Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Movie You Ought to See, Adventures With Claude, Pre-War in the North Country, A Gift From a Friend, Huns From the Show Me State, and The Way It Is

Is It a Model or a Replica?

That's a pretty silly question on the face of things, but I recently had the pleasure of listening to another modeler discussing, at a considerable length, substantial volume, and replete with profane expression, all the reasons none of us should be pre or post-shading our models. The performance was on the high side of entertainment and the low side of profundity but it was, at the end of the day, an honest opinion that had more than a little merit to it, albeit with reservations.

The basics are pretty, well; basic! We're taking kits of one medium or another (it ain't just polystyrene anymore!) and assembling them in a manner that results in a scale model that is, we hope, an accurate rendition of The Real Thing. Most of us work pretty hard at it too, because we want our finished model to present itself as a reduced scale version of that afore-mentioned Real Thing. That's the game, that's the goal, and that's what we're all about as modelers. We want realism and accuracy, and we want an attractive model that everyone will ooh and ah over when they see it.

There's a catch, though: Simply building a model usually won't get us to that desired ooh and ah stage very often, so we all learn pretty early in the game to throw in a few bells and whistles to enhance the appearance of things as we build and paint. We enhance detail and accuracy through scratch-building or the use of resin and photo-etched aftermarket components, and we spend a fortune on decals and masks for markings so our latest creation can be a model unique to us in addition to being of a quality worthy of inclusion in any museum's collection. And we buy paint.

Not just any paint, either, but scale paint, with super-fine pigment for a scale appearance on our creations and carefully blended so we've got the exact, very same color that was used on The Real Thing. We want, no; we demand, scale accuracy in our paint. It has to be accurate, and it has to be right! Yep; it has to be both of those things, but that's where it all goes south, a sad truth once we decide to start messing around with color shade, tonal values, and so on. Shading is part of that painting thing too, and it significantly impacts the way the finished model looks regardless of how accurate the colors may have been while still in their bottle,so what about pre and post-shading? Are the techniques useful to us at all? Should we use them all the time, some of the time, or never? Like so many things in our hobby, that depends.

Real airplanes (and that's what we're going to talk about, but you AFV and ship guys can listen in too, if you'd like) are not pre-shaded, nor are they post-shaded. They're painted, period, initially by a factory someplace and subsequently by someone's corrosion control facility or maybe some junior enlisted person on a ramp or in a hangar deck. That paint also gets touched up in-between times if it gets scabby enough to need it and the next visit to an overhaul facility or NARF is far enough away.

In The Old Days we didn't worry very much about that sort of thing. We built the models, we painted them, and the more adventurous of us scribed in panel lines and filled them with with India ink or similar. Tonal variation weren't in anybody's play book until late in the 1970s, give or take, when people began to shade things, and the technique was new, exciting, and perceived to be more than a little bit difficult to accomplish, even though it really wasn't. One thing logically followed another, which eventually took us to the shading we all know and love (or hate) so well today and that, in turn, took us to The Problem and the reason for that guy's rant against such things, because real airplanes almost never look like they've been pre or post-shaded. They look dirty sometimes, especially if they happen to be naval aircraft or are aircraft actively involved in a conflict and therefore having little opportunity for proper paint maintenance, but they never ever ever look like somebody painted all the panel lines with black paint and then lightly misted an appropriate color coat on top of that. They don't. It doesn't work that way for the most part and real airplanes almost never look that way, even though we'll grudgingly admit there are exceptions sometimes.

There are a couple of things I think bear mentioning here. The first thing is that I personally don't think there's anything wrong with shading as long as it's done in moderation. Your eye is a good test of that: If the first thing people notice when they view your model is the way it's been shaded, then you've probably overdone it a bit. Your paintwork should be part of your model. It should never come across that it IS the model. That's one thing.

The other thing, and our point today, is intent. Are you building a replica of the real thing, and doing it as accurately as you can possibly can, or are you building a model? At first read that sounds contradictory, I know, but it really isn't. If your intent is to create a replica of something, your goal should be to re-create that thing in miniature, and it should ultimately look like the real thing you're replicating, just a little smaller. That approach will usually negate the need for excessive shading of any kind---if you can't see it on a photograph of the real thing, then you probably shouldn't see it on your model, either. If, on the other hand, your intention is to produce an attractive scale model that's got a lot of eye appeal, then light or even moderately heavy shading can very definitely be your friend. In many ways it's the difference between a real bird and a piece of Hummel pottery of that same bird, if you catch my drift. Look on it as real life versus art.

Ours is a highly subjective hobby that is based largely on illusion. We're working with things that are tiny when compared with the Real Thing, and we're trying our best to make those tiny things look like they were once big but were somehow shrunk down. Our completed edifices can look awfully plain and even quite lifeless if we don't do anything more than assemble and paint them, no matter how well done they may be, but they can also appear as more than a little comical if we overdo things in the spray booth. Moderation is a usually a very good thing in this case, no matter whether you build replicas or models, but there's another factor to consider as well---who are you building for? At the end of the day it's your handiwork that's on display, and if you're pleased with what you've done then nothing else really matters and that guy we mentioned up there at the top can rant all he wants. Then again, less really can be more. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Decisions, decisions...

A Neat Movie

There's just no end to the magic you can find on YouTube. We were whiling away some time a couple of days ago looking at airplanes there and discovered this little jewel on The Silver Air Force doing weapons delivery in 1964. It's 22+ minutes of Tactical Air Command goodness you almost can't afford to miss, and even includes footage of an F-105D accidentally bagging both itself and its F-100F chase plane in a low-level weapons delivery sequence gone horribly wrong. (Everyone got out safely so it's humorous rather than tragic!) Enjoy!

Hey Claude, What Took You So Long?

Mitsubishi's A5M family of fighters, known to the west (and the modeling fraternity at large) by it's WW2 SWPAC identification moniker of "Claude", has been one of those seminal airplanes for which we never really had a decent kit in any scale---for years, the Nichimo offering of a 1/70th scale A5M-something-or-other was it as far as available polystyrene was concerned. Things started getting better around the turn of the last century (and Boy; does it sound funny saying that!) when we got decent kits in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales, with a 1/32nd scale offering showing up from Special Hobby four or five years ago. While it's true that none of those kits were anything that would qualify as kit of anybody's year, they were all decent starting places, even though the primo 1/48th scale offering, from FineMolds, wasn't quite as good as it could have been (it was one of their earlier efforts) and was also of a lesser-known variant.

Time moved on, as it usually does, and that very same FineMolds saw fit to give us not one but two new A5M kits late last year, one of the more obscure variants, the A5M2b, and another of the classic A5M4. (There's yet another new kit available in 1/48th as well, from a company called Wingsy, but that one is even more expensive than the astronomically priced FineMolds kits and we're not going to go rattling off on the tangent of distributor greed today.)

Anyway, those FineMolds kits both looked as though they'd be extremely easy to get together, creating an itch that desperately needed to be scratched. One thing led to another, with the result you see before you today.

It's possible to make an argument for taking pictures all along the way when doing a project, and a lot of people do that very thing. I usually think about doing it after it's too far along to matter, but I actually did manage to take a few in-work photos of the Claude---Yay, Phillip--- and I think this shot is of value because it shows how to handle that red tail without creating any unnecessary grief. Everything on the kit fit so well that no putty was required, and there are minimal gaps between the horizontal stabs and the fuselage, which in turn allowed me to mask the tail demarcation and paint the appropriate area red before painting anything else. After that was thoroughly dry, I masked the red and applied ModelMaster non-buffing Aluminum from their Metalizer line of paints. Yes; it's an extremely fragile finish if you aren't careful, and a lot of people don't like it. I happen to like it quite a bit, but that's just me; the point to be made here is the way the masking was done, because it worked like a champ!

We're a little bit further along in this shot, and almost all the stickies have been applied---they're from the kit, and work as well as any water-slide decal I've ever used. The kit offers a low parts count, which is fine from my point of view because almost everything is so well done, but you should know that there are no lap belts included. I happen to think they should be in the kit, particularly since it's US retail is so expensive, but nobody at FineMolds bothered to ask me about it before they released the kit so there you go! One more thing: The sharp-eyed among you will notice a bit of a seam where the port wing meets the fuselage. That was fixed by running a bead of white glue down there and wiping off the excess. No sweat, GI!

Here's where you get to remember your modeling skills from those halcyon days of yesteryear, or maybe learn how the old guys did it back before there was aftermarket. It's entirely possible that someone makes a canopy mask for this kit but no such thing was available when my model was in work, thus creating the need for a little bit of Old School. That's a roll of Tamiya masking tape in front of the model, and a genuine Made In USA/Cut Your Fingers Off If You Aren't Careful Because It's So Stinking Sharp #11 blade in my knife handle. All you have to do is put the tape on the canopy, burnish it down with something or other (I always use a round toothpick), and carefully cut the frame outlines away, which is why you want to have a really sharp blade (just in case you're new to all this and trying to figure things out for the first time). The canopy frames are well-defined on this kit, which simplifies things considerably.

And this is what you'll end up with if you're careful. You can sort-of see the pitot tube in this shot, and you'll notice it's a bit on the clunky side and really doesn't go with the rest of the kit. Everything else is just finer than frog's hair, though, and the kit is a quick builder too; about six hours from the time I opened the box until the completed model went on the shelf.

Here's a final view of the project. Those aileron actuators could have benefited from a little finesse but I didn't do that. I can live with the way it looks, but it would be an extremely simple matter enhance things if you wanted to. Banzai, ya'll!

Some Old-Timers From Way Up Yonder

We were looking through past issues of this project the other day and discovered that it's been quite a while since we've run anything from Doug Barbier's collection. You may not be aware of it but that constitutes a very bad thing for you, because he's got so much neat photography tucked away in his files. At any rate, a quick phone call to Michigan's frozen Upper Peninsula resulted in the images you're about to view, all unique and all very much worth the wait!

There are airplanes and then there are airplanes, but the Snow Owl-marked P-6Es of Selfridge's 17th PS pretty much sum up the pre-War AAC for a lot of people, and this example is a prime reason why. OD with yellow wings and tail, and lots of black and white squadron markings make those airplanes pretty beyond belief even when they're not all tarted up for the National Air Races with talons on the wheel spats. We're guessing this to be a squadron commander's airplane and it just couldn't be any prettier!   Merl Olmstead via Doug Barbier

Here's what they look like when they've been in service for a while! Everything is faded down on this bird, but she's still proudly wearing that Snow Owl on her fuselage band. This shot, and the one immediately above, provide good definition of the demarcation for the maroon anti-glare paint applied to the back side of the P-6E's prop and also shows the later, open-faced, wheel spats to good advantage. The last of the biplane AAC Hawks kept her good looks until the end.   Merl Olmstead via Doug Barbier

And finally, a P-6E from the 94th PS. She's another OD and yellow bird, and those fuselage markings, both the turtle-deck diamond and the command stripe, are red trimmed with yellow if memory serves. The P-6E was somewhat of a failure as a pursuit ship, not particularly fast and nowhere near to as maneuverable as the rival Boeing P-12E, but nobody could top it for looks and, in so many ways, it defined an era. There never were that many of them in the first place and only one original survives today, residing in what used to be the AFM at Dayton. Long ago and far away...   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Selfridge was a unique installation in terms of the aircraft that showed up there pre-War, as illustrated by this YP-38 in flight over Detroit in 1940. The Lightning must have seemed like something out of a Buck Rogers movie in comparison to the generation of pursuits immediately preceding it---the type's looks were like nothing else flying anywhere in the world, and its performance was simply incredible for the time. The design had a long way to go before it could contest an aerial combat and come out the winner, but all the components were already there in concept if not quite yet in reality.  MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Lockheed's P-38 Lightning  was one of the Second World War's most definitive fighters and its performance was considered little short of amazing even in the earliest variants, but it didn't really become combat-worthy until the advent of the early-war F model. This aircraft is an immediate predecessor, a P-38D from the 1st Pursuit seen on the ground at Beaumont, Texas, during the Louisiana War Maneuvers of 1941. The P-38 was arguably more dangerous to its own pilot than it was to any perceived enemy at this point, but that would change soon enough.   Madison via Doug Barbier

Also present at Beaumont were these early 31st PG P-39D Airacobras. These examples are somewhat the worse for wear and are prime candidates for modeling, from their natural metal propellers right back to the tips of their relatively unweathered empennage. Aircraft number 83 in the foreground is of particular interest---her weathering pattern is so unusual as to virtually guarantee criticism if duplicated on a scale model. A challenge, as it were...   Madison via Doug Barbier

Back home in the Frozen North! This 31st Pursuit lineup at Selfridge shows how simple changes impact the appearance of an airplane. Most operational P-39s from the D-model forwards displayed dark green paint on their landing gear (to include wheels), with silver-painted or natural metal struts being almost entirely unknown, yet this lineup up P-39Cs all display that anomaly---the need for corrosion control of those components apparently came somewhat later in the production cycle. Props are, once again, silver on their faces (but quite likely flat black or even maroon on their back-sides). Those are the sort of things that make this era of American air power so fascinating to us, yet so relatively unknown to most enthusiasts.   Madison via Doug Barbier

The 31st PG did quite a bit of materiel test work for the AAC, and was an early operator of the P-40 in consequence. Aircraft #61 is pretty plain overall, but that diagonal stripe on her aft fuselage provides an interesting contrast to the dull olive drab uppers. The prop blades are in silver, both front and back, and the airplane carries an early gun camera mounted just forward of the windscreen. Those features, plus the unpainted aluminum wheel covers, take this airplane a step beyond the norm and make it an excellent choice for a model.   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Let's end this photo essay with another bird from the 31st, this time in flight over Detroit. The command stripes are a nice touch, as is the two-toned propeller spinner. We're a little confused by the apparent lack of red stripes on the rudder, although it appears to be slightly deflected and we may just be seeing an illusion caused by the angle of the light striking that surface. Finally, it should be noted that the paint on both this aircraft and on 61 above is dead flat; we would have expected more of a semi-gloss finish but that's not the case in either photo. The devil's in the details!   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

An Unexpected Surprise

Way back when, a very long time ago before the internet was even a dream, there were slide collectors. We were numbered among them, and our acquisition of images came in one of three different flavors: We either took them ourselves, we traded for them with other collector/photographers, or we purchased them from one of the several collectors who made their images available to the rest of us for a small fee. One the the guys who fell into the latter category was Ron Picciani. His collection of 1950s and 60s US military aviation was, and we presume still is, unrivaled, and a great many of us have a fair amount of his photography still nestled away in our collections. So many of us have obtained his photos, in fact, that it's now fairly common for them to show up without attribution on the internet. We've inadvertantly fallen into that trap ourselves a couple of times, and Ron has been kind enough to point it out to us when it's happened so we could correct things.

A couple of weeks ago, Ron dropped us an e-mail and mentioned that he'd found two of his P-47 images on our pages, incorrectly attributed to the late Dave Menard's collection. We're more than a little bit sensitive to that sort of thing around here, so the corrections were made immediately---Ron responded with his thanks, and with a little surprise we'd like to share with you today:

Most of our readership is probably aware that the Lockheed F-94B variation of the Starfire could carry .50 caliber Browning M3 machine guns mounted in pods attached to the leading edge of each wing, two guns per pod.  Conventional wisdom tells us that the installation was relatively short-lived and largely developmental in nature, but this photo proves that at least one aircraft, an F-94A-5-LO from Pennsylvania's 103rd FIS was equipped with them in active service. The Silver Air Force was, and we suspect always will be, a gold mine of unique and interesting aircraft that will keep historians and enthusiasts busy for many years to come!   Ron Picciani

Many thanks to Ron for correcting our original error in attribution, and for providing us with this gorgeous image!

