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!

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