Saturday, April 23, 2011

School Days, A Different Delta, A Couple of Demons, and a Tamiya Mustang

You Need Schoolin'; I Ain't Foolin' (With Apologies to Zep)

OK, it's a corny intro, but it's all I've got so we'll have to live with it. The point to be taken (and we've taken it at least once before on these pages) is that you've got to go to school to learn to fly, and you're probably going to do that learning in a purpose-built airplane called a trainer.

Regarding those trainers; nowadays we tend to buy them off-the-shelf from other countries, but it wasn't always that way. Nope, for a great many years we designed and built our own, but rising costs put the kibosh on that sort of thing, since it eventually became far more cost-effective to buy something that was already out there than to start from scratch, but the do-it-in-country approach produced a number of classic airplanes. We're going to look at a couple of them today. Call it nostalgia (except you'll have to be really old to personally remember one of them!).
Ever seen a Consolidated PT-3A before? If you haven't, today's your Lucky Day, because we've got a fine study of one for your consideration. The type was a direct descendent of the PT-1, with a different empennage and the installation of a Wright J-5 (R-790) radial. It was more widely used than you might imagine, with 130 PT-3s and 120 PT-3As being built before termination of production in favor of yet another set of mods that created the PT-11.  Friddell Collection

Remember that part where we said Consolidated built a bunch of PT-3s and 3As? Here's what an American Southerner might call a whole slew of them, both 3s and 3As, at Randolph Field on 25 June, 1939. I haven't tried counting them but there are more than just a few of them in this shot!  AAF G722-467J-PD via RAFB PAO

OK, so you never heard of the PT-3, but you've probably heard of this one and maybe even seen one fly or, just maybe, have flown one yourself---the survival rate for the immortal PT-13 is pretty high. This absolutely gorgeous ramp shot was taken at Randolph Field on 08 January, 1938. Click on this photo to enlarge it and spend a couple of minutes studying it. Now then; why is it we can get kit after kit of all the major fighters of WW2 but can't get a decent PT-13? What an ideal candidate for a 1/32nd scale model...
AAF G107A-467J-PD) via RAFB PAO

And here's another PT-13, or maybe not. The PT-13 became the PT-17 with an engine change to the Continental R-670-5, and the PT-17 became the most widely-produced of the Kaydet family. Wartime production demands quickly outstripped the available supply of R-670s though, and the PT-17 became the PT-18 with the installation of the Jacobs R-755-7, 150 of which were produced. That's a PT-18 shown above. Maybe some of our Czech readers could have a word with the folks at Special Hobby?  USAF via John Kerr

It's a Delta But It Ain't a "Deuce"

Nope, but it's sure a close relative to the F-102. The Delta Dagger quickly changed from being a cutting edge weapons system to an interim design that held the fort until a more advanced interceptor could be built. Convair's take on that more advanced design thing was the F-102B, which quickly morphed into the F-106A for budgetary reasons. Mark Morgan sent these "Six" shots to us last week, and since we're waiting for a special bunch of "Deuce" photos that haven't arrived yet, this seemed as good a time as any to run them.

The late, lamented Air Defense Command, aka ADC, was never a command to shy away from pretty markings as typified by these "Sixes" from the 5th FIS. The F-106 benefitted from the F-102's growing pains and was good almost right from the beginning. Pretty...  via Mark Morgan

Hoo Boy, is this neat or what? Another 4-ship, this time from the 318th FIS, poses over the Pacific Northwest near Mt Ranier. The F-106 was a higly effective interceptor, and one of two Century Series fighters that never saw service with a foreign air arm. (The F-105 was the other.) It was an amazing airframe that lasted for 3 decades in USAF and Air National Guard service and wore an amazing assortment of markings while serving with the regulars and the Guard, yet to date we've only got one elderly (albeit quite good) 1/72nd scale kit of the type, and one rapidly-aging 1/48th scale offering, plus the remains of a mere handful of detailing sets and a few decal sheets. You'd expect more.  via Mark Morgan

And finally, here's a bird from the 318th in flight over Mt Ranier. The "Six" simply exudes class. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, an interceptor!  via Mark Morgan

A McDonnell Spook Revisited

We haven't heard from Mark Nankivil for a while, but he's introduced us to quite a bit of remarkable photography and we think it's time to look at some more of it. Today's subject is the McDonnell F3H Demon, one of many 1950s Navy jets that could have been a contender but was crippled by engine problems for much of its service life. On the other hand, it (and the F-101) are the direct sires of the immortal F-4 Phantom family, making the pain worth the gain, as it were.

Fighting Forty-One operated the F3H for a while. 143479 was an F3H-2 and a CAG bird when Duane Kasulka shot her at MCAS Yuma in December of 1959. She's getting a little worn but still looks great. Kasulka via Nankivil

Ever wonder what a big airplane like the Demon looks like when it's in the hangar deck? This April, 1956-vintage shot of one aboard the Forrestal answers the question. It's not as bad as stuffing a "Vigi" or a "Whale" in there, but it's bad enough!  Careful with that tug, Leroy!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Of course, sooner or later it comes out of the hangar and goes flying. This colorfully-marked VF-31 Demon is being towed to the cat prior to launch. I don't know about you guys, but I we could look at this kind of stuff all day long! Roos via Nankivil

The Demon had quite an angle of attack when sitting on the deck, as depicted by this F3H-2N from VF-112. Imagine manning up on a pitching deck in bad weather; it's a long way down...  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And finally, a shot taken at Miramar in January of 1963, when the F3H had morphed into the F-3B thanks to the joint services designation realignment madness. We've run this one before, but it's just too neat to omit; the airplane is gorgeous, it's from the last days of the Demon with the Fleet, and the photo provides a lot of detail for the modeler.  Duane Kasulka via Nankivil

Not the Tamiya Mustang You Wanted to See, But a Tamiya Mustang Nontheless

It's official; Tamiya's next 1/32nd scale kit will be the P-51D Mustang, with release scheduled for mid-summer of this year. It ought to be quite a kit, although there are any number of other subjects equally deserving of the honor, and we're guessing that a huge number of folks publicly proclaiming enthusiasm with buy the kit but never build it. Then again, we're a little bit prejudiced, since The Big T could have produced state-of-the-art 1/48th FJ-3Ms and F3H-2s instead, thus curtailing our ongoing whining about same. (We call that "prejudice", and are not ashamed of it. We want a Fury!)

Be that as it may, Tamiya has another Mustang out there that you can buy right now, in 1/48th scale. It's been released three times that we're aware of; once as a straight WW2 version, once in a "Korean War" release (the one to get because of the additional parts, mostly ordnance, that are included, plus the Aeroproducts prop), and once as a special WW2 release that includes a staff car. It's a good kit with a few minor glitches, such as a soft cockpit, a non-prototypical way of mounting the deployed flaps (important to the Mustang since those flaps were generally down when the airplane was parked), and a "rivet" pattern on the upper surfaces of the wings, towards the leading edge, that directly reflects a repair (most likely a doubler of some sort) on the real P-51 they scaled the model from. There's a fair amount of aftermarket available for the kit including a spiffy little F-6D conversion from QuickBoost, and more decals than you could imagine, although the majority of the latter are for European-based Second World War birds.

The kit is, like every other Tamiya kit you've ever built, quick and easy to get together, and you can tart it up as much as you want to with that aforementioned aftermarket.

This is what the 1/48th scale Tamiya Mustang looks like when built. The model represents an aircraft from the 458th FS/506th FG when flying out of Ie Shima on VLR escort missions in May of 1945. The interior is loaded with Eduard photo-etch but is still not quite where it ought to be, and the flaps were left alone since the model is pinned to that Eduard base (literally pinned, with cut-down insect pins in the wheels attaching the model to the base) and nobody will ever see the compromise Tamiya made in that area. The goofy rivet pattern specific to the P-51 warbird that Tamiya used as a full-scale reference has been filled, sanded and polished, and the exhausts were replaced with articles from QuickBoost. The stickies came from AeroMaster sheet 48-794 "The Iwo Jima Mustangs" Pt 1 and worked really well, but be forewarned that proper alignment of those stripes on the tail is a True Test of Manhood, and you will, in all likelyhood, utter a great many politically incorrect imprecations as a result of that test. The only visible mod required for a VLR (that stands for Very Long Range, by the way) P-51 is the fitment of the AN/ARA-8 radio homing device (nicknamed "Uncle Dog"), which is the reason for those two wooden antenna masts jst aft of the canopy. The kit's existing radio mast is still utilized, but moved to a position on the lower nose. The "Uncle Dog" masts were created using .020 styrene strip, in case you were wondering.

Her's a shot of the nose that shows the relocated kit radio mast to advantage. Those are QuickBoost un-faired P-51 exhausts and, although they're a substantial improvement over the kit representation of same, most folks will never notice the difference. Still, they're inexpensive and made me feel better about the model. This shot proves that duplicating a natural metal finish is an ongoing education. It would be fair to say there's a ways to go yet...

While we're talking about this particular Mustang, let's look at a couple of other things too. First, there's the background color of the pin-up under the windscreen. AeroMaster provided that background in red, yellow, and blue, stating that blue was the most likely color for that particular bit of art. Since the 458th's squadron color was blue that seems a very logical presumption, so that's the color we used. If any of you have a color photograph of this airplane that shows otherwise, we'd love to see it.

AeroMaster did four separate decal sheets for VLR P-51Ds, and there's also a decal sheet for that subject included in AJ Press's 506th Fighter Group, the History of 506th Fighter Group, Iwo Jima 1945, as well as markings included in at least one of Kagero's monographs on late Pacific War aircraft. We're extremely enthusiastic about the fact that so many markings variations are available for such a seemingly esoteric subject, but do have one minor complaint. There was a fair amount of what could only be described as "ribald" artwork on those Iwo Mustangs, but AeroMaster are the only folks to include that sort of thing on their decal sheets, and there's not much of it even then. The AJ book provides both drawings and photographs of pinup art on the 506th's birds, but includes none of it on their decal sheets. There's even one such aircraft ("The Enchantress") depicted on the cover of the book, for crying out loud! Some pinup art would've been nice, ya'll.

Finally, that base is a little-known Eduard offering that really helps out a static model such as this. They make two different sizes of that PSP base; this size for fighters and a larger one for light and medium bombers, and they're well-worth looking for, although it's possible that they're presently out of production. They're one piece and provide an adequate, but not outstanding, representation of PSP and look pretty good after painting and weathering. They're inexpensive and definitely worth the money. You can even use the nameplate from the appropriate Eduard photo-etch set like we did.  Just a thought, as it were...

One more note, this time of an historical nature. "Madam Wham-Dam" was lost on an escort mission on 01 June, 1945, when Harvey Sandrett, the deputy commander of the 506th, flew her into a storm while leading a strike. That makes you a little more aware of just how dangerous the VLR mission could be, I think.

Happy Snaps

In our last edition we provided a shot taken by Doug Barbier when he was an IP. Today's photo is also by Doug, but from his F-4 days with the Guard:

The B-52 was from the 410th BWg at K.I. Sawyer, and taken at 1,000 AGL in the upper peninsula, just below the base of the Keewenaw. Big MOA up there and we used to go up and work with the bombers at low altitude. 4+ hours down low chasing buffs with multiple A/Rs. Great fun! Doug

It definitely looks like fun! Thanks for sharing this one with us, Doug. And, as a reminder to our readers, if you've got any air-to-air you'd like to share with us (we prefer that you took it yourself, hence the title "Happy Snaps"), please forward a scan to us at . We'd really like to see it.

And that's it for today. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Some Deuce Facts While We're Waiting for More Pictures, One Day in April a Long Time Ago, And Now We Know, and An Early Recce Bomber

Stuff You Didn't Know You Needed to Know, But You Do

At this moment, this very moment in time, we're anxiously awaiting the arrival of some more F-102 photography to share with you but, until that moment comes, we thought we'd mention a couple of things you ought to know if your heart beats faster at the mere mention of the name Delta Dagger. Neither one is what you'd call a Primal Experience or even an extensive study, but one is essential to your understanding of the F-102, while the other is just neat and you ought to know it.

First, let's look at wings. That's the thing that confuses a whole lot of people when they start thinking about the "Deuce", and it's all because of that whole Case thing. For those of you who don't remember, or maybe never even knew, there were two distinct wings to be found on the F-102, the Case X (that's pronounced "Case Ten" and not "Case Ex", by the way) and the Case XX (with Case XX being pronounced "Case Twenty", but we're guessing you've already made that modest jump in logic.

In any event, the actual difference between the two couldn't be simpler; the Case X wing has reflexed wing tips, which means they turn up at the ends, while the Case XX wing is somewhat more cambered and maintains that camber all the way out to the wingtip, with no reflex. Testing of the new wing was performed in 1957, with F-102A 56-1317 being the Case XX guinea pig. 56-1001 was the participating Case X airframe, with the actual test program spanning a whopping 11 hours/35 minutes of flight time in 56-1317 and 4 hours/30 minutes in 56-1001. The results were pretty significant.

Overall handling characteristics were improved in all flight regimes, and maximum speed was bumped upwards some .06 Mach at high altitude, while altitude capability was increased by approximately 4,200 feet, to a 56,000-ft ceiling. The negative trade-off came in range, with an approximate 5% decrease at low and medium altitudes. The mod was well worth the doing.

This all brings to mind another interesting point, one that's overlooked or simply not known by most aviation enthusiasts and scale modelers. Start paying attention to photographs of F-102s sitting on the ground, and pay particular attention to the main mounts. Why? Because, in addition to a potential difference in wheels from aircraft to aircraft, the earliest operational F-102s had a different main-mount arrangement, known to the Air Force as "unskewed" (as opposed to the far more common and somewhat later "skewed") landing gear. Almost all production "Deuces" had the latter, with the gear appearing to drop out of the wings at a slight forward angle, while really early F-102s had the so-called "unskewed" mains, in which the gear drops straight out of the wings. The reason for the "skew" was strictly functional, as it greatly reduced minimum take-off speed by allowing the elevons to "bite" somewhat earlier, thus allowing the nose to rotate earlier as well. This was particularly helpful on aircraft with the Case X wing, which had a smaller elevon than did the Case XX.

Here's a chart from the Air Force, dated 22 November 1957, that defines the difference in the two wings. It makes for interesting reading, we think.  F-102A Case XX Wing Phase IV, Performance, USAF

And a graphic explanation of that whole skewed landing gear thing. TO F-102A-1-4 states that the unskewed gear was only found on 15 service aircraft; thanks to Mike Druzilowski (via Doug Barbier) for that information.  F-102A Case XX Wing Phase IV, Performance, USAF

And now for our other Amazing "Deuce" Fact. A short year before the launch of Sputnik, an Italian rocket expert named Aurelio Robotti had approached the Air Force with the notion of using an F-102A, mated to a V-2, to achieve orbital flight. There were weight issues, however, and the scheme eventually evolved into an F-102 launched on a dolly, with what was then known as a "bumper" rocket vehicle strapped beneath it. The concept was simple; the "Deuce" would launch, with RATO assistance and minimal fuel, hit a tanker on climbout, and launch the satellite vehicle at 42,000 feet, whereupon said bumper vehicle would zip right on up into orbit. It may or may not have been a good idea; we'll never know. Here's a conceptual drawing showing what it might have looked like:

Up, up and away! Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. From an article in Quest magazine via Marty Isham

Some More Folks We Owe

There was a time in history when Americans were known for innovation in the face of adversity. These next photographs chronicle such an event. We've just passed the 69th anniversary of Doolittle's Tokyo Raid, in case you'd forgotten. Here's a quick salute to those guys:

If the B-25 had never accomplished one other thing, its place in history was assured on that Spring day back in 1942. There are a number of decent histories of the event so we're not going to recount it here, but we are going to make a correction to the original caption for this photo, or at least add to the confusion. Actually, we're now on our second correction! The shot is black and white and looks vintage, which it is to an extent. The airframe is an RB-25 modified by North American to resemble Jimmy Doolittle's B-25B from the raid. Here's a brief note from Dave Menard about the foul-up: 

Phil, That photo of "Doolittles" B-25B isn't! She is an RB-25D brought back to close to B standards as was possible in 1957 or so by NAA-LA and then flown cross country to be donated to the USAF Museum, where she sits today. Check out the cowlings on the bird in the photo with shots of Bs taken in the day. OK? cheers, dave     If I repeat this one enough times we just may get it right...                  USAF via Don Jay

It was tough even getting to the party that April Day. Jimmy Doolittle's aircraft were specially modified for the mission, (and then unknowingly un-modified at the depot prior to embarcation, thus reducing their range and compromising the mission) for the trip. Take a look at Hornet's attitude in relation to the horizon; the Naval Aviators in our midst will tell you that sea state is not to be sneezed at. They launched, they bombed, and most of them came home. Some of those guys are still around and show up at airshows and commemorative events when they can. If you ever get the chance, you need to meet them and shake their hand. They're some of the bravest men you'll ever meet. Navy via Don Day 

The Mystery Kit Revealed

And, if you're reading it here, you're about a week late, because Tamiya more or less announced their new, super-detailed 1/32nd scale P-51D right after we published our last installment of this missive and, if we can believe what we read, a lot of folks are soiling their undies over it even as we speak.

Why do we tell you this, given the fact that we aren't normally in the habit of engaging in such things? That's hard to say, unless it's because there are so many other airplanes we'd rather have seen kitted first. Our personal list is extensive and includes a number of airplanes from The Big One that have never been properly done (a Hawker Tempest has been mentioned as next year's Tamiya Surprise, but it wouldn't be much of a surprise if that were true, since we've already heard about it), as well as quite a few from the early days of the Jet Age, but it is what it is and the simple truth is that said Mustang will sell like hot cakes. The old Williams Brothers was all about altruism. Tamiya, like most companies these days, is all about making money and turning a profit (those two things don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, by the way). The published price seems fair enough, but your never-humble correspondent doesn't get overly worked up about yet another P-51, even one that promises to be museum-quality right out of the box.

Still, there's a lot you can do with that sort of thing so, when it comes out, if one of our loyal readers will build a museum-quality model from that museum-quality kit, preferably in Korean War or ANG markings, photograph it, and send said photos to us at the address we might publish them. Then again we might not, but most likely we would, so give it a try. What's there to lose?

An Early Jet Recce Bird

Frequent contributor Don Jay was doing some spring cleaning last week and came across a really tasty shot of a Korean War-era RB-45A, which he sent a long and which we promptly published. That photo in turn caused me to contact Mark Morgan and ask what he might have on the type. The following pictures are his response.

Here's 48-0001, a straight B-45C, in flight. Study this photo carefully and then compare the airplane to the RB-45Cs that follow. Life is Change. (The Jefferson Airplane said that.)  North American Aviation via Mark Morgan
Here's something you don't see every day. 48-0011 sits on the compass rose, with Mark's best guess being that the photo was shot at the Douglas plant at El Segundo. Like most RB-45s, this example survived the Cold War to be scrapped out in 1957.  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan
If you don't have much range you have to pass a little gas every now and then, and no First Generation jet bomber could be said to have much in the way of legs. 48-0012 is in flight near Edwards AFB hanging off a KB-29, giving us an excellent view of the configuration of the aft fuselage.  She was a proud bird when this photo was taken, but she was stricken at RAF Sculthorpe in 1957 and sent to Chateaurous AB in France for use as a fire training aid later that year.  North American 153-92-24C via Boeing via Mark Morgan
And another one on the tanker. 48-0031 takes a little gas from a 91st AREFS KB-29. 0031 survived the Cold War too, being surplused out in 1957 and sent to Rhein Main for use as a fire training aid, a sad, if useful, end.  AMC History Office via Mark Morgan
Every once in a while the Tornado even made it to the headlines. This 323rd SRS RB-45C made the first non-stop trans-Pacific crossing in 1952, winning that year's Mackay Trophy in the process. Crew members were Major Louis Carrington, Major Frederick Shook, and Captain Wallace Yancey. They seem happy... AMC History Office via Mark Morgan

And speaking of happy, it's time again for (drum roll, please!)

Happy Snaps

One of the really neat things about this project is the fact that we're getting back in touch with a great many old and valued friends from Back in the Day. One such friend is Doug Barbier, who's varied career included a stint as an advanced flying training instructor. Doug submitted this somewhat unusual shot (along with others; be patient!) for our enjoyment:

It was always hard teaching students that, in formation, "up and down" are relative to your leader, NOT the earth. This was one way to get the point across. Doug

Too cool! Thanks for sending this one, Doug!

The Relief Tube

And speaking of that RB-45C that we ran last time, Grant has supplied us with a probable identity:

I believe the RB-45C is from the 322nd SRS, 91st SRW out of Lockbourne AFB. It has a light green fin band edged in yellow. Another, better color photo of the same aircraft is in the March 1998 "Air Classics" article on the "Tornado" by Col. H. Meyers and the photo has been published elsewhere. I got the squadron color tie up from the article on the B-45 "Tornado" by G. Knox Bishop in the old IPMS Quarterly. It included a few profiles and the 322nd TRS "Tornados" in it have a yellow green fuselage band edged with yellow.

If you look at the tail end, you can see the rarely-remarked-on later twin .50-cal mount. It is different from the mount on the B-45As and can be distinguished from the side by the fairing at the bottom. It looks similar to a B-47 mount but with .50-cal guns.  Best wishes, Grant

Many thanks for that information, Grant!

And, as an aside to Grant's comments, the last time I saw Know Bishop was in 1977 or so, when we were zipping over south Bexar County in Knox's Cessna, taking in the sights (at a fairly low level; he was an FB-111 driver at that time) and generally enjoying things, which leads to a request: If any of our readers keep in touch with Knox Bishop, please give him the link to this blog and ask him to get in touch with us. On the other hand, if you're reading this, Knox, please drop me a line at . I've got a few questions for you...

And that's what I know for today. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you next time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Did We Know and When Did We Know It, A Korean War Player We Rarely See, Some South Carolina Deuces, It's Always a Good Day for Scooters, and Just to Prove We're Old

If It's a Secret, Why Would Anybody Talk About It?

Let's clear one thing up right off the bat---we're not talking about airplanes that we shouldn't be talking about (secret ones, that is) and, in point of fact, we're not even talking about real airplanes. Nope; we're talking about model airplanes, and in particular about new kits that haven't been released yet.

Rumors started showing up on several of the internet modeling boards about a new 1/32nd scale release from Tamiya a couple of weeks ago, but with no specific airplane identified; just mention that something new and exciting was on the way. It goes pretty much without saying that it was business as usual for that sort of thing once intial mention of the impending release was made, with everybody and his brother contributing a guess/wishful thought as to the subject of said Tamiya Treasure. Great fun was had by all and, if truth be known, is still being had, since our Brand New Most Amazing Model Airplane Ever Kitted still hasn't seen public release. Nope, it isn't even out yet, whatever is is, so why, you might reasonably ask, are we talking about this phenomenon on our Little Old Blog? Simple, sez we. We've been watching this exact same thing with some degree of amusement for the past forty years or so. Let us 'splain:

Frank Emmett caused me to join IPMS/USA back in 1968, and I've got (or would still have, if I'd kept that membership active) a low 4-digit IPMS number in consequence. That date, reaching back into the antiquity of Serious Scale Modeling, has allowed me to observe quite a few things, one of which has been the proliferation of "guess what they're doing next" rumors within the hobby. Sometimes the rumors have been spot on---witness the Hasegawa A3D rumor that first surfaced in 1969 (and it was true too, because we got a 1/72nd scale Hasegawa A3D, even if we did have to wait until the 1990s to get it)---and sometimes they've been way, way out there, claiming the imminent release of kits that nobody in their right mind would ever tool up for. The whole thing is almost a hobby within a hobby, as it were.

That notwithstanding, there apparently is something New and Wonderful heading our way from The Big T, and nobody knows what it is, which is going to make me, your Humble Correspondent, go out on a considerable limb and tell you, without any fear whatsoever of being contradicted by anybody, what it isn't. Are you ready? All keyed up and ready to hear our Very Own Replica in Scale Best Guess as to What the New Tamiya Kit Won't Be? Right then! Here it is:

The brand new, about-to-be-released Tamiya 1/32nd Scale Plastic Model Airplane will not be an FJ-3, nor will it be an FJ-4, not in that scale nor any other. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not ever.

Phooey! I said Phooey and I meant Phooey! And now, back to what passes for regularly scheduled programming around here!

So What's a Tornado?

If you're of relatively tender years, a Tornado is, of course, a twin-engined strike fighter and interceptor employed by the remnants of the RAF. If your years are somewhat less tender, you might instead remember a bomber by North American Aviation that bore that particular name. (And, if you're really old you might also recall the Hawker Typhoon's immediate predesessor, the Hawker Tornado, but we aren't going back that far, ya'll! Not this time.) That particular North American product was, if I remember correctly, the United States' first operational jet bomber, and it was used with success in the photo recon role for a number of years, with several being shot down by Those Other Guys during the Cold War.

One of these days we ought to run a photo essay on that venerable platform, but for today we'll limit it to one tiny image. Don Gay was doing a little house cleaning and came across a pretty nifty B-45 shot.

Hi Phil. Today I have been battling the computer world and not winning. I am trying to ‘hook up’ a scanner and PC without too much success. Our mutual friend Jim Sullivan is well aware of what’s happening. Chalk it up to an ‘old phart’ trying to learn a new technology!!!!!!!! Anyway, I came across this in my musings-seeing how you like Korean War stuff-I sent this to you . RB-45 is one of those rare ac you don’t hear much about. This was taken at the end of the Korean war-May/June time frame-can only imagine it was trying to photograph the bases in N Korea prior to armistice.   Photographer unknown, exact date unknown but it was at Suwon. Cheers, dj

And, in my particular world (and limited expertise regarding the type), the unit is unknown too, which is a cue for our readers to chip in with the squadron. The RB-45 was an extremely useful airframe and served for a number of years although, as Don said, the type is virtually unknown today. It was a big airplane and would make a pretty large model in 1/48th scale, but I'd love to see a kit of it some day!  Don Jay Collection

Dixie "Deuces"

A whole bunch of Air National Guard units flew the F-102 at one time or another, and played a vital part in the air defense of the United States. One of those units was South Carolina's 157th FIS, as captured here by author and photographer Jim Sullivan:

A busy day at the field. 56-0993, an F-102A-55-CO, taxies in from a mission in August of 1971; note the opened speed brakes at the base of the vertical stab. 993 went to MASDC after her stint with the Guard, then on to conversion to QF-102A status, and finally to PQM-102B configuration. The F-102 was a useful airframe right up until the end. Jim Sullivan 

Here's what 56-0993 looked like when in her element. The gear's up and the fast-acting landing gear doors are snapping into the closed position. You can almost hear the thunder...  Jim Sullivan

57-0903, an F-102A-95-CO, reaches for the sky in this August 1968 portrait. The wing fences and tips of the gas bags are painted red, a treatment often seen on ANG F-102s. Note the lack of an IR sensor.  Jim Sullivan

And 903 comes home to roost. The F-102 was among the many 1950s USAF designs that routinely streamed a drogue chute upon landing, said chute sometimes (but not often) being deployed while airborne. The drogue chute was opened by a pilot chute, which is that little parachute hanging off the big one, just in case you didn't already know that.  Jim Sullivan

What the "Deuce" normally looked like when on final. It's our old friend 56-0993 again---what a neat photo! Jim Sullivan

Touchdown! The "Deuce" generally recovered nose-high, and did a fair portion of the rollout in a similar attitude in order to take advantage of aerodynamic braking, which was far easier on the brakes than bringing the nose down and tapping the binders early. 56-0995 ended her days up a pole in a city park in California. A sad end to a noble aircraft...  Jim Sullivan

Just Can't Get Enough of That Tinker Toy

Our last thrilling installment (or maybe it was the one before that; it all runs together sometimes) included an in-flight photograph of an extremely early A4D-1 Skyhawk. Here, right here on these very pages, is an even earlier one for your consideration, edification, and amazement. We've included a couple of shots of somewhat later "Scooters" too, because just can't stop at one! (We can't, anyway...)

Can you say "Prototype"? This is about as close as you can get to The Primieval "Scooter" and my, oh, my; what a seriously goofy-looking little airplane. It was a sound design, though, and paved the way for what was arguably the best light attack aircraft ever built. We won't dispute that claim! US Navy

Farther along. By the time this photo was taken, the A-4 was a standard fixture in the NAV and could be seen virtually anywhere the US Navy or Marine Corps was in residence. 152061 was an A-4E from VMA-131. The 20-mike-mikes have been removed and their ports faired over, but check out the MERs fitted to the inboard stations; it was the MER that turned the A-4 into the highly versatile attack aircraft it became. Talk about a force multiplier!  Mark Morgan

The NAV thought the A-4 possessed similar performance to the classic MiG-17, and used the type extensively in the adversary role throughout the 80s and early 90s because of that. 154172 was an A-4F used for the mission and was assigned to VFA-127 when photographed at an air show at NAS Corpus Christi in May of 1988. The paintwork was dark green over tan, a scheme that did abosolutely nothing for the "Scooter's" classic lines!  Phillip Friddell

It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea at the Time

In our last installment on the F-102 we related one of our many modeling-related disasters to you, and in the course of that discription made mention of the use of Letraset on that ill-fated project. There's Letraset and there's Letraset (both trademarked names, by the way); most of you probably thought we were discussing those sheets of thick rub-on letters and numbers that you can buy in any decent art supply store, but we weren't. Nope; we were talking about Letraset's brief foray into markings for model aircraft and armor, a noble effort somewhat ahead of its time.

They were called Letraset Scale Aircraft Markings, and were marketed by Alan Breeze in Canada, although every sheet in my collection was printed in England. They were available in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales, and were also available for 1/76th and 1/48th scale armor.

Here was what lived inside that Canadian sheet shown above. Letraset products were generally in register and super-easy to use, performing like any other rub-on dry transfer if the modeler was careful and followed the directions. And the subject matter wasn't run-of -the-mill either; there were some fairly esoteric topics covered on those sheets. (This was one of them!)

