Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Why Don't He Write?


A Clarification and a Special Request 

First and foremost, don't get overly excited about this particular installment because just this once it's not about airplanes, either real or plastic. Instead, it's a philosophical and procedural sort of thing, but I'm guessing it needs to be clarified.

Way back in the way back, a number of years ago in the early days of this project, I mentioned that I didn't encourage or print the normal sorts of comments found on most internet blogs, nor did I offer a forum. There was a simple reason for doing things that way---I'd looked at other sites, read the arguments and flame wars that so often lived on them, and had decided from the very beginning that a comments/forum function wouldn't be a part of Replica in Scale. I switched off that function and went on my merry way, but an hour or so ago, more out of curiosity than anything else, I clicked that button to see if any comments had been sent and they had! There were at least a couple of hundred of them and I've spent the past hour going through them all, which made me understand that I needed to clear up a couple of things.

First and foremost, I value all of my readers and I'd sincerely like to hear from anyone who wants to get in touch with the project regarding American military aviation, plastic model airplanes, or anything else I've previously published but, like I've said several times before (up to and including right now!), I don't do that with the "comments" thing that most folks put in their blogs. There's an address I do audit daily and use to feed this site's Relief Tube section which is:


There's a trick to that address, of course. It's an email address, and it goes to a real live person (me!), but you have to make a tiny leap of faith and insert your own at sign (@) and dot (.) in the appropriate places. I list it like that in an attempt to mislead the spammers and mostly it seems to work so humor me and do it that way, ok? In that same vein I'd also like to ask that any of you who tried to contact me before about things relevant to this blog but who never received a response (which is what happens if you don't use the email I just provided!) give it another shot and try again. I'd really like to hear from you!

And finally---I've gone back through those comments and activated a number of them to appear on the site but most are old and possibly forgotten by their posters by now. Thanks for your patience and hopefully for your realization that I'm most assuredly not a child of the electronic age!

Thanks, ya'll, and as always, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!


A Case in Point, YOUR Photos, and A Couple of Jim's Hogs


Old Ain't So Bad

Sometimes, anyway. I mention this because I'm old, or at least older (well into my 7th decade) than I'd like to be, but I also mention it because of the perspective it offers on so many things. That's Perspective, folks, not to be confused with that other aging-associated title; Wisdom. It's a viewpoint, a way of looking at things, that we're interested in today. 

Let's take a look at our hobby for just a quick minute and evaluate where we are in this Year of Our Lord 2023. We've got a bunch of new kits, and different variants of airplanes that we thought we'd never see. We've got decals, paint masks, paint, and aftermarket parts and components of every flavor imaginable. We've got a veritable explosion of large-scale models of seemingly endless variety. We've got kits that are so good right out of the box that the only conceivable reason to purchase aftermarket for them would be for bragging rights. As modelers we are, right now this moment, living in a continuation of a New Golden Age that the electronic nay-sayers have predicted would come to a close several years ago. We well and truly have never had it so good. 

Then again, we've never had it so good for a very long time when you think about it. When I began modeling on a "serious" level the heavy hitters were Revell GB, Frog, and Airfix. Kits were simple and poor in the detail department and kit decals were thick and often out of register, not to mention inaccurate. Aftermarket didn't exist on any level---the train guys had that sort of thing but we didn't. Paint was something you mixed yourself from the offerings of Pactra, Testors, and, if you were lucky, Floquil.

I think the changes really began back in 1963 with Revell's 1/72nd scale family of fighters, or maybe in 1966/67 when Monogram began to produce their first models aimed straight at the enthusiast rather than at kids. Who came first honestly doesn't matter, however, because those guys, plus the admission to The Club of several hitherto unknown Japanese manufacturers, changed our game forever. MicroScale jumped into the fray in 1968 and had an immediate, and lasting, impact on the decal market, and the 70s saw the trembling birth of a thing called "aftermarket". Every year was better for us as airplane modelers than the previous one. Every good model or accessory was topped by a better one. It was, and seeming still is, a never-ending phenomenon.

Here we are, then. It's 2023 and our collective cups are running over like never before. Name it and we probably have it or are about to get it and a lot of it is really good, although some of it isn't. That takes us to our closets and the accumulation of kits, decals, aftermarket, paint, and references associated with our hobby and then directly to the burning question: What am I going to do with all this old stuff? Here's a perspective for you.

A lot of that aforementioned stuff is obsolescent or outright obsolete by now, and some of the really old stuff is, perhaps unfortunately, now collectable. Those things might get hoarded, or sold off, or consumed for fun in a nostalgia build, but that leaves us with those sad offerings that are really good but no longer quite good enough, at least in the eye of The Internet Authorities On Everything Polystyrene. In that regard, I'm not sure what you do with your own not-quite-good-enoughs but I build mine. I'll often upgrade them with a small amount of aftermarket, usually in the cockpit or around the landing gear, but I'll build them and put them on the shelf! 

Think about this for a minute: Some of the new kits are truly amazing but, when it's all said and done, only make the collections of polystyrene components that preceded them unusable to a select few. Eduard now owns the F4F, and the A6M, and the Spitfire, and on and on, (and deservedly so) but many of the kits that came before them are entirely adequate for 99% of the modelers out there. 

Of course, there's also the REALLY old stuff that should have gone to the garbage heap decades ago, but there are some really good polystyrene offerings out there that nobody has yet managed to equal, much less surpass. Think Monogram's three 1/72nd scale 1930s American fighters (P-6E, F4B-4, and F11C-2) if you need an example of just how good Old can be. Or maybe you'd rather talk about jets? OK, let's talk that same manufacturer's Century Series in 1/48th. Of those six distinct airframes (F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, and F-106) only one, the Starfighter, has been produced to modern standards. I'll give you the Deuce if you want to quibble about it but that's only because nobody other than Monogram have kitted it in that scale yet. The attempts to date to supersede the others by contemporary manufacturers have all been poor at best and, right up to this date, we still don't have a modern kit that's an actual improvement for any of them, raised panel lines and all. 

Here's the thing of it. The new stuff, the wunderkits if you will, are truly amazing and a very great many of them are worthy of every accolade they receive, but that doesn't mean it's time to deep-six the older models. Some are well worth building in spite of the occasional horse poot written about them on the internet. It's a choice as regards to what does or doesn't actually get built and that choice is yours, without question, but you shouldn't sell the old stuff short. 


The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends, Robert Earl Keen

A Semi-Oldie to Prove the Point

Here's a model to prove, or maybe not, the point just made by my mindless ramble directly above:

May we offer for your consideration a Roden offering from several years ago, their Junkers D.II in 1/48th scale. As far as we know it's the only one of its kind in the scale and successfully completing it can be a bit of a challenge, but it certainly looks the part when it's done. It's a fine example of how a "difficult" model isn't really that at all. Not unlike the Monogram kits we mentioned in that editorial it isn't a model of the shake and bake variety, but it isn't difficult to build either. 

The model, presented for your perusal in clean form with very little weathering provides us with a fine representation of Hugo Junkers' pugnacious little interceptor. Some of the parts are a bit on the clunky side, truth be known, and it isn't the easiest date in town either, but it IS eminently buildable and provides the modeler with a fine replica of a type that was at least a decade ahead of its time when it was built. In many respects the kit defines the difference between a parts assembler and a modeler!

This example was built slowly, in-between other projects, but we can honestly say that the worst thing about it was dealing with the somewhat stiff decals while applying them over those corrugated surfaces. The turnover bar was rebuilt using plastic rod, but the kit is otherwise stock, including the guns. Just a tiny bit more effort on my part would have produced a knockout of a model that's rarely built due to its perceived difficulty. Sometimes all we have to do is simply DO the thing. It's amazing what a little patience can achieve, right?

These Images Are Yours for Free

A lot of folks are aware of that somewhat enigmatic entity known as "The National Archives" but few know that they've been putting certain of their assets, including photographs, on their on-line site for a number of years. All you have to do to gain access is to enter catalog.archives.gov into your browser and you're there. That's the good news.

Where there's good there's bad, of course, and the site has a bit of that as well. Their search function isn't as linear as we might like, nor particularly easy to use, and relatively few of their hundreds of thousands of images have been scanned and posted, but what's there is free, absolutely free, to the public. Sometimes finding things there is as much a matter of luck as anything else, but the results of persistent searching can be simply amazing. Don't believe us? Then check these out!

Let's begin with "This'll Kill Ya", an F-84E-25-RE (51-0559) of the 49th FBW operating out of Korea. It was lost by flying through its own bomb blast on 21 May 1952. What a perfect subject for the Revell F-84E/G kits, right?    NARA Image 342-FH-4A40097-K90449

And then there's "Lois K"/"Frenchie", an F-84E-30-RE (51-0613) of the 8th FBS/49th FBW armed up and ready to go hunting, also during 1952.   NARA Image 342-FH-4A40093-K90445

Notice that neither of these images have our usual Replica in Scale watermark overlayed on them. That's because they aren't from our collection, nor from the collection of any of our many friends and contributors. They're from "The Archives" and they're yours---all you need is a bit of patience to find them and all the others that are basically hiding in plain sight!

There's a Reason They Call Him Mister Corsair

It's a new year but Jim Sullivan is far from being a new friend. He first contacted us back in the early 1970s offering full access to his photo collection for our use in the original print edition of this project. Since then he's been a constant with RIS, both in print and electronically. Some of us gained a nickname for themselves early in the game and Jim certainly earned his: Mister Corsair. He's written about the airplane, modeled it, and collected photographs of it for several decades now, and he's invariably been unselfish in the sharing of the images he's accumulated. Here are just a couple of examples of that:

Here's what we mean. VMF-212's F4U-4s crowd the flight deck of the USS Sicily during a pre-strike runup off the coast of North Korea during 1952. Of interest to the modeler are the asymmetrical fuselage ordnance loadings consisting of a gas bag on one station and a 500lb GP bomb on the other, seen on several of the airplanes in this image. The wing stations on most of the other Corsairs in this shot are filled with 5-inch HVARs, making for a potent strike package indeed.   Jim Sullivan Collection

Not every sortie came to a successful conclusion, although we could say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one! This F4U-4B (BuNo 63059) from VMF-312 was put down on the beach, we presume at Cho-Do Island although we're uncertain of that, during 1952 after receiving damage while striking ground targets in North Korea. Military aviation has always been a risky proposition at best and combat only makes things a whole lot worse. This young Marine aviator walked away from his crash but far too many did not. Let's raise a glass...   Jim Sullivan Collection

Many thanks to Jim for his unfailing generosity and, more importantly, to a friendship that's spanned the decades. Thank you, Jim!

There's no Happy Snap to share today because I haven't dug one out of the files yet, and there isn't a Relief Tube either because it's been so darned long since I've published anything that nobody has written in to tell me the error of my ways! Those things will come back soon but for now; well, for now it's time to get back to publishing and try to reestablish some sort, any sort, of schedule. Any rumors of the demise of this project are both highly premature and completely unfounded, but Life has taken a huge toll of my time these past few months. With that as a benchmark, 2023 almost has to be better!

You can still get in touch with us at the same old tangled-up to foul the spammers address, which is replicainscaleatyahoodotcom. Comments and constructive criticisms are always welcomed, as are photographs of and information regarding American military aviation. 

One more thing before we go: We're living in some seriously crazy times these days and it's more important than ever that we're good to our neighbors, so please try to do that. With any luck we'll meet again soon!