Sunday, July 28, 2013

Progress With Tojo, A Special Photo, Mariner, and A Nifty Buccaneer

Why Don't He Write?

OK, it's been well over a month. What's going on this time? Well, folks; to put it in a nutshell, we discovered another Picture Pirate and it really put us in a Why Are We Doing This kind of mood for a while. Here's what happened.

We were messing around on the internet a while back and decided to put 4th FIS into Google Images
to see what might pop up, 4th FIS "Deuces" always being a topic of interest around these parts. A whole bunch of photos showed up and right there, in front of The Deity and everybody, were the F-86Ds from the 4th, the exact ones we'd run right here at RIS a year or so back through the courtesy of Dave Menard. The problem was, they were credited to the photo service account of somebody named "K...". That wasn't the end of it, either---there were hundreds of images on the site, and a few of them were very familiar to us since they'd come from the collections of Dave, Marty Isham, and the like, and a great many of those images had seen the light of day as exclusives, having not been provided to anybody else before they were offered to us.

The kicker here is that we didn't personally take the images, and neither did the folks who collected them, making the whole copyright issue a difficult thing to negotiate at best. We couldn't find anything that we'd personally shot (there would most assuredly be repercussions had we discovered that!) but it was discouraging in the extreme to see so many images lifted without mention of the collections from which they'd come. (We give credit lines on our photos, remember!)

To be perfectly honest with you, things like this tend to make us want to fold the tent. On the other hand, the person who'd loaded those photos had loaded a whole bunch more from other sites as well---our images only constituted a small percentage of what was there, so we weren't alone in the victimization department. We thought about the whole deal for quite a while (a little over a month, to be exact), and decided to continue with the project, but with an unfortunate side effect for you, our readers.

We'd gone to smaller watermarks on our photos a while back, in order not to compromise the quality of our images, but the guys on the various internet user groups, coupled with a couple of folks on that particular photo storage site, just won't let it go. That's forcing us to put large watermarks on the photography again. We hate to do that but those guys have pretty much left us no choice. To our regular readers, as well as those folks just discovering our site, please accept our profound apologies for those big honkin' watermarks. It's a classic case of a few ruining something for the many, but it is what it is and, at the end of the day, we fully intend that the folks who contribute to this site and make it what it is receive the credit they deserve. Most of the images have a huge sweat equity connected to them because of the sheer effort it takes for the collector to locate them and obtain copies. It's an integrity issue pure and simple. We think we have integrity, and we know our contributors do. We're pretty sure there are other folks out there who don't.

One more thing, ya'll: If you're looking at somebody else's site and see one of our photos run without provenance you can be pretty certain the person who's site it was took those photos without permission, since we only grant permission to use our photography to the folks who give credit to the photographer or collector who provided the images in the first place. We're proud of what we do around here---we run a straight-up publication and we intend on keeping it that way---so would you Picture Pirates please cease and desist? Our stats tell us that we're pretty popular and we'd hate to shut the project down because you can't keep your hands to yourselves, but that's certainly becoming an option so cut the crap, ok? Ok.

Movin' Right Along

The last time we convened I'd made pretty significant progress on that 1/32nd scale Hasegawa Ki-44, and promised an update the next time we met. Well, it's that time, so here's the update as promised!

And here we are---The Incredible Modular "Tojo"! The kit is one of those that fits like the proverbial glove, so the path taken in construction was somewhat different than my norm, which you all saw last issue. (In case you missed that one and are too lazy to scroll down to the installment immediately previous to this one, the wings and fuselage were built and, as you can see from this photo, finished, prior to assembly.) That big honkin' unit insignia is a kit decal, as are the numbers on the rudder. The home defense bands, Hinomarus, red tail, yellow ID panels on the wings, and anti-glare panels were all masked and painted and are now ready for assembly. The approach wouldn't work with a lot of models but it's a great way to do things if all the big pieces fit properly; this particular kit is about as shake-and-bake as it gets!

That silver paint is also a departure from the norm around here (that's two departures in one blog, by Golly!) in that it's Tamiya lacquer sprayed from a rattle can. They make several variations of the stuff and I honestly can't tell you which one I used here but it looks ok, whatever color it was. The kit's instructions tell you to paint the fabric-covered control surfaces with JAAF Grey-Green, which I did, but photographic evidence seems to indicate that the Ki-44's control surfaces were most often finished with silver dope. It would be easy enough to go back and fix them, but it would be equally easy to just leave them as they are, and today's a Day of Least Resistance---grey-green they are and grey-green they stay! I don't think I mentioned it when we were talking about all the things that were pre-painted on the model, but the anti-skid wing walkway was masked and painted as well. Better safe than sorry...

Here's a 3/4 rear view of the same side of the airplane, which honestly doesn't show us anything significantly different from the photos above. On the other hand, it does show us how effective an un-black can be---in this case it's Floquil Grimy Black, and it looks a whole lot better than if I'd used an intense, "pure" black in its stead. There's some touch-up to do before the project moves any further along, but we like where it is at this point. There's still plenty of opportunity to mess things up, though, so stay tuned for the next thrilling installment.
Dick and Marge

Richard Ira Bong was America's ace of aces during the Second World War with 40 confirmed aerial victories against the Japanese scored while flying with first the 49th and, later, with the 475th fighter groups. Bobby Rocker sent us a photo that we place in the "sentimental journey" category, for obvious reasons.

Dick Bong and Marge Vattendahl, who was to become Mrs. Bong. Yes, that's her picture that Bong used to paste on the nose of his P-38s. The marriage was short-lived, unfortunately; Bong died test-flying a Lockheed P-80 in 1945---they'd only been married a few months when he was killed. Marge lived until 2003 and passed away at the age of 79. She remarried (twice), and apparently didn't speak often of her time spent with Dick, but her ashes were interred next to his. We often talk about the price paid by those who fought in that terrible war, but it's something worth remembering. Take a close look at Dick Bong's face, look at his eyes. He's young, he's in love, and he's so very, very old, aged before his time. It was a lousy war...

Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for this image, and for the continued contributions from his collection.

That Martin P-Boat, A Slight Return

The impending arrival of the new Academy Martin PBM Mariner has a whole lot of folks excited, and rightfully so. Never the glamor girl the far more mundane PBY turned out to be, the PBM plugged along in journeyman fashion, ending her days as a Cold Warrior. Jim Sullivan's unique collection includes a fair number of Mariners, several of which we'd like to share with you today.

Let's start off with a good day gone bad. This PBM-3, assigned to VP-208, has apparently suffered a rough landing in the British West Indies during May of 1943; sharp-eyed readers will notice that both wing floats are missing. The aircraft is in Blue Grey over Light Grey, with all codes in black. The airplane doesn't appear to be in imminent danger of either capsizing or sinking, which may indicate that her starboard wingtip is dug into the bottom. Every picture tells a story, and we'd sure like to know the story behind this shot!  Jim Sullivan Collection

Here's an early PBM-3 sitting off the seaplane ramp at NAS Pensacola in 1944. She would have been a trainer when this photo was taken but was, in all likelihood, an operational aircraft in her early days. That blue-grey upper surface color has driven modelers to distraction for a number of years, leading me to think that close enough is good enough. That's just an opinion, though.   Bill Derby via Jim Sullivan

1942 was the killing time for U-Boats off the east coast of North America, but the threat was still viable right up until the end of the war. This section of PBM-3s belonged to VP-209, and were posing for their portrait off NAS Norfolk when this photo was taken in August of 1943. The paintwork has changed over to Tri-Scheme, and the national insignia are the briefly-employed red-outlined star and bars of mid '43. The colors really suit the Mariner's unique lines, don't they?   Jim Sullivan Collection

This PBM-3D is an enigma to us. She's got beaching gear attached and is on the ground at Wilcox Dry Lake in Arizona during June of 1944. She doesn't appear to be damaged in any way but is festooned with guide lines and there's quite a bit of ground echelon activity going on around her. She's in Tri-Scheme, she's unarmed, and she seems to be in what some people might call an embarrassing situation. If only that picture could talk!  Jim Sullivan Collection

This is a little more like it! It's March of 1945, and "Umbriago II" is about to be winched aboard the tender off Karma Rette. The apparent discoloration above her fuselage chine is due to water staining and will disappear once she's on deck and has had a chance to dry. Her side number is repeated on the aft fuselage, and both numbers are underscored by a thin "V". A PBM-5, she'd make for a fine model.  Jim Sullivan Collection

Here's another PBM-5 for your consideration. This time it's "Belle of the Pacific" nested on the tender deck during August of 1945. It's rare, although not unusual, to find Mariners with nose art; the "Belle" is a fine example of the practice. Aftermarket decal guys, here's your chance. Too bad we don't have a full side view of her!  Jim Sullivan Collection

But wait! Maybe we do have a side view of her, or most of one at any rate. Here she is again, being winched aboard the tender. We're missing the BuNo on her vertical stab, but otherwise we have enough information to allow her to be modeled. Note that her bow guns are unshipped, but she still carries her dorsal armament and, we presume, her tail guns as well. This shot was taken on the same day as the one directly above, presenting us with a fine opportunity to define her paintwork and markings.  Jim Sullivan Collection

Quite a few PBMs operated out of Norfolk during the War. Here's a ramp full of them, taken in late 1945. The aircraft are all -5s, and their paintwork is a mixture of Tri-Scheme and Atlantic ASW. Of particular interest is the side number presentation on the aircraft painted in the ASW scheme; a grey number surrounded by a grey rectangle. It's something a little bit different if you happen to be planning a model.  Jim Sullivan Collection

The date is November, 1949, and this Glossy Sea Blue PBM-5 is sitting on the ramp at NAS Pax River assigned to the NATC. Her markings are nothing to write home about, but her external equipage is worth a second look. Notice that her national insignia follow the lead established by the F4U in that the Insignia Blue has been omitted from that marking, being replaced by the GSB of the aircraft's paintwork.  Jim Sullivan Collection

Almost the end of the line. This Coco-Solo based VP-45 PBM-5 is photographed in flight off Panama during 1954. She's wearing both a side number and tail codes but is otherwise a Plain Jane. She's still armed, though, and is presumably assigned to ASW duty. Note the "tape" on the radome on her dorsal forward fuselage. If only we knew...  Bob Searles via Jim Sullivan

It's used to be the norm for used-up patrol bombers to end their days with the Coasties. That's the case with 59114, a PBM-5G working out of North Island during 1959. The Mariner was on her twilight cruise by then, soon to be replaced by Martin's P5M Marlin, but a handful were still around to close out the decade. This bird was well-maintained, and was going out in style.   Peter Bowers via Jim Sullivan.

And that's it for That Other P-Boat, at least for now. We aren't quite done with American seaplanes yet, though, so stay tuned!

One That Didn't Make It

There are airplanes and then there are airplanes. Brewster, an old-line American coachbuilder (first with wagons and later with automobiles) had a somewhat disastrous shot at designing and building aircraft for the US Navy, first with the F2A fighter and, later, with their SB2A Buccaneer, a dive bomber that never quite lived up to its intentions. A couple of hundred were built before production was terminated, and most of those lived out their limited service lives with foreign air forces and naval arms.

Still, the aircraft possessed enough appeal to cause a 1/48th kit to be released by our friends at Special Hobby. Frank Cuden, who knows a thing or two about plastic modeling, recently tackled the kit for an article in Fine Scale Modeler and he, plus the staff at FSM, were kind enough to allow us to run a couple of images of the end result. For further details we heartily recommend that you acquire the appropriate issue of that publication!

From this perspective the aircraft looks very much like an SB2C variant, doesn't it? The model shows the aircraft in mid-1943 camouflage and markings, with the appropriate FT (for Flight Test) lettering on the cowling.

Here's a 3/4 nose view to show off Frank's cockpit work. I don't have the kit but have more than a passing familiarity with other offerings from SH; there's a whole lot of Frank's skill apparent in this model.

And a 3/4 rear view to end the set with. It's probably for the best that the aircraft never achieved active service with either the Navy or Marine Corps, but this model makes us want to go get a copy of the kit for ourselves!

Thanks to Frank Cuden and the folks at FSM for the images.

The Relief Tube

Of which there isn't one today. We've been extremely busy with non-Replica doings of late, and have come to the conclusion that it will take at least another week or two to finish up the issue we had planned for this go-round. Since it's already been well over a month since our last installment we've decided to go ahead and publish what we've got. The next issue is already in work and, hopefully, won't take as long to get here.

Thanks for your patience and be good to your neighbor 'til we meet again.