Author Topic: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style  (Read 10919 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

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Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« on: May 21, 2014, 01:41:14 AM »
Here's another Reporter profile. This is the first profile I've done with a pinup and it works pretty well on the Widow. This is the first part of a multi-part series that will follow the "what if" history of this airframe. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 1: Bikini to Blizzard

'Over Exposed!' (44-71999) was an F-15A Reporter photo reconnaissance aircraft—hence the name—that participated in Operation Crossroads, the 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Photographic aircraft displayed a black square with a yellow 'F' on the vertical tail. Yellow bands were painted on the fuselage, outer wings, and, in some cases, engine nacelles of the participating aircraft, and the last three digits of the aircraft serial number were placed aft of the fuselage band. There was a very liberal use of aircraft nicknames and nose art, some comical, others more serious minded, during Operation Crossroads and 'Over Exposed' (44-71999) was no exception.



The 311th Reconnaissance Wing assigned to the Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, was the Army Air Forces' world-wide photographic and mapping unit. All mapping and charting agencies of the United States government were dependent on it for their area photography. From 1946 through 1949 the 311th was engaged in hundreds of separate projects. One of the most important projects of the 311th Wing in 1946 and 1947 was Operation Nanook, which consisted of the aerial mapping of parts of Greenland (Project Eardrum) and the establishment of weather stations in the Greenland area. Late in 1946 Army Air Forces aircraft began flights along the borders of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in missions known as the Peacetime Airborne Reconnaissance Program, or PARPRO. These PARPRO missions collected electronic and photographic intelligence, but their intelligence coverage was limited to peripheral regions. Before long, commanders of the new United States Air Force (USAF), formed by the National Security Act of 1947, sought permission to conduct direct overflights of Soviet territory, especially those regions in Siberia closest to Alaska.



Also at this time, under the new U.S. Air Force designation system the F-15 (F designating Photo under AAF classifications) became the RF-61 (R for reconnaissance and F for fighter). This immediately caused confusion, both because the F-15A was unarmed and was never considered a fighter, and because the F-15A was now reclassified as the RF-61A both by the USAF and in squadron records (the P-61A already existing as the earliest variant of the original 'Black Widow'). The designation of RF-61F was applied later, but by this the unit had unofficially returned to calling the aircraft the F-15A, and would continue to do so for most of their operational time with the machine.



In 1948, the initiation of the Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union increased the level of mistrust on both sides; however, the closed Soviet society made gathering intelligence about the development of new weapons very difficult and greatly concerned the US and its allies. After the Berlin Airlift began, reconnaissance forces in Europe were augmented by the dispatch of five aircraft of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Group to the United Kingdom, and 'Over Exposed' was among the five. In an effort to obtain information about weapons development and deployment, the USAF conducted regular routine reconnaissance missions near the Soviet land borders or just outside the 12-mile limit defining international waters. In most cases, the planes were forbidden to fly into Soviet airspace, but in a few cases the need for information outweighed the risk of overflight and a plane was sent into the Soviet Union. President Harry S. Truman soon authorized the first overflight of Soviet territory, and on 5th August 1948 a Boeing RB-29 Superfortress took-off from Ladd AFB, Alaska and, after routing over Siberia and spending over 19 hours in the air, eventually landed at Yokota AB in Japan.

Another such flight occurred on 3rd November 1948. The US Air Force had strong suspicions that the Soviets were producing large numbers of jet fighters and needed to find out for sure. Additionally, the USAF's Strategic Air Command needed to know whether Soviet long-range bombers were stationed at the northern bases on and near the Kola Peninsula. In an effort to answer these questions, Captain Landon P. Tanner and his co-pilot Captain Harry Stroud took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire for a reconnaissance flight near Murmansk in the northern Soviet Union. The crew of ‘Over Exposed’ had nearly completed their tours of duty and were scheduled to return to their homes in the United States in less than a month. Waiting for 33-year-old Captain Landon P. Tanner were a wife and two daughters, Jean and Jane. The flight would take the RF-61F Reporter over Norway, Sweden, northern Finland, and ultimately the Soviet Union itself. The plane flew over numerous Soviet airfields and naval facilities conducting photographic reconnaissance of the various facilities. Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) fighters were spotted after being over Soviet territory for about 50 miles, but they were unable to catch the high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. While the PVO may not have been able to put a stop to the intruder, Murphy could.



