't get away with nothin'...

But I can say goodbye for today. We'll meet again soon. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reflections on Disaster, A Couple from Korea, and a few More Demons

Sometimes Stuff Just Happens

There's an old expression not used much anymore that goes "if you're going to make an omelet you've got to break some eggs". I've personally never cared for omelets although I have broken my share of eggs if the truth be known, but this isn't a cooking show and we aren't going to talk about that at all; it was just my ever-wordy means of introducing the Fine Art of Modeling Disaster as this edition's mindless ramble.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that anybody who's ever built a plastic model has messed one up, or had some sort of tragedy/drama/whatever-you-might-want-to-call-it as a result of some ill-advised attempt at building a replica airplane. These disasters come in a wide variety of flavors, and I've got enough seniority on life that I could easily fill several of these columns with There I Was stories, but this time around only a few examples will suffice, I think.

Let's start off with low-key, because that's the most common sort of Disaster and the kind most easily fixed. In my own personal world that sort of thing generally revolves around something easily botched, easily fixed, but ultimately noticed by almost everybody (although not in this case). Our example of this sort of disaster concerns a 1/72nd scale Hasegawa F-15 I built back in the '80s, painted and marked for the 18th TFW. It wasn't the easiest thing I'd ever built (precious few Hasegawa kits from that era were shake-and-bake; that came later) but the airframe actually came out pretty good, and the paintwork wasn't bad either. The decals were ok, and there was a local club meeting coming up, a fine venue to show off my brand spanking new F-15. The airplane was a hit, albeit an extremely modest one (and quite possibly more in my mind than in reality, but what the hey...), and I was hip-deep in explaining the model to a friend when It suddenly came to me: There were no national insignia on the model anywhere. None. Nada. Zip. No stars, no bars, nary one single scale 15-inch reduced-scale national insignia any place on the model. I didn't say anything and nobody ever noticed, giving me the graceful opportunity to go home and finish putting the decals on. I attribute the event to un-respirated exposure to too much Dio-Sol.

After low-key, we get to ratchet things up a little bit to Medium, which I classify as something that's unfixable but never seen by Model-Kind. In my own personal world it involved a 1/72nd scale Lindberg He162, which wasn't unduly bad (or good either, for that matter) considering its 1966-67 vintage. It did, however, have a one piece wing that slotted through the fuselage halves of the model. The fit wasn't all that great but I got it done, and once the bodywork was complete it even looked all right under primer. That was when I made The Terrible Discovery. It seems the leading-edge slats looked a little bit goofy, what with them each being two-piece and one of them being bigger than the other. And yep, you've guessed it; I'd put that wing in backwards, producing a fine version of an unintended swept-wing Volksjager. There was no attempt at salvation---it was straight to the trash can for the tiny futuristic little "People's Fighter".

We could go on and on, running right up through mis-steps and accidents that actually induced physical pain, but I've saved what I think must surely be the best for last. This one far surpasses almost any There I Was story I've ever heard and, for once, didn't directly involve me---I heard it from the guy who did it. And yes, Virginia, it's a true story; Frank Emmett can back me up on this one because he knows the guy who did it and heard the story too (and nobody, and we mean nobody, could have made this up!).

Anyway, Frank and I had this mutual friend who I'm going to call Zeke, mostly because I've never actually known anyone by that name. We're protecting the semi-innocent here, folks! Zeke was a pretty busy kind of guy, working a real job by day, helping out with an established family business by night and sometimes on weekends, and modeling whenever he could. I tell you that because it helps set the stage and explains why Zeke was sitting up late one night in his skivvies (ask an old GI if you don't know what they are) getting ready to airbrush. Like all of us back then, Zeke painted with Floquil, which meant he thinned and cleaned up with DioSol, a solvent/thinner that was a little bit on the hot side. (You can't buy DioSol anymore---that ought to tell you something about its properties.)

So there Zeke was, airbrushing away, when it got to be time to finish up and clean the airbrush. He did that very thing, putting a pint can of opened DioSol on the edge of his modeling desk. He reached for something, moved his arm (you do that when you Reach for Something), and knocked over the previously mentioned open can of DioSol, the contents of which began making that gluck-gluck-gluck noise that liquids make when they're pouring out of a knocked-over can and heading for the floor. The problem was, there was an obstacle to be negotiated between them and said floor, because our skivvy-clad friend Zeke was sitting right smack betwixt and between the two, the aforementioned skivvies soaking up most of the contents of the dumped-over and rapidly-emptying can and ensuring that the anatomical bits underneath said skivvies received full and prolonged exposure to The DioSol Bath.

We were told, Frank and I, that it wasn't much fun, and I expect that Zeke's entire neighborhood got to hear how former Marines recently returned from the Southeast Asia War Games sounded when they were unhappy. I know for a fact the second-hand version that we heard was pretty ding-danged sporty. Thinking about that whole deal still makes me grin...

So next time you mess something up while modeling, or next time you spill that itty-bitty bottle of relatively benign acrylic on the floor, think of Zeke. Things could be a whole lot worse!

More From Korea

Today's lead photo feature is pretty brief, but I think it's something special. Don Jay rediscovered some old photos in his collection and sent them in to share with us. Let's let him tell about it: 

Hi Phil,

Every so often, you run across old photos stuck away in attics or at antique stores, etc. Most of the time we just give them a cursory look and they are gone, forgotten, and disappear forever. I'm sure all of us have misplaced photos over the years or lost track of them somehow.  Attached are some Korean (circa '53) era photos from an old album labeled FEAF HQS that I came across years ago ('90) that I scanned. It appears they were taken at the end of the Korean War in June of 53 and I think (warning) that they are from K-13 which would be Suwon. Anyway, sorry for the quality-remember I said scanned in the early '90s. dj

Somewhere (maybe K-13?) in Korea, a C-119 taxis in this evocative photo. My personal archives don't include a whole lot on the C-119 in any guise, so reader input as to unit, etc, would be appreciated. A great many, if not most, of Korean War Flying Boxcars wore nose art, and this example may well have that sort of thing on the port side of the nose. We'll never know...  via Don Jay

Another "Boxcar", also from an unknown unit, and with the same comment regarding nose art. Sure wish we could take a better look at the Sabres in the background!  via Don Jay

It's a little-known fact that the C-46 hung around PACAF into the mid-60s (I rode in one from Misawa down to Yokota when my dad PCSd back to the States in late 1965), and a number were used in Korea.
Here 44-78027, a C-46D-15-CU, taxis past the camera at a soggy K-13. She didn't last long after the War, crashing to destruction off Hokkaido in February of 1954, killing all aboard.  via Don Jay

The B-17 was another bird that lasted long past her time, and more than a few operated in and out of Korea during the War. This G-model, once again from an unknown unit, sits on the ramp tantalizing us. Note the legend "Ankara Turkey" on her nose, the black paint around the tail-wheel well, and what appears to be black paint aft of her engines. Was that paint just protecting areas that got messy easily, or were they the remnants of a former life? Once again, we may never know.  via Don Jay

I Think We Promised More Demons, Didn't We?

Actually that's kind of a goofy question, since I know darned well I said there'd be more. Without further ado, let's look at some pictures.

We're having a party and everybody's invited! OK, maybe not everybody, but one of the prototype"Banjos" with 500 flights to her name attended the festivities, along with one of the two XF3H-1s after accomplishing her 200th flight. This view doesn't show it particularly well but there's a lot of the XF-88 Voodoo to be seen in the F3H series; it's particularly noticeable from a 3/4 rear view. This airplane must've looked like something from another planet to the folks used to the more conventional shapes of the time.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil  

I've never been big on prototypes, so we're going to skip way ahead to the grey birds, which are mostly going to be production aircraft. You know, the kind we'd all like to build models of. That means we're also going to skip all the Glossy Sea Blue F3Hs, but we honestly aren't missing all that much from a markings standpoint by doing that.

The F3H series started life with a one-piece windscreen, a technical marvel (it was really hard to make something like that back in the fifties) that was highly prone to bird strike damage. This classy air-to-air was taken on 27 April 1955 and shows a very early production F3H-2N in flight. That big honkin' test boom did absolutely nothing for the airplane's looks.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Air defense of the Fleet was a primary mission for the F3H, but the technology available at the time made the mission highly problematical. Here's an early F3H-2M dragging a quartet of AIM-7 Sparrows on a test flight. The missiles shown are early Sparrow Is, really limited in performance (but then so was the launch platform). Look on this as a starting place.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil  

The Demon was a very unconventional aircraft in appearance, but wore squadron colors well and really looked good when she was all dressed up. This F3H-2 from Oriskany's VF-41 proves the point. She's fitted out with a set of pylon-mounted rails for the AIM-9B Sidewinder, and her deployed speedboards should be a treat for modelers.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And another F3H-2 with deployed brakes for you detailers. VF-151's birds were pretty Plain Jane during this time (January of 1963) but the airplane still looks neat!  Duane Kasulka via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

I'll guarantee you that the naval aviators in our audience (and there are a few) are looking at this shot thinking "I'm really glad I'm not driving 102 today!". That sea state is nothing to be sneezed at, ya'll! The Demon is an F3H-2N off the Saratoga, ca. 1958. Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil 

One of the things I really like about the F3H family is that the airplane is so busy, making it an ideal candidate for the modeler. This -3M from VF-161 proves the point. Everything that could possibly be deployed is deployed in this January, 1963 shot. By this time the writing was pretty much on the wall for the Demon, though, as those parked aircraft in the background can attest. The marginal performance of the 1950s was about to become a thing of the past.  Duane Kasulka via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Thanks to Robert McNamara's 1962 aircraft designation standardization program the F3H became the F-3. This is an F-3B from Fighting 213 as seen in November of 1963. There are Phantoms back there on that ramp to the far right; the Demon's days were nearly done. She's still a pretty airplane, though. Duane Kasulka via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil 

The Demon left the Fleet in 1964. Unlike her some of her contemporaries she didn't serve with the Reserves, going straight into storage and ultimately the scrap yard instead. If you love airplanes this photo will be somewhat poignant, or maybe even outright sad, to look at. Unlike old soldiers, old airplanes do die...  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

The Relief Tube

I've said some fairly uncomplimentary things about the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray during the course of the last couple of blogs, with a perspective taken primarily from the point of view of its operational capabilities, failings admittedly caused by the avionics and powerplant technology of its day. It was quite the performer regardless of how it worked out in the Fleet, and here's a comment from reader Dave Kochersberger to reenforce that fact:

I was just reading your post last week on the F4D. I loved the article and pictures. However, I'm puzzled by the comment you made, where you said "The Real Airplane wasn't all that hot, but it sure looked good!" I agree that it looked good, but the aircraft was a very hot performer for its day. The original design specifications were for an interceptor that could reach 50,000 feet in five minutes from the scramble signal. The Ford met this requirement easily and looked good doing it. It was the first carrier-based fighter to break the world's absolute speed record and was the first Navy fighter capable of exceeding Mach 1 in level flight. In May 1958, Marine pilot Major Edward N. LeFaivre set five time to climb records in the Ford. The problems with the aircraft had to do with its bad manners in a spin and twitchy carrier landing characteristics. It was a difficult aircraft to fly, but for good pilot that respected its quirks, it was a "pilots dream". Unfortunately for the F4D, the 50's and 60s were a period of rapid technological advancment, so it was quickly outclassed by fighters such as the F8U and F-4 Phantom which not only performed better, but also had more versatility.

Joe Baugher has some excelent notes about the F4D on his website ( ) and the Smithsonian's Air and Space magazine had an interesting article ("Beautiful Climber") in the July 2006 issue. ( )

Anyway, I love the blog. Thanks for posting all the comments and those cool pictures. Dave

And thanks to you Dave, both for your comments and for providing those links.

While I prefer to get comments/criticism/whatever-you'd-like-to-say by way of e-mail at , the blog format also allows for reader comments to come straight in to the site. I don't allow the software to automatically publish those, but we get some nifty comments that way. Here's an addition to the information on the VC-137 we ran a while back, submitted from a reader presently known only as ea757grrl:

That picture definitely depicts a VC-137A in the delivery scheme. (I can't tell, but I imagine it's 58-6970.) Notice the non-fan engines; those were replaced with JT3Ds when the three VC-137As were modified to VC-137B configuration (and repainted) in 1962-63.

SAM 26000 (based on the larger 707-320B airframe) wasn't delivered until October 1962, and never wore the white top/day-glo livery. Even with that, I love the picture.

And I appreciate the commentary---thanks for writing in!

Two final things, neither of which directly involve commentary or corrections but need to be said before I forget them yet again, increasing senility on my part being what it is!

First, Rick Morgan sent me several shots of VX-3 during the early 1950s a couple of months ago, and I've yet to run them. I lost one or two of them in the computer somehow, then mis-filed the whole bunch, and just generally made a mess out of getting them published. We're definitely going to look at them, and we're going to do it soon, but not today. Apologies to Rick, and a promise both to him and to you: We're going to see those photos!

Second, I was working on yet another in a seemingly endless stream of Bf/Me109 models last week, and that led me to drag out my copy of John Beaman's seminal 1973 work Last of the Eagles. It's an amazing effort, and has stood the test of time really well. Subsequent research has produced a small amount of information that John didn't have at his disposal when he did the manuscript and drawings, but that book is excellent, and in my world a must-have if you're interested in the 109. John was a regular contributor to the Relief Tube back in our print days, although I haven't heard from him since (although he's still producing excellent books, but for others rather than as self-published efforts). That 109 tome has been out of print almost from the day it was first published, but if you ever find one for sale I would strongly suggest grabbing a copy.

And that's about all I've got for this time around. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More F-104s, Return of The Swoose, Some Early Whales, A Nifty Model On The Cheap, Some Fords, and A Little More Banjo Pickin'

Bet You Wondered Where I Was...

Or maybe not; at the end of the day it probably doesn't matter all that much, but we did manage to miss a week (the original "occasionatical" scheduling of our primieval print effort comes somewhat to mind at this moment). I gave that some thought and decided today's installment would be a little bit larger than normal to make up for it! Not much, but a little. To wit:

Zip-a-dee Doo Da

It's possible that there's a limit to the number of times we can look at F-104 pictures on this site, but I haven't found that limit yet and honestly have no intention of ever doing so---I absolutely love that airplane! Don Jay's somewhat fond of it too, and sent these in for our amazement and edification:

In the beginning...  We've all seen 787 before, and we've all seen this particular shot before, but I've never seen it in color. 53-7787 was an XF-104A, and is the one Revell (and probably Comet/Aurora too) based their mid-50s kit on. The short fuselage and original intake configuration is interesting. This bird didn't last long, crashing to destruction on 14 April 1955 following a malfunction of the aircraft's gun. The test pilot ejected successfully, but this could well have been the beginning of the Starfighter's reputation as a coffin-corner airplane. Lockheed via Don Jay

This is for all of you who wanted to see more of that F-104A/M-21/YF-12A combination that we ran a few installments back. 56-0801 was built as an F-104A-20-LO, later rebuilt to F-104G standard and used for weapons trials. Somewhere in-between she flew chase for the A-12/M-21 program. Like most F-104As, 801 has her M-61 gun removed and a fairing installed over the gun port. It took a while to get that whole cannon thing sorted out in the "Zip". Lockheed via Don Jay

We've all seen this photo before but, once again, I can't remember seeing it in color. The aircraft are from the 479th's 2nd SEA deployment in 1967, at Udorn, Thailand. The F-104C didn't do particularly well in that environment, but rarely saw MiGs either. A well-driven Starfighter could leave you talking to yourself, providing you survived the encounter. We'll never know...   USAF via Don Jay

It's About Time, Ya'll!
You could make a movie out of the history of this airplane, and I'm not joking. 40-3097 was built as a B-17D, and was in the Philippines on December 8th, flying as "Ole Betsy" with the 19th BG. She survived the Japanese attack and flew a number of combat missions, basing out of the Philippines, Java, and Australia in quick succession. She was damaged during a combat mission in January of 1942 and then partially re-built, acquiring the name "The Swoose" in the process. After that rebuild she served as the personal transport of General George Brett, then ended the war as a high-speed transport in the United States. She was held in the National Air and Space Musuem's storage facility for a number of years, and  then transferred to the Air Force Museum (I don't think they call it that any more, but I still do---just humor me, ok?) for refurb and display.

