Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lookin' In, An Amazing Model, Some Thunderjets, and Any Landing You Can Walk Away From

The Incredible Hulk

As some of you probably remember, Replica in Scale started life as a print magazine way back in the early 1970s. We did some interesting things back then, including the reviewing of the many kits, books, and decals that were provided to us by industry. We also tried to actually build models of some of the subjects we wrote about, which is a lead-in that takes us to Right Now.

Earlier in the week we received an e-mail from Fred Hall, with whom we've had an ongoing correspondence regarding the old Monogram kits and how much better they were (and are!) than a great many of the current offerings by our ever-increasing list of "modern", state-of-the-art manufacturers. That discussion led to a few comments regarding new kits in general, which caused  Fred  to say this about the new Meng 1/72nd scale F-102A:

Well Phil, since the Hasegawa F-102 kit has grown so old, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new Meng kit. I got it in December but had something else going on the bench so didn't start it until about 2 weeks ago. I went back into the Nov 1972 " Replica" to see what you had to say. I'm not sure what you'd think of this quote regarding that old kit "fortunately quite good and needs virtually no reworking to achieve a decent model." Amazing how times and techniques change because I thought the same thing too. The basic kit did have an accurate shape but trying to close those weapon bay doors was never easy, and I don't like to leave that stuff open as its not typically seen that way on the flight line except during maintenance or loading. I do like the Meng kit, but it's weapons bay is a little narrower than the fuselage so it still needs some attention. Fred

1972 was a very long time ago, and that November issue Fred mentioned was the second RIS ever published. We were still scrambling to find things we had enough information on to be able to write an article at that point; since we were only two issues into the thing we hadn't yet made the acquaintance of Marty, Dave, Jim, or Doug, although Norm Taylor was stationed in San Antonio at the time and was kind enough to open his collection to us. We didn't run very many photographs at that point since photos cost money, of which we had very little at the time, so most of that F-102 article was illustrated with Jim's drawings (a high point of our project both then and now---I still think they're great after all these years!). I also built a Deuce for the article based on a photo from Norm's collection, a bird from a USAFE outfit, the 496th FIS. The relatively new (1968 or 69) Hasegawa kit provided a canvas, and off we went. Since the "Deuce" was our lead article for that issue, we also featured it on the cover:
Here you are: Our second cover ever, giving the reader a strong hint as to which airplane we were featuring that issue! (Picture Pirates beware:  This is a copyright image! Republish it without proper credit at your own peril!)                                                                   James Wogstad, Copyright 1972

And here's what remains of that 1972-vintage Hasegawa kit of the F-102A:

The landing gear is trashed and the gas bags have been knocked off, as have the landing gear and weapons bay doors. Nobody was making accurate paint for the contemporary USAF way back then, so you pretty much had to figure it out on your own. In this case we fell back to our old standby Floquil SP Lettering Grey, which is actually far too warm a shade to properly represent Aircraft Grey. We thought it was ok back then, though, so that's what we used. The model was built 100% out of the box; we mentioned a few areas that could have benefited from change but didn't actually incorporate them into the project due to the pressures of our deadline and the additional influence of a tiny misfortune, which we'll explain in a minute. All the stripes, etc, were masked and painted, as were the anti-glare panels, radome, and intake walkways. The AIM-4s came direct from the kit and were somewhat sloppily hand-painted, although that really wasn't noticeable with the weapons bay doors in place. At the end of the day the model photographed well and looked like an F-102A, which was the whole purpose of the thing. It still amazes us that it took some 42 years to get a better kit in the scale!

And here's the tattered remains of the undersurfaces, broken landing gear, missing tanks and doors, and all!  Virtually nobody was weathering airplanes in 1972, or at least they weren't once you got past exhaust and improperly-done gun gas streaking, so our "Deuce" was a Clean Machine---that was ok in this case since the late, lamented ADC tended to keep their airplanes absolutely immaculate anyway. Those stripes on the nose were masked off with an extremely thin model car striping tape, while the stripes on the pitot boom and barrier cable hook were painted freehand. The exhaust was painted with a mixture of Floquil Antique Bronze and Old Silver, while the landing gear and weapons bays were painted with a Floquil craft color called Chartreuse, which was a pretty fair match for Mil-P-8585 Zinc Chromate Primer. There was no weight whatsoever in that model, because it didn't need any. In point of fact, the only member of the the Century Series of US fighters that actually does require weight in the nose is the F-100; on everything else the main mounts are situated far enough aft that ballast isn't an issue, although very few modelers realize that. Those decals weren't yellowed when the model was new...

A final shot to illustrate some things we hadn't previously discussed. The national insignia on the wings, as well as the "USAF" legend found there, came from our decal box, but the fuselage insignia, the "U.S. Air Force" markings on the fus, plus all of the stencilling were courtesy of the long-gone and much-lamented, at least by us, Letraset model airplane dry transfer decals. Those little F-102s behind the canopy were done with a Crow-Quill pen and India ink on a piece of MicroScale clear decal stock, and the shiny natural metal intakes were done with Bare Metal Foil, which still looks good some 42 years after their initial application. There's a pilot in that cockpit and that, plus the fact that the F-102A has a vision splitter on the instrument panel shroud and the kit has a really thick cockpit transparency, means that you can't tell that there's -0- interior in that model; zip, nada. (We used a ModelDecals instrument panel decal and actually did manage to scratch-build an optical gunsight but you can't see either one of them through that canopy! There's a lesson there, we think...)

There are a couple of other things you really ought to know while were visiting 1972 in our Wayback Machine:

First, we actually built two F-102s for that article. We got the first one built (with the weapons bay doors closed), painted, and decalled, and then decided to clear-coat the model with Krylon Kristal Klear, which was a lacquer-based aerosol available in art supply houses. It looked really good when we sprayed it too, right up to the point where the lacquer crazed the previously bullet-proof Floquil paint and made the entire model look like an F-102A-shaped football. We did a hasty re-build with another kit (which is why all the decals weren't dry transfer; we'd used the ones we had allocated to the wings on that first airframe) and managed to get everything finished in time to make our deadline. Lucky, we were!

Also, if you'll take a close look at that pitot boom you'll notice that it's far too thin and tapered to be plastic. We were fond of using steel insect pins for such things back when we could still see 1/72nd scale, and that's an insect pin on our "Deuce". It's epoxied and puttied in there, which virtually guarantees puncture injuries if you get careless with the model. Back then we didn't care, but we knew it was there and avoided stabbing ourselves with it! Nowadays such shenanigans would probably add to the coffers of some attorney!

Finally, there are those squadron markings, made by punching out a piece of decal stock with a paper punch and painting the 496th's insignia on them, a chore handled by the First Mrs. Friddell.

That "Deuce" was one of those models that just came together for us in spite of all the drama associated with its creation, and it looks pretty good right now this minute, although we may be somewhat prejudiced in that regard. Many thanks to Fred for inspiring us to drag that old dinosaur out and take another look at it. We hope you enjoyed our trip to the distant past!

Holy Cow; Wouldja Look at THAT!

When we run photos provided by Bobby Rocker we normally feature airplanes from his personal collection of WW II-era photography. This time we've got something a little different for you to peruse.

We usually say naughty words when we think of Flickr, since so much of our photography has ended up published there without bother of credit lines for the photographers involved, but this time around we've got nothing but good to say. This shot was uploaded by a Flickr member known as FabriaA78 and shared by another Flickr member known as P-38L5LO, and shows what we presume to be an RC model of a Yokosuka E14Y "Glen" being readied for flight. The model was apparently built in Germany, where this photo was taken, and is an absolutely remarkable bit of craftsmanship. Further details would be welcomed!  FabriaA78 photo.

Just Passing Through

That's what these 20th FBW F-84s were doing way Back in the Day. The images were provided to us by Mark Morgan---THANKS, Mark!

48-0727 was an F-84D-5-RE, and is seen here en route to England while taking gas at Goose Bay during the 20th's 1950 Fox Able 6 deployment. Note that both of the wingtip-mounted gas bags are being filled at the same time; a transient alert type of our acquaintance once told us how he actually managed to tip over an empty T-33 by filling one tip tank while leaving the other empty. Could that really happen? We honestly don't know, but there's got to be some reason other than enthusiasm that those guys are filling the tanks at the same time! USAF/AMC via M Morgan

Sometimes things get a little hairy on the transient ramp. Here's most of one squadron of the 20th being refueled at The Goose. It's tough to see the airplanes in this photo, but those interested in such things may well note the variety of truck pulling those fuel trailers. It would make a neat diorama...  USAF/AMC via M Morgan

If Goose Bay is a cold and remote place you really have to wonder how Sondrestrom compares! We guess it's No Contest, but that's just an opinion! However you cut it, the 20th was staging their F-84Ds through that somewhat remote facility when this evocative photo was taken. Of particular interest is the use of a Dodge weapons carrier as a tow vehicle for 48-0749. While we're talking about dioramas, that would sure be a neat addition to one!  USAF/AMC via M Morgan

Further on down the road. The unit is still the 20th FBW, but the airplanes are now F-84Gs, this time sitting on the ramp at Narsarssuack during 1952. It's easy to forget how many difficult places the Silver Air Force flew out of back during the 50s, but these photos provide a graphic reminder of the dangers involved in keeping the peace during that era.  USAF/AMC via Mark Morgan

And here's a row of the 20th's Golf models to end our essay. Narsarssuack is what might be called a desolate place, but it was an essential base in the early 1950s.  USAF/AMC via M Morgan

Everybody Has a Bad Day Every Now and Then

Of course, when most of us have that aforementioned Bad Day it's generally an inconvenience of some sort. If you fly for a living, however, those Bad Days can take on a somewhat different flavor. Let's take a look at some photographs from the Bobby Rocker Collection that prove that point:

This 54th FG P-38 bellied in up in the Aleutians, thus proving once again that it wasn't always the enemy that got you, even if you were in a combat zone when you stuck it in the ground. From that intact cockpit area you presume this one was a walk-away, but you just never know...  Rocker Collection

"Bolivar" was a moderately famous B-24J that got through a combat tour and came back to the ZI to participate in a war bond tour, where her luck ran out. This one appears to be a straight-up overshoot of the runway, but however it happened, "Bolivar" was a write-off.   Rocker Collection

One man's bad luck is another man's good fortune.  "Wolf Gal" had a bad day and was in turn reduced to produce, being stripped of her usable parts to keep other aircraft going. There wouldn't be much left by the time the salvage operation was done.  Rocker Collection

It probably isn't an outhouse, but the slapstick fan that lives inside us almost wishes it was. That B-29 is probably repairable but it's doubtful that anyone went to the trouble to do it; if there's one thing the 20th AF had plenty of it was airplanes.  Rocker Collection

NAS San Diego was a humming place during the Second World War, with a training mission dedicated to producing pilots for the Fleet. This early F6F-5 bellied in to a parking lot where it nailed a car. The accident was a walk-away for the pilot, but we're really hoping that car was unoccupied at the time of the crash!  Rocker Collection

When an airplane bellies in on the silver screen there's not much to it; the airplane slides to a stop while the pilot (read "actor" here) does his heroic best to look stoic. It was somewhat different in real life as is shown by this San Diego-based F6F-5, who's pilot took out most of a building when he bellied it in. Talk about having a bad day, although, once again, the crash was a walkaway. Do you guys think the pilot got a Board out of this one?  Rocker Collection

The Hellcat was a pretty tough bird. The way that number is presented on her nose could well signify that she was on either an acceptance or delivery flight when Drama overtook her. Either way there's not much left of the airplane, although the cockpit area is intact and this time, at least, our intrepid naval aviator has managed to avoid both buildings and automobiles. Nobody ever said it was safe!  Rocker Collection

It's easy to get the impression that everything's always going to be ok in an airplane crash. This San Diego-based PB4Y-2 provides graphic evidence that that's not always true. The guys in that Privateer never got any closer to combat than a training flight when their luck ran out. That sort of thing is every bit as true now as it was back then. Let's raise a glass...   Rocker Collection

Happy Snaps

Reader Mark Williams is no stranger to these pages, having shared images with us from his days as a Boomer a time or two before. He captured this F-18D waiting to tank a couple of years ago.

It's a placid sort of shot and almost makes it look easy. Almost.  Mark Williams

The Relief Tube

Let's start off today with an entry from Steve Stith, who's been going through some of our older issues:

I just was killing some time over lunch surfing the web and happened upon the photo of this aircraft from December 2010. As far as I know this is only one of two photographs in existence of this particular aircraft in this configuration. The other is in the book, the Age of Orion by David Reade and shows absolutely no national markings. As an ex-USN P-3 crewman, I found this picture interesting to say the very least!!

This is a REALLY unusual and rare P-3A Orion. It was modified to the configuration in the picture by the CIA along with 149678 and 149669. If this photo was indeed taken in 1967, it was very shortly after this aircraft was returned to US Navy custody from the CIA and Nationalist China. It was subsequently modified to an EP-3J and was operated by VX-1 (Nickname was “Miss Piggy”) for a while, then was converted to a UP-3A VIP transport and is currently in storage at the Davis Monthan boneyard. Throughout its long career, it still had the clam-shell double entry door.

                                          Stith Collection

                                         Stith Collection

The following text is from the P-3 Orion Research Group website ( a great source for interesting variants of P-3’s) CIA’s black P-3 program A small number of American Orions has always been involved in operations which cannot tolerate daylight. Between 1964 and 1967 three P-3As were assigned to the "PROJ AF" what probably stands for "Project Air Force". The Orions involved (BuNos 149669, 149673 and 149678) were modified by Lockheed and E-Systems for a clandestine "reconnaissance project" in June 1964. External modifications included extended exhaust pipes on the nacelles (to reduce heat radiation), shortened propeller blades (to reduce the noise), a bulged observation window on top of the fuselage, panel and blade antennas, an air intake device in the position of the forward starboard observation window, and a cargo door (created by adding a "mirror" door to the existing entrance door). Furthermore the MAD boom had been removed and all three aircraft were painted black. Mission equipment included a Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR), special communications systems and infra red detection systems. For self protection the aircraft were fitted with Sidewinder missiles and one of them even is believed to have shot down a MiG fighter. The area of interest for these Orions was communist China. They were flying signal intelligence mission along the Chinese border but also were conducting missions over the South Chinese Sea, Burma, Tibet and clandestine overland missions over China. The black Orions have also been involved in missions over Vietnam, flying at night out of Okinawa, Japan. In May and July 1966 at least two of these black Orions were handed over to the Republic of China Air Force which operated them for a short period in support of a CIA program. Like your blog!! Steve Stith

Thanks, Steve! We appreciate your update to our original photo caption!

In today's "Keeping Us Honest" department we've got a correction from Mike Furline regarding one of those F4U shots we ran an issue or two back:

Hi Phil. To start with, GREAT BLOG! Love the pics. In the Jan. 2013 pictures of the Corsairs, your description for one of the pictures is

“The "Hog" was too good an airplane to languish at the end of the War, and ended up with a career that took her well into the 1950s. This gorgeous photo shows VF-114 F4U-4Cs on the boat during 1951. Don't let the relaxed atmosphere of that shot fool you; a flight deck full of taxiing propeller-driven aircraft is one of the most dangerous places you'll ever be. Naval aviation was never safe, even in peacetime. Rocker Collection”

The F4U-4 with 20mm cannons was the F4U-4B model. The F4U-1 series used a “C” to designate 20mm cannons (F4U-1C), but the F4U-4 uses a B (F4U-4B). The “B” version was originally used to designate F4U-4s going to Britain, but Britain never took delivery of any so the “B” was used to designate the 20mm cannon armed Corsairs. The .50 cal. versions are just plain F4U-4. There was no “A” model. F4U-4 - .50 cal F4U-4B – 20mm F4U-4P – Photo-recon Thanks, Mike Furline

It's amazing the simple things you forget as time passes---thanks, Mike, for the correction!

And that's it for today. Please continue to send your corrections (or contributions---we're always on the lookout for good material!) to . In the meantime be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

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