Mustang Madness!!! An Aurora P-51 “Classic Build”

November 22, 2013 – 9:07 pm

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By Eric Freese

 After posting Eric’s article on how to do a Classic Build (using a Monogram P-40), I asked if he could make an Aurora kit look that good.  Well, he did.  I was blown away by the results.  And better yet, all of this without excess effort – a true build-up for pleasure and decompression only! I hope you enjoy this build as much as I do. - AB

Aurora models never cease to amaze me.  Perhaps I took them for granted as a kid in my early teens.  But they got into subjects that nobody else would tackle, especially the Sci-Fi and movie figures.  They were also putting forth a wide array of WW I and WW II kits as well.  Several Aurora WW I planes sit proudly beside newer kits on my shelves.  I make no apologies.  Various friends and guests have commented they LIKED the old kits displayed in the cases.

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Some of Eric’s Classic Builds alongside newer kits (click either thumbnail to enlarge)

When Alan Bussie asked me to put forth a simple “decompression” kit, I couldn’t resist the Aurora 1/48 scale P-51H.  The last time I built one, I was about 13 years old.  My dad and I were sitting on the couch watching the television series “12 O’clock High.”  I was escorting B-17’s to Berlin, in hot pursuit of the 109’s, etc…and I built the fighter straight from the box in one hour.  The challenge (and pure joy) of recreating that all over again was too tempting to pass up.  This time I would add a little bit of painting detail.  I would create my own markings from existing supplies and I would NOT use putty or aftermarket parts.  What you see is what you get!

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Aurora’s 1/48 scale P-51 Mustang 

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Aurora Russian Nuclear Powered Bomber (M-50/M-52 Bounder) Kit Review and History

November 22, 2013 – 6:07 pm

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By Fred Boucher and with Kit History by Alan Bussie

Introduction

From the horrible yet exciting depths of the Cold War came the Myasishchev M-50 / M-52 ‘Bounder,’ a Soviet supersonic bomber.  From ‘Bounder’ leapt the bogeyman M-60, a Soviet design for a nuclear-powered bomber.  From the M-60 radiated this Aurora model of the terrible and amazing Russian Nuclear Powered Bomber.

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The one and only USA issue of the Russian Nuclear Bomber from 1959 

Myasishchev M-50/M-52 ‘Bounder’

An enormous four-jet bomber first ripped the sky over the Soviet Union in 1957.  A long sleek fuselage on a delta wing, ‘Bounder’ publicly roared over in the 1961 Aviation Day flyby.  Though intended to be a supersonic strategic bomber the big beast would more accurately have been code-named “Blunder” as one aviation wag put it.  The big bomber was devoid of high-speed flight understanding.  Not long after ‘Bounder’ was flown in the presence of Westerners, the Myasishchev Bureau was disbanded.  ‘Bounder’s’ engines were used on the Tupolev Tu-22 ‘Blinder,’ which shares similar fuselage lines with ‘Bounder.’

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Aurora Halberstadt CL.II Kit Review and History

November 22, 2013 – 4:27 pm

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By Fred Boucher and with Kit History by Alan Bussie

Kit History

In 1959 Aurora released two more 1/48 World War I ‘Famous Fighter’ aircraft kits.  The first was number 135-69, the Fokker D-VIII ‘Flying Razor.’   The second kit, and the subject of this review, was the Halberstadt CLII,  #136-98.  As with all Aurora kits of this period, the logo is oval with the sunburst in the center background and the words ‘Famous Fighters’ written in the oval boarder.  Jo Kotula, who took over for Jim Cox in about 1957, did the box artwork.  The parts were molded in black and gray plastic.

 

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First release Halberstadt, #136-98

The kit proved successful, as were the vast majority of the WWI series.  When Aurora was associated with Parent’s Magazine, the box top had their seal of approval.  The model inside remained identical.  The artwork remains dated 1959, but this issue may have extended into 1960.

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Aurora Sopwith Triplane ‘Black Maria’ Kit Review and History

September 10, 2013 – 9:37 pm

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By Fred Boucher and with Kit History by Alan Bussie   Google+ profile

Kit History

Aurora’s Sopwith Triplane was the eighteenth model in Aurora’s twenty “Famous Fighters” of World War One aircraft series, with all kits in 1/48 scale.  It was released in 1963 with the Fokker E-III, which is kit #134.  Curiously, the Sopwith Triplane was released as kit number 100.  The first kit in the series was 101-69, the French Nieuport II.

 The first issue was numbered 100-79 and had brilliant box art by the great Joe Kotula.  The plastic is gloss black.

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A factory sealed example of 100-79 

 

 The second release had a part number of 100-100 but the box art was identical.  By the mid 1960s,  pressure from retailers to remove the price suffix was peaking. Some dealers could or had to get higher prices for the kits, while large retailers often sold them for less.  But old habits die hard, and Aurora (and others) simply increased the suffix prices.  Since the box art was retained, the copyright date was still 1963.  The actual release date was probably closer to  ’65.

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Ray Gaedke –Lindberg Line Box Top Illustrator, Artist, Twirler and Entrepreneur

September 4, 2013 – 3:41 pm

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By Alan Bussie    Google+ profile

I wish to thank artist Mike Boss for locating Gayle Yarnall, who is one of Ray Gaedke’s daughters.  Gayle, I thank you and Bernice for the main biography body.  Without you this article would not exist.  Rae, thank you for locating and scanning all the photographs.  To all three daughters - Rae, Peggy and Gayle – thank you for your timeless memories of your father.

Please visit Gayle’s blog at gayleconnected.com 

Introduction 

Plastic model kits were off to a shaky start in the post-war United States.  The first US kits came out in 1946, and the hobby shops did not know what to do with these colorful little gems.  As a result, they put them on the ‘high shelf’ or another secondary location.  Current model builders, the skilled craftsman who were used to the wooden ‘solid’ or stick and tissue kits, had no interest at all and were critical of such prefabrication.  The handful of manufactures feared this was a product with no audience.

 The target audience was present but had simply not been identified.  Once plastic kits were marketed in a few mainstream stores, plastic models began to sell very quickly to younger children and adults who were tired or scared off by time-and-talent consuming wooden kits.  But success created a new problem.   Kits in mainstream stores had to compete with highly established toys, games and other products.  To attract the buyer’s attention, they needed ‘visual shelf appeal,’ which translated to eye-popping box artwork.  Raymond Gaedke was one of the pioneers of this ‘modern’ model box artwork.

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Ray’s incredible Winnie Mae (late 1950s)

 It is difficult to say who did the first popular series of full color box art in the USA.  The current candidates are Ray Gaedke or Jim Cox from Aurora.  

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Back To Basics, Back To Fun! - A Monogram P-40B “Classic Build”

August 26, 2013 – 12:59 pm

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By Eric Freese

After taking nearly 4 years to build a 1/350 Titanic, I realized that I was not having much fun modeling. What could I do to love this hobby as much as I did when I was younger? Then I was lucky enough to meet Eric Freese and Dick Hague. They introduced me to a new style of building strictly for fun. After seeing numerous photos of fantastic looking kits built “The Old Fashioned Way”, I tried my hand at a few and I was hooked. My sincere thanks to Dick and Eric for their “therapy.” I hope you give it a try soon! - A.B.

Introduction

Alan asked if I would show a FUN way to do a “classic build” kit with no frills - just basic tools and supplies right out-of-the-box, like we did in the 1960s. Sometimes we get too serious about building, and it’s easy to suck the fun out of it. Veteran modelers refer to it as “AMS”; Advanced Modelers Syndrome. Most of us have been there and done that. Remember when model building was exciting? Well, what better way to re-live that than with that old chestnut, the Monogram P-40B Tiger Shark! Let’s get into it, shall we?

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The Monogram P-40

The Kit

Originally released in 1964 as a “Four Star” kit, it is an all-time favorite that has been released again and again. Today it can be found just about anywhere that kits

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Aurora 1/48 Scale De Haviland DH-10 Amiens IIIA Kit Review and Release History

August 14, 2013 – 3:09 pm

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Review By Fred Boucher and kit history by Alan Bussie Google+ profile

Introduction

Aurora released their big, 16½ inch(41.91 cm) wingspan de Havilland DH10 Amiens IIIA model in 1958 as the “De Haviland DH-10 Bomber.”  It was the 13th of 20 1/48 scale kits in their “Famous Fighters” of World War I series.  The DH10 was Aurora’s Triple Entente / Allied ‘monster’ kit, with Germany’s Gotha being the ‘monster’ representing the Central Powers.  This model represents the Amiens IIIA variant.

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DH-10 IIIA (courtesty airwar.ru)

The actual DH10 was built in five variations:

Amiens I- Prototype powered by two pusher Puma engines.

Amiens II- Prototype powered by two tractor Rolls Royce Eagle engines.

Amiens III- Main production variant, powered by Liberty 12 engines mounted midway between wings, 221 built.

Amiens IIIA- Modified Mark III with engines directly attached to lower wings, 32 built, also known as the DH.10A

Amiens IIIC- Version powered by Rolls Royce Eagle engines in case of shortages of Liberty engines, 5 built, also known as the DH.10C. *

Kit History

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Aurora’s 1/48 Fokker DR-1 Triplane Kit Review and Release History

July 9, 2013 – 11:41 am

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By Frederick Boucher with kit history by Alan Bussie Google+ profile

Kit History 

Released in 1956 the FOKKER DR-I [sic] was the fifth model of Aurora’s original six “Famous Fighters” 1/48 World War One aircraft.  This example is kit number 105-69.

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In order, the 5 predecessors (using Aurora punctuation and spelling) were the French Nieuport 11, Sopwith Camel, SE-5 Scout and German Albatross D-3.  (Curiously, although the Sopwith Tripe was one of their final WWI models, it was originally numbered 100.)  In the early 1970s Aurora reworked many of the molds by adding fabric texture and removing raised insignia and data markings, issuing the models as the 700 kit series.  The Dr.I was kit 750.  The triplane was not one of the kits eventually issued by Aurora subsidiary K&B.

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1/48 Scale Northrop F-15A Water Bomber/Fire Tanker from the Great Wall Hobbies P-61 Black Widow

May 31, 2013 – 8:22 pm

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By Steven Krick

History

This build represents the Northrop F-15A Water Bomber, serial number N9768Z.  This aircraft was built originally as serial number 45-59300, which was the first production F-15A Reporter.  59300 was the only F-15A to survive into the mid 1960’s.  It was used for NACA/NASA tests until 1955, when it was sold and registered as XB-FUJ in Mexico.  In Mexico a ‘Droop Snoot’ was installed in the nose section for photo mapping.

It returned to the United States registered as N5093V with a yellow tail scheme.  In 1964 Aero Enterprises installed a 1600 gallon fire retardant tank and operated the aircraft as a fire tanker during the 1964/65 fire seasons.

Cal Nat Airways then acquired the aircraft in 1966 and modified it to a single seater while painting it in the ‘International Orange’ color scheme during the 1966/67 fire season.

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F-15 Fire Bomber circa 1965 (courtesy of Bill Larkins) 

In 1968 the aircraft was sold to TBM, Inc and was lost on September 6, 1968.

As a result of the aircraft’s interesting history, there are very many unique and dramatic paint schemes for this bird.  One scheme has International Red on the tail

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Revell/Monogram 1/48 P-61C Black Widow From Operation Thunderstorm

May 20, 2013 – 2:42 pm

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by Steven Krick

Operation Thunderstorm

In 1945 the US Congress gave $250,000 to the US Weather Bureau to study violent weather, particularly thunderstorms.  In Phase I, the main base for this study was Pinecastle Field, Florida.  It took three months to get the microwave towers and all the test equipment in place. The first flights were made over Orlando by nine specially rigged P-61C aircraft fitted with weather instrumentation and recording devices.  As soon as a storm was detected, the aircraft were dispatched at 5,000 foot intervals up to 25,000 feet.

Phase II of the Operation was conducted at Clinton County Army Air Field in Ohio.  The equipment reached this field in February of 1947.  On this occasion, there were 13 P-61Cs, plus four variants sent by Northrop including two production F-15A’s, the XF-15, and the XF-15A.  Quite a line-up!  Also included was a P-61B sent to TWA for weather testing.  All aircraft got plenty of flight hours and took numerous lightning strikes and hail hits; many of them had Plexiglas nose damage. 

The Operation was suspended in late 1947, with the University of Chicago responsible for assimilating all the data and information.  These results contributed greatly to the knowledge of extreme weather flying and civil aviation safety.

 

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P-61C Decal Search

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