Mark Morgan got a chance to photograph her a while back and sent these photos along. Let's see all the  old military guys snap out a highball for her. This one's definitely worth a salute!

OK, when's the last time you saw a real B-17D? My guess is Never, unless you've seen this one; "The Swoose" is the sole survivor of her type, and we're truly fortunate that the Air Force chose to restore her. This shot really shows how tiny the B-17 was, doesn't it?  Mark Morgan

A neat shot that defines the shape of the waist gunner's position on the early 'Forts. Check out the ventral gun tub forward of the waist position; no ball turret for those guys! All those clecos will go away soon, to be replaced by rivets, but there's a fair amount of skin that needs to be renewed on this bird.  Mark Morgan

In myth and folklore the swoose was a legendary bird, half swan and half goose. It's an odd name for an airplane, but I'm not complaining! If only that artwork could talk...

Then There's That Other Famous B-17...
Since we're airplane folk around here, you've probably all seen the 1990s movie The Memphis Belle. Taken as entertainment it was a pretty good film. Taken as an airplane movie (with just about every misfortune that ever befell the Flying Fortress during its combat career included) it wasn't too bad. There is, however, another movie by the same name that you really need to see; the original USAAF film of the same name directed by William Wilder. It was filmed on location, a documentary of sorts, and the star was a B-17F named, what else; "The Memphis Belle". It's what you might call The Real Deal.

The "Belle" got her crew through 25 combat missions over occupied Europe, and returned to the ZI with that crew for a war bond tour. After the war she ended up in a public park in Memphis, Tennessee, where time, the elements, and assorted vandals very nearly achieved the destruction that the Luftwaffe was unable to provide. The Air Force Museum (humor me, remember?) acquired her a few years back and she's under restoration as well. Here are a couple of shots:

There's a lot of rebuilt airplane there, but that nose art is The Real McCoy, preserved for posterity. There's not much more to be said other than Thank You to a superb museum staff who knows when to hold 'em! This one's a keeper.  Mark Morgan

Not particularly neat, and certainly not airbrushed. But it's real. What a treasure! Thanks to Mark Morgan for sharing this marvelous restoration in progress with us.  Mark Morgan

It's a Whale of a Tale I'll Tell You, Lads

We've run a couple of photos of the Douglas A3D Skywarrior in these electronic pages from time to time. It was a really neat airplane, and a long-lived one at that, even if not in its envisioned roll as a bomber. It's history is far too lengthy (and I'm far too lazy) for exploration here, but we'll always run photos of the type when we run across them. Check out this one!

Boy oh boy oh boy; what a photo! A section of AD3-2s from Heavy One taxi pull away from the ramp and begin to taxi out. Based on the fact that the aircraft designator still says "AD3-2" rather than "A-3B" makes contributor Mark Nankivil guess this shot to be of pre-1962 vintage---I concur. The weapons bay doors are open on the two aircraft on the left, and RATO bottles are attached. Note the refuelling fairings on the bellies of the two taxiing aircraft. That crewman in the opened canopy hatch was a normal part of A-3 ground ops. Hey Morgo, how about some "Whale" stories?  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Save a Buck or Two When You Can

I don't know about you folks, but I enjoy building 1/32nd scale model airplanes. I don't happen to have a whole lot of room to display them in, but it's still neat to build them---they have a "feel" to them that the smaller scales often have difficulty capturing. People have been kitting model airplanes in 1/32nd scale pretty much forever, but the past few years have seen the dramatic appearance of out-of-the-box museum-quality models in that particular size arena. There's a ton of good stuff out there, with more kits appearing almost every month.

Of course, most of those spiffy new kits are expen$ive, and building one can become costly indeed if you want to stick in a little bit of candy and add some resin or photo-etch. It's really easy to invest a couple of hundred dollars in a kit and accessories, and that's not including the cost of stickies or references. It can be a big-bucks sort of game. It doesn't have to be that way, though.

First, let's have a perspective of sorts. In my very own personal world I'll spend what I have to in order to buy a kit of something that floats my boat. I've always been that way, with model airplanes and with everything else. (I think there's a Ducati in my future, for whatever that's worth, but for cryin' out loud don't tell Jenny!) Still, why spend a lot of money for a kit when you don't have to? Makes sense to me! Take, for example, this installment's Token Model Airplane.

The 1/32nd scale Hasegawa Me163B was a revelation when it first came out in the mid-1970s, and we said so when we reviewed it Way Back Then. It didn't have many pieces but, when all was said and done, it looked like a Komet, which is all I've ever asked of a model airplane. The kit's still in production and is sometimes pricey depending on the boxing, but you can buy it all day long at vendor tables in model shows for next to nothing, which is what I did here. This particular kit was still in shrink wrap, in its original 70s box, sitting on a trade table at a show in San Antonio for the princely sum of twenty bucks, and I'd always wanted to build one so I snagged it.

I'd remembered it as a pretty good kit, and it was/still is, but an interior that was "really good" in 1976 is pretty much doggie defecation in today's scale modeling environment, causing me to search out An Alternative Interior. King's Hobbies in Austin took care of that with an elderly Grand Phoenix interior, which I think I paid ten bucks for. Another ten bucks bought a decal sheet, but I can't for the life of me remember who produced it, and I already had the paint. Here's what my forty bucks bought me:

The starboard side, which shows what a goofy-looking airplane the original was. It's always reminded me of something from a cartoon, but it was no laughing matter in combat, not that it was particularly effective (because it wasn't) but rather because of the threat it posed. The real thing was short-ranged and dangerous to fly, but when it was under power it was pretty much un-catchable, a threat-in-being as it were. That big Hasegawa kit, on the other hand, is no threat at all and builds easily in spite of its age. It would be a lie to say that everything fits precisely, but it's not especially bad in any particular area. It is missing some detail so you'll want to have good references around, but it's an easy way to add an attractive and inexpensive model to your 1/32nd shelf. 

And the port side. That opened canopy is the reason you'll want to put a decent interior in there, because you can see absolutely everything that is, or isn't, included. While we're here we'd may as well discuss that canopy, because it won't stay attached to the airframe very long if you install it the way the instructions say to do it. Instead, you'll want to use one of those references we all know you've got, and determine where the canopy hinges live on The Real Thing, then drill a couple of holes in the cockpit sill and a matching pair in the canopy, then bend a couple of pieces of wire (I used insect pins, but then I've always use insect pins for that sort of thing) and attach the canopy at whatever time you deem to be appropriate. It's pretty sturdy that way, and you can set the angle of the opened canopy properly. Good pooky all around, I think...

Here's a shot that illustrates how the seat looks. Those straps aren't photo-etch; they're molded into the resin seat. I like the way they came out. On the other hand, I'm not real crazy about the job I more-or-less did installing that quarter-window, but I don't lose sleep over it. This thing has a pretty good presence, I think.

Here's a little bit of the interior to illustrate how good that Grand Phoenix kit is. To paraphrase (or quite possibly lampoon, but in a kind and gentle way) the modern breed of kit reviewers, it's cast from some color of resin (it might've been gray but I can't remember) and is comprised of not very many pieces. There was a photo-etched instrument panel with film instruments too, I think, and I'm pretty sure nothing came pre-painted. That sheen on the airframe was deliberate, by the way. Wartime Luftwaffe paint started life as a semi-gloss or eggshell finish, and I built this on the logic that your average Komet didn't have a particularly long shelf-life once assigned to an operational unit. If your personal philosophy differs, please feel free to weather the snot out of your model. Sometimes I do that too, but not this time... 

And the instrument panel. It doesn't look like much in this photo, but the film instruments (painted appropriately from the back of the film after it was attached to the panel) looks pretty good. As simple as the 163's interior was, there's still room for additional detailing which I didn't do, being lazy and all. The paintwork is all Testor's ModelMaster applied with a Badger 150 airbrush and I had a bang-up good time with those splotches. This was one model that was Fun from start to finish!

The Me163's a tiny airplane, right? Right! But so is the Me109 family, as illustrated here. That goofy-looking whatsit in front of the Gustav's wing is part of my tripod, which I cleverly left in place so you'd think I forgot about it being there. Those of you who are old enough may remember a piece on modeling desks that we ran in the original Replica in Scale way back yonder in the 70s. That desk, those bins, and that drafting board were all in the original photos for that piece, as was that round thingy my brushes live in. I'm not sure what that means...

Helping Out When I Can

There's some pretty neat mail coming in here ( almost every week. Sometimes that mail takes the form of requests, and I can honestly say that we don't get too involved in that sort of thing around here. There are, however, exceptions. A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from a Russian modeler named Anton Kochetkov who was requesting photos of VF-174 F4Ds. He included links to his work which is, in a word, Breathtaking and, even though I don't normally take requests (it's not that kind of band, ya'll), I'm pleased to help out this time.

On the boat. This VF-74 F4D-1 is taxiing up to the cat; note the V2 Division airdale coming to meet the aircraft with a bridle. There are a lot of handlers helping position that aircraft, which says something about the joys of operating the "Ford" aboard ship, I think. Still, that's one sexy little airplane! Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Just sitting and waiting. Skyrays rarely went anywhere without extra gas, mostly because they couldn't go anywhere without extra gas. The AIM-9 rails on the inboard stations are noteworthy, and check out that boarding ladder; what a neat touch for a model. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This is what we might call The Money Shot! I can't think of a prettier scheme for this airplane, and the photo makes me want to go out and buy a Tamiya kit or three. The Real Airplane wasn't all that hot, but it sure looked good! Sharp eyes will note that the aircraft designator and BuNo appear both on the nose and the tail of this bird. Beauty!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siedfried

OK, Anton, there are some pictures. How about sending in some photos of your model when it's finished? We'd love to see them!

Other units flew the Ford too. Here's a hint of things to come in future issues. (And check out the nose of the F9F-8 in the background. VF-213 had a pretty classy ramp in those days!) Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Yet Another Portender of Things to Come (Is "portender" a real word?)

The McDonnell F3H Demon family was another one of those Fabulous Fifties Failures; a really neat airframe marred by a terrible engine. It was a beautiful aircraft in spite of its shortcomings, and we now have adequate kits in a couple of scales with the promise of more on the way, which gets me pretty ding-dang excited about building one in the near future. We've got a whole bunch of Demon photos to share with you, but not today. Here are a couple of teasers to whet your appetite until next time:

Beauty and the Beast, all in the same airplane! These VF-14 F3H-2Ns sit patiently on the deck of the Franklin D. Roosevelt prepping for what appears to be an early-morning launch. This photo, taken in September of 1956, shows the unique nose treatment of the airframe. The Demon lasted until the early 60s with the Fleet---can you imagine taking it to war in Southeast Asia? There but for the grace of God...  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil 

Ohboy ohboy ohboy ohboy! What a photograph! BuNo 137033, an F3H-2M from VF-61, launches from the Saratoga in April of 1957. The paintwork's getting a little bit weathered (and makes a good candidate for pre-shading if you like that sort of thing on your models) and she's getting a little bit shopworn, but she's still got her good looks. Then again, looks aren't everything, right! Oh poot! This is a Good Looking Airplane, ya'll! Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

The Relief Tube

Wherein resides the corrections and all the stuff that just doesn't fit anyplace else. First up and, I hope, for the Very Last Time, is a comment from Tommy Thomason about the length of that accursed F2H-2 Banshee:

ACK! F2H reference is still not right. You wrote "the McDonnell F2H-1 Banshee was actually longer than the prototype F2H-2." It's longer than the prototype F2H-1 not the -2. Now I see why this error has so much life. It fights for it. (And how! pf)

The full story is here: and here: than . Attached are the pictures that illustrate the difference. Note that the 1/48 Hawk kit closely resembles the XF2D with prototype tip tanks...

Here's the shot Tommy sent of an F2H-1. I'm almost afraid to say anything about it since my luck with this airplane, at least to this point, has been so extraordinarily poor, but I am going to say that I started converting an Airfix F2H-2 back to this variant when the kit first came out. At this point I think I'm glad I never finished it! via Tommy Thomason

And the XF2D. I think I'm going to take the safe road on this one and say that these shots sure remind me of those Colby books I enjoyed so much from back when I was a kid. And, on a more serious note, thanks to Tommy for pursuing this thing until we got it right. It is right now, right?  via Tommy Thomason

Thanks, Tommy. I hope this puts it to bed!!!

Then there was that shot I ran of the pair of F3H Demons sitting together, one in Glossy Sea Blue and one in Light Gull Grey over Insignia White. In the truest spirit of never denying me the opportunity to completely miss the obvious, let's hear from contributor Mark Nankivil:

Phil, you might want to make a note that the photo of the pair of Demons - dark blue and the gull gray over white - distinctly show the differences in the wing planform of the F3H-1 (the dark blue babe) and the F3H-2 Demon which increased the chord of the wing significantly to increase the wing area to offset the overall weight increase of the aircraft as it morphed into the more capable J-71 powered variant. HTH!

Pay attention to the photos! Pay attention to the photos! Pay attention...  Thanks, Mark.

Next up is a kudo from a reader, presented here not because of the praise ("professional compliments are always appreciated" however, to quote a line from John Ford's "Stagecoach") but because of the exceptionally neat site that's linked therein, very much worth your time and a visit:

Just wanted you to know just how much I’m enjoying your Replica in Scale Blog ! A long time ago I was fortunate, over here in the UK, to get hold of some copies of the original publication from US modelers based at Mildenhall with the USAF and they were, and still are, a revelation on how stuff should be done and I still have them today!

Imagine my complete surprise when I stumbled upon your blog last week and recognised your name; I have been ensconced in it since. I too run a Blog off of my SEAWINGS website – the largest dedicated flying boat reference website in the World – and I have you listed as one of the very few favorites I have. It’s at: .

Do keep up the great work you are putting up; it’s great to see that the ‘Good ‘Ol Days’ are so well represented, and in such detail.

Best Regards,
Bryan Ribbans

Thank you, Bryan, for your kindness. And folks,  I'm serious as can be about checking out Bryan's site. It's excellent. There's nothing more to be said.

And finally, a postscript to one of the pieces we ran last time. I don't think this one needs any explanation.


Fond memories reliving our Del Rio photo shoot (or the "Ride From Hell"). You nailed that event - God's truth! A couple of other details came to mind:

As we listened to the engine coolant cascading to the ground, I remember standing and mumbling "Oh Shit! Oh Smit! Oh Smit! Oh Smit!..." ad infinitum, while you ran 'round and 'round the van muttering the same incantation, then running back down the road to see if Bambi was OK. You've always been a softy for our furry little friends. (That softy thing was to change after nailing one in the CRX, one in the Miata, and five in the F150 but that's a story for a different day and format, and I changed some words to read "smit", not wanting to get yet another letter from the clergy regarding what passes for taste around here...  pf)

Our BNBF originally had every intention of securing the van in his creepy, darkened lot. My feeling was that the van would have no wheels in the morning (or any other accessory) and begged him to take us to San Antonio. He did, but required that he be paid in cash on arrival, so Kay had to go out in the middle of the night to come up with the one hundred plus bucks he wanted (remember, this was in the days before ATMs). My AAA policy would only pay for three miles of towing; but I was able to convince them that the van was in great danger being parked at BNBF's poorly-lighted junk-yard of a lot so close to the border. They picked up the whole tab. Great fun!


Footnote: That was not the last South Texas Whitetail that the Beauville was to score - but that's another story.

It was never a job, ya'll. It was always an adventure. Until next time, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.