Long Time Coming
Or to put it another way: Yikes!
The past 3 months have been seriously crazy around here; lots of changes, lots of visitors, and a great many unexpected situations that required immediate and personal attention. It wasn't like I didn't try; the opening piece ("Follow Ahab") was written and put into the blog back in early October, but the follow-on essays that would have helped to create a typical issue (if there is such a thing around here) didn't exactly cascade into place. Nope, not this time, but I honestly didn't notice it, being heavily distracted and all.
There were signs, of course, that all was not well---Frank Emmett's frequent "when are you going to publish something again" inquiries each and every time we saw or corresponded with each other could have been a dead give-away, as could a similar inquiry from Eric, a fellow enthusiast I met in Hill Country Hobby back before Christmas. The e-mails, some of which were of the "Hey! Are you ok?" variety should've served as a clue as well but, like I said, I've been severely distracted for the past couple of months. I'll try not to let it happen again. I promise.
One final thing. My old friends, of which a few still survive, all know how to get hold of me via the miracles of electronics, but a lot of other folks don't. That's probably because I only put the blog contact information in place once, or maybe twice, in each issue, and when I do it's always semi-encoded to keep the Spam Creeps at bay. There's a comments page for the blog, of course, but to be honest with you I never look at it. That's because I don't append any sort of forum to this site. I probably could, and there are most assuredly folks out there who think I should, but I've chosen not to, because I've seen the way such things have gone on other electronic publications and have made the conscious decision not to make myself into a referee tryng to mediate the flame wars that seem to be part and parcel of such endeavors.
I'd still like to hear from you, however, so here's the e-mail address to use. It's gimmicked up a little bit to discourage all those folks out there who want to sell me ball bearings, ocean vacations on cruise liners, or maybe send me the twenty million dollars I just won, funds being available after I've sent the originators of such an incredible kindness a couple of thousand bucks to cover their processing and handling charges. You'll need to do a little bit of figuring-out to use that address, but all that involves is substituting an actual dot where I say "dot" and the symbol for "at" where I say (dare I actually say it?) "at". Are you ready, then? After all, there's no challenge too great!
Pretty easy, huh? Oh, and there's one more thing; I actually answer the mail around here unless you're an obvious spammer or are trying to sell me something. If you've got a question or comment, or maybe would like to offer a correction to something we've published or contribute photography or information, I'll read your message and I'll respond to it. Ok? OK!!!
And now, back to our regular programming!
Do any of you remember that classic 1956 cinematic version of Herman Melville's timeless Moby Dick? Maybe you read the book instead; probably somewhat less likely but still a possibility, or maybe you even had the old Dell comic book about the movie that was released in conjunction with it, or maybe you don't have a clue what I'm talking about. It almost doesn't matter no matter whether you have an acquaintance with that classic work or not because I'm going to explain it to you anyway, but it helps if you've got imagery to go with it and imagery just never gets any better than Gregory Peck portraying Captain Ahab trapped against the side of an enormous (and highly whizzed-off) white whale his crew have just harpooned multiple times in that primordial tale of Man against Nature, his arm flopping back and forth as though summoning to join him:
"Look! Look! He beckons! Follow! Follow Ahab!"
It's one of the most memorable scenes in a highly memorable movie, it's a captivating passage in Melville's novel, and No, Virginia; I'm not trying to imply that anything a plastic modeler could do would ever come close to anything described in that book, but there is a comparison we can make should you be so inclined.
Let's think about it for a minute. Ahab, a dark and convoluted character, has lost a leg and, for all intents and purposes his mortal soul, to an enormous edification of nature that he can never best. He tries; Lord knows he tries, but all he manages to do is beguile others into his madness and drag them off on his campaign against the great white whale. There's no way he can win but that doesn't stop him from making the effort and at the end of it all his loses his ship, all but one of his crew, and his own life. The whale wins not once but each and every time.
Whew! Ok; now we're past that let's see where it takes us, because we can apply, albeit in an extremely limited and admittedly obtuse manner, a lesson from that novel to our very own hobby. Let's think about it for a minute...
We're going to need a Moby Dick, or something close to it, if we're going to make this discussion work, so let's pick something that fills that bill, something large, ubiquitous, and seemingly omnipotent. With that as a premise, let's pick the Model Kit of Your Choice for our Great White Whale. We'll need an Ahab too, so let's pick an imaginery scale modeler to play his role, keeping in mind that said modeler has to have a dedicated and highly obsessive interest in whatever the subject at hand might be. We're also going to need a ship, so let's pick a metaphor for that purpose, say; an internet modeling web site of any flavor, any old web site at all. You can even include this one if you want to. I won't mind.
There; we've got everything in place, in a silly sort of way, so what do we do with our whale, our Ahab, and our ship? That answer should be obvious by now, shouldn't it? Look! Look! It's a new piece of resin to correct a problem on our ship that nobody will ever notice and I didn't even know about it before yesterday but I gotta have one for Moby! Look! It's a 300-piece interior detail set for a model of a bomber that has a tiny cockpit opening, two turrets, and a couple of side windows that will ensure nobody ever sees any of my work once I've installed all those itty-bitty pieces but I've gotta have one! Look! It's a new decal sheet that will let me replicate a model of Moby Airplane as it sat in the mud on the 27th of September, 1943, immediately after it had been towed over the left foot of the squadron's new commanding officer and nobody honestly cares including me but I gotta have one because---you got it---Ahab beckons!
Yep; some internet guy has just reviewed that new whiz-bang whatever-it-is and said everyone has to have it so a whole bunch of people magically see the light, go out and buy one, then either put it away and forget all about it or, conversely, actually use it and then come to the conclusion that they didn't need it after all, nor did they need to spend all that money which could have easily gone towards another kit, and all because some guy in an Ahab suit told them they needed to do it. That, inevitably, takes us once again to The Point:
Aftermarket is fun to use and can provide both detail and satisfaction when used in the creation of a model, and aftermarket decals can really bring an otherwise mundane model to life. Such things can add a lot to our hobby and are an integral part of it, not to be dismissed out of hand or ignored but, if we're going to use them there ought to be some sort of a rationale to it.
Let's start with accuracy. Is our whale accurate, or is Ahab just at it again with whatever the Newest Shiny Object might be? "It's new, after all, so you have to have it! I said so! Follow Ahab!"
How about practicality? If our whale is a set of aftermarket parts, can all those itty-bitty pieces actually be seen once you've encased them in the fuselage of an airplane or the hull of a tank? It's got a lot of pieces and it's new, after all, so you have to have it, right? Right! Follow Ahab!
We can go on and on with our premise but, at the end of it all, it comes down to just two things: Do you need it because you actually do need it, or do you need it because somebody you don't know has persuaded you to believe you've got to have it? Yes; there's a difference, even if your scale modeling friends all begin to call you Ishmael because you've begun to go your own way and, in so doing, left that pitifully derainged captain to his own devices. Yes; he beckons, but you don't have to go there.
Follow Ahab? I think not!
Thunderbolts in Color
Norman Camou has been at it again, mining the aviation footage hidden within the depths of YouTube, and has come up with this jewel for us:
It 45 minutes long, more or less, and is about P-47 operations in Europe, all filmed on the instruction from the War Department and all in color. Our primary interest around here is, and probably always will be, the Pacific War, but this sort of thing simply can't be ignored and needs to be shared! Many thanks to Norm for sending it to us!
Another Movie From Norm
This one falls under the heading of Not At All What You Expected, but it provides an insight into the way Air Force bases were in Japan during the 40s and 50s. There's not much of anything here in the way of airplanes but it's a true time machine for those of us who spent time in Japan prior to the late 1960s.
If you want to understand the way things were, this video is invaluable---it's got everything but the smell of the post-War Far East! Thanks once again to Norm...
An Old Standby
That would have been a pretty good nickname for Consolidated's now-immortal PBY family of flying boats and amphibians. Here's one you may not have seen before:
Words to Live By for the Scale Modeler
A Token Model
That Other Mitchell Group
Months ago, way back in September, we received an e-mail from Shawn Marquardt regarding some B-25 photographs in his family:
This may be a bit random, BUT....After finding rolls and rolls of film from my grandfather, who was a B-25J pilot in the Philippines late in WW2 (13th AAF, 42nd BG, 75 BS [Crusaders]) there were very few planes I could make out nose art and such on. There were three or four pictures of a nose with “Doc’s Delight” painted on the side with the pin-up girl. The only picture I could find of that same plane and nose art is the one you posted 3 years ago. The picture was almost identical to the one included in your post, with the windshield being covered and everything. It’s odd to think that there are so few pictures out there, but at least two people took one of that very plane. I know there was a question of the location of the picture on your post (not that I’m sure it matters 3 years later) but I’m guessing it was in the Philippines as the one I have of it was from. Sadly I can’t help with any other info since my grandfather passed long before I was interested in anything and could ask him questions. I just wanted to reach out and thank you for giving me some insight on one of the few things I could identify in his pictures with your post. Have a great day. -Shawn M
First, we'd like to say thank you to Shawn for the kind words, for being one of our readers and, most of all, for sending along the following photographs. The images have suffered somewhat with the passage of time but that in no way diminishes their value as historical documents. Let's take a look:
Many thanks to Shawn Marquardt for sending us these fascinating images!
