09 June, 2012

Profile 67 - UPDATE "5?" as flown by Joe Foss

Here you go - it's about 50% done and the obvious parts need to be masked in... but I'm on schedule!  Two more posts after this one and this might be the most accurate rendering of Joe's F4F.  At least it will crack the top 100.  I think.

A question I often get is this - "What do you use for references?"

And that's a good question; the answer is simple.  "Whatever I can get my hands on."

Right now, within a 12' radius, there are no fewer than 100 different drawings of F4F Wildcats circa 1942.  And those are just books.  There are also other people involved - smarter, sharper and unafraid to either share knowledge and/or correct my errors. 

But you know what?  None of them - books or bookworms - quite agree!  So in the end, I have to sort the facts and make a call.  Kind of like an eeny-meeny-miny-mo game.   


A couple years ago, I was prowling around a trio of derelict SBD Dauntless dive bombers.  Two of them happened to have been painted in the 1942 Navy scheme.  My buddy - a man who shall remain nameless for reasons that will be obvious in about two seconds - handed me his pocket knife and said, "Cut a piece of that fabric off.  You might need it some day."

And well-I'll-be-damned.  He was right.

Look below - those are actual pieces of control-surface fabric from the the two SBDs.  Strip away the mold, the aging, the fading...add some hot sun, cold rain, coral dust, oil, grime...and you've got the livery of an F4F-4 Wildcat circa Fall, 1942, Guadalcanal.  

It's kind of like my buddy Steve and his recipe for making wild duck edible - add this, do that... by the time it gets to the table, it's been altered so much, it's "Duck" by DNA only.  

In my pointless pursuit of perfection, my rendering will soon get into the mix of options.  Will mine be "the most accurate color rendering of all"?  Well, it's probably the only available profile illustration that was based on actual 1942 color* chips.  

But like Steve's duck, you'll need to take that with a grain of salt - and whatever else he throws in to make it palatable.  

See you next week!

*Technically, the color is called "non-specular blue-gray."