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!