Monday, February 25, 2013

Where Does It Go, A Different Kind of Cobra, A Lightning, Not Very Pretty, and A Scooter

So Where Does It Go When I'm Gone?

We've lost several long-time aerospace photographers and image collectors lately, the most recent of whom was Dave Menard. All of this unfortunate but inevitable passing has raised a question regarding the disposition of our collections when we shuffle off this mortal coil (hyperbole, that, but appropriate nonetheless). A number of nationally and internationally-known collectors are affiliated with this project, and the comments and opinions have been flying regarding Dave's collection, our own personal collections, and the ultimate disposition of collections in general, which in turn has resulted in a personal determination. Let's think about this for a minute, because lack of preparation can cause Truly Bad Things to happen to the best of private collections and the subsequent loss of priceless aviation history.

First, let's consider some of the alternatives and their probable ramifications:

You can do nothing at all, and let nature take its course. If you're lucky, your spouse, parents, children, or other blood kin will do the right thing by your collection, but most likely luck won't come into it and they'll jump straight to Plan A, which is to gather up said collection and head straight for the nearest dumpster. A few survivors won't do that, either because they understand the significance of the collection or because they smell money (in which case they run for E-Bay instead of the dumpster), but mostly they will, which is a real good reason to put something in writing regarding disposition of your photography and/or library.

You can leave your stuff to a museum or educational institution. On the face of things that would be The Way to Go, since you'd be donating your assets to someone who can and will both appreciate your collection and treasure it as you would. The fly in that ointment is that a great many institutions just aren't funded to properly deal with extensive collections of photography or books; if you're lucky they'll organize them and make them available to serious researchers, but most such organizations just don't have the time or the staff any more (both of those things equate to MONEY, in case you're not being very bright today). Factor into that the methodology, personal beliefs, and outright whimsy of the staff of such organizations and your contribution becomes a crap-shoot of the highest order, and it gets even worse when we consider that directors and curators in museums and universities change jobs from time to time, just like the rest of us---the guy that just left knew what to do with that priceless photography, but the new guy doesn't, and really doesn't care either because you don't have the letters PhD after your last name. See where this is going?

There's a third alternative, and it's the one we've chosen for our own personal disposition of aviation assets when the Reaper puts in his inevitable appearance. We're going to give everything to an aviation friend, someone who supports research, shares with others, and helps people with their projects. We're going to pass the assets to someone who will use all those photos and books for their own projects, and make copies of the photography available to others for theirs. Hoarders need not apply. We think that's the right thing to do, because we want the stuff to be seen (one of the reasons we started this site in the first place) and disseminated among other aviation historians. That makes a great deal of sense to us.

Why are we telling you this? Why would anybody care? The Short Version of The Story is that even the handful of Uncle Willard's Korean War photographs are of value to the legitimate historian and need to be preserved. They're a priceless record of a time and place that won't come again, and once they're gone they're gone. What you do with your own personal archives is your choice and nobody else's, but we think we're on the right track here.

As always, that's our story and we're sticking with it.

Cleveland Bird

The Big One was over and Johnny had come home to peace and the beginnings of prosperity, but for some of the warriors of that era change came hard. Different people handled things different ways, but for a handful of former military aviators the path was clear: Air racing was the way to go, using modified fighters and attack aircraft surplussed out by the end of hostilities. One of the more colorful of those ex-military air racers is the subject of today's modeling section, thanks to the kindness of reader Pat Donahue.

Few people think of the Bell P-39 Airacobra as a high-performance aircraft, but even in stock form it was fast on the deck and a far more capable fighter than has generally been thought. When stripped of all its military gear and suitably modified, the aircraft became a rocket ship. The subject of this photo essay is "Cobra II", a hot-rodded P-39Q-10-BE flown by Bell test pilot Alvin "Tex" Johnston during the 1946 National Air Races.

Hasegawa's 1/48th scale P-39Q re-boxed as the "Cobra II". That's the pitot tube sticking out of the spinner, relocated from the wingtips. In this stripped-down condition "Cobra II" roared across the finish line of the 1946 National Air Races at 373.9 mph, nothing to sneeze at when we recall that the race was run around pylons and right on the deck. In addition to winning the race, Johnston also broke the world's closed course speed record set by England's Supermarine S-6 some 15 years before. Most folks don't model racing aircraft; Pat's replica of "Cobra II" makes us wonder why more people don't go down that road.

