Saturday, June 25, 2011

They Weren't Always Mustangs, an Aussie 'Vark, A Few More 102s, The Earliest Phantom, Our 104th Issue, and a Belated Tribute

The Jug in Germany

It all started out innocently enough. We ran a few photos on post-War PACAF P-51Ds a while back, then corrected one of the pieces because of a problem with a credit line, after which the dam broke, in a manner of speaking, and we started seeing all sorts of post-1945 P-51/F-51 photos. You'll be seeing some more of those soon enough, but this time around we'd like to do something a little bit out of the ordinary and show you some post-War P-47 Thunderbolts instead.

Most people think of the P-51D when they think of the occupation air forces in Germany following the end of the Second World War, but there was a strong P-47 presence there too. In this case those "Jugs" are all from the 86th FG during the late 1940s, and are courtesy of Dave Menard. Enjoy!

The 86th FG was comprised of three squadrons of P-47/F-47Ds (the 525th, 526th, and 527th), all of which were involved in occupation duty in Germany after the war. This shot is softer than we'd prefer but provides a fascinating study of 44-89817 in flight. She's from the 525th FS (originally the 525th FBS, and the 525th BS before that; the 86th FG was a put-together outfit specifically tailored for the occupation) and was probably based out of Landstuhl AB when this photo was taken. Note the cheat line under the anti-glare panel and the drop tank beneath the fuselage. The cowling is most likely red.  Merle Olmstead via Menard

It seems as though the 86th preferred the centerline position for their gas bags; 44-90046 is carrying one on that station too. NA1 is the commanding officer's aircraft, and has a unique side number of its own; Dave says it's a classic Staff Weenie sort of thing, to which we concur wholeheartedly!  Merle Olmstead via Menard

And here's 44-33747, aka ND19, sitting on the ground. Squadron identifiers for the 86th were: 525th, NB, 526th, NC, and 527th, ND. That assignment of NA to the staff made a little bit of a mess for those who might not be aware of it! And there's that gas bag on the centerline again!  Merle Olmstead via Menard

Here's another aircraft from the 527th taxiing in at Rhein Main, date unknown. The "Jug" didn't hang around very long after the war, so seeing one with USAF under the wings and the red-barred national insignia is a little unusual. Once again we're looking at a white rudder and red cowl; note that the vertical stab carries a partial serial number only. That's probably the crew chief in the cockpit, judging from the fact that the pitot tube cover is still in place---that airplane ain't goin' flyin' in that condition, folks! Merle Olmstead via Menard

Here's a somewhat dramatic view of 44-89869, also from the 527th. The aircraft is undergoing an engine run but isn't ready for flight; also with the ground cover in place on the pitot tube. 869 would make a really pretty model, and one that would be just that little bit out of the ordinary.  Merle Olmstead via Menard

And here's a full side view of 869. Note how the cowl flaps are painted, and the mis-matched bar on the fuselage insignia. She's carrying a practice bomb, and her drop tank appears to be painted rather than natural aluminum. These 86th FG Thunderbolts just get better and better... Merle Olmstead via Menard

How about a yellow cowling and rudder? The color of those cowl flaps is unknown at this time, but it's a pretty airplane all the same. If we were to use conventional wisdom those cowl colors would have been red for the 525th, blue for the 526th, and yellow for the 527th, but none of these aircraft follow that logic. The notes both on and accompanying the photographs are very specific regarding both color and squadron assignments, so we're a little puzzled about that color thing. Then again, that's not so unusual around here...  Merle Olmstead via Menard

All good things eventually come to an end. This pair of Thunderbolts were assigned to the 86th when active with the Air Force, but were part of the MDAP program when this shot was taken. They're carrying as much extra gas as you can hang off a P-47 and are on their delivery flight to an unspecified country. This is the part where we'd say something along the lines of "it's a sad end for a magnificent airplane", but this isn't the end. Some of those post-War F-47s soldiered on well into the 1950s in Latin America, but that's a story for another day.  Menard Collection

Kangaroo? What Kangaroo?

That's a viable question in South Texas, at least as far as military aircraft are concerned, because very few representatives of the RAAF ever get down this way anymore. It wasn't always so, however; 6 Sqdn RAAF deployed to Bergstrom AFB outside of Austin at least twice that we know of, in 1988 and 1990; both times the aircraft were participating in the RAM photo recon meets. Here's a shot or two from those bygone days (literally, because Bergstrom has long-since been closed and is now Austin's municipal airport) to remind us of What Was. The photos were taken on 19 August, 1990.

A8-134 was an F-111C of the Royal Australian Air Force and was a participant in RAM 90; note the ventral recon pod just aft of her nose gear. 6 Sqdn's markings were subdued but attractive, working well with the F-111's lines. Talk about your pretty airplane!  Friddell

There were two F-111Cs representing Australia at RAM 90. This photo depicts A8-146 undergoing maintenance in the late morning. Those Aussies obviously knew a thing or two about Summer Heat on the Ramp, and came dressed for the occasion. Their airplanes were immaculate.  Friddell

146 became a very popular airplane shortly after we began photographing her---we lucked into a pre-mission maintenance cycle and were able to take several shots with her being tended to by her ground crew. Sharp-eyed readers will note that most of those guys are wearing their ears; the airplane wasn't powered up but her APU was running. That ramp was somewhat loud... Friddell

Very Nearly the Last of the "Deuce" (but not quite)

It's not like we're running out of F-102 photos, because we're a very long way from doing that. We are, however, ready to move on to a different airplane, so we're going to start winding down our coverage of the "Deuce", running just a few shots today and then another installment or two to finish our coverage up for a bit.

Before we get to those photos, though, we need to correct a significant mistake. Last issue, or maybe the one before, we (I) stated that the presence of an IR ball on the F-102 meant the airplane wearing it was Genie-capable. That was it mistake, and it was ours and ours alone. What could we have been thinking? Why did we do that? The short answer is something along the lines of "Schmit, we don't know---we just did it!) Many thanks to Dave Menard, Doug Barbier, and Marty Isham for setting us straight on that one, and apologies to our readers for leading them down The Primrose Path of Misinformation! We'll try not to do that anymore!

Now that we've got that off our chests, how about a few more F-102s?

The F-102 went to war fairly early in Southeast Asia, being deployed for air base defense against North Vietnamese air strikes that never materialised very early in the conflict. 56-1394 was one of those early birds, probably from the 509th FIS, and is shown taxiing at DaNang during 1966. There's that IR ball again, but you ought to know it's associated with the AIM-26A  Falcon, not the Genie! Fortunately, neither missile was employed in anger during the war.  D. Smith

If you're going to station your F-102s in Vietnam, Republic of, you've got to get them there somehow. This photo, while of less than optimal quality, shows a lineup of "Deuces" from the 82nd FIS on the ground at Wake Island while en route to Naha AB in Okinawa in February of 1966. Tailcodes would be assigned shortly after their arrival there.  Isham Collection

This evocative shot was taken in January of 1968, long after the 82nd's aircraft received their tailcodes. This is a fairly late example of the type; 57-0882 was an F-102A-95-CO and was most likely photographed on a TDY to SEA. Note the semi-gloss finish of the paintwork, entirely befitting the 102's role as an interceptor.  Miller Collection via Isham

Here's 56-1491, an F-102A-80-CO, in flight over Okinawa in 1970. Those "Deuces" were getting tired by then but were kept in immaculate condition. Smith via Isham

The Guard had been a long-time operator of the F-102A, and it was only logical that they would adopt the SEA scheme for their aircraft. A number of units converted to the camouflage scheme defined in 1-1-4, including this example from the Montana ANG's 120th FIG, photographed in May of 1972. There appears to be some sort of emblem or art on her left intake but we can't quite make it out---reader comments are invited (  Friddell Collection

In The Beginning There Was the Phantom

Way back there, before McDonnell designed and built the immortal F4H Phantom, they designed and built the not-quite-immortal-but-we-had-to-start-someplace FH-1 Phantom! The FH-1 was McDonnell's first attempt at a jet fighter and, although it suffered all the usual failings of American first-generation jet fighters, it was a beginning. The airplane was well-liked but was quickly overtaken, both in technology and performance, by the designs of other companies---it was very much a bridge aircraft between the piston-engined fighters of the mid-1940s and the jet fighters that came later. The Banshee, Demon, and Phantom II were yet to be designed and built when these photos were taken.

If you build 'em you've got to test 'em! 111755 sits on the ramp at Pax River in this 1948 portrait. That lump aft of the nose gear doors is a auxilliary fuel tank, an addition sorely needed by the FH-1 to extend its extremely limited range. The aircraft is resplendent in its Glossy Sea Blue paint job, but that aux tank appears to have a dead flat finish---a flat Sea Blue or maybe some dark primer color. Our files don't have anything in color that might shed a light on the color of that tank. If any of our readers can clarify it please drop us a line at .  Oh, and that "AT" on the nose stands for Armament Test, in case you were wondering.  Peter Bowers via Jim Sullivan Collection

VMF-122 was one of a handful of units that operated the Phantom, and was the only Marine unit to fly the type operationally. They received their airplanes in late 1947 and flew them until late 1949 when they turned them over to the Reserves. 111783 was photographed during early 1948 and shows the earliest presentation of tailcode used by the squadron, an underlined BC. Prospective modelers might want to note that the landing gear and wheels are painted silver on almost all of the FH-1s. Paul J. McDaniel via Jim Sullivan Collection

By 1949 VMF-122 had transitioned to their LC tailcode and were occasionally appearing at airshows as "The Flying Leathernecks" flight demonstration team. The team was organized by Marion Carl, famed Marine ace and 122's first CO, and flew demonstrations for approximately two years. We're guessing some of those shows were pretty hairy given the type's lack of thrust in certain flight regimes! Paul J. McDaniel via Jim Sullivan Collection

Here's 111760 as seen from her starboard side. All markings other than the national insignia are in white, and this view provides an excellent depiction of the anti-skid material on the wing root and those silver wheels. Sharp-eyed readers might also note that the flaps are dropped on this aircraft, one of the few times we've seen that on an operational Navy bird that's ready for flight. Paul J. McDaniel via Jim Sullivan Collection

Guess What Today Is?

Give up? That's probably a Good Idea, given how obtuse we sometimes get around here but, as a hint, we're not celebrating the 135th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (even though today is The Day if you happen to be reading this on the 25th of June) for whatever that might be worth. Nope; today is our 104th issue, which takes us to a suggestion from reader and contributor Don Jay that we run some F-104 shots. It's been a busy week and we haven't had the time to break out the scanner and copy any of the Starfighter photos from our collection, so we're going to let Don do the honors for us!

Let's start off with an F-104A, 56-0749. She was built as an F-104A-10-LO and was redesignated as a JF-104A when bailed to the NASA as a research platform. She was ultimately lost due to an asymetric flap deployment on 20 December, 1962, but is seen here while in her prime. The tips of the wings have been painted in a conspcuity color, and we can't tell if the thingy in front of the word "FORCE" on the nose is a blotch on the photo or part of a marking, although we suspect the former.  Don Jay Collection

Lockheed Palmdale was a hummin' sort of place when this shot was taken in the late 1950s. The aircraft depicted were a mixed bag of F-104As and Bs, and those of you interested in television and movie aircraft may notice that 56-0817 was the "Zipper" used in the old "I Dream of Genie" television show.  Everybody gets their fifteen minutes of fame...  Jay Collection

The Starfighter went to war twice in SouthEast Asia; this photo is from the 1965 deployment at DaNang. 56-0883 is The Famous One of the Bunch; built as an F-104C-5-LO, she was assigned to the 436th TFS/479th TFW when shot down by an AAM fired by a Chinese MiG-19 near Hainan Island on 20 September 1965. The pilot survived to become a POW, and was released from captivity in 1973.  USAF via Jay Collection

The 58th TFTW operated out of Luke AFB for a number of years training Federal Luftwaffe fighter pilots in F-104 operations. This three-ship is from that Wing and is seen in flight over Arizona on a training hop. A couple of their airplanes got modest color treatments during the 1976 BiCentennial, but most of the 58th's birds were in plain old natural metal for their entire careers.  Jay Collection

The F-104 was powered by the J-79 in all of its production variations, which means it was LOUD and, in most of its versions, a smoker to boot. It also managed to produce an etherial howling noise at low airspeeds thanks to its BLC---you always knew when a Starfighter was in the pattern. Don tells us that Gordon Macade (the photographer who took this outstanding shot) scared his PAO escort to death while taking this image. We think it was well worth the effort!  Gordon Macade via Jay Collection

In addition to the F-104G, Italy produced its very own variant of the "Zipper", the F-104S. Here's a fine example of the type escorting a Soviet Tu-16 Badger after an intercept over the Med. Quite a few airplanes could out-turn the F-104, but it was a rare fighter that could out-climb one. The nickname "Zipper" was born in USAF tactical manuals of the late 1950s; there was a good reason for that name...  Jay Collection

On a Day in 1942

We rarely run photographs that have seen publication in other journals, much less books, but frequent contributor Jim Sullivan sent this one to us a while back and we just had to do it. Considering the month, it's a fitting thing to do...

Every once in a while you'll find a unit that can be said to define the concept of courage. One such unit must surely be the Navy's Fighting Six, a fighter squadron assigned to Enterprise's Air Group Six during parts of 1941 and 1942. This classic photograph was taken on 12 May, 1942, and shows several F4F-3s of VF-6 preparing to launch; less than a month later the squadron would play a role in the defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. Most of those pilots, and the courageous Japanese aviators they flew against, are gone now, and the few that remain on either side are getting fewer with every passing year. Every once in a while we'll run a photograph and say something along the lines of "if you're an American you owe those guys". Today's one of those days. We owe those guys.  Richard Hill via Jim Sullivan

Happy Snaps

There's a fair amount of what might be termed "Navy stuff" in this week's edition, so our Happy Snap entry for the day is another "Electric Jet" shot from Doug Barbier:

Low over the thumb headed north in the Peck MOA. We knew we were losing the airplanes, so I was taking as many photo's as I could before the opportunity left forever. The other pilot knew we were going for photo's and was a Michigan Technological University grad... he begged the crew chief to let him put the MTU sticker on the tail for the flight. You can see he's staring straight into the sun trying to hold position for me. The crew chief made him take the sticker off the second he got out of the cockpit after we landed, but they used the photo in the NMU ROTC recruiting office for a long time. This was shot in Apr of 94 - just before we lost the jets & I retired.  Doug Barbier

The Relief Tube

Here we are again, another week gone by and, inevitably, another batch of additions and corrections. And, unlike a lot of other folks, we actually encourage that sort of thing so if you've got something to say about anything we've run (or maybe would like to contribute something of your own!) feel free to drop us a line at .

That said, let's get started by Righting a Wrong.

A long while back, and no; we're not going to go looking to find out just how long ago it was, we ran some of photos of a couple of really nifty T-33As, one of which was carrying kill markings, that had been photographed on the ramp somewhere in Alaska during the 1970s. Publication of those pictures coincided with a major glitch in our e-mail (user-induced, but let's not tell anybody about that!) that resulted in loss of the contributor's name. The mystery was solved last week when the photographer, Chris Williamson, sent the photos again along with an explanation. (Those photos are also up on HyperScale today for those of you who follow the modeling boards; that's in case you aren't a regular here and the pictures look familiar---they are!) Never ones to turn down a chance to Make Good, we're publishing those photos again, along with Chris' explanation and an apology to him for losing those captions in the first place! These images were all taken by Chris.

Hello Phil. The T-33's were not only used as hacks so everyone could get their flying time in, but also used to test ADC's radar & F-4E's scrambling to find out what was out there. The Phantom pilots hated the T-33 because it would be flying low and slow near the ground and the only way you could really see it was with your eyeballs. (Remember that the F-15 was just coming on line with its look-down, shoot-down radar capability.) Up pops the T-33, a few tac-a-tac-a-tac-a (machine gun) sounds over the radio, and 1 "dead" F-4 crew. Don't know why the 6th "kill" isn't painted in full like the others...maybe it was a probable kill?

As to the natural metal T-33, the pilots who played the bad guys hated flying this aircraft because the sun would glint off the metal no matter how low/slow they went. I was told the crew chief of this bird wanted to bring back the look of the 1950s aircraft: natural metal. He got permission to do this and yes, he did polish the skin. This was the only T-33 like this while I was there. Chris

Many thanks for your perserverence with those photos, Chris!

We've been running quite a few images of post-War P-51s lately, and it was inevitable that we'd make a mistake or two along the way. Dave Menard has a comment about the identification of one of the units we depicted an issue or two ago, and offers this comment:

Phil, that WN on the sides of those Mustangs was for WASHINGTON NG, not Wisconsin! That one four ship image has their 116th FS Ace of Spades unit insignia showing. Cheers, Dave

And here are a couple of photos from Dave's collection to prove the point. Note that Washington used "WN NG" as an identifier, while Wisconsin used WIS NG. Oops...  Menard Collection

While we're on the subject of P-51Ds, you might recall that we've discussed the fact that the post-War Mustangs often had their tailwheels locked down. Frequent contributor Doug Barbier has some thoughts on that:  Phil, The Korean era seems to be where the original, retractable tail wheel became a fixed extension. Anyhow, that's what I use when trying to judge the date of a photo and it's pretty reliable. My guess is that all that mud really gummed up the mechanisms in Korea and they went to fixed tail wheels as a maintenance aid. Virtually all of the post-Korean Mustang photo's I've seen have that fixed tail wheel. That's my story and I"m sticking to it - at least until someone who can tell us what the "real story" was shows up. Doug  Makes sense to me! Thanks, Doug.

Some of those F-102 shots we've been running of late have been a little tough to ID, and we've had to caption a few of them less unit identification. ADC authority Marty Isham comes to our rescue with information on one of them, and some thoughts on that "F-102D" shot we ran:

Hey Ole' Bud...FC-248 was one of the 317th's original allotment of 102s to AAC on Sep 24th,1957 from McChord.Went to Depot in Aug 58 for Iran and was reassigned I think to USAFE, then ANG 176th FIS, Wisc ANG, to PQM 751, dest at Holloman on 17 Mar 80. And an update before we got this one published---that's a First of sorts, and much appreciated!  Phil, disregard previous info after iran/usafe. FC-249 went to ANG, 194th FIS, Cal ANG. to Sperry, PQM 102B, 811 on 17 Dec 80. I don't have dest date on 249. Sorry for the mixup on tail numbers! Marty

Concerning the F-102D designation...I was told by an AF retired LtCol working for Sperry that for a very short time it was a unofficial early Sperry designation. D for drone of course. To me an F-102D moniker was better than a QF/PQM one (the KISS principle). Cheers...Marty   Thanks as always, Marty! Keep on keeping us honest!

We also ran a shot of a semi-Plain Jane "Deuce' with a bat's head emblem on the vertical stab, and Grant Matuoka offered this comment regarding it: Hi, Phil. The F-102A was with the 59th FIs out of Goose Bay, but the photo looks like it was taken somewhere in the Lower 48. Link to Bathead site with another photo of one of their planes with a better view of the tail badge: . Also in that site, the 44th F-47N is very rare. Keep up the good work. Best wishes, Grant

And finally, here's a really neat way to end the day. We receive quite a bit of photography from contributor Mark Nankivil (and are getting ready to run a bunch of it in the very near future, so be prepared!), but today's batch included something we consider to be Special. By way of explanation, this past week has been Marine Week in St Louis and, being a resident of that fine community, Mark was there, photographing a whole bunch of aircraft (and bagging a hop in an MV-22B Osprey for good measure!), and he took an assistant with him in the form of his son, Jack. Having done much the same thing ourselves (my very own daughter and son have both put in camera time on military ramps) we know just how cool that can be. Here then, for our parting shot of the day, is Jack Nankivil doing what the Nankivil Family does best!

