Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Modeler's Guide to the Monogram F-100D in Vietnam; A Special Issue of Replica in Scale


Overthinking the Problem

There's a mostly-finished Meng Fokker Triplane sitting on my display shelves now. The kit was gifted to me by my wife, who thought I ought to have one, and I decided that when it hit the workbench I would just build the darned model without trying to identify and correct every tiny thing that might or might not be wrong with it. For once that philosophy wasn't much of a leap of faith because of the kit's alleged birth at the hands of those guys in New Zealand, but it was still somewhat different from the norm around here.

The initial part of the drill, the interior, was pretty straightforward since my library included several substantial references dedicated to the F.1/Dr.Is and the office of the real airplane was a simple one anyway. A little stainless wire for the control cables and a little more for the crossbracing that existed in the tubular fuselage structure and the game was on. Careful painting and decal work (for the instrument faces) resulted in a decent cockpit which was a Good Thing because, although there isn't very much actually in that cockpit, every bit of it can be seen from above. Detail is our friend!

That other Great War bugaboo related to the interior, sortof, is the forward-firing gun installation, a drill not made any easier by all those cooling vents in the barrel shrouds on the "Spandaus" commonly found on German scouts of the era. I'll tell you all right now; I can roll a marble, I can roll a tire, and I can roll out a pretty mean biscuit, but I can't for the life of me roll one of those photo-etched barrel shrouds of the sort provided by Eduard, Meng, and the late and highly lamented Wingnut Wings and have it come out with any semblance whatsoever to a ventilated tube. I can, however, modify the kit gun of your choice with a Master Barrel set into a pretty effective replica of the aforementioned "Spandau", which was the path chosen for the Tripe.

Everything else on that kit pretty much flew together, with the only real glitches being provided courtesy of the not-quite-finished tooling apparently used to produce the kit, although it must be mentioned in Meng's defense that the cleanup required because of those glitches, something that would never have been allowed to happen with a "real" WNW offering, is absolutely No Big Deal in the real world unless you're just dead-set on thinking it's a genuine Wingnut Wings model, which it is not. That's all a matter of preference and perspective, of course, and is in point of fact another flavor of overthinking a problem, albeit in a different direction than the one we're going to discuss today. 

Here's the deal, and the point of our discussion today: Most of the airplanes used in the Great War had propellers made of laminated wood, a superior manufacturing process that put those spiffy "stripes", for want of a better term, in the propellers. It looks really cool and it pretty much defines the props of that era. It's also a son-of-a-gun to model correctly for most people, of which I could be considered to be one. 

Anyway, there are lots of different ways to achieve that faux laminated finish, and I'm pretty sure I've investigated each and every one of them, or at least I've investigated them if they've shown up on YouTube, Britmodeller, or with any of the other usual suspects. Some of those methods produced propellers that looked absolutely great, and some produced props that were somewhat less than that, but most of them shared one thing in common; they all involved multiple steps to get to the finished product. In my world that meant multiple ways for things to go significantly off the rails so I went looking for a way that wasn't necessarily any better than the ones that I was looking at but that was something I could actually do, being more than a little simple-minded about such things.

The process I ended up with was simple beyond belief. The test prop was painted in a flat wood color and allowed to dry for a couple of days after which the laminations were drawn on with an appropriately colored artist's pencil using period photographs as a guide, and that was followed up with very light brushing over the whole thing with Burnt Sienna oil paint and a clear coat of whatever it was I ended up using for that. The hard part was paying attention to those period photos and matching what I was seeing, on both faces and also in the area of the hub. A good figure painter could probably do the whole thing in oils and skip the pencils entirely but they were simple and they worked---for me.

Here's the point to be taken. There was a problem, one that's got a track record of being a little tough to solve, and I thought it through in a way that would work for me with the least possible complication and monkey-motion. The end result was a decent laminated propeller, and I've been practicing on others since all of the WNW kits, and therefore Meng's Triplane as well, contain multiples of that particular item. That leads us to the notion that Simple is GOOD and most of us can do simple most of the time, right?

Remember the KISS principle? I rest my case!

So You Want to Build An F-100D From the Vietnam War?

Maybe you do and maybe you don't, but I did, and I was serious enough about it that I even drug out an initial-release Monogram kit I'd started six or seven years ago and never gotten around to finishing and, by Golly, FINISHED IT! It was a good kit, just a little bit fussy in the way The Big M's jet kits often were; and an excellent starting point if you wanted to build yourself a model of North American Aviation's legendary "Hun". The completion of that kit caused me to drag out a whole bunch of resources that I hadn't used in quite a while (think "where did I file that" but liberally sprinkled with naughty words and you've got the idea...) but the end results were every bit as good as I hoped they'd be and I learned some things along the way. It's those Learned Things I'd like to share with you today, but let's set a parameter right off the bat---this piece isn't the end all and be all of F-100 modeling information but rather a look at the airplane in it's glory days, during the conflict in SouthEast Asia. No Thunderbirds, no ANG (even though they did fly the type in 'Nam), and no two-seaters (not yet, anyway), just the F-100D "over there", from 1965 til its end in-theater in 1971.

Let's get a couple of things out of the way before we get started, though. First, everything you see here will apply to any F-100D kit in any scale. I chose the Monogram kit because I usually build in 1/48th and I much prefer the offering from Morton Grove (I told you I was working with an old kit!) to Trumpeter's, but that's my choice and you're certainly welcome to your own in that regard! That takes care of kit selection, right? 

Next, we're going to jump right into Do Yourself a Big Favor territory and make a couple of suggestions. First, go visit Mister Google, or whomever your search engine of choice might be, and look for everything Ben Brown has published on the Internet regarding the F-100. He knows his stuff and what he's written---there's not that much, truth be known, but it's vital to the curriculum as some folks are wont to say---will save you a great deal of pain as you progress with your model. Once you've done that you can say a huge THANK YOU to Doug Barbier who, along with Ben, is the go-to guy on things relating to the "Hun" now that Dave Menard's gone. Finally, go back to revisit the aforementioned Mister Google and look for anything F-100-related that's got Joe Vincent's name on it. He was a "Hun" driver who drove it in anger back in The Bad Old Days, besides which he's a modeler and a writer too. All three of these guys are well worth taking the time to look up if you're so inclined and they have all contributed significantly to the HUN 101 primer you're about to read.

One more thing: North American Aviation, and the US Air Force, changed small but visible things on the F-100D about as often as most people change their socks and underwear, which means you almost HAVE to have a photograph of the airplane you want to model. Not a drawing or a painting, no matter how pretty those things might be, but an honest-to-goodness photograph. You gotta have it, GI; there's no other way to do this correctly because those changes really do exist but they're minute changes at best and photographs are your friend. The Devil's most assuredly in the details on this project!

Getting Started

First, you'll need to get a kit, and I have to stress we're dealing with the classic 1/48th scale Monogram offering only, at least in terms of what I built. I personally don't own a Trumpeter F-100 so none of what follows is intended for that kit, although the basics of what goes where will bleed over to any kit from anybody (which is, after all, the whole point of this article, because we're dealing with how the real airplane looked---this is most assuredly NOT a How I Built It exercise!). Ben Brown has written extensively on the Trumpeter offering if you feel the need to go that route. 

Next, you'll have to get right with what you want the model to be; that's particularly true if you've chosen the Monogram kit. It's an oldie, first released in 1980, and it's got raised panel lines (the horror!) and an interior that's simplified, in theory anyway, by contemporary standards. The intake trunk is nonexistant and the exhaust follows suit, which reminds me of all those kids who used to look into those places in the real jets on display at airshows way back in the '50s just to see what was in there. I personally don't do that with my models but you could. What I'm trying to say here is that you can make the modeling experience as simple or as complicated as you'd like, effort and aftermarket-wise. Just remember that a straight out-of-the-box build is going to result in a straight out-of-the-box finished model, although with Monogram's kit that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In that vein, a fair amount of aftermarket exists for the Monogram kit and you're welcome to use it should you feel the need, but you can get a decent model without without ever touching resin or photo-etch if you possess even minimal modeling skills. Doug Barbier, who's a significant contributor to this piece, is of the opinion that the kit's instrument panel and cockpit sidewalls are just fine and actually better than the existing aftermarket and I'm not going to dispute that, although the seat could definitely stand replacement. I personally didn't mess with either the intake or exhausts but let's keep in mind that I build for ME, and not for contests or even other people so my standards are my standards. Yours probably differ. 

The kit's surface detail is raised, and a lot of folks will condemn a model for that perceived failing. There are many ways to deal with the issue, ranging from doing nothing at all to sanding off everything and scribing in the panel lines. I've also seen effective results achieved by the simple act of sanding off the kit's raised lines and drawing new ones in the right places on the finished model with a fine pencil and a straight edge to put the panel lines where they're supposed to be. This actually works great on a camouflage-painted surface but, once again, that's your choice. 

One thing, or actually two, that will render your life easier with this kit and about which I'm just super-pedantic involves dealing with the flying surfaces. Monogram chose to split this kit's fuselage halves horizontally, which is a well thought-out way to deal with the fuselage spine and main landing gear bay, but those fuselage halves often warp and need a little TLC if you want them to fit properly, a feat not made any easier by the fact that the tailplanes come molded to the lower fuselage and the wings are connected to one another by a web, which means you're trapping them between the upper and lower fuselage halves as you assemble the model. On the face of things it's another brilliant design feature from the boys in Morton Grove but in reality it makes a warped fuselage, with all its attendant fit problems and a resultant need for gobs of sanding and filler material, almost inevitable. I get around the issue by cutting the web between the wings and then cutting the horizontal stabs off the fuselage. That makes aligning and building the fuselage a simple thing indeed and the wings can be added whenever you want to do that. Just be sure to cut the locating pins off the wing web (they're those little bumps you see next to the wings proper when you look at the top of that web) and figure out how you want to re-attach the stabs---that particular operation can range from a simple glued butt joint to pins and bearings; the choice is yours. 

The other thing of the two that will simplify your life, Monogram F-100-wise, is to try to find an old Morton Grove/Made in USA version of the kit. I'm talking the original issue in the white box here, and there's a reason for doing that. Some of the versions molded overseas have quite a bit of flash in really awkward places such as on the wing fences and transparencies. Yes; we can deal with the problem, but why would we want to do that when we can just side-step the whole mess? Save yourself a fair amount of personal angst and take the time to seek out the original-issue iteration of this one, Kit No 5416. Throw away the decals, which were marginal even when they were new, and keep everything else. You don't have to thank me...

Those are the major things you'll have to deal with. Everything else is a relatively simple matter of looking at photographs of the airplane you want to model and duplicating what you see there. The absolutes you'll have to deal with are modifying the drop tanks to the standard wartime 335-gallon variety (they're on each and every "Hun" flown in theater regardless of date) and scratch-building some simple RHAW gear if you're modeling a late jet, and as an afterthought, probably replacing the pitot boom too because the kit one is, shall we say "delicate" and you'll never get the mold lines out of it without breaking it. 

We Ought to Have Some Drawings

So that's where we're going to start out. Doug Barbier, in conjunction with the late Dave Menard, came up with a composite drawing several years ago that defined pretty much everything that could be on an F-100D during the period of the Vietnam War. We've taken that drawing and broken it down into a set of four separate ones, defining in a visual fashion the way the airplane looked in-theater from one significant period of operations to the next. We're not presenting them as any sort of locked-in-stone definition of the way the jet looked because there was always overlap between the time changes were initiated and the inevitable bleed-over from one phase to another, which is a somewhat confusing way of saying the drawings should be taken as a general guide and not a message from the mountain. You really need to be looking at photographs too; we'll be saying that over and over in this piece, and those photographs should be what defines your model.

Here's your basic silver-painted jet---this drawing defines the immediate pre- and early war phase of F-100D operations in Southeast Asia. It's a busy little drawing because it defines a lot of stuff and you need to be careful with it because it would be a rare aircraft indeed that had all of the various antennae in place all at the same time. The APW-11 antenna on the vertical tail, for example, was almost entirely gone by the time the airplane began combat operations. Note the UHF Comm antenna under the nose up behind the pitot boom; it won't stay there very long because it's sitting between and directly in front of the quartet of M39 cannon the aircraft is equipped with. This is not an especially good place for it to live, as will be learned within a very short period of time once combat begins in earnest.

You should also be on the lookout for the duct on the lower vertical stabilizer leading edge, down by and slightly above the "kink" in the tail, and its affiliated fiberglass panel on the left side of the undersurfaces back near the exhaust. These things signify that the jet was fitted with the Lightweight Navigation System, a PACAF mod dictated by the large areas of water they operated over pre-war. The panel for the LWNAVS is well-defined but the duct is another story entirely, often being hand-formed at the squadron maintenance level early on. If the duct is there the panel will be there too; if it's not, there will be no fiberglass panel. Finally, the LWNAVS was a PACAF mod only and once the war got going F-100s were coming into theater from just about everywhere, which means that not all airplanes had it. Let's all say it together: Look at the photographs to be sure of the jet you're modeling! There's a listing of serial numbers around here someplace, right by the ones that define which aircraft were Bullpup capable, that will help you out, nav system-wise.

Here's the jet as it normally appeared during 1966 and 67, during the early days of camouflaged aircraft. The grey fin tip will normally be overpainted and the antenna fit is modest indeed, although the one for Bullpup might still be there. This is about as basic as things ever got, but an increasingly sophisticated enemy ensured that changes to the essential simplicity of the F-100D would be required.

This drawing defines the way the airplane generally looked during the late-1966 through 1968 time period, which covers the appearance of tail codes on the jet. There's still no RHAW gear on the airplane but the TACAN antennas are moving around a bit, as is the UHF Comm antenna. That black antenna cover just in front of the RAT exhaust cover could be overpainted with no adverse consequences and begins to show up overpainted with green more and more frequently.

Finally, here's the jet in its late-war configuration, to include the AN25/26 RHAW gear under the nose and on the tail and accompanied by dorsal and ventral warning beacons. Those RHAW antennae are distinct and pretty much have to be on a late aircraft and, as of this date at least, nobody in the wonderful world of aftermarket offer them for sale. Fortunately they're easy enough to make from scratch, as we'll discuss later.

Here's a drawing shamefully borrowed from one of the many F-100 manuals to define what those antennas were called by the Air Force.    Doug Barbier Collection

And finally, here's the F-100 page from my 19 January, 1967 edition of T.O. 1-1-4 Exterior Finishes, Insignia and Markings Applicable to Aircraft and Missiles. It's early enough to define the Air Force's idea of how the jet should be painted throughout the war, but keep in mind that the drawing didn't always reflect reality. Remember that part about having a photograph of the airplane you want to model?    Friddell Collection

That's it for the drawings but remember that they're a guide, not an absolute! Some things will only show up in photographs; as an example of this, Dave Menard (Mister F-100 for those of you who didn't know him) once related to Doug that the horizontal stabilizers weren't handed and could be swapped from side to side during maintenance. It wasn't done often but it did happen, which resulted in at least a couple of cases in "Huns" configured with the camouflage greens and tan facing downwards on one side, while the nominal undersurface light grey was facing upwards on the other. This is definitely a case of it-was-done-but-find-a-picture-to-prove-it-on-your-model, but it does make the point. (The mind wanders to a contest table and the know-it-all judge of your choice...)

Let's Look At Some Pictures

Right, then! You've got your kit, you've got A Plan for it, you've looked at the drawings, and you're ready to rip! Let's take a look at some annotated photographs that might point you in the right direction, Super Sabre-wise:

First, here's a benchmark of sorts to establish what we're going to be starting from. 55-3568 was an F-100D-55-NA in service with the 8th TFW at Osan back in 1959, some five years prior to the beginning of the Vietnam War, but this photo shows the "Hun" in its pre-war/early-war condition and is definitely worth a look. Note how relatively clean the airplane is, without a whole lot of anything to mar the smooth lines of the jet. Pay particular attention to the tip of the vertical tail because that APW-11 antenna will go away pre-war and you'd be truly hard-pressed to find an airplane with it installed by 1964. In the same vein, this airplane doesn't appear to have a field arrestment hook fitted and it's configured for the SIOP mission too; that's a Mk-7 (on a dedicated pylon) on the middle station of the left wing where we'd expect to see a gas bag. The stores on this airplane are a pair of 200-gallon tanks on the inboard stations, a 450-gallon bag on the starboard mid station in conjunction with that nasty blivet that's hanging off the port mid, and no outboard pylons. The jet is heading off to sit on the alert pad for a few hours in wait for a call that thankfully never came.   Bob Dorr via Sullivan Collection

Here's a classic shot we've all seen a hundred times before (and yes; that pun was intentional!) of an F-100D-85-NH sitting on the ramp at Bien Hoa during the summer of 1965. There are three things of significance here from a modeler's standpoint: First, the jet is clean, with nothing visible in the way of external antennas. Second, it's painted in overall silver lacquer, the result of participation in Operation Lookalike. Finally, it's about to be loaded with a bomb that's not at all what you think it is. Conventional wisdom would define that particular weapon as an M117, although that specific bomb had yet to put in an appearance with the F-100s in Vietnam. Instead, we're looking at an AN/M65A1 1,000lb general purpose bomb left-over from the Second World War, or maybe the Korean fracas, that's wearing a streamlined tail section. That's one of those things that's almost a constant, although we don't like saying "never" or "always" around here, but a silver "Hun" in 1965 is 99.99% certain to be lugging around left-over WW2 bombs and nothing newer in the Big Iron Lump Go Boom department. Oh, and check out those jazzy crew ladders too; they're normally yellow with silver rungs but those are tarted up a bit. The devil's in the details!   Barbier Collection

Here's our final Early Bird for today; 55-3712 "Pahodee Tiger" from the 416th TFS at DaNang in 1965. We're beginning to see antennas sprouting on the airplane now, including that slanty-looking one for guiding the AGM-12 Bullpup missile. We mention that one specifically because any airplane carrying the Bullpup has to be configured for it and that configuration includes a guidance antenna. There's a list of "Huns", by serial number, that could actually carry the weapon appended to this piece as a general guide but Modeler Beware! Just because the missile came with your kit doesn't mean the airplane you're modeling could necessarily carry it! One more thing, and this one's in the What a Blessing category: The top of that U.S. AIR FORCE lettering keys off a panel line on the real airplane, making alignment of that particular decal a piece of cake for the modeler! Is that convenient or what?    Don Kilgus via Don Jay Collection

The Air Force had been experimenting with camouflage in Southeast Asia as early as 1964 and by mid-1965 airplanes painted in the now-classic SEA Scheme were beginning to appear. This jet is a fine example of one of those early birds, and there's a lot to discuss here. First off are the antenna blades we can see, which are typical for the 1965-66 time frame, as well as the camera installation visible just aft of the crew ladder; this was on the left side only if installed. The inboard and outboard weapons pylons are in natural metal (sometimes overpainted with silver lacquer) throughout most of the war. although the outboard ones sometimes show up painted in 36622 Grey towards the end of the "Hun's" involvement there. The landing gear struts, and inner gear doors were painted silver throughout the war although the occasional 36622 nose wheel will pop up from time to time; wheel wells and speed brake wells were usually medium green. That triangular red doo-hickey on the main wheels is part of the airplane's anti-skid braking system but is often left in silver paint, while the black-painted panel immediately aft of the canopy was frequently overpainted as the war progressed. SPECIAL NOTE: We discovered a typo on the image after it was too late to easily do anything about it: the small blade antenna we're identifying as a TACAN antenna was actually an IFF antenna. Please note accordingly!    Denny Smith

56-3191, an F-100D-75-NA from the 309th TFS/31st TFW, was undergoing preflight prior to a non-combat mission when this image was taken on 25 November, 1967. A couple of things are of interest in this shot. First, the horizontal stabilizers were normally fixed in the full-down position as is well-illustrated here, which aided the crew chief while servicing the drogue chute. They're almost always like that and should be depicted that way on your model. Next is the suite of items at the aft top of the vertical stabilizer. There's no RHAW antenna on this airplane; that's not going to come along for another year or so, but the anti-static wick, position lights, and fuel drain mast were always there from the first days of the war until the last, as were a set of anti-static wicks way out on the aft corners of the wingtips. Silver or camouflaged, early or late; those things were always there. This specific airplane is carrying a markings anomaly as well; a "dirty" fuselage national insignia. Was it really dirty or deliberately toned down? We don't know, but it adds a nice touch to an otherwise plain jet.     Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Another classic shot, this time of a pair of D-models from the 309th TFS heading for some mischief during the 1969 time frame. Take a look at the anti-static wicks on the wingtips and vertical tail, and at that silver inboard pylon. On the F-100D the drop tanks were attached to the pylons rather than being separate components and it was normal to see them painted the same color as the tank. The inboards and outboards were a different matter entirely in that they started out in natural metal or silver lacquer and mostly stayed that way throughout the war, with very few exceptions. Note also the thin line of camouflage green on the top of the refueling probe.   Friddell Collection

This marvelous image shows us a whole lot that's of value to the scale modeler. Most of the details are annotated on the photo but there are a couple of things that are worth discussing, and they're all back there on the tail. First, note that duct for the LWNAVS up just above the kink in the fin. It's that home-grown duct we were discussing earlier and this isn't the only way they looked, but it's doubtful you'll find a better shot of it! Next is the way the paint has burned off the aft fuselage, over the hot section. Modelers like to do this area in vibrant purples and blues over natural metal and sometimes it really did look like that, but what you're seeing here is far more common, with the metal under the paint showing up as a straw sort of color. You'll also want to pay attention to the very distinct way the paint burns off that metal. This photo defines the colors of the afterburner "petals" as well.

Finally, take a look at those segmented stainless steel "fingers" that run top-to-bottom just in front of what most modelers call the afterburner can. They cover up the cable for the drogue chute, which is attached to the base of the fin, runs under those "fingers", and ends up below the tail where it finally attaches to the parachute. It's only on the left side of the airplane and that's how it looks most of the time.    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

Here's the entire reason the back end of the F-100, any F-100, looks the way it does---that big honkin' afterburner generated a lot of heat that ended up being transferred to the aircraft's skin.  Also of interest in this shot are the way the late inner landing gear doors are articulated to clear anything that might have been on the centerline weapons pylon that wasn't used in Vietnam. They're found in conjunction with the notched-out speed brake that was also modified to clear objects hung off the centerline of aircraft performing the SIOP mission, both of which are provided on the Monogram kit. Take a look at the spine of the forward fuselage too; that panel that's tipped up is actually the exhaust cover for the Ram Air Turbine and would only have been deployed in an in-flight emergency involving a total loss of engine power or, as seen here, during maintenance.    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

This is what we might describe as a dirty airplane but it's a wonderful shot for two reasons. First, it shows that LWNAVS antenna cover that's on the rear fuselage in a clear and concise manner and, secondly, it shows off the way the gun blast residue stains the fuselage of an F-100---modelers take note, because almost all of the staining is beside or directly in front of the gun ports, not streaming out behind them! (That's a normal thing on almost any airplane that shoots guns, by the way, but it's also a discussion for another day.)    Friddell Collection

Those single-seat regular USAF "Huns" still serving in the 1970-71 time frame were all equipped with RHAW, which means a little bit of scratch-building on the modeler's part. This photo is unfortunately incomplete but it does a good job of showing the afterburner section plus the stuff hanging off the trailing edge of the vertical stab and the deployed RAT exhaust cover. This airplane is representative of a late F-100D but keep in mind that it would have had a RHAW fairing on the nose too.    Friddell Collection

The 416th TFS got into the game early, back in the days of the silver "Huns", and stayed almost until the end. "The Blue Fox" was assigned to the squadron during that late period and once again displays all the hallmarks of a RHAW bird. The squadron color was blue, hence the name on the nose and the blue/trimmed white fin tip. Of particular interest in this shot are the fully-deployed inner main landing gear doors and speedbrake; those doors might or might not have been deployed but it was a relative rarity to see the speedboard dropped when the airplane was on the ground.

So we've seen the drawings and we've looked at some photographs. Now, let's look at some lists that make sense of the whole thing!

Aircraft With the Lightweight Navigation System (LWNAVS) by Block and Serial Number

As previously mentioned, this was a modification unique to a number of the aircraft assigned to PACAF during the late 1950s and early 1960s and which can be identified by a duct just above the kink in the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and a fiberglass panel on the left side of the aft fuselage. The mod was apparently done at the squadron or possibly depot level in the Pacific and it seems that no two ducts were 100% alike, although the fiberglass panels were. Doug Barbier spent quite a bit of time tracking down those airframes equipped with the system and has compiled a listing of the airplanes that had the mod. Please note that he isn't entirely certain of its completeness so we aren't either, but it's a significant start and is most assuredly more information than we had before! 

55-2795, 2837, 2845, 2849, 2853, 2855/56, 2861.

55-2865, 2870, 2878-79, 2881, 2883, 2889, 2892, 2901, 2903/04/05.


55-3502, 3508, 3512, 3516, 3518, 3521/22, 3525, 3528, 3530, 3532, 3534/35, 3541, 3543, 3545, 3549/50, 3553, 3555, 3558/59/60, 3562, 3564, 3566, 3568/69/70, 3572/73/74, 3576, 3580/81/82, 3585/86/87, 3589/90/91/92/93, 3595, 3598, 3600/01.

55-3602/03/04, 3608, 3611, 3613, 3615, 3618/19/20, 3622/24, 3625, 3628, 3630/31/32, 3634, 3639/40/41/42, 3647, 3650, 3653.

55-3740, 3745, 3762, 3765/66, 3780, 3782, 3784/85, 3793, 3803/04, 3806, 3809, 3811/12/13/14.


56-3259, 3263/64/65/66/67, 3269/70, 3272/73, 3275/76/77/78/79/80, 3282/83, 3285/86/87, 3320, 3324, 3326/27/28/29/30/31/32/33/34/35/36, 3338/39/40/41, 3343, 3345/46.

Aircraft with -NA block numbers were built in Los Angeles while those carrying -NH block numbers were built in Columbus. You probably already knew that but we wanted to be sure...

AGM-12 Bullpup Compatible Aircraft by Serial Number

You would think the AGM-12 Bullpup was the most important air-to-ground missile ever fielded by American military aviation when you see how many kits feature it, but in point of fact its combat history was less than stellar, short in duration, and relatively few aircraft were ever modified with the command guidance equipment necessary for its employment. As far as we know there is no previously published list of which Vietnam War F-100Ds were actually Bullpup capable before this one; Doug spent quite a bit of time auditing photographs, looking for aircraft configured with the guidance antenna under the nose or with the missile hanging off a pylon, and came up with the following list. We make no claim as to its completeness but, as with the list of LWNAVS airframes, it's a start. Just remember when you're looking at photographs of "Huns" from the war years; no guidance antenna equals no capability to employ the missile.

Known Bullpup-Capable F-100Ds by Serial Number, various Block Numbers:

55-2814, 2818, 2821, 2841, 2894, 2903, 3548/49, 3559, 3569, 3603/04, 3622/23, 3655, 3363, 3366, 3376, 3681, 3689, 3695, 3717, 3739, 3774, 3791, 3797, 3884, 3889, 

56-2912, 2916, 2928, 2944, 2963, 2979, 2981, 2986, 2989, 2999, 3000, 3011, 3033, 3037, 3054/55, 3063, 3120, 3122, 3162, 3168, 3179, 3239, 3245, 3264/65, 3285, 3305, 3318/19, 3329, 3333, 3335, 3340, 3374, 3379, 3383, 3415, 3425, 3437, 3448, 3462, 3923

Many thanks to Doug for his patience and fortitude looking at all those photographs to assemble this provisional list!

F-100D Units Operating in Southeast Asia 1965-71

Although the F-100 was a critical component of Air Force operations during the war in Vietnam there were never many units assigned to the theater. Here's a brief list, possibly incomplete, of the regular USAF units we know to have been there at one time or another. Remember that this list accompanies an article that's concerned only with the F-100D, at least for now.

3rd TFW at BienHoa AB, Nov '65-Jun '66

510th TFS (CE)
531st TFS (CP)

31st TFW at TuyHoa AB Dec '66- Fall '70

306th TFS (SD)
308th TFS (SE, later SM)
309th TFS (SS)
355th TFS (SP)
416th TFS (SE)

35th TFW at PhanRang AB Oct '66-Spring '71

352nd TFS (VM)
355th TFS (VS)
614th TFS (VP)
615th TFS (VZ)

37th TFW at PhuCat AB Spring '67-Spring '69

355th TFS (HP)
416th TFS (HE)
612th TFS (HS)

Note that this listing does not break out the squadrons by month/year, nor does it detail the way the squadrons jumped around from wing to wing and base to base. The 355th and 416th were both assigned to multiple wings (the 31st and 35th TFWs) during their time in-country. This is a basic listing and we'd like to learn more if you have additional information. Please send any corrections to   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   should you feel so inlined.

Early Deployments to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, The Silver Jets

In the spirit of a gift that keeps on giving, Doug continues to come up with things we really need to know about the "Hun" over there. Here's a brief description of the deployment of those silver F-100Ds to the theater:

First deployment were 6x a/c from the  510th TFS from Clark AB RP, to Don Muang A/P Bangkok Thailand 16 Apr 1961 under "Operation Bell Tone", ostensibly to provide air defense for the Thai capital.

18x Squadron sized deployments to Thailand starting 18 May 1962 under "Operation Saw Buck" rotational exercises.  First units from Cannon and England AFB's.

After a USN RF-8 Crusader was shot down over Laos on 22 May 1964, 8x F-100D from the 615th TFS (401 TFW England AFB, LA) deployed to Da Nang AB, RVN with  Col. George Laven in command.  The first F-100 strike against an enemy in-theater was flown on 9 June 1964 against targets in the Plaines des Jarres, Laos.  

An additional 8x F-100D from the 615th  TFS deployed to Da Nang  after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964.  They flew both MIGCAP escort missions with the F-105 and ground attack missions into Laos.  In addition, two squadrons deployed from Cannon AFB to South Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  1 ea from the 27th and 474th TFW  (effectively at least 3 Hun squadrons in RVN then)

First combat F-100D loss was a/c 56-3085, shot down on 18 Aug 1964 in Laos.

Starting 14 December 1964, Barrel Roll sorties against NVA in Laos.  
During the Flaming Dart against NV targets, Huns continued to act as MIGCAP
Operation Rolling Thunder in Mar 1965 - MIGCAP.  4 April 1965, Cpt Don Kilgus (416th TFS) claimed a MIG-17 kill. This was the only time that the F-100's tangled with MIG's. Shortly after that, ground attack south of N. Vietnam only

Aircraft from the 416th TFS Silver Knights deployed to Clark, then to Da Nang in March 1965, then to Bien Hoa mid-June. Nov 1965 Than Son Nhut, then Phu Cat in Apr 1967 and Tuy Hoa in May 1969

481st TFS "Crusaders" from 27 TFW  Cannon AFB deployed to RVN under "Operation Two Buck 16" - 16th TDY deployment of F-100s to RVN-  on 12 Jun 65. 18x a/c.   LTC Harold Comstock CC.  Arrived Tan Son Nhut (just outside Saigon) on 21 June 1965 - the first jet tactical fighter unit to be based there.  Departed back to CONUS by 27 NOV 1965 but left the jets behind for other units to use!!  Most, if not all jets camouflaged by then.  

415th TFS from 3 TFW, England AFB, LA replaced 481st, supposedly on a permanent basis.  Jets arrived already camouflaged c. mid Nov 1965.  

429 TFS  Bien Hoa  TDY July-Nov 1965  from 474 TFW Cannon AFB, NM

Early TDY's came from PACAF tasked TAC wings or PACAF based wings - Cannon, England, Clark and Misawa known.

The Way They Actually Looked

We're going to make a leap of faith and presume that anyone who's reading this piece is doing it because they want to build a scale model of the F-100D during its time in The SouthEast Asia War Games. Close examination of a great many photographs leads us to several conclusions, which we'd like to share with you.

First, it's incredibly easy to over-weather a model of the F-100D as used in Vietnam. Yes; some were heavily used and yes; they got weather-beaten and heavily stained---SOMETIMES---but more often than not they were kept in relatively decent condition with minimal chipping and overall weathering. If you forced us to a conclusion we'd have to say that the early camouflaged birds, pre-tailcode (1968) were the dirty birds of the family, generally speaking. On the other hand, the bellies of any of the jets could get a little nasty, a condition not helped at all by the white-ish 36622 paint under there after camouflage started being applied, but mostly they looked reasonably well kept. That means---are you ready---that you should look at photographs of airplanes from the unit and time period you're interested in before you begin chipping and staining things, and then weather your model appropriately.

Then there's that darned aft fuselage. The skin was in close proximity to the afterburner that lived back there and paint didn't stay on that area for very long at all, but once again you need to key what you're doing to photographs of the real thing. It's probably better to aim for a modest  and convincing burnt paint over stained metal look rather than trying to duplicate entire panels in pretty irridescent colors. That discoloring certainly happened on the "Hun" and you can see vivid examples of it on airplanes that started out unpainted in the pre-war days, back in the '50s and early '60s, but even then you're more likely to see tannish-colored staining rather than the shimmering purples or blues we so often find on scale models. 

All of these airplanes will be carrying 335-gallon drop tanks and will have a bent refuelling probe, and they'll all have the "band-aid" reenforcement straps on the wings that live up by the fuselage, just like Monogram gave us in their kit.

By now you've probably figured out that what we're trying to say here is simple: It's easy to look, but sometimes it's hard to see what you're looking at. Photographs are your friend if you've got the sense to use them, but we also know that not everyone has accesses to photographic resources so Doug Barbier came up with a couple of easy rules to define what an F-100D model ought to look like during those different time periods, and they're well-worth sharing:

Early war, in silver paint: Most unit markings are small and on the vertical stab (most of them...), with mission markers and occasional nose art. There won't be a whole lot in the way of antennas but the guidance antenna for Bullpup could be seen on some jets well into 1967. In terms of ordnance, the jets might be carrying AIM-9s on those goofy "Y" launchers, or old (WW2 and Korean War leftovers) bombs, or more contemporary napalm, rocket pods, or SUU-7 cluster bomb dispensers.

The early camouflaged jets (prior to the beginning of tail codes in 1966) are pretty much the same, antenna-wise, as their silver predecessors. Low-drag bombs (the Mk series) are coming on line in both low and high-drag configurations and that  faux-ubiquitous M117 that everyone mistakenly puts on their early F-100 models is finally making its appearance. Napalm cans, rocket pods, and CBU launchers are still distinct possibilities.

By 1967-68 new antennae are evident here and there. RHAW gear is possible after 1968 and usually evident after 1970, and post-1968 aircraft in some wings employ TERs on the two inboard wing stations---go back a couple of issues for Joe Vincent's photographic overage of the racks actually fitted to wartime "Huns" and the loads they carried. 

Let's Be a Little More Specific

Doug Barbier has been studying the "Hun" in Southeast Asia for a couple of decades now, and has kindly provided this addendum to us:

AGM-12B Bullpup  {modifications complete by late 1959,  1st squadron not operational until Dec 1960, only 4 squadrons operational by June 1961 and only approximately 200 a/c actually received it}  Out of service by 1966 and guidance antenna & joystick removed by 1967.

Small trapezoidal antenna above intake lip. some by c.1959, but many not until 1966.

Buzz numbers removed from fuselage of all silver F-100s starting by mid-1965, possibly as early as  late 1964.  Finished by early 1966.  481st TFS was in the process of removing them from their jets in RVN during mid-to-late 1965.

Camouflage paint - started by fall 1965, all completed by mid 1966.  Most initial paint jobs carried out by unit painters using fax guidance and were therefore highly individual.  Most aft fuselage hot sections were initially painted, but since the paint burned off rapidly, this practice was quickly discontinued.

Aircraft serial numbers & USAF markings went to 6" high letters & numbers on the fin.  Initially any combination of white/white, white/black, black/white or white/white could be seen (painters choice) but were later standardized to black USAF over black serial number.  Prior to adoption of camouflage paint, the serial number on the tail was painted in black 12" tall numbers and the "U. S. AIR FORCE" lettering on the forward fuselage was painted in Insignia Blue (by T.O. at least) using 15" tall letters.  Star and bar markings prior to camouflage were 25" dia on the fuselage sides and 35" dia stars on the lower right wing and upper left wing.  After camouflage, 15" diameter stars were generally carried in all positions.

Small trapezoidal antenna below the windshield / cockpit area - added c.1966.

UHF blade antenna below forward fuselage ahead of gun muzzles - added c.1966 but relocated to fuselage spine by 1968 due to frequent breakage.

AN/APR-25(V)/26 RHAW fairings added underneath intake lip and on aft face of vertical fin above fuel dump c.1967-68.

Combat documentation camera capability added starting c.1968.

Band aids on bottom of wing - at the fuselage joint and scab patches on upper fuselage - temporary mods added starting late 1967, replaced by major depot mods  possibly stretching through 1970.

Unit Tail codes - added to combat jets in SEA starting c. 1968.     

Rotating anti-collision beacon on top & bottom of fuselage added c.1969.  The lower recognition light was moved forward when the bottom beacon was added in the original location of the recognition light.

Some a/c had a floodlight under a teardrop shaped housing on the wing, inside of the fence added c.1969.

Note:  The small trapezoidal antennas mounted all over the aircraft varied in function and location over time. For example, the F-100 Dash-1 simply calls some of them "identification radar" antennas and does not differentiate between radar beacon nor IFF/SIF usage. The best way from a modeling viewpoint is to simply look at photo's showing where they were located at a particular time on a particular jet and add or delete them as necessary.

Weapons Used By the F-100D in SEA

This was a topic that was slated for another issue but Doug performed that miracle we all participate in from time to time (or at least those of us who research and write do!) and Found Some Files He Thought He'd Lost. As it happens that's a very good thing for Doug and a great one for us so, without further ado:

There are two very important things to remember about weapons carriage that modelers (and model manufacturers) are forever getting wrong.  The first is that just because the aircraft was cleared to haul something doesn’t mean that it ever actually DID it in the real world.  The second is that armament is not simply hung haphazardly.  Armament is chosen for a particular type of target and can only be hung on stations that have been tested and approved to carry that particular store. You can’t just hang anything you want anywhere you want.  You’re into fantasy modeling at that point & if you’re going to take that much time & effort to build a great model, you may as well get the stores right as well.

For example, if you were fragged to attack an area target in the Mekong Delta, unfinned nape would be the weapon of choice because it tumbles after release and covers a wider area on impact. If a target is below the jungle canopy, finned nape is the only way to go because they go in straight and can penetrate the trees before exploding.  Likewise, the "daisy cutter" fuse extenders on the Mk-82 bombs had a purpose---they caused the bomb to explode higher and spread shrapnel farther, making them a good antipersonnel weapon, while the normal version was better to blow up targets such as buildings and trucks, so there are many combinations of weapons that you would simply never see together on the same jet.  There are roughly a dozen full pages in the 1966 pilot’s Dash-1 manual dedicated to what can be hung and where on the F-100D, and I’ll try to simplify them shortly.

Next, which way do the fins go?   There are two ways that any finned weapon can be hung on a mounting; either with a “+” (plus) configuration or an “x” (X) configuration when referenced to the ground.  The Sidewinders on an F-100D were in a “+” configuration.  Note that this is extremely unusual and virtually every other Sidewinder-capable jet carried them in an “X” configuration.  All other conventional stores and the 275/335 gal tanks on an F-100 had the fins in an “X” configuration.  Finally conventional weapons were nearly always loaded symmetrically, that is the same type weapon on the same station locations relative to each other (outboard & outboard, inboard & inboard, etc.).  

 One final item before I get off my podium here: ALL published photos of early SEA "Huns" carrying so-called “750” pound bombs are captioned incorrectly.  Even though they were commonly called ‘750’s’, they weren’t.  The M-117 was the first true 750 lb bomb in the U.S. inventory and it didn’t show up until later in the game.  Jets in those early deployments, during the Silver Days back in 1964 and 1965, were hauling around leftover WW2 era AN/M65A-1 1000 lb bombs with conical fins replacing the old WW2 box fins.  They were also using leftover Korean war vintage fuses in them, which resulted in a high level of ‘dud’ bombs.  And, for a while, there were so few of them available that many times a jet would launch on a mission with only two bombs loaded.  The way to tell which bomb is actually being used is to look at the noses. If there were lots of thin yellow stripes, if there were stripes on the aft or mid section of the bomb, if there weren’t any stripes at all, or if it just looked like it had been sitting around weathering in the open for a couple of decades, it was the old M65 (or an M64 – the 500lb version, which was also used early on).  The later 750 lb M-117 both looked a lot newer (fresh paint & no weathering) and had only one 2” wide yellow stripe around the body of the bomb, located 3"behind the nose.  The newer Mk-8X & M-117  series of bombs did not start dribbling into theater until mid to late 1965 and did not become common until 1966-67 due to expenditures exceeding production rates of the new bombs - there really WAS a bomb shortage.

Given the complexity of the discussion, I'll try to simplify things for us from a basic modeler's perspective. During the conflict in SEA, the standard configuration for F-100D's was a NAA Type I pylon on the inboard wing stations, 335 gallon external tanks on the intermediate points, and a NAA Type III pylon on the outer wing stations.  I should mention here that the fuel tanks were integral (one fixed piece) with their pylons and that the pylon was aerodynamically shaped on the leading portion to ensure that the tanks went away from the jet if they were jettisoned, instead of into it.  Because of this design feature no truly accurate F-100 pylons for the middle stations exist in plastic or resin.  

 For most of the war, weapons pylons were left in natural metal and carried a multitude of colored stenciling.  The pylons also had unique streamlined "fairings" on the lower sides between the two suspension lugs.  As the war progressed, those fairings were cut back in the middle - increasing the drag but making it easier to rapidly hang weapons from them.  Some times the pylons were painted during this modification and in that case, the stenciling was minimal or nonexistent.

Some munitions could only be loaded on the outboard wing stations.  Examples include the SUU-7 CBU tanks and SUU-25 Flare dispensers.  And if you saw a napalm tank loaded on an F-100, it was virtually certain to be a 750 lb variety, either the BLU-1B or the welded case BLU-27.  Both finned and unfinned versions were used but generally not mixed on the same aircraft.

 Prior to the arrival of the F-4 Phantoms, F-100D's were used on MIGCAP missions, escorting F-105's over North Vietnam.  For those missions, the very unique NAA Type IX integrated AIM-9B pylon/launchers were carried in place of the Type I's on the inboard wing stations.  From the front, these looked like handed, inverted "Vee's" and each carried two of the early Sidewinder missiles.  No pylons were hung on the outboard wing stations but the two 335 gallon external fuel tanks were carried.  All these jets were in the silver lacquer paint and not camouflaged.

Late in 1967, many of the jets were modified to be able to load Triple Ejector Racks (TER's) on the inboard pylon.  While this did increase the amount of munitions the Hun could carry, it came with additional restrictions on what could be loaded.  But by the time the TER's became available in quantity in SEA, the end was near. If you choose to use them, remember that they could only be loaded on the inboard pylons and only one type of weapon could be loaded - no mixing was allowed.  Acceptable munitions loads were restricted to 3x Mk-81 (rare) or Mk-82 (common) bombs or 2x unfinned nape cans on the outer stations ONLY.
SEA Combat Loadouts - Changes over Time

The ordnance carried by the F-100D in SEA varied greatly over the years that the "Hun" was at war.  Fuel tanks were always carried on the mid-wing stations and neither the 200 gal inboard nor 450 gal ferry tanks were seen in combat and the inboard Type I pylons were always in place except for early war MIGCAP missions and the Type IX pylons replaced them because of the perceived need for an air-to-air weapon, or for the 13 odd sorties where the 481st TFS launched Bullpup missiles from Type X AGM-12-specific inboard pylons.
For attacking ground targets in 1964, leftover WW2 and Korean era munitions were the only things available. The preferred weapon was the 1,000lb M-65 but when those couldn't be had, the 500 lb M64 versions were loaded.  

Unfinned napalm was loaded for open country while finned napalm containers were used if they had to be dropped through the jungle canopy.  

"Hard" targets in Laos and Cambodia called for 4x M-65's, while "Soft" targets within S. Vietnam, either an M-65 or M-64 inboard with napalm, rockets of SUU-7 CBU (ALWAYS loaded outboard) was common.  Occasionally, late in the war, CBU-49 was used if it was available.

Other than a few SUU-7/A pods there were no CBU’s available until mid to late 1965 and that’s about the time the new generation Mk-82 series 500 lb GP bombs and M-117 750 lb GP bombs – both in the slick & retarded (HD or ‘snakeye’) version - started to trickle in as well.

During early 1965, “In Country” loads were frequently 2x LAU-3 rocket pods on the O/B pylons and 2x M65 on the I/B pylons.  A 4x M65 configuration was frequently seen, as was napalm I/B and the M65 O/B – or vice versa. As an example, between June and November 1965, the 481st TFS (which was TDY to S. Vietnam from Cannon AFB, NM) expended  3,829 “750” bombs (virtually all of which were the old M65 variety), 1,681 500 lb bombs (again, virtually all being WW2 vintage M64’s), 155 Mk-82 ‘Snakeye’ retarded bombs, 2,952 napalm canisters, 50 LAU-3 rocket pods (that is only 25 jets worth),  646 SUU-7 CBU canisters and 25 AGM-12B Bullpups, (13 missions worth total) in addition to countless rounds of 20mm.  Notice that there were lots & lots of napalm & M65’s, fewer 500 pounders and virtually no LAU-3’s or Snake used here. And, if you don’t see it on this list, it never got hung on a Hun in Vietnam in 1964 or 1965 – which was the ‘silver jet’ era.

By late 1966 the old WW2 era bombs were gone, the new munitions were common and the Hun was concentrating on “In Country” missions as the more capable  F-4’s and F-105’s took on the dangerous missions up north.  As a direct result of the mission change, the combat loads changed as well.  

Radar guided, medium altitude “Skyspot” bombing missions generally used 4x 
MK-82’s with fuze extenders, while Defense Suppression missions against AAA guns used either CBU-2A or LUA-3 rockets. At this point, “Hard” Targets in Laos and Cambodia rated 4x M-117 ‘slicks’ and the “Soft” targets in the south could be virtually any mix of GP bombs and Napalm, but   
 were initially 750 Lb M-117 slicks and 750 lb Napalm, or 500 Lb Snake and Napalm.

By 1968 the “fighter pilots friend” –“snake and nape” – became the most common load.  Different Wings tended to load these in different locations, so you’ll have to check photos to be certain what your own model should have, but the most common load was a single Mk-82HD inboard with napalm outboard, per wing.  However, the 31st TFW seemed to prefer things the other way around.  Other common loads would have been 4x Mk-82 HD or slicks,  M-117s I/B and nape or LAU-3 rocket launchers O/B.  Nape I/B and SUU-7 O/B was seen from 1967 to 1971.  In 1971, right at the end of the Hun’s combat life in Vietnam, one aircraft in a section loaded with 4x Nape and a wingman loaded with 4x Mk-82 Snakes became common. 

Munitions Colors,  Generally Speaking                                                

SUU-7 CBU canisters were painted white in 1964-65 but then switched to olive drab by mid-late 1967 or so.

LAU-3/A Rocket pods were either gloss white (esp early) or olive drab and may have had a red dot on the nose.  They virtually always had the aerodynamic nose and tail fairings in place.

Napalm containers (750 lb standard) were almost invarably natural metal and may or may not have    carried a 2” wide red stripe near the nose.

M64 & M65 bombs were VERY weathered WW2 olive drab shades and had 3 or 4 thin yellow stripes around either the nose, the tail, or both. They were mated to newer conical fin assemblies (vs the old WW2 ‘box fins’) that were generally a darker shade of olive drab, since they were newer.

Mk-82 & Mk-117 bombs were (fresh) olive drab and had a 2” wide yellow stripe 3” behind the nose of the bomb.

AIM-9B "Sidewinder" missiles were gloss white with clear glass IR seekers. 

AGM-12B "Bullpup" missiles were also gloss white overall.

All of these weapons carried stencils and a few carried placards as well. That sort of detail is beyond the scope of this work, but there are a great many examples of each available in photographs both in print and on the internet.

Modeling Aftermarket

You might think that this would be the perfect time for us to list all the stuff that's available to enhance or accurize a model of the F-100, and Doug was kind enough to provide just such an extensive list of what's out there for the airplane, but we're not going to run it today.

With that said, there's quite a bit more aftermarket of all kinds available than you might think, from decals to resin to photo-etched details. That includes the weaponry carried too, and the only areas where accurate aftermarket are not available, at least as far as we know, involve the RHAW gear and the early-war Y-shaped AIM-9 pylons. You can steal RHAW gear that will work, for the nose anyway, from the incredibly complete and extremely expensive DACO detail set for the F-104, but you're on your own for an accurate set of Sidewinder rails for an early-war air-to-air fit. On the plus side, scratch-building that RHAW gear isn't especially hard to do, which matters a lot if you're building a late jet.

And Speaking of RHAW

It's an essential part of the F-100D during its last few years Over There, and it's just not available for your model unless you build in 1/48th and want to steal the sensor from your DACO F-104 improvement kit, and even then you only end up with the one for the nose. Fortunately, it's a simple matter to make a set for your "Hun" using a piece of plastic and a file. Doug was kind enough to provide a dimensioned sketch of the RHAW gear and a couple of photos---look at them closely because they're useful indeed!

Is this a modeler's sketch or what? The thing is, it gives us the shape of the more difficult of the two RHAW installations from a modeler's perspective and does it with dimensions too. You might want to put Doug's picture on the piano for doing this for us!    Doug Barbier

Here's that nose RHAW from the left side. Note that the sensors are missing from that blanked-off circular port. Once again, photos are our friend!   Doug Barbier

And from head-on. The photo isn't the best but it defines how the nose sensor looks from dead ahead; notice how the sensor openings are stepped rather than on the same plane?   Doug Barbier

Finally, here's the RHAW installation back on the tail. Note how it's faceted and not especially big, and how it has the same blanked-out ports for the sensors. The anti-static wick, position lights, and fuel dump mast are all evident here as well.   Doug Barbier


We'd been thinking of doing this piece for quite a while and a recent urge on my part to build a Vietnam-era F-100D model provided the impetus for the project, but credit needs to go where credit's due; first and foremost to Dave Menard, aka Mister F-100 but also, and substantially, to Doug Barbier, a long-time friend who's been trying to make sense of the nuances of modeling all of the Century Series aircraft for many years---Doug, you ought to write a book! We'd also like to mention Ben Brown, who was successfully figuring out the Monogram F-100D kit long before most of us became interested in it in any serious manner, and Joe Vincent, who has modeled the "Hun", written about it, photographed it, and flown it in combat. 

Then there are the guys who shepherd the history and preserve the photography, and who sent images when we asked for them: Don Jay, Jim Sullivan, Mark Aldrich, and Mark Nankivil, in association with The Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum, all responded to requests for images and insight, and we're grateful to them for the help. Thanks, Guys!

Some Final Thoughts

The F-100D isn't a Spitfire or a Mustang, but quite a few kits of it have been issued over the years. Unfortunately, the only one of them that's actually accurate out of the box is the 1980-vintage Monogram kit, which leaves the 1/72nd and 1/32nd scale guys, as well as those who don't like raised panel lines, in the lurch. Keep in mind, however, that everything in this article, which is slanted towards the Monogram kit, has direct application to any of the others and the main thing, the BIGGEST thing, is, yes; to look at photographs and duplicate what you see regardless of which kit you're using.

In terms of the real airplane, we'd like for you to consider this: Much like another North American Aviation product that was active in a war that took place in the same region only 15 years before, the "Hun" was in the Far East in some numbers when the decision was made to send combat aircraft to Vietnam. It had little room for growth even when it was new because it was, after all, the very first of the Century Series family of American jet fighters and in consequence its ability to live in the big war up north became ever smaller as the years passed, but it did its job and it did it well down south, supporting the guys in the mud in all weathers and in darkness. When troops in contact required air support it was, as often as not, the "Hun" that answered the call. 

The glory, F-100-wise, and the lasting fame, tended to go to the Misty Fac guys and to the earliest of the Wild Weasels and rightfully so because of the nature of their jobs, using a barely-viable airplane over North Vietnam and doing that job until more capable systems could come on line. Those "Hun" drivers and GIBs earned every single accolade they were given, but don't sell the guys short who were moving the mud in South Vietnam. Theirs wasn't easy work, and it wasn't any safer, just highly  dangerous in a different way. 

Then there was the ground echelon, the unsung heros who kept the Air Force combat capable throughout the war, often in less than optimal circumstances. Talk to one of those guys now and they'll tell you they were just doing their job and, in so many ways, that's exactly what they were doing, but there was always more to it than that. At the end of the day it was a team, which we so often fail to remember when we build our model airplanes.

This started out as a regular blog with a small F-100D feature article, but things very quickly got out of hand as Doug and I began bouncing ideas off each other and suggesting ways to improve the piece. In short time it assumed the stature of a stand-alone work, almost but not quite a monograph, and morphed into what you see here. We enjoyed doing it and sincerely hope that you enjoyed it as well. Comments, corrections, or additional photography can be addressed in the usual way to   replicainscaleatyahoodotcom   . 

Happy Snaps

Yes indeedy, but we're going to do things a little bit differently this time around and show you one of our photographers being photographed:

Doug Barbier has been a friend for a very long time and is an excellent photographer as well as a noted author and modeler. He's also a retired Air Force and Air National Guard fighter pilot and was photographed flying this F-16 during the time he was with the Michigan ANG, an unusual event for him because he was normally the guy taking the pictures of someone else! It's only fair that you see what he looks like since he was a significant contributor to this special edition of the blog, as well as the sole author of its "let's be more specific" and weapons sections and, perhaps most importantly, as Chief Fact Checker and Sanity Officer. Many thanks to Doug, and we hope you enjoy this issue of the blog as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

Stay safe and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!

Lest we forget...

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Another Forty-Niner, The Way It Was. Doing Her Part, Thunderstorm Redux, Current and Controversial, and A Couple of Scooters


Oh, What to Do

There's a thing that's been going around for several years now, a trend if you will, that makes me wonder a little bit about the hobby. It's supported by commerce and the modeling press (which is, after all, ultimately commerce in and of itself unless it's a blog like this one), that not only supports but heavily promulgates the world of How to Do It which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The problem is what happens when said trend becomes what some folks call a "norm". Move that concept into our hobby, and most specifically into the realm of our hobby that's occupied by folks who have only recently discovered the wonders of polystyrene, and sooner or later you create the world of How to Do It. That's where things get a little strange and where I begin to get puzzled by them. 

Let's start this off with a premise regarding what's what and who's who. There have been how-to-do-it articles in modeling magazines for as long as there's been periodicals devoted to the topic. They come with the territory, they're expected, and they're often useful. We used to see the occasional book as well, Chris Ellis' seminal How to Go Plastic Modelling and the follow-up How to Go Advanced Plastic Modelling come to mind in that regard, as do the series of how-to books published by Almark way back when, and by Kalmbach during a slightly later time period. People bought them and learned from them; I did too, but then I learned that there was a far more viable education to be gained by asking questions of the guys in my club who were better at the hobby than I was. Let's call that Perspective.

Nowadays we're flooded with articles and videos telling us what to do when we build our models, or how good or bad something is. There are books covering the broad spectrum of modeling in general, books devoted to some particular aspect of the hobby, and books covering one kit by a single manufacturer and how to build and paint it. There are YouTube videos and web sites that feature videos of one sort or another, and all of those things are just the beginning!

In the old days we had kit reviews. Some were good and some were bad but many of them were valuable indeed because they provided the insight a lot of us didn't have because nobody can know everything, right? They also proved to be invaluable to the new guy or gal because they aided in kit selection. They were basic in the beginning, but then things began to change and nowadays they often include paragraphs of potted history of the airplane or ship or whatever, coupled with a review of the actual kit that tells us how many pieces are in the kit (spoiler alert---I don't care!), what color the plastic is (I really really super don't care!), and how sturdy the box or carton the model comes in might be---I sortof care about that one, but not very much unless the model is going to get to me via parcel post from a faraway county but otherwise---I don't care. What I do care about, and I'll bet a whole bunch of you do as well, is how accurate the kit is, how well-detailed, and how many if any optional parts are in it. Anything else is gravy and, quite frankly, some of that is gravy I don't want on my mashed potatoes at all, thank you very much!

Then there are the reviews/articles/books providing a blow-by-blow of How I Built It by whoever it was who did that. That's a topic that often provides considerable insight into how a particular kit might build up and it can be extremely useful when authored by a competent modeler, but it's also stuff I can usually figure out for myself without paying fifteen or twenty bucks for the privilege. 

It used to be that reviews, of both the in-box and How I Built It variety, were the norm in our hobby, but of late folks have begun producing "unboxing" articles and videos as well. It's entirely possible, and perhaps even probable, that most folks enjoy such things and maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon about the whole deal, but I have to wonder about it because suddenly we're back to how many sprues hold the kit's parts and how many parts there are, what color the plastic is, if there's any resin or photo-etch in the box, how the decals look, and if the instructions are any good, all filtered through a largish dollop of opinion regarding how a kit that is yet to be built might or might not build up. Huh?

Anyway, there actually is a point to to be gleaned from all this: Reviews and how-to-do-its can be useful if they tell you what you need to know about the kit, but they can be bad if they don't. Take the KittyHawk RF-101C as an example of that, an over-complicated model airplane with a gomed-up nose that misses the mark accuracy-wise. Those things are all that I personally needed to know to make a decision to pass that one by. None of the other stuff mattered one bit in my own personal quest for an accurate long-nose Voodoo because the pain incurred just wouldn't be worth the gain to me.

With all of that said, I think it can safely be stated that none of the things mentioned in the paragraphs immediately preceeding this one actually matter one bit because none of those formats are going to go away anytime soon. That takes us to the heart of the matter, which is as follows: I have a modeling budget that I try to live within and I'd rather spend the available funds on the things that actually matter to me on a personal level. Those things are basic accuracy and acceptable detail in the kits I buy, while the books I purchase these days are limited to serious histories and accurate monographs and not much else. Couple that with the fact that all reviewers are most assuredly not created equal and you begin to get the idea. The meat is essential, the gravy not so much.

My story, and so on and so forth...

Sometimes We Forget

But the guys who were there never could. Don't believe me? Well, then; consider this:

That determined-looking young aviator standing in front of "Scatter Brain", a P-40E from the 7th FS/49th FG, is Lawrence Succop. He was a 2nd Lieutenant when this photograph was taken, which means he's not an old man but rather not all that far removed from being a kid in his early 20s. With that as a baseline, take a look at his face, because it's not at all that of a young man. The war in the Southwest Pacific took Youth from him and gave him memories, both good and bad, that would stay with him til the end of his days. That wasn't a fate that was exclusively his either, but rather one that was given, unwanted, to untold others as well. Those were hard days and it was a hard life, but they did what was necessary and we owe them big-time.   Rocker Collection

Here's an overall view of "Scatterbrain" allegedly being readied for yet another mission; we say allegedly because the airplane is sitting out in the open, in the sun and therefore in the heat, with an armed guard standing ten feet from the airplane, while it's being swarmed over by ground crewmen performing unrelated tasks. Those Kelly helmets are of interest though, and were typical of the early days in the SWPAC.   Rocker Collection

Many thanks to Bobby Rocker for sharing these photos with us.

A Time Machine

Every once in a while we receive a photo that speaks to us of an earlier time. This one, from the collection of Mark Aldrich, is one such image:

While there's a lot we don't know about this particular photo, we can tell you it's a B-29A from the 98th BG, quite possibly from the 343rd BS although we aren't entirely certain of that, and the airplane is most likely sitting on the ramp at Yokota AB in Japan in 1951 or 52. The nose art is interesting; for those of you who have never spent time in Japan "Chotto Matte" loosely translates as "Just a Minute". This is a wonderful period photo no matter how you cut it, an evocative image from the past.   Sean Hart via Mark Aldrich Collection

Everybody Helped

The Second World War was a massive event that eventually encompassed every aspect of life in the countries that fought it. Most of the time we think of the guys at the sharp end of things when we think of that conflict, but wartime service was a universal thing in so many ways back then. The American entertainment industry was heavily involved in boosting the morale of those in uniform during those years; here's an example:

Martha Tilton was a popular entertainer of the day with a number of hit records to her credit and, during 1939, was also the lead female singer for Benny Goodman's band. Her "I'll Walk Alone" charted at Number 4 during 1944 and she was a movie star too, but in the middle of it all she made the time to go to the Pacific with the USO. In this photo she's in-theater, standing in front of a 12th FS P-38J (44-23328) and looking good for the photographer from Stars and Stripes. She had a long and successful career before passing away in 2006 and we think that she, and all of those like her, could qualify for the title "Unsung Hero". We know she's certainly one of ours.    Rocker Collecton

And here, thanks to the good folks at YouTube, is that 1944 recording of "I'll Walk Alone". It's worth listening to and imagining how much songs such as this one must have meant to those so very far away.

Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for tracking down and sharing this photograph with us and to YouTube for making so much of our past available to us with the click of a mouse. 

Filling in the Spaces

Last issue Mark Nankivil shared a couple of images of "Operation Thunderstorm" P-61s with us. Today we're going to take a look at a photo of another Northrop product assigned the that project, the F-15 Reporter.

"Operation Thunderstorm" operated a variety of aircraft during the relatively short time of its existence. Here we have one of the less commonly-known birds they operated; F-15A 45-59318 (probably!). The photo was taken at Clinton County AAFB, although we don't know the date. What we do know is how badly those airplanes got knocked around in the severe weather they were investigating---take a look at the nose cap on that Reporter if you don't believe us! Wind, hail, torrential rain, lightning and worse; those guys flew in all of it for their job, which ultimately proved to be of benefit to everyone who flies. They were quite an outfit!   Nankivil Collection

It's Raising Quite a Ruckus

"It", in this instance, being the sortof brand new Meng Fokker Dr.1. It's a kit with a past, you see, and a kit with a heritage. It's also a kit with some perceived issues.

Those of us who model the aircraft of the Great War were pretty excited when Wingnut Wings announced they'd be doing a Fokker Triplane a couple of years ago. There was already a kit of the type in Wingnut's chosen 1/32nd scale, of course, although the existing Roden model had acquired a bad rap for being fussy the day it was released (spoiler Alert: That Roden kit is a perfectly viable replica of the Triplane and is consumately buildable, although some modeling skills are required). but a new offering to WNW standards---wow! It made a whole bunch of folks stand up and holler MERCY!

There was the usual adulation of the just-announced Annointed One from the usual sources, and the usual folks began their usual critique of something that didn't exist yet, but it was still a joyous moment for a lot of us. It was great, it was wonderful, and we were all elated! We had a new, state-of-the-art Fokker Triplane on the way from WNW! Life was wonderful! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters in that What Could Go Wrong department, Wingnut could've folded the tent and gone out of business, which is exactly what they did. Dark clouds began to form on a great many horizons that day because The King was dead and so was our tripe! Then, out of the blue of the Far Eastern sky came salvation! Meng, a company already known for producing some pretty nice kits of various subjects, had apparently been under contract to produce that Dr.1 kit for Wingnut Wings all along and was in possession of the tooling! They were going to release it, under their own name, and plastic modeling as we know it would be saved! Let joy reign unconfirmed, as Yogi Berra once said! 

So we got the kit, and there seems to be little doubt it started life as a Wingnut offering. It's a very nice kit, all in all, but it's honestly not quite up to the standard we have come to expect from the boys Down Under.

So here's what we've got, and here's where I personally am with mine, along with a couple of comments. First off, and in keeping with some remarks recently made on this very blog by myself, here's a review of the kit: It's made out of polystyrene with a small fret of photo etch thrown in, it's rather obviously of WNW parentage, it doesn't have all that many parts in it but you can build either an F.1 or a Dr.1 from what comes in the box, the instructions are marginal at best, and the decals are perfectly usable but not even clost to being up to Wingnut Wings standards. Oh, and it looks like a Dr.1 so I'm taking a giant leap of faith and presuming it's reasonably accurate and pretty much to scale.

On a more practical note and perhaps the point to be taken, this is not a Wingnut Wings model; it's a model made from tooling that originated with WNW. That means the superb quality control we're so used to seeing with those kits from New Zealand is missing from this project. Mostly that results in flash in unwanted places such as the already paper-thin trailing edges of the scalloped ailerons, and in fit that's a little off in places by Wingnut Wings standards. Does that mean it's a bad kit? No it doesn't, or at least it doesn't in my world. The worst things about it, to my mind anyway, are the decals and the instructions, neither of which are even close to the standards set by Wingnut. The actual kit is a little bit of a disappointment when compared to its predecessors but by any other standard it's honestly not that bad, and you can build any Fokker Dr.1 or F.1, excepting the few that were modified with captured Allied engines and props, from what's in the box---we mention that because we'd almost guarantee that even the fabled WNW would have done two separate boxings to accomodate the variants. 

Here's my own personal bottom line, then. I think it's a pretty good kit and I'm glad to have it. It's not the quantum leap ahead that it would have been if Wingnut had survived and produced it because their almost legendary QC would have ensured there would have been no flash and that the tooling would have been 100% finished before production articles were sold from it. The instructions are a terrible disappointment; they'll get you to an assembled model but you'll need references of your own to do it correctly, and the decals are place-holders and not much more than that. Other than those things, it's a good kit. It's just not a "real" Wingnut Wings kit and it's probably not right to judge it as one regardless of where the tooling came from. Things could be worse!

A Tinker Toy or Two

Certain airplanes are favorites around here, and almost any A-4 Skyhawk falls under that non-too-exclusive umbrella. Here are a couple of photos of them to end our day with.

Here's the Family Edition of the A-4 Clan, a TA-4F (154311) from VX-5 photographed by John Parchman during a cross-country layover at Kelly on 15 May, 1987. The F-models were relative hot rods when compared to their TA-4J older cousins thanks to an uprated engine and often showed up in the NAV's specialized squadrons in consequence. The red star on her vertical stab is very obviously in full color but in all other respects she's a TPS bird; we're normally not big fans of that finish on the A-4 but it looks pretty good here. Note her crazy-quilt appearance where she's been repaired or had paint touch-ups---TPS is effective as a camouflage system but it's one that's difficult to keep presentable for any length of time.   John Parchman

Here's a "Scooter" of the classic variety; an A-4C, 148458, of Marine Attack Squadron 133 photographed in July of 1974 when there were still a few Charlies hanging around. She's wearing the classic "Easter Egg" scheme of Light Gull Grey over White and is configured for a long cross country with three gas bags hung underneath. She's still carrying her 20mm armament and is decidedly shop-worn (check out the Insignia Red areas beneath her leading edge slats), providing us with a fine example of a C-model in service.   Friddell Collection

Finally, here's the last variant of the A-4 line, at least as far as American Skyhawks are concerned. 160263 was an A-4M assigned to VMA-223 when we photographed her at NAS Corpus Christi on 14 April, 1984, and was looking good in her relatively-new TPS paint job. The Mike was perhaps the most purposeful appearing of all the "Scooters" and certainly the most capable of the tribe but we honestly prefer the earlier variants. Your mileage, however, may well vary on that one!   Phillip Friddell

Happy Snaps

Let's take a slightly different approach to today's Happy Snap and show you a couple of Warbirds, as opposed to our more normal active military types.

Here you are; a restored F8F-1 Bearcat (BuNo 90454) formating on an F6F-5 Hellcat BuNo 79683) as photographed by Jim Sullivan over Hickory, North Carolina, during May of 1995. Successful air-to-air photography isn't an easy thing to accomplish and Jim had this one nailed! Thanks very much for sharing it with us, Jim!

And that's it for today. All we have left is one lonely little minute, as Bob Hite of Canned Heat once said, so stay safe and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!