The late-war P-39Q-25-BE was fitted with a four-bladed prop as standard, and that configuration was chosen for the "Cobra II". This nose-on shot illustrates the incredibly small frontal section of the P-39 to good advantage. The P-39 was designed to poop and scoot, but an AAF decision to gut its performance turned it into an also-ran in the hands of everybody but the Soviet Union, who used its low and medium-altitude performance to great advantage in combat against the Luftwaffe.

Careful preparation and execution results in a superior model, as seen here. Look closely at these photos if you will, and note how precisely executed the paintwork and markings are. We think Pat nailed it with this model, but then we've always been a fan of his work, which may make us just the least bit prejudiced!

It would be easy to mistake Pat's model for the real aircraft with if we set the kit in a different background. The minimal weathering is entirely appropriate for the aircraft according to the photos we've seen (although those nose scallops were largely gone by the end of the race!), and the parachute slung onto the starboard wing puts the model over the top. Beauty!

The real "Cobra II" was capable of producing some 2,000 hp at sea level, with an achievable top speed of 400+ mph. Rate of climb was an astounding 6,000 feet per minute; in the 1946 race Johnson had launched and had gear in wells while most of the field was still on the ground. The bird was a lightweight, stripped down to 5,578 pounds dry---with the addition of a 240 US gallon fuel load gross weight was only 7,886 pounds. The airplane looked pretty ratty at the end of the race; a large percentage of the nose scalloping had worn off during the course of the competition, but the yellow and black "Cobra II" was arguably among the prettiest aircraft to ever compete for the Thompson Trophy.

Thanks to Pat Donahue for these remarkable photographs and an outstanding model!

Just in Case You Build One for Yourself

Our friends at Eduard recently issued another of their 1/48th scale Special Editions, this time covering the Lockheed P-38 in the pacific and called, appropriately enough, Pacific Lightnings (EU1175). The basic kit is Academy's P-38J/L, suitably accompanied with a selection of photo-etch and Eduard's own "Brassin'" resin accessories. The star of the show, however, is the decal sheet, which contains exceptionally well-done markings for 5 different aircraft. Thanks to Bobby Rocker we just happened to have a photograph of one of those airplanes and thought today would be a good time to share it with you.

"Rough and Dirty Jr" in all her glory, sitting on the ramp at Tacloban in 1945. The kit costs 75 bucks if you pay full retail for it, which isn't as bad as it first seems when you consider all that comes with it. If it were our choice, and it may well be, we'd substitute a Hasegawa P-38 for the Academy offering included in the kit, but you can get an acceptable model from either. Modelers note the slightly under inflated nose tire, a rarity on any military flight line. Those markings are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, but will make for a really neat model airplane should you be inclined towards such things.   Rocker Collection

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

The Fairchild AT-21 was designed and built as a dedicated bomber trainer for the Army Air Forces during the Second World War. Some airplanes just come across as doomed from the start and, even though some 106 examples of the type were manufactured, it was a flop as a bomber trainer and, quite frankly, a poor airplane to boot. Time and good sense eventually passed it by, and second-hand bombers eventually fulfilled the roll originally conceived for the AT-21. It was for the best...

This image of the XAT-13, the prototype for the AT-21 series and autographed by test pilot Vance Breese, shows just how ungainly the aircraft was. The XAT-13 (41-19500) was powered by a pair of 450hp powered by a pair of Pratt and Whitney R-1340-AN-1 radial engines, while the production aircraft (the AT-21) featured a pair of 550 hp Ranger V770-11 or -15 power plants. At the end of the day it didn't matter which engine the airframe was powered by; the aircraft suffered from poor stability and excessive vibration and was a pig in the air. The type was withdrawn from service in 1944, but not before it was decided to attempt to convert the aircraft into a flying bomb. Two such aircraft, designated XBQ-3, were modified to carry 4,000 pounds of explosives but that project was also shelved. A handful of AT-21s survived the war to enter civilian service, of which one is known to still exist. If it looks right it'll generally fly right. 'Nuff said.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

How About a Knife Fight, Ya'll?

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk series won its spurs as an attack bomber par excellance, after which it spent a fair amount of time flying as an adversary aircraft in the Navy's various ACM programs (its overall performance was similar to that of the MiG-17). Back in those faraway days when we actually went to airshows we always tried to get there the day before, so we could catch everybody arriving. That's where we found and photographed this particular "Tinker Toy".

152004, an A-4E from VA-126, taxis in after arrival at Bergstrom on 14 October 1989. The cranked refueling probe is of interest, as is the pylon configuration---although built as a 5-station aircraft, when used for the adversary roll the A-4E was inevitably configured with only 3 stations. Sharp-eyed readers will note that, while most of the landing gear doors are Insignia White trimmed in Insignia Red per specification, the secondary nose gear door is painted entirely in red. This aircraft has been used extensively and its paintwork is heavily patched, but it was entirely capable of fullfilling its mission the day we photographed it. The non-military zoom bag and ACM helmet the pilot's wearing are noteworthy.  P Friddell

Under The Radar

Gradual Failure, The Air War Over North Vietnam 1965-1966, Jacob Van Staaveren, Air Force History and Museums Program, 388pp, illustrated. The years 1965 and 1966 were crucial ones for the United States Air Force during the Vietnam war. This volume is a highly detailed account of those two critical years and covers both political and operational aspects of the conflict. Like so many of the works we discuss here this volume is a book; the selection of photographs is more than adequate and well-reproduced, but the heart of this work is its text. Many official histories are somewhat dry and oft times boring to read, but this book is both highly readable and easy to absorb. Combat ops are described in some detail, and both Air Force and Navy contributions are discussed at length. Not a book for everyone, this volume is one that the serious scholar of the Vietnam War cannot afford to be without.

The Relief Tube

Last issue we ran some photos of P-39Qs from the 82nd TRS and commented that we couldn't quite make out the nose art on one of them. Several of our readers responded with the name we couldn't figure out, which we're going to share with you today.

Here's the picture that started it all. 42-19883 obviously has something written on the nose, but we weren't ready to guess what it was. Some of our readers were a whole lot more astute than we were, which resulted in the following comments. As before, the photo is from Bobby Rocker's collection.

First, from long-time friend Jean Barbaud:  The name of the P-39Q 42-19883 picture seems to be : "Julia 2nd".

Then, just a few short days later we received not only confirmation of the name but a shot of the right side of the aircraft from Johnny Watson:

Hello Phillip. I was excited to see your fourth 82nd TRS photo of P-39 42-19883 in the latest post of your excellent blog on which you were unable to read the nose art. I have a photo of the starboard side of the nose of that P-39 which shows the nose art to read "Julia 2nd", along with what appears to be a pin-up girl on the door. My photo was taken by an unknown member of the 27th Air Depot, New Guinea, probably late 1943. I have attached my photo to the email. It is from my personal collection, and you may post it should it be of interest. Looking forward to your next post!

Jonathan Watson

And finally, from Alan Alexander: 

I hope this note finds you in good health and getting settled in from your recent change in residence. I'm sure that, by now, you've already been contacted several times about the name on 82nd TRS P-39Q 42-19883; but just in case you haven't, a peek over the top of my glasses seems to indicate that the name on her nose is "Julia 2nd." While I've got you on the line, thank-you for the great blog and to you and the others whose photographs have been posted on Replica in Scale, for sharing your treasures with the rest of us. I'm glad to see that RIS carries on the print tradition of crediting photo sources, which seems increasingly to be getting lost on the internet. Keep up the good work!

Alan Alexander

Thanks to all of you for the identification of "Julia 2nd", and for your kind comments!

We ran some photos of a few pranged aircraft a while back, leading Gerald Asher to provide this identification to one of them:

Phil - I may be relieving myself into the proverbial headwind, but after looking at Bob Rocker's Aleutian Lightning remnants, I went into "junkyard dog" research mode on I think a safe bet for an ID on the bird in question may be P-38G serial 42-13400 of the 54th FS, making a crash-belly landing near Temneck Bay on New Year's Day 1945. I don't know if the driver actually "walked" away, but it appears Robert L. Nesmith survived the adventure.  Gerald  Rocker Collection

One of the neat things about this site, as we're certain you've already noticed, are the people we get to meet. Geoffrey Hays had recently published a history on the B-50 and came across our modest effort in that direction a few issues back, where we'd bemoaned the fact that there was an airplane there, hiding in the background of a photo, that featured nose art we just couldn't read. We asked for help and Geoff came to the rescue for us:

In your RB-50 piece, you asked about Wilson's Follies, the RB-50F aircraft in the background of the image of Mac's Effort. You were hoping for a close-up of the nose art. Here 'tis. (George Horn Collection, NMUSAF)  Cheers, geoff

Many thanks for your help with that one, Geoff!

Finally, here's a comment on a comment, as it were. A long, long time ago (a year or two, anyway) we ran a color shot of a Supermarine Seafire from Bobby Rocker's collection with an annotation that it was a Seafire Mk XV. While such an aircraft did exist, it's highly doubtful/pretty danged impossible that the type ever landed in the Philippines during the course of the Second World War; we messed up the caption! A couple of weeks ago one of the guys over at Hyperscale ran the photo (with provenance, for which many thanks for doing the Right Thing!), unfortunately citing our misidentification of the type and calling the airplane a Mk XV. He immediately received several responses to his post properly identifying the bird in question as a Seafire Mk III. We very much appreciate the mention in that particular publication as well as the proper identification of the airplane in that photo, and would like to encourage folks with corrections or comments to get in touch with us directly when they discover those inevitable errors; we pride ourselves on fixing such things but have a tough time doing that when we aren't aware of the mistake!

We've got another couple of corrections we could run today but we're saving them for next time. Until then, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again real soon.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Milestone, The 82nd TRS, That A-26 Art, What It Was Like, Huns,

It's a Big Day Today

Yep, today's the 11th of February, which makes this the third anniversary of the electronic version of Replica in Scale. Three years---think of that!

When we started this project we had no idea how long it would run or where it would take us, or if anybody would even bother to look at it. Now, here we are, popular enough that we've seen well over 400,000 visits over the course of those three years, and have had our photography stolen en masse by the readers of and contributors toYahoo user groups, on-line modeling magazines, and other people's vanity sites. In short, we've arrived!

So where are we going next? Well, we're going to begin some evolutionary changes, for starts. Those changes will be small and will take a while to implement, but at the end of it all we think you'll see a better product on these pages. We also hope to actually stay on some sort of schedule again; we were weekly for a while but nowadays we publish whenever we can. That probably bothers you, and we know it bothers us! We'll try to do better from now on!

Next comes the fun part, which is saying thanks to all those folks who have contributed to this site, either directly by submitting material, or indirectly via comments we've received and posted on The Relief Tube. There are too many of you to mention specifically by name, but we're grateful to each and every one of you and want to make certain you know that. For those contributors among you who have wandered away over the past eighteen months or so, we'd love to have you back! You know who we are, and that e-mail address is still .  Don't be a stranger!

Finally, we're always looking for photography, anecdotal material, and the like. If you'd like to contribute the address is the same: . You probably won't get famous, and you definitely won't get rich since this is a blog rather than a money-making proposition of any sort, but those contributions all help flesh out the rich tapestry of aviation history, which is the whole reason this site exists. Come join us!

Give Us a Big Old Smile, Won'tcha?

The 82nd TRS was a relative newcomer to the Army Air Forces, having been originally constituted as the 82nd Observation Squadron on 1 June, 1937. The squadron went through several designation changes (to the 82nd Observation Squadron, Medium, in January of 1942 and the 82nd Observation Squadron in July of 1942, the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter) in April of 1943) before finally evolving into the 82nd TRS on 10 May, 1944. The unit was a member of several USAAF organizations over the course of its history but, for the purposes of our narrative, was attached to the 71st TRG (35th FG) beginning 29 March 1942. World War Two stations included Milne Bay, Dobodura, Finschhafen,and Saidor in New Guinea, as well as Biak, Owi, the Schouten Islands, Morotai, then, finally, the Philippines.

The group's wartime aircraft (the ones we're interested in) consisted of just three major types; the P-39Q, P-40N,  and F-6D/F-6K. Active throughout the latter half of the war in the Pacific, the 82nd was ultimately awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.

82nd TRS Mustangs could be easily identified by their yellow and black trim (the 110th TRS, the other squadron in the 71st TRG, used white and black) and their tail numbers, which ran from 40 up through the low 70s by the end of the war. (There were two other squadrons flying with the 71st as well; the 17th RS flying B-25s, and the 25th Liaison Squadron flying Stinson L-5s. Those squadrons will be discussed another day; we're sticking to the fighter types here.)

The 82nd was a key component of the Allied victory in the Pacific, but a great many enthusiasts are barely aware of the group's existence, even though  most scale modelers have at least a passing acquaintance with Shomo's "Flying Undertaker",  thanks in large part to extensive coverage of the post-mission repainted iteration of the aircraft originally made popular by an article in Scale Modeler magazine way back in the late 1960s. Thanks once again to the always amazing collection of Bobby Rocker, we'd like to offer a few images for your consideration today.

"Brooklyn Bum-2nd" was one of the 82nd's P-39Qs, a type that was active with the 82nd until replaced by the P-40N during the Fall of 1944. The "Bum" was typical of the squadron's Airacobras in that it wore the white wing and tail ID markings common to most 5th AF fighter types during the mid-War period. That door emblem isn't for the 82nd; we invite our never-shy readership to let us know which unit (if any) it connotes. Oh, and take a look at the shark mouth on that gas bag. The "Bum" was a looker!   Rocker Collection

And here's "Moise 3rd". She's sporting fewer markings than "Brooklyn Bum" but is just as interesting in many respects. Scale modelers will want to note the subtle way she's weathered; the unpainted rivets on the pilot's door are of particular interest in that respect since they indicate that the door has been recently re-skinned. That post in front of the windscreen is an extremely basic backup gun sight. It was a simpler time...   Rocker Collection

"Ha-ard Luck/Connie" provides us with some interesting anomalies. Aside from her names, this photo illustrates her theater markings to good advantage (note the less-than-perfect masking of the white paint on the tail), as well as the un-outlined bar on her fuselage national insignia. The nose wheel (and a significant portion of the tire as well) and at least the starboard main wheel have been oversprayed in white, while her prop appears to be in natural metal, although it could also be overall black, with its hue distorted by reflection). In any event she's a beautiful airplane.   Rocker Collection

While the 82nd was, indeed, a tactical recon unit, they managed to find their share of combat as well. 42-19883 was photographed sitting on the ramp somewhere in New Guinea getting ready to go get some. The 82nd's Q-model P-39s kept their underwing gun gondolas---this one is significantly darker than the rest of the undersurfaces of the airframe. There's a name on that nose too, but we can't read it. Phooey!   Rocker Collection

And finally, here's "Maxine". She looks like any other P-39Q from the 82nd at first glance, but that kill marking under the nose tells a story. If only those old photos could talk...   Rocker Collection

Those of you who have ever dealt with American military flight manuals are familiar with the phenomena known as "This Page Intentionally Blank". We've always thought that to be a moderately silly thing for them to do, but we're going to use that ploy today ourselves---this is the part where we ought to show you a P-40 or two from the 82nd, but we've searched everywhere and we just don't have one in the collection. The 110th TRS; yes. The 82nd; no. Another day, maybe...

Somewhere in the Philippines... This F-6D from the 82nd is sitting in her parking area prior to a flight. She wears no name and almost looks forlorn sitting there in the dirt, but it'll be a different story once she's airborne.  Take a look at the background of the photo---could those be a couple of 82nd TRS P-40s sitting back there? We'd like to think so, but we honestly don't have a clue! That address is , ya'll!   Rocker Collection

The most famous 82nd bird of them all; William Shomo's "Flying Undertaker". Like so many other military airplanes we can think of, she was tarted up for her press appearance, looking somewhat more appropriate as the mount of a Medal of Honor winner. When Shomo scored those kills she was a Plain Jane, marked very much like the Mustang in the photo immediately prior to this one. It made for good press and those markings have adorned a whole bunch of scale models, but they weren't on the airplane the day Shomo made the Big Time.   Rocker Collection

44-726871 is a whole lot more typical for the 82nd. She may have a name on her port side, but there's nothing of that sort to be seen in this particular view of her. Check out that "ramp" she's parked on too; we've said it more times than we care to remember but operational conditions in the Southwest Pacific were abysmal right up to the last day of the war.   Rocker Collection

"Ida"/"Lady Lynn"/"Vern" was proof positive that at least a few of the 82nd's F-6Ds and Ks carried some sort of name on the nose, if not out and out nose art. She's a dirty airplane, but we're guessing the ground crew was kept fairly busy just making sure she was airworthy and mission capable. The P-47D and 90th BG B-24J sitting behind her add a certain degree of ambiance to the photo, we think.   Rocker Collection

And here's "Louise", along with a fair sampling of the 82nd's pilots. Check those guys out; they're all young and grinning, and don't look overly stressed or burned out. The shoulder holsters tell part of the story. It was never easy in the SWPA.   Rocker Collection

We really like those old group shots posed in front of operational aircraft, but sometimes we wish they wouldn't block the nose art like that! We could guess at the name on this one (we'd hazard that says "Cherry and Norma" if we were so inclined!) but it's going to remain a mystery for the time being. Any suggestions?   Rocker Collection

44-72509 isn't an F-6D; she's a P-51D (the 82nd had several on strength). The stripes on the fuselage and the wing add quite a bit of color, and the chipping on the fuselage national insignia adds interest as well, but we'd sure like to see a little nose art!   Rocker Collection

Here's our final shot for the day, showing the 82nd's ramp at Mangledon. In the Pacific you used things until they were all used up. Would any of our modeling readership care to replicate those gas bags for one of your models?   Rocker Collection

That's it for today's photo essay on the 82nd TRS, except for the fact that we've torn the place up and can't find one single photo for any of the squadron's P-40Ns. Not one! We did manage to find several 110th TRS birds, a couple of which we've already published, but nothing for the 82nd. Anybody out there got any photos?!

Which One Do You Like Best?

Last issue we showed you a shot depicting our efforts to put nose art on a real TB-26, which prompted Jim Wogstad to dig into his archives and send in another couple of shots that illustrate the multiple lives of "Frantic Fraye".

Our original intent had been to create nose art for a monograph we were working on. Jim had come up with the title "A'eros" and that name, plus a reproduction of some Vargas artwork, was going to be the cover shot. The image you see above, suitably cropped and otherwise modified, was one of the contenders for that cover. It's not too difficult to look at that photo and Walter Mitty yourself back to Korea or maybe Okinawa, or maybe England, in a different time.    Wogstad

Part of the deal we made with the Central Texas Wing of the Confederate Air Force was that we'd put any name they wanted on the airplane once we'd gotten our cover shot. John Stokes owned the ship at that time, and his wife was named Fraye, so the edict was clear. Whether it was Jim or myself who decided on "Frantic Fraye" is lost to the sands of time (unless, of course, Jim remembers!) but it was the perfect name nonetheless. Here's "Frantic Fraye/A'eros" in her final form.   Wogstad

Nowadays people airbrush a lot of nose art, both on "real" military airplanes and on warbirds, but that wasn't how it was generally done back in The Big One. We were purists during the Replica and Aerophile days so we did it the old way; we cleaned the nose with liberal wipings of MEK, then layed out the outline of the art and primed it with real, honest-to-goodness Mil-P-8585Y primer, after which Jim got to work with enamel and paint brushes. (We were pretty sure those WW2 and Korean War artists didn't prime their work, but we were painting for the ages, doncha know? Paint sticks better to primer than it does to bare aluminum, after all.) This photo shows your editor wiping down the areas of the fuselage around the nose art after Jim had taken the Money Shot and just prior to the addition of the "Frantic Fraye" lettering. Yes; we knew how to smile back then. No; we weren't doing it. Let's blame it on the MEK and move on.   Wogstad

Somewhere in our files, in a shoebox full of thoroughly unsorted slides, are the in-process photos of the entire process from layout to finished product. It was an interesting evolution and it's our intention to publish those photos too, just as soon as we can find them. After that we'll draw down the curtain on the saga of "Frantic Fraye/A'eros". Consider this to be fair warning that there's a third installment yet to come!

Let's Raise a Glass...

We talk a lot about the air war in the Southwest Pacific, but simple words can't express the way it was to those old, young men in the cockpits and gun turrets. The two shortcuts below will take you to a couple of sections of an old Fifth AF film about one of the earliest attacks on Rabaul. They're well worth the watching and are provided courtesy Gerry Kersey of 3rd Attack.Org.

Those little squiggly white lines you'll see in the footage from time to time are tracer from Japanese machine guns. There were no easy days in the SWPAC---let's raise a glass...

A New Link

If you'll take the time to take a look at the links on this page (say that three times fast, by Jingo!), you'll find a new one; Rick Morgan Books. Yep; it's the same Rick Morgan that's contributed a whole bunch of the spiffy NAV photography you find on these pages, and we strongly suspect he'll be featuring more of it on his own site sooner or later. The site is in its initial stages but we strongly recommend it for what we suspect is to come. If you happen to be a fan of US NAVAIR you'll want to visit the site often. That's our story and we're sticking with it.


Jim and I began the Replica project in those faraway days before personal computers so we did everything manually back then, which meant that our photo contributors loaned material to us, either negative, print, or slide, and we took it from there. Negs were easy to deal with since Jim had an extremely well-equipped darkroom, and slides were taken care of by virtue of a visit to the Late Lamented Eastman Kodak facility in Dallas, but we had to copy the prints the old-fashioned way, with a copy stand and a camera equipped with a macro lens. What you're about to see is a handful of F-100s that we copied. There are two common threads to be found there; one is the airplane. Let's see if you can figure out the other one...

Let's start with a Charlie Hun, a Skyblazer's F-100C-25-NA from the 36th TFS. The airplane bought the farm in a crash in Libya in 1962, but was in her prime when this photograph was taken. We honestly prefer the paint scheme on the 'Blazer's "Huns" to that of the Thunderbirds, but that's a personal preference. If you look closely you can see the oil line fixed over the afterburner---that's how you get an airplane to make smoke at an air show, in case anybody was wondering.   Dave Menard

55-2934 was built as an F-100D-45-NH and was assigned to the 81st TFS/50th TFW working out of Toul Roseres AB when she sat for her portrait in July of 1959. The pitot tube was segmented on all operational F-100s; a threaded collar allowed the hinged pitot to be folded upwards for ground operations---it was close enough to the ground to pose a clear and present danger to the maintenance types when extended, not to mention the fact that folding it reduced the overall length of the airplane by several feet. The "Hun" had a characteristic sit that was as much a part of her personality as the sooty exhaust plume generated by her J-57.   Dave Menard

56-3025 was assigned to the 417th TFS/50th TFW and was an F-100D-70-NA. A large number of F-100s survived both peacetime operational service and the Vietnam War and wound up in museums; such was the fate of 3025. This photo is of considerable interest to the scale modeler for a number of reasons: The afterburner petals are well defined here, as is the discoloration on the aft fuselage. The tips of the horizontal stabs have been painted in the squadron color, and the fins assemblies of the wing tanks have a similar treatment. Of particular interest is the staining on the fuselage and the rapidly-deteriorating colors of the national insignia. Most USAFE birds were kept clean, which indicates that this one is probably a prime candidate for an IRAN.   Dave Menard

56-3007 was another USAFE aircraft, assigned to the 79th TFS of the 20th TFW when this photo was taken. She's all gussied up and ready for an air show. Those leading edge slats were always deployed when the aircraft was immobile and, just like the P-51s and F-86s that came before, the hydraulically actuated gear doors have dropped down from their own weight as the system depressurized. 3007 was built as an F-100D-65-NA and finished out her days as a QF-100D. It was an ignoble fate for so fine a lady.   Dave Menard

The 48th TFW was another USAFE outfit that used the F-100; this aircraft is from the 494th TFS. 56-3317 was built as an F-100D-90-NA and seems to be fitted with the infrequently-seen AIM-9 launch rails on her inboard stations. USAFE made frequent deployments to Wheelus AB in Libya during the 1950s and 60s; it was a convenient place to shoot guns and drop bombs. That was probably 3317's mission when she was lost there in February of 1965.   Dave Menard

The F-100 was quite the globe trotter. She was the first operational supersonic aircraft in the USAF inventory, and, in her D-model iteration, had morphed from a pure air-superiority fighter into a fighter bomber, which made her even more useful as a deployable asset. 56-3264 was an F-100D-90-NA and was assigned to PACAF's 18th TFW when this photo was taken. The passing of a few short years found her assigned to the 510th TFS of the 3rd TFW, flying out of South Vietnam. She was shot down in August of 1967 while performing ground support duties---her pilot managed to steer her over water and was able to safely eject. She's carrying a full load of gas in this shot; extra fuel was an absolute necessity if you intended to fly very far in the F-100!   Dave Menard

A spate of operational accidents early on in the "Hun's" career mandated the use of a dedicated trainer, which in turn led to the development and production of the F-100F. Although the 2-seater was missing one pair of M39 20mm cannon the aircraft was fully combat capable, which led to its use both as a fast FAC and as the first member of the Air Force's "Wild Weasel" team. 58-1214, an F-100F-20-NA, is seen here in happier days when assigned to the 8th TFW's 35th TFW, flying out of Itazuke AB in Japan. PACAF didn't have an issue with nose art, at least not in Japan. It was a colorful era, to say the least.   Dave Menard

58-1229 was assigned to Misawa AB when we were sent there in October of 1962. Escorted flightline visits were both a privilege and a pleasure, and we almost certainly saw 1229 on the ramp during one of those visits, although the notion of photography never crossed our mind at the time. Fortunately for all concerned, a young Dave Menard was stationed there too, and he was busily photographing every airplane he could get his camera on! This particular "Hun" was a wing bird, assigned directly to the 416th TFW. Note that the rudder on this aircraft is apparently a replacement as the wing markings stop short of it. Those PACAF Super Sabres were pretty, to say the least!   Dave Menard

                                                                                           Menard Collection

How About a Tribute, Ya'll?

I've been doing some thinking of late; that's a bit of a stretch, I know, but I have been. This is ostensibly a modeling publication, but we don't run many photos of models in it and most of what we run to date has been built by me. That's a premise of sorts.

Here's another premise to consider: Dave Menard was pretty much Mister F-100. His knowledge regarding Things USAF was both amazing and encyclopedic, but at the end of the day he loved the "Hun". It was his baby, his favorite.

Since we've got some premises, it's time to work up a conclusion to go with them. A large percentage of our readership are modelers, and I'm guessing the chances of at least a few of those modelers (that would be you we're talking about!) have an F-100 or two built up and sitting in their collections, so let's publish them here! How about it, ya'll? Are you up for a tribute? Think about it; almost every scale modeler on this planet who's ever looked at a book or magazine about the Silver Air Force has seen and enjoyed photography from Dave Menard's collection. It's time for a little payback. It's time for a tribute.

If you're game, just photograph your favorite F-100 model, any scale, any nationality, any time period, and send it to this site at . (We get a fair amount of spam around here, just like everybody else does, so please put "F-100" someplace in your subject line so we don't inadvertently dump your entry!) JPEG images are preferred but we can use others, although our blog software doesn't much care for TIF images so you might want to shine those right on by. You might want to make the images somewhat less than enormous too---it's a bandwidth thing, donchaknow?

Now for the hard part. Don't just think about doing it. Don't sit there all covered up in good intentions. Send a photo, preferably just one or two. Do it. Do it now! OK? OK!!!

The Relief Tube

MENARD, David Walter died on Feb. 5, 2013, in Dayton Ohio where he lived since 1977. He was born in Elmhurst Ill on May 5, 1936, moved to Lombard Ill in 1945 where he graduated from Glenbard High in 1954, followed by a year of study at the U of Illinois at Navy Pier. He followed his boyhood dream and joined the Air Force in 1955 where he served as a maintainer of aircraft in Africa, four countries in Europe, Greenland, and five Asian countries, in addition to six stateside postings. After retiring as a master sergeant in 1977, he immediately continued his work on aircraft at the Air Force museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, later serving as an historian due to his encyclopedic knowledge of aviation history. Retiring from that in 1999, he began following his other passion, care of children, by volunteering at the Dayton children's Hospital, amassing 32,000 hours, the equivalent of working 16 years at forty hours a week fifty weeks a year!!! Meanwhile he developed a passion for Irish step dancing, viewing River Dance over sixty times and supporting several Irish dance troupes. He lived his life in service to his country....and children in general. He leaves a brother Mike (Marita) from Madison Wisc., four nieces and nephews and five grand nephews. His other brother Herbert James preceded him in death just two months ago. A memorial service will be held on Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 PM at the Taggert auditorium at Dayton's Children's Hospital, One Children's Plaza 45404, to which donations can be made in lieu of flowers. Published in Dayton Daily News from February 7 to February 9, 2013

Rest in peace, Dave.

Be good to your neighbor until we meet again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Requiem for a Friend

A Friend is Gone

I got an e-mail from Doug Barbier last night telling me that Dave Menard had died. A friend of many years was gone. The sense of loss was, and still is, immeasurable.

Dave was one of the earliest contributors to Replica in Scale, way back in 1972 or 73. Like so many other of my friends he was selfless, never failing to provide an image, information, or a correction. He, as well as all of the other aviation photographers who took our fledgling project under their wings, helped to nurture our publication and make it into what it ultimately became. He was a contributor, a critic, and a mentor. He was a class act. He was a friend.

We shared a small portion of our lives, Dave and I, although I didn't know it at the time. He was assigned to Misawa AB in Japan when my family arrived there in the early 60s, and we both shared a fondness for the place. Later, after Jim and I had launched the print version of Replica, Dave provided us with photographs of the airplanes that I'd never taken the time to shoot while I was there. They're a treasured reminder of my days in Japan, and a constant reminder of Dave.

Dave Menard's collection of American military aviation photography is arguably one of the best to be found anywhere. Like so many of the greats in the field, he photographed and he collected and, also like so many others, he shared. It's hard to find an aviation publication on the Silver Air Force, be it book or periodical, that doesn't have an image from Dave's collection in it. He assisted those who asked for it, and he did it with no motive other than a desire to help.

There are so many things I could say about Dave, but it's almost impossible to know where to begin. He could come across as gruff, and he was a straight shooter; yes meant yes and no meant no in his world, but he was always there to help. He helped the historical aviation community, and he helped his friends. He helped me. I miss him already.

That said, I have a philosophy I'd like to share with you regarding Dave's passing. Another aviation friend of mine opined earlier today, after hearing of Dave's death, that one of the great ones was gone. To that I have to disagree.

Dave's still here, still with us, in every photograph he ever took or collected. I'll think of him every time I see one of those photos, or pass through my library and see one of his books on the shelf. I'll smile when I think of him and remember his unselfish sharing with all who asked for his help. Does his death hurt? You bet it does. He was a valued friend and I'll miss him but, like I said, he's still here with us. He always will be.

Thanks, Dave, for everything you did to make aviation photography the special thing it's been to my life, and to the lives of so many others. 

Let's raise a glass.