Still over Soviet territory, Capt. Tanner noticed that the left engine had started getting rough. The pilot checked all the instruments, but everything indicated normal. He turned back towards Finland, but the left engine kept getting worse and the pilot was eventually forced to feather it. When the propeller stopped, Capt. Tanner could see that one of the blades had broken at least three-fourths of the way around about a foot from the spinner and was bent slightly backwards. He put the aircraft in a shallow dive and headed straight for the Russo-Finnish border. Capt. Tanner and Capt. Stroud were now over Soviet territory, flying on one engine, losing speed, losing altitude, and had Soviet fighters closing the distance between them. As the letters on the side of the plane grimly spelled out, they were truly 'Over Exposed'.



And here's a closeup of the nose and corresponding nose art. This was adapted from a grainy black and white photo and was actually a pretty big pain that took me a couple of days on its own. I'm definitely no Alberto Vargas.

Cheers,

Logan
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 12:59:54 PM by Logan Hartke »

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 1: Bikini to Blizzard
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 01:59:36 AM »
And here's how this profile went together.



This is where I was just trying to figure out the general placement of the markings and the overall look. It took a while to clean it up to this stage, but little of what you see here will remain on the final product, other than the nose art. That took days to do and I wasn't eager to revisit it.



This was the first pass at the black undersides. The scheme came from a Boeing F-13A (RB-29) Superfortress, 44-61999. I also wasn't sure if the story was going to have this aircraft in 1946, '47, or '48, so the USAAF markings remained until I was sure. You can also see that the lighting on the black paint is still from the bare metal bird and was totally wrong. I knew that, but that was more work that would take a while to correct.



So, I got the lighting a lot closer to where I wanted it and added the yellow markings, but the panel lines on the black are still all wrong, as are all the tail markings.



It's really starting to come together at this point.  I'm just about happy with the lighting, shading, panel lines, and tail markings. This is pretty close to the final product.



And when you put it all together, this is what you end up with. I added the red USAF stripes to the USAAF roundel, painted on as would have been done at the time. The other main thing to note is the custom 1999 nose number. Why ground crews didn't just use standard stencils, I don't know, but it drives me nuts. Big pain, but I think they turned out pretty close to the photo I was going off of.



And here's the aircraft that the scheme was (mostly) taken from, a Boeing F-13A Superfortress (44-61999) that participated in Operation Crossroads. More about its fate in the next chapter of the story.



And the nose again for comparison.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 2: Crossing the Finnish Line
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2014, 10:55:26 AM »
And now for part 2 in the series following the "what if" history of this airframe. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 2: Crossing the Finnish Line

As Capt. Tanner and Capt. Stroud nursed their stricken RF-61F towards the Finnish border, the PVO aircraft could tell that it was in trouble and attempted to force it to land on Soviet territory. Even on one engine, however, the Reporter was not easy prey. Tanner jettisoned the drop tanks, and the fact that one engine was feathered seemed to streamline the plane considerably. Just as it seemed the American spy plane was boxed in, the Soviet fighters were ordered to return to base as they had crossed the Finnish border near Salla. Even so, Tanner and Stroud were not out of the woods, yet. They were still in a damaged aircraft far from any active airfield, and Lapland in the winter was far from hospitable to stranded aviators.

Once reasonably sure that they were over Finnish territory, the two men began looking for a suitable place to land. Spotting what he correctly assumed was a frozen lake, Tanner began setting up for an emergency landing. At that time, he decided to boost the power on the good right engine for a normal single engine landing, but discovered that the propeller governor was inoperative as well as the manual switches. Also during the descent the propeller had somehow worked itself down to a little less than 1,800 rpm. He realized that he would not be able to get much power out of the right engine and accordingly tried to time his turns to reach the lake in a low power glide. In order to clear the trees on approach, he planned to come in a little high. He dropped his wheels about two miles out and when he was sure of making the lake, he dropped full flaps and opened the cowl flaps to slow the plane down. As the plane touched down, Tanner turned off the ignition and battery switches, skidding to a stop on the lake surface.



The interception of 'Over Exposed' by the Soviet fighters that had approached the Finnish border was also noticed from the ground by the Frontier Guard. They reported that the aircraft had landed somewhere to the west and patrols soon found the American plane and its crew. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs notified the American Legation of the incident and arranged for the return of the airmen. The aircraft, however, was a more complicated matter. The two countries recognized that the Soviet Union would object if the Finns merely gave the spy plane back to the United States. In an attempt to avoid an international incident, it was agreed that Finland would 'confiscate' the trespassing Reporter, but turn over the photographs that the plane took on its risky flight over the northern Russia. Additionally, the US would pass along the spares necessary for the Finnish Air Force to repair the plane and return it to flight. The trade benefitted both parties. The photographs reassured Western leaders that long-range bombers were not deployed on the Kola Peninsula. For their extraordinary aerial feat, the aircrew members each two Distinguished Flying Crosses, though the SAC commander, General Curtis LeMay, made it plain he would rather have decorated them with the Silver Star. That award, however required the approval of a board in Washington whose members were not cleared to know about the Soviet overflights.

On the Finnish side, the incident was officially recorded as merely "a high-altitude electric storm". Bringing the matter to light in the media would have been impossible in the political climate of the time. The daily newspaper Uusi Suomi nevertheless got wind of the incident and published a piece about it. The Political Section of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs immediately branded the news item as a cock and bull story. For much of the Cold War, Finland reported that they had merely purchased the RF-61F from the US for evaluation purposes, which was a complete fabrication. An Ilmavoimat team was assembled to recover the aircraft, and—despite their unfamiliarity with the type—they soon had the aircraft repaired and running. ‘Over Exposed’ had its American markings hastily painted over to obscure its origins and Finnish markings were added for its flight south. While all the aircraft numbers and USAF roundels were painted over with light gray, the recovery team could not bring themselves to paint over the pinup.


Major R. Birger Ek, Ilmavoimat

The greatest challenge to getting it out of there was the aircraft’s sheer size. The RF-61F was the heaviest aircraft ever operated than the Ilmavoimat, heavier even than the massive LeO H-246s borrowed from the Germans in 1944. This was also the first tricycle landing gear aircraft operated by the Finnish Air Force, as well. A Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, Major R. Birger Ek was one of the most experienced and decorated Finnish bomber pilots of the Second World War and was at the time serving as the Finnish Military Attaché in London. Arrangements were made for Maj. Ek to get a familiarization flight in one of SAC’s remaining RF-61Fs based at RAF Scampton before getting temporarily recalled to Finland. After a few taxi runs across the surface of the frozen lake, Maj. Ek got the big plane airborne and proceeded to the Flight Test Center at Tampere. There the aircraft could also be studied by the engineers of the State Aircraft Factory (Valtion lentokonetehdas, VL). Once a few test pilots were checked out on the aircraft, Maj. Ek returned to his posting as military attaché in London. While his association with ‘Over Exposed’ ended there, RF-61F 44-71999’s career with the Finnish Air Force was just beginning.

Cheers,

Logan
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 01:22:01 AM by Logan Hartke »

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 3: Trials at Tampere
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2014, 01:36:56 PM »
We now return to Finland for the third part in the exciting history of 'Over Exposed!', RF-61F 44-71999. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 3: Trials at Tampere

After the RF-61F Reporter arrived at Tampere, the black underside was repainted light blue for daylight operations and green bands were added on top of the natural metal. Additionally the black spinner was repainted yellow and an 'F' was painted on the tail. The meaning of the 'F' is unknown, but it seems likely that the letter was chosen because that's what was there when the aircraft was recovered. This is the scheme that the aircraft would wear throughout much of its testing. It was somewhat unusual for Finnish aircraft at the time but harkened back to the Swedish Gladiators of F 19 that fought for Finland during the Winter War in 1940.

The primary test pilot for these trials was Esko 'Roope' Halme. Halme was one of the most experienced test pilots in Finland. Having completed 49 sorties flying Blenheims with Lentorykmentti 4 (LeR 4) during the Winter War, Halme was no stranger to multi-engine aircraft, but the Reporter would prove to be a new experience for him.



The Nortrop RF-61F Reporter was the most modern aircraft in Finland at the time. It was the faster than the Bf 109G and had a longer range than the recently-retired Ju 88. The aircraft could easily fly from Hanko to Utsjoki and back again, so the acquisition of replacement drop tanks from the US was not a priority. Eventually, the pylons would be removed altogether for normal operations, but they remained during much of the testing phase. Pilots found the aircraft to be very large, but the tricycle landing gear made it easy to handle on the ground. Despite its size, it was as maneuverable as a fighter due to its innovative spoilerons, another first for the Finns, although the Reporter lacked the fighter brakes of the P-61 fighter variants.

Cheers,

Logan
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 01:24:19 AM by Logan Hartke »

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 3: Trials at Tampere
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2014, 01:43:53 PM »
And here's how this profile went together.



First I had to cover up the black. You'll notice that it's not just a simple color change, it's a new pattern on top of the black. Notice, also, that I'm intentionally leaving the gray overpainted markings visible sticking out from underneath the green. I like what they added to this profile.



Then I start on the green bands on the fuselage. Once I'm happy with them, I have to run some more tests with the lighting since it's not designed for this paint/NMF hybrid. That took some work.



Next I gave the boom the same treatment and added the limited markings.



Repaint the antenna blue then copy the center fuselage so you can see the camo pattern better and it's done!

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Frank3k

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 3: Trials at Tampere
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2014, 11:36:01 PM »
I love your F-61 variants! The Finnish camo pattern looks really nice.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 4: Russian Treaties and Polish Vodka
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2014, 01:39:09 AM »
Thanks, Frank!

Coming up next, part 4 of 'Over Exposed!', the story of RF-61F 44-71999. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 4: Russian Treaties and Polish Vodka

The RF-61F successfully completed its trials in early 1949, the Ilmavoimat ordered the aircraft repainted in a more standard scheme of green and black over light blue. After the Finno-Soviet YYA Treaty was signed in 1948, Finland was forbidden from operating bombers with enclosed bomb bays. This forced the Finnish Air Force to either scrap their fleet of Blenheims, Do 17Zs, and Ju 88As or place them in storage. This also freed up a large number of experienced pilots and ground crew when the squadrons were stood down. One such bomber squadron was Pommituslentolaivue (PLeLv) 46, a former Do 17Z squadron that also performed mapping missions. It was redesignated Tiedustelulentolaivue (TLeLv) 46 to reflect its new dedicated reconnaissance mission, as the RF-61F carried no armament.



Aside from its new camouflage, the RF-61F also wore the Żubrówka Bison Grass Vodka-inspired "roaring bull" emblem of PLeLv 46 and a cartoon of a RF-61F holding a camera, much like the "flying pencil" mapping emblem worn by the Do 17Zs. Finally, the aircraft was assigned the serial RP-999. The logic behind the '999' number is unclear, but it's possible that it was reference to the aircraft's USAF serial painted on the aircraft when discovered.


Captain Itävuori, left, 22 March 1944.

The primary pilot of the Reporter during this period was Major Erkki Itävuori, a former test pilot with many combat flight hours in the Junkers Ju 88, the closest analog to the RF-61F Reporter in the Finnish Air Force. While the RF-61F was designed for two pilots, the shorter duration missions flown by the Ilmavoimat saw them carrying a navigator/observer instead of a co-pilot in most cases. During this period, TLeLv 46 continued to operate the RF-61F from Tampere since the extensive facilities there allowed them to better maintain the big, complex, one-of-a-kind airplane.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 4: Russian Treaties and Polish Vodka
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2014, 02:37:02 AM »
Great work - I especially love that cartoon of a RF-61F holding a camera.  Outstanding! :)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 5: A Day at the Races
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2014, 11:29:18 AM »
Thanks, Greg! It's a modification of a badge worn by Do 17Zs, but the customization did take some time!

Part 5 of the Finnish Reporter Chronicles, 'A Day at the Races'. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 5: A Day at the Races

While assigned to TLeLv 46, RP-999 participated in the 'Mid Summer Air Festival' held at Utti Airbase in Finland on 24 June 1950. For this airshow, an air race was planned in which four Bf 109s of HLeLv 31 marked in flashy paint schemes would race around a pylon-type track. The organizers at Utti had only intended for HLeLv 31 to race, but TLeLv 46 personnel heard about the event and decided that the RF-61F could give the Bf 109Gs a run for their money. One can't attend a costume party without a costume, however, so they set about repainting the RF-61F in markings appropriate for an air race. Given its American origins and big twin-row Pratt & Whitney radial engines, the personnel of TLeLv 46 decided to paint the left boom and wing in a scheme inspired by the Gee Bee Model R racers of the 1930s.



When the RF-61F made its unexpected appearance over Utti on the morning of the race, it soon became apparent that not everyone was thrilled with the newcomer's presence at the air show. The facilities at Tampere allowed TLeLv 46 to make a much neater job of the Reporter's scheme than HLeLv 31 was able to hand paint in the field on their Bf 109s. 'Over Exposed' had come to the party in costume, but had just made the faux pas of showing up the host



In anticipation of being allowed to compete against the the 109s marked 'A' through 'D', RP-999 had an 'E' painted on the tail, but she was not allowed to participate in the race on account of 'not having registered' beforehand. After the race, however, 'Over Exposed' was allowed to do a few laps around the pylons on its own where it beat the race times set by the 109s. While the air show was a complete success, the paint used was not temporary and TLeLv 46 was soon forced to repaint the Reporter once again.



Cheers,

Logan

Offline Weaver

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 5: A Day at the Races
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2014, 04:05:11 AM »
Well that was a direction I never expected it to take! Nice one!  8)

Imagine an F-61 in a "proper" air race....  :P :P :P
"I have described nothing but what I saw myself, or learned from others" - Thucydides

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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 6: "You're so near to Russia..."
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2014, 05:19:47 AM »
We now return to Finland for the exciting part 6 of 'Over Exposed!' As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 6: "You're so near to Russia..."

During the Cold War, Finland occupied a strategic position between two hostile blocks and was an object of interest to the superpowers as both a buffer zone and an overflight and military transit route. Both sides cultivated the potential to use tactical nuclear weapons against targets in our (i.e. Finnish) territory, at least pre-emptively. Both engaged themselves in intensive intelligence activities in Finland and in the bordering areas.

U.S. intelligence services and the United States Air Force had by 1952, if not even earlier, available sets of old aerial photographs almost complete covering the eastern and northern parts of Finland. Some of the pictures were old German ones, and some showed also the Soviet side of the border. In 1951-52, the Army intelligence service (G-2) wished to get their hands on new more detailed maps and aerial photos and directed the Military Attaché's office in Helsinki to expedite delivery from Finland. The entire Finnish coastline was photographed from above.



In 1952, maps and photos of ditches on meadows, fields and swamps all over Finland were demanded, as well as plans of ditch development in general. The Army G-2 (intelligence) requested to be sent three copies of exact photos and maps of each specified location throughout the country. They were needed for possible war-time use and for guidance systems of missiles. Negotiations with the Finnish Mapping Service yielded results: in the 1950's, the Finns handed over to the United States at least 100,000 copies of aerial photo maps and photos of areas of which they themselves had not printed maps yet.

In return the Americans provided the Finns with good-quality photography paper (600,000 sheets sent in diplomatic pouches) and “secret” – not “top secret”, however – intelligence on the socialist countries. All was very secret, because disclosure of this arrangement would lead to difficulties with dire consequences, as G-2 wrote.



The Military Attaché bureau wrote to G-2 in 1952 stressing that a lot of important information had been obtained from Finns in Helsinki, but the Finnish representatives in Washington had received practically nothing in return. The flow of intelligence information would probably grow, if there were more reciprocity. G-2 agreed that Finland as a neighbor of the USSR was an important observation post. The Department of the Army agreed: there were security risks, but the profit justified them.

An important element to both sides in this exchange was Ilmavoimat's RF-61F Reporter. After three years of service and only limited spares provided by the United States, the Finnish Air Force was having difficulty keeping the aircraft operational. If the US wanted the high quality aerial photos the Reporter could take--especially along the Soviet Border--they would need to provide Finland with the spares necessary to keep 'Over Exposed' flying.



It was in the scheme depicted that RP-999, repainted after the air race at Utti, took many of these photos in the early 1950s. The tally marks on the rudder indicate completed photography sorties.



Much of the above text comes from this much longer article on the Economist that I'd recommend to anyone interested in the period.

Finland and American intelligence - The Economist

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 7: The Silver Lining
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2014, 11:46:10 AM »
Coming up next, part 7 of 'Over Exposed!', the story of 44-71999. As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 7: The Silver Lining

The Reporter's four year run as the fastest and most modern aircraft in the Finnish Air Force came to an end on 22 January 1953 when the first De Havilland Vampires landed at Pori airbase. These were Finland first jet aircraft and, like the RF-61F, they were of the twin-boom, tricycle land gear configuration. Despite being dethroned, the Reporter was still comparatively high performance, and its good camera suite and extreme range meant that it retained its usefulness as a reconnaissance and mapping asset.



Late in 1953, RP-999 delivered to Valmet for refurbishing where it was again repainted, this time in overall silver dope. In the summer of 1954, it was delivered to 1. Lsto, which became Hämeen Lennosto on 1 January 1957. It continued to operate from Tampere throughout this period. After the retirement of the last Bristol Blenheim, the National Land Survey of Finland purchased two Hunting Percival Pembroke C.Mk.53s for the geographic survey role. Operated by the Ilmavoimat, the Pembrokes were plagued by a number of technical issues with its electrical and communication systems. As a result, 'Over Exposed' continued serving in this role throughout the 1950s.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2014, 01:04:16 PM »
After nearly two weeks, we come to the finale in the story of 'Over Exposed!' As always, click on the image below to see the picture at 100% or view it at my DeviantArt page.



Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style

As the 1950s came to a close, so too did the Reporter's career with the Ilmavoimat. Still serving with HämLsto, the overall silver RP-999 had acquired a helpful strip of anti-glare in front of the cockpit, a red '9' on the rudder, and larger, bordered national roundels. While the Vampire couldn't perform the reconnaissance mission and the troublesome Pembroke didn't have the Reporter's performance, the Soviet Union had a plane that could perform all the missions that the Reporter could, but with the speed of the Vampire—the Il-28. The Ilyushin Il-28 was a Russian three-seat twin-engine light bomber, and the Il-28R was its reconnaissance version.



Finland bought four Il-28 aircraft, one bomber variant and three recon variants. All of these aircraft were equipped with cameras (with different optimization) and fitted for target towing. The first two aircraft, bomber and recon, were bought in 1959. As production of the type had ended in 1956 the aircraft were used and overhauled. The second batch consisted of two recon variants purchased in 1965. The operational base was Utti, but the aircraft were based elsewhere as necessary for the complete mapping of Finland. The Finnish aircraft type code of 'NH' may seem unusual given the aircraft manufacturer, but the designation reflected the type's origin and primary role. 'NH' stood for Neuvostoliittolainen Hinauskone, meaning Soviet Tow plane. The designation also has some humor in it. The Finnish transliteration of Nikita Khrushchev is Nikita Hruštšov, so the aircraft were called "Nikitas". The "Nikkes" were reliable aircraft with good flight characteristics, despite being heavy on the controls.

Ironically, the Finns used their Il-28Rs to spy on the neighboring "Bear" to the east, skirting the border and then drifting over when the coast seemed clear to inspect any suspicious activity on the eastern side of the fence. The local Soviet air defense command found the Finnish Beagles a persistent nuisance but never managed to shoot one down. It is interesting to wonder if the Soviets ever thought, when they sold the Il-28Rs to Finland, who besides the USSR the Finns felt they really needed to keep an eye on.



Whatever the case, the Il-28's entry into service soon led to the retirement of the RP-999. By that time, the circumstances surrounding Finland's acquisition of the 'Over Exposed' was somewhat of an open secret and the RF-61F Reporter was no longer state of the art. When put on display, RP-999 was once again adorned with the nose art that she wore when the Finns originally found her. Her display markings were a combination of those from the beginning and end of her service, a fitting tribute to a long and successful career.



Cheers,

Logan
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 11:14:29 PM by Logan Hartke »

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2014, 12:22:35 AM »
Here are some "in progress" shots that I haven't shown before.



The all painted RF-61F used a modification of the camo from the RAF aircraft. This was not because it was handy using the camo patterns, I redid those completely. It's because my lighting is completely different on painted aircraft than it is on natural metal finish. I change so much between the two that it's a lot of work to redo the lighting again, so it's easier to just modify the painted P-61F to suit the RP-61F.



This was just a test of the camo colors. They didn't exactly work. The black is too black, for instance. It starts to give you a feel of the "Finnish" look, though.



And here it is with the final camo pattern and colors. I was really pleased with the overall look of this one.



So, with the "racer", I originally panned to paint the whole boom, as you can see here. I basically thought it was done at this stage, but I didn't like it. I think it was just too much and I decided to pull it back.



And this is the result of that decision. I cut the white off the boom completely, leaving it just on the tail. The red was strong enough on its own to stand out against the camo.



This is how I was originally planning on doing the fifth Finnish Viking, but it wasn't enough. It was just too boring. This is when I chose to bring in more 109 markings.



And here is the profile after I added the more interesting elements. Again, it was too much, so I removed the white bands and just left the sharkmouth.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline tsrjoe

  • Has been volunteered... for something...
Re: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2014, 12:09:31 AM »
stunning, love the progression piccies too, brilliant work indeed  8)

Offline Weaver

  • Skyhawk stealer and violator of Panthers, with designs on a Cougar and a Tiger too
  • Chaos Engineer & Evangelistic Agnostic
Re: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2014, 01:14:50 AM »
Splendid stuff Logan - you've put a serious amount of work into this and it really shows. 8)
"I have described nothing but what I saw myself, or learned from others" - Thucydides

"I've jazzed mine up a bit" - Spike Milligan

"I'm a general specialist," - Harry Purvis in Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke

Twitter: @hws5mp
Minds.com: @HaroldWeaverSmith

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Over Exposed! - Part 8: Going Out in Style
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2014, 04:39:13 AM »
Thanks, joe & Weaver! For a quick recap of the whole set, here's the progression of the airframe.










And here are some detail images of the more interesting markings and nose art that I made for the the profiles, most of them custom.







Cheers,

Logan