by Tommy H. Thomason

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Brief History of the Rescue Arrow

David Collier asked when the red rescue arrow was introduced. The short answer is I don't know for sure, but it would appear to be circa 1957 (Elliott, on whom I normally rely, wrote in one of his Monogram Color Guides that he had been unable to find a directive for its initial use).

The rescue arrow was undoubtedly introduced to guide an uninformed rescuer in opening the canopy of a crashed Navy airplane. Up until at least the mid 1950s, the instructions to do so, if present at all, were marked on the fuselage in fine print. What was worse, the canopy control might very well not be near the entry to the cockpit and jet canopies were increasing made of tougher stuff than heretofore, making breaking one for entry a difficult proposition.

The earliest prominent rescue marking I could find in a brief search (and the only one on a blue airplane) was on a F9F-8 Cougar. I don't know the date of the photo but it was possibly taken during a cruise between November 1955 and August 1956 aboard Ticonderoga.
Note that the canopy release is on the very back of the canopy, not the most obvious place to look. The arrow guides the rescuer from the canopy sill back to it. However, this appears to be a very nonstandard marking. This was the eventual marking on gray/white Cougars.

The rescue arrow clearly wasn't introduced with the change to gray/white markings. None of the Navy jets I looked at that were the first with the new color scheme had it. In a review of dated photos of various airplane types, I saw no rescue arrows in any picture taken in 1956 but usually in pictures taken in 1957. There is a possibility that Douglas led the way. This is an early A4D-1 on the initial at-sea trials.
The red(ish) circle in the lower right side of the national insignia is the location of the canopy release handle. Just to the upper right side of the circle enclosing the star is what may be a small red arrow pointing to it.
The above is a different flight-test A4D-1 with a similar marking that is clearly an arrow.

However, on initial-production A4D-1s, which were among the first Navy airplanes to be delivered in the gray/white scheme, the identification of the canopy release was considerably more subtle.

At some early point in A4D production, it was decided that a canopy-jettison capability should be added and its location made a little more obvious but not as obvious as the arrow was to become.

The standard red rescue arrow was present on this A4D-1 aboard Randolph in early 1957 to direct attention to the canopy release handle since it did not yet have the canopy jettison capability.
(The addition of canopy jettison, as opposed to release, is why there are occasionally two rescue arrows on the left side of an A4D.)

The F4D followed the same evolution. No rescue marking on the early production airplanes, a small red arrow as shown here on a very early deployed Skyray, and then the standard large one.

In September 1962, a directive was issued to change the color of the rescue arrow from red to yellow.
The F4H-1 Phantoms, however, had yellow rescue arrows from its first flight in May 1958.
(The F8U-3, which flew a week or so later in early June, had a red rescue arrow.)

My guess is that the rescue arrow was changed red to yellow to avoid the connotation of danger, which would be off putting to the nonprofessional rescuer, while still attracting attention.

Rick Morgan noted:  The yellow/black canopy jettison markings seem to align with use of the colors for all controls that make things leave the aircraft.  EA-6s (and others I suspect) actually de-activated those handles in the about 1990 because while they’d never been used for a real emergency we had several cases where untrained ground crew pulled the handles thinking that was the way to open the canopy on deck.   

More background and non-standard examples would be very welcome...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Trumpeter 1/48 A3D Skywarrior Yet Again

As the previous post states, I haven't seen the kit first hand. I have read comments about the engine nacelle not looking "right". However, it wasn't until I saw the pictures in this detailed and well illustrated build thread that a possible problem became apparent:

It's hard to tell from a photo of a model, but it looks like the slight bulge downward of the engine inlet and nacelle have not been properly represented. The J57 engines had their accessories mounted on the bottom of the engine, requiring the cowling to not be symmetrical around the centerline of the engine.

The inlet lip itself is not quite circular, being deeper than the width and a bit more round (bigger diameter) at the top than at the bottom:

Another frequently mentioned observation about the recently issued Trumpeter KA-3B kit is that the refueling drogue is far too big for 1/48 scale. Here is a picture of a Skywarrior with a partially streamed drogue for reference.
The actual drogue is variously reported as being 24" and 30" in diameter when streamed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Trumpeter 1/48 A-3 Skywarrior One More Time

The A3D/A-3 Skywarrior is one of the airplanes that I've accumulated quite a bit of material on over the years. Although it isn't my scale so I haven't seen it first hand, I did post some observations on errors in the kit (see for example). However, I was recently a little chagrined to be informed that yet another error with the kit is one I would not have noticed if I'd been given the opportunity to comment on it in the design process.

It turns out (see that the aft bomb bay door actuators are located at the very front of the main-landing-gear wheel well. That's a minor detail since it wouldn't be easy to model that area in a meaningful way even in 1/48th scale. However, it does mean that the bomb bay doors actually extend aft of the bulkhead between the aft end of the bomb bay and the main-landing-gear wheel well, contrary to what I would have assumed, and doesn't end there as Trumpeter would have it.

I would also have assumed that the bomb-bay door actuation at the back end of bomb bay would be the same as the front end, an actuator driving a linkage:
At the moment, I don't know if there's a similar linkage on the aft side of the aft bomb-bay bulkhead or the actuator acted on a torque tube in the axis of the bomb-bay door hinge line.

In Trumpeter and my defense, the location of the aft edge of the bomb bay doors is generally obscured by the main landing gear. However, if you look very closely from the right angle...