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 replicainscale@yahoo.com . 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment