Another Way to Do It, Or Maybe a Trip in an Alternate WayBack Machine
Let's take a trip, you and me, down Memory Lane, but this time around let's not discuss all those cool kits, how hard it was to find markings and accessories, how aftermarket didn't even exist back then, and all that other stuff us old guys like to talk about. Instead, let's talk about some of the models we built in those days, and how they're still viable today as the basis for a brand new project. (This is the part where you get to say "Huh?", so go ahead and do that. I'll wait a minute for you to get it done.)
OK, now that that's out of the way, allow me to explain, using myself as the example. My first attempts at "serious" plastic modeling took place while I was living in Japan during the early 1960s. The models weren't very good, nor were they particularly memorable even to me, and I was the guy who was making them. The second phase of "serious" took place around 1968 or so, when MicroScale began producing and selling aftermarket decals. There had been other decal companies prior to that, of course; HisAirDec, Stoppel, ABT, and Authenticals all come to mind, jus to name a few, but the offerings of the Krasel brothers were fairly accurate, much thinner, and looked a whole lot better on a model than did the offerings of those other guys. Those MicroScale decals and, in my own world at least, those of Max ABT and Authenticals, stimulated the creation of a veritable rash of psuedo-authentic 1/72nd scale model airplanes, most of which were built to a pretty terrible standard of completion.
Some of those models were favorites, though, and several became prized members of my collection. Most of them are gone now, either taken to bits to provide parts for other projects (Reduced to Produce, as San Antonio modeler Bob Angel is fond of saying) or accidentally destroyed by my children as they discovered those neat little toys sitting innocently on the shelves of my studio, but the memories are there, and so is a fondness for certain of them.
It was in one of those periods of Fond Memories a few years back that the epiphany struck me: Why not reproduce a few of those old-time favorites, but with modern kits, aftermarket, paints, and decals? It seemed like a good idea at the time, so off I went in search of inspiration, which I found in the hulk of an old Frog Hurricane Mk IIc that I'd built in 1968 or 69 as Karel Kuttelwascher's BE581 JX-E, based on information found in the frontispiece of the old Profile Publication on that airplane. I bought a Hasegawa Mk IIc kit in 1/48th scale (my scale of choice these days), discovered that Sky Decals had a Hurricane sheet containing those very markings, and went to work. I even took some red decal stock and cut out patches for battle damage repair and put them on the model where P. Endsleigh Castle's 5-view Profile artwork had shown them to live---common sense makes me doubt they were really on the airplane but they were most assuredly on both that artwork and on my original model, and that was justification enough, by Golly! The model came out pretty well, and you've seen it in these pages. The die was cast, more or less.
A few months later the bug bit again, this time regarding the Fw190D-9 flown by Theo Nibel of 10/JG54 during Operation Bodenplatte. In that instance the original model had been a poorly-done rendition of the airplane using the not-especially-accurate Lindberg D-9 as a canvas, but Tamiya had a pretty nice 1/48th "Dora" in their lineup and the game was on, although in that instance I didn't start with a fresh, unsullied kit, but rather with an older completed one on the shelf that was in need of a facelift. That one, and some of the stages of said facelift, are within these pages as well.
You can, if you're interested, see photographs of both of those models by scrolling down to the very bottom of this page and using the search feature to find them, but those models aren't really the point of this ramble. No; it's all about personal nostalgia, and nothing else. Those two models I cited meant a lot to me way back there in the 60s, which makes the clones of them I built some 35 years later somewhat special as well. As a further bonus, working on them add substantially to my enjoyment of the hobby.
Is this something you ought to try too? I dunno. It worked for me, but that's how I'm wired---I enjoy old stuff and, to an extent, replicating it. You might not care for that sort of thing at all, but you have to admit it's an interesting facet of the hobby. Now; where did I put that old Monogram Wright Cyclone kit...
The Quiet Rebirth
Several years back an amazing polystyrene model airplane producer in the Czech Republic released a series of kits of Kurt Tank's immortal Fw190. It was a substantial family who's kits ran from the A-5 through the A-9 varieties of the design and ultimately included a 190F-8 and D-9 as well. Taken strictly as plastic kits they featured amazing, if somewhat fiddley, detail, but were a tough date for a great many modelers and, at the end of the day, weren't nearly as accurate as they were originally touted to have been. Eduard sold a ton of them in spite of that, though, and a lot of people built them, including myself. They were petite, delicate, and looked great when competently built but, as we mentioned a moment ago, were also somewhat inaccurate when judged as scale models.
Then came their Me109G-6, another beautifully detailed model that was, somewhat unfortunately, heavily hyped by them as the end-all and be-all of Messerschmitt kits. Those kits were really nice and actually lived up to their stellar press announcements, right up to the part where everyone suddenly discovered that the models were out of scale. There we were, set up and knocked down again. Good grief!
There's a happy ending to this story, though, because, in a move almost entirely unprecedented in our hobby, Eduard went back and completely retooled that unfortunate Gustav kit, re-releasing it to considerably less fanfare than they'd done the first time around. That reworked model is now the winner it was originally billed to be, a kit with correct dimensions and only a tiny handful of small corrections to be made, presuming you feel like they're serious enough to even need correcting. Bravo!
Then, just to prove Eduard were truly as good as their reputation says they are, they tooled and are in the process of releasing a brand new family of Fw190s, starting with the A-2, -3, and -4 variants, and boy are they ever something! The accuracy is there, as is detailing well above their already high standards. They've even taken the time to address detail issues on such tiny components as gun barrels, boarding steps, et al, and they've done it with a minimum of back-slapping on their part. Bravo again!
I recently bought one of their A-4 ProfiPack offerings, more on a whim than for any other reason, and was so impressed with the kit that I jumped in a built it almost as soon as I got it home. While I'm not going to bore you with a lengthy review or how-I-built-it article, there are a couple of things I wanted to share:
So what's the reason for running two Ost-Front Luftwaffe models in back-to-back issues? The obvious one is because the kit is relatively new to the market and worthy of an article, but there's a far deeper reason. Eduard, whom I believe we'll now have to dub The Little Company That Could, issued a nice-but-not-really Fw190 family a few years back, and then followed it with their disastrous Me109G kit; the models you could produce from both kits were viable and attractive when built, but were also inaccurate to a great degree.
Most manufacturers would have shrugged their shoulders, said something like "Oh well", and moved on, but Eduard didn't see it that way. They completely re-tooled that 109G, and did it without making a huge deal out of it. Their early Focke Wulfs are seemingly great right out of the gat, and as a result we've now got what may be the best family of Fw190s kits ever produced by anyone in any scale, while the trees provided with these early releases indicate that they're going to address all of the short-nosed Wurgers to this new, and significantly higher, standard of accuracy and detail. That's a Very Good Thing for us all even if your personal tastes don't run towards airplanes with black crosses on the wings, because it seems to signify a giant leap forward by the guys at Eduard. We can only hope that anything they do (including their announced Tempest V) will be done to this same extremely high standard. I think they'll do it, and I'm enthusiastically awaiting their future releases.
Way to go, Eduard! Your picture's on the piano!
Or maybe not, but we've got a couple of 417th BG A-20Gs to share with you today:
Those Other Guys
We Americans tend to be an ethnocentric bunch. The Pacific War was our war, and we did all the fighting, right? There were other folks there, but they were just helping us out, right? WRONG!!!
A Price to Be Paid
Some people have a glamorous view of war. Most of those folks have never been involved in one, and it's sometimes valuable to remember just how awful things can be:
Thanks once again for the dedication of Bobby Rocker, and all those like him, for finding and preserving photographs such as these so we can view them and learn from them!
Air to Mud Eagle
A product of the Air Force's Enhanced Tactical Fighter program, originally conceived to produce a replacement for the General Dynamics F-111 family of aircraft, the F-15E Strike Eagle entered service with the 405th TTW during 1985 as a long-range interdiction aircraft. Since that time, the type has provided interdiction and strike capability in every conflict in which the United States has been involved, and is still an extremely viable aircraft today. Don Jay has provided us with some fascinating images of F-15Es from the 334th TFS of the 4th TFW (the sole wing operating the Strike Eagle) and we think you'll enjoy the images. Here's what Don has to say about them:
Here (are some photos of) the 4 Fighter Wing at Seymour Jonson-aka “Shady-J”. The group provides worldwide command and control for two operational F-15E squadrons and is responsible for conducting the Air Force's only F-15E training operation, qualifying crews to serve in worldwide combat-ready positions. As I mentioned previously (in a separate e-mail), the 4th Wing was quite receptive to photographers like me and during the 90's, I was able to document the Strike Eagles many times. Attached are a few from two trips in the late '90s-these document some of the 334 FSq birds.
Don took these photographs back in October of 1999, when the aircraft was still young and relatively new to the Air Force. Since then, the type has been very heavily engaged in the myriad of conflicts in which the United States has become involved over the past two decades and the airframes are beginning to show their years, although the Strike Eagle force is still most assuredly mission capable. It, and all the other members of the F-15 family, are and always have been highly impressive. Many thanks to Don Jay for sharing these gorgeous photographs with us.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out
OK, ya'll; brew up a pot of coffee and get yourself about a month's supply of popcorn. Bobby Rocker, best know to all of us for the remarkable still images he shares with our readership, has come up with a link to an absolutely staggering number of films regarding military aviation. It's hard to describe what's here in the few words allowed by this blog so follow the link below and enjoy!
Long Ago and Far Away
Way back when the USAF had thousands of aircraft in their inventory, there was a trainer. It was a simple aircraft, and a logical off-shoot of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star family. There was a time when the Air Training Command was heavily populated with the type, and it saw service as a unit hack, and in a handful of specialized roles, long after the requirement for it had been superceded by more modern aircraft.
Reader and contributor Doug Barbier once flew the mighty T-Bird, operating the T-33A in one of the world's toughest aviation environments with the 57th FIS out of Keflavic, Iceland. There are no photographs of 57th FIS T-Birds in this photo essay, nor did Doug contribute any of the photography you're about to see. He did, however, manage to engage in mock air-to-air combat with certain of the 57th's F-4s, with an outcome somewhat different than most of us might expect. This piece is being published specifically for Doug; petty bribery, if you will, in order to get him to share a couple of those stories with us.
For those modelers who follow this blog, there's a relatively new "late" T-33A kit out there in 1/48th scale, and with any luck this photo essay will inspire a few of you to build one. On a far more personal note we're hoping all those T-Birds will also inspire Doug to tell us what it's like to hassle with an F-4 in an airplane designed in the 1940s---we have reason to believe the result might not be what most of us would expect!
The Relief Tube
Not this time, gang! It's not that we haven't been receiving mail, because we have, but rather because a lot of that correspondence has been from people asking for assistance with their research projects. We're delighted to do that sort of thing when we can and even more delighted when we don't mess things up, but we do listen to our readers and like to hear about it on those occasions when we make a mistake. We're always on the lookout for new photographic material as well, and in either instance you can reach us by e-mail at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom. Just be sure to remove a couple of letters and insert the appropriate . and @ symbols and you're there.
That's it for today. Be good to your neighbor 'til the next time we meet.