Tailhook Topics

by Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lockheed P2V-3 Neptune

Lockheed designed and built P2V patrol bombers with seven different dash numbers, all powered by the Wright R-3350 engines. The XP2V-1 first flew in May 1945 as the war in the Pacific neared its end. Three more dash numbers, generally associated with ever increasing takeoff horsepower, followed in fairly short order but none were built in large numbers due to the austere military budgets that followed World War II. The P2V-5, with yet another more powerful R-3350, first flew in December 1950, just in time to benefit from the resumption of military spending engendered by the Korean War. Almost 500 P2V-5s and MR.1s were built. It was followed by a relatively small quantity of P2V-6s, theoretically capable of fighting its way in and out of shipping lanes and harbors where it was to lay mines, and 287 of the final dash number, the -7, which was soon optimized for antisubmarine warfare.

 For a pretty good summary of the various Neptunes, click HERE

Since the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force utilized the P2V-7, it was appropriate for a Japanese plastic model-kit manufacturer to produce one in this configuration. It was first released in 1972 and has been frequently reissued with different decals. While some of configuration details, notably the canopy, are unique to the -7, "cottage-industry" conversion kit manufacturers have provided the details necessary to backdate the -7 to the -5. See http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2020/03/lockheed-p2v-5-vs-7-neptune.html

However, my main interest in the Neptune is that the Navy optimized a handful for a very specific mission after World War II, the delivery of a nuclear weapon from an aircraft carrier. This was the P2V-3C. While the conversion to a -3 is more extensive than creating a -5 from the -7, it is not a significantly higher degree of difficulty. For a detailed -3 conversion build-article by Edward Ellickson, aka TheRealMrEd, click HERE. It is profusely illustrated. Even though you may not be interested in a P2V-3 model, it is entertaining and informative, with lots of modeling tips and descriptions of a few problems necessitating creative solutions. Moreover, unlike some of us (me for one), Ed completes his challenging projects.
Edward Ellickson model and photo

While the P2V bomb bay wasn't big enough for the Mk 4 atomic bomb, it could accommodate the original Mk 1 and carry it a long way. As a result, it was a quickly created placeholder until the North American AJ Savage, which was literally designed around the Mk 4, was ready to deploy.
It was to be deck launched from the big Midway-class carriers by utilizing JATO.

The initial plan was to recover it back aboard by the usual means, but after an evaluation of the degree of difficulty during field-landing trials at Patuxent River, the tailhooks were removed and the operational concept was to crane the P2V-3Cs aboard when required. This picture was taken during the tailhook proof-load testing at Lockheed.

More later...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Lockheed P2V-5 vs -7 Neptune

Hasegawa occasionally releases their 1/72 P2V-7 (P-2H) Neptune kit (it was also sold under the Revell brand). There were more than seven notably different configurations of the Neptune but one of the most popular besides the -7 was the -5. It was produced with at least three different noses and three different aft fuselages (defensive armament, MAD installation, and sensor dispenser) and certainly the most colorful paint schemes not to mention its civil use as a fire bomber. Note that the OP-2E was a modification of the -5 and the AP-2H was a modification of the -7.

For the P2V-7 bow turret and the tail-gun installation on earlier P2Vs, see http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2016/02/early-p2vs.html

One -5 configuration closely resembles the -7 but there are exterior differences. The most obvious is the enlarged canopy of the -7.
The need for a longer bomb bay resulted in the big radome being moved four feet forward. This required relocating the nose-landing-gear wheel-well forward and shortening it, in part by lowering the pivot point of landing gear for retraction (the shock strut travel also appears to have been reduced).
Note that I have been unable to find an accurate length of the P2V-5 with the observer nose. What is shown is at Fuselage Station 0 based on scaling photographs taken from the side at a distance to minimize distortion.

As part of the -7 redesign, Lockheed relocated the engine controls, which had been on a pedestal between the pilots, to the forward end of the overhead console. That required bulging the canopy upward. Another major change was adding a large radar repeater screen and overlaid plotting board to the center of the instrument panel. I'm not sure why the cockpit was moved forward a few inches.

 Note that the P2V-3 inboard profile included above should be very similar to the P2V-5's, which I do not have.
There were three different canopies.

The P2V-5 (P-2E) canopy was bulged laterally, the overhead hatch was enlarged, and the two small side windows were changed to one large window and a narrow oval one.

The overhead hatches appear to have been slightly bulged upwards as well.
Igor Kolokolov

One unusual feature of the later P2Vs (-5 through -7) is the asymmetric engine cooling/exhaust configuration. The right side of the nacelle was configured with one exhaust stack and two cowl flaps; the left side, with two exhaust stacks and one cowl flap.
The Hasegawa kit instructions are quite clear in this regard and need to be followed to the part-number letter, literally.

My build notes (for a P2V-3C) state that the cockpit floor provided in the kit should be placed under the locating pegs rather than on top of them. This was confirmed in another modeler's build review.

The main error with the kit involves the landing gear. First, the sit. As built, the model does not have the correct nose-up "sit". I think the main landing gear is possibly too long. Larry Templeton wrote that he had to increase the height of the nose landing gear strut by 1/8 inch to get it right.

Not quite as obvious but not too difficult to fix are the width and offset of the nose landing gear wheel well and location of the main landing gear laterally in its wheel well. This holds for all P2V dash numbers.

The upper part of the nose gear strut and the nose wheel itself are located on the center line of the airplane. However, the lateral strength of the strut is partly provided by a brace that extends to the right side of the strut. Only one side of the strut is braced in this case because the left side of the fuselage below the cockpit floor is dedicated to a tunnel leading forward to the compartment in the nose. As a result, the well is offset to the right. Up through the P2V-6, the nose wheel well extended 12 inches to the left and 24 inches to the right for a total of 36 inches. On a pretty good Lockheed P2V-7 drawing, it extends 12 inches to the left and only 18 inches to the right for a total of 30 inches. In both cases, the gear doors appear to be the same width, i.e. 18 inches on P2V-1 through -6 and 15 inches on the P2V-7.

                       Igor Kolokolov                                                  Bill Spidle             

Note the different distance between the right side of the wheel well and the lateral brace (1) as a result of the narrowing of the wheel well in the -7, the difference in the shape of the lower section of the nose gear strut (2), and the different location of the nose gear steering piston (3).

The Hasegawa kit has the main landing gear mislocated in its wheel well. The strut needs to be relocated inboard so the center of the distance between the outside of the strut and the outside of the wheel is on the center line of the nacelle.
The main landing gear strut and the side brace attached to it are mounted on the aft side of the bottom of the wing torque box. The "Y" retraction strut is not symmetrical as it is in the kit but displaced inboard and mounted on the front side of the bottom of the wing torque box. The wheel, when retracted, is located between the front of the wing torque box and the engine firewall.

Note, this is a P2V-3 main landing gear wheel well; the P2V-7's is different. See the links below for pictures of the -5 and -7 nacelle interiors.

One less notable error in the Hasagawa kit is the missing "kink" in the aft fuselage that was introduced with the production P2V-1s. In effect, the empennage was rotated 2° downwards at fuselage station 764.4, which was about half way between the leading edges of the vertical fin and the horizontal stabilizer as shown on this Lockheed P2V-7 drawing.
The omission of the kink is masked by the presence of the radome on the bottom of the fuselage. My guess is that this was done as the simplest way to increase the incidence of the horizontal stabilizer.

With respect to the horizontal stabilizer itself, the elevator appears to be very large relative to the stabilizer. The elevator is in fact represented by a less prominent panel line aft of what would be taken to be the leading edge of the elevator. Lockheed incorporated a variable-camber stabilizer to provide the smallest possible horizontal for the stability and pitch control requirements.
Aviation Week, 25 July 1949

There are at least two basic conversions of the Hasegawa kit to the -5: Falcon Triple Conversion VII and BlackBird Models. The former is vac formed and provides the bow and tail turrets; the latter is resin and comes in at least two versions: BMA 72029 Neptune MR.1 and BMA 72032 OP-2E.
Note that RedRoo distributes BMA 72029 with RAAF decals.
Although not in stock at the moment, their website is https://www.redroomodels.com/. They're easy to work with so take a look at their site and leave them a note to let you know when they have one available.

Hannants currently lists BMA72032 as not in stock but they do take back orders for it; decals are separate: they have Blackbird BMD041 P2V-5 decals for VP-2 and VP-5 and BMD048 decal for a Argentine P2V-5 in stock but don't currently list the requisite BMA 72029. See https://www.hannants.co.uk/.

The Falcon conversion can be found with a Google search.

Click HERE for an OP-2E build review on Britmodeler

Click HERE for an ambitious P2V-7 build on Britmodeler. 

Click HERE for details on the inside of the P2V-7 engine nacelle.

Click HERE for excellent walkarounds of a P2V-5 and P2V-7 configured as "Borate Bombers" that show some of the differences and details.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Douglas AD-4W/AEW.1 and Sword 1/72 scale AD-4W/AEW.1 Kit

As a result of Sword issuing what appears to be a pretty good 1/72-scale kit of the Douglas AD-4W/AEW.1 and Ed Barthelmes providing a wealth of information on the type, I created and updated posts relating to both the kit and configuration details of the airplane. An earlier post (which was part of the basis for Sword's kit), can be found here: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2018/06/ad-4w-skyraider.html It has been updated to correct errors on my part.

My post following the release of the Sword kit is here: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2019/08/sword-172-douglas-ad-4w-skyraider.html Note that it has been updated with corrections and new information several times.

Ed subsequently made a deep dive into his Skyraider files and came up with not only a detailed list of AD-4W differences by Bureau Number but also a cross reference of those Bureau Numbers (and therefore configuration) and the AEW.1 serial numbers, which are a lot easier to see than Bureau Numbers. That excellent synopsis can be found in another of my blogs, Tailhook Topics Drafts, here: https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2019/11/douglas-ad-4waew1-antenna-configurations.html

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

McDonnell XF2D-1 Banshees

John Rieley asked me a question about the XF2D-1 (XF2H-1 after BuAer changed McDonnell's company designation from D to H when Douglas was awarded a contract for its first Navy fighter in more than a decade), which caused me to review the content of my post on the Banshee family (see https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2009/12/f2h-banshee-modeling-notes.html). It turns out that I was a little sloppy in my summary of the prototype configurations.

There were three XF2D-1s, BuNos 99858-99860. Only the first two had forward fuselages that were one foot shorter than the production F2H-1. The third one had the longer fuselage but still had the shorter canopy of the other two XF2D-1s. There were numerous detail differences among the three airplanes as well. The best single reference is a drawing posted by Ron Downey in his excellent blog, Aviation Archives (http://aviationarchives.blogspot.com/): http://aviationarchives.blogspot.com/2015/07/xf2h-1-aerodynamic-three-view.html

Some of the numbers on that drawing are hard to read. From a configuration standpoint, the most significant are the ones inside small triangles. These are 1, 2, or 3 that denote specific configurations of 99858, 99859, and 99860 respectively. Note that a given XF2D-1 might have flown with more than one configuration; the drawing doesn't show all of the alternatives.

This is a crop from that drawing that illustrates the longer forward fuselage of BuNo 99860.

BuNo 99858

The first XF2D-1 flew with a significant amount of dihedral in the horizontal tail, presumably to raise them up out of the jet blast from the J34 engines and the original short wing trailing edges on either side of the tailpipes.

 Bob Edholm flew it first and is also the pilot in the following pictures.

BuNo 99859

The second XF2D-1 flew with less dihedral in the horizontal tail and a larger dorsal extension forward of the vertical fin.

It would eventually be configured with the extended trailing edges on both sides of the engines, near-final empennage (note the small horizontal fence at the juncture of the leading edges of the vertical and horizontal fins), and tip tanks being evaluated for the F2H-2 (the production F2H-1 did not have tip tank provisions.

BuNo 99860

Except for the shorter canopy, the third XF2D-1 was very similar in configuration to the production F2H-1, shown here.

The canopy was probably lengthened for production for the same reason that the inboard trailing edge of the wing was extended aft: to increase the fineness/thickness ratio and thereby reduce transonic drag.

Monday, October 14, 2019

John's Models

If you go to the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola (you should even if Naval Aviation isn’t your main aviation interest) and you’re a modeler, then you should plan to visit John’s Models at 1206 E. Kingsfield Road, Cantonment, FL about 18 miles north of the museum. Note that John’s store is only open Tuesday-Friday from 5pm to 730pm and Saturday from 10am to 5 pm.

The Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/johnsmodels/

I was surprised to find that John Struck's store was not in a strip mall but is a small building a short way up a gravel driveway. However, there is a big sign near the road in the open field to the west of the driveway with an arrow pointing the way.

John has a large and eclectic stock of old and new kits (airplane, automotive, figures, sci-fi, military vehicle, etc.) in all scales. I went in not needing any 1/72 aircraft kits and came out with two, one old and one new.

Highly recommended

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Grumman F-111B Modeling

Bill Gilman provided an article on his excellent conversion of a 1/72 Hasegawa F-111C to one of the F-111Bs on Hyperscale: http://www.hyperscale.com/2019/galleries/f111b72bg_1.htm

Bill Gilman Photo

The single best reference on the F-111B?

Steve Ginter is sold out but Sprue Brothers usually has a few in stock and I still have some. If you want to buy one or receive a free Xerox copy of errata and additional information, just provide your email address to me in the comments below (it will not be published).

Or you can just type F-111B in the space at the upper left of this website with the magnifying glass and get a list of several past F-111B posts.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sword 1/72 Douglas AD-4W Skyraider

7 November 2019 - See https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2019/11/douglas-ad-4waew1-antenna-configurations.html for different antenna suites including AEW.1 applicability

5 November 2019 - Revised effectivity of main landing gear door configuration (see paragraph indicated by Y) and aft compartment windows (see paragraph indicated by Y)

The instructions call for an overall exterior color of "Flat Non Specular Intermed. Blue". It should be the darker gloss (weathered as appropriate) Sea Blue.

1 September 2019 Changed paragraphs indicated by X and underlined change

24 August 2019 - more updates, changed paragraphs indicated by !

23 August 2019 Updates/corrections already? Yes: I've corrected the Suez markings discussion and added some more detail on the AEW.1 represented by the kit decals based on input from "71Chally" who posts on Britmodeler and also provided this AEW.1-related link: http://skyraider.org/skyassn/memberpics/cowell/cowell.htm

Changed paragraphs are preceded by "&".

This review is a work in progress but if the fit of the parts is as good as their appearance, this is an excellent kit. There is hope for that based on pictures provided by Sword of an assembled kit:

For a quick look at the AD-4W, see https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2018/06/ad-4w-skyraider.html

X Notable early impressions out of the box: crisp molding, excellent surface detail, scale thickness of small parts where possible, undercuts for realistic openings (e.g. the engine exhaust stacks), etc. One particularly appreciated feature is the trailing edges of the ailerons and flaps are molded to a sharp edge on the upper wing (but unfortunately not the same for the rudder). Decals are by Techmod: they appear to be thin and in perfect register. Markings are provided for a Royal Navy AEW.1 during the 1956  Suez conflict, a VC-11 AD-4W flying from Boxer in 1952, and VC-12 AD-4W assigned to the Coral Sea air group in 1950.

You may wonder why there are five exhaust stacks on the left side of the cowl and six on the right; that's because there were... You may wonder why the LSO stripes on the fin are not parallel; that's because they weren't...

Don't let the following notes deter you from buying this kit. For one thing, most relate to comments on and errors in the instructions, not the kit itself (more to follow on that in a week or two). For another, the success of this kit, meaning Sword sells as many as they can produce in as short a time as possible, will make it much more likely that they continue to exist and issue subjects in 1/72 scale that other manufacturers have ignored.

& First the box art: On Britmodeler, Dave Fleming reported that this AEW.1was flying from Eagle, not Albion (the A is for A flight of 849 squadron). He also noted that the blue in the roundel is a thorny issue because it appears to be lighter on some aircraft.
& This excellent picture of an AEW.1 with Suez crisis marking is via Martin Grant:
Y & Note that access panels aft of the cowl flaps has been removed, the aircraft does not have the big HF antenna on the vertical fin (it was replaced by a smaller one for BuNos 125765-127961 along with a different attachment point on the fin for the wire antenna: see https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2019/11/douglas-ad-4waew1-antenna-configurations.html for a complete description of the various antenna suites by BuNo and RN serial number).

& The art is correct in showing that the stripes do not extend forward onto the fixed slats as shown in the marking diagrams in the multi-page instruction sheet. There were no angle of attack stripes on the right side of the vertical fin as shown on the box art because the LSO would only be able to see ones on the left side (see https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2009/12/reason-for-those-lines-on-vertical-fin.html). Also the placement of the data on the aft fuselage is different in this screen shot of this particular aircraft, not to mention the positions of the roundel and side number are reversed compared to the color photo above (which is an AEW.1 from the same detachment and time period as the one represented by the markings drawing and box art!).

Note that the "A" for A flight on the cowling appears to be smaller and positioned farther aft than the one on the kit markings diagram and there is "15" on the landing gear fairings.

! The jury is still out on whether the yellow stripes on the aft fuselage and the upper wings are separated by black stripes (see color picture above). However, the stripes were to be one foot wide on single-engine airplanes.  No stripe decals are provided in the kit.

& The video segment from which the above is taken starts at 07:55 here: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060023888

Step 1 in the instructions shows the assembly of the four-part tail landing gear well. The positioning and attachment of the landing gear itself (part 4) looks iffy as there are two small divots in the upper side of the wheel well that don't correspond to two pins on the top of the part 4. I plan to drill a hole equal to the diameter of pin between part 4 and the sprue, cutting it off the sprue so as to maximize its length, and install it after assembly of the well in the fuselage to be sure that it is secure and correctly located.

Step 2 is assembly of the cockpit, which is more than adequate in detail given the thickness of the canopy. In fact, it is so good that substituting a vacuformed one that is slid back is tempting (it might just be possible to trim the inner side of the bottom of the injection-molded canopy so it can positioned open). The seat isn't a bucket as it should be but with the addition of a back pad and straps, it is adequate.

Step 4 shows the addition of clear windows to the doors to the lower rear compartment. Although both the clear part and the opening appear to be beveled and therefore more likely to stay in place during masking and mask removal when attached with the right glue, there is a possibility on one or both coming loose and becoming lost in the interior. One option is to back them with black painted plastic as if the blackout curtains are drawn (there's no detail back there and even if there was, most wouldn't be visible if one went to the trouble of cutting out the doors). Another is to use one of the liquid products to create a window after painting is complete.

Y Note that the early AD-4Ws had flush windows in the aft compartment doors; Ed Barthelmes' best guess is that BuNo 124761 and subsequent had bulged windows (note that some AEW.1s had earlier BuNos and therefore flush windows). Bulged windows are not provided in the kit.

Step 6 provides two alternatives, closing off the cowl opening with part 19 (see the Skyraider nose flaps discussion here: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2011/10/ad-skyraider-modeling-notes.html ) or using the resin R-3350 engine included. Note that there is no representation of the opened nose flaps.

Some might not find the propeller provided to have the proper blade taper. The Monogram A-1E prop is an alternative but there are others.

Step 7 involves the installation of the fins on the horizontal stabilizer. Unfortunately, both the front view provided and the arrows would have you place them too far inboard. They actually go on the narrow raised chord-wise stripe (although I don't think there is one present on the actual stabilizer).
Note that they should also angle three degrees to the left as does much of the vertical fin and rudder (see the link in the step 6 discussion above) but in my opinion that's not worth the effort to effect (at least in 1/72, only the Airfix Skyraider has an accurate representation of the vertical fin but it is so little known that at least one modeler went to the trouble of taking out the twist).

The horizontal stabilizers are handed as differentiated by the mounting pips. The difference is the rectangular panels on the lower surface.

This step shows the vertical fin without the prominent HF antenna depicted on the box art (it would normally be added as part of the final completion after painting) that was on BuNos 124076 through 124777. According to Sword, their current mold capability does not allow them to make a small part shaped like that (there is an unnumbered part on the wings sprue that looks like an attempt to do so. However, a short length of insulated wire with the insulation partially removed would make a suitable part:
There was also a wire antenna leading from the tip of vertical fin to the right rear side of the fairing aft of the cockpit.

& Step 11: Ed Barthelmes, my Skyraider subject matter expert, noted that the wing tip position lights are not provided by the kit.

Step 12 would have you install the pitot (part 68) on the bottom of the wrong wing.

Note the rod antenna on this wing. There appear to be two on the underside of the left wing on at least some airplanes (see shadows on this first picture taken from below and aft).

Parts 60 and 61 are catapult hooks that go on the landing gear struts as shown in step 14. There is a small indentation on each of the struts (parts 3 and 7) as a guide to their placement. However, it is important to note that the struts are handed and to also take into account the placement of the hooks relative to the alternative landing gear doors 16 and 20 that are shown in step 17. This is the hook (note that it is angled downward and inward) and door on the left hand landing gear.

It is also important to mount the landing gear wheels with the brake pucks correctly located aft of the strut as shown in step 18.

Y! Although it's not obvious, steps 16 and 17 show different landing gear door options. All AD-3Ws and AD-4W BuNos 124076-124127 had a fixed fairing covering the gear rotation knuckle and no fairing attached to the landing gear strut. Note that they are handed with a notch for the telescoping mechanism (parts 53 and 54) shown added in step 17. These are represented by parts 48 and 49. AD-4W BuNos 124761 and subsequent had a smaller fixed fairing and a large one attached to the landing gear strut similar to the ones on the AD-1. The ones on the strut are parts 16 and 20. Note that they are also handed to clear the telescoping mechanism and the catapult hooks moved from the fuselage to the landing gear on the AEW ADs and all AD-5s. In any event, 48/49 and 16/20 are probably best installed in step 18 after the landing gear struts are in place along with the drag links (parts 51 and 52).

Also note the stall strip that was mounted on the leading edge of the right wing only above the landing gear that will have to be made from stretched sprue.

In step 17 the upper end of the landing gear strut is glued into a small dimple on a peg that represents  the landing gear rotation knuckle on the underside of the leading edge of the lower wing (the "info" illustration on the next page correctly depicts the strut as angled forward). Parts 53 and 54 are then glued to the wing (the short angled piece directly to the outboard side of the landing gear mounting peg so the upper ends are angled outboard) and the forward side of the bottom of the landing gear strut adjacent to the axle.

! I plan to change the landing gear assembly order to first put on the struts (parts 3 and 7: note that they are handed) along with the drag links (parts 51 and 52 in step 18). Note that the upper/aft end of the latter will sit on support tabs provided on the aft side of the forward landing gear well but exactly where the lower/forward ends should be glued to the strut itself is not obvious but will be dictated by getting the proper slight forward rake of the strut. Then I'll add the telescoping mechanism and the selected gear door.

Step 18 is also where you install the radome. Note that there were three small support rods, one to the fuselage ahead of the oil cooler intake and one to each wing, that are not included.

More later...