Tailhook Topics Drafts

Friday, March 24, 2023

Douglas A3D-2P/RA-3B Skywarrior Cockpit

 As with most photographic-reconnaissance airplanes, the pilot was provided with a periscope so he could  orient the airplane for pictures taken by his downward-oriented cameras. The A3D-2P had two periscopes, one for the pilot to position the airplane over the area of interest and one for the photo-navigator in the right seat to trigger the cameras to take pictures of it.

 The viewfinders were large and prominent on the instrument panel:

The cylinder below the viewfinder for the photo-navigator was a radar scope.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Miscellaneous Paint and Markings Notes - U.S. Navy Aircraft

 This is a work in progress and to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, specifications are more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual "rules". For example: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2012/06/markings-cautionary-example.html and https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2019/05/grumman-f9f-8-upper-control-surface.html

Summary, 1940 to Gray/White: 




F4U-2: https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2013/06/f4u-2-color-scheme.html

Blue Angels: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2011/04/blue-angel-blue-and-gold-draft.html 

Bombs (WW II): https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/01/us-navy-bombs-up-through-wwii.html

Bomb bays:

As of 5 February 1951, bomb bays are to finished with zinc chromate tinted to match nonspecular interior green (before then, a color wasn't specified).

As of 7 July 1955, the interior of bomb bays was to be glossy insignia white.

See https://www.flickr.com/photos/wbaiv/29623364988/in/photostream/ for pictures of the interior of a KA-3B that appears to be unchanged from when it was in service. Note that there is a rubber fuel bag in the upper part of the bomb bay resting on tinted zinc chromate support structure.


General: http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2015/04/cockpits.html

F9F Panther: https://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2012/12/f9f-panther-cockpit-color.html


Overview: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2012/01/corogard.html 

A4D/A-4: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2017/01/corogard-on-a4d-4.html

Red Edges and Interior Surfaces: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2012/10/painting-crush-points-red.html

Rescue Arrow: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-brief-history-of-rescue-arrow.html 

Sea Blue vs. Insignia Blue: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2012/06/sea-blue-vs-insignia-blue.html

Wheel Wells: 

Note: wheel well color was NOT specifically specified before 23 February 1955

General: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2018/07/what-color-are-wheel-wells-on-insert.html


Grumman F8F Bearcat: https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2014/07/f8f-bearcat-wheels-and-wheel-wells.html

FJ-2/3:  https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2021/08/north-american-fj-23-cockpit-and.html

World War II Norfolk Scheme:



Cold War Unit Markings: 



Still to come: radomes...

Thursday, February 16, 2023

DIY North American A3J-1 Conversion from RA-5C

 If' you're tired of waiting for an injection-molded kit... Good luck!

The red line shows the RA-5C upper fuselage line. The canopies in red are from a North American RA-5C three-view drawing compared to the shape of the North American A3J-1 drawing.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Grumman EA-6A Intruder

Dennis Jenkins provided some of the pictures; much of the information was taken from his excellent EA-6A/B monograph. Rick Morgan provided comments on the post, including: "I'm a firm believer that the EA-6A was the best jamming platform anyone used in Vietnam, having the best combination of frequency range, jamming strength and survivability. The Marines did great work with it."

In the late 1950s, the U.S. Marines initiated a program to modify obsolescent Douglas F3D-2 Skyknights, a two-place jet night fighter, for EW (electronic warfare) missions as a replacement for their propeller-pulled Douglas AD-5s. These F3D-2Q/EF-10Bs had limited performance in all respects but provided essential threat-radar reconnaissance and strike-mission radar warning and jamming at the beginning of U.S. combat involvement in Vietnam in 1965.

In the meantime, Grumman and the Marines created a program to develop a modification of  the new A2F (subsequently A-6) Intruder that had first flown in April 1960 for EW missions. The prototype EA-6A, BuNo 148618 that had been the eighth A-6A built, first flew in April 1963.

For in-depth coverage of both the EA-6A and EA-6B programs, two paperback monographs are recommended:

Both are available used for $10 plus shipping on Amazon. I prefer Jenkins' Aerofax Minigraph 7 as it is more complete from a technical perspective and up-to-date as of 1989 but Aerophile Extra Number 2 has more for the model builder, including reviews of kits available at the time of its publication, 1985. Jenkins subsequently posted an errata report.

The first six EA-6As were conversions of early production A-6As, BuNos 147865/148616/148618/149475/149477/149478 (not in order of acceptance; 147865, the second A-6A, was the last to be accepted as an EA-6A)

The next six EA-6As were redirects of A-6As on the production line, BuNos 151595-151600

The final 15 of 27 total were new builds, BuNos 156979-156993

A-6A BuNo 149935, the 21st A-6A, was used as an avionics test bed (NEA-6A); it is not included in the total of 27.

I'm going to limit this post to the major differences between the A-6A and the EA-6A and summarization of the various changes over time to the EA-6A's exterior and cockpit.

The major external differences were:

- Eight inches longer fuselage ahead of the nose landing gear and smaller radome

- A large blade antenna on the forward-facing nose landing gear door; this required that the landing/taxi and angle of attack lights be relocated on the door and the lower anti-collision light be relocated forward on the fuselage.

- Pylon provisions under the outboard wing (denoted "A" and "B") for a total of seven, originally to carry a large pod on a bespoke pylon (shown in the three-view drawing above) for passive ECM (electronic countermeasures) reconnaissance; only the first 12 EA-6As carried this pod. The location was subsequently used for a conventional multi-purpose pylon to carry other mission-related stores; according to Rick Morgan, as of 1979 A and B were only cleared for AGM-45 Shrike and ALE-32 chaff pod. "When FEWSG got the bird they added ALQ-167 and 170 jammers to the list.  ALE-41 and -43 chaff pods were eventually added as well."

- Third wing fence located outboard of the wing-fold joint (it was probably not aerodynamic but required to strengthen the wing aeroelastically for the utilization of the pylon on the outboard wing to carry stores)

- Deletion of speed brakes on the wing tips and retention of the fuselage-mounted speed brakes deleted from the A-6A

- A small air scoop on the top of the mid fuselage, a larger one beside it on the upper left side of the mid fuselage, and a small antenna fairing on the top of the fuselage forward of the scoops

Cropped from photos provided from Tailhook Association via Mark Aldrich

- A large antenna fairing on the top of the vertical fin (note that the two antenna fairings on both sides of the EA-6B vertical fin were not present on the EA-6A): this resulted in the upper anti-collision light being relocated to the aft end of the sliding canopy

At some point, the pitot was removed from the left wing tip and replaced by two pitots on either side of the top of the nose ahead of the refueling probe:

The DECM antenna mounted on a boom extending forward from the middle pylon on each wing was not originally present on some or all of the first 12 EA-6As and it was removed from the later RECAP aircraft.


The cockpit for the first 12 EA-6As:

Note that the left side of the instrument panel is virtually identical to the A-6A's and the right side, like the A-6A's, is farther aft since the right seat was farther aft and lower than the left seat for pilot visibility to the right.

A subsequent change in the mission equipment suite resulted in this EWO (electronic warfare operator) instrument panel:

Finally, 11 EA-6As went through a RECAP program which resulted in this cockpit configuration:

Note that in the picture of the pilot's instrument panel, the pilot's A-6A vertical display indicator has been replaced by a standard attitude director indicator and the left side of the WSO's instrument panel is visible.

The EA-6A crew was originally seated on Martin Baker GRU-5 seats. These were subsequently replaced by GRU-7 seats in the mid 1970s. The seats are similar in appearance but very different in detail, e.g. the parachute housing.

RECAP also resulted in external configuration changes. Among other details, the doppler radar fairing under the aft fuselage and the boom-mounted DECM antennas were removed, a small forward facing antenna was added at the base of the inflight refueling probe, an antenna fairing was added under each wingtip, and a small "beer can" antenna was added on the aft end of the fin-tip pod.

 Antenna on inflight refueling boom:

Antenna on the underside of the wingtip:

The RECAP BuNos were 148618/149475/151596-151600/156983-5/156987

Sunday, November 13, 2022

North American AJ Savage Carrier-Based Tanker


The AJ Savage, the U.S. Navy's first carrier-based bomber that could carry the 10,000# Mk 4 nuke was not only big (humongous, really), folding it required so much time and effort that it wasn't done unless the Savage was a "dud" that had to be taken down into the hangar (see http://tailhooktopics.blogspot.com/2022/10/aj-savage-wing-and-fin-fold.html).

Coral Sea 1952; USN photo via Greg Bishop

Because its presence was so disruptive of operations on axial-deck carriers, AJs were usually based ashore and only flown out to a carrier periodically. If needed for a wartime mission, they would then be loaded with nukes that were stored on the carrier.

The advent of smaller, equally powerful nukes that could be carried by AD Skyraiders and F2H Banshees made the AJ even less welcome since the AD had about the same range. However, it was slow: the war might well be over before it got to its target. The Banshee's cruise speed was much faster than the AJ's but it had significantly less range. The best combination of range and speed for the mission was quickly determined to be en route inflight refueling of the Banshee by the AJ (https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2009/11/nuclear-banshees.html).

There are many pictures of the AJ refueling jets but no closeups of the refueling apparatus itself. Jerry Wells was able to provide me with detailed illustrations from North American manuals.

The AJ's cavernous bomb bay was just about filled with a 1,300 gallon fuel tank.

The hose reel and drogue-deployment mechanism was mounted on the back of the tank (the drogue is in the retracted position):

A small opening was provided in the bomb bay doors so the drogue mechanism could be deployed below the fuselage (because of the size of the drogue, the doors had to be opened to lower the drogue and then closed again).

 The right side of the hose reel (the drogue is not present):

Note that the fuel from the tank to the reel is provided by a line on the left side of the tank that extends from its bottom up and over the reel, attached to it from the side (3).

The hose was fed down from the reel to the front side of the big pulley on the drogue mechanism and then aft to the drogue itself.

The drogue at this point was a metal cone.

This is a prototype of the external mechanism being tested on an XAJ-1:

The operation of the refueling system was the responsibility of the rearward facing crewman on the AJ-2:

At least one AJ-1 was equipped for inflight refueling and assigned to NATC but I don't know where these panels were located on it (the AJ-1's third crewman's position was in the compartment below the flight deck).

I don't have any three-view or station drawings of the refueling mechanism or the opening in the bomb bay doors but in the event that a modeler feels the need to add them to a kit, these pictures will help locate and size them.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

AJ Savage Wing and Fin Fold

 For an overview, see https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2010/03/hell-it-wont-fit-ii.html

To reduce weight, North American eliminated the customary pilot-actuated power folding of the wings (and in this case the fin) in favor of a post-flight installation of hinges and power supply (hydraulic actuator for wing fold and arm-strong for fin fold).

For the wings, an access panel over the inboard side of the wing fold joint was removed. Two hinges were then attached to the wing at the fold joint. A hydraulic actuator was mounted on the rear hinge, which was bolted to the upper wing surface. The pins connecting the inboard and outer wings were then removed to allow the wings to be folded.

Hydraulic power was provided by a hose connected to the aircraft's hydraulic system at the top of the engine nacelle.

When folded, the exposed wing joint looked like this:

Folding the fin required the temporary installation of a long, folding access ladder:

The upper standoff of the ladder hooked into two slots just forward of the horizontal stabilizer (this is the AJ-2 empennage that was retrofitted to AJ-1s):

Next, the actuator had to be attached, the bolts holding the fin on removed, and the hand crank turned to fold the fin (this illustration is the empennage of the original AJ-1):

A view from the front of the final folded configuration (the sailor hugging the tip tank is checking to be sure that it will fit through the hangar door):

Saturday, October 22, 2022

AJ Savage Bomb Bay Doors

The new Roden 1/72 AJ-1 Savage kit provides interior detail in the bomb bay and conventional bombs to go in it, but the bomb bay doors are provided as a single piece, providing no view into the bomb bay.

Since the AJ Savage was literally designed around the Mk 4 nuclear bomb (one is provided in the kit), it seems appropriate that its cavernous bomb bay be visible...

Thanks to Jerry Wells, we have illustrations that can be used to convert the single-piece doors to separate ones in their open positions.

There were four separate, fairly thick doors with lightening holes along the sides. The upper door was attached to the fuselage and the lower door by piano hinges.

The doors were interchangeable. In the following illustration, they are partly open. The opening and closing was accomplished by a mechanism (A) between the upper and lower doors combined with an idler strut at both ends of the lower door that was attached to the fuselage bulkhead at either end of the bomb bay.

 The following illustration depicts the position of the actuation links between the upper and lower doors when the doors are closed:

Another view of the idler strut on the forward left hand side with the doors fully open:

The actuator was a very complicated mechanism that converted the longitudinal extension of a hydraulic piston into a rotation of the outboard link of the actuator that resulted in the doors being pulled together. The idler struts at each end of the bomb bay caused the doors to move outboard as they came together.

Note that when the doors are open, the links of the actuator mechanism are visible; they don't appear to extend inboard any farther than the bomb bay opening, however (this is a picture of the Lycoming AJ-2 Savage with the support structure in the bomb bay for the jet engine test rig):


The idler struts are more prominent:


For an introduction to the Roden kit and links to other posts, see https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2022/08/roden-172-north-american-aj-1-savage.html