15 September, 2013

Profile 81 - BEGINNING: "879" F-100D Super Sabre of the 531st TFS

Last week, I was asked, "Is drawing airplanes hard work?"

Hmmm.  Interesting question.

Have a look at my pencil sketch above—it's an F-100D of the 531st TFS based at Misawa AB sometime in 1963.

The hard part, getting the markings established, is pretty much done. Thanks to a half-a-dozen people around the world, I was able to learn that 879 had as many as seven combinations of markings applied between 1960 and 1965.  And the stakes were high to get it right for 1963—the finished piece will go on display as a testimony of gratitude between one guy to another.  In this case, historical precision is no mere feature, it's an integral part of the commission.

I can't begin to count how much 'work' went into these people's sifting, sorting and cross checking pictures, dates, places... researching markings is hard work.  It takes experience, intuition and, of course, a stack of photos.

Now, it's time for the hard part, actually doing the artwork.

Have another look.

Right now, 879 is, of course, a gray pencil doodle.  But, she'll come to life as she was—a sharp silver shark splashed with slices of red, white and blue.  Such paint jobs (there are some really wild pre-'65 color schemes out there) were the order of the day.  Looking through hundreds of F-100, F-101 and F-102 photos, it's tempting to believe that the USAF had a graphic-design department staffed with Art School beatniks.

And how hard will actually doing the airplane be?  (laughs).  No idea yet...I joke that the busy parking lot outside my Studio is a time machine.  I park my car in the bright of morning and fifteen minutes later, it's night time and the only car left.  So...maybe...45 minutes of hard work?


Anyway, by appearance, 1963 seems like an easy time.  But I know better.  There are no easy times.  Ever.  The illusion of hard vs. easy is simply a matter of choosing which details to pay attention to.

In 1963, America was RIGHT on the bubble between the prosperity and paranoia of the Cold War and the rage and change of The Vietnam Era...and if you want to "see" what it looked like when the bubble popped (click here)...

Did you click?

Really...do so (it's not that hard).

So.  Is drawing airplanes hard work?

Not really.  It's just life.

Oh.  And here are a few wild F-100's.  Before they received the much more workman paint jobs of green, dark green and tan.*

Photo: Vince Reynolds via Replica In Scale

Photo: Phillip Friddell via Replica In Scale

Photo: R. Franke, via Replica In Scale

*That'd be the other side of the bubble called "Vietnam."