Saturday, November 21, 2015

Things You Seldom Think Of, An Unexpected Display, Progress on the F-80, Stranger in a Strange Land, A Few More Voodoos, and A Dirty Bird

A Perfect Storm

It happens to us all from time to time: We start on a kit with the intention of making it one of our very best, a showpiece in the collection as it were, and then things go wrong and that special project turns brown and smelly, and then goes south in a manner worthy of the headline news. All our time and effort goes gurgling down the drain, and we're left with little of substance to justify our labor. Don't try to tell me it's never happened to you because I don't believe it; not for a minute. It's Confession Time, boys and girls, and I'll go first!

The kit that I've compromised in this, the most recent iteration of an ongoing passion play, is the venerable (and venerated) Monogram AT-6 Texan, a polystyrene offering from the 1970s that is, up to and including the present day, the best available kit of the type available in any scale. It represents an iconic airplane too, one that's served in many air forces and navies, and which is flying in the hands of a myriad of private owners right up to and including this very minute. The airplane, and the Monogram kit of it, are classics.

To be perfectly honest about things, however, those venerated and classic old Monogram kits are, for want of a better term, somewhat cranky to build. It's not a case of bad dimensions, at least not most of the time, and it's not for lack of detail (some of those old Monogram kits have better and far more accurate detail than the very latest of modern wunderkits, so there!). It's not even the raised panel lines, that bane of modern civilization, that causes the Monogram kits to suffer. No; it's all in the fit of the big pieces, and nothing more. Treat any model from The Big M with the same sort of respect that you'd give to any of the more recent Known Bad Actors in our hobby, and I'm specifically thinking of Classic Airframes and similar ilk here, and you won't have any problems with your project. That is, of course, unless you induce those problems yourselves, which takes us to what may eventually become The Point of this discussion.

If you have a good memory, a handy tool to possess considering my current frequency of publication, you'll remember that I started a Monogram T-6 several editions or so ago, and you'll also remember that I promised to keep you abreast of the progress, or lack of same, of said edifice. After that things pretty much went quiet on the T-6 front even though the big pieces all got stuck together, puttied, and sanded, and the resulting semi-completed airframe has been sitting on the shelf, patiently awaiting its turn to be completed. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I more-or-less rediscovered the hulk and decided it was time to finish the model, which is pretty much when things started to go painfully wrong.

For starters, there's the paint. I'd wanted either a post-War SNJ or a T-6G of the same flavor, and I wanted it to be in that deep yellow that, to me at least, typified the Texan family during the '50s. As things turned out I'd accidentally purchased the perfect paint out of the closeout bin in a local hobby shop; a bottle of Floquil CNW Yellow that was not only the right shade of yellow but was also glossy; it was the dream paint for T-6s, SNJs, and Navy T-28s of that era. It was also a Floquil product, which meant it had been discontinued several years before, but I'd found a bottle! Good Fortune was smiling on my project, but not for long.

You might be inclined to think I'd pooched the paint-job, given the overall tone of this missive, but that wouldn't be the case. No; the paint was darn near perfect, even if I do say so myself. Disaster lay in other, post-paint directions.

Let's start with the landing lights, where I'd carefully installed a set of MV lenses, followed by careful blending of the transparent covers that went over them. I still, to this day, don't know why those covers frosted over on the inside like that, but they didn't do it for the months the model sat after they were installed. Instead, they waited until the model was painted, and then they frosted. Colorful language ensued, followed by the-adult-thing-to-do decision to leave well enough alone and move on to the decals. Those would be easy. What could possibly go wrong?

By this time I'd decided that the model would represent a post-War Air Force bird, since I had seen more than a few of them when I was a kid, but for whatever reason I changed my mind, choosing instead to build the SNJ-5 offered in my kit's decals. They seemed thin enough, the markings were accurate, and a yellow Navy bird with orange stripes could be just the ticket so I plunged ahead, starting with the fuselage band---the logic was that it would set the pace for everything else and that it could be easily removed if things went wrong during its application. It seemed like a good idea and it would have been, too, if that orange band hadn't been undercoated with white when it was printed, a process that really popped out the color but made the band more than a little thick, which required multiple applications of Solvaset in order to get it to lie down properly. Said decal solvent was working though, right up to that part where I decided I wanted an Air Force bird after all. The decals were still partially wet, so it would be a simple matter to put a piece of tape on them and just yank them right off of there. That's when I discovered that the aforementioned Solvaset had partially melted the decals right into the model's paint and they weren't going to come off! Sandpaper and a partial re-paint fixed the problem, but if you hold the model up to the light, squint, and hold your tongue just right, you can still see where it says "NAVY" under that pretty yellow. More colorful language ensued, and the increasingly adult Phillip counted his losses and moved on to The Next Disaster, which came as part and parcel of the anti-skid strips on the wings.

