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    • Mike

      Switched Identities   18/06/17

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Ex-FAAWAFU

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Everything posted by Ex-FAAWAFU

  1. As my ludicrously long Sea Vixen build finally shows signs of drawing to a close, thoughts turn to what to build next. I always try to have two things on the go at any one time, with the other being my never-ending Ark Royal build - but there is a limit to how much 1/350 scratch building and detailing I can stand at any one time, and I need to have something in 1/48 (my aircraft scale of choice) to keep me going. I thought about a twin Buccaneer build - an Anti-Flash White S1 and an Ark Royal (4) final commission S2D. Those will come at some point, since I have the kits and the necessary conversion materials. But watching the splendid work of Steve (Fritag), Debs (Ascoteer) and others has convinced me that it is high time I built something that I actually flew myself. Sea King or Lynx, Sea King or Lynx... much indecision was finally tilted towards the Queen of the Skies by all the press coverage of its retirement from RN SAR service earlier this year (though the ASaC7 Baggers will soldier on for a while yet), and by markdipXV711's excellent build of an 819 SAR cab which he and I flew in together 20-odd years ago. So, since 819 (my other Sea King squadron) has just been done, I have finally plumped for an aircraft from my first tour. Pull up a bollard and listen to a true dit. 820 Naval Air Squadron, 1988, 18 months into my first front-line tour. We were part of Ark Royal (5)'s CAG (carrier air group) throughout my time on the Squadron, and in July 1988 the ship plus 801 (8 x Sea Harrier FRS1), 849B Flight (3 x Sea King AEW2), a detachment from 845 (2 x Sea King HC4) and 820 (9 x Sea King HAS5) set off for Australia, via Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei and Subic Bay (Philippines), and home via Mumbai and Gibraltar. 6 months away, and a bloody good time was had by all... Less than 2 weeks after we sailed, we were taking part in a NATO exercise in the approaches to the Med; basically we were playing the bad guys trying to force a passage through the straits, and a number of RN, USN and Spanish units were trying to stop us... including HM Submarines Torbay, Otter and Opportune. The aim of these exercises is not to be 100% realistic, but to make sure that there is maximum interaction, so occasionally there would be a 2 hour pause where the submarines, having come right inside the screen and "attacked" the hell out of the ships, would withdraw 30 miles and start again. We would knock off tracking them and leave them alone to reposition. In those long distant 1980s Cold War days, ASW was our bread and butter, and on the whole we were pretty good at it. Most of the time we did passive ASW - chucking huge quantities of sonobuoys out of the aircraft and finding submarines that way, often working with our Nimrod and P3C brethren, and often working against USSR boats rather than friendly exercise ones. In my first few weeks on the squadron we rippled 3 (3 cabs airborne 24/7) all the way from Norfolk VA to Harstad in Norway, including several days of tracking 2 Victor IIIs that were taking an interest in our games. It was pretty exhausting, but we could keep it up almost indefinitely. For the guys in the back, passive ASW was often good fun; 3-dimensional chess, and all that. But for the pilots it was skull-shatteringly dull, flying around at 4-5,000' (nosebleed territory for any self-respecting helicopter pilot) and stooging at 70kts for maximum endurance for hour after hour after hour. But on this occasion we were doing active ASW, the task for which the Sea King was originally designed. Active ASW in the daytime is enormous fun for the pilots, especially when you are in contact. At night the aircraft flies the profiles for you, closely monitored by the pilots (since you are down at 40', you want to keep a close eye on things in the pitch black; it can be a tad buttock-clenching at night). In the day, however, you generally fly it all yourself ("manual jumps" as the jargon goes) without any assistance from the AFCS (automatic flight control system), and it's a blast. So there you have the scene. I am 18 months into front line flying, and have reached the dizzy heights of being captain of my own crew. My P2 for this trip is a hugely experienced USN exchange pilot (way more experienced than me, but flying as second pilot while he gets up to speed with RN procedures). We do 45 minutes of active Torbay bashing, but then reach the pre-briefed pause while she repositions. Rather than disrupt the flying programme, we simply keep going, so we have taken a plastic milk float with us (hi tech, I tell you) and are doing some grappling training; chuck the milk float out of the back and practice SAR with it - much harder than it sounds, cos the milk float thrashes around in the down wash, so it is great training for the back seat in conning the aircraft and the front seat in hovering it precisely. A few minutes into the grapple work, with Jim the USN guy on the controls, the port engine stops... or so we thought. The Nr (rotor speed) decays as the good engine runs out of puff (too hot and too heavy to hover on one engine) and we subside rapidly onto the water yelling Mayday and punching the windows out. Phil Smith, the Observer, says he had never seen anyone strap in as fast as poor old BJ Sandoe, the Crewman who had been lying on the floor of the aircraft with his head sticking out, conning Jim onto the milk float, when suddenly the Atlantic Ocean came up to greet him. As I reached up to shut down the No 2 engine (cos you sure as heck don't want to abandon a helicopter while the rotors are still turning) it became apparent that the No 1 engine had not in fact failed, but simply run down to flight idle. The fuel computer had developed a fault and tried to shut the throttle, but there is a physical interlock built into the system for precisely this emergency, called the Flight Idle Stop, which is basically a screw jack that prevents the throttle from closing beyond a certain point - the very last thing you do when starting up is to engage it. So we over-rode the computer and managed the throttle manually, the Nr came back up to where it should be and shot off the surface of the sea like a startled rabbit, downgraded our Mayday to a Pan, and flew back to Mum. A Green Endorsement much later (still on the wall of my loo) and very shaky legs for a few hours afterwards. Well, it has to be this cab, doesn't it? So I present to you ZE419 / 014 / R of 820 Naval Air Squadron in July 1988; a bog standard Sea King HAS5. Dark blue (this was just before the days when everything became grey), black markings. Photos of the real aircraft to follow, I expect, but for now she is one of these in the distance (photo taken the day before we sailed from Pompey, so about 2 weeks before the ditching): The aircraft will be built much as in this photo, actually; folded, included the tail, with engine blanks in. The cabs in the photo have tip socks on, but I will probably build mine with the more robust blade support system known as "Forth Road Bridge" gear (as in this Mk 5 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum): The basis of the model will be the Hasegawa 1/48 Sea King, using the "Ark Royal HAR5" [no such thing; it should be HU5] edition (which for some reason Photobucket refuses to rotate, so turn your head): ...and the excellent Flightpath conversion set, which contains all sorts of goodies important to this build - notably weapons carriers, assorted aerials and a tail rotor much better suited to having a gust lock fitted to it. Herewith statutory sprue shot: ...and pic of the contents of Flightpath box and a couple of other aftermarket goodies: As it happens, I also have a Hasegawa AEW2a kit (acquired before the Mk5 kit was released, as the only game in town for a future Mk5 build). This will also be useful, since it contains a number of applicable bits such as Orange Crop ESM aerials (removed from the HU5). And since all the Hasegawa boxings are variations on the same theme, the kit already contains some parts that I will use - e.g. the HU5 has the sand filter in front of the engine intakes, but in my era we simply had the "barn door"; similarly the HU5 has the sonar removed and a blanking plate fitted. The kit contains both a barn door and a (sort of, -ish) sonar. [i also have a second complete "Ark Royal HAR5", designated eventually to be an 819 SAR aircraft... but not yet]. There will not be much progress for a few days, while I get the Vixen over the line.... Herewith photo of the appropriate log book entry (bottom line:
  2. I just paint it onto the brass (after a wipe with IPA to de-grease, then air dry). At first I tried spraying it & it was a pain, so now I just use a hairy stick & apply it neat. Once dry it seems to provide a good key for paint. Not much more to say, really.
  3. More random details gradually being ticked off the list. Firstly one that is at least connected to recent activity - the non-slip coating on the stub-wing has now been painted (Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black, since you ask). Happy with that: The others you might have to think a little harder. Firstly the Da-Glo Red on the I-Band transponder can that sits underneath the tail (& has been knocked off about half a million times): Then the start of the ECU blanks, getting their first coat of yellow ready for having home made transfers and other general knocking about. as you can see, one is already made up and the other still on the Eduard brass runner: the final one is not painting, but gluing - don't be misled by the Mr Metal Primer (which is great stuff, incidentally); on this occasion it is there purely for its weight. This is my home-carved (styrene) blade V/UHF aerial which will eventually sit rather prominently on the nose, being glued to its (PE, FlightPath) base plate. More soon Crisp
  4. Port flot bag bungee cord finished. Eyes crossed - taking Zebedee for a walk! Bungee cord: Zebedee:
  5. Great to have you back! Nice HUD, too...
  6. What a great start - looks an excellent kit.
  7. I have that very version, and most excellent it is too. Apart from anything else, it seems to have roughly halved the number of snapped thin drill bits since I acquired it.
  8. Targets are submarines. Tanks are part of one's flying machine. Oh, I see. A brown job. Probably best to re-set, in that case. I hope it has now worn off.
  9. 50 Sheds of Green. That's what retired people do, isn't it?
  10. Excellent painting of a really, really tricky scheme. About 50 years ago (almost literally) I built the ancient Airfix Sparviero kit. The camouflage still gives me nightmares! Bravo!
  11. I am now reaching the point where I can no longer put off solving those little intractable problems that we all face in every build - the "Hmm, gonna need to sort that somehow.. but not now..." things. One of these is the flot bags in the sponsons. On the real aircraft, they are held in place by strong bungee cords; if the flot bottles are fired, the bags fill with air at a rapid rate, and burst out of the bungees. It is a simple solution - far better than the flot "cans" of the Wessex & Sea King 4 - and I never knew it to be a pain throughout my Sea King career. They were just there, and on the rare occasions when needed, they worked. Here is a real sponson: You can see that the bungee is pretty clear, and that the bag itself is a slightly darker colour than the restraining material. (Incidentally, it wasn't always white; sometimes the cord was dark). I have tried drawing the cord in place with the thinnest marker I could find, and that didn't look great (I did this weeks ago on the starboard sponson, so you might have noticed it in some pictures). I have also thought of gluing in place a thin cord - Uschi rigging cord, to be precise - and then using strips of transfer to denote the loops. But experiments with that looked much too crude. It is one of those details that needs to be there to capture the right look, but if it is too prominent it is a distraction. Newest effort is simpler; following on from the transfer idea, I have added a number of short sections of Xtradecal black stripe, the thinnest I could find. The Hasegawa moulding does have rather vague representations of the loops (which I think can be improved with painting), which helps to line things up. The front end and the lower section not yet done. Once toned down with further painting, I think this can work. Incidentally, I am pleased with the creep marks I painted on the wheels / tyres. These tiny things make a lot of difference, IMHO. More soon Crisp
  12. Martin, did Rocs normally fly with a TAG or an Observer? The Roc's need seems to have been for expertise in Telegraphy and Air Gunnery, which sums up a TAG pretty neatly. However, since Naval planners of the 1930s appeared to come out in a rash at the mere idea of flying an aircraft without an Observer to accompany the trained monkey in the front, I have a horrible suspicion that they sent a Commissioned Looker up instead. Of course, towing targets was more appropriate for a DW ("damned rating", pronounced with suitably louche aristocratic Rs), so your version might even have had... [gasp!]... a crew with no officers in it. [This is a genuine question; my Uncle was a Petty Officer Pilot before he was commissioned (including winning the DFM), and anyway my RN service taught me the utmost respect for ratings. This is emphatically NOT an Officer's p*ss-take out of the lower orders]. No stick: no vote.
  13. I've always assumed that the Skua-style tank got in the way of some part of the turret gubbins, but Martian knows way more about the Roc than I do.
  14. I'm confused. You mean Peter has been producing vacform parts for a 1/1 America's Cup boat?
  15. Why are you surprised? After all, an earlier thread about a mythical (sorry, "unproven") Nazi flying saucer containing the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies was so popular that you eventually changed your name as a result. An acquatic target tug with marginal handling qualities is positively mainstream by your standards.
  16. Two 1/48 Roc builds at the same time? This is surreal...
  17. Got as far as the underside of the sponsons; probably one more session should do it... Port: Starboard: No, they aren't a mirror image yet, cos I have been applying them in a different order (and anyway, the starboard sponson has the flood light underneath, whereas the port doesn't). Tantalisingly close to a serious milestone now! [And how nice to see Queen Elizabeth with water under her keel. Now that is a true FBS...] More soon Crisp
  18. Strictly, if it's French Navy that makes it a Mk.4 rather than a Mk.2
  19. That rotor head looks particularly fine (especially when you stop to think how small it must be in real life).
  20. Gordon Bennett... I hope you have a seriously big display... cabinet hangar! Great stuff.
  21. The rear joint is a bit of an oddity, Bill. I am starting to think that it mirrors the real thing, in that it needs to be able to flex a little as weight comes on the wheels. The front joint is the strong one that holds the stub-wing in place (&, more of a point, is the original joint which fits i to a hole in the fuselage); the rear one is my own addition, since the connections back there are added representations of electrical and hydraulic pipes. Anyway, the Gator experiment is the result of previous cyano failures as the joint flexes. We'll see. To be honest, I am not losing any sleep over this joint, and it will be far less of an issue once I hve stopped handling the model so mich.
  22. Stub wing Archer rivets complete, but hard to photo on an iPhone. As you can see, the sponson rivets are now almost done - the inner side of about three rows at the back end is all that remains. I have also just about completed the über-fiddly detailed sections of rivets and attachment points underneath the stub-wing, all connected with the weapons station. The real thing is much more complex than this, but there will shortly be a weapons station added here, which will obscure much of this, so I am not going to go overboard. (The unsightly glue is fresh Gator added to reinforce the rear joint, which has a habit of wobbling - it will disappear once dry, therefore). That will leave just the underside of the sponsons to do, which won't take long at all. I have also started designing my first (ever) attempt at home-baked transfers - things like the "RADOME - NO NOT PAINT" signs for the Doppler aerials, and markings for the ECU blanks. I've scanned a sheet of Hasegawa transfers, not because I want to copy them, but because they give me a very good idea of size. I think I know how to do this, but there's bound to be a bit of trial and error. I want to do the home transfers soon, because they are the last that need to be added - I can then seal the whole lot in place and start on the weapons stations and associated wiring... which is all that is separating me from the Forth Road Bridge and (of course) the rotor head. The build has slowed down a little because there is quite a lot of real life going on at the moment; equally, completing the rivets is in sight (should happen this week, I reckon), which will feel like a serious tick in the box. I am happy enough with how it's going, anyway. More soon Crisp
  23. Martian the Paranoid Android