Some MO ANG Huns

In our last issue we ran some civilian P-2 Neptune images from Mark Nankivil's collection for your edification and enjoyment. This time around we'd like to share a few of his F-100 Super Sabre photos, all from the Missouri ANG's 110th TFS/131st TFW.

The 110th has been around for quite a while, and flew P-39s, P-40s, and P-51s in the Pacific during The Big One. They converted to the Jet Age with F-80Cs during 1957, almost immediately afterwards making the transition to the F-84F. They subsequently kept the Thunderstreak in their inventory until the Fall of 1962, deploying to Europe with them during 1961's Berlin Crisis, and then transitioned to the F-100, a type they flew from 1962 until 1978. Sixteen years is a long time to fly any sort of jet fighter, but the 110th's "Huns" only operated the type with two paint schemes during that period. Let's take a look:

Let's begin with a fine air-to-air study of 54-1773, an F-100C-5-NA in the air somewhere over Missouri. The F-100 fleet was well into the transition to silver paint rather than its earlier natural metal treatment, and only the aft fuselage around the engine's hot section is in natural, albeit substantially discolored, finish. A great many ANG D-model "Huns" ended up with F-102 afterburners fitted, but Missouri's Charlie-models kept the original North American AB design; the 102 mod applied only to their Ds. The practice bomb fitment to 1773's outboard pylons is noteworthy; there are two 25# practice bombs mounted per pylon. The F-100's low "sit" in relation to the ground for the most part precluded its use of multiple ejector racks then or later, during the VietNam fracas, which constituted a distinct liability for an airplane who's primary use had evolved into that of a fighter-bomber. Then again, nobody at North American was thinking about the type lugging around a lot of bombs when they were designing the Super Sabre as a day fighter!   Nankivil Collection

The 110th did  operate natural metal F-100Cs for a brief period of time, however, as illustrated by this photo of 53-1742, an F-100C-1-NA, on the ramp at Lambert Field early in the game. Natural metal makes for a beautiful airplane if the finish can be maintained, but that sort of thing can be difficult as best in an operational military environment. Practicality superseded Pretty as far as the Department of the  Air Force was concerned, and those beautiful silver "Huns" went away fairly quickly.   Nankivil Collection

Then again, you don't really need natural metal to have a pretty airplane! This Charlie-model was photographed just prior to touchdown wearing the 110th's classic red and white trim---this particular color scheme was only in use for a short period of time, but it sure was pretty! The C was the first F-100 variant that was actually combat-worthy and was, in many respects, the hot-rod of the family, but it was limited as a fighter-bomber, a role towards which the type was increasingly being pointed. Note the lack of underwing pylons or refueling probe and the addition of the arresting hook just forward of the tail bumper. This photo coincidentally provides us with an excellent view of the antenna for the aircraft's AN/APG-30 gun-ranging radar mounted inside the intake lip.   Nankivil Collection

We really enjoy good tanker shots, and this is one of the best we've seen in quite a while! In this breathtaking photo 54-1891, an F-100C-20-NA, is riding the drogue basket on KC-97F-55-BO 51-0263 as it refuels somewhere over Missouri. Early TAC and TAC-gained ANG air refueling operations could provide the literal a thrill a minute as relatively high-performance fighters passed gas from slow-moving reciprocating-engined tankers---even the eventual supplementation of the tanker's available power with podded jet engines were of little help in that regard. Note the distinct nose-down attitude of the KC-97 in relation to that "Hun" as they both slide downhill during the refuelling process, an evolution required to ensure that the fighter didn't fall off the tanker as its weight increased with the fuel being taken aboard. 1891 was somewhat famous in the F-100 community, having passed a stint with the "Skyblazers" aerial demonstration team before being subsequently passed on to the Turkish Air Force.   Nankivil Collection

Variations on a theme! The 110th kept their C-models long enough to transition them into the Air Force's SEA camouflage scheme. This 3-ship is on its way to the bombing range and includes 54-1948 in camouflage, and 53-1753 and 54-1772 still in silver paint. Those pretty red and white markings are gone, but there's no doubt who's operating the airplanes---one look at the vertical stabilizers gives the game away! 1948 was a C-20-NA that transferred to the Turkish Air Force, while 1772 was a C-5-NA then ended her days at MASDC and 53-1753 was an F-100C-1-NA that also ended up at the MASDC storage facility. Note the bent refueling probes on these aircraft; it's entirely possible and even probable that the 110th's "Huns" operated with the earlier straight probe at some point in their career, yet all of the photographs we've seen to date show them carrying the later, bent probe. Comments, backed by photographic evidence, are encouraged!   Nankivil Collection

A somewhat later photograph of a Charlie-model "Hun" coming up on the tanker. The C-model's lack of wing fences and flaps really show up here, as does the relatively diminutive size of the bird. You could never call the F-100 a tiny airplane, but it wasn't very large either. The lack of outboard pylons is noteworthy, as is the aircraft's relative proximity to the tanker.   Nankivil Collection

Of course, you can always get a little bit closer! Air National Guard units tended to be populated by high-time pilots who knew their business, since most of them joined the Guard because of a love of flying in the first place. It would be a mistake of considerable proportion to think that a pilot was somehow inferior because he or she was "only" in the Guard! Check out the staining on the fuselage of this airplane before we go---that's staining you're seeing, not smudging, which might cause the modelers in our readership to go back up there to re-read that essay on pre and post-shading. Maybe...   Nankivil Collection

The 110th eventually transitioned to the D-model, but this shot puzzles us a bit. We'd originally intended to use 54-1794 to illustrate one of the unit's early Ds, but a quick check of the serial number indicates that she was built as an F-100C-5-NA, even though that vertical stab is definitely the tail of a D-model! We suppose that the later vertical tail assembly could be fitted to the C's airframe, but we're at a complete loss as to why anyone would do that and strongly suspect there's more to the story than we're seeing! Drop us a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom (using the correct e-mail format, of course) and let us know if you've got the answer!   Nankivil Collection

This is a little closer to what we'd expect to see! 53-0610, an F-100D-25-NA, ended her life as a QF-100D but was very much alive and kicking in ANG service when this photo was taken. The photo is interesting in that it illustrates not only the evolution of the 110th's unit presentation on the vertical stab (coupled with a largish ANG badge on the fuselage) and a very worn paint job, but also provides us with an excellent view of the F-102A afterburner that was retrofitted to a great many of the Guard's "Huns". It was a substantial improvement both in terms of reliability and performance but was only found on F-100Ds and Fs assigned to the ANG. The mod was never made to aircraft in the regular inventory.   Nankivil Collection

On the ramp at Lambert Field. This photo gives us a good view of one of the 110th's "Huns" (55-3672, an F-100D-25-NA) at rest. The horizontal stabilator droop appears extreme but is not at all unusual for the F-100 once power's off the airplane, and all the gear doors are hanging as you would expect. The slats on this bird, on the other hand, are up. The afterburner, donated from an F-102A, is covered but this view shows us how much shorter it was, overall, than the standard unit found on regular Air Force F-100s. 3672 is yet another proud bird that ended her days as a QF-100D.   Nankivil Collection

Second verse, almost the same as the first---the other side of 3672! We're running this photo primarily to illustrate how faded that SEA camo could become over a relatively short period of time. The demarcation between colors is on the soft side too, not at all atypical of that paint scheme. Note that the airplane is clean, carrying no pylons of any sort. Modelers who want to build a Vietnam-era "Hun" at rest would do well to note the OD-colored covers for the pitot boom and afterburner as well; we're pretty sure those covers, or at least their color, evolved from the unpleasantness in Southeast Asia. The devil's in the details!   Nankivil Collection

At the wash rack, which in this case is a section of ramp adjacent to a water source coupled to a garden hose. You don't see this operation very often if you aren't actually involved in the day-to-day maintenance of military airplanes but they do need to be cleaned from time to time, which presents the modeler looking for diorama possibilities that are a little bit out of the ordinary another opportunity to do something unique. 55-3684 was yet another D-25-NA and ended up being pulled out of storage at MASDC for conversion to QF-100D standard. Mizzou's "Huns" served right to the end!   Nankivil Collection

Here's what a clean-configured F-100 looks like from the front! The slats are drooped and everything's hanging, all in all the way we've come to expect the airplane to look on the ground. Those blast stains around her gun ports tell us she's recently been to the range and it would appear that she's being cycled for another trip there, judging from the placement of the fire bottle and her raised canopy. The airplane is 55-3811, born as an F-100D-30-NA and died converted to a QF-100D.   Nankivil Collection

A section of D-models getting ready to launch for a trip to the bombing range! This image is of interest because both aircraft illustrated are equipped with the "normal" North American afterburner; most of the "Huns" assigned to the 110th were retrofitted with cans from the F-102A fairly early in the game. 2794 was late in the program as far as the 110th was concerned, an F-100D-45-NA was somewhat unusual in a unit populated by airframes from earlier block numbers. This one ended up at MASDC and was eventually scrapped out.   Nankivil Collection

A whole lot of Nasty in one small place! This shot helps define the F-100's role during the 1970s; her days as a first-line tactical fighter and special weapons delivery system were rapidly fading into the past but she was still more than capable of fulfilling the fighter-bomber mission in spite of the inability to carry multiple ejector racks. In this shot we see a live nape can being secured to the outboard pylon of a Missouri ANG F-100D by members of the Wing's A and E section. The "Hun" was no longer ready for prime time but could certainly make life difficult for an opposing force if the conditions were right!   Nankivil Collection

Let's go flying! An F-100F formates with a Missouri D-model for a trip to the range on a typical day early in the 70s. Note the airliner tails in the background---we always enjoyed the concept of tactical fighters and interceptors launching and recovering at a municipal airport during normal operations because of the opportunity it gave average people to see the Guard at work.  Nankivil Collection

If you operated the F-100 you always had a couple of two-seat F-models around for proficiency and familiarization flights (and for causing the occasional TV reporter to toss their cookies in the back seat of a fast jet, although that's a story for another time). Here's a shot of a pair of pilots from the 110th, one of whom is wearing a lot of egg salad on his hat visor, manning up for a toot around the neighborhood, or maybe a visit to the bombing range. Take a look at that boarding ladder for a minute---USAF fighters prior to the advent of the Century Series often incorporated boarding steps of some sort into their design, as did many subsequent designs, but the Century Series all required some sort of ladder or stand in order to get in or out of the airplane on the ground. Those ladders weren't standardized either; almost all of them were unique to one airplane type. Modelers might want to take a look at detail shown on the canopy bow as well. Details, details...   Nankivil Collection

56-3742, another F-100F-5-NA from the 131st TFW on the ground at Lambert. The F-model only carried two M39 20mm cannon as opposed to the four normally fitted to the single-seaters, but was still combat capable, albeit in a somewhat limited manner. She's not going to go very far, or very fast, without a couple of bags of fuel hanging off her wings, but she may not need to depending on the sort of mission she's been fragged for.   Nankivil Collection

In contrast, and to end today's essay on the 110th TFS/131st TFW's use of the "Hun" during the 1960s and 70s, we see "Spirit of St Louis II", an F-100F-5-NA, climbing out from Lambert carrying a full load of external fuel. Say what you will about the "Hun" and her apparent lack of capability when compared to more modern fighters but she was a pace-setter, a high-performance revelation, when she was brand new. It's true that the type was ultimately limited by her design and her engine, and equally true that she could bite you if you weren't careful with her in the air, but she was The Real Deal in her younger days. We've never met a former "Hun" driver who didn't remember their time with the airplane with considerable fondness, and she served the Missouri Air National Guard well during the 16 years they operated her. That's not a bad record, all in all.   Nankivil Collection

Thanks as always to Mark Nankivil for his generosity and for taking the time to scan these images for us!

And Finally...

Those of you have been around this project for a while are familiar with the contributions made to us by Bobby Rocker. Today's photo from Bobby is a little bit different---it's not from the Second World War, and the airplane doesn't wear a propeller. It does, however, provide us with a definition of purpose.

It's dark and it's cold outside but the mission doesn't go away because of a little discomfort or inconvenience, as exemplified by this shot of an F-94B-5-LO doing an engine run and afterburner check in less than pleasant circumstances and in a very dangerous place; 51-5416 was assigned to the 319th FIS and was a participant in the Korean War when this photo was taken. She ended up back in the ZI flying with the New York ANG's 138th FIS, transferring there from Korea in 1955. You can bet she spent more than few nights like this one, and our hats are off to the folks who made it all happen in spite of the conditions endured in the process. How do you spell "sacrifice"?   Rocker Collection

Under the Radar

Today's book is another one you've probably never heard of before, but you'll want it for your library if your interests run towards American military aviation:

U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947, Stephen Harding; Specialty Press, 1990,  273 pp, hardbound, illustrated.

This book is one that's easy to ignore at first glance---many potential readers will be turned off by the subject matter covered---but the simple fact that the US Army possesses several thousand aircraft at any given time and operates them extensively makes the volume worth the price of admission. The title is an honest one and defines what you get; the book is an encyclopedic coverage of American Army aircraft, both fixed and rotary wing, from 1947 until the 1990 date of publication. The coverage of each type is brief but concise, includes both text and at least one photograph of each aircraft, and is more than sufficient for the intended purpose. It's an older work so a great many contemporary types used by the Army are missing from its coverage but the Korean War and Vietnam years are included, making the book well worth its cost; we found our copy in a used book store, in brand-new condition, for $4.95 USD. It's not a book to read for recreation but can quickly become an essential part of the enthusiast's reference library and is worth seeking out. Recommended.

The Relief Tube

Let's start off
with a trip in the old Replica in Scale Wayback Machine! Reader Mike Sumrell saw one of our older photo essays that included a VIP B-17G being used in the late Korean fracas and sent this:

Mr. Friddell, I came across your blog posts from November 2011 where you were discussing photos of VB-17's in Korea, circa 1954, you had received from some of your readers. I recently acquired a mid-1950's Kodachrome slide which has, I believe, one of the same aircraft you have pictures of on your website. The tail number cannot be seen in my image but I believe it is one of the same planes on your site. I have attached a watermarked version of my image if you would like to include it in your discussions of these aircraft. I did not realize how rare these variants were until I started researching my slide image. Thanks for helping me in my research. Kind regards, Mike Sumrell Fayetteville, NC

Mike, many thanks for sending this photo. The B-17 served in the post-War USAF well into the 1950s, and I suspect it was somewhat more common than we have been led to belief, particularly in the FEAF. It's a topic that has been virtually undocumented, which naturally leads to a request of our readers: Do any of you hold photography on post-War B-17s, B-25s, F-61s, F-51s, etc, that you'd be willing to share? If you do, could you please scan and e-mail them to us at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom? Maybe we can collectively shed some light on the twilight years of some of our more famous aircraft! Need we say that it's the right thing to do!

In a similar vein, reader S. Brouillette sent along this comment regarding another of our older pieces, "A Couple of Early Phantoms":

Phillip,  Ref the early Phantoms. We have one of those first two AF airframes a 2-3 blocks down from my office. Definitely NOT typical RF-4C. The provenance of these two started on the McDonald Douglas line as RF-4Bs (thin, un-slatted wings). Charlie models that started on the line as Cs were called Cs. Pulled off and reconfigured to AF specs. Initially designated RF-110A off the line. LATER designated as RF-4C.

Thanks very much for the additional information! I don't suppose you'd be interested in sending a photo or two of that airframe...

Last issue we ran a photo of a ramp full of 82nd FG F-51Ds and Hs, and were musing about the paucity/near total lack of decent kits of the Hotel variant of the Mustang in any scale. Adam Maas had this comment to add:

There actually is a recent kit of the P-51H in 1/72, from RS Models It's a nice short-run kit with a mix of injection plastic and resin detail parts. As RS is dabbling in 1/48 now, it's quite possible they could scale up this little gem! Adam

Could we be so lucky? Come on, RS Models, and give us that F-51H! Please!

And that's it for this time. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!