Sunday, December 18, 2011

North American's Finest, Waterfowl, Bitchin' Ben, More Post-War Forts, Essential Reading, and a Trojan or Two

OK, OK; So We're Late Again

And we can sum it up by saying things are pretty busy around the Friddell household these days. It seems, in fact, that we're going in about twenty directions all at once, but all the stuff that's keeping us so busy should begin to calm down next month. In the meanwhile, here's our most recent offering for your consideration. We hope you enjoy it!

Wha'cha Doin', Hun?

If somebody were to do a survey of everybody's favorite Air Force jet, we're willing to bet that North American Aviation's immortal F-100 series of fighters and fighter-bombers would rank pretty high in the standings. Originally designed as an air-superiority fighter, the Super Sabre spent most of her days as a fighter-bomber. She was the first of the "Century Series" fighters and in consequence was the poorest performer of that stellar group of aircraft. Still, she was good enough for the job, staying in service for three decades before finally being put out to pasture for keeps.

We haven't really done very much with the "Hun" so far; for some reason we've always been enticed by other airplanes when the time came to figure out what airplanes we wanted to cover as we planned our upcoming issues. Since it's the holiday season we wanted to do something fairly colorful to celebrate the event, so today is The Day for the F-100. We aren't running a very many photos this time, but we think you'll enjoy what you see, and there's definitely more to come in later editions!

There are a whole bunch of folks out there who immediately think of the Thunderbirds when they remember the F-100, and there's a reason for it---the airplane was loud, colorful, and still relatively new when the team used the type. They started out with the Charlie model, so it's fitting that we begin this piece with an F-100C as well. 54-1850 was an F-100C-20-NA and was on tour with the team in Europe when this photo was taken at Laon AB in July of 1963. The "candy cane" treatment on her refueling probe is particularly noteworthy. Oh, and take a look at the other airplanes in this shot; you just never know what might turn up at an airshow...  R. Franke

54-2011 was a USAFE bird too; an F-100C-25-NA from the 23rd TFS/36th TFW. She was on the ground at her base in Germany when this photo was taken in June of 1961. The C-Models were the air-to-air brawlers of the family, at least in theory; they were the fastest of the F-100s and the lightest as well, making them the closest thing the Super Sabre ever was to a pure fighter. In retrospect it was probably a Very Good Thing the "Hun" never had to go toe-to-toe with any of the MiGs in a classic knife fight---although there was at least one encounter between the F-100 and the MiG-17 during the Vietnam fracas, the Super Sabre was badly outclassed by the more nimble Soviet-built fighters it would have encountered in any war over Europe. It helps to keep in perspective the fact that the "Hun" was the first of the "Century Series". There was a lot to learn!  Kerr Collection

The "Charlie" actually saw combat in Vietnam, but in the hands of the ANG rather than the regulars. The F-100C went into the Guard fairly quickly and wore some extremely colorful markings in the process. 54-2013, an F-100C-25-NA, was assigned to Kansas' 127th TFS when this photo was taken in 1962. The articulated pitot tube of the "Hun" was unique to that airplane in the USAF and is an interesting point to watch if you happen to be building a model of the type. You wouldn't always see it folded like this, but it was a common way to secure the aircraft when parked, and it was a feature incorporated into every F-100 built.  Vince Reynolds

The F-100D was the definitive version of the Super Sabre. The variant was modified into a fighter-bomber, a role in which it could have excelled had it had a little more power and the ability to carry MERs. 56-3292, an F-100D-85-NH, ended up as a QF-100D but was the 49th Fighter Group's wing commander's aircraft when this photo was taken. She's got the straight refueling probe but has been retrofitted with an F-102 afterburner section. The "Hun" was, in our opinion, one of the prettiest jet fighters the Air Force ever operated. That's our story and we're sticking with it!  Friddell Collection

You just can't do an article on the F-100 without showing at least one photograph of a formation of them attached to some sort of piston-engined refuelling platform. In this shot that platform is a KB-50, and the ubiquitous "Huns" are from the 614th TFS/401st TFW out of Langley in 1959. Those of you not familiar with this sort of thing might note that all three available refuelling positions are in use (a drogue hose is attached to the fuselage boom), and that the aircraft are in different flight attitudes due to the speed differential between the two types; the KB-50 is heading slightly down-hill, while the "Huns" are flying with a fairly high angle of attack and hanging on the tanker. It was awkward, but it worked.  Isham Collection

The F-100 was a hot airplane when compared to the first-generation fighters it replaced, and the need for a two-seater for transition training was identified fairly early-on in the program. The F-100F was the result of the requirement and was fully combat capable, a circumstance that made it particularly useful in Southeast Asia during that unfortunate war. This gorgeous USAFE example was with the 50th TFW at Hahn in August of 1965; 56-3814 was built as an F-100F-10-NA and ended up on a pole in Texas City, Texas. We ran a 3/4 tail view of her a few issue ago, prompting Dave Menard to point out her red wing fences, which are extremely evident in this view. Dave, this "Hun's" for you!  R. Franke

Here's a teaser for you! The "Hun" is the same---she's 56-3814---but the other airplanes in the shot are of considerable interest. The T-39 (another North American product) isn't all that unique, but check out that ramp in the background...  R. Franke

Here's a better view of Those Other Airplanes. There's a fair chance we've got a shot or two of them laying around someplace, but you guys probably aren't interested in seeing them, are you? (We'll just sit back and wait for the letters to arrive at !)  R. Franke

We could (and someday will) do a piece on the F-100 and its service during the Vietnam War, but for now this shot will have to suffice to show the airplane in that environment. 56-3836 was eventually converted into a QF-100F, but she was being shot at in earnest by a real enemy when this photo was taken in 1966. She was a -10-NA and affords us an excellent view of the type's appearance during the war.  D. Smith

The "Hun" was a warrior, but she served other purposes as well. 56-3889 (another F-100F-10-NA) was assigned to Systems Command and was working out of Eglin when this photo was taken in 1971. She's of special interest because of her Aircraft Grey paintwork; that grey paint wasn't foreign to the F-100 but it wasn't the norm either. Check out the heat-stained aft fuselage; it didn't really matter what color paint you squirted on the F-100. After a couple of hours in the air it would all be gone from the back of the airplane!  J. Rose

It goes without saying that we've got at least one or two more photos of the F-100 hidden around here someplace. We'll drag them out some day and take a look, but that's it for now!

If It Walks Like a Duck

then it must surely be one. Grumman's J2F Duck series of amphibians has fascinated us for years. Today, thanks to Bobby Rocker, we can take a look at this under-appreciated jack-of-all-trades.

The Duck generally ended up in the Navy's utility squadrons, where it performed every chore imaginable. BuNo 1578 was a J2F3 and was assigned to NAS Jacksonville in 1940, when this photo was taken. Her appearance defines the way the NAV took care of their airplanes between the wars. A close examination of the wheel covers will reveal that the airplane is well-used, but her overall finish is absolutely immaculate. To the best of our knowledge there have been two worthwhile kits of the J2F; Airfix's in 1/72nd and Classic Airframes' in 1/48th. (There was also, if memory serves, a sort-of 1/48th scale offering from ITC way back in the Dark Ages of Plastic Modeling, but we aren't counting that one!) We'd sure love to see a state of the art kit of this airplane!  Rocker Collection

This unidentified J2F was flying with the Coasties out of Floyd Bennett Field, allegedly in 1942. We've got our doubts about the timeline because of her natural metal and yellow finish, but she's pretty enough to include here.  The Duck got around!  Rocker Collection

The J2F in her element. This example is taxiing in to the ramp at Samarai Island, probably during late 1943 or early 1944. A tractable, easy-to-handle amphibian that could operate almost anywhere was a distinct asset to the Navy. Photos like this make it easy to forget how unforgiving the war could be, even in the rear areas.  Rocker Collection

Here's what can happen when it all goes south on you. This J2F5 was operating in the Atlantic when things went terribly wrong. We've said it over and over again but it bears repeating; it wasn't always the enemy that got you.  Rocker Collection

A Forty-Niner

Hasegawa created one of the hobby's most controversial series of kits a few years back when they released their landmark P-40 family in 1/48th scale. The kits in that series were petitely-done, exquisitely detailed, and modular. That modularity has challenged a great many scale modelers from that day the models were released to the public until now, but the kit is an easy build if you take your time and think things through before you begin assembly. We've got several built-up examples of the model on our shelves at the moment and would like to share one of them with you today.

"Bitchin' Ben" Irwin was one of the 49th's old stagers, a Java survivor and veteran of the early days over Darwin. I've always had an interest in that particular time period and am slowly building a representative collection of the 49th during their Darwin days. "The Rebel" is the second model in that collection and was built straight from the Hasegawa kit; the only addition was a set of Eduard AAF seatbelts and harnesses. Irwin's aircraft was an easy choice for a modeling subject---between the fuselage art, the name, and that inclined aircraft-in-group number on the vertical stab, the airplane just screams "build me!" I didn't say no.

Here's another view of the airplane. That tan is Testor Vietnam Tan, while the dark green is a generic green I pulled of the shelf when I was getting ready to paint the model. The undersides are done in a light grey that was also pulled off the shelf when the painting was about to begin; if you choose to model one of the 49th's Darwin birds do yourself a favor and remember that Curtiss used their interpretation of RAF colors when they did the British Contract (and related) aircraft. If you build one of these airplanes and paint it in RAF colors you'll be making a mistake and your friends will tease you unmercifully. Don't say you weren't warned! (And, just for the record, that tan is darker on the model than it appears here---it's a Lighting Thing!)

I always try to show The Other Side when we do these modeling pieces, so here it is. It's not unusual to find 49th FG P-40Es with personal markings on both sides of the airplane, but "The Rebel" was apparently marked on the port side only, making this view somewhat boring. Those decals came from an old MicroScale (or maybe SuperScale; I can't remember which!) decal sheet. You can actually model 10 or 15 of the early 49th birds if you look around---the decals are out there. They just aren't all in one place!

Here's a good view of that undersurface grey. The Hasegawa P-40s all have that "Warhawk sit" so peculiar to the P-40, and their level of detail is superb right out of the box. The modular construction has been an issue for more than a few modelers, and any of the Hase P-40s require some genuine modeling skills to build properly. If your personal abilities have been gained on Shake and Bake kits these P-40s are probably best left alone. Then again, how will you ever learn if you don't try? Right? Right!

Korean War-Era Flying Fortresses

Boy, did we ever start something a few issues back. We kicked off our whole post-war B-17 thing about a year ago with a couple of photos of SB-17s from Jim Sullivan's collection, then added to the pot  with a photo of a Misawa-based SB-17G courtesy of Dave Menard, and have been stumbling across (and running) photos of others as they became available to us ever since. Those photos got Don Jay interested in what we were doing and caused him to search his collection for additional images---you've already seen a few of them, and today we're going to run a few more. Here's what Don had to say about that:

Hi Phil, Just getting around to digesting your latest blog from last week and thought I would send you a few things of interest. There has been a mini-thread on some unknown B-17s seen during the Korean War. What started my interest was a photo in your early 2010 blog that had an armed B-17 (photo 1) at Misawa along with an A-1 lifeboat and ASV radar and antennae. Although I was aware of the SB-17, I never knew it was armed with the possible exception of the tail stinger. Piquing my curiosity, I looked into the history of the Air Force Rescue Service during the Korean War. Although covered in general terms, there isn’t a lot in print on the subject, even less in photos and most seem to dwell on the helicopter and SA-16. What is overlooked is the SB-17G (nee B-17H) and the SB-29. Both did a lot of ‘grunt’ work in the daily routine of strikes and other missions in the Korean theater. Somewhere around 15 SB-17Gs were used between the 2nd and 3rd Rescue Squadrons flying out of various bases in Japan & Okinawa. Photo 2 has this one at Misawa at the time of transfer of all SB-17s in theater to the 3RSq at Misawa-note the guns and lack of the shoe horn antennae for the ASV radar. The SB-17 was capable of being armed depending on situation and area of operation. Photo 3 depicts an SB-17 on a civilian airfield in the 1950 timeframe-the 7RSq’s AOR was the European theater and the Med-note the lack of weapons but the ASV radar antennae. Photo 4 is one of the 5RSq, stateside. They had the US as their AOR and I think were the RTU for the type. Hope this is of interest of a little known ac and mission. Would love to see any other photos of an armed SB-17G. Cheers for now. dj
PS: #1 photo is from Dave Menard collection, #2&3 are ??, #4 is USAF.

Here's one of the shots that started it all, and the photo Don refers to as #1; Dave Menard's photo of 43-39361 at Misawa in 1951. She's armed, apparently because of her opportunities of being exposed to the tender mercies of The Bad Guys while performing her SAR function. It's a fascinating photo and gives us a unique window into a forgotten part of the Korean War.  Menard Collection

Here's another view of a Misawa-based SB-17, referred to above as photo #2. By SB-17 standards she's armed to the teeth; note the guns fitted to her cheek positions and the dorsal turret. We have to wonder how many times the SAR SB-17s and SB-29s had to use those guns...  USAF via Jay

Here's the shot referred to as photo #3 in Don's description above. The aircraft was apparently photographed at an air show somewhere in Western Europe during the Korean War era. The SB-17 doesn't look nearly as menacing when it's unarmed, does it?  USAF via Jay Collection

And here's the final shot to round out our SB-17 coverage for today. Although it's a little soft, this photo really helps to define the color demarcations on the airplane.  USAF via Don Jay
Some Books You Ought to Have
We don't do a whole lot of reviewing around here. That's because all the other internet aviation sites do so much of it, and we have to figure those other guys have things pretty much under control, most of the time, anyway.
Most of our readers are all too aware of the interest we have in the Pacific War. There are any number of books out there on the subject, but for the most part they all cover the mid and late phases of the war. The Bad Old Days are pretty much omitted, primarily, we suspect, because the various authors involved in producing those books haven't been able to access the source material necessary for that sort of an undertaking. William Bartsch is an exception to the rule, and we're going to very briefly describe the volumes he's produced on the early days of the Pacific War. His scholarship is exellent, and we think you'll consider the books to be essential reading.
So far he's produced three volumes on those terrible early days of the war in the air in the Pacific Theater. Each one of them is well-documented, adequately foot-noted, scholarly, and each is filled with appendices relevant to the work at hand. In point of fact, our only complaint is that the photos supplied in each volume are tiny and therefore almost useless to the modeler---that's a shame, too, because the majority of those images are previously umpublished. Still, we don't buy this sort of book for the pictures, but for the hard information included within them. Taken in that respect, each one of these books is a treasure and we recommend them all without reservation. If you have an interest in them, all three can be obtained through the Texas A&M  press.

Doomed at the Start; American Pursuit Pilots in the the Philipines, 1941-1942 is the first volume in the Bartsch trilogy and covers United States fighter operations in those islands from 1940 until the ultimate surrender to the Japanese. It was ground-breaking when first released and is still the best single work on the subject.

The second volume in the trilogy, December 8, 1941; MacArthur's Pearl Harbor concerns itself with the Japanese air attack on the Philippines during the first day of America's involvement in the war although there is, of necessity, quite a bit of background material presented as well.

Every Day a Nightmare; American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 1941-1942, is the third book in the set and is, quite frankly, the one we've enjoyed the most, primarily because so many of the pilots mentioned ended up flying with the 49th out of Darwin once Java had fallen to the Japanese. It also covers a period virtually untouched by other historians.

We can't recommend these books highly enough, but that's with a caveat: All three of these books are serious histories of their specific topics. They aren't necessarily light reading and what few photos are in them are small. There are none of the color profile drawings so highly-regarded by modelers. They aren't for everybody. They are for those among us who have a serious interest in the subjects covered which, we suspect, would include most of the RIS readership. "Superb" is a word that comes to mind.
'Nuff said!

The Gallopita-Gallopita Machine

Or you'd think so, anyway. All you had to do was listen to a throttled-back T-28 and you'd know the sound. At higher rpm the Trojan sounded like any other military airplane with a radial engine, but at slow cruise it sounded like, well, a gallopita-gallopita machine. There's no other way to describe it.

No matter how goofy the airplane sounded, the T-28 was quite a package and has proven to be extremely popular on today's warbird circuit due to its two-seat capacity and performance better suited to a mid-war fighter than a training aircraft. That's all the incentive we needed to put together today's final piece. Let's take a look at the T-28 as it appeared while serving with TraCom in the early 1980s.