Just when we thought that aviation photography was a dying art, Mark sent us this! I don't know about you folks, but I'm thinking the future is in good hands!  Mark Nankivil

That's about all for today, ya'll. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Few More Deuces, Strange Birds at Agana, Michigan Mustangs and More, Is That An Avenger?, Thoughts On Eduard's Wurger, and That Little Northrop Jet

Almost the Final Batch of "Deuces"

This is the part where you get to look knowingly at the aviation friend of your choice and say something profound like "I bet he forgot all about the rest of those F-102s!" which, to be honest with you, I almost did. Still, we've got quite a few images of the airplane that we can share with you so a few more won't hurt anything, right? Right!

Every once in a while we come up with a photograph that can best be described as Mystery Meat. This is one such photo. 56-1249 was built as an F-102A-60-CO, and the picture appears to have been taken in Alaska, but that's all we know about the airplane. Any of our readers who possess any further information regarding the unit, time frame, etc, are encouraged to drop us a line at and help clear this one up.  Seawright via Friddell

Every once in a while you'll hear us talk about a fellow named Maddog, also known as John Kerr. He's got a reputation for coming up with interesting and unusual photography, but this one may be even more interesting and unusual than any of us ever thought. 56-1492 was just your average F-102A-80-CO until July 7th, 1965, when it was accidentally shot down by an F-106A over the Gulf of Mexico near Tyndall AFB; the pilot ejected and was rescued unharmed. 1492 is seen here in happier days, a little bit shopworn but carrying a couple of kills on her nose to make up for it. She's interesting in another way too; she's carrying an IR ball in front of her windscreen, a fitment only carried by F-102s configured to launch the AIR-2 Genie weapons system. Her fuselage is liberally spattered with blotches of Mil-P-8585Y Zinc Chromate primer. Leave it to Maddog...  Kerr Collection 

The ANG used the "Deuce" for quite a few years, and most of us are familiar with the aircraft in that guise. We're also used to seeing the type in the ubiquitous Aircraft Grey, but a small number of airplanes ended up painted in overall silver too; although most folks think of the 57th FIS in Keflavik when you mention that scheme, the 190th FIS/124th FIG of the Idaho ANG operated a few silver birds as well. 55-3427 was one of them. She was built as an F-102A-50-CO and was also a Genie-capable bird. She finished out her days as a PQM-102A.  Bob Hanes via Lee Bracken 

Way back there in the mid-1980s, your never-humble editor was in the habit of buying slides from Ron Picciani up in Pennsylvania. Ron had an absolutely amazing collection, and a considerable portion of it was available for sale as 35mm duplicates. This shot came from Ron's collection and is run here with a request: If any of you know how to get in touch with Ron, would you please pass on the address to him and ask him to get in touch with us? Meanwhile, we can honestly say that we know next to nothing about 56-1434 except that she was built as a -80-CO, was subsequently converted to PQM-102A status and was essentially destroyed in a manned flight in January of 1976. Can any of our readers fill in the blanks?  Picciani Collection

Since our modest publication is resident in Texas, it seems appropo to end today's "Deuce" installment with an air-to-air of some F-102s from the state. Only two Texas ANG units flew the F-102; the 111th FIS/147th FIG out of Ellington, and the 182nd FIS/149th FIG out of Kelly. This three-ship is from the latter, and is seen here formating over the base during the mid-60s. The 182nd's F-102s were relatively plain, carrying just a fin flash and squadron emblem on the tail, but the the 149th was a hot group during the era. Because of their esprit it was a grave disappointment to them when they had to trade in their "Deuces", and their interceptor mission, for F-84F Thunderstreaks later in the decade. All things must pass...  Kerr Collection

What Are Those Guys Doing Here?

When last we met we showed you a couple of interesting F-86 photos from the collection of Chris Williamson. He sent along a few other things as well, including the images that you see before you now. We don't know much about them except that they were taken at Agana, Guam, during the mid or late-1950s, but they're fascinating photographs and well worth looking at.

We don't know a whole lot about this PBY-6A except that it was used by the Coast Guard for SAR work out of Guam during the 50s. She's painted silver with the normal yellow-trimmed-black rescue markings, but once you get past that we're fresh out of information. The Catalina was a neat old bird, though, and this photo definitely takes us back to a different time and place.  Williamson Collection

Consolidated's PB4Y-2 was an extremely aggressive-looking patrol bomber when festooned with turrets and guns, but that appearance got a little goofy when the turrets were removed and replaced by more prosaic transparencies better suited to the type's Coast Guard mission as a search and rescue aircraft post-War. 6302 is showing considerable oil-canning on her skin (a characteristic of all Liberator variants including the Privateers) and generally looks tired and worn out, but is still filling a vital function. Williamson Collection

Sometimes you see a photograph and wish there were others go with it---this is one of those times! The Navy operated an up-engined hot-rod version of the classic C-47 Skytrain known as the R4D-8 (in pre-McNamara days) or, after 1962,  as the C-117D. This particular aircraft would have been an R4D-8 when photographed during the mid-50s and shows off the revised nacelles, squared-off wingtips, and modified vertical tail of the later variants. An earlier C-47 variant sits in the far right background for comparison.  Williamson Collection

Remember that part where we said the later R4D variants didn't look much like C-47s? Here's a fine shot of an RAAF Dakota landing at Agana that proves the point. Check out the tail group, the nacelles, and the shape of the wingtips; the "Super Gooney" was truly a bird of a different feather!  Williamson Collection

Postwar Michigan Mustangs

Those photos of South Dakota P-51s that we ran last time around got regular contributor Doug Barbier to thinking, and he pulled a couple of photos of  ANG Mustangs for us to look at today. Let's let Doug tell you about it:  Phil - re your comments on the early NG a/c without the stars. Until a unit received Federal recognition, they were not authorized to carry the USAF Star and Bar insignia. It took anywhere from a couple of months up to a few years for a unit to receive Federal recognition. Off the top of my head, it took the 171st FS a little over 2 years to gain it. In the mean time, they simply flew P-51s with no markings except for MICH NG. Many units left that area empty - some, like the photo you ran, put local insignia there.

Here are 2 scans showing NG P-51's from units that have not received Federal recognition yet. One is a 171st Fighter Squadron P-51D from Michigan sitting in the snow - either the winter of 1946 or 1947. Spinner is red / yellow/ red and is probably left over from the previous MINN NG unit we picked it up from. That photo via Jim Koglin. The in-flight shot shows just how variable the markings could be. The lead a/c has a buzz number, star & bar and NG stenciled on the tail - which implies it's from a unit that has already received Federal rec. Two is utterly plain - nothing except the serial number. The Wisconsin & Michigan birds are both from units that haven't received Federal rec yet.  It was a time of great changes....

Here's the snowbird that Doug was discussing. 44-73227 looks distinctly odd without some sort of insignia between MICH and NG, but that's how it was. As with that South Dakota bird we discussed last time around, this aircraft has a retractable tailwheel with associated doors.  Please see Doug's comments above for notes on the colors and markings of this one.  J. Koglin via Barbier

And here's the formation shot Doug was talking about.The lead aircraft is carrying its AAF buzz number ("PF" until the Army Air Forces became the Air Force in 1947, at which point the P-51 became the F-51 and the buzz number prefix for the P-51 changed to "FF"), while the others are all carrying some variation of Guard livery. That's quite a variety of markings in one place; all authorized but unusual to see in the same place at the same time. And, not to beat that whole Tailwheel Thing to death, all have retractable tailwheels.  Barbier Collection

An Addendum to Those Michigan Mustangs, and a Little More For Good Measure

When last we met we mentioned a couple of improperly-credited P-51 shots, and properly accredited them to Martin Kyburz and his web site Swiss Mustangs. Since then, Martin and I have had several discussions regarding both those airplanes and others, and he kindly offered to help us with details of the history regarding those ANG P-51 shots. We aren't always as bright as we could be but we weren't born yesterday either so we accepted his kindness without thinking twice about it, with the results that you see below. And no; your eyes aren't playing tricks on you---most of those P-51s are from units other than the 171st---they're included here because they further illustrate the markings variations found on ANG P-51s during this time period. It's a fascinating subject that you probably haven't seen the last of.

Here's a combined formation of ANG P-51s from both Wisconsin and Michigan in flight. The service record of each aircraft is detailed by Martin below:

44-63644: sent to the 15th AAF (MTO), departed US on 12th March 1945, returned to the US on 1st August 1945; assigned on 27th April 1947 to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG; soon thereafter transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; damaged in a landing accident on 24th June 1947 at Holman Field, MN, with 2/Lt. Robert R. Biglow (O-769686) - (this pilot had served with the 354th FG 356th FS 9th AAF [ETO]); transferred back to USAF on 9th May 1951, assigned to the 172nd FIS 4708th Defense Wing at Selfridge AFB, MI; lost in accident on 13th July 1952 when hit by friendly fire during a training mission and the pilot Gordon C. Hawkos b/o near St. Clair Highway, Richmond, MI; the a/c eventually was w/o on 25th July 1952 at Selfridge AFB, MI.

44-63664: assigned to the 445th AAFBU at Hamilton Field, CA; damaged in an undisclosed accident on 7th December 1946 with Vito V. Marchi; transferred on 2nd April 1947 to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG; transferred to the 431st FIS at Selfridge Field, MI, in November 1952 (this unit transitioned to F-86F in May 1953; assigned on 23rd July 1953 to the 175th FS 132nd FG ND ANG; lost with 175th FS 133rd FW when stationed at Sioux City AFB, IA in a mid-air-collision and ensuing crash on 25th September 1954 approx. 1 mi from Harbor Field, Baltimore, MD; the pilot Ove D. Stanberg was killed.

44-73313: sent to 8th AAF (ETO), departed US on 13th April 1945, returned to the US on 17th July 1945; transferred on 11th February 1947 to the 174th FS 132nd FG IA ANG at Sioux City AAF, IA; damaged in a landing accident at Sioux City AAF, IA, on 22nd August 1947 with Harry L. McGraw; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG on 3rd June 1948; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 8th FBG 36th FBS; lost on first combat mission on 8th August 1950, reportedly due to engine failure; pilot not known.

44-73139: sent to 8th AAF (ETO), departed US on 7th April 1845, returned to the US on 18th August 1945; assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG on 31st March 1947; taken on charge on 22nd April 1947; transferred to the 172nd FS 127th FG MI ANG on 13th July 1948; reportedly transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG (to be proved), then breifly assigned to the 192nd FS 144th FG NV ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer); assigned to the 8th FBG 35th FIS on 8th August 1950; soon transferred to the 35th FIW 39th FIS and lost in action on 19th October 1950 - cause: vertigo, last seen flying through cloud cover over the target, aircraft flew into the ground near Sunchon; 1/Lt. Lamar Brindley Longshore (O-1908865), KIA; the a/c officially was w/o on 25th October 1950 which also could be the actual loss date; Brindley is a MIA case ad was DED on 31st December 1953.  Martin Kyburz Collection

A very similar formation, but this time consisting of Wisconsin ANG aircraft only. Those fuselage insignia are really choice, and the aircraft are bombed up. Since this was shot in the ZI we can only hope they're en route to the range! Here are Martin's details on the individual aircraft:

45-11534: assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG, sent to KWZ in on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 6131st WG 8th FBS and reportedly lost in action on 10th November 1950; 1/Lt. David G. Foss b/o due to mechanical and electrical problems and was rescued; interestingly this a/c also is reported as MIA on 13th November 1950 with the 8th FBG 35th FBS due to enemy action - my take is that this either is the s.o.c. date of above loss or the actual loss date - both date and unit needs further research.

45-11727: first entry is an accident at Amarillo AAF, TX, on 8th August 1945, while coming from Love Field, Dallas, TX (factory) with Harold B. Murray; first assignment was the 119th FS 192nd FG NJ ANG but the a/c soon was transferred to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 18th FBG 67th FBS; lost in action on 7th September 1950 - a/c caught fire, unsuccessful low-altitude bail-out, in Tsushima Straits 20 mi SE of Pusan, Korea; 1/Lt. Jack Arthur Lightner (O-2101906), KIA (on 47th mission).

45-11568: assigned to the 116th FS 142nd FG WA ANG; transferred to the 185th FS 118th FG OK ANG on 18th June 1947; transferred to the 148th FS 112th FG PA ANG on 6th February 1951; involved in an accident on 4th April 1951 at Dover AFB, DE (no further details); transferred to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG durin June 1951; reportedly damaged in an incident at Minneapolis, MN in July 1951 (also no forther details) - this ship also is reported with the 103rd FS PA ANG (no proof) and the 159th FS 116th FG FL ANG (also needs research).

44-73253 (not '463 !): assigned to the 116th FS 142bd FG WA ANG on 2nd April 1947; transferred to the 123rd FS 142nd FG OR ANG on 6th February 1951, sent to KWZ sometime in 1951 as attrition replacement; eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 17th June 1952.  Martin Kyburz Collection

Here's a lineup of Minnesota aircraft in what could be considered a normal environment (at some times of the year, anyway...).

44-72705: assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; involved in a landing accident at Homan Field, MN, on 9th July 1948 with Eugene R. Wayne; later transferred to the 4750th TG 4750th TS at Yuma County Airport, AZ; involved in a forced landing there on 20th May 1953 with Raymond E. Stratton; eventually sent to Air Materials Area, McClellan AFB, CA, for reclamation.

45-11408: assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG; later sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 35th FIW 39th FIS, lost in action on 30th November 1950; a/c hit by ground fire, belly landed 3 mi W of Tok-Chon, SAR effort unsuccessful; Lt. Col. Gerald M. Brown; POW.

44-72962: sent to the 8th AAF (ETO) - departed US on 20th February 1945 - returned to the US on 2nd October 1945; assigned to the 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG (transfer date 5th February 1947); involved in a crash-belly-landing at Scott Field, IL, on 14th June 1947 with James A. Brennan; involved in taxying-accident at Homan Field, MN, on 14th October 1948 with Arvid O. Dahl; yet another accident on 11th November 1950 at Hector Fargo Airport, ND, with George J. Game; apparently the a/c caught fire; transferred to the 133rd FS 101st FG NH ANG on 12th January 1951; heavily damaged during a storm in August 1951 while hangared at Holman Field, MN (have a small photo); not repaired and salvaged on 9th October 1951.

45-11410: assigned tthe 109th FS 133rd FG MN ANG, later transferred to the 167th FS 123rd FG WV ANG; sent to KWZ on 12th July 1950 (aboard USS Boxer) and assigned to the 51st FBS (P) and later to the 67th TRG 45th TRS, nicknamed "Fujigmo"; eventually transferred to the ROKAF in 1953. Martin Kyburz Collection

Our previous coverage of Joe Foss' Mustang in service with the South Dakota ANG prompted Martin to send us this view of F-51D 44-73578. The history on this one is as follows:  Assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st July 1947; involved in an accident on 9th June 1951 at Sioux Falls Municipal Airport, SD with Lloyd G. Olson; assigned to the 54th FIS at Rapid City, SD, in November 1952; assigned to the 496th FIS at Hamilton AFB, CA, in March 1953 (unit transitioned to F-86D in September 1953); assigned to the 107th FS 127th FG MI ANG at Detroit-Wayne Major Airport, MI, on 10th September 1953; transferred to the 126th FS 128th FG WI ANG on 1st October 1953; transferred to the 113th FS 132nd FG on 1st December 1953.  Martin Kyburz Collection 

When last we saw 44-73564, just last issue, she was serving with the ANG. Her life subsequently became what might be termed somewhat more exciting, as exibited by this shot; she survived this belly landing at K-46  in Korea to be eventually assigned to the ROKAF: 44-73564: officially assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st March 1947; involved in a crash belly landing on 29th March 1947 (yup, two days earlier, which proves that the USAAF paperwork sometimes lagged behind the actual proceedings) - the incident occurred at Sioux Falls AAF, SD, the driver was William J. Downey; sometime later, the a/c was transferred to the 176th FS 128th FG WI ANG before being shipped to the KWZ during Fall 1950. Upon arrival, the ship was assigned to the 18th FBG 39th FIS and flew numerous missions, until the a/c was damaged in a take-off accident on 26th January 1952 at K-46 Honegsong AB, Korea; apparently the engine quit after take-off and the pilot. Lt. James H. Hall performed a good belly-landing, the a/c was considered repairable. After repairs, the ship briefly served with the 18th FBG 12th FBS, carrying the nickname "Ruth's Ruthless Russ" until eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 6th January 1953. Lt. James H. Hall, btw, is 'credited' with another accident before his assignment to the KWZ: while training at Luke AFB, AZ, with the 3602nd AMS 127th AMG, he was involed in a ground-collision during a training mission 10 mi SE of Sentinel, AZ, but brought his slightly damaged a/c (F-51D 44-74634) safely home. Martin Kyburz Collection

Here's another view of 564 after her belly landing in Korea. It was a bad day for all concerned, but that ordnance laying on the ground by the aircraft proves it could have been a whole lot worse than it was. Any landing you can walk away from... Martin Kyburz Collection

Were They Really in Korea Too?

Yep, they were. The United States operated a wide variety of aircraft types in theater during the Korean War, one of the lesser-known being Grumman's classic TBM Avenger. The Navy's premier torpedo bomber of the Second World War had become a utility type by the time the conflict began, but was used extensively and served well by the Marines during the early days of the war. Jim Sullivan provides these unique images of a couple of Korean-based TBMs for us to enjoy today:

The TBM-3R was a fairly rare bird, but performed unique service with the Marines on the Korean penninsula. This gorgeous example, BuNo 53587, was assigned to HEDRON-3 when photographed on the ground in 1951. The ball turret and ventral gun have both been removed; there was a lot of space in that chubby Grumman fuselage, rendering the aircraft suitable for any number of missions. Jim Sullivan Collection

The year is now 1952 and 53702, a TBM-3E from VMO-6, is taxiing out at Yonpo, possibly carrying wounded out of the combat zone. Unlike 53587, her turret is still in place. Either one of these Avengers would make a fascinating model and could certainly become a jewel in any collection, because of their relative obscurity if nothing else! Jim Sullivan Collection

Watch these pages, ya'll; there's more of the post-War TBM to come!

It Ain't Really As Bad As It Seems

Several months ago we ran a quick piece on the 1/48th scale Eduard Fw190 family. The comments within that article were based on a Weekend Edition Fw190A-8 that was under construction at that time, and the conclusion was reached that the kit was perfectly buildable, if somewhat fiddley. We'll stand by that comment, but the model is now finished (it took a while, but we lost interest in it over and over and over...) and sitting on the shelf; looking back on the project has given a little food for thought, which in turn brings us to a final round of comments (unless we think of something else later on). To wit:

You absolutely need to get the wing spar in the right place, perpendicular to the wing and correctly centered right-to-left. If you don't do that, nothing else will fit. Not now, not ever.

The cockpit is excellent, and you can easily get by with a Weekend Edition kit in that area, but you're going to need belts and harnesses to make it look good. Eduard is going to sell you brass one way or another!

The engine is overly complicated and there's little point in building most of it unless you plan on displaying your model with the cowling opened up. If the model is going to be presented in a buttoned-up condition, you can leave off a whole bunch of stuff and use only the two banks of cylinders, the induction system, and the crankcase assembly. The engine fits perfectly inside the cowling and can be easily positioned in there after it's painted and locked into place with a little Tenax or similar. Yes, it's cheating. It also works, and eliminates a whole lot of fiddly work trying to get those engine mounts in there. As with so many things in life, you need to do what you think best...

That spiffy little fixture they give you to properly set the exhaust pipes is absolutely critical if you plan on displaying the engine, but totally unnecessary if you don't. A Quick and Dirty Fix is to cut off the last 1/8th inch or so of the stacks and glue them inside the cowling sides in the appropriate places. All you're going to see of them on a finished model are their tips where they sit just inside that cowling, so the exhaust tips are all you need. Cheating? Maybe. Good for the Soul? Oh yeah!

The landing gear is beautifully engineered and will fit almost perfectly if you follow the kit's instructions (put the doors on the struts before you mount them to the wings!), and if you properly aligned that wing spar back when we told you to do it. If said spar is off in any way you will learn many new and highly colorful imprecations, as educated folks like to say. Don't say we didn't warn you...

There's no reason we can think of to have a separate rudder and ailerons in that kit, or any other for that matter, since real airplanes are almost invariably parked with the control surfaces locked in the neutral position. The kit's fit well and don't really hurt anything, but you might want to resist the temptation to pose them.

You can display your gun bays opened up if you want to. We didn't, so we cut the ends of the barrels off the cowl guns and glued those pieces into the underside of the cowling. That makes assembly a whole bunch easier and far less frustrating that might otherwise be the case. You'll need the cowl gun mount assembly (which goes into the wing assembly very early in the process) because the guides for the spent rounds needs to end up properly in place over the case ejection chutes in the center section of the wing and because part of that assembly is what mounts the front of the windscreen to the airplane, but nothing else is required if the model is closed up.

The kit provides lots and lots of little round pieces to simulate things like guns, antennae, and the like. None of them work very well, thus making extruded plastic rod your friend. Hasegawa can help you too, since they offer a set of turned brass guns and pitot for their own Wurger kits. Yes, the package says "Hasegawa" and the contents are meant to be used on Fw190 kits from that manufacturer, but your model will never know the difference if you don't tell it.

The transparencies are generally excellent, but the "blown" canopies aren't and are best not used. The 190's canopy "squashed" inwards when it was opened and Eduard gives you an optional part to show this. It's a neat touch. And the headrest assembly is fiddly; patience is a definite virtue, folks...

The decals in each and every iteration of this kit are superb, right up there with the best you can buy. There's no need for aftermarket unless you just don't care for the schemes included in your particular kit.

So, how does this kit stack up? The simple truth is that once it's finished and on the shelf it's superb, and fully lives up to its reputation as King of the Wurgers if you do your part. There are some minor problems with the kit; slightly-thick vertical stab, inaccurate prop blades, and fuselage cooling slot panels that are too short top to bottom, but they don't impact the finished model unduly and don't have to be addressed unless you want to do that. The model looks good sitting next to the offerings of those other companies and can easily be a star in your collection, but patience and some modeling skills are most assuredly required. This is not, and we can't repeat that often enough, a kit for the novice modeler. And the term "Weekend Edition" is quite possibly inaccurate too, because even in its most basic form this kit will take longer than that to crank out unless you just don't care what you end up with. Such is life.

Here's your basic 3/4 side view of the completed Eduard Fw190A-8. This one started life as a Weekend Edition kit, but the markings came from Eduard's initial release of the model and are for one of Walter Dahl's airplanes, and this is as good a time as any to say yet again that Eduard's decals are superb! Easy to apply, beautifully printed, and without a trace of silvering anywhere. They're among the best stickies we've ever used! The kit gun barrels, at least for the wing guns, have been replaced with plastic rod (and the pitot needs replacement too, although that hasn't been done yet) and a big chunk of the engine is MIA; that particular collection of detailing is somewhat less than you might expect and therefore wasn't used; the same thing applies for the cowl and wing guns. The cowl gun decking is easy to align improperly, a condition that's beautifully illustrated by this model (!), but we aren't going to go back and fix it. We will, however, be more careful in that area the next time we build one of these things. Oh, and that's the kit's drop tank on my custom-made drying rack in the background, although it may or may not end up being used. Given this kit's reputation as a Tough Date it came out ok, we think.

Here's what it looks like from the front. There's a little bit of final weathering and staining yet to go (check out the landing gear struts for an example of what's still needed) but it's pretty much done otherwise. This is one kit that definitely benefits from the use of Eduard's own aftermarket; they produce a zoom set specifically for their Weekend Edition A-8 (go figure!) and the parts, even those for the exterior, are so much more petite than the kit's plastic items that the expenditure is well worth the money. That spiral on the spinner was done with Eduard's generic FW190 spinner spiral masking set, five bucks very well spent!

A short way into this project I was convinced that each one of the several Eduard Fw190s in my to-build pile would be converted into high-end detail sets for Tamiya Wurgers. I've since changed my mind on that, but still wouldn't recommend these kits to anyone without a fair amount of modeling skill at their disposal. You're going to work for your model with this one, Gang!

A Neat Little Airplane

Everybody knows about Northrop's F-5/T-38 family, although not that many people model it. It's not for lack of kits, because of late we've seen most members of the family become available in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales and even in 1/32nd,  and certainly not for lack of color, performance, or service use. Maybe it hasn't seen enough combat; who knows? The thing is, that spiffy-looking little jet has seen service all over the world, and has provided advanced jet training to pilots of the US Air Force for over 40 years. It's a neat airplane. Contributor Mark Nankivil sends us quite a few images, and his last batch included some outstanding shots of the Freedom Fighter and Talon. Let's take a look.

The F-5A (originally the N-156) Freedom Fighter was designed to be small, inexpensive, and combat capable. It was all of those things and more, but didn't have a whole lot of range and really didn't fit in very well with the force the Air Force thought it wanted. Brief use in SEA with the Skoshi Tiger program proved its combat effectiveness, but it was a lightweight fighter and just didn't fit in, even though NATO loved it. This particular shot of an unidentified F-5A shows just how small the aircraft was---a properly-flown F-5 could give the Phantom driver of your choice fits but that only mattered at Red Flag. The F-5A (and subsequent F-5E) just may have been the best fighter the Air Force barely used.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

It's easily confused with the T-38 at first glance, but the two-seat F-5B was a fully combat-capable fighter too. The entire F-5 family was low to the ground, making ordnance fit somewhat problematical; MERs and TERs just didn't work out with that airframe. Still, it could hold up its end of things if required. Those tip-tanks didn't hold much gas, but they sure looked good!  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

The F-5B was a two-seater based on the F-5A, and the subsequent F-model had the same relationship to the F-5E (which we didn't cover this time around, prefering to save that variant for a separate piece on aggressor aircraft somewhere down the road). Here's one of the prototypes in the process of becoming airborne; the type's sleek lines are shown to excellent advantage in this photo.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Off we go...  The F-5's more civilized cousin, the T-38A. Agile, forgiving, and a great performer (the Thunderbirds used them between the F-4 and the F-16, if you recall) the T-38 is the airplane most people think of if you're talking about learning to fly in the US Air Force. It's still the USAF's advanced jet trainer after all these years, although the airframes are getting tired. This gorgeous shot is a good way to end our day, don't you think?  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil
Happy Snaps

We almost never run photos of the Electric Jet around here, so today's as good a day as any to remedy that.

Doug Siegfried does good work, we think. Here's another example of his photography; a Michigan Guard bird in flight over Lake Huron shortly before the 171st lost their F-16Cs during the course of a mission realignment. The Michigan Guard's signature tail treatment looks especially good on the F-16. Thanks, Doug! Doug Barbier

 The Relief Tube

Well, we knew we couldn't skate for long; there were no entries in what must surely be our most popular department last week, but we're making up for it today. First off is that goofy not-quite-tri-scheme-but-not-quite-not SNJ-4. We specifically asked Tommy Thomason what he thought about the scheme, and he sent us this in reply:

My guess is that it was repainted "locally" in the tri-color scheme (the vertical fin/rudder would also be blue grey if it were still in the older scheme) but the darker blue has faded on the horizontal surfaces (note the darker blue on the side of the fuselage above the wing, at the vertical portion of the juncture of the fin and horizontal stabilizer, and the over spray aft along the rudder). I can't explain why more of the side of the fuselage forward and aft of the wing isn't the same color as the fin/rudder, but this scheme was subject to interpretation when done in the field (also see . The left wing is almost certainly a replacement that was kept in the shade, so to speak. T

In our piece on two-seat Scooters we mentioned the nose gear on that VF-126 bird, which is painted red. For those of you not familiar with such things, red is universally used within the aviation community, both commercial and military, to flag parts that are not airworthy. At first glance we thought that we were dealing with nothing more than that; a nose gear that was not cleared for flight and that had been installed in that particular "Scooter" for some undefined reason. Some variation of that is undeniably the case, but the plot thickens, as some folks like to say from time to time. Tommy Thomason is one of our go-to guys for Things Navy, and he provided an interesting observation when we asked him about that gear: 

Huh - hadn't noticed that before. See attached for a comparison of the nose gear with that of an A4D-1 and a TA-4. My guess is that it is a temporary substitute for a nose gear that has been removed for maintenance or overhaul and no flight worthy spare was available. Red is the traditional color for things that should be removed before flight or are not flight worthy. It looks like there is a collar on the piston so the nose doesn't go too far down when the engine is removed. Note that it is not only missing the nose gear steering stuff, the shimmy damper and yoke angle look more like an A4D-1's than the later nose gear's. T

Here's a photo Tommy sent along for clarification. Our VF-126 TA-4J nose gear is in the middle. Thomason Collection

Martin Kyburz from Swiss Mustangs (see our Links section for access to his excellent web site) has provided us with some additional information on that pair of South Dakota ANG P-51Ds we ran last issue:

44-73564: officially assigned to the 175th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 31st March 1947; involved in a crash belly landing on 29th March 1947 (yup, two days earlier, which proves that the USAAF paperwork sometimes lagged behind the actual proceedings) - the incident occurred at Sioux Falls AAF, SD, the driver was William J. Downey; sometime later, the a/c was transferred to the 176th FS 128th FG WI ANG before being shipped to the KWZ during Fall 1950. Upon arrival, the ship was assigned to the 18th FBG 39th FIS and flew numerous missions, until the a/c was damaged in a take-off accident on 26th January 1952 at K-46 Honegsong AB, Korea; apparently the engine quit after take-off and the pilot. Lt. James H. Hall performed a good belly-landing, the a/c was considered repairable. After repairs, the ship briefly served with the 18th FBG 12th FBS, carrying the nickname "Ruth's Ruthless Russ" until eventually transferred to the ROKAF on 6th January 1953. Lt. James H. Hall, btw, is 'credited' with another accident before his assignment to the KWZ: while training at Luke AFB, AZ, with the 3602nd AMS 127th AMG, he was involed in a ground-collision during a training mission 10 mi SE of Sentinel, AZ, but brought his slightly damaged a/c (F-51D 44-74634) safely home. And:

45-11417 (Joe Foss' ship): officially assigned to the 17th FS 132nd FG SD ANG on 8th April 1947. Sometime in 1948, this a/c was transferred to the 169th FS 136th FG IL ANG at Peoria ANGB (Municipal Airport), IL, and was damaged on 21st December 1948 in a landing-accident (ground-loop) there, with pilot Ralph A. Cotton at the controls. The a/c was still with the 169th FS early 1950, but also was shipped to the KWZ during Summer 1950 and is recorded in an accident of undisclosed nature on 13th August 1950 in Japan (most probably Johnson AFB); it was, however, briefly assigend to the 8th FBG and later assigned to No. 2 Sqdn SAAF "Flying Cheetahs" as # 375. On 11th February 1952, the a/c was lost in action when it developed an oil leak which led to mechanical failure (engine-trouble); Capt. R.A. Harburn was unable to jettison his bombs and subsequently crashed while trying to return to K-46 Hoengsong AB; Capt. R.A. Harburn was KIA.

Thanks for detailing the service careers of those two airplanes for us, Martin! Those Mustangs definitely got around!

Finally, we asked for clarification/correction on that white "Deuce" that was identified as an F-102D a couple of issues ago. That ID was based on the information printed on the slide; the original source of the image was/is a pretty impeccable sort of guy which made us wonder about it even though we'd never heard of such an animal. Reader Mark Williams responded to our request for input on this aircraft and has sent his thoughts on the matter:

First off, I really enjoy your RIS blog! I read your 100th "issue" and was very impressed. I saw you had a photo of that white F-102, and you asked for comments. I figured you would get a bunch of responses, but when I didn't see any mention of it in the past two "Relief Tube's", I thought I'd drop you a note.

That is not an F-102D. No such thing, as far as I've ever heard, but I'm not an expert, just an old airplane nut! (Oh, and a soon-to-be retired, C-130H Flight Engineer!) What I do know is that it's actually the first F-102A (56-1400) converted to a PQM-102 by Sperry Flight Systems, and painted in Sperry "colors." I recall seeing a photograph of that aircraft in the old Wings of Fame magazine (I can't recall the issue number), and if I remember correctly it actually had "SPERRY" painted on it for a short time, though I may be thinking of an F-100. In any event I'm pretty sure that photo was taken at Holloman AFB in 1979 as I found another photo of it in the Aircraft Resource Center website forums taken from a slightly different angle.(I tried to contact the guy that posted the photo on ARC, but he never got back to me.)

Again, thanks for putting together a super site. The photos are amazing, and the finding out their history is even better. I hope this helps. Mark O. Williams

Thanks, Mark!

And now we're at the point where we can safely say that's all we know for today, so it's time to go. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.