Saturday, July 30, 2011

Some Turkeys, Splitter Art, It's About Time, A Few More F-4s, Some P-Boats, and Some Thoughts About Aftermarket

Does Anybody Remember the Colby Books?

We sure do! They were a staple diet for every airplane-loving little boy in the United States back in the 50s, and we spent hours in the Sheppard AFB Elementary School library drooling over all those late-40s/early-50s bombers and fighters when we should have been studying. You could almost say they were a rite of passage way back then.

One of the stars of that series, at least to us, was the Grumman TBM Avenger in all its post-War iterations. None of us realized back then that it was old and tired by the time its picture showed up in those Colby books; how could any airplane named Avenger ever be out of date? It was every bit of that, though; a thoroughbred who's time had come and gone. The fascination of those post-War TBMs has lasted to this day, which in turn prompted an e-mail to Jim Sullivan, who's shared these images with us today. Colby fans, get ready for a treat!

Some combat aircraft continued to soldier on after the war ended in August of 1945, and these "Turkeys" were among them. They're from the Tarawa's VA-2A, and still carry their ball turrets and guns. When we look at this photo we wonder where the pilots had come from, and what campaigns they were in; they obviously know how to fly the airplane.  J. Sullivan Collection

BuNo 91433 was built as a TBM-3E, and still armed when photographed at El Centro in 1946. Her GSB paint has faded to an overall matt finish and from the looks of things she's ready to retire. There wasn't a whole lot of purpose in sending shop-worn Avengers to the NARF for rework or overhaul back then; there were just too many of them around.  J. Sullivan Collection

This TBM-3E was caught running up at NAS Squantum in 1947 and, like 91433 above, she's well on her way to being all used up. There's a badge under the windscreen, but we can't quite make it out, and we've been through all our assets and are stumped by that Zulu Alpha tail code. If you know the unit please drop us a line at .  J. Sullivan Collection

By late 1947 the TBM was a staple aircraft in the Reserves. 91107 was a TBM-3E out of NAS Norfolk when this photo was taken; she's in pretty good shape, all things considered.  J. Sullivan Collection

Here's a side view of 91107. She's carrying an orange Reserve stripe on the aft fuselage and, as noted above, is in good condition. We can't see the aft end of her transparencies but are willing to bet there's still a turret back there, although we aren't so certain there's a gun in it.  J. Sullivan Collection

New York's Reserve component flew the "Turkey" too, as shown in this 1948-vintage photo. This TBM-3S has its Reserve stripe located further aft than in the Norfolk bird just above, and the underwing radar pod is now painted in GSB rather than white. 91398's main landing gear wheels appear to be white, although the lighting in this shot is a bit off and they may just as well be in silver paint.  J. Sullivan Collection

1949 found this TBM-3R serving aboard the USS Boxer. The airplane has seen better days, and the looks on the faces of the pilot and V-2-Division sailor say they'd both rather be someplace else. We don't blame 'em!  J. Sullivan Collection

The TBM-3U was utilized extensively as a target tug, as demonstrated here by 85968. She was with VU-7 and was photographed in flight near San Diego in 1949---that crewman in the aft cockpit seems to be enjoying himself...  J. Sullivan Collection

Things had gotten a little more colorful by the time this VU-1 bird posed for its picture in our 1950-vintage photo. Those yellow wings really spiffed up the airplane and gave the appearance, if not the reality, of a safer mission while towing targets. It worked most of the time.  J. Sullivan Collection

This TBM-3E from VS-25 was assigned to the anti-submarine mission in 1953. If we wanted to be clever we'd say something along the lines of "they got a little bit too involved with their work". Instead, we'll just say that the crew got out ok.  J. Sulllivan Collection

This is how it's supposed to look. A section of VS-25 Avengers fly over their task group in our final shot of the day. You could never call the Avenger a beautiful airplane, but she had that Grumman Iron Works look to her. All us Colby Kids can be proud!  J. Sullivan Collection

Big Bird, Batman, and Jolly Roger

Sometimes nose art isn't actually on the nose of the aircraft. Take these Voodoos, for example. The 111th FIS/147th FG was flying F-101Bs out of Ellington in the early '80s, and they had some of the most colorful F-101s ever assigned to ADC even without nose art (and, it must be said, very few of their aircraft wore any form of personal decoration whatsoever). With "nose" art they were something really special.

"Big Bird". 57-0427 was arguably the most famous of the 111th's cartoon ships, primarily because she was photographed more often than the others. All of the 111th's Voodoos were immaculately-kept and "Big Bird" was no exception to that rule. Sharp-eyed modelers will note the Insignia Red interiors to the gear doors, a normal feature of the F-101 series. This photo was taken on the transient ramp at Ellington on 23 December, 1980.  Friddell

"Batman". 57-0252 had just finished a flight demo when we shot this photo in May of 1980. The Voodoo was a big airplane in every respect, and quite a performer to boot---a clean F-101 could outrun just about anything. "Batman" is in the "normal" configuration for a late F-101B, and typifies the breed. It was a neat airplane.  Friddell

And "Jolly Roger". She's just recovered and is taxiing in towards her slot on the ramp after a practice sortie. The drogue chute housing cap is still deployed although the parachute itself was dropped when 57-0270 turned off the active onto the taxiway on 23 December, 1982. Kindof makes you want to go pull out one of the old Revell or Monogram kits and have some fun, doesn't it?  Friddell

The boys from the 111th had it in their heads that they were a Sierra Hotel sort of an outfit, and we're inclined to agree with them---they could fly that big brute of an interceptor! 57-0252 and 57-0308 are shown here just as they break ground for an airshow crowd in May of 1980. It was loud, ya'll...   Friddell

As long as you're up there you'd may as well have a little fun! 57-0370 ended up as part of a 4-ship, and they took turns seeing how close they could get to the taxiway without ending up in the arms of Grave Misfortune. They did this over and over again, ending each pass with a max-performance climb in full burner. It was somewhat impressive.  Friddell

If you go up, you have to come down sooner or later, and they even had fun doing that. We were able to shoot this particular airshow from the 111th's squadron area, which meant that we got to talk to the pilots who were on the ramp watching their squadron mates fly, which also meant we got a running commentary of what was going on in the cockpit from some folks who actually knew a thing or two about the Voodoo. It rarely gets better than that.  Friddell

That's it for our Voodoo feature for today, but stay tuned. Shortly after these photos were taken some visiting Canadians took their CF-101Bs up for a little demo of their own, which caused amazement of the jaw-dropping kind among all of our newly-found Voodoo Driver friends. We'll look in on that particular party another time.

What Does It Take To Get Something Published Around Here?

Some places would regard that as a rhetorical question at best, but at our offices it passes for Fundamental Truth. The sad fact of the matter is that we receive quite a few submissions and sometimes they have to wait in line depending on publishing schedule and, to some extent, the whim of the editor on that particular day. We do eventually get around to everything, you understand; it just takes a while sometimes. Take, for example, our next feature.

Several months ago (it might have even been last year, but sometimes it's best not to count such things) we asked Jim Sullivan if he had any photography on the North American FJ-1 that he'd like to share. He did, of course, and he promptly scanned and sent it along to us. We, being as disorganized as we sometimes are, promptly filed it for use, where it's been until today. We will serve no Fury before its time!

120346 was assigned to the Navy's AT-3 when this photo was taken at Pax River in 1948. The FJ-1 was a dumpy little airplane but could still out-perform most of its piston-engined competition in certain flight regimes. If you study her shape closely (including her plan form which, unfortunately, we don't show anywhere in today's essay) you can see design elements from both the P-51 and the F-86. As a fighter, the FJ-1 honestly wasn't much of an airplane, but it sired a series of aircraft (FJ-2, FJ-3, FJ-4, F-86, and F-100) that became legendary. Not a bad legacy, huh?  J. Sullivan Collection

By November of 1948 the FJ-1 was in squadron service. 120357 was serving with VF-5A when Peter Bowers photographed her, and this gorgeous photograph illustrates a wealth of detail useful to the scale modeler. Note that the nose gear strut is two-toned; GSB and natural metal, and that the gun ports are covered over with duct tape. You'd never get away with that now, at least not outside of a combat zone, but PC hadn't been discovered in the 40s.  J. Sullivan Collection

Sometimes they just don't go where they're supposed to...  120369 was involved in this off-roading excursion on 15 June, 1949, while undergoing service testing. The airplane was barely damaged and was returned to flight status shortly after the photo was taken. Sharp-eyed readers will note that those are civilian policemen at the scene; You just never know how the day's going to go when you leave for work in the morning!  J. Sullivan Collection 

Finally, here's another photo of a VF-5A Fury to end our essay. Peter Bowers caught her on the ramp at Miramar in 1949, providing us with a portrait that, once again, provides a wealth of detail for prospective modelers. While there are a couple of kits of this type bird, it's an airplane that hangs out in Short Run Land for sure---some modeling skills will be required.  J. Sullivan Collection

A Smattering of Echo Bugsuckers

When we ran those Navy F-4 shots a couple of issues back we received an overwhelming response from folks asking for more Phantoms and, while we've never been accused of being overly-bright, we are smart enough to know A Good Thing when we see one. Today it's the Air Force again, with a collection of entirely unrelated F-4E shots for your enjoyment.

We don't know about the rest of you but when we think of the F-4E this is the image that comes to mind. The place is Korat and the year is 1971; 67-0287 was with the 388th TFW when this photo was taken by RH Morgan, who just happens to be the father of Rick and Mark Morgan, aerospace writers and photographers extraordinaire. You might say it's in their blood!  RH Morgan

The F-4 was still in its SEA warpaint in 1980, when Marty Isham snapped 69-0291 on the ramp in Alaska. She was assigned to the 18th TFS at the time and proudly wears their Polar Bear on the rudder. This is one good looking Phantom, ya'll.  Isham

Taxiing in: An F-4E from the 69th TFS/347th TFW comes home to roost at Moody AFB in Georgia. The SEA-camo'd Air Force still had a few years to go in those colors, but the writing was on the wall, and the world was about to turn into shades of grey for the Air Force. That was all still a few years in the future when this photo was taken, however, and the upper surface SEA colors on this bird wrap around the entire airframe. Oh, and check out that collection of stores too. That's one interesting Phantom!  Friddell Collection

By the late 80s grey SEA-camouflaged USAF F-4s were becoming a fairly rare commodity. 67-0370 was with St Louis' 110th TFS in August of 1987 and is taxiing in after a sortie. Normal practice is to release the drogue chute once the aircraft has turned off the active runway, although it's not entirely unknown for an airplane to taxi all the way in with one. Oh yeah, and it seems the Morgan family has a thing for sharkmouths. We're glad they do!  R. Morgan

There are some who will tell you that the F-4 was severely limited by whatever-it-is they think they know about the airplane. The guys who flew them and flew against them, either in peacetime excercises or in combat, usually have a different opinion. The Phantom was a hot rod, particularly when her engines were de-restricted to allow use of full military power, and that made the type a natural in terms of providing high-performance target aircraft. 68-0449 was with the 82nd ATS at Tyndall in when John Kerr photographed her in the 90s. It was somehow ironic; the F-4 started her Air Force career in shades of grey (as the grey-over-white F-110A), and she finished up that way as a drone. Funny how the circle is a wheel...  Kerr

Some Folks Called Her Dumbo

She was born with the name Catalina, but her admittedly goof appearance and low performance quickly gave rise to the nickname "Dumbo" once she entered combat. It's true that she was big, somewhat underpowered, and totally without glamor, but by the time the shooting was over she'd performed almost every role imaginable including that of bomber and torpedo bomber, and had done at least moderately well each and every time she was given a new task. Here's a look at her during the war, courtesy of Bobby Rocker.

The PBY was in the Pacific before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but this Catalina isn't at Pearl; this  photograph was taken at Sand Island at Midway during 1942. Considering the lack of damage to the island's facilities we'd guess that this photograph either predates or substantially post-dates the attack. We're guessing she's from VP-23, and those are depth bombs hanging under her wings. Rocker Collection

From one extreme to the other! This PBY-5A is being recovered at Woman's Bay, Kodiak, Alaska. The members of the beaching crew are wearing waterproof cold-weather gear, but that's ice floating around that aircraft. It's easy to forget the war in the northwest Pacific, unless you were there...  Rocker Collection

Espirito Santo was far enough removed from the fighting to allow for the construction of decent facilities early in the conflict, as is demonstrated by this well-developed PBY base. Those airplanes would have been sitting ducks in an air attack, but the war was relatively far away.  Rocker Collection

One thing you can do with a really versatile airplane is use it to resupply coastwatchers, which is what's going on in this image. VP-11 provided the well-worn Catalina, while local natives are assisting in off-loading the aircraft. You seldom consider this sort of thing when you think about the war in the Pacific, but it was a job that had to be done and no aircraft in the theater was better-equipped to do it than the PBY.  Rocker Collection
The crew of this "Dumbo" are practicing the recovery of a downed airman for the camera. The stilled engines, lack of Mae Wests and somewhat esoteric uniforms, plus the dead engines and bow mooring lines hanging off the bow prove this is just an excercise, but the real thing wasn't all that far removed from the activity shown here except, of course, that nobody's shooting at the airplane.  Rocker Collection

The P-Boats did yeoman's work throughout the war performing a wide variety of missions. Here a PBY from an unknown unit flies alongside the USS Sangamon somewhere near the Solomons. She could have been flying an antisubmarine patrol, or leaving on a special mission, or maybe carrying the mail. With the Catalina you never knew...  Rocker Collection

Just by looking you'd never know that this was anything other than a casual day in the lagoon. There's no way to know, just by looking, that this P-Boat from VP-52 is in the process of sinking, but that's exactly what she's doing. She's in Mios Woendi Lagoon near Wewak, and we have no idea what misfortune may have caused her loss but, as an interesting sidebar to history, she's still there in that lagoon sitting on the bottom, and is a popular diver's attraction today.  Rocker Collection

The down side of flying an amphibian is that you can have a landing accident on either land or sea; versatility sometimes gives you the opportunity to have a Bad Day in multiple places. The airplane is from the 1st FAW and was apparently in or near the Aleutians when she slid off the runway. Those depth bombs must have made it a somewhat sporty event for all concerned!  Rocker Collection

NAS P-Cola has been training Naval Aviators forever, it seems, and there was a time when they trained some of those aviators to fly PBYs. This pair of PBY-5s are sitting on the ramp immediately post-war showing us two of the three primary camouflage schemes worn by the Catalina during the conflict. The beaching gear is of interest---at this stage of the game you'd expect those airplanes to be -5As.  Rocker Collection

Do We Really Need All That Stuff?

We can remember it like it was yesterday. Life had just dealt us a hand we hadn't been expecting, resulting in one of those intervals known as Picking Up the Pieces, and we had begun modeling again after a several-year near-hiatus from same. Fate took us to Austin (we're in Texas, remember?) and to King's Hobby Shop. We prowled around in there for a while, totally confused by the vast proliferation of STUFF that had come into being during those years we were effectively out of the hobby and finally, after lots of soul-searching while finding a kit who's manufacturer we recognized, we approached the counter to pay for our newly-discovered treasure. The guy behind that counter asked if we wanted any aftermarket for the kit we were buying, to which we replied with something zippy like "I'm a modeler; I make that stuff myself!". He smiled. We paid and left.

Next time around we bought a kit and an Eduard "Zoom" set. The time after that it was a complete interior, and then resin wheel bays. We were hooked, and since that day we've pretty much bought aftermarket for every kit we've purchased. It's become automatic.

Here lately things have begun to change, however. The first Great Revelation came when we bought a photo-etch set for a Bf-109E and discovered that the RLM 66 portions of the colored etch were closer in hue to baby blue than to any sort of dark grey. After that we began to notice other things too, and then we began to suspect that some of the more prolific manufacturers of aftermarket were occasionally making things up as they went along. That, on top of the ongoing color thing (because, unfortunately, goofy colors weren't confined to that one set of photo-etch), began to make us suspicious. As a result we began using less aftermarket and a little more Modeling 101 when we wanted details, and nowadays we often use no more than an instrument panel, console panels (if appropriate), and a set of belts and harnesses to spiff up our interiors.