Oscar, But Not the One You Were Expecting to See
There's Oscar and then there's Oscar. Here's the Oscar you're not going to see today!
We did an article on George Laven's F-84B a couple of months ago---OK; a whole bunch of months ago, Thanks to the kindness of Ed "The Original Mr Ed" Ellickson. Ed has an interest in Laven and his colorful airplanes so the photos we ran were all concerned with Laven, but there was one shot that was just a little bit different:
Hi Phil. Apologies if this has already been pointed out, but your latest blog post on F-84Bs had an interesting photo of a Thunderjet named "Meat Chopper". The pilot in it sure looks like Oscar Perdomo, the last ace-in-a-day of WWII. 1LT Perdomo flew a P-47N with a similar name for that mission. Same guy? Cheers, Herb
Further investigation, and our next photograph (provided by Herb), clinched the deal:
Thanks to Herb for pointing this out to us, apologies to the family of Major Perdomo, and a heartfelt self-inflicted slap to the forhead for dropping such an obvious clanger. We should've known better!
Or, perhaps more properly, Phantom IIs, but we aren't going to squabble about it! Instead, we'd like to share a couple of photographs Don Jay sent to us shortly before Christmas. Here's some background:
Trust this finds you well and in the midst of producing an end of year ‘RIS’ issue. Both F-4Ds were taken in Dec of 72 while trying to get out of Frankfurt on space-available. Since I had some downtime, I flew with the ANG KC-97 that was TDY to Rhein-Main AB at this time. The KC-97s were part of the “Creek Party” support to USAFE providing air-to-air refueling training to USAE units. Great bunch of guys that were more than happy to oblige a wayward troop although they found it funny that I wanted to photograph ac versus spending my time downtown enjoying German culture (aka beer/wine). Anyway, captured several shots of Phantoms from the 50 TFW at Hahn and the boys at Spang., the 52 TFW. Attached are two examples. Hope you can use them in any future publications. Cheers for now and Merry Christmas. DJ
PS: The KC-97 was moded with bunks and couches plus they had a round card table mounted in the middle of the pax deck. Hell of a way to fly and fight!!
Thanks as always to Don for sharing his remarkable photography with us!
It Wasn't Always Combat
In some ways it's a sad thing, but few of us ever consider the aviation-related activities that don't involve tales of derring-do in combat. That approach to things can leave quite a bit of aviation history completely un-touched, but think about just one thing for a minute: How did all those airplanes get into combat? Where did they come from, especially the shorter-ranged aircraft such as fighters and liaison types?
The answer is simple. Most of the airplanes we're interested in got to the various combat theaters in crates, transported by ship. (We're not referring to the Navy or Marine Corps this time, just the AAC.) That means that somebody had to put those airplanes together and test them which, in the case of the 5th Air Force, meant the 4th Air Depot Group.
The 4th was activated at Patterson Field in Ohio on 01 April, 1941, and participated in both the Louisiana and Carolina War Games prior to the outbreak of war. They were transferred to Melbourne, Australia, and sailed for that destination on 15 November, 1941, aboard the President Coolidge. By 2 October, 1942, they had set up shop in Townsville, where the following images were taken:
Baby It's COLD Outside!
This winter has been a tough one for a lot of folks in the United States this year. We've escaped almost all of it down here in Sunny South Texas, for the time being, anyway, but not all of our friends have been so lucky. Let us show you what we mean!
We had begun to think about it by this time, and then Mark Morgan clinched the deal with this grab from a St Louis newspaper:
And that was the photo that tipped it over the edge. Inspiration struck almost immediately and we cranked out an email to Don Jay, who responded with the following from his collection:
Special thanks to Don and Mark for brightening up this chilly winter for us all!
The Relief Tube
We could've, and probably should've, had one this time, but the information we could have published ended up in the main body as small articles. That doesn't signify any sort of change of format, just in case you're inclined to wonder about such things. It's just how I did it this time.
So that's it for this time. As always, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!