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Old 08-03-2016, 10:58 AM   #251
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Hi Richtofen,

If you ever get the chance I'd love to see some photos of your Corgi P38J (AA36608). Does it indicate (collectors card?) how many were actually produced?
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:15 PM   #252
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Quote:
If you ever get the chance I'd love to see some photos of your Corgi P38J (AA36608). Does it indicate (collectors card?) how many were actually produced?
Wildblood, my AA36608 is buried inside a shipping box with other diecast models somewhere deep in my cellar among a gazillion like containers. I’d literally have to tear the place apart to find it—and good luck with that.

If I ever do get around to finding it, I’ll PM you with the info.
Quote:
Hi Richtoven thanks for the detailed responses to my off the cuff and somewhat abrupt remarks! Very gentlemanly of you.

I am really surprised that Haleakala was actually available. It was always listed on Tricatus' site as "Cancelled" and you're absolutely right that one is I think as close to impossible to find as corgi diecast gets, full stop. Foget your rare Me109s / mossies / mule specials, that must be the rarest of them all. Well done on getting it! I am very jealous.

About the quality scale: to each his own, but I am rather shocked that you gave the in my view qualitywise 5/5 F-86D a lower quality scale than, say, corgi's very very pedestrian razorback p-47 (which I would have given a 2/5). That said, opinions can of course legitimately differ!

About my pakistan comment: I realized i was being stupid the moment I wrote it and edited my comment to remove this, but it seems that you saw and replied to this in that brief interval. My fault entirely.
Fortunate Son, your viewpoints, like everyone else’s on the DA.C, are as valid as mine (probably more so ). My sentiments on quality are purely subjective based on what I see and how I feel; they’re certainly not sacrosanct and unchallengeable. In fact, I applaud those who share differing opinions.

To be honest, I had no idea how rare the AA36608 really is. I purchased one, looked it over, and put it away years ago. As I recall, it’s a honey of a model; and now, more than ever, I’m glad I own one!
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Old 08-08-2016, 01:18 PM   #253
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The Henschel Hs 129 Panzerknacker (or “tank cracker”—I love that name) was underpowered, lethargic, and featured a sardine can for a cockpit; flying it was akin to hitching up a lard-a$$ hippo and lumbering around Botswana on a joy ride. And yet, the ‘129 was a fierce little slugger capable of blowing the innards out of T-34 and KV-1 tanks (and did). Had the Germans produced it in greater number, it might have kicked Stalin’s ethnic Georgian fanny all over the Eastern Front. But as it stood, the bantam bruiser administered little more than a bee sting on Russia’s armored hams.

A few historical factoids you’re dying to know about the Hs 129 …
  • The first engines to drive the Hs 129, air-cooled, in-line Argus motors, provided little more than rubber band power. The Luftwaffe got sick of that nonsense and slapped on a pair of French Ghome 17 cylinder radial engines that delivered a bit more oomph and ooh la la, but the comatose warbird remained a basturd to fly.
  • An armor plate "bathtub," two durable side windows, and two angled 75mm blocks of glass comprising the windscreen, shielded the pilot. For added protection, the fuselage sides were sloped inward for better projectile deflection, but that correspondingly shriveled the cockpit, chiefly at shoulder level. To accommodate this crunch, the instrument panel was largely sidelined, some instruments repositioned to the engine nacelles, the gunsight shifted outside to the aircraft’s squat nose.
  • The Henshel Hs 129 B-3 schlepped the devastating 7.5 cm Pak 40, Germany’s go-to anti-tank gun and heaviest, most powerful forward-firing weapon nailed to any production military aircraft during World War II. The 12-round rotating drum magazine and automatic loading device were squeezed into the fuselage, the shells feeding into the gun electro-pneumatically. This prodigious canon fired off twenty-six tungsten-carbide cored shells, forty rounds per minute (basically 3 or 4 per attack), one hit capable of pulverizing a T-34. The muzzle blast and recoil, however, rattled the ‘129 so sadistically it nearly jiggled the warbird to pieces. Plus the weapon’s colossal weight made the Hs 129 even more unwieldy that it already was, frequently obliging pilots to sever the gun’s elements and drop it.
  • Though it never reached maturity, the HS 129C version would have featured two fantabulous, screaming 840hp Isotta-Fraschini Delta IV inverted V-12 engines plus a limited traverse ventral turret packing two 30mm Mk 103 cannons. Henschel scotched the plans following Italy’s capitulation.
  • The Hs-129B2 served the Romanian air force (the 8th Assault Group) from 1943 onward. Ironically, it flew against the Wehrmacht after Romania ditched Germany for the Allies, attacking elements of the Vlasov Army, which refused to surrender after 9 May 1945. Historians claim the Hs 129 rescued more Romanian ground troops from certain death than any other aircraft throughout the entire war (and hey, aren’t we glad of that!).

It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it, why Germany didn’t simply clone the IL-2 Sturmovik nut for bolt and fly it against the Russians: A tank-busting hell-machine like that might have saved Germany’s patootie or at least given the Reich more time to develop better defensive weapons. Stukas did reasonably well against Russian armor (where they were available); but really … why not nick the Sturmovik (the absolute best tank killer at the time), slap Balkenkreuz on it, and kick some Russian heinie? It woulda, coulda worked!



IXO’s Hs-129 isn’t half bad, actually. It’s nothing to drool over; but until Hobby Master or Corgi or some other manu produces their own Panzerknackers, this little troll does nicely (in a gauche IXO kind of way ). I like this little buzzard enough to recommend it to Russian-Front enthusiasts eager to clobber WWII Commie armor.









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Old 08-09-2016, 08:22 AM   #254
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Some folks believe that had the gods of war smiled more kindly on the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (“Frank” in USAAF and USN lingo) it might have equaled, or even bested, its arch foes, the Hellcat, Corsair, and Mustang.

Or so they claim.

The ‘84 was blessed with exceptional performance, killer armament (two 30mm and two 20 mm cannon), and excellent maneuverability, easily the fastest fighter in the Imperial Japanese military. When everything went right with it, the warbird was nearly invincible, especially in the hands of exceptional pilots. It’s no stretch to say that had things gone Japan’s way, the Hayate would have become a genuine samurai legend. But fate frowned on the empire and thus booted the Ki-84 into relative obscurity. The reasons were legion: Production quality was mediocre to inferior in later models; the plane’s high-maintenance Sakae radial engine was worse than troublesome; its landing gear was prone to buckle; quality fuel was virtually nonexistent; and experienced, top-drawer pilots had mostly vanished. Yet with all that stacked against it, the warbird still proved a fearsome opponent against American fighters and bombers alike.

A short history …

Part of the Ki-84’s lore commenced with its debut at Akeno Fighter Army Flying School, where the prototype flew rings around a Ki-44 and borrowed Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-5. Student pilots practically worshipped the new mount—as did Japanese Army brass, who felt this new warrior could disembowel enemy warbirds with one merciless slash.

The fighter’s early stages were inspiring. Engineers designed the Ki-84 for painless production, employing the same assembly jigs used for the Ki-44, saving thousands of hours in assembly time. The switch from the Ki-44 to the Ki-84 proved trouble-free—until B-29s smashed several contributing Nakajima factories. To make good on the loss and even boost production, assembly lines took excessive (and insanely stupid) shortcuts that ultimately trashed the Hayate’s performance.

At first the Ki-84 acquitted itself brilliantly. In the summer of 1944, 22nd Sentai Ki-84s went fistacuffs with P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs of the US 14th Air Force in a violent bar fight lasting five weeks. Both combatants staggered away bloodied, the USAAF claiming victory; but the 22nd had proved beyond doubt the Ki-84 was a genuine bad boy.

In fact, Tojo was so impressed with the fighter that he even fantasized it would outright butcher USN aircraft operating over Leyte, humiliating and enfeebling the American colossus; but this proved delusional. Early-production Ki-84s were reliable, more than able to thrive in tough combat conditions; but following the destruction of Nakajima’s Ha-45 engine factory and additional attacks on Ki-84 assembly lines, quality nosedived. The number of functional Franks plummeted, many crashing en-route to island garrisons or performing badly upon arrival. By the third week in November ‘44, Philippine JAAF strength plunged to 21%, declining further in December. By the end of the battle for the Philippines, Ki-84 units did little more than crawl on their hands and knees.

Still, not all Franks were turds. It’s a tribute to Japanese design and engineering that despite severe production challenges, the Ki-84 became the most effective Japanese single-seat fighter during the air skirmishes over Japan. It held its own against Allied fighters over the Home Islands and inflicted severe damage on B-29 squadrons (until the bomber changed from daylight operations to night bombing).

In the end, poor assembly, scarcity of usable gas, part shortages, and want for competent pilots doomed the Ki-84 to a minor (though sometimes effective) role against American air power. Had circumstances allowed, the Hayate likely would have developed into a major contender that might have delayed Japan’s inevitable defeat.




For my money, War Master produced a tolerable Ki-84, though it’s clearly not a masterpiece. It doesn’t rise to Corgi’s or Master Hobby’s brilliance, but I find it kind of appealing anyway (in a War-Master gawky kind of way). Finding one of these little demons, however, will prove challenging.








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Old 08-10-2016, 08:46 AM   #255
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It’s a documented fact that the McDonnel Douglas A-4 Skyhawk’s cockpit was so snug that the United States Navy issued shoehorns and tubs of Vaseline to bulkier “Scooter” pilots to ease their fit. Carrier crews laughed themselves silly watching cumbersome A-4 drivers contort themselves into the jet’s cramped quarters; but there was no denying the “Tinker Toy Bomber” was a champ, a bantam-weight titleholder that could heft 9,000 lbs. of ordinance, boogie all day, drop its load accurately, and book it home to a tasty, toothsome dinner. This Muhammad Ali of an attack aircraft floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee, and KO’d the North Vietnamese, Egyptians, Syrians, Brits, and Iraqis right on their everlovin’ badonkadonks.

Some random, notable tidbits about this pygmy pugilist ...

  • The legendary Skyhawk was light as a feather (so to speak), weighing in at one-half its originally specified weight.
  • The A-4 became the most impressive, effective, valued attacked aircraft of its era, capable of dropping dumb bombs with exceptional accuracy.
  • The Skyhawk was so small it didn’t require folding wings aboard aircraft carriers.
  • The 8,500-pound-thrust J52 engine (crammed into the A-4) was originally designed for the North American Hound Dog missile. With models producing 11,200 pounds of thrust, the J52 soon became the Navy's workhorse, powering McDonnell Douglas' A-4 Skyhawk series and Grumman's A-6 Intruder and EA-6B Prowler. More than 5,000 J-52 engines were produced, spanning nearly three decades.
  • Skyhawks were the USN’s primary light bomber during the early years of the Vietnam War, executing some of the first air strikes of that conflict.
  • On May 1, 1967, Lieutenant Commander Ted Swartz won fame for splashing a MiG-17 while flying an A-4 (with air-to-ground rockets, no less).
  • Douglas produced 2,960 Skyhawks in 45 variants.
  • The Blue Angels flew the A-4 from 1974 through 1986.
  • The Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program employed the A-4 in an adversary role, and the TA-4J model served as the advanced jet trainer until the T-45 Goshawk replaced it.
  • Captain John “Johnny” McCain (now Senator McCain from Arizona), who graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1958, fifth from the bottom of his class (894th out of 899), reportedly lost five jets during his career and allegedly (I repeat: ALLEGEDLY) triggered the fire and series of bomb and missile explosions that killed 134 sailors aboard the USS Forrestal on July 29, 1967. He was shot down in another A-4 Skyhawk flying from the USS Oriskany on Oct. 26, 1967, subsequently spending the next five and a half years as Ho Chi Minh’s guest in the Hanoi Hilton, where he acquitted himself honorably. Senator McCain and several historians insist (rather fiercely) that he didn’t cause the hellacious fire aboard the Forrestal; others are sure of it.
  • The A-4 remained in production for over 20 years and served in the USAF, the USN, the USMC, the IAF, the Fuerza Aérea Argentina, the Kuwiti Air Force, The Royal Australian Navy, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Indonesian Air Force, the Royal Malaysian Air force, the Brazilian Navy, and the Luftwaffe (via Discovery Air Defense Services).



Hobby Master should be congratulated for its fabulous Skyhawk series, so I’ll do just that: CONGRATULATIONS, HOBBY MASTER!!! The Argentine A-4B (pictured below) and the USN A-4F Lady Jessie (pictured above) are hard to come by, but don’t despair: both pop up occasionally on eBay. USN Vietnam-era collectors and Argentine Air Force aficionadas agree: They’re a punch on the nose!














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Old 08-10-2016, 01:14 PM   #256
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Not quite accurate on the Falklands's loses. HMS Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor were hit by exocet missiles which meant they were launched from Super Etendards NOT Skyhawks.

HMS Antrim and Brilliant, amongst others, were damaged by IAI Daggers rather than Skyhawks.

I think you may have mistakenly attributed all loses/damage to Skyhawks?
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Old 08-10-2016, 05:27 PM   #257
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Quote:
Not quite accurate on the Falklands's loses. HMS Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor were hit by exocet missiles which meant they were launched from Super Etendards NOT Skyhawks.

HMS Antrim and Brilliant, amongst others, were damaged by IAI Daggers rather than Skyhawks.

I think you may have mistakenly attributed all loses/damage to Skyhawks?
Well that’s embarrassing! Usually I do my homework better than that. You’re right, Wildblood. And thank you!
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Old 08-10-2016, 05:53 PM   #258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richtofen888 View Post
Thanks, Fortunate Son, for your questions. I’ll try my best to answer them …


Yep, actually I do own this particular Corgi Lightning. It’s No. AA36608, a Lockheed P-38J that served with the USAAF 80th FG, 459th FS, called Haleakala. It’s truly a terrific model, and I recommend it to Lightning aficionadas everywhere. And yes, Corgi produced it: I refer you to The Flying Mule that sold them years ago: (Corgi AA36608 - P-38 Lightning Diecast Model, USAAF 80th FG, 459th FS, "Haleakala", Harry Sealy). Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to find these days—if not impossible.
I have to say, this must be one of the rarest Corgi models in existence. I had no idea it even existed until I just read this thread. Is there some story behind its lack of availability?
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:13 PM   #259
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Quote:
I have to say, this must be one of the rarest Corgi models in existence. I had no idea it even existed until I just read this thread. Is there some story behind its lack of availability?

I wish I could answer that, Kruse; but I'm not in the know. I can only refer you to The Flying Mule advert of that particular P-38 (Corgi AA36608 - P-38 Lightning Diecast Model, USAAF 80th FG, 459th FS, "Haleakala", Harry Sealy). I purchased the AA36608 Lightning from TFM years ago and thought little more of it—until Fortunate Son proffered the same question.

Lovely model, I might add.
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:59 PM   #260
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I have to say, this must be one of the rarest Corgi models in existence. I had no idea it even existed until I just read this thread. Is there some story behind its lack of availability?
I pulled this from a Corgi Archive website: Corgi News Archive

The following models have been withdrawn from the Corgi range and all backorders have been cancelled:

AA34109 Buccaneer S.Mk.2B, RAF 208 Sqn. – “Exercise Red Flag 77” 08 Winter/Spring
AA35907 AH-60L Blackhawk DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) US Army, 160th SOAR 08 Winter/Spring
AA36608 Lockheed P-38J Lightning - 'Haleakala' 2007
AA36611 Lockheed P-38 Lightning PRU – Adrian Warburton 1st Half 08
AA37005 VC10 C.1K, RAF 101 Sqd. RAF Brize Norton, Oxon 2008 08 Winter/Spring
AA37507 MiG-29A ‘Fulcrum’, Soviet Air Force, 1988 08 Winter/Spring
BL99044 Side Platform Ser Bassett-Lowke
BL99045 Side Platform 1ft Add-On Section with fencing Bassett-Lowke
BL99046 Level Crossing Bassett-Lowke
BL99047 Signal Box Bassett-Lowke
BL99048 Signal Bassett-Lowke
BL99049 Foot Bridge Bassett-Lowke
BL99050 Smoke Oil (100 ml) Bottle Bassett-Lowke
BL99051 Centre Platform Set Bassett-Lowke
BL99052 Centre Platform 1ft Add On Section Bassett-Lowke
CC10903 Bedford S Low Loader & JCB 3C 1st Half 08
CC12113 Renault Flatbed/Load – ALE 1st Half 08
CC13431 MAN TGA Tanker - A A Lock 1st Half 08
CC13434 MAN TGA Stepframe Trailer and Tank Load – Ainscough Crane Hire Ltd 08 Winter/Spring
CC13525 Volvo FM Tipper - Alan McGuinness 1st Half 08
CC13616 DAF CF Curtainside - Spence Haulage 1st Half 08
CC13622 DAF CF 85 & 2 Axle King Trailer with Burrell Crane 08 Winter/Spring
CC14016 Volvo FH Curtainside - E M Rogers 1st Half 08
CC14019 Volvo FH, Stepframe Nooteboom with Turbine Load and Ford Transit Van 08 Winter/Spring
CC14306 Ford Transit - Marshalls 1st Half 08
CC14402 Vauxhall Vivaro - Sky HD 1st Half 08
CC14501 AA Renault Traffic 2007
CC15005 Iveco Stralis Curtainside – John Raymond – Bridgend, South Wales 08 Winter/Spring
CC25101 Southdown Bedford 1st Half 08
CC25301 AEC Regal - MacBraynes 1st Half 08
CC25401 Burlingham Seagull – Barton 1st Half 08
CC26103 RT Double Deck Bus Sights & Sounds 2007
CC26107 RT Double Deck Bus 08 Winter/Spring
CC82261 Mini 7 - Mini 7 Racing Club, Michael Jackson 1st Half 08
DG175018 Scammell Handyman - Ferrymaster 08 Winter/Spring
MT00104 Austin FX4 London Taxi-Silver Cab 2007
MT00105 Austin FX4 London Taxi-Black/Burgundy Two Tone 2007
US36612 P-38 Lightning - Glacier Girl - preserved USA US
US52508 Baltimore Fire Show Special – Seagrave 70th Ann TDA Ladder 3 Boston US 2007
VA06622 Ford Transit MkI - Lillywhites 08 Winter/Spring
VA06811 Hillman Minx Series IIIC – 1962 East African Safari 08 Winter/Spring

Given it talks of being pulled from the Corgi range and 'backorders' being cancelled I can only assume that some may have got out, but clearly not many!
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Old 08-10-2016, 07:32 PM   #261
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It's also a shame they cancelled AA36611.

Richtofen, can you post more pictures of the model and the box? I'd love to see more of it.
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Old 08-10-2016, 07:57 PM   #262
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It's also a shame they cancelled AA36611.

Richtofen, can you post more pictures of the model and the box? I'd love to see more of it.
Already asked and answered at #251 & #252
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Old 08-10-2016, 08:21 PM   #263
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Looking at the list in post #260, a lot of the dates quoted are around 2008. This would have been the time Corgi was bought by Hornby and may be the reason for the cancellations.
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Old 08-10-2016, 08:53 PM   #264
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Guys, you’re going to think I’m the biggest ignoramus in the world, but I just tore through my boxes to retrieve my Corgi P-38J AA36608 (just to prove I had one)—and found instead, to my unmitigated horror, my Witty Wings P-38J WTW72020-01 (which looks similar to Corgi’s never-manufactured Lightning). So let me be clear: I was totally, unforgivably wrong: I don’t own a Corgi P-38J AA36608 but a Witty Wings Lightning instead. The scary part is, I totally remember buying a Corgi P-38J with cute greenie engine nacelles. I even remember the box. But I obviously suffered from brain freeze (not so uncommon these days) and conjured up a Corgi P-38J when in fact I own a Witty lookalike.

Dumb, huh?

I owe everybody an apology. It’s embarrassing, but I summoned up a false memory. Here’s the model I purchased: Witty WTW72020-01 - P-38 Lightning Diecast Model, USAAF 80th FG, 459th FS, "Miss V", Walter Duke

Sorry, guys. I’m going to get my head examined. Hope you forgive me.
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:16 PM   #265
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Guys, you’re going to think I’m the biggest ignoramus in the world, but I just tore through my boxes to retrieve my Corgi P-38J AA36608 (just to prove I had one)—and found instead, to my unmitigated horror, my Witty Wings P-38J WTW72020-01 (which looks similar to Corgi’s never-manufactured Lightning). So let me be clear: I was totally, unforgivably wrong: I don’t own a Corgi P-38J AA36608 but a Witty Wings Lightning instead. The scary part is, I totally remember buying a Corgi P-38J with cute greenie engine nacelles. I even remember the box. But I obviously suffered from brain freeze (not so uncommon these days) and conjured up a Corgi P-38J when in fact I own a Witty lookalike.

Dumb, huh?

I owe everybody an apology. It’s embarrassing, but I summoned up a false memory. Here’s the model I purchased: Witty WTW72020-01 - P-38 Lightning Diecast Model, USAAF 80th FG, 459th FS, "Miss V", Walter Duke

Sorry, guys. I’m going to get my head examined. Hope you forgive me.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:07 AM   #266
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No worries. At least the mystery is solved.
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Old 08-11-2016, 11:55 AM   #267
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I thought that looked like the Witty P-38 that I've seen around before. Corgi should pull their version out of the cancellation trash and give it a go.
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:05 PM   #268
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A few posts ago (No. 253) I mused about why the Luftwaffe chose not to clone Russia’s superlative, if not totally ugly, IL-2 Sturmovik and fly the bird against the Bolshevik hordes. Countries have poached other countries’ weapons for millennia, fabricated them, sometimes improved them, and used them to their advantage. So why did the Germans ignore the “The Flying Tank, ” considering it was so effective?

The answer is, Who knows? It's puzzling, really, seeing that Germany brazenly pilfered at least one weapon during the war, upgraded it, and used to great effect: the American bazooka, christened the “Panzerschreck.” This steroid-drenched bazooka clone knocked out more than its fair share of Allied armor.

Plus this: When Russia’s outstanding T-34 medium tank kicked the Germans square in the junk in ‘41, senior officers from the 1st through the 6th Panzer Armies begged the Heereswaffenamt to outright copy the thing, turret for track. Very little in Germany’s arsenal could stop the T-34, so replicating the beast seemed not only sensible but absolutely critical. Nobody at the top listened, of course; but MANN engineers ultimately incorporated some of the T-34s more dazzling features into their new Panzer V Panther.

Back to my original premise, the Luftwaffe foolishly snubbed the IL-2 as a production aircraft—but it did fly captured examples that wildly proved their worth. The topmost Sturmovik illustrated below was one of these. The one beneath was as trainer.



I still say that had Hitler and his toadies shamelessly copied the IL-2 in adequate numbers, Stalin would have lost a great many more tanks before his Bolshie boys reached Berlin.

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Old 08-11-2016, 10:53 PM   #269
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Rudel and his Stukas wrecked havoc on the T-34s.
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Old 08-11-2016, 11:00 PM   #270
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I thought that looked like the Witty P-38 that I've seen around before. Corgi should pull their version out of the cancellation trash and give it a go.
I had to make my own blue PRU F-5

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Old 08-12-2016, 09:17 AM   #271
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

That’s a honey, Shawn. Wish my Code-3 skills were up to par.

As for the Stuka battering the living snot out of Russian armor, you’re entirely right. Rudel and his cohorts absolutely murdered T-34s and KV-1s and anything else sporting a red star. And had Germany fabricated enough JU-87G versions hefting two 37mm flack cannons under their wings (in the numbers Russia produced the IL-2 Sturmovik), the Wehrmacht might have survived. Might have even prevailed on the Eastern Front, actually. Maybe.

The point I tried to make, though poorly, was that the Sturmovik really was a tank; it was a dedicated, armor-skinned, kick-‘em-in-the-nutz tank killer well able to absorb punishment and still fly. The Stuka, though often highly effective, was nowhere near as bulletproof and hence far more vulnerable to anti-aircraft artillery. It was adapted to kill tanks, but it was originally designed and flown as a dive-bomber.

Between these two aircraft, Germany would have been better advised to steal the Sturmovik (like it did the bazooka), produce them in the tens of thousands, and permanently knock Stalin on his pasty Georgian fanny.
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:47 AM   #272
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Great posts Richtofen, I'm a huge fan of the IL2, so far I have to make do with an Easy Model example.

I think I know the answer to why the Germans didn't copy more Soviet hardware: because they were Nazi's.

They found it inconceivable that a people they considered beneath their Aryan master race could produce superior weaponry to theirs. German gear was often technically sophisitcated, over-engineered and hard to produce. And it kept breaking down. In contrast the T34 and IL2might have some ugly welds and lack a radio, but they were robust and reliable as hell in wartime conditions, which is what really matters. The same applies to planes like the La5 and the amazing Yak3. No German fighter could take on a Yak 3 and hope to win. The generals eventually realized this, but couldn't do anything, because again, Nazi's.
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Old 08-12-2016, 01:43 PM   #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esvees View Post
Great posts Richtofen, I'm a huge fan of the IL2, so far I have to make do with an Easy Model example.

I think I know the answer to why the Germans didn't copy more Soviet hardware: because they were Nazi's.

They found it inconceivable that a people they considered beneath their Aryan master race could produce superior weaponry to theirs. German gear was often technically sophisitcated, over-engineered and hard to produce. And it kept breaking down. In contrast the T34 and IL2might have some ugly welds and lack a radio, but they were robust and reliable as hell in wartime conditions, which is what really matters. The same applies to planes like the La5 and the amazing Yak3. No German fighter could take on a Yak 3 and hope to win. The generals eventually realized this, but couldn't do anything, because again, Nazi's.
Totally agree, Esvees ...

The Nazis, starting with Hitler, were so balls-out arrogant and contemptuous (I can think of a lot more damning adjectives), they honestly believed they were superior to everyone else; and thus being, they refused to outright copy (read: thieve) Russia’s “substandard” weaponry.

Boy, did they get that one wrong!

But here’s the thing: The Germans didn’t actually have to pinch the Sturmovik or T-34 or K-V1 (or any number of Russian weapons); they needed only adopt their best qualities and exploit them, which they did, sorta, in a few cases. But not enough to make a difference.

Maybe there’s something to be said for arrogance after all!
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Old 08-13-2016, 12:13 PM   #274
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Creation mythology is ofttimes fascinating, even amusing. Japanese fable had it that the great god Amaterasu swung a flaming sword and smote Mt. Fuji at its base, liberating the fearsome Minikui seabird within, which, while soaring heavenward, dropped enchanted guano everywhere, germinating the ground from whence the legendary Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bomber sprang, which, in turn, ascended skyward and boldly released its own devilish doo-doo on Allied vessels and instillations.

Yuk!

Makes for a great story; but dubious legends aside, the Val was an amazingly lethal warbird responsible for a great many ship kills—and that’s no crap.

In December 1939, priming for war against the United States, the Japanese Navy ordered the Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11, which featured elliptical wings and a robust Kinsei 44 engine. But for a niggly instability problem that plagued early models (later corrected with a long dorsal fin), everything about the bird was inspired and dazzling and pointblank dangerous. From the get-go, the Val was a ship-killer, able to heft a single 550 lb bomb under its belly (coupled to a trapeze release mechanism) plus two 130 lb bombs slung on wing racks outboard its dive brakes. At a 60 degree (or greater) attack angle, the Val could deftly place these bombs to within feet of its aiming point, blowing the guts out of destroyers, cruisers, battleships, and aircraft carriers alike.

The D3A1 commenced carrier qualification trials aboard the Akagi and Kaga during 1940, demonstrating a deft touch when taking off and landing. At the same time, land-based Vals made their combat debut over China, devastating opposing enemy units with remarkable finesse. Starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the D3A1 participated in every major Japanese carrier operation in the first 10 months of the war, achieving a major victory over the Royal Navy in April 1942 by scoring over 80% hits on two heavy cruisers and an aircraft carrier. The Val’s homicidal reputation was warranted, doubly so when it synchronized attacks with its torpedo-schlepping hangar buddy, the Nakajima B5N, blowing enemy ships to kingdom come.

In June 1942, an improved Val, the Model 12, took the stage, sporting a 969 kW (1,300 hp) Kinsei 54 power plant. Val crews appreciated the extra muscle, but the power plant devoured gas by the buttload, which decreased the warbird’s range, necessitating the use of additional fuel tanks that compromised the dive bomber’s maneuverability. Flying to and battling over frontiers like the Solomon Islands and Philippines became suicidal. Eventually, out of desperation, remaining Vals ended their celebrated service as mad-whack Kamikazes.

Omitting the Pearl Harbor strike, Aichi D3A dive bombers sank the following Allied warships:
  • USS Peary, American destroyer, 19 February 1942 - Australia (Darwin)
  • USS Langley, American seaplane tender (sunk by U.S. forces after attack) 27 Feb 1942 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS Pope, American destroyer, 1 March 1942 - Pacific Ocean
  • HMS Cornwall, British heavy cruiser, 5 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • HMS Dorsetshire, British heavy cruiser, 5 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • HMS Hector, British armed merchant cruiser, 5 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • HMS Tenedos, British destroyer, 5 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • HMS Hermes, British aircraft carrier, 9 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • HMAS Vampire, Australian destroyer, 9 April 1942 - Indian Ocean
  • USS Sims, American destroyer, 7 May 1942 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS Benham, American destroyer, 15 November 1942 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS De Haven, American destroyer, 1 February 1943 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS Aaron Ward, American destroyer, 7 April 1943 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS Brownson, American destroyer, 26 December 1943 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS Abner Read, American destroyer, sunk by Kamikaze 1 November 1944 - Pacific Ocean
  • USS William D. Porter, American destroyer, sunk by Kamikaze 10 June 1945 - Japan (Okinawa)




All I can say is, SkyMax’s (Hobby Master’s) Val (SM5003) is a real honey of a model that’s not only accurate but masterfully crafted; I especially love this bird’s orange motif. But be aware, this diminutive samurai is tough to find; you’ll likely have to scrounge far and wide to find one. But whatever you do, wear rubber gloves when playing with it: You’ll likely get stinky, sticky guano on your fingers when dive bombing Allied ships.








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Old 08-15-2016, 09:14 AM   #275
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The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil ("Arrow") was one of those dazzling late-war German aircraft that might have annihilated the Allied bombing threat given a little more incubation, a smidgen more maturation, and ten months (at least) of nonstop production. What it got instead was Nazi “thick as pig-poo” stupidity. Honestly, the aircraft was that outstanding—and strutting Luftwaffe chieftains that brainless.

The Pfeil's twin-engine, push-pull layout was a touch of genius, its in-line engines substantially reducing drag while keeping the weight of the powerplants near, or on, the aircraft’s centerline, which improved the aircraft’s roll rate. If one of its engines went kablooey, the plane suffered no asymmetric thrust or net torque (opposed to a traditional twin design), rendering recovery effortless. Plus, the crate could pull 474 mph., beating the P-51D by 37 mph in a drag race. On paper, at least, the Arrow was a genuine, steet-burnin,’ hell-rasin’ hotrod.

So in 1939, Dornier got to work on the Göppingen Gö 9 (the Arrow’s granddaddy). The plane’s engine arrangement and aircraft design (no surprise) proved problem free, and hopes ran high; but pigheaded Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering took little interest in such trailblazing aircraft and accordingly cancelled all like projects uncompletable within a year.

What a dimwit, huh?

Because of that diktat, the Arrow (among other promising Nazi aircraft) never made it to the major leagues. The Arrow’s development and production came to a halt even though real-world experience clearly demonstrated Germany’s need for superior aircraft (like the Arrow). Time passed, and braindead Göring finally retracted his edict but far too late to save Germany’s booty. Dornier submitted an updated version of its push-pull warbird in May 1942, beating out rivals Arado, Junkers, and Blohm & Voss, only to learn the Luftwaffe no longer wanted the Do 335 as a light bomber (as originally proposed) but demanded instead a multi-role fighter based on the same general layout. Dornier accepted the change, though it imposed excessive, ill-timed delays.

Flugkapitän Hans Dieterle flew the first Do 335 V1 prototype on 26 October, 1943, and raved about its speed, acceleration, turning circle, and general handling. But for the warbird’s flimsy landing struts and problematic gear doors, the Pfeil was a dream. By mid-January 1944, RLM ordered five more prototypes (V21–V25) as night fighters. And that May, Hitler got wind of this impressive beast and ordered the Do 335 into full production, top priority. But it was here, finally, where Goering’s jug-headedness came to roost: Only twenty-two preproduction aircraft flew before the end of the war, none engaging in combat (as far as we know). Once the United States Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, the game was over.

One Arrow did, however, provide a glimpse into what might have been. French ace Pierre Clostermann, leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron, attempted to intercept a lone Do 335 hauling its tushy over northern Germany. Despite the Tempests’ blistering speed and nearness, they couldn’t catch it; the Arrow pulled ahead effortlessly, leaving the foursome far behind.

For the Dornier Do 335, it all boiled down to too little, too late. German genius had conceived the war-winning fighter; German idiocy doomed it to pointlessness.






In my opinion, Oxford’s budget Do 335 stands on the corner of passable and monotonous. It’s definitely not a show stopper; but considering not one of the biggie manus (Corgi, Hobby Master, etc., etc.) have or likely will produce an Arrow, Oxford’s effort is welcome. At the very least, the model offers a good starting point for code-3 tinkering.







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Old 08-16-2016, 08:56 AM   #276
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To me, the Hawker Typhoon looked like a thug from the mean streets of Westminster, London, all too inclined to put his fist through your mush. This hard-bitten fighter/bomber was so tough as nails and unspeakably fearsome, Wehrmacht conscripts routinely got the Hershey Squirts when it thrashed their armor columns.

The pruned version of the Typhoon’s illustrious history goes as follows...

Sydney Camm, British aeronautical wunderkind, commenced work on the Hawker Hurricane’s successor in early ’37. His “R” design, based around a Rolls-Royce power plant, proved craptacular, prodding him toward his “N” version, centered around a Napier engine.

To house the Napier Sabre power plant, the “N” design, or “Typhoon,” featured a jutting chin-mounted radiator, which sorta resembled the cavernous, gapping maw of a hippo. Camm's design employed remarkably thick wings that not only formed a stable gun platform but also accommodated ample fuel capacity. The fuselage exploited an assortment of material and techniques including duralumin/steel tubes forward and a flush-riveted, semi-monocoque structure aft. The aircraft's initial armament consisted of twelve .30 cal. machine guns (Typhoon IA) but was later swapped to four, belt-fed 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon (Typhoon IB).

Despite teething problems, the Typhoon rushed into production following the Focke-Wulf Fw 190’s vile debut. Since Hawker plants were already stuffed to the gills, Gloster handled production, churning out aircraft rife with structural failures and faults, among them the seepage of carbon monoxide fumes into the cockpit. Testing revealed that a suspect joint caused the Typhoon's tail to tear away in flight, finally remedied by reinforcing the area with steel plates.

In combat, the Typhoon went postal on Fw 190s, mostly at lower altitudes. The Royal Air Force was impressed and deployed standing patrols of Typhoons along Britain’s southern coast. In mid-1942, the Typhoon was cleared to carry two 500 lb. bombs, later doubled to two 1,000 lb. bombs, giving birth to “Bombphoons,” which reached frontline squadrons in September 1942.

Excelling in this role, the Typhoon soon mounted additional armor around the engine and cockpit plus drop tanks for deeper penetration into enemy territory. Soon, RP3 rockets complimented the warbird’s arsenal, providing firepower equivalent to a navy destroyer’s broadside put to excellent use by the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force’s Mk.1 B’s.

As the Hawker Tempest took the stage, the Typhoon mostly transitioned to ground attack, providing vital close air support to Allied troops landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944. RAF forward air controllers apportioned to ground forces called in Typhoon support that shattered enemy motorized columns, bunkers, infantry, and morale.

In December 1944, Typhoons flew countless raids against German forces, helping to turn the tide during the Battle of the Bulge. As spring 1945 commenced, Typhoons supported Operation Varsity as Allied airborne forces landed east of the Rhine. In the war's final days, Typhoons sank the merchant vessels Cap Arcona, Thielbeck, and Deutschland in the Baltic Sea, regretfully and inadvertently killing hundreds of prisoners aboard the Cap Arcona.

During the course of its career, 3,317 Typhoons provided inestimable service to the RAF—and thus the Allies.





I’ve always had a thing for the Hawker Typhoon, its enormous gullet, its strappy, burly wings, those bad-boy rockets. Corgi did a snappy job on the AA36503, though its camouflage is a wee bit intense. Whatever, this honey of a model is currently popping up on eBay, and I recommend it to everyone who is appreciative of Hitler’s boys soiling their ever-lovin’ knickers.






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Old 08-16-2016, 09:14 PM   #277
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A close friend of mine, Lt Cdr Dylan T. Tangerman USN (ret.), flew the RA-5C Vigilante over North Vietnam/Laos and kindly gave me permission to share the following story with you.

Before I do, allow me to fill you in on a few details about the Vigilante, cute little chicadee that she was ...

The RA-5C was designed as a bomber that morphed into a reconnaissance platform that schlepped a sophisticated electronic pod under its fuselage (called the “canoe”) that included vertical, oblique, split-image cameras and active and passive ECM equipment.

An inertial navigation system (INS) integrated with an automatic flight control system enabled the Vigilante to fly precision courses between high to tree-top level altitudes. Each photo taken displayed latitude and longitude data recorded at the moment of exposure, thus pinpointing target locations that technicians later uploaded into a shipboard data bank and analyzed for mission planning and preparation.

Among its many qualities, this swankalishious babe could really boogie. She was the largest and fastest airplane to ever operate from an aircraft carrier, exceeding Mach 1 at 6,000 feet using minimum afterburner and blowing past Mach 2 at high altitude. Because the Vigilante carried no defensive armament, its only means of survival was to punch the accelerator and book it—which was effective most of the time. Sometimes, sadly, it wasn’t: the RA-5C suffered the highest loss rate of any Naval aircraft in the war, twenty-three Vigilantes screwing the pooch.

This loss rate had nothing to do with some exasperating design flaw but rather the nature of pre- and post-strike photography. Taking pics before a major Alfa strike was moderately safe, surprise favoring rece crews. Snapping vital bomb damage assessment (BOA) photos after the strike was balls-out dangerous. Smoke and dust from exploded ordinance took 10 minutes to settle, obliging the Vigilante to cool its jets (so to speak) before swooping over the target for more pics—which was exactly how long it took for North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners to reload their weapons. These gunners anticipated the Vigilante’s certain return and knew exactly where to point, a worrisome fact that weighed heavily on Lt Cdr Tangerman’s mind, though on this particular mission he flew hours after the strike.

In August, 1971, Dylan and his RAN5 (reconnaissance attack navigator), Lt(jg) Dave Gronquist, were ordered to photograph a section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail straddling Laos defended by insane anti-aircraft artillery. Of late, several F-4s had become flying sieves attacking a bridge in the area; and Tangerman and Gronquist, understandably, weren’t entirely thrilled about getting their butts shot off, too.

Ready on the flight deck, Tangerman reported the gauge readings to Gronquist for the day’s mission, flung an exaggerated salute to the catapult officer, dropped his right hand to the stick, braced his elbow on his thigh, settled his helmet solidly against the headrest, and checked that his back was straight. The Vigilante thundered with 36,000 pounds of thrust boiling behind him.

The catapult fired, and the crushing weight on Dylan’s chest forced a grunt. Seventy thousand pounds of airplane accelerated to 170 mph, 3,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure in the nose gear retracting the Oleo strut, hard enough to vibrate the nose and make the instrument panel throb (barely noticeable in the daytime but alarmingly visible at night). Tangerman then tugged the throttles back from afterburner to military power, flying low and turning starboard away from the USS Enterprise, accelerating and then climbing to acquire his F-4 Phantom escort.

The two warbirds rendezvoused at 15,000 feet over the carrier. The Phantom lugged Sidewinder missiles on pylons below its wings, a huge fuel tank under its belly, and Sparrow missiles partly concealed in its fuselage. Although the two jets shared the same engines, GE J-79-lOs, Tangerman’s RA-5C could blow the doors off the F-4, mostly because it wasn’t lumbered with external stores. The J-79 engine, exasperatingly, ran dirty, a sooty trail spilling from its butt cheeks that rendered the aircraft easy to spot, track, and swat down. The solution was to fly combat in afterburner, which disgorged a relatively clean exhaust. On the way to the target, Tangerman flew with minimum afterburner.

The coast of Vietnam materialized in the steamy haze. Tangerman prodded the throttles past the detent and felt the afterburners kick in. He trimmed out pressure with the miniscule movements of a ribbed wheel parked in the control stick, guiding the Vigi to its target. A look over his shoulder confirmed the Phantom was in good chase position just off his right. Tangerman leveled off at 4,000 feet just as Gronquist uttered, "Follow steering. Cameras coming on." Nothing but thick jungle-covered hills rolled ahead. "Right to 020. Follow steering." The Vigilante felt smooth and solid at this speed.

"I see the Trail. It's bearing off right," Gronquist said. Tangerman adjusted course, lining up with a sweep of dirt road between the trees, swiftly acquiring the bombed-out bridge bookended with craters. From what the Vigi crew could see, the span was down; but that was probably a ruse: North Vietnamese engineers habitually rebuilt such bridges just below the water’s surface.

Tangerman’s escort barked about flak coming from the west bank of the stream as bright reddish marbles drifted up from the jungle behind and low. Suddenly a cluster of larger crimson 23 mm shells swarmed the Vigilante, exploding far too close for comfort, forcing Tangerman to jink hard right. As the Vigi stood on its starboard wing, the entire planet exploded, slamming the pilot against his harness. Dazed for a moment, Tangerman attempted to raise Gronquist on the intercom but got no answer. He tried again, but Gronquist remained deathly silent. Tangerman swore, forcing himself to full consciousness, and lit the burners, watching fixedly as his needle centered on the heading to the carrier (“home plate”).

Moments later the Phantom pulled alongside as its crew gawked at the huge smoking hole immediately abaft Tangerman’s cockpit.

Struggling back to the carrier and executing a miraculous “trap,” Tangerman soon learned he was lucky to have survived at all. The hangar boys counted 62 assorted shrapnel holes strewn around the aircraft, some miniscule, others considerably larger, the flight controls totally shredded in several places. But the worst news was, Gronquist was gone: The hangar crew literally had to hose out his remains.

One week later, Tangerman flew recce again in a different Vigilante over the very same area with a new RAN5. The bridge, they observed, was still operational.





In my humble opinion (and many others’), the pilots and crews of recce aircraft are every bit as bold and plucky as their more celebrated fighter/bomber colleagues, the only difference between these warriors being, recce crews don’t shoot back. Hobby Master’s Vigis are masterworks in every way and deserve a place in your diecast collection—if only because they symbolize valor at its finest.







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Old 08-16-2016, 10:57 PM   #278
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Brilliant post about the Vigi, Dave. Definitely one of your best efforts.

The recce bird pilots have balls of steel - alone, unarmed and unafraid as their motto has it.

Really appreciate the effort you go to with these, tis is among the best content on the forum, no doubt about it.
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:49 AM   #279
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you write some good stuff Dave but when is you gonna write some review on them HM Mirage 2000 birds, for example the HA1601 or HA1602... you never wrote anything about them, they are pretty sought after by us newer collectors!
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:59 PM   #280
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A belated but sincere thank you to tker76 and Surinam Air 747 for their kindhearted and deeply appreciated comments. (By the way, Surinam—find post #43 of this thread for your Mirage 2000.)

With that said, I’ve got a question for y’all …

Have you ever heard of Walther Wever (pronounced V-Var), as in General Walther Wever? You should, ‘cause it’s entirely possible Germany lost the war because this far-sighted Luftwaffe Chief of Staff died in a plane crash on 3 June, 1936.

It’s true! Germany’s effort to build a viable, strategic four-engined bomber force died with him; and with the demise of a truly strategic bomber force, Germany was doomed to defeat—or so argue several eminent WWII historians whom I happen to agree with. Here’s their reasoning …

General Wever was nobody’s fool. He knew, as did the Allies, that a large, souped-up, far-ranging bomber force was absolutely necessary to defeat the enemy or at least gum up his war-making capacity. Thus convinced, he pushed for a large four-engined bomber force—not unlike his English and American counterparts. He even initiated the Ural Bomber production contract competition, wherein the winner would design and produce a multi-engined aircraft capable of bombing the hell out of Russian factories far beyond the range of two-engined warbirds (like the He-111).

His strategy was fivefold …

1) Destroy enemy air forces by bombing bases and aircraft factories.
2) Prevent large enemy ground forces movements by obliterating railways and roads (and bridges and tunnels).
3) Impede enemy advance by participating directly in ground operations.
4) Attack naval bases and enemy fleets.
5) Bomb enemy armaments factories and thus paralyze enemy armed forces.

Sound familiar?

Wever was familiar with Hitler’s vulgar scheme to gang rape Russia; but Russia was enormous, and Wever knew only too well that Germany lacked bombers capable of flying deep into the Ruskie hinterland. Thus he pushed for a four-engine design that could reach Moscow and beyond—and possibly pulverize England, too.

But all that ended when Wever’s Heinkel 70 stalled and went into a horizontal cartwheel, crashing and exploding in flames, killing the general and Germany’s hopes of winning any future war with him. That very same day the RLM issued the Bomber A heavy bomber specification and design competition for what eventuated as the Luftwaffe's only wartime heavy bomber in production and front-line service, the Heinkel He 177 (which, owing to its insane engine design, was a piece of poo-poo).

See, had Germany flown a viable, ball-busting, four-engined bomber like the Lancaster or Fortress, it could have chased, harried, and possibly even trashed Russia’s effort to relocate its factories to the Urals. At the very least, this bombing campaign might have stalled Russia’s move by a year, furnishing Germany enough time to make solid gains and/or regain initiative. Even if Germany couldn’t win the war, it might have positioned itself for a negotiated peace settlement.

But because Wever bit the big one, the Luftwaffe committed itself to two-engined medium-range bomber aircraft instead, which proved effective—but not decisive. Because somebody stupidly forgot to remove the aileron gust locks on Wever’s He-70, the general who likely would have provided Germany with a war-winning bomber force burned to a glowing crisp instead, and that, as they say, was that. After Wever croaked, strategists like Ernst Udet and Hans Jeschonnek took his place, men who favored smaller aircraft that expended less material and manpower (like the He-111 below).

Ah, such is life.

All I have to say about the Heinkel He-111 is that if any single aircraft represented Germany’s bomber might during the Second World War, that status largely belongs to the Luftwaffe’s Heinkel III. Conceived in secrecy but later produced in its thousands, this streamline design was to soldier on to the very end of the war, the definitive medium bomber of its decade.



This is Franklin Mint’s stab at producing the Double Blitz, and I’ve gotta admit it did a fantabulous job of it. It’s big, it’s hefty, it’s meaty, and it looks reasonably accurate. So if you’re into 1/48 WWII models and you don’t have an FM He-111, shame on you. Do something about it!




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Old 09-26-2016, 10:23 AM   #281
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Doncha just love it when somebody takes the initiative and steps in when others won’t?

Enter Lord Rothermere in 1934, proprietor of the Daily Mail (British newspaper), who invited representatives of the topmost aerial engineering firms to his estate and asked them one, simple question: “How came it that Britain’s aircraft industry did not beat the performance of foreign rivals?” (See, at the time, Britain’s air armada was craptastic in the world-class-aircraft department, clearly embarrassing England’s elite.)

These aerial moguls replied that not a soul in Britain cared to finance aircraft of “extreme performance”(read: superior aircraft). To which Lord Rothermere responded, trembling with righteous indignation, no doubt, that he’d bankroll any company that cared to craft a machine that would be, without question, “the best in the world.”

Thus the Bristol Type 142 was born, a shiny two-engined aircraft that flew 370mph, at least 60 mph faster than the RAF’s newest, speediest biplane fighter, the Gloster Gauntlet. The Air Ministry, somewhat chagrined, ordered 150 aircraft in the summer of 1935 and 434 more in July of 1937.

The Type 142M, or Blenheim I, sported a bombardier station in the nose, an internal bomb bay, and a dorsal machine gun turret for self-defense—plus a single machine gun in its port wing. The aircraft was all-metal and looked stunning—if not a little truncated—its nose barely stretching beyond its Mercury engine cowlings. In no time, the Blenheim's speed attracted worldwide notice flying circles around other contemporary aircraft, which led many admirers to deduce Britain possessed the best two-engined bomber in the world. Presently two additional production lines opened, which generated 1,552 Blenheim Is that equipped 26 RAF squadrons at home and in far-flung British bastions (e.g. Egypt, Iraq, Aden, India, Malaya/Malaysia, Singapore).

When World War II broke out, the Blenheim distinguished itself by flying RAF's first reconnaissance sortie on September 3, 1939, and shortly thereafter the RAF's first bombing mission. It soon became clear, though, that victory wouldn’t come easy, demonstrated by the Blenheim’s heavy losses. Due to its comparatively sedate speed and frail armament, the Blenheim fell prey to the predacious Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Still, Blenheims served valiantly following the Fall of France, raiding German airfields during the Battle of Britain. On August 21, 1941, a flight of 54 Blenheims daringly attacked the power station at Cologne but spent 12 aircraft in the effort. As losses soared, crews improvised several makeovers to improve the aircraft's defenses, but little came of them. The final variant, the Mk V, proved unpopular with crews and saw only brief service. It was clear by mid-1942 that the aircraft was too vulnerable, and the type ended its bombing career on the night of August 18, 1942. Use in North Africa and the Far East continued, however, through the end of the year. When the De Havilland Mosquito took the stage, the Blenheim beat a sullen but dignified retreat.

In the meantime, Mk IF and IVF Blenheims achieved noteworthy success as night fighters. Several carried the Airborne Intercept Mk III and later with the Mk IV radar, proving useful until Bristol Beaufighters arrived in number. Blenheims then served as long-range daytime reconnaissance aircraft but proved just as vulnerable as ever. Still other Blenheims flew Coastal Command maritime patrol missions tasked with protecting Allied convoys.

Badly outclassed by newer and more modern aircraft, the Blenheim finally vanished from frontline service in 1943 to end its days in a training capacity.



I highly recommend Corgi’s Bristol Blenheim Mk.1 (AA38404) on looks alone. Somebody really took his/her time on this model’s superb paint and tampo emblem application, creating a real, honest-to-goodness winner. For for those who haven’t landed one yet, grab it if you can. Corgi’s other Blenheims are just as pretty.






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Old 09-26-2016, 01:24 PM   #282
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I highly recommend Corgi’s Bristol Blenheim Mk.1 (AA38404) on looks alone

I certainly agree with you, I've got one myself for my ETO theme. The Blenheim was one of those 'world beaters' that suffered from the rapid pace of advancement in technology once the re-armament of the 1930's really kicked in, and the 'twins' suffered badly given the performance of the singles. The Bf110 didn't fair much better, an escort itself needing escorts in the BoB!
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Old 09-26-2016, 06:01 PM   #283
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You wouldn’t think it, but Corgi’s Blenheims really are fantastic. I purchased my first one years ago on a whim and was totally taken aback by its excellence both in precision and execution. In some magical way, Corgi captured the very heart of this beast, the gallantry of its crews, Britain’s courageous determination to not only take the war to the enemy but plunge a dagger in his heart. The Blenheim personified all that and more.

I’ve gotta say, Wildblood, England categorically produced world-class aircraft during WWII (and after). Who can argue that the Mosquito, the Lancaster, the Spitfire, the Tempest (and so on) weren’t among the very best aircraft ever produced? You’ve got to hand it to British aeronautical virtuosity.
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Old 09-27-2016, 09:51 AM   #284
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Yikes!!! I don’t know what the problem is or what’s causing it, but all my DA.C graphics vanished in one fell swoop—at least on my computer.

This comes as an unpleasant surprise, and I’ll will do what I can to restore these pics; but in the meantime please hang in there.

Sorry, guys. I’m hoping everything will clear up on its own, but something tells me it won’t be that easy.

Stay tuned …
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Old 10-03-2016, 12:09 PM   #285
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Did you know that the Hawker Tempest V and the Supermarine Spitfire XIV hated each other’s guts?

It’s true. Their rivalry was epic:

The Tempest V was the new guy on the block, the challenger; the Spitfire was the monarch, the alpha dog none too happy that smarty-pants Hawker threatened its sovereignty. Sounds outrageous, I agree. But few are aware that both fighters spawned die-hard fanatics who absolutely insist their fighter was the best, bar none. To listen to both camps is to provoke a monumental headache: The Spitfire camp swears the Mk. XIV was the end-all, be-all fighter of WWII, P-51D Mustang, Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2, Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4, Hawker Tempest V, et al., be damned. The Tempest crowd emphatically insists the Tempest V was an even better aircraft, citing the Mk. V was better armed, faster at lower altitudes, dove speedier with more energy, and flew farther.

So who’s correct? Spitfire enthusiasts or Tempest aficionadas? A quick comparison should put things right. Or not.

Above 25,000 ft, the Spitfire XIV zoomed past the Hawker and unspooled even faster with altitude, practically doubling the Tempest’s rate of climb, all made possible by the Spit’s lower wing loading, a fire-breathing Griffon engine (engineered for high altitudes), and overall lower weight (by 3,000 lbs.), which endowed the fighter with crazy-awesome Jedi powers like superior turn, climb, and acceleration. Tangle with a Spitfire XIV at those heights and you were dead meat.

Put another way, the Spitfire XIV dominated altitudes where heavenly angels twanged their harps.

Below 20,000 ft., however, the Tempest V was Lord Superior, routinely incinerating the Spit in a sprint, out-diving it with flabbergasting speed, and pulling high-speed rolls (above 350 mph) that made the other plane look totally inept. Not to mention, this monster hefted a heavier gun pack (four Mk V Hispano cannon compared to 4 x .303/2 x 20 mm or 2 x .50/2 x 20 mm), which boosted its chances of obliterating, say, an Fw-190A-8 in one pass.

Closer to mother earth, then, the Tempest was the superior fighter.

Taking all these facts into account, it appears both fighters were devastating; both were exceptional in their distinct domains, confirmed by an RAF tactical trial report that announced, “Regarding performance, if correctly handled, the Tempest V is better below about 20,000 feet and the Spitfire XIV above that height.”

So there you are. The Spitfire was the bee’s knees top side, the Tempest closer to the mud. Everybody on board with that? So why do Brits endlessly glorify the Spitfire over its meaty, earthy, just-as-deserving hangar mate?

Anybody care to guess?

It’s simple, according to one British military historian: The Tempest lacked the Spit’s iconic, swankalishious elliptical wings—a perceived shortcoming that fated the fighter to second-fiddle status.

See, wartime England regarded the Spit’s unique, ovate wings and sensual, svelte fuselage as tokens of British defiance, their curvy contours symbolizing triumph over evil, gallantry in the face of death. Anything less was, well … less. The Tempest’s wings and fuselage, as badassical as they were, mimicked those of the Spit—but not enough. And thus floundering, the Mk. V didn’t satisfy the public’s fancy. She could have personally bent Hitler over her knee and spanked the poo-doo out of him and it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference.

So there you have it, kiddies. Though the hunky Tempest wasn’t a babe magnet and couldn’t fly as high or climb with as much zest as the Spitfire, at lower levels she could tear the living guts out of anything that crossed her path and do it better.

Either way, were I a German fighter pilot back in the day, I would have avoided both fighters. And how.





SkyMax (or should I say Hobby Master?) outdid itself with its Tempest V. Everything about it shouts prowess and skill, artistry and vision. Among my much-loved WWII RAF models, my Tempest Vs top the list. Not to mention, I prefer the actual Tempest over all RAF fighters, period. If you can find any of these magnificent models on eBay or elsewhere, buy one! This bird truly deserves a place in your collection.




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Old 10-04-2016, 04:47 AM   #286
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Missing pics. :/
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:30 AM   #287
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A competent two-man crew could fly the living crap out of an F-14. Put a proficient, practiced team behind the wheel and they could dance the bird all over the sky like a ballerina. Or so claims my friend-of-a-friend Jerry, a former Tomcat RIO (Radar Intercept Officer).

Jerry made no bones about it: the F-14 was a balls-out meat eater, especially in the hands of a seasoned crew. Said he, teamwork was everything: The pilot and RIO had to become one, and the rear-seater played no small part in making it all work. An old fire-breathing pilot told him once that "A skilled RIO is worth his weight in gold: A few good ones over the years saved my ever-lovin’ butt; several crappy types nearly exterminated it."

The trick was to get the two-man crew to meld together, to think and act as one. And to help accomplish that the Navy introduced a crew resource management (CRM) protocol, where the Pilot performed particular tasks and the RIO certain others. This system imposed checks and balances that fostered cohesion, such as … when cranking up the bird, the pilot managed the engines, control surfaces, and assorted on-board checks while the RIO handled clearance with ATC, other systems, and 90% of the communication (most RIOs wouldn't even let the pilots talk on the primary radio as a matter of pride and control).

Later, when bouncing all over the sky intercepting bandits, the RIO worked the AWG-9 radar, relating threats to the Pilot, who passed word to an E-2C Hawkeye to confirm. The pilot then selected, armed, and pickled the appropriate missile, which the RIO tracked on radar.

Jerry relished taking on multiple bandits during training exercises. Called “the hard way,” the Tomcat crew was required to see bogies with their eyeballs within visual range (WVR). The pilot kept a global view of the bandit[s] while the RIO focused on the closest threat. If this bandit brought his nose to bear (meaning he was preparing for a shot), the RIO called it and the pilot maneuvered to lose him (hopefully). If a second bandit slipped in, the pilot forced a neutral pass while stiff-arming the first bogie. A competent Tomcat crew usually evaded these threats and frequently turned the tables on them (often splashing at least one).

It was when the Tomcat lumbered Mk 84 2,000-pound ordinance or laser-guided bombs that things got interesting. When flying a “Bombcat,” the RIO bulls-eyed and designated the target with the LANTIRN pod. The pilot confirmed it and fired the laser-guided weapon. The RIO immediately triggered the laser and steered the ordinance to impact while the pilot continued to fly, scan for SAMs, etc.

Doing this jointly with multiple Bombcats posed a challenge, Jerry said, especially when attacking 30 seconds to a minute apart. Typically, one striker dropped his load while the one behind flew inbound in a dive. The RIO visually acquired the inbound striker, talked the pilot's eyes onto him, and then switched to see where the first warbird’s ordinance hit. It was having to keep SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses), artillery coordination, close proximity of friendly troops, buddy lasing (one jet designating a target while another drops laser-guided bombs), and MANPAD (Man-portable air-defense system) threats in mind that puckered everybody’s sphincter. Situational awareness was critical.

New guys had their work cut out for them as they struggled with the steep learning curve. Most had difficulty maintaining situational awareness in the cockpit, typically keeping their eyes inside 90% of the time, 10% outside. The optimum ratio was 50-50, a balance that encouraged air sense and alertness.

An even bigger challenge lay in mastering the circuit breaker layout. When equipment failed on the Tomcat, rear-seaters needed to cycle circuit breakers located behind their backs, not an easy task considering RIOs were strapped in and couldn’t visually confirm which breaker they were touching. Fiddle with the correct piece and all went well; tug the wrong one and the ship went bitchcakes in a hurry.

Jerry summed it up thusly: Two kinds of people inhabited this world: those in the Tomcat community and those who wished they were. He was convinced no current or future jet would ever again impassion a fighter community like the F-14 Tomcat. The movie Top Gun may have dramatized this happy clique, but in reality it was much more. A whole lot more.




Most every collector will tell you, to own a Century Wings Tomcat (this screamin’ example in particular) is a genuine delight. As of yet I own no Hobby Master Tomcats, so I can’t comment on them. But I do own every F-14 Century Wings produced and can say wholeheartedly that they’re waay cool. If you can find this honey of a model (for a reasonable price, but good luck with that), jump on it. You’ll thank yourself.


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Old 10-17-2016, 12:12 PM   #288
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Flying combat patrol over Salamaua, New Guinea, on July 18, 1943, 2nd Lt. John McCullough caught a brilliant flash off his right wing. A Japanese fighter had plunged so close and fast to him it nearly swiped his crate. Startled, McCullough tracked it in astonishment: The aircraft bore a striking resemblance to a Messerschmitt Bf 109 or Macchi C.202 Folgore, two Axis fighters deployed in Europe—not the Pacific!

Winging hard to port and diving for the deck, McCullough nearly swallowed his tongue as the enemy fighter swung around and hugged his butt, hosing his P-39 with 20-millimeter cannon and 12.7-millimeter rounds. The American jerked and jinked and somehow eluded the Japanese fighter, but not before taking a near-fatal hit through his canopy. Miraculously, McCullough limped back to base and related his near-death experience to an incredulous superior, who dismissed the notion he’d tangled with a Nazi or Italian fighter.

Both men were right. In point of fact, the Japanese aircraft that jumped McCullough’s Aircobra was a Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Swallow), inspired and designed after the Bf 109, right down to its licensed, photocopied, liquid-cooled inverted V12 DB 601A engine. It took another month before Brass determined that McCullough’s faux Messerschmitt was actually a corn-fed, born-and-raised Japanese fighter with a decidedly European twist.

Until the Swallow appeared, Japanese fighter design favored air-cooled radials hitched to airframes optimized for maneuverability. The Ki-61, contrariwise, used a liquid-cooled in-line engine designed for speed and power—just like the Bf 109.

The Hein possessed good high altitude performance, good climb rate, and good diving capabilities. Compared to the Zero it was faster, had a higher climb rate, and handled better at higher speeds; but it couldn’t turn briskly, which left it vulnerable to more agile fighters.

Unlike the more maneuverable and agile A6M Reisen, the Ki-61 was more an "energy fighter” optimized for boom-and-zoom tactics employed by warbirds like the P-40 that plunged on and tore apart enemy aircraft. If the pilot missed on the first pass, it climbed sharply, gained altitude, and tried again.

It also carried ample ammunition, which enabled it to hang longer in a dog fight; but its machine guns and cannons were too often unreliable. The trick was to fire short bursts rather than a long-winded belches. The Hein also suffered from inadequate rear visibility, average handling characteristics, and a mediocre roll rate that deteriorated as speed increased.

Even so, the Hein was a serviceable “Jack of all trades,” not as gifted as several other Japanese fighters but still valuable. Occasionally it even distinguished itself.

Towards the end of the war, several adventurous Ki-61 pilots collided with B-29s and killed themselves, inspiring the creation of "special attack squadrons" that destroyed even more Super Fortresses. These kamikaze onslaughts proved so effective that some historians wonder had more Hiens been available, Japan might have impeded, if not outright stopped, America’s bombing campaign. Others think the notion is Sushi sauce.



You’re going to laugh at this, but I actually like my WarMaster Ki-61. The model isn’t what I’d call a classic, given this manufacture’s heavy-handed weathering predilection; but it’s pretty good nonetheless. WarMaster’s Hein definitely flies rings around Oxford’s version.





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Old 10-21-2016, 05:49 PM   #289
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Thoroughly enjoyed the Vigilante read, your friends Vietnam account was gritty as hell! The story has really tempted me to pull the trigger on a HA4704 example.
I love the passion you put into your aircraft back ground stories, keep it up mate
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:29 AM   #290
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Kind words, geeforce9. And thank you!

Buy that Vigi if you can. You'll absolutely love it!
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Old 10-24-2016, 10:50 AM   #291
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Halloween’s coming. Anybody up for a ghost story?

David Murphy trained in twin-engined B-25 Mitchell bombers at Columbia Air Base, South Carolina, relocating to Greenville Air Base to begin combat training. There he met Rob “Shorty” Bigwell, another Second Lieutenant with a kindred love for hijinks and foolery. The two became fast friends and swiftly got into more than their fair share of trouble.

Lieutenants Murphy and Bigwell joined the 48th Bomb Squadron, 7 AAF, based at Apamama in the Gilbert Islands, where they routinely dodged furious anti-aircraft fire and pursuing Japanese fighters. These missions proved so hair raising that several crew member took to wearing talismans for protection. Shorty, a confirmed skeptic but eager to survive the war, took to wearing a small, ivory Buddha around his neck.

One dark morning as the squadron annihilated an enemy island instillation, Shorty radioed that his starboard engine had taken a hit and was on fire. David glimpsed his friend’s B-25 belching smoke and flame and vanish behind a chain of hills as the squadron wheeled westward toward a secondary target. Returning to base hours later, Murphy anxiously inquired after his missing buddy. The operations shack had heard nothing.

Later as night consumed the base and Murphy entered his Quonset hut, he observed someone standing near Shorty’s cot, facing away. Even in the gathering gloom, this individual looked positively beat up in his flight gear, most of it burned, a pong of scorched flesh tainting the air. As Murphy was about to say something, the entity turned slowly, grinned mischievously—and evaporated into thin air.

It was Shorty Bigwell. His face was so charred it was scarcely recognizable.

Blinking with surprise, Murphy wasn't sure if he should celebrate his friend’s return or beat the hell out of him for pulling the vanishing act. His amusement swiftly died when he noticed Shorty’s small, singed Buddha sitting upright on his cot.

A communiqué arrived long afterward stating that Lt. Rob Bigwell’s bomber had crashed in the jungle, killing all aboard. Murphy later learned that fire had mostly consumed the crew, making identification difficult.

To honor his friend, Murphy faithfully wore Shorty’s charm around his own neck until he passed away in 1993.

True Story.



Funny, but I’ve never been a big Mitchell fan though the bomber proudly symbolized American Aeronautical prowess and valor. The model above, the USN’s version of the B-25, is a real crowd pleaser. To my eyes, the blue is dazzling and spot on. She’s smart, skillfully executed, and handsome—qualities Corgi has long been celebrated for. If you can nail one of these beauties, do it. You won’t be sorry.



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Old 10-31-2016, 10:27 AM   #292
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America, in a mad-dash effort to supply Russia with decent fighters, forked over nearly 5000 Airacobras to the Soviet Union. The Russians, delighted with their new toys, broke into song and dance and chugged casks of Vodka ‘til they collapsed en masse. The Brits, however, deeply unimpressed with the Airacobra’s anemic performance over 15,000 feet, spurned it saying, “No thanks, gov; we’ll do without yer poxy plane!”

Between 1942 and 1944, Soviet pilots ferried approximately 2,600 P-39s into the USSR from Fairbanks, Alaska. America shipped (crated) another 2,000 to Iran that were assembled, inspected, and flown to Soviet bases east of the Caucasus Mountains. The majority of these P-39s were Q-models, many of which arrived, by Soviet request, sans their two wing-mounted .50-caliber machine gun pods.

As P-39 availability escalated from 1942 onward, the Red Air Force transitioned both fledgling and skilled fighter pilots to the Airacobra, enormously happy with the aircraft’s low-level nimbleness and powerful armament. The Airacobra’s awesomeness at lower altitudes dovetailed perfectly with the Red Air Force’s mission, which was to support the Red Army, period.

The P-39, or “gravy locomotive” as wankered Russians called it, served in various roles, which included patrolling zones above Red Army formations to swat down all German bombers and/or escorting fighters, bouncing Bf 109s and Fw 190s that attacked Il-2 Shturmoviks or Pe-2s bombing German units, and, just for kicks, ripping holes in German AAA defenses. Airacobras also performed "free hunt” operations, wherein pairs of P-39s penetrated deep into German airspace and obliterated targets of opportunity like troop concentrations, road convoys, trains, and airfields.

A shedload of Russia’s highest-scoring aces flew the P-39, Guards Major Gregoriy Rechkalov among them, who shot down 50 of his 56 kills in an Airacobra. Guards Colonel Aleksandr Pokryshkin slaughtered 59 horrified enemy pilots. Guards Major Dmitriy Glinka shattered 41 of 50 Nazi bad boys while driving the P-39. And Guards Major Nikolay Gulaev transitioned to the P-39 in early August 1943 and butchered 41 Bf 109s and Fw 190s in his Airacobra.

Faced with these impressive figures, you’ve got to ask yourself why the P-39 was a showstopper on the Eastern Front but craptastic in other theaters.

The answer’s simple …

Neither the Germans nor the Soviets engaged in high-altitude, long-range strategic bombing—unlike the Brits and Yanks. Air combat took place way down low where you could see Joseph Stalin’s nose hairs. German medium level and dive bombers, escorted by Bf 109s and Fw190s, essentially mixed it with Soviet Army ground units in the mud. And thus doing, these aircraft flew at altitudes well within the P-39’s performance envelope of 15,000 feet and below. Blessed with a 37mm nose cannon that could arse-up German bombers faster than you could say “Ach du Freakin' Lieber Himmel!” you can see why this gang banger was so devastating.

Still, the Airacobra had its limitations. The fighter, as fun loving as she was, was comparatively short-legged, a limitation the Ruskies overcame by positioning their tactical airfields close to the front line, frequently within artillery range. Airacobra pilots often needed only to leap into the air and look down to see their targets.

So yeah, the P-39 Airacobra was actually a great little prize fighter. Fly this little monster way up high and it was worse than useless; turn it into a Russian lawnmower and it was practically unbeatable.



Yep, I like my Hobby Master HA1701 Airacobra. I’m not a P-39 fanatic, but this little model really sings. It’s accurate, it’s constructed well, the paint and tampo renderings are superb, and it just looks cool. For those wishing to grow their WWII Red Airforce collection, this little masher is for you.






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Old 11-07-2016, 09:44 AM   #293
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The Sonoran Desert was a furnace on July 23, 1953, when Sergeant Pierre Silvester Vermeire made a rocket pass on the Goldwater Range in his polished F-84G Thunderjet. The Belgian cadet was training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience but for being teased about his mangled English. Vermeire’s USAF counterparts meant nothing by it, but the Sergeant winced all the same.

Soaring out of the valley, he noticed his main fuel tanks were bone dry, a rather disquieting development since they’d been three-quarters full only moments earlier. Vermeire reported the news to his American instructor, Capt. Mike Greer, who barely understood the message but responded with directions to switch fuel to his wingtip tanks.

The cadet sighed with relief as the Thunderjet behaved normally. With all the sudden radio chatter, though, Sergeant Vermeire didn’t hear Capt. Greer call back with instructions to switch to “all tanks.” Several other individuals, including the range officer, had jammed the radio with conflicting advice, rendering it impossible for anyone to hear the poor Belgian scream that his engine had just flamed out.

Flying at 9,000 ft., the former paratrooper wasn’t especially concerned, confident he could survive an ejection and parachute to safety. But as he pulled the handle and his seat rocketed upwards, the canopy failed to jettison, snapping the sergeant’s neck like a twig on impact. Pilot and jet hit the desert floor in a thunderclap, shards of meat and metal sailing in tendrils of smoke and flame everywhere. The funeral pyre burned for 20 minutes.

Investigators later determined that the main fuel gauge had malfunctioned: The Thunderjet’s main tanks still had over 1200 pounds of fuel. It’s wingtip tanks tested empty.



A few facts about this saucy, all-metal mamma …

The F-84 Thunderjet first flew on February 28, 1946, becoming the first post-war American fighter.

It was obvious from day one that the Thunderjet’s straight wings couldn’t facilitate super-speedy flight, so Republic designers straightaway explored a swept-wing version.

In fact, the Thunderjet was so plagued with structural and engine glitches that a 1948 a U.S. Air Force report damned the aircraft as incapable of performing any part of its proposed mission profile and thus advocated canning the project. The USAF didn’t even deem the aircraft fully operational until the 1949 F-84D model.

Not to mention, the F-84’s J35-A-15 turbo jet engine sucked the weenie—big time. Nearly all propulsion systems back then were steaming hunks of malodorous dreck that couldn’t push a jet down a flight of stairs let alone an airstrip. The upshot being, jets required loong runways, and the Thunderjet was definitely no exception. Hundreds of Thunderjets ran fresh out of tarmac and crashed.

As Republic labored mightily over its F-84 swept-wing prototype, the Air Force ordered an improved interim straight-wing version called the F-84G, which eventually swelled to 3,025 machines.

Even this upgrading made little difference: As an interceptor, the Thunderjet was a buffoon. The F-86G could only fly so fast before it juddered the teeth out of pilots’ skulls and disintegrated into tiny pieces, plus its maneuverability was arthritic. Compared to the North American F-86 Sabre, the jet was an elderly woman tottering along with a cane; it simply couldn’t sprint like other jets and was finally consigned to tactical ground support.

In this new incarnation, happily, the F-84 thrived, its low-mounted wing allowing for easy cumbering of bombs, rockets, and/or napalm drop tanks. With rocket-assisted takeoff, the jet could operate from short, frontline strips in fairly rough conditions; and its robust structure allowed for considerable small-arms damage and survive. The bird had finally found its true calling.

Over Korea, the Thunderjet initially escorted B-29 Superfortress bombers but straightaway found itself in deep butt mud fighting off MiG 15s. Even a blind man could see they were totally outmatched, many of them getting chewed up in air-to-air punch-outs. Fortunately, F-86 Sabres stepped in, and the F-84 switched to low-level interdiction. The Thunderjet went on to serve as the USAF's primary strike aircraft during the Korean War, flying 86,408 missions, dropping 55,586 tons of bombs and 6,129 tons of napalm, destroying 60% of all enemy ground targets. Which was extraordinary, but the doing exacted a terrible price: In aerial combat, F-84 pilots shot down eight MiG-15s for 64 of their own. Total F-84 losses amounted to 335 F-84D, E and G models.

At long last, Republic’s Johnny-come-lately swept-wing version, dubbed the F-84F Thunderstreak, took to the sky and kicked ol’ grandpa Thunderjet to the curb. The hoary old veteran stood up, shook his dentures at the young whippersnapper, and then hobbled away, medals in hand.




I love SkyMax models. They're right there on the top of the heap, extremely accurate, professionally finished, very, very cool. The manu did itself proud with its Thunderjets, though for some odd reason the diecast community didn't drool over them. All the same, these F-84s are terrific little renditions, and I highly recommend them to anybody jonesing for nifty little Korean fighter/bombers.


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Old 11-14-2016, 10:40 AM   #294
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

In 1958, Cdr. John C. Mifflen, Operations Officer for VW-11 (NAS Patuxent River, MD), escorted his young son, Jason, to the flight line to watch as a squadron EC-121 returned from a barrier mission. Lately, Jason had learned that his father’s job was somewhat dangersome (the commander flew EC-121 Warning Stars), which upset the youngster. To allay his boy’s concerns, Cdr. Mifflen stood with Jason near the breezy runway and explained how the big, four-engined Connie was safe to fly and painless to land.

Finally the aircraft appeared and made its final approach, buffeted by heavy gusts. Just as the EC-121 shadowed the runway—a homicidal wind shear slammed the plane’s left wing to the ground, snapping off its wingtip fuel tank and causing the plane to slew around with an ear-splitting screech. Wing and struts tore off as the fuselage continued to shriek and skid until it stopped in a choking, smoldering heap.

Amazingly, the entire crew escaped unscathed but for one injured member. But just as the last man got away, the crate erupted into a billowing funeral pyre, firemen struggling for two hours to extinguish the inferno. Jason stared bug-eyed at the horror. Mifflen attempted to shield his son from the horrific scene, voice rising an octave as he insisted the smashup was a fluke, a freak accident. This kind of mishap was one in a million, he gushed, and not to worry. “I’ve never been in a crackup,” stammered the commander.

Jason stepped out of his dad’s encircling arms and frowned in exasperation. “Yeah, Dad,” he responded, “but it only has to happen once.”

Five months to the day, Cdr. Mifflen himself vanished on a barrier mission and was presumed lost. Despite an extensive search & rescue search, no wreckage or crew members were found.


Summary of the Warning Star …

In the very early ‘50s, some military brainiac reasoned that a purposefully modified, four-engined airliner would make an excellent airborne radar platform. They were rugged enough, and they had four engines that provided abundant power. Refashion them with suitable sensor suites and they could function as flying control centers or even radar pickets.

“Say no more,” quipped Lockheed. “We’ve got just the plane!” And thus the Lockheed Constellation, blessed with curvy Hollywood glamour and power to spare, became the world’s first dedicated flying radar sentinel, christened the WB-1. The USAF, ever jealous, jumped on the bandwagon, converted some Connies, and called them RC-121Cs.

These monsters, loaded with 15,000 lbs. of radar equipment, could cruise at 335 mph. for up to 24 hours and were similar to their Navy counterparts but for radar housed in an eight ft. high hump and a bearing scanner buried in the ventral dome. The RC-121D version quickly followed, dubbed the “Warning Star,” designed as control centers to guide fighter interceptors (among other services).

It didn’t take long for the military to see just how valuable radar-equipped behemoths actually were (along with their control-center cousins), each providing indispensable intelligence in an era when no other practical alternative was available. At the height of the Cold War when hostility and über vigilance shaped policy, reliable, accurate surveillance was vital.

Navy EC-121s were the first Connies deployed to South East Asia, flying missions throughout the Gulf of Tonkin incident. USAF Connies later arrived in Thailand in April 1965. As the war progressed, the big planes saw many enhancements and upgrades, mostly centered around early warning and MiG control, though several Connies were adapted to relay data from ground sensors strewn around North Vietnamese supply routes in an on-going operation called “Igloo White.” Still others engaged in monitoring enemy radio transmissions or tracked MiGs and steered USAF fighters toward them. The bird also electronically exposed SAM sites and directed Iron-Hand Weasel strikes. The last Connie operations took place in May 1974, well after the last USAF operational strikes.

As for Commander Mifflen’s aircraft, the Navy picked up one last, badly garbled transmission seconds before it vanished from radar. Mifflen himself screamed that his EC-121 had been hit by a missile or canon fire and was taking evasive action
—then the radio went silent. To this day, no one knows what destroyed the Connie—or just aren’t saying.



Hobby Master’s 1/200 Super Constellations are unquestionably my favorite models. Hobby Master absolutely nailed the bird’s distinctive dolphin-like fuselage and pleasing curves, and I highly recommend them—despite their extortionate prices. Honestly, these gals deserve a place in your collection if only because they’re so dog-gone babelicious; but be warned: Buy one and you’ll want them all.

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Old 11-21-2016, 09:41 AM   #295
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

When you think of world geniuses, you probably conjure up brilliant minds like Archimedes, Sir Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and Einstein (to name a few). But does Sir Barnes Wallis, English scientist, engineer and inventor, figure on your list? ‘Cause if he doesn’t, he should. He ranks up there with the brainiest of brainy brains (in my humble opinion).

Sir Wallis is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb dropped by the RAF in Operation Chastise (the Dambusters raid), earthquake bombs (think 6-ton Tallboy and 10-ton Grand Slam) that sank the Tirpitz, and the geodetic airframe (employed in the Vickers Wellington)—which we’ll examine presently …

The Vickers Wellington sprang from Wallis’ intellectually loamy mind, or more specifically the aircraft’s geodetic airframe, a stout little bomber that evermore established the designer’s brilliance.

It all began with Wallis designing airships during WWI, growing his expertise and eventually pouring that skill into the R.100, a direct competitor to the R.101 (a government-manufactured dirigible). Between the two behemoths, the R.100 was hands-down the better, employing geodetic wire mesh for greater gasbag volume plus helix tubes made from duralumin strips (among other innovations). The R.100 succeeded; the R.101 ultimately crashed and burned.

After a brief spell at Supermarine in Southampton, where Wallis and R.J. Mitchell (designer of the Spitfire) got on like snarling Pit Bulls, Wallis and friend Rex Pierson joined the Vickers-Armstrongs design team. Pierson worked on general layout, Wallis internal structure. While taking a break one afternoon, Wallis brainstormed that rather than employing beams to brace aircraft structures and external skin, it made more sense to adapt geodetic structural members instead to form curved and flat aerodynamic shapes and surfaces. The idea was supremely sound: Curves formed by two helices at right angles support each other, the overall framework acting as one and thus becoming crazy-pants strong (like Popeye the Sailor Man). And because the resulting airframe is lightweight and muscular, the bomber’s interior remains relatively free of beams and intrusive structures, allowing for large payloads and/or fuel.

A true stroke of genius!

And thus the Vickers Wellington (or Wimpy) first flew in 1936, the bomber exceeding the original specification of a 1,000 lb. bomb load for 720 miles to a 4,500 lb. bomb load for 2,500 miles. This engineering triumph impressed the RAF so much that the Wellington became Bomber Command’s primary bomber through the first three years of the war. For the rest of the war, though side-tracked by lumbering four-engined bombers (yeah, we’re talking about you, Lancaster and Halifax), the Wimpy continued in production until 1945—11,460 aircraft built in all, unsurpassed by any British multi-engined aircraft before or since.

Progress kicked the Wimpy to the curb, though: Higher speeds, higher operating altitudes, and the necessity for pressurized cabins doomed the fabled geodetic bomber. But in a nod to the old gal, early Vickers Viking VC-1 airliners flew with geodetic wings manufactured in the same Wellington production facility. After that, geodetic aircraft sorta vanished.

Was Branes Wallis a genius? Yep. Certifiable. Was the Wellington really as good a bomber as they say? Yep, demonstrable. It could take a mule kick to the bollocks and still wobble back to base. Bf 109s and anti-aircraft fire frequently tried to waste the beast but very often failed. The Wimpy soldiered on and provided immeasurable (and too often unheralded) service in Britain’s most desperate hour.




To be honest, I like my Wellington models every bit as much, perhaps even more so, than my Lancs and Halibags. Corgi should be congratulated for producing a superlative model evocative of the bomber’s derring-do. If you ever do stumble upon an AA34801 for a reasonable price (good luck with that), buy it. She’s a sweet ol’ gal with a lot of guts and a hell of a punch.



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Old 11-28-2016, 11:24 AM   #296
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Hitler had yet another headache in the fall of 1943. Benito Mussolini, Adolf’s Axis crony and deposed dictator of Fascist Italy, sat forlornly in Campo Imperatore Hotel high in the Apennine Mountains, prisoner of Marshal Pietro Badoglio (chieftain of the newly formed free Italian government). Which didn’t sit well with Adolf, who ordered SS officer Otto Skorzeny to rescue the fugly Italian tyrant. Skorzeny selected 26 SS troopers and 82 Fallschirmjäger for the job.

Within days, Skorzeny and his men alighted near the hotel in twelve DFS 230 gliders and overwhelmed Mussolini's captors (200 well-equipped Carabinieri guards) without firing a single shot (General Fernando Soleti of the Polizia, who flew in with Skorzeny, told them to stand down or be executed for treason). Skorzeny greeted Mussolini with a lopsided grin and said, "Duce, the Führer has sent us to set you free!" To which Mussolini replied, "I knew my flatulent friend would not forsake me!"

During all this, Oberleutnant Walter Gerlach landed a Fieseler Fi-156 Storch on the rock-studded, impossible-to-land-on mountaintop and prepared to fly the chunky Italian dictator to the Hotel Imperial in Vienna. The plan called for Gerlach and Mussolini to fly off the mountain alone (to avoid dangerous overloading). But Otto Skorzeny, a total media pimp, had no intention of letting Gerlach steal the limelight and squeezed into the small plane over the pilot’s shrill objections.

The aircraft, now perilously encumbered, struggled to take off amid menacing boulders, one of them denting the plane’s port landing gear on the takeoff roll. Gerlach gunned the engine, praying the Storch would lift before it plunged over the ledge like a rock; but as the Fiesler cleared the rim, it nosedived.

Mussolini’s eyes popped open in horror as Skorzeny screamed like a woman, Gerlach pulling back on the yoke for dear life. Five heart-stopping seconds later, the propeller chewed into heavier air and pulled the Storch out of its dive, the trio gagging from the stench of fresh poop.

Purdy excitin’, huh?

This was normal fare for Fieseler Storches, which routinely flew into and out of impossible conditions countless times throughout the deserts of North Africa, the battlefields of Russia, and the rest of Europe during WWII.

First conceived in the mid-thirties, the Storch became a popular civilian sport aircraft; but it was quickly pressed into military service for its short takeoff and landing (STOL) ability. Believe it or not, the plane could climb in less than two hundred feet flying at 25 MPH and land within fifty feet of touchdown, made possible by large slats fixed to the wing’s leading edge and extending trailing edge flaps.

Among its many uses, the Storch served as a reconnaissance platform, a liaison aircraft, an artillery spotter, and an air ambulance. Field Marshals Erwin Rommel and Albert Kesselring used it as a personal transport, as did Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery. When the war drew to an end, a Fi-156 was the last aircraft to land in Berlin meant to evacuate Hitler—who decided to stay (the dunce).



I love this model. The cockpit bracing is a bit thick; but all in all, Falcon Storchs are quite stunning. The older editions are difficult to find, but newer ones are still available. Grab some while you can, ‘cause they won’t last forever.








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Old 12-05-2016, 11:33 AM   #297
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

I dedicate the following to the Allies who fought in the Pacific Theater during WWII, starting with my countrymen who valiantly died or lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor. I salute them.
...

Standing in the chill dimness of the I-58’s control room, Lieut. Cmdr. Mochitsura Hashimoto was sure he had an Idaho-class battleship in his periscope crosshairs, though the warship’s contour wasn’t distinct. The pitch black night didn’t help with identification or his firing solution, but he was sure he could hit it. Almost casually, he ordered the launch of six long-lance type 95 torpedoes.

Hashimoto tracked the torpedoes’ bubbling wakes to the heavy cruiser’s starboard bow, where they exploded in horrifying geysers, each blowing a gargantuan hole in the ship’s haul. The USS Indianapolis plowed on, listing heavily and settling by the bow. Twelve minutes later she rolled over, stern thrust upward, and plunged below the waves, dragging three-hundred of 1,196 crewmen to their watery graves. Those topside jumped for their lives, few wearing lifejackets, everyone kicking and thrashing madly. There’d been too little time to drop but three lifeboats overboard.

Standing in near darkness in his submarine, Hashimoto’s mouth spread into a thin-lipped smile.

Because the Indianapolis’ mission had been so secret (delivering parts and enriched uranium to Tinian for the atomic Hiroshima bomb), Navy command knew nothing of the ship's demise until a PV-1 Ventura spotted the survivors four days later. Before help arrived, the Indianopolis’ crew braved a horrific nightmare of dehydration, delirium, suicides—and demonic shark attacks. Men were literally ripped apart, chewed, and swallowed by an estimated 200 to 400 tiger and oceanic whitetip sharks. Of the 880 crewmembers who jumped in the water, only 321 men survived.

Lieutenant Wilbur Gwinn’s PV-1 Ventura was experiencing aerial antenna problems. Annoyed, Gwinn handed the controls to his copilot and moved to the back of the plane to troubleshoot the apparatus. As he fiddled with the antenna, his neck got sore and he stretched his muscles. Looking out a side window, he focused on the water below and thought he spotted a disabled Japanese sub. The lieutenant lunged for the cockpit, grabbed the controls, and winged around to blow the vessel to bits—when he realized it wasn’t a submarine at all but a large number of men bobbing corpse-like in the water, many trailing bloody red slicks. He radioed it in, but his superiors refused to believe him.

The Navy stupidly argued with Gwinn for three whole hours that he was wrong, that a ship’s crew couldn’t be floating in the sea simply because nobody had sent a distress signal from that map coordinate. But just to cover its behind, the Navy relented and dispatched a single Catalina to the area with strict orders to look and report only. Thus Lieutenant Adrian Marks took off from Peleliu, reached the men, and watched in horror as a white tip shark savagely attacked and devoured a screaming sailor. Swearing fiercely and ignoring his orders, Marks plunged his plane to the choppy water below, landing so hard that rivets popped from the PBY’s hull.

Sharks circled the Catalina as Marks’s crew began to pull men from the water, one of the half-drowned, oil-covered sailors uttering the name “Indianapolis.” Only then did the aircrew grasp the magnitude of the disaster.

One of Marks’ flight crewmembers, a shortish, thickset Italian-American, had wrestled in high school and maintained his body-building regimen. In a Herculean display of strength, he grabbed sailors under their arms and flung them over his own head into the plane’s belly. Handling men like this was equivalent to standing on a chair, reaching down to the floor, picking up a dead weight, and tossing it overhead—all as the chair moved. To make things more difficult, many men fought their rescuers, kicking and thrashing and punching, thinking the Japanese had captured them. Many were forcibly wrestled into the plane.

To save as many men as possible, Marks ordered his men to stack the survivors like cordwood throughout the Catalina’s compartments. When the PBY filled up, Marks himself wrapped men in silk parachutes and tied them to the seaplane’s wings and other surfaces. The Catalina sank deeper under the increasing weight. Finally, the USS Cecil Doyle, a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort, arrived after sunset and removed the men from Marks’ plane. The lieutenant and his crew had rescued 56 Indianapolis crewmen; but the Catalina had been so badly damaged upon landing and rendered unflyable, the Doyle was forced to destroy it.

Twelve days later, Japan surrendered, ending World War II.

The Catalina was one of the most widely used seaplanes of the war, serving with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations with distinction, including Britain and Canada. PBYs carried out anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. Even 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.

They don’t come better. Ask any Indianapolis survivor.



Corgi’s PBY Catalina series represents one of the manu’s best modeling efforts. I could go on and on about how seriously exceptional the model is and stuff, but I’ll simply say it’s remarkable. If you’re into heroism, don’t miss out on Corgi’s Catalinas.


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Old 12-12-2016, 10:51 AM   #298
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

Ask any one of a billion Bf 109 aficionados which Messerschmitt was the best and odds are nine in ten he’d/she’d say the "F" (“Fredrick”) variant, particularly the F-4.

Why? Because I’m psychic; I know these things.

The Fredrick’s engine cowling redesign partially accounts for that, which produced a more symmetrical fighter. Plus the Bf 109F hefted the DB 601E engine, a genuine, fire-breathing meteor that hauled the fighter’s tukhus at a cool 365 mph in cruise or 398 mph in overdrive. Plus this Nazi hotrod sported a fatter airscrew spinner, shorter propeller blades, and redesigned wing tips that kicked its speed and maneuverability wayyy up. Even before the DB 601E engine made the scene, this advanced airframe put the 109E to shame.

In fact, when the Bf 109F took the stage at the start of ’41, it bettered the Spirfire V, much to Britain’s horror. About the only gripe Jerry pilots expressed about their scorching new mount was its relatively piddling armament, one MG 151/20 in the engine and two MG17s in the engine cowling— later replaced by two MG 131 13mm machine guns in the Bf 109 G-5/G-6.

Combat record wise on the Western Front …

The Bf 109F arrived too late to take part in the crucial battles over Britain in 1940. Most 109F equipped units moved east to join in the invasion of Russia, but not before Adolf Galland won his 70th victory in a Bf 109F. Only JG 2 “Richtofen” and JG 26 “Schlageter” remained in the west to fend off the British, who deeply respected Hitler’s “flying dildo.”

On the Eastern Front …

The Bf 109F was the Luftwaffe’s “IT” fighter at the start of Operation Barbarossa. The Russians were horrified as the Messerschmitt pillaged and raped their air force, over seventy German fighter pilots achieving more than 100 victories each, eight claiming over 200, and two reaching 300. It didn’t hurt that the Bf 109F (and the later 109G) were vastly superior to most Soviet aircraft at the start of the war, an advantage they maintained until the LA-7 appeared. Also, many Bf 109 pilots were bloodthirsty veterans by then with years of combat experience acquired over Spain, Poland, France, and Britain. The Russians, by comparison, had diddly-squat.

Eventually the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 replaced Messerschmitt 109Fs on the central and northern fronts, though 109s were deployed elsewhere with great effect. Around this time, the 109G began to replace the 109F, benefiting from a sturdier design better suited to primitive field conditions.

In the Western Desert …

The 109F arrived in Africa in the autumn of ’41 and served with distinction, swatting down Hawker Hurricanes and P-40 Kittyhawks like flies, though fuel and parts shortages hampered the fighter’s effectiveness. By the time it withdrew from active service in Africa, early 1943, it had racked up a considerable kill tally.

So was the Bf 109F the best of Messerschmitt’s winged torpedoes? Given its combat record, you could definitely make a case for it. But in the end it really boiled down to the men flying them: Planes are only as good as their pilots. When flown by a master, the Bf 109F was nearly unbeatable. Same with other versions.



Sadly, Gemini Aces infrequently got credit for being the excellent diecast manu it was, mostly because it lived in Hobby Master’s and Corgi’s shadow. Nevertheless, GA made some terrific models, and this Messerschmitt Bf 109F proves it: I’m no expert, but to me this grand little lady is tolerably accurate and cool. If you luck out and find one of these nearly impossible-to-find models, snatch it. While you’re at it, part it behind your Spitfire Mk. V model and watch the fireworks.





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Old 12-14-2016, 09:16 AM   #299
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten

To a man, old-timer F6F pilots will tell you the Hellcat was hands down the best USN fighter that ever was. Not only was it a speedy, machine-gun toting tank, it was surprisingly docile and easy to fly too, characteristics carrier pilots prize. Fighter jocks loved the aircraft so much, in fact, that Eugene Valencia, one of the Navy’s top aces, jested, “I love this airplane so much, that if it could cook, I'd marry it."

After the Zero made its hellacious debut, the Navy was frantic for a carrier fighter that could take on the Mitsubishi Samurai and win. The F4U Corsair was meant to fill that role, but program delays forced the USN to eyeball the F6F instead. And boy what a plane she was.

The Hellcat, on average, flew 55 MPH faster than the Zero; at about 20,000 feet it was 70 MPH faster. At altitudes in excess of 10,000 feet, it had a comparable rate of climb. At all altitudes, due to its heavier weight and greater power, it could out-dive the A6M (this was generally true of American fighters: In a tight spot, the pilots could nose over, firewall the throttle, and zoom down).

The F6F’s armament, power, and range bestowed sensational versatility. The bird carried six wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns, each with 400 rounds of ammunition. Many, including all F6F-5N and F6F-5P variants, substituted a 20mm cannon with 200 rounds for the innermost machine gun in both wings. The fighter also carried up two 1,000 pound bombs, though its most awesome weapons were six 5-inch HVAR's (High Velocity Aircraft Rockets), which the author Barrett Tillman reported as "equal to a destroyer's broadside."

The fighter got its baptism by fire on August 31, 1943, attacking Marcus Island, which included Cdr. Charles Crommelin's VF-5, Lt. Cdr. Phil Torrey's VF-9, and a detachment of O'Hare's VF-6. The sunrise raiders obliterated eight twin-engine bombers on the ground while losing two Hellcats to anti-aircraft fire and one to engine trouble. The next day, over Howland and Bakers Islands, Lt.(jg) Derrick Loesch and Ens. A.W. Nyquist scored the Hellcat's first aerial victory when they nailed a Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat.

Large-scale carrier operations started in earnest with an attack on Wake Island in October. Half an hour before dawn on the 5th, each of four carriers launched three fighter divisions, 47 Hellcats in all. When twenty-seven Zeros jumped them 50 miles out from Wake, all hell broke loose. Phil Torrey flamed a Zero then evaded two more by playing hide-‘n’-seek in nearby clouds. Two more Zeros jumped Lt. Hadden as he watched a shared kill plunge into the ocean and pumped 20mm shells into his F6F. Escaping the attack but only just, Hadden limped back to the Essex bone dry of engine oil. Lt. (jg) Hamilton McWhorter nosedived into a horde of Zeros and caught one square in his gunsight. Firing short bursts, he raped the Zero with lead and watched as it plunged seaward in an incandescent fireball with its screaming pilot.

The raid proved that the new Hellcats could more than hold their own against their Nipponese rivals. The Ace Maker destroyed 22 of 34 aircraft at Wake against 12 of their own—six to the Zeros and six to AA gunfire. In early November, the U.S. forces attacked the large Japanese base at Rabaul, where the Hellcats again mauled the Zeros.

Tons more history behind this bird, but in lieu of that let me share some fascinating facts about the Hellcat with you …

  • The U.S. Navy much preferred the more docile flight qualities of the F6F compared with the Vought F4U, despite the Corsair’s higher speed.

  • The Grumman F6F Hellcat used the same power plant as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800.

  • More Hellcats flew in the Battle of the Philippine Sea than any other carrier type, shooting down so many Japanese warbirds that Navy aircrews named the battle "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

  • The Grumman F6F Hellcat accounted for 75% of all aerial victories in the Pacific. Eat crow, Corsair enthusiasts!

  • U.S. Navy and Marine Grumman F6F Hellcat pilots flew 66,530 combat sorties and claimed 5,163 kills (an overall kill-to-loss ratio of 19:1 based on claimed but not confirmed kills).

  • The Grumman F6F Hellcat produced more aces than any other fighter in American inventory, (305 aces in all). Eat crow, Mustang aficionados!

  • The British Fleet Air Arm (FAA) received 1,263 Grumman F6F Hellcats under the Lend-Lease Act and claimed 52 enemy aircraft kills during 18 aerial combats.

  • In Europe, the FAA Hellcats saw action off Norway, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East. A number were fitted with photographic reconnaissance equipment similar to the F6F-5P, receiving the designation Hellcat FR Mk.II.

  • The XF6F-6s were the fastest version of the Hellcat series with a top speed of 417 mph, but the war ended before this variant could be mass-produced.

  • Grumman built a total of 12,275 F6F Hellcats, of which 11,000 were built in just two years.

So if an old timey Navy pilot hobbles up to you and stammers that the Grumman Hellcat was the best fighter in the Pacific, believe him. Otherwise he might whop you over the head with his dentures.



Hobby Master did a terrific job on the F6F. If you can’t find some of the older editions, buy the newer ones. Those with a hankering for an extremely hard-hitting, bust-'em-in-the-chops warbird, the Hellcat fits the ticket.

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Old 12-15-2016, 10:41 AM   #300
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Default Re: Gone but Not Forgotten


Lt Col Jerry T. Reynolds USAF (Ret) absolutely loved his “Deuce,” the Convair F-102, and filled me in on this smokin’ mount. Says Jerry, the Delta Dagger spent a ginormous amount of time operating out of Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and other NATO and SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) countries.

It usually, and “automagically” (as characterized by one very impressed Russian bomber pilot), appeared outa nowhere and bedeviled Ruskie bombers like the Tu-16 Badger, Tu-95 Bear, or Myasishchev M-4 Bison skirting (or intruding into) sovereign, protected airspace. Sometimes these interceptions were white-knuckled, as when a Badger actually tried to nail a Deuce but curiously lost control and nearly crashed. Other times the encounters were downright friendly, typified by Tu-95 cockpit crews striking up conversations (in English) with American pilots and blathering on about Mother Russian, friends, wives, girlfriends, etc. Either way, F-102 pilots were deadly serious.

Jerry recounted his experiences with QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) …

The typical alert base, said he, showcased an “alert hangar” at the end of a runway with taxiways spliced into it to simplify hair-trigger scrambles. Deuce pilots stood alert for eight, 12, or sometimes 24 hour periods and slept with their boots on, able to get airborne within five minutes of the scramble horn.

SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) or GCI (Ground Control Intercept) Radar guided the F-102 to the target while its pilot scanned for bogies with on-board radar, located it, selected the appropriate armament, locked on, and flew the plane to the release point. The pilot pressed the attack despite radar jamming, chaff, or other countermeasures. To assist in this, Convair installed a passive infrared search-and-track (IRST) sensor-head, about the size of a softball, immediately in front of the windshield, to funnel Falcon missiles to their target.

It didn’t hurt, either, said Jerry, that the Delta Dagger itself was nimble on its feet, able to dogfight with surprising agility. It might have been a bomber interceptor, but in certain parts of its flight envelope (owing to the jet’s lower wing loading), the F-102 could dance all over the sky. In fact, many Delta Dagger drivers claimed their jets could outturn all comers. When performing a split-S, for example, at 10,000 ft., the F-102 could make the turns in under 2,500 ft., the F-106 in 3,100 ft., the T-33 in 3,300 ft., and the F-4 in about 7,000 ft. Who woulda thunk?

The F-102’s remarkable twist-and-turn ability actually saved Jerry’s life 235 nautical miles SE off Keflavík, Iceland, in 1962.

Scrambled on a QRA at 0330 hours, Reynolds honed in on three blips approximately 55 miles ahead flying at 36,000 ft. Oddly, the targets, Russian Tu-95 Bears purportedly, didn’t behave normally, stopping in midair at one point, darting to 45,000 ft., and then accelerating to 900 mph, wayyy beyond the bombers’ maximum speed. Reynolds called it in and received confirmation; he wasn’t imagining anything. His face clouded with uneasiness.

All at once the objects veered straight for the F-102.

Reynolds recalls the objects appearing as brilliant stars and then, coming head on, enlarged to twice the size of Boeing 707 airliners. Only they weren’t airliners—or bombers.

He wouldn’t explain further except to say that what he saw challenged all reason. All three objects defied gravity, stopping in midair, one standing on end, another doing an impossible loop and then hurtling at him so close Jerry reflexively braced for impact. Horrified, he whipped his Deuce to port and then plummeted for the deck, soiling his flight suit in the doing. Infuriated and winging around hard for a missile lock, Reynolds watched as all three objects accelerated skyward to pin pricks—and vanished.

Swallowing hard, the Captain returned to base soaked in sweat, underwent a lengthy debriefing (more of a grilling) convened by three joyless, stern-faced “spooks,” was ordered to say nothing of the encounter to anyone, and then left for his quarters convinced he was crazy. The film in his jet that taped the incident conveniently vanished.



Bafflingly, Hobby Master’s F-102s are sleepers (more or less), perhaps because younger collectors consider the real things too old-school and irrelevant. If so, that’s a fatheaded mistake. Not only were early jets foundational, they were also influential, becoming stepping stones for future jets. On close inspection, you’ll find these Delta Daggers are pleasingly accurate and professionally rendered, especially this particular bird, which is difficult to find. If you’re into USAF Century Series jets and/or you care about aviation history at all, you really ought to get this model.


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