Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Pugnacious Little Fighter, That Other Patrol Bomber, An Invader, Some Photo Birds, and A Great Big Boat


Which is a somewhat bossy way of saying that we received some supplemental information on two of our feature articles that caused us to go back and make some significant corrections. If you read this when it was first published you'll want to go back and re-read it. If you're just now getting around to reading it don't be concerned; what you didn't know surely won't hurt you!

When It Rains, It Pours

It seems like only yesterday that we were discussing the eminent arrival of the new 1/32nd scale Tamiya F4U-1, and those of you who actually remember what's written here may recall that we were suggesting there were other airplanes we'd rather have seen kitted in its stead. One of those airplanes was the Hawker Tempest V, a significant aircraft that's been extremely poorly kitted in every available scale since the beginning of time, plastic-wise. We weren't the only people who wanted one, either; countless contributors to the various electronic modeling magazines and boards have been lamenting for the past several years that a decent Tempest was not to be had.

That takes us to John de la Garza, a mentor of ours from days gone by and a man who had a knack for causing large mainstream model companies to produce kits of previously unavailable aircraft. Del worked up a viable 1/72nd scale P-40C back in the late 60s, after which Frog promptly issued a kit of same. He scratch-built a Kawanishi "George 21" from a pile of parts and some sheet plastic, and we promptly saw a kit of same within months of its completion. The list went on and on.

We mention this because we bemoaned the lack of a Tempest in lieu of that big "Hog", after which several of our readers wrote in to remind us that Special Hobby was about to release a war-time Tempest kit (a Mk V) in 1/32nd scale. We wiped that particular dollop of egg off our face, only to discover that the good folks at Pacific Coast Models had secretly developed their own kit of same, molded by Sword and assisted in the project by Roy Sutherland. Life had just become very good indeed! It was de la Garza Syndrome on steroids!

Why, you may well ask, is this such a big deal to us? That answer is simple; when we were 12 or so we discovered Pierre Clostermann's The Big Show. Yes; we know there are a great many people who think a lot of his book was what contemporary politicians call "spin", but the fact remains was that he was there, and he scored enough kills to qualify as an ace regardless of the accounting system used. He also inspired an entire generation of aviation-minded kids, of which we were one, to go digging into books to find out exactly what a Hawker Tempest was. You can like his book or hate it; we really don't care. The simple truth of the matter is that it was a seminal work for us, and our well-worn Ballantine paperback edition of same is a treasured memory of both his inspiration and "that big brute of a fighter" he wrote about with such passion. And now we've got not one, but two 1/32nd scale kits on the way. How lucky can we be?

That takes us to the point of this whole thing (and Yes, Virginia; there actually is one for once). We bemoaned the fact that we were getting yet another Corsair (I'm sorry I said that, Mr. Sullivan!) and asked for a Tempest V, at which point we got not one but two of them in our preferred scale. They're real. They exist. They're not the horse poot we so often hear from overly enthusiastic pie-in-the-sky model manufacturers. Both Sword and Special Hobby did The Deed, and they did it without endlessly promising it---kudos to both!

As for The Point---we've got some mojo working, brothers and sisters, so how about we try it again? We want a 1/32nd scale FJ-3. We want a 1/32nd scale T-6/SNJ. And when do we want 'em? We want 'em NOW! Right freaking NOW!

Hey Del; can you scratch-build a 1/32nd scale FJ-3 for me?


As long as we're discussing airplanes we've liked a lot over the years, let's throw in one of our Japanese favorites; Nakajima's Ki-44 Shoki, better known to the West as the "Tojo". Our first kit of that particular fighter was built in 1969 when we tackled Tamiya's 1/72nd scale (more or less) version of same. Quite a bit has changed since then and we've now got exceptional kits of the aircraft in all of the conventional scales, which makes it that much easier to construct a decent replica of one. Today our interest falls into the box of Hasegawa's recent 1/32nd scale offering of the Ki-44 or, more specifically, their special edition (Nakajima KI44-II Shoki, Shinten Seikutai, Kit # 08208) that caters to the handful of special attack modified aircraft of the 47th Sentai (specifically intended to cope---by ramming---the ever-increasing appearance of the B-29 over the mainland) that had their wing guns removed in favor of increased performance. That particular kit is far too expensive in our opinion, since it's a "special edition" with the "changes" seemingly restricted to a specialized set of decals, but at the end of the day it was the kit we had available to us so there you go!

As plastic models go there's not much bad to say about the kit; it's recent Hasegawa, which means it's reasonably accurate and nicely detailed right out of the box. We picked up the ubiquitous Eduard interior set (#32 652 Ki-44 Shoki Interior SA) for the type but that's it for aftermarket. Everything else is kit stock. We're actually making some progress on the thing too, so let's take a look and see where we are today.

The Big Picture, so to speak. The interior is completed (although the gun sight has yet to be added) and the fuselage has been sanded and partially polished out. The wings and horizontal stabs are together and sanded but haven't been permanently attached to the airframe yet, and the cowling is assembled---the truth of the matter is that we stuck it together to get a feel for its final appearance. So far we like it, but we aren't very far into the project yet and there's still plenty of time for us to snatch defeat straight from the jaws of victory!

Hasegawa likes to make the wings an honest-to-goodness structural component on their 1/32nd scale kits, and that big honkin' spar assembly you see here could support the bridge of your choice. There are a couple of large tabs on the fuselage that fit into the space between the "spars", effectively locking the wing where it's supposed to be, clever engineering; that! The two holes you see in the wing fairing are for the fuselage step but Hasegawa doesn't open up the well so it won't look very good if you turn the airplane upside-down. We're probably going to fix that but we haven't done it yet. Finally, most Japanese airplanes of the era used a transparent color coating called aotake, generally a blue or green color, as a corrosion inhibitor on bare metal interior surfaces, but not every part received the coating. We've hit the interior of the center section of the wing with Testor ModelMaster Aluminum and don't intend to paint it further, but very little of this area will be visible on the completed model so it really doesn't matter to us. If it does matter to you, feel free to paint it appropriately.

Here's something that's really easy to do and can add substantial life to your models if that sort of thing interests you. We've added the aileron and rudder control cables by cutting .010 stainless steel wire and attaching it to the bottom of the fuselage floor with superglue, and added a handful of electrical cables from sewing thread that's been coated with white glue to remove the fuzzies that are inevitably found on thread. There are no surviving Ki-44s around, although a center section of fuselage does still exist in China (we think), which means the routing of those aforementioned electrical cables are a best-guess sort of thing. The interior, which you can't see in this view, has been painted in the green color most often found in Ki-43 and Ki-84 interiors, while the "bare aluminum" areas of the interior structure have been airbrushed with a transparent dark green, with no attempt made at a consistent finish. We think it looks good but your mileage may well vary.

Here's the interior of the starboard fuselage after the liberal application of the appropriate Eduard pieces. They look ok, but keep in mind that they're also made up---it's that no-surviving-airframes-or- manuals bugaboo rearing its ugly head again. That Eduard set is a good one, but we had to trim the radio panel, which is substantially bigger than the kit part for some reason beyond our understanding, and we've installed minimal wiring as well. There's still a little bit of work yet, but it's nearly done. Oh, and the guns don't have a whole lot of detailing on them, and never will---all you can see of them are the butts once the forward fuselage decking is installed. No; we don't know why Hasegawa did it that way either.

And the port side of the interior, mostly. There's still a little bit to go in there, and we really liked the Eduard photo-etch (except for that overly large radio panel), but you could easily build a decent model without it. You pays your money...

This view kinda-sorta shows the Eduard instrument panel which is, along with the seat belts and harnesses, which are about the only reason we still buy photo-etch interiors. There are days we can paint that good, but there are a whole lot more days when we can't even get close. It's important to understand your limitations, we think.

Finally, here's a shot that shows the seat, belts and harness, and turnover pylon detail, all of which came from Eduard. That seat is a thing of absolute beauty and really looks great in there. The aforementioned belts and shoulder harness will get dirtied up a little bit with some pastels, and the lovely Eduard detail on the turnover pylon will end up the same faded black as the rest of the area under the canopy. So far we're liking it.

And that's where the project is for now. We'll try to remember to keep taking photos as we go along so you can see what we're doing (and hopefully avoid the bone-headed mistakes we'll inevitably make in the process). Banzai, ya'll!

A Mariner at Last!

Some kits are a rite of passage for the plastic modeler, and every generation has its own special ones. For those of us who passed our elementary school days in the 1950s the Revell PBM Mariner was one such kit. We all built at least one of them, mostly poorly, and we all were amazed at how different it was from that other Navy patrol bomber, the Monogram PBY-5A. The PBY was the PBY, but the PBM was different and therefore way cool. Or maybe not.

Obscure kits have a way of coming out of the woodwork, and we'll be the very first to admit that our knowledge of every single plastic model ever issued is limited at best---we say that to forestall the torrent of letters that are certain to follow after we tell you that the PBM has been extremely poorly kitted over the years. The type was never as popular or famous as its Consolidated stablemate, and to date very few companies have seen fit to invest in the tooling necessary to kit one. That makes the Academy announcement of the impending release of a Mariner all the more special to flying boat aficionados---just ask Brian over at Seawings about that one!

We haven't actually seen the kit ourselves (and probably never will since it's in 1/72nd scale; a little too small for our preference) but the fact is that, good, bad, or indifferent, it's a kit of a Mariner in a popular scale. We hope it sells like hotcakes.

Bobby Rocker has provided us with several really neat images of the type, which we thought we'd share with you today. Call it "inspiration" if you will. (We only hope the kit will do the type justice; Academy has had a somewhat checkered past regarding the accuracy of their offerings. We're looking forward to seeing what they come up with on this one!)

What we presume to be a PBM-5 undergoing preflight prior to launch. The aircraft is identified as being from VPMS-2 and provides us with a classic view of this largely unsung aircraft. Make special note of the aircraft's size; the PBM was somewhat smaller than its companion PBY.  Rocker Collection

The place is Okinawa, and this particular Mariner has fallen on bad times. It's been placed on pontoons by an unidentified Seabee unit and is in the process of being moved to a repair facility---this would make a really neat diorama, ya'll!
Rocker Collection

And a whole bunch of P5Ms in the same place at the same time. There are a couple of Catalinas hiding in that shot too, and it's interesting to compare the relative sizes of the two aircraft. It would be a pretty big model but we'd love to see a Mariner kitted in 1/48th scale!  Rocker Collection

Some Books You Might Want

Last issue we discussed the brand new (and highly desirable) reference on the Tainan Kokutai in New Guinea. Coincidentally, frequent contributor Rick Morgan spends a fair amount of his professional time in Australia these days and has come up with a couple of books we think are worth mentioning, although they aren't generally available here in the United States. The comments are Rick's and, unfortunately, he didn't mention how to obtain a copy of the titles for your own library, although a quick trip to the internet ought to get that fixed in short order.

Storm Over Kokoda: Australia’s epic  battle for the skies of New Guinea, 1942:  (2011, Peter Ewer):   Covers the period from the start of the war with Japan through the end of 1942 and the realization that, with the best of their men and units fighting for “Mother England” in Europe and Africa, they’d have to scrape together new squadrons to defend their own homeland.  This book starts with the loss of Rabaul (and its defense by Wirraways),  deals with early combat by Hudsons and Catalinas and really ends up with the formation and training of 75 Squadron and its epic defense of Port Moresby before the US arrived.

Darwin Spitfires; The Real Battle for Australia (2011 Anthony Cooper):  Another fascinating book; covers ‘warts and all’ deployment of three squadrons of Spitfires to protect the Northern Territories in 1942-43. Although great things were expected, doctrine and command dynamics led to their initial work being less successful against the Japanese then the US’ 49th FG flying P-40Es.  The Brit/Aussie 1st Fighter Wing initially tried to fight Japanese raiders with tactics that had been proven in the Battle of Britain but didn’t work over Darwin for a variety of reasons. In the end they achieved a roughly 1:1 kill ration and many acts of individual heroism were obscured by losses and inability to meet the expectations of higher command.
Rick has always been somewhat particular when it comes to reference works so we anticipate the books to be well worth having. Many thanks to him for making us aware of their existence!
Honey Bunch III
We've been running a series of photographs from the Johnathan Watson Collection over the past couple of issues and have another set to share with you today. This time the aircraft in question is a  Douglas A-26B-50-DL named "Honey Bunch III" and taken when she was assigned to the 319th BG, probably at Yokota AB in Japan, during 1947.
Here's a great ramp shot to start things off. Note the early gun nose with the .50s displaced horizontally, as well as the wing guns, all of which have muzzle protectors in place. Most of the aircraft shown here still have both ventral and dorsal turrets complete with guns. The exhaust streaking is typical of the A-26 family, and these natural metal aircraft from the 319th have anti-glare panels on the insides of the cowlings, although you can't tell that from this angle. The OD over Neutral Gray aircraft visible in this image are from the 3rd BG.  Johnathan Watson Collection

Here's another view of "Honey Bunch III", this time parked in front of "Arabella", another A-26B from the 319th. This view shows the attachment of the gun covers to good advantage; they appear to be made from a dark OD-colored canvas. Note the canvas covers over the main landing gear tire/wheel assemblies only---the nose wheels are not covered in any of the shots in this series. Times were tough in the Air Force during the 40s, and these aircraft are pretty beat up even though they were barely four years old when the photos were taken.  Johnathan Watson Collection

This photo shows us virtually nothing in the way of markings, but it provides a great view of the dorsal fuselage on an early production A-26 and defines a typical antenna fit. It's detail like this that makes or breaks a model...  Johnathan Watson Collection

The photographer apparently had a flair for the dramatic, and we're grateful to him for possessing it. Check out the nose guns; there should be six of them running horizontally across the nose of this aircraft, but it only has four in place. There's a lot of chipping on the anti-glare panels on the inboard sides of the cowlings and on the face of the propeller blade on the number 2 engine as well. (The prop on number 1 has been removed and may well have been undergoing overhaul; if the condition of the starboard prop is any indication it probably needed it!)  Johnathan Watson Collection

Our final shot in this series provides us with the color of the name on the nose of "Honey Bunch III", as well as the placement of the prop warning stripe. The pilot standing under the nose is probably George Rasmussen, her nominal pilot.  John Watson Collection

"Honey Bunch III" bought the farm in a landing accident in 1947. These photos are a unique record of her final days, and we're grateful to Johnathan for sharing them with us.


Just when you thought it was safe to come out (approximately 8 hours after we posted this issued of the blog) we heard from Gerry Kersey over at 3rd He provided us with some insight that may be of interest to our readers:

According to all the info I have the 319th BG never made it to Yokota. They returned to the States at Fort Lewis in Washington in December 1945. The approximately 57 A-26B and C models they flew from Okinawa went to Clark and Dulag. An undesignated number went to Japan where they were dispersed to the 3rd BG as well as the 89th Squadron which was detached from the 3rd and attached to the 38th BG in approximately April 1946.

If you look on the
A-26/B-26 page at the bottom, you will see official documents concerning the 319th BG. The pilot who flew the 44-34226 to Dulag is listed F/O Theodore E. Leete. Whether this is him in the photo I don't know.

One final note of The Mystery Deepens variety: Whoever the young pilot is who's standing in front of "Honey Bunch", he's wearing a wool shirt, jacket, and gloves, scarcely the attire for anywhere in the Philippines. We don't know exactly where the photo was taken but guess it was Japan since that's where the object of our affections crashed in 1947 (plus that's how the originals were identified to our contributor, Jonathan Watson). Further comments are invited!

The Photo Crusader

At the time of its service introduction the Chance Vought Crusader was the highest performing carrier aircraft in the world, legitimately supersonic in most conventional flight regimes and adequately armed, albeit with relatively poor avionics in its early versions. The type's overall performance offered a quantum leap not only to the NAV's fighter squadrons, but also allowed for a significant advance in that service's photo recon capabilities in the guise of the F8U-1P. That variant became the RF-8A during the 1962 standardization of military aircraft designators within the US armed forces (followed eventually by a modification of the airframe into the RF-8G) and soldiered on for several years after the last fighter variant had disappeared from both Fleet and Reserve squadrons. Most of the RF-8As and Gs ultimately ended their days with the NavRes, providing a viable reconnaissance platform that was ultimately replaced by a podded F-14A TARPS mod. Quite some time ago Mark Nankivil provided several images to us that had been gleaned from the William Peake collection, and we'd like to share those photos with you today. (Note that all of the aircraft we're featuring were RF-8Gs when photographed.)

144614 was an F8U-1P with a relatively boring life. It was redesignated an RF-8A in 1962, and saw squadron service until 1987 when it was sent to the boneyard. This shot was taken in her declining years, when she was assigned to VFP-206. The "Hawkeyes" of 206 had the distinction of flying the last F-8s in Navy service, giving up the type in 1987. This aircraft is in overall light grey, one of several paint variations to be found on the RF-8s during their TPS period.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

BuNo 144617 was another bird from 206. Part of her career was spent as a chase plane, and ended up her days on a pole in the Flying Leathernecks museum in California. In this view her cameras have been removed and she's light on fuel and is sitting all tippy-toed in consequence, but she's every inch a thoroughbred nonetheless.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Here's the other side of 617. Most of the photo Crusaders were Plain Janes as far as markings went, and 144617 was no exception. The ones that ended up in the Reserves were generally very well maintained, making colorful examples of the type a rarity.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil.

Or maybe that lack of color just applied to the pre-TPS birds?  144618 is sitting at an airshow in this undated photo, resplendent in her Light Gull Grey over Insignia White paintwork and proudly displaying her active duty VFP-63 Det 4 markings at a Stateside airshow during the 70s. She ended up at MASDC in 1982.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

BuNo 144860 was yet another aircraft assigned to VFP-206 (although that particular BuNo was assigned to an A3D-2T; anyone holding the correct identification of this aircraft is invited to contact us at ). Once again we're looking at a 1980's Plain Jane in a lightened condition. Paint jobs like this would drive a lot of scale modelers crazy, but the aircraft is strictly regulation.   William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

VFP-306 was one of the more colorful RF-8Gunits, as illustrated by 145607. Modelers may want to note the paint color on her deployed in-flight refueling probe. The aircraft went to Castle AFB for restoration but, sad to say, we don't keep up with the comings and goings of most museum aircraft so her ultimate disposition is unknown to us. You're encouraged to write us if you know where she's hanging out these days...  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

145623 is another TPS bird from VFP-306. She ended up at DM in 1984, but was ready to rumble when this photo was taken. Her speed brake is dragging the ground, providing us with an excellent example of why such things are generally deployed only in flight. Her paintwork is somewhat the worse for wear as well---growing old is never easy.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

VFP-206 had colorful airplanes back in their Easter Egg days of the early 1970s. 145633 was apparently at an air show when this photo was taken, and is resplendent in her finest paintwork. Yes; that's a deployed speed board hanging off her belly and no; it isn't touching the ground. One must have one's dignity.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Now THIS is a little more to our liking. 146895 is a Fleet bird from VFP-63 Det 4, and is minimally but beautifully painted. If we were inclined to build an RF-8 of any flavor this aircraft would be a prime candidate Unfortunately, she crashed to destruction in 1977. William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And here's 146827, also from VFP-63's Det 4. She never got to old age, being destroyed in a fire immediately after the conclusion of her 1977 cruise on the "Connie". Note the color of the cloverleafs on rudder and compare them to the ones on the tail of 146895 immediately above. Standardization? We don't need no stinkin' Standardization!  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And now we're back to VFP-306, but with a slightly different wrinkle. 146845 is wearing a full color squadron badge under her fuselage national insignia. She served longer than most, being chosen for conversion to an RF-8G prior to her final flight to MASDC.  We think she's a pretty airplane.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Let's close out today's RF-8 photo essay with a shot of VFP-206's 146860 and an unidentified companion flying some really tasty form. It's a beautiful shot and a fitting way to end the day.  William Peake via Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And while we're adding things to our pre-existing blog, a clever ploy designed to confuse and confound those of you who read the post when it was first published, here's a note from Rex regarding our RF-8G piece.

Hi Phil:

I have some quick notes for you concerning the RF-8 photos you posted. First off, all of them are RF-8Gs, the ventral fins are the give-away. All of the aircraft with the afterburner scoops are RF-8G
SLEP, that is to say, RF-8G after a second rebuild when they received an engine upgrade; the RF-8A and initial rebuilt RF-8G had the same engines as the F-8A had and used an oval hole on each side to let in afterburner air, the scoops coming in later models with different engines.

This info places the photo of AA-602 BuNo 144618 as being after the 1978 SLEP program, even though she kept her hi-viz paint scheme, which is a pretty cool photo to show to us.

As for the Accidental CAG nickname, my Uncle (a Gunny, Ret) pinned that on me when he saw that I was building enough models to cover approximately 5 Air Wings, while covering every Air Wing at least once.

I thoroughly enjoy your coverage, even if it is not Navair
related---I didn't stop being interested in other aircraft when I
decided to specialize in one group!

Rex, the Accidental CAG

Hey, What's That Doing Here?

"That" being the USS Massachusetts, BB-59, taking a little fuel from the USS Saugatuck, AO-75, somewhere in the Pacific during the Second World War. It's true that we don't do much with warships around here but some folks do build models of them, which earns these photographs a place on our site. That fact, combined with the composition of the photos, makes them well worth reproduction here. Enjoy!

Those deployed triple-a guns would make us think the ships were in a combat zone and ready for trouble (and they could well be), but the large numbers of crew standing around on deck without battle attire make us think otherwise. Note how cluttered both ships are; most models never quite manage to capture that sort of thing, no matter how well they were constructed. Building either ship is a challenge we'd think twice about accepting, but we sure like that photo.  Rocker Collection

And here's an equally dramatic view taken from the starboard side. This would make a really neat diorama, but we'll guarantee you we won't be the ones to build it.  Rocker Collection

Thanks once again to the generosity of Bobby Rocker for these amazing images.

The Relief Tube

It's been a while since we've published, so we've got quite a few comments that require mention.

First, let's see some observations regarding those F-80 shots we published an issue or two back. To start things off, here's one from a reader known only as Marc regarding that radio sitting on the wing of one of the F-80s:

The test equipment or a 1950s version of the Boom Box" is a Zenith Transoceanic portable shortwave radio, very popular during the 40s and 50s...

Then from Marty Isham:

Hey Phil....I'm pretty sure this is a Zenith Transoceanic Radio and the Knuckle Busters are listening to perhaps AFRN out of Japan to have help with adjusting the A/C and to see if Mac has crossed the Yalu yet.....Marty

Finally, here's a comment about several aspects of the piece from Gerry Asher:

I was elated see Jonathan Watson's "Flying Fiends" 36th FBS F-80 contributions- the 8th FBG and in particular the 80th FBS "Headhunters" have been a primary interest to me for some time. The 80th flew the Shooting Star in combat longer than any other unit in the USAF, not converting to F-86Fs until the last couple months of the war. As a matter of fact, by that point the squadron's yellow-trimmed tails had been 'muddied' with blue and yellow as they received hand-offs from the 35th and 36th when they transitioned to Sabres. It wasn't uncommon by April of '53 to see 80th drivers flying former 36th ships (red-trimmed fuselage buzz numbers) with a 35th tail section (blue sunburst) grafted on. Korea was every bit the "meatgrinder" for F-80s that Vietnam was for F-105s... Regarding a couple of images in the batch about which you posed questions: The shirtless soon-to-be-smoking mechanic definitely has an early "boom box" on the wing - I can't readily discern a manufacturer, but I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut hole that the big dial on the main face is a twin-pointer for AM-FM bands. The "BAFFLING INSTALLED" stencil visible at right on the wing tiptank was probably part of a TCTO (Time Compliance Technical Order). When the "Misawa" tank was first designed, stretching the F-80's standard 165 gallon tiptank to 255 gallon capacity (by splicing in two additional center sections), I think the baffles - perforated plates to moderate the fuel from sloshing - were sometimes discarded. This was fine until it came time for any violent maneuvering with any fuel still remaining in the tank - an aggressive pullup after bomb release would send fuel sloshing from one end of the tank to the other, and the twisting moment on the shackle sometimes ripped the tank (and some of the wingtip) from the bird. As a result, I believe a TCTO was issued to ensure tanks - both the 165s and larger 255s - were properly baffled. As a side note, the 255 "Misawas" were developed to extend loiter time over Korea while the F-80 was still operating from Japan; once they were firmly established in the south (by the spring of '51), their use began to decline. Thanks for this one - it's the first time I've ever seen this stencil! A second image which requires comment is an "F-80C" somebody else may have already hammered you about - because it's not an F-80. It's one of the 36th's T-33s (note the hinged canopy), serial 49-994. Being an early production T-bird, she has no "bang seats" - just the plain old P-80A-style buckets. Ejection seats didn't happen on Lockheed's production line until the '51 model serials, although many earlier birds were eventually retrofitted. Ship 994 did have "teeth" however, with '48-'49-'50 models still fitted with twin .50 caliber machine guns. I guess that's all I have to nitpick here today - thanks for keeping "Replica In Scale" rolling! All my best, Gerry Asher

Thanks to all of you for those comments!

