Sunday, May 25, 2014

More FJs, Dancing With Mister B, Son of Superfort, A Neat Conversion, Stuff You Didn't Know You Had, and Some RAM Birds


So the guys at Eduard begin, and maintain, a month-long advertising campaign on the internet to push their new hotter-than-sliced-bread 1/48th scale Me109G-6. They literally flood the electronic side of our hobby with photographs and descriptions of what must surely be the most accurate plastic model kit ever because, after all, they said it was; priming the pump, as it were, for the mid-May release of their kit. Several of the big internet sites buy into the whole deal and join in the festivities about how great the kit is.

There are warts, of course, and the more knowledgeable regarding Things Teutonic pick up on them almost right away. Eduard puts a bump on the wing root that shouldn't be there, and the Internet Experts start up a hue and cry not seen since the days of the release of the most recent Trumpeter kit. Other issues are discovered as well, but those issues are all pretty insignificant and, at the end of the day, are issues that nobody has actually seen since the kit hasn't even been released yet, Shakespearean drama at its very best (as in much ado about nothing, if you catch my drift).

Then it happens. The kit finally gets released, and some very respected folks jump on it as being the ultimate 109 in any scale, dangerous ground to walk on with any kit but almost justified in this case except that it turns out the kit is closest to the ever-popular 1/46th scale, which means it'll look great by itself, but not too great at all if it's sitting anywhere near another Me109 or any other WW2 fighter. It's just too darned big. 

Of course, nobody notices it at first, and some very respected people write reviews, kit in hand, and state that it is accurate in terms of scale dimensions, which in essence means that people who said they measured the kit couldn't possibly have done that. Yikes! A double whammy! An inaccurate kit and highly-respected reviewers who went out and got themselves fooled and then compounded the problem by spreading the Bad Word. The infamy! The shame! The horror!

Or is it? There's no doubt that somebody at Eduard made a mistake, and it was a big one, but it's not like they never made a mistake before: The wheels on their Albatros DIII, the undercarriage strut length on their Albatros DV, the fuselage length of their Tempest, the fuselage on their big 109E (as well as it's 1/48th scale little brother), the nose on their Fw190 family, and the list goes on and on. Admittedly, a kit that's entirely too big for its stated scale is in a different ballpark altogether---somebody pooched it big time over in the Czech Republic, and it'll take a while for Eduard to get past the financial hickey of amortizing that tooling, not to mention the embarrassment of the whole thing. It'll become a standard scale modeling joke and will likely remain one for some time to come. 

That's really unfortunate too, because there's no doubt the guys at Eduard put their heart and soul into the project, and it's a darned shame things turned out the way they did. Maybe it was a kit designer, or maybe a cad driver, or maybe it was who knows what that caused the problem. The bottom line is that the kit won't fit into a 1/48th scale collection because it's too darned big, which in theory makes it useless in a collection. It's still arguably among the best kits of Herr Messerschmitt's iconic fighter in any scale, it just isn't in any useful scale.

What can we do with our wonderful new Me109G-6 then? Well, we can build just one and put it up a pole. That's what I think I'm going to do with mine when the time comes---I'm going to buy the kit, get a decent resin pilot to stick in it, build a spiffy base, and make myself a darned nice desk model, one that an enthusiast of Things Luftwaffe would be proud to own and display. I'll only do it once, which will disappoint the Czechs, but at least I'll do it, and I expect I'll be happy with the results. I'll buy a Royal Edition kit too when that comes out (presuming it hasn't become a casualty of the whole scale boondoggle), but that's because I collect that series, and not because I want more out-of-scale 109s. One's going to be enough, thank you.

It's easy to laugh at Eduard's expense, and at the expense of all the people who wrote reviews saying they measured the kit when they probably didn't, but we might all want to remember that the kit was an honest effort that went badly awry. That's too bad, too, because I for one was really looking forward to it and I'm disappointed in the way things turned out. I'm still going to buy that one kit, though, and I'm still going to build it and put it up a pole, and I think you should consider doing it too. Eduard's going to take a major bath on that tooling if the kit doesn't sell, and I for one would like them to continue to turn out the really neat stuff they've been steadily releasing over the years. Yes, they just gave us an enormous disappointment with that Messerschmitt, but just prior to the kit's release they gave us the best Spitfire anybody has ever done, and almost all of us use their aftermarket stuff. When they're good they're great, but anybody can make a mistake. One thing's for certain; I'll bet their next new kit is spot-on dimensionally! 

Let's shake our heads, have a laugh if we're so inclined, and move on. 

So three guys go into a bar. One has a Zvezda Me109F-2, one has a Hasegawa 109G-14, and the third guy has an Eduard Me109G-6...

A Sabre by Any Other Name

We're referring, of course, to the North American FJ Fury series of naval fighters, a mainstay of American naval aviation during the 1950s that is now largely forgotten. Pioneers in many respects, the Furies paved the way for jet aircraft aboard American aircraft carriers and are significant for that reason if for nothing else. We like the FJ a lot and periodically run photo essays illustrating the aircraft of that family---it's been a while since we've done that, so it must surely be time to do it again!

Here's a classic study of the fighter that started it all. The airplane is an FJ Fury, BuNo 120357 from VF-5A, taken on 29 November 1948. She met an untimely end in 1951 while serving with a Reserve unit, VF-778, crashing to destruction while making touch and go landings. She was in her prime when photographed here; none of the FJs were around long enough in actual service to get into bad cosmetic shape.   Sullivan Collection

We don't know the Bureau Number on this one, but we do know that she was at Miramar sometime in 1950 and was serving with VF-5A when the photo was taken. Although the first generation Fury looked tubby and ungainly, its performance wasn't all that bad for a straight-winged jet fighter with an underpowered engine. North American already had better things in mind, however, and both production and service use of the first of the Furies was limited. Sullivan Collection

The follow-on aircraft to the FJ, the FJ-2, was supposed to be carrier-capable but was in fact a barely-navalised F-86 with nominal abilities around the boat, which relegated it to land-based service with the Marines. This badly-weathered example shows the salient differences to be found between the F-86 and the FJ-2; four 20mm cannon in the nose, a revised canopy, barricade fences on the leading edges of the slats, an arresting hook, and a tail bumper. The changes weren't enough to guarantee any sort of safe performance on a carrier, but the NAV had to start somewhere.   Sullivan Collection

The first-generation jet fighters could be a handful on land, too. FJ-2 131970 from VMF-235 endured an off-road adventure at El Toro in July of 1954; her colorful markings couldn't keep her from being damaged, although the damage was minor. Note that the barricade fences have been removed; the FJ-2 was almost never employed aboard ship due to its poor performance in that environment. The markings were pretty, though... Sullivan Collection

The FJ-3 was the Navy's first successful swept-wing carrier jet, although "successful" can be considered a somewhat loose term in this instance---the airplane's boat manners were still poor when compared to such piston-engined stalwarts as the still contemporary F4U Corsair. In spite of that, the FJ-3 and its sibling, the FJ-3M, gave the Navy the operational experience it needed with swept-winged fighters on-board ship. 135933 experienced a  land-based Kodak Moment at Miramar on 28 October, 1955, but the aircraft was barely damaged. Such accidents were common in the early days of jet operations in the Fleet, but the results were rarely this benign. The 50s were a time of horrendous accident rates among all three of the American services operating fast jets, and a great many of today's safety regulations stem from the mishaps of that era.   Sullivan Collection

You could scarcely consider any Sabre variant, up to and including the F-86D and L, to be all-weather aircraft in the literal sense of the word, but operational requirements sometimes decreed that the aircraft had to be flown at night or in poor weather. This VF-173 FJ-3M is being re-spotted (and not prepared for flight) on what can only be described as a miserable flight deck in February of 1957. The boat is the FDR, and we'll all but guarantee you that 202 isn't getting ready to go anywhere under her own power. It would take extreme circumstances to warrant a launch in the conditions illustrated, although it was sometimes done. It wasn't just a job...   Sullivan Collection

In 1962 all United States military aircraft were re-designated, allegedly due SecDef Robert McNamara's inability to understand the system that had served the Navy since its earliest ventures into heavier-than-air aviation, which caused the last of the Furies, the FJ-4 and -4M, to become AF-1s instead of FJ-Anythings. This example, an AF-1E from NAS Willow Grove, illustrates the aircraft in a joint service (Navy/Marine) Reserve color scheme. Considered by many who should know to have been the hottest of all the Sabres, Air Force, Navy, or Marine, the FJ-4 spent its entire career without firing a shot in anger (although we've heard the type dropped bombs in Laos on at least one occasion early in the Vietnam War; corroboration and details would be appreciated!).  Sullivan Collection

One more thing; Jim sent us a number of FJ photos recently, of which these are just a sampling. There are more to be seen in our upcoming issues, so watch these pages!

A Couple of FEAF Superforts

Boeing's remarkable B-29 Superfortress was an amazing aircraft when it was designed and produced, a technological trans-oceanic wonder designed to take the air war to an enemy ensconced on an unreachable (by 1942 standards) continent far away. The B-29 was never used against the enemy for which it was initially created, but provided stellar service flying bombing raids against the Japanese home islands during late 1944 and 1945. The Japanese both feared and respected the type and gave it the moniker "B-San", or Mr. B. It stayed in United States service until the early 1960s in an auxiliary role, long after its effectiveness as a bomber had been overcome by advancing technology, and it was even cloned to become the Soviet Union's first strategic bombardment aircraft. It was quite an airplane.

Thanks to the kindness of Gerry Kersey over at 3rd Attack.Org we've got a couple of fascinating images to share with you today of the B-29 in early post-War service. Let's take a look:

BF-073 was photographed at Yokota AB by Dwight Turner during the 1947-49 time period. Assigned to the 492nd BS of the 7th BG, she's still armed with her turreted .50-cals and is wearing a fresh coat of Jet (the Air Force's term for a highly gloss black paint) on her ventral surfaces. The MiG-15 wasn't too far away from being an operational reality when this photo was taken, and its existence rendered aircraft such as the B-29 obsolete almost overnight, but "B-San" was still regarded as an extremely viable bombardment platform when this photo was taken.   D Turner via 3rd Attack.Org

Talk about an evocative photograph! This shot of Yokota's ramp was taken during the same 1947-49 time frame as that of 073 above and shows a ramp full of B-29s thought to be from the 6th BG. Those "Superforts" were undoubtedly on a TDY deployment since the type was never actually based in Japan, but all those A-26s in the background are from the 3rd Attack Group and are tenant at the base. Japan was (and we presume still is) a fairly wet place, as proven by all that mud adjacent to the parking area, but at least the hardstands, taxiways, and runways were concrete. It's worth noting that all of this particular batch of B-29s are still in natural metal finish, and all are still carrying their full compliment of turrets---if you recall, General LeMay had all but the tail guns removed from the Superfortresses operating with the 20th Air Force when the mission changed from daylight bombardment to low-altitude night bombing. Stateside-based B-29s kept theirs; FEAF-owned B-29s would need all the guns they could carry in just a few short years.  D Turner via 3rd Attack.Org

Japan was pretty good duty if you were a blue suiter immediately after the end of the war, and there were a whole lot of neat airplanes based there between the end of The Big One and the beginning of the Korean War. Many thanks to Gerry Kersey for sharing the photographs of those B-29s with us.

The Son Was Bigger Than the Dad

Or so it seemed. The Boeing B-50 was an up-engined and highly improved development of the B-29 design, readily identifiable by its enormous vertical tail and its highly modified engine cowlings. Although it was destined never to see formal combat (although it was shot and and, occasionally, shot down during the early phases of the Cold War) it played a key role in the post-War air Force as a recon ship, a weather bird, and an airborne tanker. The last B-50 soldiered on with Systems Command as a test aircraft until the early 1970s, proving the usefulness of the basic Boeing design that had originated in the beginning of the 1940s. It was a worthy successor to the B-29, and we've got a few images of it to share with you today.

The Air Force had itself a plate full of surplus airplanes immediately after the conclusion of the War, and production of new machines came almost to a standstill. The B-50 was considered to be necessary to the nation's defense, however, and went into production as a stop-gap strategic bomber as demonstrated by this shot of B-50B-50-BO, 47-0139, taken at Turner AFB, Georgia, during the early 1950s. Her defensive armament has been removed, but in all fairness the guns weren't much use against the jet fighters employed by the bad guys she would have fought against. The future of bombardment aviation lay in speed, but that wouldn't become fully apparent until the first encounters between the MiG-15 and the B-50's sire, the B-29, in Korea. 0139 was ultimately converted to RB-50F standard and wound up at MASDC in 1966.   USAF via Mark Morgan

Here's another view of 0139 on the ground at Turner, apparently taken on the same day as the previous shot. Note how faded the black paint on the prop blades appears to be, although the airplane itself seems to be in pristine condition. This shot and the one immediately prior to it provide us with a fine view of those modified cowlings. The B-50 was quite an airplane, but she was obsolescent almost from her first day of service---the advent of the jet fighter saw to that.   USAF via Mark Morgan

47-0122 was another conversion to RB-50F standard, having begun life as a B-50-40-BO. An interim conversion saw her operating as an RB-50E on what has been described as "special photographic missions) prior to her final reconfiguration to an RB-50F. It's in that final guise that we see her year, replete with Arctic conspicuity markings. We suspect that the aft entrance hatch is opened due to an operational requirement but we can't prove that, nor can we explain it. Those highly streamlined gas bags and pylons look out of place on this aircraft, don't they?   USAF via Mark Morgan

And here's 47-041 in flight. Originally a B-50B-50-BO, she had been upgraded to RB-50F standard by the time this shot was taken. She's fully-loaded here and not terribly far off the water. She's also heavy and is apparently carrying a full load of fuel judging by her wings. The Arctic markings are gone, replaced by Day-Glo (those "white" bands evident in the photo) but that same hatch is open. We're guessing it was somehow tied to the mission and would love to be educated---that address is  .  USAF via Mark Morgan

A Nifty Neptune

By now you all know the name of Jim Sullivan. He's a scholar of things relating to naval aviation, an author, and a photographer. He's also a darned good modeler, as we're about to show you.

Lockheed's P2V Neptune family in all of its variants was a mainstay of the Navy's patrol bomber fleet until the mid-1960s. The final production variant (as opposed to the somewhat unique limited-service conversions that seemed to flourish during the Vietnam fracas) was the P2V-7, a dedicated ASW platform, and to date all of the plastic kits of the type have been of that version of the aircraft. The original Neptune design was closer in spirit to that of the Consolidated PB4Y Privateer in concept, and Jim wanted to replicate one of the earlier variants. The P2V-5 you see before you was the result of that desire.

Jim started out with a 1/72nd scale Hasegawa P2V-7 kit and a lot of enthusiasm---we suspect there was a conversion kit of some sort involved in the festivities but we don't know who's it was. (Jim?) The mounting structure for the searchlight mounted in the starboard wing tank appears to have been largely scratch-built and really looks good in there. The devil's in the details!

And here's a 3/4 rear view of the port side of the aircraft. The early P2Vs were still armed, carrying 20mm cannon in the nose and tail and a pair of Browning .50 calibers in the dorsal turret. The guns were in keeping with the aircraft's mission as a patrol bomber and directly reflected that mission as it was performed during the Second World War. The final variant, the P2V-7, was still armed, but only with the dorsal turret since the primary mission had morphed into one of anti-submarine patrol. Jim's model represents a Systems Test aircraft as flown by the NATC during the early 1950s and really shows off the lines of the type.

Thanks to Jim Sullivan for the photography, and for stepping way outside the box to build a model of a unique aircraft. Good job, Jim!

They're Just Extra Parts, Right?

One of our interests around here is the Luftwaffe during its time on the Eastern Front during World War 2. It's a topic and a time period we used to swear we'd never build, but nowadays we're hip-deep into it, primarily because of the heraldry and camouflage and markings variations found in that theater of operations. That's led us to build quite a few Fw190 and Bf/Me109E models from the time and place, and that's led us to a couple of really neat discoveries that we'd like to share with you today regarding the 1/48th scale kits available for a couple of variants of those two types. We aren't going to build anything before your very eyes, or even say that one kit is better than another, but we are going to share a couple of discoveries that may make your life a little easier. Interested? Good---then let's proceed!

