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!
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.
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: