Tailhook Topics

by Tommy H. Thomason

Thursday, May 9, 2019

More McDonnell F3H Demon Configuration Notes

Paul Boyer asked me what the long probe was for on the right wingtip of most, but not all, Demons.

It looks like a pitot (measures total pressure) but is actually one of three static-pressure sources on most F3Hs (the pitot on all but the F3Hs with the single piece windscreen is at the base of the windscreen). It provides static pressure to some systems all the time and the altimeter and rate-of-climb indicator above 225 knots because its measurement of static pressure is more accurate then.

I wasn't able to determine when it was added. However, it is not on early F3Hs.

From a modeling standpoint, it appears that if the Demon to be represented has the lateral-control spoilers (see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2019/04/sword-172-f3h-demon-kits.html) and the inflight refueling installation (although it was sometimes removed when the airplane was shore-based, so that's not a sure thing), it probably has the wingtip probe.

While rereading the flight manual, I was surprised to find that the ailerons and spoilers did not provide lateral control at the same time as I had assumed (the speed at which the spoilers take over roll control is only given in the classified portion of the flight manual). The Pensacola Museum F3H errs in having both spoilers raised.

My other posts on the F3H:





You can't do better from a reference standpoint than the Detail & Scale digital or print monograph: http://www.detailandscale.com/f3h_demon_digital_book.html

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sword 1/72 F3H Demon Kits

9 April 2019: Added correction to canopy assembly instruction.

Sword has just released two state-of-the-art 1/72-scale F3H Demon kits that are well worth your consideration even if you already have the Emhar kits:

SW 72122 F3H-2

SW 72123 F3H-2N/M

This is a very preliminary assessment of what appears to be an excellent kit since I won't have time for the next few weeks to build either one. However, my initial configuration notes may be of interest and I will post links to build articles as they appear. The big pieces are accurate in overall dimensions and appear to represent the shapes well enough (the chord and sweep of the wing and horizontal tail don't exactly match the McDonnell lines drawing but are not far enough off to bother to correct in my opinion). The engraved panel lines and control surface demarcations are so fine as to disappear under too heavy a coat of paint. At the moment, given the level of detail provided on the plastic and with the resin and photo-etch parts, I can't imagine much that the aftermarket companies can offer to improve what is in the box other than decals for different squadrons

For a pretty good summary of the F3H Demon configurations, see https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/11/f3h-demon.html For what it's worth, the F3H-2N only carried Sidewinder missiles in addition to the 20mm cannon. The -2M could also be armed with Sparrow I missiles but only deployed a few times. At least some -2Ns were modified to the -2 configuration, which could be armed with Sparrow IIIs in addition to Sidewinders and the 20mm cannon.

That there wasn't much exterior difference among the Demons is reflected by the plastic provided in both kits being identical. The instructions vary slightly and the decals are different.  The -2 kit instructions depict the modification required for the short beaver-tail configuration (BuNo 143403 and subsequent). Also while they show a Sparrow III option, only Sparrow Is are provided in the kit. For the difference in missiles and pylons, see http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2011/05/f3h-sidewinder-and-sparrow.html

Both the initial McDonnell and subsequent Martin-Baker ejection seats are provided. The latter were installed in production beginning with BuNo 146709 and retrofitted when a Demon went through overhaul, which took a few years to compete (the first ejection with the M-B seat reportedly occurred in March 1958 and the last with the McAir seat in November 1960).

The first Demons did not have the inflight refueling probe installation on the upper right side of the forward fuselage (in most but not all pictures of F3Hs with single-letter tail codes, it is not present). It was probably introduced at some point in production and then retrofitted. The inboard spoilers (PP9/10) were also an early retrofit to improve roll control at high speed. They were in fact scabbed onto the upper wing surface with a little ramp in front of them as part of the hinge although the photoetch provided may not be scale thickness. Note that the two "fingers" on the aft side of the spoiler cover up the holes in the wing that allow the actuators to extend fully.

There is a large span-wise "strap" on the kit's lower wing surface ahead of the main landing gear wheel wells. That's new to me but I'll have to take a look for it.

Two bespoke F3H external tanks are provided. Legend has it that because of interference drag, the F3H would go farther with one external tank than two. That seems dubious to me but I have not seen a picture of an operational F3H with two tanks. One performance comparison chart that is available suggests that the additional range provided by the second tank was pretty small.

There are several detail parts for the landing gear and to represent other features like the fuel vent. At first glance, only the complex linkage providing anti-torque on the nose gear is not up to the standard of the rest of the kit. The shrink struts that extend upward into the wheel well ahead of the shock strut are also not provided but these are easily made from wire or stretched sprue.

Note that the shock strut is deflated in this picture.

For more information on the nose landing gear, see https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2019/04/mcdonnell-f3h-demon-nose-landing-gear.html

The wings attach to the fuselage via small stubs. These may or may not be adequate but in any event be careful not to introduce any wing anhedral that it might appear to have from pictures or front-view drawings. See http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2014/03/anhedraldihedral-and-wing-sweep.html

One missing and tiny detail (I didn't notice it myself on the actual airplane for several years) is the skid plate under each wing tip. See https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2015/02/swept-wing-tip-skid_22.html

Step 13 in the instructions incorrectly depicts the location of parts 34 and 36. 34 is actually the top of the fuselage deck under the canopy and 36 is part of the canopy structure.

 It should look like this when assembled:

The resin afterburner nozzle is molded along with what appears to be a turbine wheel and exhaust cone. The latter isn't called for in the instructions and appears to have been an early misunderstanding of the internal configuration of the engine since it looks like the aft end of the turbine section. It should not be used. Another part, 70, is identified in step 7 and reasonably represents the location and configuration of the afterburner flame holder. 

More later...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Kitty Hawk 1/48 F2H-2/2P Banshee Correction

Unfortunately, the Kitty Hawk 1/48 kit of the F2H-2 Banshee had some significant shape and other errors. See https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2016/09/kitty-hawk-148-f2h-22p-banshee.html

Rieth Creations has released a correction set for the more egregious errors. See https://www.riethcreations.com/f2h-2-banshee-correstion

Also see Michael's recommendation for properly mounting the tip tanks and other build instructions:


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

McDonnell F4H-1F/F-4A Phantom II

My next monograph is at the printer and is projected to be shipping to direct purchasers and distributors in mid-December. For more, see https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2018/11/birth-of-legend-mcdonnell-f4h-1-phantom.html

I recommend that you order directly from Steve Ginter (his margin will be significantly greater than from sales to distributors, enabling him to continue to publish monographs on esoteric subjects that the big publishers won't consider): http://www.ginterbooks.com/NAVAL/NF108.htm

This new monograph details the configuration of each of the first 47 Phantom IIs. As is customary for Ginter monographs, it includes a model kit section. These have only been a few for the early Phantom IIs and most are out of production. By happy coincidence, a new 1/48th conversion from Brigade for the first Phantom II, BuNo 142259, will be available from Hannants shortly. See https://www.hannants.co.uk/product/BKC48003

While the conversion parts and decals are for the first F4H-1, it provides the basis for the remainder of the first 47 Phantom IIs and the Cutting Edge decal sheet for the development F4Hs is still available. See http://fineartofdecals.com/goodies/great-decal-sets-from-my-resin-kits/

Saturday, September 22, 2018

XFL-1 Redux

My post on the differences between the XFL-1 and the P-39 (https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2015/09/modeling-bell-xfl-1-airabonita.html) included a comparison of the respective wing planforms. As it happened, the P-39 outline was taken from a Bell wing station drawing that I've since discovered wasn't rigorous about the actual shape of the wing tip. The post was also created before I mastered Illustrator and started to use a dimensioned box around a drawing to allow it to be accurately scaled.

Recently I discovered that the P-39 outline was being taken as being accurate by at least one modeler. I was chagrined to discovered that it was not, certainly with respect to the wing tip. I therefore went back and created as accurate a P-39 wing planform drawing as I could from the data available to me. It's posted here: http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2018/09/bell-p-39-wing-planform.html

I then redid the XFL-1 drawing, which was based on a detailed Bell wind-tunnel model drawing. I was happy to see that it overlaid perfectly with the one in the original post. I then added the P-39 drawing to it along with a dimensioned box.

(Note that the root of the XFL-1 wing is closer to the fuselage centerline than the F-39's.)

The original post has been updated with this drawing.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sword TBM-3W

August was a good month for 72nd-scale carrier-based modeler enthusiasts with the arrival of the Special Hobby FH-1 Phantom (see prior post) and the Sword TBM-3W. While the former was excellent kit, there were earlier options. The latter was particularly welcome because it was unrepresented other than by relatively crude conversions.

There are two issues available: SW72114 shown above with decals for US Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force; and SW72115 with decals for Dutch and French TBM-3Ws.

The radome is integrally molded with the fuselage halves. Its complex shape and removal of the lower turret fairing looks to be well represented except for maybe a small area at the very aft end of the radome.

The cockpit is adequate to the scale, needing only seat belt and shoulder harness for completeness. The seat is a little undersized and there would generally be a seat-back cushion and seat-pack parachute in it. The landing gear is delicate and the tail gear is remarkably complete. The tail gear looks a little more extended than a regular TBM's, but that's mostly if not completely because the fuselage forward of that is significantly less deep.

No interior is provided for the radar operator but even if the modeler goes to the trouble of opening the compartment door, a scratch-built one wouldn't be very visible.

If you want to move closer to perfection, adding "flutes" to the exhaust stacks provided would be more obvious, although not all TBM-3Ws had flame suppressors.
Note how close the main landing gear is to the radome. These were also painted white on many airplanes.

One caution is that not all TBM-3Ws had the external tailhook, since that depended on which TBM-3 was used for the conversion (see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2015/07/post-war-eastern-tbm-variants.html), including the one, VS-892 25ST, for which decals are provided in the kit.
The odd representation of the star in the national insignia occurs because part of it is painted on the crew door, which is open.

Another detail with some variation are antennas. The most obvious is the relay antenna on the vertical antenna (the operational concept in the beginning, was to transmit the radar signal down to a ship).

For example, this is a depiction of the antenna suite typical of a Canadian TBM-3W2. For lots more, see http://jproc.ca/rrp/rrp3/avenger_equipment_details.html

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Special Hobby FH-1 Phantom and XFD-1 Conversion

As I've written and said before, the FD/FH Phantom was a significant and unlikely achievement. Two companies, with no experience with jet airplanes (and little with airplanes - see XP-67) or jet engines, were able to produce a viable carrier-based airplane, folding wings and all, that was combat ready.

Not many were produced, as the rapid pace of jet engine development almost immediately resulted in bigger engines with more thrust, which resulted in the larger, faster F2D/F2H.

Special Hobby recently issued an excellent 1/72 scale FH-1 kit of this significant milestone in carrier-based aviation.

 Click HERE for the markings options provided.

It's a very detailed kit, particularly the cockpit, which is built up from plastic, decals, and photo etch to a degree not usually found in this scale and will be challenging. The assembly instructions for it take up a full page in the instruction sheet.

One external detail that caught my eye were two oval depressions on the belly just inboard of the jet exhaust pipes.

These are depressions where JATO bottles could be attached, allowing for a shorter deck-run takeoff if the catapults were hors de combat or just plain broken. Compare to the actual airplane:
Clear plastic parts are provided for the lights on either side of the hold-back door.

JATO came in handy when a Marine was forced to land, belly-up, on a beach after his engines quit due to fuel contamination. A recovery team dug holes under the wheel wells so the landing gear could be lowered. Then the holes were joined and the resulted hole expanded forward to create a ramp so the airplane could be towed onto ground level. The belly tank was removed, the inboard flaps replaced, the fuel system flushed and filled, and JATO bottles fitted for a takeoff from the beach.

Paul Boyer has already built the kit for a review in Fine Scale Modeler.

Peter Zanella asked me what changes would be required to convert this kit to the XFD-1 that made the U.S. Navy's first carrier takeoffs and landings.

This is a summary of the differences:

This is a comparison drawing of the nose, canopy, and vertical tail differences:

Creating an XD-1 Canopy would be the hardest part of the conversion.

For its at-sea carrier evaluation, the XFD-1 was modified to have a fixed Davis Barrier activator in front of the windscreen (it was retractable on the production FH-1s).

It was sort of a canted tripod.

Finally, it's worth repeating that the XFD-1 did not make its first flight, as it is commonly understood, on one engine: https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2016/07/mcdonnell-xfd-1-phantom-first-flight.html