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Friday, March 16, 2018

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This week's Aviation Feature

Kodachrome captured World War II in color

The current ease of making digital color photographs is a taken-for-granted marvel that aviation photographers of earlier generations lacked.
The search for practical and permanent color photography began in the mid-19th Century. Early processes were complex and far from user-friendly.
The color revolution that changed all that was the introduction by Kodak of Kodachrome color transparency film for movies and slides in 1935 and 1936. By 1938, improvements in the Kodachrome developing process gave this color film superior archival longevity in dark storage when compared to most other color film processes.
That color stability has been of vital value to researchers and anyone pursuing color imagery dating back to before World War II.

Winterized Cessna Crane version of the UC-78 posed for the Kodachrome beauty shot. (Cessna via Fred LePage)
Back then, Kodachrome had an ASA (ISO) speed rating of 10 — pretty slow by today’s standards, but workable.
Kodachrome slides found their way overseas with individual airmen who often shot 35-millimeter slides in simple Argus cameras or more sophisticated Kodak models.

“The Shack” was an Eighth Air Force B-24J Liberator photographed at its base in England during World War II. Kodachrome film kept its colors fresh over the years. The partially blanked out artwork is due to the later application of armor plate to protect the cockpit. (Brown collection, USAFA)
The military took 35-millimeter Kodachrome into battle, creating images that, when well-stored, are as brilliant today as they were in the 1940s.
When feasible, some military photographers used large 4″x5″ Kodachrome sheet film to record remarkable color images.

When Boeing built a batch of DB-7B bombers as contract variants of the Douglas A-20 for a 1940 British order, a Boeing photographer used large format 4″x5″ Kodachrome film to capture one of the bombers. The pattern of notches in the lower left of the film is unique to Kodachrome sheet film to enable experienced darkroom technicians to identify the type of film in total darkness. (Boeing via Tom Cole)
Since Kodachrome was offered in 16-millimeter movie format as well, some motion-picture color footage was shot in gun cameras, offering a rare look at World War II aerial combat in color.
When other contemporary color film emulsions faded, turning magenta or orange and losing their historic or aesthetic value, Kodachrome remains vibrant, as the photos accompanying this article show.

Manual labor hoisted a Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter aboard a small training aircraft carrier in 1943. A clue to the time in the war comes from the bright red outline on the fuselage star insignia, used only briefly that year. This is one of a large collection of Kodachromes preserved by the Navy and placed in the National Archives for safekeeping. (U.S. Navy)
The dawn of the digital age reduced the need for Kodachrome film. The last roll of Kodachrome color slide film departed the Kodak plant in 2009, although rumors abound that the company is considering a relaunch of the brand in keeping with other retro items like vinyl recordings that are enjoying a newfound younger audience.

A wartime 4″x5″ Kodachrome from the Library of Congress depicts early Allison-engined Mustangs in a mix of U.S. and British markings at the North American Aviation facility at Inglewood, Calif. (Library of Congress)
If modern photography makes it possible to capture incredible imagery digitally with no film and no external wet processing labs, there’s still an old-school mystique about getting the right exposure on Kodachrome film — something so tangible that it is the only film to gain its own popular song, Paul Simon’s 1973 ode called simply “Kodachrome.”


Kodachrome interior view of a pre-war B-17, probably a B-model, shows the complicated early waist gun mount. Historians look for details in vintage color photography like the aluminum-silver paint on the inside of this B-17’s fuselage. (Library of Congress)

In 1944, this P-40N was photographed at Kweilin, China, by Gen. Laurence Kuter using 35mm Kodachrome. The color slide reveals a subtly lighter blue border around the national insignia on this American fighter that shared the skies with Japanese adversaries. The blue rim covered a short-lived attempt to introduce a red border on U.S. aircraft insignia in 1943 that was quickly overpainted in the Pacific where any overt use of red paint could be mistaken at first glance for the red in Japanese markings. (Kuter/USAFA)

Kodachrome reveals a trait of wartime olive drab paint — it faded quickly in the sun to a shade of tan, as seen on this Eighth Air Force B-17G in England. The cheek window machine gun mount was a later addition, hence its paint is much different from the old original olive drab-turned-tan. (Army Air Forces photo)

Candid 1944 Kodachrome slide captured the rugged visage of Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault of Flying Tigers fame, center, at the airfield in Kweilin, China. (Kuter/USAFA)

Lt. Col. David Schilling’s P-47 Thunderbolt, nicknamed “Hairless Joe,” lined up with another P-47 for takeoff from the 56th Fighter Group’s home at Boxstead airfield in England in 1944 or 1945. All the grit and power of a fighter sweep is captured in this rare color view that survives because of the long-lasting Kodachrome emulsion. (Brown/USAFA)

Friday, March 2, 2018


Tell us about your latest project and send your pictures to ( so it can be shared here.

Pica WACO biplane build:

Many years ago I purchased the collection of a deceased local modeler and among the many items included in the lot, was a partially completed Pica kit of the Waco YMF 3 biplane.

Fuselage Plan Sheet 1

Wing Plan Sheet 2

I have always admired the Waco line of biplanes although I admit that my knowledge of the various models in the Waco line-up was very limited to say the least. The Pica manufacturer describes the kit as a semi-scale 1/6 size Waco YMF-3.

It will be a long time before our Waco will be looking anything like this.

The Webra 61 Speed fits perfectly in the wooden engine mount but we are thinking that a four stroke would be more appropriate here. We have a Surpass 70 that was fitted with a new set of bearings that could possible do the job.

The plan calls for a single aileron servo to be mounted at the wing centreline moving the ailerons through a wire and bell crank system but we elected to actuate the ailerons with dual servos mounted at the control horne wing station.

The attachment of the interplane struts to the upper and lower wing panels is detailed above and below.

We elected to set up the ailerons with a servo mounted in each lower wing panel and located at approximately the control horn station. Since the wing section is not very deep we looked for the smallest pair of servo that we had, these happened to be a pair of never used Airtronic servos. To use these servos on our Spektrun radio system the pinout had to be modified to be compatible with Futaba connectors.
This process involved identifying the three output airtronic wires and re-attaching them to the appropriate location on the Futaba connector.
Through trial and error we discovered that the Airtronics lead with the white line is actually the positive. From there it was straight forward; the other end lead had to be the signal and the center lead is the negative.

Nylon hinge tange is used to attach the ailerons to the wing structure. I am skeptical about the integrity of this form of hinging but because there are three hinge points there will be a certain degree of redundancy if one fails.

Sheeting will be required around the servo cutouts to provide a surface to stick the covering material to.

Lower wing nearing completion.

 Drilling holes for wing attachment is a job that I absolutely detest since there is just one chance to get it right. The wing and the fuselage have to be held in as near perfect alignment while drilling pilot holes for hold down bolts and front dowl.  The care taken with this process seems to have paid off in this case; with the components attached in place, wing alignment is well within eye pleasing tolerances.
Hinging and mounting Tail Feathers

The Pica plans are not too clear on the details of the relationship between the vertical fin and the horizontal tail plane so we went to and downloaded their Waco F-3 plan which is clearer on the positioning of the tail components.

Hinging and fitting Tail Feathers

The spars in the tail surfaces are made from spruce which is hard to slot so, we decided to use Robart Steel Point Hinge Points (#308). These hinges require drilled holes for insertion into the structure. The only time consuming procedure was the forming of the square recess required to bury the clevises which is essential for a minimum surface gap. The original Gorilla glue proved ideal for attaching the hinge points to the structure because if its gap filling qualities. Care not to use it too liberally proved a wise move. Soaking the moving clevises in baby oil to negate the chances of  any excess glue inhibiting movement was also a good idea because, this very thing occurred with one of the hinges and the glue was easily removed because of the presence of the oil. 

To be continued..............