Today in 1944: the 362nd works over the west bank of the Rhine, and Gustave Plochere loses a month

The three squadrons of the 362nd Fighter Group each conducted armed reconnaissance missions in the areas around Trier, Saarbrucken, Sarrebourg and east toward the Rhine on October 2, 1944. Though weather was poor, 11 locomotives and 50 boxcars were located and destroyed, along with 40 trucks; four railroad yards and adjacent factories, bridges and roundhouses were shot up and bombed. The 377th knocked out four locomotives, 23 trucks and a tank, plus 18 light guns shot up, but they lost a pilot in the process. Lt. William Ort, flying “The Sooner,” P-47D-27 42-27363, spotted a German truck on a road near Puttlingen and dove to strafe it. “The instant he passed over the truck a streak of fire came from the plane,” reported Lt. Robert Berggren, who was orbiting with Blue Flight as Ort’s Yellow Flight was strafing. “He struck the trees of a forest bordering the road and crashed in flames. I saw no sign of enemy ground fire near his plane when he was on the pass,” leading Berggren to speculate he hit the truck or a nearby power line during his pullout. Ort was killed in the wreck of his plane.

 

 

Although there was no serious ground fire directed at Blue or Yellow Flights, both Red and Blue Flights were peppered by flak. One of the P-47s returned with three cylinders shot off its R-2800! The 378th tried to bomb an oil pipeline junction but missed; later, the squadron hit the Saarbrucken marshalling yard and destroyed numerous buildings, then strafed and destroyed two locomotives. On the way home, the 378th spotted a jet aircraft above Metz.

 

 

Some losses were not combat related. The 379th’s Gustave Plochere suffered an engine failure in P-47D 42-8399 and crashed into a field where a French farmer was working, hitting so hard his Thunderbolt broke in half. When the farmer, Marcel Jonoux, reached the plane, it was on fire. Plochere was slumped in the cockpit, a severe gash on his head. Jonoux cut the straps holding Plochere in the cockpit and summoned a friend to help pull the pilot to a wagon, which they took to Lavannes, arriving just as American troops marched into the town. Plochere came to in a British hospital, covered in a full-body cast; the crash had also broken his back. To this day, he has no memory from two weeks before the crash to two weeks afterward.

 

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This day in 1944: The 362nd loses two without a German shot fired

The 377th and 378th Fighter Squadrons of the 362nd Fighter Group returned to the Saar on September 28, 1944, with the 377th scoring 22 locomotives and the 378th destroying six locomotives and 15 motor vehicles. The 378th’s first 16-plane mission bombed canal locks and strafed and destroyed a locomotive, and later bombed marshalling yards at Homburg, destroying two locomotives and damaging 25 cars, but Red Flight leader Capt. Leon Bilstin was killed. “His bombs hit the target and he pulled out low on the tracks going toward town,” reported Lt. Arthur Staples, Red Three on this mission. “There was a big explosion and flame on the tracks,” and Bilstin’s P-47D-28 42-28359 crashed on the yard, possibly a victim of his own bomb blast. During the squadron’s second mission, the 16 Thunderbolts strafed the marshalling yards at Saarlautern, destroying three cars and damaging 10 more. The 377th lost Lt. McElroy Nangle, who had been with the squadron just two days, in an accident when P-47D-28 42-28446 crashed during a local training flight.

 

This Day in 1944: the 362nd FG’s Housing Situation Takes a Turn for the Better

On September 23, 1944, the entire 362nd Fighter Group moved to A-79 near Prosnes, 11 miles east-southeast of Reims, traveling by convoy and, for some personnel, by C-47, one of which circled the Eiffel Tower as a treat for its passengers. The pilots also received a treat; thanks to Joe Laughlin’s personal intervention, all of the group pilots were allowed to live in the comfortable chateau near the field, “with a wine cellar, pheasants, rose garden and the works,” said Capt. Joe Hunter. Many of the pilots remembered those accommodations as the best they had during the war. Lt. John Hill referred to it as “the Park Avenue of all quarters.”

“It wasn’t as good as it sounds because we had our cots in halls and everywhere, but there was a good roof overhead,” said Tom Peyton. “What’s more, we had a single steel-matt runway.”

The 362nd’s Chateau at Reims

Col. Joe Laughlin (center) and other personnel at the chateau at Reims in late 1944.

73 Years ago: Col. Joe bags a “German cruiser”

The 362nd Fighter Group flew four squadron-sized missions against Brest on August 25, 1944, two by the 377th. The principle target was the harbor, which could be used to evacuate troops to Crozon. Col. Joe Laughlin scored two hits on what was identified at the time as a German light cruiser during the 378th’s mission. The 378th’s 12 planes also hit another large ship in spite of intense flak. The 379th’s 16 planes in the morning mission bombed a collection of small boats in the harbor and managed to miss all of them, although they scored several near-misses. Later, Laughlin led the 377th’s evening mission, when the group bombed the cruiser again.

Joe Laughlin applies victory markings in a staged photo. Note the large “German cruiser” marking below the flags.

“As the flight dove down, I could see a blanket of white puffballs below and a blanket of black puffballs above,” said John Baloga. “They were exploding shells and sparks were flying from each burst. Those darn shells are programmed to explode at a specific height. The Germans were making us fly through them. Hot sharp steel was flying all over the sky. It was hellish.

“The sky was black and white from ack-ack fired from the ships as we dived from 8000 feet and released our bombs,” Laughlin told reporters. “I dropped a bomb on the stern of a light cruiser and a tremendous explosion followed, with black smoke billowing into the sky.”

“As I came in line to dive, I saw the cruiser starting to smoke badly. Someone was calling over the radio that the cruiser was sinking. Thank You Lord! I immediately veered off from my dive. I saw that the other planes were forming up. This particular attack was written up in the papers and was noted on the BBC. Sinking a cruiser with a fighter-bomber was a big deal. Colonel Laughlin had given that cruiser its deathblow. I will always be grateful for that. I truly believe he saved my life. If he hadn’t sunk it, I would have been sunk because as Green 4, the last plane in the flight, I truly believe the enemy would have shot me down.”

The 377th went on to score two hits on another ship and near misses on other shipping in the harbor. In reality, the vessel that exploded and sank was the incomplete (and already damaged) French battleship Clemenceau, which the Germans were planning to use to block the harbor.

 

M6 Bomb Service Truck and M5 Bomb Trailer: A 362nd FG diorama from Airfix’s 1:72 USAAF Support Set

Airfix’s USAAF Bomber Resupply Set comes packaged with box art placing its contents next to a B-17, but at least one of the vehicles in the set was a crucial tool for USAAF fighter units, too – especially Ninth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt units. The M6 Bomb Service Truck, a Chevrolet-produced vehicle developed from the 1940 Chevrolet 1 ½-ton truck, served a critical ron moving ordnance around bases across England and later the European continent. The Ninth Air Force dropped 225,799 tons of bombs during WWII, and most of that was moved from storage to the aircraft by the M6.

In the background, note one of the 362nd FG’s M6 Bomb Service Trucks.

About 7000 M6s were manufactured between 1942 and September 1944, when production halted in favor of the M27, a six-by-six bomb service truck based on the highly successful GMC CCKW. As a truck, it was not impressive, with an 83-horsepower engine burning fuel at an environmentalist-alarming rate of 2.6 miles per gallon. But it was a workhorse – the hoist on the back deck could lift 4,000 pounds, and the truck could tow up to five M5 bomb trailers, each capable of carrying 5,000 pounds of bombs. That means each M6 could move 12 ½ tons of bombs on each trip.

The M6 could also accommodate four passengers, one in the cab next to the driver and three on a bench seat on the rear deck in a very “unsafe at any speed” arrangement. It also had room for ammunition back there.

I was considering ways to scratch-build a 1:72 M6 when Airfix dropped this kit in the autumn of 2016. The model itself is very nice, but there are always ways to improve upon the kit (and drag the build time out). I think I identified most of those opportunities during my build!

Construction starts with the frame and associated components. There were significant mold marks around the frame components, almost all of them on a flat surface, which made clean-up fairly easy. The suspension springs went on next, and Airfix provided much-appreciated positive location points for these. In many 1:72 truck kits, the springs have hard-to-spot location points; get them off, and your vehicle only rests of three wheels!

The frame assembled neatly and removal of flash was quick and easy.

 

The wheels are a little simplified, but the mounts are not pins but rather large ball socket-like things that insert into the backs of the wheels. The tires slide on over the outside of the wheels, meaning they can be painted separately and added at the end, but they can also be pressed in place to check alignment of the suspension.

The fenders went on neatly, but I took care to make sure they were level up front. The left fender wanted to ride higher than the right one, and I assumed this would have cause problems when the hood was added, so I forced it into place. The placement of the rear deck and driver’s compartment floor was a little iffy, so I built and installed the firewall and dashboard first to provide a point of reference. The gear shift handle broke while I was trying to clean it up, so I made a new one from wire and glued it into the sawed-off mount, then used white glue to form a knob on the top of it. I fashioned clutch, brake and gas pedals from styrene card, and added them to the driver’s side floor. The seats were painted a light olive-tan mixture and set aside for installation later.

The hood, firewall, driver’s compartment and rear deck all in their places.

At this point, I shot the model with its first coat of field drab. I find multiple coats are mandatory for small-scale military models – not because I want a deep finish, but because they have so many angles and recesses that if you wait to paint, it’s easy to find yourself with unpainted areas you can no longer get to!

Sprayed with field drab – coat one of many!

The hood and front end sides were assembled and added to the firewall. Next should have come the grille, but Airfix provided it as a solid item with raised bar detail. That was a letdown after my WC-51 and CCKW-335, with their photoetched grilles. Since the was no photoetched set available, I decided to make my own with lead foil, styrene strip and stiff wire. A surplus Eduard radiator front went in front of the engine, followed by my pretty-good-but-not-perfect grille. About three days later, Eduard came out with its detail set for this kit. You’re welcome.

Isn’t that cute – he tried to make his own grille. It was almost good, too.

In the meantime, I added the toolbox behind the seating area and started work on the hoist assembly. It consists of a U-shaped support and the “trolley,” the bent I-bar that the hoist runs on. These push together at the joint – push hard, because getting them square is critical for alignment later. The assembly fits neatly into the deck – again, the fit is excellent. A hoist crank with gears fits onto a peg on the trolley, making a perfectly nice hoist.

A good view of the hoist and trolley, also showing some of the Eduard details in place.

To complicate matters, Chevrolet threw a bench on the back of the truck, hanging from the trolley. The kit provides this as three parts: a bench, the bench back and the bent metal framework that connected them. The metal framework was out of scale according to my photos, so I made replacements from bent wire. Bending four identical frames was not fun, but once done it looked much more like the real thing.

There’s also a bar at the top of the bench back provided as a separate piece. This drove me crazy – the attachment point wasn’t secure, it was hard to get it aligned in all axes, and it was really easy to knock it off. Part B05 was my least favorite part of the model.

About this time, the Eduard set arrived. My scratch-built grille went in the trash, and the Eduard grille took its place. Eduard’s bumped, with tow hooks, went on the front of the truck in place of the kit part, and non-skid plates went on all the running boards. A new floor for the driver and passenger slipped neatly over my scratch-built gear shifter; Eduard provided a hand brake and winch control handle. All the tool boxes received tiny padlocks. The rear of the truck got a new rear plate, tow points and a reflector. A new winch head meant carefully sawing the end of the hoist away and replacing it with photoetched parts. All that work was totally worth it.

That’s more like it: Eduard’s photoetched grille’s worth the cost of the whole set, but the other details are great too.

The model was given another coat of field drab, and then the tiny details started to be added. The rear frame for the roof was painted and added, and then I sanded the molded-on windshield wipers from the clear windshield, which was then polished back into clarity, masked and painted. The steering wheel was set into place, and I made armrests from wire for each seat, then glued the completed seats into their spots in the cab. The vertical supports for the roof were a bit thick, so I replaced them with thick lead solder, bent to shape and CA-glued in place.

The canvas roof itself was painted using Testors ModelMaster beige and was set aside until final assembly. I painted the clear headlight bullets silver at their backs, then field drab, leaving the fronts clear to simulate lenses. These were carefully glued to the fenders behind the new photoetched headlight guards.

Now it was time for the final coat of paint, followed by a brush-applied layer of Future as a gloss coat for the decals. I used most of the very good kit decals, supplementing them with bumper markings for the 362nd Fighter Group, 379th Fighter Squadron. I still had a few that Norm Filer had made for my Jeep project more than 10 years ago. I also jumbled the numbers on the hood, making sure they stayed in the ranges assigned to M6s – I found that information on-line on a vehicle restoration website. When the decals were all down, I applied a heavy wash to the model and the flat coated the model, then gave the decals what I call a “fade coat” of heavily-thinned field drab, which reduces the brightness of the white markings

After decals, the stars and other markings looked too bright, so they received a “fade coat” of very thin field drab paint.

Mostly assembled – missing only the side supports for the roof.

Little details came next. Very carefully, I wrapped some braided silver thread around the hoist drum, using tweezers. Only five or six turns were needed to simulate the cable on the reel. The other end was stretched over the winch’s roller and head, measured, carefully, and cut to length. A photoetched hook purloined from an ancient Verlinden F6F set (it was a catapult hook in an earlier life) was CA-glued not to the cable but to the bumper – this hook was often attached to the rear bumper. Once the hook was in place, the cable was trimmed, then carefully CA-glued to the hook.

The windshield and canvas top were added, followed by the addition of Eduard’s very fine windshield wipers. The final addition was the tires. I’d become weary of unrealistic looking tires on 1:72 vehicles, so I scoured the web to find well-rendered tires on 1:35 models to learn some of the secrets. Let me just say this: pastels. Not only do they replicate the wear and weathering seen on tires but they impart a dead-flat quality that even flat coats can’t deliver. Once the pastels were applied in a satisfactory way, I added them to the wheels and ran a little thin CA glue into the joint from the back of the wheels, taking care to get alignment correct.

The M6 was finished at this point, but one of the clubs I’m a member of has build meetings and I needed something to work on, so I started the M5 bomb trailer included in the set. This is a remarkably quick and easy build – I had the trailer together in an hour or so, and after two hours had added the details, applied a coat of paint and prepped it for decals. The tires were given the same treatment as those on the M6 and added at the very end of the process. (I’ve since found a photo of an M5 with a V-1 on it – another great diorama possibility!)

Now, I needed a base. The 362nd saw a lot of combat during the winter of 1944/45, and I’d thought about doing a snow scene for a long time. This would be a good opportunity to learn a new technique. I selected an appropriate-sized base in the form of a left-over trophy from Silicon Valley Scale Modelers’ “Pimp My Model” contest (from 2008, maybe?) and popped off the resin plates on its front. I masked off the edges and applied a layer of scenic glue, then sprinkled on a layer of Woodland Scenics fine cinders ballast. The reason for this nearly-black base? I figure the vehicles would chew up the snow and get down to the frozen mud below; the black ballast would work well for this.

Doing some research on the ways railroad modelers do snow, I found a great article that identified six ways railroaders make snow, from simply painting the terrain white to various mixes of baby powder and baking soda with PVA glue to what the author said was his favorite: mixing Woodland Scenics soft flake snow with water effects. This looked like cold, wet snow, so I decided to try it.

The water effects material isn’t cheap – a bottle costs around $20. The good news is that in 1:72, it’ll handle four or five dioramas easily! This was poured into a bowl, followed by an equal amount of the soft flake snow, and the two were mixed as best as possible. The result is a nightmare to work with – fluffy, sticky and prone to adhere better to itself than to the base. I ended up frosting the base like a cake, leaving an area in the center for a pathway. The pathway received PVA glue mixed with the soft flake snow – I wanted it to look slushier and more travelled than the edges.

I added a few details to the mix: several 55-gallon drums and a spare drop tank on one side, and a few tufts of Silflor grass on the other. A little extra snow was added to the drums, and a bit more soft flake snow was sprinkled on for good measure. When everything looked even, I lightly misted a coat of water over the base to smooth things out even more.

The M6 benefits from little details in the cab and on the hoist, like the cable attached to the bumper.

The slushy pathway was worked over with a pencil repeatedly as it dried to give it a little texture. Ultimately, that worked pretty well; I had to work hard to ensure that truck and trailer had places for their wheels to go so they all contacted the ground!

The trailer received two bombs I’d prepared for future P-47 builds – they came from the Tamiya kit. They were assembled, sanded smooth, painted and then had their bands applied by chucking the fins in a motor tool and applying yellow stripes with a fine brush. Further weathering with pastels made them look as though they’d been in a field dump awaiting their turn to be dropped on the Germans.

A good overview of the figures in place in the diorama.

The figures came from CMK’s U.S. Army truck drivers set. They went together reasonably well, and they had the right cold-weather gear as seen in my photos. The heads were separate pieces, so I could position them looking skyward, as though they were awaiting the return of their squadron’s planes. (One viewer of the diorama was startled to see figures seemingly looking up at him!)

Hey, you up there! Did you really have to stick us in the snow?!?

 

The elements were all place on the diorama and that was that! Project finished. In the future, with the snow effects, I will plan ay areas that should be fresh snow white before applying it; the snow flake/water effects mixture kept becoming more translucent and more dirty-looking over the next two weeks. Lesson learned for my next Battle of the Bulge-era diorama!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Fokker D.VIIF – late, but only by 99 years

About two years ago I wrote a post about my Fokker D.VII project at roughly the midway point. I finished it in April of 2016, and neglected to share the photos. The full ordeal of the build will be documented in an upcoming IPMS/USA Journal article, but here’s the historical background and the explanation of the diorama.

Wilhelm Hippert was an ace, but his Fokker D.VIIF was also one of the most strikingly painted of the Great War. With the checkerboard fuselage, Jasta 74’s blue nose and landing gear, and the name “Mimmi” painted in enormous letters across the top wing’s four-color lozenge camouflage, it stood out even in an era of wild paint schemes.

The finished model, which has some paint under all those decals!

Wilhelm “Willi” Hippert began his air war as a member of Feldflieger Abteilung (FFA) 227, piloting a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft on the Western Front. He and observer Leutnant Heinrich Klose combined on the destruction of a Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2d from No. 20 Squadron, RFC over Lomme on March 17, 1917, and his aggressive flying led to his transfer out of observation aircraft and into the Albatros D.Vs of Jasta 30 over the Italian front.

Promoted to Vizefeldwebel (roughly, sergeant), Hippert became an ace flying over the Battle of Caporetto. On October 2, 1917, he claimed his second victim, a 40th Squadriglia Savoy Pomilio SP.3 pusher scout. October 25 saw Hippert dispatch a Sopwith Camel, followed by an SAML on November 30. On December 8, Hippert achieved ace status when he shot down a second Camel near Treviso, and he added another Camel to his tally on January 11.

On March 5, 1918, Hippert was transferred to the newly-established Jasta 74 on the Western Front, flying the Fokker D.VII. The squadron experimented with high-altitude breathing equipment to gain an altitude advantage, but it would achieve only 24 victories before the war’s end. It was here that Hippert acquired his colorful checker-boarded mount. On June 7, he claimed a Dorand AR2 over Beaumont-sur-Vesle, and added two French bombers, a Caudron R.11 and a Breguet 14 B.2, on August 22 (although the Breguet was never claimed).

From there, Hippert’s story goes cold. Unlike other German aces who were caught up in the intrigue of the political upheavals of the nation, or who made their fortunes in stunt flying or in Hollywood, Hippert seems to have disappeared from history. His memory lives because of his striking Fokker – and because we modelers enjoy building it.

Since the model would find a home in a non-modeler’s house, I bought a nice acrylic case with a finished wooden base on eBay for less than $30. That lent itself to a diorama: why simply stick the Fokker on a wooden base when a diorama would look better?

I mulled over several options, but I decided to avoid making a hangar, drilling posts for a fence, or otherwise getting too involved in features that would overwhelm the Fokker. Instead, I simply coated the base with scenic glue and sprinkled it with sifted dirt. After I masked the edges of the base, the dirt was painted a gray-brown color. I then sprayed on some thinned white glue and spread on some coarse turf, based on a photo I found of Jasta 74 on a remarkably non-prepared airfield in 1918. To brighten it up a bit, I added a sparse sprinkling of Silflor flowers.

Note the small flowers – Silflor’s wonderful products added a bit of color to the unprepared airfield.

I allowed the storyline to be dictated by the figures I had on hand. Quickboost’s German/Austro-Hungarian pilot figure came out about halfway through the build; he sported a moustache very much like Hippert’s. I painted him and set him aside.

Wilhelm Hippert? Is that You? And boy, money was a lot bigger back then!

The 3D-printing site Shapeways provided me with a package of 50 German WWI ground crewmen – all different poses! – and the orderlies with the champagne and the ground crewman were among them. And W+D Models sells the very best WWI figures out there, including a set of Royal Flying Corps pilots and lots of German foot soldiers. One of the British pilots would get a transfer to the French Air Force for purposes of this scene.

The excellent W+D figures of the French pilot and the German guard really stand out for their excellent sculpting.

The Fokker D.VIIF frames the little ceremony quite nicely.

In 1:72, this scene doesn’t take up much space.

The high-altitude breathing apparatus can just be seen below the cockpit.

These figures told my story: one of Hippert’s last victims, a French bomber pilot, is received by the victor with a toast delivered by two orderlies. He’s not particularly excited about it; even less excited is the guard detached to watch the prisoner. While one of the orderlies delivers a snappy salute to the prisoner, the guard shoots him a sideways look. Meanwhile, while the officers engage in their silly ceremony, a mechanic attends to the real work of caring for the Fokker D.VIIF.

 

 

When Aftermarket Attacks: Building the Meng F-106A Delta Dart, part 1

I’ve had the F-106A on my to-build list for years. Literally, years! In 1989, I read an article about the type’s retirement from the Air National Guard which featured several photos of an F-106A in a retirement scheme, one of the last three ANG F-106s (all were with the New Jersey ANG). I decided I wanted to build that plane. A few years later, I ran across a decal sheet from Expert’s Choice featuring that very aircraft (plus markings for a New Jersey ANG F-102B). Little did I know that the art for that sheet was done by Jennings Heilig, a friend of mine! Subsequent research on the subject has revealed video of the final ANG flight’s take-off, which has proven very useful in building a model. But back to the saga…

The years progressed and then, way back in 2010 or so, I started work on the old Hasegawa kit, and I re-scribed an example, carefully replicating the sea of oval access panels below the wings and the quilt-work of panel lines on the fuselage and upper wing. I was contemplating doing a detail set for the kit, with a new cockpit, a repositioned refueling receptacle, new nose bay, intakes… Basically, a whole new model. By 2014, after Meng released an F-102, I threw the whole mess away, hoping we’d have a new F-106 sometime soon. In 2016 I got my wish.

The Meng kit – the answer to my prayers and the cause of my Hasegawa kit’s demise.

The Meng F-106 is an impressive model, with a full missile bay, both styles of canopy, both styles of underwing fairings, a full complement of Falcon missiles (and their boxes), a Genie missile (and a handling trolley), positionable electronics bays in the nose, a gun pod (and the gear doors to accommodate it) and more. Meng also marketed a resin upgrade to the cockpit and to the exhaust/wheel wells. I snapped those up, too.

At first, all seemed will. The Meng aftermarket sets were packaged in extremely sturdy boxes, and each part was in its own tiny bag. The cockpit set had instructions inside the box, while the exhaust/wheel well set had instructions printed on the back of the box.

I started out by painting the rather nice ejection seat. This is the late-model seat, which was perfect for what I planned on building. I painted the seat using the various references available on-line, plus Bert Kinzey’s F-106 Delta Dart in Detail & Scale and the old (1980) Famous Aircraft of the World magazine about the Delta Dart. The seat came out pretty well, I thought!

The Meng resin seat is rather nice – good detail, crisply presented and easy to paint.

Next came the painting of the cockpit tub. This is where things became weird. Using the same references, I looked for areas where colors like red or yellow might be used after a gray dry-brushing had brought out the details. I was astonished that nothing matched the illustrations or photos. Worst of all, the throttle assembly – a rectangular unit inset into the left side console – was missing. Infuriatingly, the kit itself had this feature; it lacked the detail, but the structure was all there. I thought, perhaps I can pitch the resin tub and stick the resin bang seat in the kit tub, then detail the sidewalls. Nope – the seat was far too wide to fit the kit tub.

Grumbling, I made a new throttle assembly, with one long piece of .010 styrene and two shorter pieces at the height of the console all laminated together and sanded to shape. A couple of small knobs made of ting cross-sections of wire were added, and the assembly was cemented in place on the left sidewall. The throttle handle itself will be added toward the end of the build. Then, all the spurious detail was painted and/or adjusted to be a little more accurate.

Throttle assembly, mid-scratch-build. Scratch-building to fix aftermarket is less than enjoyable…

The rest of the resin set was equally disappointing. The sidewalls were inaccurate, and were thrown away; a little switch detail added to the kit sidewalls was perfectly adequate. The avionics bays were nice, but I didn’t want to have the bay’s open; nothing spoils the lines of the F-106 worse than those elephant ear-like doors.

I turned my attention to the exhaust/wheel bay set. To my consternation, none of the main wheel bay parts fit. In fact, to use the non-fitting center section of the bay, you’d had to decapitate the lower wing, which would mess up the structure of the model. And, again, the detail was pretty general – it didn’t look much like my photos. The nose wheel bay, however, was quite nice and matched the photos very well, so I painted it Convair interior green (not the screaming neon green of “interior green,” but a deeper color shown in the photos) and picked some details out in silver and black. Fitting the nose wheel bay and the cockpit tub took a lot of futzing about, but eventually they were both installed, with minimal gaps. The instrument panel was built using the late-style photoetched instruments, but the pedestal was glued to a piece of .010 styrene, allowing me to adjust its position in relation to the fusleage. The goofy tub placed the instrument panel in the wrong place, so some adjustment would be needed when it came time to close the fuselage halves.

Once placed, the tub/seat look OK…

Only F-106 jocks will ever know how scrambled the side console detail is!

The exhaust parts were also unusable – they were too small in diameter to fit the kit’s tail pipe, and the detail on the flameholder was inferior to that in the kit. So, for about $30, I got a seat, a sub-par tub, the nosewheel bay and an insert for the rear of the canopy. Not a bargain, and the parts made what should have been a fun build into a hassle.

Next time, we’ll look at something slightly more positive: the intakes and the detailing of the wheel bays.