Friday, August 24, 2018

Invaders You Probably Haven't Seen Before, Some Mitchells, Really, George?, A Car, Bad Thing On the Block, and A Couple From Norm


That's right; attitude. Yours. Mine. Ours. Attitude.

Several months ago I received a phone call from Rudy, who's the manager over at King's in Austin, telling me they'd just received a Wingnut Wings Junkers J.1 on consignment and asking me if I wanted it. It was a kit I'd missed first time around and the price was right---its previous owner had started it so it had to be sold at somewhat of a discount---so I said yes (with considerable enthusiasm, I might add) and made arrangements to get it into my hands. The kit arrived in Kendalia a few short days later and I immediately dropped whatever else I was working on at the time in order to begin construction on The Ugly Junkers. I was pumped!

The model was pretty much as I'd expected in terms of detail and buildability (I'm not sure that's a real word, but I'm going to use it so cut me some slack, please) and I was just sailing along with its construction when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune befell my universe. I was installing the struts onto the upper and lower wing stubbs, just like the instructions said to do, but I was trying out a bottle of Squadron's Plastic Weld, a product I'd never used before, and the stuff was a lot hotter than the Tenax I'd been employing for the past umpteen years. After all that time I was used to the way the Tenax behaved but was still learning the characteristics of the Squadron stuff and managed to overapply it to the attach points of the struts which in turn caused them to melt, although they didn't look like it when I plugged them into the mounting receptacles on the model's wings and fuselage. No; they didn't look it at all, but they'd softened past the point of being able to hold those big heavy Junkers wing parts in place and I had the unique pleasure of watching the entire structure literally crumble before my very eyes. The horror. The horror!!!

Anyway, I knew immediately what had happened, so I gave everything a couple of days to finish outgassing and curing, and then I reattached those struts to the wing stubbs but this time using the basic butt joints I'd accidentally created as my mounting indices and using a whole lot less Plastic Weld to stick the pieces together. Everything worked just fine too, until I went to slide the upper wing's outboard panels into place the next morning. It was deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra (the baseball catcher, not the cartoon character often mistaken for him) but I perservered and repeated the whole curing and installation process and viola: this time it worked! Hooray! (And yes; I know I should've just pinned them and moved on but I didn't do that so cut me some slack, ok?) The model was subsequently completed and now sits on the shelf with my other 1/32nd scale attempts at Great War modeling, but that's not the point. Here's The Thing:

If I'd had the exact same thing happen to me twenty years ago I would've put the tattered remains of the kit back in the box, put the box on the top shelf of the closet I kept my unbuilt kits in, and forgotten about it, or maybe just broken the model down for parts. If I'd tried to save the situation and had the same thing happen again, I probably would've introduced the entire project to the trash can, frustration being what it is. I didn't do either of those things this time, though. Passion never entered into the equation in any way and I took the disappointment as a challenge; it was just another thing I needed to deal with if I was going to complete the model. That passion part is important, because it's the thing that causes models to be trashed when they could be saved instead. Remember that Classic Airframes Curtiss P-6E I showed you a few months ago? It was the same sort of deal---I'd royally pooched the kit the first time around but I knew it was salvageable, so I waited until my head was in a better place and then I finished the model.

And that takes us to the moral of the story. If something you're doing, or have done, to a plastic model airplane that's supposed to be putting a little joy into your life is causing you frustration or, worse yet, causing you to lose your temper, then you've chosen the wrong hobby for yourself. I know that for a fact, because I used to be That Guy. My scale modeling life got immensely better for me the day I decided that there wasn't anything I could mess up so badly that I couldn't fix it, and there's no "shelf of doom" in this house, although I'll admit there is a shelf of delayed completion. There are exactly three models on that shelf, and they'll all be completed whenever I become re-interested in those projects again. I'm a modeler. I can fix the problems as they arise, most of the time anyway, and I do this for fun. Yes; I'm serious about accuracy, mostly, and I'm serious about the quality of the things I build, but only if that accuracy and quality result in the project being fun.

I submit to you that my approach isn't a bad one, and that it can actually help you get a little more fun out of your hobby. That part you just broke, or that assembly you just messed up, are opportunities for you to grow as a modeler, and fixing those issues can be fun if you let it be. You'll be happier, the folks you know who have to listen to you whine when you mess something up and pretend they're sympathetic to your largely-incomprehensible-to-them plight will be happier, and your models will end up being better, all as the end result of a little change in your attitude. Nobody starts at the top in this hobby, and that includes the guys and gals who produce those museum-quality models you see in the magazines and at the contests. Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody has had their lunch eaten by a plastic model at one time or another. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't playing a straight game.

That's my story, etc, etc...

The calm before the storm. Those outer wing panels are stuck into place but not permanently attached, mostly because I wanted to see how the model would look if they were on there. See the strut mounting holes in the wings and forward fuselage? See how nice and clean they look? Disaster struck less than twenty minutes after this photograph was taken!

This is the model after the upper center section fell off and got itself re-attached the first time. I coulda/probably shoulda inserted metal pins into the pitiful remains of the strut attach points but chose not to do that, going for simple butt joints instead---no; I don't know why I did that either, but I did. The result was predictable, and that just-mounted center section was off the model surrounded by a tangle of struts just a few short minutes later. Phooey!

The third time's the charm! The model is mostly completed in this photograph, athough I subsequently went back and fixed the seam issues you can observe in the cowling assembly and cleaned up the strut attach points. I did those things with the wing in place, secured only by butt joints sans pinning, and everything held together just fine, thank you very much! The point here is to accept the problems that will inevitably occur if you're a modeler, and figure out how to fix them without undue drama. I think that's the secret to this hobby. Your mileage may vary...

They Weren't All Black or Silver

Nope; a whole bunch of Douglas A-26 Invaders got themselves delivered to the 3rd Bomb Group in nasty old Olive Drab and Neutral Grey, and some of them stayed that way after the war. Thanks to the kindness of Gerry Kersey we can offer a few examples for you to enjoy:

This image, out of the Kersey collection, shows us how those early A-26s looked in the field after their assignment to the Philippines late in the Second World War. The airplane is relatively pristine and is probably almost brand new since anything painted olive drab began to weather almost immediately upon its introduction to the SWPAC. 44-34481 survived one war only to die in another; she was still attached to the 3rd, with the 13th BS, when she was lost with her entire crew over North Korea on 20 February, 1952.

A whole bunch of the 3rd's OD over Neutral Grey A-26s made it intact to post-War Japan, as illustrated by this wonderful photo of "WE DOOD IT IV" sitting on the ramp at Yokota in the late 40s. It was in so many ways the last of the sunshine days for the 3rd, and for the Invader as well, but when this photograph was taken the group was still performing occupation duty in southern Honshu. That would, unfortunately,  change soon enough.   Dwight Turner via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

May of 1948 saw the 13th BS deployed to an unknown, to us, anyway, location in squadron strength. The sharp-eyed among our readers will note both B and C models in the squadron (although we have to remember that changing out the noses of those A-26s was a relatively easy thing to do, and could be accomplished at the Group maintenance level), and and silver, jet (that's gloss black for those of you unfamiliar with the term) and OD over Neutral Grey paint jobs scattered about on that ramp. The squadron was a true collection of dogs and cats in those days but that didn't matter; the squadron, and the group, was fully mission-capable and up to the task when called upon a few short years later.   Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

Here's a cockpit detail of one of those forward-deployed 13th BS A-26s, probably a hard-nosed B model, with Staff Sergeant Vince Murphy, an armorer/gunner, posing for the folks back home. You could get in and out of the Invader through that opened canopy panel, but normal entrance and egress, for both forward and aft compartments, was through the bomb bay. This is one of those images that doesn't show us much of the airplane at all but manages to tell its story nonetheless.   Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

You can't be a proper squadron if you don't have a mascot, and the 8th BS had Blackie, seen here on the nose of one of the unit's B-models. That's the squadron emblem on the nose, in an unusually large presentation as such things go. That OD and Neutral Grey Invader is sitting on the ramp at Yokota in 1948.   Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

Remember that part where we stated that the 3rd operated a real collection of dogs and cats? Well; this image proves the point! The photo was taken at Yokota in 1948, probably during the same ramp walk that resulted in the shot immediately above it, but the airplane is silver with the earlier 6-gun installation in the nose. The group was combat-ready but post-War austerity in the armed forces was still the rule and they operated with the aircraft, and equipment, at hand.  Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

Here's the 13th's "Sweet Snooks", also taken in March of 1948 while on deployment out of Yokota. She's another 6-gunned B-model and is a little bit shop-worn. The bomb-bay doors are opened and ready for the crew to enter the airplane for yet another training flight. It appears that the day is overcast and somewhat dreary, a normal circumstance for springtime in Japan even today.   Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

Let's close out today's essay on the 3rd in post-War Japan with this shot of a Jet-colored C-model. This photo is of particular interest because of all of the "stuff" visible in the nose compartment; the image was taken during that same March, 1948 deployment, just prior to transit. The photo is a neat image of a time long passed, and a fitting way to conclude this piece.   Patnaude via Gerry Kersey/3rd Attack

The Ones Who Came Before

Sometimes we stumble on one of those images that just has to be shared, whether there's an essay to place it in or not. This photo is one of those!

If ever a photograph summed up the operational service of the B-25 Mitchell in the SouthWest Pacific, this one is it. This image is of a B-25D 4-ship from the 90th BS, 3rd BG, and was taken  while they were en route their way to some mischief, probably in New Guinea. They're at low-level, just a few hundred feet off the water, and those airplanes were cramped, uncomfortably hot, noisy, and smelling of dirty airplane, sweat, and probably vomit as well. They're bouncing around in that humid, bumpy low-level tropical air, and everybody in those bombers knows this flight could be their last, but they're flying the mission anyway and they'll fly the next one too, if they can. Sometimes we hear people talking about an old cliche known as E for Effort. We submit that for these guys it's more properly G for Guts, or maybe D for Devotion, or maybe both of those things and a few more too, while the beaten up, shopworn condition of the airplanes tell a story of their own. Those guys were doing their duty, and it's doubtful they thought anything more of it than that at the time. We think they were special. Let's raise a glass...

As always, many thanks to Gerry, and to Bobby Rocker, and to all the others who care enough to preserve our history and heritage.

Some Early Thunderjets

We all know who George Laven was, right? We all know about that P-38 named "Itsy Bitsy", and we've all seen his outrageously-painted "Huns" and "Zippers", but how many of you have seen his primordial F-84B, way back in the days before his airplanes went wild with color? We're guessing very few of you have seen that airplane, but today's the day that's all going to change thanks to reader and contributor Ed Ellickson!

Here's The Man himself; a young post-War George Laven sitting on the wing of a 49th FIS F-84B at Dow AFB in Maine, ca. 1952. Historians take note of that squadron emblem; it's a rare one, not often seen, and our thanks go out to Ed for finding and sending this image!   Ed Ellickson Collection

Here's Laven's "Itsy-Bitsy III" on a snow-covered ramp at Dow, although we don't believe either pilot in this shot to be Laven. Note the squadron badge on this aircraft, which is the more typically-seen World War 2 iteration of the 49th's squadron badge. Those early Thunderjets were good looking airplanes, particularly when tarted up with tasty artwork, but they were gutless wonders in the air; too much airplane was married to far too little engine. It wasn't until the advent of the F-84E that the airframe reached maturity and practical usefulness, but the early-50s USAF operated with what they had.   Ed Ellickson Collection

Here's a better shot of one of the 49th's B-models giving us an uncluttered view of that unique, and rarely seen, squadron insignia. We suspect the 49th was in place at Dow at least in part to protect Limestone AFB (later Loring) from air attack. They might have been adequate against attacking Tu-4s, or maybe not---that's a rhetorical question at best---but those B-model Thunderjets would have had marginal success in any circumstances!   Ed Ellickson Collection

Here's "Meat Chopper", a different and somewhat optimistically-named B-model from the 49th. There's no kit of the earliest P/F-84s available to the modeler, although the now ancient RarePlanes
offering of the plank-wing F-84 in 1/72nd scale did offer the option for conversion. That's a shame, too, because there were some truly colorful early iterations of that airframe flying around in the late 40s and early 50s. Gotta love The Silver Air Force!   Ed Ellickson Collection

Here's some color corroboration for you, thanks to Ron Picciani! 46-558 is shown here in 1948 while on the ground in Cleveland, Ohio, as a show bird during that years' national air races. Check out the squadron badge on the fuselage, and the overall marking of that airplane! Many thanks to Ron Picciani for sharing this remarkable image with us!   Charles Trask via Ron Picciani Collection

Here's Ed's model of "Itsy-Bitsy III" for your perusal. See what we mean about colorful?   Ed Ellickson

Finally, Ed's a modeler as well as an historian and he wanted to do a model of one of George Laven's airplanes (see above!)  but nobody makes those markings in a commercially-available sheet, so Ed was forced to do his own. What follows are the masters for his artwork, in case any of our readers would like to take their own shot at one of the 49th's more famous Thunderjets:

This is the most typically seen variation of the 49th's artwork, which dates back to their Second World War use of the P-38.   Ed Ellickson

Here's that unique badge seen on certain of their F-84Bs while at Dow in the early 50s.   Ed Ellickson

Masters for the nose name on Itsy-Bitsy III...     Ed Ellickson

And finally, a master for Laven's name on the canopy rail of 548-A.   Ed Ellickson

Thanks very much to Ed, both for sharing this remarkable photography and providing us for the ability to model "Itsy-Bitsy III" ourselves by way of his decal artwork!

But We're Not Done With George Laven Yet

Nope, not yet! Colonel Laven was widely known for his flamboyance and his love of the unusual. The following images are allegedly of a one-off automobile that was once owned by him and subsequently photographed at a contemporary (21st Century) car show. Ed found these on-line and provided them as a footnote to the Laven story:

We aren't sure what to say about these photos except Oh My! If any of our readers can provide provenance for Laven ownership of this highly unique automobile, or proper identification of the photographer, we'd be forever indebted!  Automobile Images via Ed Ellickson

OK; now we're finished with Col. Laven, for a while anyway. The Relief Tube is awaiting your comments, which you can send to replicainscaleatyahoodotcom !

Not To Be Messed With

That's a phrase that suits the late, lamented F-4 family to a tee! Originally designed as a Fleet defense interceptor for the Navy, it soon found itself in the service of the Marine Corps and Air Force as well, and spent its youth in an unforeseen combat in a relatively unknown part of the world, performing missions largely unrelated to those foreseen in its design parameters, and doing everything it was tasked with in a manner that could only have been described as outstanding. Don Jay was on the ramp at Udorn AB in Thailand on 11 May, 1972, and shot these images that he's sharing with us today:

Let's crank 'em up! F-4D-29-MC, s/n 66-7482, from the 432nd TRW's 13th TFS, gets ready to rumble in its Udorn revetment prior to a Mig Cap flight that resulted in the shoot-down of a NVNAF MiG-21. This aircraft, thought to have been Gopher 3, survived the combat which unfortunately also resulted in the loss of Gopher 1.  There's a belief among certain aviation enthusiasts that were never there that things were somehow easier in the latter days of the Southeast Asia War Games than they had been earlier on. The folks who were actually there, fighting or supporting the war in the air, tend to have a somewhat different opinion...   Don Jay

This is one of those shots you'll never understand if you haven't been closely involved with military aviation, but we'll try to explain it for those of you who haven't had the pleasure. That young airman could be a classic study in nonchalance, at least at first glance, but you can bet he's paying attention to that Phantom, his Phantom, and is carefully watching and listening for anything that will cause an abort or endanger the aircrew before he releases it to taxi away from that revetment. He isn't exactly in a safe place either, not standing in front of a pair of J-79s that are entirely capable of sucking a human being up into the engines if he gets too close. It's loud, too; those engines are roaring and the aircraft's boundary layer control system is producing that characteristic Phantom howl that, once heard, can never be forgotten, and it's all happening at a decibel level that can deafen you if you aren't wearing ear protection. The men and women who kept them flying then, and keep them flying today, earn every penny of their pay and Brother; what they're paid ain't nearly enough! Let's raise a glass...   Don Jay

7482 was less than six years old when Don snapped these photos, but her days were numbered. She was on yet another mission, this time near Haiphong on 25 August, 1972, when she was hit by groundfire and went into the sea. There were no easy days...

Short Films You May Want to Watch

Reader and frequent contributor Norman Camou has been at it again, much to our great pleasure. Get yourself a snack and take a look at these gems he's found for us on YouTube:

The first film is about US Navy carrier operations in Korea during 1951, while the second is a piece on the F2H Banshee shot in 1948. Both are well worth your time!

And, while we're talking about Norman's ongoing contributions to the project, let's take a look at THIS:

Yep; Norm took this photo, and there are more where this one came from, but this is the only one we're going to run today because it's been forever since we've published an issue and it's time to get going! Stay tuned, though, because our next issue will feature some more of his camera work!   Norman Camou

Not Your Normal Happy Snap!

This project just isn't the same without a contribution from Bobby Rocker, so here's a B-25G from the 823rd BS for your perusal and approval. How low is low? You tell us, but keep in mind that those guys did it each and every day from the time they got in theater until the time they left. Note the position of those bomb bay doors and then think again about the part where we said they're flying low. Check out the bow of that anchored ship and the proximity of the water if you need further convincing. There was never an easy day in the SWPAC!   Rocker Collection

The Relief Tube

No; not really, but we, or rather I, do have a request to make of you! I've recently almost, and I'd like to stress that word almost, completed a Tamiya F-51D done up as an aircraft from the 67th TFS ca. 1952, but I'm missing a decal!

Here's the model:

You'll notice it appears to be complete, and mostly it is thanks to the kindness of Ed Ellickson, who sent along a couple of decals so I could finish the buzz numbers. They're almost done, too, except for the dash I still need to add between the FF and 064 once the letters and numbers have thoroughly dried, but there's a catch!

Here's a better shot of the side of the airplane. Between what I already had on hand and the several decals Ed sent to me I was able to piece together that FF-064 shown here, but Ed only had one number 4 he could share and I didn't have any, so the other side of the model presently reads FF-06. Phooey! I said Phooey and I meant Phooey! (And yes; I truly did steal that line from the movie Popeye!)

And here's the animal that's causing all the grief! It's a Jacob Stoppel decal sheet printed in the very late 1960s or early 1970s; a 1/72nd scale sheet of black "American Type" letters and numbers and I need one each, just one of the number 4 from the size that's circled in yellow. Yes; there are two number 4s on that sheet and yes; I still need one. Sometimes it's best not to ask...

That email address is replicainscaleatyahoodotcom if you can help, or replicainscaleatyahoodotcom if you can't! Either way...

And that's it for today. Yes, Frank, I know it's been a really long time since I've published and I promise I'll try to do better in the future! Sheesh!

Anyway, be good to your neighbors, and I promise I'll try to see you again real soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Quick How to Do It, One That Doesn't Need Any Help, Something You Didn't Expect, An Aggressive Cat, Closure, Before Her Chevy, and A Grumman

Just a Few, Please!

So there you are, or here I am; it really doesn't matter which one it is. Either way, it's that part of the day where we're looking at our favorite electronic scale modeling publication and we're perusing the section where people put their finished projects for the rest of us to admire. Mostly we're looking at three or four shots of a completed model, tops, but sometimes maybe we'll get a few more than that because the modeler has included interior and detail photos too. Looking at that sort of thing is a lot of fun, and often educational as well, in a polystyrene and resin sort of way.

That's most of the time, but every once in a while someone will get what we'll term Carried Away With Their Creation and post a whole bunch of photos of their shiny new model, and from every conceivable angle, which is to say they'll take a profile picture of one side, and then start clocking around the model while taking photographs every few degrees or so, even though those extra photos don't show much of anything we haven't already seen. The same thing is then repeated from above, and maybe looking down into a cockpit as well, photo after photo, on and on and on and on.

Sometimes a whole bunch of shots of a model can be useful to us, such as cockpit photographs taken in that manner thanks to the cramped and confined spaces in such images and the inherent difficulty of including everything in any given picture, there's rarely any real need for such merriment in any other circumstance.

Keep in mind that I'm not talking about detail photos here. I'm personally a big fan of properly lit and focused shots of interiors, ordnance, landing gear and such, and I encourage it. What I'm not a fan of, and I honestly doubt many other folks are either, are endless photographs of what is essentially the same view of the model, over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

OK, Phillip; so how do we do this sort of thing? Well; if it were me I'd photograph both sides in profile, an upper and lower view, and a couple of 3/4 nose and tail shots, plus the pertinent details, if any. What I wouldn't do, pretty much ever, would be to rotate the model and photograph it every few degrees. That's a forensic kind of approach, and maybe that sort of thing has been inculcated into us because of all those documentaries where the "investigators" take a small part of something and photograph it over and over and over until we've all been put to sleep instead of becoming amazed by the detail and completeness of it all. Forensics are for crime scenes in my world, while a few high quality photographs will generally suffice for even the best of plastic models. Maybe that's a holdover from the rapidly vanishing world of print magazines (a magical realm in which I once existed), where photographs cost money to publish and available space is at a premium, or maybe I just don't care to look at dozens of photographs of what's essentially the same thing, but to me the bottom line is this: Less is more as far as photos of model airplanes are concerned. It's a big world, to be true, but I'd personally rather see a few photos of a lot of airplane models than see a lot of photos of one. Your personal mileage may vary, of course.

That's my story, etc, etc...

Fixing That Albatros Undercarriage in Just Five Photographs

You may recall that we looked at the too-short undercarriage struts provided with Eduard's 1/48th scale Albatros D.V and D.Va kits a couple of issues back. Mention was made of how easy it was to fix them (and amazement was expressed that Eduard themselves have never taken the time or trouble to do that very thing). Here are a couple of photographs to illustrate the point:

This is where we start. You'll need a donor kit for an additional set of struts, or in lieu of that some styrene shapes, either airfoil (if you can find such a thing) or rectangular, to do the job. From a modeling standpoint it's obviously easier to start with a fresh kit but I really wanted to salvage this one, so careful (read that word again: CAREFUL) removal of the undercarriage was required. You can somewhat obviously skip this step if your kit has never been assembled.

One way or another you'll need to make up the approximate 3mm that Eduard left out of the length of those struts when they cut their molds way back there in the 1990s. The easiest way is to cut the raised attachment points off the struts you're going to modify---these struts are the ones removed from the kit above---and then cut that 3mm extension (which includes the aforementioned attachment points) and add it to the struts. If you have a donor kit things become extremely easy because the cross sections of the struts all match, which makes cleanup simple. If you aren't using a donor kit you'll be in for some sanding and probably a little bit of puttying too, but the end result will be the same.

Once you've successfully accomplished your splicing activity you'll want to put the struts back on the airplane (or install them for the very first time if it's a new build). These appear to need a little bit of cleanup down at the axle end of things, but that goes away once the axle/spreader bar is re-installed. (Remember, these are previously used parts on the model you're looking at.)

Here's where we've installed the spreader bar. In this case the wheels were already attached to it, a result of salvaging a previously-built kit, but it's easier if you start fresh with new components. Either way, you'll need to let things dry for a bit. I usually wait overnight for such miracles to occur, but your mileage may vary in that regard. The important thing is to make certain everything is sturdy and solid before you go any further so you can eliminate the possiblity of undercarriage collapse from your modeling pleasure. Critics beware: That prop and spinner are just sitting there and will be removed prior to re-rigging the model!

And here's the end result prior to rigging. The fix is not a difficult thing to do at all, and it's essential if you want your D.V/D.Va to look right once it's been completed.

One more thing before we leave this topic: Those short undercarriage struts are only found in Eduard's D.V/D.Va kits. Their D.I through D.III offerings are just fine in that regard, although their D.III kits have undersized wheels---Barracuda make replacements for that problem, although they mistakenly sell them as a fix for the D.V kits, which have short struts but adequate wheels! Go figure!

And the beat goes on...

While We're Speaking of Albatri

I mentioned that Eduard's Abatros D.I and D.II kits are ok as far as undercarriage and wheels are concerned, but nobody ever seems to build either one of those kits so I thought I ought to do that.

The model is 100% straight from the kit, which shows how nice the Eduard Albatri can look when they get everything right dimensionally! The rigging is .005 dia stainless steel wire, while the turnbuckles, cable attachment points, and control horns are all Eduard photo-etch. The wood-grain effect was done with yellow ochre oil paint applied over a base of Mr Color white, for those of you who are interested in such things.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

What Happens When It's Over and Done

One of the things that happens when a war ends is the cleanup of the mess that was made during the time of conflict. Sometimes that cleanup involves clearing rubble and re-building ruined cities, but sometimes it takes a different turn:

Here's an example of one of those Different Turns. The ship is the former IJN light cruiser Kiso, and the place is Manila Harbor, ca. March 1945. A victim of the unwanted attention of TF38's air groups, she was sunk on 13 November, 1944, some 8 miles from Manila Harbor. She was refloated by Nippon Salvalge Company in December of 1955 and towed to Manila the following month for final scrapping. We've always admired the graceful lines of those early Japanese light cruisers and it's truly sad to see one in this condition.

We often think too many people glorify war, without realizing the terrible cost that both sides pay in any armed conflict. To an extent this photo brings that home, not only because of the dilapidated condition of the vessel but also because of the lives that were lost during the course of her sinking. It's food for though, isn't it?   Robert Speith Collection via Gerry Kersey, 3rd Attack.Org

Note: Gerry Kersey, who provided the photo you see above, caught a huge error in the original caption:

With all due respect, the sunken vessel is probably not the Kiso and most assuredly isn't 1956 when it was raised. The Kiso was sunk 8 miles west of Cavite which lies over 10 miles east of these images. Also, Pier 7 is still being reconstructed. These images are from 1945, most likely March and April and marked so. You can also see the continued bombing of Manila in the background. I am adding additional images (not from the Spieth Collection) which show the successful blockage of the harbor in part by the Catalina's of the RAAF Black Cats mine laying efforts. Gerry

Here's an additional photograph of Kiso provided by Gerry in a string of photos of vessels sunk in or near Manila Harbor:

The photo is of Kiso in March of 1945, showing her damage from a different angle (and with her fantail awash).    80G-K-3557 via Gerry Kersey

Thanks to Gerry for taking the time to help us correct this clanger!

An Angry P-Boat

The Consolidated PBY served with the armed forces of the United States throughout the war, and distinguished itself everywhere it was used. We're all familiar with the exploits of the legendary "Black Cats" and their operations against Japanese shipping in the Solomons, but aggressive use of the aircraft didn't stop there:

No; it's not much of a photograph, but Holy Cow what a photograph! Taken from the port-side waist gunner's position of a PBY during an attack on DaNang in 1945, the image shows a Mitsubishi A6M5 receiving the full brunt of a strafing attack delivered by the Catalina. It's not at all what we would expect to see given the size and general cumbersomeness of the PBY, but it's not entirely atypical of the combat activities going on during the last days of the war. That "P-Boat" is flying at a fairly low altitude as well, which is somewhat remarkable when we consider the bulk and probable groundspeed of that aircraft. Yikes!    Rocker Collection

For comparison, here's a shot of a late-War OA-10A in far more peaceful surroundings, illustrating what that waist position looks like. It's hard to imagine any PBY strafing any sort of target, but it was done, and more than once!   Rocker Collection

A Long-Awaited Answer

You may remember our piece on Stanton Smith a few issues ago, where we mentioned that a couple of his 49th FW F-80 pilots shot up an airfield near Vladivostok during the early days of the Korean War. We asked at that time if any of our readership were aware of the incident, but no responses were forthcoming. We had pretty much given up on ever finding out what really happened during the event that caused Col Smith to be transferred from the command of the 49th to the 5th AF Air Staff in Tokyo, when a new, to us, anyway, model manufacturer named Dora Wings released a pair of P-63 King Cobra kits. The folks over at Modeling Madness reviewed the TP-63E version of that model and, lo and behold; there was mention of that strafing attack, including dates and the name and location of the airfield! They also linked to a Russian article on the internet that described the action; how lucky could we get! Here's an excerpt from that article:                         

When two American Shooting Stars strafed our regiment at the Sukhaya Rechka airfield, our command immediatelly sent the 303rd IAD from Moscow, which already flew MiGs. (on 08.10.1950 at 16.17 local time two USAF F-80C Shooting Starfighters from 49 FBG had breached USSR air border and attacked an airfield Sukhaya Rechka100 kilometers away from it. This airfield belonged to the VVS TOF, but right at this moment due to training procedure it was occupied by, 821 IAP 190 IAD. Mostly 1st Squadron of 821 IAP was hit. 7 airplanes were damaged, 1 P-63 burned to the ground, the rest were repaired. No human losses were suffered. F-80s made two strafing runs and returned to their home base. I. Seidov.).

 It was the end of 1950. The war in Korea was already at full scale. We were ordered to start excercises wich required working from unprepared airfields. It had become common. Our 821st Regiment was transferred to Sukhaya Rechka. All three squadrons were on the ground at the parking spaces. On October 8, two F-80 Shooting Stars came and attacked our airfield. Official reports stated that one plane was blown up and six were heavily damaged, while I saw that at least twelve planes were damaged out of a regiment of 40 planes. In the official report, they made one pass and left. In reality they made two passes. They shot up the King Cobras that were lined up. 

The entire article, which is actually an interview with former Soviet pilot V.N. Zabelin, can be found at this link:

Jim Wogstad and I were first made aware of this event when we interviewed Stanton way back in 1972, and Robert F. Futrell had written about it in his seminal The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953, first published in 1961. Your editor had been looking, albeit without an undue amount of effort, for documentation of the attack for the past 46 years!

Closure is a Very Good Thing...

No Chevrolet Here

Way back in 1944, back before Dinah Shore was seeing the USA in her Chevrolet on her weekly television variety show, she was an up and coming young startlet who, like so many others of her generation, did her part to help the guys at the sharp end of things. This photo tells it all:

The time is 1944 and the place is Western Europe. The young lady in the center of the photograph is Dinah Shore, famous nowadays because of the advertisements she used to sing for Chevrolet on her hour-long television variety show from 1951 to 1957. Take a look at the faces on those GIs, because the smiles tell the story. That young lady, in that time and in that place, would be a memory those soldiers would take to their graves. It was a big war and everybody had a little piece of it.     Rocker Collection

Some Modeling Tips You Ought to Know

You all know who Norman Camou is by now, thanks to those nifty YouTube aircraft clips he's always finding and sending to us. Well, Norm's also a modeler, and he's come up with a couple of tool tips that are well worth your while:

I recently took apart an empty barbecue lighter to see how it worked. The propane tank has a valve with two o- rings that fit pasche (Type H) air brush cones. The ones that come in the air brush deteriorate after a few years of using thinner to clean, and these are perfect replacements. The brush in the photo is one I've been using to clear out spray cones. After using pipe cleaners for years I was amazed at how the brush got out paint plaque that hardened up near the outlet. The two cutters, one straight and one curved, are stainless steel and cut sprue right to the part edge. They stay sharp and have good heft. You can get them from almost any beauty supply section. You can also get tiny glass beads, thin adhesive tape of all colors, an so forth. Sally, our local beauty supplier, admits she gets modelers in for tools and other stuff. Norm.

And here's a photo Norm took for us showing the stuff he's talking about. I'm guessing those cutters don't cost nearly as much at a pharmacy as they do in a package in a hobby shop that says "Sprue Cutter" someplace on it, while those brushes and o-rings couldn't be very expensive either (unless they happen to say "For Scale Modeling" on them, of course!) One thing though: You need to make ding-dang sure your barbeque lighter is COMPLETELY EMPTY of gasses before you attempt disassembly. Neither Norman nor Replica are responsible if you don't do that and suffer Grave Misfortune as a result. You're the captain of your own ship, etc, etc...

Those tips are from Norm. For my part, I'll submit that I've been using a couple of discarded dental probes for scribing, prick-punching plastic parts for drilling, and manipulating small parts in interiors for the past forty years. What about you? Do you have any favorite tools that work really well for our hobby but aren't conventionally sold for it? Why don't you let us know so we can share the knowledge? That e-mail address, suitably boogered up to fox the spam crowd, is  replicainscaleatyahoodotcom.

One Bad Cat

We are, of course, talking about Grumman's immortal F6F Hellcat, an often-overlooked fighter that many consider to be the best naval aircraft of The Second World War. You may or may not agree with that premise, but either way you'll have to admit it's a special airplane. Jim Sullivan has provided us with some interesting photos of the F6F, and it's time for us to share them with you.

The mighty Hellcat was designed and built to be a carrier fighter, and that's how most of us think of her when we're considering her Second World War service. Quite a few were shore-based during that fracus, however, as illustrated by these VF-38 F6F-3s sitting placidly on the ramp at Bougainville on 20 December, 1943. As the old saying goes, looks can be deceiving...   80-G-58996 via Jim Sullivan

Here's the other half of the story, as the late Paul Harvey used to say. Those F6Fs, plus the ramp full of F4U-1As in the background, are poised and ready to crank for the 20 December strike on Japan's fortress at Rabaul. It all seems so quiet in this photo, but things will change dramatically in just a short while...   80-G-58997 via Jim Sullivan

VF-39 was another shore-based Hellcat squadron that we often overlook amidst the glamor of its ship-based cousins. This amazing image gives us a look at their ramp on Majuro ca. March of 1944. It's an evocative shot, one that could almost have come from a movie. Almost.   80-G-401037 via Jim Sullivan

This section of F6F-3s are probably more along the lines we think of when talking about this airplane; a section of VF-32 Hellcats in flight somewhere over the Pacific in 1944. Based off the Langley, they're on the prowl and look more than a little menacing even in this setting. Modelers might want to note the oil streaking coming off the upper cowling. It's all in the details, isn't it?  Sullivan Collection

It wasn't all easy out there in the Western Pacific, though. This VF-29 F6F-3 managed to get badly shot up on a 25 October raid, but her pilot has successfully recovered aboard the Lexington in spite of her damage. Grumman made tough airplanes, hence the sobriquet "Grumman Iron Works", but even tough airplanes are vulnerable when the enemy is determined, or maybe just lucky.  80-G-291036 via Jim Sullivan

Here's a Hellcat you don't see every day; a USS Solomons based F6F-3N. The photo was taken at sea on 18 November, 1944, apparently immediately after a successful recovery aboard ship. The F6F night fighters performed sterling service both off the boat and when based on land, but they're not nearly as famous as their day-time cousins. They were a vital part of the effort, however, and became increasingly so as the Fleet moved in closer to the Japanese home islands.   80-G-260468 via Jim Sullivan

This F6F-3 could be in flight over Japan towards the end of the War, but it's not. The naval aviators in our audience will recognize those mountains in the background as being from America's Pacific Northwest, in Washington State. The Hellcat, and it's friend cruising in the distance off it's starboard wing, are on a routine training flight out of NAS Whidbey Island, but things will change for those pilots soon enough.  Sullivan Collection

See what we mean? This photograph illustrates a whole lot of trouble in the process of launching off the second USS Lexington in the summer of 1944. These -5s are from Fighting Sixteen and they've already seen the elephant---check out the kill markings on side numbers 7 and 28. Up and at 'em!  USN via Jim Sullivan

Fighting 83 was on the Essex and preparing for a strike on Okinawa when this photo was taken on 19 April, 1945. The load of underwing rockets on those airplanes define the mission; close air support for the troops ashore. Note the white auxilliary tanks under those Hellcats as well, because a gas bag was a gas bag and nobody bothered to repaint the white ones when the -5s came on line in their shiny new Glossy Sea Blue paint. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do...   80-G-317550 via Jim Sullivan

Sometimes you have a bad day, and sometimes you have a terrible one. This photo shows an F6F-5 aboard the Solomons on 3 May, 1945, just after she's climbed onto the back of another aircraft. Side number 50 was manned when it happened, as witnessed by its propeller still in motion. We don't often consider this side of the story but military aviation, and carrier aviation in particular, is far more dangerous than we generally allow ourselves to think. At least one of those aviators paid the ultimate price that day, and it wasn't an unusual occurance. Let's raise a glass...   80-G-260417 via Jim Sullivan

See what we mean? This horrific accident, aboard the Saratoga on 17 February 1945, would be all over the press in our day and age, but it was quite literally just another day on the job for the guys on the "Sara" in 1945. It's never safe on the boat; not ever.   Jim Sullivan Collection

But there are days when everything seems just perfect, as illustrated by this F6F-5 from VF-93 off the Boxer in August of 1945. It's a beautiful day, in a beautiful airplane, and the war is over. Things can't get much better than this!   Jim Sullivan Collection

