by Tommy H. Thomason

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: It has been updated to correct errors on my part.

My post following the release of the Sword kit is here: 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:

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 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 (

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:

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:

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 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:

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

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 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 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:

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: ) 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...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

U.S, Navy F-84 Thunderjet Target Drone Program

It's not Photoshopped:

For more on this aircraft, see

Unfortunately, no color photo of it exists and interpretation of this one is difficult.

As a target drone, it should have been painted overall Insignia Red.

However, the wings and empennage seem to be a lighter color than the fuselage. Except for not having a red stripe on the wings and a red rudder or vertical tail, it appears to be painted as a drone controller, with an Engine Gray fuselage and Orange Yellow wings and empennage.
Note that the entire vertical tail of some target tow/drone controllers were red.

This F-84 went through a Navy repair and overhaul facility before going to NADC, so presumably the proper color scheme was known.  However, there is a possibility that there was some confusion with the scheme.

In any event, this was an F-84B, so it had a shorter fuselage and sliding canopy than the E and subsequent. (Also see


The first edition of Scooter! is out of print and selling for silly prices on Amazon so Crécy decided to publish a second one. I've corrected typos and errors as well as added new illustrations and updated the sections on foreign military services and civil-registered Skyhawks. Also see HERE. For reviews of the first edition, click HERE.
All the author and editor reviews are complete. It should be going to the printer this week and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

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 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.

For this and probably much more than you want to know about the spoilers, see

My other posts on the F3H:

You can't do better from a reference standpoint than the Detail & Scale digital or print monograph:

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 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

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

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

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

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...