Got this baby all sighted in

For those of you who caught my last post of the M198 155mm howitzer for my niece, it’s now time to start doing some models for me. As I mentioned to @davidgal2 who served in Vietnam I was going to build my next to models of 2 of my favorite airplanes: The Douglass A1-H sky raider aka “Sandy” and truly one of the most iconic planes ever made the F4-B Phantom which are still in operational use (including in Iran). Since I was in elementary school in VIetnam I certainly didn’t get to see these in action there, but as I spent a reasonable amount of my childhood in Israel I used to see both of these there (don’t worry I am getting to how the glowforge totally saved the day here). I am starting with the Skyraider, which for those unfamiliar is a mind blowing single engine close-air support strike fighter-bomber that was built in WWII but didn’t get out to the fleet in time before the war ended; but to put it in perspective if it had they could have flown the London-Berlin bombing runs (admittedly with half the load but 40% faster) and unlike a B-17 it was a viscous fighter able to outperform pretty much anything in the sky with its 3000hp 18-cylinder Wright-Cyclone engine. And unlike the B-17s who dropped their bombs from 20,000’ and had accuracies of miles from the target despite the myth of the Norden bomb sight, the A1 typically flew below rooftop height and delivered the bombs up close and personal from 30-50’. It fought even through the jet age in Korea where they recorded air-to-air kills against North korean Mig-15s. Later in Vietnam they remained in service even as jets became supersonic and missiles became the weapon of choice against aircraft. The A1-h was famous in its “Sandy” role which was to. escort the search and rescue jolly green giant helicopters and protect the rescue operation and huge numbers of downed pilots owe their lives to the skyraider. The pilots who flew Sandy missions often came back with tree branches stuck into the bomb racks

In this case I am building the Tamiya 1/48 A1-H (they also have the A1-J). It was one of the first aircraft to use a reflecting gun sight (looked similar to a modern HUD display). In the model this is a molded clear plastic part with a lot of intricate bends to make it fit into the notches on the instrument panel. Anyone who has built scale models knows the clear parts are often very twichy and the part sprung out of place as I was getting ready to cement it in place and ended up invisibly on the floor I was really bummed as it is a very visible part on display. I realized with the Glowforge I could cut a simple profile (from outside the plane it is hard to see) from medium clear acrylic.

So I made a tiny profile in cad (essentially a cube with a slab to be the reflector. It took a grand 6 seconds to make. I then applied a strip of 2mm Tamiya flexible masking tape and then airbrushed the part with Nato Black (a very flat grayish black) which puts a frame around the “glass” slab. The base got painted on top with high-gloss black primer and then the Mission Models chrome paint to simulate the mirror

Masked the center. Note the green gunk I a tacky putty to hold it in place while painting it

tape strip

I use a penny for scale as a banana would dwarf this:

Oh I have to fix that helmet back. You can see the sight in place

looking through the glass on the chrome reflector

The gold visor reflecting off the “mirror”. The black area hasn’t gotten weathered yet, it will be totally grungy later


Thank you for sharing all of this. Very impressed.




My ultimate plan is (well actually that’s to win Powerball and buy my own tropical island and a second one nearby with a hollowed out skull-shape volcano to be my makerspace-lair) but for the diorama to be a piece of draft board and score a grid shape into the top and then coat it with the AK Interactive Concrete texture matching the look/feel of the Da Nang airbase (you can reinforce the appearance of the concrete expansion lines by running a thread back and forth into the groove of the draft board)

reference photo (note this was a South Vietnamese airforce skyraider as the US eventually gave hundreds to the RVNAF towards the end of the war - although this photo dates to 1967):


As additional trivia, the exhaust stains on the model at the top seems exaggerated, but back in the era of radial engines there were several reasons for this, most warplanes deliberately ran the mixture a bit rich so as to not stall when you suddenly opened the throttles (and not burn your valves off) but a much bigger problem is in a radial engine some of the cylinders are upside down, so oil in the crankcase tended to end up seeping around the piston rings (machining tolerances of the era would be totally unacceptable today even for the cheapest lawnmower engine) so one important task before starting one of these beasts was to hand pull the propeller around a few times to cycle the valves and get that oil to fall out into the exhaust (some of course fell out into the intake plenum) so there was often a lot of oil in those lower cylinders so basically like a Diesel engine you had a lot of soot in the exhaust. Failing to do this could result in the engine experiencing hydraulic lock from trying to compress the oil (not compressible) which would blow the head off the cylinder (and probably some very choice words from your crew chief!)

Ground crew in 1945 rotating the propellers of a B-29 at Roswell (now they just have the aliens do it I guess)


Your attention to detail and patience are amazing. Can’t wait to see the finished product. :blush:


Where were you based, if you don’t mind me asking?


We landed in Chu Lai when we first arrived in country, and were moved around a lot. We were based on landing zones LZ’s and had to move to support the infantry. We could see monkey mountain which was near Danang when we were on LZ Center. My last station was on LZ East where we were over run.

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