Weighing In on the Century Series
But not the way we usually do it, with an editorial that might or might not have any relevance to anything you're doing. Nope; this time we're going to expound on something practical for once!
As you may remember, I've said fairly often that I look in on a select few modeling sites when I first crank up this electronic device every morning, something I've been doing for years now. It's a good idea in many respects because it provides a fresh perspective that just isn't available by sitting here all by myself on the ranch, doing things the way I've always done them without considering there might be another way to accomplish whatever it is I'm interested in accomplishing on that particular day, but there's a flip-side of that coin to be considered as well.
Take, for example, the art of making an airplane with tricycle landing gear actually sit on that gear without rearing back on its haunches, which is like the model saying "Poop on Yoop because you tried and I won anyway"! You know what I'm talking about, right? You figured it all out, did a few mental calculations, measured things, put some ballast in there someplace, and you still ended up with a tail-sitting model airplane! That's something that's happened to us all, although I'm going to say that it hasn't happened to me personally in a very long time because I actually learned something back there in the early Seventies, back when I melted the nose on my brand new Hasegawa A-4E kit trying to use CerroSafe, or more likely Rose's Fusible Metal, as a ballast material (which you actually can do, but not until you've studied and somewhat mastered The Art of the Heat Sink, which we aren't going to get into today). That little misadventure caused me to spend some time studying when and how to ballast a scale model airplane, which in turn ties in with something I've read many times on those boards I mentioned a paragraph or so above.
It seems as though there's a periodic interest in modeling airplanes from the Century Series which, for our purposes today at least, will be defined as the F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106, and maybe the F-110. You'll note that I didn't count the F-107 in that listing; I could have, but it was never operational and in my world isn't a true member of the club. You may disagree with me and it's fine if you do, because it doesn't matter very much once we (I) actually get on-topic!
Here's the deal, and the question that inevitably prompts it, straight off the discussion boards on those modeling sites: "I want to build a (pick the Century Series aircraft of your choice here) and I need to know if I should add ballast to the nose of my model." The question inevitably brings a bunch of answers and you can tell who's had issues in the past, who hasn't, and who's giving advice based on something they've never personally done themselves once you begin reading the replies. It's a valid question, however, and an important one, so an answer is required---fortunately, it's an answer that isn't all that hard to find!
Here's what you do, with a Century bird, or with anything else that sits on tricycle landing gear:
First and foremost, if the kit's manufacturer provides either ballast or, in some instances, information on how and where to put your own ballast in the model, you should follow their lead and do that. There's a reason for what they've done and you'll rue the day if you don't follow that advice!
Ok; that was pretty obvious. What if there's no ballast, no instructions to use ballast but you still aren't sure? That's an easy one too. Just tape all the big pieces of the model together so what you've got is an object that mostly resembles the completed airplane, find out where the main landing gear legs plug into the aircraft structure and, using a couple of the fingers on one of your hands placed at those landing gear mounts, hold the a airplane up (loosely but securely---if you drop it it isn't my fault!), and see how it balances. If it wants to tip towards the nose, you're Golden. If it wants to tip back towards the tail, you need to put ballast in the model, and if it sort of goes back-and-forth between the two, you want to err on the side of caution and use ballast as well. Further, if you end up actually having to add ballast, you'll want to place it as far toward in the nose of the model as you possibly can get it; that's a basic lesson in physics that will result in you needing less weight to do the job, which means less strain on your model's landing gear once the thing is finished and sitting proudly on your display shelf. (Sometimes, like with a P-38 or P-39, you'll still need a lot of ballast but Moment is your friend and placement really does help! Trust me on this one)
And NOW (taa-daa!), let's get to the point of this thing specifically regarding the Century Series. The F-100 is a teeterer and often wants to squat, so ballast is a very good idea for the Super Sabre regardless of variant. The F-105 may need it depending on what you plan on hanging under the wings so it's best to err on the side of caution and stuff a little weight up in the extreme nose. None of the others need it at all! How's that for simple?
What about if I hang a lot of stuff under the wings, you might well ask yourself? Won't that change things? The answer to that one is mostly no, with the caveats stated above regarding the F-100 and F-105. Voodoos and the Deltas definitely DON'T need ballast, not ever, nor do the Phantoms (F-110s). Any model of an F-107 will.
Here's today's lesson, then: If you aren't sure about how to resolve a modeling problem, and that's any modeling problem, try thinking it through for yourself before you commit to a course of action. Yes; it's far easier just to throw the question out on one of those internet boards and hope you'll get back a useful anwer or two (you probably will!), but that's not going to help you grow as a modeler, so look on it as more of a last-resort kind of thing. Get in the habit of trying to figure things out for yourself first. It may take a while, but your work will begin to improve and you'll grow as a modeler.
And that's what I have to say about that!
Some More Thoughts and a Few Corrections Regarding the "Hun"
It's true, so very true: Our last issue was devoted in its entirety to the North American F-100D and how to model it as it appeared in The Late SouthEast Asia War Games. Reader response has been great, but it was inevitable that a couple of tiny mistakes would creep into it and a couple of last-minute additions showed up as well, so we're going to address them today, albeit briefly!
In our last issue we stated that the interiors of the landing gear and speed brake wells were painted silver. While that's true for the doors for those areas, the interiors themselves were generally painted in a medium green color. Ben pointed that out, Doug seconded the motion, and I've corrected it here and will, in theory at least, go back and correct it in the article as well. Maybe.
That Pesky LWNAVS Duct
Photos of that PACAF Lightweight Navigation System duct are few and far between (just watch them start coming out of the woodwork once this gets published, though!) but Ben had a couple of photos in his collection and has provided them to us: