Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Ballast, Some Hun Addendum, A Nifty Mitchell, and Some Long-Nose Voodoos


Weighing In on the Century Series

But not the way we usually do it, with an editorial that might or might not have any relevance to anything you're doing. Nope; this time we're going to expound on something practical for once! 

As you may remember, I've said fairly often that I look in on a select few modeling sites when I first crank up this electronic device every morning, something I've been doing for years now. It's a good idea in many respects because it provides a fresh perspective that just isn't available by sitting here all by myself on the ranch, doing things the way I've always done them without considering there might be another way to accomplish whatever it is I'm interested in accomplishing on that particular day, but there's a flip-side of that coin to be considered as well.

Take, for example, the art of making an airplane with tricycle landing gear actually sit on that gear without rearing back on its haunches, which is like the model saying "Poop on Yoop because you tried and I won anyway"! You know what I'm talking about, right? You figured it all out, did a few mental calculations, measured things, put some ballast in there someplace, and you still ended up with a tail-sitting model airplane! That's something that's happened to us all, although I'm going to say that it hasn't happened to me personally in a very long time because I actually learned something back there in the early Seventies, back when I melted the nose on my brand new Hasegawa A-4E kit trying to use CerroSafe, or more likely Rose's Fusible Metal, as a ballast material (which you actually can do, but not until you've studied and somewhat mastered The Art of the Heat Sink, which we aren't going to get into today). That little misadventure caused me to spend some time studying when and how to ballast a scale model airplane, which in turn ties in with something I've read many times on those boards I mentioned a paragraph or so above. 

It seems as though there's a periodic interest in modeling airplanes from the Century Series which, for our purposes today at least, will be defined as the F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106, and maybe the F-110. You'll note that I didn't count the F-107 in that listing; I could have, but it was never operational and in my world isn't a true member of the club. You may disagree with me and it's fine if you do, because it doesn't matter very much once we (I) actually get on-topic!

Here's the deal, and the question that inevitably prompts it, straight off the discussion boards on those modeling sites: "I want to build a (pick the Century Series aircraft of your choice here) and I need to know if I should add ballast to the nose of my model." The question inevitably brings a bunch of answers and you can tell who's had issues in the past, who hasn't, and who's giving advice based on something they've never personally done themselves once you begin reading the replies. It's a valid question, however, and an important one, so an answer is required---fortunately, it's an answer that isn't all that hard to find!

Here's what you do, with a Century bird, or with anything else that sits on tricycle landing gear:

First and foremost, if the kit's manufacturer provides either ballast or, in some instances, information on how and where to put your own ballast in the model, you should follow their lead and do that. There's a reason for what they've done and you'll rue the day if you don't follow that advice!

Ok; that was pretty obvious. What if there's no ballast, no instructions to use ballast but you still aren't sure? That's an easy one too. Just tape all the big pieces of the model together so what you've got is an object that mostly resembles the completed airplane, find out where the main landing gear legs plug into the aircraft structure and, using a couple of the fingers on one of your hands placed at those landing gear mounts, hold the a airplane up (loosely but securely---if you drop it it isn't my fault!), and see how it balances. If it wants to tip towards the nose, you're Golden. If it wants to tip back towards the tail, you need to put ballast in the model, and if it sort of goes back-and-forth between the two, you want to err on the side of caution and use ballast as well. Further, if you end up actually having to add ballast, you'll want to place it as far toward in the nose of the model as you possibly can get it; that's a basic lesson in physics that will result in you needing less weight to do the job, which means less strain on your model's landing gear once the thing is finished and sitting proudly on your display shelf. (Sometimes, like with a P-38 or P-39, you'll still need a lot of ballast but Moment is your friend and placement really does help! Trust me on this one)

And NOW (taa-daa!), let's get to the point of this thing specifically regarding the Century Series. The F-100 is a teeterer and often wants to squat, so ballast is a very good idea for the Super Sabre regardless of variant. The F-105 may need it depending on what you plan on hanging under the wings so it's best to err on the side of caution and stuff a little weight up in the extreme nose. None of the others need it at all! How's that for simple? 

What about if I hang a lot of stuff under the wings, you might well ask yourself? Won't that change things? The answer to that one is mostly no, with the caveats stated above regarding the F-100 and F-105. Voodoos and the Deltas definitely DON'T need ballast, not ever, nor do the Phantoms (F-110s). Any model of an F-107 will.

Here's today's lesson, then: If you aren't sure about how to resolve a modeling problem, and that's any modeling problem, try thinking it through for yourself before you commit to a course of action. Yes; it's far easier just to throw the question out on one of those internet boards and hope you'll get back a useful anwer or two (you probably will!), but that's not going to help you grow as a modeler, so look on it as more of a last-resort kind of thing. Get in the habit of trying to figure things out for yourself first. It may take a while, but your work will begin to improve and you'll grow as a modeler. 

And that's what I have to say about that!

Some More Thoughts and a Few Corrections Regarding the "Hun"

It's true, so very true: Our last issue was devoted in its entirety to the North American F-100D and how to model it as it appeared in The Late SouthEast Asia War Games. Reader response has been great, but it was inevitable that a couple of tiny mistakes would creep into it and a couple of last-minute additions showed up as well, so we're going to address them today, albeit briefly!

Major Stewart and Sgt Eliason stand in front of "Snooper", an F-100D from the 90th TFS at BienHoa in 1968. Note the FS36622 inboard pylons, the M117s hanging off those pylons, and the RHAW gear barely visible under the nose of the airplane. This is a classic late-war "Hun".   Lt Col Stewart via Don Jay

The Wonderful World of the Internet has remained mostly quiet regarding our last issue but Ben Brown took a look at it and offered some comments and a correction or two. Normally we'd put that sort of thing in our Relief Tube section but the changes are significant if you happen to be building a model of the F-100D so they're here instead.


In our last issue we stated that the interiors of the landing gear and speed brake wells were painted silver. While that's true for the doors for those areas, the interiors themselves were generally painted in a medium green color. Ben pointed that out, Doug seconded the motion, and I've corrected it here and will, in theory at least, go back and correct it in the article as well. Maybe.

That Pesky LWNAVS Duct

Photos of that PACAF Lightweight Navigation System duct are few and far between (just watch them start coming out of the woodwork once this gets published, though!) but Ben had a couple of photos in his collection and has provided them to us:

Here's a side view of one iteration of that duct. Keep in mind that the term "standard configuration" doesn't seem to apply to that particular item, but they were all similar to this. Those of you who notice minutia in photographs have probably already seen it; those stripes in front of the serial number ought to be Insignia Red, not black, but the image is of an F-100 that's up a pole in the wilds of Texas and we're probably lucky they got it as close as they did when they painted the airplane!    Ben Brown Collection

And the other side. Compare these photos to the one we ran last issue---the ducts are almost but not quite the same, a condition to be expected when we recall that the mod was done within PACAF and didn't come with the airplanes!    Ben Brown Collection

Here's that photo again, provided so you won't have to go back and forth between issues to see it. Note that it's sortof the same, but not really---no two were alike!    Jack Norris via Don Jay Collection

The RHAW Fairing on the Vertical Stabilizer

Ben and Doug had both noted that it's wider from side-to-side when the RHAW gear is installed, which is how the Monogram kit depicts it. The original fairing is narrow, not much wider than the position lights that live immediately below it. That configuration is provided in the Trumpeter kit. 

Here's the narrow variation of that fairing, as would have been found on pre-war "Huns".    Ben Brown

And a view of the fairing showing the slight additional width after the installation of the RHAW gear.   Bill Spidle via Ben Brown

A Drop Tank Detail Everyone Misses

Yep, everyone but Ben! You may recall that the pylon that attaches those 335-gallon gas bags to the wings of the "Hun" are permanently attached to said tanks and have a fairing on their nose that I don't think anyone other than Ben and, come to think of it, Doug Barbier, had mentioned. I didn't pick up on that detail during editing but, once again, Ben came to the rescue with photos!

This tank is a derelict that Ben photographed at what used to be The Carolinas Aviation Museum. Ignore the vegetation and concentrate on the front of that pylon. None of the available plastic kits of the F-100, and that's any F-100 in any scale, captur this feature at all and you may choose to ignore it as well, but don't say you didn't know it was there!    Ben Brown

That's it for today's additions to the "Hun" project, but don't be surprised if you see more as we go along. Look on it as an ongoing story...

A Special B-25 From Bobby

We didn't run anything from Bobby Rocker last time around because of our special Super Sabre issue, so here's an image to make amends:

"Doodle" was a B-25D from the 399th BS/345th BG and was stationed at Dobodura when this classic shot was taken. Names, artwork, mission markers, sharkmouth, squadron colors on the cowlings; this Mitchell's got it all! Of particular interest are the blast shields just forward of the package guns, and the "eight-ball" placed within the sharkmouth. If ever there was a B-25 that deserved to be modeled...   Rocker Collection

Bobby, thanks VERY MUCH for this one!

Voodoo Child, A Slight Return (with apologies to Jimi)

Rick Morgan sent some interesting RF-101C photos to us a couple of weeks ago, and they seemed to be a good way to end this issue since they're a little bit on the I-didn't-know-they-flew-those side of things; they were operated by the 153rd TRS/186th TRG of the Mississippi ANG. The photos came about as an aside to Rick's first assignment as he drove from Missouri to Pensacola to begin Navy flight training; he'd heard that the 153rd still had Voodoos as they awaited transitioning to the RF-4C and he planned his trip accordingly! These shots were all taken at NAS Meridian during that trip (Not the TraWing One T-2s in the background of the photos); many thanks to Rick for sharing them with us.

56-0229 ended up on public display, a fate that unfortunately eluded most Voodoos. The 101s on this ramp are just about ready to fade off into the sunset due to the 153rd's impending transition to the RF-4C, but they're still in pristine condition. Of interest here is the earlier version of the ANG shield; several varieties could be found on the tails of those Mississippi birds. You can still see this one on display at Robbins AFB, in Georgia.   Rick Morgan

Here's a detail image of that early ANG device. These airplanes were photographed by Rick in 1978 and twelve-year-old tactical airframes often show their age, but the birds of the 153rd don't. It used to be said that the airplanes flown by the Guard were often in better shape than those flown by the regular USAF because everyone in the units was there by choice. We don't know whether that's true or not, but these airplanes indicate that there might be something to it.   Rick Morgan

56-0185 shows off its late-style ANG badge, slime lights, and overall clean appearance. She ended up being a survivor too, and can currently be seen on dispaly at Niagara Falls International Airport in New York, presumably as a tribute to The Boys From Syracuse during their time with the 'Doo.   Rick Morgan

Here's the earlier presentation of the ANG device, which is to say there's no device at all! All three presentations were to be found on the RF-101Cs of the 153rd TRS at the same time, which could provide a valuable lesson to the scale modelers among our readership. Also of note here is the total absence of auxilliary fuel tanks on these aircraft. The Voodoo family were plumbed for external gas bags but it wasn't unusual to see them flown without tanks at all, or with only one, because of the drag and stability issues they created.
   Rick Morgan

Relatively few F-101Fs were built but it was fairly normal to find one or two in the operational Voodoo units regardless of variant flown. The two-seaters were invaluable for ongoing training and check rides. As an interesting and fascinating aside, Rick told us he was informed by his escort on this shoot that the Voodoo tub was faster than the unit's RF-101Cs because it had the B-model's "big" engines.   Rick Morgan

It's been a while since we've shared anything from Rick's camera with you, and we're please to be able to publish these today. Thanks, Morgo!

The Relief Tube

Not really, but we do want to leave you with this:

Here's a fitting way to end this edition of the blog; a super image of a UH-1Y (166768) of HX-21 taken by Mike Wilson at St Mary's Regional Airport on the 22nd of this month. Let's hope that guy wearing the red suit and sitting in the door is going to bring all of us a better 2021! Many thanks to Mike for sharing this one.

Be good to your neighbor, enjoy they holidays, and stay safe during these trying times. We'll meet again soon!