Vietnam war plastic models

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Vietnam war plastic models


Airfix 1/72 scale Douglas A-26 Invader

Airfix 1/72 scale Douglas A-26 Invader

The Douglas A-26 Invader was a light bomber first used in World War 2, for which the Airfix 1/72 scale kit includes markings as well as for its use in Korea.

I modified the kit as best I could to look like the ‘remanufactured’ ones used in Vietnam, but I never got round to adding wing-tip fuel tanks. (I squared off the propellers at least.)

I took this photo in 1994 with a film camera.


35th Scale Huey

Charlie don’t surf

I am fairly sure this 1/35 scale Huey is the Academy kit.

1/35 scale UH-1B

1/35 scale UH-1B

…some reporters asked a door gunner, ‘How can you shoot women and children?’ and he’d answered, ‘It’s easy, you just don’t lead ’em so much.’

— Michael Herr, Dispatches, 1977

The preceding dialog is used also in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film Full Metal Jacket. It is lost on most Brits, whose loyalty is to convention, not to morality, which they do not have. When I explain that, in third world countries at least, women are non-combatants and, although they might carry psychopath genes, their lives of drudgery provide few opportunities for such tendencies to be expressed. Similarly, the children in his gun-sight have not yet had time to express their genetic nature, good or bad. My fellow Brits generally do not agree with the idea that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty, unless the people concerned are their own friends and relatives. The point being that they agree with the sentiment, but for the wrong reason. That matters because unquestioning adherence to convention by large numbers of people is inevitably disastrous. I digress…

Dragon 1/32nd scale figures of US Army soldiers in Vietnam

“I love the smell of napalm—in the morning.”

The four soldiers (by Dragon, if I recall right) constitute a real kit build; every frag and smoke grenade, canteen, insect repellent bottle, arms, legs, head, helmet/hat, is a separate part that must be glued in place and painted.

They are supposed to be 1/35th scale, like the Huey, but they are too large.

Photo of 1/35th scale Huey

One day this war is gonna end…

The UH-1 was originally designated HU-1, hence ‘Huey’.

1/35 scale UH-1


The standing crewman, unlike the other soldiers, is the correct scale.

Model soldiers and real spider

Starship Troopers

“Bug! Bug! Bug!”

Roly the sailmaker in a Huey at Bournemouth Airport

Roly the hang glider sailmaker in a Huey at Bournemouth Airport in 2003. Photo by Gary D.

I do not know what this particular shade of green represents.

Roly started hang gliding in 1974, same as me.

Circling the LZ

Circling the LZ

And here is a guest appearance of Gary D’s huge radio controlled Huey flying at Roly’s place. Photos by Roly.

I cropped the photos, altered the colours, and added some graininess so they look more like they were taken with a film camera in the 1960s.

Nearly down

Nearly down

…choppers fell out of the sky like fat poisoned birds a hundred times a day. After a while I couldn’t get on one without thinking that I must be out of my fucking mind.

— Michael Herr, Dispatches, 1977

Smoke in the LZ

Smoke in the LZ


1/48 scale F-8


Photo of a 48th scale F-8

Last of the gunfighters

The single seat and single engine F-8 Crusader was known as the last of the gunfighters because its successor, the two seat and twin engine F-4 Phantom, was initially a missiles-only interceptor.

Photo of two F-8 jet fighters about to launch from an aircraft carrier

Official Navy photo of two F-8 jet fighters about to launch from an aircraft carrier

A bizarre feature of the F-8, not evident in my 1/48th scale model, was the way the wing tilted upwards (with the aid of a small piston jack) for takeoff and landing. I used that feature as an animation in my 1992 computer-based training program Aerodynamics & Propulsion in an attempt to test the user’s understanding of the relationship between lift and angle of attack. (Flogging dead horses is another of my hobbies…)


Photo of a 1/72nd scale Lockheed U-2

\”All out, all out, all out!\”

The Lockheed U-2 is basically a sailplane with a jet engine from an F-104 Starfighter. This is the 1/72nd scale Airfix kit, which apparently is the same as the Italeri kit. The figures (which do not come with the kit) are each one inch tall.


Photo of a 1/72nd scale OV-1 Mohawk

1/72nd scale OV-1 Mohawk

The Mohawk was a weird airplane in a weird war.


Photo of a 1/48th scale F-4

The inevitable F-4 Phantom

The F-4, initially developed as a navy interceptor, was so good it was also used by the US Air Force and the Marines as well as by the air forces many other countries including Britain. This 1/48th scale model is I think a Hasegawa kit.

48th scale Hasegawa F-4C

This F-4C of the 58th TFTW is the 48th scale Hasegawa kit.

Unlike the Navy model, on this one the canopy is a poor fit. (Why are they different? Everything else is the same!) I will get round to making it better some time.

48th scale Hasegawa  F-4C

F-4C of the 58th TFTW

In this photo I edited out the hanging lines as best I could.

…more F-4s were lost due to out-of-control maneuvering by the pilot than were downed by the enemy.

— George J. Marrett in Trailblazers, Test Pilots in Action by Christopher Hounsfield, 2008 (see my review, Whisky Kilo Two Eight tells all)

48th scale F-4 undersides

48th scale F-4 undersides

Here are the undersides of both models.

1/72 scale F-4

1/72 scale F-4

This is a 1/72 scale F-4 I bought in 1995, when my mother was still alive (I mentioned it to her) but she died before I completed it. Here it is at the back of my office/studio in February 2016. It is 9.5 inches long.

…a group of local pilots were drinking beer around a campfire one night when one of them told the story of how he had been flying in the Owens Valley and every time he got low a military fighter would swoop in and make him a thermal. Everybody laughed, told him he was full of crap, and the story was dismissed as nothing more than a tall tale.

— Mark Stucky in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, March 2009 (link farther down)

In the article, hang glider pilot and astronaut Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky describes flying his 20-ton supersonic F-4 Phantom low in the Owens Valley and repeatedly cycling his afterburners to trigger a thermal for a friend of his in a 20 mph hang glider struggling to find lift. See Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol39/Iss03 Mar 2009 (linked later on this page).

Another F-4 driver was Rich Finley, who designed, built, and flew the Windlord series of early Rogallo wing hang gliders. See under Trial and error in Hang gliding 1973 part 1.

Academy F-4B in inverted flight

My 1/48th scale model of John Trotti’s VW8

And in early 2020, I finished this: Phantom over Vietnam: John Trotti’s F-4 in 1/48th scale


Photo of a 1/72nd scale Piasecki H-21

The Piasecki H-21 ‘flying banana’ in 1/72nd scale

It would seem fitting, ordained, that they should live in the Highlands, among triple canopies, where sudden, contrary mists offered sinister bafflement, where the daily heat and the night-time cold kept you perpetually, increasingly, on edge, where the silences were interrupted only by the sighing of cattle or the rotor-thud of a helicopter, the one sound I know that is both sharp and dull at the same time.

— Michael Herr on the Montagnard tribes people, Dispatches, 1977

The H-21 was soon replaced by the jet-engined UH-1.

1/72 scale Piasecki H-21 by Everard Cunion in 1998

I took this photo of the H-21 in 1998


1/72 scale Bell H-13

Bell H-13

This 1/72nd scale Bell H-13 is a small model.

1/72 scale Bell 47 by Everard Cunion in 1998

I took thos pic of the Bell 47 (H-13) and jeep in 1998


1/72 scale Martin B-57 Canberra

Martin B-57 Canberra

In contrast, this Airfix 1/72 scale Martin B-57 Canberra is fairly large. Originally a British design, the B-57 light bomber was used in Vietnam by the US Air Force and by the Royal Australian Air Force.


Mixed media image of a Lockheed SR-71 in flight

Mixed media image of a Lockheed SR-71 in flight

One of my internet friends combined a photo of my Revell 1/72nd scale SR-71 with this backdrop, putting it on the edge of space. Feel the heat from those exhausts!


Photo of a 1/72nd scale CH-54 Tarhe

CH-54 Tarhe (\’skycrane\’) in 1/72nd scale

I am almost certain this was a Revell kit.

72nd scale Skycrane

The original Thunderbird 2


Esci 1/72 scale F-100 perched on chair back

Perched on back of chair

Vietnam Super Sabre, Esci 1/72nd scale North American F-100


Climbing out from Ubon

Climbing out from Ubon, Thailand. I edited out the hanging lines in this photo.

Gunship, Spectre of Death, my Italeri 1/72nd scale Lockheed AC-130, illuminated by some snippets from Zeybel’s book of the same title

Parachute lift

Hobby Craft 1/48th scale DHC-3 (U-1A) Otter

Parachute lift

Parachute lift, my Hobby Craft 1/48th scale DHC-3 (U-1A) Otter.

Other related

Phantom of the operator—my review of Phantom over Vietnam by John Trotti, 1984

Spring loaded to the freedom position, my review of Hammer from Above, Marine Air Combat over Iraq, by Jay Stout, 2007

External link

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol39/Iss03 Mar 2009

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