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.

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