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Old 12-30-2015, 10:19 AM   #151
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No question, Boeing’s B-17 was hands-down the best heavy bomber of WWII—despite the fact that its bomb bay and bombload were peewee sized (compared to British bombers) and the Japanese and Germans routinely kicked its can until the P-51D chased them off.

But that's just my opinion.

The Brits usually champion the Lancaster (for excellent reason) as their favorite four-engined bomb truck; some deify the Halifax. Still others, mostly American, insist the Boeing B-29 wins first place. And you know what? They're all correct. In the end, each of these splendid bombers punched despotism right in the chops; and for that, each one deserves our undying admiration!

As for the mighty Fortress, I could write all day about this foxy, tough-as-nails warhound and still not do it justice, so I'll leave it to you to Google more info it. In the mean time, let me share 17 particulars you might not know about this remarkable bomber …

1) In 1940, Uncle Sam shelled out a little over $200,000 per B-17. That's over $3 million in today's currency.

2) With a production run of 12,731 B-17s (whip out your calculators), it cost the USA (in today’s money) a whopping $38 billion.

3) The U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) proposed the Flying Fortress on August 8th, 1934 to replace the teenier, aging Martin B-10.

4) Paradoxically, Boeing designed the B-17 as a maritime bomber, but it ultimately achieved success pounding Germany’s industry to dust. The Fortress’ comparatively small bomb bay and bombload mirrored its originally envisaged ship-killing concept (limited payload owing to long-distance flying).

5) Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USAAC deployed fewer than 200 B-17s.

6) The press went bananas over the Fortress, crediting it with the sinking of the Japanese battleship Haruna off Luzon during the invasion of the Philippines. According to every news paper in America, Captain Colin Kelly and his noble '17 crew blew the battleship clean out of the water. Which, in fact, was pure mule flop. The Haruna wasn’t even hit with shrapnel, yet Kelly and his boys became overnight heroes. The story, typically, was never retracted.

7) Similarly, in June 1942 when US carrier aircraft crushed the Japanese Navy in the Battle of Midway, B-17 crews readily claimed credit. The credulous press ran with it, blaring headlines like "Army Fliers Blasted Two Fleets off Midway." The Navy wasn’t too keen about this doodly-squat but could do little about it; the falsehood persisted until the end of the war regardless. Official historian Samuel Morison notes in the History of US Naval Operations of World War II, "…there is no evidence that any Japanese aircraft-carrier was hit by a B-17 during the entire course of the Pacific War.”

8) Before the P-51D rode shotgun with B-17 bomber groups, the YB-40, a modified B-17F gunship bristling with a gazillion .50 cal machine guns, took to the air to defend its sister bombers. On paper the concept sounded good; but the plane’s gross weight was 4,000 lbs. heavier than a fully armed B-17. And thus laden, it couldn’t keep up with other Fortresses once they released their bombs and ran for home. Falling farther behind, the gunplane attracted marauding Messerschmitts like flies on a dog turd.

9) The B-17G carried 13 .50-caliber machine guns. Gun locations included: single-gun waist and cheek gunners, and chin, top, ball, and tail turrets.

10) The Fortress dropped 640,000 tons of bombs on Nazi Germany. With less than 5/10ths cloud coverage and aiming visually, an average B-17 group hit within 1000 feet of the aiming point 32.4% of the time. (Which doesn’t sound all that great; but given the variables it wasn’t half bad).

11) The USAAF boasted the Norden Bombsight could drop a bomb into a pickle barrel at 20,000 ft. and that no other country even remotely possessed its like. Which, it turned out, was embarrassingly untrue. Carl Norden, the bombsight’s Swiss inventor, hired German engineers to work in his shop, one of whom was Hermann Long, a crypto-Nazi who dispatched a complete set of the plans to Herr Hitler. The Luftwaffe dutifully copied the Norden bombsight and employed it throughout the war—with no better results than the Americans.

12) In their unpressurized cabins, B-17 crews agonized through below-freezing temperatures, cockpit gauges frequently reading -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Crews shivered their hams off in fleece-lined uniforms, frostbite claiming more than a few toes, fingers, and, ahem, other extremities.

13) Some brainiac thought that flying B-17s by remote control and crashing them into targets was a stroke of pure genius. The USAAF fitted out at least 25 B-17s with radio controls and television cameras along with 20,000 lbs. of high-explosives, dubbing them BQ-7 "Aphrodite missiles." Mother ships (mostly B-17s) radio controlled the explosive-laden B-17s to their targets, pointed them in the right direction, and let things fly. Of 14 Aphrodite missions, none succeeded.

14) The Luftwaffe captured and refurbished approximately 40 B-17s for evaluation, five of which deviously slipped into flying American bomber groups and then fired on and shot down neighboring Fortresses. After two such episodes, the Americans caught on and blasted the bastard German B-17s to smithereens.

15) The Japanese got their mitts on a Fortress too and flew it to Japan, where engineers virtually made love to it. Not long after, Nakajima gave birth to the G8N Renzan, which bore a disturbing family resemblance to the ol’ B-17. The Renzan never lived up to its potential, however, thanks in part to material shortages (and bad karma, no doubt).

16) The B-17 could survive more abuse and battle damage than most any other bomber in WWII. One B-17 sustained a mid-air collision with a German Bf 109, nearly losing its tail, yet the Fortress flew home without crashing. Legions of B-17s sustained mind-boggling destruction and remained aloft anyway, entire nose sections blown away, engines dangling from their mounts, colossal holes blown through wings and fuselages.

17) Of the 12,731 originally produced, fewer than 15 B-17s fly today. I’ve seen two of ‘em up close ‘n personal: Nine-‘O-Nine and Sentimental Journey. Brought a tear to my eye.

Corgi’s B-17G A Bit O' Lace (US33306) shown below is a beauty of a model, right up there with other hellaciously hard-to-find models. If one ever does show up and you want it, you’ll have to mortgage your house or ply your local loan shark for a colossal stack of cabbage. Likewise, Corgi's AA99126 B-17 Miss Minookie (three-piece set) is a beach to find (and just as expensive). Should you luck out and grab either one, just remember to dress warmly when you fly it, ‘cause, baby—it gets cold up there.
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:24 AM   #152
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I've got 'Bit o' Lace' and 'Miss Minookie'. I'd agree the former is much sought after, and as expensive as hen's teeth. But 'Miss Minookie' regularly pops up on eBay (UK) for a reasonable price. It was part of a 4000 production run.

Much as I like 'Miss Minookie' I may well be selling it on soon with a view, down the line, to replacing it with the even rarer 'Nine o' Nine'.
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:20 AM   #153
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At the risk of sounding screwy (which occurs rather frequently, actually), let me say that the F-4 Phantom (dubbed the “Double Ugly”) was once the hottest fighter on planet earth and remains so in many an aficionado’s heart. This husky old warrior really does it for me, burly and brawny as she was, mean as a junkyard dog and crazy ready to rip all comers to shreds. And yes, I'm only too aware that many other contemporary fighters excelled, too. But the Phantom was downright dazzling. I mean, really … what couldn't it do?

In ancient days, McDonnell Douglas envisaged the Phantom II as a fleet defender, specifically ordained to protect aircraft carries, a task it achieved so swimmingly the warbird eventually took on a multiplicity of roles, including swatting down MiGs, dropping bombs, blowing the guts out of SAM sites, and flying recon. When the USN rolled this beast out for its debut on May 27, 1958, the fighter flew faster and higher than any operational warplane before: Typical was its world altitude record of 99,140 ft and speed record of 1,603 mph. The Navy, and eventually the Marine Corps and USAF, practically went giddy over this nasty new toy.

The RAF enthused over it too (later on) and snagged a few, though the British version introduced several modifications, among them swapping out the General Electric J79 turbojet for the heftier, more robust Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan, enlarging the intakes, and expanding the entire rear fuselage section. These modifications devoured so much treasure and time, however, that what was once a bargain acquisition developed into a protracted, costly procurement. The greater drag caused by the expanded fuselage virtually undid the benefits of greater propulsion and fuel economy. Acceleration at low altitude was enhanced, but thrust at high altitude suffered desperately. There was in all this one bright spot: The Spey engines were considerably less smoky than the J79s, making British F-4s harder to acquire visually.

Other nations and principalities, too, flew the Phantom II in a variety of incarnations, including Australia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, Spain, Turkey, and the Dark Imperium of Martian Territories.

Ask anybody who owns a collection of Hobby Master/X-Plus/Gemini Aces F-4 Phantoms (notice I didn’t include Corgi) and they’ll tell you: You’re a ninny if you don’t buy at least one Double Ugly; everybody and their Aunt Gertrude has one! The earliest issues (if you can find them) command a king’s fortune, but later models are mostly affordable—and available. Grab as many as you can while you can.




Regrettably, my friends, pressing commitments call me away, so I must take my leave. I hope you enjoyed these whacky posts as much as I loved sharing them. By all means, keep this thread alive and post your own gone-but-not-forgotten stories and pics. New models are terrific, but older models deserve your love and affection, too.

To one and all, happy collecting! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Dave
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:01 PM   #154
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Hi, guys! Back from a rather lengthy business trip. Miss me?

Changed my nom de guerre from Richtofen288 to Richtofen888. Suffice it to say, my computer croaked big-time (Windows 10 definitely was to blame), and I was left without, well … everything: files, programs, (passwords)—the works. Had to start from scratch. Take my advice: keep your Windows 7 or 8 OS for as long as humanly possible.

OK, back to business …

This time around I'm fine-tuning my posts: I tweaked my model graphics (hope you like ’em), and I'm adding three smaller graphics labeled “availability,” “quality,” and “accuracy.” I’ll assign a numeral to each one from 0 to 5. The lower the number, the lower the availability, quality, or accuracy of the model presented; the higher the number—well, you get the picture. But please keep in mind: these are purely my assessments and not necessarily 100% correct. Your views and experiences are just as valid as mine.

Alrighty! Let’s get to it …




Did you know …

The Germans filched the Stuka dive-bomber concept from the good ol’ USA?

  • It’s true. In 1931, Ernst Udet, second-highest scoring German fighter ace of the First World War and future Luftwaffe architect, bounced around the United States doing aerobatic stunts. One afternoon the 36-year-old ace watched as a Curtiss F8C Helldiver dive bombed an unsuspecting audience, thrilling Ernst right down to his Lederhosen. From that moment he knew: dive bombing was hands-down the best way to demolish an enemy. To prove it, Udet brought two U.S. dive bombers back to Germany (Curtiss Hawks complete with bombs) and dive-bombed the livin’ Jell-O out of stationary targets, impressing his superiors no end, who, presently, commissioned the Stuka.

That the first Stukas had twin tails?

  • Prototype Stukas featured double-fin tail-planes, probably just because. But when one of Junkers’ most experienced test pilots became a smoking hole in the ground owing to a faulty tail-fin, the company redesigned the plane with a single tail. From then on Stuka pilots agreed: the dive bomber was fin-tastic!

That the Stuka nearly won the Polish campaign single handedly?

  • Well, not really, but try to convince Stuka pilots otherwise. During “Case White,” the German invasion of Poland, the Luftwaffe lost only 31 Stukas of 285 German aircraft destroyed over the short campaign. Their pin-point accuracy with 100-lb fragmentation bombs and consequent strafing of Polish troops proved devastating. Not to mention, the dive bombers' wailing siren, dubbed the “Jericho Trumpet,” put the fear of Zeus in the defenders’ hearts.





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Old 03-01-2016, 10:53 PM   #155
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Welcome back Richtofen, I've missed your posts in this thread!
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Old 03-02-2016, 03:49 AM   #156
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Quote:
Hi, guys! Back from a rather lengthy business trip. Miss me?
Indeed...
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:08 AM   #157
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Thanks, guys! Good to be back.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:29 AM   #158
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Sorry, guys. Don’t know what went wrong, but I only just discovered that my image-hosted graphics didn’t show. Curses!!!

Not sure what the problem is, but I’ll go the long way around the barn and post them another way. Here's a pic of the Stuka
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:47 AM   #159
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Wow, two month long business trip! Welcome home!
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:07 AM   #160
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Thanks, Richard. I’m feverishly working on these silly graphics so they’ll appear as regular pics—not clickable attachments. Problem is, my new computer, Windows 10, and the gods of anarchy are conspiring to make that impossible. Argh!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-04-2016, 01:16 PM   #161
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Said this before and I’ll say it again: Of all the great jets, the CF-105 Arrow remains the most exquisite. This aircraft endures as the most stunning, dazzling (insert your own synonym here) aircraft ever; and I for one consider her demise at the hands of the Diefenbaker government indefensible (read: unforgiveable). We’ll never see the Arrow’s like again.

Or maybe we will.

If you believe what a few folks have claimed lately, one of these great white birds may actually return. It’s possible the rumors we’ve heard about an Arrow flying the coop minutes before the demolition team arrived may very well be true.

And yes, I know: Stories about an Arrow taking wing and escaping imminent demolition have circulated for decades raising unwarranted hope. But it turns out that two intact, used ejection seats from the legendary Arrow reside with a private collector in the U.K., which were tracked to an aviation museum closed in the ‘70s. Nothing earthshaking about that news until you consider that all Arrow ejection seats were destroyed along with their illustrious jets, begging the question: How did two supposedly destroyed Arrow seats wind up in England?

Chris Wilson, managing director of Jet Art Aviation (a British company that sells aircraft collectibles) thinks these seats are proof positive an Arrow actually flew to England. "The chances of finding one [an Arrow ejection seat] in the first place is more or less a miracle; it's a holy grail aircraft item. The chances of finding two is just ridiculous, really," Wilson says. “[And]That got me thinking that the only way a pair of seats could have come to the U.K. like that in flown condition is if an aircraft came over here.”

Hmmm, sounds interesting. It gets better …

Martin-Baker, the world's leading ejection seat manufacturer, produced Arrow ejection seats at a facility in Collingwood, Ontario, during the ‘50s. Data plates on the collector’s seats list their manufacturing date as Sept. 15, 1958. "There's no question whatsoever that these seats come from an Avro Arrow," Wilson insists. "They’re 100 per cent Arrow seats." Wilson also claims that these seats saw significant service, as in being flown a lot. "They’re clearly used, flown seats," he declared. "They saw a 100-plus, maybe as many as 1,000, flying hours.” Which raises another question: Did any single Arrow fly that many hours?

I think not.

In addition, Wilson maintains that a business associate of his (unidentified) shared the following story: Wilson’s friend (I’ll call him “Fred”) was an avid airplane enthusiast who frequently observed the coming and going of planes at RAF Manston, an air base near Kent, England. Once as a teenager, Fred observed a white, high-delta-wing aircraft sans national markings and registration land at the base, sometime in the early ‘60s. It sat high off the ground with long, graceful struts a bit nose high. He remembered it having two enormous air intakes that straddled the fuselage, a largish black nosecone, and an unusual clamshell canopy. "He's still 100 per cent adamant he saw an Avro Arrow aircraft," Wilson contends.

Wilson continued that ex-RAF members claimed an Arrow flew around the U.K. (usually at night) during that same period. The jet eventually vanished, giving rise to reports the jet had been dismantled and stored in an undisclosed facility.

Did the Brits really secret away a CF-105? Nonsensical you think? Read on …

A newsman took photographs of MK-1 Arrows sitting on the flight line just after the program was cancelled. All the Arrows were present, from RL-201 through RL-205. Sometime later another photographer took pictures of the same jets, but the RL-202 was conspicuously missing; nobody could (or would) explain its absence.

And this …

Celebrated Canadian journalist June Callwood, who died in 2007, speculated that an Avro Arrow truly did escape. A pilot herself, she claimed in a Maclean's magazine article that she heard the distinctive roar of an Arrow flying eastward over Toronto the day following Diefenbaker’s infamous CF-105 termination announcement. "The Arrow!’ I thought in amazement. ‘Nothing else could make such a racket. Someone has flown an Arrow to safety," she said.

And finally …

First World War ace and head of the Arrow program, Air Marshall Wilfred Curtis, fueled speculation that one of the magnificent interceptors had survived. When asked in 1968 by a Toronto Star reporter if an Arrow had indeed escaped annihilation, he refused to comment, offering a conspiratorial wink instead and shifting his gaze to a nearby window. The interviewer left with the niggling impression that the Air Marshall knew a whole lot more than he was letting on.

So you tell me: Does an Arrow still exist? Is one moldering away in shipping crates somewhere in England (or the USA), forlornly waiting to reclaim its rightful aeronautical glory?

I sure hope so.





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Old 03-08-2016, 08:42 AM   #162
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On leave in the Southwest, a forty-year-old codger named Paul “pappy” Gunn, Capt., USAAF, spotted a dead porcupine by the side of the road and had an epiphany: Why not cram a B-25’s nose with a bristle of .50 cals and turn it into a gunship? Winging back to the Pacific, he straightaway bounced the notion off General George Kenny, who liked the concept and gave his go-ahead, whereupon the can-do “pappy” bashed the living misery out of several B-25s, amputating their ventral ball turrets (ouch, that had to hurt!), eliminating their bombardier positions, and jamming the bombers’ snouts with six forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns. The result was pure hellszapoppin’ delight.

The new slapdash gunships were so successful at annihilating Japanese barges, shore targets, and enemy installations, North American gleefully swiped the idea and made its own modifications. The B-25J was the definitive result, numbering, incredibly, over 4,000 machines, the largest production run of any B-25 version ever. With eighteen machine guns, the ‘J’s were death incarnate, blasting everything and anything before it to shards of nothingness.

Mediterranean and Pacific bomber groups got their mitts on the aircraft in mid to late 1944, scaring the bejeebers out of Japanese and Germans alike.

The B-25 strafer version (like the one below) boasted of eight nose-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, four mounted in side blisters, two in the top turret, two in the waist, and two in the tail. When this thing let lose, nothing escaped its vengeance.




Corgi’s Bats-Outa-Hell B-25J is a dream. It’s not perfect (no diecast model is), but it's tolerably close. Take a look at that wild blue-bat nose motif: talk about cool-ool-ool! The AA35303's bare-metal look is exceptional, too. If you don’t have this nifty little barge killer, I’d get it. Two are sellin' on eBay for $199 as we speak.





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Old 03-10-2016, 04:10 PM   #163
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Said this before and I’ll say it again: Of all the great jets, the CF-105 Arrow remains the most exquisite. This aircraft endures as the most stunning, dazzling (insert your own synonym here) aircraft ever; and I for one consider her demise at the hands of the Diefenbaker government indefensible (read: unforgiveable). We’ll never see the Arrow’s like again.

Or maybe we will.

If you believe what a few folks have claimed lately, one of these great white birds may actually return. It’s possible the rumors we’ve heard about an Arrow flying the coop minutes before the demolition team arrived may very well be true.

And yes, I know: Stories about an Arrow taking wing and escaping imminent demolition have circulated for decades raising unwarranted hope. But it turns out that two intact, used ejection seats from the legendary Arrow reside with a private collector in the U.K., which were tracked to an aviation museum closed in the ‘70s. Nothing earthshaking about that news until you consider that all Arrow ejection seats were destroyed along with their illustrious jets, begging the question: How did two supposedly destroyed Arrow seats wind up in England?

Chris Wilson, managing director of Jet Art Aviation (a British company that sells aircraft collectibles) thinks these seats are proof positive an Arrow actually flew to England. "The chances of finding one [an Arrow ejection seat] in the first place is more or less a miracle; it's a holy grail aircraft item. The chances of finding two is just ridiculous, really," Wilson says. “[And]That got me thinking that the only way a pair of seats could have come to the U.K. like that in flown condition is if an aircraft came over here.”

Hmmm, sounds interesting. It gets better …

Martin-Baker, the world's leading ejection seat manufacturer, produced Arrow ejection seats at a facility in Collingwood, Ontario, during the ‘50s. Data plates on the collector’s seats list their manufacturing date as Sept. 15, 1958. "There's no question whatsoever that these seats come from an Avro Arrow," Wilson insists. "They’re 100 per cent Arrow seats." Wilson also claims that these seats saw significant service, as in being flown a lot. "They’re clearly used, flown seats," he declared. "They saw a 100-plus, maybe as many as 1,000, flying hours.” Which raises another question: Did any single Arrow fly that many hours?

I think not.

In addition, Wilson maintains that a business associate of his (unidentified) shared the following story: Wilson’s friend (I’ll call him “Fred”) was an avid airplane enthusiast who frequently observed the coming and going of planes at RAF Manston, an air base near Kent, England. Once as a teenager, Fred observed a white, high-delta-wing aircraft sans national markings and registration land at the base, sometime in the early ‘60s. It sat high off the ground with long, graceful struts a bit nose high. He remembered it having two enormous air intakes that straddled the fuselage, a largish black nosecone, and an unusual clamshell canopy. "He's still 100 per cent adamant he saw an Avro Arrow aircraft," Wilson contends.

Wilson continued that ex-RAF members claimed an Arrow flew around the U.K. (usually at night) during that same period. The jet eventually vanished, giving rise to reports the jet had been dismantled and stored in an undisclosed facility.

Did the Brits really secret away a CF-105? Nonsensical you think? Read on …

A newsman took photographs of MK-1 Arrows sitting on the flight line just after the program was cancelled. All the Arrows were present, from RL-201 through RL-205. Sometime later another photographer took pictures of the same jets, but the RL-202 was conspicuously missing; nobody could (or would) explain its absence.

And this …

Celebrated Canadian journalist June Callwood, who died in 2007, speculated that an Avro Arrow truly did escape. A pilot herself, she claimed in a Maclean's magazine article that she heard the distinctive roar of an Arrow flying eastward over Toronto the day following Diefenbaker’s infamous CF-105 termination announcement. "The Arrow!’ I thought in amazement. ‘Nothing else could make such a racket. Someone has flown an Arrow to safety," she said.

And finally …

First World War ace and head of the Arrow program, Air Marshall Wilfred Curtis, fueled speculation that one of the magnificent interceptors had survived. When asked in 1968 by a Toronto Star reporter if an Arrow had indeed escaped annihilation, he refused to comment, offering a conspiratorial wink instead and shifting his gaze to a nearby window. The interviewer left with the niggling impression that the Air Marshall knew a whole lot more than he was letting on.

So you tell me: Does an Arrow still exist? Is one moldering away in shipping crates somewhere in England (or the USA), forlornly waiting to reclaim its rightful aeronautical glory?

I sure hope so.



Personally, I think this model comes as close to model perfection as possible—all but the rounded, back portion of the canopy (the real version was a tad larger). Other than that, it’s a dream. Grab one if you can.



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Old 03-10-2016, 04:15 PM   #164
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

On leave in the Southwest, a forty-year-old codger named Paul “pappy” Gunn, Capt., USAAF, spotted a dead porcupine by the side of the road and had an epiphany: Why not cram a B-25’s nose with a bristle of .50 cals and turn it into a gunship? Winging back to the Pacific, he straightaway bounced the notion off General George Kenny, who liked the concept and gave his go-ahead, whereupon the can-do “pappy” bashed the living misery out of several B-25s, amputating their ventral ball turrets (ouch, that had to hurt!), eliminating their bombardier positions, and jamming the bombers’ snouts with six forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns. The result was pure hellszapoppin’ delight.

The new slapdash gunships were so successful at annihilating Japanese barges, shore targets, and enemy installations, North American gleefully swiped the idea and made its own modifications. The B-25J was the definitive result, numbering, incredibly, over 4,000 machines, the largest production run of any B-25 version ever. With eighteen machine guns, the ‘J’s were death incarnate, blasting everything and anything before it to shards of nothingness.

Mediterranean and Pacific bomber groups got their mitts on the aircraft in mid to late 1944, scaring the bejeebers out of Japanese and Germans alike.

The B-25 strafer version (like the one below) boasted of eight nose-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, four mounted in side blisters, two in the top turret, two in the waist, and two in the tail. When this thing let lose, nothing escaped its vengeance.



Corgi’s Bats-Outa-Hell B-25J is a dream. It’s not perfect (no diecast model is), but it's tolerably close. Take a look at that wild blue-bat nose motif: talk about cool-ool-ool! The AA35303's bare-metal look is exceptional, too. If you don’t have this nifty little barge killer, I’d get it. Two are sellin' on eBay for $199 as we speak.




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Old 03-10-2016, 04:31 PM   #165
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Though a great many Lancaster (or “Lankie”) enthusiasts claim this impressive aircraft was hands down the best night bomber of WWII (nay, the best bomber of the war—period), not many are similarly enthused about its parentage. Turns out the mighty Lanc sprang from the—cue the "Welcome to Hell" soundtrack—loins of a rapacious, crew-killing aircraft destined for the nether regions of history, the Avro Manchester.

The Manchester sired the Lancaster during a night of unbridled passion, passing along its excellent fuselage, distinctive greenhouse cockpit, turret nose and wings; but its twin Rolls-Royce Vulture I 24-cylinder X-type engines were hellaciously dangerous, habitually catching fire in flight, causing a swarm of crashes (and fiendish crew losses). The RAF, in a twirl of horror, was hell-bent to correct this abomination.

Avro’s wunderkind chief designer, Roy Chadwick, chucked the Vultures for four reliable but less powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and a marginally larger wing. He also ditched the Manchester’s stubby central third tail fin for a wider span tailplane and larger elliptical twin fins. And WHAM-O! Chadwick snatched success from failure and spawned a world-class bomber’s bomber.

The Lancaster was unequalled for speed, ceiling, and lifting power. Weighing 36,900 pounds empty, the bomber could carry an additional 33,100 pounds of fuel and bombs (nearly its own weight again), eventually dropping 64% of the RAF’s and RCAF’s bomb tonnage. Just to show off, the mighty Lanc also hefted the "Grand Slam", a 22,000 pound special purpose bomb that fluently smashed U-boat pens to dust and upended the German Battleship Tirpitz (among other superlative feats). The Lanc could do this largely owing to its capacious bomb bay, which extended 33 uninterrupted feet, the downside being the main wing spars obstructed crews wearing heavy clothing and flight boots from moving around effortlessly.

On that score, crew comfort and security were slightly inconsequential aboard the Lancaster. The bomber provided virtually no defensive armor. The Frazer-Nash [FN] hydraulically powered front, mid-upper, and rear turrets carried a total of eight piddly .303 caliber machine guns, far too ineffectual against marauding fighters. And its belly was completely denuded of all protective armament—exactly where Nazi night fighters attacked.

The crew endured cramped conditions, particularly the air gunners who stayed at their posts for the entire flight. Several were forced to place their flight boots into the turrets before climbing in and only then putting them back on; to reverse that routine when abandoning a plummeting Lankie was nightmarish. At night and at 20,000 feet, the temperature often fell to minus forty degrees, inviting inevitable frostbite.

Answering the call of nature or 'being caught short' as the Brits called it (‘dropping your ordinance,’ as the Yanks dubbed it) sometimes spelled disaster for the crew (as you can only imagine). The Lancaster, for some ineffable reason, lacked relief tubes; but it did provide an 'Elsan' chemical toilet located a few feet forward of the rear gunner's turret. The contraption was unreliable, awkward, and hazardous, especially in tempestuous weather or when the skipper took wild, exciting evasive action (at which time the immediate fuselage interior turned a nasty shade of coffee). And that was for the boys who could use it. The poor rear gunner (christened “tail-end Charlie”) couldn't leave his post, ready to explode or not. His turret was the prime target for attacking enemy night fighters, and to quit it was to court disaster. Understandably, aircrews loathed the Elsan—but no more so than the ground crews that had to empty it.

A total of 7,377 Lancasters of all marks rolled off the assembly lines, each at a 1943 cost of £45-50,000 (approximately equivalent to £1.5-1.8 million in 2016 currency).

And this indispensable tidbit: Test pilot Alex Henshaw is the only known individual to have barrel-rolled a Lancaster bomber, a feat considered impossible. Try that, you misguided B-17 fanboys!



Corgi’s rendition is a delight, nailing this magnificent beast right down to its glorious Merlin engines and aggressive chin. She’s positively gorgeous, a warrior, and she’ll forever reign supreme as Britain’s best WWII bomber—possibly the best of the entire war. One's selling on eBay for $600 (or best offer) as we speak.




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Old 03-11-2016, 05:01 AM   #166
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Great post...lmfao at the eBay price. I'd rather get the CW F-14 Iranian Tomcat that 10+ people are watching on eBay atm.
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:29 AM   #167
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Did you know ...

The Germans filched the Stuka dive-bomber concept from the good ol’ USA?

  • It’s true. In 1931, Ernst Udet, second-highest scoring German fighter ace of the First World War and future Luftwaffe architect, bounced around the United States doing aerobatic stunts. One afternoon the 36-year-old ace watched as a Curtiss F8C Helldiver dive bombed an unsuspecting audience, thrilling Ernst right down to his Lederhosen. From that moment he knew: dive bombing was hands-down the best way to demolish an enemy. To prove it, Udet brought two U.S. dive bombers back to Germany (Curtiss Hawks complete with bombs) and dive-bombed the livin’ Jell-O out of stationary targets, impressing his superiors no end, who, presently, commissioned the Stuka.

That the first Stukas had twin tails?

  • Prototype Stukas featured double-fin tail-planes, probably just because. But when one of Junkers’ most experienced test pilots became a smoking hole in the ground owing to a faulty tail-fin, the company redesigned the plane with a single tail. From then on Stuka pilots agreed: the dive bomber was fin-tastic!

That the Stuka nearly won the Polish campaign single handedly?

  • Well, not really, but try to convince Stuka pilots otherwise. During “Case White,” the German invasion of Poland, the Luftwaffe lost only 31 Stukas of 285 German aircraft destroyed over the short campaign. Their pin-point accuracy with 100-lb fragmentation bombs and consequent strafing of Polish troops proved devastating. Not to mention, the dive bomber's wailing siren, dubbed the “Jericho Trumpet,” put the fear of Zeus in the defenders’ hearts.


If you're an '87 fan and don't own this little treasure, do whatever it takes to grab one. For my money, it's the best Stuka Hobby Master created—and that's saying a lot.




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Old 03-13-2016, 07:17 AM   #168
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Did you know...

that one of the important StuKa testpilots, responsible for the development of dive bombing tactics and testing the sighting mechanism was .... tatataaa... a woman!

She made more than 2500 dives with Ju 87 and Ju 88 and she bore a well known name .... Melitta Klara Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, in short Melitta von Stauffenberg ... a sister-in-law of the sadly unfortunate Hitler-Assassin Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.

At the end of the war, her life took an unhappy ending when she was shot down by an US pilot, while she was flying a Bü 181 on the way to search and rescue her KZ imprisoned husband.



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Old 03-15-2016, 09:27 AM   #169
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Top German aces like Manfred von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, Löwenhardt, Kurt Wolff, and Karl Emil Schäfer agreed: The Albatros D.III was a kick in the proverbial heinie. During Germany’s aerial dominance in 1917 known as “Bloody April,” the Albatros booted French and British patootie all over European skies, the cause of much hand–wringing in Allied aerodromes—and joyous stein-clinking in the Luftstreitkräfte.

The Albratros DV series (pictured below), much like its D.I, D.II, and D.III next of kin, utilized the same paneled plywood semi-monocoque fuselage, which was lighter, stronger, aerodynamically cleaner, and less costly than contemporary fabric-skinned box-types.

The DV remedied, more or less, two niggling design flaws found on its predecessors: the first, a Teves and Braun airfoil-shaped radiator positioned in the center of the upper wing (now moved to the right), which scalded pilots when punctured; the second, a lower wing spar (now moved forward), which tended to snap and cause wing failure under excessive aerodynamic stress.

Pilots deemed the DV pleasant and easy to fly—if not slightly heavy on the controls. The sesquiplane arrangement offered improved climb, maneuverability, and downward visibility compared to its antecedents. And though it was prone to spinning (as were many other aircraft), recovery was painless for the DV—mostly.




This particular bi-plane is one of my favorites, a masterwork among Corgi’s abundant masterworks. The tampo and paint applications are painstaking and accurate. The model itself is truthful. And its overall feel conjures up admiration for the pluck and bravery of those who flew it and others like it. Should you run across one at a reasonable price, buy it. One's selling, as we speak, for approximately US $358.09 (or best offer).



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Old 03-18-2016, 09:22 AM   #170
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Ever wonder how the Finns won fame and glory flying tubby Brewster Buffalos—while other Buffalo-flying air forces did squat by comparison?

Here’s your answer …

First, Brewsters in Finnish service were souped-up hotrods, very much like their USN F2A-1 counterparts—not bumbling Brewster 339s or F2A-2s. So impressed were Finns with their flying fatsos they nicknamed them “Taivaan Helmi” (“Pearl of the Skies”).

Second, as standard kit, Finnish Brewsters carried reflector sights and four dependable heavy-machine guns … plus armor-protected pilot seats (which safeguarded many a tail feather). Made a big difference.

Third, heaps of Finnish Buffalo pilots were street-smart, having acquired valuable combat experience during the Winter War, which they translated into hellaciously successful air-combat tactics. Against Finger-four, Thach Weave, and Schwarm maneuvers, Soviet pilots were veritable buffoons. To further exploit this advantage, the Finns flew captured Russian machines, leaned their secrets, and devised additional ways to defeat them. If it hadn’t been for acute aviation fuel shortages in 1940-1941, the Finnish Air Force would have kicked their tallies into the stratosphere.

Not to mention … had Finland overhauled its abysmal fighter control system (which it finally did by ’44), those numbers would have climbed higher still. As it stood, a typical control dispatch often sounded like this: “Village of Inkeroinen is being bombed,” or “Hurry, move yer butts … Aunt Anisja at Björköby just chucked some rocks at several damned Ruskie bombers!”

Fourth, Soviet combat aircraft in ’41 were comparative dawgs, even against the Buffalo. Brewsters achieved, believe it or not, a kill ratio of 67.5 to 1 against SB-2s, DB-3s, I-16s, and I-153s. If that doesn’t spell ”dawg,” what does?

And last (but not least): Men like Major G. Magnusson, the “Grand Old Man” of the Finnish Air Force, blessed the Finns with dazzling leadership. Under his and others’ tutelage, aces like Hans Wind, Ilmari Juutilainen, Joppe Karhunen and Lauri Nissinen racked up incredible kill numbers, who habitually celebrated their glowing victories with jugs of Finlandia Vodka. Hiccup!!!

So there you have it. Excellent pilots who made hay with a lot of straw.



As for the model, this one easily ranks among Hobby Master’s best 1/48 efforts. Accuracy is bang right on; paint and tampo application are excellent. Everything about it appeals, so I highly recommend it. Finding this masterpiece MINT in a MINT box—at a reasonable price no less—will take some doing. If one does float by and you’ve got the bread, don’t hesitate. It’s a keeper.



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Old 03-18-2016, 11:34 AM   #171
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Finding this masterpiece MINT in a MINT box—at a reasonable price no less—will take some doing. If one does float by and you’ve got the bread, don’t hesitate. It’s a keeper.

It's the RNZAF one that I'm finding hard to lay my grubby hands on!
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:04 PM   #172
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Most of us know all about the F-104, the supersonic interceptor legendary wunderkind Kelly Johnson sired (along with the P-38, the SR-71, and a few other high-flyin’ goodies). Let’s just say that the "missile with a man in it" was doubtless a better fighter than history allows, though a whole lotta dead F-104 pilots would quarrel otherwise.

Betcha didn’t know …
  • Lockheed sold over 2000 Starfighters to other countries including Japan, West Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Pakistan, and the Republic of China.
  • Soon after buying these jets, several countries noticed they were crashing all over the friggin’ place. In German service, 292 of 916 Starfighters crashed (nearly 30% of the Luftwaffe’s F-104 roster), snuffing out 115 pilots. Understandably, Germany took to calling the jet the "Flying Coffin", "Widowmaker" and "Ground Nail (Tent Peg)." If you wanted an F-104, the saying went, just purchase a piece of land and wait. Following close behind, Canada lost 110 of its 235 CF-104s, nearly half its inventory. Though several Canadian nicknames for the Starfighter remain unrepeatable, two of the mentionable ones are "Lawn Dart" and the "Aluminum Death Tube."
  • The Italians, on the other hand, lost not one Starfighter during 17,000 hours of operational use.
In the end, the Starfighter wasn’t nimble enough to be a dogfighter (the plane couldn’t turn worth a damn) or carry enough bombs to be a suitable attack aircraft. In toe-to-toe dogfighting, especially with MiG-21s (see Taiwan-China Conflict 1967 and Pakistan-Indian Wars in 1965 and 1972) the Starfighter was, shall we say, at a distinct disadvantage. It could, however, come in fast, shoot the crap out of an unsuspecting enemy, and head for the vertical ("one pass and haul ***").



Hobby Master, on occasion, produces world-class paint finishes (see the F-104 above). This model sings finesse; it looks great. And for that alone I recommend it to anybody Jonesing for a great lookin’ Starfighter. One’s selling for $49.95 at Aikens as we speak.




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Old 03-25-2016, 10:43 AM   #173
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Flying a Piper L4 Grasshopper 100 miles west of Berlin, Lt. Duane Francies and his observer, Lt. William Martin spotted a German motorcycle whizzing down a road straight for the US Army 5th Armored Brigade. Seven hundred feet above the trees, a Luftwaffe Fieseler Fi-156 Storch circled the unfolding drama.

The Storch was larger, faster (with its inverted 8 Argus engine) and better defensively armed than the Piper; but Francies and Martin didn’t give a fig and dove on the Fieseler anyway, firing out their side doors at the enemy’s windshield, fuel tanks, and starboard wing. Running out of ammo, Francies squeezed the control column between his knees and deftly orbited the Fieseler while reloading. The Germans were astonished at the Americans’ nerve and nosedived to escape, maneuvering wildly and losing altitude until their port wing struck the ground, causing the plane to cartwheel arse over tit until it came to rest in a pasture. The Americans landed thirty yards away and sprinted toward them.

Horrified, the German pilot dove behind a gargantuan pile of sugar beets for protection, only to look up to find Martin pointing a .45 Colt straight at his forehead. Francies reached the German observer, who’d taken a round to his right foot. As Francies gently removed the observer’s boot, a .45 slug dropped out. Following this, the Americans liberated the Germans of their pilot wings, Luftwaffe shoulder insignia, and a Nazi battle flag. “I never found out their names,” Francies later recalled. “They could have been important, for all I know. We turned them over to our tankers about 15 minutes later after the injured man thanked me many times for bandaging his foot. I think they thought we would shoot them.”

Martin won the Air Medal for this extraordinary skirmish, but Duane Francies waited 22 years before America awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross—and then only after Cornelius Ryan recounted the melee in his book "The Last Battle."

Turned out this particular Fieseler was the last Luftwaffe plane lost on the Western Front—and the only German plane shot down by pistol fire during the Second World War.



No question, Falcon Model’s Fi-156 deftly captures the Storch’s lean, insectoid look. The forward canopy braces are a bit beefy, but overall the model's a screamin',
bona fide winner. Falcon Models, apparently, bit the dust; so it’s anybody’s guess if some other manu will resurrect it. My advice to those who don’t own this particular masterpiece is to beat the bushes for it. You can still find one (and others like it) at Aikens ($99.99).






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Old 03-29-2016, 09:37 AM   #174
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The Dassault Mirage III was an exceptional aircraft built in generous numbers, but the French Air Force wasn’t especially thrilled about its long take-off runs and modest agility. Aware of these shortcomings, Dassault proposed the Mirage F1 as a replacement.

Dassault, France’s premiere jet manu, designed the F1C not only with speed and nimbleness in mind but also easier maintenance and swift turnaround between sorties. It took much testing and tweaking and Gallic vexation, but the French company eventually achieved those goals, producing a first-rate machine.

The F1 ditched the traditional low-mounted, delta-wing configuration for a high-mounted, swept wing arrangement. The French Air force envisioned the type as an all-weather interceptor capable of taking on all comers and found, to its delight, the new jet not only met but exceeded expectations. By May 1973, the F1 was stitching vapor trails all over European skies.

Something of a rivalry grew between Mirage III and F1 pilots and ground crews, both sides determined to insult the other. Mirage F1 pilots routinely flew rings around Mirage IIIs, smugly exhibiting their enhanced maneuverability, shorter takeoff run, leisurely landing speed, and ability to fly farther with heavier ordinance. Jealous Mirage III pilots and ground crews responded with nasty, if not emphatic, French-salutes.

The Greeks were suitably impressed with the new Mirage, too, and purchased 40 F1CG single seaters in 1974. Standard armament aboard Hellenic F-1s consisted of two 30mm cannons and four Sidewinder AIM-9P missiles (opposed to two Matra Magic IIs), which effectively dissuaded Turkish air-space incursions. The HAF retired remaining Mirage F1CGs on 30 June 2003 after 28 years of service and 160, 000 flying hours. To this day, several F1s serve as gate guards at Greek airfields.



I like Falcon’s rendition of this noteworthy aircraft, though collectors habitually grouse about the model’s inaccuracies, trench-like gaps, and so-so rendering. Despite that, I like ‘em. In fact, Falcon’s F1 is agreeable in its own inviting way; and if you’re into French jets and Mediterranean camo schemes, this
one’s a whiner, uh … winner.




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Old 03-29-2016, 03:07 PM   #175
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One of my great regrets is not snapping up this F1 and the HM Greek 2000... sigh...
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Old 03-29-2016, 03:15 PM   #176
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Greek airforce is one of my theme of collection... and this greek F-1 is well done by Falcon.
Mine had an accident and the nose antenna is broken
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:39 PM   #177
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Its a keeper. Corgi would be wise to do an OD version with the same markings.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richtofen888 View Post
On leave in the Southwest, a forty-year-old codger named Paul “pappy” Gunn, Capt., USAAF, spotted a dead porcupine by the side of the road and had an epiphany: Why not cram a B-25’s nose with a bristle of .50 cals and turn it into a gunship? Winging back to the Pacific, he straightaway bounced the notion off General George Kenny, who liked the concept and gave his go-ahead, whereupon the can-do “pappy” bashed the living misery out of several B-25s, amputating their ventral ball turrets (ouch, that had to hurt!), eliminating their bombardier positions, and jamming the bombers’ snouts with six forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns. The result was pure hellszapoppin’ delight.

The new slapdash gunships were so successful at annihilating Japanese barges, shore targets, and enemy installations, North American gleefully swiped the idea and made its own modifications. The B-25J was the definitive result, numbering, incredibly, over 4,000 machines, the largest production run of any B-25 version ever. With eighteen machine guns, the ‘J’s were death incarnate, blasting everything and anything before it to shards of nothingness.

Mediterranean and Pacific bomber groups got their mitts on the aircraft in mid to late 1944, scaring the bejeebers out of Japanese and Germans alike.

The B-25 strafer version (like the one below) boasted of eight nose-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, four mounted in side blisters, two in the top turret, two in the waist, and two in the tail. When this thing let lose, nothing escaped its vengeance.



Corgi’s Bats-Outa-Hell B-25J is a dream. It’s not perfect (no diecast model is), but it's tolerably close. Take a look at that wild blue-bat nose motif: talk about cool-ool-ool! The AA35303's bare-metal look is exceptional, too. If you don’t have this nifty little barge killer, I’d get it. Two are sellin' on eBay for $199 as we speak.




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Old 03-29-2016, 09:48 PM   #178
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I agree the Corgi 'Bats Outa Hell' is spectacular! I only carry a few models in my military collection and this baby is in that collection. Cheers! T7

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Old 03-29-2016, 11:12 PM   #179
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Just in case some DAC collectors had a doubt of my post above, due to me not posting my military models. Here is my 'Bats-Outa-Hell' beauty! I think I will take it for a road trip to Michigan next month.

[IMG]bat by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/], on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]bat1 by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/], on Flickr[/IMG]

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Old 04-01-2016, 10:11 AM   #180
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No doubt about it, the Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a big son of a freakin’ gun. It was the largest and heaviest fighter the USAAF fielded during the Second World War, and it was the first American aircraft specifically designed from the get-go to whoop-*** at night. Unfortunately, unlike its celebrated smaller buddies the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang, the Black Widow came up short for kills, and not because it couldn’t throw a meaty punch (it could, believe me). By the time the Widow took the stage, the Allies had established air superiority over all fronts (mostly), leaving precious few enemy fighters to obliterate. In fact, several Pacific Theater squadrons finished the war with no confirmed kills at all.

Indeed, compared to the Junkers Ju-88, which boasted of more night victories than all Allied fighters combined, the big bird’s overall impact on the war was minimal. The Widow downed only 127 aircraft (18 were V-1 Buzz Bombs), which kinda rendered the plane pointless for all the effort and booty poured into it.

Still, American pilots loved their Black Widows. The beast, despite its size, could dance all over the skies like a ballerina, jump through aerobatic hoops like a circus dog, literally fly itself off a runway, and land like a feather. She could catch up with almost anything in the sky and was more maneuverable than the P-47. And talk about power: It maintained full control on one engine—even when fully loaded—and could slow-roll into a dead engine with ease, suicidal for most other two-engined aircraft. The fighter turned on a dime and gave contemporary single-engine fighters a good run for their money. In fact, when flown against a Mosquito, according to the 422nd's squadron historian, it "... proved faster at all altitudes, outturned the Mossie at every altitude, and far surpassed the Mossie in rate of climb." (The Brits’ snarky response sparked a fist fight—no word on who won.)

More facts about this impressive monster …
  • In size, the P-61 was more nearly comparable to medium bombers than fighters. Its wing span and length exceeded that of the A-20, and its combat weight was 2,000 pounds heavier. It was nearly three times as heavy as the P-51 and almost twice as heavy as the P-47.
  • The Widow’s internal fuel capacity eventually topped out at 1,880 gallons--a capacity that was seldom, if ever, used. The original combat range of 700 to 800 miles eventually increased to 1,000 and more.
  • Both ETO and Pacific squadrons got their mitts on the P-61 nearly simultaneously in March 1944 and immediately jumped into action. One aircraft from the 6th NFS scored the Black Widow’s first kill on a Japanese 'Betty' on 6 July 1944.
  • Despite its WOW factor, the Widow did exhibite some faults. The dorsal turret (crammed with four .50 cal machine guns) suffered severe aerodynamic buffeting when elevated or rotated in azimuth during flight. Though technicians busted their marbles trying to remedy the shortcoming, they never fully succeeded. In fact, this problem was so severe that many P-61 crews permanently locked the turret into the forward-facing position, fired only by the pilot, which rendered the gunner superfluous. In many cases, crews removed the turret altogether, filled the cavity with an extra fuel tank, and faired it over. Others removed the turret mechanism entirely, secured the four dorsal machine guns to the top of the fuselage, and enclosed them in nonstandard turret covers. In the meantime, orphaned Widow gunners often remained at base for lack of a job—unless their pilots took pity on them. Many modified P-61s flew with two crew members only, the pilot and radar operator.
  • Night-vision binoculars were standard issue on P-61B Black Widows, consisting of 5.8-power night glasses with an optical gunsight. The pilot lined up four illuminated dots on the target’s wing, calculated the firing solution, and blew the living snot out of fleeing enemy aircraft.
  • The Black Widow carried a parabolic SCR-720A radar boasting of a five mile range. The RO used it to steer a course to enemy aircraft, passing the information to the pilot. Once within range, the pilot tracked and closed on the target with a smaller scope mounted in his instrument panel.
  • The Widow packed four .50 cal machine guns (in the dorsal turret) and four 20mm canons, each complete with an obituary notice.
All in all, the Black Widow was outstanding in all respects but one: She came too late to the party.





Air Force 1’s Black Widow Lady in the Dark is pretty nifty (for my money). She’s mostly accurate and looks terrific dressed up in her slinky black dress. And the best thing is, she’s still available. So for those who you want a sexy, lethal historic airplane (the Lady in the Dark is credited with destroying the last Japanese aircraft of the war), grab this little beast. She’s a looker!




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Old 04-04-2016, 12:31 PM   #181
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The Korean air war was no joke according to RAN Sub Lieutenant Noel Knappstein, who strafed targets near the mouth of the Han River on 26 October, 1951. Hidden antiaircraft artillery ventilated Knappstein’s Hawker Sea Fury when it came out of a hard right turn, perforating the engine with sizzling led. Incredibly, the brawny fighter still flew—though belching smoke and shuddering fiercely—until it miraculously reached the nearby island of Kyodong Do in the Han Estuary. With one last heroic gasp, the Fury expired and plowed into a rock-strewn field, ripping off its port wing and disemboweling the fuselage. Lucky to be alive and mostly uninjured, Knappstein jumped from his smoldering mount to find it a total write-off. As he salvaged what little gear he could, an idea siezed him: Why not sell the bloody wreck to the nearby villagers? Surely the RAN wouldn’t mind, considering the aircraft was little more than a kitbag of twisted metal. Thus the entrepreneurial pilot approached the village elders and sold them the plane for roughly 1000 Wong.

HMS Amethyst ventured by later and rescued the hapless aviator, who, embarrassingly, was forthwith ordered to return and recover additional, badly needed equipment from the wreckage. The locals, upon seeing Knappstein and his landing party, defiantly protected their new acquisition with an 18th century blunderbuss. A tense standoff ensued until both parties sat down and renegotiated an acceptable deal (which involved, among other goodies, several badly worn girlie magazines).

Back aboard the Amethyst, Kanppstein found, to his mortification, that his huge wad of Korean cash amounted to one shilling and nine pence (less than $1).
…...

On a lovely Tuesday morning, 30 August 1955, Mr. Anthony Thrower climbed aboard an Auster light aircraft at the Kingsford Smith Aviation Flying School (Australia), completed one circuit, and yelped in horror as his engine quit. Incredibly, after a harrowing plunge, the newbie pilot landed without mishap at Bankstown Airfield and fled the aircraft for dear life, only to watch in equal horror as it roared back to life, sped down the runway, and became airborne without him.

Orbiting the airfield for 15 minutes, the aircraft then climbed and cruised towards the city, eventually crossing the coast at Vaucluse. Fearful the plane would crash into innocent bystanders, authorities ordered an RAAF Wirraway to shoot it down, which it failed to do when the gunner’s hands froze to his Bren gun. An RAAF Gloster Meteor then took a turn at it with no better luck, owing to jammed cannons. Finally, Lieutenants John Bluett, RAN, and Peter McNay, RAN, flying 805 Squadron Sea Furies, opened fire and dispatched the 'little plane that could.'

While never officially confirmed, three eye witnesses swore a black dog leaped into the plane seconds before it took off. And though unwilling to confirm it, McNay privately admitted to friends that he’d glimpsed something “black and furry” at the Auster’s controls, though Bluett had seen nothing of the kind. Curiously, the airport’s mascot, a jet-black Scottish Terrier named “MacDougal,” vanished that very morning and was neither seen nor heard from again.




I’ll just say it: Witty hit this little treasure clean out of the park. Quality wise, it stands up to anything Corgi or Hobby Master made/makes; I can’t find a single fault with her (love that midnight blue finish). If you can get your hands on an Aussie Sea Fury, do it (Aikens is selling it for $89.95). Just don’t shoot down yer pet pooch with it.



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Old 04-05-2016, 10:24 AM   #182
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten



Early in the war, A6M Zeros were typically deployed in three-fighter formations called shotais. Unlike western tactics, the Japanese flight leader flew far ahead of his two wingmen, both wingmen weaving left, right, up and down, effectively screening blind spots—more so than their western counterparts. When attacking, rather than the entire flight hitting the target simultaneously, the three Zeros struck in series, which kept the target from escaping. When attacked, however, given the distance between the flight leader and his wingmen, the shotai was easily scattered, leaving each plane undefended and vulnerable. To counter this, Zeros relied on maneuverability and pilot skill to regroup and rejoin.

As the war progressed, Mitsubishi labored to improve the Zero’s effectiveness, upgrading its powerplant to the supercharged Sakae 21 engine, rated at 1,130 horsepower. On paper, the increase appeared promising, but in reality improvement was marginal. Meanwhile, America’s fighters made rapid and impressive technical and tactical advances, forcing Japan to counter with defensive four-fighter formations—which in the end made little difference. Hellcats and Corsairs increasingly mauled Zeros, aided, in part, by poor Japanese fuel quality, especially toward the end of the war. Interestingly, Zero fighters discharged thin trails of dirty smoke at wide-open throttle, sometimes even spewing gouts of flame from their exhaust ports. On occasion, US pilots mistook these flashes for hits, thinking they’d annihilated the enemy, which lead to inflated kill scores.

In desperation toward the end of the Pacific War, Japan swarmed USN fleets with suicidal air attacks. Of 2,363 Japanese Navy special attack aircraft (or "kamikazes”), the A6M Zero accounted for 1,189.



The model pictured above, produced by 21st Century, is a big bird, 1/32 scale, and it’s all plastic—no metal. In the past, naysayers disparaged the model (and others like it) for several reasons, which, in my opinion, was rubbish. Not all 21st Century models rose to distinction, but this one certainly did. She’s beautiful; she captures the look and character of the mighty Zero; she’s a masterpiece in her own right.

Considering that Walmart sold these for $16 back in the day—and they’re still reasonably priced on eBay—you might consider getting one (or one of her sisters). You’ll love it.





Another Zero (Corgi) for your consideration ...

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Old 04-06-2016, 11:25 AM   #183
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Seldom do military jets whip up torrents of enthusiasm like the Hawker Hunter. Aficionados insist the Hunter is the most impossibly beautiful aircraft ever assembled—nay, sculpted—from aircraft-grade aluminum.

That sounds a bit over the top, but hordes of jet lovers deem the Hunter, at the very least, one of the classic fighter designs of all time. Not only was it visually appealing, a veritable purebred, it also boasted of amazing service longevity and remarkable operational flexibility.

Originally conceived as an air superiority fighter in the 1950s, the Hunter became the most successful post-war British Military aircraft ever with nearly 2000 manufactured, the last departing the Dunsfold factory in 1976. Bolstered by its high power-to-weight ratio, intrinsic muscle, and flexibility, the jet developed from a superb fighter into an exceptional ground attack aircraft, epitomized by Swiss MK58 Hunters.

More facts about the Hawker Hunter …
  • Sir Sidney Camm, aeronautical engineer par-excellence who crafted (or assisted with) the Hawker Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, and Sea Fury, also designed the Hawker Hunter.
  • The Rolls Royce Avon, which propelled the jet at Mach 0.94 at sea level, could sling it skyward at no less than 10,500ft/min to 51,000ft.
  • The famous Black Arrows (represented below) chose the Hunter as their mount, performing a 22-plane formation loop with it, establishing a record that stands to this day.
  • In 1953, fighter ace and acclaimed test pilot Neville Duke set a world speed record of 727.63 mph in a Hunter. Later, Duke called flying the aircraft into the sound barrier 'A piece of cake,' adding that the Hunter was the love of his professional life.
  • A pair of Hunters remain in service with the UK military today, more than 50 years after the jet’s maiden flight. Privately owned but leased to the MoD, these ex-Swiss AF Hunter F.58s simulate missiles in Royal Navy war games (yup, you read that right).




This particular masterpiece (Corgi AA49802, Black Arrows) has pretty much vanished from the face of the earth. They’re the very definition of hard-to-find, so don’t get your hopes up. But if you do luck out and stumble over one, snatch it: Pull the trigger and become the happy owner of both a genuinely superb jet and Corgi chef-d'oeuvre.



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Old 04-07-2016, 10:59 AM   #184
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Sometimes we’re a little too contemptuous of Russian military prowess, smugly convinced our weapons are superior to theirs. But I’m here to tell ya ...

That’s a mistake.

I can’t say this fiercely enough: The Russians are no slouches at war. They’re smart; they’re practical; they’re dedicated. They care nothing for glitz and glamor; they focus on winning battles, and to achieve that end they produce lethal weapons specifically designed to endure massive abuse, use, and more abuse. The Su-25 Frogfoot is a prime example.

The Frogfoot (what a name, eh?) can trace its bloodline to Northop’s YA-9 ground-attack aircraft (which flew competitively against the A-10 Warthog and lost). The Russians are loath to admit it, but the two jets are incestuous cousins, right down to their wings and tails. The major difference is, the Ruskies juiced their version into a steroid monster capable of destroying heavily armored vehicles, fortifications, and other sundry targets with ease—all while getting its own fanny kicked. Clobber this thing and it only gets angrier.

In a word, it’s a sinewy, tough little mother. The Su-25 is significantly smaller and lighter than its counterpart, the A-10 Thunderbolt; but it slings more powerful armament, more muscular turbojet engines, and it’s faster and more maneuverable.

Weapons include a double-barrel 30-mm cannon with 250 rounds, and underwing capacity for 4.4 tons of ordnance on 8 pylons, which include rockets, laser-guided, rocket propelled bombs, "dumb" bombs of incendiary, anti-personnel, and chemical types, Air-to-Air missiles for self-defense, Air-to-Ground missiles, and Anti-tank missiles.

To survive, the Frogfoot features a 24mm welded titanium cockpit armor tub (much like the A-10’s), an air mixing duct system to cool engine exhaust, and other stay-alive features like foam-filled fuel tanks and pushrod-actuated control surfaces. To fend off heat-seeking rockets and/or missiles, the jet carries 256 flares or chaff dispensers near the rear of the aircraft, in the tailcone, and above the engine exhausts. The extreme nose houses a laser designator and target-indicating electronics.

Though it beats the A-10 for ugliness (and that’s quite a feat ), the Su-25 can wrought as much or more damage on a tank column; in fact, it’s even tougher and more able to survive a wicked punch. To dismiss it as yet another specimen of Russian crudeness is inexcusably foolish.




It’s popular to deride IXO/Altaya models as ugly ducklings, but this Frogfoot will surprise you. Perhaps my example is an exception; but from what I see, Altaya’s Su-25K is a quality act. The paint and tampo applications are excellent, and the model itself is spot-on accurate. Trouble is, they're nearly impossible to find. BUT ... at the time of this writing, a Spanish vendor called “okplanet” is selling his last
unit on eBay for 69.99 Euro. Jump on it!




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Old 04-08-2016, 10:43 AM   #185
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

The English Electric Lightening was, by all accounts, a ballistic missile masquerading as an interceptor. The bird’s speed and climb performance were so dazzling, so gobstopping intense, spectators and pilots alike stood speechless in its wake.

The Lightening was an aircraft of firsts: the first (and only) Mach 2-capable developed for the RAF; the first jet with direct-pilot input; the first aircraft to utilize “supercruise”(achieving supersonic flight sans afterburner); the first British platform to feature an integrated weapons system for automated missile delivery.

The Brits have every right to crow about this winged wonder. Balanced against similar contemporary aircraft, it was virtually unrivaled for climbing speed and acceleration: Its rate of climb was 50,000 ft per minute (15 km/min). The Mirage IIIE climbed at 30,000 ft/min (9 km/min), the MiG-21 at 36,090 ft/min (11 km/min), and the Tornado F-3 at 43,000 ft/min (13 km/min). The Lightning was speedier off the ground than the F-15C, reaching 50 feet [15 m] height in a horizontal distance of 1,630 feet [500 m] on military afterburner take-off.

Ceiling wise, the Lightening could practically orbit Mars. Though secreted from the general public, low-security RAF documents reveal that the bird could reach 60,000+ ft (18,000 m) and higher. The late Brian Carroll, a former RAF Lightning pilot and ex-Lightning Chief Examiner, reported taking an F-3 up to 87,300 feet (26,600 m), where "Earth curvature was visible and the sky was quite dark". Flt Lt. Mike Hale, during a major NATO exercise in 1984, intercepted an American U-2 at 88,000 ft. (26,800 m), mortifying its pilot (several other Lightenings accomplished similar feats). Hale also participated in time-to-height and acceleration trials against F-104 Starfighters from Aalborg, effortlessly beating his rivals in all races except in low level supersonic acceleration, which were dead-heats.

Yet for all its zip and Wowie factor, the F-3 wasn’t perfect. It was a dawg at dog-fighting, unable to turn and burn with more agile foes (though to be fair, it wasn't designed to dog-fight); and its radar, avionics, and weapons load were unexceptional. Plus, the jet was severely short-legged, sucking itself dry after a piffling 900 miles. The rude fact was, the Lightening could dash 450 miles and snag a Tupolev Tu-95 Bear, but it had to head for the barn directly—and pray Russian fighters hadn’t followed.




Personally, I love this jet! She was super sexy fast, was practically a space rocket, and inspired awe in many a military jet aficionado (and Russian bomber crews who never saw it coming). But for the model’s faintly incorrect, somewhat ovoid nose air intake (corrected on later issues), it’s a screamin’ success. Love her eye-poppin’ polished finish, too. Without question, this baby rocks and deserves a place in your collection. Too bad it’s all but impossible to find; but if you do run across one, grab it. She’s absolutely stunning.




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Old 04-08-2016, 05:28 PM   #186
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Quote:
at the time of this writing, a Spanish vendor called “okplanet” is selling his last
unit on eBay for 69.99 Euro. Jump on it
If someone interested i saw one on french website at 10 euros... used, but i already bought diecast planes from this seller, always perfect with him !
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Old 04-09-2016, 01:00 PM   #187
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Betcha didn’t know this about the ol’ C-17 …

Only two cockpit crew and a loadmaster operate and fly this bird, which begs the question: How can three guys manage something that demanding? The answer is, they use an advanced digital avionics system using four cathode-ray tube displays, two full-capability HUDS (Head-Up Displays) and a sophisticated, kick-‘em-in-the-butt cargo system. Plus, when necessary, C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8, and other sundry Star Wars droids lend a hand.

C-17s routinely haul payloads of 160,600 pounds that accommodate any air-transportable truck, tank (the M-1 MBT), helicopter (such as the AH-1G Cobra), artillery piece, Patriot Missile System, or Bradley fighting vehicle the Army heaves at it. It also carries palleted cargo, para-troops, airdrop loads, and aeromedical evacuees, thank you very much.

Endowed with four F117 engines, this tubby beast (nicknamed the “moose”) regularly whooshes from 7,600-foot airfields, soars 2,400 nautical miles unrefueled (the C-17 aircraft has in-flight refueling capability), and alights on trifling, bare-bones airfields of 3,000 feet or less. An externally blown flap system facilitates hair-raising descents and low-landing speeds (which causes countless unwary passengers to poop their pants).

Regrettably, the last Globmaster III rolled off the assembly line last December, the 279th of its praiseworthy kind. Given its sturdiness, the C-17 will probably serve another 40 to 50 years or longer, bless ‘em. Operators include: United States Air Force, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, NATO (Strategic Airlift Capability Program), Indian Air Force, Quatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.




Model wise, I can’t get enough of this fabulous bird. You’d be surprised how addicting 1/200 scale models are. Both Hogan and Gemini produce the moose; both are terrific, though the Hogan is 100% plastic while the Gemini is mostly metal. Both are accurate, more or less, with piddling visible differences exemplified by their engine cowlings: The intake of real Pratt & Whitney F117 engines sport a discernable semi-squared bottom contour, which Hogan duplicates gamely; Gemini, regrettably and inexcusably, opted for perfectly round forms. But Gemini C-17s, basically solid and markedly heftier, impart a sense of presence; Hogans’ are plastic, feathery, and feel vaguely lacking. Either way, you’ll love this brute, though I prefer Gemini’s version. If you can’t find the March AFB Spirit of Regan pictured above, several other liveries are still available.



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Old 04-11-2016, 11:09 AM   #188
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The MiG-15 and F-86 were classic arch-rivals, archetypical adversaries so closely matched it’s a wonder one emerged triumphant in Korea. Both benefited from German aeronautical genius; each mirrored the other (in some ways) and differed in others. Triumph (and survival) often came down to who was flying which aircraft.

The MiG-15 was a superb, if not crude, little jet. It was lighter than the F-86 (having no hefty pilot armor protection to lug around, among other embellishments) and thus could climb and soar higher. In a sprint it couldn’t best the F-86, but above 45,000 feet the Sabre couldn’t reach it. The MiG also hauled heavier armament (23mm and 37 mm cannon vs. .50 cal. machine guns), was easier to service, enjoyed rough-field landing gear, and was relatively easy to rearm and service. On the downside, the MiG-15’s high-mounted rear stabilizers sometimes proved disastrous in high AOA maneuvers or in a dive, causing, among other things, unrecoverable flat-spins. Also, the MiG’s wings flexed and vibrated under high G loads, offering a less-than stable gun platform during combat maneuvers. And because internal heating and window defrosting were all but nonexistent at high altitudes, MiGs often descended to engage Sabres with badly frosted canopies.

The Sabre, by comparison, ducked and dodged quicker, turned sharper, dove faster, and pulled out swifter. It also sported a computing radar-ranging K-14 gunsight opposed to the MiG’s old-school, stadiametric, type, making the sighting and destroying of targets enormously easier. And, the Sabre was a luxury yacht
creature-comfort wise, boasting, among other things, of an adjustable air conditioning and heating system. American pilots flew in supreme comfort while their MiG counterparts sweltered in sweat or solidified into icicles. Americans also wore G suits that usefully controlled their blood flow during extreme maneuvers, keeping them conscious; MiG pilots enjoyed no such benefit.

In the end, the F-86 boasted of a 10 to 1 kill ratio, which was likely closer to 7 to 1 (or less). Nonetheless, the Sabre was a pilot’s dream, sturdy, obedient, more than able to ruin a MiG’s lunch. Those who flew it extolled its agility, stability, and capability. And yet the gauche little MiG hung in there, chewing on more than a few American butts, a precursor to scores of superlative Russian machines.

The Golden Hawks, a Canadian aerobatic flying team established in 1959 to celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force's 35th anniversary and the "Golden" 50th anniversary of Canadian flight, flew brilliantly painted metallic-gold Canadair Sabre Mk.5s (take a gander below). The group was to perform for one year only but proved so popular it flew to February 1964, participating in 317 shows across North America.



The F-86 is one of my favorite American jets, so I’m a little biased. But Hobby Master does a bang-up job with its Sabre, the Canadian Golden Hawks version being no exception. Considering the HA4303 is abundantly available, it doesn’t live up to this thread’s “Gone but Not Forgotten” theme. But it is cool, it is beautiful, and you’d be silly not to buy one for those reasons alone.




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Old 04-12-2016, 10:06 AM   #189
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

The F-105 Thunderchief, able to lug 12,000 pounds of conventional or nuclear bombs at supersonic speeds, was one of the most versatile tactical jet fighters of the USAF from 1959 through the Vietnam War. Affectionately called the “Thud,” it routinely bombed targets to dust while SAMs kicked its fanny all over the sky.

Random facts …

  • To show how far aeronautics had advanced between WWII and the 105’s debut fifteen years later, had the Thud flown in that war, it would have left London at noon, accurately bombed targets in Berlin at 1:00 p.m., and landed back at base at 2 p.m. Refueled and rearmed, it would have repeated the same task and returned hours before sister B-17s completed the identical mission.
  • The 105’s advanced design included swept-forward intake ducts on each side of the fuselage that inhaled insane volumes of air all while preventing the engine from “choking.” These ducts also increased stability by splintering supersonic shockwaves, reducing their effect on the jet’s aerodynamically susceptible tail surfaces.
  • Weapons wise, Thuds often carried air-to-air or air-to-surface rockets and missiles and a 6,000 rounds-per-minute Vulcan automatic cannon that made mincemeat of adversaries in the air and/or on the ground. They were also the first fighters to carry internal bomb loads.
  • No question, the ol’ Thud was a warrior. F-105s flew 75 percent of all air strikes against North Vietnam and shot down 28 MiG interceptors. Conversely, Thunderchiefs suffered heavier proportional losses than any aircraft employed in the Vietnam War, partly because they braved the densest anti-aircraft defenses in history (up to that point), and partly because President Lyndon Baines Johnson deliberately (some say criminally) sacrificed them in operation “Rolling Thunder.” Of 833 F-105s produced, approximately one-third were obliterated over Vietnam. The last F-105D was retired from service in July 1980.




All I can say is, if you don’t own at least one Hobby Master Thud, your collection is incomplete. Hobby Master did a masterful job on this warbird; and though
Thunderchiefs are a bit expensive nowadays, they’re worth every penny. The Hill AFB My Karma example above is especially handsome.




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Old 04-13-2016, 02:07 AM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richtofen888 View Post
No question, the ol’ Thud was a warrior. F-105s flew 75 percent of all air strikes against North Vietnam and shot down 28 MiG interceptors. Conversely, Thunderchiefs suffered heavier proportional losses than any aircraft employed in the Vietnam War, partly because they braved the densest anti-aircraft defenses in history (up to that point), and partly because President Lyndon Baines Johnson deliberately (some say criminally) sacrificed them in operation “Rolling Thunder.” Of 833 F-105s produced, approximately one-third were obliterated over Vietnam. The last F-105D was retired from service in July 1980.
Another fun fact is that the F-105 is the only US aircraft to have been removed from combat due to excessively high losses. That is not an indictment of the Thud's performance, but rather the environment it flew and fought in - North Vietnam was (thanks in large part to the way Op Rolling Thunder was conducted, with its deadly for aircrews slow escalation giving the PAVN time to prepare defences and its restricted target list preventing US forces from choking off supplies of ammunition for the gunners by mining Haiphong Port during that period) saturated with AAA, SAMs and even peasants with rifles lying on their back and shooting upwards, making life very dangerous at any altitude. After Op Rolling Thunder there simply weren't enough airframes to sustain employing the F-105 in its role as a bomber over Vietnam, although the Wild Weasel F-105G models were used right until the war's end (and 1984 in reserve and ANG service).

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Old 04-13-2016, 10:59 AM   #191
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The sobriquet “Beast from the East” pretty much sums up the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik’s bada$$ reputation across the Eastern Front. This Russian boogieman scared German armor crews so badly that they dubbed the plane the “Flying Tank” or “Der Schwarze Tod”(The Black Death). If you crewed a Panzer on Russian soil and Sturmoviks caught you in the open, you were SPAM in a can.

Strong, simple, and easy to maintain, the Il-2 was Russia’s premier ground attack aircraft, heavily armed with wing mounted 2 x high velocity 23mm cannons, 2 x 7.62mm machine guns, bombs/rockets and a rear firing 12.7mm machine gun. Two-thousand pounds of steel plate up to a quarter of an inch thick shielded the engine and crew. This metal shaped the fuselage itself, a monumentally strong stress-bearing form that proved impervious to everything but 20mm cannon rounds (which had to hit square on to puncture it). Although originally intended as a two-seater aircraft, Stalin insisted on a single-seater version, which proved absurdly vulnerable to rearward fighter attack. In mid ’42, factories corrected this blunder by adding a rear-gunner position, and the Il-2 straightaway became a war winner (though seven gunners died for every Sturmovik pilot killed).

On 5 July 1943 when Hitler attacked Soviet formations around Kursk, Sturmoviks retaliated and hammered German tank divisions to scrap metal. Flying in attack groups of eight to 12, they skimmed the ground at five to 10 meters (16 to 32 feet) and blew "soft" targets such as infantry or trucks to confetti. Against tank columns, Il-2s soared straight down their ranks (or weaved over them in shallow S-curves) and released PTAB antitank bombs from 100 to 150 meters (320 to 480 feet). When panzers struck out independently, Sturmoviks employed the "Circle of Death" tactic, in which they flanked these tanks and peeled off successively, each Il-2 attacking in a shallow dive and then pulling up and around for another pass. This arrangement kept the enemy under nonstop fire for as long as fuel and ammunition permitted. One Sturmovik pilot, Senior Lieutenant Alexander Yefinov, noted: "We usually tried to attack from the rear, where the armor was thinner and where the most vulnerable components of the vehicles were located: the engines and the gas tanks." He added that "the effect was staggering as Hitler's celebrated Tigers burned under the strikes." Il-2M3s armed with 37 millimeter guns frequently annihilated Panthers and Tigers with guns alone, shattering the tanks’ thinner top armor.

To give you an idea of how effective these warbirds were, Sturmoviks obliterated 70 tanks of the 9th Panzer Division in a mere 20 minutes. In two hours it slaughtered 2,000 men and 270 tanks of the 3rd Panzer Division. In four hours it smashed 240 vehicles out of 300 in the 17th Panzer Division. We’re talking gobstopping, tank-bursting HELLFIRE.

But it didn’t all go the Il-2’s way. Losses were severe despite its thick metal hide. Anti-aircraft fire exacted a terrible toll; fighter attack (mostly from behind) downed flocks of Sturmoviks; accidents and poor flying weather took the rest. Experts estimate that more than 10,000 Il-2s bit the big one during the war.

The Soviet air force deployed the Sturmovik in unexpected roles, too: reconnaissance, smoke laying, and even transport work. Typical of Russian daring-do, Sturmovik pilots occasionally rescued downed comrades by landing nearby, lashing these individuals to their landing struts, and then flying home with gear down. We’re talking tough, chewy sons o’ guns (pilots and aircraft).

Russia produced 42,330 of these fiends, making it the single most produced military aircraft design in aviation history.



Easy Model produces the Il-2 depicted above; and I’ve gotta tell ya, I love it. It’s not metal; it’s plastic, toe to nose, but she’s still a dandy. IXO’s zinc Sturmovik doesn’t compare. EM’s Il-2 is magnificent, a worthy repro of the real McCoy with lots of attention paid to detail and accuracy. If you’re a history student serious about rounding out your Eastern Front collection, grab this brawny warbird (and its sisters). They typically sell for $20.99 or thereabouts.




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Old 04-14-2016, 09:55 AM   #192
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

All kinds of goodies you’re not sure you wanna know about the F-4 Phantom II …

  • McDonnell chose its name, “Phantom II” to highlight the aircraft's lineage from McDonnell's FD-1 Phantom.
  • Phantom II production ended in 1979. Fifteen different versions rolled off the lines, more than 2,600 for the USAF, about 1,200 for the Navy and Marine Corps, and the rest for other nations, including to Israel, Iran, Greece, Spain, Turkey, South Korea, West Germany, Australia, Japan, and Great Britain. With production totaling 5,195, the F-4 is the most numerous US supersonic jet ever built.
  • Used extensively in the Vietnam War, later Phantom IIs served the USAF well into the 1990s. Several nations still fly the beast.
  • 528 F-4s were lost in the Vietnam war.
  • Between 1966-67, production averaged 63 F-4 aircraft each month. Production peaked at 72 Phantom aircraft a month in 1967. By 1978, production was 4 to 6 aircraft a month. In all, the F-4 was the beneficiary of 1 million McDonnell man-years of toil and sweat.
  • Early wind-tunnel tests revealed lateral instability in the Phantom’s design. To solve this glitch, engineers added 5 degrees of dihedral to the wings and 12 degrees of dihedral to the outer portion of the wing, averaging 5 degrees across the entire span.
  • Still, the Air Force and the Navy voiced exasperation over the F-4’s unforgiving, sometimes ruthless, characteristics at high angles of attack. The F-4 exhibited a sudden directional divergence (nose slice) and other control-induced characteristics that predisposed the aircraft to lose control and spin spontaneously. The two services lost a combined total of over 100 F-4's owing to these faults.
  • Built as a long-range radar interceptor, the F-4 originally (and stupidly) lacked an internal cannon.
  • The F-4 was the first fighter in the world to boast of a Look-Down, Shoot-Down radar.
  • In some versions, the nose strut extended an additional 20 inches to increase AOA for carrier takeoffs.
  • In 1959, the F-4 set an altitude record of 98,557 feet. Cmdr. Lawrence Flint Jr. accelerated to Mach 2.5 at 47,000 feet, zoom-climbed at 45 degrees, then shut down the engines to glide to the peak altitude. He restarted the engines in the descent.
  • In 1962, the F-4 set a time-to-climb record of 9,000 meters (29,500 feet) in just over 61 seconds.
  • The USAF’s first Phantom II punched through mach 2 on its first flight in 1963.
  • The Phantom II could climb four miles in 48 seconds.
  • With the throttles two-blocked, the F-4 consumed enough fuel in 60 seconds to drive a Ford Mustang more than 3,000 miles. It hauled enough fuel to drive the ‘stang (and other muscle cars like it) about 35,000 miles.
  • More than 643,000 fasteners held the Phantom together.
  • The F-4 could sprint from St. Louis to Chicago in 12 minutes.
  • The Phantom’s generators could spool up enough power through its 14 miles of electrical wiring to power every light, washing machine, TV, toaster, can opener, vacuum cleaner, and Aunt Gertrude’s denture cleaner in a subdivision of 30-40 homes.
  • And speaking of vacuum cleaners, at full bore, its engines drew in enough air to collapse a typical six-room house in two seconds.
  • Painting one F-4 took two days, 36 people and 28 gallons of paint—enough to cover seven six-room houses (or the entire interior of Huge Heffner’s Playboy mansion).
  • The catalyzed epoxy paint withstood temperatures up to 450 degrees and was resistant to engine and hydraulic oil.
  • The Phantom could slow to 125 knots (without plunging like a lawn dart) or tearass at more than 1,300 mph. It routinely schlepped along at 570 mph for more than 1,500 miles without refueling.
  • On takeoff, it typically (and easily) hefted an external load of eight tons or more.
  • Unrefueled range from carriers or existing suitable friendly bases allowed the Phantom to lug its payload of ground strike weapons over 92 percent of the earth's surface.
  • The Phantom was the first multiservice aircraft that flew concurrently with the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
  • It is the first and only aircraft ever to be flown simultaneously by both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.



X-Plus Heavy Metal Collection (is that company still around?) made extraordinary Phantom IIs, and this bird is no exception. Some collectors claim they’re even better than Hobby Master’s efforts, though that’s a matter of opinion. Personally, I think X-Plus’ Phantoms are Phantastic, right down to their itty-bitty stencils (and believe me, they’ve got a lot of ‘em). So if you’re hankering for a super sexy Rhino, grab this beast. Four are
selling on eBay for $129 as we speak.






Two more Phantoms you might like ...



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Old 04-14-2016, 09:58 AM   #193
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Richtofen,
where do you find the F-4 profil to illustrate your rates ?
i would like to see thee emblem on the tail... thanks
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:04 AM   #194
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Talk about a Zero Killer: On average, the Hellcat flew 55 MPH faster on the deck than the A6M, 40 MPH faster at 20,000 feet. At altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet, it had a similar rate of climb. Due to its heavier weight and booming power, the Hellcat could out-dive the Zero at all altitudes (generally true of all American Navy fighters: When forced, pilots could firewall the throttle and nosedive like a rocket).

Armament, power, and range blessed the Hellcat with awesome versatility. Six wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns provided a lethal punch, each carrying 400 rounds of ammo. Many, including all F6F-5N and F6F-5P variants, swapped their innermost .50 cal. machine guns for 20mm cannons with 200 rounds. The Hellcat routinely carried two 1,000 pound bombs and often lugged six 5-inch HVAR's (High Velocity Aircraft Rockets), which author Barrett Tillman claims was "equal to a destroyer's broadside."

This deadly assortment enabled the bird to perform a variety of missions: fighter-versus-fighter mêlées, strike-plane escort, combat air patrol, long-range search, ground support, night fighting (see F6F-5N), and photo recon (see F6F-5P).

In the end, the Hellcat was a tough mother trucker. She was built like a tank, could smack down the enemy with relative ease, and take a wicked punch in return. She wasn’t especially attractive, kind of the Ethel Merman of fighters; but she was a hard-hitting and resilient dame with a lot of heart. Zeros peed their pants when she strutted by.



The model above is worthy of Corgi, a nice effort that gamely captures the plane’s toothy, bloodshot-eye cowling motif. If you’re a Hellcat fan (and who isn’t?), land yourself one of these beauties. I’ll guarantee your Zeros will keep a respectful distance.






another Hellcat for your enjoyment ...

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Old 04-15-2016, 07:57 PM   #195
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

She wasn’t just fast, she was stunning—in a stretched-gooseneck kind of way. The XB-70 Valkyrie would have, if produced in number, routinely cruised at Mach 3 at 70,000 feet, rode its own shock wave (like a surfer on an ocean wave) and inspired terror in the hearts of commies everywhere. It boasted of six honkin’ General Electric YJ93-GE-3 afterburning, volcano-vomiting turbojet engines that pushed the beast to 2,056 mph. Given provocation, she could have wrought gargantuan destruction all over Russia (and maybe even survived).

Or at least that was the plan.

Turned out that during her development, the American military establishment (among others), bolstered by anemic, academic types, hotly debated the very need for bombers, their raison d'être. Many claimed that aircraft like the XB-70A were redundant in the face of cost-effective, highly effective ICBMs, a fiction that resonated with higher-ups including John F. Kennedy, who scotched the B-70 upon learning the Ruskies were developing anti-aircraft missiles that could not only fly above the XB-70 but catch up and handily swat it down. Faced with this setback, USAF doctrine grudgingly swapped high-altitude supersonic bombing for low-altitude penetration attack, leaving North American with two surplus XB-70A prototypes and a gaggle of intensely annoyed investors.

Looks wise, the Valkyrie was gorgeous. Its delta wing lay atop a wedged, slab-sided engine housing. The outer wing panels remained horizontal until the bomber went supersonic, at which point they hinged downward (very much resembling a goose in flight), reducing drag and providing greater vertical surface for increased stability through high Mach numbers (get all that?). A graceful, tube-like fuselage extended forward from the delta assembly featuring two gargantuan canards, giving the bomber a white, decidedly Star Wars-esque look.

On 8 June 1966, XB-70A No.2 gallivanted around Southern California skies with four other aircraft (an F-4, F-5, T-38, and F-104) in formation for a photo shoot. Following the picture taking, the F-104 wandered into the XB-70’s right wing, flipped over, and rolled inverted over the top of the bomber, striking and demolishing the vertical stabilizers and left wing. Over a minute later, the Valkyrie commenced an uncontrollable spin and crashed just north of Barstow, California, killing its co-pilot. The F-104 pilot, no surprise, died, too; but Al White, the XB-70 pilot, survived with serious arm and back injuries. Investigators ultimately blamed the Valkyrie’s right wingtip vortex for the F-104’s sudden roll and collision.



Dragon Wings’ XB-70 is outstanding. She’s small (1/200 scale) but exquisite. Dragon kind of blew it business wise, foolishly yielding its blossoming success to Corgi and Hobby Master, et al. Years later, possibly as a postscript, Dragon produced this Valkyrie, a totally accurate and handsomely detailed model. You can find this striking repro just about anywhere these days. I totally recommend it—and its sister NASA Valkyrie.




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Old 04-16-2016, 12:23 PM   #196
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Betcha didn’t know this stuff about the ol’ Sabre Dog …

  • Though the Dawg was pretty much a “new” aircraft (substantially different from its daddy, the F-86 Super Sabre) and originally designated the F-95A, North American officially christened it the F-86D “Saber Dog.”
Why?
Because North American claimed changing the moniker made shrewd business sense. In short, the company wanted to make a quick buck with little hassle. “Developments” of existing aircraft were easier to push through Congress than “new” types, which had to run the gauntlet of political hoops, unwelcome scrutiny, and protracted deal-making. North American opted for a fast, sure sale in lieu of a postponed, though bigger, payday; so it cleverly changed the new jet’s designation from F-95 to F-86D “Saber Dog.” The USAF had a different story, however. Higher-ups insisted that North American planned to keep the F-95 designation, aware “new” aircraft meant more revenue. But the USAF, shining knight and protector of America’s tax dollars (cough, cough), appealed to North American’s conscience and persuaded the company to peddle its new fighter as a “logical extension” of the existing F-86, saving Joe Q. Taxpayer a whole lotta lettuce. Neither account passed the smell test.
  • The Dawg’s all-flying horizontal tail produced an odd, artificial feel that pilots found difficult to manage. Because this assemblage was super touchy, ham-handed pilots flying close to the deck at high speed often induced a violent oscillation, resulting in whopping, smoking holes in the ground. Later improvements reduced this hiccup, though flying the F-86D continued to demand pilots' intense and undivided attention.
  • North American Aviation’s balls-to-the-walls effort to produce the jet outstripped availability of engine controls and electronic equipment. During the winter of 1952-53, no less than 320 F-86Ds stood forlornly outside the Inglewood factory awaiting radar, E-4 fire control systems, autopilots, and/or engine controls. Once these items arrived, F-86Ds joyously took to the skies.
  • Not all was well in Happyville, though. By December ’53, the USAF grounded its entire fleet of Dawgs owing to engine fuel-control malfunctions, defective engine parts, and/or turbine wheel failures. Thirteen Sabre Dogs crashed from these defects.
  • The F-86D, as complex as it was, required more pilot training than any other USAF aircraft then existing, including the six-engined B-47. Pilot trainees spent gobs of time in ground-based flight simulators before flying into the wild blue to fire practice 2.74-inch “Mighty Mouse” Folding Fin Aircraft Rockets (FFARs) at towed targets. These rockets frequently hit towing B-45 bombers, causing mini riots back on base between smug, unapologetic Sabre pilots and aggrieved B-45 crews.
  • By late ‘53, F-86Ds produced massive maintenance and repair nightmares. Each production block of fighters, furnished with unique upgrades and advancements, required different spare parts, instruction manuals, and maintenance procedures. To remedy this freeway collision, the USAF withdrew all of its Dawgs and modified them, more or less, to a single standard. Project “Pull-Out” ended by September 1955.
  • Without guns, the F-86D was basically dead meat in a dog fight. To cope, Super Sabre pilots were instructed to face their attackers head on, hit the gas, and bogie out of there as best they could. Dawg pilots were less than enthused with the prospect.


I love the F-86D. I mentioned this in a previous post, but the D’s gargantuan nose bears a side-splitting resemblance to Jimmy Durante’s honker, bless him. The jet looks so jukebox, so rock-‘n’-roll ‘50s, I can envision the thing crusin’ down the Sunset Strip with the top down, know what I mean? Falcon Models was the only manu with cajones large enough to produce one, and I suspect it’ll remain that way. If you love elderly, silvery jets with huge, laughable schnozzles, you’ve gotta get this model.



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Old 04-17-2016, 12:02 PM   #197
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

I don’t know enough about the A-90 Orlyonok to jaw about it intelligently, so I’ll leave it to you to research. Here’s what I do know: It’s a honkin’ big sea-going boat/jet/prop-job designed to ferry troops and equipment over large bodies of water. To accomplish this task it uses/used “ground effect” (a cushion of air) to fly just above the surface. Apparently the A-90 is only one of a stable of Ekranoplans Russia developed to skim over sizeable, strategic puddles of water in a big damn hurry.




Witty’s model is a masterpiece of design, execution, and rendering. I’ve never seen such clever painting—anywhere. The time, toil, and skill it took to create just one of these models must have been immense. Don’t bother to look for it, though. The model was Witty’s last-gasp effort just before it croaked; collectors instantly devoured the few that were issued. We’re talkin’ gold here, an investor’s/collector’s dream. So if you ever find one, buy it; sell your mother for it. You’ll never see its like again.























(WARNING: If you believe any of this claptrap, I own some great beachfront property in Nebraska I’d love to sell to you. Sorry, guys, I’m just pullin’ your chain. Witty Wings didn’t produce this model; Zvezda Models does, a plastic kit manu. HAPPY LATE APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!!!)



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Old 04-18-2016, 09:54 AM   #198
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

I’m at a loss for Russia’s snooty attitude toward the Focke-Wulf Fw-190. I’ve always considered the Fw-190 a superlative fighter, better even than the Bf 109. The Soviets, contrariwise, deemed the Focke-Wulf inferior to the Messerschmitt. Crazy, huh?

The Reds had their reasons, though I don't completely understand them or agree. The Ruskies claimed the Bf 109 was harder to shoot down, calling it “The Lean” (the lean what?
Wienerschnitzel, perhaps???) while regarding the Fw-190 as “heavy and slow,” especially in a climb.

Soviet pilot Mikolai G. Golodnikov made no bones about it, insisting the Fw-190 was downright inferior to the Bf 109. Said he, “It did not accelerate as quickly and in this aspect was inferior to most of our aircraft, except for the P-40, perhaps." He added, fairly disdainfully, that German pilots often exploited the Fw-190’s massive radial engine as protection against head-on attacks. "The plane’s brawny engine sometimes safeguarded its pilots against our guns," noted Golodnikov, "and gave them a feeble sense of invulnerability. When our 37 mm armed ‘Cobras’ attacked, however, no engine could save them: One hit destroyed them with ease.”

Even the Fw 190D, possibly the best 190 of all, didn’t escape Soviet ridicule. La-5FN pilots routinely laughed at these fighters, guffawing that they “burned as well as other aircraft, and were easier to hit.”

Does that sound like the “Butcher Bird” you've come to know and love?

As mystifying as this attitude seems, part of the answer might lie in the fact that the Fw-190 performed better as an interceptor at relatively high altitudes than a dog fighter at lower levels. Most air combat over Russia took place at comparatively low altitudes, mainly because that’s where Russian fighter/bombers operated—supporting ground forces. At those levels, the Bf 109 did outperform the 190, both in acceleration and turns. Higher in the sky, however, the Focke-Wulf ruled.

Two others reasons might also account for Soviet disdain. One being, from mid-war onwards, the Luftwaffe tended to commit its best, most skilled pilots to the Western Front while deploying less experienced warriors to the Eastern Front. Rookies were easy targets, especially when flying demanding aircraft like the Fw-190. The second reason being, Russian crassness is legendary: Downplaying an adversaries’ skill and machines was/is standard fare.

As for the Fw-190 overall, it was an excellent fighter that justly earned the respect of Commonwealth and American airmen everywhere. With a skilled pilot at its controls, an Fw-190 was an extremely dangerous opponent. Or at least I still think so.



Here’s another 21st Century, 1/32 plastic model that deserves your consideration. All I can say is, she’s a winner, and I recommend it to anybody Jonesing for an honest, attractive, lethal fighter—especially of the Luftwaffe variety. Walmart stopped selling them years ago, making this model all the harder to find.





More Fw-190s for your enjoyment ...




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Old 04-19-2016, 09:47 AM   #199
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Some high-ranking Navy bigwig back in 1934 uncannily predicted that Japan and the USA would wallop each other in the Pacific someday soon and said so to Washington politicos. Shortly afterward, the U.S. Navy placed a contract with Douglas Aircraft Co. for a torpedo bomber that eventuated in the Navy’s first all-metal monoplane TBD called the Devastator.

The Devastator was the Navy’s first production carrier-based aircraft to feature an enclosed cockpit, main landing gear wheel brakes, and hydraulic folding wings. A crew of three (pilot, bombardier and gunner) manned the beast, which rode atop a half-ton torpedo. The plane entered fleet service in 1937 and impressed nobody but one single sailor who quipped, “It’s got everything but the kitchen sink.”

At the time the Japanese trashed Pearl Harbor, 100 TDB Devastators formed the backbone of the Navy’s Pacific carrier torpedo force. Despite its klutzy looks, the warbird managed to sink two transports and destroy or damage 10 other vessels during hit-and-run raids in early ’42. In May during the Battle of the Coral Sea, TBDs clobbered one enemy carrier and heavily damaged a second—not bad for a warbird that was slow as molasses, deplorably short-legged, under gunned, couldn’t duck and dodge for nuttin’, and was laden with outrageously defective torpedoes.

In the Battle of Midway, only six TBDs survived out of 41. Japanese Zeros (and ships) had a field day shredding the hapless bird to confetti. American crews were typically gutsy, dancing on torrents of glowing lead; but the chips were decidedly stacked against them. For all that, three TBDs got through and helped to sink one heavy cruiser and extensively damage another.

By then it escaped no one that the Devastator was way out of its league. The Navy, grateful for the aircraft’s lumbering, if not yeoman, service, withdrew the TBD halfway through 1942 but continued to fly it as an advanced trainer to the end of the war. Douglas built 130 of the beasts.



For my money, SkyMax’s TBD-1 is a winner, hands-down, the beneficiary of uncompromising know-how. It's a masterful, worthy replica of a hard-fighting, hilariously clumsy-looking warbird. If you can find one, snatch this little beauty. You owe it to yourself.




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Old 04-20-2016, 10:11 AM   #200
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

North Vietnamese Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-21 pilots particularly relished sneaking up on American jets, delivering Rear Package Slams with Atoll missiles (American AIM-9 Sidewinders by any other name), and then booking it home. If they caused American strike forces (mostly F-105s) to freak and prematurely chuck their ordinance, Hồ Chí Minh and company considered their efforts successful. Blow American jets to specks of paint (though rarer) and Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh was all grins.

MiGs were nimble and dangerous in dogfights but swiftly lost speed in sustained turns, decelerating into plump, lip-smacking targets. Owing to this and limited rear visibility (among other niggling factors), loads of Fishbeds fell to American sidewinders or gunfire during these maneuvers.

You have to admire Russia’s no-nonsense approach to warplanes. As with most of their aircraft, the MiG-21 was cutting-edge where it had to be but rudimentary where aerodynamics mattered little. Rather than adopt America’s moneyed, Cadillac approach to combat aircraft design, the Russians preferred a used-Chevy stratagem, spawning comparatively low-brow, economical, but decidedly effective aircraft in enormous numbers. They needed only to kill and outlast the enemy, their doctrine held—not win beauty contests. As of late, however, Russian 4th and 5th generation fighters have partly challenged that strategy.



Corgi’s bare-metal rendition of the MiG-21 is a bit tedious, maybe even coarse; but I still like it. You get a feel for the aircraft, its deadly aptitude and honest beauty. I especially savor the red numerals emblazoned on both sides of the fuselage. The jet downright oozes with Communist Chic!





Two more MiG 21s for your viewing pleasure ...





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