by Tommy H. Thomason
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bell Aircraft L-39 Color
So, are you going to believe Corky Meyer and Bill Swenson or your lying eyes? (Yes, this picture is "flopped" but I wanted to preserve the Niagara Falls Museum legend.)
Corky, who flew both L-39s, had told me, unequivocally, that they were painted "green". For more on the L-39 (and a correctly oriented picture with the blue cast removed) see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweeping-change-bell-l-39.html
Thanks to Ted Smith for following up on the question and bringing this photograph to my attention.
Also, take the time to look at the Niagara Aerospace Museum's excellent Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Niagara-Aerospace-Museum
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Aircraft Pictorial #7: F4U-1 Corsair Vol 1
Some things this excellent volume is not: a compendium of war stories, list of squadron assignments, tables of performance attributes, or overall operational history. All that is available elsewhere. What it is: a detailed and well-illustrated document that describes the configuration, configuration changes, and color schemes (internal and external) of the so-called "Birdcage" Corsair during its initial flight test and operational usage, both U.S. and U. K. (Volume 2 will, Dana promises, cover the raised cockpit F4U-1, aka F4U-1A.) As such this work will not appeal to everyone, as fascinating as it is to me. If you are a Corsair fan, however, almost every page contains something of interest that you probably didn't know and likely is mentioned in no other Corsair reference.
For example, a picture of the early 20-gallon (your car's gas tank probably has less capacity) oil tank mentions that a larger tank was substituted to account for oil consumption on longer missions when greater endurance was provided by the addition of external tanks; however, a decal was placed on the larger tank to advise the ground crew not to fill it with more than 20 gallons of oil when external tanks weren't fitted in order to minimize weight. A revelation was the reason for the almost standard application of tape externally to the panel lines around the fuselage fuel tank. It turns out that it was to keep spilled gasoline out of the interior of the fuselage aft of the firewall when the tank was being filled because the result was sometimes a fire.
Some configuration details are only mentioned in passing or not fully illustrated, almost certainly due to the limitation on page count that these publications entail and the complexity of the subject. While Dana does provide some new information on the variations in F4U-1 radio antennas, not all of them, e.g. the early IFF antenna, are depicted in full. I can personally attest to how difficult it is to write about and illustrate that particular aspect because I tried to do so, with Dana's help and others', here: http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2014/01/f4u-corsair-wire-antenna-alternatives.html
If Dana hadn't thoughtfully sent me a copy, I would have been first in line to purchase one based on his previous work and personal knowledge of his research diligence and insistence on the use of primary-source documents.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Warpaint Series No. 99: McDonnell F3H Demon
Tony Buttler, a well-known and prolific author, has written an excellent, well-illustrated monograph on the less-appreciated McDonnell F3H Demon. It is a very complete history in 48 pages plus softcover. There are lots of photographs, many in color, of the XF3H-1 prototypes, the J40-powered F3H-1N, and the J71-powered F3H-2 variants. Several pages of color profiles are provided as well as well as a large multi-view drawing at the centerfold. The paper quality is more than adequate for good reproduction of all the illustrations. See the link above for details.
Since this book deserves to be the cornerstone print reference, if not the only one, for the F3H in some libraries, I feel obligated to correct a few misstatements. First, the F3H wing did not have anhedral (page 22); see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2014/03/anhedraldihedral-and-wing-sweep.html. I'm all but certain that the first Sparrow missile firings by a deployed squadron were accomplished by a VX-4 detachment of F7U-3Ms on Shangri-La in early 1957, not VF-64 F3Hs in December 1958 (page 35). A really minor correction is that the drawing of the F3H-2M is shown with the short beaver tail in the centerfold; all were built with the longer one and I doubt that any were retrofitted.
I'm pretty sure that the lineup of F3Hs on page 17 are four of the six involved in the Fleet Introduction Program described in the text with side numbers 10 through 15. Note that these, as well as some other early production Demons, have small, blue, government-furnished AERO pylons on the wings as the changeover to gray/white exterior paint had just occurred.
An oddity not mentioned or illustrated was one of the attempts at providing self-boarding (no separate ladder) on these big jets that set so nose high. See http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2009/06/self-boarding.html and http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-had-hoped-to-find-picture-like-this.html
No photos or illustrations of the cockpit are provided. For the F3H-1N cockpit layout, see http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2014/06/converting-f3h-2-to-f3h-1n.html. For very complete coverage of a restored cockpit on the F3H at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, see Don Hinton's photographs here: http://www.philsaeronauticalstuff.com/f3h/f3h.html. (I suspect that the instrument panel was really dark gull gray with black instruments before the restoration; see https://www.flickr.com/photos/landon-smyth/7866045982/ for a picture of the cockpit of a different F3H, Intrepid's, during a restoration.)
For details on the Sparrow I (F3H-2M) and Sparrow III (F3H-2), see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2013/08/things-under-wings-sparrow-missiles.html
Minor omissions and errors like these do not materially detract from the value of this book to the naval aviation enthusiast. I am very pleased to have been provided a copy by Tony.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Cyber-Hobby SH-3H In-box Review by Jodie Peeler
Since we've talked Sea Kings every now and then, over the weekend I
bought the SH-3H issue of the Cyber-Hobby Sea King. The new parts trees
in the kit include not only the new sponsons and some other needed
components for the SH-3H, but also include the operators' consoles, ADF
fairing and other necessities for any SH-3. These parts appear nice
enough to satisfy, and I think the shape of the -3H sponsons is also
decent, though I haven't compared them to drawings yet.
The rest of the kit looks identical to the other SH-3 issues and even
includes the teardrop-shaped sponsons for earlier Sea Kings (since those
parts are molded with some parts you'll need regardless), so this means
the -3H kit becomes the one a builder will want for any SH-3 project.
Unfortunately, numerous inaccuracies remain: no doghouse aft of the
transmission hump, no accurate sling seats for the aft cabin, and still
the holes and slots and electronics box on the fuselage that you must
either remove or leave off, etc. The decal sheet gives an effort at four
hi-vis schemes but looks kind of cartoonish.
That said, unless Airfix's forthcoming new-tool Sea Kings eventually get
into American variants (or at least get close enough to convert), the
Cyber-Hobby kit may be our best hope.
For background on the SH-3 configurations, see: http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2013/02/us-navy-asw-sh-3-sea-king-variations.html
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Things Under Wings: AN/APS-4
Larry Webster of The Quonset Air Museum (see http://www.quonsetairmuseum.com/) recently provided me an excellent drawing of the AN/APS-4:
In case you can't read the dimensions, the diameter is 17 1/8 inches and the length, 60 13/32 inches.
Larry also hosted me on a visit to the Museum, where I took these pictures of an AN/APS-4 on the wing of a Grumman TBM.
Most of the exterior of the pod was a removable forward and aft shell for access to the electronics and radar antenna. An adapter was therefore required to attach the pod to a standard two-hook bomb rack, in this case a Mk 51 Mod 12. (Note that the adapter pictured is somewhat different from the one in the three-view.) A large wire bundle also had to incorporated that resembled a fuel line.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The F11F had an afterburner but it was deficient in every respect to the F8U except for handling qualities, particularly on approach for landing. Which is why, after a brief operational career, it was relegated to the Blue Angels flight display team (about 40 of the 201 built were flown by the Blues at one time or another) and advanced flight training.
Although only 201 were built, there were two different production configurations, the short and long nose.
The short-nose airplanes also had the angle-of-attack sensor on the left side of the forward fuselage (although it was not on early test and production aircraft); the sensor was on the right side of the long-nose F11Fs.
That's pretty straight forward, although care has to be taken with respect to where the change begins in the forward fuselage:
Then there is the problem of sorting out what aspects of the various existing F11Fs on display are bogus. Worse case is the F11F that was formerly on the deck of the Intrepid Air-Sea-Space museum and is now on loan to the MAPS Air Museum at the Ankron-Canton Airport in Ohio. It is painted as Bureau Number 141783, a long-nose F11F, when it served with VF-33. However, it is actually a short-nose F11F, BuNo 138622, that spent its career at Grumman in flight test.
