Flight 12 - Flying Tigers DC-8 Incident in Bien Hoa Vietnam

May 23, 2016 – 2:47 pm

Dan was kind enough to share a fascinating story from the Vietnam war involving a Flying Tigers DC-8.  I have never heard this or found any reference on it, but I knew it would be of interest - AB

I just wanted you to know that May 12, 1969, I boarded a stretch DC 8, Flying Tiger Airlines at Bien Hoa.  The aircraft had a big ‘T’ on the tail and looked like the Revell/Lodela kit (below).   The aircraft was hit by mortar fire on take-off.


All civilian aircraft were to be out by 6 pm, but a monsoon came in at 5:30 that was like black night all the way to the sky, with heavy rain and a lot of lightning.  Air Force crews could not refuel with lightning within a mile and a half, but it became apparent it was necessary if we were to leave.   So after 8 pm, with lightning still within half a mile, they started fueling it and simultaneously crammed all 222 of us in as quickly as possible.

Mortars had already begun to drop while I was on the ramp.  The pilot started the engines while they were still fueling.  I could feel their heat while boarding  When the two guys behind me were on, the door shut and the plane immediately started rolling.

When the pilot reached the north end of the runway, he brought the Stretch 8 around like a cat, locking right brakes and powering up the left engines. As he lined it up on the outside runway headed south, I could see mortar flashes outside.

There were no bulkheads in the aircraft, so you could see all the way to the cabin.  So when the pilot rotated,  the take-off angle looked intense from the back in seat 220 (of 222).  We were just about to clear the ground and the mortar exploded right before the left rear stabilizer.  The explosion forced the nose all the way back down at an angle to the right, pushing the nose gear into the tarmac.  By the grace of God the aircraft then bounced back up to the left, visibly twisting the fuselage.  We hung on the barest of lift and thrust, swinging right to left, left to right for what seemed like forever.  The pilot eventually got her straightened out but we were very low…low enough to clip the trees with our main gear about 2 miles south of the runway. Finally, the aircraft gained some altitude.  Then the pilot announced the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my life:    “We’re five miles out…..and at 200 feet….I think we’re going to make it”

There were shrapnel holes through the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the wind through those holes made the weirdest harmonics you have ever heard……all the way to Yakota, slow and low.  The tail section creaked and groaned all the way there.  The flight engineer kept coming back and checking on it throughout the flight . We landed…very gently…around 5:30 am.

When the cabin doors opened at Yakota, they announced it was the “…last chance to buy Japanese cameras.”  Everyone hurried inside the terminal except the Captain and me.  I came from an Air Force family, so I walked back to the back of the aircraft to see the damage.  He met me back there. I shook his hand and we both stared at the damage.  I told him I wasn’t sure we were going to make it back there.  He said he wasn’t sure either. The Air Force crews fueled us up all the way, used tin snips to cut off the torn, exposed metal and used a special duct tape to cover the holes.

The one thing I will always remember is when he said, “I think we’re going to make it….” followed by a very audible intake of breath from everyone in there, including  me :)

It was Flight 12…I still have the ticket stub.  I was headed home on emergency leave.

Dan Mauldin


March 12, 2015 – 4:02 pm

By Frank Leimbek


Two locomotives met at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, signaling the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  This is now the Golden Spike National Historic Site located in Utah north of the Great Salt Lake.  Replicas of the two engines meet there again during reenactments.  The wide open spaces and the gently rolling hills make it a beautifully poignant location.


The completed models 

When I saw a model of the General offered for sale on the Internet, I thought it might make a very cool model of the Golden Spike meeting.  Of course I would need two models.  I have a garden railroad in 1/29 scale and my father and grandfather worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  I have specialized in 1/32 scale aircraft for many years.  In other words, I like modeling and railroading so this was a great project.

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ITC (Ideal Toy Company) Model Kit History and Cam-A-Matic Action (Used in the Halibut, USS Enterprise, Thor, Mercer, Duesenburg and Battling Betsy)

January 16, 2015 – 7:46 pm

by Alan Bussie

Every article starts with inspiration.  In this case, I wish to thank Dusty Rhodes.  He located critical information, the wonderful advertisement/article in Boy’s Life that is reproduced here and valued insight as well. 

Almost every die-hard kit collector has heard of the ITC Thor Missile Base and Halibut Submarine models.  The Thor is among (or is) the most valuable of all collectable models and the Halibut and other ITC Cam-A-Matic action kits are close behind.   Both kits have fantastic action features.  The Thor is automatically removed from the shelter, taken over the launcher, raised into position then fired!  The Halibut dives, surfaces then removes a Regulus II missile from the hanger and fires it!  They were (and still are) the most complicated operating plastic model kits ever created.  But how did Ideal Toy Company come into being, and what was Cam-A-Matic action?

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(Thor restored box art courtesy of www.Boxartden.com) 

Penny Candy and Teddy Bears

Ideal Toy Company was founded by Morris and Rose Michtom.  Both were Jewish-Russian immigrants.  Morris came to New York in the 1897/99 time period and Rose came over in 1899.  He was penniless and soon married Rose.  They were a hard-working and very enterprising couple; soon had a store at 404 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn, NY that sold candy, notions and other penny items.  Rose was also a seamstress, and to help make ends meet, she sewed plush toys that were also sold in the store.  They both became American citizens in 1902.

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Hawk Beta One Atomic Bomber XAB-1 Kit Review

December 18, 2014 – 3:48 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit history by Alan Bussie


In the salad days of the early atomic and jet ages, Cold War fears pushed the envelope of aerospace design and an atomic powered strategic bomber was seriously considered.  Convair, Lockheed and Northrop (perhaps others) submitted proposals for such a plane and reactor-fuel concept engines were built.  And if a nuclear powered jet bomber isn’t growling-Geiger counter-cool enough for you, consider the zany nuclear powered Mach III SLAM (Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile) of Project Pluto† streaking just above the tree tops, spewing radioactive particles in its wake and lobbing H-bombs.  Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s dream come true!

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SLAM (Project Pluto), three popular Atomic Bomber concepts and the nuclear turbojet engine (click any to enlarge) 

USAF was not the only air force to explore an aerial nuke plant- the Soviets did, too.  And Hawk was not the only model company to kit a fanciful model of that radiant subject.  Aurora kited the Russian Nuclear Powered Bomber shown below and also reviewed on this website.

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The original magazine article and the resulting Aurora Kit (click any to enlarge) 

Your humble reviewer built this marvellous model aeons ago - I still have the parasite fighters from it!  It was, in the lexicon of the era, one cool kit!

“hawk” or “Hawk”?

OK, was it hawk or Hawk? Their logo was ‘always’ spelled in lowercase. Yet the company name as printed on the instruction sheet is capitalized.  While I personally want to use hawk, henceforth I will punctuate it as a proper name: “Hawk.”

Kit History

Hawk, like Aurora, liked to be first to put new concepts into a kit.  Combining Atomic Power and the parasite fighters, Hawk issued this kit in 1959, shortly after conceptual drawings of Nuclear Powered Bombers appeared in popular magazines.  The first issue was in a sturdy hardbox (a thick cardboard upper box lid and tray, with the top covered with a lithographed paper ’slick) and was given part number 514-98.  This exact artwork layout was used in the second issue (roughly 1961) with no changes other than the part number.  It was changed to 514-100.



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Aurora’s Boeing Bomarc IM-99 (CIM-10B) With Launcher Kit Review

December 18, 2014 – 1:19 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit history by Alan Bussie 


In the chill of the Cold War a golden age of aviation inspired many new aerospace vehicles, including surface-to-air missiles.  One was the supersonic, long-range anti-aircraft Bomarc missile.  The USAF originally categorized it as a fighter aircraft and designated it F-99.  Later they re-designating it IM-99A and IM-99B after 1955, and finally CIM-10 after the McNamara Sept. 1962 dumb-down.  


Bomarc Base #1 with missiles in launch position (courtesy Wikipedia) 

Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it isn’t so strange that I never saw them at my hometown hobby outlets.  In fact, I was not even aware that many existed until the advent of online sites.

Kit History 

Aurora wasted little time detecting and acquiring information to cut tooling and produce injection molded models of those contemporary subjects.   Their goal was to be to market first with the latest - and they were!  The Boeing “Bomarc IM-99 Intercepter- [sic] Missile With Mobile Launching Platform- Newest Weapon for America’s Defense” was released in 1958.  Aurora scaled it to 1/48.  It was packaged in an Aurora standard “long box” carton, a sturdy cardboard conventional lid-tray design.  Dramatic box art shows a Bomarc searing skyward from its launcher into the atmosphere to smite commie inbounds.  In an effort to maximize mold utilization, Aurora issued this model as two kits (just like the Regulus II).  377-198, the subject of this review, was the Bomarc with a working launching.  At nearly double the price, this kit featured completely new box artwork, decals and instructions.  The traditional Aurora stand was not included, presumably because the launcher doubles as one.  

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Monogram’s Bell GAM-63 Rascal Missile - Kit Review

December 17, 2014 – 9:50 pm

by Fred Boucher


As the Cold War deepened, aerospace companies developed delivery systems for nukes that lessened hazards to pilots.  Cruise missiles and “stand off” weapons were developed and deployed and model companies developed and delivered kits of them almost as fast as the military received the real things - or sooner, as in the case of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal!


Rascal on the transporter 

Monogram Models, Inc created this amazing 1/48 model of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal.  It was released in 1958, with the kit number PD42-98; “-98″ was the recommended retail price of a whopping 98¢!  More than just a model attack missile, this kit included a tractor with a transporter loader, and a trio of figures.  It also boasted “action” features such as folding missile fins and a positionable loader.  Like many of the vintage missile models reviewed, this model was a surprise to me.


PD-42-98 Rascal GAM-63 Missile by Monogram 

As amazing as this model is, it was only released by Monogram for a short time, perhaps because Strategic Air Command did not field the weapon. But more likely it was because model missile sales, after great initial success, completely stalled.  This lead to very short issues of one to three years on average.  This has made them very popular among collectors today.

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Aurora’s Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne - Kit Review

December 17, 2014 – 6:30 pm

By Fred Boucher

with kit release history by Alan Bussie 


Your humble reviewer has been planning to present this model for years as the Cheyenne has always intrigued me.  The AH-56 was an aesthetically odd helicopter designed in the aerodynamic transient era of rounded and squared contours.  It had an airplane propeller for thrust and a great looking airframe behind a goofy looking canopy and nose that resembled a cartoon AV8 Harrier!  Yet the machine was so fast that during test flights nobody had a helicopter that could keep up with it.  Army aviation had to procure some refurbished WWII P-51 Mustangs to chase this raging rotorwing across the sky!  The AH-56 was able to perform aerobatics and there are many minutes of AH-56 video available on the internet.

The AH-56 Cheyenne Story

AH-56 was designed to fit the requirements of the US Army’s Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program (1964-71).  The helicopter won the competition and the first prototype flew (unofficially) in September 1966.  AH-56 was expected to enter service in 1968, but the program was terminated and the helicopter never advanced beyond prototype stage.


While the AAFSS was won by the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne, Bell had entered a scaled-down version of its Iroquois Warrior and the other competitor was the Sikorsky (S-66) (1964) which looked similar to the AH-56A Cheyenne, but had a Rotorprop tail rotor which could rotate on it’s axis through 90 degrees to act both as an anti-torque rotor or as a pusher, thereby transforming the S-66 into a compound aircraft in cruising flight.

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Vintage Modeling - ITC’s Stinson Tri-motor Model U

December 17, 2014 – 5:26 pm

By Dennis Sparks

(additional kit photos by Alan Bussie)

This is one of several small articles on vintage plastic modeling, focusing primarily on the models that my father built between about 1955 and 1970.

Dad was born in 1930, and like many boys of that era, he built balsa wood flying models. During WWII, he also assembled and painted kits of solid wood scale model aeroplanes as school projects.   These were intended to be used as identification aids in the war effort, but they were later supplanted by the better known mass-produced black solid rubber models.

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A variety of early solid wood scale model kits, including the rarest of them all - the Maircraft DC-3 in 1/48 scale (lower right)

(click on any to enlarge) 

As an adult, he turned to building and flying control-line aircraft that were powered by glow-ignition engines.  But living in a small mobile home with a wife and three children placed severe storage limits for his flying models in addition to curtailing his hobby budget.  And so by about 1955 he had returned to scale modeling, starting with the “mixed media” kits of the era - solid balsa models with a few injection molded plastic detail parts.  He continued with some of the earliest all-plastic models as they became available.

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Vintage Modeling- Revell’s Regulus II (Vought SSM-N-9/RGM-15)

December 17, 2014 – 4:28 pm

By Dennis Sparks

(Box photos courtesy of Alan Bussie at Oldmodelkits.com)

The History

Chance Vought’s Regulus was one of the forerunners of the modern cruise missile.  Its airframe was a simple cylindrical fuselage with only small swept wings and a single vertical tail surface.  Powered by an Allison J-33 jet engine of 4600 lbs. thrust and with a pair of strap-on RATO units that provided 33,000 lbs. thrust each for 2.2 seconds, the Regulus was designed to be launched from a ramp mounted on the deck of either a surfaced submarine or a larger warship.  Armed with the 40-50 kiloton W5 or the 1-2 megaton W27 nuclear warhead and with a range of about 500 miles, the subsonic Regulus was ultimately deployed on five US Navy submarines, four cruisers and five aircraft carriers, serving from 1955 until 1964.   One of the few surviving Regulus missiles can be seen on board the submarine USS Growler, which is now on display alongside the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid museum in New York.


Restored Regulus I Missile (courtesy of weaponsman) 

With the rapid advances being made in aerodynamics at the time, development of the more advanced version was already well underway by the time the Regulus had reached operational status.  Powered by the much larger GE J-79 engine, the Regulus II was designed to fly at speeds greater than Mach 2, at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet, and to have a longer range.

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Aurora’s Chance Vought Regulus II Guided Missile Kit Review

November 11, 2014 – 4:03 pm

By Fred Boucher


In a golden age of aviation tarnished by the Cold War, many new aircraft were produced, including what became known as cruise missiles.   One was the mach 2 Chance Vought SSM-N-9 Regulus II.   Aurora was always quick to machine molds for injection molded kits of warfare’s latest & greatest technical achievements, and the Regulus II supersonic cruise missile was no exception.  Issued in 1958 as kit 132-129, it scales to 1/48.  The “129” was Aurora’s MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price $1.29), a part of the box despised by retailers since they often wanted to set their own price by demand.  Aurora also issued a kit of the missile with a ground launcher, kit 378-249.


Kit #132-129, still in the factory seal

Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it is not so strange that I never saw them at my childhood hobby outlets:  City Cycle Hobby Shop, Bell or Davis Drug Stores, Value Village, Kresge, Woolworths, Sears, or JC Pennys.  In fact,  I never even knew most such kits existed until the advent of online sites!

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