Thursday, May 26, 2022

An Oldie but Goodie, Supersize Me, and A Zipper to End the Day


A Different Approach

Here we are, and we're late again! The handful of readers who have been with us since that very first electronic issue back in 2010 have watched a steady trend with the project, which has declined from a heady 79 issues in that first year to just a handful, erratically published. The reasons for that are many but at the end of the day don't matter very much; the point is that a title much-beloved by your editor has been gradually fading into oblivion. 

That's a bad thing in our view, a very bad thing indeed, and it's time to do something about it! Here is the first issue of the new but not necessarily improved RIS. You'll notice it's a lot briefer than it used to be, featuring just a couple of articles. With any luck you'll also note an increased publishing schedule.

To paraphrase that American writer Samuel Clemmons, the stories of our demise are considerably exaggerated, but we've definitely taken things to the brink. Let's see if we can resuscitate the project!

 A Viable Old-Timer

Tamiya has been a leader in the world of plastic scale modeling for many decades now, and their most recent efforts are mind-boggling in regards to engineering and scale accuracy, but their older kits weren't too bad either. For an example, let's turn to their 1990s P-51D Mustang as released in 1/48th scale.

Tamiya's Mustang kit is old enough to be called seminal. It's been a stand-by for scale modelers for nearly three decades, and for good reason. It's more than reasonably accurate for one thing, and it's easy to build for another. We won't go so far as to say anyone can get a superior result using the kit, but most modelers will find it in their skillsets to do that.

The model has been released multiple times, with each release being theme-based and reflecting markings specific to that theme. Our personal favorite is their Korean War boxing as shown here. The model features three different sets of markings, one of which we've used for this model---those of the 36th FBS/18th FBW. What you see before you is almost but not quite kit stock, which we'll explain in a moment. 

Tamiya's by now primordial F-51D still looks the part, even without weathering---yes, boys and girls, it's the usual RIS work-in-progress which, even with the very best of intentions, may never progress much further than what you see here, but the images make the point.

Now for the serious stuff. Every plastic kit has issues and this one is no exception to that rule, but the issues are minor indeed and have been enumerated at least twice previously on these very pages. We're guessing a great many of you can't remember them, so here's a quick and dirty review.

There's a notch in the flaps, on the upper inboard corners, that doesn't exist on the real airplane. Tamiya put it there to provide an easy option to model the airplane with its flaps down; lazy, that. The fix is an easy one using sheet styrene or putty and will take a few minutes to accomplish.

Tamiya measured a restored warbird when tooling the model and included a set of scab patches on the wings that are unique to that particular airplane. "Real" Mustangs don't have those patches nor their accompanying rivets.

The canopy reinforcement bow is molded solid on the kit, while the Real Thing has lightening holes in it. You can fix that with a drill (or maybe with a piece of Eduard aftermarket etch, although we can't remember that for sure, or you can ignore it since only the hard-core Mustang enthusiasts will ever notice it. I generally choose to ignore it but you don't have to do that.

The sprue attachment points for the windscreen and canopy are poorly placed and almost guarantee damage to those components, but Tamiya went back and re-did those parts years ago. Caution is still required but fine sandpaper and a polishing cloth can fix most problems related to what is admittedly an awkward bit of engineering. 

Finally, the kit's interior is a bit basic. In the past I've spiffed up that part of the model with an Eduard "Zoom" set, although the example of the kit you see before you has an ancient True Details set installed instead. There are options out there.

Another bit of aftermarket on the model is a set of Eduard's "VLR" Mustang tanks, which they offered separately at one time. They make excellent napalm tanks and offer a considerable improvement over the tanks offered in the kit, which are simply the normal 75-gallon gas bags. I also cut the rockets off their zero-length mounting rails on the model, primarily to put a little variety into the KW F-51Ds in the collection.

So what are we saying here? Is the Tamiya dinosaur a better kit than the far more recent Airfix or Eduard offerings? Nope, not by a long shot. It's an older model that's begun to show its age, but it's still way past viable since it's relatively inexpensive, easy to build, and still provides an excellent starting place if you want to build an accurate Mustang. You pays your money and you takes your choice!

We'll call this Inspiration; a 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D on the ground in Korea on 15 July, 1952. Note the cuffed HamStandard prop, retractable tailwheel (sometimes locked down in-theater due to poor runway conditions), and the color of the gear behind the cockpit armor plate. The SNJ-5C in the background was assigned to the Joint Operations Center, hence the "J.O.C." painted on the nose under the windscreen. There were a lot of dogs and cats flying around in Korea, especially in the early days of the conflict.   Bob Cutts via John Kerr

NOTE: I had originally misidentified the F-51's unit in the caption. Thanks very much to long-time friend Mark Morgan for catching the error and keeping me honest!  pf

The Big Stick

We all remember Convair's B-36, the largest bomber ever built by anyone and a USAF staple of the early Cold War. Here, thanks to the folks at NARA, are a couple of images of a Peacemaker assigned to the American nuclear test program during the early 1950s.

Here's a glorious view of EB-36H 51-5726 of the 4956th Test Group Atomic, Special Weapons Command, at Indian Springs AFB on 15 March, 1953. The airplane was on display, along with a number of others used by the unit, during some sort of grip-and-grin public affairs event.   NARA 342-C-K-10161

And here's the unit emblem for the 4956th. The B-36 was truly a marvel of engineering, and possessed of incredible capabilities when new. Time and Progress passed it by rather quickly, however, and it became obsolescent quickly. The type still formed the backbone of SAC when this image was taken, however.   NARA 342-C-K-10162

Your editor's father was a plankholder at Limestone AFB, which became Loring, and in consequence I have many fond memories of the mighty B-36. What can you say about it other than WOW! What an airplane!

AND ANOTHER NOTE! Those B-36 images were taken at Indian SPRINGS AFB, not Indian Hills as misidentified by me---that's what happens when you write captions at 1 in the morning, I guess. Many thanks to Mark Morgan's brother Rick for snagging that one! Big sigh...

Another Favorite

Everyone who knows anything at all about me knows I have a passion for the F-104. Here's a shot you may not have seen of one of them; a Charlie from the Deep South.

56-0899, an F-104C from South Carolina's 157th FIS, is on the towbar and being moved in this wonderful shot taken at McEntire ANGB during May of 1962. The "Zipper" was a handful and only a few Guard units received them. This example went back to the USAF after its time in South Carolina and crashed in Spain during 1963. It was, and still is, tough when you're on the cutting edge of things.   Tom Ring Collection

And that's it for today. Future editions, which are intended to come far more often than they have of late, may be longer than this, or maybe they won't be, but we're still alive and well so don't give up on us yet. 

Oh, and you can still get in touch with us at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom should you be so inclined. Just convert that mass of letters into a normal email address and you're ready to rock!

Be good to your neighbor, ya'll. We'll meet again soon!