You're quite possibly in the process of scratching your heads along about now, wondering why this would matter to anybody, but the fact is that it apparently matters to more than a few people. Several of the folks who regularly contribute to this site are modelers as well as photographers, and one of them began an e-mail conversation the other night commenting on the viability of certain items of aftermarket. During the span of that electronic discourse it was determined that most of us had begun using less photo-etch and resin on our models, and everyone pretty much commented on the not-altogether-infrequent lapses of accuracy on said bits and pieces. It was a consensus, so to speak.

So then, what does that prove? It could prove nothing at all, but then those guys just might be on to something. Think about it---you spend fifty increasingly-hard-earned bucks on a new kit, then you go right out and spend another fifty bucks, or even more, on stuff to improve the model, and you do that even though you probably haven't spent nearly as much time researching the aftermarket for accuracy as you have the kit. You just presumed the aftermarket was better because somebody was selling it. Hmmm...

Where does the truth lie, then? In our world it's somewhere in the middle of things. Some aftermarket is really good, and some isn't. We still buy it, and probably will continue to do so, but we're now a whole lot more cautious about what we actually stick on the model. Our advice to you is to do what you think is right, but you might want to have a few references around before you go randomly attaching extra parts onto your new kit. It might not be that much of an improvement after all. That's our story and, once again, we're sticking with it.

Happy Snaps

Today's happy snap comes from what is, for us, a somewhat unusual source; the brother of a friend. Lee Bracken was one of the mentors who helped us when we first became serious about aviation photography, and he shared a number of images with us when we began building our own collection. Several of those images came from his brother George, who had been an F-4 driver during the Late Southeast Asia War Games, and one of those photos is today's Happy Snap. Thanks, Lee!

The Bad Thing on the Block. 70-0379 was from the 421st TFW/432nd TRW and is shown in flight somewhere over Southeast Asia. It's getting dark, and those guys are probably pretty happy to be going home. George Bracken

The Relief Tube

We've got a couple of things to address today, so let's get right to it:

First, from Mark Morgan, is a little more information about those fascinating Strategic Support C-124s from a couple of issues ago:  Phil - Great info and photos as always. To add to the discussion on SAC's C-124s, the SSS squadrons were:

1st SSS - redesignated from 1st Strategic Support Unit 21 Dec 48, Fort Worth AFB, transferred to Biggs AFB Dec 48, inactivated 1 Jun 59.

2nd SSS - Activated 14 June 1949, Biggs AFB; to Walker AFB 4/50; to Castle AFB 5/51; to Pinecastle AFB 9/56; inactivated 15 Jun 61.

3rd SSS - Activated 16 Feb 50, Hunter AFB; to Barksdale AFB 12/52; inactivated 15 Jun 61.

4th SSS - Activated 18 Feb 53, Rapid City AFB; to Dyess AFB 6/57; inactivated 15 Mar 61.

The 7th Logistics Support Squadron redesignated as an air transport squadron on 8 July 1964 and inactivated on 8 January 1966 at Robins AFB. It served as a geographically separate unit (GSU) of the 63rd Air Transport Wing from July 1963 through inactivation.
 The 19th LSS was at Kelly AFB; redesignated as an air transport squadron (special) on 8 July 1964; military airlift squadron (special) 27 December 1965; military airlift squadron 8 April 1969; and inactivated on 22 Dec 1969. It was a GSU of the 62nd ATW/MAW.

Finally, the 28th LSS at Hill AFB redesignated as an ATS(S) on 18 January 1962; MAS(S) 8 Jan 66; and inactivated on 8 April 1969. It was assigned to the 1501st Air Transport Wing after Jan 62; the 60th MAW after Jan 66; and finally the 62nd MAW, after July 1967. MK  Thanks, Mark!

Next up is a matter of geography. We recently ran a shot of a cold and barren airfield (one to which we'd never personally been) and stated that it was Thule because that was what was written on the slide in question. Dave Menard disagrees with that identification and offers this comment:  OK, that shot is not Thule, as I spent about 100 days TDY there in the spring of 1958 while loaned to the 509th AREFSQ from my unit at Pease AFB, the 100th FMS. Thule was way, way too far north for anyone crossing the pond to stop at. I suspect that the image my chums Dave McLaren and Marty Isham loaned you is either BW-1 Narsarsauq OR BW-8 Sondre Strom, both located in lower Greenland. I googled both SondreStrom and Nasrsarsuak/Narsarsuaq and there is an air to ground color image of the latter that clearly shows the end of the only runway really, really close to the waters edge! I just knew that it warn't Thule! Thule had a bunch of large hangers, big enough for one B-36 or two KC-97s. 

