Friday, October 17, 2014

ANG Phantoms, Some EasterEgg Juliets, Finally!, A 318th Jug, and Who Do That Voodoo?

What's It Worth to You?

Let's preface this thing by saying that I know a collector of US  militaria, a guy who deals in the mid-to-high end of such things and makes a tidy living buying and selling the relics of our past. Once upon a time, way back when he and I first became friends, I was invited over to his place to look at some Indian Wars weaponry. It was a treat for me to get to view and handle the stuff, and it was an amazing thing to be told the retail prices of such treasures when I asked how much it would cost me to buy one of the old Springfield carbines he owned.

After the choking and gasping that came after hearing the price, I asked how the particular collection of antique wood and metal that I was interested in could possibly cost so much. His answer was a simple one: People would pay what they were willing to pay and the high end of that Willing to Pay range was what determined how much any particular piece was worth. It was market demand, pure and simple, determined and set by the buyer with relatively little input from the seller. Consumer greed set the price, as it were.

Ok, then; that's how it goes in the world of militaria. How about something more to the point, like old (or maybe even not-so-old) plastic and resin model airplane kits, for instance? Unfortunately, collectible is collectible not matter what the article is and even if the item in hand really isn't worth very much, like maybe an AMT edition of the old and honestly not very good Frog P-38 in 1/72nd scale. It was a $1.00 kit when it was new back in the late 60s and it was produced in the thousands, so five bucks more or less (less in our book, but that would be us) would probably be a fair price to pay for one today. Now that we've determined that, let's go to one of those on-line auction or rare kit collector's web sites and see where the prices fall. I'll bet you they're all over the place, and if you happened to find one on an auction site the price could well be mind-boggling. Yes, it can be a fun little kit to build for nostalgia's sake, or maybe to use as a desk model. No, it most assuredly isn't a rare collectible from the early days of plastic modeling, or any other days for that matter. It's an old kit that's worth exactly what somebody will pay for it and not a penny more.

So why do people spend large sums of money to purchase old plastic models? To put it in perspective, there actually are some kits that go for big bucks and are almost worth the price of admission---certain of the models back from the very early 50s fall into that category because of their age and significance to the hobby while some, such as the Revell Space Station or Monogram Air Power set, are just rare. Even then, however, they're only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Let's do a comparison.

That Revell Space Station I just mentioned was only produced for a year or two and was sold in exceedingly small numbers due to its price at the time. It's never been re-issued, at least not as of this writing, and it could be that there are circumstances that will prevent it from ever being re-released. That Frog/AMT P-38 we mentioned is a different matter entirely, having been produced in the thousands and having been an indifferent kit in the first place; as a collectible the only thing it has going for it is the fact that it's old, and folks, sometimes Old just isn't enough!

Right, then; so let's get back on topic---why do people spend big bucks for old kits? Sometimes it's a matter of nostalgia and nothing more, a plastic time machine back to a childhood adventure, for example. Sometimes it's more than that, and we start falling into the area of Greed, as in: It's old so I'm going to get one and sell it for a profit. The guy who wants one for nostalgia's sake may or may not go for the asking price but the self-styled collector often will, much to the detriment of his pocketbook and good sense. It's old so it's rare so I've gotta have one and today's the only day I'm going to get one at that price! That's an old ploy, tried and true, and it works with everything from new cars to old plastic kits. I have it and you don't, but I'll be glad to sell it to you if you want it!

In my world it all comes down to what I want the kit for. I'm nostalgic to a certain extent and have a very small handful of old kits that have sentimental value to me. They probably aren't worth much on the market, but they mean a lot to me so I've got them. I'm not going to sell them or trade them, because they remind me of a time and place that was special to me. There are also kits I acquire because I intend on actually building them, but I won't pay high dollar for one; anything by Classic Airframes comes to mind when I think of that category since those models tend to be difficult to build, not always completely accurate, and grossly overpriced for just a builder (as opposed to a collectible).

It all goes back to that second paragraph up there, where my collector friend told me that collectibles are worth exactly what somebody will pay for them, and that takes us to the point of this ramble: If an old kit is something special to you and you'd like to have it for nostalgia's sake because it represents a special moment in your life, or maybe for that special, once-in-a-lifetime project, then it's probably worth the money you'll spend. If you want it because you think it's rare and you ought to have one then it's possible, just barely possible, that you're not thinking things all the way through (or have been attacked and conquered by The Greed Monster). At the end of the day it's your money and it's your choice, but it might be a better thing for all concerned if you/we/all of us weren't quite so ready to throw extravagant amounts of money away for old plastic kits that we'll end up looking at maybe once or twice a year, maybe.

