Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Who Likes Invaders?, P-2 Redux, While We're Looking at Big Stuff, How About a Fighter?, The Liftowheel, A SpAD, and A Big P-40

Just Can't Get Enough of The A-26!

With any luck you feel the same way about what is arguably the prettiest attack aircraft ever built. Mark Nankivil sent in a nice set of photos from the Tulsa Air and Space Museum's archives, highly appropriate since the Invader was built in Tulsa after that plant shut down production of the SBD and A-24. As is the norm around here, we'll let the pictures do the talking.

If you know anything about me at all you'll remember that I'm a sucker for aircraft under construction. Here's a fascinating view of an early Invader being built; it's mostly an airplane at this point but completion is still a couple of weeks away. The nacelles appear to be OD 41, making this A-26B an extremely early example of the type.  Tulsa Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Round and round we go, as 44-35281, an A-26C-30-DT, scrubs away all the rubber on it's port mlg tire! At first I thought we were looking at compass alignment here, but have since changed my mind. Maybe. Whatever they're doing, it would seem that quite a few airplanes have been down that road before,  at least if all the rubber in the middle of the apron is any indication of same. There's a placard on the nose of that bird that says Iron Project, and I have no idea what that signifies either; I've been through every resource at my disposal and can find nothing by that name. Nada. Zip. I even checked the Highly Unreliable But Everybody Goes There Anyway internet; still no joy! If any of you can shed some light on whatever this is, please drop us a line at the usual address. Please.  Tulsa Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

If you're going to build it sooner or later you'll have to fly it. Here's 43-22254, an A-26B-5-DT, on a test hop out of Tulsa. Check out that nose; there are no guns and apparently no provision for them either; that's an extremely atypical proboscis we're looking at. There also appears to be some sort of funky antenna sprouting from the fuselage just aft of the pilot's window. Mystery Meat, as it were!  Tulsa Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Can't Get Enough of Those Oddball Neptunes

Those goofy SEA P-2s we ran a few days ago have stirred a bit of interest, it seems. Mark Nankivil took another look in his collection and came up with a few more photos that I think you'll enjoy. Who knows; you may even start buying up some of those unloved but highly-buildable Hasegawa P-2s for some conversion work. I know I'm sure getting tempted!

Here's a better shot of one of those green OP-2Es from VO-67. I'm particularly fond of this perspective because it gives a clean view of the underwing hardpoints---those appear to be TERs hanging off them. Note that this bird has far less green overspray on the national insignia than did 128416, which we looked at last time around. This photo was probably taken at either DaNang or CamRahn Bay in February of '68.  Bob Burgess via Mark Nankivil

And another 1st Radio Research RP-2E as operated by the Army in 1968. Although deployed to VietNam, Republic of, at the time, this aircraft is shown taxiing out at MCAS Iwakuni in Japan. Given the overall cleanliness of the aircraft I'd guess she's a recent arrival, probably en route to theater when this photo was taken.  Tom Doll Collection

Blackbird Singin' in the Dead of Night

Here's something a little bit different to round out our selection of Big Navy Airplanes for today. Enjoy!

You may have seen photos of this airplane before---I know I have, but not of this quality! A-3B BuNo 144847 was shot at NAS Alameda in May of 1967, immediately prior to her deployment to Places West. Note the deployed crew hatch just aft of the nose gear, and the insignia red warning trim around the gear doors. Tom Doll Collection

Now here's something you don't see every day! 149673 was also photographed at Alameda in May of 1967. The full-sized full-color national insignia, BuNo, and "NAVY" legend on the aft fuselage compromise the camouflage somewhat, but Holy Cow---what a neat looking airplane! 673 was a P-3A, but backdating the 1/72nd scale Hasegawa P-3C to this configuration would be a simple proposition, and those markings would be a breeze for anyone with a decent stock of decals on hand. Beauty!  Tom Doll Collection

If We're Talking Vietnam There's Only One Fighter Bomber

And that would be the legendary Republic F-105 Thunderchief, affectionately known as the "Thud" by former aircrew and aviation enthusiasts around the world. The 105 flew the majority of early and mid-war USAF strike missions over North Vietnam and suffered accordingly; the attrition rate for the type was nothing short of horrendous. If you're interested in such things, former "Thud" driver Jack Broughton wrote two of the best first-person accounts of F-105 operations in Vietnam; Thud Ridge and Going Downtown, both of which I highly recommend to you. The Thunderchief was heavily photographed during her combat career, but high-quality wartime photos can be difficult to find, which makes this one something special:

"Big Kahuna" was an F-105D-20-RE assigned to the 357th TFS/355th TFW during 1969. Note the red trim on her gear doors and the extensive damage to the paint around the wing pylon and gas bag, as well as the strake in the area of the over-run hook which allows the yellow Mil-P-8585 zinc chromate primer to show through. Like so many of her breed, 61-0109 ended the war in a heap of twisted metal outside of Hanoi. She was shot down on 2 March 1969, with her pilot MIA.   Bob Burgess via Mark Nankivil

Of course, some of the F-105 fleet managed to survive the war, finishing up their days in AFRES or ANG units. Here's an interesting example of one of those airframes.