The post-Korean War Navy has never been shy where gaudily-painted airplanes are concerned, and the birds of TraCom were a case in point. Frank Garcia captured 138247 at an NAS Corpus Christi airshow in June of 1979. VT-27 started out the decade with "D" for a tailcode but changed over to "G" fairly quickly after it was realized that, as a call sign, "delta" could be misconstrued as belonging to a certain Atlanta-based airline ("Hello Tower; this is Delta 777"...). Triple Seven ended her days in a museum, a somewhat unusual fate for the Trojan.  F. Garcia

Here's another variation on the VT-27 theme, photographed in October of 1980. 140041 provided a prime example of the squadron's "standard" markings, although the exception was very much the rule where the T-28 was involved. Note that 041 has it's blind-flying bag fitted in the aft cockpit. The puddle of oil under the engine was a bonus and came free with each and every T-28 built.  R. Morgan

And here's another example, photographed at a Corpus Christi airshow in June of 1980. The airplane is our old friend 138247 again, but with a different tail treatment. The aircraft was nominally assigned to the CNATra commanding officer, hence the star under the forward cockpit. Are you beginning to detect a trend with these airplanes?  Friddell

You really couldn't describe any orange and white airplane as dull, but not all TraCom birds were as colorful as those of VT-27. 138358 was a T-28B assigned to VT-6 when Bob Picket caught her on the ground at an airshow at Offutt in July of 1980. Check out the exhaust staining on this aircraft; it's typical of the Trojan and is very much a part of her personality.  R. Pickett

June of 1981 found us on the ramp at Chase, where we were able to shoot 137789 as she arrived for an airshow there. VT-27's "arrowhead" marking has reappeared on her tail and she's representative of the type in squadron service. Once again we get a look at the blind flying bag in the rear cockpit, and the ground crew provide us with an excellent sense of scale. The T-28B wasn't big, but she wasn't all that small either.  Friddell

The year is 1981, and the place is NAS Corpus Christi. It's the morning of an airshow and these VT-27 T-28Bs have been stashed at the edge of the ramp. That leads us to your Official Stump the Champs question for the day: What's that net thingy sitting beside the T-28 in the foreground? If you guessed bailout net you guessed right; it was used for emergency egress training with the aircraft. While the T-28D was fitted with a poor man's ejection seat (the Yankee Extraction System), all other T-28s took care of emergency exits the old-fashioned way---you unbuckled and jumped over the side. In theory the net allowed fledgling airmen to become proficient in the exercise. It didn't always work that way in practice.  Friddell

A full squadron of T-28s sitting on the ground is impressive indeed. Here's the rest of VT-27 waiting for the airshow to end on that same June day in Corpus. TraCom was a humming place in the 80s.  Friddell

Every picture tells a story, and this one's no exception. The only problem with this particular story is that we have absolutely no idea what it is! 140028 carries a variation of VT-27's markings but is in gull grey over white, and is absolutely filthy to boot! She appears to be airworthy, but we honestly don't know the story behind her paintwork---if you do, please drop us a line at and fill us in. We'd really like to know!  D. Balcer

12 June, 1983, was heavily overcast in the early morning, which was when we snapped this portrait of 138349 at Chase. She had just arrived in preparation for yet another airshow when we took this photo of her crew securing the aircraft. Pay attention when you look at the markings on those old Trojans; marking sizes and presentations changed with amazing frequency back then!  Friddell

Here's another view of 349. The T-28 was a simple aircraft, designed in the finest traditions of the Second World War, but she was a performer too. We're willing to bet there are at least a couple of homesick former Naval aviators looking at this photo right now...  Friddell

And this is as good a time as any to end our look at the T-28B for today. We only looked at a couple of short years of her career, but we think the photos might have been of interest. Now then, if the guys at Roden would just get off the dime and release their 1/48th scale kit of the Trojan...   Friddell

Happy Snaps

Today's Happy Snap comes from Don Jay, although it wasn't taken by him. Let's see what he's got:

Back in Jan ‘68, Dear Leader Kim seajacked the USS Pueblo off the coast of North Korea causing all sorts of maneuvering of our military. Much to the surprise of many an ANG troop, they quickly found themselves activated. One of those brave few units was the 154 TRS, ARK  ANG, flying the rather rare RF-101G. Here we see one doing a daily recon into the friendly skies of Korea. I’m sure the pilot is wondering where his fighter escort is! PS: Photo is taken by the ARK ANG via a friend at the MISS ANG who flew RF-101s. dj  Jay Collection

The Relief Tube

Let's start off today's Relief Tube with an explanation and an apology. Several months ago we ran a photo of a post-War F-51D taken by Dave Menard, along with some comments regarding an Alaska Air Command patch we'd run earlier. Dave sent in some supplementary information regarding both items, which we promptly lost. He sent it a second time, and we managed to mis-file that one, causing him to send the information yet a third time! In the truest tradition of serving no correction before its time, we've let this one stew about as long as we could; today's the day, ya'll, and here's that comment, with considerable apology to Dave!

