by Tommy H. Thomason

Monday, June 21, 2021

McDonnell F2H Banshee Stores Pylons Location

Oops - I make a mistake in scaling the side view of the AERO 14 pylon, making it too long (the bottom view length is correct). I've revised the drawing accordingly and replaced it. Here is an illustration of the AERO 14 pylon.

Note that the side of the pylon scales to 8 inches in height.

This is a picture of a pylon in Larry's collection that was removed from a P2V.

The front end (left side) is 7.5 inches deep; the aft end is 6.5 inches deep. It was 32.75 inches long.

While working on another F2H project (click HERE for a work in progress), I finally realized that I had never seen a McDonnell document that identified the location of the F2H Banshee stores pylons by fuselage station (fore/aft location) or butt line (distance outboard from fuselage center line). A quick check also revealed that McDonnell F2H front and top view documents that show the pylons are inconsistent with respect to their location (in fairness, exactness in those particular drawings was not a requirement).

Fortunately Larry Webster lives nearby and has a disassembled F2H-3 in his backyard. He and I were able to get good-enough data using a tape measure to locate them within an inch or less. This is the result:

Note that with the exception of the pylons and the outline of the wing (which was taken from pretty good McDonnell lines and station drawings), the location of the rest of the detail is not quite as accurate and I may have included more F2H-3/4 features than just the fairings over the wing-fold hinges.

The odd placement of the stores pylons is the result of the F2H-1 not being required to have them (neither was the F9F-2 Panther). They first appeared on the F2H-2 and the goal was almost certainly to add them with minimal changes to the structure. There are eight, numbered from left to right.

They are all AERO 14As, which were capable of carrying either rockets or 500-lb bombs. However, actual loads varied with the size of the bombs. For example, eight five-inch rockets or eight 100-lb bombs were two options but a total of only two 500-lb bombs could be loaded and only on the two most inboard stations, 4 and 5.

The upper side of the two-inch wide pylons differed slightly in shape to conform to the lower wing surface and were numbered by station as a result.


Note that the two inboard stations, 4/5 and 3/6, are less that 12 inches apart, being squeezed between a large removable panel and the main landing gear. The stations on the outer wing panel, 1/8 and 2/7 are not only well outboard but staggered. Placing them outboard reduced the impact of the added weight on the wing structure. They may have been staggered because of either center of gravity or structural (including aeroelastic) considerations or both.

I previously covered the nuclear store option here: Nuclear Banshees

Another Banshee stores oddity is that the F2H-2B carried a nuke on number 4 station while the F2H-3/4 carried one on the number 3 station.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Sword 1/72 Grumman TBF-1 Avenger and Tarpon Mk 1

 A work in progress:

For a Hyperscale review and pictures of the sprues:

12 September 2021: For more on the difference in the oil cooler installation between the TBF-1 and TBM-3, see

15 August 2021: Added comparison of TBF-1 and TBM-3 power plant installation

 Sword Models has continued to build on their 1/72 TBF/TBM kit range by going back to the first Avengers, the TBF-1 (SW72136) and Tarpon Mk 1 (SW72137).

The Tarpon Mk 1 was essentially identical to the earliest TBF-1 with respect to the engine installation, middle crew compartment, and with one exception, the later aft fuselage windows. The significant TBF-1 differences from the TBM-3 were the engine installation and single forward firing machine gun. These are provided for by a new fuselage sprue.

Note that the TBF's four cowl flap segments have been replaced by four on each side of the TBM-3's cowling and the oil cooler door has been relocated.


In box and build reviews of the earlier TBF/TBM kits are available on line. Suffice it to say, the accuracy, detail, and quality of parts and decals are commendable, more than adequate to the purpose. Nevertheless, a few notes may be of interest.

Grumman was the winner of a 1939 competition for a new torpedo bomber to replace the relatively new TBD Devastator. Contrary to what appears to be a four-man crew in this photo of the prototype, there were only three although there were originally four crew stations.

The pilot sat up front, the "assistant pilot/bomber" sat immediately behind him with a rudimentary set of flight instruments and controls, and the gunner/radioman sat in the turret. However, the Bureau of Aeronautics suggested that it would be desirable for both the assistant pilot and the gunner to have access to the radio, which clearly could not be accommodated, or his parachute for that matter, in the turret along with a .50 caliber machine gun (his parachute was stored on the side of the fuselage above the cabin door; he did wear the harness). Moreover, the "bomber", more usually referred to as a bombardier, would use a Norden bomb sight located behind a window at the aft end of the bomb bay, for level-flight bomb drops.

In the TBD, the assistant pilot/bomber crawled under the pilot to access the bomb sight, which was located forward of the bombs.

The radios were therefore located back in what was called the tunnel underneath the turret along with a seat that could be folded down from the left side of the fuselage. An opening was provided in the right side of the bulkhead at the aft end of the middle crew compartment for the assistant pilot to move down to the tunnel position. It was certainly easier for him to get back there than for the gunner to get down there:

These were the original windows in the aft fuselage (note in the illustration above of the bombardier kneeling at the Norden sight that the window on the left side of the fuselage does not line up with one in the center of the door; they differ longitudinally by about one half  of the frame spacing).

This is the best picture that I could find of the middle seat.

No controls are evident other than foot troughs that would go to the rudder pedals and what appears to be provisions for a control stick. Also noteworthy are the arm rests and the lack of a shoulder harness requirement at that time. To access the passage back to the tunnel, the assistant pilot would climb down to his right.

In any event, the Navy decided to delete the assistant pilot requirement, permanently relocate the bombardier to the tunnel, and assign him the radioman responsibility. This was reportedly effective with the 51st TBF-1 and probably the cause for the redesign of the windows in the aft fuselage to provide more natural light at the tunnel position.

 Part of the reason for the move was probably the need to provide a location for more radio equipment, which more or less filled the center compartment although it was still accessible from the tunnel.

The Royal Navy Tarpons were delivered from Grumman with this later window configuration and probably no seat in the middle compartment but the Brits chose to reinstate the center seat (probably without flight controls) and replace the large window in the aft fuselage with a dome for better visibility downward. The gunner was assigned the radio responsibility as the "Telegraphist Air Gunner".

The Royal Navy practice at the time was to require a navigator for carrier-based aircraft, the thinking being that pilot needed all the help he could get to find the carrier on his way back. U.S. Navy pilots, on the other hand, were expected to do so on their own. Chart boards were provided that slid out from the instrument panel so they could plot their position relative to the movement of the carrier in their absence and be able to find it again without benefit of radio direction finding (this is a TBM-3 illustration).

According to Paul Fontenoy, the Royal Navy crewman aft of the pilot was designated as Observer, which covered. his responsibilities that included navigation, gunnery spotting, reconnaissance work, and level-bombing aiming.

The Sword kits provide both the early and later fuselage windows. The instructions aren't explicit about which should be deleted by being painted over but the marking and color scheme illustrations can be used as a guide for that. The access between the middle crew compartment and the tunnel is not represented but could be by simply modifying parts 14 (the forward and middle cockpit floor) and 7 (the aft bulkhead of the middle cockpit).

Two other small details to consider adding by reference to pictures (note that their presence was short-lived) are the light on the backside of the pilot's headrest (it signaled the other bombers in a formation to drop when the lead bombardier did) and an ADF loop under the aft canopy. Note that the fairing between the canopy and the turret (part C10) was retractable (the turret could be swung around to face up and forward) and probably one of the first bits of the actual airframe to be removed and never replaced.

The retracted fairing and the signal light:

The signal light:

And the ADF loop with the turret fairing slid aft:

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Douglas A2D Skyshark

 Clear Prop is now shipping its 1/72 scale XA2D Skyshark kit.

Although I haven't done more than look at what's in the box, my impression is that this is a first class production, including the box. For illustrations, go to Clear Prop's website:

Also see the Hyperscale review here:

There were two XA2Ds, BuNo 122988 and 989; six A2Ds were completed and flown of the initial production order of 10. Both XA2Ds were originally painted blue but the second one was subsequently stripped of paint before its first flight. All the production A2Ds were painted blue.

While this kit provides parts and decals for the two XA2Ds, my understanding is that all the parts needed for a production A2D are included except for the very different canopy. The XA2D canopy had flat sides and top like the F4D Skyray whereas the production canopy was rounded.

The XA2D sliding canopy was also large and mounted on top of the fuselage; the sliding portion of the A2D canopy was smaller and mounted on a large fixed fairing that was on top of the fuselage.

There were variations in the exhaust fairings on the sides of the fuselage in part to resolve heating problems on the aft fuselage. Flight test began with a simple oval opening in the side of a fuselage but at least two increasing larger fairings were evaluated on the first XA2D.

Interestingly, when flight test finally resumed with XA2D BuNo 122989, the exhaust was once again a simple oval with no fairing.

And at least the first two production A2Ds also had no fairing initially. However,  one was subsequently added to the first production A2D and appears to have been the final configuration.

Steve Ginter's A2D Monograph (Naval Fighters Number Forty-Three) is an excellent reference. Unfortunately, Steve no longer has any in his inventory. It is still available from Amazon but buyer beware that it might be a relatively low-quality print-on-demand version.