Their mainstream topics were well-done, and covered colorful airplanes. This sheet dates back to 1971 or so, pre-dating all of our contemporary dry-transfer decal sheets by some 35 years.

Once you got past MicroScale, virtually nobody was doing Japanese subjects Way Back When. Letraset did two sheets of them, plus a sheet of hinomarus. We never had it so good, and we didn't have a clue...

And here's the sheet, the Very Sheet, that provided some of the US AIR FORCE markings for that "Deuce". They should've been Insignia Blue instead of black, but I won't tell if you won't. I think I ran Dibble's Arts and Hobbies in San Antonio out of the Letraset Air Force Letters sheet when I built that "Deuce"!

Letraset decals died a natural death pretty early in the game, partly because their adhesive became disfunctional as they aged but mostly, I suspect, because most folks just weren't ready for them. Dry transfer decals for scale models are being made again, and may well be the Next Big Thing, but Letraset did it first. Me, I wish they were still making them!

A Ground-Bound Happy Snap

We're in a holding pattern waiting for our next batch of air-to-air photos taken by our readers to arrive, but to tide us over here's a really tasty photo from contributor Jim Sullivan. No, it's not an air-to-air, but it's pretty doggoned special, as I think you'll agree:

I've enjoyed seeing the action flight shots from Don Jay....some nice material. I've attached a candidate for your consideration for some future use. This is a brace of F-106's breaking over Blumenthal Field in Wilmington, NC on 4APR70. The 48th FIS had a detachment stationed in Wilmington for several years in the late 60's - early 70's. Hope you like it. Jim Sullivan

A classic shot of a beautiful airplane. Thanks, Jim!

The Relief Tube

It seems like almost yesterday when we ran those F-102A drawings, the origin of which I couldn't quite remember. Since then we've heard from Marty Isham, who reminds us that they were penned by Mike Druzilowski---apologies Mike! We've corrected the captions (and look forward to hearing more from Marty in the months ahead, so please stay tuned!) and will try to make sure that doesn't happen again!

Last issue we ran a few FJ-4 photos while we whined about the lack of a decent Fury kit, any variant, in any scale, from which we could build a decent model and, in captioning the piece, we made more than the usual number of errors, which Tommy Tomason caught and corrected for us. To wit:

That FJ-4 on the catapult in the first picture is an FJ-4B, it's not in chains but ready to launch with bridle and hold back in place, and that candy-striped weapon under the left wing is a Mk 7 nuclear bomb, much more attention getting (instant sunshine!) than four piddly 20mms. Other than that...
The pod on the FJ-4B in the second picture looks more like a four-shot rocket pod than the Bullpup guidance pod. The guidance pod was bigger all around and had a radome on the front.

The third FJ-4B has the retrofitted Martin-Baker seat, which doesn't appear in FJ-4s all that often. Nice catch on the lack of cannon. They were taken out of the ADs for a max performance nuclear strike. Same concept?

On the fourth FJ-4B (the Marine one), there are gun ports. They're just hard to see.
Best regards,

Thanks Tommy and, just so our readers know, we've already corrected a couple of those captions in the original piece. One other thing: Just in case you were wondering why we're always so willing to own up to making a mistake; we pride ourselves on doing it right, but nobody's perfect and we understand that. We'd far rather own up to making an error than put out The Bad Word so please; if you catch us in a mistake, or would just like to add to something we've done, or maybe even just send in an original photo or information contribution, please contact us at . We welcome your comments and corrections!

And finally, here's a comment from long-time friend of Replica Frank Cuden:

Hi Phil,

Had a chance to view the "new to me" info on your site this morning - I confess to not having visited recently and that FJ-2/3 installment sure got my juices flowing all over again. I simply WANT a kit of that bird to build in my lifetime! Simple as that. I keep hoping Special Hobby will see the light and produce one or two variants for our modeling pleasure.

I really liked what I saw as I read through the verbage and viewed the photos - nice stuff and chock full of info - "same thing, only different" from the paper magazine days.

I did build the 1/48th Monogram Sabre ala XFJ-2 configuration, seemingly eons ago, and it didn’t come out too bad. Of course, I HAD to include that orange side elongated rectangle on the fuselage sides and that made the model. As I recall, I used the "Old-Fashioned, Real Floquil" at the time - think it was B & O Enchantment Blue and that seemed pretty close to the dark blue color - keep in mind, that was EONS ago! Today's Floquil, although workable, is a far-cry from the original formula but over the years, I have managed to keep a stock on hand - heck, I even have some (Pullman Green, I think it is), with a price tag of 95-cents on it. Still is good too.

Before this gets too long, again, thanks for turning out the periodic updates. I will make it a point to check in more often. Frank Cuden

Thanks to you for your kindness, Frank. And, thanks to the rest of our readers for all the great letters we've been getting. It's great to have all our friends, both old and new, back with us! And one more thing before we go; write to the folks at Special Hobby, or Hasegawa, or whoever-else-you'd-like-to-contact, and tell 'em we need a decent 1/48th FJ-3! Tell 'em enough times, ya'll, and maybe we'll get one before I get too old to build it!

Until then, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Even More Bravos, An Oddball Fairchild, Some Deuce Data, and Kudos to Badger

Those Bravo Furies; Redux Reload

We've run quite a bit of material since beginning this project way back in February of last year, and a fair amount of what we've offered has been unique, unusual, and sometimes esoteric. A fair amount of it has also involved one version or another of North American Aviation's FJ Fury series, and today I'm going to explain why.

The blog server we use for this ongoing missive keeps all sorts of statistics for us, one of which is the popularity of particular articles. One of the big winners, time and time again, is that FJ series. We get positive feedback every single time we run photographs of the Fury, and we inevitably receive correspondence asking for more. It's a popular subject and, fortunately, we still have some photography you may not have seen, which allows us to fill those requests. So, howzabout a few more FJs today? Right? RIGHT!

In its element. This FJ-4 sits tensioned on the cat preparatory to launch, looking like it's going at Mach something or other just sitting there. We're starting out with this particular photo because we'd like to draw your attention to those gun ports. Four 20-mm cannon live in there; nominally standard fit on every FJ-3 and FJ-4 variant built. This is the way it's supposed to look. Remember that part.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's an excellent study of an FJ-4B after a gunnery hop. It's a neat photo for any number of reasons, providing us with an excellent view of the pilot's flight gear, the interior of the gun bay (note the gun bay cover being used as a step, just like on every other F-86 or F-86 derivative ever built), and the rocket pod hanging off that inboard station. Oh yeah, and take a look at the gun ports. The staining is typical (modelers, please don't put long arcing streaks of nastiness behind those ports!), but there's more going on than just that. It looks like the gun panel of 307 has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, to cop a phrase from that old British guy. There's a reason those airdales are grinning!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Of course, you can avoid damaging your gun panels by the simple expedient of removing said guns and replacing the skin, as has been done to this VA-144 "Roadrunners" FJ-4B. The airplane is a relative Plain Jane, with minimal markings but is pretty nontheless. Note how scabbed-up that gasbag is, and also the "VA-144" stencil on the fin of same. Oh, and check out the Corvette in the right-hand background of the photo. What an evocative shot!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Corps made extensive use of the Fury too. There's not a lot of color on display here, but we get an excellent view of the white-painted flaperons and elevators, both done in conformance with BuAer instructions for the Gull Grey over Gloss White scheme. There aren't any gun ports on this one either.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

A two-ship from VMF-451 provides our parting look at the FJ-4 for today. There's not all that much to talk about here; just a couple of really pretty airplanes flown by your typical Sierra Hotel Marine aviators. It's just another day at the office...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Just Exactly What Is That, Anyway?

Life isn't fair, ya'll, and to illustrate that point I'd like to offer up a picture of an airplane for your consideration. It's relatively obscure, as you're about to discover, and I'll bet one of the major kit manufacturers produces a super-detailed model of it in each and every one of the popular scales long before we ever see a decent FJ-Anything kit! (Whine, whine, whine...)

It's pretty, it's obscure, and it's just screaming for a kit from one of the Czech short-run companies (but not until after we get a decent FJ-3 or -4!). So, what is it, you might rightfully ask yourself. Check out the name on the hangar; it's a Great Big Clue as to the identity of this rare bird. Give up? OK then, allow us to introduce you to the Fairchild JK-1. In its most basic form it's a Fairchild 45, but the Navy bought one for VIP transport in 1936, then added two more to the collection during 1942 via acquisition of a couple of civilian-owned aircraft. It could carry up to 5 passengers not very far and not very fast, but it was pretty in that late-30s sort of way. It was evidently pretty versatile too; check out the tires and you'll discover that this example's apparently been off-roading! Those were the days...   Friddell Collection

Some Data on the Deuce, and Some Pictures Too!

In today's installment of our ongoing Convair F-102 Delta Dagger saga, we're going to get serious (out of character, I know, but sometimes we have to do it) and look at some data and drawings. First up are a couple of pages from the unclassified basic reference on the "Deuce", the Standard Aircraft Characteristics:

OK, it's crooked. I know it's crooked, and you know it's crooked too; that's the down-side of using photocopies of things given to you by People in a Hurry. We're running this view because you can just make out the launch tubes for the 2.75-in FFARs in the deployed weapons bay doors, and because it shows an old short-tail as the cover illustration.  Nice...  US Air Force

Still crooked, but it provides specified dimensions, fuel and oil tank placement, and a useful if sparsely detailed inboard profile. Bet you didn't think the engine sat that far aft, did you?  US Air Force
There's all sorts of useful stuff on this page, and it ought to give you a pretty good idea of where all those aviation writers get their basic information for their articles! Some folks have made a career out of regurgitating this sort of thing!  US Air Force
This page is kind of neat because it shows the sort of performer the F-102 actually was (and this time the copy's almost straight!). It's rare that a production aircraft actually meets its performance specs, much less exceeds them, making this a telling document. The "Deuce" was a hot rod in its day but its performance was quickly overtaken by other fighters and its direct replacement, the F-106A, could give it religion. In spite of that , the F-102 could do the job.  US Air Force

Finally, here's an idea of a typical mission profile. Those of you who enjoy computerized flight simulator air-to-air combat might be impressed by the lack of endurance evident here. You go up, you squirt the missiles at the Bad Guy, and you come back down. There wasn't much room for gas in the F-102.  US Air Force

Spiffy Drawings Department, Parts 1 and 2: If you read this part of the blog back when I first published it you may be a little confused right now, because this paragraph wasn't in it. What was there was a note that I'd found the following drawings, didn't know where I'd gotten them, and wanted somebody to please ID them for me. Marty Isham came through like the trooper he's always been, reminding me that he'd sent them on to me with a package of F-102 stuff Way Back When, and that Mike Druzilowski had penned the drawings. You might want to spend a little time here, because Mike defined some things nobody else has caught, making these the drawings to have if you're a "Deuce" kind of guy. Thanks to Mike for the drawings, and to Marty for keeping me honest!

Here's a really useful general arrangement drawing of the F-102A fitted with the Case 10 wing. Check out the varying details and the approximate date they were added to the airframe; that sort of thing could have significant bearing on the overall accuracy of your model. A great many of the "Deuce's" mods are catered to between the two Monogram/ProModeler kits, the biggest one being the wing, but some details will still require scratch-building. If you're building in 1/72nd scale, you're stuck with the Case 10 wing unless your modeling skills are of a superior nature. You might want to be aware of that so you can match your paint and markings accordingly.  Mike Druzilowski Drawing
This side-view gives us a great explanation of the details of an F-102A with the Case 20 Wing. (If that whole Case thing confuses you, just remember that the Case 10 wing is upturned at the tip, while the Case 20 wing looks very much like an F-106 wing with fences instead of a slat. You'll need to know the difference if you plan to model the F-102!  Mike Druzilowski Drawing

Now that you've got some more information on the "Deuce", how about a couple of photographs for inspiration?9
56-1150, an F-102A-65-CO, launches out of Udorn during 1969. She was from the 590th FIS at the time, and we can honestly say that the SEA camouflage doesn't do much for her lines. Don Jay
The ANG flew "Deuces" for a number of years. 56-1111 was an F-102A-60-CO assigned to South Carolina's 157th FIS. Contrast the dull paint of her SEA warpaint against the ADC Grey worn by 56-1193 behind her. Both aircraft ended up as QF-102A drones.  Jim Sullivan

56-1223 looks like any other Delta Dagger, but that 3-digit number on the nose, coupled with conspicuity markings, identifies her as a QF-102A. It was a sad end for a great interceptor.  Rick Morgan

Here's how that QF scheme looks in color. 56-1401 was built as an F-102A-75-CO and was a little battered when this photo was taken, but it really didn't matter given the mission.  Rick Morgan

Boy do I like this photo! Aside from showing a 157th FIS F-102A in the process of manning up, it provides us with excellent detail of the IR ball, and a great view of the FFAR tubes in the weapons bay doors too. That deployed  (and inert)  Falcon hanging off the centerline ain't bad either...  Jim Sullivan

Lord knows why, but I've got a fondness for the TF-102A. Must be that goofy-looking nose; I don't know. Anyway, Don Jay was passing through Hickam during 1969 or so and shot this ramp of the 199th FIS/Hawaii ANG. Check out the red-painted wing fences, a touch often found on the F-102. Pretty! Don Jay

And finally, here's yet another crooked document you might find useful; it's the SEA camouflage instructions for the F-102A as defined in the April 1967 edition of TO 1-1-4. This time it wasn't a bad photocopy that got us, but those Great Big Honking Staples the USAF assembled the thing with. And yes; I'm too lazy to de-staple it and make a proper copy, so you'll have to take what you can get. Look on it as a personal failing, I suppose, but the drawings might help you with that SEA "Deuce" model some day!

A Class Act

That phrase would adequately describe the Badger Airbrush Company, to say the least. There are a whole lot of other brands out there, and you'll hear a lot, both pro and con, about everybody's favorite brand. Me, I'm an Old Guy, and I like the stuff I've used most of my life. For the past 20 years or so the airbrush part of That Stuff has been made by Badger. I like the product.
That said, I'm not a technician and have, over the years, managed in consequence to accumulate a small pile of various airbrushes in need of a little TLC. A pair of Badgers and an Omni (formerly Thayer and Chandler, if you're old enough to remember them) were until recently the primary residents of that pile, and it was time to get them fixed, so A Plan was made and last January (the first week in January, to be exact) the first of the three, my much-loved Badger 150M, got itself boxed and delivered into the tender mercies of the USPS who, in the finest of USPS traditions, promptly turned around and lost the thing!

Jenny, my Far Better and Sometimes More Patient Half, is a girl who never gives up, and she set out to find my missing airbrush after it had been out for some three weeks with no acknowledgement of receipt from Badger. It took an honest 3-1/2 months for the thing to turn up, but turn up it did, somewhere in the wilds of Illinois. (That's where Badger is located, coincidentally, but the place it went to wasn't the place we sent it to. Go figure!) Badger finally got it a week and a half ago, turned it around in 3 days, and sent it back to me. And they didn't charge anything for the repair, either.

I tried it out for the first time yesterday, and can honestly say that it functions even better than it did when it was new. Am I impressed? You bet! And I'm getting a straight-up 150 ready to go out next, but I think I'll probably send this one up in a purple and white airplane instead of using the mail...

So why am I telling you this? Simple: Badger makes an airbrush that's as good as any and better than most, at least in my world, and they stand behind their product in a manner we just don't see in this modern age. They're a Class Act, and we thought you ought to know.

Happy Snaps

Today's entry is another photo from Don Jay's late-60s tour in sunny Thailand:

Hi Phil. Here's an F-105D of the 355TFW in ‘70. hanging on the wing of its pre-strike tanker-either Cherry or Peach track-in Thailand. By the loadout, he is heading for a ‘soft’ tgt in either Laos or MR 1 in SVN. Enjoy. dj (And I think those just might be red stars under the windscreen... pf)

Thanks as always, Don. And, lest we forget, Replica is continually looking for material, both for our "Happy Snaps" section and for articles. If you've got anything you'd like to share, please scan and forward to . You won't get rich or famous from doing it, but a lot of people will enjoy seeing your contribution.

The Relief Tube

We've got no corrections this week, not a single one, but we did receive a couple of really nice messages from our readership. One of them was an inquiry about a photograph, which I've passed on to the contributor---seems that a couple of our folks may have been in the same place at the same time. That one we don't need to share.

Another of the messages is from a reader who remembers us from those halcyon days of long ago, and who has also sent along photos of a model for us to enjoy. We get pictures of models from time to time but rarely publish them, primarily because of space. It's been a while since we've completed or published anything in that regard, so this is as good a time as any to show off someone else's work. The kit is a subject near and dear to our (read "my" here) heart; Hasegawa's excellent 1/48th Scale "Pete". We've done this sort of thing once before via an included link, but this time we're showing the photos. If you like the idea let us know and maybe we'll do it more often.

Phil, as a long time admirer of your late, lamented Replica in Scale I was PLEASED to find out you had a blog where I am happy to see you are carrying on the work of the magazine. I have just spent a happy week of spare tine reading all your blogs up to and including the most recent post. Great stuff mitt many fine memories, loved the post on Floquil with the letter from Mr. Solotar ( got that my self just can't bring myself to toss all those old, not so accurate color chips. Mix 1 oz. of Floquil Reefer White and 4 drops of Reefer Gray--indeed!). Really enjoyed your Monogram recollections, I wish they would have stayed around and fought it out with the Japanese competition. Japan has made millions of yen redoing the old Monogram kits. I still think their swept wing F-84 was the bees knees.....

Anyhoo between you and, Roy Sutherland and Tommy Thomson's blogs there is hardly any need to go anywhere else. I liked your Pete it is a nice kit enclosed are some pics of mine that I finished last year.

Thanks for all the good reading and yes as I have said before NO ONE gets to borrow my Replica in Scale mags! Best regards, Pat Donahue
Many thanks, Pat. It's always great to hear from the folks who remember us from The Old Days!

I'm not so sure about the fish, but I like the model. Then again those fish do provide a certain degree of whimsy; Whimsy is right up our alley, I think!
Anyway, all we've got left is one lonely little minute, as The Bear used to say. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.