Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Mystery Airacobras, The Son of The Son of Neptune Returns, A Texas T-Bird, A Pretty Talon, and Some Nifty 109 Stuff
Stomp, Shout, Work It On Out, Or What A Silly Hobby This Can Be
A year or so ago the increasingly amazing folks over at Airfix announced that they would be releasing a 1/48th scale model of the Curtiss P-40B. That announcement quite literally set the world of plastic scale aircraft modeling on its collective ear, since the type had been horribly served by the industry in terms of kits in that scale and nobody had been able to substantially improve on the by-now primordial kit that Monogram had released way back in 1964. The general point of view within the hobby was that a decent kit in that scale would to all intents and purposes constitute a license to print money for the company smart enough to get it right, and the recently resuscitated Airfix had been on a roll for a while, with each new kit being substantially better in every way than whatever kit had come immediately before. Airfix had even taken the time and effort to measure a surviving and restored Hawk that had gone down in the former Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. Life was good.
There were, of course, a few hiccups along the way, the most significant of which (at the time) being a misplaced tailwheel well which was subsequently corrected prior to the release of the kit. Then it happened; a modeler on one of the boards began to compare the unreleased and totally unavailable-in-plastic kit's lines against period photographs and discovered an apparent anomaly regarding the lower fuselage lines, specifically in the area of the cooling flaps and that large fairing running along the ventral centerline to just aft of the trailing edge of the wing. That discovery, seemingly based primarily on speculation since there were no actual kits available to anyone at the time, started a poopy storm of discourse within the internet modeling community at large and on one or two web sites in particular. The resulting angst became so seemingly unbearable that a handful of people were actually stating, in print (electrons, actually, but let's not pick nits here), that they would never purchase the kit once it did become available because they were so disappointed that it wasn't going to be perfect.
Then the kit was released---in the UK a few weeks ago and more recently here in the States. That started up an entirely new round of electron-killing as the debate over that horribly flawed belly began all over again, this time in three-part harmony, with a fair number of people soundly lambasting Airfix for their unforgivable error. More reasonable folks offered up the opinion that the real example measured by Airfix had bellied in and not one of the handful of surviving long-nosed P-40s had an accurate-as-manufactured-by-Curtiss ventral area to examine or measure, and that the loft drawings that could provide the definitive answer don't seem to be around anymore, but none of that greatly reduced the general gnashing of teeth regarding the model. Then, as we all might have expected, the usual hue and cry went out for Resin, that miracle of modeling miracles and, indeed, the very salvation of Scale Plastic Modeling itself. To that end, someone is probably working up a fix as I type this (it couldn't hurt anything, we suppose) and the whole problem will inevitably go away just as soon as another manufacturer releases the next kit of the airplane we always wanted to model and, inevitably, pooches some part of it. Okay; the problem won't really go away, but fewer people will continue to discuss it at the great lengths recently enjoyed because that P-40B will have become Yesterday's Papers. As an aside, I've got a copy of the kit on my desk as I write this and except for the prop it looks just fine to me, even with the less-than-perfect undersides. I'll agree that there are issues there but I'm going to tell you right here and now that they won't make all that much difference unless you choose to build the model and then display it upside-down, and even then there are only a handful of people on the planet who could look at that underside and specifically (and dimensionally) explain exactly what's wrong with it. Is the problem worth fixing? Of course it is, if that's what you want to do. Will it stop you from building a truly nice replica of an early P-40? I don't think so, because the rest of the kit is so very nice.
We've discussed this sort of thing before, right here on these very pages, but I'm going to repeat myself and provide you with my perspective on the subject, for whatever that perspective may or may not be worth. To wit:
If you absolutely positively have to own something that mimics the original article in each and every respect and detail, then you'll have to go get yourself said Original Article because no model, in any medium or kitted or built by anybody, is going to be 100% accurate. It ain't gonna happen, not today, not tomorrow, and not ever. 35-plus years in aerospace, a great many years of which were spent in the manufacturing of airframes, convinces me beyond a doubt that The Real Thing is rarely, if ever, done entirely to the designer's drawings. If that aforementioned Real Thing deviates from the drawings (and it often does---that's one of the many reasons God invented drawing revisions and change notices), then your model honestly doesn't stand much of a chance, does it?
What, then, should we reasonably expect from a kit? You may well have a differing view of things, but my own personal expectations are as follows: Reasonably accurate scale dimensions and shapes. Reasonably accurate contours. Reasonably accurate details. If those things are present I can take the ball and run with it from there, and can choose whether or not the inevitable issue(s) is/are worth the time and effort to fix. I truly do want to start out with the best and most accurate kit I can obtain of any given subject and, in that same vein, I want the finished model to be as good as it can be given my extraordinarily modest skills, but that Airfix P-40B is probably going to be the next project on my agenda and I'm not going to be overly concerned about the belly. Your own personal mileage may vary, as they say, but at the end of it all this is a hobby. If I think a particular kit is horribly flawed I'll either fix that flaw, ignore it (doubtful but always an option), or simply wait a while for a better kit to come along. Life's just too darned short, ya'll, and I'm not going to taint my favorite hobby by getting all worked up over something that's wrong with a piece of polystyrene. I used to do that and the hobby wasn't very much fun when I did. I don't do it very often anymore and the hobby has once again become, for me at least, all the fun I thought it was when I "built" my very first polystyrene airplane kit way back in 1956.
Your mileage may vary...
Keeping Us Guessing
One of the things about our hobby that's both fun and extremely frustrating, all at the same time, is the occasional photograph about which we collectively know next to nothing; Mystery Meat, as it were. The next two shots, sent to us by Bobby Rocker, illustrate that frustration but my oh my...
The thing that drew us to these particular photographs, besides the fact that they're of early P-39 variants, is the opportunity they offer the scale modeler for diorama ideas. In the first photo we see a P-400 being refueled, while the second shot depicts maintenance on the nose-mounted guns. Kits of the airplanes are available in all the various scales, while the trucks are available in 1/48th and possibly in 1/72nd. Opportunity knocks, as it were!
Thanks as always to Bobby Rocker for his ongoing help with the project.
Just a Few More P2Vs...
Just a few, that is...
We aren't entirely done with the P2V; not just yet, but we are going to temporarily ring down the curtain on military examples of the type with this edition. Thanks to Jim Sullivan we've got a few somewhat unique Neptunes to share with you today, so let's take a look:
That's it for the Neptune, at least for now, but don't be unduly surprised if a few of those fire bombers turn up on these pages soon!
T For Texas, T For T-Bird Too!
Ellington Air National Guard Base has been around for a while, its interceptor assets covering the defense of the greater Houston area. Your editor was there for a photo shoot in the winter of 1981 on a visit to photograph the tenant 111th FIS/147th FIG's F-101B Voodoos, when the opportunity arose to shoot one of their T-33s preparing for a proficiency flight. Opportunity knocked, as it were, and these shots were the result:
A Pretty Airplane
Every once in a while we come across a photo of a really pretty airplane, and we just have to share it with you:
The Erla Bird Catches the Worm?
Ok, ok; it's an awful pun and, at the end of the day, an irrelevant one as well, but sometimes that sort of thing is in us and just has to come out so cut us some slack here! The point of this piece is a simple one: Revell of Germany recently released a 1/32nd scale kit of the Erla-built Me109G-10 for our modeling pleasure. The kit itself is one of that strange breed that was apparently designed by committee, a committee where nobody was talking to anyone else assigned to the project---we say that because the kit is, in a great many regards, simply brilliant in certain areas of its design and execution, while being woefully below what's now considered to be the norm in others. It is, in short, a kit that cries out for aftermarket! We recently purchased one (a bargain at $29.95 USD), and then proceeded to rack up another hundred bucks or so in resin and cast bronze to bring it up to snuff. Here's where we are with it today:
There's still a long way to go before this one gets to be called Finished, but for once all that aftermarket is not only worthwhile; it's absolutely essential to the completion of an accurate model!
Hmm---I wonder how this balances against the editorial up there at the top that I wrote for this very same issue... Fickle, aren't we, or maybe just subjective and more inclined to spend money on some airplanes than on others. At any rate there's definitely a contradiction of philosophy here. A little bit of soul-searching may well be in order!
Under the Radar
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there existed an excellent series of aviation enthusiast publications known as Historical Aviation Album, which I believe was an offshoot of the earlier Aero Album series. Those publications were magazines very much in the spirit of the journal published by the American Aviation Historical Society at the time and were edited by Ken Rust and, later on, Paul Matt. Their quality was superb and a great deal of what they published is still valid today.
That said, in 1973 they released what was, at the time, a seminal work on the 5th Air Force, a tome that was everyone's go-to reference and, indeed, the only worth-while publication on the topic, until the advent of Steve Birdsall's Flying Buccaneers several years later. It was a ground-breaking volume in its day and still holds up well, even by 21st-Century standards.
This is one of those works that's so modest in appearance as to make today's aviation book collector pass it by were they to find a copy offered for sale in a used book store. That would, in our view, constitute a mistake of considerable proportion. Within its modest 64 pages lies a brief description of every significant unit to fly with the 5th AF, broken down by group. Line drawings are provided to define squadron markings and each section is illustrated with photographs and the text, while relatively minimal, is sufficient for its purpose, especially when judged by the standards of the time in which it was published. There's also an appendix listing 5th AF aces, if you care about that sort of thing, but the book's value when it was originally published, and as it remains today, is its quick over-view approach to the subject---it's an excellent starting place if you know just a little bit, but not a lot, about the 5th and want to learn more.
Nowadays its value is primarily that of a springboard to other references, but it was an astounding work way back there in '73 when most of us were still buying into the notion that all the 5th's records and photography had been consumed in some mysterious fire in Tokyo post-War. It was, in point of fact, the only all-in-one-place reference on the topic for several years, and it's stood the test of time better than you might imagine.
We would be less than truthful if we said this book was a must-have in today's world, but for a great many years it was just that, and it's still pretty useful today. There aren't many other books out there that can make that claim!
The Relief Tube
A couple of our readers have written in with comments, so let's get right to it!
Regarding that pair of Marine-marked P2Vs we ran last issue, Rick Morgan offers this clarification:
Phil- Think I found it. The only Marine P2V that I could find on a quick search of Allowance Lists is a P2V-2 at Aircraft Engineering Squadron-12 (AES-12), MCAF Quantico VA, from mid-1952 through 1958. It’s listed as a “Research and Development” platform throughout. They show two onboard in Mar 1955, which may well have been an airframe swap out. Rick
Thanks, Rick. The appropriate captions in our last issue have been corrected.
And in a similar, if not identical vein, Tommy Thomason saw last issue's piece on the P2V and had this to say:
BuNo 39090 had the original P2V nose avec the "bow turret". See attached.
My posts on the Turtle:
P2V Modeling Notes
Each dash number of the P2V seemed to have a different propeller, engine, and engine cowling. Not to mention the changes to the canopy, bomb bay, nose wheel well, tip tanks, etc. over time and the eventual addition of jet engines. Or the fact than both the nose and tail could be changed on later aircraft between armed and ASW patrol. Or the unique noses, like the ones on the P2Vs used for Arctic mapping. One of these days I'm going to do a post on the major differences between the dash numbers. T http://tommythomason.com/
Thanks as always, Tommy!
Next up is a comment from Bret Wood about a piece we published some time ago:
Saw pictures of "Doc’s Delight," "The Snooper,” and “Rugged Beloved” on Casu44.com. This unit saw service in the Pacific, specifically on Tinian. My grandfather was assigned to this unit. Regards, Bret Wood
Thanks, Bret! (I don't suppose you've got any photos...)
Finally, Norman Camou has discovered and sent in another YouTube link for us to enjoy, this time on the 430th FS in action over Germany in 1945 and in living color:
And this one as well, covering B-25 ops to Rabaul. We may have run it once before, but we've also gained quite a few readers of late and the film is too good to miss!
Thanks as always, Norman!
And that's it for this time around and, in all likelihood, for the remainder of this year. Our season's best to everyone and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!
Friday, November 18, 2016
Even More Neptunes, An Evocative Cat Shot, Another Forty-Niner, A Pair of Classy Rides, The Herky Bird in Her Element, and A Treasure
It Can't Be That Hard, Can It?
To cut straight to the chase, as it were, I've had an opportunity to build quite a bit over the last several months and that opportunity has led to an observation of sorts. It's one of those things you've probably noticed in your own world too but maybe never thought too much about, or maybe you thought about it a lot. Either way, it's one of those Fundamental Philosophy kind of things that we all encounter from time to time (and for once I didn't succumb to the temptation to say "phundamental" instead of the real word "fundamental"---your thanks and gratitude are appreciated even though I'll probably revert to form again at some later date), and here's what we're talking about:
Let's presume your own personal production rate is prolific enough that you crank out a model airplane every month or so, or maybe even more frequently than that. Let's also presume that your modeling interests are sufficiently varied to allow you to build a variety of subjects, making use of kits from a variety of manufacturers in the course of your endeavors. Finally, let's make the assumption that you pay attention to what you're doing and actually take notice of what's in the boxes those kits come in, and then let's think for a minute in the semi-abstract, ignoring things like accuracy, the level of detail, or whatever else may normally consume your attention when you first pop the lid open on that brand new kit. Let's be very literal, ya'll, and only consider those pieces sitting in the box and what you can make from them. (Aha! they said in unison as their comprehension of his latest bout of madness set in!)
Ok; maybe you aren't getting it quite yet---I tend to be somewhat obtuse on my best days and pretty much incomprehensible on my bad ones---so I'll explain.
For starters, let's take the 1/48th scale Tamiya Bf109E and examine the pieces sitting in the box. Think about what you see in there and what you can actually do with the kit and you'll figure out pretty quickly that The Big T have released the model as a couple of different variants (the E-3 and E-4/E-7), yet the only difference between one kit and another are the decals and the windscreen and canopy set. Those kits are variant specific, period, which can be expensive if you're paying full retail for one of them and aren't entirely certain where you want to go with the model.
Now let's examine the several year old Airfix model of the same airplane. (Yes; the canopy for the E-4 is well and truly gomed up and there are a few other piddly issues as well, but remember we aren't talking accuracy right now.) It includes multiple windscreens and both canopy styles, a tropical filter, an aux tank with rack, ordnance, and different wings to cover the armament differences between the variants. As far as I know all those goodies are in all the different boxings of that kit, allowing you to build pretty much any 109E variant no matter which kit you purchase.
Or, how about the Me109G-10 in 1/32nd scale? Hasegawa has a kit of what we'll call the "normal" G-10 variant with not much in the way of optional parts in the box, and it sells in the mid-70 dollar range in the United States. Revell/Germany recently issued their own kit of the G-10, but in the less commonly found Erla-produced variation, and that kit includes three different tailwheel covers, two different tailwheel legs specific to the G-10, three different types of rudder (actually four if you consider they also provide a standard "small" tail with the model as well), three different tire/wheel assemblies, two oil cooler assemblies, and two canopies. They didn't include wing inserts to cover those Erla-built G-10s that featured the earlier, small wing bulges, but that's about all they missed and the model goes for 26 bucks here in South Texas. Yes, there are corrections required and the aftermarket resin guys do well with the kit, but it's so inexpensive to start with that it really doesn't matter very much in the long run and I can't think of any other manufacturer out there who can offer that much value for under thirty dollars. If you happen to be on a budget and you want a G-10, this kit very nearly has it all. Shazbot!
Tamiya isn't the only offender when we're talking about one variant per box, of course. Take a look at Eduard's revamped Me109G (and now F) families of kits. There are currently a number of releases offered of those airplanes and they're all variant-specific, but there honestly aren't that many differences from one round-nosed 109 to another until you start hitting the late-War variations, so all the different components necessary for any F or G-1 through mid-War G-6 could easily go in one boxing with the later variants in another, and I suspect Eduard could keep their current pricing even with the inclusion of all the "extras" that would entail. In point of fact, those new Eduard 109s are chock full of "extra" parts marked not-for-use, so one kit can build quite a few sub-variants. They just don't advertise it that way, thus encouraging the unsuspecting to buy lots of "different" kits for little reason other than, maybe, the decals.
And the Beat Goes On (and on, and on), but wouldn't it be nice if the various manufacturers would put all the stuff for the minor variations of a particular aircraft in the same box instead of spreading it out over a bunch of individual kits? The very same Eduard that offers all those different 109 kits released their seminal P-39 with everything for every Airacobra variant and you can quite literally build any P-39 production model ever built, other than the American TP-39 or Soviet-modified two-seat trainers, right out of the box regardless of what the kit is called. Eduard has re-released the model numbers times as different variations, but the only difference between any of them has been the instructions and decals and whether or not the kit was a "ProfiPak" or "Weekend Edition" offering. Once again we'e talking about lots of kits issued but the same stuff, and a lot of it, in the box. In the Old Days we called that "value for money and, speaking of that very thing:
Love them or hate them, the once-revered Monogram used to do exactly that sort of thing back in the early and mid-60s, providing enough extra stuff in their kits to allow us to build an assortment of variations from any particular kit. They weren't always correct in what they offered in those boxes but that's not the point---they took the trouble to do it rather than adding a small extra sprue and forcing us to buy a new kit if we wanted a different variant of a specific airplane. It was a good way to do things back then and I humbly submit that it's a good way to do it now as well, so hats off to the reborn Airfix, Revell of Germany, and the handful of others who go the extra mile to provide the serious scale modeler with value for money in their kits.
Hey kit manufacturers, do you hear that thumping sound? That's Opportunity knocking! How about it?
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out
Two issues ago we ran a feature on early Lockheed P2V Neptunes for your edification and entertainment, but that edition hadn't been up for even 24 hours when we received another photo, this time from Mark Nankivil, that we absolutely positively have to run today!
We really meant that Safe to Come Out part too, because a casual conversation with old friend and Replica contributor Jim Sullivan turned to that very same Navy patrol bomber the other day, which in turn resulted in a few more P2V and P-2 shots you really need to see, which takes us to
The Son of Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Come Out!
We've known Jim Sullivan since the mid-1970s, and the depth of his collection has never failed to amaze us. Here are a few examples of P2V-related collection depth depth for your perusal:
Jim was kind enough to provide us with a number of Neptune photos for this essay, but we're going to stay with the Glossy Sea Blue birds for today. We'll finish things up with a few dogs and cats next time around---stay tuned!
A Patrol Bomber of a Different Flavor
Since we're on a patrol bomber kick around here it's probably time to illustrate an airplane that wasn't manufactured by the folks at Lockheed. This shot from Bobby Rocker's collection that defines the breed to some extent:
Protect and Avenge
Yep; we're talking about one of our all-time favorite SWPAC fighter groups; the 49th, and we're going to offer you yet another photograph from the ever-remarkable Rocker collection:
Thanks as always to Bobby for his ongoing generosity and for his dedication to finding and preserving images such as these for posterity!
USAFE Hot Rods
Ok, not really, but the photo we're about to share with you does have a theme of sorts:
There's not a whole lot to say about Lockheed's amazing C-130/L-100 family of transports that hasn't already been said many, many times before, but we found some more Mystery Meat in the collection a couple of weeks ago and the photos are worth sharing with you today. Let's see what we've got this time!
We haven't done a whole lot in the way of military transports around here and it may be getting close to time to do something about that situation. What do you think? (You know the address, right?)
Well Traveled and Well Worth a Look
It's an odd concept when you first consider it, but a great many photographs assume a life of their own as they become public and travel from the original photographer to enthusiasts and historians. We offer this image as a case in point:
It's been at least a couple of issues since we've run any sort of Happy Snap so it must surely be time to do it again! We're big fans of Rick Morgan's photography around here and coincidentally have a great deal of it in our files, which somewhat coincidentally takes us to today's image:
The Relief Tube
It's that time again, but with a caveat. Some of the comments you're about to read are fairly old and weren't picked up by us for publication when they first arrived here---as everyone surely knows by now, we don't run a forum of any sort in conjunction with the blog, so it's pretty important that we run comments when we receive them. We apologize for the delinquency although, us being us, we can't promise it won't happen again! Please bear with us, etc, etc...
Way back in August we ran a photo of a 405th BS B-25J with the comment that it was taken in the Philippines---Bobby Rocker caught that one for us and sent the following correction:
This is a 405TH BS B-25 at Nadzab in early 1944---a B-25 can't make it to the Philippines from Nadzab as you describe in the caption. The B-25's couldn't attack the Philippines until around September 1944 when the 5th and 13th AF moved to more forward bases. Best regards,
Thanks for keeping me honest, Bobby, and apologies for taking so long to put this in print!
Next up is a comment from a reader known to us only as Big Red Lancer and concerning one of the F3H Demon shots we ran some time back:
That photo of F3H AB-105 with the chief... There were NO cranials at that time. All we had was Mickey Mouse ears and goggles. No float coats, just our green jerseys... and no Flight Deck pay...
It was a different time... Many thanks for the comment, Lancer!
Next up is a correction from Duane regarding a P-40E photo we ran back in our 7 August issue:
The P-40 is an E model. Parson Posten refers to John Posten, formerly of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines.
Norman Camou is a reader who sends us links to really neat stuff from time to time. He found this YouTube link and sent it to us a month or so ago, but we pretty obviously sat on it for a while. We think it's great and expect you'll enjoy it too:
In theory the link will work just fine, but you can always do that copy and paste thing if it doesn't!
Thanks for sending this one, Norman---it's really, really good!
Finally, here's another one of those after-we-published corrections for you! When we captioned the shot of that "Dog" sitting beside the 300SL we mis-identified it, basing our information on a mis-captioned photo we ran in the print issue of this project Way Back When. Doug Barbier caught it (although I'm guessing it was also correctly identified when Rick originally sent it and I somehow misplaced the information). Here's what Doug had to say regarding the airplane:
Phil, I suspect that someone has already mentioned this, but that Wing King USAFE Sabre Dog actually belongs to the 526th FIS, based at Ramstein AB, GE (which also explains the Mercedes) and was the 86 FIW Boss bird between 1958-1959. Also in that vein..... the 32nd FIS was based at Soesterburg AB, Holland (also assigned to the 86th Wg), while no interceptors were based at Weathersfield - although plenty of them showed up for the Open House days. Keeping track of the USAFE units in the 50s is a full time job in itself. OTW, another great issue. And I completely agree with your opener on extra parts for various versions in the kit world.
Thanks, Doug, and a reminder to all our readers: We're just as likely to make a mistake as anybody else is and very much appreciate your corrections and comments. If you see something you'd like to comment on, or something that needs fixing, please drop us a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom. This project is very much a joint effort and we couldn't do what we do without you!
That's it for this time around, ya'll, but we've got some interesting things in store for you next time so stick around! In the meanwhile, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
A Road Less Traveled?
A year or so ago Jenny and I were in one of the several fine brick and mortar hobby shops that still exist in South Texas, passing away a pleasant (for me, anyway) hour or so looking at new plastic and talking to the proprietor, when she came over and said she wanted me to build another biplane, at which point she handed me the then-new Eduard MAG Fokker D VIII. For a lot of people that would have been one of those "thanks but no thanks" kind of moments, but I've always harbored an affection for the oddballs of military aviation. With that as a perspective, there was nothing to do but buy that kit. Czech, Romanian, and Hungarian Fokker D VIIs---how cool is that?!
Ok, so maybe it isn't very cool to you, or even to most people, but I happen to like that kind of thing. Humor me.
The real point here isn't what I like, much as I would sometimes like to think so. Nope; it's about a way to relieve what some might call The Modeling Doldrums, that affliction we all suffer from time to time. For example:
Every passing year sees at least one, if not more, new kits of the immortal but occasionally boring Messerschmitt 109 released to a seemingly never-jaded modeling public. Pick a variant and unless it's a G-12, T-2 (as a primary kit, not a conversion!), or a recce version there's a kit of it somewhere. We're choking on them. After all, how many pointy-nosed airplanes with black crosses can any one person build?
There's another road to take, though, even though it's one relatively few modelers choose to follow. Yes; that German fighter was produced in the many thousands, but countries other than Germany used it in active service---Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Spain all jump immediately to mind, and there were others in addition to those. For the most part their camouflage schemes mimicked those of the Luftwaffe but their national insignia and markings certainly didn't, which provides the modeler with some room to stretch out and explore something a little out of the ordinary.
That sort of philosophy can extend to virtually any combat aircraft as well; it's definitely not limited to those flying machines used by Germany during the 1940s. It's easy to find American, British, and other aircraft in the air forces of countries you wouldn't normally consider modeling. The list could be, and very nearly is, endless in that regard.
Then there are the airplanes that are slightly out of what most modelers would consider to be their normal context. My mind jumps to any Second World War aircraft in a post-War setting in that regard, a category that allows us to build P-47s and P-51s on occupation duty, B-24s (one, at least), flying as a weather ship, or the TB-25s of the Air Training Command during the 1940s and early 50s. For the most part such projects entail little more than markings changes, although that B-24M or TB-25J I just alluded to would also entail some mild conversion work in the way of the elimination of gun turrets---no big deal to accomplish and yet another way to put something really unique on the shelf,
Familiar post-War aircraft (or pre-War, or whatever) markings variations offer yet another road to the modeler who's getting just a little bit burned out by their "normal" interests. Think about the North American T-6 Texan for example, and about it's service with the air forces of nations all around the globe. The varieties offered there, for just that one type of airplane, are virtually endless. Add the MiG fighter of your choice, or almost any Sabre variant, and suddenly you're looking at more airplanes than you can model in a lifetime.
And those are just the markings variations! If you're willing to perform a little kit surgery, a whole different world can open up to you! The Soviet Union used two-seat P-39 conversions for training during the Great Patriotic War and re-engined more than a few P-40s with Klimov powerplants as well. The American Navy slung Bat missiles under some of their PBJs and used them in combat. A lot of wartime aircraft ended up converted for use as hacks and trainers in the post-War world too, which opens up yet another area of possibilities, and that's not including those aircraft that were modified for test or research purposes.
The point is this: Virtually every kit you acquire can be easily modified into something a little bit out of the ordinary if you take the time to research the subject and then expend some elbow grease (which could be as simple as purchasing a new decal sheet or a different bottle of paint) which will in turn add to your personal knowledge, enhance your skill sets, and maybe even break you out of a down period in your modeling career. Yes; there are people out there who are essentially one-trick ponies---their collection is extremely focused and their choice of subject matter limited as a result. In my world that's their loss, and it's an easy problem to fix. It's all a matter of choice. All you have to do is choose.
Snoopers in the Far East
Several years ago we received a series of photographs from John Gluhak, who had spent a portion of his Air Force career with the 45th TRS in Misawa during their days flying Republic Aviation's RF-84F Thunderflash. We meant to run them at that time but mis-filed them in a folder that had nothing whatsoever to do with RF-84Fs, Misawa, or anything else even remotely related to those things. Today is our day of atonement for that mistake, and we offer our sincere apologies to John Gluhak, who provided us with these really neat images:
An Early Neptune
We gave you a teaser last issue and showed you a picture of an early Lockheed P2V-3, a conversion from the classic Hasegawa P2V-7 kit perform by Ed Ellickson. While we were teasing you we promised we'd show you a few more shots in our next issue. Well, gang, it's our next issue, so guess what?
Let's start this off with the e-mail Ed originally sent describing his project:
Dear Mr Friddell,
Since running across your Replica In Scale blog a couple of years back, I have thought about writing to you many times, but never got around to it. Your August 2016 column finally brought together the "perfect storm" of factors to make me sit on my duff and "get 'er done".
First, I would like to thank you for the joy you brought me years ago, when you began Replica In Scale magazine. After seeing the first issue at the local hobby shop, I promptly subscribed (and would do so again!)and stayed with you until the end -- a demise that I still recall with sadness.
I have been building -- off and on -- for a good while. I built my first plastic model in 1954, one of the old Revell box scale B-25 Mitchells. I used tube glue, and had no paints, but it started a wave that was to sort of last until even now. (I sure would love to have some of the old airplanes that I glued up, and then tossed out of the upstairs window to see how they would fly. Some were luckier, like the Lindbergh F9F Panther that at least had a tether to fly around on for a while Those were the days.
But, to the present.
Your mention in the current blog of your being stuck for a while on the Korean War era hit me right in the wheel house. Some years ago, I happened to run across the last surviving P2V-3 Neptune extant, and took a few really bad photos, mostly of some details rather than overall shots. I told myself I would return one day, and take some better shots, and build a model of the darn thing.
Well, certain rats in Florida decided to make a reef out of the airplane, and I never got any better shots. Apparently, no one else did either. Or at least, they've not appeared in public. The ones I got are not overall shots, and wouldn't be of much interest to your blog, else I would send them along. What I did do, was wait several years for some other adventuresome soul to make a kit of the plane, or a conversion kit, or some specific parts, so I could create the model. Nada. During this waiting time I researched as much as I could about the -3, and found that in addition to the usual maritime patrols, these aircraft were used for a time for the road interdiction mission, until things got dicey, courts-martial was threatened, and the whole affair was classified for some 50 years. (Hidden enough so that the same thing was repeated in 'Nam with other aircraft). Interestingly, this twin-engined plane was bigger than a B-24, so at least until the advent of the C-130 gunships, it was probably the largest plane to ever fly this mission. Further, most of the books about aviation during the Korean War don't even mention the aircraft as being there at all.
In any event, toward the end of last December, I sat down and decided what the heck, if no one else will do it, then I'm gonna have to do it myself. In my case, during the late 60's, it seemed like the Brit modelers were the best around for detail and just crazy conversions. (I would like to think that your magazine helped to turn the tide a little more toward our side of the pond!), so I figured why not bring it straight to 'em and see how I did. For that reason and others, I ended up doing a build thread over on britmodeler.com, where I ran a detailed thread showing step-by-step how someone else, particularly the newer modelers, could do a pretty fair old-school conversion. I showed which tools, gadgets and techniques I used to get the old Hasegawa 1/72 P2V-7 Neptune converted to a dash 3 version.
I have attached a few photos for your perusal. ( I know that you have strayed from the path of The One True Scale, but I'm sure that God will forgive you one day.) I thought you might find the model of interest, as it fills a gap for that era, and also because I willingly give you some credit through your publishing efforts, for helping me amass the skill to pull this off. Also, with the exception of some Lockheed-made models of the -3 in wood or metal, I'm betting that this is the only model ever made of a P2V-3, either in plastic or resin or any combination thereof. In that sense, I think it is also historic.
The build thread is at: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234994346-lockheed-p2v-3-neptune-a-forgotten-warrior/ It is entitled "The Lockheed P2V-3 Neptune -- A Forgotten Warrior", and I hope you get a chance to take a look. Your fan, Ed Ellickson -- aka "TheRealMrEd"
And so it began. Not that many people seem to build the P-2 in any variant, much less one of the earlier ones---Jim Sullivan's P2V-5 conversion that we ran back in our 25 May, 2014, edition is the only other one we can think of---so Ed's conversion came as a breath of fresh air to us. Here's what the model looks like:
One final thing: That comment in Ed's letter regarding truck-busting in Korea really got us going but we can't find anything more on the subject than what we've stated above, even though P2V-3s from VP-6 did shoot up a train or two and some coastal targets early in the war. We asked our usual Navy go-to guys if they had any further information and came up with a blank, which leads us to as for further information. If any of you hold photography or anecdotes about the P2Vs used in Korea, we'd sure like to hear from you. That somewhat-confounded-to-confuse-the-spammers e-mail is replicainscale atyahoodotcom.
The whole reason for the American invasion of Iwo Jima was the ongoing requirement for airfields that could be used for the aerial bombardment of the Japanese home islands. Iwo fit that bill perfectly, first as a recovery field for damaged B-29s and later as a base to both the B-29s and their P-51D escorts. These photos from the National Archives via Bobby Rocker illustrate both the operational conditions and aircraft of that time and place.
Thanks as always for your kindness, Bobby!
A Unique Bird
Back in The Day, whenever that might have been, Jim Wogstad and I visited a great many air shows on the day before the actual show, this being done for the purpose of catching arrivals without having to contend with The Maddening Crowd on the day of. Mostly we managed to capture images of variations on The Same Old Thing but every once in a while we'd get lucky and discover something truly unique, as typified by these shots taken at what used to be Kelly AFB on 17 May, 1986.
We honestly weren't expecting anything out of the ordinary that morning, but then it was Kelly and you just never knew what would show up on their ramp, either transient or, in this case, for a public display of American air power. The day was somewhat overcast and providing us with perfect lighting, while the guys at Kelly Ops were their usual helpful selves as they checked us in and handed us off to our PAO escort. So far it was just another day in the neighborhood, but that was about to change dramatically!
The Air Force got quite a bit of mileage out of 7793 before they retired her to the National Museum of the Air Force in 2008. She's definitely a relic from a different era, but she made possible a number of the innovations now taken for granted in aviation.
We Keep Finding Stuff Around Here
and we often have no idea where it came from! This photo has all the earmarks of an official USAF image so that's where we're presuming it came from. However we came by it, it's a drop-dead gorgeous example of The Silver Air Force at its best, and we'd like to share it with you today:
And it's time to go!
Yep---we're running a little bit behind the power curve again so that's it for this thrilling adventure! Tune in next time, etc, etc, but until then be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon! (More or less...)