Sunday, August 28, 2011

There Needs To Be A Decent Kit, That Bat-Winged Douglas, Return of the Cat, Some Navy Color, Even More Mustangs, A Jug, and A Texan in the North Country

Things We Like (With Apologies to Jack Bruce)

Today's going to be a goofy sort of day around here, so stand by! It's been a busy (and somewhat crazy) week in our part of the world and we haven't had time to scan very much material for you this time around. On the other hand, we've received quite a bit of really nice stuff lately, with a great deal of it involving blue airplanes of one sort or another, and today's as good a time as any to show that material off. (That, in translation, means we're a little bit lazy today but feel an obligation to keep our schedule going!) Here, then, is a potpourri of nifty photos for your consideration.

The Last Thing You'd Expect to See

We all have favorite airplanes, and for most of us those favorites mostly revolve around airplanes that shoot guns and drop bombs for a living. Our first entry could (and sometimes did) do those things, but they weren't its primary mission. Nope, the Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an all-around cowboy, best remembered for its role in locating and picking up downed fliers during the Second World War. The airplanes in these photos never got the chance to do anything in that war, but they were there when it started.

Anybody out there recognize this airplane? That side number is a clue; it's 1-0-1, and it's an OS2U-3 photographed in September of 1941 . Give up? She's from BB-39 USS Arizona, and was photographed being recovered during a training flight some three months before her operational career was terminated early one morning in Hawaii. Off the top of our heads we can think of only a handful of Kingfisher kits out there; from Airfix and Lindberg in 1/72nd, and Monogram in 1/48th. We think it's time for a modern kit of the type, which means it's just about time for somebody to release another P-51 model instead. There just ain't no justice!  Bill Peake Collection via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

And here's 1-0-3 getting ready to come back aboard. This photo is a companion of the one above and was also taken in September of 1941. Note that the airplane is wet just about everywhere; that's a side of floatplane operations most of us don't consider, but it was a constant in the floatplane community. There's a lot of detail visible here if you're inclined to build an OS2U.  Bill Peake Collection via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

Good Lord, It's a Ford!

Several of them, actually. The Douglas F4D-1 Skyray was one of those airplanes that could have been a world-beater with just a little more development. The "Ford" actually got that development towards the end of its life, and the ensuing F5D Skylancer was everything its younger brother wasn't. Unfortunately, the Navy already had both the F8U Crusader and F4H Phantom in the pipeline at the time and didn't need yet another fighter, relegating the F5D to one of history's many sidebars. There never were any operational Skylancers for us to show you, so you're just going to be happy with these images of the lengendary "Ford" instead. We don't think you'll mind.

The F4D-1 was hitting the Fleet in 1956, and beginning to show up at public air shows as well. 134755 is virtually devoid of markings but shows off the aircraft's clean lines in spite of that stand on the ramp behind her.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

VMF-115 was equipped with the "Ford" When Clay Jansson snapped this classic photo in 1958. There's a tremendous amount of detail shown here, particularly in the areas of the wing-fold and tailhook. One of our readers was looking for wing-fold detail a while back; Sergei, we just got this photo last week! We hope it's not too late to be of use!  Jannson via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

Here's a different view of one of 115's birds, this time with the wings deployed. These marking are pretty simple, but the red-white-and blue stripes work really well on the airframe. 134826 shows signs of use but is devoid of that Teutonic Pottery Look so beloved by some folks in the scale modeling community. A picture is worth a thousand words...  Jansson via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

To a lot of folks there's only one F4D-1 squadron worth looking at, and VF(AW)-3 is it. The squadron was operating out of North Island when this photo was taken in 1958 and that paint scheme, coupled with a moderately-famous skipper named Gene Valencia, guaranteed Instant Fame for the squadron. You can bet those markings were a big hit at airshows, although we'd personally like to see a little bit more of that C-47 in the background too!  Kasulka via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

Black Cat Moan and Other Assorted Blues

We ran a few shots of the PBY Catalina several issues back courtesy of Bobby Rocker and his remarkable collection. We'd like to add a few more to that collection today:

We don't know the unit for certain, but we definitely know the place! This PBY-5 was photographed in her full tail-striped glory while taxiing past the Enterprise in February of 1942. We mentioned it last time around but the "P-Boat" went just about everywhere and ended up doing just about everything in the process. The PBY was what some folks might call a "versatile" airplane.  Rocker Collection

The Catalina trained quite a few aircrews, as typified by this example working out of NAS Jacksonville during mid-1942. The tail stripes are gone, but the painters have more than made up for it by their presentation of that star on the bow, which is missing its insignia blue corcarde and is upside-down to boot! If you're looking for an unusual "P-Boat" to model, this could be the one!  Rocker Collection

Unless, of course, you'd rather do this one! VP-34 was extremely active with the type during the Solomons campaign, using the aircraft to good advantage during harassment operations at night. Remember that part where we said the PBY did just about everything? Remember that part about Black Cats?  Rocker Collection

So Where's the Color Pichers, Mister?

You're right---so far we've run nothing but classic B&W this week, and it honestly looks like that's a horse we're going to ride a little bit longer, but we know full-well that there's a portion of our readership that really enjoys those new-fangled color photographs. We pride ourselves on having a little something for everybody around here, so here's some color for your day. Just a little, bit, though...

OK, if you guys just have to look at color photographs, we're happy to oblige you. VA-43 operated the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger for a short while, and was aboard CV-62 when Hal Andrews took this photo on 18 February 1960. 141812 apparently spent some time with VF-21 prior to her assignment to Fighting 43, resulting in a unique (and colorful!) set of markings. That's an unforgiving ocean out there, ya'll!  Andrews via Nankivil

Here's another Token Color Picture for today---149180 was still marked as an F8U-2NE when Bill Peake immortalized her in 1963. The Crusader managed to be both better and worse than her reputation made her out to be and that whole "last of the gunfighters" moniker didn't hold up when she finally reached combat, but she was a looker, and a hot rod to boot. Vought made pretty good airplanes once upon a time. Bill Peake Collection via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

So you say you want a little more color? How about a whole lot more color? The Crusader's lines could accurately be described as sensuous, which make her a natural for exotic paint jobs. 150909 was an F-8E and was with VF-194 when she was photographed on the ramp in July of 1966. We've seen numerous interpretations of the F-8's "sit" on model airplanes; this photo give a good idea of what one that's less-than-completely-fueled-up looks like.  Jansson via Nankivil Collection

It's Been a While...

That's a double-threat sort of intro, don't you know? It's been a while since we've run any Guard P-51s, and a couple of issues since we've run anything from the remarkable collection of Jim Sullivan. It's time to make amends, so let's take a look at a couple of South Carolina P-51s!

The Air Force had a whole bunch of P-51s on strength when the war ended in 1945, and the rapid development of the turbo-jet fighter was rapidly making the type obsolete. Quite a few of them ended up in the ANG during the late-40s and early-50s, and South Carolina's 157th FS/169th FG was one of the units that was active with the type. 44-73699 was among them and was photographed at Wilmington, North Carolina, during 1949. She's a Plain Jane but you can't disguise her elegance.  Sullivan Collection

Here's another view of 699. She's still got her tailwheel doors, but that feature would go away once the P-51 got back into combat in Korea. By that point in her career she wasn't doing a whole lot of dog-fighting, and max performance wasn't really required for her new-found air-to-mud role, although that was still a couple of years in the future when this was taken. Check out the buzz number presentation on the top of her wing!  Sullivan Collection

45-11607 was an interesting bird. She's wearing rocket rails and part of the antenna mast suite most commonly identified with VLR Mustangs in use during the last few months of the war in the Pacific. She's beginning to show her age here, but we like her anyway!  Sullivan Collection

Sometimes the Glory Days Weren't All That Glamorous

We've run a whole bunch of post-War Mustang shots since this project began, and we almost always mention her involvement in that big war that was going on back in the 1940s when we do it. Our next photo shows the type at the height of her glory while flying VLR missions from the newly-acquired air strip at Iwo Jima. Iwo was cramped, dirty, and dangerous. It was also a life-saver for the crews of the 20th's B-29s, both as an emergency field and as a forward base for the escorting P-51Ds that were increasingly finding their way into the final stages of the war against Japan. This photo shows an escort mission (probably from the 45th FG) in the process of recovering after a mission to Honshu. Those guys in the foreground are all pretty much just out of high school and college, and of the age to be foolin' around and having fun instead of flying six and eight-hour combat missions. Put your cursor on the photo and enlarge it, then look at their faces. Every picture tells a story, don't it?  Rocker Collection

We Like Jugs As Much As The Next Guy

And we especially like 'em when they're from the post-War Air Force!

The year is 1952, and there are still a few F-47Ds and Ns hanging around the regular Air Force. This example is from the 469th FIS and was photographed while doing an engine run-up in June of 1952. Her effectiveness as an interceptor would have been highly questionable at that stage of the game, but she'd make quite a model all the same---we like it!  Isham Collection

A Texan Up North

The T-6 Texan (the real one, not the Brazilian turboprop that's presently serving with the USAF as a trainer under that moniker) is an immortal airplane if ever there was one. We all know about the airplane, and most of us have built at least one or two models of the type during our time as scale modelers. If you happen to be in the market for another one for your collection we'd like to offer this image---it's a beauty!

If you've looked at any photos of Navy birds from the 50s you've probably noticed more than a few marked for the Reserve component at Grosse Ile. Those guys operated a little bit of everything, including this immaculate SNJ-6. 112034 was photographed at the Detroit airshow in July of 1955, and we'll bet she made quite an impression on everyone who saw her. She appears to be overall yellow with orange reserve bands, although reader comments are invited on that one ( ) . The photograph was taken by some guy named Menard and comes to us via Doug Barbier.  Barbier Collection

Happy Snaps

We started off this edition by saying it was going to be a hodge-podge of things we like. Today's Happy Snap fits that category; it's not an air-to-air, but was taken by reader and frequent contributor Mark Nankivil at a recent air show honoring Marine aviation. It's a Thing We Like!

The HH-53 family of helos has been around since the Vietnam era, and shows no sign of going away any time soon. Mark caught this one taxiing at an airshow in St Louis a few months ago and we're glad he did; we think it's a remarkable photo and a great way to end our day.  Nankivil

The Relief Tube

It's another day and, as usual, we've got a few comments and corrections to share with you:

First off, there was that F-86D with the goofy serial presentation. We asked for correction/clarification and got it in spades. Let us begin. First, from Maddog John Kerr: Phil, serial number is correct: 52-10006. 52-9983/10176 North American F-86D-50-NA Sabre c/n 190-708/901. John Next, from a reader known to us only as Michel: According to what I have: s/n 52-10006 F86D-50NA batch of 194 c/n 190-708/901, most where converted to F-86L. Michel  Finally, here's a correction from the guy who gave us the photo, Dave Menard:  Phil, Latest blog was out of sight still again! That serial on that 4th D was 52-10006, as I have a shot of a 40th D 52-10000 so assume both a/c arrived in Japan on the same aircraft carrier. And that NH ANG L was taken on 2 May 1959 a week before signing out from my unit at Pease to head for France and NO MORE DAMNED SAC! I took it so it is not my "collection". Wore my Ike jacket with my A/2c stripes and had an AP drive me around the ramp to shoot what I wanted after clearing it with the maint officer of the unit. Those were indeed the days on no fuss, no muss. Cheers, dave Thanks to Dave, Michel, and Maddog for the help on that one. While we're still at Misawa, we've got to fess-up to botching a credit line on one of the photos. Here's the correction from Dave Menard:  Phil, Col Eichenberg took the air to air of the 4th D while Tom Brewer shot the three ground shots. Cheers, dave  For the record, Dave told us that when he sent the photos. Apologies all around!

And while we're talking about "Dogships", here's a bit of further information on one of the shots from last issue from Michel:  Might be of of interest to know, but 52-4042 ended up in Japan ,and is now on display at Hamamatsu AB as 84-8104. Michel Thanks, Michel! It's always neat to hear that one of the birds we've illustrated has survived to the present day!

Finally, here's some food for thought from one of our readers:  Phil, Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I've enjoyed the great photography and content on your site. I'm currently flying HH-60G's in the Air Force, so I loved your classic Jolly Green pics a few weeks back! As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I really appreciate the way you constantly mention the hardships and sacrifice of the crews who have flown in to harm's way for our country over the years. Just like you and most of your other readers, I grew up on a steady diet of models and airshows. We all love that side of it, but I think modelers are sometimes guilty of getting "lost in the weeds" of slat positions and scale inches and forget that young men and women did, and continue to, fly these magnificent machines into the worst places in the world, losing their youth, heath, precious time with family and sometimes their lives in service to the nation. You bring the detail and history to your photos, but constantly remind your readers that many of these pictures were taken during terribly desperate times, and we owe a debt to those who have come before. It's refreshing and welcome.

One of these days, if I get a good enough snap of one of our birds inflight, I might pass it along for Happy Snaps! Thanks again for the great site…  Matt "Muddy" Mustain Thanks for that perspective, Matt, and Thank You for what you do.

And that's it for today. It's been a shorter issue than we'd like to have done but we're fighting buggy software again so, as we're fond of saying around here; be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Dog Days, A Guy We Owe, They Weren't All Fighters, Bug Suckers in the Ice, A New Hampshire Lima, a Havoc or Two, and Some Oldies Made New (Sortof)

Back in the Kennel Again

OK, it's a corny title. Even I'll admit it; on a Clever Scale of one to ten it's about a three, maybe. Trouble is, that's the best I've got, so it's what you get, at least this time.

Once you get past the name of the piece, though, we're in pretty high cotton. Marty Isham has shared a few more "Sabre Dog" images with us, and Dave Menard has kicked in some special birds from the Far East to add a little added spice to the mix. It is, all in all, a pretty good way to start a week. Let's take a look.

The F-86D was the hottest thing going in 1954, at least as far as interceptors were concerned. Its design philosophy was proving itself to be sound, and it was becoming obvious that one man could manage both an airplane and a weapons system that included an on-board air-intercept radar. Few people outside of the type's immediate community were fully aware of the slow-to-warm-up computerized throttle, or the spray and pray FFAR armament; it was, by golly, an Interceptor, as typified by 51-8291, an F-86D-35-NA, which was assigned to the 85th FIS at Scott when this photo was taken. She was eventually transferred to Taiwan. Modelers might want to take note of the extensive stencilling on this airframe.  Isham Collection

One thing the "Sabre Dog" didn't lack was color. Most of the operational USAF squadrons who operated the aircraft were liberally splashed with it from nose to tail as shown here by 52-4180, an F-86D-45-NA in service with the 97th FIS during 1954. "Hoosier Hotshot" was her name, and she was a good-looking girl. The sharp-eyed among our readers will notice the deployed drogue chute doors at the base of her vertical stab. The F-86D may have fallen a little short in the capabilities department, but it sure didn't lack for looks.  Isham Collection

The 498th FIS, also known as "The Gieger Tigers" (and stars of a USAF-produced short subject of the same name) were no strangers to colorful airplanes, as illustrated in this 1955-vintage photo. 53-0866 had the color, a little bit of notoriety (she was flown by "King" Lotz and is appropriately marked "King's Queen"), and had a checkered history to boot. She was built as an F-86D-60-NA, was converted to an F-86L, and ultimately ended up with the Royal Thai Airforce, being stricken in 1967. If you happen to be a modeler and like to open up panels and fill the resulting holes with lots of fiddley details, this should give you some ideas for doing that sort of thing to your "Dogship" model.  Menard via Isham

The 56th FIS was with the 575th ADG and was flying out of Selfridge when this air-to-air of 51-6243 was taken in 1955. The silver lacquer of Operation Lookalike was still several years away and this photo shows the contrasting shades of natural aluminum so typical of the F-86 family, an effect of anodic coatings on different alloys, to considerable advantage. You could find black anti-glare panels on the F-86D, but OD (and sometimes dark olive green) was far more common. The devil's in the details!  Isham Collection

Let's go back to Scott and take another look at the 85th FIS. The year is 1958, and 52-3801 has become far less colorful than her 1954-vintage sister shown at the beginning of this essay. She's picked up the legend US Air Force across her fuselage and lost that gorgeous lightning flash and badge in the process. This photo provides a really good look at her gas bags if you're into that sort of thing. 3801 was an F-86D-40-NA.  Isham Collection

53-1020 was an F-86D-60-NL and was with the 318th FIS when Peter Bowers snapped this classic study of her. The "Sabre Dog" managed to look elegant and agressive all at the same time, and was arguably one of the most beautiful fighter aircraft of the 1950s. This view shows why people think that way.  Bowers via Isham Collection

Up to this point we've been looking at aircraft assigned to the ZI but, as you may recall, your editorial team has a thing for aircraft once assigned to Misawa AB, having lived there ourselves. We mention that because we're going to close out today's pictorial on the F-86D with some images of the 4th FIS while they were assigned there in the late 1950s. Hot Dog! SABRE Dog!!!

Here's the squadron area on what we presume is an early-winter or late-spring day in Northern Honshu. Big doings are obviously afoot, although we don't know what they might have been at this distance from the event. We do know that 52-4247 was the squadron commander's bird and that it wasn't unusual for the 4th's "Dogs" to have names painted on them, although none are visible here. Those red and black checkerboard windbreakers on the ground crew were a normal feature of ramp life at Misawa; your editor had temporary ownership of a yellow and black one during his tenure there. There used to be a whole lot of color in the USAF!  Col. R. Eichenberg via Menard

OK, it's Mystery Meat time. The unit is the 4th FIS, and the place is still Misawa. The serial number displayed on the vertical is about ten kinds of goofy and an explanation is in order. We touched on this once before, with a display of incorrectly-done serials on another "Dogship" way back in a previous issue. Dave, it's time for you to come to the rescue again---WHAT is the s/n on this airplane?!  Brewer via Menard

That bunny sure got around, didn't it? In our experience the F-86Ds assigned to the 4th were a whole lot more likely to feature names than they were art, but the image on the nose of 52-4000 was (and, to those of us of a particular age group, still is) iconic. It suits he airplane, we think.  Brewer via Menard

And our final shot for today; an absolutely gorgeous air-to-air of 52-4042 in flight. This was obviously a planned photo hop since the pilot isn't wearing either oxygen mask or bone dome, but the airplane is ten kinds of beautiful. It's an appropriate way to end this study for today.

Another Legend is Gone

You've probably seen Bill Peake's work before in various and sundry publications. He was an historian and a photographer of exceptional abilities and, like so many others before him, has gone West. He passed back in February but is still with us in spirit by way of his remarkable photo collection, which his niece donated to the Greater Saint Louis Air and Space Museum. He was Mr. F-4 to a great many people and, thanks to the kindness of Mark Nankivil, we'd like to share this image of a very special Phantom with you today.

An F-4 is an F-4 is an F-4, except for when it's an F-110A, which was the type's original designation before the McNamara crowd decided that all the services should have the same designation system for their airplanes. They called it Commonality at the time, although a great many of us still tend to call it Unfortunate. Be that as it may, here's a photograph of the delivery of the very first F-110A to the Air Force in 1962. Colonels Graham and Laven (yes; that Laven) are doing the honors for the blue-suiters while a McDonnell rep goes through the motions of "handing over the keys". It was a different era and yes; we miss it.  Bill Peake Collection/Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

An Unexpected Mustang

Everybody knows the P-51D made it to Japan after the War, and that it was a common fixture there right up to the start of the Korean fracas. It wasn't just the fighter outfits that flew the immortal Mustang out of Japan, though, as shown by our next photo.

There's been a whole lot of buzz in the scale modeling world about Tamiya's recent release of the P-51D in 1/32nd scale and the kit is, without question, worthy of the hype. One thing about that release that's surprised us considerably has been the amount of ink (electrons?) being expended by folks saying they really wanted to do a VLR Mustang, a minor variation of the type that's just the least bit different than a "standard" P-51D. This ain't that, but if a FEAF-based P-51 is your cup of tea, then you might consider modeling a bird from the 82nd TRS, which was assigned to Johnson AB post-war. "Angel Face" was a well-worn D-model (and no; we don't know what the rest of that fuselage looks like!) when this photo was taken, but she's still quite the looker. Those post-War Mustangs hold considerable fascination for us---anybody have a photo that shows the rest of that airplane? Martin---are you there?  Rocker Collection

It Gets Really Cold in Iceland

Ask anybody who's ever been stationed at Keflavik or, if you don't know anybody who fills that particular bill, just hang around here and take a look at some more photography from Doug Barbier, a frequent contributor who flew out of Kef while flying F-4Es with the 57th FIS. Here's a quick lead-in from Doug:
Kef 1979, ASA 25 film. Low light. Yes a couple are soft... oh well ... 2-fers coming and going on takeoff, Winter & Spring of 1979 from the RSU unit. Take a look at that slab as the nosewheel comes off the ground. 3 bags worth of gas was a lot of weight to lift...

No, there wasn't any sort of war going on except for that Cold one (both literally and figuratively in this instance), but Kef wasn't exactly a dream assignment. On the plus side you could occasionally intercept the odd Soviet whatever-it-might-have-been-at-the-time, but there was a whole lot of boredom there too. Add to that Iceland's less-than-hospitable conditions for a large part of the year and you begin to gain a new-found appreciation for the guys (and gals!) who flew in The Peacetime Air Force. It was a tough racket...
All five of the proceeding photos are by Doug Barbier

Hang Out Here Long Enough and You'll Be Amazed At What Turns Up

And what's turning up today is a photo we've run once before. A couple of issues ago we ran a shot of a mystery F-86L submitted by one of our readers up in The Great White North with the comment that the unit was unknown. Last issue we mentioned in our Relief Tube that, based on the aircraft's conspicuity markings and tail stripe, we were fairly certain the airplane was with the New Hampshire ANG. We still feel that way so we went back and dug out the photo that pointed us in that direction:

53-0593 was originally built as an F-86D-55-NA, but had been converted to F-86L status by the time this photo was taken. New Hampshire's 133rd FIS was flying the "Dogship" between April of 1958 and August of 1960, and their markings very closely match those of our mystery photo. Presuming the dates fall into the proper range, we think we've got a match. (Apologies for running this photo twice, but we thought it was important!)  Menard Collection

The Name Was Appropriate

The Army Air Forces got in the habit of naming their airplanes during the late 1930s, giving birth to such monikers as Tomahawk, Mitchell, Flying Fortress, and so on and so forth. Some (probably most, if the truth be known) were the offspring of some PR type, and most were allegorical. One name proved to be prophetic in the war soon to come, however. We'd like to finish up today's edition with a quick photo essay on Douglas Aircraft's aptly-named A-20 Havoc.

The A-20 got to the Pacific early in the game, as typified by "Hell and Fire", an A-20A built as 40-3160, shown here with the 89th BS out of 3-Mile Strip at Port Moresby during 1942. A lot of the early Havocs ended up in the jungle or the ocean, but "Hell and Fire" survived to be tranferred to the RAAF. She was finally scrapped out for parts in 1945.  Rocker Collection

Several A-20s achieved a level of fame while flying with the 5th AF; 40-0166 was one of them. She was another A-20A from the 89th, this time named "Little Hellion", and was badly damaged by Japanese defensive anti-aircraft fire during a raid out of Port Moresby on 01 November, 1942. She made a belly landing at Seven-Mile Strip, and was salvaged out for parts. Her remains were mated to another damaged Havoc, 39-0724, and she became "The Steak and Eggs Special", tasked with bringing in food and booze from Australia. Her luck ran out in 1943 when she got caught in bad weather near Cooktown and went in hard. It wasn't always the enemy that got you...  Rocker Collection

The A-20 was an early recipient of the legendary Pappy Gunn's affections, and was modified into a strafer pretty early in the game. By the time the A-20G came along the type had been developed into a ground attack aircraft par excellance. We've all seen "Eloise" before, but this image came off a first-generation print and is a little bit better quality than we're used to seeing, which makes it worth running. To some of you we're probably beginning to sound like a broken record, but we'd like to invite you to look at the face of her pilot. It wasn't fun, and it certainly wasn't any sort of games. It was a war, ya'll. Thanks, GI.  Rocker Collection

This A-20G belonged to the 312th BG's commanding officer and was a heavily-used veteran when this photo was taken. There were never that many A-20s in the theater (there were never that many airplanes in the 5th at all in the early days) and they were used hard in the rough-and-tumble arena of low-altitude attack. They were obsolete by the time the war ended, but they'd done their part.  Rocker Collection

The 3rd BG entered the war as the 3rd Attack but was quickly redesignated. This photo is lacking in quality but is fascinating because it shows a wing-mounted aux tank in place. The late-model A-20s (this one's an A-20G) could carry external fuel as well as other stores, but you don't see it very often. It's probable that this aircraft was about to be ferried to a different field.  Rocker Collection

Sometimes we see a photograph that's just so remarkable we have to run it. This is one of those photographs. The A-20G is from the 312th BG and is helping to cover the landings at Cape Sansapore. Look closely at the center of the photograph and you'll see a downed aircraft at the base of that plume of smoke, and a PBY circling prior to landing to try to rescue the crew. We hope those guys got out of there, but it doesn't look good...  Rocker Collection

Let's finish up today with yet another famous Havoc; "Little Isadore" from the 3rd BG's 89th BS. Your editor first became aware of this airplane back in the late 1960s when a profile drawing of her appeared in an old IPMS Quarterly. The markings showed up again years later as a decal offering in AMT's often-underrated A-20G kit, and model of her is sitting on your editor's display shelves as this is written. We consider it to be a tribute.  Rocker Collection

Everything Old is New Again

Yeah, I know... I just said we were done for the day, but we aren't. Rick Morgan sent in a few images of some special Navy birds that are all painted up in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation. Here are Rick's comments about the photos: Phil: If you haven’t been following the CONA birds, there are quite a few more out there. I was up at Whidbey for the VAQ-132 homecoming (the first EA-18G return) and was able to shoot these guys. Credit for the CONA schemes goes almost entirely to CAPT Rich Dann USN Reserve, who has worked from the AirPac staff to get drawings and concepts out to units and companies to make this happen. The P-3C is the “bounce bird” (trainer) for VQ-2.  Rick

Most of us grew up in an era of Light Gull Grey and white P-3s, but they started their career in the NAV in white over Engine Grey. VQ-2 painted one of their P-3Cs, 158206, in that original scheme for the Centenial. We like it better than the current scheme, but that's just how we are.  R. Morgan

If you're going to be painting airplanes in commemorative schemes, at least one of those paint jobs needs to be overall GSB. VFA-204 repainted F/A-18A 162866 up as a 1951-vintage Reserves bird, which is appropriate when we remember that 204 is a Reserves unit. We've never thought of the Hornet as a particularly elegant airplane, but this paint job shows how pretty the bird really is. We like it!  R. Morgan

 Finally, how about something in classic Tri-Scheme? VA-129 took one of their EA-18Gs (166899) and did it up as a bird from the Shangri La ca. 1944. We like the GSB a little bit better on the F-18 airframe, but that's all a matter of individual taste. We're just glad the NAV decided to follow this path for there 100th year---neat stuff!  R. Morgan

Happy Snaps

We're going to start out today's Happy Snaps with a request to all of our ex-military aviators; we're always looking for photography, and would like to invite any of you who might like to share yours with our readers (for Happy Snaps or otherwise) to contact us at . Full credit is always given and we can pretty much guarantee that our readers will enjoy your work. Here's a somewhat exceptional example of what we mean:

We haven't run much on the "Six" around here, but that's going to change in the near future. Meanwhile, let's let Doug Barbier tell you about this shot: Here's an F-106 from Fresno moving up on the T-bird for some pictures. The IR dome is up to help find that little bugger. We're out in the Whiskey areas off the California coast in 1977. Beauty! Thanks, Doug.  Barbier

The Relief Tube

We've got a couple of comments to share, so let's get right down to it:

Phil, LOVED the Dogs and USAFE Thuds! Here are some comments now on latest blog:
1. that "97th" bird isn't, but is a 93rd FIS bird out of Kirtland AFB NM, not Nellis (no Sunrise Mountain range in background like most Nellis shots show).
2. 30931 of the 56th taken on Wright Field, probably on Armed Forces Day(remember those, third Saturday of every May?).
3. 30792 & 30891have same badge on fins but I wonder if that is 30th Air Division or 4708th Air Defense Wing? 792 was a 94th bird enroute to or from Yuma from Selfridge for a gunnery meet.
4. 598 does indeed have masking tape on that radar access panel on top of nose forward of cockpit, but no tape on that blue area under intake which is white bordered. Notice the difference in coloring. I suspect the tape was put on the top panel lines so the bird could get a wash down before open house?
5. That light colored fabric covered aileron on that P-40 was not finished in zinc chromate (no reason for it on linen!)but either clear or silver. Just love your blogging, even on Navy a/c! cheers, dave That's high praise indeed---thanks, Dave! (And to our more alert readers: Yes, we did go back last week and fix a couple of those captions after reading Dave's comments. You aren't really going crazy, or at least you aren't going crazy because of this!) And, for those of you who are too young to have been around back in the 50s, here's a somewhat unusual contribution from Dave. To a young boy growing up loving airplanes it was the stuff dreams were made of:

Boy, does that ever bring back memories! Thanks, Dave!

And from Doug Barbier:  Absolutely OUTSTANDING stuff in the latest blog. I love Thuds.... and Sixes...  I have to agree with Dave Menard on a couple Sabre issues though.. to wit:

23814 is 93rd FIS bird out of Albuquerque. I would bet a whole bunch of $$ that the reason it doesn't have tanks is that the air density at the altitude there wouldn't allow him to get off of the ground safely with them. Even today, the airliners have to down load passengers, fuel or both, to be legal for takeoff in the summer. Been there, done that. (my record is an 11,500' takeoff roll from Delhi India in the summer with a max gross weight B-777. Hot & heavy makes for an interesting day - or night, as the case may be.)

30891 of the 47th FIS at Niagara Falls IAP has a 30th Air Division badge on the tail, as does 30792, which is from the 1st FIW at Selfridge. Those with really sharp eyes can see the yellow & red portions of the arrow that goes through the 30th Air Div Shield on the tail. Red for 71st, Yellow for 94th. And I'll agree with Dave - it's a 94th FIS bird headed for Yuma.
30641 - hmmm Red, 71st FIS OK. But note that the tail has been painted out with aluminum lacquer. And 71st FIS "L" models are really rare. According to the Air Force, they never got them. They did.... just like the 94th (almost) got F-104A's. Saner minds prevailed however and the jets went to the 56thFIS down at W-P instead. I don't think I would have been very happy trying to land a zipper on a slick 9,000' runway in the winter, with a crosswind to boot, at Selfridge. But I know that they had pilots already checked out before the change was made. Wouldn't THAT have been something to see!

Keep up the great work. Doug  Thanks, Doug, and keep those corrections and additions coming!

Next, a Head's Up for our readers. Osprey have just released a new title called F-100 Super Sabre Units of the Vietnam War by Peter Davies and Dave Menard. We have yet to see the book but have no doubt it will be a must-have for most of our readers and we're looking forward to it.

And that's all we've got for today. Thanks for stopping by, and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again real soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Walkin' the Dog, The Chief Goes to France, Hawks of the 49ers, And a Turkey Comes A Cropper

Dog Days at the Blog

There's a method to the madness around here, although you'll have to admit the pattern is rarely evident to the casual observer. Then again, it's rarely evident to us either, which ought to tell us all something. One thing that should be evident to all concerned, however, is our love for The Silver Air Force of the 1950s and early 1960s. One of the airplanes that typified that era was the North American F-86D (and L) Sabre, colloquially known as the "Sabre Dog" or "Dog Ship".

Whatever you choose to call it, The "Dog" was a mainstay of the ADC for almost a decade, first as the F-86D and then, later in its career, as the F-86L. (Those L-models were conversions from existing Ds, so don't go looking for purpose built Limas; there aren't any!) The type was even sold overseas, both as the D and the gun-armed export-only K. It's an airplane that just screams Fifties Air Force, and today we're going to look at the first of several installments featuring the type. Are you ready? Alright then; let's get down to it!

The "Dog" was an early example of the dedicated interceptor concept and, like its American contemporaries the F-89 and F-94, featured a primitive intercept and fire control system linked to a battery of 2.75-in FFARs which, in the case of the F-86D, deployed in a 24-round tray that dropped down out of the forward fuselage. The system was impressive in concept but a lot like sticking a shotgun out of the window of a car moving at highway speed in practice; you might hit what you were aiming at, but then again you might not. It was a flawed concept but was the best thing available before functional air-launched guided missiles, and their delivery systems, became available.  51-6030 was from the 37th FIS and was photographed at a gunnery meet at Yuma in 1955; that's a load of rockets in the foreground. That trailer would be relatively easy to scratch-build and the scene could make for a really neat diorama.  Isham Collection

The 49th FIS was another early operator of the "Dogship" and a section from that squadron is shown here in flight during 1955. The 49th's markings were simple but effective, and worked well with the lines of the aircraft. The markings were pretty, but looks aren't everything and the airplane was intended to be an interceptor, ready to launch at a moment's notice to go get the Bad Guys. The F-86D's throttle assembly featured a primitive computer in the linkage, and that computer took several minutes to become toasty-warm and fully operational after the engine was started, which severely compromised any sort of quick reaction time as far as interception was concerned. The problem was eventually resolved but the early "Dogs" were crippled until it was fixed.  Isham Collection

Compromised as it was, the "Sabre Dog" was a favorite on the airshow circuit of the 1950s. It was hyped quite a bit in the press of the times, there were plastic kits of it available, and it looked neat too. The fact that it never quite lived up to its promise was secondary and it fortunately never had to go to war. This shot of a 95th FIS F-86D, taken during an airshow at Andrews in 1956, shows off the slats and rocket tray to advantage, as aerospace writers are wont to say from time to time.  Isham Collection

The "Dog" was pretty airplane from any angle, as effectively demonstrated by this bird from the 15th FIS in flight during 1957. The markings on 52-3722 are, once again, simple yet effective. The "Dogship" utilized smaller gas bags than did the day fighter F-86 variants; the F-86D was equipped with a fuel-guzzling afterburner and there was just no way to get enough fuel in the airplane. In theory an interceptor doesn't need a whole lot of gas, but the United States is a moderately-large chunk of real estate, meaning that you could spend a fair amount of time up there trying to find the Bad Guy and get into a firing position, all the while watching the needle on your fuel gauge drop towards "E" (which in this case could easily stand for "ejection"). We had to start somewhere, though, and the F-86D was unique in that it pioneered the single-seat interceptor concept in the USAF.  Isham Collection

The year is 1957 and we think the location is Kirtland, probably during a gunnery meet---we're saying that because there are no gas bags under the wings, which implies that somebody was looking for max performance out of that bird. It's from the 93rd FIS and appears to be taxiing out for a sortie; note the airman to the left of the photo directing another aircraft. Isham Collection

Some "Dogships" wore what might be called Classic paint jobs. The 37th FIS used a really pretty scheme that featured yellow both fore and aft. This classic air-to-air is a great way to end our F-86D coverage and slide on over into a look at the F-86L. We'll pick up the "Dog" story in a later edition.  Isham Collection

L comes after D, just in case your own personal alphabet tells a different story. 53-0891 was built as an F-86D but morphed into an F-86L a couple of short years later. She's shown here while on display at a public airshow in 1957, and is somewhat unusual in that she's got an intake screen in place. That screen was probably a Good Idea considering the stuff kids used to throw down intakes at air shows Way Back When, but it's still rare to see one in public. This particular bird was assigned to the 47th FIS/30th AD when the photo was taken. Things were different in the fifties...   Isham Collection

Here's another F-86L on display, this time from the 56th FIS. Your editor can remember getting to sit in cockpits, play in cargo bays, and poke and prod just about every place a kid could get into on those airplanes, and nobody seemed to mind. An airshow was something to look forward to all year back in those days---it was special, ya'll.  Isham Collection

If you don't know what you're looking at all "Sabre Dogs" look pretty much the same, but you can tell an L from a D by the enlarged wingtips (which you can rarely see, of course!) and the datalink antenna for the SAGE equipment sticking out of the fuselage in front of the port wing. The Ls generally had properly-functioning throttles too, but by the time the Lima came along the writing was on the wall; the introduction of the Convair F-102A was near at hand. 53-0792 was photographed at Kirtland in 1957 and gives us a good view of both that SAGE antenna and her weapons tray.  She was from the 94th FIS at Selfridge and was most likely on her way to or from a gunnery meet.  Isham Collection

The "Dogships" were all F-86s at the end of the day, which meant they were relatively simple to operate and didn't require a whole lot of specialized GSE for support---manning up was still done The Old Way in the "Dogs". This pristine example of the type is an F-86L assigned to the 71st FIS/30th AD and was a flight commander's aircraft when she had her portrait taken in early 1957. Note that both variants of the F-86D had a retracting step to replace the obsoleted gun panel that was used for entrance and egress on the F-86A thrugh F.  Isham Collection

The 83rd FIS had the F-86L on strength when this photograph of 53-0598 was taken in 1958. We're guessing she's either going into or, more likely, judging from all that masking tape, coming out of a visit to Corrosion Control. Note the deployed slats; none of the "Dogships" had hard wings.  Isham Collection

The "Sabre Dog" was a dying breed in the regular Air Force by 1959, but a few were still in squadron service even though most of the F-86Ds and Ls were quickly going to the Guard. 53-0803 was with the 95th FIS when photographed at Scott AFB in 1959. She doesn't look bad at all, but her days as an effective interceptor are pretty much behind her. For the next 20 years ADC would belong to the delta, but that's a different story.  Isham Collection

It's time to end today's look at the F-86D family but there's more to come, so stay tuned. We aren't done with the "Dog" just yet!

Some "Thuds" in Europe

It's a familiar story, and most amateur aviation historians can quote it chapter and verse: The F-105D Thunderchief was built for nuclear war but ended up being attrited into oblivion in Southeast Asia. That's a pretty fair assessment of  what happened, but there's a part that some folks don't know about---the "Thud" stayed around in Europe far longer than a lot of folks realize. Let's take a look back at the F-105D while the type was assigned to the 36th TFW assigned to Bitburg AB, Germany, in 1965.

Welcome to France! The year was 1965, and these F-105D-10-REs from the 36th were spending a little time at Laon. The European-based "Thuds" had mostly gone through Operation Lookalike's application of silver lacquer by the time this photo was taken from a taxiing C-47 by former co-worker Richard Franke. The Silver Air Force was on its way out, but it was going out with a bang.  Franke

60-0450 was another F-105D-10-RE and was showing the effects of operational life on the continent when this photo was taken in July of 1965. USAFE's "Thuds" didn't have racks for external ordnance, but were still fitted out for the tactical nuclear strike mission utilizing their rotary bomb bays. Those days of dedicated nuclear strike were about to change forever...  Franke

It rains quite a bit in western Europe, and the ramp at Laon frequently looked like it does in this photo. The F-105D had as good an all-weather capability as any tactical aircraft in the world during this time period, though, and was considerd to be a true all-weather strike fighter. 0471 survived both USAFE and the Vietnam War to be restored for the Yanks Air Museum in 2002. She was one of the few.  Franke

Here's a 3/4 rear shot of 0471 showing off the afterburner petals, which on the F-105 also doubled as speed brakes. The "Thud" was never much of a turning machine, but a clean example would leave almost everything in the dust at low altitude. She rarely got the chance to show that side of her personality in the SEA fracas,  but she was destined to become the stuff of legends all the same. Republic knew how to build fighters, ya'll.  Franke

And a final shot of 0471 sitting on that rain-soaked ramp at Laon. The writing's already on the wall for the "Thud" in USAFE; check out the camouflaged F-105D sitting behind her. The Thunderchief was about to leave the world of the mundane and enter the realm of the Legendary.  Franke

It Was a Crummy War

It's easy to glamorize things from nearly 60 years worth of distance, but the air war in the Pacific was a thoroughly dirty, nasty little war, with precious little glamor to it. The 49th FG were in it from almost the beginning, being formed in Australia in early 1942 and incorporating a handful of Philippines and Java campaign veterans into its ranks. It was a hot outfit from the very beginning, overshadowed (and some, including this writer, will dispute that) only by the 475th FG during the latter years of the war after the best and the brightest were taken from the previously-existing fighter groups to create that outfit.

The 49th flew the P-40, P-47, and P-38 in combat during its stay in the Pacific. Today, thanks to the kindness of Bobby Rocker, we're going to take a look at them during their time with the P-40.

The 49th was quick to move to New Guinea after their combat debut in the skies over Darwin. Here's an excellent study of an unidentified P-40E from the group undergoing maintenance at 30-Mile Strip near Port Moresby. She's wearing "British" camouflage but her undersurfaces appear to be in Neutral Grey and she's wearing the "U.S. ARMY" legend under her wings, something not always found on Warhawks taken from British contract. Her port aileron is interesting; it doesn't appear to be deflected and is substantially lighter in hue than the surrounding airframe, which suggests it may be in the light blue-gray specified for export P-40Es. It could also be in yellow zinc chromate primer (unlikely) or clear-doped linen; without a color photo it's almost impossible to determine which one it actually is.  Rocker Collection

Most of these Warhawks were with the 9th FS when photographed at 30-Mile Strip. For some reason most of the "British" P-40Es ended up in the 9th and the RAF-style camouflage displayed here, plus their high squadron numbers, confirm that unit. Check out the parking apron---that red dirt would become a sea of mud during the frequent rains that fell on the region. There was nothing fun about war in the Southwest Pacific.  Rocker Collection

Certain of the 49th's P-40s have become famous because of the number of times they've showed up in books and periodicals. No. 34 was assigned to the 7th FS, and this photograph shows a detail often overlooked; the aircraft name "Pistoff" is yellow, but is trimmed in white. There aren't many aftermarket decal sheets for this bird, but that name has been given in overall yellow at least once. It's something to watch out for if you're building a model. That's her pilot, Don Lee, standing by her nose. He's happy here, obviously proud, and young. New Guinea would age him, as it aged everyone who fought there. That's something we often forget when we build models of the airplanes from those days. Next time you decide to have yourself an adult beverage, consider lifting your glass to those guys. They deserve it, they earned the right to that sort of tribute with their blood.  Rocker Collection

Here's "Scatterbrain" from the 7th FS, photographed at Dobodura during 1943. That dark patch on her nose is frequently depicted as a neatly-defined separate color in the drawings that appear in aviation monographs. It's undoubtedly a separate color, but the demarcation is anything but neat. Check out those "Kelly" helmets worn by some of her ground crew too; that would be a neat touch for a diorama, we think.  Rocker Collection

The P-40K was a rarity in the 49th, only operated for a short time by the 7th FS. This example from "Nick Nichol's Nip Nippers" is being gassed up on the field at Dobodura. A few of the 7th's K-models were delivered in the "British" scheme, and this otherwise unidentified example may well have been one of them. Note that the WWI-vintage "Kelly" helmets from the previous photo have now been replaced by government-issue tropical sun helmets. New Guinea was a lousy place to fight a war.  Rocker Collection

"Vera" is one of those famous P-40s from the 49th; her photo has shown up all over the place over the years. One thing that nobody seems to have noticed is that she's carrying artwork in front of her fuselage corcarde---there may also be some sort of marking back there on her rudder, but the light-colored shape that appears on that surface may also be a repair patch. Once again, we may never know... Rocker Collection

The 8th FS is perhaps best remembered for its colorful P-40Ns. Here's "Norma" being salvaged after an incident involving a collapsed port landing gear. Of special interest is the way the white theater markings extend to her MLG doors. Her spinner is in at least two different colors, and may in fact be in three. Even the "mundane" airplanes in the 49th were interesting!  Rocker Collection

Here's another 8th FS P-40N undergoing salvage. This may be a different view of "Norma" but is identified as being at a different airfield and probably is a different ship. That treatment around the national insignia is interesting, as are the armed GIs surrounding the aircraft; you could never describe any of the northern New Guinea airfields as truly secure. That mud you see was a constant of life in the Solomons. With it came mosquitoes, malaria, and all sorts of other assorted nastiness. Did we mention that it was a lousy war?  Rocker Collection

The late dash-number P-40Ns were equipped to carry stores, including auxilliary fuel tanks, under the wings as illustrated by this often-reproduced photograph of the 7th FS' "Rita". There are any number of plastic kits of the P-40N available, but the long out-of-production AMT offering in 1/48th scale was, if we recall correctly, the only kit to offer that option. Of course, they put the wrong exhaust stacks on their model, and it's been effectively replaced by Hasegawa's kit. They did it, though, and that has to count for something!

Froggy Went A-Courtin' and Turkey Came a Cropper

When we recently ran several of Jim Sullivan's TBM photos we did it because we thought it made for a neat article. Then, a little over a week after we ran the original piece, we read where someone on one of the modeling boards was modeling a VU-1 TBM for his collection, which reminded us that Jim had sent along a late-comer to that photo essay. It's a neat photo so we're going to break precedent and run it today. We hope you enjoy it.

It's neat to be able to do a headstand unless, of course, you do it in an airplane. This TBM-3U from VU-7 did that very thing on 8 May, 1949, and here she is; 85959 is in all her Target Tug glory but sitting in a somewhat undignified positon. She was back in service soon enough; the pilot's humiliation probably lasted a little longer. Darren, this shot's for you!  J. Sullivan Collection

Reader's Rides

Very few of our readership own their own aircraft, and fewer still own ex-military examples of same. That means that we probably aren't beginning a new section of the blog today, but one of our readers is getting ready to go aviating in a rather unique airplane and we thought you might enjoy seeing it.

If you were to ask us exactly what a Pilatus P2 was, we'd have to plead ignorance. We know it's a Swiss-built trainer, and it sure looks like it's stolen a lot of its design, as well as that Argus powerplant, from certain Arado and Focke Wulf designs of the 1930s, but once you get past that we're pretty much at a loss. This one lives near Austin, Texas, and is being restored (and will ultimately be flown) by a team including RIS reader Simon Diver. We think his model airplane kit is a whole lot neater than ours are. It's a matter of perspective...  via Diver

Happy Snaps

We've bragged on Doug Barbier's air-to-air work many times before, and we haven't shown any of it the past issue or two. It's time to make amends:

Doug spent some of his "Hun" time with the Arizona ANG---here's one of their F-100Fs breaking ground and heading for the range Back in The Day. The F-100 was one of those airplanes that looked like it was going fast even when it wasn't, and this example is beautifully captured here. Thanks, Doug!   Barbier

The Relief Tube

Given the fractuousities we experienced with the equipment last time around we can honestly say its a relief of the highest magnitude to be able to get out a "normal" edition. That said, we do have some entries for the Relief Tube today, so let's get started.

First off is that photo of the disassembled "Scooter" that looked like a model airplane project gone wrong. As we suspected it turned out to be one of Maddog John Kerr's shots, but it's a fascinating airplane in its own right. First, let's hear from Maddog:  Phil, yes it is my photo. It was taken in September 1992 at Buckley ANG, CO. I have it marked as an NA-4E. I believe the aircraft had been on display there, and was in the process of being airlifted to New York state. Believe it is now on display at the Village of Oriskany New York. John  Rick Morgan noticed some other details on the photo and has provided this addtional information for us:  Phil: Regarding the detached Scooter 148613, it’s actually a YA4D-5 (YA-4E) and was one of two prototypes for the E-model. It was apparently delivered with A-4C nose and intakes . The China Lake page at the Skyhawk Association site shows it in proper configuration as an NA-4E, so it appears to have spent most of its life as a test aircraft. It’s now on display at Oriskany NY marked for VA-163.   Rick   Thanks, Morgo. Rick also provided a link to the Skyhawk Association Web Page, which is well worth checking out if you've got a spare minute. That address is:

Chris Banyai-Reipl, who publishes Internet Modeler, had this to say about that F-86L shot we ran last week:
Hi. I just wanted to drop you a line and say, first off, thanks for your blog and the efforts of the old Replica in Scale. I still read those magazines for inspiration and to remember how modeling used to be.

On the F-86D at the end of your column, I have some updated information for you. Unfortunately, I do not have a squadron for you, but I can tell you that it is in fact an F-86L, not an F-86D. While the easiest identifier for the F-86L is the SAGE antenna on the left side, there are other clues to the type. As the F-86L had the 6-3 wing with the 12" tip extension, the straight pitot tube and ailerons not going to the tip of the wing are also good clues. Of course, in that photo, you can't see the wingtips, so that easy identifier is not going to help. However, the 6-3 extension will, as at the root it places the leading edge of the wing ahead of the angle point on that prominent fuselage panel. The F-86D has the leading edge of the wing aft of that angle point. Finally, the junk behind the seat under the canopy is different. The F-86L is much more tightly packed with boxes and stuff. It's more open on the F-86D, but that can be tough to discern from an angle or a distance.

I went through all of this working on my book and it took me a while to figure it all out. Once I did, though, I discovered quite a few more F-86Ls than I had figured! This photo is particularly interesting, as I haven't come across many fluorescent F-86Ls with the star-n-bar in the center of the fuselage. I look forward to seeing if you find out the unit, as I'd love to add that example to my 2nd edition, when I get to it (I need to finish up the book on the F-89 and F-94 first, though).

Again, thanks for all the great work you've put into this hobby of aviation history and scale modeling! Chris  Thanks Chris, both for the kudos and for your comments. As an addendum, we're now more than certain that particular F-86L is from the New Hampshire ANG; its paintwork and markings (that tail stripe) tally perfectly with the 133rd FIS' livery for the time period in question.

In our recent TBM photo essay we ran a shot of a "Turkey" marked with a ZA tailcode and requested help with its identification. Tommy Thomason came to the rescue on that one: According to Elliott, Aircraft Circular Letter No. 156-46 dated 7 November 1946 established a two-letter tail code for Naval Reserve Air Stations, with the first letter identifying the station and the second, the squadron's mission. In this case, Z was Squantum and A was Attack. This became a one-letter tail code per Naval Air Reserve Training Command Memorandum No. 160-48 dated 23 September 1948, less than two years later, dropping the aircraft class letter. T  Tommy also had this to say about one of the captions in our recent FJ-1 piece:  "(FJ-1) 120346 was assigned to the Navy's AT-3 when this photo was taken at Pax River in 1948." The caption implies that AT-3 was a unit. The test functions at NATC were divided into divisions. The names have changed, mergers have occured, etc. but at the time there was an Armament Test division. You'll also see ST for Service Test, ET for Electronics Test, FT for Flight Test, TT (my favorite) for Tactical Test, etc. sometimes followed by a number, sometimes not. My guess is that the number was another way for the division to keep track of the airplanes assigned to it. T  Thanks as always, Tommy!

Mike McMurtrey offered an insight to the ID of one of those TraCom transports we ran a while back:

Thought I had sent this to you last week, but just now discovered that I sent it to myself! She was indeed BuNo 50743 (c/n 26079, ex-USAAF 43-48818). Here is her complete history:
Del Date 24 Sep 1944, San Diego
FAW 29 Sep 1944
VH-5 5 Oct 1944
VE-3 Dec 1944
VE-1 Jan 1945
FAW-14 17 Mar 1945
ComAirPac SCF Apr 1945
Pearl Harbor oct 1945
Alameda Nov 1945
Jacksonvill mar 1946
Com NABS 17 Aug 1946
NAS Kodiak Sep 1946 - May 1950
MCAS Yuma 3 Aug 1960
NAATC Kingsville 1 May 1963
Corpus Christi 18 Nov 1965
Struck 17 Apr 1958 (sic) - probably error for 1968

This info comes from the latest edition of Air Britain's DC-3 book courtesy Matt Miller. My earlier report that she was reported for sale at Corpus Christi in 1949 came from the info in the first edition of that same book, a copy of which is in my possession, and which has obviously been corrected and updated. Guess it's time for me to spring for the new edition.  Mike  Thanks for sticking with that one, Mike! We appreciate the information. (And we agree with you---go buy that book!)

Finally, Dave Menard had a comment on that 50th TFW "Hun" we ran last time around:  Phil, GORGEOUS shot of 814! I worked on her during my time with the 50th TFW (May 59-May 62). The red fences and trim on the nose meant she was a 417th TFS a/c out of Ramstein AB Germany. Since the buzz number is painted over, the photo was taken post January 1965 when T.O. 1-1-4 deleted the buzz number section. Did not take long for them to get painted over, darn it. As Bob Hope used to say, thanks for the memories. Cheers, dave  We're glad you enjoyed it, Dave, and thanks to you for all the support you continue to give to the RIS project!

It's now officially all over but the shoutin', at least as far as this edition is concerned. Thanks for your patience last week, and keep those cards and letters coming ( ). Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again next week.