Remember that MiG-17 Mike McMurtrey photographed outside a Texas antique store a few months ago? Here's a companion for it! "Rebel Rider" is an F-105D-5-RE that went to MASDC in 1981 after a career with the Guard and now resides behind an automotive repair shop in St Louis! She appears to be largely intact and a good candidate for restoration as a display aircraft. Restoring her to flying condition (and supporting her maintenance requirements and thirst for JP-4) would be a different matter entirely!  Fred Harl

And here's her nose, or more properly; fuselage, art. Judging from those punctures "Rebel Rider" may have served as a BDA airframe at some point after retirement from active status. Anybody have any shots of her when she was flying?  Fred Harl

It's Not An Airplane, But It's For An Airplane...

We don't shy away from the unusual around here---if it has anything to do with American military aviation there's a good chance it'll end up on these pages sooner or later. In that vein here's something a little out of the ordinary  for your viewing pleasure; the Republic Liftowheel!

So there you are, taxiing along in the F-105 of your choice, when BANG, you get a blowout! (Or maybe HISSSSS, you get a flat; it's all the same for the purpose of this discussion!) Do you call Triple A? Do you reach in the trunk and pull out your lug wrench and jack? NO! You call for a Republic Liftowheel. Frequent contributor Mark Nankivil sent along this shot along with some commentary:

One item of curious interest was the Republic Liftowheel. I have never seen this before and the owner claims to have not found reference to it in any manuals related to the F-105. If you look at the main landing gear doors for the Thud, at the bottom is a square panel that can be detached. This allows access to the back of the wheel axle and is where the Liftowheel is physically attached to the wheel/axle. In the event of a flat tire, this panel is detached and the Liftowheel slipped onto the back of the axle. What's interesting is that the axle point of the Liftowheel is eccentric and is a wheel within a wheel of the whole unit. Once mounted, the aircraft can be rolled away with the Liftowheel taking the load of the flat tire. Very interesting! Ever seen this before or know of reference material for it?

Not me! How about it, readers? Anybody out there have anything to say about this? Maybe a T.O reference? If so, you surely know the drill; the address is . Bring it on!

Another VNAF SpAD

The VNAF were a gutsy bunch, no doubt about it. Their A-1 Skyraiders were frequently ridden hard and put away wet but never failed to perform, and the courage of their pilots is well-known to all.

Gettin' ready to go find Charlie. This 23rd Tactical Wing A-1H, formerly BuNo 135322, taxis out for another mission on 20 May 1968. The aircraft is minimally loaded, carrying only a quartet of Mk 82 GP bombs and a full load of 20mm. Note the Gull Grey canopy frame, and the natural metal areas of the cowling. Of particular interest to modelers is the extensive exhaust staining on her fuselage. Operational Skyraiders were generally dirty Skyraiders!  Bob Burgess via Mark Nankivil

As Finished as It's Likely to Get

I've had a little bit of extra time here lately, and have in consequence been able to get a couple of long-term projects completed. One of those was the Hasegawa P-38G you saw a few installments ago--the one where I installed the props the wrong way (and am I ever glad to get that one done---no more P-38s for this buckaroo for a while, by Golly), but I also managed to complete that 1/32nd scale P-40N we were looking at. Here are a couple of photos to show how it came out:

All done, and an easy date in every respect. In spite of its modular fuselage breakdown and Hasegawa's undeserved reputation for making such things difficult, the kit pretty much built itself with little need for filler or profanity. The sliding portion of the canopy has an odd sit to it which I just noticed, but it's not attached to the airplane and can be easily tilted back into position. There's an antenna running from the main wire to that white insulator that's between the antenna mast and the position light, but it's really thin and you can barely see it here. There's a tiny bit, and by that I mean not much at all, of Eduard in that cockpit, mostly placards and a set of belts---all the big stuff is from the kit. A set of QuickBoost exhausts might be nice (I don't know if they make them for this kit or not, though) but that's about the only area that could stand significant improvement in my rarely humble opinion. It's a good kit, ya'll.

That canopy sits a little better in this view, and you can see that other antenna wire too! Sometimes a photograph will show something that's not easily noticed in real life, such as the light silvering around the fuselage national insignia decal! The stickies are by Zotz and are of excellent quality, but I have to admit to struggling a bit with those stars and bars. That seems odd to me since the nose art, which by its nature has quite a bit of clear decal incorporated into it, went on without a hitch. The stars were another story entirely, and this one will have to be fixed; no doubt about it. The white theater markings aren't actually white but rather a whitish grey, which I think looks better. You pays your money...

And this star's ok. The demarcation of the white theater markings on the tail is provisional; it's a typical treatment often seen on 7th FS/49th FG P-40Ns during the time period modeled (1944), but as far as I know there's no profile photo of 00 (or 10, which it was before it became 00, a fact that could give you another option for that nose art) showing the empennage. A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, I suppose...  Those spoked wheels come with the kit as an option, although my boxing (the famous 15,000th P-40) wants you to use the P-40E wheels that are also included with the model. That's because of the wheel cover markings on that particular airframe; if you're building any P-40N except for that one you'll probably want to use the smaller diameter spoked wheels seen on most operational Ns. I stuck a gas bag under the model because I like the look of that tank down there, but by the time 00 was flying combat ops a 500lb GP bomb (also included in the kit) would have been just as appropriate. All the photos I've seen of this airframe show it to be fairly clean, so weathering was kept to a bare minimum on the model. Sometimes that's The Right Thing to Do.

A lot of people buy Zotz decals because of their exceptional quality. A lot more people buy them because they do some of the best nose art around; this presentation is unquestionably the best scale representation of "Milk Wagon Express" ever offered to the modeling public. Panel lines that run through that artwork were lightly accentuated by scoring along them with an extremely sharp #3 artist's pencil, a trick I learned from Austin modeler Brad Perry. One thing about those markings; Zotz provides the thin white striping that appears on the nose of the real airplane, but they terminate it as an open "square". It's my opinion that the striping is actually the edging for a color, which I think was dark blue---photographs of the nose art appear to show a darker area forward of what I'm presuming was a trim line for said color. If I'm correct (and it ought to be pretty obvious that I think I am, since I built the model that way) then the color and its white trim most likely go further back than the decals provide for, terminating in a point. That sort of thing would be in keeping with pre-War AAC/AAF practice and makes a great deal of sense to me. Comments are welcomed.

The 49th had a long-standing history of putting different nose art on each side of its P-40s regardless of the variant. Most of us first became aware of the bawdy side of the 49th way back in the mid-60s when Len Morgan published Ernie McDowell's P-40 monograph which included several shots of the 7th's late-War N-models. That, plus subsequent publication of Squadron Signal's often-underated 49th FG title (also by McDowell) led a lot of us to believe that "Daddy Please" and "Milk Wagon Express" were two different airplanes, a misconception not helped by the fact that this particular airframe wore the same nose art with two different side numbers at different points in its career. A couple of things stand out in this photo: You can see once again how that cheat line goes back under the nose, and you can see that I never managed to get a clean demarcation on the tip color of that spinner! I tried, gang; Lord knows I tried, but I gave up on my 5th attempt. Sometimes I'm really good at that kind of stuff but sometimes I'm not, and painting concentric rings on a spinner can be a Puppy of a Different Persuasion under the best of circumstances. I did what I could...  Speaking of that prop and spinner, that gap you see is a direct result of using the kit-supplied poly cap for attachment. Omission of the cap and hard attachment by cement might be a better way to go. Finally, quite a few of the 49th's P-40Ns had white gauze filters inside those nose grills. I considered adding them after I'd drilled out all those holes in that panel but ultimately decided against doing it. Such is life.

The Relief Tube

Last time around I think we only had one entry in this ever-popular portion of our modest effort. Today we have a few more than that, so let's begin.

First out of the gate is one of the P-47Ns in our last installment, an airplane named "DNIF". In that piece I admitted I didn't have a clue what that meant. A couple of our readers did know and came to the rescue for the rest of us as noted here:

Interesting that you should run the Jahant P-47N images this weekend. I was searching for images of any 58th FG P-47s, and came across a collection of photos from Ie Shima posted by "saipanbolt". In his photostream of the 318th FG were a number of images from the 507th FG, also on the island, and there was a great shot of the starboard side of Chataugua with the same Indian princess facing forward and the name on the fuselage, too. That's a new one on me---thanks!!! pf

Also, "DNIF" is an acronym used frequently in the USAAF/USAF by we medical types, meaning Duty Not Involving Flying", i.e., you're grounded until medically released. It was only obscene to the pilot hearing those words or reading that stamped image.  Frank Emmett

And from contributor and aviator Keith Svendsen:

DNIF is a duty restriction imposed by the flight surgeon: Does Not Include Flying/Flight. Sick and shouldn't fly? You're DNIF!  Keith Svendsen

We recently ran some early FJ-3 Furies on these pages, leading Tommy Thomason to write:


 If you noted that the later FJ-3s had a hard wing (no slats and a fuel tank) and that it was retrofitted, I missed it. Attached is a picture of one. (Unfortunately, I couldn't open the attachment. We'll run some shots of hard-edged -3s another day. pf) Note that the little leading edge piece on the ammo bay door is missing...  T

Thanks Tommy; I'm pretty sure that note was omitted! And speaking of notes, if you aren't already doing it you need to check out what Tommy's doing over at .

Reader and old friend from our days at Misawa, way back in high school, Jack Dusenberry provides clarification on a photo we ran of his dad last time. 

I was tickled to see the picture of my dad and the mules on your blog. I decided to throw that one in to show how young he was . He says that one reason for his survival was that he had "old timers" as pilot and copilots(29 and 30 years old) . I also think there was more than a little bit of luck involved and his crew had good luck rituals that were strictly adhered to .He carried a lucky rabbit's foot ,some carried four leaf clovers ,and one crew member insisted on urinating on the same rock before each mission . The fellow forgot to perform his task before getting on the truck before one mission and the entire crew demanded that he be taken back to perform his task !

The picture of him and his crew (which we didn't run because of that copywrite thing. pf) appears to have come from Russell Strong's First over Germany  (long out of print) and Dad has an extra copy that he has promised to give to me but keeps forgetting to do so .I have seen copies on the internet with prices as high as $180.00 ,so I hope he remembers at some point.  Jack   What a treasure! Thanks for sharing your dad's memories with us, and give him our best. pf

Finally, here's a note from Don Jay that some of our younger readers may not quite understand.

After Dec 30, Kodachrome will be no more. Dwayne's Photo of Parsons Kansas is the last place to develop the film and they will stop this Thursday. For those who grew up with this iconic staple, it's demise has forced a change on us-like it or not.

I will mourn the loss of one more link to our manual, analog past. Twitter, Facebook, and email do not replace handwritten letters. Texting is not a phone call. MP3s and CDs cannot duplicate the richness of vinyl. The internet is not a newspaper. A blog is not a diary. And digital photography does not reproduce film's qualities.

Easier is definitely not always better and I fear these small losses of reality as we digitize ourselves are lessening us in some intangible way. Apr├Ęs moi, le deluge. dj

By way of explaination for those of our readership who might know only digital photography, Kodak's Kodachrome was the world's leading transparency (read "slide" here) film for decades. The stuff started out as K10 at an extremely slow ASA 10 rating, then morphed into the K25 and K64 that most of us knew and loved. Other manufacturers tried to equal it over the years but nobody else ever managed to get the same resolution, crispness, and color saturation of Kodachrome. I can only surmise how many thousands of frames of the stuff (mostly K25) were cranked through my Nikons while I was still shooting, and how many more thousands of frames were exposed by the folks who's work you regularly see on these pages.

Kodachrome was special. Just ask Dave Menard, Tommy Thomason, the Morgan Boys, Mark Nankivil, Maddog Kerr, Jim Wogstad, Keith Svendsen, Don Jay, or any of the other photographers who's names you've read on photo tag lines both here and other places over the years. To steal (or maybe paraphrase) a line from an old John Wayne movie: "It was a way of life. It was a good way." RIP, Kodachrome.

And that's what I know. Have yourself a happy (and safe and reasonably sane) New Year's Eve. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again real soon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Tis the Season---It's Our Christmas Special Edition Which Contains Some Tasty Transports, Some Colorful Jet Fighters, Odd Neptunes, Jugs, A Bird That Barely Flew, and a Blast From the Past

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Around Here

So, let's get right to the point of things. This is our Very First Special Christmas Issue and there are some particularly spiffy things inside, or at least I think there are. Fact is, this little ol' blog of mine seems to catching on with folks, at least if the Google stats can be believed, and that's a present to me for sure. Whether Christmas is your thing or not, look on this issue as my way of giving back to you with a couple of things you might not have expected to see.

I Don't Know Anything About It But I Sure Do Like It!

When last we met I mentioned that valued friend Jim Sullivan has a new book coming out on the Corsair, which I firmly recommended that you buy. Jim's been working on that particular volume for quite a while and hasn't been the frequent contributor to these pages that he once was, but the book is now done and Jim's back with us with a vengeance.

You may recall that we ran a shot of a Coastie C-123 a while back. It's a neat airplane, and I'd sure like a decent kit of the type in a scale larger than 1/144th. There isn't one, of course, but we've got a couple of photos from Jim to spark your interest in building one should such a miracle ever come to pass. I can't tell you much about the photos, but here's what Jim knows:

When I saw the Kodiak C-123 in your latest edition, it made me think of a series of shots that I took of C-123B 54-0683 landing at Shaw AFB, SC on 26 SEP 68. When I sent the shots to Don Jay, he commented that it was a rare bird with the IE markings and that the Provider belonged to either the 319th ACS or SOS. I'm sure there must be some interesting stories about the 'catcher' device mounted on the nose. Hope you enjoy the shots. Jim

Well, folks, I know I enjoyed them. I think you will too.

Here we are on short final, all throttled back and with everything hanging. This isn't your everyday Provider, and is equipped with some pretty unusual stuff. What appears to be a scratch in the negative, running from the nose to the startboard wingtip, is actually a cable and part of the catch apparatus. Note that opened cockpit window; the C-123 was an absolutely deafening airplane if you were in the cockpit, and was loud even when throttled back. Bet those guys are deaf as a post!  Jim Sullivan

54-0683 was built as a C-123B but was converted to C-123K configuration later in life. As a transport the type has enjoyed a fairly high survival rate, primarily because it's such a useful little airplane; 0683 wore an N-number for a while and is presently on display at the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB. This shot gives us a slightly better view of the recovery system attached to the nose.  Jim Sullivan

Here's a really good view of the structure of that recovery system. (If that's actually what it is...) It would be really easy to replicate it from this photo. Of particular interest, at least to me, is the way the upper wing camo wraps around the leading edge of the wings. This is a Strange Bird any way you cut it.  Jim Sullivan

And here she is going away, and displaying that "IE" tailcode to advantage. The upper cargo door is opened up, although I have no idea why. These four shots give us more than enough detail to allow the construction of a pretty good model, but only in 1/144th (unless you want to argue with a really old vac-form kit, which I personally don't.).  Jim Sullivan

We Haven't Run Any Sort of Jet Fighter Material Lately, Have We?

So maybe it's time to do that today. There's a lot to choose from, but we've got a few more FJ Fury images that haven't been run yet, at least not by us. That must surely mean It's Time.

Fighting Fifty-One was an early user of the FJ-3. Here's a fine profile shot of 136008 all decked out in glossy sea blue. Slats are deployed, not because someone left them that way but because the FJ is, after all is said and done, an F-86 variant, and those slats droop when the airplane is on the ground. Sharp-eyed modelers may notice the difference in surface finish inside the gun ports---it's definitely not GSB in there!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Let's make the point about those manual slats one more time! Here's a fine study of FJ-3 135831 from VF-33 taxiing out, and those slats are deployed just as they should be at this low speed. They'll retract on their own once the aircraft begins to launch and gains a little airspeed. This particular photo also provides us with a really good look at the Corrogard treatment on the leading edges of all the flying surfaces. In my world the FJ series is one of the most beautiful aircraft the Navy ever operated, even though it wasn't all that effective as a fighter and could be a little sporty around the boat. Wish we had a kit...   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VF-33 started out with what could only be called bland squadron markings, but that didn't last for very long. Here's one of their FJ-3s all tarted up in full squadron regalia---pretty neat, huh? Note that those slats are separate (they ran almost full-span on the Sabre, remember?) and droop in all sorts of ways when the wings are folded. The FJ was very much a product of North American Aviation; there's no power on the aircraft so all the gear doors have dropped as hydraulic pressure bled out of the system. If you look closely you can see the port access cover for the gun bay has been lowerd to allow easy access to the cockpit. The approach light is well-depicted heretoo, and note that the landing gear struts are not GSB!   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

How about a form shot to end this segment? Here's a four-ship from VF-51 all tucked in nice and tight for the camera. There's not much to be said here except that it's a really pretty photo. Fly Navy!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Mark Called Them Land-Locked Neptunes, and That's Good Enough for Me!

Mark Nankivil was doing a little housecleaning in his photo collection last week (Lordy, I just love it when he does that!) and found these really choice images of the Lockheed P2V Neptune. VO-67 operated a little-known variant of the type, the OP-2E, in combat in Southeast Asia during the late 60s. Do you think you might have some interest in that sort of thing?

Is this special or what? The Lockheed P-2 was originally designed as a long-range land-based patrol bomber, and gave sterling service in that role from the late 1940s until the type was finally phased out of the inventory in the 1980s. To say it was a useful airframe would be an understatement! A pristine example of the species, 128416 was photographed at NAS Alameda during 1968. VO-67 operated them in a largely nocturnal environment; note how the full-sized national insignia have been dramatically toned down with overspray. This would be a relatively simple conversion on the old (but still quite decent) 1/72nd scale Hasegawa kit.  Tom Doll via Mark Nankivil

Me, I like that Field Green treatment on the P-2 we looked at a minute ago, but some of VO-67's birds wore a slightly different camo scheme. Here's 135620 sitting on the ramp, also at Alameda in 1968. There's a pretty special sensor array to be seen in this photo, and the tail treatment is different too. Note that virtually every marking on this airframe has been oversprayed with camouflage. Wonder what those guys were doing at night...  Tom Doll via Mark Nankivil

OK, so it's not a great photograph. In fact, it really isn't even a very good photograph, which is what happens when you use a plastic-lensed Kodak Instamatic to take a picture of your airplane. Still, this shot is well worth reproducing, just because of those, shall we say "different", markings. 131485 belonged to the Army's 224th Btn/509th Radio Research Group and was assigned to Cam Rahn Bay, RVN, during 1969. The AP-2E was an interesting bird in many respects. Check out that ramp behind 485!  Fernando Molina
Here's a view of the First Radio Research insignia. Note the painted-over nose position and the sensors. The Army's 224th Btn did some unusual things with their Neptunes!  Fernando Molina
Where's My Christmas Present? You Said This Would Be Special...

And it is special. How about starting with

A Couple of Jugs

Way way back, not quite forty years ago, we ran a couple of what we considered to be really neat pieces on the P-47N Thunderbolt in the Pacific. A friend of ours, retired Air Force major Paul Jahant, was on Ie Shima flying P-47Ns with the 463rd FS/507th FG, and he had a camera. He didn't take any full-length photos of airplanes (or if he did he didn't share them with us), but he did manage to shoot some pretty neat nose art. We ran some of it in our second issue (November 1972). I was going through the files looking for something else earlier this week (ain't it always the way!) and found the photos again. Enjoy!

I can hear it now---"we've seen this before, and we've got decal sheets for it too"---and you'd be correct if you said that. Yep, you've seen it before, 38 years ago, to be exact, and first seen (as far as I know) in the original print version of RIS. That makes it fair game in my book! "Expected Goose" was a P-47N2, s/n 44-88129. Major Jahant put comments on the back of some of his photos; this one says "had your Xmas goose?".   Paul Jahant

"I've Had It", another bird we covered Way Back When. There's an extremely ribald comment on the back of the photo, but we're going to leave it alone...  Paul Jahant

If you've only seen one P-47N from the 507th in your life, chances are it was this one. "Chautauqua" is about as famous as it gets! The comment on the back: "There's something about an Indian. Must be the feathers."  Paul Jahant

"DNIF/Finis". No, I don't know what "DNIF" stands for either, but I'll bet it's not one of those Polite Company sort of things. That data block is illegible, and I'm not a big believer in computer enhancement (read "technologically guessing" here), so her s/n remains a mystery, at least over here.  Paul Jahant

And finally, here's "Anna Belle/Just a Friend". A few of the 507th's birds carried art on both sides of the nose---sure wish we had a shot of that other side! The caption on the back reads "Who's friend?". Fair enough.  Paul Jahant

It Probably Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Ryan was one of those companies who were never afraid to try the unconventional. Some of their products became famous and achieved a degree of immortality in the annals of aviation. Our next airplane wasn't one of them.

And you thought the Fiesler Storch was ugly! This is the Ryan YO-51 Dragonfly, a liaison aircraft that could, in all likelyhood, have been developed into quite an airplane given a little time and a slightly different design philosophy. We'll never know, since only 3 were built (40-703, -704, and -705). That open cockpit and lack of room for much of anything doomed the type to early extinction, but it's STOL capability was astounding for its time.  Ryan 2260

Let's Get Bombed

I think we've had a pretty fair little Christmas so far, but there's one more present to unwrap. Here's some background:

When Jim and I started RIS Way Back When, we knew we didn't want to do what all the other guys were doing, and one of the things a whole lot of people were doing was building neat model airplanes, painting the bombs (if appropriate) black, and hanging them off the model. It looked awful, and it didn't fit our philosophy at all---remember, we called ourselves Replica in Scale. That meant everything, bombs included.

Jim had always had an interest in aviation ordnance, had been collecting photos and documents regarding same for several years before we met, and had always had the notion that he would someday publish a book on the subject. That book is still in work, and we can only hope that it gets published one of these days because I've got no doubt it'll be the absolute last word on the subject and become the ultimate reference on such things. In the meantime, we have (or had) a magazine article on same, written by Jim and myself and published in our combined Spring and Summer 1974 edition of the magazine. I'm not going to run the entire article here, although I'm certainly tempted to do it; that's because I haven't had a chance to discuss it with Jim first and I'm funny that way. What follows is my portion of the article, concerning modeling only (and please don't laugh---this was written a very long time ago!), but with the added bonus of Jim's bomb drawings in what were then all the popular scales. It's a time machine of sorts, and a pretty fair Christmas present, I think.

One of these days maybe I'll re-publish the entire piece, although I'd much rather see that Ultimate Book get done. For now, I think we can safely say that Jim did a pretty amazing job with the piece. It's still cited as a major reference in periodicals and on aviation web sites to this day---36 years; that's not a bad run, ya'll...

The Relief Tube

Yep, we correct mistakes even during the holidays. Here's one to end the year with:

First, a couple of comments from reader and contributor Mark Nankivil regarding Rick Morgan's question regarding that F8U-1 shot, and also correcting a series of photo credit errors that I made:

VF-154 Crusader was on the Hancock as they were sister squadron to my Father's VF-23. This was the first Crusader squadron to take it on a cruise - check Gilchrist book for more on that from their perspective. VF-23 did its CarQuals on the Hornet just prior to the cruise on the Hancock.

The Douglas/McDonnell Douglas Tulsa stuff is from the Tulsa Air & Space Museum archives - please credit them accordingly. GREAT people there - I just want to make sure they get proper credit.

'Til Later! Mark            Thanks, Mark!

And finally, courtesy the US Navy, here's a photo that doesn't require a caption.

Here's wishing everybody who reads this blog a very merry Christmas! We'll see you again in 2011. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Big 'Un, An Unusual Phantom Shot or Two, A Cold Corsair, and An Unfamiliar Shape

We Missed a Week

You noticed that; I'm certain of it. That sort of thing happens from time to time and I don't like it any more than you do, but it's a fact of life that such things will occur during the course of what other projects call production. One-man operations are like that. Please accept my apologies if that matters to you, or ignore this paragraph completely and get on with the rest of our humble offerings if it doesn't. Either way, we've got some spiffy stuff to look at today, so let's get on with it.

Before There Was Old Shakey

Douglas pretty much had the whole transport thing sewed up way back when airplanes had reciprocating engines and propellers, and most of us are familiar with that particular family tree. There's one Douglas product that frequently escapes the scrutiny of enthusiasts though; the capable, homely, and largely unsung C-74 Globemaster. The type was designed as a heavy airlifter and flew combat support missions during the Korean War, before it morphed into the immensely more capable C-124 Globemaster II.

Contributor Mark Morgan had promised some fighters to us a while back (well, to me anyhow---I never said anything about it to anybody else), then mentioned that he was having a tough time finding the photos he was after and that we'd have to wait a bit longer. That's not a problem for me, given the uniqueness of many of Mark's contributions, so we're going to presume it's not an issue for any of you either. Unique is unique, and sometimes that means Big Airplanes. That said, let's look at some pictures!

