Thursday, December 7, 2017

Too Good to Let Pass, Deja Vu All Over Again, A Hero From The Bad Old Days, A Companion Warhawk, Equal Time, More Technology, and Not What You Expected

Tickling the Ivories

Or maybe not, but that "ivory" part is important to us today regardless of whether or not your fingers have ever touched the keys of a piano, because today we're going to discuss those oddly-colored Hasegawa decals that plastic modelers have been complaining about since the beginning of time. You know the ones, right? They've got a goofy-looking, almost milky color to what would normally be white in anybody else's decal sheets and that color is obviously wrong wrong wrong, totally unusable on a model of any kind. The decals are throwaways because of that off-white, and that's not even taking into account the fact that the stickies are too thick and don't respond well to normal decal solvents. In short, those decals are poo-poo!

Wait a minute, though...  Hasegawa has been a leading force in the design and manufacture of scale polystyrene models since their evolution away from their first generation kits back in the late 1960s, and almost everything about their kits since then has been a class act. Why in the world would they put those lousy decals in such otherwise impeccable kits? Are they crazy or what? Let's think about that for a minute, because I did, and I chose "What" over "Crazy". Maybe, just maybe, you should too. Let's consider a couple of things.

The number one complaint regarding Hasegawa kit decals, or at least the complaint that comes across based on what I can tell in published kit reviews, is that ivory white color they use in lieu of a more traditional and generally more acceptable pure white. Reviewer after reviewer, probably to include myself at one time if the truth be known, has lambasted those decals because of that color and often lamented the fact that the markings so defiled were unique, therefore making the horrific crime of failing to use a pure white all the more unbearable to contemplate.

Then again, color is a highly subjective topic when we're discussing it as applied to a tiny edifice of the real thing, because pure color really doesn't cut it on a scale model, tending to be entirely too stark to be believable most of the time. A phenomenon known to us as scale effect comes into play when we're dealing with something as tiny as as any scale model is, and that includes those produced in the larger scales as well. Pure, bright red is generally too bright as it appears on a scale object, as is pure bright yellow or, dare we even suggest it; pure bright white! You almost have to tone your colors down to make them believable, and that's across the board. The soon to be late and lamented Testor took that concept so far as to produce certain of their aircraft colors in a pre-faded format back in the late 90s, and there was a reason, albeit poorly understood at the time, for their doing it.

On a more personal note, my own experimentation with color and tone led me to adopt an off-white for my own models several years ago, and nowadays I often use one of the Air Force's SEA colors, 36622 Grey, for the purpose because it's actually a nice, subtle off-white, or at least it is if it's been properly formulated and doesn't run towards the overly warm, i.e. yellowish, end of the color spectrum. It works well as a journeyman color most of the time, and it's usually my go-to color anytime something needs to be painted white. Yes; it can be (and almost always is) a slightly different color than the white in, say, American national insignia. In my world that variance isn't necessarily a bad thing because such variances also appear on real airplanes, although your own personal opinion my vary substantially in that regard. We digress, however...

The point I'm trying to make here is that Hasegawa's infamous Ivory White isn't necessarily the end of the world as far as "correct" scale modeling is concerned---that horribly inaccurate color can actually work pretty well on a model that's had it's paintwork suitably enhanced, either by substantial weathering or through the concept of scale effect. Yes; it's a matter of personal taste and yes; it can look pretty odd in the wrong context, but in many instances it ends up being appropriate and therefore right. It's a subjective thing, of course, and one that's left entirely in the eye of the beholder, but that notion of scale effect goes a long way towards explaining why Hasegawa chose to use the color in the first place, internet reviewers notwithstanding.

