Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time For a Break, A Couple of Cats,

A Pause for the Cause or a Short Set?

Well, since we aren't in a band it probably isn't either one of those things, but to get straight to the point; this is going to be an exceptionally short edition of the blog. Our real job has been somewhat demanding of late and we're tired, the Down Side of which is that our editorial quality seems to diminish in direct proportion to our lack of sleep. Here, then, is what we're going to call a highly abbreviated version of RIS for your enjoyment. (But Fear Not! We'll be back full-bore next time!)

More Short-Cuts for the Wurger

Just a couple, though. Last time around we looked at a simple way to fix those normally ill-fitting gun-bay doors that live in the wing roots of the Eduard Fw190, and we promised to show you an alternative way to mount the engine. Here, in living color, is an example of That Way for your perusal.

Here you go---the proverbial One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words! There are some elemental truths to the way the engine fits in the radial-equipped Fw190s; it's a really tight fit in there, and the cooling fan fits pretty much flush with the front of the cowling. (It actually doesn't, but in 1/48th scale you'd be measuring that distance with a micrometer, so for practical purposes it does...) We talked about construction of the cowling last time, so today we're going to stick the engine inside of same. Literally. This shot provides a graphic example of just how crude your modeling can get if you want it to be that way; we aligned the magneto on the front of the engine properly using the cowl gun troughs as a guide, then carefully pushed the engine up into the cowling until the cooling fan was centered and aligned with the sides of the cowl ring, after which we ran some Tenax on the juncture of the engine's cylinder heads and the inside of the cowling. We stuck the engine's accessory section back there so we could have something to hold on to while pre-painting the cowling (the Germans described that assembly as a "power egg", an appropriate description in this particular instance).

Here's a slightly different view of the installation. Last time we mentioned that we cut off the kit's exhaust stacks and used only the stubbs, cementing them to the insides of the cowling in the appropriate places. This photo shows how that looks. We pre-painted the stacks with Testor Metalizer "Burnt Iron" but they could easily be painted black instead, because you can't see much of them except for the ends once the cowling's in place. The point to be taken here is that the engine bay is one of the Big Bugaboos of Eduard Focke Wulf Construction, and leaving most of the kit's structure out of there really simplifies things. Is it blasphemy? Maybe it is, but if you can't see it when the model's done then there's not a whole lot of point in going to all that trouble. If you're going to close the cowling we're convinced this is the Way to Go.

Remember last time when we showed you how to fit those darned gun bay covers? Here's how one looks when it's done. We didn't use any putty there at all; a little bit of judicious sanding took care of what few fit issues there were. Sharp-eyed readers (and we don't seem to have any other kind) will probably notice a couple of seams on the leading edges of the wings that need addressing. We'll fix 'em before the model is completed---look on it as our way of doing bodywork. A little bit here, a little bit there...

Since we're fixing things today and illustrating Short Cut Secrets, we'd may as well share another one. The background of the swastika on the Wurger we're modeling was apparently RLM 76; the whole insignia must have been masked off before the modified camouflage was applied to the airframe. The ideal way to do this on a model is to be really careful with the mask before you apply your decals but that's asking a lot of us. We'll fix that trim by holding a sticky note up to the edge of the insignia (and we're showing it bass-ackwards here---it's best not to ask why!) and using it as a quick and dirty paint mask. It works, and it ensures you won't go ripping your decals off the model like you might do if you'd masked with tape instead. Beauty!

This is a better view of what we're talking about. Just align the edge of the paper with the edge you want to straighten out on the model, hold the paper (or use the sticky part of that sticky note since it doesn't have enough tack to pull off a properly-applied decal) up against the airframe so overspray doesn't get underneath, and touch up the area with your trusty airbrush. It's simple, it's quick and  easy to do, and it works.

 Here's where we are up to this point in the construction of yet another Luftwaffe fighter. There's still some touch-up to be done as well as some weathering, and those masked edges we were discussing still need fixing. Well, actually they don't, because the model is now complete and sitting on the shelf. We haven't photographed it yet, though, so this is all you get to see for today. We'll show you how it came out next time.

Just Call Her Sweetheart

We've looked at the PBY before, but we just received these images a few minutes ago and figured they deserved a stop-press sort of treatment. Consolidated called her the Catalina, while the people who flew and crewed her often called her "Dumbo". The downed fliers, coastwatchers, and occasional civilian of the Southwest Pacific called her "Angel".

 VP-34 operated the PBY-5 out of Samarai (and no; we didn't mis-spell it---it's an island, not a Japanese warrior, in case you weren't aware of that) for part of 1943. This PBY-5 is beached there undergoing maintenance and refuelling between operations, providing us with an excellent view of her black paintwork. This view also shows off her radar antennae and the bombs fitted to her wing stations. Lots of folks think the "Black Cats" operated with torpedoes most of the time, but the majority of missions were flown with bombs. Either way, it took enormous intestinal fortitude to fly a lumbering, 175-knot airplane into combat at low level in the middle of the night. Those VP-crews never got the accolades they deserved...  Rocker Collection

The AAF flew the "Cat" too, as the OA-10A. This example is on the ground at Dipolong, on Mindanao, where downed aviators were brought by Philippine guerillas to be picked up and returned to an American installation. Dipolong was relatively secure by the time this photo was taken, but Mindanao wasn't. The unit was the 2nd ERS, and they were a gutsy bunch of guys even if they never dropped a bomb on a Japanese ship or ground installation. By the way; take a look just aft of the fuselage insignia; there appears to be some pretty extensive artwork there, although we can't make out what it is. Phooey!  Rocker Collection

Happy Snaps

Yep; it's that time already. We told you we were really tired! Here's a shot from old friend Tom Gaj to end our day with:

 Tom had an interesting career during his time with the Air Force; this photo was taken during one of his stints as a BUF EWO and was shot during the course of an intercept by our friends from The Great White North. We haven't seen the last of those Canadian Voodoos, so stay tuned!  Gaj

You Call This a Relief Tube?

No, we don't. Not this time, anyway. We've got some entries for the department but we're just too tired to sort them out, so this time around what you see is what you get---it's all we've got in us. It's Bed Time in Texas, ya'll! Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Voodoos From the North Country, Plugging Away at the Wurger, Some SpADs, That Korean B-17, and Some Flying Forts

Those Wily Canucks Know How to Fly

We were talking about Voodoos a few issues back and even showed you a few photos of the 111th FIS/147th FIG out of Ellington AFB to illustrate the point (whatever that might have been). Today we're going to look at a few more F-101s, but with a special twist; these airplanes all belonged to the Canadian Armed Forces and were down here visiting during one of Ellington's air shows.

A lot of folks thing the F-101 is pretty much a straight-line airplane. Straight ahead, straight up, straight down; the key word is Straight. That great big honking airplane wasn't much at turning, or so we've all been led to believe. Sometimes you shouldn't believe everything you hear.

The year was 1980, and the event was Ellington ANGB's annual air show. The 111th flew F-101Bs at the time and apparently had some sort of, shall we say "arrangement" with Canada's 425 Squadron, because a flight of their CF-101Bs were parked in the 111th's squadron area when we got there to photograph the flying part of the festivities. At this point it's important to remember where we were standing during that show, because we were completely surrounded by pilots and GIBs from the 111th during 425's flying demo. In short, we were smack in the middle of Voodoo Land. Those guys from "The Texans" were all pros, mostly high-time aircrew with a great many hours on the 101. They would be a critical audience, to be sure, and we settled in to listen to their comments as we watched the show. And comment they did.

425 had barely left the ground when one of their birds cranked around hard, went roaring back down the runway climbing all the way up to, oh, three hundred feet or so, then popped into a/b and pulled into a turn that's allegedly impossible for the Voodoo to perform at any speed or altitude. That started the ball rolling, and for the next ten minutes or so the air over Ellington was filled with Canadian F-101s going in every direction and performing every maneuver possible. The demonstration was absolutely awe-inspiring, as were the comments from the guys in the 111th:  "Oh schmitt! Did you see that?!" "Crup! They can't do that!" "Schmitt! Why won't the Guard let us do that?!" "Good Lord; would you look at those guys fly that airplane!" And on and on it went. Those Canadians were good!

Somewhere in our archives (but not where they belong, which is why you aren't looking at them today) are photos of that demo, and you'll get to see them them just as soon as we can figure out where we filed them. Meanwhile, here are some other images from that magical day.

101056 must have felt right at home on the ramp at Ellington that day since the tenant squadron there, the 111th FIS/147th FIG, was a Voodoo unit too. It's hard to realize just how big an F-101 is until you've seen it up close, with air or ground crew around to provide a sense of scale. She was a Big 'Un!

Here's what 056 looked like from the other side. All of the CF-101s we've seen have carried a 1010xx serial number, with the last three repeated on the nose. 425's aircrew relied on the 111th's mechs for support; we didn't see any ground echelon Canadians on that ramp at all. It was a neat way to go to an air show.  Friddell

And away we go! 056 was just beginning to rotate when we snapped this one. Check out the heat distortion behind the a/b cans; we're sure the F-101 could get off the ground in military power, but we're equally certain we've never seen it done. The Voodoo was a brute of a fighter no matter how you looked at her.  Friddell

The gear's just retracted and she's heading up, "up" being defined as a couple of hundred feet or so. The guys from the 111th were convinced that the Alouettes never got any higher than 5 or 600 feet that day. We're willing to believe it.  Friddell

Ellington is outside of Houston, which means it's near the Gulf of Mexico, which in turn means that there's always a great deal of humidity in the air. 425's F-101s were pulling contrails for almost all of their demo, and flashing humidity off the airframe every time they pulled g. It was impressive.  Friddell

Nowadays it's commonplace for high-performance jet fighters to land without a drogue chute, but all the Century Series used them out of necessity, particularly on short runways. In this shot 056 has just recovered and is taxiing back to the 111th's ramp. The Canadians in that airplane were grinning from ear to ear as they went by, and so were the "Texans" watching them. It was yet another time we wished we could have been in the O Club during the after-airshow festivities!  Friddell

425 made it back to Ellington again in 1981, and 101064 made the trek with them. It was a damp day; note the tarp over the IR sensor on the nose. That light under the GIB's cockpit was used to illuminate other aircraft during night-time interceptions. Imagine tooling along in your corporate Lear Jet and getting spotlighted by a Voodoo in the middle of the night...  Friddell

