Saturday, December 24, 2016

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Colour Dakota

A nice colour Dakota photo entitled "The Wounded Boarding the Ship Dakota."  The is a Canadian Army truck, so it is possible that the Dakota is a 437 Squadron aircraft.  (Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada.)

Modeler's Note: Over the years there have been a few different kits of the Dakota in 1/72. These including an old tool Airfix kit from 1960, an Italeri kit from the 70s, and an ESCI kit now confusedly issued in an Italeri box. While the ESCI kit was nicely detailed, it suffered from excessive recessed panel line detail. However, in 2013, Airfix issue a very nice new tool Dakota. With nice detail and some neat options, this kit is now the best option for a Dakota in 1/72.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

RCAF Sabre 5

Canadair Sabre 5 2304 "with accessories" on display at Rockcliffe, June 1955. (Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada.)

Modeler's Note: There have been many 1/72 scale Sabres, but the best way to a Canadair Sabre 5 is the Airfix kit. It isn't perfect...the wing fences are in the wrong place, some of the fuselage scribing is wrong, and the wheels are pretty bad...but it is a nice build, has accurate shapes and is very reasonably priced. Oddly, many online love the Fujimi kit, but its fuselage is fat and bloated, not to mention the speed brakes are square. The Hobbycraft/ Academy kit is "derived" from the Fujimi kit and suffers the same deficiencies.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mustang on Internet Modeler

My Airfix Mustang model has been published on Internet Modeler. Click here to read the article.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Boeing 100th Birthday Party

A few photos from Sunday's version of the Boeing Centennial Event.  The event to celebrate the aviation borg's 100th birthday was more of a fair than an airshow, but a few nice vintage types were on display to accompany the 7-7 family.  Outside of the Boeing B-25, Boeing AT-6, and Boeing P-51D from the Historic Flight Foundation, military types were in short supply.

Addison Pemberton's Boeing Model 40B restoration was clearly the highlight of the display.  It is the oldest Boeing type still flying.

Bob Dempster's recreation of the Seattle Douglas World Cruiser is as impressive as it is ugly.  It will soon be mounted on floats and hopefully attempt to recreate the around the world journey of the original DWCs in 2017.

The Hamilton Metalplane H-47 is the only surviving type manufactured by this forgotten firm which was later absorbed by Boeing.

Sunday featured flybys of famous Boeing types such as the DC-3 and the TA-4 Skyhawk.  Sadly, the laser light show/movie fell flat during the daytime.  I bet it was nice Friday and Saturday night though.

Alaska has painted up a Boeing Centennial 737.  Oh how I wish they had
copied the Dash 80 prototype scheme instead!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Canada's Sea Hornet

TT193 taxis out at Watson Lake while operating with WEE. (Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/RE68-1785.)

While the RCAF had much experience with the de Havilland Mosquito, both in Canada and in Europe, only one de Havilland Hornet was ever operated by the RCAF. DH Sea Hornet F.20 TT193 was taken on strength in late 1948 and operated by Winter Experimental Establishment (WEE) undertaking cold weather trials.

The Sea Hornet during its time with Spartan Air Service. (Photo courtesy of
Joseph J. Scott/Library and Archives Canada/R3883-1-2-E.)

After being struck off by the RCAF in the summer of 1950, it was sold to Spartan Air Service as CF-GUO. Spartan intended to use the Sea Hornet for photo survey work, but decided to standardize on Lockheed P-38s. Later it was traded by Spartan to Kenting Aviation Ltd for a Lightning. The aircraft had an accident in British Columbia in 1952 and was long thought to be scrapped, but parts of the aircraft are still extant in Canada.

Modeler's Note: The Hornet family has been poorly served in plastic. The best bet to build TT193 in 1/72 is the Special Hobby Sea Hornet F. 20 kit. Consisting of short run plastic, resin, and photo etch it has some accuracy issues, but will look like a Hornet when finished. Sadly, it will take some work, and filler, to get a good looking Sea Hornet on the shelf.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zhuangzi and Modeling

The last few days I have been reading a book entitled "The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life" by Harvard Professor Michael Puett. One section of the book discusses the philosopher Zhuangzi and a few concepts that are ripe to be considered in a modeling context; no matter how foreign Chinese philosophy may be to some modelers. (Outside, of course, of the tenant that any online discussion of Hobby Boss or Trumpeter kits will soon disintegrate into ugliness.) These teachings speak to cultivating our expansiveness and shifting our perspective.

Cultivating expansiveness uses the example of how a trip to the grocery store can seem like a chore unless you are accompanied by a foodie friend who had never visited said store.  The enthusiam of the friend to all the products in the store illustrate just how jaded you have become and force you to look at the trip with a differing lens.  I noticed this recently, when I was showing two new 1/72 AH-1G Cobra kits to a non-modeling friend who flew the Cobra in the U.S. Army.  He had built a 1/32 Revell Cobra in the 70s, but had not seen a plastic kit since.  He was in awe at the detail and the molding technology, things I tend to take for granted - if not outright demand - in the kits I purchase.  It really did open my eyes to the amazing moldings and detail we see in modern day plastic kits; even compared to kits from the 90s.

Shifting perspective is something I often lack in my modeling.  I am guilty of a very narrow modeling focus: I build allied 1/72 scale aircraft.  I have closed off my mind to other scales and subjects.  This was illustrated recently when I was asked to build a 1/48 jet for review.  You would not think that a simple change in scale would affect my modeling so much, but it has helped me understand the stark difference between scales, especially for painting and weathering.  Standard techniques I use in my 1/72 scale cockpits look quite crude in the 1/48 jet.  Weathering and paint technique require a different approach - I don't want a large single coloured jet that is too monotone and lacks any tonality.  So I've had to learn some new things and think in different ways on how to apply the techniques I use. Building the 1/48 jet has been quite instructive, but don't think I'm ready to really shift my perspective and build armor!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

J-47 Powered Train

Did you know that there was a train powered by twin J-47 engines enclosed in a B-36 jet pod? I didn't either. A project of the New York Central Railroad, the train was named the M-497 Black Beetle. During a test run in 1966 from Butler, Indiana to Stryker, Ohio, the train almost reached 200 mph. Sadly, the jet-train concept didn't catch on and the engines were removed and turned into snowblowers.

Someone really needs to use a spare Monogram B-36 pod and scratch build this in 1/72.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Boeing Military Display at the Museum of Flight

In addition to writing about the Hurricane, the other project I enjoyed this spring was the curation of a model display for the Museum of Flight. In exchange for having our meetings at the Museum, the Northwest Scale Modelers are tasked with creating three-month rotating lobby displays. We have two large cases located near the cafe where the exhibits are featured.

My exhibit was a display for the Boeing Centennial (this was the second such exhibit during this celebratory year) focused on Boeing Military aircraft. My intent was to show that Boeing military types have been flown around the world in multiple roles - fighters, transports, tankers, patrol aircraft, missiles, and strategic bombers.

Though I didn't build a model for the display, the other NWSM members created some beautiful models ranging from a 1/144 C-17 to a 1/72 ALCM; from a 1/72 resin Model 83 to a 1/72 B-17G. Thanks guys!

So, if you are at the Museum, check out the display. It runs until September 1, 2016.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another Reason to Love Mr. Color

Last night, I decided to paint the Airfix A6M-2 Zero which I put together four years ago. (Nothing moves quickly around here.) I pulled out my jar of Mr. Color Hemp only to find the paint solidified in the bottom of the bottle. For most brands of paint the only solution to this problem is to toss the jar in the trash. However, with Mr. Color you can bring it back to life. I added a very generous dollop of Mr. Color Leveling Thinner and let the jar sit a few hours. After a couple of vigorous stirrings and an overnight sit, I now have paint that is ready to be thinned and sprayed. Just another reason to love Mr. Color!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Iliad Design Decals

A few weeks ago, a thick envelope arrived in my mailbox containing the latest decal sheets from Iliad Design of Canada.  These two sheets were specially released for some hot new plastic, specifically the 1/48 Revell PT-17 Stearman and the 1/72 Airfix C-47 Skytrain.

48030 Stearman PT-17

The Stearman trainer really is an unsung type in the modeling world, but the new Revel kit does it justice.  Sadly, the decal options in the kit were restored warbirds, so it has been up to the aftermarket to provide in-service schemes.

Iliad came up with some stunning options on this sheet.  First off, we have a PT-17 from Number 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS) in Mesa, Arizona.  Yep, you read that right, many British pilots were trained in the U.S. under the Arnold Scheme.  (For an interesting read about a British pilot training in the United States, check out “Wings Over Georgia” by Jack Currie.)  This PT-17 is in the standard U.S. Army scheme of a Light Blue fuselage with Yellow wings.  The large fuselage codes start with B, which indicates it hails from a BFTS, and the rudder is painted in the USAAF early war red, white, and blue stripes.  The second option is PT-17 42-16546 based at Kunming, China repainted in Dark Green with Dark Earth blotches on the rudder and the upper surfaces of the wing and horizontal stabilizers.  The third option is a pretty Navy N2S-3 in aluminum dope and yellow, while the final US aircraft is a very neat Navy N2S-4 from Grosse Ile, Michigan, that retains its U.S. Army blue and yellow colour scheme but with Navy markings, including the Buzz number repeated under the fuselage.  The final option on the sheet is FJ888, one of the last PT-27s on RCAF strength.  This aircraft is overall yellow with Type B roundels above the wings.  It appears from period photos that the Boeing painted the RCAF PT-27s in U.S. Navy Orange Yellow rather than the correct RCAF shade of yellow.  The U.S. shade has more of an orange component than the RCAF shade.

72016 1/72 Berlin Airlift C-47s

The Berlin Blockade and associated Airlift are one of the most important events of the early Cold War, but the aircraft involved are rarely featured in scale model form.  Maybe it’s because the associated aircraft are transports, but I see many WWII and post war C-47s, whereas rarely is a Berlin Airlift Dak featured online, in magazines, or on the model table.  This may change with Iliad’s latest 1/72 decal sheet which includes four C-47s that participated in the Airlift.

Three USAF and one BOAC C-47 are included.  The British Overseas Airways Corporation Dakota is overall natural metal with a Union Jack on the tail, a blue BOAC speedbird on the nose and black civil registration numbers on the fuselage and above and below the wings.  G-AGIZ made 21 flights into Berlin between October and November 1948.  One USAF C-47 is also in natural metal with red cowls and tail flash.  This aircraft served with the USAF’s European Air Transport Service and features some nice logos.  But it is the two Olive Drab over Neutral Grey C-47s that will make the most interesting models.  Both aircraft have pretty generic markings, but because they were war-weary types, they feature multiple shades of Olive Drab, substantial chipping, and replacement flying surfaces.  C-47 43-15672/52 is the more restrained aircraft with some Olive Drab overpainting of older markings and a nice black and yellow tail flash.  The ailerons and elevators are doped silver replacements.  The C-47 nicknamed the “Fassberg Flyer” will be the most difficult model to pull off, but very eye-catching when completed.  The Flyer is a mix of faded Olive Drab and multiple touchups, natural metal replacement cowlings, a replacement aluminum dope rudder, a mostly removed S code from its prior Squadron, and red and white “Fassberg Flyer” codes in red and white.  Fans of weathering will love these two options.

Both decal sheets are screen printed by Canuck Model Products.  All decals are glossy, well printed, in register, and have very minimal carrier film.  Each sheet has an full colour instruction sheet with side and top views of each scheme.

These really are some neat off-the-beaten-path options and both decal sheets are quite inspirational.  I can’t wait to dig into the Revell PT-17 and the Airfix Dak in order to put the sheets to use.

Thanks to Bob at Iliad Design for the samples.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HWE Hurricane Decals

Last time I mentioned the Home War Establishment Hurricane project for IPMS Canada  What started as a simple article expanded to a four part project and an accompanying decal sheet. It was fun to see a few of the Hurricanes I researched appear on an actual decal sheet. Artwork was done by Bob of Illiad Design and printing was done by Canuck Model Products. The sheet will be included free in the Fall 2016 issue of Random Thoughts (RT) which will also have a full explanation of the four subjects, some tips on how to model RCAF Hurricanes, and finally will complete the story of the Hurricane XII and XIIA.  (The other two portions of the article are mostly photographs and will appear in upcoming issues of  the IPMS Canada e-mail newsletter BeaveRTales.)

The free decal sheet will only available to IPMS Canada members whose memberships are current when the Fall 2016 issue of RT is mailed out, so please visit the link to join the Society or renew your membership.

Monday, May 23, 2016

HWE Hurricane Project

One of the reasons my modeling has been on hiatus for a few weeks was to fallow me additional time to finish the Hurricane project for IPMS Canada.  Like most research and writing projects, this one took longer than expected, so I'm very excited to announce that Part 1 of the RCAF Home War Establishment Hurricane project is included in the Summer 2016 issue of Random Thoughts (RT), which is currently at the printer. This is my humble attempt to correct some of the confusion and misconceptions floating around about RCAF's Hawker Hurricanes.  Part 1 features the UK built Hurricanes, the CCF Battle-Hurricanes and CCF Sea Hurricanes, including a little diversion into the MSFU story.  The article is illustrated with many previously unseen photos, which include such oddities as the RCAF's Airacobra, MSFU Hurricanes refinished in Canada with atypical roundels, and Hurricane 323, the only UK built "rag wing" Hurricane to serve with both the HWE in Canada and fire its guns in anger during the Battle of Britain.

Now, I'll get busy finishing Part 2, which will feature the Hurricane XII and XIIA and a free decal sheet of HWE Hurricanes in 1/72 and 1/48.

RT, and the free decal sheet, are only available to IPMS Canada members, so please visit the link to join the Society.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Negative Ghostrider

Today is the 30th Anniversary of the release of Top Gun, a movie that probably did as much for the legacy of the F-14 Tomcat as the aircraft itself. I remember seeing it for the first time 30 years ago with my Uncle Ron in Ottawa. At the time, I was a pretty precocious youngster and was aghast at all the technical errors and blatant bombast. However, as I've grown older, I've realized the genius of the movie itself. Rock music, aviation porn (the opening scene especially), fighter jets, and naval aviators who spout pithy catch phrases. What's not to love? Pure escapist fun.  (Though I still have a hard time with line "Mayday, mayday, Mav's in trouble! He's in a flat spin, he's heading out to sea..."  Huh, what?)

However, it is not well known that Top Gun was heavily inspired by (aka plagiarized from) the British film High Flight. Both feature young aviators flying the the newest fighter type at the time (Hawker Hunters in High Flight and F-14 Tomcats in Top Gun). Both feature a climax that involves combat with a vague enemy air force. The ending of High Flight is borrowed as the introduction of Top Gun and both High Flight and Top Gun feature a cocky anti-authoritarian pilot with daddy issues. Sadly, High Flight does not contain a line about seeing a MiG-16 do a 1G negative dive and some of the ladies may lament the lack of a volleyball scene. (It does, however, feature a RC model of a UFO.)

All this being said, there are two things about Top Gun that I never really understood: Maverick and the Tomcat. I've never been the cool kid, so it's hard to relate to Mr. Cruise and, sure, Tomcats are cool and all, but I'd much rather be the in-control seasoned professional - like Jester - flying the A-4 Skyhawk. I remember when Testors issued their Italeri rebox movie tie-in models. I bypassed the F-14 and built the A-4 instead. (Sadly, it was an A-4M and not the correct A-4F, but life was much simpler then.) I also lusted after the Airfix Top Gun boxing of their A-4 Skyhawk. Thankfully, it would be years before I would see that kit in person for the first time.  That probably saved me a little childhood trauma.  (Ugh, what a terrible kit.)

With Tamiya announcing a new 1/48 F-14A Tomcat last week - interesting timing, eh? - I'd still rather see a new tool 1/72 A-4 Skyhawk family. But then, that might just be me.

It's been interesting watching the online reaction to the Tamiya F-14 announcement. I remember back in the younger days of the internet when anything released by Tamiya was hailed with reverence by modelers. These days, some have already blasted the new release as "lacking detail" and dubbed it inferior to a vaporware kit that not only hasn't been tooled, but for which CAD drawings haven't even been released. Oh, poor Tamiya, to go from being top of the hill to has-beens and "so out of touch with what serious modelers want." I'm not much a gambler, but I'll bet Tamiya gets the last laugh on this one.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Great YouTube Modeling

This article is entitled "Watch the World's Most Patient Model Maker Build Flawless Airplane Replicas." Clearly with that title the article is not about your author, but it is certainly worthwhile checking out Mr. Damek's YouTube channel.