Thursday, December 20, 2012

F9F Panther Cockpit Color

This is a hedge podge of pictures. The first four show the color of the ejection seat, which is pretty clearly interior green with a black headrest. Note that the headrest is tipped forward in the second and fourth one.

 Note that this Panther has the additional white fiberglass reinforcement around the edge of the canopy and on the "strap" over it, unlike all the others in this post.

This is the cockpit of a restored Panther but it looks about right from a color standpoint. Note that the seat cushion and parachute were generally not removed from the airplane.

The next two pictures show the area aft of the armor plate.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Early F4H RAT

Since this is not likely to be a subject of general interest, I am posting it here for those who have a desire to know.

The first F4H and a few after that had two Ram Air Turbines (RATs), one under each inboard wing leading edge. In this early flight picture, they are deployed.
This picture shows the location of the door.
The door opened outboard and the RAT dropped down from the compartment it covered.

 This shows the RAT in the right wing in the extended position.

 As shown above, the RAT was two-bladed and probably looked something like this:

When it was determined that inboard leading edge flaps had to be added for increased low-speed lift, the wing-mounted installation was no longer possible and a single RAT was incorporated in the upper left fuselage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

S2F Overhead Hatch

Once again, I have overlooked the obvious. Not only do I know that the hatches over the S2F pilot and copilot slid inside and aft, I have sat in an S2F-1 and flown a Turbo Firecat. But in looking for illustrations/pictures of the open hatch for a response to a question about them, I suddenly realized that there isn't enough distance behind the aft end of the hatch and the bulkhead for the pilots for the hatch to slide open.

(Both pilots are showing both hands away from the controls while a red shirt is arming or disarming stores on the wing pylons.)

 The answer is that it slides into a small compartment in the bulkhead. The dashed line on this illustration of the bulkhead behind the pilots shows approximately where the lower side of the compartment is.

Alan Weber provided a picture of an S2F cockpit display that shows the compartment the hatches slid into.

Note that because of the length of the passageway between the cockpit and crew compartment, the aft end of the hatch hole cannot be seen in the crew compartment.*

S2F-1 Radar Crew Position

S2F-1 MAD/Sonobuoy Crew Position
The following are from Calum Gibson's website ( and used with his permission:

Here is a Bill Spidel picture of the hatch in the closed position that I was able to lighten enough to show the actuating mechanism and the track the hatch slid on. Rotation of the T-handle lowered the hatch and then it could be slid aft.

And in response to another question, the overhead windows were tinted green, although I don't know when that practice began. (The hatches were solid initially.) Alan Weber, who worked on civil S2Fs used for fire fighting: "in fact I never saw one first hand that wasn’t. We had stacks of them in our parts room and they all were tinted green."

* In the utility conversions where the equipment was removed and the seats mounted facing rearward more towards the cockpit, the hatch compartments were usually covered with interior quilting. In this case, the right side is uncovered.

Friday, November 30, 2012

SB2C-5 SAC Sideview

The following are the same drawing. The first one is the way I usually do these illustrations, with a dimensioned box that can be used with a copier that scales the copy to the desired size. The other two can also be downloaded. One will probably turn out pretty close as printed out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

F-4 Stabilator

The F-4 stabilator pivoted from a point above the surface of the stabilator at its juncture with the side of the aft fuselage. The necessary opening was covered by a plate that moved with the stabilator. Note that the top of the plate was not quite parallel with the upper surface of the stabilator.
 (The Phantom in this case is a YF-4K. The colored lines are a temperature-sensitive paint that changes color at a specific temperature.)

A view from the other side, this time on an F-4A:

A view from the side with the cover plate removed:
This picture and the one below were taken and provided by an anonymous contributor

And a view from behind and below looking up and forward showing the carry-through structure covered by the plate and the stabilator actuator.

Drawn from pretty good McDonnell data and drawings, including check of 35 degrees sweep at 1/4 chord. Does not include leading edge slat. Outline shown "true", not a top view.
 Revision A:
USAF stabilators were eventually modified with a blunt arrowhead-shaped reinforcement plate at the forward juncture of the inboard and outboard panels. This appears to have been introduced with the addition of maneuver slats on the F-4E (see However, there was no similar reinforcement associated with the similar maneuver slats introduced on the Navy F-4S (see There are indications that a reinforcement was added to this area on some Navy Phantoms, but it was probably a standard repair rather than a required modification at overhaul or in spares production. There are reports of Navy Phantoms with the USAF reinforcement but these may just be the use of a stabilator from USAF stock.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Airfix 1/72 A4D Outline

The following, including the illustration, has been revised since first posted. Also, for a more complete discussion, see

I've been a bit suspicious of the accuracy of the Airfix A4D nose shape since I first saw pictures of it. On ARC there has recently been discussion about the scale, with speculation that the Airfix kit is undersized. So I compared the kit fuselage to the best Douglas drawings that I have. Based on this evaluation, it  looks like the overall size is okay, but the rudder extends downward a bit too far, the horizontal stabilizer is mounted a smidgen low, and the nose is in fact notably off.

 Of those, only the nose profile looks worth fixing to me by giving the lower side a little more upsweep. Canting the whole nose upward would be even better.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

VA-72 A4D-2 Picture

Note that the slats have been strapped up and the landing gear doors do not have red edges.

Friday, October 12, 2012

F4U Main Landing Gear Door Attachment

One incorrect assumption that plastic kit manufacturers make about the shape of the forward-facing main landing gear door on the F4U Corsair is that the opening is the same shape as the door or vice versa. The problem is that the opening between the top of the door and the front of the opening was closed by a piece of leather or rubber; the opening extends farther forward toward the wing leading edge than the door itself covers. Here you can see the flexible gap-filler material doubled over on a restored Corsair.

And here it is with the gear up on the XF4U:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

F-4 Phantom Forward Fuselage

Mark Nankivil provided me with a McDonnell lines drawing of the F-4B/J Phantom. Questions have been raised about the shape of the Academy 1/48 F-4 nose. For what it's worth, here is the forward fuselage with a reference box for scale.
One interesting feature is that the break between the radome and the fuselage is not perpendicular to the line of symmetry of the ogival radome, which is what you'd expect.

The IR sensor fairing side view and cross section:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Douglas DT-2

Yet another draft based on an IPMS Tailhook Topics column.

The Douglas DT-2 was one of the U.S. Navy's first torpedo bombers. It was operated as both a seaplane and from Langley as shown here.

It was based on the Douglas World Cruiser, which the Army flew around the world in 1924. The major external changes were:

- Cut-down upper aft fuselage
- Rear cockpit moved aft
- Front cockpit opening larger and squared off
- New nose, vertical fin and rudder
- Recess in the bottom of the fuselage for mounting the torpedo
- No dihedral in the upper wing or center section cutout (there was also a fairing on the right hand inboard upper surface)
- Added cutout in the lower inboard wing to allow access to the cockpit when the floats were installed
- The horizontal tail was moved forward and enlarged accordingly
- Tailhook
- Initially, a propeller guard and hooks on the landing gear spreader bars to engage the longitudinal wires on the early arresting system

This is a pretty good drawing that I did back then from Douglas drawings provided to me by Harry Gann. Unfortunately, the tailhook is speculative. (Click on it for a larger and downloadable view.)
The torpedo was probably the Mk 7, which was 17 feet long and 18 inches in diameter: