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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bachem Ba 349 "Natter"

Here are some images of Fly Models 1/32 scale Bachem Ba 349 "Natter".

From Wikipedia"
The Bachem Ba 349 Natter (English: Colubrid, grass-snake) was a World War II German point-defence rocket-powered interceptor, which was to be used in a very similar way to a manned surface-to-air missile. After a vertical take-off, which eliminated the need for airfields, most of the flight to the Allied bombers was to be controlled by an autopilot. The primary role of the relatively untrained pilot was to aim the aircraft at its target bomber and fire its armament of rockets. The pilot and the fuselage containing the rocket-motor would then land using separate parachutes, while the nose section was disposable. The only manned vertical take-off flight on 1 March 1945 ended in the death of the test pilot, Lothar Sieber.
 In 1943 Luftwaffe air superiority was being challenged by the Allies over the Reich and radical innovations were required to overcome the crisis. Surface-to-air missiles appeared to be a promising approach to counter the Allied strategic bombing offensive; a variety of projects were started, but invariably problems with the guidance and homing systems prevented any of these from attaining operational status. Providing the missile with a pilot, who could operate a weapon during the brief terminal approach phase, offered a solution. Submissions for a simple target defence interceptor were requested by the Luftwaffe in early 1944 under the umbrella of the "Emergency Fighter Program". A number of simple designs were proposed, including the Heinkel P.1077 Julia, in which the pilot lay prone (on his stomach), to reduce the frontal area. The Julia was the front-runner for the contract. The initial plan was to launch the aircraft vertically, but this concept was later changed to a conventional horizontal take-off from a tricycle-wheeled trolley, similar to that used by the first eight prototypes of the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance bomber.

Erich Bachem's BP-20 ("Natter") was a development from a design he had worked on at Fieseler, the Fi 166 concept, but considerably more radical than the other submissions. It was built using glued and nailed wooden parts with an armour-plated bulkhead and bulletproof glass windshield at the front of the cockpit. The initial plan was to power the machine with a Walter HWK 109-509A-2 rocket motor; however, only the 109-509A-1, as used in the Me 163, was available.[7] It had a sea level thrust variable between 100 kg (220 lb) at "idle" to 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) at full power, with the Natter's intended quartet of rear flank-mount Schmidding SG34 solid fuel rocket boosters used in its vertical launch to provide an additional 4,800 kg (10,600 lb) thrust for 10 seconds before they burned out and were jettisoned. The experimental prototypes slid up a 20 m (66 ft)-tall vertical steel launch tower for a maximum sliding length of 17 m (56 ft) in three guideways, one for each wing tip and one for the lower tip of the ventral tail fin. By the time the aircraft left the tower it was hoped that it would have achieved sufficient speed to allow its aerodynamic surfaces to provide stable flight.
Under operational conditions, once the Natter had left the launcher, it would be guided to the proximity of the Allied bombers by an autopilot with the possibility of an added beam guidance similar to that used in some V-2 rocket launches. Only then would the pilot take control, aim and fire the armament, which was originally proposed to be a salvo of 19 R4M rockets. Later, 28 R4Ms or a number of Henschel Hs 297 Föhn rockets were suggested, with either variety of unguided rocket fired from the Natter's nose-mount cellular launch tubes contained in its nose. The Natter was intended to fly up and over the bombers, by which time its Walter motor would probably be out of propellant. Following its one-time attack with its rockets, the pilot would dive his Natter, now effectively a glider, to an altitude of around 3,000 m (9,800 ft), flatten out, release the nose of the aircraft and a small braking parachute from the rear fuselage. The fuselage would decelerate and the pilot would be ejected forwards by his own inertia and land by means of a personal parachute.
In an early proposal in August 1944, the Natter design had a concrete nose; it was suggested that the machine might ram a bomber, but this proposal was subsequently withdrawn in later Project Natter outlines. Bachem stated clearly in the initial proposal that the Natter was not a suicide weapon and much effort went into designing safety features for the pilot. However, owing to the potential dangers for the pilot inherent in the operation of this precarious aircraft, the Natter is sometimes listed as a suicide craft. The design had one decisive advantage over its competitors – it eliminated the necessity to land an unpowered gliding machine at an airbase, which, as the history of the Me 163 rocket aircraft had clearly demonstrated, made an aircraft extremely vulnerable to attack by Allied fighters.
Construction of the first experimental prototype Natter, Versuchsmuster 1, was completed on 4 October 1944. V1 was subsequently referred to as Baumuster1 (BM1) and later still the "B" was dropped and the machine became known as the M1. Most subsequent prototypes were known by 'M' codes, as the later prototypes of the Heinkel He 162 were. Manned glider flights began on 3 November 1944. The first glider M1 was towed to around 3,000 m by a Heinkel He 111 bomber with a cable (Tragschlepp mode) at Neuburg an der Donau. The pilot was Erich Klöckner, who made all four documented Tragschlepp flights. After carrying out the test programme of the M1, he bailed out and the machine crashed into the ground. It was found that, unfortunately, the towing cable, and in the case of the M3, the undercarriage interfered with the flight characteristics of the gliders and consequently the results were difficult to interpret. To clear any lingering doubts about the Natter in the glider mode, Hans Zübert made a daring free flight in the M8 on the 14 February, and showed that the Natter was indeed a very good flying machine.
The vertical take-off (VTO) trials were conducted on high ground called the Ochsenkopf at the Truppenübungsplatz (military training area) Heuberg near Stetten am kalten Markt, Württemberg. The first successful unmanned vertical take-off from the experimental launch tower occurred on 22 December 1944. The test machine, the M16, was powered only by the Schmidding solid boosters, as were all the early VTO trials. Up to and including 1 March 1945, 16 prototypes had been used, eight in glider trials and eight in VTO trials.

By January 1945 Bachem was under pressure from the authorities in Berlin to carry out a manned VTO flight by the end of February. On 25 February, M22 was in the experimental launch tower. It was as complete an operational machine as possible with the Walter HWK 109-509 A1 motor installed for the first time. A dummy pilot was in the cockpit. Lift-off from the tower was perfect. The engineers and ground crew watched as the M22 ascended under the combined power of the four Schmidding boosters and the Walter motor, an estimated total thrust of 6,500 kg (14,300 lb). The nose separated as programmed and the dummy pilot descended "safely" under its personal parachute. The remainder of the fuselage came down under its two large salvage parachutes, but when it hit the ground the Walter liquid-propellant rocket motor's residual hypergolic propellants (T-Stoff oxidizer and C-Stoff fuel) exploded and the machine was destroyed.
Despite Bachem's concerns that the test programme had been significantly cut short, a young volunteer Luftwaffe test pilot, Lothar Sieber, climbed into the cockpit of the fully fuelled M23 on 1 March. The aircraft was equipped with an FM transmitter for the purpose of transmitting flight data from various monitoring sensors in the machine.
A hard wire intercom appears to have been provided between Sieber and the engineers in the launch bunker using a system similar to that used in the manned glider flights. Around 1100 am, the M23 was ready for take-off. Low stratus clouds lay over the Ocksenkopf. The Walter liquid-fueled rocket motor built up to full thrust and Sieber pushed the button to ignite the four solid boosters. With a roar, the M23 rose out of a cloud of steam and rocket smoke straight up, displaying its camouflage paintwork. At an altitude of about 100 to 150 m (330 to 490 ft), the Natter suddenly pitched backwards into an inverted curve. Initially it climbed at about 30° to the vertical. At about 500 m (1,600 ft) the cockpit canopy was seen to fly off. The Natter continued to climb at high speed at an angle of 15° from the horizontal and disappeared into the clouds. The Walter motor stalled about 15 seconds after take-off. It is estimated the Natter reached 1,500 m (4,900 ft), at which point it nose-dived and hit the ground with great force about 32 seconds later, some kilometres from the launch site. Unknown at the time, one of the Schmidding boosters failed to jettison and its remains were dug up at the crash site in 1998.
Bachem surmised Sieber had involuntarily pulled back on the control column under the effect of the 3 G acceleration. Examination of the canopy, which fell near the launch site, showed the tip of the latch was bent, suggesting it may not have been in the fully closed position at launch. The pilot's headrest had been attached to the underside of the canopy and as the canopy flew off the pilot's head would have snapped back suddenly about 25 cm (9.8 in), hitting the solid wooden rear upper cockpit bulkhead, and either knocking Sieber unconscious or breaking his neck.
This tragedy reinforced Bachem's long held belief that the take-off and flight in the vicinity of the target bombers should be fully automated. The canopy latch was strengthened and the headrest was attached to the backboard of the cockpit. Before the introduction of the autopilot in the test programme, the control column would have a temporary locking device on it, which would allow the machine to ascend vertically to at least 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and then be removed by the pilot. The Walter motor probably ceased operation because the Natter was virtually upside-down and air may have entered the intake pipes in the propellant tanks, starving the motor. Sieber had become the first man to take off vertically from the ground under pure rocket power, some 16 years before Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 pioneering, peacetime orbital flight.

Much debate has surrounded the number of Natters built at the Bachem-Werk and their disposition. According to Bachem, 36 Natters were produced at the Bachem-Werk in Waldsee by the end of the war. Up to April 1945, 17 aircraft had been used in unmanned trials comprising five gliders, all slung under an He 111 in the Mistelschlepp configuration prior to launch, and 12 VTO examples. Five aircraft were prepared for manned trials, four gliders and one VTO version. The M3 was flown twice, and then rebuilt at which time it was given the new code BM3a but was never flown. The total number of launches to early April 1945 was 22, as was the total number of Natters constructed up to that time. Bachem reported further that there were 14 more finished or almost finished aircraft in April 1945. Four of these were prototype A1 operational Natters built for test launching from a wooden pole launcher, which had been designed for field deployment. This new launcher was also constructed on the Heuberg, not far from the experimental steel tower. There is documentary evidence for two pole launches in April but not three as claimed by Bachem in his post-war presentation. The documentation for this third flight may have been destroyed by the SS at war's end. Ten A1 operational Natters, called K-Maschinen, were constructed for the Krokus-Einsatz ("Operation Crocus").
The fate of these 14 A1 Natters was as follows: Three were fired from the pole launcher according to Bachem, four were burnt at Waldsee, two were burnt at Lager Schlatt, Oetztal, Austria, four were captured by US troops at Sankt Leonhard im Pitztal, Austria and one, which had been sent as a sample model to a new factory in Thuringia, was captured by the Red Army. Consequently, the total of 36 test and operational aircraft constructed at the Bachem-Werk can be accounted for. However, Natter carcasses were used for a variety of ground-based purposes; for example, as a static booster rocket, armament and strength testing and pilot seat position tests. Some fuselages were reused after flight testing; for example, the M5, 6 and 7.
Of the four Natters captured at Sankt Leonhard im Pitztal, two went to the United States. Only one original Natter built in Germany in the Second World War survives in storage at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution. The fate of the other Natter brought to the US is unknown. There is no documentary evidence that a Natter was ever flown from Muroc Field. The tail section of one of the Natters at Sankt Leonhard im Pitztal was broken off while it still rested on its trailer. The remaining machine was possibly destroyed when the CIOS Field Team left the area. Despite being promised one of these Natters, there is no evidence that a machine ever reached UK shores.
 In early February 1945 the positions of the centre of gravity for the A1 operational machine during its flight profile were giving the RLM and the SS cause for concern. They wanted these figures to be decided upon for the upcoming construction of the A1 aircraft for Krokus-Einsatz (Operation Crocus), the field deployment of the Natter. The position of the centre of gravity is expressed as a percentage of the chord (distance between the leading and trailing edges) of the main wing. Thus 0% is the leading edge and 100% is the trailing edge. In the manned glider trials the centre of gravity had been varied between 20 and 34%. At a meeting of engineers held on 8 February, the variations in the centre of gravity expected in the A1 Krokus machine were discussed. At take-off with the weight of the four solid boosters, the centre of gravity would be brought back to 65%, but after releasing these rockets it would move forwards to 22%. The free flight by Zübert on 14 February had showed unequivocally that the little Natter had excellent flying characteristics as a glider. The centre of gravity problem was solved initially by the addition of one-metre-square auxiliary tailfins that were released simultaneously with the jettisoning of the boosters. The Krokus aircraft had vanes that would direct the Walter rocket exhaust gases so as to assist vehicle stabilisation at low speed similar to those used in the V-2 rocket.

French forces had captured Waldsee by 25 April 1945 and presumably took control of the Bachem-Werk. Shortly before the French troops arrived, a group of Bachem-Werk personnel set out for Austria with five A1 Natters on trailers.[43][44] At Bad Wörishofen, the group waited for another squad retreating from Nabern unter Teck with one completed Natter. Both groups then set out for the Austrian Alps. One group with two Natters ended up at the junction of the river Inn and one of its tributaries, the Ötztaler Ache, at Camp Schlatt. The other group went to St. Leonhard im Pitztal with four aircraft. US troops captured the first group at Camp Schlatt around 4 May and the second group on the following day.
At some time during the project, the Bachem-Werk was ordered to give complete details of the BP-20 Natter to the Japanese, but there was doubt over whether they had received them. They were, however, known to have a general knowledge of the Natter and showed considerable interest in the project.
 Only one original A1 Natter survives; it is stored in the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, USA. It is in a poor state of repair and is no longer accessible to the general public. The evidence supports the proposition that this machine was captured by US troops at St. Leonhard im Pitztal, Austria in May 1945. The Natter displayed at the Deutsches Museum is said to have been reconstructed partly from sub-assemblies that survived the end of the war. This machine is of the experimental type as launched from the steel tower and is painted to look like an M17. There are several static reproductions of Natters around the world, for example at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California and Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, Florida, US

Monday, November 6, 2017

Brewster Buffalo F2A-1

Here are some images of Special Hobby's 1/32 scale F2A-1 Brewster Buffalo in McClelland Barclay's No. 2 Dazzle Paint scheme.
I wanted to do the more fancy McClelland Barcly's No.1 Dazzle Scheme, but it had been done a few times already. So I decided to do the No. 2 scheme.                                                                         From Wikipedia"
The Brewster F2A Buffalo was an American fighter aircraft which saw service early in World War II. Designed and built by the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation, it was one of the first U.S. monoplanes with an arrestor hook and other modifications for aircraft carriers. The Buffalo won a competition against the Grumman F4F Wildcat in 1939 to become the U.S. Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft. Although superior to the Grumman F3F biplane it replaced and the early F4Fs, the Buffalo was largely obsolete when the United States entered the war, being unstable and overweight, especially when compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
Several nations, including Finland, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, ordered the Buffalo. The Finns were the most successful with their Buffalos, flying them in combat against early Soviet fighters with excellent results. During the Continuation War of 1941–1944, the B-239s (a de-navalized F2A-1) operated by the Finnish Air Force proved capable of engaging and destroying most types of Soviet fighter aircraft operating against Finland at that time and achieving in the first phase of that conflict 32 Soviet aircraft shot down for every B-239 lost, and producing 36 Buffalo "aces".
In December 1941, Buffalos operated by both British Commonwealth (B-339E) and Dutch (B-339D) air forces in South East Asia suffered severe losses in combat against the Japanese Navy's Mitsubishi A6M Zero and the Japanese Army's Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar". The British attempted to lighten their Buffalos by removing ammunition and fuel and installing lighter guns to improve performance, but it made little difference. After the first few engagements, the Dutch halved the fuel and ammunition load in the wing, which allowed their Buffalos (and their Hurricanes) to stay with the Oscars in turns.
The Buffalo was built in three variants for the U.S. Navy: the F2A-1, F2A-2 and F2A-3. (In foreign service, with lower horsepower engines, these types were designated B-239, B-339, and B-339-23 respectively.) The F2A-3 variant saw action with United States Marine Corps (USMC) squadrons at the Battle of Midway. Shown by the experience of Midway to be no match for the Zero, the F2A-3 was derided by USMC pilots as a "flying coffin." However, the F2A-3s performance was substantially inferior to the F2A-2 variant used by the Navy before the outbreak of the war despite detail improvements.

There is currently one extant complete Finnish B-239 (BW-372), a restored B-239 fuselage mated to wooden wings with a Soviet engine, a rebuilt variant VL-HUMU, and two static replicas- one in ML-KNIL markings and the other in U.S. Navy markings.
Finnish B-239 (serial no. BW-372) flown by Lt. Lauri Pekuri was damaged by a Soviet Hawker Hurricane and crashed in 1942 on Lake Big Kolejärvi, about 31 mi (50 km) from Segezha, Russia and was rediscovered in 1998.
The aircraft was transported to the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, Florida, USA on 18 August 2004. In early 2008 the aircraft was sent to the Aviation Museum of Central Finland for the 90th anniversary of the Finnish Air Force.
In addition to BW-372, the hood and fin of FAF BW-393 (credited with 41 kills) survive in a Finnish museum; FAF BW-372 is on display at the Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo (Aviation Museum of Central Finland).
In July 2008, a static full-scale replica B-339C was completed by the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island, New York. The aircraft carries the markings of an ML-KNIL fighter flown by Lt. Gerard Bruggink (two kills). It was built for the Militaire-Luchtvaartmuseum (Military Aviation Museum) at Soesterberg, the Netherlands. The Cradle of Aviation Museum houses a static full-scale replica/model F2A-2, carrying the markings of unit "201-S-13" from VS-201, aboard USS Long Island.
In June 2012, divers discovered the partial wreckage of a Buffalo in shallow water just off Midway Atoll. The aircraft had been ditched during February 1942, after an aborted landing attempt in bad weather by 1stLt Charles W. Somers, Jr., USMC (later Colonel, USMC Ret). Officials at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, where the wreckage was found, have not decided whether to recover any of the parts or leave them in place.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Piasecki VZ-8P Airgeep

Here are some images of Glencoe Models 1/35 scale Piasecki VZ-8P Airgeep.

From Wikipedia"
The Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep (company designation PA-59) was a prototype vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft developed by Piasecki Aircraft. The Airgeep was developed to fulfill a US Army Transportation Research Command contract for a flying jeep in 1957. The flying jeep was envisioned to be smaller and easier to fly than a helicopter.

To meet the US Army's requirement, Piasecki's design featured two tandem, three-blade ducted rotors, with the crew of two seated between the two rotors. Power was by two 425 hp (316.9 kW) Lycoming O-360-A2A piston engines, driving the rotors by a central gearbox. The first of two aircraft ordered by the Army, initially designated the Model 59K Skycar (and later renamed Airgeep) by Piasecki and designated VZ-8P by the Army, flew on 22 September 1958.
It was re-engined with a single 425 hp (317 kW) Turbomeca Artouste IIB turboshaft replacing the two piston engines, flying in this form in June 1959. After being loaned to the US Navy for evaluation as the Model 59N where it was fitted with floats, it was returned to the Army and its engine replaced by a lighter and more powerful 550 hp (410.1 kW) Garrett AiResearch TPE331-6 engine.
The second prototype was completed to a modified design, designated Model 59H AirGeep II by Piasecki and VZ-8P (B) It was powered by two Artouste engines, with ejection seats for the pilot and co-pilot/gunner and a further three seats for passengers. It was also fitted with a powered tricycle undercarriage to increase mobility on land.
The AirGeep IIs first flight occurred on 15 February 1962 piloted by "Tommy" Atkins.
While the Airgeep would normally operate close to the ground, it was capable of flying to several thousand feet, proving to be stable in flight. Flying low allowed it to evade detection by radar. Despite these qualities, and its superiority over the other two types evaluated by the US Army to meet the same requirement (the Chrysler VZ-6 and the Curtiss-Wright VZ-7), the Army decided that the "Flying Jeep concept [was] unsuitable for the modern battlefield", and concentrated on the development of conventional helicopters.

General characteristics
  • Crew: two (pilot and co-pilot/gunner)
  • Capacity: up to three passengers
  • Length: 24 ft 5 in (7.45 m)
  • Width: 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
  • Empty weight: 2,611 lb (1,184 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,670 lb (1,665 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,800 lb (2,177 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Artouste IIC turbo-shaft engines, 550 hp (410 kW) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 2× 8 ft 2 in (2.5 m)
Performance
  • Maximum speed: 73 kn; 85 mph (136 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 60 kn; 70 mph (112 km/h)
  • Range: 30 nmi; 35 mi (56 km)
  • Service ceiling: 2,999 ft (914 m)
Armament
  • Guns: Provision for one recoilless rifle - not fitted

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Grumman F3F-3

Here are some images of Revell/Monogram's 1/32 scale Grumman F3F-3.
Building this model was straight forward for a Jurassic kit. With the movable parts, particularly the gear set up connecting the propeller to the landing gear. That kind of thing was very popular back in the 60's and 70's, especially when it came to Revell and Monogram kits. One complaint I have which seems to be a reoccurring theme when it comes to old Revell kits is every once in a while the kit will come with useless decals that literally disintegrate when they hit water as was the case with this kit. Even after applying decal film. As a result I had to replace many of them from my decal spares box.

From Wikipedia"
The Grumman F3F was the last American biplane fighter aircraft delivered to the United States Navy (indeed, the last biplane fighter delivered to any American military air arm), and served between the wars. Designed as an improvement on the single-seat F2F, it entered service in 1936. It was retired from front line squadrons at the end of 1941 before it could serve in World War II, and was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo. The F3F which inherited the Leroy Grumman-designed retractable main landing gear configuration first used on the Grumman FF served as the basis for a biplane design ultimately developed into the much more successful F4F Wildcat.

The Navy's experience with the F2F revealed issues with stability and unfavorable spin characteristics, prompting the 15 October 1934 contract for the improved XF3F-1, placed before F2F deliveries began. The contract also required a capability for ground attack, in addition to the design's fighter role. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 Twin Wasp Junior engine as the F2F, the fuselage was lengthened and wing area increased over the earlier design. A reduction in wheel diameter allowed greater fuselage streamlining, eliminating the prominent bulge behind the cowling of the F2F.
The prototype, BuNo. 9727, was delivered and first flown on 20 March 1935 with company test pilot Jimmy Collins making three flights that day. Two days later, six dive-recovery flights took place; on the 10th, the aircraft's pullout at 8,000 ft (2,438 m) registered 14 g on the test equipment. The aircraft broke up in midair, crashing in a cemetery and killing Collins. A second, strengthened prototype was built, but it crashed on 9 May of the same year following the pilot's bailout during an unsuccessful spin recovery. The second prototype was rebuilt in three weeks, flying on 20 June 1935. An order for 54 F3F-1 fighters was placed on 24 August of that year, following the conclusion of the flight test program.

The first production F3F-1 was delivered on 29 January 1936 to the test group at Naval Air Station Anacostia, with squadron service beginning in March to VF-5B of Ranger and VF-6B of Saratoga. Marine squadron VF-4M received the last six in January 1937.
Grumman, wanting to take advantage of the powerful new 950 hp (708 kW) Wright R-1820 supercharged radial engine, began work on the F3F-2 without a contract; the order for 81 aircraft was not placed until 25 July 1936, two days before the type's first flight. The engine's larger diameter changed the cowling's appearance, making the aircraft look even more like a barrel, though top speed increased to 255 mph (410 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,658 m).
The entire F3F-2 production series was delivered in between 1937 and 1938; when deliveries ended, all seven Navy and Marine Corps pursuit squadrons were equipped with Grumman single-seat fighters. Further aerodynamic developments were made to an F3F-2 (BuNo 1031) returned to Grumman for conversion; it became the XF3F-3, and featured a larger-diameter propeller, among other improvements. On 21 June 1938, the Navy ordered 27 improved F3F-3s, as new monoplane fighters like the Brewster F2A and Grumman's own F4F Wildcat were taking longer to develop than had been planned.
With the introduction of the Brewster F2A-1, the Navy's biplane fighter days were numbered. All F3Fs were withdrawn from squadron service by the end of 1941, though 117 were assigned to naval bases and used for training and utility duties until December 1943.
The G-32 and G-32A two-place aircraft were used by the U.S. Army Air Force as ferry-pilot trainers, under the designation UC-103/UC-103A.
A civilian aerobatic two-seat variant, the G-22A "Gulfhawk II," was constructed in 1938 and flown by Major Alfred "Al" Williams (retired), head of Gulf Oil's aviation department.

Today, there are four flying aircraft, three F3F-2 models and the Gulf Oil G-32A, all which were restored by Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth. The restorations took four years and consisted of rebuilding the G-32A from original blueprints with tooling built at the Texas Airplane Factory. The wreckage of three -2 aircraft which had originally crashed in Hawaii were utilized to complete the other restorations.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

USOS Seaview

Here are some images of Moebius Models 1/128 scale USOS Seaview from the 1960's television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea".

From Wikipedia"
Seaview, a fictional privately owned nuclear submarine, was the setting for the 1961 motion picture Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, starring Walter Pidgeon,and later for the 1964–1968 ABC television series of the same title.

The accomplishments of America's nuclear-powered submarines were major news items in the years before the film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was released. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the third American science fiction film to feature such ships. The first two were It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) and The Atomic Submarine (1960).
The submarine USS Nautilus, commissioned in 1954, was the first nuclear-powered ship of any kind. In August 1958, she steamed under the Arctic ice cap to make the first crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the North Pole. On 3 August 1958 she became the first ship to reach the North Pole.
On 17 March 1959, the nuclear submarine USS Skate became the first submarine to surface at the North Pole. While at the Pole, her crew scattered the ashes of Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins.
The film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea begins with Seaview in the Arctic on the final phase of her sea trials, which include a dive under the Arctic ice cap.
USS George Washington was commissioned on 20 December 1959 as America's first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). On 20 June 1960, she made the first two submerged launches of the Polaris missile. She got underway on the first deterrent patrol on 15 November 1960.[
In the film, Seaview fires a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead to extinguish the "skyfire."
Two milestones in underwater exploration were achieved in 1960, the year before the film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was released.
From February 16, 1960 to May 10, 1960, the submarine USS Triton made the first submerged circumnavigation of the world. Triton observed and photographed Guam extensively through her periscope during this mission, without being detected by the U.S. Navy on Guam.
In the film, Seaview's voyage to the firing point follows much of the same track that Triton took on her circumnavigation: south through the Atlantic Ocean, around Cape Horn, and then northwest across the Pacific Ocean to the firing point near Guam. Seaview's bow and stern are radically different from Triton's, but Seaview's long, slim hull resembles the hull of Triton.
On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh (USN), in the bathyscaphe Trieste, made the first descent to the bottom of the Challenger Deep. The Challenger Deep is the deepest surveyed spot in the world's oceans, and is located in the Mariana Trench, southwest of Guam.
In the film, Seaview is attacked by another submarine as she approaches the firing point. Admiral Nelson advises Captain Crane to dive into the Mariana Trench to escape, claiming Seaview is the only submarine that can survive the pressure of the trench. The attacking sub is crushed by the pressure when it follows Seaview into the trench.

For the motion picture version, scientist Admiral Harriman Nelson (USN-Ret) (Walter Pidgeon) was the designer/builder of the Seaview, operated under the auspices of the Bureau of Marine Exploration, United States Dept. of Science (per art director Herman Blumenthal).
In the context of the television series, the Seaview was one of several experimental submarines designed by Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart), Director of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research, a top-secret government complex located in Santa Barbara, California, in the then-future years between 1973 and 1983. Seaview had two sister ships depicted in the television series, the Neptune (a variant of the same class as the Seaview destroyed late in the first season), and the virtually identical Angler (featured in the episode The Enemies). The Polidor, which was a prototype attack sub, was destroyed in the third episode of the series.
Seaview was prefixed "USOS" only in the 1961 film. The prefix "USOS" is spoken in a news report about the ship during the first minutes of the film, and when the ship's radio operator tries calling Washington, D.C. In Theodore Sturgeon's novelization of the film, "USOS" stood for United States Oceanographic Survey.
In the television series, the name Seaview was usually prefixed "S.S.R.N." (see below). Later writings explained that "SSRN" stood for Nuclear Submarine (SSN), Research (R) or SSRN, and was referred to by Admiral Nelson in at least one episode as "S.S.N.R. Seaview." However, in the pilot episode, "Eleven Days to Zero" (see below), Seaview's new commanding officer opens sealed orders addressed to "Commander Lee B. Crane, U.S.S. Seaview".
In the United States Navy, the hull classification symbol "SSRN" (without periods) would indicate a nuclear-powered radar picket submarine. Seaview was nuclear-powered, but no indication was ever given that she was equipped for radar picket missions. The hull classification symbol of a U.S. Navy ship is never written with periods after the letters. For example, the hull number of USS Triton (the only nuclear-powered radar picket submarine ever built for the United States Navy) is always written "SSRN-586", never "S.S.R.N.-586."
In the motion picture, Lee Crane (portrayed by Robert Sterling; originally the role was intended for David Hedison, who turned it down yet later accepted the same role for the television series) was the only Captain of the Seaview from its launch as "Nelson's Folly", as Congressman Llewellyn Parker (Howard McNear) described it. In the series, the first Captain of the Seaview was Commander John Phillips (portrayed by William Hudson). He was killed in "Eleven Days To Zero", which was the pilot episode of the series. Commander Lee Crane (David Hedison), on loan from the United States Navy, was picked to replace him. (Crane's rank was Commander, but he was usually addressed as "Captain" because he was the Commanding Officer of the ship.) Other crew included Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton (Robert Dowdell), Chief "Curley" Jones (Henry Kulky) (first season) and Chief Sharkey (Terry Becker) (Season 2, 3 and 4). Crewman Kowalkski was played by Del Monroe, who played a similar character, "Kowski" in the feature film.

Seaview’s hull was designed to withstand a depth of 3600 feet (1 km), and in one episode survived a depth excursion approaching 5000 feet (1.5 km). The transparent-hull "window-section" bow of Seaview was not rounded like a traditional submarine but was faired into a pair of manta winglike, stationary bow planes (in addition to her more conventional sail planes). This was added after the original B 29 -like front with twelve pairs of windows on two levels was modified for "Freudian anatomically analogous issues." In exterior shots, Seaview's bow had eight windows in the film and the first season of the television series, and four windows in seasons two through four of the series. The interior shots always showed only four windows although it did indeed imply two levels in the feature's scene with the giant octopus attack. Also in seasons two through four of the TV version, a pair of sliding metal "crash doors" shut across the face of the bow's observation deck to protect the four-window transparent surface in emergencies. In Theodore Sturgeon's novelization of the film, the windows are described as "... oversized hull plates which happen to be transparent." "They are incredibly strong because they are made of "X-tempered herculite", a top secret process developed by Nelson. To avoid a claustrophobic feeling during viewing of the 1961 feature film, Seaview’s interior was considerably more spacious and comfortable than any real military submarine. This was further enlarged when the Flying Sub was added to the miniatures with an even more open set for the control room interior.
The stern had unconventional, lengthy, V-shape planes above the twin engine area. On the original Seaview design, a single, central skeg rudder was specified, as well as two trailing edge control surfaces similar to an aircraft V-tail; a combination elevator-rudder or "ruddervator" fitted to the Beechcraft Bonanza and other aircraft.  But on the filmed miniatures, the 8 1/2 foot (103") miniature had three rudders: one behind each nacelle and on the rear most portion of the skeg (see "The Ghost of Moby Dick"). This functional skeg rudder was only fitted to the 103" miniature and non-operationally inferred on the 51 1/2" miniature and not at all on the 206" version which had a fixed skeg.

In both the film and the series, Seaview was armed with torpedoes and ballistic missiles. The series added anti-aircraft missiles to Seaview's armory. They were called "interceptor missiles" in the pilot episode, and "sea to air missiles" in the episode "Terror" (season 4, episode 10).
In seasons two through four of the series, the forward search light also housed a laser beam that could be used against hostile sea life or enemy vessels.
Seaview was also capable of electrifying the outer hull, to repel attacking sea life that were trying to destroy the ship. In the episode "Mutiny" (season 1, episode 18), Crane ordered the "Attack Generators" made ready to use this capability on a giant jellyfish.
Lastly, Seaview was outfitted with an "ultrasonic" weapon capable of causing another submarine to implode, though special authorization was normally required to utilize it. ("The Death Ship", Season 2, Ep 22)
 The Seaview's hull was partially protected by an "electronic defense field". ("Rescue", Season 2, Ep 9)

Although never stated, it was implied that Seaview used some kind of aquatic jet engine, which might possibly explain her speed (very fast for a submarine) and her penchant for dramatic emergency surfacing. The episode "A Time to Die" (season 4, episode 11) begins with Seaview being struck by a vibration from an unknown source. Nelson says, "I'd say it was a drive shaft bearing, if we used propellers." However, this contradicts an earlier episode: in "The Creature" (season 1, episode 28) the engine room reports that "drive shafts to the propellers are jammed." In the episode "Hail to the Chief" (season 1, episode 16), Seaview runs submerged at 40 knots from Norfolk, Virginia to the Virgin Islands.
In the episode "The Ghost of Moby Dick," Dr. Walter Bryce (Edward Binns) says, "I thought these nuclear submarines made better speed underwater," and Nelson agrees with him. In the episode "The Return of the Phantom," Lieutenant Commander Morton states that, "Every man who's ever served aboard a nuclear sub knows they make better time when they're submerged."
Whether a submarine is faster submerged or on the surface depends on her hull design, not her power plant. America's early nuclear submarines were slightly faster submerged than on the surface because their hulls were streamlined in accordance with the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY). An "Albacore hull", which Seaview did not have, is necessary for submerged speed to be significantly higher than surface speed. USS Triton, the real-life submarine whose hull Seaview most nearly resembles, was slower when submerged than on the surface.
In Theodore Sturgeon's novelization of the film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Seaview is faster on the surface than underwater: "...the Captain ...proceeded on the surface, where it was possible to squeeze another fifteen knots out of the big submarine."
In the series, there are many shots of Seaview running on the surface with the bow higher than the stern, and water splashing at the bottom of the bow. But there are also shots of her running on the surface and properly trimmed fore and aft - that is, the bow and stern are level. In these shots, the water flows up and over the bow, similar to a submarine with an Albacore hull (for an example, see the photo in the article USS Skipjack (SSN-585)). Therefore, it is possible that Seaview was faster submerged than on the surface. Such shots can be seen in the opening titles of the first season, and in the episodes "The Ghost of Moby Dick" and "Long Live the King" (season one episode 15). The episode "Hail to the Chief" (season one episode 16) has a shot of Seaview properly trimmed fore and aft, followed immediately by a shot of her with the bow higher than the stern.Between the TV version's first and second seasons, the Seaview miniatures were extensively revised. Dated May 1965 the drawings penned by William Creber (who also designed the Flying Sub itself) stated "modifications to be applied to all miniatures." The number of bow windows was reduced from eight on two levels of four each to a single row of four (actually two with a dividing girder.) This then matched the interior set with the exterior miniatures but with the added detrimental effects of a more bulbous frontal appearance and a reduction in apparent overall size of the vessel. The Control Room, previously located on an upper level, was moved forward on a lower level ahead of the conning tower, to connect directly with the Observation Room, and a large hangar bay was added to the bow, beneath the Observation Room/Control Room combination. This hangar held the 36 foot wide and long, flying submersible, aptly called the "Flying Sub" or "FS-1", implying that there were several more back at the base, which would have to be the case since several Flying Subs were lost to mishaps or combat during the run of the show. Promotional materials published between the first and second seasons referred to it as the Flying Fish, but the name was evidently dropped prior to the start of filming and was never used in the show.[citation needed] It was deployed through bomb-bay like doors. As it broke the surface, its engines could generate enough thrust for the vehicle to take off and fly at supersonic speeds. The Flying Sub was also nuclear powered.
Three models of Seaview — a 1/8" to the foot 4 (51½"), a 1/4" to the foot 8.5 (103"), and a 1/2" to the foot 17 feet (206") (1.2, 2.4 and 5.5 m) long — version were built (eight-window nose in the motion picture and first television season, four-window version thereafter). The four-foot wood and steel tube approval/pattern model was extensively seen in the feature and on the TV series used as set decoration on a shelf in the observation nose, and behind Nelson's desk in his cabin. The eight-foot model had external doors for a not fitted nine-inch Flying Sub, while a more detailed 18-inch Flying Sub was held within the larger Seaview. For close-ups, a three-foot Flying Sub was produced, which was also used in the aerial sequences. All three Seaview models were built for a total 1961 price of $200,000 by Herb Cheeks' model shop at Fox, and were filmed by L. B. Abbott who won two Emmy Awards for special effects in the series. For the television series a rather poorly rendered two-foot model was built.
The fates of the three original models vary; the original eight-window wood and steel four-foot display model was damaged in an altercation between writer Harlan Ellison and ABC Television executive Adrian Samish and after a full restoration resides in a private collection. There were at least two fiberglass cast "wet models" in this size all of which are now in private hands. One of the two eight-foot model was extensively modified; (bow cut off) for use in the short-lived 1978 series The Return of Captain Nemo and aside from the nose section, is believed to have been destroyed. The single 17-foot model sat in the Virginia Beach garage of model maker Dave Merriman (who built several of the miniatures for The Hunt for Red October movie) during most of the 1980s where it was modified from its original appearance. It then was displayed above the bar at the (now-defunct) Beverly Hills Planet Hollywood restaurant from 1993-2002 and after a partial restoration, is on display at the Museum Of Science Fiction located in Seattle, Washington. There were several miniatures of the Flying Sub and the mini-sub, and after a props and memorabilia auction in the late 1970s at 20th Century Fox most have found their way into private collections.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Steampunk Pistol

Here are some images of my scratch 'n' bash 1/1 scale Steampunk Pistol.
I've always wanted to build one of these. So I took as much brass and cogs as I could find (plus a heater coil from a hair dryer) and decided to have a go.
I think it has a Wild Wild West feel to it.

From Wikipedia"
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and Neo-Victorian are different in that the Neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology and embraces the positive aspects of the Victorian era's culture and philosophy.
Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or of the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt, and China Miéville.[original research?] Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine.[citation needed]
Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre.[citation needed] The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.[citation needed]
Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

Many of the visualisations of steampunk have their origins with, among others, Walt Disney's film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), including the design of the story's submarine the Nautilus, its interiors, and the crew's underwater gear; and George Pal's film The Time Machine (1960), especially the design of the time machine itself. This theme is also carried over to Disney's theme parks, in the designs of The Mysterious Island section of Tokyo DisneySea theme park and Disneyland Paris' Discoveryland area.

Aspects of steampunk design emphasise a balance between form and function. In this it is like the Arts and Crafts Movement. But John Ruskin, William Morris, and the other reformers in the late nineteenth century rejected machines and industrial production. On the other hand, steampunk enthusiasts present a "non-luddite critique of technology".
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modified by enthusiasts into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style. Examples include computer keyboards and electric guitars. The goal of such redesigns is to employ appropriate materials (such as polished brass, iron, wood, and leather) with design elements and craftsmanship consistent with the Victorian era, rejecting the aesthetic of industrial design.
In 1994, the Paris Metro station at Arts et Métiers was redesigned by Belgian artist Francois Schuiten in steampunk style, to honor the works of Jules Verne. The station is reminiscent of a submarine, sheathed in brass with giant cogs in the ceiling and portholes that look out onto fanciful scenes.
The artist group Kinetic Steam Works brought a working steam engine to the Burning Man festival in 2006 and 2007. The group's founding member, Sean Orlando, created a Steampunk Tree House (in association with a group of people who would later form the Five Ton Crane Arts Group) that has been displayed at a number of festivals. The Steampunk Tree House is now permanently installed at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware.
The Neverwas Haul is a three-story, self-propelled mobile art vehicle built to resemble a Victorian house on wheels. Designed by Shannon O’Hare, it was built by volunteers in 2006 and presented at the Burning Man festival from 2006 through 2015. When fully built, the Haul propelled itself at a top speed of 5 miles per hour and required a crew of ten people to operate safely. Currently, the Neverwas Haul makes her home at Obtainium Works, an "art car factory" in Vallejo, CA, owned by O’Hare and home to several other self-styled "contraptionists".
In May–June 2008, multimedia artist and sculptor Paul St George exhibited outdoor interactive video installations linking London and Brooklyn, New York, in a Victorian era-styled telectroscope. Utilizing this device, New York promoter Evelyn Kriete organised a transatlantic wave between steampunk enthusiasts from both cities, prior to White Mischief's Around the World in 80 Days steampunk-themed event.
Tim Wetherell's Clockwork Universe sculpture at Questacon, Canberra, Australia (September 24, 2009)
In 2009, for Questacon, artist Tim Wetherell created a large wall piece that represented the concept of the clockwork universe. This steel artwork contains moving gears, a working clock, and a movie of the moon's terminator in action. The 3D moon movie was created by Antony Williams.[citation needed]
From October 2009 through February 2010, the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, hosted the first major exhibition of steampunk art objects, curated and developed by New York artist and designer Art Donovan, who also exhibited his own "electro-futuristic" lighting sculptures, and presented by Dr. Jim Bennett, museum director. From redesigned practical items to fantastical contraptions, this exhibition showcased the work of eighteen steampunk artists from across the globe. The exhibition proved to be the most successful and highly attended in the museum's history and attracted more than eighty thousand visitors. The event was detailed in the official artist's journal The Art of Steampunk, by curator Donovan.
In November 2010, The Libratory Steampunk Art Gallery was opened by Damien McNamara in Oamaru, New Zealand. Created from papier-mâché to resemble a large subterranean cave and filled with industrial equipment from yesteryear, rayguns, and general steampunk quirks, its purpose is to provide a place for steampunkers in the region to display artwork for sale all year long. A year later, a more permanent gallery, Steampunk HQ, was opened in the former Meeks Grain Elevator Building across the road from The Woolstore, and has since become a notable tourist attraction for Oamaru.
In 2012, the Mobilis in Mobili: An Exhibition of Steampunk Art and Appliance made its debut. Originally located at New York City's Wooster Street Social Club (itself the subject of the television series NY Ink), the exhibit featured working steampunk tattoo systems designed by Bruce Rosenbaum, of ModVic and owner of the Steampunk House, Joey "Dr. Grymm" Marsocci, and Christopher Conte. with different approaches. "[B]icycles, cell phones, guitars, timepieces and entertainment systems" rounded out the display. The opening night exhibition featured a live performance by steampunk band Frenchy and the Punk.