Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fixing a Sow's Ear, The Stuff of Legend, Some Early 84s, and Forty-Niners

I Shoulda Listened

Sometimes things don't work out the way you expected them to, and that's certainly been the case with my ongoing adventures in scale modeling. As a case in point (a bizarre one, but a case in point nonetheless), let's take a look at the influence of spouses on the hobby. (We're going to look at the positive side of that, by the way. A lot of modelers get to experience the negative side, but so far we/I haven't been in that situation, at least not lately, and we're not going to discuss it today. Karma, as it were...) What we are going to discuss is the simple act of listening to others, and to spouses in particular. It's going to be a brief discussion for once, but I think it will make the point. To wit:

Mrs. Friddell Number One was an artist, and still is. She's pretty good at what she does and she was kind enough to give me some artist's tools that had application to scale modeling way back when, many of which I still use on an almost daily basis, but at the end of the day I always had to ask; she never just came up and said "can you use this"?

Mrs. Friddell Number Two wasn't an artist and, as far as I know, still isn't. She tolerated the hobby but I don't think she ever understood it and therefore wasn't in the position to offer suggestions of any sort, which meant there were never suggestions regarding tools or supplies.

Mrs. Friddell Number Three is different. She was and is an artist, of the textiles variety, and she's not the least bit shy about offering suggestions. That used to bother me, back before I learned to listen, or at least before I realized that she was going to say it whether I wanted to hear it or not. After all, modeling was my hobby, not hers. What could she possibly know about anything that could help me with my ongoing attempt at become a decent scale modeler? Hmm---let's see...

First there was The Wire. I had placed an order for three feet of a thin-gauge malleable wire to use on aircraft engines, and paid five bucks for the privilege. She found out about it and went to her beading box, from which she withdrew a 25-foot spool of 28-gauge wire that she'd paid four bucks for, give or take. I started out that particular adventure by telling her I wasn't interested in using beading wire on my models. Nowadays it's all I use when I wire a scale engine.

Next came The Paint Brush. That's right, a simple, stinking paint brush, one that she saw on the shelf at King's Hobby in Austin during one of our weekly visits. It was an ok brush in terms of quality; a decent sable brush, but it featured this gimmicky can't-roll-off-the-desk triangular handle that she thought I needed. I laughed at it and told her I didn't need one. She bought it for me and I tried it, at which point I decided I wasn't going to use anything else.

Then came The Airbrush. If you've been modeling for more than fifteen minutes, and if you've been painting with compressed air, then you've also developed some pretty strong opinions about what you do and don't like in the way of airbrushes. I certainly had, and I was pretty dismayed when both my Badger 150s went Tango Uniform at the same time. I was up the proverbial Defecation Creek without a paddle until I remembered the airbrush she had given me, much against my will, back during the first year we were together. The label on the outside of the box said "Omni Detail Gun" and I'd promptly put it away and forgotten about it until the day my "real" airbrushes crashed. I pulled out the Omni in desperation, the first time I'd ever actually looked at it, and discovered that it was a Thayer and Chandler double action airbrush currently marketed by Badger. I also discovered that it was far more capable than either my Badger 150s or myself and was, in point of fact, the airbrush I'd been looking for my whole hobby life. It was a revelation.

This past Christmas she decided I needed a new compressor even though I had no issues with the one I'd been using for the past 20 years or so, and she bought me one over my moderately strong objections. It has both a regulator and a storage tank, it's actually quiet, and I don't know how I ever got along without it.

There's a simple point to be taken from all this. Modeling is my hobby, not hers, and I'm the one who's knowledgeable about it. I know what I need, I know what I want, and I honestly don't need anybody making suggestions to me regarding my tools. Or do I? Upon reflection, my previous attitude towards the whole thing was, for the most part, pretty darned arrogant and more than a little bit foolish. Sometimes it's a really good idea to listen to somebody else. All you have to do is bring yourself to do it!

I like what I do and I do what I like, and what I do
Is make the funky music. 

But there's nothing wrong, nothing at all, with a little help from your friends. Consider it a lesson learned!

A Warhawk Too Far?

Let's start this off by saying the Curtiss P-40 family are neat airplanes; good looking and far more capable in real life than contemporary and revisionist historians (as well as a great many modelers) ever give them credit for being. Those fighters, each and every variant of them, are well worth modeling, but it took Hasegawa's 1/48th and 1/32nd scale releases of the type to  bring accurate polystyrene kits into the hands of the multitudes. Good as they were (and are), there was a fly in the ointment, since Hasegawa took a modular approach to things when they did their tooling in order to get the most bang for their buck, which in turn resulted in a family of kits known far and wide as a tough date, with some going so far as to declare them unbuildable. The five E-models, one K, and one N that I've built to date put me firmly in the "I like that kit" camp, and the following will illustrate why that is.

The adventure begins! About a year after the release of the kit I was in King's Hobbies, trying to find a way to spend even more of my hard-earned cash on unnecessary polystyrene effigies, when the proprietor of said establishment offered me a partially built Hasegawa P-40E kit for free, as a parts source. The model was all there and the only thing the previous owner (who had returned it in frustration, one presumes) had done was to attached the tail halves to their mating fuselage components. The assembly job had been a little awkward in application but the price was right. Opportunity had knocked, and I had answered.

A lot of Hasegawa P-40s start out like this one did. Alignment is absolutely critical if your intended result is a decent model, and it's so easy to get it wrong. In this particular instance the assembly work was neat and tidy but alignment had been overlooked, and the fuselage components had been pretty thoroughly jacked. It was bad, but it was also an opportunity.

Putty and sanding can go a long way on this kit, but some things (like mis-matched panel lines) will require more than putty in order to be repaired. We've got a couple of choices here, one of which is to fill all the panel lines and re-scribe the airplane. The other choice is to simply build the airplane and cover up the mis-match with the national insignia decals. Guess which solution I chose!

Hasegawa got most of the kit right and with few errors, but they really gomed up the rivet detail that lives under the quarter-light panels. You'll need to remove that "detail" with sandpaper, but it isn't hard to do. It took about 5 minutes to get the rivets off the panel on the left---there are a couple of them that still need sanding down but the point is that it's really easy to do this.

That whole modularity extends to the wing detail, but if you're careful in trimming and assembling those inserts, and if you apply your cement or whatever you're using to stick things together from the back side, you'll end up with joints requiring absolutely minimal if any subsequent cleanup.

At some point you'll want to get things ready for assembly, which means pre-painting the insides of the fuselage. Testor makes (and has probably recently discontinued since that seems to be their modus operandi of late!) a pretty good Mil-P-8585 Yellow Zinc Chromate in their little square bottle line, and that's what's in the nose of this particular model. The cockpit area is their version of interior green (a color that honestly didn't exist for a great deal of the time the P-40E was in production), mostly because I wanted the interior to appear faded---but not as faded as the photo would imply! What you're seeing here is the effect of my studio lighting. The actual color (pre-1943, anyway) would have been ANA611 "Cockpit Green", although you could also use the ever-popular and often misunderstood early-War "bronze green" in there as well. I think, subject to correction, that what we now know as "interior green" came into effect around September of 1942 and changed again to what we call "medium green" by late 1943. You pays your money...

Hasegawa didn't mess up much with their P-40s, but they totally misunderstood what's going on at the front of the canopy rails on their 1/48th scale kits. They show a triangular doubler there, which actually could be found on variants later than the E, but not they way they represent it. The shape under that doubler is squared off, and that's what you should be seeing. It takes about 5 minutes per side with a sharp #11 blade to fix the problem once the doublers (very seldom-seen on the E) have been sanded off. You'll also have to fix the forward corners of the canopy, which is another 5-minute job. We'll look at that a little further into the project.

Another pair of inserts live up on the nose, and they're easy to deal with if you're careful when you remove them from their sprue and clean them up. At this point you can also deal with the fuselage formation lights, which are represented by that circular depression that's sitting just above the wing root. Very few E-models had those lights, and the one I'm modeling definitely didn't. It's fairly likely you'll want to eliminate them as well, but you'll need to consult a few photographs first. If that's the case, just glue in the tiny clear inserts that Hasegawa give you and flood over the area with Tenax or similar. Let things sit overnight, then sand smooth. Doing things that way will, in all likelihood, completely eliminate all traces of those lights---at least it did for me. Too easy!

While most modelers end up cursing the way Hasegawa designed this series of kits, their approach to the interior was sheer genius! You can build up everything including the headrest and install a completed interior after you've done all your filling and sanding, a very good thing as far as this kit is concerned. You can see where we're having to do bodywork on the model, and also how one part can impact another for better or worse. The inserts that carry the quarter-panel transparencies should have been an easy fit, but the kit's previous owner had some pretty severe problems aligning the starboard tail half and it adversely impacted the fit of all the other big pieces in consequence, which in turn led to a lot of putting that wouldn't have been necessary if things were originally installed where they belonged. Keep in mind, though, that the alignment isn't nearly as easy to accomplish as it is to discuss. Perspective, as it were...

We often build using a modular approach around here, but not this time. It's far easier to get the correct relationship between the wing and the fuselage if you attach the lower wing to the completed fus first, and then install the upper wing panels. You could also install the horizontal stabs at this point, but they fit well enough that they can go on last, which will simplify both painting and the application of any decals that might go on the vertical stab. The choice is yours, but we find it easier to do things this way on the P-40.

At the end of the day I had to do some bodywork around the area of the wing root, but that was my fault and not the kit's. You can also see filler in the area of that starboard nose insert, where I failed to heed my own advice and had to use a little bit of putty. It's no big deal to fix; just do it and move on!

At this point the airplane has been painted and a lot of the detail pieces have been installed, although those horizontal stabs are just sitting there for the photo. I wanted to build a 7th FS bird nick-named "Pistoff", and used an old AeroMaster P-40 sheet for the markings. It was a mistake to do that, since they made the nose numbers far too large for this particular aircraft. They'll have to be removed and replaced with something more appropriate in size, but we're not going to do that just now.

Here's where you see how to fix the canopy. All you need to do is cut a small piece of styrene strip and cement it to the clipped portion on the front corners of the canopy, making really sure it's flush with the outside of said canopy. Then, when everything's had a chance to cure (preferably overnight), trim the strip to the proper shape and sand the resulting joint line smooth. Putty and sand if you have to, paint the canopy when you're ready to, and you're golden!

And here's our almost-finished Warhawk. The apparent change of color on the model was caused by lighting and nothing more and, while the model still requires weathering and the odd bit of touch-up, it's pretty much done. There's a little bit of aftermarket there, but not a whole lot: Eduard belts and harnesses, QuickBoost Exhausts, and True Details ring and bead sight components are the only things on the model, other than the markings, that didn't come with the kit.

And here's another view. The bodywork isn't entirely perfect but the model is more than adequate for a clothes horse, which was my original goal. More importantly, the project saved a kit that had been deemed to be a throwaway and will put it on the shelf once it's been weathered and had an antenna wire added. Not a bad outcome, all in all.

One final thing before we leave this particular project: The Hasegawa P-40 families, in either 1/48th or 1/32nd scale, are truly excellent kits, well-detailed and, most importantly, kits that produce finished models that actually look like the Curtiss P-40. We could make the argument, and plenty of people have, that those kits aren't especially good because of their modular construction and the problems doing things that way incur, but at the end of the day the finished result is as good, no more and no less, as the person building the model. The kits require finesse and some degree of modeling skill, but Hasegawa wouldn't be selling them if they thought they were unbuildable. Look at it this way: If you don't already have the skills to work with these kits, you'll acquire them soon enough once you get started, and everybody needs at least one P-40 in their collection! 'Nuff said!

And in late-breaking news:

I should probably spend a little more time dirtying up the tires, but this is pretty much the finished product. Yep; it's the same airplane, but there's method to the madness. Check out the different shades of OD in the last few photos of this essay. The light source is the same in all three shots, as is the modeling desk and the model. Simple variations in placement of the lighting relative to the model produced those massive differences in color---there's a lesson there!

Had By a SpAD, or The NAV in SEA

It's photo-essay time again, folks, and today's adventure is courtesy Doug Siegfried of The Tailhook Association. Our topic is one of those timeless aircraft that we all know and love, so without further ado:

A four-ship from VA-145 on their way to the bomb range at El Centro in 1957. These dash-6s don't wear much in the way of color, but can those guys fly the airplane or what? That's essentially a World War Two throwback they're flying, which means no on-board computers or computerized flight systems. They're flying in the bumpy air low to the ground, and they're doing it by hand. You might say they're good aviators, maybe even superior. That's a good thing, too, because in a few short years those skills will be needed in the worst way.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Vietnam War was just around the corner, and this three-ship from the Coral Sea's VA-152 were formating over the Pacific. The markings are Plain Jane and they were still AD-6s rather than A-1s during this pre-McNamara moment, but things would change soon enough. The Skyraider had been designed and built to fight the Japanese in a big war, then modified slightly to fight an ostensibly smaller war in Korea, and then modified yet again to fight in Armageddon if that were to be required. As things worked out, their greatest role was yet to come and was to be None of the Above, in a conflict few could have predicted.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

August of 1961 found the Franklin D Roosevelt, along with VA-15's AD-6s, on yet another Med cruise. Of particular interest in this photo are the pea-green mlg wheels and the red trim inside the wing-fold lines. This is a classic shot of a classic bird!   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The year is 1962, and these VA-15 AD-6s are formating for the camera. The clock was ticking, but nobody knew it yet. Just a few short years later 508 would be history, shot down by a MiG-17 on 14 February, 1968 after drifting into Chinese airspace, while 503 would find herself transferred to the VNAF.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

1963 saw VA-145 on a WesPac cruise off the Constellation. If you followed the news at all you were aware that things were heating up in Southeast Asia, but to most Americans war was something to be found in the history books, and there was certainly no one to fight in that part of the world other than mainland China. This section of AD-6s survived United States service to be transferred to the VNAF.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

By 1964 things were getting a lot hotter in Southeast Asia, and the NAV was getting ready to rumble. This SpAD from VA-152 shows off her lines in what amounts to pristine glory, at least for a Skyraider. She's a clean machine with little of the staining so representative of the type, and she's wearing colorful squadron markings after a period of relatively plain embellishment in the AD community. This particular A-1J features a replacement rudder whose markings don't quite jibe with those on the vertical stab, but otherwise she's a showboat! 1966 saw her assigned to VA-115, in whose custody she crashed into the Gulf of Tonkin on 11 March. The pilot was recovered, but a beautiful aircraft was lost.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Power projection means willingness to use said power when necessary, and by late 1964 the Navy was being employed in alpha strikes on targets in SEA. This A-1H is from VA-52 and is bombed up and preparing to launch. Aside from her under-wing stores fit she's of interest because of the presentation of her side number and tail code on the upper starboard wing, an extremely atypical presentation, and her general messiness. Note the liberal application of lubricant staining on her upper wings and fuselage in addition to the obligatory Skyraider exhaust deposits. Of further interest is the fact that she's only carrying one pair of 20mm guns rather than the two that she was designed with. This appears frequently on A-1s flying in the Vietnam War; guns and ammunition are relatively heavy and the reduction of a pair of them allowed for the installation of maximum ordnance.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

October of 1965 saw VA-115's last launch off the Kitty Hawk, an event commemorated with special paintwork. (At the risk of stating the obvious, this bird would be a great choice for one of the myriad of custom decal manufacturers out there to reproduce!) The war wasn't done with her yet, however; she saw a second life with the USAF as 52-137552. You just can't keep a good airplane down!   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Hostilities in Southeast Asia saw the USAF revert to aircraft camouflage early in the war. The Navy tried it as well, in 1966, but decided against adapting it. In this photo we see BuNo 142016 of VA-115 aboard the Constellation during that brief flirtation with deceptive paint schemes. The aircraft was later transferred to the Air Force (as 52-142016) and, later, to the VNAF.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And here's one of her camouflaged sisters. 507 is sitting on an un-named ramp and showing one of the reasons the NAV didn't seriously pursue camouflage paint on its tactical aircraft---the finish wasn't durable and required an inordinate amount of maintenance for the limited advantage gained by its use. To this writer the application of that paint scheme on the A-1 makes an attractive airframe resemble a poorly-painted model, but maybe that's just a personal opinion.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VA-145 was one of the better-known Vietnam-era SpAD operators. In this shot A-1H 137616 sits on the ramp between deployments in almost pristine condition---her complete lack of weathering or staining suggests she's just emerged from a trip to the NARF. 145's birds weren't always so clean...   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This photo is a little more indicative of the general appearance of Navy A-1s in active service. This VA-145 bird isn't as filthy as some, but that exhaust staining indicates that her stay on the Intrepid has been an active one and that the squadron has been more interested in keeping her combat-ready than in preparing her for a beauty contest. 134570 spent some time with the Air Force as 52-134570 prior to her ultimate assignment to the VNAF.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

In this shot we see 142016 in her element and returning from a combat sortie. From her general appearance we can deduce that she's been on line for a while---the fuselage is relatively clean, but check out the staining on her upper wings. Round engines throw a LOT of oil during the best of times and Skyraiders of the Vietnam era were anything but babied. 016 was yet another SpAD that went to the USAF (52-142016) and then on to the VNAF.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This photo of VA-145's 139820 is for the modelers in the audience. Her weathering is of interest, of course, but take a look at the inside of that speed brake well; it's the insides of the doors that are most often seen as Insignia Red on real Navy airplanes of this era. The insides of the wells themselves were generally the same color as that of the surrounding area of the airframe; in this instance 36440 Light Gull Grey.   Lawson Collection via Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

There were times when you just couldn't get back to the boat. DaNang was a frequent bounce field for the Fleet during the Southeast Asia War Games, and 135338 from VA-165 is shown on the ground there. She's relatively clean and wearing an interesting set of markings. The lack of underwing stations may indicate a special grip and grin or conference mission of some sort, possibly related to that aforementioned cleanliness. We may never know...   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

This is somewhat more the norm; another bird from 165 (142059) on the ground at DaNang and about as dirty as a SpAD can get! She's carrying a name under her modex ("Puff the Magic Dragon") and is festooned with mission markers as well. Her belly is absolutely filthy, and the rest of her isn't far behind. She survived her time with the NAV to be reassigned to the Air Force as 52-152059. If you think you might want to build a model of a Skyraider for your collection, she could be your baby!   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Gettin' ready for the boogie. 135272 from VA-165 lines up prior to launch in this evocative shot, while those mission markers under the canopy tell their own story. One of many A-1s transferred to the Air Force during the course of the war, she was shot down over South Vietnam on 12 May, 1968, while flying with the 6th ACS. The pilot got out and was rescued, but another AD was lost to the war. It was a tough way to make a living.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

If you're going to discuss SEA-vintage SpADs, you have to include at least one aircraft from VA-176. For whatever reason these markings make some modelers go weak in the knees, and the colors of that bumblebee have caused everything from friendly discussion to heated arguments since the scheme became known to said modelers many years ago. (That's red-orange, boys, not red on that bee's lightning flash!) She's a pretty bird and is sitting on the ramp at DaNang in this photo. Like so many of her kind, she ended up flying as an Air Force "Sandy".   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Clean and sitting on the ground in CONUS, this A-1H from VA-196 has seen the tiger and come back to tell the tale. The awards and mission markers tell her story with the NAV, but she ended up with the USAF shortly after this photo was taken.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VA-25. Fist of the Fleet. MiG killers. Your editor has always harbored a soft spot for the guys in the green-tailed A-1s, so let's take a look at a few of them. 137622 is sitting in a squadron lineup in the States prior to deployment. Another bird who ended her days with the blue-suiters, she was very much a Navy attack aircraft when this photo was taken. VA-25 used minimal squadron markings, but they were classy nonetheless.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Not the best of photos from a technical standpoint, but what a shot! 137593 is en route to some mischief and this image captures the AD's mission better than most. Somebody on the ground is about to wish they were someplace else...   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Alpha strike? Did somebody say alpha strike? While we're paying homage to the Skyraider, let's take a minute to thank those guys in the V2 Division, and the ordies, and the grapes, and all the other guys on the boat who made (and still make) it all happen. They're the unsung heroes of the whole deal, and quite possibly the least appreciated outside their community.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The work was hard, it was dangerous, and it was non-stop during a line period on Yankee Station. This shot of VA-25 bombing up, as well as the photo immediately previous, show how intense things were before a strike. Valor comes in many forms.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

On 20 June, 1965, two pilots from VA-25 shared a gun kill against a North Vietnamese MiG-17. Lt JG CW Hartman (shown) and Lt CB Johnson caught their kill while it was low and slow, down in the weeds where the SpADs were playing, and shot it down. An unladen A-1 wasn't exactly a slug, and when well-flown could make the opposition wonder what he was doing in the fight. Luck played a part in it too, but Hartman and Johnson shared the only A-1 MiG-kill of the war, a tribute to both them and to their aircraft. Let's raise a glass...   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

You can call her Able Dog, or SpAD, or Sandy, or even by her given name. Designed for a war she was too late to fight, she served with distinction in two others. Thought to be well past her prime when she was called to center stage in Southeast Asia, she did it all. She was often older than those who flew her and was, in truth, beginning to show her age, but she never failed when called upon. She was the Skyraider, and she became a legend.   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Those Plank-Winged 84s

The 1950s were a decade filled with glamorous aircraft, harbingers of the change that was sweeping across jet aviation like a well-honed scythe. Republic Aviation's straight-winged F-84 family wasn't glamorous, and it wasn't ground-breaking, but its members performed yeoman service throughout the 50s. The plank-winged F-84s fought a war in the Far East and helped an emerging NATO hold the line in Europe. It was there when it was needed and, thanks to Jim Sullivan, we're going to take a quick look at a few of the earliest members of the family today.

It doesn't get much earlier than this: 45-59485 was the first YP-84A-5-RE built (3 YP-84A-1-REs preceded it). By this time the fighter's lines had been locked into place, and 485 is only lacking wing-tip auxilliary tanks to make it appear identical to every other early plank-wing built, at least to the untrained eye. Note the significant gap between the main gear doors; this airplane contains very little if any on-board fuel.   Sullivan Collection

The year 1949 saw F-84C-1465, an F-84C-6-RE attached to the DC Guard, on the ground at Wilmington, North Carolina. The paintwork really accentuates the early Thunderjet's good looks and just screams 1950s Air Guard! Alert modelers will note that the flaps are not deployed, although the speedbrake is. The devil's in the details!   Sullivan Collection

Here's a 3/4 frontal view of 1465 to confirm just how good looking that paint job really is! This view also provides excellent detail of the deployed speedbrake and the landing light that's attached to the inboard mlg door. The overall tonality of the airframe is also noteworthy; there are few contrasting panels on this bird!   Sullivan Collection

The ANG was flying Charlie-model F-84s in 1949, but the regulars were in the more capable D-model. 48-0680 was an F-84D-1-RE and was photographed at Moses Lake AFB on 9 November, 1949. In contrast to the photo of 1465 above, this aircraft is showing tonal differences in its aluminum skin. It's also showing that simple shapes look best in simple paintwork!   Sullivan Collection

War games were a big part of life during the early days of The Silver Air Force, as typified by this F-84B-31-RE photographed taxiing out at Wilmington, NC, during 1952. The airplane is one of The Bad Guys, as identified by the war games markings on the aft fuselage. Straight-winged F-84s were seen as fighters in the early days, rather than as fighter-bombers, and this aircraft could be the poster child for that mission. The 49th used they type (G-models, though) as fighter interceptors as late as 1953, but the writing was on the wall as far as using straight-winged F-84s in an air-to-air role was concerned.  Sullivan Collection

Here's a slightly better look at those war games markings, as seen on 46-0550, an F-84B-21-RE. Note the reinforced canopy on this aircraft as well as on 46-0621 shown immediately above---all of the pre-G model F-84s were fitted with the earlier one-piece bubble canopy, but that item was replaced with the strengthened variant as soon as sufficient quantities became available.   Sullivan Collection

OK, then: Early turbojet powerplant combined with no external fuel combined with lots of drag equals no appreciable range whatsoever, right? Right! Since this isn't at Eglin (the photo was taken in Detroit), we're going to make a tiny leap of faith and say that somebody was in the process of a public relations exercise when this photo was shot in May of 1953. Jeez, Louise; there are rockets hung everyplace you can hang a rocket on that airplane! This is one of those deals where it must've seemed like a good idea to somebody in authority, or maybe it was somebody's idea of a joke. Either way it makes for a great subject for a scale model, although we suspect the modeler would end up spending the better part of their time explaining the weapons load each and every time the model was displayed, were anyone to actually build it! The subject of all that merriment is F-84E 49-2085, an F-84E-1-RE. Can anybody say "It was a simpler time"?   Sullivan Collection

A Fan of the 49th!

Yep; that would be me---a hardcore fan of the 49th Fighter Group, at least from their inception up until the mid-1950s. We've looked at their airplanes many times before and, thanks once again to the kindness of Bobby Rocker, we're going to view a couple more of them today. Enjoy!

No, you really can't make out much of the airplane, but any photography of the 49th during its stay outside of Darwin is of value. The nose number on this P-40E puts it in the 9th FS and there appears to be some sort of name immediately behind that number, although we can't quite make out what it is. The photo defines the primitive conditions under which all of the AAF units operated during 1942 and early 1943 (it didn't get a whole lot better in '44 or '45 either, but that's a story for another day).   Rocker Collection

This evocative shot illustrates an 8th FS P-40E taxiing out past a B-25, allegedly at Darwin (and certainly possible) but more likely someplace in the Port Moresby complex of airfields. Either way, it's a remarkable image of a difficult time (and coincidentally showing one of our favorite airplanes!) and we're delighted to be able to share it with you.   Rocker Collection

The Relief Tube

I'm taking a different track with this part of the blog today, for reasons that are readily apparent to anyone who normally follows the project. To get straight to the point, I'm significantly late once again so I'm cutting this issue short without an Under the Radar entry, or a Happy Snaps or Relief Tube. I've got things to put in those sections but it's been a long day and I don't want to delay publication yet again---it's a credibility issue if nothing else. Those departments will be back next time, but not today.

One more thing, and I'd like your opinion in the matter. I've recently begun receiving what amount to magazine articles for publication here, but this isn't a magazine and those articles don't really fit into what passes for a format in my little corner of the world. They do, however, make me wonder if it isn't time to morph at least part of this project into some sort of an e-zine. That would entail a big jump in commitment for me, and a significantly greater investment in time as well, but it seems as though a Next Step (one that I've been putting off for the past several years, by the way) could be near at hand. What do you think about that? Are you interested?

From my perspective such a project would have to be free to its readers and supported by advertising dollars which may or may not be available, and which would ultimately determine the fate of the project. That's something that's yet to be determined, and I'd have to know the size of that particular elephant before going any further so what about it? Are you interested in seeing an electronic Replica in Scale e-zine? If you are, please drop me a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom (except use the normal e-mail format instead of that gobbledygook I employed in order to try to avoid all the spam I'd receive had I not spelled out the "at" and "dot" in the address).

Maybe it's time to move up, or maybe it isn't. What do you think?

That's it for today. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon, or at least sooner than we have been of late!