The date is 5 September, 1945, and the place is NAS Atlanta. Here's a ramp full of naval aviation all dressed up for the party with nowhere to go. Those of us who like to build model airplanes with lots of wear and tear, and festooned with kill markings, will quite probably look at this photo and give a collective yawn, but we'll guarantee you the aviators who would be manning those aircraft in combat are more than a little happy with the situation!   80-G-345980 via Jim Sullivan

The concept of the showboat isn't a new one in the NAV, and it wasn't new in the 1945-46 era when this -5 was still on the active list either. She's apparently from VS-3 (corrections are sought from anyone who knows otherwise!) and is a proud tribute to days that weren't all that distant.   Ed Deigan via MALD Collection via Jim Sullivan

The electrons had barely settled on that Hellcat illustrated directly above when I received answers regarding its VS-3 markings from both Rick Morgan and Barrett Tillman. Rather than garbling their explanations I thought it best to run their comments, first from Rick:

Phil- re the “VS” marked F6F you have on your newest blog, I’m pretty sure that’s part of the “Victory Squadron” traveling circus that ran around the country after the war to show off Naval Aviation. Barrett knows a lot more about the subject than I do. And, of course, the F6F actually outlasted the F4U, TBM and certainly SB2C in Navy service. Three Utility Squadrons still had F6F-5s and F6F-5Ks flying in Jan 1959, which is about three years after they’d completely retired the Corsair and Avenger. My ROTC CO, the legendary Dick “Brown Bear” Schaffert had his first tour with VU-10 at GTMO about 1957, initially flying Hellcats and pulling banners for gun shoots.   Rick

And next from Barrett:

I didn't see the blog but yes, VS would have been the Victory Squadron, an immediate postwar USN-Treasury collaboration to fund the last bond drive. I knew Bill Eder, the CO, and wrote the only history of the unit that I know of for the The Hook in the late 80s. The guys had a real good time. One of the pilots became a father during the tour and saluted the new arrival with a glass of milk---another VS pilot said "It was the only non-alcoholic drink I saw him take the entire time." F6Fs, F7Fs, F4Us, and a coupla Japanese.   BT

Many thanks to both Barrett and Rick for clearing this one up!

This -5 from NAS Wildwood (New Jersey), taken in 1945, illustrates the markings the post-War active duty Hellcats (as opposed to those in the Reserves) were usually found in. There's noting at all exceptional about this bird except that she's Stateside and still carrying a white drop tank, which is an anomaly more often seen in the Pacific Fleet. She's weathered a bit and obviously well maintained, but she's also rapidly becoming yesterday's papers.  Ted Stone via Jim Sullivan Collection

There was still plenty of life in the old girl, however, and she quickly found a home with the Naval Reserves. BuNo 79220, based out of Anacostia, is an example of early post-War use of the type. At this point in the Hellcat's Reserve status she was still a relatively boring Glossy Sea Blue, with minimal color other than white to spiff her up.   Paul J. McDaniel via Jim Sullivan

This is more like it! This trio of Oakland-based F6F-5s are wearing the broad orange fuselage bands we normally associate with the Reserve birds of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the color really pops out on these airplanes! They're all a little on the shopworn side, to be sure, but you can bet they've been well-maintained!   Jim Sullivan Collection

The majority of Hellcats that survived the War ended up in the Reserves, but more than a few remained in active, albeit somewhat limited, service. This example is an F6F-5K, capable of manned flight but also configured to be remotely controlled as a drone. BuNo 79120 is shown here at the test center at Point Mugu during the late 1940s or very early 1950s, and typifies the breed; several were utilized in American nuclear testing during the era.   Jim Sullivan Collection

The F6F was rapidly approaching obsolescence by the time the Korean War began, but there was a final chapter to be written in the combat history of the Hellcat before she disappeared from the Fleet. Utilized to test air-to-air guided missiles just a few short years previous, several F6F-5K drones were themselves expended as primitive cruise missiles against hardened North Korean targets, as well as rail lines. The program was successful in a modest way but not to the extent that it became a major part of the war effort. Still, it's a fascinating final chapter in the American combat use of one of the finest combat aircraft of the Second World War. 

The Hellcat rapidly disappeared from US service after the conclusion of the Korean Conflict, with only a handful remaining in Reserve and Training Command service. An appearance as stunt doubles for a portion of the 1951 movie "Flying Leathernecks" (portraying F4F Wildcats) brought them briefly back into the public eye, and the French Aeronavale used them in IndoChina during the early days of their conflict there, but the F6F was disappearing as rapidly as the scrappers could get their hands on them. This specimen (ex-BuNo 94385) was purchased by a budding Confederate Air Force and began a new lease on life for the type as a civilian-owned warbird.  Rick Burgess via Jim Sullivan Collection

The warbird movement spread slowly at first, but is now a major force in the restoration and preservation of historic aircraft. Both the quality of restoration and the accuracy of paint jobs has improved significantly since the early days of the CAF, as typified by the F6F-5 and F8F-1 seen in this gorgeous air-to-air study taken by Jim Sullivan in 1995.   Jim Sullivan

Many thanks to Jim Sullivan for sharing these photographs with us!

Speaking of Norman Camou

Earlier in this edition we mentioned Norman Camou's ongoing contributions to the project. Here's a short clip he found on YouTube that shows us how to fly the P-38. It's not a wartime film but rather a new effort, with a restored Lightning, but it's of considerable interest if you happen to be an aviator or just interested in what those classic fighters were like to fly.

Thanks, Norm!

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