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.

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