Anybody want to buy a Frog P-38 in an AMT box?

More Bugsuckers From the 149th

Last issue we showed you a small handful of ANG and USAF F-4s, which included several aircraft from the 182nd TFS/149th TFG out of what used to be Kelly AFB. We promised there would be more to come another day and today's another day, so here we go!

Up, up and away! The date was 06 November, 1983, and Jim Wogstad and I were on one of our several visits to the now-defunct Kelly AFB on a photo op. We managed to spend a portion of our day at the 149th FG's com trailer at Last Chance, which is where we caught this section of F-4Cs about to launch. The photo was taken with a 200mm lens but we were still close to the active, and the sound where we were standing was deafening, a fine compliment to the enormous grins we were wearing at the time!   P Friddell

You may recall our F-4 piece from our last issue where we explained that the 149th's Phantoms were carrying nose art inside their aft nose-gear doors during this time period. Here's a profile shot of the starboard side of 64-0904, aka "The Pink Panther". She went to DM in 1987 and was scrapped out in 1996, a sad end...   P Friddell

But she was something when she was still flying. Most of the 149th's gear-door art was in the form of names during this time frame but a few, such as "Pink Panther", featured actual artwork too. It's a shame the regs of the era didn't allow this to be displayed on an intake splitter plate instead of being hidden away inside a gear door!  P Friddell

Here's "Charlie's Angel/Sweet Mickie", 63-7515. She left active duty for a stint as a BDR ship and ended up being preserved at Kelly. That's appropriate, we think.   P Friddell

And here's her artwork, an atypical presentation of both an image and a name. Modelers might note how grungy the insides of those gear does was; the airplanes were extremely well-maintained but the paintwork that didn't really matter was allowed to get a little dirty.   P Friddell

63-7421 ended her days in Europe but was in her post-Vietnam prime in November of '83. If you look under her starboard horizontal stab you can see Jim Wogstad standing beside our PAO escort. Ramp access was relatively easy back then; it's somewhat less so nowadays. Time change...   P Friddell

Somewhere in our archives is a blue spiral binder of the sort college students use, and inside that binder is a record of every shoot we went on back then, along with notes tied to serial numbers. That's where we could find the aircraft information for "Morgan's Homesick Angel" if we could find the notebook. The best we can do for today is tell you that it's somewhere in our studio and we'll give you the missing s/n if we ever where the darned thing is!   P Friddell

Here's "Tasmanian Devil", another piece of artwork that falls into the "we don't know the airplane" category. There's no doubt we've also got photos of the airplane this image resided on, along with one of "Morgan's Homesick Angel", but they're buried in our F-4 images and will, unfortunately, have to stay there a while longer. That's the Bad News.   P Friddell

Of course, if you've got Bad News it stands to reason that you'll have some Good News to go with it, and here's ours: 64-0829 nailed a pair of MiG-17s over North Vietnam on 20 May, 1967 and ended up spending some premium time with the 149th prior to restoration and preservation at the AFM. Most of the 149th's Phantoms were wearing their SEA warpaint on their undersides during this era, and 829 was no exception, but you don't have to squint very hard to imagine her back in theater during The Bad Old Days---it's just a dream away. Up and at 'em, Wolfpack!   P Friddell

This is what she looked like in profile. The 149th's unit markings were distinctive but subdued and extremely classy in consequence. We can honestly say we've never met an F-4 we didn't like, but this one's special among the breed and we're glad she was preserved.   P Friddell

Here's what she looked like from the starboard side. How could anything so superficially ugly end up being so outright beautiful?   P Friddell

And here's a detail of her scoreboard during her time with the 149th. The Air Force had relatively few MiG killers during the war, but nearly all of the survivors managed to keep their scoreboards once they got back to the ZI, and several managed to get themselves preserved as well. It was only fitting... P Friddell

Let's go out the way we came in, back at Last Chance taking pictures of airplanes. Like most ANG outfits, the 149th was heavily populated with high-time professional aviators, most of whom had seen the elephant before being assigned to the unit. Still, it was possible to get a little out of shape every once in a while as illustrated by this F-4C cranking out a missed approach at Kelly. Even the pros can have a bad day!   P Friddell

This is more like the way it's supposed to look. There's a TER mounted under the starboard wing, and the aircraft is quite likely returning from the Matagorda Island bombing range. There was no such thing as sequestration in 1983 and the skies over Kelly generally had a Phantom or two in evidence throughout the day (and often into the night). All in all it was a great time to be interested in military aviation.   P Friddell

 And that's it for today's installment on the 149th TFG. It's not inconceivable that we might run more photos of their birds later on; you just never know about such things!   P Friddell

We're an Equal Opportunity Sort of Operation, Don't You Know

Which is why we're going to run a few more Phantom shots today, this time of Navy F-4Js at the tail-end of their "Easter Egg" period. If any of you are getting the notion that we've got a thing for the F-4, well; you'd be right!

Let's start out with 155784, a Juliet from VF-121 on the ground at Eglin during a cross-country on 11 September, 1977. She ended up being converted to an F-4S prior to her ultimate trip to the Boneyard, but she was standing tall in '77 while serving with the West Coast RAG.   M Morgan

October of 1977 saw a somewhat worse-for-wear 155558 from VF-171 sitting on the ramp at PAX River. Ratty-looking Navy airplanes are pretty much the norm nowadays since their numbers (and maintenance funds!) are limited and they're being heavily-used in combat, but it was unusual to find an operational bird looking like this back in the 70s. We don't tend to take part in betting around here but if we did we'd put money on her being just about ready for a visit to the NARF.   R Burns

VF-191's 153842 was on the ground at Miramar in December of 1977 when Mick Roth snapped her portrait. She's configured with both TERs and AIM-9 rails and is conceivably ready to rumble; our guess is that she's preparing for a trip to the bombing range. The squadron markings are minimal but compliment the airframe's lines to a T, we think.   M Roth

153798, an F-4J from VF-151 (and a CAG bird), is depicted on short final into Atsugi on 8 September, 1978. All of the NAV's F-4s wore pretty schemes during this time frame, but we're extremely partial to those worn by the birds of AirPac. Can anybody guess why?  T Kudo

Andrews AFB has always been a hotbed of transient activity, so it was no surprise to find VF-154's 158369 on the ground there in January of 1979. She's carrying a pair of travel pods and a gasbag on her centerline station, a normal configuration for a Navy F-4 on a cross-country flight.  R Burns

June of 1979 saw NAS Corpus Christi hosting its annual air show, Frank Garcia made it aboard a couple of hours before the crowds got there and took this portrait of Fighting 31's 155861. "Felix" looked really good on the Phantom, we think; a worthy tribute to the emblem's pre-WW2 roots. Note the shine on that bird; the boys in VF-31 were pretty darned proud of their heritage!  F Garcia

A couple of photos ago we showed you a photo of a VF-151 CAG bird on final to Atsugi. Here's another shot of a Juliet from that squadron taken in 1979, also on approach to the air station at Atsugi. 158346 isn't a CAG bird but she's colorful enough and a gorgeous example of the type.  T Kudo

Not all F-4Js were Fleet birds; 157286 was assigned to the NATC when Bob Burns took her portrait on 05 November, 1979. Clean airplanes were the norm at the test center during this time frame and 286 is no exception to the rule. The airplane was eventually converted to F-4S standard before ending her life in the boneyard, but she was in her glory in '79. A proud bird...  R Burns

1981 saw the 20th anniversary of the Phantom in the Fleet as commemorated on the tail of 153777. The markings are particularly relevant in this instance, since VF-74 was the first Navy squadron to deploy with the F-4 back in 1961. On a personal level we prefer 74's markings during that earlier time period, but these do get the point across. Fly Navy. Fly Phantom!   T Ring

We're going to finish up today's Phantom Phest (sorry 'bout that; we couldn't resist!) with a shot of a little-known Juliet variant, the EF-4J. To the best of our knowledge 153084 is a normal, run-of-the-mill Juliet with a modified designator, used by VAQ-33 for cruise missile simulation and similar during defense penetration exercises. The "Firebirds" always had good looking markings regardless of what aircraft they put them on, and we think they're especially pretty on the F-4.   R Morgan

We're almost done with today's F-4 marathon, but there's one more thing we have to do before we call it quits:

We Figured Out a Way to Do It!!!

That's right! After fighting our software for the past several weeks we finally decided that we were, by Golly, going to win the argument and publish Gerry Asher's piece on that 57th FIS bird that managed to launch, fly, and recover safely with its wings folded whether Mr Adobe wanted us to do it or not. The Good News is that it's here; the Bad News is that we had to scan the thing and publish it as though it was a series of photographs, which means you'll have to click on each page and open it up separately from the others. Yes, it's half-baked, but it works, and we really want you to read Gerry's account of the adventure so, without further ado...

And there you have it, at long last! Our apologies to Gerry for our somewhat obvious incompetence in the field of computer science, and to our readers for making you wait so long. Now we're done with Phantoms, at least for today, but you never know what the next few issues might bring!

Arming Up

Today's been a day of big, heavy fighters, and we see no reason to change things at this point. Here's a shot Bobby Rocker sent us of an airplane you just might be familiar with:

"Lady Ruth", a P-47D from the 318th FG, sits on the ramp at Saipan being "armed up for a mission". The photo is more than a little bit posed, with people who wouldn't normally be there at the same time doing things that normally wouldn't be done together, but it gives us an excellent view of the stencilling found on the pylons and inside the gunbay doors so it's of considerable value to the modeler if nobody else. (Don't go using this shot as the basis of a diorama, though, unless you plan on putting somebody with a camera in it too...)  National Archives via Rocker Collection

This is a little more like it; several 318th "Jugs" are captured taxiing out for a strike. Things look placid enough now, but those Thunderbolts will be up to their ears in it within the hour. Even the easy ones could kill you, and it was that way right up to the end of the war. Those guys were often short of the amenities, but they were never short on guts!   National Archives via Rocker Collection

Under the Radar

We normally look at older publications in this section of our endeavor, but today we're going to examine a book that's almost brand spanking new and, we suspect, unknown to a great many of our readers:

Rising Sun, Falling Skies; The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II, Jeffrey R. Cox, Osprey Publishing, 2014, 487 pp, illustrated.

Those of our readers who have been with us for a while have surely noted our interest in the events of the Pacific War. This volume fits neatly into that theme and provides the reader with a detailed look at a campaign and series of battles that are essential to the overall picture of events during those terrible early days of the war in the Pacific but little known to most casual historians. Although primarily involved in the naval aspect of the war, sufficient space is given to aerial activity as well, providing the reader with a solid over-view of the way things were during that time and, to a great extent, why things went so terribly wrong for the Allies.

This is not a picture book, although there is a small selection of photographs included, but rather a 415 page history spanning the time from slightly before Pearl Harbor until the immediate aftermath of the Battle of the Java Sea. The work is detailed, heavily footnoted (some 58 pages worth), and with an extensive bibliography. While it's not an aviation book per se, it helps to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of the period immediately after the United States' entry into the war and ties a great many of the events together in a concise and easy-to-read fashion. We consider it to be essential reading for anyone interested in the topic and recommend it without reservation.

The Road Less Traveled

Anybody who knows Jim Sullivan (and everybody at least knows who Jim Sullivan is) knows that he's had a life-long interest in aviation, both as a photographer and an author. As thing happen he's also a pretty good modeler, as illustrated by the airplane you're about to view.

There are different ways to get where you're going if you want a photo-recon Voodoo for your collection. A lot of folks are excited about the recently introduced (and modestly flawed) 1/48th scale F-101A kit from the Far East since its parts breakdown promises an RF-101C yet to come, but this is now. "Back then", whenever you might choose for that to have been, there was only one way to get a quarter-scale photo-recon Voodoo, and that was to convert one from the Monogram F-101B kit. Jim did just that, using a then-new C&H conversion for his project. Here's what he came up with.

We expect the forthcoming kit of the RF-101C to be a little bit easier to work with than Jim's conversion was, but we doubt it will look any better! The markings are for the 29th TRS of the 363rd TRW as based out of Shaw AFB during the late 60s. It's our hope (as well as Jim's!) that KittyHawk will get it right when they finally release their kit---time will tell on that one. In the meantime, Jim's model is a prime example of what you can do with a decent donor kit and some talent. We like it!

Happy Snaps

We're going to take a somewhat different path with today's Happy Snap and go to an Australian air show with Rick Morgan:

Rick's got one of those neat jobs that allows him to do a great deal of traveling, in this case to The Land Down Under, where he shot this beautifully restored Meteor F.8 (replicating a Korean War-era 77 Sqdn RAAF aircraft) about to touch down at an airshow. We don't know whether or not Mikey likes it, but we sure do! Thanks for sending it along, Morgo!   R Morgan

The Relief Tube

Nope, not today! The sad truth of the matter is that we've published so seldom of late that we haven't received all that many letters correcting what we've done, so no Relief Tube this time!

We would, however, like to encourage our readership to submit photographs or articles to us if they're so inclined. A quick look at the project should give you an idea of what we're looking for, so feel free to jump in. That address is  .

Thanks for spending part of your day with us, and with any luck we'll see you again soon. Until then, be good to your neighbor!


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