One final thing while we're at it: We also mentioned the fact that Hasegawa kit decals, or at least those used throughout the 90s and early 2000s, were too thick to be used and reacted poorly to conventional decal solvents. Those things are true, sortof, but the issues go away if you use the setting solution recommended by Hasegawa, which is Mr. Mark setting solution. A quick application of that particular product, easily available in Japan and not all that difficult to find here, makes those unusable kit decals snuggle right down the way they should, and a coat of flat finish (or whatever you use to finish off your models) goes a very long way towards eliminating the "too thick" part of the equation. Those kit decals were designed to work within the parameters of a specific set of circumstances, and tend to fail when those parameters are ignored. There's a message there, I think.

You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd,
But you can be happy if you've a mind to...

Roger Miller

The Road Less Taken

Sometimes things sneak up on you when you least expect them to, and the photograph you see immediately below is a fine example of that phenomena. The model is by Herb Arnold and it's a fine example of a 1930s French floatplane about which I'll freely admit I know next to nothing; the Loire 210. The French navy bought some 20 of them in 1938 for use off their cruisers but a major structural flaw kept them from being of any significant operational use. It's an interesting airplane, though, and one you won't find in just any collection!

Herb used an extremely limited production and rare resin kit to produce this replica of the virtually unknown Loire 210. Produced by POMK (Pend O'Reille Model Kit) in 1/48th scale, the kit is definitely among those defined as "some modeling skills required". Herb's results speak for themselves on this example, however, and you can definitely get a good model out of the kit if you've got the chops and a little patience. Just as Herb!     Herb Arnold

Many thanks to Herb for sending along this photo for our enjoyment!

Long Ago and Far Away

Back in November of 1972, to be exact, we published our second print issue of Replica in Scale. Our very first issue had featured an interview with former 56th FG fighter pilot John Keeler---we weren't entirely certain how that sort of thing would go over with our brand spanking new readership but it turned out to be a hit, so we set off in search of someone else to talk to for that forthcoming second edition. As things turned out we didn't have to look very far, and our second effort included an interview with former 80th, 49th, and 48th FG pilot Stanton T. Smith. A recent electronic conversation with reader and friend Jean Barbaud re-kindled our interest in that old interview or, more specifically, the photographs that accompanied it. As things transpired Jim Wogstad still held copies of the photography we ran way back then and scanned and sent them along, which inspired the piece you're about to see.

Let's start at the beginning, with this shot of Stanton in front of the group commander's P-40N in Burma during 1944. This photo is representative of his first combat assignment, with the 80th FG ("Burma Banshees") and fresh out of gunnery school at Matagorda Island in Texas. Stanton had several comments regarding his time with the 80th, two of which stuck in our minds at the time. First, he commented that the group used a large number of 100 lb GP bombs because the blast effect wasn't as hard on aircraft and pilots as the larger weapons were at the extremely low altitudes where the group normally operated. The second thing, stated after he had consumed a couple of early-evening vodkas, was that he sure enjoyed shooting up trucks. It was a simpler time!   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

By 1945 the 80th had transitioned to the P-47D Thunderbolt and Stanton is seen here in front of 42-47722, "Kay P.", his personal aircraft. He didn't have much to say about his time in the "Jug" except that it had a lot of firepower and was really tough for the Japanese to shoot down. The 80th was strictly an air-to-mud operation in the CBI and air-to-air encounters with the enemy were extremely rare, but it's just as easy to die strafing trucks as it is to be the loser in an aerial combat engagement. The aces made the headlines, but the ultimate victory was very much a joint effort.   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

Col. Smith was commanding the 49th FG out of Misawa AB, Japan, when the Korean War began. This photograph of his personal aircraft (49-0500A), shows the wear and tear of those desperate days. Stanton was a flying commander in every sense of the word and is shown at left in this photograph preparing for yet another mission. His command of the 49th was cut short after two of his pilots expended ordnance on an unspecified target near Vladivostok, and he was relieved of command and punished by being moved to Headquarters 5th AF to assist in running combat operations in theater. (An extremely brief account of the incident appears in Robert F. Futrell's The United States Air Force in Korea, Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1961.) We chose to omit that particular adventure in the original article but times have changed, although we know next to nothing about the event and would like to encourage any of our readers who might be able to offer further information to contact us at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom.    Col. J.E. Jenkins via Smith via Wogstad Collection

1955 saw Smith in command of the 48th FW at Chaumont AB, France following a stint at Britain's Imperial Defense College. The wing operated F-100Ds as illustrated in this 1956-vintage photograph of 54-2222 being serviced in a revetment. Most USAFE bases were fairly well endowed with servicing facilities and all the comforts of home but it wasn't all that unusual to find the wing operating in the primitive conditions likely to ensue in the course of a major conflict. The wing's markings were fairly simple at this point, but that would change soon enough!   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

1959 saw the 48th back in the ZI for participation in aerial competition in a William Tell meet along with other units from the USAF. This scheme is the one the Wing wore during that time period---there was little doubt regarding the unit flying those candy-striped "Huns"!   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

The world of serious aviation journalism was led, and rightfully so, by the British during the 50s and 60s. A term that seemed to crop up somewhat frequently in their publications was "scudding through the clouds", which caused Jim to label this image "Scudding" when he copied it out of Stanton's scrapbook. Those 48th birds look great even in a low-resolution black and white photo such as this!   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

Stanton's final 48th FW F-100D was 56-3252, photographed with him in the cockpit on the ramp at Chaumont in 1959. He had a factory model of the F-100 painted up in these markings and sitting on his desk when we interviewed him, leading Jim to ask if the airplane really was painted that way. It could have been a tense moment but the grin on Jim's face showed that we were just funnin', and Col Smith started grinning too. Do any of you remember The Silver Air Force of long ago? We sure do, and we miss it!   S Smith via Wogstad Collection

Col. Stanton T. Smith, Wing Commander of the 48th FW, Chaumont, France, 1959. Col. Smith never had to talk the talk; he walked the walk!        S Smith via Wogstad Collection

"Colonel, can I get just one more please?" Stanton Smith poses for the official camera. It's an unusual shot of Stanton Smith in 0262 and a fine one with which to end this essay.   S Smith

Many thanks to Stanton Smith for allowing us to interview him all those years ago, and to Jim Wogstad for pulling these images out of the files and sharing them with us!

Almost Forgotten

Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner was just another All American Boy from Pennsylvania until he enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1938. He ended up with the 24th PS after training, staying there but briefly until reassigned to the 17th PS at Selfridge Field. He made 1st Lieutenant in June of 1940 and shortly afterwards assumed command of the squadron, a position he held when the 17th was sent to the Philippines in late 1940. He was there when the Japanese attacked the islands on 8 December, 1941, and was credited with 5 combat victories prior to being wounded and evacuated to Australia. Reassigned to 5th AF Fighter Command, he helped plan and led a fighter sweep (in P-39s) over Lae Aerodrome on the northeast coast of New Guinea, and he was officially credited with an additional 3 kills on that 30 April, 1942, mission. Shortly afterwards he was transferred back to the US and was killed in an accident in a P-40 flying out of Eglin Field on 29 November 1942, an unfortunate end to a stellar career. Thanks to Bobby Rocker we're able to offer a photograph of Wagner that you may not have seen before:

Buzz Wagner flew both P-35As and P-40s in the Philippines, and P-40Es and P-39s while with 5th AF Fighter Command. In this rare and fascinating shot he's seen in the cockpit of a 49th FG P-40E outside of Darwin, during a stint with that unit as Temporary Group Operations Officer early in 1942. That Warhawk is very much a Plain Jane, without even a side number on the nose, and is in basic OD over Neutral Grey camouflage but with a differently-colored spinner cap which may possibly be red, indicating a veteran of  the Java Campaign---there were several such survivors in the 49th at that time. (The spinner could also been dark blue, although its hue doesn't match that of the fuselage corcarde.) The regulation "U.S. ARMY" appears under the wings and the wheel covers appear to be in natural metal, although they could also be in white.   Rocker Collection

Wagner was somewhat controversial after his arrival in Australia, allegedly due to the fact that he seemed unfamiliar with the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen even though he had been credited with victories while in the Philippines. The situation caused some individuals to doubt the truth of his claims at the time, although the benefit of hindsight indicates they were valid since he was flying primarily against elements of the IJA rather than the Imperial Navy and quite possibly never faced the Zero-Sen in combat. Whatever you may think of him, there was no doubting his abilities or courage---his assignments after his wounding over the Japanese beach head at Vigan say it all in terms of his stature among his peers with the 5th. His career, and his life, ended far too soon. Let's raise a glass...

While We're Talking About P-40s...

Bobby sent along yet another image of a 49th FG P-40E that might be of interest to you:

The P-40E depicted in this photograph should be familiar to you, although that's not evident at first glance. The image was taken at one of the fields outside of Darwin during 1942 and depicts a fighter from the 7th PS pushed back into what passes for a hardstand. The only other marking evident is the tip of the vertical tail, which appears to be in white or possibly yellow, but take a second look. The tail number is presented in an unique style unlike that normally found on aircraft assigned to the 49th, but it's virtually identical, not only in style but also in size and location, to the tail number found on 2nd Lt Bill Hennon's aircraft, and there's a clincher when we look at the aircraft's spinner---the spinner cap appears to be in a different color than the OD of the rest of the airframe and Hennon was a veteran of the 17th Provisional Pursuit Squadron in Java---several ex-17th pilots ended up in the 49th FG and were nicknamed "The Java Flight", carrying red spinner caps to commemorate their status within the unit. The aircraft in this image is missing the band of stars and equally stylized number 36 that eventually appeared on the nose of Hennon's bird, but there's an answer for that as well, since a number of P-40s assigned to the 49th acquired nose art and/or names all at one fell swoop for a publicity function that took place prior to May of 1942. It's our contention (or wild guess---you pick which one you prefer) that the airplane either pre- or post-dated that time frame and you could decide on either one since the airplane doesn't appear to have the "U.S. ARMY" logo painted under its wings. That's our guess, but comments and corrections are certainly welcome!

That Other 5th AF Fighter From The Bad Old Days

The 49th held the line in Australia when it looked as though things just couldn't get any worse, but the 8th went to New Guinea to fight during the same time frame. The conditions over that island were abysmal and took their toll on both man and machine, as illustrated by this somewhat amazing photograph:

We've mentioned on numerous occasions that New Guinea ate both men and machines without regard for nationality, and this photograph proves the point! Aircraft number 37/M, a P-400, is from the 80th FS and is seen in the air after a recent overhaul---note the heavy exhaust stains and beat-all-to-snot paintwork, highlighted by the brand spanking new OD control surfaces installed on the airplane. We're willing to bet there's some sort of name or artwork on the port side of that bird as well, but we haven't been able to locate additional images of it. "M" is quite an airplane in spite of that, however, and would make a wonderful subject for a model, nose art or not!   Rocker Collection

Bobby Rocker has been with this project almost from the beginning, and the photos he continually copies for us, or locates from other collectors, fills an enormous gap in our knowledge of the aviation side of the Pacific War. Thanks, Bobby!

A New Trick Worth Learning, or Lessons for Old Dogs

Last issue we discussed an e-book published by the folks over at Detail and Scale. That's significant to us because Bert and Rock have come to the conclusion that it's far easier to provide the aviation community with quality publications at an affordable price by doing them electronically, and they've forgone conventional print publishing to that end. It's The Way of the Future and I could certainly say it's a trend I don't personally like, but then again you aren't reading this blog on in a conventional print publication either! Nope; the future's here to stay, and it's time to jump on board!

Colors and Markings of the F-102 Delta Dagger, Rock Roszak, Detail and Scale, 2017, 380 pp, illustrated.

When we reviewed the new Detail and Scale F-102 publication last time around we mentioned that it was big on unit markings, which is certainly true. What we didn't mention, even though we were well aware of the fact at the time, was that Rock Roszak was working on a follow-up volume that was strictly colors and markings worn by the "Deuce". That book has now been released and it's a pretty amazing publication, electronic format notwithstanding. The author is obviously comfortable with the medium of electronic publishing and manages to make the title both informative and user-friendly, even for an electronic dinosaur like myself.

The book is exactly what the title says it is and is exceptionally complete (although we reserve the right for Marty Isham to contact us and let us know if anything significant is missing!), covering every era of the "Deuce's" service to include both active commands and the ANG. There are sections on what officialdom thought about the aircraft's paint work and what was actually done, all illustrated in color, and each section is copiously illustrated (I always wanted to say that but never had the chance until now---thanks, Rock!), and accurately captioned. The book includes 48 full-color illustrations and 520 photographs, 320 of which are in color and all of which can be manipulated for size thanks to the volume's electronic format. It's a publication that you honestly need to have if your interests run towards the F-102, Century Series Fighters, or the US Air Force of the 1950s and 60s.

There's a catch, though. We mentioned it last time when we reviewed Detail and Scale's first e-book on the "Deuce" and it's worth repeating here---you're going to have to embrace the technology to enjoy the book, and you're going to have to learn all the nuances and how to navigate them. That's intimidating for and old-stager such as myself, but the rewards are well worth the effort of learning how to use the format. Consider this if you will: In its present (and only) form, this publication sells for $9.99 retail. If it were a conventional book, on glossy paper in a decent size, and containing all of the photographs and color illustrations that it does, it would have to be priced in the $75 to $100 dollar range. It's an incredible value at its price. It also represents the future, like it or not.

That said, this book  is well worth adding to your library if you have any interest at all in the airplane. It's a worthy companion to Detail and Scale's previous F-102 effort. We recommend it.

Review copy courtesy Detail and Scale

A T-Bird's a T-Bird No Matter How You Slice It

The folks at Lockheed definitely hit a home run way back there in the late 1940s when they designed the T-33 jet trainer. It was simple to fly and maintain, more than adequate to the tasks assigned to it, long-lived, and pretty! Jim Sullivan and I were discussing aviation photography a couple of days ago and the subject of the T-33 came up, immediately followed by a request by me for photographs. A couple of days later a care package from Jim arrived in the electronic mail. Most of what was included was the of the anticipated USAF variety (which you should be seeing next issue), but it Turned out Jim had a couple of other tricks up his sleeve as well:

If this shot doesn't make you want to jump into a T-33 (or, more correctly in this case, a TO-2) and go flying, nothing ever will. The aircraft, from the Marine Corps' FLAM, wasn't configured for carrier use at all---that would come later with the T2V, which was Lockheed's "serious" attempt at a viable trainer for the Navy---but both the NAV and the Marines used the TO-2/TV-2 fairly extensively as a trainer, hack, and liaison aircraft. Of interest in this shot are the early gas bags under the wings and the total lack of aircraft gun armament. The T-33 family were simple aircraft both in concept and in execution, and this photo illustrates that fact as few do.   Sullivan Collection

Here's another early (ca. 1951) photo of a Marine TO-2 for your perusal! 124580 was assigned to HEDRON 12 when this photo was taken and was, in many respects, identical to WD 5 shown immediately above. Both photos show the aircraft's Bronze Green anti-glare panels to advantage, and the photo of 580 also demonstrates what the speed boards look like when fully deployed. Neither aircraft appears to have been fitted with ejection seats, marking them as extremely early aircraft.   Sullivan Collection

Most people know The Blue Angels used TO-2s as hack aircraft, and as a source of Gee Whiz rides for the press, but we generally think of those members of the family painted in blue to match the other aircraft on the team. 128676 was one aircraft assigned to "The Blues", but she's still in natural metal---her blue paint would come later on. Far enough in the production cycle to be designated a TV-2 rather than a TO-2, she was photographed on the ground at Detroit in 1952. Sharp-eyed readers will note that this aircraft has gun ports, although it's highly doubtful there were guns in the nose, and the aircraft has been fitted with Fletcher tanks instead of the earlier Lockheed tanks. She's a classy little jet, isn't she?   Sullivan Collection

Here's a 3/4 rear view of the same aircraft, which better illustrates the painted outline to the U.S. Navy logo on the aircraft's flanks. She's pretty, and not what we'd expect in natural metal...   Bob Esposito via Sullivan Collection

This is more in keeping with what we expect when we think of aircraft assigned to "The Blues", but look at those gas bags! We're big fans of black and white imagery around here, but this is one time we really wish a photo was in color!    Sullivan Collection

Let's take a look at one final photograph before we call it quits for this time around. 131801 was one of the TV-2s still in service that got itself re-designated as a T-33B in 1962 during the infamous McNamara-inspired Armed Forces Aviation Redesignation Shuffle, although she's still called a TV-2 on her aft fuselage. She was in red and white and assigned to the station at NAS Anacostia when this photo was taken, a pretty bird to be sure, but no prettier than the natural metal Marine aircraft we began this essay with. It's all in the eye of the beholder, right?   Bob Dorr via Lionel Paul via Sullivan Collection

Next time around we'll have to take a look at the USAF and ANG T-Birds that Jim sent, but those are for another day!

The Relief Tube

You may remember our piece on the F-100s of the Missouri Air National Guard that we ran a few issues ago, and that F-100C that had been fitted with a D-model vertical tail. Tom Smith has a perspective, and a comment, on 54-1794 that's worth a look and consideration:

Dear Phil, 

Once more, I find myself putting fingers to keys in response to a picture and question you aired, this time in the March 2017 blog. In that issue, you showed a picture of a Missouri Air Guard aircraft 54-1794 labeled a F-100C-1-NA (though the serial number seems to be for a C-5-NA) which was painted silver lacquer and wearing a F-100D tail. You questioned the how of this configuration. While I can't be sure, I would like to offer a SWAG or two on possibilities. Project High Wire was a program to take F-100C/D/F Huns and replacing wiring harnesses and upgrading electronics. It also involved deep IRAN, refurbishment and modification to select airframes. Without seeing the aircraft data card or knowing the date of the picture, I first have to make the assumption that if the MOANG kept this aircraft for a while (the tail mod suggests this is so), it went through High Wire. Using the "Way Back Machine" (thanks Mr. Peabody), we see that North American and the USAF knew that the F-100A tail had a serious lack of tail surface area, one that even the larger "C" tail fin did not adequately cure. Witness the 118 F-100A aircraft transferred to the ROCAF. Most had a F-100D tail fin retrofitted prior to delivery to the Republic of China Air Force, complete with the tell-tale AN/APS-54 Tail Warning Radar fairing and a commensurate increase in fin area than, along with a dampener mod, all but eliminated the yaw problem. It also meant that North American was well versed in adding a "D" tail to an earlier version. Back to the picture. I suspect that there was a problem with the original tail on 1794 and that there was not a suitable replacement "C" tail available (this model had been out of production for quite a long time). Rather than junk the airframe, an better and available "D" tail was substituted (remember, NA knew how to do this). Even if the APS-54 wasn't live, the increased fin area would be welcomed. Technically, this works. The rest is "guesstimation" but I'll bet I'm close. Anyone in Missouri know for sure? 

 Tom Smith 

Thanks very much for the insight, Tom!

Finally, here are a couple of links provided to us by Norman Camou---look on them as a Christmas present of sorts:

Both links will take you to short films on YouTube; the first is about Guadalcanal, while the second one illustrates the 365 FG's activities over Germany in their P-47s during the waning days of the Second World War. Both are well worth a look, and our thanks go out to Norm for hunting down these clips for us.

That's about it for this time. We'll try to present a more productive blog for you next year but in the meantime, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!