BTW, NEAC was the Siberia of the AF in the late forties/early fifties, if an NCO or officer screwed up, they wound up with a set of orders for a year at one of those bases in Greenland! There was also an Air Rescue Sqdn in Saudi Arabia in the early fifties (why there I will never know!) that served the same purpose. cheers, dave  We never were very good at geography! Thanks, Dave!

While we're talking about Dave, we've had a comment on our quick review of his book Before Centuries that may help those of you who don't already have that title. From a reader known to us only as Junkman9096: I agree completely about "Before Centuries". Also don't forget another, earlier book by David Menard "USAF Plus Fifteen". A litter more general in scope but it can be found dirt cheap on the internet. And a comment on the book from the author himself:  Thanks for the plug on my USAFE book but right now the only way to obtain it is through the used books on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites for various prices. I put a bunch of my own money into it to make sure my dupe slides gathered over many, many years got run in color and not B&W! It was worth it. Cheers, Dave. The hard work payed off, Dave---many thanks for the effort you put into both those titles, and thanks to Junkman9096 for telling us how to get one for ourselves!

When we ran those photos from the Richard Adams collection last time around we requested help from our readers regarding unit identifications for the C-47 and R4D photos. Here's a response from Rick Morgan:  Phil: Neat shots of the TRACOM birds in the latest blog. These were shot, of course, ‘back in the day’ when we still had hundreds of aircraft available (particularly, C, T and U types) to farm out to a lot of obscure operations spread throughout the world. Since many were older and not as neat as the A and F types they didn’t always get the photo coverage that the more glamorous F and A types did.

The Gooney Birds marked “Pensacola” are shown on the July 1965 Location & Allowance List (LAL) as belonging to Naval Air Basic Training Command (NABTC), which had 42 aircraft assigned directly to headquarters as hacks and support birds. At this point this list included two C-47s, an H and a J.

The VT-30 T-28B belonged to the A-1 advanced training squadron. It was probably used for instrument training in support of the A-1 training syllabus. The July ’64 LAL shows the unit had 19 A-1Hs, 7 T-28Bs and 42 (!) T-34Bs assigned at that time.

The Kingsville C-47 and C-45 were officially assigned to Naval Advanced Air Training Command with the base (Kingsville) being the functional operator. As Doug S mentioned in an earlier post, this was before TRACOM merged its two flight training parts (Basic and Advanced) and set up formal Wings at its bases. In the mid-60s this meant the NAS acted as a defacto Wing with a Captain (O-6) being the senior man on base. Kingsville had seven types of aircraft assigned in mid-1965; 2 C-47, 1 UC-45J, and UH-2B, UH-34J, UH-19F for SAR, back when each TRACOM base had its own such det. Rick  And that clears that one up! Thanks, Morgo!

Finally, we received a really neat photo from Bob Perry and there's honestly no place to put it at the moment---we're getting ready to do a piece on the "Sabre Dog" in the near future, but it's going to be a while before it's ready. We really like the photo Bob sent, don't want to have to wait to run it and, since we pretty much get to set the schedule around here, today's the day you get to see it. Here are Bob's comments regarding the photo:  Hi Phil. I thought you might be interested in this shot taken by my father at the Windsor Ontario air show in July 1959. It was an international show and there was lots of good stuff on display that day. I remember C-119s dropping paratroops, F-102s, Trackers, RCAF Neptunes and the new Argus. I can’t remember what else and can’t locate any more of my dad’s slides!

I’d never seen a Sabre before and besides this one the RCAF sent the Golden Hawks in their Sabre 5s. According to my notes this Sabre is an F-86D-60 but I have no idea of its unit or service history.Love the blog, keep up the good work! Bob Perry

And here's 53-0943 in all her Day-Glo glory. There's no doubt she's attached to somebody's unit (!) but don't have a clue as to which one. Readers, you know the drill---that address is . Oh, and Bob; please keep looking for those slides!

And that's all we know for today, so be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment