Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rags to Riches, and A Very Special Home Movie

Who Came First?

The year was 1969, or at least I think it was, and I was standing behind the counter at Dibble's Arts and Hobbies in San Antonio one dismal, rainy afternoon, when I heard a rumbling from the parking spaces in front of the door. The sound was that of an American V-8 engine, and a healthy one at that, but the only car in our lot was an old Jaguar XK-150 drop-head coupe that had just pulled up. A tall, thin guy with glasses, probably about my age, got out and came into the store and introduced himself, which is how I came to meet Al Orvedahl, a college student who had only recently moved into San Antonio to go to school. (That V-8 rumble had well and truly come from his Jaguar; he'd decided shortly after purchasing the car that it lacked performance, so he shoe-horned a Pontiac 389 into its engine bay and began a career surprising Corvette Stingrays, or at least he was doing that when the car wasn't overheating due to the retention of that itty-bitty Jaguar radiator, but that's a story for another day.)

The next surprise came a couple of months later, when he brought in a completed 1/32nd scale Revell F4F-4 he'd been working on for the past several months. The kit was an absolute revelation and featured impeccable bodywork, a paint job that was well above average, and decals that looked as though they'd been painted on, but those things weren't the cause for our amazement; that came from the details he'd added to the model.

Take the cockpit, for example. Al had gone in and added all of the details Revell had missed when they tooled the kit, scratch-building them from sheet styrene and stretched sprue, and he'd manufactured a set of lap belts for the seat he'd made. We take those things for granted nowadays, except that nowadays most people use resin or photo-etch instead of hand-crafted styrene, but almost no one was doing it in 1969.

Then there were the seams where the wings and horizontal stabilizers joined the fuselage, which were immaculate, with no lost rivet detail. It turns out Al had used white glue to fill those seams, wiping away the excess to allow a perfectly filled joint. That's also a common trick these days, but it wasn't back then. He'd used that white glue to make the insulators on the antenna wires he'd stretched from sprue as well---other people were using stretched sprue back then, including me, but nobody was making insulators out of white glue at that time, at least not that I was aware of.

Al also discovered Hasbro Light-Brite pegs and their usefulness for making colored lenses and transparencies for models, and other things as well, and the list went on and on.

Some of you have been using those tricks for decades, I know. I've been using them too, as well as writing about them, or at least I was as soon as I picked them up from Al. Since that time, I've seen all of those tips, and many others from "The Day", periodically repeated as "new" techniques in various magazines and internet "publications" and forums. I even ran the Hasbro lens idea in an early edition of the original Replica in Scale. I learned several of those tricks from Al, and I'm reasonably certain he picked them up from somebody else, which takes us to today's Lesson in Humility.

There are plenty of new ideas and techniques out there in The Magic Land of Modeling in which we dwell, but in actuality most of them had their origins back in the 60s and 70s, way back when our hobby was really beginning to take off (no pun intended!). Those ideas and techniques have been passed down, perpetuated, and improved upon for decades, and precious few of them are truly new. The origins of most of them are lost in the polystyrene mists of time, which leads to their periodic rediscovery and transmission as new ideas and techniques.

There's nothing wrong with any of that, of course. The important thing is that we learn, and by learning become better at what we do within the hobby. Technology (laser printing, for example) is rapidly passing by certain of those old techniques and rendering them obsolescent,  but even that is creating its own mythos of who came first. At the end of the day we all learned from somebody, and there's considerable validity to that old notion that everything old is new again. I think somebody even wrote a song about it!

Let's go build a model, then, and maybe give a thought to those old guys who figured things out for us so we wouldn't have to. They're the reason we can do some of the things we do and, for the most part, we don't know who they really were with any degree of certainty. That's worth thinking about, at least in my world!

And the Beat goes on...

An Apology to Jules

Bringuier, that is. As you all surely remember, Jules Bringuier was the guy responsible for Classic Airframes and the wonderful and eclectic range of kits that fabled company brought to us only a few short years ago. Long on imagination and daring, the company was, at the end of the day, a purveyor of short-run kits of unusual subjects, which is another way of saying that precious few of their offerings were easy to build, particularly for those new to the hobby or possessed of limited skill sets. The gorgeous box art on each and every one of those kits, coupled with that aforementioned eclectic subject matter, seduced more than one modeler into attempting one of their kits, and those attempts often resulted in an indifferent result or even outright failure. Classic Airframes kits were a tough date, pure and simple.

With that as a largely unnecessary introduction, let's you and I go back to 2004 or so. That year was one in which my own personal world was being rocked by fractuousity of a familial nature, as it were, and I desperately needed something to take my mind off the tragedies of the moment. That particular Something came to me one dismal Saturday afternoon during a visit to the now long-defunct but fondly remembered Village Hobbies in Austin, where I spied a Classic Airframes P-6E sitting forlornly on the shelf. I've always had a thing for that prettiest of the Curtiss Hawk family and plastic is plastic, right?, so I grabbed it and almost ran to the counter to pay for the thing and get it back to the house so I could begin work. Things were looking up!

All of Classic's kits were of the mixed media variety, a game I'd never played before, and that P-6E was a gentle introduction to the genre for me. Some of the "normal" styrene parts were a little bit on the clunky side, but any plastic model ends up being the sum of its parts and the parts I was examining looked perfectly usable, so I dove in. There were some burps and hiccups along the way but nothing insurmountable, and in a few short days I had a completed airframe that required only the addition of the upper wing before it could be deemed Finished.

My own personal modeling karma has always included a big chunk of good luck where things with multiple wings were concerned, and I'd never had an issue getting a biplane of any sort together in a tidy and workmanlike manner. True, you have to be careful during assembly, and pre-planning doesn't hurt either, but at they end of the day they're generally an easy thing to build. Generally.

This one, however, was one of those rare biplane kits that fought back, and successful completion wasn't in the stars for that project. Try as I might, I just couldn't finagle that accursed upper wing into the correct position---it simply wouldn't go on there properly! At that point in the festivities I decided to consult the collective wisdom of the entity known collectively as The Internet, where I found a literal plethora of information from the two or three people who had resolved the strut issue by trimming said components so I gave that a shot too, which provided me with yet another opportunity to duplicate my previous failure at attaching that darned wing to the airplane, which I proceeded to do. Duplicate my previous failure, I mean.  Phooey!

There was a temptation to throw the kit into the trash at that point but I didn't do it; instead, I put everything back in the box and kept that P-6E in storage for the advent of a better day, the precursor of which came at a local model show a couple of years ago when I ran into an old friend of mine, Richard Ng, who was attending that very same show and offered to sell me a couple of new-in-the-box Classic Airframes P-6Es on the cheap. It was an opportunity of sorts, or maybe even an omen, and who was I to say no? What harm could it do, right?

Anyway, and to stop rambling and more-or-less get to the point, I decided to resurrect the project a couple of weeks ago and had the good sense to photograph the festivities along the way, almost a first for me! What follows is how things shook out:

Here's where the project was at the time of resurrection. The model had been decalled at one point and there were some paint blemishes to deal with as well, but the basic construction was sound and it looked like the significant parts of a P-6E! Who could say no?

There was a time when I annotated the instructions of the models in work on my bench. It's not a bad thing to do if you're inclined towards that sort of thing, and it can actually help you to pay attention and maybe even avoid a mistake or two as you go along your merry way, but that's not the point here. Look on these as some sort of whacked-out public service announcement, if you will---feel free to consult them if you think they'll be of help to you, or don't do that at all if you don't. Either way will work out just fine in the end!

It's true that we're all used to seeing this sort of parts breakdown on the instruction sheets that come with our kits, and it's equally true that a great many of us ignore them, but it's a good idea to at least give them a once-over if the model is of the mixed-media and limited-run variety. If you look carefully you'll find there's no way to actually attach the propeller to the finished airplane because no kit part is supplied to allow you to do it (an odd omission, that, although that's easy to fix), and there's no optical collimator (another word for "gun sight" back in the 1930s) provided with the kit either. Both omissions are easy to deal with and are of little or no consequence to the project. We're modelers, right?

The kit's first few steps allow us to assemble an interior and stick the exhausts into the fuselage halves. It's simple work but care is required, particularly when working with the rudder pedals. I've now got three different kits of the P-6E and they all, each and every one of them, came with pre-broken rudder pedals. They're easy enough to rebuild but you might want to plan for a rework when you purchase, or finally decide to build, the kit. The interior is a little short on detail as well, but the cockpit opening isn't very large so you can get by with what the kit provides; no harm, no foul. The exhausts are a no-brainer---paint them and stick them in place before you stick the fus together. I suspect I used some sort of cyanoacrylate on them back in '04, but it could just have easily been a 5-minute epoxy. The important thing is to make sure they'll stay in place once you've buttoned up the fuselage because there's no second chance if you fail on this one!

Steps five and six get you to a completed basic airframe. My recollection is that everything fit together fairly well, but you could benefit by drilling a couple of holes and pinning the wings and horizontal stabs to the fuselage with brass rod or cut-down insect pins---besides assuring those components stay where they're supposed to, the pins also help in setting dihedral on the lower wings, which is one of several critical operations on this model. You'll also want to note that the gun barrels provided by the model are too great in diameter and won't fit properly into their troughs in the fuselage halves. Look on that as an excuse to buy a set of Master .30 cal Browning barrels and move on or, conversely, omit the guns entirely if the airplane you're reproducing is one of the blue and yellow birds, since the type was painted in those colors fairly late in its service life and was often unarmed by that time. Omission of the guns will also save you from scratch-building the optical collimator later on, although that's simple enough to do if you want an aircraft with armament. The choice is yours, etc., etc.

And here it is folks; the step that will make or break your model. There are all sorts of comments out there in Internet Land talking about cutting struts, repositioning mounting points, and such, but none of that is really necessary, or at least it wasn't for me. What I did may or may not work for you, but here's how I dealt with this step on my own model. First, you'll want to do some assembly out of sequence and install the landing gear first instead of in steps 9 and 10. Be really careful of the main gear's alignment and then, when you're satisfied with same, allow the model to sit overnight so the undercarriage can set up permanently. Once that's done, go in with a drill and clean out each and every one of the strut mounting points. I used a number 66 drill for the task but there was no magic in its selection; it just happened to be what was in that particular pin vise when I picked it up. The thing is to drill the hole just a bit larger than the "pips" at the end of the struts---that's so you'll get a good, secure anchor when you glue them in place. When all that's done, carefully cement the struts into their respective places on the upper fuselage and lower wings, set them according to the diagram provided in the instructions (which also conveniently shows you how to set the dihedral on the lower wings), and leave them alone for a day or two. Finally, once you're absolutely certain those struts are firmly and permanently locked into place, drill out the mounting holes in the lower surfaces of the upper wing using a drill that's a little larger than those infamous strut "pips" and carefully mount the wing, starting at the cabane struts and working outwards.

Here's your starting place before attaching the upper wing. The undercarriage is in place and everything that can be pre-painted is pre-painted, thus theoretically stacking the odds in your favor. You'll probably notice there's a bit of overspray here and there, but that will be corrected prior to installation of the wing.

Next up are the cabane struts. I used Tenax throughout the model's assembly, both then and now, but almost anything will work as long as it dries with a strong bond. If your weapon of choice is cyanoacrylate you'll probably want to use one of the slower-drying ones so you can set the angle properly on those struts but, regardless of what you use, and to repeat myself once again, let everything dry overnight and make certain you have a good, strong bond before doing anything else.

Once the struts have cured and are solidly in place you should be able to do this without any sort of undue movement of the model whatsoever---if anything does move, your bond isn't good enough and there's a pretty good chance this whole project will collapse when you mount the upper wing, thus causing you to say many colorful words in a loud and forceful manner. I'm not saying you need to turn your own model upside down and do this, mind you. The point to be made here is that the cabane strut-to-fuselage mount is critical to the assembly of this airplane and a weak joint in any one of those strut locations may well doom the project for you. The extra time is well worth expending!

Step 11 has you add the aux tank and some smaller bits and pieces to the lower fuselage. This is a job for cyanoacrylate and, in my world at least, one that's easier to deal with before that upper wing goes on. It's your choice, of course, but I stuck those bits and pieces on prior to mounting the upper wing and was glad I'd done it. Your mileage, however, may vary...

A photo that proves the point! The wing is just sitting there, not permanently attached in any way, and the cabane struts are carrying its full weight. Everything is in proper alignment too, so we're just about ready to fix the cabane struts to the upper wing and then---ta Daa!---attach the interplane struts and mount that wing, but first...

Let's paint any trim and apply the decals. That may seen somewhat counter-intuitive to you at first, but the objective here is to avoid excessive handling of the model once that upper wing has been installed and it can thus constitute being A Very Good Thing in your own personal modeling world. This would also be a good time to scratch-build and install that collimator as well, if you plan on arming the model. While we're at it, the instructions would like for you to mount the windscreen before you mount the upper wing, but it sits far enough aft of the wing cutout that you can do that afterwards, which was my own preference. It works out ok either way so the choice is yours!

The interplane struts go on next and, once again, need to have their mounting angle carefully set and then be allowed to sit unmolested overnight. This is a key joint and it absolutely positively has to be done properly!

And here's where you should be except, of course, that you want both interplane struts mounted to the lower wings rather than just the one I've shown. I know. I know...

Here's another view to confirm what you're trying to do. If your model doesn't resemble this, you might want to double-check the kit's instructions regarding strut angles and take another shot at it! Once you're satisfied that everything is aligned properly and firmly glued into place (notice how I keep repeating that part?) you can drill the strut mounting holes in the lower side of the upper wing a little over-sized so the wing can "float" a bit in regard to the strut location once you begin the mounting process. That sounds somewhat drastic at first but it's really quite logical since there's a flare at the base of each end of the interplane struts that will cover the enlarged holes once the wing has been installed, and the larger mounting holes will provide you with the wiggle room necessary to mount that wing properly and without drama!

And here's the money shot! Everything has been aligned, cemented in place and allowed to dry thoroughly (overnight!), and the model is being held a foot or so above my modeling desk by grasping the upper wing alone. The model isn't fragile at all, and I routinely handle it this way---those wings are locked in and are rock solid! All you have to do to get to this point is build slowly, make certain that everything has been securely mounted, and follow the kit's instructions to the letter regarding strut angles and lower wing dihedral!

Note how incidence, gap, and stagger are all correctly set? That's entirely a function of the kit's design and its instructions and nothing else. The only thing not specified in the kit was my decision to drill the holes in the upper wing's lower surface a bit over-sized. Everything else you need to do the job correctly has been provided in this model, but you've got to follow those instructions to the letter and use a little bit of care and forethought as you build or some degree of disaster may well ensue!

One thing about the older Classic Airframes kits (and nowadays there's no other kind, so we're talking about the chronologically earlier releases here) are the pre-yellowed vacuum-formed transparencies, one of which can be seen in the corner of this photo just to the right of the model's rudder. It wasn't usable for the model but served quite well as a vacuum-form mold to enable the creation of a decent, and actually transparent, windscreen. You might also want to note the aileron actuation tubes between the wings---the kit provides them but they're thick and clunky and are best replaced with .020 Evergreen rod, which was what was done here. We're in the home stretch now, and this thing really looks like a P-6E!

There's a little more to do before we can call the project done, of course. There's rigging to be done, and three radio antenna masts plus antenna to be added, and then the prop and a tiny bit of paint touch-up here and there, but the model is far enough along to prove the point. A great many modelers of my own personal acquaintance, including some exceptionally talented ones, have long been of the opinion that the Classic Airframes biplane kits were poorly designed and virtually unbuildable. I thought that too, and had the notion drummed rather forcefully into my head back in 2004 when I first began the model you see before you. My problem then was simple---I thought I knew better than the kit designer did when it came time to mount that upper wing, and in consequence I tried to rush the assembly of that most critical of biplane components. The end result was a badly built, and presumably unbuildable, model airplane that sat in its box, partially assembled, for some 13 years before I finally decided to give it another try.

Yes; it's true that Classic Airframes kits were of the limited run genre and suffered all the failings of that sort of thing, but the manufacturer tried really hard to provide a first class product within the confines of a somewhat limiting medium. Take the painting guides provided with each kit, for example. This is a page from the P-6E (kit number 440) that I began all those years ago, and it's a first-class effort, easily on a par with anything anybody provides even now.

This is the other scheme provided with that kit. The decals were by MicroScale and were (and still are, for that matter) superb. Printing was excellent and the decals were as thin as anything you can buy today. A lot of thought went into those Classic Airframes kits, and they were probably as good as the existing short-run technology of their time would allow. Every one of them presents its own unique challenge to the modeler, but they're all buildable. All it takes is skill and patience!

The model isn't finished yet, although it soon will be, but the simple act of following directions and building slowly turned the trick and produced a pretty good looking model airplane for my collection. That brings us back to that whole apology thing, because Jules Bringuier had it figured out way back then and it turns out his kits weren't the problem, or at the very least this one wasn't. Nossir, in this instance the problem was me, pure and simple. A new day, and a new attitude, produced a result far better than the one originally achieved. That unbuildable kit was entirely buildable right from the box, just as its designer had intended. Yes; Classic Airframes kits can be a handful to work with and it still seems as though every one of them presents its own unique set of challenges to the modeler, but some fine model airplanes have been produced from those kits over the years. For that we owe Mr. Bringuier a hearty thank you, albeit a somewhat tardy one, for being willing to produce kits that no one else would have ever touched. Classic Airframes was obviously a labor of love, and I for one am grateful that he was willing to invest his time and treasure in that dream.

It ain't what you do; 
It's how you do it!

The J Geils Band said that a very long time ago and it could be the theme song for this, or any other, short-run kit, which takes us right up there into The Wonderful World of Patience and Forethought.

I shall serve no model airplane before its time...

A Movie You HAVE to Watch!

Norman Camou spends a lot of time searching out historical aviation pieces on YouTube and the like, and sent this to us yesterday---a home movie shot in New Guinea back in The Bad Old Days! It's a personal document of sorts so there are things in there other than airplanes, but there are airplanes to be seen! It's a little over half an hour in length so get comfortable and prepare to be amazed!

Many thanks to Norman for sending this treasure to us!

And in late-breaking news: Norman found and has sent along yet another version of the movie. It's the same film and the exact same length but is from YouTube and is of much better quality than the first one. We've left the original link up there too, as a just in case. Thanks again to Norman for sending along this remarkable film!

And Now For a Special Message

This issue is late. There's nothing new there, of course---it would be entirely appropriate to re-name the project Late r Us at times---but the project has had to take a back seat to some recent and significant  issues that have, gratefully, been resolved, and is very very late in consequence. Nothing terrible has occurred and there's certainly nothing to for any of our readership be concerned about, but issues of a time-stealing nature conspired to put any sort of schedule right down the old plumbing, a Defecation Happens sort of thing if you get our meaning.

This VF-11 F-4B hulk (152305) photographed by Bob Lawson at MCAS Cherry point in April of 1971 pretty much sums up the way things have been going around here of late but there are sunnier days ahead, we promise!   Lawson via Sullivan Collection

Anyway, our next issue should be a good one: There are Grumman Guardians in the wind, along with post-War Helldivers, and the photography shared with us on both aircraft is remarkable, but it's going to take a little time to finish up watermarking and captioning the photos (thanks again, Picture Pirates!) and we wanted to get something in print in the meantime so you'd know we were still alive and kicking!

This pair of Fighting 92 F-4Js on the prowl over the Gulf of Tonkin during 1973 hopefully portend where we're headed with with project given just the tiniest turn of luck. Watch this space and cross your fingers!   Lawson via Sullivan Collection

Please accept our sincere apologies and maybe we'll be able to get something else published in a couple of weeks.

Until then, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon!


Monday, May 1, 2017

The New Guinea Blues, An Old Albatros, All Beat to Snot, and A Book on the Six

I Can't See It But I Know It's There

"It", of course, being all that unseen aftermarket that we so lovingly cram into our models in search of the ultimate in super-detailing and, since super-detailing is the name of the game in our hobby, it's definitely the thing to do, right? Sure it is. Absolutely. Maybe...

Wait a minute, you may well be asking yourself at this particular part of our discussion! He just said that super-detailing was the ultimate goal for us, a Holy Grail, if you will, so why's he vacillating over it? Detail's the thing, right? The guys who win those big contests all have it, so don't I need to have it too? There's no point in even discussing it! Or is there?

Ok, ya'll; I've just commited the ultimate sin as far as polystyrene scale modeling is concerned and suggested that you don't need to go cramming all those detail parts into your models. I have to be wrong, right? Well, yes I do, unless of course I'm actually on to something, and I'm pretty sure I am.

My premise in this whole thing, and one that should need no explanation whatsoever, is simple; a mantra that guides my own personal modeling world and could guide yours as well, if you were so inclined, to wit: If I can't see it, then nobody else can either and I'm not going to put it in there. No, I'm not saying we don't need to detail our creations---that's a big part of the fun for most of us---but I am saying that our time can often be more profitably spend doing something else on the model.

Think about that for a minute. Most of the aftermarket detail available to us (some of which we could just as easily scratch-build for a few cents rather than the many dollars a lot of us actually end up spending for reproductions of somebody else's scratchbuilt parts) goes into one of three or four places on any given model airplane: The cockpit; the wheel wells, the powerplant(s) and related areas, and the guns or ordnance, presuming the airplane you're modeling was armed.

Of those four areas two are pretty much a no-brainer, at least up to a point. Most plastic kits fall short in the areas of cockpit and wheel well detailing to one extent or another so enhancing those areas makes a great deal of sense, as long as what you've done can actually be seen on the completed model. To illustrate the point, the cockpit on a B-29 is extremely visible and benefits tremendously from any extra work put into that area, but the only other crew areas that fall even remotely into that category are the gunner's sighting positions on the sides of the fuselage and the tail gunner's position, and you honestly can't see very much in those places. The bomb bays could, of course, use a little extra love, but only if they're going to be displayed with their doors in the open position and visible to the casual viewer. If they're going to be closed any effort there is wasted. You can use the same logic with virtually any bomber, particularly in the larger scales, because you generally can't see very much once you get past a few select areas. Much in the same vein, the cockpit area in a fighter generally requires some extra work, particularly if the canopy is going to be displayed in the open position, but even then there's only so much that can be seen. In those instances, and in any similar ones as well, detailing something that will never be seen becomes a time trap that a great many of us can ill-afford since our hobby falls somewhere in-between employment, a family (or at least friends and a Significant Other), or maybe school. There's only so much leisure time available to most of us, so why waste it?

We need to use some common sense in our approach, of course, and we'll use the Douglas DC-3 family of transports as our final example. The cockpit on any 1/72nd scale or larger DC-3/C-47 kit I can think of will most assuredly benefit from some extra work. So will the portions of the interior visible through the passenger or cargo doors back on the port side of the aft fuselage, but with a considerable caveat, because the passenger door in a commercial DC-3 isn't all that big, which means we might want to do a whole bunch of detailing or the first inch or so fore and aft of said door, and probably the aft bulkhead too since it's pretty much sitting right there in full view, but the rest of the cabin could easily be handled with selective detailing of what can be seen through the cabin windows (which ain't very much, I'm here to tell you!). The same concept would apply to a military transport that has those big honkin' double cargo doors, but in that case you'd extend the cabin detailing a little bit further forward because you can see further up inside that dark tube that is the cabin.

The point to be taken here, and we've said it more than once on these pages, is that the scale modeler is dealing with illusion to a great extent. We do, quite literally, trick the eye into seeing what isn't there and that eye will actually see detail in the hidden area in that DC-3 cabin if we do our job correctly when we're detailing the area around the passenger door. The concept works, and works both well and almost every time, in cabins, cockpits, wheel wells, bomb bays, and any other semi- or completely hidden places in a model.

That's if you're building for yourself. If you're building for a contest you may decide to put a little more detail in some of those hidden areas we've just discussed, mostly because there's a breed of judge that thinks that sort of thing is necessary in order to win or place, but it can be as easy to fool the guy holding the tiny little bore light as it is to fool the general public if you've done your part in a credible manner. Remember that part about modelers and illusion? It's true, ya'll; it really is.

That's my story and I'm most assuredly sticking to it! Mostly...

Just in Case

We've had a couple of folks ask for our e-mail address here of late. We normally put it somewhere in each issue but in a somewhat garbled and goofy manner in order to avoid being inundated by spam. Here's that address again, but in a somewhat less jumbled form:

replica in scale @ yahoo  .  com

All you need to do is run all the letters and that "and" symbol and "dot" together into one moderately long string with no spaces in-between and you're there!

Lord I Feel So Lonesome; Can't You Hear Me When I Moan (with apologies to Robert Johnson)

Americans have a sense of humor, particularly when things aren't going as well as they should. We're going to open up today's edition with a little ditty once sung in the 3rd Attack (ne 3rd BG) during The Great Unpleasantness in the Pacific some 60 or so years ago. The words are from a wartime song that 3rd Attack vet Dwight Turner held on to for all those years and provided to us by way of Gerry Kersey. The photography comes to us thanks to Bobby Rocker and Gerry. The song itself is humorous, particularly if you've got a few Fosters under your belt. The truth behind the song, unfortunately, isn't funny at all:


42-66633, a P-38H-1-LO from the 80th FS, sits forlornly on the beach at Barakoma. Her pilot flew her until the last minute, as attested to by those bent props, and he walked away apparently unscathed. That's the way you wanted to do it if you had to go down, but it wasn't always the way things turned out. It wasn't always the Japanese that got you in New Guinea...   Rocker Collection

This guy's a flight surgeon, assigned to the 80th FS and out on the flight line at 3-Mile. We usually don't think about flight surgeons much, or about the job they performed in truly miserable conditions in the Pacific, but they were an integral part of it all. His flight suit is worth a second look, as is his footwear and, while we're at it, let's take a closer look at that "ramp" his L-3 is parked on. The 5th was The Little Air Force That Could, making do with less in the midst of generally terrible operating conditions, and that's worth thinking about the next time you see some Hollywood Hero up there on the silver screen winning the war all by himself. That's the myth. The reality is in the eyes of that flight surgeon.   Rocker Collection

Every day was a new day, and there were precious few easy ones. 43-21313 was a 3rd BG A-20G-40-DO, which made her a relatively new airplane when she had her picture taken from another Havoc formating off her starboard wing. She's not beat up yet but she will be soon enough, and her crew will be more than a little the worse for wear too. At the end of the day it was an equal-opportunity war, one that was lousy for everybody in it.   Signorino Collection via Gerry Kersey

To prove the point, here's "Daisy Mae" of the 89th BS undergoing an engine change at Dobodura Strip #4. You could, we suppose, use the word "primitive" to describe what's going on here, but that really doesn't express the back-breaking labor, not to mention the heat, humidity, and insects, sleep deprivation and sheer exhaustion that were part and parcel of each and every maintenance activity in New Guinea. "The New Guinea Blues"? Sing it, Brother!   Rocker Collection

Cape Gloucester on an easy one; 200 feet agl, 225 knots indicated, hills, airplanes that have seen better days, and a whole bunch of Japanese who believe just as strongly in their cause as you do in yours and are ready to die for it. Yep, it's an easy one, all right...   National Archives via Rocker Collection

Dagua was another tough nut. These B-25s (from the 38th BG, we think) are giving the place the once over but it ain't easy. Those guys are going flat out nearly on the deck and dropping parachute-retarded 28 pound parafrags, which were highly effective against unprotected airplanes and personnel alike. When you're that low your airplane is bouncing around like there's no tomorrow and the noise, from enemy ground fire, bursting bombs, and your own guns and engines, is deafening. Throw in a dose of adrenaline that's pegged off the meter and you'll begin to understand what those guys did almost every time they went out. Sometimes it wasn't about winning; it was about getting home so you could go out and do it again. And again...  National Archives via Rocker Collection

The 499th BS works over Hollandia. Check out the relative size of the "Tony" and "Dinah" parked on the airfield in comparison with those B-25s and you'll get a feel for what the term low level attack really means. What you can't see is the Japanese gunfire directed at those Mitchells, and it doesn't all miss, either. Even the good days were bad when you had The New Guinea Blues.   National Archives via Rocker Collection

New Guinea ate airplanes, and it ate people. It was equally fair to all, Allied and Japanese; who you were didn't matter to New Guinea. It would wear you out, and burn you out, and make you old before your time. Sometimes it would take your life and sometimes, when it was all over and you'd survived, with everything finished and all said and done, you'd wish it had. It was a lousy place to be, and a worse one to fight in. It was where they wrote "The New Guinea Blues" and you honestly can't understand the song if you weren't there, but we can try. We owe those guys that much, anyway...   Rocker Collection

We build our model airplanes, and we recite the history to those who would listen, and sometimes we close our eyes and imagine what it must have been like down there, in New Guinea during the war. And many of us---no, almost all of us, totally miss the point.

Those guys were uncomfortably hot pretty much all the time, and often smelled of dirty airplanes and sweat. They flew when they were fit, and when they were tired, and sometimes when they were sick if they could get away with it. They flew in airplanes that weren't always 100%. They contended with some of the worst aviation weather in the world and did it on a daily basis. They all went out, and most of them came back. The ones that survived took or, for those few still living, will take, New Guinea with them to the grave. That's worth remembering as we recount their deeds and build our models. We owe those guys, and we owe Bobby, Gerry, and the other historians and collectors who continually and unselfishly add to our understanding of the war in the Pacific.

They call it "The New Guinea Blues".

A Long Time Ago

That's when I built this issue's model; a long time ago, back around 2005-2006 I think. I was on a Great War binge at the time and Eduard's seminal Albatros DV was calling my name---who was I to refuse the invitation?

Anyway, the Eduard Albatros truly is a seminal kit, easy to build with relatively few errors (although it is possessed of at least one problem that just might leave you talking to yourself before you're done building the thing) and an excellent appearance once it's completed. Those of you who have been with us for a while know that kit reviews only rarely live on these pages and you aren't going to see one here today either; just a quick and dirty run-down of the kit as it pertains to the production of a decent model.

In point of fact there are only a couple of things you really need to know about this kit. First and foremost, it's comprised of relatively few parts and they all fit as intended with relatively little cleanup. Those parts are pretty accurate too, and you can get a really decent model, with just that one little caveat that we'll get to in a minute, with the most basic weekend edition release of the kit, although we strongly recommend getting the ProfiPack version of it or, at the very least, getting a set of seat belts/harnesses and Master gun barrels to spruce things up a bit. All those extra photo-etched bits and pieces will make a lot of difference to your completed model and are well worth the price of admission.

ProfiPack parts won't, however, fix the clanger that Eduard incorporated in the the kit back when they designed it, and you may want to fix it (read that "HAVE to fix it if you want things to look right")  on your model---I didn't correct it on the model you're about to see because I didn't know about it at the time I built the thing, but it just screams out "Look at me I'm wrong!" once you know it's there.

The easiest way to explain the problem is to look at the photographs of my completed model, focusing your attention specifically on the undercarriage. See how goofy it looks down there; sortof like a low-rider modification if you can imagine such a thing. That's because Eduard missed the length of the landing gear struts and they're some 3mm too short both front and back! It looks as goofy as it sounds, too, and it really needs to be fixed by carefully splicing a 3mm section into each side of the gear and then equally carefully sanding that splice to the proper cross-section. It's not really hard to do and your model will appear somewhat cartoonish if you don't do it, but it's your choice. You pays your money...

Anyway, I actually took a few photographs during the construction of this one and I think I deserve some sort of award for remembering to do that, even though it probably won't ever happen again. In spite of that the photos do exist, so here's a quick and dirty rundown of the project for your perusal:

You really should use the ProfiPack version of any of Eduard's Great War kits in order to get the most bang for your buck, but I didn't do that on this particular model---everything you see except for the seat belts and harnesses and the gun jackets were made of polystyrene and came with the kit. You'll want to pay attention to the way everything fits as you go along but this is one of those models that will almost build itself if you'll let it.

There are those belts I mentioned, but everything else is plastic that came with the kit. Both the cockpit and the engine could stand the detailing provided in the ProfiPack versions of this kit (there have been many releases over the years) but you can put a pretty nice model on your shelf with a bone stock model too. Note the shiny areas on the seat around the belts---that's cyanoacrylate and will disappear under a coat of flattening agent before we finish with the interior.

Everything in that interior fits perfectly if you let it, but it takes a little tender loving care to do that because the attachment points for many of the pieces are what we might describe as vague and quite possibly even nebulous. Just be careful and pre-fit everything and you won't have any problems. Don't do that and you will. Have problems, that is...

Now we get to have a little fun! It's easiest to paint these things as you go along, and this photo shows how to do that. I used one of the kit's schemes, from Jasta 12, so I needed to paint a black tail on the model. That was done with Testor gloss black paint from one of the little black bottles, thinned to the consistency of water and airbrushed on. This is how it came out after several thin applications of paint. Yes, it's really shiny. So was the paint on those airplanes when it was newly applied, because the guys painting them were generally using glossy paint. The aircraft tended to weather out quickly once exposed to the elements and a significantly unkind operational environment because those flying machines were constructed primarily of wood and canvas. The real thing wouldn't have looked this way for very long, but it would have appeared like this for a while. A very, very short while...

The nose is black too. We'll mask off the black and paint the "plywood" of the fuselage next. The masking on the upper surface of the wings was done with post-it notes cut to shape, easy to do and quick.

Now we're going to jump way ahead in the finishing process---the plywood is done and the guns and gun feed fairings have been added. The fuselage decals have also been applied straight from the kit; no aftermarket is required if you're ok with the schemes offered in the kit. Eduard does superior decals, ya'll!

Here's the undersides. I generally mix my own colors for anything I build from WWI, but that under surface blue is Testor ModelMaster RLM 65 blue. I think it looks right but you're more than welcome to use something else if you'd rather.

See what I meant about those kit decals? They're really, really good. And no, Virginia, I didn't even try to put graining in the natural plywood of the fuselage. Nowadays I do that sort of thing, but it wasn't in the game plan back when I built this one. In all fairness, it won't look that bad once we're done, but it most assuredly would look better if some intimation of wood grain was on the model. Big sigh...

I think it's pretty easy to get the wings on any Albatros fighter, but maybe that's just me. Whether it is or not is irrelevant in both theory and in fact, but here's the easy way to do it, using a slow-drying (a few seconds, as opposed to cyanoacrylate of the Dries Right Freaking Now The Very Instant You Touch The Model variety). First, install the cabane struts onto the fuselage per the instructions, taking great care to set them at the correct angle. You'll have a little bit of wiggle room even after they're cured in place, but Life will be substantially easier for you if you get things right, or at least really close to it, the first time around. Once you've done that, repeat the process with the wing struts by installing them to the undersides of the upper wings---do not start them out on the lower wings unless you're one of those folks who enjoy unnecessary pain in your life. Once everything has cured once again, set the upper wing in place and use a piece of wire or similar to put a tiny drop of cyano on each cabane strut where it mounts to that wing (making absolutely certain to use the mounting holes, which will probably benefit from a slight opening-up with the appropriate sized drill before you start doing this) and let them cure. Repeat the process with the wing struts where they mate with the lower wings, and you're done. The Albatros fighters are probably the easiest biplanes out there to attach the struts and wings to if you use just a tiny bit of good sense and patience while you're doing the work!

Here's another place where you'll benefit from using the photoetch in the ProfiPack versions of this kit. See the red circles sitting in the insides of the wing crosses in the photo? Besides illustrating that the decal blisters inside them need to be punctured and properly re-seated with decal solvent, they also show where Eduard did a little bit of less-than-desirable molding on this kit. There's a rectangular cover living there on the real airplane and the ProfiPack rendition of the model provides it as a photo-etched part, but the Plain Jane polystyrene kit doesn't. It really needs to be there too, or the wing will look odd to you once you know it's supposed to be there.

And here we are, all rigged and ready to go, mostly. I didn't put turnbuckles on 1/48th scale models back when I built this so there are none on this piece, but there should be. The prop should also have those characteristic German laminations on it and it doesn't, but the biggest problem is that accursed undercarriage, which is too darned short and shows it! Lengthen the struts and the model will look like an Albatros. Leave them as they are in the kit and it will look like it came from someone's cartoon studios during the 1930s. The choice is yours...

The rigging is stretched sprue, attached to the model with tiny dabs of white glue and tautened by passing a hot soldering iron tip near the rigging after the glue has dried. (Be CAREFUL if you try this particular technique yourself, since you can easily destroy your rigging or even your model if you do it incorrectly! You can also burn yourself as well, but you're way too smart to do that, right?) It's a method that's quick, relatively easy, and allows for simple repair if something is damaged, plus I've been doing it for almost 50 years and actually know how to use the technique, which is more than I can say for any of  the others presently in use. You have to go with what you know, don'tchaknow?

Here's the other side, more to show you that there actually is one than for any other reason.

Boy oh boy; is that airplane ever shiny! In real life it would have been like this, in this kind of pristine condition, for about 15 minutes or until somebody started the engine, whichever came first. I think it looks nice, though. Your mileage may vary...

Finally, here's a warm, entirely-too-saturated-with-incandescent-light image to illustrate the difference between a DV with modified undercarriage struts and one, coincidentally, the very one we're discussing today, with undercarriage struts that are 100% kit stock. The two models are sitting pretty much nose-to-nose and it's really easy to see how much difference that 3mm actually makes, and how goofy the finished model looks if you don't accommodate it. Pheon Decals used to offer a set of resin struts to replace those on the kit but they've been unavailable for quite some time and nobody else, to our admittedly uncertain knowledge anyway, has stepped up to address the issue, which leaves us with the necessity of cutting and lengthening those provided with the kit ourselves. I don't think it's all that hard to do but Eduard's Albatros DV and DVa kits are easy enough to make them viable projects for the intermediate modeler in every other respect, and it's a shame that they don't re-tool that area of the model so they'd look like they're supposed to once they've been completed. Oh well; someday, Maybe.

A Picture to Prove a Point

You may remember the discussion we had in our last issue regarding the painting of models, and how operational conditions could impact the appearance of real airplanes on active service. That piece caught the attention of Steve Birdsall, who was kind enough to send along this image for your perusal. It's an airplane he had the opportunity to fly in on more than one occasion and one that will featured in an article by him in the next issue of Aviation History. Here's what he had to say about it:

Hi Phil – I read your latest edition and the bit about aircraft paint being touched up when it “gets scabby enough” resonated. I thought you might be interested in what could be considered a classic case of that situation . . . 43-48356 was an AC-47 at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, where it was known as “The Leper” because it couldn’t seem to hold a coat of paint.

 I flew in it a couple of times and I have a story about it coming up in the next Aviation History. Anyway, I thought you might like to see the attached photo of it, taken in February 1967 by a Seventh Air Force PIO, Captain Ray Quillin.     All the best – Steve

And here she is in the flesh; 43-48356 in all her tattered glory, sitting on the ramp at Bien Hoa. Originally built as a C-47B-1-DK, she was apparently bailed to the RAF and later returned to the USAF where she was converted to FC-47 configuration at some point in her life. She was shot down on while launching for a mission on 23 March, 1967---all seven crew members on board escaped the crash. You'll have to read Steve's article in Aviation History for the whole story, but modelers take note: It's doubtful you'll find an airplane on active duty that's in much worse cosmetic condition than "The Leper", which makes this photo well worth studying.   Capt Ray Quillin via Steve Birdsall

Many thanks to Steve for sending the photo to us!

You Probably Need This Book

Most of you know, or know of, Doug Barbier by now. For those few of you who may not be familiar with him or his work, he's a retired blue-suiter and airline pilot with considerable stick time in the T-33, T-38, F-4, and F-16, among other aircraft. He's an excellent writer and a superb photographer as well, and those of us who know him have been urging him to share his expertise and write a book, any book on any subject, for a great many years now. He's retired from his "real" job (a substantially vague and somewhat nebulous concept in his case, since "retirement" has only caused him to become more active than he previously was) he's had the time to actually sit down and write that book, with the result you see before you:

World's Fastest Single-Engine Jet Aircraft, Barbier, Doug, Specialty Press 2017; 228pp, illustrated.

The Convair F-106 Delta Dart has been one of those great enigmas of American military aviation, an interceptor everyone knows about but few actually know about. Designed as a follow-on to Convair's own F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-106 was the ultimate interceptor in every respect; a cutting edge aircraft who's capabilities were never explored to their fullest potential and which could offer many contemporary military aircraft a run for their money in certain performance envelopes.

In spite of those abilities the aircraft has gone largely underappreciated by aviation enthusiasts, and until the publication of this book there has been precious little available in print regarding the type that was worth having. This title changes the game substantially, and for the better in every respect. Its text is concise yet extensive and provides considerable detail of the design and development phases of the F-106's history as well as its active service.

The F-106 was designed as a weapons system and that aspect of the aircraft is covered as well, both in text and in photographs. Cockpit evolution is covered photographically, as are the rest of the changes made to the airplane throughout its development and service life. (There were more changes than you might imagine, so that aspect of the work is particularly useful!)

Illustrations are both photographic and graphic (factory drawings) and are exhaustive, with 144 photos in color and 229 in black and white---a great many of the photographs were taken by the author while many others were shot by individuals well-known to the serious aviation community which means that all of the photos presented are useful to the enthusiast or aerospace scholar. Reproduction of those images is excellent throughout the book.

Finally, it has to be noted that the folks over at Specialty Press are a class act in every respect, and the production of the book is flawless. Images are crisp and clear, layout is concise and user-friendly, and the paper used is of the thick, coated variety. Those of you who already own works by this publisher know the quality in everything they produce; their books are meant to be used as references, not just looked at once and put away.

The F-106 has been largely ignored by aviation journalism, but this book more than makes up for the paucity of titles available to date. It's one that we recommend without reservation if your interests run to such things and whets our appetite for further titles from this author.  You can even get your copy autographed by the author if you order directly from Specialty, at least while supplies last!

Now then, would anyone like to see Doug author a book on the "Hun"? Can we see a show of hands? Can I get an "AMEN"?

Many thanks to the folks at Specialty Press for our review sample.

Late and Getting Even Later

Yes indeedy, we've allowed ourselves to get about as late as we've ever been with one of these things, so it's time to publish! We're still working on another piece for this issue which has, by default, just become our lead article for next time---we didn't think you'd mind!

One more thing before we go: We've recently received a couple of requests for an address to send photos and the like to. Lately we've been printing that out in a manner that's allegedly incomprehensible to The Spam Brigade, but this time we'll give it to you straight and get ready to bear the consequences. Just do    replica in scale @ yahoo  .  com (but you need to run all those together like you normally would in an e-mail address). That will get pretty much anything you'd like to send to us.

And that's it for this time; a somewhat truncated edition but an edition nonetheless. Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Movie You Ought to See, Adventures With Claude, Pre-War in the North Country, A Gift From a Friend, Huns From the Show Me State, and The Way It Is

Is It a Model or a Replica?

That's a pretty silly question on the face of things, but I recently had the pleasure of listening to another modeler discussing, at a considerable length, substantial volume, and replete with profane expression, all the reasons none of us should be pre or post-shading our models. The performance was on the high side of entertainment and the low side of profundity but it was, at the end of the day, an honest opinion that had more than a little merit to it, albeit with reservations.

The basics are pretty, well; basic! We're taking kits of one medium or another (it ain't just polystyrene anymore!) and assembling them in a manner that results in a scale model that is, we hope, an accurate rendition of The Real Thing. Most of us work pretty hard at it too, because we want our finished model to present itself as a reduced scale version of that afore-mentioned Real Thing. That's the game, that's the goal, and that's what we're all about as modelers. We want realism and accuracy, and we want an attractive model that everyone will ooh and ah over when they see it.

There's a catch, though: Simply building a model usually won't get us to that desired ooh and ah stage very often, so we all learn pretty early in the game to throw in a few bells and whistles to enhance the appearance of things as we build and paint. We enhance detail and accuracy through scratch-building or the use of resin and photo-etched aftermarket components, and we spend a fortune on decals and masks for markings so our latest creation can be a model unique to us in addition to being of a quality worthy of inclusion in any museum's collection. And we buy paint.

Not just any paint, either, but scale paint, with super-fine pigment for a scale appearance on our creations and carefully blended so we've got the exact, very same color that was used on The Real Thing. We want, no; we demand, scale accuracy in our paint. It has to be accurate, and it has to be right! Yep; it has to be both of those things, but that's where it all goes south, a sad truth once we decide to start messing around with color shade, tonal values, and so on. Shading is part of that painting thing too, and it significantly impacts the way the finished model looks regardless of how accurate the colors may have been while still in their bottle,so what about pre and post-shading? Are the techniques useful to us at all? Should we use them all the time, some of the time, or never? Like so many things in our hobby, that depends.

Real airplanes (and that's what we're going to talk about, but you AFV and ship guys can listen in too, if you'd like) are not pre-shaded, nor are they post-shaded. They're painted, period, initially by a factory someplace and subsequently by someone's corrosion control facility or maybe some junior enlisted person on a ramp or in a hangar deck. That paint also gets touched up in-between times if it gets scabby enough to need it and the next visit to an overhaul facility or NARF is far enough away.

In The Old Days we didn't worry very much about that sort of thing. We built the models, we painted them, and the more adventurous of us scribed in panel lines and filled them with with India ink or similar. Tonal variation weren't in anybody's play book until late in the 1970s, give or take, when people began to shade things, and the technique was new, exciting, and perceived to be more than a little bit difficult to accomplish, even though it really wasn't. One thing logically followed another, which eventually took us to the shading we all know and love (or hate) so well today and that, in turn, took us to The Problem and the reason for that guy's rant against such things, because real airplanes almost never look like they've been pre or post-shaded. They look dirty sometimes, especially if they happen to be naval aircraft or are aircraft actively involved in a conflict and therefore having little opportunity for proper paint maintenance, but they never ever ever look like somebody painted all the panel lines with black paint and then lightly misted an appropriate color coat on top of that. They don't. It doesn't work that way for the most part and real airplanes almost never look that way, even though we'll grudgingly admit there are exceptions sometimes.

There are a couple of things I think bear mentioning here. The first thing is that I personally don't think there's anything wrong with shading as long as it's done in moderation. Your eye is a good test of that: If the first thing people notice when they view your model is the way it's been shaded, then you've probably overdone it a bit. Your paintwork should be part of your model. It should never come across that it IS the model. That's one thing.

The other thing, and our point today, is intent. Are you building a replica of the real thing, and doing it as accurately as you can possibly can, or are you building a model? At first read that sounds contradictory, I know, but it really isn't. If your intent is to create a replica of something, your goal should be to re-create that thing in miniature, and it should ultimately look like the real thing you're replicating, just a little smaller. That approach will usually negate the need for excessive shading of any kind---if you can't see it on a photograph of the real thing, then you probably shouldn't see it on your model, either. If, on the other hand, your intention is to produce an attractive scale model that's got a lot of eye appeal, then light or even moderately heavy shading can very definitely be your friend. In many ways it's the difference between a real bird and a piece of Hummel pottery of that same bird, if you catch my drift. Look on it as real life versus art.

Ours is a highly subjective hobby that is based largely on illusion. We're working with things that are tiny when compared with the Real Thing, and we're trying our best to make those tiny things look like they were once big but were somehow shrunk down. Our completed edifices can look awfully plain and even quite lifeless if we don't do anything more than assemble and paint them, no matter how well done they may be, but they can also appear as more than a little comical if we overdo things in the spray booth. Moderation is a usually a very good thing in this case, no matter whether you build replicas or models, but there's another factor to consider as well---who are you building for? At the end of the day it's your handiwork that's on display, and if you're pleased with what you've done then nothing else really matters and that guy we mentioned up there at the top can rant all he wants. Then again, less really can be more. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Decisions, decisions...

A Neat Movie

There's just no end to the magic you can find on YouTube. We were whiling away some time a couple of days ago looking at airplanes there and discovered this little jewel on The Silver Air Force doing weapons delivery in 1964. It's 22+ minutes of Tactical Air Command goodness you almost can't afford to miss, and even includes footage of an F-105D accidentally bagging both itself and its F-100F chase plane in a low-level weapons delivery sequence gone horribly wrong. (Everyone got out safely so it's humorous rather than tragic!) Enjoy!

Hey Claude, What Took You So Long?

Mitsubishi's A5M family of fighters, known to the west (and the modeling fraternity at large) by it's WW2 SWPAC identification moniker of "Claude", has been one of those seminal airplanes for which we never really had a decent kit in any scale---for years, the Nichimo offering of a 1/70th scale A5M-something-or-other was it as far as available polystyrene was concerned. Things started getting better around the turn of the last century (and Boy; does it sound funny saying that!) when we got decent kits in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales, with a 1/32nd scale offering showing up from Special Hobby four or five years ago. While it's true that none of those kits were anything that would qualify as kit of anybody's year, they were all decent starting places, even though the primo 1/48th scale offering, from FineMolds, wasn't quite as good as it could have been (it was one of their earlier efforts) and was also of a lesser-known variant.

Time moved on, as it usually does, and that very same FineMolds saw fit to give us not one but two new A5M kits late last year, one of the more obscure variants, the A5M2b, and another of the classic A5M4. (There's yet another new kit available in 1/48th as well, from a company called Wingsy, but that one is even more expensive than the astronomically priced FineMolds kits and we're not going to go rattling off on the tangent of distributor greed today.)

Anyway, those FineMolds kits both looked as though they'd be extremely easy to get together, creating an itch that desperately needed to be scratched. One thing led to another, with the result you see before you today.

It's possible to make an argument for taking pictures all along the way when doing a project, and a lot of people do that very thing. I usually think about doing it after it's too far along to matter, but I actually did manage to take a few in-work photos of the Claude---Yay, Phillip--- and I think this shot is of value because it shows how to handle that red tail without creating any unnecessary grief. Everything on the kit fit so well that no putty was required, and there are minimal gaps between the horizontal stabs and the fuselage, which in turn allowed me to mask the tail demarcation and paint the appropriate area red before painting anything else. After that was thoroughly dry, I masked the red and applied ModelMaster non-buffing Aluminum from their Metalizer line of paints. Yes; it's an extremely fragile finish if you aren't careful, and a lot of people don't like it. I happen to like it quite a bit, but that's just me; the point to be made here is the way the masking was done, because it worked like a champ!

We're a little bit further along in this shot, and almost all the stickies have been applied---they're from the kit, and work as well as any water-slide decal I've ever used. The kit offers a low parts count, which is fine from my point of view because almost everything is so well done, but you should know that there are no lap belts included. I happen to think they should be in the kit, particularly since it's US retail is so expensive, but nobody at FineMolds bothered to ask me about it before they released the kit so there you go! One more thing: The sharp-eyed among you will notice a bit of a seam where the port wing meets the fuselage. That was fixed by running a bead of white glue down there and wiping off the excess. No sweat, GI!

Here's where you get to remember your modeling skills from those halcyon days of yesteryear, or maybe learn how the old guys did it back before there was aftermarket. It's entirely possible that someone makes a canopy mask for this kit but no such thing was available when my model was in work, thus creating the need for a little bit of Old School. That's a roll of Tamiya masking tape in front of the model, and a genuine Made In USA/Cut Your Fingers Off If You Aren't Careful Because It's So Stinking Sharp #11 blade in my knife handle. All you have to do is put the tape on the canopy, burnish it down with something or other (I always use a round toothpick), and carefully cut the frame outlines away, which is why you want to have a really sharp blade (just in case you're new to all this and trying to figure things out for the first time). The canopy frames are well-defined on this kit, which simplifies things considerably.

And this is what you'll end up with if you're careful. You can sort-of see the pitot tube in this shot, and you'll notice it's a bit on the clunky side and really doesn't go with the rest of the kit. Everything else is just finer than frog's hair, though, and the kit is a quick builder too; about six hours from the time I opened the box until the completed model went on the shelf.

Here's a final view of the project. Those aileron actuators could have benefited from a little finesse but I didn't do that. I can live with the way it looks, but it would be an extremely simple matter enhance things if you wanted to. Banzai, ya'll!

Some Old-Timers From Way Up Yonder

We were looking through past issues of this project the other day and discovered that it's been quite a while since we've run anything from Doug Barbier's collection. You may not be aware of it but that constitutes a very bad thing for you, because he's got so much neat photography tucked away in his files. At any rate, a quick phone call to Michigan's frozen Upper Peninsula resulted in the images you're about to view, all unique and all very much worth the wait!

There are airplanes and then there are airplanes, but the Snow Owl-marked P-6Es of Selfridge's 17th PS pretty much sum up the pre-War AAC for a lot of people, and this example is a prime reason why. OD with yellow wings and tail, and lots of black and white squadron markings make those airplanes pretty beyond belief even when they're not all tarted up for the National Air Races with talons on the wheel spats. We're guessing this to be a squadron commander's airplane and it just couldn't be any prettier!   Merl Olmstead via Doug Barbier

Here's what they look like when they've been in service for a while! Everything is faded down on this bird, but she's still proudly wearing that Snow Owl on her fuselage band. This shot, and the one immediately above, provide good definition of the demarcation for the maroon anti-glare paint applied to the back side of the P-6E's prop and also shows the later, open-faced, wheel spats to good advantage. The last of the biplane AAC Hawks kept her good looks until the end.   Merl Olmstead via Doug Barbier

And finally, a P-6E from the 94th PS. She's another OD and yellow bird, and those fuselage markings, both the turtle-deck diamond and the command stripe, are red trimmed with yellow if memory serves. The P-6E was somewhat of a failure as a pursuit ship, not particularly fast and nowhere near to as maneuverable as the rival Boeing P-12E, but nobody could top it for looks and, in so many ways, it defined an era. There never were that many of them in the first place and only one original survives today, residing in what used to be the AFM at Dayton. Long ago and far away...   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Selfridge was a unique installation in terms of the aircraft that showed up there pre-War, as illustrated by this YP-38 in flight over Detroit in 1940. The Lightning must have seemed like something out of a Buck Rogers movie in comparison to the generation of pursuits immediately preceding it---the type's looks were like nothing else flying anywhere in the world, and its performance was simply incredible for the time. The design had a long way to go before it could contest an aerial combat and come out the winner, but all the components were already there in concept if not quite yet in reality.  MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Lockheed's P-38 Lightning  was one of the Second World War's most definitive fighters and its performance was considered little short of amazing even in the earliest variants, but it didn't really become combat-worthy until the advent of the early-war F model. This aircraft is an immediate predecessor, a P-38D from the 1st Pursuit seen on the ground at Beaumont, Texas, during the Louisiana War Maneuvers of 1941. The P-38 was arguably more dangerous to its own pilot than it was to any perceived enemy at this point, but that would change soon enough.   Madison via Doug Barbier

Also present at Beaumont were these early 31st PG P-39D Airacobras. These examples are somewhat the worse for wear and are prime candidates for modeling, from their natural metal propellers right back to the tips of their relatively unweathered empennage. Aircraft number 83 in the foreground is of particular interest---her weathering pattern is so unusual as to virtually guarantee criticism if duplicated on a scale model. A challenge, as it were...   Madison via Doug Barbier

Back home in the Frozen North! This 31st Pursuit lineup at Selfridge shows how simple changes impact the appearance of an airplane. Most operational P-39s from the D-model forwards displayed dark green paint on their landing gear (to include wheels), with silver-painted or natural metal struts being almost entirely unknown, yet this lineup up P-39Cs all display that anomaly---the need for corrosion control of those components apparently came somewhat later in the production cycle. Props are, once again, silver on their faces (but quite likely flat black or even maroon on their back-sides). Those are the sort of things that make this era of American air power so fascinating to us, yet so relatively unknown to most enthusiasts.   Madison via Doug Barbier

The 31st PG did quite a bit of materiel test work for the AAC, and was an early operator of the P-40 in consequence. Aircraft #61 is pretty plain overall, but that diagonal stripe on her aft fuselage provides an interesting contrast to the dull olive drab uppers. The prop blades are in silver, both front and back, and the airplane carries an early gun camera mounted just forward of the windscreen. Those features, plus the unpainted aluminum wheel covers, take this airplane a step beyond the norm and make it an excellent choice for a model.   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

Let's end this photo essay with another bird from the 31st, this time in flight over Detroit. The command stripes are a nice touch, as is the two-toned propeller spinner. We're a little confused by the apparent lack of red stripes on the rudder, although it appears to be slightly deflected and we may just be seeing an illusion caused by the angle of the light striking that surface. Finally, it should be noted that the paint on both this aircraft and on 61 above is dead flat; we would have expected more of a semi-gloss finish but that's not the case in either photo. The devil's in the details!   MAGHA via Doug Barbier

An Unexpected Surprise

Way back when, a very long time ago before the internet was even a dream, there were slide collectors. We were numbered among them, and our acquisition of images came in one of three different flavors: We either took them ourselves, we traded for them with other collector/photographers, or we purchased them from one of the several collectors who made their images available to the rest of us for a small fee. One the the guys who fell into the latter category was Ron Picciani. His collection of 1950s and 60s US military aviation was, and we presume still is, unrivaled, and a great many of us have a fair amount of his photography still nestled away in our collections. So many of us have obtained his photos, in fact, that it's now fairly common for them to show up without attribution on the internet. We've inadvertantly fallen into that trap ourselves a couple of times, and Ron has been kind enough to point it out to us when it's happened so we could correct things.

A couple of weeks ago, Ron dropped us an e-mail and mentioned that he'd found two of his P-47 images on our pages, incorrectly attributed to the late Dave Menard's collection. We're more than a little bit sensitive to that sort of thing around here, so the corrections were made immediately---Ron responded with his thanks, and with a little surprise we'd like to share with you today:

Most of our readership is probably aware that the Lockheed F-94B variation of the Starfire could carry .50 caliber Browning M3 machine guns mounted in pods attached to the leading edge of each wing, two guns per pod.  Conventional wisdom tells us that the installation was relatively short-lived and largely developmental in nature, but this photo proves that at least one aircraft, an F-94A-5-LO from Pennsylvania's 103rd FIS was equipped with them in active service. The Silver Air Force was, and we suspect always will be, a gold mine of unique and interesting aircraft that will keep historians and enthusiasts busy for many years to come!   Ron Picciani

Many thanks to Ron for correcting our original error in attribution, and for providing us with this gorgeous image!

Some MO ANG Huns

In our last issue we ran some civilian P-2 Neptune images from Mark Nankivil's collection for your edification and enjoyment. This time around we'd like to share a few of his F-100 Super Sabre photos, all from the Missouri ANG's 110th TFS/131st TFW.

The 110th has been around for quite a while, and flew P-39s, P-40s, and P-51s in the Pacific during The Big One. They converted to the Jet Age with F-80Cs during 1957, almost immediately afterwards making the transition to the F-84F. They subsequently kept the Thunderstreak in their inventory until the Fall of 1962, deploying to Europe with them during 1961's Berlin Crisis, and then transitioned to the F-100, a type they flew from 1962 until 1978. Sixteen years is a long time to fly any sort of jet fighter, but the 110th's "Huns" only operated the type with two paint schemes during that period. Let's take a look:

Let's begin with a fine air-to-air study of 54-1773, an F-100C-5-NA in the air somewhere over Missouri. The F-100 fleet was well into the transition to silver paint rather than its earlier natural metal treatment, and only the aft fuselage around the engine's hot section is in natural, albeit substantially discolored, finish. A great many ANG D-model "Huns" ended up with F-102 afterburners fitted, but Missouri's Charlie-models kept the original North American AB design; the 102 mod applied only to their Ds. The practice bomb fitment to 1773's outboard pylons is noteworthy; there are two 25# practice bombs mounted per pylon. The F-100's low "sit" in relation to the ground for the most part precluded its use of multiple ejector racks then or later, during the VietNam fracas, which constituted a distinct liability for an airplane who's primary use had evolved into that of a fighter-bomber. Then again, nobody at North American was thinking about the type lugging around a lot of bombs when they were designing the Super Sabre as a day fighter!   Nankivil Collection

The 110th did  operate natural metal F-100Cs for a brief period of time, however, as illustrated by this photo of 53-1742, an F-100C-1-NA, on the ramp at Lambert Field early in the game. Natural metal makes for a beautiful airplane if the finish can be maintained, but that sort of thing can be difficult as best in an operational military environment. Practicality superseded Pretty as far as the Department of the  Air Force was concerned, and those beautiful silver "Huns" went away fairly quickly.   Nankivil Collection

Then again, you don't really need natural metal to have a pretty airplane! This Charlie-model was photographed just prior to touchdown wearing the 110th's classic red and white trim---this particular color scheme was only in use for a short period of time, but it sure was pretty! The C was the first F-100 variant that was actually combat-worthy and was, in many respects, the hot-rod of the family, but it was limited as a fighter-bomber, a role towards which the type was increasingly being pointed. Note the lack of underwing pylons or refueling probe and the addition of the arresting hook just forward of the tail bumper. This photo coincidentally provides us with an excellent view of the antenna for the aircraft's AN/APG-30 gun-ranging radar mounted inside the intake lip.   Nankivil Collection

We really enjoy good tanker shots, and this is one of the best we've seen in quite a while! In this breathtaking photo 54-1891, an F-100C-20-NA, is riding the drogue basket on KC-97F-55-BO 51-0263 as it refuels somewhere over Missouri. Early TAC and TAC-gained ANG air refueling operations could provide the literal a thrill a minute as relatively high-performance fighters passed gas from slow-moving reciprocating-engined tankers---even the eventual supplementation of the tanker's available power with podded jet engines were of little help in that regard. Note the distinct nose-down attitude of the KC-97 in relation to that "Hun" as they both slide downhill during the refuelling process, an evolution required to ensure that the fighter didn't fall off the tanker as its weight increased with the fuel being taken aboard. 1891 was somewhat famous in the F-100 community, having passed a stint with the "Skyblazers" aerial demonstration team before being subsequently passed on to the Turkish Air Force.   Nankivil Collection

Variations on a theme! The 110th kept their C-models long enough to transition them into the Air Force's SEA camouflage scheme. This 3-ship is on its way to the bombing range and includes 54-1948 in camouflage, and 53-1753 and 54-1772 still in silver paint. Those pretty red and white markings are gone, but there's no doubt who's operating the airplanes---one look at the vertical stabilizers gives the game away! 1948 was a C-20-NA that transferred to the Turkish Air Force, while 1772 was a C-5-NA then ended her days at MASDC and 53-1753 was an F-100C-1-NA that also ended up at the MASDC storage facility. Note the bent refueling probes on these aircraft; it's entirely possible and even probable that the 110th's "Huns" operated with the earlier straight probe at some point in their career, yet all of the photographs we've seen to date show them carrying the later, bent probe. Comments, backed by photographic evidence, are encouraged!   Nankivil Collection

A somewhat later photograph of a Charlie-model "Hun" coming up on the tanker. The C-model's lack of wing fences and flaps really show up here, as does the relatively diminutive size of the bird. You could never call the F-100 a tiny airplane, but it wasn't very large either. The lack of outboard pylons is noteworthy, as is the aircraft's relative proximity to the tanker.   Nankivil Collection

Of course, you can always get a little bit closer! Air National Guard units tended to be populated by high-time pilots who knew their business, since most of them joined the Guard because of a love of flying in the first place. It would be a mistake of considerable proportion to think that a pilot was somehow inferior because he or she was "only" in the Guard! Check out the staining on the fuselage of this airplane before we go---that's staining you're seeing, not smudging, which might cause the modelers in our readership to go back up there to re-read that essay on pre and post-shading. Maybe...   Nankivil Collection

The 110th eventually transitioned to the D-model, but this shot puzzles us a bit. We'd originally intended to use 54-1794 to illustrate one of the unit's early Ds, but a quick check of the serial number indicates that she was built as an F-100C-5-NA, even though that vertical stab is definitely the tail of a D-model! We suppose that the later vertical tail assembly could be fitted to the C's airframe, but we're at a complete loss as to why anyone would do that and strongly suspect there's more to the story than we're seeing! Drop us a line at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom (using the correct e-mail format, of course) and let us know if you've got the answer!   Nankivil Collection

This is a little closer to what we'd expect to see! 53-0610, an F-100D-25-NA, ended her life as a QF-100D but was very much alive and kicking in ANG service when this photo was taken. The photo is interesting in that it illustrates not only the evolution of the 110th's unit presentation on the vertical stab (coupled with a largish ANG badge on the fuselage) and a very worn paint job, but also provides us with an excellent view of the F-102A afterburner that was retrofitted to a great many of the Guard's "Huns". It was a substantial improvement both in terms of reliability and performance but was only found on F-100Ds and Fs assigned to the ANG. The mod was never made to aircraft in the regular inventory.   Nankivil Collection

On the ramp at Lambert Field. This photo gives us a good view of one of the 110th's "Huns" (55-3672, an F-100D-25-NA) at rest. The horizontal stabilator droop appears extreme but is not at all unusual for the F-100 once power's off the airplane, and all the gear doors are hanging as you would expect. The slats on this bird, on the other hand, are up. The afterburner, donated from an F-102A, is covered but this view shows us how much shorter it was, overall, than the standard unit found on regular Air Force F-100s. 3672 is yet another proud bird that ended her days as a QF-100D.   Nankivil Collection

Second verse, almost the same as the first---the other side of 3672! We're running this photo primarily to illustrate how faded that SEA camo could become over a relatively short period of time. The demarcation between colors is on the soft side too, not at all atypical of that paint scheme. Note that the airplane is clean, carrying no pylons of any sort. Modelers who want to build a Vietnam-era "Hun" at rest would do well to note the OD-colored covers for the pitot boom and afterburner as well; we're pretty sure those covers, or at least their color, evolved from the unpleasantness in Southeast Asia. The devil's in the details!   Nankivil Collection

At the wash rack, which in this case is a section of ramp adjacent to a water source coupled to a garden hose. You don't see this operation very often if you aren't actually involved in the day-to-day maintenance of military airplanes but they do need to be cleaned from time to time, which presents the modeler looking for diorama possibilities that are a little bit out of the ordinary another opportunity to do something unique. 55-3684 was yet another D-25-NA and ended up being pulled out of storage at MASDC for conversion to QF-100D standard. Mizzou's "Huns" served right to the end!   Nankivil Collection

Here's what a clean-configured F-100 looks like from the front! The slats are drooped and everything's hanging, all in all the way we've come to expect the airplane to look on the ground. Those blast stains around her gun ports tell us she's recently been to the range and it would appear that she's being cycled for another trip there, judging from the placement of the fire bottle and her raised canopy. The airplane is 55-3811, born as an F-100D-30-NA and died converted to a QF-100D.   Nankivil Collection

A section of D-models getting ready to launch for a trip to the bombing range! This image is of interest because both aircraft illustrated are equipped with the "normal" North American afterburner; most of the "Huns" assigned to the 110th were retrofitted with cans from the F-102A fairly early in the game. 2794 was late in the program as far as the 110th was concerned, an F-100D-45-NA was somewhat unusual in a unit populated by airframes from earlier block numbers. This one ended up at MASDC and was eventually scrapped out.   Nankivil Collection

A whole lot of Nasty in one small place! This shot helps define the F-100's role during the 1970s; her days as a first-line tactical fighter and special weapons delivery system were rapidly fading into the past but she was still more than capable of fulfilling the fighter-bomber mission in spite of the inability to carry multiple ejector racks. In this shot we see a live nape can being secured to the outboard pylon of a Missouri ANG F-100D by members of the Wing's A and E section. The "Hun" was no longer ready for prime time but could certainly make life difficult for an opposing force if the conditions were right!   Nankivil Collection

Let's go flying! An F-100F formates with a Missouri D-model for a trip to the range on a typical day early in the 70s. Note the airliner tails in the background---we always enjoyed the concept of tactical fighters and interceptors launching and recovering at a municipal airport during normal operations because of the opportunity it gave average people to see the Guard at work.  Nankivil Collection

If you operated the F-100 you always had a couple of two-seat F-models around for proficiency and familiarization flights (and for causing the occasional TV reporter to toss their cookies in the back seat of a fast jet, although that's a story for another time). Here's a shot of a pair of pilots from the 110th, one of whom is wearing a lot of egg salad on his hat visor, manning up for a toot around the neighborhood, or maybe a visit to the bombing range. Take a look at that boarding ladder for a minute---USAF fighters prior to the advent of the Century Series often incorporated boarding steps of some sort into their design, as did many subsequent designs, but the Century Series all required some sort of ladder or stand in order to get in or out of the airplane on the ground. Those ladders weren't standardized either; almost all of them were unique to one airplane type. Modelers might want to take a look at detail shown on the canopy bow as well. Details, details...   Nankivil Collection

56-3742, another F-100F-5-NA from the 131st TFW on the ground at Lambert. The F-model only carried two M39 20mm cannon as opposed to the four normally fitted to the single-seaters, but was still combat capable, albeit in a somewhat limited manner. She's not going to go very far, or very fast, without a couple of bags of fuel hanging off her wings, but she may not need to depending on the sort of mission she's been fragged for.   Nankivil Collection

In contrast, and to end today's essay on the 110th TFS/131st TFW's use of the "Hun" during the 1960s and 70s, we see "Spirit of St Louis II", an F-100F-5-NA, climbing out from Lambert carrying a full load of external fuel. Say what you will about the "Hun" and her apparent lack of capability when compared to more modern fighters but she was a pace-setter, a high-performance revelation, when she was brand new. It's true that the type was ultimately limited by her design and her engine, and equally true that she could bite you if you weren't careful with her in the air, but she was The Real Deal in her younger days. We've never met a former "Hun" driver who didn't remember their time with the airplane with considerable fondness, and she served the Missouri Air National Guard well during the 16 years they operated her. That's not a bad record, all in all.   Nankivil Collection

Thanks as always to Mark Nankivil for his generosity and for taking the time to scan these images for us!

And Finally...

Those of you have been around this project for a while are familiar with the contributions made to us by Bobby Rocker. Today's photo from Bobby is a little bit different---it's not from the Second World War, and the airplane doesn't wear a propeller. It does, however, provide us with a definition of purpose.

It's dark and it's cold outside but the mission doesn't go away because of a little discomfort or inconvenience, as exemplified by this shot of an F-94B-5-LO doing an engine run and afterburner check in less than pleasant circumstances and in a very dangerous place; 51-5416 was assigned to the 319th FIS and was a participant in the Korean War when this photo was taken. She ended up back in the ZI flying with the New York ANG's 138th FIS, transferring there from Korea in 1955. You can bet she spent more than few nights like this one, and our hats are off to the folks who made it all happen in spite of the conditions endured in the process. How do you spell "sacrifice"?   Rocker Collection

Under the Radar

Today's book is another one you've probably never heard of before, but you'll want it for your library if your interests run towards American military aviation:

U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947, Stephen Harding; Specialty Press, 1990,  273 pp, hardbound, illustrated.

This book is one that's easy to ignore at first glance---many potential readers will be turned off by the subject matter covered---but the simple fact that the US Army possesses several thousand aircraft at any given time and operates them extensively makes the volume worth the price of admission. The title is an honest one and defines what you get; the book is an encyclopedic coverage of American Army aircraft, both fixed and rotary wing, from 1947 until the 1990 date of publication. The coverage of each type is brief but concise, includes both text and at least one photograph of each aircraft, and is more than sufficient for the intended purpose. It's an older work so a great many contemporary types used by the Army are missing from its coverage but the Korean War and Vietnam years are included, making the book well worth its cost; we found our copy in a used book store, in brand-new condition, for $4.95 USD. It's not a book to read for recreation but can quickly become an essential part of the enthusiast's reference library and is worth seeking out. Recommended.

The Relief Tube

Let's start off
with a trip in the old Replica in Scale Wayback Machine! Reader Mike Sumrell saw one of our older photo essays that included a VIP B-17G being used in the late Korean fracas and sent this:

Mr. Friddell, I came across your blog posts from November 2011 where you were discussing photos of VB-17's in Korea, circa 1954, you had received from some of your readers. I recently acquired a mid-1950's Kodachrome slide which has, I believe, one of the same aircraft you have pictures of on your website. The tail number cannot be seen in my image but I believe it is one of the same planes on your site. I have attached a watermarked version of my image if you would like to include it in your discussions of these aircraft. I did not realize how rare these variants were until I started researching my slide image. Thanks for helping me in my research. Kind regards, Mike Sumrell Fayetteville, NC

Mike, many thanks for sending this photo. The B-17 served in the post-War USAF well into the 1950s, and I suspect it was somewhat more common than we have been led to belief, particularly in the FEAF. It's a topic that has been virtually undocumented, which naturally leads to a request of our readers: Do any of you hold photography on post-War B-17s, B-25s, F-61s, F-51s, etc, that you'd be willing to share? If you do, could you please scan and e-mail them to us at replicainscaleatyahoodotcom? Maybe we can collectively shed some light on the twilight years of some of our more famous aircraft! Need we say that it's the right thing to do!

In a similar vein, reader S. Brouillette sent along this comment regarding another of our older pieces, "A Couple of Early Phantoms":

Phillip,  Ref the early Phantoms. We have one of those first two AF airframes a 2-3 blocks down from my office. Definitely NOT typical RF-4C. The provenance of these two started on the McDonald Douglas line as RF-4Bs (thin, un-slatted wings). Charlie models that started on the line as Cs were called Cs. Pulled off and reconfigured to AF specs. Initially designated RF-110A off the line. LATER designated as RF-4C.

Thanks very much for the additional information! I don't suppose you'd be interested in sending a photo or two of that airframe...

Last issue we ran a photo of a ramp full of 82nd FG F-51Ds and Hs, and were musing about the paucity/near total lack of decent kits of the Hotel variant of the Mustang in any scale. Adam Maas had this comment to add:

There actually is a recent kit of the P-51H in 1/72, from RS Models It's a nice short-run kit with a mix of injection plastic and resin detail parts. As RS is dabbling in 1/48 now, it's quite possible they could scale up this little gem! Adam

Could we be so lucky? Come on, RS Models, and give us that F-51H! Please!

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