Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas, eh!

(Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/PL-41096)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Slim and Glenn

One of the great stories that emerged upon the passing of true American hero John Glenn was that he flew in World War Two with Charles Lindbergh. While many aviation fans are aware that Lindbergh flew combat missions during World War Two in the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, he also flew as a "non-combat" consultant on the F4U Corsair. John Glenn was a Marine flying Corsairs with VMF-115 at Emirau Airfield, Papua New Guinea. In late May 1944, Slim flew a few missions (four?) with the squadron. (I guess Lindbergh had a differing view of "non-combat" than mine!) So it is very likely that Glenn flew with Lindbergh during these missions. Lindbergh was involved in helping convert the F4U to a fighter bomber; using the then new technology Brewster bomb rack fitted with 1000 and 2000 pound bombs. By some reports, his input was invaluable.

Joe Foss, Slim, and Marion Carl during Lindbergh's days with
VMF-115 (Photo courtesy of the USMC)

A friend of my father's, Frank Arrufat of El Paso, Texas, purchased a FG-1D Corsair from El Salvador in the 1970s and undertook the long process of restoring the Corsair to flying condition. Just before the airplane was completed, he sold the Corsair to a new owner, but Mr. Arrufat was able to see his beloved Corsair "Kathleen" take to the air and appear at Oshkosh in 2010.  The restoration added "Slim" Lindbergh's name below the cockpit and featured a reproduction Brewster bomb rack under the fuselage. The Corsair won "Grand Champion World War Two" restoration at the show and is a fitting reminder of Lindbergh's contribution to the Corsair story. The header photo shows Frank Arrufat's FG-1D Corsair BuNo. 92489/N209TW at Oshkosh during the 2010 airshow. The Brewster rack, fitted with a Mk. 17 depth bomb, is obvious, but Col. "Slim" Lindbergh's name below the cockpit is just visible. (Al Sauer photo)

What is purported to be Lindbergh in a US Navy Corsair. (Photo
courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

This is a rather interesting photo shows John Glenn flying F4U-4 Corsair
N51. Often captioned as taken in 1943, and occasionally as taken during training
in the United States prior to deployment to the Pacific, this photo must be much
later as the F4U-4 did not enter service until 1945. So it might be very late war,
post war overseas, or training in the U.S. soon after hostilities ended. (Photo
courtesy of the USMC)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

One of the lesser told tales about the morning of December 7, 1941, is that of the civilian pilots who were airborne over Hawaii during the Japanese attack. It is believed that the first U.S. aircraft downed by the Japanese during the raid was a Piper J-3 Cub flown by either Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) graduate Sgt. Henry Blackwell (NC35111) or the Cub piloted by his flying buddy Cpl. Clyde Brown (NC26950).  One of these men also was the first U.S. military casualty suffered during the attack.

Shockingly, on the 75th Anniversary of the raid, one of the civil aircraft that was actually airborne over Pearl Harbor during the attack now calls the skies of Washington state home. Interstate Cadet NC37266, nicknamed "The Pearl" is on display Heritage Flight Museum at the Skagit Regional Airport. How the airplane survived until 2016 is quite the mystery, but during restoration, some bullet holes were found.  On that historic day 75 years ago, an instructor and her student set out to do some touch and goes, but when the attack commenced were able to avoid a near miss with one Japanese attacker and were unsuccessfully strafed by other Japanese aircraft. The instructor,, Corneila Fort, survived the encounter only to lose her life in 1943 in the crash of a Vultee BT-13 while serving as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot).  A character using her name was featured in the in the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!."  Oddly, Ms. Fort was depicted flying a Stearman biplane in the movie.

Modeler's Note: Like many civilan types, there has never been a kit of the Interstate Cadet in 1/72 scale.  However, KP recently issued a neat 1/72 scale kit of the Piper J-3 Cub.  One of my future projects is to replicate Sgt. Blackwell's Cub in scale.  Watch this space!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

RCAF Bell 47

Here is an interesting one. I knew the RCAF (and RCN) flew the later Bell HTL, but I had no idea they also had one of the covered versions (H-13B?) on strength. Shown in 444 Squadron markings, the photo of 9608/BV-V was taken at Rockcliffe on March 27, 1950. (Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-066300.)

Modeler's Note: There have been a few kits of the Bell 47G in 1/72, of which the Italeri kit is the best.  To the best of my knowledge the earlier Bell 47s have not been kitted in plastic or resin.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Spitfire Filter Query

A question for the Spitfire cognoscenti. Above is a Library Archives Canada photo of 417 Squadron Spitfire VIII AN-O. 417 Squadron was the only RCAF fighter squadron to operate as part of the Desert Air Force and flew a mix of Spitfire VIIIs and later IXs. What is of note in this photo is what appears to be a very non-standard filter. (It sure looks to me that it is a cross between the Spitfire Vb/c Volkes filter and the more standard Aero Vee of the Spitfire VIII.) Most of the photographed aircraft feature the normal filter that one expects to see on the VIII and later IXs. The second photo (taken from the internet) below of Spitfire JF328 which appears to show the same item as on AN-O. A search of the internet doesn’t bring up much on the topic. (I know some IXs were fitted with the Aboukir filter, but this isn't an Aboukir filter.) However, there was a post on BritModeller by Magpie referencing two types of filters:

"The Aero-Vee filter came in two versions. Once again I quote from the pilot notes, (Spitfire VIII): 'On early aircraft the filter in the air intake can be bypassed, in the event of it becoming choked, by moving the control lever in the cockpit from COLD to HOT. Unfiltered air is then admitted from the engine bay.’ In other words, air was passed through the filter all the time as in the Vokes filter. The notes continue: 'On later aircraft the normal air intake (OPEN position of the control lever) is not filtered and is used at all times except for take-off and landing on sandy or dusty aerodromes, or when flying through sand storms, when the CLOSED position should be used. Filtered air is then taken from the engine bay'. There appear to have been two different types of air filter intake. The early intake seems to have operated the same as the Vokes type. Was it a Vokes and not an Aero-Vee? Is this the larger fairing seen on JF299 on page 279 of 'The History'? How many aircraft were so fitted? The three drawings on page 282 all seem to depict versions of the later Aero-Vee filter when 'ram' air was feed to the engine. Still more research needed!”
So is the filter on AN-O the early filter? If so, is there more documentation/photos out there?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Canadians and the Corsair

Corsair II coded "147/P" of 1836 Squadron landing on the USS Essex after an
op on August  9, 1945.  (Photo courtesy of the National Archives via Dana Bell)

The Vought F4U Corsair is one of the most iconic World War Two fighters, well known because of its fame in the Pacific theatre, its unique gull wing, and its screen time on the 1970s television show Baa Baa Black Sheep. Operated by the U.S. Navy, USMC, and the British Fleet Air Arm, the Corsair is the most famous aircraft of the Royal Canadian Navy that was never actually flown by the RCN. (Canadian pilots flew aircraft on strength with the FAA.) Two of Canada’s most remembered naval aviators- Canada’s only Corsair ace Donald J. Sheppard and Victoria Cross winner Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray - flew Corsairs, but so did many less remembered Canadian pilots, many who made the ultimate sacrifice.

RCNVR pilot Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray at the New Hotel
Tanga in September 1942 (Photo courtesy of the Fleet Air Arm Museum.)

The Fleet Air Arm operated the “Birdcage” Corsair as the Mk. I, the later blown canopy F4U-1 as the Corsair Mk. II, Brewster built examples were the Corsair Mk. III, and Goodyear built FG-1Ds as the Corsair Mk. IV. While generally identical to their US counterparts, there were a few small detail changes such as a scoop on the rear fuselage and clipped wingtips in order to fit into the smaller hangar bays of Royal Navy carriers.

Corsair IV KD244 of 1842 Squadron from HMS Formidable.  This photo was
taken after Sub Lt Duke landed the airplane on the USS Shangri-La on July 7,
1945, after an op.  The aircraft crashed upon return to the Formidable just hours
after this photo was taken.  (Photo courtesy of the National Archives via Dana

The Corsair in Scale

As expected with such a famous aircraft, there have been a plethora of Corsair kits issued in all the major scales. If you are looking for the best F4U-1 in 1/32, 1/48, or 1/72, just turn to Tamiya; they have the Corsair market cornered.

The large Tamiya 1/32 Birdgcade Corsair build by Tony O’Toole to represent JT132 
of 732 NAS, Brunswick, USA.  This Corsair collied with Corsair JT160 over Lake 
Sebago on May 16, 1944, killing both pilots.  The remains of this Corsair and its pilot, 
Sub. Lt. Vaughan Reginald Gill, have been discovered at the bottom of Lake Sebago.

By all accounts, the Tamiya 1/32 Corsair is a stunning kit. It was issued as a “Birdcage” Corsair in 2013, a F4U-1A in 2015, and many hope that a F4U-1D will be issued in the near future. This is a complex and detailed kit and is certainly in the running for best plastic kit ever. Sadly, it has a high price to match its quality, but if you are looking for one large scale Corsair for the shelf, it is clearly the way to go.

Tony O’Toole’s 1/48 Hobby Boss Corsair build using Fundekals to model an aircraft 
of 1836 NAS flown off the HMS Victorious.

Tamiya has also issued the best Corsairs in 1/72 and 1/48. Both are well-engineered and assemble easily. Again, multiple versions of the -1 Corsair are available, and, in 1/72 at least, the F4U-1A is a value boxing, as it has all the parts necessary to build either a F4U-1A or a F4U-1D.
In 1/48, both the Hobbycraft (also issued by Academy) and Otaki Corsairs offer value alternatives, but neither can match the detail or the ease of assembly of the Tamiya kit. There is a recent Hobby Boss kit that is almost as expensive as the Tamiya kit, but not nearly as nice a model. The Hobby Boss Corsair Mk. 2 boxing does come with the clipped wingtips, but is missing the remaining Fleet Air Arm modifications. While not a bad kit, the Tamiya will provide a more enjoyable building experience and result in a nicer model.

The Revell 1/72 Corsair was built by Tony O’Toole as a Corsair Mk II from
759 NAS based at Yeovilton as part of the Naval Fighter School.

Almost every kit maker has issued a Corsair in 1/72. As stated above, Tamiya is the best kit in the scale, but Academy has a nice 1/72 that is an excellent value at right around $10. Also, the older Hasegawa kit is still competitive, if you can find one at a good price. (It is often reboxed by Hasegawa with new decals at outrageous prices.) Revell AG recently issued a 1/72 Corsair, but while the price is nice, it has accuracy issues and odd engineering choices that make it a less than enjoyable build. I had hoped the kit would offer a budget option compared to the Tamiya kit, but it was a huge disappointment. Hobby Boss has done a F4U-1 in 1/72 as an “Easy Assembly” kit which looks quite nice despite the lack of detail in the engine and the cockpit. Unfortunately, Hobby Boss molded large grooves into the bottom of the wings to fit the rocket rails and for all FAA Corsairs these grooves will need to be filled.

Tony O’Toole’s 1/72 Tamiya Corsair built in the markings of Hammy Gray’s
VC winning aircraft.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Something New

Some fun new modeling acquisitions this weekend.

I've wanted to build an F-111F since 1986, but was never able to get my hands on the much praised Hasegawa kit. Thank you so much David for the kind gift!

The CC-144 Challenger is the impressive new BKP kit.  At first glance, it appears quite excellent and is now clearly the best Challenger in the scale.  This one will be done up as RCAF 144616's commemorative markings done in honor of RCAF Spitfire pilot Charley Fox.

Airfix Model World is a magazine I haven't written about previously on the blog.  It may currently be the best "general" modeling magazine on the market.  Sadly, it still has more typos than should exist in a commercial publication, but the Key Publishing team has done a good job of appealing to both the beginner and enthusiast modeler without the dumbing down of articles that is a staple of Fine Scale Modeler.  While I would wish for more historical features, how can one complain about the issue pictured, which has a Typhoon article by Chris Thomas and an article on Pearl Harbor P-40s by Dana Bell?  Other features in the September issue include build articles about the new Airfix 1/48 Tomahawk, the Takom Chieften, the 1/72 Hasegawa Su-35S Flanker, and another Mike Grant masterclass, this time on the Roden 1/144 C-119 Flying Boxcar.  Some may scoff at my enjoyment of paper magazines in 2016, but I still enjoy the arrival of each new issue of Airfix Model World.