I don't know about you, but I've really got a thing for sepia tone photos, even though that spiffy color means that Bad Things are in the process of happening to them. This soon-to-fade-away-but-for-the-magic-of-electronic-imaging photo depicts 42-65408 during an engine run-up, time and location unknown. Check out the dust cloud behind the aircraft; that dust, plus a liberal dose of oil droplets from four thundering radials, was probably making quite a mess out of a number of uniforms that day. Betcha there were some colorful metaphors on that ramp!  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan

Doing what it did best. 42-65412 is loading up in this photo taken at Bolling in 1951. Note the aft cargo pallet in its lowered position, a feature that carried over to the C-124. The Globemaster was a capable transport, but its offspring, the Globemaster II, upped the ante beyond all recognition. That's a tantalizing ramp, isn't it?  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan

This is one of those photographs that just screams for a caption, but I'm not going to be the one to write it. I'm also not going to print any that might be submitted, although there's certainly a temptation to do that. Nope; we're running this shot to illustrate the small handling boom in the front corner of that cargo hatch. Details like that make military transports fascinating kit subjects, although decent models of such things are few and far between. This bird's on the ground at the Middletown Air Technical Service Command facility at Olmstead (Harrisburg, PA), date unknown. The C-74 was a lot smaller than the C-124 that replaced it, but it was still a pretty big airplane.  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan

It's a sad ending, but at least this one's not on the scrap pile yet. This is how 42-65412 ended up, sitting apparently derelect on the ramp at Long Beach. She's carrying an N-number, although I don't know much more than that. Maddog, consider this an open invitation to educate us!  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan

Sometimes Airplanes Get Makeovers Too

Which means you've got to do an acceptance flight before you give it back to the customer, which is what's happening here:

Let's see if it works...  F-4C-17-MC 64-7455 manning up for a pre-acceptance test flight. This sort of thing isn't particularly glamorous but can certainly have it's share of what we might call "interesting moments", and it's a fact of life for any new airplane, military or otherwise. It's also the norm for refurbished birds coming out of overhaul, which is the case here. Note the scuffed overall finish, a direct result of paint stripping, and the serial and line numbers on the fuselage. Strip lights have been added to the airframe, and the sharp-eyed among us will notice the yaw string hanging down from the top of the radome. Her next stop will be a visit to Corrosion Control for a coat of primer and a new paint job. The location is the old Douglas Tulsa plant.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And here's where that unpainted Phantom came from. This photo depicts the PDM line at Douglas Tulsa and was taken on 31 April, 1981 when the F-4 was still the primary fighter for the Air Force. These birds will eventually be as good as new, but they sure don't look it here. Note that all these F-4s have brand new canopies---that covering won't be removed until just prior to acceptance testing.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil 

A Cold Corsair

If you're at all familiar with the Korean War, you're aware that a big part of it was fought in the dead of winter. Cold weather operations at sea were a special treat, as typified by our next shot.

Now that looks cold! This one's an F4U-4P from a VC-61 Det 3 aboard the Philippine Sea during her July 1950-March 1951 deployment off the coast of North Korea. That red thingy between the folded wing and the fuselage is called a wing fold jury strut, and secures the wing to the fus so it can't move around when it's folded. The 1/48th scale Tamiya kits include a pair of these; a neat touch to a fine little model.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried  

A Model You Probably Didn't Expect to See Here

When I run pictures of models around here (something I try to do every issue if I can because of that whole Replica in Scale thing) they're usually of something I've built lately, and lately several of them have been of of Luftwaffe subjects. Today's modeling topic is a little bit different; it's something from the same general part of the world, but from The Other Side, as it were.

The Soviet VVS pretty much took it in the shorts during the early days of their country's involvement in the Second World War, but evolved into a highly effective and capable air arm able to stand up with the world's best by the end of that conflict. Today's model represents those early days and, at least to me, symbolizes the courage those airmen displayed during the dark early days of the war.

Accurate Miniatures did some really neat kits back when they were in their prime. They often stepped outside the box to produce kits of airplanes that other mainstream manufacturers wouldn't touch, and this kit's one of them. It's an early Il-2, a single-seater, and the two I've got on the shelf both originally came with skis. I'd be lying if I told you I knew much about the type, so I'm going to explain how I got to the model instead. The markings were inspired by an illustration on Erik Pilawkii's excellent VVS web site ( and depicts an early-War aircraft in the black and green scheme. The kit is pretty good and relatively easy to build, but I didn't like the guns provided and replaced them. I also added the tell-tales for landing gear extension, and a set of nice but largely un-necessary QuickBoost exhausts. You may note that there's no radio antenna between the mast and the vertical stab; not all Il-2s had radios installed, so I left it off. I may go back and add it some day, but that's honestly pretty doubtful at this point.

Here's one of the reasons I wanted to build this model---that black on green paint scheme has fascinated me from the first time I saw it. Pilawskii provided the details of the scheme, and ModelMaster supplied the paint. The black is Testor Interior Black enamel, while the green is a ModelMaster mix. If I'd been paying attention to what I was doing I would've documented that green color for you, but the kit was built several years ago and I have no idea what I mixed to get to that shade. Decals were a throw-together from several sources---this isn't a scheme offered by the kit. This view really shows what a tank the Il-2 family was.

A view that graphically illustrates why the airplane existed, and gives an idea of why it was so effective in combat. It could be fitted with 8 unguided rockets (not used here but included in the kit), and could carry bombs in small bays built into the center section or, as depicted in this photo, haul a pair of larger weapons under the wings. Those bombs are kit items, once again painted per an article on Pilawskii's site. The undersurface color is ModelMaster VVS Undersurface Blue. If memory serves I had to drill out the wheels and insert a set of brass axles in order to put normal (vs ski) landing gear on this one. Weathering, which may or may not be to your liking, was done with Grumbacher pastels. Every once in a while I sit this next to a 1/48th scale Me109 just to get a sense of what the aircrew on both sides were up against. It's pretty enlightening to do that, I think.

The Relief Tube

Sometimes we get a lot of entries for this part of the project and sometimes we don't. This time we did, so let's get started.

Let's begin with the "Ford". The Douglas F4D-1 Skyray has assumed a life of its own on these pages, or at least that's how it seems to me. The first installment of that series included a comment by me that the type had never been used by the Navy Reserve. That, my friends, was a serious error, although nobody commented on it at the time. Then, in the next installment, I ran a photo of one of those Reserve birds, and that provoked some informative reaction from The Morgan Boys:

Phil: regarding the Reserve F4Ds (F-6s); NAS Olathe, KS was the only base that got Reserve Fords, with the first arriving in the spring of 1962, replacing F9F-8s. They had four units (VF-881, -882 and VMF (AW)-113, 215) that shared around 20 aircraft at their peak. They lasted through early 1966, when the Marine units went to F-8A/Bs and Navy converted to Atkrons with A-4A/Bs. Their retirement left Naval Air Test Center and the Test Pilot School with the last of the type.

And from Mark:

Phil - Checked Steve Ginter's Ford book in the Naval Fighters series, also looked at some information collected by yours truly and brer Rick over the last few years.

7K was the tailcode for Naval Air Reserve Training Olathe. The first F4D-1s showed up around May 1962, replacing F9F-8/8Bs. The last F-6A departed in early 1966, replaced by F-8As. The squadrons which took turns flying the aircraft were VF-881 (which transitioned to A-4Bs as VA-881 in 1964), VF-882, VMF(AW)-113 (inactivated October 1965 following a brief period in Crusaders) and yes, VMF(AW)-215, which inactivated 30 January 1970 with the shutdown of Olathe.

Hope this helps...and beware, beware, I have access to C-123 photos...MK

Thanks, guys! And let's talk about those C-123s...

Frequent contributor Doug Siegfried wrote in with a comment on our "Stoof" piece which, I think, means we're in for a treat in that direction in the near future!

Hi Phil:

Nice ME-109 and good shots of the F4Ds. I am crushed that you have not had many shots of the S-2 on your site. Since the S-2 and C-1 were primarily the only planes I flew in my 27 years in the Navy I think they should get some play... I will have to get you some S-2 shots from S2F-1s to S-2Gs since a 1/48th S-2D/E/G is lurking out there on the drawing board of one of the model companies. ...



How about it, Gang? Anybody up for a few more S2s? I know I am!

One of the really neat things about running this site is that it put me back in touch with one of my best friends from my high school days at Misawa. Jack Dusenberry and I learned to ride motorcycles together and also shared a common interest in building models of WW2 fighters. We never talked about what our dads had done during the war, and all I knew about Jack's father was that he was the base paymaster. We're going to go a little bit away from our norm here and, by inference if nothing else, pay a little respect to all those young men who answered the call in that far away time:

A farm boy at home. There's a story to this picture, though. Let's hear about it from Jack:


I wish I had more pictures to send but my dad had pictures of himself and his crew that he has misplaced-I guess all that moving around will do that for you .I found this picture on the internet . (I'm pretty sensitive to potential copyright issues and have omitted that photo. pf) The crew in this picture is Dad's second crew. His first pilot was Charles Whitcombe - haven't found pictures of that one yet .

I also included a picture that one of my cousins thought was taken of Dad and his father's mules when he was in high school .As it turns out, this picture was actually taken after he returned from England with 35 combat missions under his belt at the ripe old age of 20-he does look young !(he enlisted when he was 17).

Hope you find the right Ducati -I think I'll stick with my Honda for now -I can get in enough trouble on it !


35 combat missions with the 8th AF... My hat's off to you, Major Dusenberry, and thank you for your service.

We also ran a photo of a VF-154 F8U-1 a while back. We identified the aircraft as being aboard the Hornet at the time, but Rick Morgan has another thought on it:

I wonder if the shot of the Grand Slammer (VF-154) F8U-1 was on Hancock vice Hornet; they made the first WestPac for the Crusader on Hancock in 1958. Hornet was a 27A; its cats and A/G supposedly couldn’t handle an F8U. Hornet was on its last WestPac as a CVA during the same period however, with ATG-4, F2H-3, FJ-3M, FJ-4B, AD-6.

And a final note on a project by a friend of mine. Some of you may have noticed a recent lack of contributions by friend and Corsair authority Jim Sullivan. He's been extremely busy of late, authoring yet another title on the U-Bird for Squadron Signal. I'm looking forward to its release early next year and recommend it to you if you've got an interest in the aircraft. Jim does good work, and anything he does with the Corsair is well worth getting.
And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.