And this 101 just might show why the F-101B carried that spotlight. Look carefully under the pilot's cockpit and you can make out the outlines of the stars that used to be painted there. Decorations? Intercepts? We have no way of knowing, but given the Bravo Voodoo's mission we can make an educated guess. The silver scheme is noteworthy.  John Dienst

Mystery Meat. 101033 is from 425 Sqdn, but we don't know where the photo was taken or who took it. It's a great shot, though, and a fine way to end our look at the Voodoos of the Alouettes.  Friddell Collection

We Just Don't Know When to Stop Sometimes

That's why you have to endure yet another bout of Focke Wulf Fever of the Eduard Persuasion. The kit has already appeared on these pages once before, and you all surely know that we think it's a decent, if unnecessarily-complicated, rendition of Herr Tank's immortal fighter.

That part about being needlessly complicated has bothered us from the very beginning, and we addressed some of the kit's issues (to us, anyway; it's always possible that some of you may actually enjoy fighting with that sort of thing) when we first discussed the kit. We figured there was more to learn, though so we took The Plunge and started another one last weekend and, guess what? Yep! We learned another secret or two. Let's take a look:

One of the things everybody complains about when they build one of the Eduard Fw190s is that the covers to the wing gun bays don't fit in the closed position. There's even an aftermarket set providing resin replacements for them (although we can't remember who makes it). We've recently taken the tack that we don't want to buy aftermarket unless it's actually an improvement on the kit, and it seemed as though the stock Eduard parts could be made to work, so we tried an experiment.

The kit is Eduard's Fw190A-5, although what we've done here would obviously work on any of their Wurgers. If you look at the kit's instructions (unless you happen to be dealing with one of their "Weekend Editions", in which case you'll be doing good to even see the instructions) you'll note that they tell you to cut out the areas at the aft end of the gun bay opening following the definition given on the inside of the wings. You want to do that, and then very carefully fit those gun doors to the wing in the closed position. Once you're satisfied that they're as flush with the wing as you can get them, run a little Tenax or similar on the seam from the underside of the wing and allow it to dry. If you do it right you'll end up with something similar to what you see in the photo.

Some people build up their wings and install the complete assembly on the model, while others install the upper wings first and match the lowers to them. We tend to install the lowers, do whatever bodywork needs doing, and then install the uppers, and there's definite benefit to doing it that way if you're closing your gun bay doors on any of the Eduard kits. If you do it right you'll have a minimum of blending to do, and those doors will fit. Like everything else on the Eduard Focke Wulfs, you've got to watch your alignment, but that's what you do with every model you build anyway, isn't it? While we're here, there are another couple of things to notice. First, you don't want to install your shoulder harnesses until all of your bodywork has been completed. If you have to ask Why That Is you might want to consider a different hobby. Also, check out the mess we made by pulling the firewall out of there. You'll need it to close off the aft end of the gear wells and to install the spent cartridge case ejection chutes---oopsie! You'll also need the gun shelf, but you won't need anything that goes on it; just remember to cut off the gun barrels and cement them to the underside of the cowl gun panel before you close things up.

The cowling is one of those components that folks who write fancier than we do might describe as "challenging". It probably is a royal pain if you decide to build it opened up, but if you don't want to display the engine (and we never do) then the solution is easy. The cowl pieces all lock into place pretty easily once you've spent a minute or two figuring out how they fit together, so build up the assembly one component at a time, keying off the round part of the cowling and carefully applying Tenax or similar from behind as you go along. The cowling you see here required no filler at all, just a light sanding. Add the nose ring and you're done. Too easy, GI!

Here's one final shot to end today's study with. First, notice the spent cartridge case chutes at the aft end of the gear well. If you don't install that component you'll end up with a big honking rectangular hole in the bottom of your airplane, and you'll also lose a major feature of the Fw190 series in the process. As much as we're in favor of simplification you'll have to put it in there if you want the bottom of the model to look right. Next, check out that yellow ID panel and the paintwork surrounding the gear wells. In both cases, we find it's just a whole lot easier to paint them before assembly, while they're still really easy to get to and don't have any structure behind them to get dusted with overspray. We ended up doing minimal masking when we painted the leading edges after sanding the wing assemblies, and painting the bottom of the wing was a snap---no paint at all got in those wheel wells, thus eliminating touch-up in that area. As for that yellow panel, we paint it prior to assembly no matter who's Fw kit we're building. It just makes life easier.

The entire airframe has since been painted, although we haven't installed the engine yet. Total time thus far has been approximately 9 modeling hours. It's entirely possible to simplify the assembly of this difficult-to-build kit and take almost all of the angst out of the job in the process---we've thoroughly enjoyed the project to this point. We'll show you how to get the engine in there next time we convene.

SpADs in the North Country

The Douglas AD Skyraider was one of those ubiquitous airplanes that ended up performing just about every mission imaginable, and for a career that spanned several decades. The NavRes component at Grosse Il was one of the outfits that used the type, as illustrated by these images supplied to us by Doug Barbier.

The boys at Grosse Il operated the winterized AD-4NL for a while during the 50s, as typified by BuNo124753 which was captured at an airshow in 1955. The -4NL wasn't your every-day Skyraider; close study of the image will illustrate quite a few differences between the NL and the more prosaic standard "SpAD".   Some Guy Named Menard via Barbier

Glossy Sea Blue quickly turned to Lt Gull Grey over White, but the AD-4NL hung around through the transition. 124759 stayed around to serve into the late '50s, but the writing was on the wall. Notice the overall condition of that airframe; this bird's been rode hard and put away wet.  MAGHA Collection via Barbier

It's airshow time again! This time the aircraft is an AD-5, BuNo 132605, that was photographed at an air show at Selfridge AFB in 1962. The photo was taken by a budding aviation photographer named Doug Barbier with a Kodak Brownie---he tells us it was one of his first airplane shots. Doug had a good eye for composition even then!  Barbier

Our Readers Never Cease to Amaze Us

OK, here's the scoop. Last week we ran a photo of a B-17G taken by Bob Clutts in Korea, and in the caption we bemoaned the fact that we only had photography of the back part of the airplane. We also said we doubted we'd ever see the rest of that bird, and bemoaned our fate. Boy, were we ever wrong! The electrons were barely dry on the screen (the ink can't be drying on the paper anymore, can it?) before we'd received an image of the entire airplane from John Kerr, followed the next day by a second shot from Dave Menard. Here, then, is the rest of that airplane:

First came this shot from Maddog John Kerr, taken on the same day as the 3/4 rear view we published last week. This view shows part of the United States Air Force legend on the nose and forward fuselage, as well as the polished propeller blades and tri-colored prop tips.  Clutts via John Kerr

While this shot gives us an excellent view of the port side of the aircraft. Note the radome in place of the chin turret (and beware of the "antennae" that are apparently evident along the fuselage---they're telephone poles in the background of the shot!) Dave had this to say about the photo:  Here is a shot of ALL of VB-17G 411. Have no idea why the A after her tail number unless maybe this a/c was assigned to a ranking ARMY general maybe? I cannot see the name BATAAN on her nose so do not know if this
was assigned to General of the Army(five stars) Douglas MacArthur.  Menard Collection
Dave's comment leads us to yet another request---since we've been able to come up with additional pictures of the airplane, do any of you know her background? We'd love to hear from you if you do!  The address is replicainscale@yahoo.com
Ken's Men
The 5th Air Force was short of heavy bombardment assets almost from the beginning, losing the 19th BG in the early days of the war and having to almost literally start over from scratch. As a result, the 43rd BG held the line in the SWPAC until other units could be integrated into the force. The crews manning those B-17Es and Fs fought hard, they fought well and, before it was all said and done, they'd gained the nickname "Ken's Men" as a lasting tribute to their courage and skill. Here's a salute, both to the 43rd and to all of the B-17s that served in that theater.
We could easily start, and end, this essay with the photo you see here. The airplane is "Aztecs Chief" and she's in flight over Gizo Island in the Solomons. The B-17 was a tough bird and could haul an adequate load of bombs to the target but she had short legs when compared to the B-24, which meant her days in the Pacific were numbered. Still, she did her part in taking the war to the Japanese.  Rocker Collection

The 43rd operated the B-17E for a time; here's "Yankee Didd'ler/Wouldn't It Root Ya" on the ground between missions. That nose art wouldn't fly in today's Air Force, but New Guinea and the Solomons were a long way from anywhere in 1942 and 1943, and ribald artwork was generally held to be a morale builder. It was a very long time ago...  Rocker Collection

She was called the "Flying Fortress", but that didn't mean you couldn't hurt her. The caption that accompanied this photo said "The Old Man" shot to hell after returning from Gasmata. You can see traces of the damage in this photo---check out the shiny nacelle on the Number 3 engine. That's engine oil, and it's there due to battle damage. The B-17 was a tough cookie, and would usually bring you home.  Rocker Collection

The term "coming home" could be a relative one, though, as demonstrated by "The Horse", which bellied in at Tadji. Check out the cowlings---those engines are all individually named. The B-17 was tough...  Rocker Collection

Tough or not, the B-17 paid its dues in the Pacific. "Black Jack" is still out there today, and is now a popular diver's attraction. The crew probably didn't have recreation in mind when they put her down in the ocean that day...  Rocker Collection

The 403rd BS flew out of Milne Bay in the early days. It didn't matter how big your airplane was; the ground conditions were terrible and the missions were often worse. The Tainan Ku was an occasional opponent during the days in New Guinea, and they were a tough date in anybody's book. Ask the guys who flew and fought against them.  Rocker Collection

"RFD Tojo" was an E-model and is seen here in flight, showing us all the elegance of the B-17's classic design. During the early days it wasn't unusual to see the pre-War U.S. ARMY designator under the wings, although it didn't last long. It's a fairly safe bet that the E-models all carried it, but the Fs generally didn't. Note the name painted on #3's cowling.   Rocker Collection

Taking off! This "Fort" was photographed while launching from Momote Air Strip on Los Negros. The mass bombing raids of the 8th Air Force were nothing more than a dream in the Pacific where small formations were the norm. The B-17 was bristling with guns, but sometimes guns weren't enough to guarantee you got home again. Rocker Collection

If you were important enough you might rate your own B-17 as a VIP transport. In this instance the VIP was General George himself.  Rocker Collection

Other generals flew in the type as well. The moderately-famous individual in the center of the photograph was observing the paratroop drop on Markham Valley from 41-24537 the day this photo was taken. The B-17 could do it all.  Rocker Collection
Happy Snaps
If you can't be in the cockpit, the next best place to be is in the boomer's station on a KC-10, which was the vantage point used by Mark Williams to take today's Happy Snap.
We aren't known as particularly big fans of the F/A-18 family, but markings like these could go a long way towards changing our minds. Mark shot this VMFA(AW)-225 F-18D over the Pacific near Hawaii. It's a beautiful shot and a great way to end our day. Thanks, Mark!  Williams
The Relief Tube
It's easy to get in trouble around here, particularly if you're in a hurry. Our last P-40 piece typified that, as illustrated by these comments. First, let's hear from Jean Barbaud: Bonjour, Phillip! Thanks for the latest issue! The P-40s photos are, as usual, excellent (but) I think I can see the (faint) blue disc surrounding the star, on pic#2 (enlarged version). Pic#6 is nice, but I believe the "drum" is only stocked on the ground behind the P-40N, not hung under... (the braces don't match with the "drum", and it looks like there are at least one or maybe 2 other drop tanks on the ground, behind that one)
Pic#8: that looks like a 23rdFG P-40N, very similar to a well-known picture of another one taxiing along a chinese coolie. Take care, and a suivre !...  Jean.

Jean also took a minute to mark up a copy of the photo for us, as shown above. Here is an enlarged jpg, Phillip. I added the braces with yellow lines. Thanks for the great pics, again. More P-40s coming next year, I hope ;°) Thanks, Jean, and yes; there are definitely more P-40s to come!

We also heard from Tom Gaj: Hi Phil. Trying to decide if you were kidding or not in your description of "Lackanookie" having a 55 gallon drum slung under the fuselage. Close examination of the full-size image shows the can on the ground with chock in place, well behind the plane. Tom  I wish I'd been kidding, Tom. I really do. Unfortunately, I just wasn't paying attention. Again!

And finally, Frank Emmett sent us a similar set of comments, which have somehow disappeared into the maw of our computer. We'll just call it operator error and leave it at that, with apologies to Frank!

There were some sins of omission in our recent P-47N piece as well. Those "Jugs" with the AAF stripes on the tail turned out to be from the 56th FG, and we've got some clarification for you regarding them. First, from Dave Menard: Phil, both of the Ns with pre-WW2 rudder markings were from the 56th FG at Selfridge Field, when they had one sqdn of 47Ns and one of 51Hs. Both types got these markings for a while and looked good indeed! The N 140 is from Lockbourne c.1948/9 and was assigned to the 332nd FG, the Tuskegee Airman, at the time. Cheers, Dave

And, for some icing on the cake, a photo from the collection of Doug Barbier showing "that other airplane" the 56th was using at the time:

Phil, The 56th Ftr Grp bird looks to have a yellow spinner & tail, with the red / white /blue rudder. And yes, those are some of their P-47's in the background. No other information on it. Barbier Collection

Finally, we'd like to remind our readers that we're always looking for material, particularly photographs. If you've got anything you'd like to share with us, the address is replicainscale@yahoo.com . Thanks for dropping in today, and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Few More Martins, Stranger in a Strange Land, A Widow or Two, Strange Birds, Some Warhawks, and a Modeler's Question Answered

Just a Few More B-57s

In our view the Martin B-57 family represents something special; born in another country (Great Britain), the B-57 very quickly became Martin's own, serving in several variations and for several decades (although, it must be admitted, that service didn't last nearly as long as the B-57's sire, the immortal Canberra, did in RAF use) and in a number of roles. We took a brief look at the type a couple of issues ago and figured it was time to look at a few more pictures. You can, and we believe this to be entirely true, never have too many B-57 shots.

Most Americans think of black airplanes (the color is actually called "Jet") when they think of the B-57. That's mostly because the old odd-scale Revell kit of the B-57 came molded in black in its original iteration, but black is the image a lot of us have, so here's a black one for your edification. This pristine example was photographed at Reese AFB during 1955, and is missing the colorful unit markings generally associated with the B-57 in the night intruder role; 52-1536 was built as a B-57B but later converted to RB-57F standard.  Modelers might want to note the use of Mil-P-8585Y Zinc Chromate primer on the insides of the gear doors. Frederick

Here's a black bird of a slightly different flavor. An RB-57E from the Patricia Lynn program, 55-4245 was converted in 1963 and was in Vietnam when Denny Smith photographed her in 1965. This photo is interesting because it defines the colors of the speed brake wells and flaps; yellow Zinc Chromate. The "old" USAF markings are interesting in that every insignia, marking, and stencil to be found on the pre-War B-57 fleet is seen on this aircraft. It wasn't as though the Bad Guys had searchlights...   Smith

You can't tell the players without a program, and you can't tell the Bravos from the Charlies without a serial number list. This particular bird is a B-57C; 53-3831 was with Vermont's 134th DSES when this photograph was taken in the 1970s. That paint job is gorgeous but didn't stay on the airplane very long; she was subsequently converted to RB-57C status and went to the boneyard at DM in 1981.  Friddell Collection

Martin's Intruder was intended to be a light bomber and interdiction aircraft in USAF service, but spent most of its career in somewhat less-glamorous roles. 53-3851 is a fine example of that sort of thing; built as a B-57C, it was later converted to WB-57C standard and was in that configuration when photographed at McClellan in the early 1970s. She was assigned to the 58th WRS/9th WRW at the time, and probably looked much like this when she made her last flight to MASDC to await the smelters. It was a sad end...  Tyrpak via Picciani

Climbing out. 52-1503 had an interesting career---built as a B-57B-MA, she was first converted into an RB-57B, then into a WB-57B, in which guise she was written off in 1980. She was in here prime when photographed during her role as an RB-57, although we don't know the unit. Those antenna and the faded day-glo make her well worth modeling.  Ron Picciani

We haven't shown an RB-57G since we started running photos of the type, which makes today as good a day as any. 53-3906 is a good example to show, even though this particular photograph is in softer focus than we'd like. Originally built as a B-57B, the airframe was converted to B-57G status, then sent to Eglin to become a testbed for an M61 installation mounted beneath the bomb bay. She ended up at MASDC in 1973. Does anybody have a close-up of the gun installation that they'd like to share with us? If you do, you know the drill: The address is replicainscale@yahoo.com .  Rose

We'll look at a few more B-57s somewhere on down the road, but for now we've got some other interesting things to examine.

If Only He'd Taken a Picture of the Whole Airplane

Sometimes you come across one of those photos that's just so fascinating you can hardly stand it. This is one of them, a B-17G (44-83411, a B-17G-80-DL) that was photographed on the ground in Korea on 14 July, 1952. She was assigned to HQ 5th AF at the time, and we'll bet there was some sort of markings on the nose in addition to the then-standard U.S. Air Force logo, but we may never know for sure---this is our only photo of the airplane and it stops where you see it. We sure wish the photographer had taken the entire bird when he shot this, but then again we're happy with what we've got---it definitely beats nothing! If you ever want to model a Korean War Flying Fortress, this could be your baby.  Clutts via Kerr

Everybody's Got the Fever

Everybody but us, anyway. For those of you who might be scale modelers, the fact that Great Wall has recently issued a 1/48th scale P-61 won't come as any surprise; the release of the kit, plus the somewhat astonishing frenzy it's created on the modeling boards of the world, has given the scale modeling world a major dose of Black Widow Fever. One of our readers, Gerry Kersey of 3rd Attack Group.Org (see our links and pay him a visit, ya'll) has provided us with a couple of shots of P-61s from the 548th NFS so we can climb on the Widow Madness bandwagon too! Let's see what we've got:

This shot is what you might call a Teaser; more P-61s than we've ever seen in one place before, and not one complete airplane in the bunch! Still, the shot provides an interesting look into the operational side of the Black Widow as well as a sense of scale when we compare the relative sizes of these P-61Bs and the crewmen around them. She was a big 'un...  3rd Attack Group via Kersey

She owned the night at conclusion of the Second World War, but the P-61 quickly faded into oblivion in the years following the end of the conflict. That somewhat sinister shape has fascinated both aviation historians and modelers for decades, yet her record was relatively mediocre when compared to that of the night fighters used by the RAF and Luftwaffe. There have been at least two 1/72nd scale kits of the type, as well as two in 1/48th (and, for the record, we still like the old Monogram kit just fine, thank you), which would indicate that at least a few people are willing to plunk down money for one. (If you plan on doing some of that money-plunking on the afore-mentioned Great Wall kit, you might also want to be prepared to rebuild the spoilers, which are incorrectly represented on the model.) That said, this view of one of the 548th's birds captures our fascination with the type.  It was a neat airplane in spite of itself.  3rd Attack Group via Kersey

The Federal Luftwaffe at The Goose

We recently showed you a couple of photos of RAF Tornados photographed on the ground at Goose Bay taken by reader Doug Barbier, and related his air-to-air assault on same. The aircraft you're about to see weren't intercepted by Doug, at least not that we know of, but they did share some ramp space at The Goose and are worth a look. The photos were taken in 1985 during Amagam Brave 85-1. We honestly don't know anything more about them than that; readers who may have some background are invited to comment at replicainscale@yahoo.com .

The Alpha Jet has been around for a couple of decades now, and we aren't aware of one single decent kit of it. That's a shame too, considering what a neat looking, and fairly ubiquitous, little airplane it is.  Barbier

There's even a variety of camouflage to make the airplane even more interesting. Still, it isn't exactly a Phantom, is it?  Barbier

On the other hand, this airplane is a Phantom. If memory serves this is an F-4F, but we've honestly never kept up with the German F-4s. Let the letters commence!  Barbier

OK, so we don't know our Luftwaffe F-4s very well! We do, however, know a good photograph when we see one, and this shot is worth the price of admission all by itself. How about it, Doug, did you hassle with these guys?  Barbier

Late-War Hawks

Or Late Warhawks, however you choose to say it. However we decide to break it down, it's been a while since we've looked at P-40s of any flavor---it's time to rectify that particular failing, we think!

The 35th flew P-40Ns out of Port Moresby for a time. Although of poor quality, this photo is fascinating for a number of reasons. First is that stripe in from of the white ID marking on the tail; it's not a stripe at all. Close inspection shows that it's overspray from the masking applied by the ground crew prior to painting. Then there's the national insignia, with its un-outlined white bars and, finally, the barely-visible marking on the nose. Is it artwork? A letter (our guess)? Dirty paint? We may never know.  Rocker Collection

Dick West flew with the 35th out of Finschhaven, where this photo was taken. The airplane is filty, but not so dirty as to obscure the national insignia. Take a close look if you will---can anyone spot any trace of a blue surround to that star? We sure can't! What a tantalizing image!  Rocker Collection

Bud Poole flew with the 35th too, although in this photo he could easily be mistaken for just another ground crewman. One thing that always strikes us about photos like this one and the one immediately above; those guys were young---for a while, anyway.  Rocker Collection

The 44th FS had the distinction of being one of the few AAF units to fly the P-40F in combat. In this photograph we see "Destitute Prostitute" stuck in the mud at Guadalcanal. The 13th Fighter Command fought a war that was every bit as nasty as the big one further to the northwest, but is rarely remembered today. They fought the same enemy, and the same climate and endless mud. Nothing changed much in the southwest pacific, no matter which Air Force you flew with.  Rocker Collection

Here's what happens when you overshoot a landing in the SWPAC. Flying fighters was a tough racket then, just as it is today. At least this one was a walk-away; not everybody got off so easily.  Rocker Collection

The 7th AF flew the P-40N too, and one of their units, the 45th FS, wore one of the war's more enigmatic schemes; a "coral pink" over what may have been light blue or light blue-gray. "Lackanookie" is interesting for that reason if no other, but take a close look on her centerline rack. We've never noticed a P-40 with a 55-gallon drum slung in that position before, but are willing to be educated if anyone knows the story behind this photo.  Rocker Collection

The P-40 really got around. These P-40Ks are hard down for maintenance at a 7th AF facility "somewhere in the Pacific". Under normal conditions that sort of maintenance would never have been done out of doors, but nothing was normal in the Pacific War. For those of you who have never been around aircraft maintenance, a word of explanation might be of interest. Take a look at that Warhawk in the foreground; the radiator has been removed, as well as the engine. That's not all, though---that engine bay is full of hoses, electrical leads and connectors, and precision fittings, none of which do well in an open-air environment, particularly one that's full of dust, mud, or sand. Oh, and one more thing; "open air" means you're out there when it rains. It was a lousy war...   Rocker Collection

The P-40 made it to China too. This N-model was photographed there while being moved by local manpower. It really didn't matter where you were once you got to a combat area in the Pacific or neighboring environs; facilities ranged from primitive to nonexistant, and you did what you had to do to make things work.  Rocker Collection

We invariably think of fighter operations when we think of the P-40, but the photo-recon guys used it too. This P-40N was assigned to the 110th TRS and was photographed just as it broke ground. The runway doesn't look too bad, but that's because it's made from PSP. Check out the areas to the sides of the runway, where things are a little worse. The P-40 was a ground-looper in any of its myriad of variations. Add that mud to the mix and you'd have a recipe for disaster!  Rocker Collection

What could have been. The P-40Q was designed to perform on a par with the P-51, and came close to doing it in certain flight regimes. Unfortunately, the P-51, as well as the P-38 and P-47, had become a mature weapon by 1944; there was just no demand for another piston-engined fighter in the inventory. Curtiss had been a prime supplier to the AAF as well as to air arms around the world, but the P-40Q was the company's swan song---they managed to stumble into the post-War era, but only barely. In one respect it didn't matter, though. The P-40 family had guaranteed Curtiss a place in history. It wasn't a bad legacy, all in all.  Rocker Collection

That "Fighting 22" Hog: The Final Word On a Classic

If you're as old as we are you've seen more than your share of aviation books and periodicals, which means you've also seen certain airplanes illustrated in more than one place. One of those airplanes is an F4U-4 from VF-22 that's shown up in several periodicals, as well as in Jim Sullivan's excellent "colors" monograph (for want of a better word) on the F4U. The airplane was even famous enough to be featured on an old 1/48th scale MicroScale decal sheet, a fact that caused us to build a model of it Way Back When, using the Mania/nee Hasegawa -4 "Hog" as the kit of choice.

To get to the point, more or less, we scratch-built an interior for that kit and did it up in a nice rendition of GSB, put on the decals (which included that tasty little sharkmouth for one of the gas bags), and sat it on the shelf where it languished for a number of years. We decided to spiff it up a couple of months ago and asked Jim Sullivan (who was, after all, the original culprit as far as inspiration to build that particular airplane was concerned) if he had any photography of the bird to substantiate the profile drawings we'd seen of it. It turns out he did, and those photos were a revelation. Wanna see what we mean?

Does this bird look familiar? Yep---it's C-317 running up at Wilmington, NC, during 1949. The airplane isn't wearing it's squadron emblem on the cowling, but if you look closely you can see that leering sharkmouth on the aux tank. Note the aircraft's finish, because that GSB isn't very shiny any more.  J. Sullivan Collection

 Here's a little better view. The scan isn't all that great, but it shows off the sharkmouth from the other side as well as some severe staining on the white of the fuselage national insignia. This is the infamous VF-22 bird of MicroScale fame, but wait! That bird's not from VF-22, but from VF-63!  The photo has been mis-identified for years, but Jim finally solved the riddle a while back. The only question that remains is that of the squadron badge on the nose, and we've got a photo of that too; unfortunately, it's a TIF image and the blog software doesn't support that platform so you'll have to take our word for it, but you can use that squadron badge if you want to---it actually was on the airplane at one point in time. Just remember to weather out that paintwork, and also do a fair amount of paint chipping on the inboard wing surfaces near the fuselage if you're going to build your model with the squadron emblem in place. Many thanks to Jim for clearing up this mystery for us!  J. Sullivan Collection

Happy Snaps

Let's go back to Keflavik for today's Happy Snap, courtesy of Doug Barbier:

The 57th FIS was your basic Sierra Hotel sort of outfit back in The Day, and the attitude bled through to everything they flew. 58-0540 was a T-33A-5-LO, and was beautifully-painted when Doug shot this air-to-air of her from his F-4E. The "T-Bird" didn't stay in service as a trainer for very long (15 years or so), but served faithfully in a number of other roles for nearly 40 years. That's not a bad record, all in all.  Barbier

The Relief Tube

Today's going to be one of those Scary Days when we don't have that many corrections or additions (those days always scare us, anyway), but we've got a couple all the same. Let's start with some additions to last issue's P-47N feature. First, let's hear from Dave Menard:

Phil, both of the Ns with pre-WW2 rudder markings were from the 56th FG at Selfridge Field, when they had one sqdn of 47Ns and one of 51Hs. Both types got these markings for a while and looked good indeed! The N 140 is from Lockbourne c.1948/9 and was assigned to the 332nd FG, the Tuskegee Airmen, at the time.  Cheers, Dave

And from Mark Williams: Phil, I'll bet someone has had to have sent you this already regarding that photo from the 24th. Note in the caption where it was taken.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:332d_Fighter_Group_-_F-47N_44-89140.jpg Oh well, I just read the blog this morning! Have a good day! Mark You might want to check out that link to Wiki that Mark provided; the photo that proves his point is a fine color image from some guy named Menard! It's a small world...

And as long as we're on the subject of those Ns, here's another comment from Mark that's worth reading:  Phil,  Me again. I think I got a lead on another mystery P-47N from your blog of the 24th. I found this photo in "Warbird Tech Vol. 23, P-47 Thunderbolt" showing 23rd Fighter Group P-47Ns on Guam in 1947. They sure look a whole lot like 44-88569 in your blog! You can see most of these have "L*" codes, and I see one coded "PB" on the far right of the photo. Based on the photographs, info found on the web site below, and assuming this information is correct, I figured out the 74th Fighter Squadron probably used P*, 75th FS used L*, and the 76th FS used B* codes.
This is a pretty amazing database actually! I also found there that 44-88705 belonged to the 414th Fighter Group, 413th FS. On the below site it is listed as a loss on 450907 on Iwo Jima. (Additionally, you can find information including losses for some of the other P-47Ns you have posted photos of on both of these sites.) http://www.accident-report.com/Serials/1944o.htm Hope this helps! (It's raining today, I'm off, and really didn't have anything else to do!) Mark  And if you're going to be that productive we hope you keep those rainy days coming, Mark! (It wouldn't hurt our feelings any if you could send a few of them to Texas too...)

Finally, here's a comment from Doug Barbier:  Phil, those two P-47N's with the striped tails - 488680 & PE-757 were both from the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge. Dave Schilling was the 'boss' back then and he and the P-47's went way back. They kept quite a few jugs even after the F-51H's arrived. I've been doing a lot of research on that era at Selfridge lately and it was good to see a couple of new photos.  Doug  That comment about Schilling's preference for the F-47 is fascinating. Of course, we've heard that he'd had some previous experience with the type...

We ran an F8F-1 Bearcat shot from the Bill Peake Collection at the Greater St Louis Air & Space Museum last time, and Dave Menard offered this comment:   Phil, that air to air of Bearcat 201 sure looks familiar as does the ground under her. I would bet real money that this was one of William T Larkins photos as he did a lot of air to air in the late forties/early fifties in USN, ANG and AFRes a/c
out in California and he did shoot 201 during one of the sorties. Try that today! cheers, dave 
Thanks, Dave!

Finally, our piece on Mom and Pop hobby shops struck a chord with at least one reader:   I am an airplane nut thanks to my dad. You might be interested to know he used to have his own "mom & pop" hobby shop back in the late '70s/early '80s, though he primarily specialized in RC. I had to work my tail off for every kit I got off Dad's shelves! Just for fun, here are some photos of my Dad's shops. (He ended up moving the original location twice. Once in our home town of Moses Lake, WA, then to Knoxville, TN before he had to give it up.)  Mark Williams  Here's the storefronts of one of those shops:

Thanks to Mark Williams for sharing this image from his youth with us. Support your local hobby shop, ya'll!

And that's all for this edition. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.