Friday, February 18, 2011

Requiem for a Friend, Another Couple of FJ Photos, The Continuing Saga of the Stoof, Eduard's Fw-190 Family, and Another Big Spitty

An Overdue Tribute to a Departed Friend

Frank Garcia was a long-time aviation entusisast, a plastic modeler, and a friend. You've seen some of his photography in these pages, taken back in the early 60s when he was a V1 guy on the "Shang" and the "FDR". He loved airplanes and he loved plastic modeling but, most of all, he loved naval aviation.

Among other talents, Frank was one of the fastest modelers I've ever known, being able to crank out a finished 1/72nd scale Name That Airplane over a weekend, starting from the time he took the plastic wrapping off the box until the time the completed model went on the shelf. He wasn't turning out bad models either; a great many of them placed in local contests Way Back When. He pioneered a couple of techniques I still use and, most importantly, he shared with others. Some modelers like to keep things a secret because they think that doing such a thing gives them an edge. Frank thought that sharing what he knew helped everybody have more fun with the hobby and because of that philosophy he never got whizzed off when a model didn't work out. He'd just put it away and start something else.

We shared a lot of miles chasing airplanes together back in the 80s, driving all over Texas, Nikons in hand, searching out military airplanes wherever we could find them. We got sunburned, rained on, snowed on, hailed on, and, on more than one occasion, disappointed when we got to where we were going when it turned out that the airplane we were chasing wasn't there after all. He never complained or criticised (a talent I've often wished I had for myself) but just grinned and kept on going.

Frank died of a massive heart attack back in the mid-1980s. He was a young man, still in his 40s, and his passing was a shock to everyone who knew him. Everyone who knew him respected him, and everyone missed him. His wife and children kept going and eventually moved on with life, but things just weren't the same with Frank gone.

Fast-forward to right-now-this-minute, which is a Friday down here in Sunny South Texas. Tomorrow's the day San Antonio's IPMS chapter has their annual contest ("Model Fiesta" is what they call it) and, unless they've changed things, one of the trophies they'll award will be The Frank Garcia Award, given for best US Navy airplane model. A couple of us decided way back when Frank passed that such a thing would be a fitting tribute, and successive generations of Alamo Squadron members have apparently agreed with the concept. It won't bring Frank back, but it's definitely The Right Thing to Do. Meanwhile, I try to use Frank's notion of Not Getting Overly Excited every time I pick up an X-Acto knife. It's not a bad legacy, I think.

Ever wonder who Alamo Squadron's Frank Garcia Award was named after? Here's your answer. The date is 22 March, 1981, and Frank, his son Frankie, and I are on the ramp at Laughlin AFB shooting the late arrivals before the everything opens up to the public at that year's air show. Frank had fun that day, but then Frank always had fun, and it generally rubbed off on those around him. That's a pretty good legacy, I think. Vaya con Dios, Amigo!

Just When You Thought We Were Done With The FJ

It's easy to develop a fondness for certain things, and airplanes are no exception. One of my special interests has always been the North American FJ series of fighters, mainly because we've never had a decent 1/48th scale plastic kit of an FJ-2 or -3, although the Czechs did a viable FJ-1 a while back, and we now have a buildable FJ-4 from China. The FJ-2 and -3 remain elusive, and it just shouldn't be so!

In the beginning there was the FJ-1. It's a goofy looking airplane, and it's performance is laughable by today's standards, but it was a Really Big Deal when it was first introduced into service. Everybody knew it was just a step along the road, but it got the ball rolling. Fighting Fifty-One got to introduce the type into service as illustrated by this gorgeous example. Squint just a little bit and you can see the F-86/FJ-3 in that airplane.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

You might well ask yourself "Self; how do they practice for carrier landings before they go to the boat?". The answer is simple. You get yourself an LSO, a runway, an airplane, and a lawn chair. Then you practice. This Fighting Sixty-Two FJ-3 is coming aboard at an un-named naval air station during the mid-1950s prior to deployment. Don't you wish you could've been that photographer?!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's why you practice. This VF-62 FJ-3's in the groove coming aboard the Bennington during pre-cruise workup. This is how it looks when you do it right.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Gettin' ready for the boogie. The aircraft are, once again from VF-62, and this time they're playing for real on the boat. Pretty airplane, huh?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Even More Stoofs

We're now officially in the Home Stretch in terms of our ongoing coverage of the Grumman S2F, but we're not done yet. Here's another collection of photography to amaze and astound:

One of the primary users of the "Stoof" family was TraCom, who operated the type as a multi-engine trainer for a number of years. This example from VT-28 typifies the breed as far as Training Command was concerned; a pretty scheme but one that's seldom modeled. Pity.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

 We all have a Bad Day at the Office from time to time, but I'm guessing none of our Bad Days can rival the one these guys are having! A VT-27 TS-2A flies past the boat with the Number 1 engine ablaze and falling apart some time in 1964. The NATOPs says it's time to Get Out of There Right Now when this sort of thing is going on, but those guys are way to low to do anything but ditch.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Remember back there where I said the airplane was coming apart? The engine's feathered and the nacelle is literally coming to pieces, with chunks falling into the sea. The ultimate outcome of this is not known, at least to this publication, but it looks pretty bad. Sure hope those guys got out of there ok. Nobody ever said military aviation was safe... Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Sometimes it isn't fire that gets you; the boat's a dangerous place in the best of circumstances. This VS-30 S2F-1 was in the process of trapping aboard the Antietam when Things Went Seriously Wrong; she's caught a wire but things aren't looking particularly good at the moment. As far as we know the injuries were confined to Personal Pride, but it was a pretty scary day for all concerned, we suspect.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Mighty Stoof was a versatile airframe and had quite a career as a utility type and COD. 136546 is a US-2B assigned to NAS Miramar; the tail markings are particularly noteworthy. When the S-2 left the NAV she did it with dignity!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's what the "Stoof" looked like as a COD. This beautifully-maintained C-1A is off the Constellation, date unknown, and typifies the pride the COD guys took in their airplanes. The logo on the nacelle says it all.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VS-82's squadron markings were simple but effective as demonstrated by 151671, an S-2E shown taxiing at Davis Monthan in 1974. I think I read someplace that Kinetics was about to release a 1/48th scale kit of the "Stoof"; I can't wait to see it!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