Anybody who's ever seen a photo of a real (as opposed to a Warbird) T-6 knows that those anti-skid strips are goofy, because they look like they're on there backwards. I knew that too, so I made careful plans to ensure they went on the right way, side for side, and made a list, checked it twice, and then put them on. That was when I discovered that all my careful planning was for naught and I'd managed to accomplish the very thing I'd planned so hard to avoid. Remember that colorful language part? Ok, 'nuff said.

I'd finally gotten to the part where I had to concede defeat to the model. It had won and I had lost, a status that made my discovery that the post-War T-6 family wears it's wingtip-mounted nav lights on the end of the wingtip rather than on the tops like the kit gives it a moot point.

The kit will be finished, although I'm guessing quite a few of you had surmised that it wouldn't be. It'll be a three-footer, my first in quite a few years, but it'll be on the shelf just the same. Smirking, I'm sure...

Sound of the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" playing in the background. Fade to black...

And here it is in all its yellow glory: The Texan That Could Have Been. It doesn't look all that bad at first glance, but check out that badly frosted (from the inside; of course) landing light cover. It isn't horrible in and of itself, but it's just a tiny portend of things to come. If you look just to the right of the fuselage corcarde you can see the painted-over remains of the kit decal that now lives there---every single thing I did to remove it didn't do that and sanding wasn't an option since I wanted to preserve the kit's rivets (the T-6 family are absolutely covered in universal-head rivets and it's part of the airplane's personality).What you can't see in this view are the backwards anti-skid walkways on the wings. That shiny yellow paint looks good, though...

In the truest sense of I'm nothing if not honest, here's a slightly different shot that shows that gomed-up walkway. It also shows the kit's tailwheel, which should have been replaced by one off a P-51D and which will be someday, and also shows the NM-finished back-sides of the MLG wheels, which should be yellow. On the plus side, and I guess there had to be one, this shot gives a slightly better view of the black-painted ADF "football" found on the fuselage spine of some USAF and ANG T-6Gs. That particular component came from a 1/48th scale Hasegawa P-40E and is perfect for updating a Texan. This view also allows you to see those inappropriate-for-a-G nav lights on the wingtips. It's not too late to fix them but I'm not going to do that, at least not anytime soon. In theory I just need to paint and attach the canopy stack and a radio antenna mast and this one's done, but I'm just the least bit apprehensive about doing that given everything else that's gone wrong with the project. This is the part where I'd normally tell you to watch these pages for photos of the finished model, but that may not happen this time! Big sigh...

They Were Never Far Away

The American war effort during World War 2 was a manly thing, fought in an era when relatively few women were in the service and even fewer, not counting those astoundingly brave members of the medical corps, were anywhere near the front lines. That's true, right? Right?

Well, maybe not. There were WACs and there were WAVEs, There were USO performers and there was Rosie the Riveter, and then there was the American Red Cross. While it's true that their activities were removed from the front to a great degree they were still there, making life a little less miserable for the guys on the sharp end of things. This photo was taken on Morotai during 1945, which means that the young woman serving the coffee is in relatively little immediate danger from the Japanese, but her very presence meant the world to those guys; a tiny bit of home in a crummy place. I'm willing to guarantee you that everyone of those guys was having a better day because she, and everything she represents, was there to help and to bring them a little bit of Home. Kindof makes you think twice about things, doesn't it?

Thanks, as always, to Bobby Rocker, a man who's taken the time and made the effort to collect photography covering all aspects of that war, and who's continued willingness to share that collection has made our understanding of the conflict a little easier.                 Official via Rocker Collection

This Ain't the Way It's Supposed to Happen

Or, to put it another way, sometimes it goes wrong no matter how good you are. A friend of mine sent me the link below a few years back---it's off a shooting forum but is 110% aviation, and is worth a read. You may even recognize the name of the guy who wrote it...

Shooting Star Redux

It must be Monogram Time around here today, because I've got a couple of photos of yet another product of Morton Grove to share with you!

Looking very much like a completed airplane, here's that F-80 we began an issue or so ago. Finished it's not, but it's not all that far away from it either, so let's take a look at it. First up is the airframe; by far more accurate than that of any of the other 1/48th and 1/32nd scale kits of the type---I haven't looked at any of the current crop of kits in 1/72nd so I'm leaving those out! That ancient Monogram kit builds up quite nicely, thank you, and there's nary a seam to be found if you're careful during construction. At this juncture the model is very nearly done, needing just a gun sight, canopy/windscreen, and under-wing hangies to be considered finished. Markings are from an old AeroMaster sheet and the red paint on the nose cap that mostly matches the red of the fuselage flashes is from one of those little square-bottle Testor enamels. The gun barrels are from a Tamiya P-47D and just need to be painted, and I've got to come up with a set of stretched Misawa tanks, having temporarily abandoned my notion to arm the thing with a quartet of 1,000-lb GP bombs. There's also some minor paint touch-up to do but I might ignore that since sloppy trim paint seems to have been a hallmark of Korean War-vintage F-80s. We shall see...

Here's the other side for your perusal. There's not much to say about this side that's not covered in the caption immediately preceding, except that the port side of the airplane wasn't adorned with nose art so there's nothing much to see here that we haven't already looked at. The photo does, however, point out how clean the F-80 looked, and what a beautiful airplane it was. We can only hope that those guys who are doing the new 1/48th scale T-33 will have the good sense to kit a state of the art (and accurate) F-80 as well! Hope springs eternal!!!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

A couple of weeks ago a group of my internet friends began a somewhat lengthy electronic discussion fueled by the last flight of the last flyable Avro Vulcan, an event accompanied by a very public (and, we're equally certain, very illegal) barrel roll as the final hurrah to the end of a most remarkable flying career.

All that discussion, a thread of e-mails and responses that lasted over a period of several days, reminded me that Jim Wogstad and I had made a trip to Randolph AFB back in 1979 to witness the arrival of a Vulcan B Mk 2 from 50 Squadron RAF. Its arrival from its home drome (RAF Waddington) caused quite a stir in Texas and resulted in a unique photo opportunity, a portion of which I'd like to share with you today.

The Vulcan is a relatively small airplane as bombers go, but still big enough to make quite an impression the first time you see one for real. Here's XL387 recovering at Randolph during a rare moment of sunshine on that Spring day. The deployed speedboards are noteworthy and no, Virginia; I don't PhotoShop my slides (although I do clean them---honest I do!). You'll have to live with the dust this time!   Friddell

Someone must have figured that a British airplane needed to be greeted by the cheerleaders from an American high school named after an Englishman, which is the only reason I can think of to have XL387's crew greeted on the transient ramp by the Churchill High School cheerleader squad. In spite of that tiny bit of incongruity there were smiles all around as the somewhat bemused flight crew got out of their airplane for a quick round of grip and grin with the Colonials. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.   Friddell

One of the first things that grabs you about the Vulcan is its size, or relative lack thereof. It's a bomber, and one that was designed to cross a continent to deposit a thermonuclear device on The Bad Guys, but a great deal of the airplane is comprised of wing. Those people standing under the nose of XL387 give a good idea of scale; the cockpit is tiny and cramped and the entire airplane is mission-oriented. There's nothing there that isn't required to get the job done.   Friddell

See what we mean? There's a whole lot of wing platform there and the airplane sits tall on its landing gear, but Big the Vulcan was not, and it was extremely difficult to detect when performing the Low/Low mission it was tasked with during the latter portion of its career. That ability to hide in plain sight, plus the extreme professionalism of the RAF's aircrews, made it a tough nut to crack and gave Great Britain a viable manned nuclear deterrent for far longer than anyone would have thought possible.   Friddell

The view from inside that claustrophobic cockpit was marginal to say the least, but it was adequate for the task. This view provides us with a look at some of the aircraft's many NATO-standard stencils and definition of the sharp demarcation of the camouflage paint.   Friddell

Here's a view of the Wing and Squadron markings on XL387. Modelers should note that the airplane is minimally weathered and clean. While we've got no doubts that the aircraft used in the Black Buck strikes during the Falklands War got more than a little scruffy during the course of the conflict, this is the way most of the Vulcan force looked most of the time. Those aircraft were old, but extremely well-maintained.   Friddell

The Vulcan's aircrew were all accommodated in a relatively small space in the nose. This view shows the crew hatch and boarding ladder to what aviation enthusiasts once called "advantage". The airplane was most assuredly not designed around crew comfort!   Friddell

 The nose gear leg was a beefy and relatively simple structure and was painted black, at least on this example. Note how the aircraft serial is repeated on the nose gear door.   Friddell

And here's one of the main mounts. This structure is somewhat more complicated than the nose gear and could be a detailer's dream (or nightmare!) on a scale model. Opportunity, as it were!   Friddell

This photo was also taken at Randolph but is not XL387 and was shot somewhat later in time, during the early '80s. but it provides us with an excellent view of the planform and and the size of the bomb bay, as well as the lower camouflage demarcation. It's a good way to end this essay, we think.   Friddell

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out...

We've been running an informal series of McDonnell F-101 Voodoo shots over the past several issues and we're not done yet! Thanks to Mark Nankivil and the Greater Saint Louis Air and Space Museum, here are a few more photos of the bird for your perusal:

57-0320 was an F-101B-90-MC from the 87th FIS, and is shown here while on display at a McAir open house during 1964. A relative failure as a tactical fighter in any guise, the Voodoo shone as a photo recon platform and, in the B-model, as an interceptor. The B got a rotary-doored internal weapons bay (as well as the ability to mount air-to-air weapons to that door's external surface) and had the legs to go with the mission. The Voodoo's internal volume allowed for the fitment of a second cockpit, and ADC (as well as the Canadian Armed Forces) ended up with a fine interceptor as a result. 0320 was eventually converted to TF-101B status but was still a straight-up interceptor when this shot was taken.   RA Burgess via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

May of 1967 caught 57-0278 (an F-101B-85-MC) taxiing out for a sortie. She was a relative "Plain Jane" at this point in her career (a time period that Jim Wogstad once referred to as ADC's artistic "Neuter Period" in terms of markings) but was an active service bird all the same. She's only carrying one gas bag, which is somewhat of an anomaly for the type, and is beginning to get a little bit shop-worn. This photo shows the red insides of her landing gear doors to advantage, and also provides us with a good view of her IR sensor. She survived her AdCom career to end up at Davis Monthan in 1976.   RA Burgess via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

56-0235 was an F-101B-40-MC and was on the ramp at Wright Pat on September 17, 1971, when Doug Slowiak took her portrait. Assigned to Systems Command, we suspect she was involved with some sort of developmental work but have to admit we don't know anything about what the project might have been. We do know that she's missing her IR sensor, which would have been standard fitment at the time, so she's not 100% up to interceptor configuration, but beyond that your guess is as good as ours!   D Slowiak via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Here's an early shot of 57-0272 in full ADWC markings while involved in the ATAR Mod program at Tyndall. Of interest in this shot (aside from that TISEO sensor hanging under her nose) are the red interior gear door surfaces and the identification light beneath her aft cockpit. That light was fitted to the B-model to allow the positive identification of unidentified aircraft at night---the Voodoo would formate on the starboard side of the bogie and illuminate it allowing determination of type and, presumably, intent. That sort of nocturnal intercept must have been quite a ride, all things considered!   F McSorley via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Not everything is quite as it seems in the world of military aviation, as exemplified by this particular aircraft. 57-0272 was built as an F-101B-85-MC but was in F-101F configuration when this photo was taken on 25 April, 1974 on the ramp at Tyndall. That's a TISEO sensor mounted under her nose, and she's assigned to the ADC (check out the badge on her tail). That "0" in front of her serial number means that the airframe is over 10 years old and does not signify that the airplane is obsolete. The two-seat Voodoos were, in many respects, the most successful of their breed.   D Ostrowski via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Replica in Scale

A somewhat well-used 57-277 (an F-101B-85-MC) survived ADC service and was last seen in Florida, hopefully under restoration for display. She was still on active duty in 1976, though, when Tom Brewer snapped her portrait on 12 September. She's only carrying one aux tank, much like 57-0278 above---it's a point worth noting if you're a modeler and plan on building a replica of this aircraft.   T Brewer via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

We've run more than a few images of 111th FIS/147th FIG Voodoos during the course of this project, so you might wonder why we're showing you yet another one. The reason is simple if you look at what's hanging off that weapons door; it's an AR-2 Genie air-to-air missile! 57-0347 was built as an F-101F-91-MC, and was at Tyndall AFB participating in a William Tell competition when this photo was taken in 1976. You don't often see illustrations of Genie actually attached to an aircraft, making this shot somewhat unique.   LB Sides via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

The "Texans" of the 111th FIS are one of the first units we think of when somebody mentions the F-101B, but "The Happy Hooligans" of North Dakota's 178th FIS are another of the outfits that almost always come to mind when talk turns to the "Bravo" Voodoo. 57-0252 (an F-101B-80-MC) ended up in a museum at Hill, but was very much on active duty in May of 1977 when this photo was taken at a public display---note the brown wrapping paper taped over her intakes!   RA Burgess via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

We've got quite a few more Voodoos to share with you, but that's going to have to be an adventure for another day. Many thanks to Mark Nankivil and the folks at the St Louis Air and Space Museum for sharing these images with us!

And the electrons were scarcely dry on the page when I received this comment from Doug Barbier:

That first Voodoo is from the 87th FIS at Lockbourne AFB, OH. You are right, since the Genies were carried internally, you rarely saw one hung on a -101. Just like pulling the plastic safety caps off of the Falcons on the Six - as soon as the load was complete, the last thing that happened was that the caps came off and the rails were retracted. Or the rotary door spun. Made it hard to get photos. Woodoos could not launch any armament with external tanks on, so they gave up most/all of their range when sitting alert. That and it turned them into a real slug, speed wise. Even a Deuce could outrun a Voodoo carrying tanks. Not allowed to jettison tanks on the home country you know....... a single tank configuration was quite common with them - it was the best trade-off between range and drag. Kind of like the 2 bag vs 3 bag F-16A. The c/l tank was empty before you got airborne, so if you carried one, it was merely drag for the entire flight. The only advantage was if you were going to be aerial refueled, it would help from that point on. But the drag vs fuel made it a real close thing even then.  Doug

All Beat Up

And really dirty to boot! this shot, once again from Bobby Rocker's collection, shows us how beat to snot an airplane could get in the SWPAC:

This grungy-looking P-38G was assigned to the 9th FS/49th FG at Dobodura in 1943, and is of interest to the modeler because it defines the way the upper surface paintwork wore through at the back end of the aircraft's center section, where the pilot and maintenance crew mounted the aircraft to get to the cockpit. That wear is there all the time on the OD/NG P-38s, and needs to be on your model too. Note also the covers over the boom-mounted turbochargers and the propellers, which are plain black without yellow tips. You might also note the general condition of that "hardstand" the aircraft is parked in. There were no easy days in the SWPAC...   Rocker Collection

The Relief Tube

Letters---we get letters...

But nowadays they aren't all what they seem to be. Not a day goes by that we don't receive a half-dozen or more spam e-mails. Most are from folks who want to sell us ball-bearings, or want us to send money to our new best friend who resides in Name-the-Country, or something else equally silly and obvious. Those things are a nuisance of the highest order and get deleted without being read; everybody who operates a web site gets that sort of thing. It's just part of the cost of doing business, electronic junk mail, as it were.

Lately, though, The Spam Clan have been taking a new approach, using relatively normal (to us, anyway) names and with subject lines that directly relate to something we've previously published in the blog. It's a clever approach, because it's sometimes hard to tell if it's a real communication or just more electronic mischief. It's also potentially dangerous to the site and to the project, since it's impossible to know what sort of malware, spyware, or other nastiness might be embedded in the message. Bad Pookie, as it were, and it's gotten to the point where it has to be dealt with, SO:

Beginning right now this minute, and continuing for as long as I deem it necessary, unless you're a long-time Replica correspondent you need to be really, really specific in your subject lines if you want me to open or respond to your e-mails. Make certain that I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you're a real person (and are who you say you are) writing a real e-mail having to do with something germane to the purpose of this blog. If the subject matter or the name seem at all questionable, the message is going to go straight to the trash can, or whatever they call that sort of thing on a computer. I hate to do it but it's necessary, at least for a while. Be patient!

And that's it for today. Keep those properly-identified electronic cards and letters coming, and we'll meet again soon!

Be good to your neighbor (but don't send them spam!).