(It also doesn't have the wing fillets of the long-nose configuration.)
Even the best preserved example, BuNo 141828, shown here with Don Hinton at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, has a few (but minor) configuration issues.
Many of the F11Fs on display are in Blue Angels markings. However, most of these are not in the Blue Angel configuration:
http://www.philsaeronauticalstuff.com/f11f/f11f.html. They don't show the gun-bay doors but pictures on the Combat Air Museum do as do other photos of this airplane that can be found with a search.
There is a minor difference in the presence or absence of the antenna under the aft end of the canopy.
The NMNA F11F does not have the antenna, probably because it came to the museum from a VT squadron. However, here is a picture of a pair of fleet F11Fs, one with (211) and the other without (206) the antenna...
For some notes on the 1/72nd Hasegawa kit and other stuff, see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/11/f11f-tiger.html
For a discussion of the F11F's unique tailhook installation, see https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2009/09/tail-hook.html
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
F-111 Auxiliary Flaps
7 September 2022: Updated with pictures of the auxiliary flaps. Also see this subsequent post: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-f-111b-auxiliary-flap.html
One of the fixes required of the F-111B for Navy acceptance was restoration of the requisite over-the-nose visibility for carrier landings. It had been accounted for, of course, in the original design.
However, as the overly optimistic empty-weight prediction began to be exceeded, the angle of attack on approach increased and the carrier deck began to be less and less visible to the F-111B pilot. There are three basic ways to restore the required sight picture without going faster on approach: lowering the nose/raising the cockpit, reducing the weight, and increasing lift. All were employed (weight reduction being the hardest to achieve), with the production airplanes after the first two to have a raised cockpit.
Most of the wing-lift changes were introduced in production with F-111A #12 and F-111B #4. (An F-111B span, five-segment flap version of the new wing was evaluated on F-111A #4.) The most obvious was the so-called rotating glove on the inboard fixed section of the wing, shown here on F-111A #4 while it was "armed" with dummy Phoenixes during aerodynamic evaluation of the new wing.
One last lift change was also reportedly introduced on the first two production F-111Bs, the six and seventh built. This was the auxiliary flap, which was located inboard of the existing flaps.
These little flaps were intended to squeeze the last bit of lift out of the existing wing planform. They were electrically driven and controlled by the flap handle. If the pilot selected more than 28 degrees of flap and the wings were swept 16 degrees or less and the wing-sweep handle was set at 16 degrees or less, then the auxiliary flaps would lower. (The 16-degree sweep limitation was driven by the need for clearance of the inboard edge of the auxiliary flap from the side of the fuselage.)
These were reportedly incorporated on the USAF F-111s (its function is described in the F-111A flight manual) and FB-111s as well as the Australian F-111C.
FB-111A photographed by Ron VanDerwarker
This is an inflight picture from below of an Australian F-111 with the auxiliary flap not yet extended (or perhaps locked up).
I've never seen a picture of them on F-111Bs, not even the early production 152714 and 5, but it seems likely that they would have been incorporated on the subsequent F-111Bs along with the raised canopy.
However, on most if not all of the USAF and Australian F-111s (the FB-111A may be an exception) the auxiliary-flap function was reportedly disabled fairly early as being a maintenance burden and not being very effective from a lift standpoint for shore-based operations.
Monday, September 1, 2014
F-111B Envelope Expansion Wing
Note that the wings have the ferry tips so that the span is that of the F-111B.
This is the F-111B early five-segment flap wing.
Tim Lent pointed out that F-111B #4 also had a four-segment flap wing at one point.
(You can take my word for it - a lightened version of a high-resolution scan of a pretty good photograph shows that the fifth flap segment is not present.)
The reason for Tim's search for evidence of this wing on #4 was the desire to identify the third F-111B in this photo, the one with its back to the camera.
My speculation is that this set of wings was specifically instrumented for high-speed envelope expansion and the use of the ferry tips allowed it to be used by both General Dynamics on an F-111A and Grumman on an F-111B. In fact, #4 was used for flutter/envelope expansion in late 1966 and early 1967. After its crash, #1 was used for flutter/envelope expansion at Edwards in the fall of 1967, which is likely when the monograph cover picture was taken.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Navy F4H (F-4) Phantom 370-gallon External Tanks
Few F-4 kits provide the original McAir tank, which did not have a constant diameter at any point from either end to the middle and did have flanges on both sides at the midpoint of the tank. Jeffrey Kubiak of Hypersonic Models has stepped into the breach:
These are 1/72 scale, accurate in size, and include the handed pylons to which the tanks were attached. The resin in my example, provided by Hypersonic, was flawless. (These are also available in 1/48th.)
Hypersonic also created a 1/72 set of the Navy outboard pylons required for other external stores, also handed (because of their attachment to an angled wing spar) and excellent.
Both kits come with detailed installation and painting instructions.
This is Hypersonics website: http://www.hypersonicmodels.co.uk/
Monday, August 25, 2014
North American FJ-3 Redux
Since there is a pretty good 1/72 F-86H kit available and it has a bigger inlet like the FJ-3 (it had a more powerful engine), there has recently been a discussion as to whether it would be a suitable basis for conversion. Suitable, of course, varies by individual, ranging from minor alterations to, as the late, great Bondo said, "practice bleeding".
Herewith an illustration of the basic differences (the F-86H has the wing-tip extension and many detail differences but that's no hill for a stepper; the basic empennage is pretty close):
Vertical fin overlay:
Wing root overlay:
The consensus was that if you just had to have an FJ-3 now, the Falcon conversion (which is still available) is the better bet; it consists of fuselage halves and a pretty good canopy but no decals. This R.J. Tucker's build combining it with an Academy F-86. Note that the F-86 horizontal tail might be too small. See more photos and a summary of the build here:http://www.arcair.com/Gal1/101-200/gal142-FJ3M-Fury-Tucker/00.shtm
As of this writing, the Falcon conversion is available from Hannants and Falcon (click HERE). I couldn't find it on the Squadron or Sprue Brothers website.
The best single reference is Ginter's monograph Naval Fighters Number Eight-Eight:
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Draft Tailhook Topics
So if you find interesting things here, you might find more there. In some cases, it was just a convenient place to post answers to questions that were raised on modeling websites, like F9F Panther and Cougar ejection seats, http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2014/07/grumman-f9ff-9-panther-and-cougar.html.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Things Under Wings - Training Wheels
It is a Mk 47 practice bomb dispenser. For more on it and other U.S. Navy armament training devices circa World War II, see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2014/07/things-under-wings-training-wheels.html
Thursday, July 24, 2014
F8F Bearcat Wheels and Wheel Wells
It appears that the F8F wheel wells were painted the same color as the exterior with the exception of some hardware located in the well (there was apparently no specific requirement as to wheel well color until they were to be painted white in the mid 1950s).
Although these are grey-scale pictures (the second one has been lightened considerably) and the color pictures I have aren't conclusive because the wells are in shadow, that's the way to bet.
However, some of the very early F8Fs had the accessory section (viewed from the inboard wheel well) painted with either a metallic color or zinc chromate.
The two different wheel hubs are distinctive. The early ones had "spokes" and might be either blue, "black" (cosmoline?) or metallic (in this case, on the drop test article, probably unpainted).
The later wheel hubs were forged, possibly introduced with the F8F-2 and similar to the hubs on the F9F Panther.
For some other of my posts on the F8F, see
(also includes a plug for the excellent Meyer/Ginter monograph on the F8F)
Monday, June 30, 2014
This is very welcome since it is one of a handful of U.S. Navy airplanes that have gone unrepresented as an injection molded kit. A built model looks pretty good: