Monday, March 28, 2011

More Deuces, An Obscure Parachute, The Class of '38, and Some Nifty Post Cards

Doin' that Deuce Thing One More Time

Which isn't accurate, strictly speaking, because we're going to end up with several more installments before we're done with Convair's classic interceptor. I digress, however---last time around we looked at several of the "short tails", and frequent contributor Dave Menard has added a few more pictures to the mix, along with some comments. Let's jump right in and see what we've got:

It's an itty-bitty runway from the air, but that's where he's heading. This bird is from the Wright Air Development Center, a division of the ARDC, and was involved with cold-weather testing as a JF-102A. Those conspicuity markings really stand out!  Menard Collection

Here's a much better view of 802 in the air. The conspicuity-painted wingtips, which aren't very evident in our first shot, are shown to advantage in this photo. What a neat shot!  Menard Collection

Here's 802 touching down and showing off the tail markings. We don't have a good plan-view to define the wing markings but they were similar to the tail treatment. Note that the speed brakes are opened, although this editor can't see any sort of attachment for the drogue chute, indicating that it probably isn't deployed.  Menard Collection

Springtime in the Rockies it ain't. Here's 802 on the ground at Ladd AB in Alaska during the winter of 1955-56, doing cold-weather testing prior to service acceptance of the type. Sharp-eyed readers will note that once again we're playing the "Air Force, Air Force; Where'd They Put the U.S. Air Force?" game! It keeps us on our toes!  Menard Collection

Now that you've seen the Short Tail, here are a few Delta Daggers that might be more familiar to you:

In 1959 our friend Dave Menard was getting ready to deploy to France, but had time to shoot F-102A 56-1455 on the transient line at Peoria ANG Base in Illinois before he left. She's with the 18th FIS and is a relative Plain Jane by F-102 standards, but lack of markings don't hurt those classy lines one bit.  Dave Menard

The 496th at Hahn AB in Germany eventually ended up with some of USAFE's more colorful "Deuces", but 53-0810 wasn't among them when a young A1C David Menard photographed her in the spring of 1960. There's not one single non-standard marking on that airframe. Yet.  Dave Menard

We ran this shot several months ago, but Dave sent it along again and we're running it one more time, mostly because it shows a pair of F-102As from the 4th FIS at an air base in Northern Japan called Misawa. The checkerboards are red and black and these are some seriously pretty F-102s!  Menard Collection

The F-102 sired a two-seat trainer fairly early in the game; the TF-102A may well be the airplane that originated the use of the word "tub" to define the training variant of a tactical aircraft. The TF was ungainly and distinctly non-supersonic except in a dive, but proved a valuable tool for transition training. 56-2239 is with the 149th FIS/Texas ANG and was photographed at McEntire AFB in South Carolina. She's a pretty bird.  Jim Sullivan

You'd think an avionics update would be a relatively simple thing, with just a few changes to the airframe, but if you couple that upgrade with an overhaul you end up with airplanes that look something like the ones depicted in this photo taken at Greenville, SC, on 12 July 1968. It's a side of military aviation that few modelers ever get to see.  Jim Sullivan

We mentioned at the beginning of this installment that Dave Menard had some comments for us. We're guessing you'd probably like to read what he has to say, so without further ado:

31802 at time of photo was a JF-102A, assigned to Wright Air Development Center or Division of the old ARDC and looks like taken on the Patterson side of WP. She was also the Cold Weather Test airframe at Ladd AFB AK the winter of 1955/6 along with an F-101A. These were the last a/c to do CWT at Ladd, as the whole operation moved 26 miles down the Alcan Hiway to Eielson AFB AK. She has insignia red arctic markings on her outer wings as well as what you see in the photo, with an orange fluorescent band with white borders horizontal across the fin.

31806 the YF-102C was flown to Sheppard AFB TX to use as a Class 25 training airframe for newbie a/c mechanics to play with and it looks like that is where that photo was taken. (We also received a letter from reader Mike McMurtrey stating the same thing regarding the basing; good eye, Trey! pf)

31810 got the larger fin and speed boards, splitter plates and updates to wind up in the 496th FIS at Hahn AB Germany where I shot her nude in the spring of 1960. Will dig up a photo and scan it for your use if you desire. Yes! Please do that! pf

31812 the markings on this APGC bird(see badge on fin?)were the original ones put on at the factory. The curved over the wing U.S.AIR FORCE came later on but did not last long

41396 taken at George AFB CA where the 327th FIS was the first Deuce unit in the AF. In early July 1958, the whole sqdn moved to Thule AB Greenland to replace the F-89D equipped 74th FIS. Talk about some troops with tight jaws, wow! Can you imagine moving from George to Thule, hell, I'd be POed also.

Finally, for whatever it's worth, here are a couple of There I Was Stories that involve the F-102. Both come out of Misawa AB, Japan, ca. 1964-65:

Story the First: One of our neighbors in base housing at Misawa was a junior non-com who was assigned to the 4th FIS as an A and E type (that's Armament and Electronics, just in case you didn't know), and he came home with a pip of a story one morning. Seems he'd been working late and had witnessed the ground echelon changing out a pair of "Deuces" in the alert hangars. The replacement birds apparently got to their destination and backed into the alert barns with no undue drama, but the tug drivers must have been bored with things that night because the return to the squadron area with the airplanes that had until recently occupied said barns was a little bit sportier. A lot of Americans are hot rodders, at heart if not in fact, and the malady apparently afflicted the two young airmen driving the tugs; that's the only reason we can think of that would cause a pair of skilled and highly-trained young men to stop their tugs side by side on the taxiway, wait for the signal from a co-conspirator, and conduct an ad hoc drag race back to the 4th's hangar pulling their fully laden and armed F-102s behind them. There was fun, mirth, and, I'm told, an Article 15 for all of the active participants in the festivities. Nowadays the perps would most likely end up under the guardhouse, but this happened in the early 60s when things were, for better or for worse, somewhat looser.  How times have changed!

Story the Second: Misawa was in the process of losing its F-100s, which were being transferred to England AFB in Louisiana and then, a little later on, to Vietnam, Republic of. Losing the airplanes meant losing a lot of the personnel associated with them, which meant that some of my dependent friends were going back to the ZI with their parents. On the night in question, I was at base ops saying goodbye to one of my friends, who was prepairing to board the duty C-46 that made the Ass and Trash run between Misawa and Yokota, when an F-102 landed and made an extremely fast taxi towards the transient area. The pilot stopped the airplane at a fair distance from Transient, shut down the engine, opened the canopy, and slithered down the side of the aircraft. He was, not to put too fine a point on things, running when his boots hit the ground, passing the base fire trucks going the other way as he Beat Feet away from his apparently stricken airplane just as quickly as he could. We all stood there, waiting for Bad Things to Happen, but fortunately nothing did. Happen, that is. We watched for a while, then my friend had to board the C-46 so we all went home. It's been 45+ years since that event and I still don't know what I saw but it was great fun from a 16-year-old's perspective. I seriously doubt any of the Air Force guys involved in the drama shared my enthusiasm for it, however. Ah, memories...

Who Said the Japanese Didn't Have Parachutes?

Well, some Old Guys used to say they didn't use them, even though they were standard issue in both the Japanese Army and Navy air forces during the war. There was apparently a question regarding one of the parachute rigs on one of the many scale modeling boards a few days back and David Aiken, aka "Captain Bonzai" (bet you didn't think I remembered that, did you, David?) submitted several photos of said harness. David was kind enough to copy me on some of the correspondence, which allows me to run a couple of shots of the harness for your enjoyement. I'll let David tell you about it.

Sensei H. Sugiyama Shi sent six scans to illustrate the IJN A6M seat and harness, the parachute pack (zabuton), the harness worn by the pilot, and the connections. As he gathered these items, he still seeks the IJN "D" used (in photo 2) a IJA "rip cord" red handle for the assembly.

Hope this may help with the MANY questions.

David Aiken, a Director: Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

I don't know about you folks, but I often pose figures by my models, and these illustrations are of great value for that sort of thing. Many thanks to David Aiken and his Japanese mentors for allowing the use of the illustrations.  Aiken Collection

The Class of '38

About a hundred years ago, or at least it seems that way, Jim and I were hard at work on an SBD monograph that ultimately never got published. (I recently found and re-read the manuscript I'd written for said monograph and can honestly say that it's just as well; trust me on this one...) Somewhere in the evolution of the piece I'd loaned out a couple of photographs that were germaine to the SBD story. Jim found them a few weeks ago and sent them on to me---you've already seen one of them (the Northrop XFT-1), and there's really no place in our format for the other because of the way it's been tweaked by the USAAC. It's a neat shot, though, and well worth running. Here then is the Kelly Field Attack Section Class of 1938:

If you're an American you owe these guys, although it probably never crossed your mind to even remotely consider that. The photo was taken on 01 April, 1938. Within three years most of the people in this photo were hip-deep in a war, and I'm guessing a fair number of them died in it. That makes the photograph valuable to us all, I think, even though we can't see a whole lot of that A-17, although the gun fit and smoke tanks are of considerable interest to the modeler. Let's consider this one a tribute; thanks for your devotion and sacrifice, Class of '38.  Kelly Field 72861014 via Friddell Collection

You Meet The Coolest People on This Site

If you've spent much time exploring our modest offering, you've seen the links to the right of the page. One of those links is for a friend of ours named Jean Barbaud who, among other things, is one heck of an artist. You can see quite a bit of his work by clicking on his link, but I'd like to share a couple of his images with you here, because they're seriously cool. Please note that they're copyright, and that you can get a set of them (plus many others) by contacting Jean via the address given on his blog.

We really like P-40s around here, and we've had a soft spot for the 80th FG since that article on the unit way back in the original RIS. Here's Jean's take on all that.  Barbaud

And, of course, a P-51D! George Preddy would've liked this one, I think.  Barbaud

"Big Viv" was prominently featured in a classic USAF short film called "The Geiger Tigers". We presume the film was Jean's inspiration for this drawing---what a classic.  Barbaud

And finally, a "Fruitfly" from VA-93. Many thanks to Jean for sending these along.  Barbaud

And, as a reminder, you might want to check out our other links too. They're all favorites of ours and well worth your time!

Happy Snaps

This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite parts of the blog, and we've got a pretty spiffy entry for this week's edition from reader and contributor Don Jay:
Hi Phil, Here is another submission for your in-flight section. This is an F-4E out of Korat. It shows the capabilities of the F-4E and it just looks ‘tough’!! Shows how down & dirty it can get if you use these ac in the way they were meant. Here is a 34TFS F-4E with CBU-24 and Mk 82s both with fuse extenders and selectable fusing. This was taken from the Lemon anchor track in early 71 enroute to the Rt 9/tchepone area of Laos during support for LamSong 719. For the modelers in your group-note the irregular painting of ‘-228.’ dj

Many thanks, Don. We've got another of Don's air-to-airs in the works for a later edition so stay tuned (and please feel free to submit some of your own photography if you've taken any air-to-airs of military aircraft---we'd love to see them. As always, the address is .)

The Relief Tube

We're going to take a little different approach to this department today, by looking at some reader's models.

First off is an overdue look at an XFJ-2 Fury done by reader Brad Poling. He took an unconventional approach to building his replica and ended up with a really neat model. Here's what he had to say about it:


The model was built using the Admiral toys 1/18 F-86 Sabre. As you know, the only Fury(s) one can build directly from the Sabre is/are the XFJ-2(s) and XFJ-2B Fury. It was no easy task as I had to totally dismantle the F-86. These "toys" weren't meant to be taken apart and much care (and patience) was required. I scratch built the nose gear using a wheel from a toy car for the tire rim and used the original Sabre tire on that "rim". The strut was made from a telescoping radio antenna. The gear door was modified and extended forward (though I should have extended it even more towards the nose). The gun ports were filled since the 755 wasn't armed. The tailhook, tail bumper, two barrier guards were all scratch built, as well as, their housings. The gunsight was removed. I borrowed the more appropriate wing tanks, seat harness, and navigational loop antenna from an Ultimate Soldiers F-86. The instrument panel was repainted (the original left a lot to be desired). I added a throttle control and landing gear up/down lever. All of the lettering (save for the small stencils) and insignia are painted (not decals). There are a few small errors (ie, the left wing insignia should have the very tip of the corner touching the wing slat), but overall I estimate it is at least 90-95% accurate. Not bad since I am not a model builder and this was only my second attempt as an adult. My only complaint with this model is the overall nose shape is just a little off. And the intake and exhaust had no detail (that is why I added the red covers). The Ultimate Soldier model was better detailed in this area, but lacked in others. I realize this isn't really the type of "model" you generally cover. However, since you've written on the Fury(s) so often, I thought you'd appreciate some info on the XFJ-2 program. BTW - 133755 was destroyed in a crash in 1953. While Bud Sickel was away with another squadron, a young Lt. took her up with instructions to fly no longer than 30 minutes due to a faulty fuel pressure gauge. Well, after 30 PLUS minutes of flying......he ran out of fuel and crashed. He barely escaped with his life. Brad

You can find Brad's photos at . They're well worth a look.

One of the really neat things about this project is the fact that we get to meet people from all over the world. One of those readers is Anton Kochetkov, who writes to us from Russia. He's a dedicated (and seriously good) scale modeler, and has sent us a link to his latest project, a rework of the old 1/48th scale Lindberg X-3. The forum he's posted in is written in Russian, but the photos speak for themselves and the site itself is really neat too, and worth your time. Please give it a look:

Thanks for sharing with us, Anton, and please let us know when the X-3 is finished! (And send pictures!)

And that's what I know for now. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Fury You Could Build Right Now, Things You Never Saw, A Primordial Scooter, Some Equally Early Deuces, and A Couple of Teasers for Next Time

I Want a Second Generation FJ Fury and I Want It Now!

That said sounds a mite prickly, to quote a line from a recent movie about the Alamo, but it's true. Think about it; we've got kits for the First Gen FJ, the FJ-1, in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales, and they're buildable. We've got at least two different 1/48th scale kits of the Third Gen FJ-4/4B and one sort-of ok one (Emhar's, but there may be others; I don't keep up with the scale so I'm not sure what else is out there) in 1/72nd, but we don't have any sort of decent Second Generation FJ, said generation being comprised of the FJ-2 and FJ-3, in any scale. The Late and Largely Unlamented ESCI gave it a shot back in the 80s with a neither-fish-nor-fowl combined FJ-2/FJ-3 that was, simply put, a terrible kit. That was mostly because the manufacturer didn't seem to understand any of the differences between the two types or, for that matter, between the FJ-2/3 and its parent F-86---unfortunately, that's a common malady when we're talking about the FJ and Plastic Modeling.

That's really a shame, too, because there are so many colorful schemes for the Fury out there and because the type was one of the better 1950s Navy jet fighters. It's my guess that an accurate 1/48th scale FJ-3/FJ-3M would sell like the proverbial hotcakes---I'm betting that such a kit would literally fly off the shelves, and that the aftermarket decal people would make a small fortune doing markings for it. Maybe we'll see one someday...

Meanwhile, reader Brad Poling has provided us with a couple of neat XFJ-2 photos, a great way to start any day. Let's get right to it!

Bud Sickel delivered FJ-2 (the first production FJ-2) 131927 to the Navy on Dec 11, 1952. Attached are two photos of that a/c. My period prints do not have any info printed on them. I do not know where they originated. Also attached is Bud in an AP photo being catapulted in his XFJ-2 from the USS Coral Sea (If memory serves, this took place in November 1952). The picture of 133754 being catapulted I sent you previously was taken at the same time. As a side note, Bud was the first Naval aviator to reach 1000 hours of JET time. He was the assistant director of the Test Pilot School, Pax River at the time of his death.

And here are the photos:

Cat shot!  133754, one of the FJ-2 prototypes, goes flying. The cat bridle is falling to the deck and the aircraft is a little lower than Bud Sickle might have liked given his proximity to the deck, but then carrier suitability trials include a phase in which the aircraft under evaluation is launched at increasingly lower speeds, and with varying wind-over-deck conditions, to determine handling characteristics and optimal launch parameters. Being a test pilot is rarely easy.  Poling Collection

Climbing out. The aircraft is carrying a fairly high angle of attack and the canopy, open during the launch, has been closed. The FJ-2 saw limited operational use but is still a pretty airplane (it's a Sabre, isn't it?!) You could actually convert the F-86 kit of your choice into XFJ-2 configuration if you wanted to. That said, I'm holding out for a decent FJ-3!  Poling Collection

You Can Hide Your Mistakes by Throwing Away the Model

We've all been there, at least those of us who model. Seemingly endless research is followed by careful construction and modification of a kit, followed by painstaking detailing and finishing. The end result is a once-in-a-lifetime model that we can proudly show to anybody; a world-beater of the highest order. That's what we all aspire to. Sometimes we even get close to that aforementioned world-beater, but more often we don't and sometimes, every so often, we drop a real clanger in the name of Scale Modeling. This diatribe has nothing, unfortunately, to do with the former.

Want an example of what I'm talking about? (Say "yes"!) It's easy enough to find; let's go back to the early 1970s and the print edition of the original Replica in Scale. The feature article of the issue in question was the McDonnell F-101B/F Voodoo, and we (read "I" here) needed to construct a model for that portion of the article. Easy enough, even then.

The kit of choice was the late-60s Hasegawa offering of the RF-101C. The conversion to the two-seater required some modeling skills, but nothing too dramatic, and Jim had come up with all the detail information any modeler could possibly need in order to accomplish the task. The major part of that conversion revolved around the nose, which had to be replaced, and the addition of a second cockpit with appropriate one-piece canopy. The cockpit was a simple case of making an existing hole that much bigger and adding a simplified interior. The different nose (and it's entirely different, with no similarity to the RF nose at all) was fabricated by the addition of the cone from an Airfix F-4E, suitably wrapped/laminated in sheet plastic until the proper diameter was achieved, topped off with a liberal application of Green Stuff and a lot of sanding. The canopy was a vacuum form over the appropriate AirModel canopy, which was close to the right shape but way too thick for use, even way back then.

Everything was coming along just fine with the project when your humble author discovered that there was an issue with the overall length of the model, to the tune of a couple of scale feet! Holy cow! They must've stretched the fuselage, and I completely missed it! Phooey! 

You need to know that when, not if, I make that sort of mistake nowadays I give one of those long sighs and introduce the Object of My Recent Affection to Mr. Trash Can. That's Now. Things were different Way Back Then, and I did my very best to save the project by taking my trusty razor saw and cutting the fuselage in two at what I deemed to be the appropriate place for the stretch. I added a plug to the model and made up whatever that missing length was imagined to be, and puttied and sanded a while. The result was a stretched F-101B that matched the specified length. All was well.

It all stayed well too, until I took the fuselage over to Jim's place so we could discuss the project during one of our weekly work-on-the-magazine sessions. He looked at it a while, admired all that putty work, then turned to me and said "what about the pitot tube?". The pitot tube! You know; the pitot tube---that thing that sticks out from the nose of the F-101B for exactly the amount I'd lengthened the fuselage of that model!

We didn't run any photographs of a model of the F-101B that issue, or any other for that matter. I did eventually build one, when Revell issued their superb 1/72nd scale B-model in the late 80s, but that Hasegawa conversion never got finished. I kept the hulk on my work bench for a couple of years to remind myself not to do that sort of thing anymore. It was a lesson that, sadly, I never quite learned.

Where It All Began

While we're exploring those Sunny Slopes of Long Ago, let's take a look ad the first version of Douglas' immortal A-4 Skyhawk. The A4D-1 was a goofy little airplane, revolutionary for its time but not terribly useful in its initial version.

Literally a shape of things to come. The A4D-1 was an amazing airplane, but it was limited. There was no provision for in-flight refuelling, and weapons carriage was limited to what could be carried on whichever hardpoint was available after the addition of gas bags to suit the particular mission at hand. The type became far more effective with the addition of MER and TER racks and proved itself repeatedly in combat thereafter, but it probably would have been an also-ran without those racks and definitely didn't have the range to be effective. It was, however, an excellent starting point. That beautifully-skinned rudder was an early casualty of the Skyhawk program; a nasty little aerodynamic buzz resulted in the externally-ribbed rudder we're all familiar with. Ed Heinemann once said he'd always intended to design a better rudder but never got around to it. Of such stuff are legends made.  Nankivil Collection

That Short-Tail Dagger

We could, if we were so inclined,  provide you with considerable boring detail regarding the F-102 program and its somewhat miraculous rise from the ashes, but we won't . What we will do is show you a couple of photos of those early "Deuces". The F-102 wasn't much of an interceptor when these photos were taken, but that was soon to change.

The "Deuce" started life as a short little fellow with no tail and a stubby shape. The airframe morphed its way into the production article in stages; here we have a 4-ship of early-production F-102As in flight. 53-1792 and 93 were F-102A-5-COs, while 1795 and 1796 were -10s. They don't look like much, but their progeny served ADC for over two decades before retirement. That was after they got all the bugs out...
Isham Collection
Of course, if you've got yourself a Brand New Airplane you have to show it off! 53-1802 poses for the public early in its career; check out the presentation of "U.S. Air Force" on the intake trunk and the aft-fuselage positioning of the star and bar. 1802 was serving with the ARDC at Wright Pat when this photo was taken but ended up in the museum at Eglin AFB where it eventually fell victim to corrosion, being expended as a range target. Rowland Gill Collection via Isham

53-1806 was somewhat of an oddball; its serial number should make it an F-102A-20-CO, but when photographed here it was in YF configuration as the YF-102C. All that day-glo made for a pretty airplane, I bet!  MacSorley via Isham

It's an interceptor, so let's go intercept something! The gear's coming up as F-102A-20-CO 53-1810 launches out of Eglin on an evaluation hop. She was with the 3211th Interception Test Group when this photo was taken, and survived (after conversion) until 1971 when she was delivered to MASDC for disposition.  Isham Collection

If it goes up it comes back down sooner or later. 53-1812 was the first F-102A-25-CO and is shown here while serving with the 3211th. She'll drop that drogue chute in a minute and taxi back to the squadron area to prep for another flight. Note that the national insignia has moved from the aft fuselage to the intake trunk, while the "U.S. Air Force legend has been reduced in size and moved to the vertical stab.  Isham Collection

We've been looking at test and evaluation airframes up to this point, but the short-tails made it into squadron service too, as illustrated by 54-1396, an F-102A-35-CO of the 327th FIS. The checkertail treatment on the vertical is repeated on the intake lips, and the national insignia has moved to the nose! They eventually got that national insignia thing sorted out, but it took a while to do it!  Robert Doer via Isham

The "Deuce" does look odd with that little bitty tail; this is more like it! 56-1319 is shown here while attending William Tell in 1972; the weapons bay doors have just transitioned and she's ready to launch. That's an interceptor, ya'll! 1319 was a relative latecomer, a -75-CO. This bird looks grey in the photo, but most of the 57th's aircraft were painted in aluminum laquer during this time frame. Isham Collection

How about an Oopsie to end this installment? 1316 was an F-102A-75-CO and was assigned to the South Dakota ANG's 175th FIS when this dramatic photo was taken. We aren't running the picture for sensationalism, though, but rather for detail; take a look between the main mounts and you'll see what the "Deuce's" barrier probe looks like in the extended configuration. 1316 survived this incident and was retired to MASDC in 1970. The F-102 was a tough old bird...  Isham Collection

A Modeler's Footnote, or I Wish I Hadn't Done That

Go back up to the beginning of this week's edition and you'll read about my trials and tribulations while I was attempting to build an F-101B model for an issue of the original RIS. Well, Gang; I built an F-102 for the magazine too, a 1/72nd scale model from the 1968-give-or-take Hasegawa kit. And it came out pretty good, right up to the part where it was time to paint it.

I was a Floquil guy back then, and real Floquil, as opposed to the contemporary They Call It Floquil But It Dang Sure Isn't product we have these days, was pretty much bullet proof. If you applied it correctly it would withstand almost anything, and that property was the catalyst, literally as well as figuratively, for one of my more profound modeling screwups. Read on:

The "Deuce" was done, painted, decalled (with Letraset if you're old enough to remember that particular product), and ready for a good glosscoat on the airframe to finish things off. The early 1970s weren't exactly the high point of scale modeling as far as gloss products went, most of what was available to us being relatively useless, but there was one product that was guaran-dang-teed to produce a high-gloss finish each and every time it was used; Krylon Clear Lacquer. That last word is important to our story because the product really was lacquer-based, which we all know is a Bad Actor if you spray it onto things that aren't lacquer, but I was painting with Good Old Bulletproof Floquil so it wouldn't matter, right? Right!

I had a Plan, and marched my Happy Self outside to spray my brand new F-102 model with Krylon. Since I was using an aerosol can it only took about three or four minutes to coat the model with the stuff, after which it took about 30 seconds for my aforementioned Brand New F-102 Model to wrinkle up into something that resembled the texture normally found on basketballs. Uh-oh...

The model was ruined, but we were always late back in those days (sort of like this very issue is; a commemoration of sorts, I suppose) so I had time to build another one and use something else for the final gloss finish and actually made my deadline.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Happy Snaps

You may recall that we run our "Happy Snaps" section in order to present air-to-air photographs taken by our readers. Here's a really neat shot taken by contributor Don Jay back when he was participating in The Late Southeast Asia War Games:

Don had sent along a couple of photos for use in this section, but this was The Money Shot, so it's the one we ran. Enjoy! Phil, (This) one is an F-105G of the 6010 Wild Weasel Sq out of Korat. Cheers, dj

What a gorgeous photo---thanks for sharing, Don!

The Relief Tube

I don't often do early corrections to these things, generally preferring to wait until the following edition to change or fix things, but I dropped a major clanger in the introduction to the two XFJ-2 photos we ran this week and I need to make things right! I had originally commented that reader Brad Poling had sent some comments to me via this blog's comments mechanism, which often results in lack of information at my end (full names and so on and so forth). That sort of thing makes crediting photos, etc., pretty difficult and, of course, I commented on that too. All that would have been just fine, except that Brad had indeed sent his comments via e-mail ( ) and I had his last name all along! I could chalk it up to the aging process, or to the fact that I'm an Adult Male and that's the sort of goofy thing we do, but the simple fact of the matter is that I messed up! Apologies to Brad, and many thanks for sending along those XFJ-2 photographs---they're a great addition to our ongoing study of the type.  pf

And while we're fixing things, Dave Menard's been contributing to these pages for a while but up until now had been silent regarding corrections. The silence has been officially broken and we've now got a small stack of corrections from Dave so, without further ado:

10 Oct 10 (Hmmm, 10-10-10!) ALL of those F-80As remained As until well after the Korean War, when the As became C-11s, and the Bs became C-12s No F-80A flew combat in Korea, but RF-80As did. The 49th got brand new C models in early 1950, and were combat ready just in time for the Korean War to start! That F-84G 11327 was not a CO's a/c, just normal unit markings The F-80As went back to the USA for use by ATC and then ANG/AFRES.

9 Dec 10 shot of two Thuds hooked up to a KB-50 over the Pacific in 1964-NOT! The Thuds are Ds of the 23rd TFS, 36th TFW out of Bitburg AB Germany, while the tanker is a KB-50J from the 420th AREFSQ out of RAF Sculthorpe UK. Since the fins are in solid color, this shot dates from 1961/2 time frame as the unit markings were painted on the a/c at Brookley AFB AL, which was the depot for 105s in USAFE. Yes, unit markings put on before delivery to gaining units, only time have ever heard of this happening.

OK, here are some from the 2 Apr 10 blog:

The markings on that NH ANG F-86L were not in "arctic" red but plain old orange fluorescent color, known as "conspicuity" markings. These consisted of bands around the nose, rear fuselage and outer wings, top and bottom. I shot some of these in May 1959 a few days before PCSing to France and an example is enclosed.

And here's the photo---Thanks Dave!  Menard Collection

The Fox Peter One det was the 31st SFW led by Col David Schilling taking their brand new F-84Gs over to FEAF. Fox Peter Two was Col Donald Blakeslee leading the 27th SFW out of Bergstrom to FEAF. That is Schilling stepping out of 058 in the one photo. That antenna sticking out of the top of the nose in the two photos of 058 was not nav equipment, but a plain old ARC-34 VHF or UHF radio.

That one B-29 shot with what you say(correctly)is a B-17G serial was either B-29B-40-BA 44-83893 or B-29B-50-BA 44-83983. It is very possible that you misread the number stenciled way up on the fin/rudder and it is very easy to do so what with the stencil style presentation.

In another blog, you have a camo'd F-102A with a tail code on it, captioned ready to deploy to the Far East. No Deuce in the states ever got any tail code period. First of all, these did not show up much before 1968, while the Deuce units went over in 1965/6. I never saw a Deuce during my three month TDY to DaNang in the spring of 1965, the one month TDY to Bien Hoa after the previous TDY, nor during my PCS tour with the 3rd TFW from Nov 65-Aug 66! Saw lots of gray ones at Clark, where the 509th ruled, but never a camo'd one. Did see camo'd Deuces at Travis from the C-124 I was in while taxiing out for T/O enroute to Bien Hoa that November however. Missed the IFR probes.

And finally:

Hello Phil

In reading your blogs about your time at Misawa sure brought back memories. Have a clarification however. The 21 TFW deactivated on 18 June 1960, leaving the two Hun units plus the 4th and 45th all answering directly to the 39th Air Division, which was a really goofy setup, as Air Divisions were then supposed to be composed to at least two Wings. Never found out who or where this second wing was either. I had served under a similar setup when up at Ladd AFB Alaska in 1956/7 as the three F-89D units were answering directly to the 11th ADIV after the 5001st ADW deactivated. Never found a second wing up there either! After the 8th Wing at Itazuke AB Japan sent their three sqdns of Thuds to Yokota, those units answered to the 41st ADIV, not a wing, as the 8 number wound up in Thailand! Amusing but confusing as Little Abner used to say.  Cheers, Dave

Many thanks to Dave and all the rest of our readers for helping to keep us honest. If you've got something to say or share, that address is . We look forward to hearing from you.

One final thing before we go. Dave Menard and I were both in Northern Japan during the same time period, way back in the early 60s, and while there we both developed a respect and fondness for the country and its people that's lasted a lifetime. In his final set of corrections Dave made mention of the tragedy that's befallen that part of the world, and we here at Replica want to extend our sincere sympathy to the people of Japan. We know you will recover, because that's the sort of place Japan is, but times are pretty tough right now and we want you to know our prayers are with you.

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again real soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thirsty Camel, Another Deuce or Two, A Hot Seat, Engine Grey, and The Last Thing You'd Expect

It's a Long Way Across the Pacific

But sometimes you have to make the hop in a single-engined fighter. We pretty much take that whole global deployment thing for granted these days, but it's always been a tough date, up to and including right now. Right Now doesn't concern us though; instead, let's go back to February of 1966, when there was still some concern that the North Vietnamese Air Force might attempt a strike in the south, and point defense of American bases was still a significant concern. That concern led to the support deployment of the 82nd FIS to Naha AB, Okinawa, in a trans-Pacific journey named Operation Thirsty Camel. (Have you ever wondered who comes up with those goofy names? It's been a mystery to me for the past 45 years, with no answer in sight. I guess we should appreciate the humor...)

Here's your basic 82nd FIS F-102A prior to deployment to Points West. The "Deuce's" IR ball is evident in this shot, as is the lack of any sort of refuelling probe (a non-retractable add-on for the F-102). That striped pitot boom is about as much color as the camo'd "Deuces" ever displayed, at least until they were converted to QF-102A drones in the mid-70s. Most of the 82nd's birds escaped that fate; after a brief stint in Vietnam the majority of their aircraft were scrapped in place.  Isham Collection

A trio of "Delta Daggers" fly across a whole lot of water. It might even be the Pacific post-deployment, but the 82nd's aircraft all had IFR probes fitted for the transit flight; they would've been wet pedestrians without them!  Modelers, note the difference in camouflage patterns on these aircraft. That's depot-applied paint on every one of them, done during an IRAN, and none of it's the same.  Isham Collection

This is more to the point. An F-102A of the 82nd FIS moves up on the tanker during the Thirsty Camel deployment. The probe is mounted on the right side of the aircraft (to the left of centerline in the photo), which is why the "Deuce" is formating off-centeron the boom.  Isham Collection

I suspect this photo was taken at the beginning of the deployment rather than at the end of it, but it shows that IFR probe to advantage. It also illustrates just how big the IR ball on the nose really was. That whole IR thing went away in the late 1970s/early 1980s, but not because the pilots wanted to get rid of them. A passive IR sensor is a pretty neat thing to have on an interceptor or fighter, even now.  Isham Collection

As a final note, at least three F-102s were lost in combat during the SEA fracas. Known losses are:

55-3373   509th FIS   Lost to ground fire during close air support, 15 Dec 1965, RVN
56-1166   509th FIS   Lost on CAP 03 Feb 1966, North Vietnam; shot down by MiG-21
56-1389   64th FIS/405th TFW  Lost on CAP 14 Dec 1966, North Vietnam

A Little More On the "Deuce"

Most aviation enthusiasts are familiar with at least some portion of the F-102's story, and a lot of folks don't think much of the aircraft. That would be a mistake; once the "Dagger's" birthing pains were resolved it became a good, solid performer, providing yeoman service to the Air Force and Air National Guard for decades. It was, in short, a viable and highly effective weapons platform, and was a quantum leap ahead of the F-86Ds, F-89s, and F-94s it replaced in service. Here's a little more on the type for your enjoyment.

All of the F-102's weapons were carried internally, in a weapons bay. The aircraft was never fitted with a gun, being armed with missiles from conception to retirement, and this Air Force schematic gives us a pretty good idea of how the bay looked. Those bay doors were termed "fast acting" and that was the unvarnished truth; they snapped open in a flash, remained open long enogh to allow for weapons launch, and snapped shut just a quickly. It was a nifty arrangement, all in all.

The "Deuce's" primary weapon was the AIM-4 Falcon, although it could also be fitted with the AIM-26. This illustration is from 1F-102A-33-3-1 and gives us an idea of the configuration of those weapons

Here's a little more detail for the modelers among our readership. Both weapons were radar-homing, although Falcon could be fitted with an IR seeker as well. They wouldn't have been the right missle to take to a knife fight, but were just the ticket for removing bombers from the playing field. Fortunately the USAF never had to use them in anger.

There was another weapon that was standard to the F-102, at least in the early days of operations. The center bay doors were fairly thick and contained tubes for the fitment of a complement of 2.75" FFARs. The weapon wasn't much use on any of the earlier Air Force interceptors either (firing a salvo of them was a lot like shooting a really inaccurate shotgun), and it was removed from service fairly early in the game. Those tubes remained, though.

Almost all of the ANG's interceptor units flew the Delta Dagger at one time or another. This example's from the 146th FIS/112th FIG of the Pennsylvania ANG, its colorful black trim shown to advantage in this photo. 57-0813 was an F-102A-90-CO and could be the Poster Child for the type.  Isham Collection

Then again, this blog's published in Texas (ain't it the truth!) and that means we need to have some Lone Star "Daggers" in the mix. Here's a trio from the 182nd FIS/149th FIG in close formation over Kelly AFB. The 149th kept the air defense mission until the early 1970s, when they became a tactical fighter group and transitioned into the Republic F-84F. I suspect they weren't particularly happy about that...  149th TFG

This could be the part where we say we're finished and say "The End", but that's too corny even for me. Besides, we aren't done with the "Deuce" just yet. Stay tuned for further adventures!  Jim Sullivan

Here's Something You Don't See at Just Any Airshow

Things just aren't the same as they used to be. I can remember (and it isn't something I heard; it was something I saw) the Thunderbirds coming out of their "Bomb Burst" formation and crossing right over the heads of the crowd at a hundred feet or so at an air show at Sheppard AFB, ca. 1958. Similar excitements were formulated and played out for an enthusiastic public (I was darned sure enthusiastic, ya'll!) at Armed Forces Day celebrations across the land. Those heady times are far behind us now, with public safety actually being a primary concern rather than an afterthought, but it wasn't always so.

"Holy Cow Martha; wouldja look at that!" Mark Nankivil remembers this particular round of merriment from an 1965-66 air show at NAS Barber's Point. The aircraft is an F9F-5KD (BuNo 126275) and the Airdales on the ramp are ready to spring into action, although the fella on the right may well be preparing to execute a hasty retirement from the festivities. "Holy Cow, Martha! Look at that sailor run!") Running might not have been such a bad idea...  Nankivil Collection

Sometimes You Have to Prove a Point

Which is what we're doing here. Take a look at 133370, a somewhat well-used US-2C from VU-1. Note the color of the airplane, and compare it to the crankcase covers on the front of the engines:

Every now and again someone on one or the other of the various modeling boards will ask what that dark grey color was that used to show up on Navy helos and patrol/utility aircraft. Well, what it was was FS x6076, and you can find it on airframes, engine components, and sometimes as an anti-glare panel color as well. It was glossy when new, but weathered pretty quickly in service. Now you know!  Nankivil Collection

He's a Stubby Little Fellow

Jack Northrop, and his various design teams, has been responsible for a number of significant American military aircraft, including the immortal SBD Dauntless. The following Northrop design wasn't one of the significant ones...
If any airplane ever deserved a starring role in a 1940s cartoon, the Northrop XFT-1 was surely it. Although designed by Ed Heineman, it's manners, particularly when low and slow, and its vicious spin characteristics assured it a place as an also-ran. It was fast, but maneuverability was lacking, and the aircraft was quickly relegated to the scrap heap. This image is of the first one of the type; XFT-1 BuNo 9400, and was taken on 18 January 1934. It was actually a pretty neat looking little airplane. It just didn't work very well.   Northrop 373

Happy Snaps

Although not air-to-air, these photos were taken by Rick Morgan at the recent Avalon air show in Australia. The subject matter is different enough to warrant inclusion.

I've got a special fondness for the Spitfire Mk VIII, having just finished building Tamiya's 1/32nd scale offering of same. This example's a beauty, isn't she?  Rick Morgan

And a Boomerang. It's amazing what's flying nowadays! Sure wish I could've been there to see this one!  Rick Morgan

And finally, an Avon Sabre. Pick the very last thing you'd expect to see at an airshow and this just might be it!  Thanks, Morgo!  Rick Morgan
The Relief Tube

First, an admission. As soon as I received this e-mail from Marty I immediately went into the article and corrected the appropriate captions in the blog---the mistakes were just too awful to let stand. Still, I did it because of his correction, so let's give credit where credit's due:

I love your articles- I just recently discovered them. Please keep it up! I love 60's and 70's military aircraft but was too young to ever see most of the aircraft in active service and look forward eagerly to each new edition. I love the quality of the photos people share with you and appreciate their kindness in sharing their collections with all of us.

Just a couple of points here for the Tomcat Squadrons. The red rippers are actually VF-11 and the formation photo is VF-142 Ghostriders in their early paint scheme. Marty

Thanks, Marty! And if anyone else has any corrections/additions they'd like to send along, the address is . Please send your comments there if you would, since I can't respond to you if you use the otherwise-appropriate feature in the blog. Many thanks, etc, etc.

You've probably all noticed that we're running an ongoing series on aircraft in post-War Japan. Another one of our readers sent comments about some our recent photos:

The F-61B (post 47) is from the 339th FS (AW) with the short lived black widow insignia. It was based at Johnson AB and, some time after reactivation, absorbed the personnel and equipment of the 6th NFS which had moved to Japan from Wheeler AFB in Hawaii in 1946. The aircraft shown still has the distinctive gothic style lettering and large nose numbers as used by the 6th post-war in Hawaii.
The OD/NG A-26 is probably from one of the 3rd BG WW II aircraft painted in that scheme. I think that Johnson AB would be a good guess as it doesn't look like Yokota AB. Also speaking of A-26s in Japan, the 38th BG also flew out of Itami AB in Japan for two years and I believe that they had absorbed the aircraft if not the remaining personnel of the 319th BG that flew out of Okinawa. The 38th adopted the colored tails like the 319th had used, but with a letter, not a number on the tail. The camo aircraft with the wheel on the tail is one the famous Chadwicks, (possibly it might be the first one, but it is not possible to inspect all of the name) named after and flown by the group/wing commander post war. The wheel referred to the 'big wheel' or head honcho. Honcho is from the Japanese term Han-cho or group/section leader. I always associated it with cowboys.

Great job that you are doing. Grant

Thanks Grant. Your comments are appreciated, and we're happy indeed to get clarification on the F-61!

Reader Brad Poling sends a comment regarding our affair with the North American FJ Fury:


I love the pix in your FJ series. Please keep them coming. The photo of FJ-1 116 you recently posted was flown by then Lt. (later LCDR) H. G. Bud Sickel. His name is just under the canopy. He held at least one speed record in that a/c. He was instrumental in the Fury program, test flying the XFJ-2's and delivering the first FJ-2 to the Navy. He landed the XFJ-2 during testing of the Antietam's canted deck in 1953. He later was killed in an FJ-3 crash.
Brad Poling

Brad also sent along a couple of photos of a 1/18th Scale FJ-2 he modified from an Admiral Toys F-86. We'll take a look at those next time around. Meanwhile, thanks for the information on LCDR Sickel!

One final thing. We've been doing this for just a little over a year now, and have built up quite a following, it seems---if the stats can be believed Replica is getting some 500 hits per day, and I'd like to thank you for that. This is not a commercial site, but rather a labor of love, and we're glad you enjoy it. Neat things are in store so please stay with us. We wouldn't mind seeing any original photography you might be inclined to share either; if you'd like to contribute to our effort the contact address is . Meanwhile, please accept our sincere thanks for helping to make the project what it is!

That said, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.