Next, Doug Barbier has a thought on that New Hampshire ANG F-86L that just won't lie down:

Phil, Another great issue. With no references handy and simply off the top of my head, with regards to that NH F-86L I can come up with 2 possibilities: 1. It's just the film / lighting and they're the same colors. 2. Assuming they actually are different, then I'd guess that the jets had flight colors painted on them. As an example, the Huns with the 107th TFS, Mich ANG had diagonal bands in their flight colors painted on the forward nose gear doors and on the tips of the external fuel tanks for a while. I've seen Red, Blue, Green and Brown. The squadron color was red of course, and that was painted in a band on the tail. Call it a coin toss... Doug

Next up is a comment on that VA-45 "Scooter" shot we ran a couple of issues back:

Phillip another way to check the unit that a Skyhawk was assigned to , and  the dates, is to go to , then you look into each USN unit (for example), and somewhere down the page for each USN and USMC squadron there is a heading that says "aircraft assigned to this squadron" (the wording varies a bit by page) that opens a page where someone has broken down the BuNo cards for every Skyhawk assigned to a given unit, and where it went to when it left there those pages state that A-4E 152004 was never with VF-43, but, was at VF-45 in the 1987 and later time period if you get "tricky" enough with interpreting GoNavy, plus Fleet Allocations, and then the site, it is possible most of the time to assign a valid date to an undated photo and that blue Lightning flash A-4B was definitely the "Blue Bolts" of VA-172,,,,,,long time Navair students can spot those as surely as seeing a Red Ripper hog on a Crusader, hope that helps Rex, the Accidental Cag

Thanks, Rex. It sounds as though there's a sea story associated with your title of Accidental CAG. Would you like to share it with us?

We've been lamenting the lack of 1/32nd scale T-6 and Tempest kits for so long it's almost become a standing joke around here, but we seem to be getting closer to kits of both, as pointed out by Australian reader Jamie from Oz:

G'day guys, love the blog! Hobbycraft are supposed to be releasing a 1/32 T-6/Harvard at some stage, and Special Hobby are shortly releasing a Tempest.
HTH, Jamie in Oz

Thanks, Jamie!

We've got a number of new readers judging from the comments we've received of late regarding some of our older posts---here's one from Steve Birdsall regarding those Pacific B-17 shots we ran a while ago:

Hi - I have a bit more information about 41-24548, one of the B-17s featured in your November 2011 post. The name of that B-17 was HARRY The HORSE . . . I’ve seen a slightly over-exposed print of the Tadji crash shot that reveals the full name. It’s the same aircraft in the shot of the B-17 taking off from Momote. The number 167 behind the cockpit identifies the 57th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 375th Troop Carrier Group. I enjoy your blog, always something interesting.
Regards - Steve Birdsall

Many thanks, Steve, both for the correction and the compliment!

And this from Captain Paul David of the Canadian Armed Forces regarding that VA-196 retirement ceremony shot sent to us by Mark Morgan a few issues ago:

Good day Phillip, I can shed some light on the photo of the VA-196 bird on your blog as I was there when that pic was taken. 28 Feb 1997 was the decommissioning ceremony for VA-196, the last A-6 Intruder squadron. Author Stephen Coonts was in attendance and was gracious enough to have his photo snapped with me. As you can see, the weather was low and overcast - Intruder weather as they'd say. Cheers! Paul A. David

Thanks, Paul!

Now for a comment from one of our Belgian readers, Bob Verheggen.

Hi Philip. For sure a T-6 as Belgium had beautiful ones and it’s the first military plane I saw when I was 5 in former Belgian Congo ;I have a lot of T.O so if one comes out , I will super-detail it; I remember Replica in Scale mag, lot of souvenirs of a time when modelers didn’t complain to much when a new kit was released but were happy that it was issued . I still have some copies I look at regularly . Those were good times and such documentation was welcome. Now aren’t modelers reacting as spoiled children? Kind regards,
Bob “glidingbob” Verhegghen (61 years –modeler since my 6 – first model Spad XIII Aurora I think ). Chastre –Belgium

Bob definitely makes a point regarding spoiled children. Food for thought, as it were---thanks, Bob!

Finally, we have a comment from a reader known as Slacker, who offers us a really nifty link to some old Freeman Field photography:

Hi you do Facebook? If you do have you seen this page;
They have some really cool stuff and the comments are priceless....chuck

Thanks, Chuck. Unfortunately, We're not a Facebook Guy---most days it's all I can do to figure out how to do this blog without making too big a mess of things. Social networking is entirely beyond me!

You've probably all noticed by now that our last couple of issues have taken a long time to get into print. We apologize for that and can only say it's the nature of the beast. Hang with us, please; we have to get better at this schedule thing sooner or later!

And that's it for this time around. Be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.