Author Topic: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale  (Read 697 times)

Online Brian da Basher

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The war dragged on through the summer of 1945 which culminated in the A-bomb being a fizzle. As the allies girded themselves for the bloody invasions of Operations Olympic and Coronet, the Japanese upped their game by improving on the Fu-Go balloon fire bombing of the North American west coast.



Carried aloft at great speeds by the Jet Stream, these balloons had a minimal impact, but by the spring of 1946, larger, improved Fu-Go II balloons started being dispatched.



These weapons would not just start some nuisance fires, but would obliterate anything they targeted with high explosives.



Fortunately, by this time, the U.S. Army Air Forces thought they had the perfect defense in the form of a new jet fighter.





Known as the Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet, the aircraft was developed from the L-133 Star Jet project, the first American jet design.



The YP-78 was intended to be easier to mass-produce and service. Heavily armed with four 22 m.m. cannon, it was given a new, top-secret power plant, the General Electric J33XXL engine of undisclosed horsepower.



By April 1946, a service-test batch of YP-78 Super Star Jets had been produced and assigned to a secret base in Washington state.



This service-test squadron, formerly part of the 20th Pursuit Group, would not only put the prototype YP-78s through their paces, but would also defend western Washington state and northern Oregon (if they were in the mood) from the Japanese Fu-Go II balloon bomb onslaught.





The  new YP-78 Super Star Jets had no problem reaching the high altitudes of the Fu-Go II balloons and were able to interdict all but one of the 35 that showed up in the first weeks of operations.



Three of these interceptions actually occurred over the Pacific ocean, and had the Navy found out, there would've been hell to pay. While one Fu-Go II balloon got through and bombed the Tualatin Bowl-A-Drome, only minor damage was reported by the near-miss but it did spoil a few rounds of duck pins.



By the end of April, the Japanese Fu-Go II balloon offensive had run out of steam due to production problems caused by shortages from the allied blockade. The Army Air Force didn't know that and took to the air one last time to counter an attack against the state capitol in Olympia.



Aircraft 026 screamed down to attack the aerial invader, who was unfortunately, not Japanese.



At that moment, the state house was celebrating the speaker's birthday and Candi Clown was about to perform the finale of her balloon act. Suffering a fate worse than the Gong Show hook some 30 years later, Candi Clown was shot down.



Luckily her fall was broken by the ubiquitous pine trees before she landed in a nearby collecting pool and emerged wet but mostly unharmed. However, the scandal of poor target identification would spell the end of the YP-78.



Even without this event, the YP-78 was doomed anyway. Metallurgy of the day wasn't up to an engine as powerful as the General Electric J33XXL and aircraft 026 probably only had another 20 hours of flight time left before it consumed its vitals. The sharp-eyed among you may notice that aircraft 026 seems mis-numbered with serial 483028. This is because two pre-production air frames were static-tested to destruction and never actually released for operational service.



While the YP-78 Super Star Jet turned out to be a dead-end, one can't deny its harpoon-like good looks even if the so-called "experts" still refuse to admit that this aircraft ever was.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 11:11:20 PM by Brian da Basher »

Online Brian da Basher

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 06:17:07 AM »
This all started with the venerable 1/72 PM F-100C. Isn't that box art stunning?



The sides of the box are nice, too.



You've got to admire the attention to detail it takes for PM to ensure that every box arrives pre-crushed for your convenience. Mine was not in as good shape as this one.

Still, while PM kits have a terrible reputation, unless you get one (of the many) that's short shot, you should be able to build it up. They make interesting subjects and usually get the shape (mostly) right. Super-detailers could really go to town here because the kit is pretty basic, comprising maybe 20 parts if you finish it gear-up like I did.



However, some 1/72 Academy P-40 wings, Airfix Mosquito horiz stabs and the fin & rudder from a 1/48 Hs-129 meant mine was going to be a little bit different.



I got lucky cutting off the F-100 wings and had minimal filling needed after attaching the new ones.





Unfortunately, my kit had a reminder of PM's attentive quality control and there was a deep scratch in the canopy.



Undaunted by this set-back, I persevered.



Painting was done with the old hairy stick and a lot of Model Masters acrylic Gray Primer. The canopy was tinted on the outside with Insignia Blue and given a deep gloss top coat. The intake was done with Interior Black and the guns and burner can finished with a custom mix.



I tried a new (for me) technique and used white decal strips for the canopy framing which were later over-painted gray.



Decals were from nameless spares but those neat 55th Pursuit Sqn. insignia are from an FCM sheet. Here's a couple of "money shots" (U.S. penny for scale):





I had a whale of a time building this model which took four days and was an excellent way to bounce back from the flu that kept me down for the better part of a week and a half.



I'd like to thank Mr Tomcat for moderating this GB and those of you who are playing along or just stopped by to look. I hope you enjoyed the YP-78 Super Star Jet and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 11:13:41 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline finsrin

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2018, 06:28:29 AM »
Discovered another rare one via top notch research.  And it is cool. 8)
L-133 roots are very evident.  Most interesting !
Brilliant mixing-placing of parts for polystyrene rendering of YP-78 Super Star Jet.
Really is period correct.  Relieved to hear Candi Clown was alright after the ordeal.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 06:30:30 AM by finsrin »

Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2018, 06:36:50 AM »
Birthday Balloon Clown Shoot Down! 

:P
"Every day we hear about new studies 'revealing' what should have been obvious to sentient beings for generations; 'Research shows wolverines don't like to be teased" -- Jonah Goldberg

Offline elmayerle

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2018, 11:37:12 AM »
Beautiful model and plausible story!!  Bravo!!  Another excellent extract of forgotten (more likely intentionally deleted) history.

Offline Tophe

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2018, 12:46:40 PM »
However, some 1/72 Academy P-40 wings, Airfix Mosquito horiz stabs and the fin & rudder from a 1/48 Hs-129 meant mine was going to be a little bit different
:-* Wonderful mix! Congratulations! Just perfect for "missing link" between generations (WW2/cold-war)...

Offline andonio64

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2018, 05:22:47 PM »
Beautiful story and great build...
As usual, Brian!
;-)

Offline AXOR

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2018, 06:20:52 PM »
Ohhh yeah !  :smiley:
Alex

Offline b29r

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2018, 11:53:46 PM »
. . . . . "a little bit different"  :D  Very nice Brian, beautiful work and a great story.  The L-133 theme is just plain brilliant. 

I'm guessing that whoever shot down Candi Clown was in big trouble, thank goodness she was ok  ;)  And glad to hear you are over the flu, it's been a rough winter for that.

You made my day with this fun bit of Super Star history, and also thanks for the warning about PM Model . . . I didn't realize :o

Best regards,
Kem

Offline Robomog

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2018, 06:30:20 AM »
Nice looking plane Brian,  top notch !

Mog
>^-.-^<

Offline finsrin

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2018, 12:36:41 PM »
Never would have envisioned YP-78 type build from a F-100.  You saw it and built it with wing choice-placement that works well, looks right. :smiley:

Offline BlastWave

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2018, 10:27:54 AM »
Very nifty design!

Offline John Howling Mouse

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2018, 06:46:05 AM »
That's pretty darn cool, Mr. da Basher!
A big 'thank you' to whoever it was that invented the OptiVisor!

Offline pigflyer

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Re: The Lockheed YP-78 Super Star Jet - A Balloon-ing Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2018, 10:28:06 PM »
First rate again Sir, nice!

Ian
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