One could ask if you've ever seen a shark-mouthed S-2 before, but we all know you have because we ran a black and white photo of one a few issues back. Here's another photo for you, and it really shows that marking to advantage, as well as a considerable amount of detail of interest to modelers. Jean, this one's for you!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

We can't run a photo essay without an air-to-air, can we? This section of Princeton-based S-2Gs were photographed doing a little form in 1975. The S-2 family was liberally covered with lumps and bumps from the very beginning, making it an ideal source of subject matter for modelers. Wonder why we had to wait so long for a 1/48th scale kit?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The "Stoof" was a great airplane, but nothing lasts forever. Here's our official Parting Shot depicting a VS-37 S-2G in formation with its replacement, the Lockheed S-3A, this example being from VS-21. The S-3 was (and is) a more capable platform than it's sometimes given credit for, and it's even got a neat nickname in the Fleet ("Hoover"), but at the end of the day it still ain't a "Stoof", is it? Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And that's pretty much it for our coverage of the S-2F family, at least for now. We're still looking for sea stories and photography, however, so if you've got anything you'd like to share we'd love to hear from you. That address once again is .

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wulf?

Eduard, that consistently amazing company from the Czech Republic, has been issuing a seemingly unending procession of model airplane kits that could only be considered superior by most any standards. They do manage to drop the occasional clanger, as our Former Empire friends are wont to say, but all in all their kits are right up there with the best available.

One of those recent offerings in the Right-Up-There-With-the-Best Available category would be their family of Fw190 variants. They've pretty much covered them all, from the -5 to the -8, with a D and an F thrown in for good measure, and they're all pretty good kits, albeit with a reputation for difficulty of assembly. Your Humble Servant (me) pondered that reputation for a while and decided to go off and build an Eduard Focke Wulf for himself because, simply put, if I can't mess it up nobody can. It was a test of sorts.

Anyway, the model is under construction but not yet photographed, and I'm not correcting the accuracy issues so well-documented by others; the whole purpose of this set of paragraphs is to provide all of you who might want to build one of the short-nosed kits for yourselves the Official Key to the Highway so you can avoid the frustration that's allegedly built into those plastic pieces.

The complaints that I've seen all concern themselves with problematical fit, and the internet is filled with stories of angst and passion written by folks who have struggled with the beast and had to clamp, fill, and sand in order to get said pieces together. Here's what you can do to avoid that particular passion play:

First, there's the wing spar, which is p/n I-16 in the A-8 iteration of the kit. That spar butts up against a little triangular piece (K-20), and you need to install the triangular piece first, then the spar. Make sure, and I mean absolutely certain, that said spar is perpendicular to the wing. Lock it in and let it set up before messing with the model any further. Once that's done, you've ensured that all those wheel well ribs, as well as the wheel well itself, will fit with absolutely no drama and no need for subsequent surgery.

The other Major Bugaboo with the kit is a direct result of the relationship between the cowl gun components and Everything Else, and the proper fitment of same will absolutely make or break the building of the model. Take a look at the kit's instructions when you're assembling the cowl gun deck; the ammunition feed trays/spent cartridge case ejection chutes (parts H-20 and H-21) fit to the front of the bulkhead that's numbered I-4. The rest of the cowl gun installation is built on that, and the whole component section fits into the fuselage in front of the completed cockpit. Install the cockpit first, being careful to align the decking behind the seat with the cutout in the fuselage and also using the mounting tabs inside the fus. If the cockpit is in the right place the cowl gun assembly will go where it's supposed to, mating up with its alignment tabs too. Those subassemblies have to fit the fuselage correctly; if they don't, you'd may as well give up and go do something else unless, of course, you enjoy suffering.

Once you've addressed those two issues you can assemble the completed fuselage to the lower wing, making certain that the two "prongs" that are the spent-cartridge case chutes straddle part number J-18 and align with the appropriate openings in the lower wing. Thanks to proper alignment of the cockpit and gun bay that was a snap-fit on my model so I presume it will be the same on yours too; just be gentle when you do the snapping and all will be well.

If you've done those basic things the cockpit and gun bay details will fit properly without spreading the fuselage in the process, the inboard cannon bays (parts I-14 and I-15) will fit into the wing and alongside the fuselage without any trimming, and the wing assembly will align perfectly with the fus. The only Tough Thing yet to do is install the exhaust pipes (which Eduard supplies a jig for) and carefully fit the power egg into the fuselage.

So, who's afraid of The Big Bad Wulf? Not me, by Jingo! That said, I'm one of those folks who think the kit is somewhat over-engineered and not for those modelers who's skill sets are, shall we say, of a lesser order, so you new guys might want to build a couple of other kits before you tackle any of these. Then again, how else do we learn?

No matter how you feel about the kit, it's perfectly buildable (as is everything this modeler has ever touched that had the name "Eduard" on the box). You just need to give it the respect it deserves while you're sticking things together. Patience is a virtue!

That Spitfire Train Just Keeps On Rollin'

And we're ding-danged glad of it. We are, of course, talking about Tamiya's remarkable series of 1/32nd scale Supermarine Spitfire kits. They first started the ball rolling with a Mk IXc, then a Mk VIII, and now a Mk XVIe, all of which are the definitive kits of there type, and all of which should be in your local hobby shop or favorite mail order house any day now. Through the kindness of Rudy Kline at King's Hobby Shop in Austin we were able to take a look at the trees comprising the parts unique to that new Mk XVIe and were/are suitably impressed.

Here's the biggest change to the kit to allow construction as a Mk XVI. The detail on those parts is absolutely gorgeous, and everything is there to allow us to build the ultimate Merlin-powered Spitty.

Here's the cockpit detail on the inside of those fuselage halves. Everything is on a par with the contents of the Mk IX and Mk VIII kits. For once, the term "museum-quality" isn't being abused!

My lighting makes the transparencies hard to see but you get the idea, right? That canopy has a slight bulge to it, just like the production canopy on the real thing. There's a tiny, almost invisible seam to contend with on the outside of the canopy in consequence, but a variation of that seam is on the canopies on the other two Tamiya Spits as well; it takes about ten minutes to polish it out. It's a small price to pay for that sort of out-of-the-box accuracy.

And finally, here are the parts required to update the gun bay covers, cannon, and landing gear legs. Tamiya didn't miss anything as near as we can tell---their "Spitfire" family just gets better from kit to kit!

We mentioned it before, I think, but the addition of the parts required to make a bubble-canopied Spitfire, plus the parts design of everything else, should enable Tamiya (if we're lucky) or the aftermarket industry to offer up virtually every Merlin-engined Spit ever made from the Mk Vb onwards. Your editor has never been all that much of a Spitfire fan but these kits define the current state of the art and are an absolute joy to build. I'm looking forward to the next member of this growing family (and praying it's a Mk Vc!).

The Relief Tube

First, a comment or two from Rick Morgan regarding the "Stoof":

The STOOF: The ultimate “pokata-pokata” machine. Two T-28s flying formation with a Dempsey Dumpster (or garbage truck, depending on the source). When I was a Midshipman at Corpus for training in 1976 I had a Marine Captain yelling at us, trying to impress upon us what junk the Navy flew- he used the TS-2As on the ramp there as evidence. Neat aircraft- I have about 1.0 hours in them.

There were only four TF-1Qs modified (EC-1A post 1962); In effect these birds were fore-runners to FEWSG, providing fleet EW training from the beach. Two went to each coast. VAW/VAAW/VAQ-33 had 136785, 136788.  The AirPac birds (136783, 136787) started at VAAW-35 (code VV), the North Island based, AD-flying, night attack outfit, moved to VAW-11 (code RR ) , which flew WFs, AD-5Ws and AD-5Qs out of North island.  In 1960 they moved to Alameda-based VAW-13 (VR) which kept them in service into the late ‘60s.  VA-122 picked up 136787 late it its life and, I suspect, used it as a hack and not for its EW abilities (something I’m trying to get confirmation on).  All four were converted back to standard C-1 configuration by the early 1970s;  136787 was lost in a mishap as a COD at Souda Bay Crete in April 1982.  Rick

Thanks as always, Rick and, while we're on the subject, reader Dave Southam is working with the CollectAire kit of the S2F and has a question for us:

I’ve been following your site for a couple of months now and I really like the depth you go to in covering a specific aircraft. I have grown tired of the model sites where the discussion reverts to Bf-109s within three lines.

Do you have any info on the Roll Controls of the Stoof? I have put off building the Collectaire Willy Fudd for lack of a clear direction regarding flight controls.  Cheers, Dave

Thanks for the kind words, Dave. As for roll control on the S-2, I don't have the answer! Rick/Tommy/Doug, do either of you have any insight regarding the topic? (Or anyone else, for that matter. The address is if you can help out or have any "Stoof" photos or information you'd like to share with us.)

Reader and long-time friend John Kerr ("Maddog" to those who know him) never ceases to amaze when it comes to digging things up. He's been doing it for years, first with slides and prints and now, in this Age of Electronic Miracles, on the internet. He recently sent a link to an artist's site that you might enjoy---it's military aviation and it's seriously neat. If you're interested in such things check out . She's doing some spectacular work on Navy aircraft, among other things.

Jim Sullivan sent along a site as well. This one seems to be a virtual Home for Wayward Reciprocating Transports and is well worth a look. The IP address is htp:// . There's some pretty cool Old Iron in there. Thanks Jim!

And finally, I've been doing another friend a disservice, even though it was entirely unintentional. Tommy Thomason runs at least two blog sites that I'm aware of, and I'd messed up the link to one of them in our "Links" section (the site is "Tailhook Topics"), which resulted in one of those Screen-of-Death "you can't get there from here" pages. That's since been fixed, and apologies both to Tommy and to any of you who tried to get to his site from that link!

That's about it for this week. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not All Stoofs Chased Submarines, The Spit is Done, A Little More From Post-War Japan, and A Modeler's Bomb Load

Before We Get Started

Let's say hi to all the new folks who've started following Replica. Welcome aboard, everybody; we hope you enjoy what we're doing here and will continue to visit us. One thing you might want to note (and I know at least a few folks are wondering because I get e-mails saying they do): Apparently a lot, maybe even most, of the other blogs out there allow comments through the "comments" part of their blog's software. As previously mentioned (but a long time ago) we've never done that; guess we're just old-fashioned! Still, the comments and corrections are very important to us, which is why we encourage you to write directly to rather than using the "post a comment feature". We respond to everything except spam, and generally publish the comments in The Relief Tube, so we're definitely paying attention to what you have to say. We don't give out addresses or names, or anything like that, in case you were wondering/worrying about it. It's just easier, us being old-fashioned and all, to deal with things directly. And with that out of the way, let's move right on to, you guessed it; more "Stoofs"!

A Pretty Useful Little Airplane

We generally think of the S2F as a submarine chaser, even though we all know there were dedicated versions built specifically for COD and early warning duties. In today's thrilling installment of our S2F series we're going to look at "Stoofs" that served in roles that might best be categorized as None of the Above.

If the active-duty Navy flies a particular type of airplane, it's a fair bet that the Reserves will operate the type as well. Here's a prime example of that; an S2F-2 from NAS Alameda. Somehow the "Stoof" just doesn't look right in day-glo, does it?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And here's a view of 133261, another S2F-2 from Alameda. She's well-used but equally well-maintained, a hallmark of the Reserves. Airplanes rarely get as messy as some modelers like to portray them---less is more when you're weathering, ya'll!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here's something you don't see every day. This "Stoof" is assigned to VA-122, the A-7 Corsair RAG, but she's not an S2F; she's an EC-1A, a rarity in the S-2 community. Comments are encouraged. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried.

And a pair of EC-1As from VAW-33. This would be an ideal time for Rick Morgan to jump in and provide us with some information on the type and its use in the EW community, since VAW/VAQ-33 is a heritage sort of thing for him. How 'bout it, Rick?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The utility squadrons used the "Stoof" too. Here's a fine example of a US-2C serving with VC-1. That airframe has seen better days, but the squadron badge on the nacelle looks pretty nice all the same; I'm particularly interested in the way the Engine Grey faded on that airframe! The utility squadrons were definitely among the unsung operators of the S-2.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VC-5 was another operator of the US-2C. Here's 133347 doing what the utility squadrons do best. Of particular interest is the presentation of the BuNo on the mlg door---you just don't see that every day. The Utility "Stoofs" would make into a really colorful model, I think.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The US military had quite an infatuation with the Skyhook concept during the 1960s. This photo shows a NATC "Stoof" rigged out for that mission. We're all familiar with the system's operational use on the C-130, and we ran a couple of shots of a similarly-equipped C-123 here a few issues back, but who would've thought you'd ever see the installation on an S-2!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And the Skyhook in action---that must have been quite a ride! The test subject (the very brave test subject) is in process of being winched into the hatch that lives in the space formerly occupied by the ventral radome. What a way to make a living, huh?  Sure wish we had a closeup of the art on the side of that nacelle!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

When next we meet we'll take a look at some S2F photos that have thus-far escaped classification in our ongoing essay. Stay tuned!

Another Big Airplane, or Where Am I Going to Put These Things When They're Done?

Which is a non-too-clever way of saying that the 1/32nd scale Tamiya Spitfire Mk VIII project is complete. The model is a snap to build and I think it looks pretty good when it's finished. Anybody want to see some pictures?

Let's start with a view of the entire model. We've all seen/read/been-exposed-to the hype on all the internet modeling sites, but for once a model so-described actually deserves all those accolades, and more. So far we've seen a Mk IXc, a Mk VIII, and a Mk XVI off the basic molds, and the way Tamiya's designed the kit would make it a relatively simple thing to make the rest of the Merlin-engined family from the Mk V onward. We (that's Journalese for "me") weren't too crazy about the kit decals, but everything else is pretty darned good, kit photo-etch included. Oh yeah, that blivet off the port wing is one of the two optional aux tanks provided by the kit; the other one is on the model. You'll have quite a few extra parts hanging around when you're done with this one!

Here's the other side, and you still get to see that extra tank as a bonus! It (the tank) is jacked up like that because of the mounting pins---it's a simple matter to remove the 30-gallon tank that's on the airplane right now and replace it with the bigger one(45-gal? 60?) shown, or remove it entirely. The Mk VIII was a relatively late addition to the RAAF's fighter force; the model represents A58-526 of 79 Sqdn as seen at Morotai during 1945. By that time the squadron was performing long-range mud moving for the Allies and the aux tanks were a necessity for most missions. The airplane is weathered, but not as heavily as it could be except for the exhaust stains which are extremely prominent in the surviving photos of UP-L.  The kit includes those ubiquitous metal hinges to allow the control surfaces to deflect but I don't like that sort of thing and locked the ailerons, elevators, and rudder in place. I also closed up the cowling---that beautifully-done Merlin 61 is in there but I didn't care for the fit of the cowling pieces, magnets or no magnets, and locked down the cowling too. You pays your money, you takes your choice...

The width of those white ID stripes on the leading edge of the wings seemed to vary a lot from airplane to airplane; those on 526 were relatively narrow and were done with a thinly-sprayed dirty white, which let quite a bit of the underlying camouflage show through. The same technique was used on the spinner, while the prop blades were painted with a faded flat black. (The real props were "plastic" on this airplane, so there's no metal showing through this time, just a highly-weathered finish!) Those exhaust stacks are separate, all twelve of them, so you'll need to be careful with their alignment and no; you can't ask me how I know that! In one of the model's rare failings, Tamiya provides a port for the gun camera at the base of the starboard wing root, but there's nothing in there. I added a camera from plastic tube, but it sticks out a little further than it should because I decided to do it after the wing was buttoned up; that really should have been done while everything was in pieces---live and learn! The sharp-eyed among you will note the complete lack of an antenna wire on the model; the Mk VIII retained the mast but didn't use an external aerial for the radio.

The lighting's a little goofy here, but I wanted to show you that aux tank and the bomb racks and bombs, all of which are included with the kit. Given 79 Sqdn's mission at the time the bombs make an excellent addition to the model, and they're detailed enough that all you need to add are the arming wires! One thing about those bombs, though; Tamiya provides both nose and tail fuses in photoetch and tells you to use both, but it would be relatively rare to find both of those fuses on a weapon at the same time. It's far more likely that you'd find either the nose fuse in place or the one at the back, but the type of fusing would have been entirely dependent upon the mission being flown. I opted for the nose fuses because they're easily seen and were probably the ones most often used. They add to the model, don't they?

This shot shows us the fuse again, and also the nose art, which came from the excellent decal sheet found in Kagero's "Top Colors 18",  Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII  , Lublin, 2010. Those decals performed flawlessly and were among the best I've ever used, the set providing the nose art, fuselage codes, and serial numbers shown here as well as markings for an additional ten or so Australian Mk VIIIs. You can see the arming wire on the bomb to advantage in this photo, as well as the photo-etched propeller for arming the bomb's fuse. That bomb rack is a thing of beauty too, easy to assemble and absolutely fool-proof, always a Good Thing where I'm involved! Those wing roundels are from the 1/32nd scale Victory Productions sheet and worked a whole lot better than the kit decals did (stiff as a board, they were!). Fin flashes, and that little white stickie on the front of the aux tank, came from the kit but everything else was sourced from aftermarket. I usually blame myself when decals don't work, but the kit decals were really special. Fortunately, there's a fair aftermarket for Mk VIII stickies these days...

This photo gives us a better idea of the actual colors on the model, and shows off a little bit of the cockpit to boot. The kit's cockpit is excellent as-is, but Eduard's cockpit set for this model helps things more than you would imagine and I definitely recommend using one on your model. (Conversely, the kit's Sutton harness works just fine; no point buying more aftermarket for that area and Eduard doesn't provide a harness with their interior set---go figure!) All the paint was Testor ModelMaster enamel, with weathering done with pastels or a combination of airbrushing and pastels, that last technique being used for the exhaust stains. Note that there's no lettering inside the cockpit door of this airplane; some Australian Spitfires had it there, but a whole bunch don't, so I left it off. You might also want to be aware that the crowbar molded inside that door isn't usually red on real wartime airplanes---that's an affectation of  the contemporary Warbird scene and modelers who want a little extra color in the cockpit. The crowbar was generally grey-green on wartime Spitties.

It's deja-vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say! The kit could actually stand a little more in the way of detailing, and I really really really wish Tamiya would stop using those gimmicky rubber tires on their premium kits, but this thing sure looks like a Spitfire when it's done. Total build time was about two weeks, but I didn't superdetail anything---that particular activity would have extended the time it took to finish the kit by a considerable margin. My personal preference is to inactivate all the working features, but that's just me. This is easily the best kit I've worked with during the past couple of years, and it's raised the bar substantially for models in this scale.

And that's it for the Spit. (That sounds odd, doesn't it?) You really have to wonder what Tamiya's going to do next. It'll be tough to top this one!

A Few More From Long Ago and Far Away

It's no secret that I've got a thing for the post-War US Air Force in the Far East. The whole concept is pretty neat, I think, particularly since some of those airplanes carried their wartime markings into the late 1940s. Dave Menard has provided a few more shots for us to drool over; let's take a look!

The 3rd BW (previously 3rd Attack) got A-26s late in the war, and took them to Japan when they were assigned occupation duty. These A-26s are carrying pre-USAF stars and bars, which places them at either Atsugi, Yokota, or Johnson, but I have no idea where this photo was taken (or when). The aircraft are all carrying either names or nose art, but are too distant from the camera to make out what any of it might be. So near and yet so far...  Menard Collection

What a neat lineup of Invaders! The OD over grey scheme lasted quite a while after war's end, both in the Far East and in Europe. Check out the noses on those B-model A-26s; both 6-gun and 8-gun variations are depicted in this photo; take your pick! Anybody got a time machine?  Menard Collection

Look at the Big, Black Airplane ya'll! Northrop's P-61 stayed in the Far East for several years both as a night fighter and, in guise of its cousin, the F-15 Reporter, in the photo recon role. By the time of the Korean Unpleasantness they'd been replaced by F-82s, probably a Good Thing for all concerned. It's possible, although I'm not at all certain, that this bird is from the 547th FS; if any of our readers can clarify that point I'd be grateful. The address is, as always, .  Menard Collection

They're most likely P-51Ds, and they're in Japan post-1947. Past that, I just don't know, but it's a neat ramp all the same. The Mustang nearest the camera appears to have a white stripe under the wing, and check out that OD and grey C-46 at the end of the line. Menard Collection
44-73812 is a P-51D-25-NA, and she's on the ramp somewhere in Japan. The tail striping on the Mustang at far right suggests the 35th FW, but I'm not at all certain of that. Still, 812 is carrying a name ("Dee") on the nose and is well worth modeling.  Menard Collection
And finally, some Mustangs from the 35th, probably at Yokota post-1947. 44-73641 is another P-51D-25 and, I think, is featured on a couple of old MicroScale decal sheets. "Tornado" is painted on her nose, and that red cheat line, along with the pre-War AAF rudder stripes, really sets her apart. The Mustang to her right wears command stripes and we can make out part of a name ("Mother..."). If only the photographer had been shooting from a slightly different angle that day!  Menard Collection

We're starting to go somewhere with our post-War 5th AF project, I think. If any of you have anything else from that era (I'm particularly looking for 475th FG P-38s in Korea post-War) please let me know. We'd love to run them! As always, the address is .

I Suppose You Could Do It, But Why Would You Want To?

Republic's F-105 was designed and built as a tactical strike fighter, and was configured from the very beginning to carry an internal bomb load. Changing times and a rapidly evolving world stage called for a change of plans, and the type spent most of its days hauling externally-mounted iron bombs to targets in Southeast Asia instead of streaking across Eastern Europe at the speed of light. Somewhere in the evolution Republic needed to figure out what sort of bomb load the Thunderchief was capable of carrying...

Boy, is that a bunch of bombs or what? 61-0095 was built as an F-105D-15-RE and is seen here during armament tests, most likely at Eglin, in the early 60s. That load of Mk 82s looks really impressive, but carrying that many bombs would've given the airplane a totally useless radius of action. 0095 saw duty with the 421st TFS in SEA and was lost on 24 March, 1966, during a strike up North.   Republic B-11019
An early bird; 58-1173 was an F-105D-5-RE and is shown here carrying a full load of M117s en route to the range. Once again, radius of action would have been a major issue with this bomb load---she would've made quite an impression, but she wouldn't have gotten very far from home. 1173 was one of the lucky "Thuds", surviving the war to be surplused out to MASDC in 1981. A few survived...   Republic B-11353

The Relief Tube

It's a Slow Day correction-wise, but we've got a kudo from a reader that I'd like to share:

Hi Phillip,
I was an avid modeler....a long, long time ago. I had all the Replica in Scales and most of the Aerophille, and found them to be the BEST reference information available....I ebayed them 5 years ago and with them most of my model airplane collection....built & unbuilt. I have donated most of my built models to a local CAP Hq. My IPMS # was 1273. Anyway I still do research on the 7th & 40th squadrons whenever I get an itch to read about airplanes. I am mostly about hot rods now....  I am so glad I found your will provide me with much reading and oggeling of pictures....chuck shotwell

Thanks Chuck, and please feel free to share any photography you might come up with on the 7th and 40th! Meanwhile, do any of our readers enjoy hot rods? If so, please check out the blog site Chuck linked to above; there's some really neat stuff there if you happen to be a gearhead. (I just finished restoring an old 1/25th scale '32 Ford roadster for Jenny's bookshelf, so Chuck's site was a real treat for me!)

While we're in that vein, I don't know how many of you go to the "Links" part of this site. There wasn't one for a really long time, you know, because I was far too computer-challenged to figure out the incredibly simple and intuitive software that allowed me to add such things to Replica. You might want to try them out if you haven't before; there are some neat sites out there and I think you'll enjoy them.

Meanwhile, that's what I know for this week. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stoofs Around the Boat, a VX-3 Hog, When Ignorance Isn't Bliss, Tamiya's Big Spitfire Mk VIII, Another Rough Day at the Office, An FJ Kind of Day, and a Turkey

 Down to the Sea in Stoofs

In this edition of our ongoing Stoof Extravaganza we're going to take a look at the Tracker in its intended environment; at sea. The S2F was a good airplane around the boat in any of its variations and was well-liked by those who crewed her (or at least I've been completely unable to find any former "Stoof" aircrew who didn't like her) except for the noise which was deafening in that airplane, both figuratively and literally.

Here's what it looks like when you own a whole bunch of "Stoofs" and have to find someplace to park them! At least 8 VS-25 S2Es are shown sharing the flight deck with VMF-223 Det Tango A-4s. The photo was taken aboard CV-10 Yorktown and provides us with a graphic illustration of why most jet-era naval aviators preferred larger decks. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Ambush Three-Niner, an S-2E from VS-25, is tensioned and ready for the cat shot in this dramatic photo. She may be heading for some air-to-surface work judging from the LAU pod hanging off her starboard wing---control of the sea lanes was a secondary mission for the "Stoof" throughout her career.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Another "Stoof" waiting for the cat. 152841 is from VS-38 and is shown here as she gets ready to take the last S-2 cat shot in 1975. This photo provides a graphic illustration regarding the need for that tail bumper. There are some interesting lumps and bumps on that bird!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Providing ASW for the Fleet was the primary reason for the S2F family's existence, as graphically illustrated in this shot of a VS-25 S-2E overflying the Yorktown with 'dome and MAD boom deployed. In The Real World that airplane would be just the least little bit further away from the boat, but it still makes for a nice picture!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Here we are in the cockpit of another VS-25 S-2E, lined up on the center ball and ready to trap. It looks really easy in this photo, doesn't it? I'm told on very good authority that it sometimes isn't really that way; there's a reason those naval aviators are such good sticks.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Even the good landings can be a little sporty, as depicted by this VS-25 "Stoof" caught in the act of trapping aboard the Yorktown. There's another S2 in the racetrack; let the games begin!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The flying's done for a while and it's time for a little R and R. USS Bennington is making a port call, with a VS-38 S2F-1 spotted next to the island. We've mentioned it before but it bears repeating; the Peacetime Navy of the 1950s and early 1960s was, by and large, a clean Navy, airplanes included. Modelers take note! Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

We're not out of "Stoofs" yet, so join us next time for another chapter in our S2F essay when we take a look at a couple of unusual Trackers, some Reserves, and maybe even a little drama. Don't touch that dial!

All Beat to Snot is What It Is

Rick Morgan sent along this photo of a VX-3 Corsair a while back and I'd been holding off running it, but today's The Day. It's a post-War bird and is a little different from the norm. Let's check it out.

VX-3 is, and pretty much always has been, a test and evaluation unit. In that role they've flown a wide variety of aircraft, and it's never been unusual to find multiple types within the unit at any given time, which makes this F4U-4 the norm rather than any sort of exception. What is exceptional is the overall condition of the airframe which is, not to put too fine a point on the matter, just all beat to pieces. There's no doubt the airplane is in excellent condition mechanically, but there can also be no doubt that bird has been used, and used hard. Anbody want to step up and build a model of that one? (If anybody does, please send a photo of the results!)  R. Morgan Collection

A Missed Opportunity

OK, ya'll, here's another of my seemingly endless There I Was stories to amuse and astound you but, if your own personal take on that sort of thing is that it's yet another boring tall tale from that Replica guy, feel free to move on. In my world it bears repeating because of the lesson learned and the opportunity missed and I think it worth sharing, but to each their own.

Way back yonder, in 1972 or so, the American Fighter Aces Association held their annual convention in San Antonio, a city in which I was resident at the time. The local IPMS group had committed to put on a display of relevant model aircraft, and I'd volunteered to work said display. How could I go wrong? Lots of aces, lots of stories, and a chance to show off some models---in 1972 it didn't get much better than that as far as hobbies went!

Anyway, there I was, standing by one of our display cases minding my own business (more or less), when these two guys walked up to the case that contained our paltry collection of Vietnam-era jets. They were both a lot younger than the WW2 and Korean War aces we'd been talking with all day, so there was no doubt they were just a couple of passers-by who held an interest in model airplanes. Still, they were interested.

They looked at the display for a minute, then the more outgoing of the two turned to me and asked "Do you have any 17s here?". 17s? OK, his dad must've been 8th AF or something during The Big One, right? "Yep, sure; there's a B-17 over there in that corner case." He grinned at me and said "No, not those old bombers. I mean MiG-17s. Do you have any models of a 17 here?" "No, I'm sorry; there's a kit available but nobody here's built one yet. There's just not enough information on the North Vietnamese air force out there, and that's what most of us would want to build."

The Outgoing Guy got an even bigger grin and said "I've seen a bunch of 'em. You could probably just paint the model silver and you'd be ok." I stood there for a minute letting his remark soak in, but obviously not letting it sink in enough since I just wasn't snapping to what he'd said about seeing NVAF MiGs. The conversation went on for another minute or so, small talk mostly, and The Quiet Guy (he being the one who hadn't said anything yet) said "Thanks for showing us the models. It's a neat display, but we've got a meeting to go to and we need to leave." I said thanks and opined that I'd been rude and hadn't introduced myself. I told them my name, and The Outgoing Guy stuck our his hand. "Randy Cunningham. My friends call me Duke". The Quiet Guy chimed in: "Willie Driscoll." Then they left.

There's a lesson to be learned here, something to do with open-mindedness, a character trait I haven't always possessed. I missed a golden opportunity to talk to the Navy's only Vietnam ace and his RIO because I was so down-and-locked about model airplanes and I never got a second chance at it, at least not with those guys. Like I said, it was A Lesson Learned, but it wasn't the only lesson I learned that day. NosirreeBob; when I'm on a roll, I'm on a roll! Let us continue.

There I was yet again, same day/same place, shaking my head and wondering if I could somehow physically manage to kick myself really hard for the opportunity I'd just blown, when an older gentleman walked up and went straight to the case that held all the representatives of the Pacific War. He stood there with his hands behind his back, obviously thinking about something as he looked at the model of an Australian Spitfire Mk V in the case. OK, I thought to myself; this guy speaks my language. Maybe he was there. I'll go say hello.

So I marched myself right on over there to say hello to the guy. He smiled and returned my greeting, his accent immediately identifying him as being a member of The Former Empire. That should have been a clue but, as usual, I was pretty clueless, presuming that he was British because of that accent (never mind the Aussie Spit he'd just been looking at). I guess I figured that I'd impress him with my worldliness (read "abysmal ignorance" here) because I asked him which part of England he was from, a question that prompted an immediate and somewhat impassioned response regarding the British, Great Britain in general, and his opinion of anything that could even remotely be tied to that distinguished group of islands. He then informed me that he was Australian and had been a P-40 and Spitfire pilot during the war. He was in a hurry to get somewhere too, but was gracious in his leaving and held out his hand. "I'm sorry, I've been quite rude. My name's John Waddy."

John Waddy. Holy cow; John Waddy. Waddy was one of the RAAF's high-scorers, in case you didn't know, and a legitimate person to look up to if your interest runs to personalities of the 2nd World War. He was also (and still is) one of my personal heros, which was probably why I suddenly lost the ability to coherently say my name in reply to his introduction. John Waddy. Holy cow...

So there you are; two really good reasons to listen instead of talk when you meet somebody new. It's a lesson I haven't fully learned even now, but it's a pretty good lesson nontheless; You can't listen when you're talking. Some day that may sink in, but somehow I doubt it...

Everybody Needs a Spitty, Right?

If you build 1/32nd scale you've probably already seen the series of late Merlin-engined Spitfires recently released by Tamiya. To this point we've seen a Mk IX, a Mk VIII and, most recently, a MK XVI, and I'm guessing there will be more to come since the kit's component breakdown easly lends itself to the accomodation of a large number of variants.

It's a good kit too, in any of its several iterations. Think of those big Tamiya Zero kits, and then think of anything good (or maybe even superlative) you've ever heard about a Tamiya kit, and it's all there in spades. Detail, fit, overall accuracy; it's all there and there's relatively little needed that's not already in the kit (although I personally found an Eduard Zoom offering for the Mk VIII to be a tremendous help in the cockpit).

Anyway, this isn't a review, or anything close to one, but it does tie into the editorial immediately preceeding this missive. I've always wanted to build an Australian Spitfire Mk VIII, but not the ubiquitous sharkmouthed MK VIII from 457 Sqdn which is, I suspect, what most folks will want to do with this model. (It's a sharkmouth, right? And, in all fairness, a sharkmouth looks really good on the Spit. I just didn't want to do one on my model.) That said, I pretty much jumped right out and got myself a Brand Spanking New Tamiya Spitfire Mk VIII as soon as they were released, and got started on it a couple of weeks ago. Here's where we are with it as of today:

It took about 2 weeks of pretty steady work to get to this point, but that's mostly because this is a kit you want to be careful with. It's expensive, of course, but it's also really good and you'll want to do it justice. As with most big Tamiya kits, there's a lot on this airframe that could be considered to be gimmickery, at least if you're like I am. All the control surfaces move, the landing gear is positionalble through the magic of optional components, and there's that now-famous series of magnets to allow the easy removal of the cowling, thus allowing us to display the amazingly well-detailed Merlin engine. On my model everything has been rendered inoperable except for the prop which will, I suppose, turn once it's added. I tend to break things with lots of working features; always have, probably always will. On the other hand, all the gun panels are separate items, and all fit flawlessly, absolutely flawlessly. The kit-supplied photo-etch is really good too, with the pilot's armor plating being particularly noteworthy. It gives a scale appearance that's just amazing when installed. One other thing; as complete as it is, the kit doesn't provide any of the cockpit wiring, electrical conduit, control cables, or placards that reside in the genuine article. Eduard has the placards and the rest is easy enough to cobble together if you want to, and you might go ahead and decide that you do indeed Want To, because the cockpit will look a little bare if you don't. And, for the record, I much-preferred the Eduard instrument panel, et al, in the cockpit. It spiffed things up a lot more than I thought it would.

Here's what the other side looks like. The decals are a mixture of kit (the fin flashes), Victory Productions (the roundels), and the decals found in Kagero's Top Colors 18/Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII, which includes a whole bunch of RAAF Spitfire markings including the ones you see here. I've only seen photos of the left side of this particular airplane and have no idea if the squadron codes really infringed on the fuselage roundel that way, but it's the only way they'll fit and it's how Kagero shows it, so it's how I did it. If it's wrong we can always look at the other side instead! For what it's worth, all the decals except Tamiya's worked flawlessly and we're waiting for everything to cure out a bit before weathering the beast. The Tamiya decals were a surprise because they were stiff and didn't really conform very well to anything---that's not the norm by any means and maybe it was just me, but this time I'm going to say it wasn't. You might want to invest in some aftermarket stickies if you're going to do an Aussie Spit; the Victory sheet ("Aces of the Empire", or something like that) provides a sharkmouthed 457 bird as well as Clive Caldwell's aircraft, while the Kagero set has ten or eleven (I forget which) different offerings including "Avagrog" as done here, "Hava Go-Jo", "Sweet as a Song", and "Hal-Far", among others. I consider both to be essential if you're going to do a Spitfire from Down Under. One other thing about those decals before we go: I still don't care for the notion of squirting floor wax on my models and usually perform the pre-decal glossing ritual using either Testor Metalizer Sealer or Testor clear laquer, but I also really thin my paint (60% or so) and tried something different this time around. The undersurfaces of the wings got the usual coat of Metalizer Sealer, but the upper surfaces were lightly polished with an old cotton tee-shirt; no polish, just the shirt. That activity produced a really nice eggshell finish and all the decals went down flawlessly with no silvering. I just may start doing that all the time.

And a view of the bottom. Preliminary weathering has begun, and I still have to add the bomb racks; the model represents A58-526 "Avagrog" from 79 Sqdn as seen at Morotai in mid-1945, when the squadron's duties consisted primarily of moving mud. That 30-gallon aux tank is a nice touch and is removable---the kit also provides a 60-gallon tank if you're so inclined, and the Morotai ships often went on ops with external tanks in place---they needed the gas. Paint is the ubiquitous (over here, anyway) Testor Model Master (RAF Ocean Grey, RAF Dark Green (faded), and RAF Medium Sea Grey, with dingy off-white for the ID bands on the leading edge of the wings, while the weathering has all been done with pastels. Those Morotai Spitfires were well maintained but looked really beat up, providing an interesting challenge in terms of weathering. I don't know if Eduard produces a "regular" photo-etch set for this family of aircraft or not, because I bought a Zoom set for the interior, but as complete as this kit is there are a couple of smaller details that are missing. You're probably sick of hearing it, but good references are a necessity, even with a Tamiya kit. You'll definitely want photo references for your exterior too; most of the Australian Spitfires operating out-of-country in 1945 were heavily weathered and duplication of same will be a challenge without them.

There's not much left to do on this one and it ought to be finished in a few more days, at which time we'll reconvene and see how it came out. Up to this point I'm really impressed with the kit. It's every bit as good as everybody says it is and sets the bar pretty high.

The SpAD Was a Tough Old Bird

Most of those old American prop planes were pretty darned tough, and could survive a tremendous amount of battle damage. That could be attributed to good design, good materials, simple systems (and not many of them), and, sometimes; luck as well. Here's an example.
There are any number of ways we could caption this photo, but I think the grins may say it all. This A-1 has just recovered with a substantial chunk of its port aileron hors de combat courtesy of the NVA. The airplane's broken, it's raining, and those guys are pretty darned happy. They've probably both been down this particular road before, in Korea and maybe in World War 2 as well. Every man a tiger...  USAF via Paul Jahant

The Fury Around the Boat

It's been a while since we've done anything with North American's FJ Fury, and there are still a whole bunch of pictures we could look at. Today's as good a day as any, so without further ado:

Steam catapults really add a mystic appearance to the flight deck, I think. This section of FJ-3Ms from VF-84 are in the process of moving up to the cat for hookup and launch. The Deck Division is scrambling, although a couple of airdales off the nose of 202 give things a business-as-usual aspect. Some of those guys are wearing cranials and ears, but more than a few aren't. Those flight decks were incredibly noisy...  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

If it launches it recovers sooner or later. Usually.  This is, dare we say it, a picture-perfect approach by one of Fighting Twenty-One's FJ-3Ms. The speedboards are out and everything's hanging as 204 prepares for what appears to be a perfect trap. Note the closed canopy.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

207 gets ready to take the wire. The landing gear is at full extension and looks somewhat odd in consequence. Those early jets weren't happy around the boat because of their distinctly disadvantageous thrust to weight ratio, compounded by the fact that the early engines were slow to spool up. The price for a missed approach or sloppy landing could be high indeed.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Sometimes you know there's going to be a problem ahead of time, which is when you rig the barrier a little further aft. The driver of this unidentified FJ-4 is having a bad day, but it could've been a whole lot worse. Some carrier accidents could best be termed horrendous, but this is more of an incident, declared in advance and worked according to procedure. Still, things were probably pretty sporty in that cockpit for a while.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

We Almost Never Run Pictures of F-14s Around Here

And that's a shame, considering what a neat airplane it was.

If any airplane picture could be considered a classic photo, this one would surely be in the running. An F-14A from VF-111 poses for his wingman while flying CAP somewhere over the Pacific. There's not much to be said here except that it's the perfect way to end a day.  Nankivil Collection

Happy Snaps

Last time around we discussed the possibility of a new section devoted to the contributions of our aviator readers called "Happy Snaps", and here's our first installment of same. If any of you are interested in contributing, here are the ground rules:

1. The photo needs to be air-to-air, preferably but not necessarily of a military airplane.
2. You had to have taken the picture yourself---nothing from official sources, etc.
3. If you didn't take it yourself, you need to have been there when it was taken.

Pretty easy, huh?  That said, here's our first official entry in the Happy Snap Department:

I don't know about you, but I think this is a pretty amazing way to lead off a new department. It's an F-5, sortof, but it's a special one. Let's let contributor Kolin Campbell explain: Here's an aircraft you may not have seen. It's the 'shaped supersonic boom demonstration' test aircraft, a modified F-5E. When NASA finished their tests, our squadron was tasked to lead the aircraft during its ferry flight to Florida, due to its avionics fit. The photo was taken near Palmdale, CA. I did not take this particular photo (I'm in the F-18D), and cannot recall who did. You can credit it to 'USN'. I have some other pictures that I took during the ferry flight, but don't have easy access to those right now. Break out your balsa wood and see if you can't carve up a model.    Kolin

Pretty cool, I think. Thanks Kolin! Anybody else have some happy snaps they'd like to share with us?

The Relief Tube

Tommy Thomason's been following our "Stoof" series, and offers a link to some interesting tests involving the type.

And while we're talking about "Stoofs" and Tommy, here's another photo that may be of interest:

The Author as a Young Man. That's Tommy in the middle, taken in front of a VS-21 S2F-1 at Sangley Point, PI, Way Back When. Thanks for sharing, Tommy!
The whole reason we run The Relief Tube is to correct mistakes. Every once in a while I manage to drop a real clanger, as pointed out by sharp-eyed reader Grant: Thanks for your write-up on Monogram. One small point that you already know, it was the USS Pueblo Crisis in 1968 that sent the F-106s to Korea, not SS Mayaguez in 1975. Yikes! I'm embarassed over that one, having watched the whole "Pueblo" thing on TV!

Grant also had something to add regarding that last B-50 piece we did:  Interesting comments on the B-50. One aircraft that doesn't get enough attention. 46-0005 should be a B-50A. I am an ex-airborne weather equipment repairman, though the B-50 was before my time. Bernie Barris, ex ARWO is a fount of knowledge on weather aircraft. He said that the weather marked B-50As were trainers and not fitted with weather equipment, so it should be TB-50A if redesignated at all. 310 is now at the Air Force Museum and the non-standard modifications (small camera window on the nose and small scoop before the prop warning line) along with the missing AMQ-133 Psychrometer on the left nose has thrown an error into some WB-50D profiles. I believe that it flew out of Panama before being flown to the Museum and vaguely remember that it was concerned with upper atmosphere or space radiation. If you wish to discuss weather aircraft, Bernie can be reached through the AWRA Homepage. Thank you for the pleasure of reading your blogs.  Grant

And thanks to you, Grant, for both the correction and the additions to the B-50 piece, and thanks for helping to keep us honest!

And that's what I know. Thanks for dropping by, and we'll see you again real soon. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor.