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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. Pretty much, yes. I really didn't fancy removing the entire windscreen piece, because I glued the lower sections in pretty hard so that they eventually conformed to the fuselage, and then had to do a fair amount of work to get the bottom of the windscreen faired into the nose. I also feared wrecking the PE / clear acetate home-baked side windows. But then I thought about the framing, and reckoned I should investigate the feasibility of a neat cut horizontally across the top section. Frasibility check turned into actual cut. Now I have another probkem to solve, namely painting the white sections without getting paint onto the quarterlights.... But I have a plan.
  3. The I love Los Altos badge is a choir joke - I sing Alto. Los Altos is a quiet suburb of SF with no special reason to love it...
  4. Anyway, that's quite enough of the tour - there's modelling to be done. I said I had come to a conclusion about the canopy, and you probably know me well enough by now to guess what it was... That second picture shows one of the main reason i decided to do it. I probably would have just lived with the loose Ornage Crop controller if that had been all that was wrong, but only after all the masking came off did I notice the fact that I had missed a bit of white (because it was part of the fuselage sides rather than the cockpit parts. That white section underneath the instrument panel just looks wrong (same other side). Here is the removed top section - very, very, very carefully sawn over about 25 minutes - plus the errant OC controller. ...and here it is placed back on top, which gives me confidence that in due course I should be able to make it invisible. Some careful work to do to ensure no dust left inside once I close it up again - plus obviously fixing the issues that made me do this drastic surgery in the first place - but I am happy with this progress. The join I really did NOT want to have to undo was the one at the top of the windscreen. Nice to be back - more soon Crisp
  5. Evidence that I was there (SF seen from Twin Peaks - no evidence of David Lynch - with self in foreground): I did manage to get in a little model-related sightseeing. The wonderful museum ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien (one of, or possibly the only, surviving Liberty Ships and a D Day veteran): Just ahead of her is USS Pampanito, a Balao class WW2 submarine: And here we all are outside the Stanford Memorial Church before our first (of 9) concert on 18 March. The correct shade of Sarum Green (the official name for the colour of our cassocks) gets almost as much discussion as Interior Green or EDSG! Edit: Oh God - now we're on the BBC (the BA crew asked the kids to sing a song when they woke us up at c.37,000' over the Atlantic. A bit ragged after almost no sleep, but a laugh! They range from 10 to 13, and were unbelievably fantastic on the tour.):
  6. I'm back! Lots of real lofe stuff to sort out today, and tomorrow (Thursday) I am going to Yeovilton for a final Lynx retirement party, so there may not be much bench time til the weekend. Plus my body still thinks it's 4 o'clock in the morning, so I am as sharp as a beach ball - not the best state in which to handle a model. While away I have, however, made a decision about the windscreen, so watch this space. San Fran? It was awful, I tell you.
  7. That's a pretty standard RN fuel list; if I remember correctly the Sea King's faithful Gnome could munch its way through the same list. Wome of the more esoteric (in aviation terms) fuels were only for a few hours and then a complete fuel flush and double engine change, so you'd have to be truly desperate to fill up with the stuff. It would work, but...
  8. Not sure which mark of Doppler system the Shar had, but it might well be the same Thales Mk. 71 doppler as in the Sea King - and yes, that centre aerial is part of the Doppler. The RADALT is an entirely separate system, though, made by Honeywell.
  9. All I have to say on that topic is "Blackburn Blackburn". What an educational, insipring and entertaining thread. Carry on!
  10. Fabbo (& greetings from Stanford University!)
  11. Hell, yes! Choir tours are brilliant; some people have been working seriously hard to set it all up, but people like me just have to turn up and sing twice a day... and that's it. I am being paid to go to San Francisco for 2 weeks; what's not to like?
  12. Those look superb. Any chance you'd up-scale them to 1/48?
  13. It is designed for the Hasegawa kit. I am up to my knees in an HAS5 build, using the FlightPath conversion and a Hasegawa base kit, and I can confirm that it is superb. I haven't had to use the sponsons or Sea Searcher radome, because I got a Hasegawa SAR boxing, but judging by the quality of the weapons carriers and tail rotor (which I have used, amongst other things), then I would use it to build a Mk4 with confidence. It is really well done. Just as well, because it's your only choice, as far as I know! I have a second one, also destined for a future Gannet cab. You'd be welcome to any un-used Mk.4 parts from my two sets, if you'd like - PM me (though I am away for a fortnight from tomorrow morning, so don't panic if no reply for a bit).
  14. I haven't tried it, but the Airfix HAR3 looks a decent kit in its own right, so might be a decent basis for an HAS1 or 2? (I'm a 1/48 man, so there's really only 1 game in town for me...)
  15. If you are modelling a Fleet Air Arm Corsair, I heartily recommend "KD431 - The Time Capsule Fighter" by David Morris. It is hard to find now, but I got a copy for a mate within the past 3 weeks on Evil-Bay. It's a detailed account of the process of restoring the FAA Museum's Corsair IV to as close to original paint work as possible, and they discovered some really fascinating stuff during the restoration - including things that explain why we end up having conflicting evidence 7- years on. For instance, it turns out that KD431 has a tail from a Brewster airframe, despite being built after the contract was taken away from Brewster - it looks as though some half-finished assemblies were shipped across to Goodyear en masse. And the colours they found underneath KD431's 60s coat... Fascinating in its own right, but I'd say pretty much essential reading if you are building a FAA Corsair.
  16. Steve, it is a joy to have you back contributing.... but [ahem] Hawks... [cough]?
  17. The radome is fine - that's just an optical illusion! Happily, fixing the centre panel is simple; easy masking and 30 seconds with an airbrush...
  18. No, the black framing will come in due course. The howler is the centre overhead panel!
  19. P.P.S. After taking the shots above, I realised that I can now unmask the windscreen - side windows will have to wait a bit longer. There is one inadvertent howler (fixable, so no sweat), clearly visible in this first picture: I have simply taken the masks off - no polishing or clean up. So on the whole I am pretty happy with how much is visible. It also solves the mystery of what has broken loose and is rattling around inside. I had sneaking suspicion that has turned out to be correct; this cab has no visible Orange Crop control box on the dashboard. Ah well! Crisp P.S. I now have two weeks to decide whether it is worth the effort of removing the canopy and retrieving the OC controller - it could be done, but would obviously mean a fair amount of remedial work to get the joins right again afterwards...
  20. Right, that's me done with modelling for 2 weeks, so as I sign off I thought I'd have a bit of fun; I have borrowed a piece of flight deck from a passing Sea Vixen and photographed the Sea King on that - seems appropriate for her first outing on all 5 wheels. [Sorry this one's a bit out of focus, but I wanted to try to capture her nose on from low down, so we can see the wheels properly. Only partially successful.] [This one is pleasing, cos it shows that the roundels are aligned vertically - I hadn't noticed that before, but it shows that my measurements worked OK! It also shows that Hasegawa have nicely captured the look of a Sea King on the ground - they always look somehow as though they are light on the tail wheel] This is mostly self-indulgence, but it has also helped me add a couple of things to the "Snag List on Return". You will note that BOTH spine aerials were casualties of the walk way masking. Ah well; they were scratch built anyway, so shouldn't be any problem to repeat the process! Keep on having fun, and see y'all in a couple of weeks. Navy 346 chopping FLYCO, thank you for your service; good night. Crisp P.S. Incidentally, those rather poncey white axles on the main wheels are authentic. I hadn't remembered them at all, but the 1988 photo from Oz shows them loud and clear.
  21. Awesome! As others have said, those counterweights must be ludicrously tiny. We salute you, Bill.
  22. Thought you might want to see the walkways down either side of the tail rotor drive shaft. (The gleam is because this was taken a few seconds after a coat of varnish was sprayed). Oh, and what do we have here? Wheels! Close to buttoning up for the duration now. A few photos will follow before I go. Crisp
  23. I love what you're doing with this, Antonio - especially since we know where it ends up! I had no idea Forgers were ever used in Afghanistan. Seems an odd place for them.
  24. Not brown, hairy or prickly; "Sarum green" (a shade that is argued about almost as much as Interior Green amongst modellers!), un-hairy and actually pretty OK. Worry not; I will be back - and I haven't quite finished before I go. First up, the port side exhaust / footstep black marks, plus the spine walkways on both sides. Oh, and just to keep Andy & Bill happy, the port flot bag. Secondly, an angle that you haven't seen for quite a while, namely from beneath. Visible are the three white blade aerials (2 at tail, one under starboard nose), plus the two black blade aerials (both under tail, for sonobuoy reception) with the sonobuoy chute next to them. The small squares and the larger aerial under the nose are the Doppler system. And the sonar body is now visible once more, with its copper snub ring. The oval thing is where the lower anti-coll light will eventually sit, and the rectangle in front of it is the base for the VHF homer ("Violet picture"). Just about visible under the nose are the two bases for the sonobuoy homer (which will eventually be two rather garish yellow rods). Between the two sponsons are the SACRU fittings (5 of them), with the two oil collector cans level with the front of the stub wing. This is now ready for its layer of protective varnish. Both sides to follow later on this afternoon. Crisp P.S. ...and one for @hendie; not the new cutting mat, because I realised there is still life in the old one if I turn it round!
  25. Superb. The only word for it.