Phil, that shot of 'stang 474850 was taken at ORD(O'Hare)on Armed Forces Day(remember those, the third Saturday of May?)1953 after I hitch hiked from hometown of Lombard, which was SW of the the place. The brand new shiny F-86Ds had arrived shortly before which was the main reason I went up there, and the frosting on the cake was this very, very shiny Mustang with all markings on her but the numbers on the gear doors being decals! I was not smart enough to ask what possible unit she was assigned to, but after over 22 years on active AF duty and then almost 22 years at the AFMuseum, have decided it was some senior officer's "toy"! I would bet probably at least a BGen. Anyway,
she went on to serve in several ANG units, went surplus, and wound up as CF-USA when Don Plumb owned her. She and her pilot were lost over Texas during violent weather along with another Mustang when they tried to either go through or over some huge thunderstorms. She was even shinier when Don owned her!

 That Alaskan Command badge that Chris sent along was not an AF one, but a joint service one. I have a shot of a shiny C-54D with a huge presentation of this design on the side of the nose and will see if it can be dug out and sent along. When I was in Japan in the early sixties, the 5th AF boss also was U S Forces Japan boss, i.e., wearing "two hats". I believe Alaskan Command was the same deal up there in the pre-statehood days.  cheers, dave  Thanks, Dave, both for your comments and for your corrections!
If you read our last issue, you probably remember the shot of the F-14A identified as being from VF-33/VF-101. We asked for clarification and Rick Morgan came through for us:
Phil: The black-tailed F-14 I shot in Key Weird is AD106; assigned to VF-101, the RAG, but marked for the Starfighters of VF-33 as they went through transition from F-4Js to F-14A. Stable-mate VF-102 had one as well. Rick

We ran a short piece on the Grumman F7F Tigercat in the same issue, prompting these comments and possible corrections from Tommy Thomason:

Phil, Joe (Baugher) lists BuNos 80609 through 80620 as F7F-4Ns but with the exception of your picture of 1LT (and I can't read the BuNo), the F7F-4Ns that I have pictures for have a different, sleeker nose because they were equipped with a different radar than the F7F-3N. See attached for an example and the difference per the Navy.

That said, 80610 could have been delivered with the F7F-3N radar for lack of the correct one when it was being assembled...  T 
Thanks, Tommy---that one seemed a little strange to us too! Sure wish we could prove the identification of that airplane for certain!

And finally, we ran some P-61 photos a few issues back, which prompted this response from reader Gerry Asher:

Phil, first, let me compliment you on the blog - lots of neat images, and I really appreciate the effort. P-61s are among my favorites, and when it comes to research in general I tend to be the proverbial "junkyard dog," shaking a subject for everything it's worth. To wit, the F-61B on February's blog, serial 43-8257.
The information provided in Jeff Kolln's "Northrop's Night Hunter" (Specialty Press) indicates the aircraft in question is assigned to the 339th Night Fighter (or Fighter [All Weather], whatever was appropriate for the time) Squadron at Johnson AB, Japan, serving with the unit from February 1947 to March 1950... so the image itself was taken post-September '47 at the earliest, given the service nomenclature above the rado call number. The bird had previously served with the 6th NFS; she went into storage 15 March 1950 and was stricken from the record 28 June of that year.
The insignia on the vertical fin (first time I've laid eyes on it) appears to be a spider using a combination of tongues of flame from six of its legs (like guns firing?) and groupings of stars to signify 3-3-9 in the image - the original slide would surely be clearer, and I may be trying to hammer round pegs into square holes. At any rate, I am guessing it's a transitional emblem for the 339th between their WWII-era gremlin astride a pair of eagles, and their present emblem (dragon amid the clouds spewing flame) as a USAF flight test squadron.
Keep up the great work -All my best, Gerry Asher  Thanks, Gerry! If there's one thing we're not around here, it's Black Widow experts! Your comments are very much appreciated!

And that's it for this edition. Thanks to each and every one of you for making 2011 a great year for the project, and a big ol' Texas WELCOME to all of our new readers. We'd also like to extend a very special Thank You to our contributors, who's help has been vital to us from the very start. We'd also like to encourage all of our readership to send your comments (and contributions of your own, should you feel so-inclined) to . Happy holidays to all of you, and we'll see you again right after Christmas. Until next time, be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

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