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!

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