The Short-Nosed Fw190s:

There are three viable choices here; Eduard, Hasegawa, and Tamiya. Of the three, the Hasegawa kit in any of its variations is the best of the bunch in terms of accuracy and is second only to the Tamiya kit in terms of "buildability". About the only thing we ever add to them is a set of Eduard belts and harnesses---you really don't need anything else unless you plan on opening everything up, in which case you should've bought the Eduard kit (and all the related photo-etch for same) in the first place.

As for the Eduard kit, there's not a lot to be said about it  that somebody else hasn't already done. It builds into a really good looking model as long as you aren't overly concerned with accuracy, and the decals that come with any of its variations are among the best available in any scale, but the kit's primary usefulness is derived from the fact that it has a lot of extra parts included in the box.

The Tamiya kits are the Odd Man Out in any gathering of Focke Wulfs, which takes us to the point we're trying to make today. Easy to build and acceptably accurate out of the box, they suffer from undersized main landing gear wheels and tires and short landing gear. The simplest way to deal with the issues is to build the Hasegawa kit of your choice and forget about Tamiya and Eduard, but the Hasegawa offerings have become hellishly expensive of late which makes the Tamiya kits suddenly viable again, particularly since the simple replacement of the tires and wheels will restore most of the proper "look" to your model. There's a thriving aftermarket for such things, but you'd may as well take advantage of Eduard's generosity if you're building the Tamiya kit but have an Eduard Fw190A or F sitting in your kit stash since The Big E includes multiple sets of tires/wheels in each and every one of their Focke Wulf kits (early and late wheels, ribbed tires and smooth tires), which gives you a correction set for any Tamiya kit right out of a box you've presumably already got. The simple act of putting the proper-sized tires on your Tamiya kit will improve the sit tremendously, and thereby improve your model as well. It's a quick fix and there's a fair chance you've already got the parts in your stash!

The Bf109-E:

Once again we have a choice of kits, although this time there are four to choose from.

Hasegawa was the first in the current crop of 109Es, and it's not our favorite. We have a couple of the kits and periodically steal parts from them for other projects, but at the end of the day it isn't one we'd build so we aren't going to discuss it today.

Next up are the Tamiya offerings, an E-3 and an E-4/7. Both are adequate kits that build easily and don't need a whole lot of help except in the cockpit, where they're a little lacking. The propellers are anemic and you might want to replace the wheels but that's about it. One thing, though---Hasegawa and Tamiya both had to re-tool their fuselages for the sake of accuracy, and if you're buying a Tamiya kit you're looking for the one that says "Made in Philippines" on the end of the box. The really early iterations of the kit have a gomed-up nose.

Eduard's offering of the "Emil" really impressed us when it first came out, and it still does. It has some scale problems, primarily in the fuselage and in particular in the area of the nose, and it's wing slats are too wide, but otherwise it's a gem of a kit, although you'll need your wits about you if you choose to build one since it's design is a little bit complicated.

Then there's the Airfix kit. It's a simple model to build and quite a value for the money since it includes all of the parts to build an E-1, E-3, or E-4/E-7 directly from the kit, requiring no aftermarket whatsoever. It also includes all the various Jabo-related fairings and such for the underside of the fuselage, and it's got a tropical filter. It's been criticized, and unfairly, we think, for having overdone panel lines, but they look ok under a coat of paint. The real problems with the kit lie in its lack of a rudder trim tab, which is easily resolved with five minutes and a knife blade, overly-long landing gear, poor wheels and tires, and thick and clunky transparencies. The kit can be made into a real winner with some simple modifications though, and you may not even need to spend money to fix them since it's possible you've already got the kits necessary to do that.

Working on the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words (and I can always find a thousand words to say, so from your point of view a picture is a Very Good Thing!), here's a shot of an in-process Airfix Bf109E for your consideration. It's almost bone stock, but the wheels (including the tailwheel) are Eduard "Brassin'" components, while the windscreen and aft canopy section are from the "Carganico Option" provided (without identification, at least in the kit I had) in the Zvezda Bf109F-2. The landing gear legs haven't been shortened yet---they don't look odd until you set the model beside one from another company. From a dimensional standpoint, as well as that of value for money, the Airfix kit is The Good One in a 109E shootout, or at least that's my opinion this week! There are a few things to be cleaned up before we stick a fork in it and call it done but I like the way it looks, and I didn't have to buy anything to correct the minor issues the kit has; the parts were already in my spares cab. Beauty!

We've talked about how to fix the rudder trim tab already so we'll skip that now. If you're building an E-1 or an early E-3 you'll need to add a little vane inside the oil cooler fairing, but that's easy to do with a piece of scrap styrene. You'll want to shorten the landing gear legs but we disagree with conventional wisdom here and don't think the length issue resides in the oleo portion of the strut but rather in the basic part that's proportionally too long overall. It's easiest to shorten it in the area of the oleo, but it's probably more correct to take it out of the top of the strut---a sixteenth of an inch or so ought to do it.

Once you've fixed those things, you'll want to replace the tires and wheels because they're simply awful. I just used a set of Eduard's "Brassin" wheels on one I'm building, but you can get a replacement set from any of the other kits or from the aftermarket. That basically leaves the canopy stack to be dealt with, and that one is surprisingly easy to cope with as well. The Eduard canopy stack will fit the Airfix fuselage with virtually no modification, and the E-3 stack that Zvezda thoughtfully provides in their Bf109F-2 kit (included there so you can build one of Horst Carganico's modified 109Fs, although the instructions don't tell you that) fits like it was designed for the Airfix kit in the first place!

So what's the reason for this ramble, you might reasonably ask? Superficially, at least, it's to tell you how to perform a little simple parts swapping in order to improve a model from parts sources you might already have. More than that, however, it's to inspire you to think beyond the retail aftermarket and re-focus some of your energies into your own closet. We did it that way and were very pleasantly surprised at the results. Our efforts were spent improving recent kits wearing black crosses, but the opportunity exists across the board. Look on it as a little Modeling 101, as it were!

Bentwing Bugsuckers at the RAM

Any of our readership who have flown into Austin, Texas, during the past several years will have noticed a bright, clean, modern airport facility dedicated to getting grandma and the kids, as well as every itinerant musician in the United States, in and out of the State capitol in a safe, comfortable, and efficient manner. Any of those folks who might have chosen to look out the window while on final approach could have noticed something else as well; long, wide runways capable of handling the largest of jets incorporated into a very military-appearing plat. There's a reason for it all; until fairly recently Austin Bergstrom was known simply as Bergstrom Air Force Base. During its life span it saw everything from plank-winged F-84s through B-52s, with its final resident unit being the 67th TRW's 45th TRS. That final resident is important to our next photo essay, since Bergstrom was once host to the Reconnaissance Air Meet, known colloquially as RAM, and hosted every other year as an international photo recon exercise and competition.

The meet simulated operational wartime conditions with low-level recce missions being flown throughout Texas during the course of events, complete with airborne adversaries (generally F-15s and F-16s) and other defense measures thrown in for good measure. We attended the events in 1988 and 1990, and were able to spend part of the 1988 event at Last Chance, a spot on any American military airfield where final checks are conducted on the aircraft prior to launch. The photos you are about to view were taken there, at what had to have been the noisiest place in Texas that day, but the aircraft we're going to show you today were not photo-recon ships but rather the tactical fighters of the Texas Reserve's 704th TFS flying out of the reserve facility at Carswell. Here's what it was like that day, the 21st of August, 1988:

66-709 taxis into Last Chance, canopies opened and the aircrew reasonably relaxed. She's carrying all of her extra gas on the centerline and has a pod in her forward port-side Sparrow bay but is otherwise clean. Note the Texas flag motifs on the forward nose gear door and at the tip of the vertical tail. Pride runs deep in Texas, ya'll!   Friddell

709 pulls into the inspection area as the ground echelon comes out for a quick final inspection of the aircraft. Everyone out there, including the photographers that day, were wearing hearing protection and were sans caps or hats of any kind. J-79s are not fond of baseball caps!   Friddell

The airplane is stopped and final inspection is underway. The ground crew are looking for leaks, loose panels, improperly mounted external stores, or anything else that might pose a flight hazard to the aircraft. If it were carrying live ordnance this is also the place where the arming safety pins would be removed, shown to the aircrew, and taken away. The whole operation takes around ten minutes in a peace-time environment. It's it's a critical ten minutes that could define the success of the mission as well as the survival of the crew, and it happens every time an American military aircraft is prepared for launch.   Friddell

The checks are performed, the canopies closed, and 709 taxis away to the active runway for launch as a TARPS-equipped F-14A awaits her turn. It's all well-orchestrated and immaculately performed. The only thing that beats it is an operational carrier deck, but that's an essay for a different day.   Friddell

709 was podded, but her playmates weren't. Here's 762 immediately after her inspection, buttoned up and taxiing out. She's carrying an inert AIM-9 and has been fragged to support a recce mission. All of the photography on this particular shoot was done with a conventional 50mm lens, which allowed us to redefine the expression "up close and personal". Did we mention it was loud out there?   Friddell

Here's a final shot of 762 showing the way the external stores were carried that day. The loadout would make for an interesting detail on a model, we think---very few people ever build replicas of aircraft engaged in peacetime training exercises, which makes doing it that more interesting to us. It's all in the details, isn't it?   Friddell

We've recently begun to snoop around in our F-4 files and have re-discovered some interesting photography. Watch these pages for more 80s "Bugsuckers". It's the right thing to do!

Happy Snaps

We've really been blessed around here in that we've been able our readership some truly unique and, in many cases, outright beautiful, photography. Today's Happy Snaps offering is no exception.

Doug Barbier's military career was both extensive and varied, and provided him with an opportunity to indulge in his passion for photography while performing his other life's passion as an aviator. This example of his work was taken while he was a T-38 IP at Williams AFB and we think it sums up the beauty of flight as few photographs can. Thanks, Doug!

One more thing while we're on the subject: We hated, and we mean hated, to have to watermark such as beautiful photograph because of the continued actions of the goobers who continue to pirate photography every chance they get. Maybe some day those guys will learn how to play a straight game but, until they do, we'll have to continue to deface the images we run here. It kills our soul to have to do that, at least for the present, but it's the way things have to be. Arghh, he said!!!

The Relief Tube

The last time we met, Jim Wogstad had supplied us with a photograph of the T-5 Turret Trainer, the vehicle that appeared in that B-25 shot a couple of issues back. We couldn't get the picture into a format that would allow publication, so Jim was kind enough to scan it again and re-send it:

And here it is in all its glory; the T-5 Turret Trainer Truck. It's on a 4x4 rather than 6x6 chassis but would make for a fascinating accessory to a model B-25, and we've already got photographic proof that they were used to some extent in the Philippines, if nowhere else! Thanks to Jim for getting us a scan we could show you---now we need a kit!   Wogstad Collection

We ran a fairly extensive FJ-4B piece a few issues back. In conjunction with that article I'd built a model of a Fury carrying a Mk 7 on one wing. Tommy Thomason was kind enough to send an exceptional photo showing an FJ-4B with the weapon in place, and I managed to lose it somewhere in Electron Land! I recently managed to find it:

And here it is. It's worth noting that this particular airframe still has the port-side 20mm in place, and does not have the generator door and its associated vents as a result. Many thanks to Tommy for this photo, and a profound apology for taking so long to run it!   Thomason Collection

Much in common with Tommy's FJ-4B shot immediately above, reader Jean Barbaud recently discovered a better photo of the bulldog emblem on that VMF-122 F4U-1 we ran several issues back. We've found it now (misfiled in that same folder with the Fury!) and would like to run it for you today:

Thanks to Jean for his patience with us, and for sharing this wonderful image.   Barbaud Collection

Last issue we ran one of Rick Morgan's photos illustrating an RA-5C that we were almost certain was being prepared for public display. Rick was kind enough to confirm that for us:

Phil: The RA-5C at Memphis was in fact there to be put on display; it stuffed and mounted at the base. Rick

Thanks, Morgo, and thanks to all of you for making this project what it is. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.