Author Topic: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction  (Read 375 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« on: April 15, 2019, 06:18:02 AM »


Vultee is a storied manufacturer whose most famous civil design may have been the revolutionary V-1:



Less well known is the aircraft that followed it, the Vultee Varsity.



The aircraft was custom-built for Raymond "Wrong-Way" Snore-Again IV, scion of a wealthy family known for their remarkable skill at easing insomnia.



Far less famous than the other "Wrong-Way"



Snore-Again IV hoped to make his mark in aviation and hired the Vultee firm to build him a machine to get him there.



Vultee was hoping a less expensive, simplified version of their V-1 would find a niche market as a fast, middle-management executive transport and gave the prototype the hopeful moniker Varsity. A proposed scaled-down model to be known as the Junior Varsity languished on the drawing board and would never join the team.



Initially it seemed Snore-Again's aviation career would never get off the ground as the Splatt & Hitme Wasp Minor Major in F Flat engine proved problematic. He was heard to curse "Varsity? Hell this thing couldn't even make the practice squad!"



Eschewing cutting-edge aerodynamics of the day, Snore-Again balked at the added cost of an engine cowling and so the Wasp Minor Major in F Flat would have to suffer the indignity of having its cylinders brazenly exposed for all to see.



However, this was more than made up for by the incredibly sleek, streamlined spatted landing gear which was the envy of aviators everywhere.



His not-quite record-setting almost-famous plane was often seen undergoing maintenance and the press dubbed it the Blue Bird of Happiness. However, after many a failed engine run-up, Snore-Again was heard muttering "This Blue Bird of Happiness is more like a Blue Bird of crappiness!" which was considered unprintable by most newspapers.



Eventually Snore-Again got airborne in his Varsity but would often become stranded due to continuing power-plant gremlins. He almost was branded with a very different nick-name.



However, late in the morning of April 1st, Wrong-Way Snore-Again was able to get the Bluebird of Crappiness Happiness started and took off from New York, ostensibly headed for South America. It was a great surprise when he turned up later in the Great White North, landing near the sparse settlement of Whipping-a-Dead-Horse, Yukon Territory. This almost-record-breaking flight would make Wrong-Way Snore-Again briefly somewhat famous.



However he slipped back into obscurity as war clouds gathered and would be forgotten by 1940. His Vultee Varsity wouldn't even last that long, having been destroyed in a freak towing accident six months after the epic flight. Nothing remains of that almost-famous aircraft today except this crude, cottage-industry kit of which only one was ever produced.



Still, for one brief moment, Raymond "Wrong-Way" Snore-Again IV and his Bluebird of Crappiness Happiness tasted glory for going in a completely different, if totally incorrect, direction.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 06:59:22 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Frank3k

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 06:22:13 AM »
!nairB ,yrots kcab suoiraliH

Great repurposing of a crappy kit. I see you've also made it a scale-o-rama!

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 06:52:36 AM »
This all started with something I've never seen or even known about before, a 1/72 Soviet Bl-1 rocket plane. A very good friend sent me this kit recently (thanks a million, hamsterman!) and if that's not some stunning bolshie box art, I don't know what is.



The back of the box is equally impressive with a paint guide in a language I can't read. Still, the pictures are pretty.



The instructions also came in a language I couldn't read.



Not that I ever read those things anyway.



Wait, this bit of dis-information looks oddly familiar...



I'd like to note for the record that there was no Gloster Gladiator or propeller of any kind in the box and no D-Day invasion stripes were included. But here's the sprues.



Yeah it looks a bit rough and some might be tempted to call for help.



But that wasn't an option for me so I proceeded. After an afternoon here's how it looked.



I chopped the nose and added the prop & engine left-over from that 1/87 Spirit of St Louis.



I took the nib of the nose and stuck it on the tail. A pair of Aeroclub Miles Magister spatted gear was added as was an integral fin & tail wheel cut from scrap. It started out as a tail skid, but I changed it later.



I also replaced the kit's short horiz stabs for longer ones left over from a T-33.



I also covered over the landing gear wells with card since the kit parts didn't fit and seemed like more work than they were worth.



So far, all was going according to plan.



Then it was off to the paint shop. The hairy stick was trotted out and loaded up with Model Masters Duck Egg Blue acrylic.



The canopy was tinted on the inside with Semi-Gloss Black and the canopy framing was done free-hand.



The engine was given a custom metallic mix and the prop blades were painted Model Masters Aluminum.



It only took me two days to get this far and I was happy how the canopy framing turned out.



If the decals went on ok, I was home free.



Those decals were all spares or robbed from sheets that had already been cut into.





The registrations come from an after-market Constellation sheet.



The stripes are left-over from a Revell Zeppelin NT.



The hatches and windows were all nameless spares. Before I forget, here's the "money shot" (U.S. penny for scale):



It only took me three days to put this together and I had a blast the entire time!



I'd like to thank Bill for sending me this cool, very unusual kit and Mr JCF for bravely moderating this GB. I couldn't do it without you!



I hope you enjoyed the Vultee Varsity and the forgotten story of Wrong-Way Snore-Again even if the so-called "experts" think it takes them in a direction they'd rather not go.



Brian da Basher




Offline John Howling Mouse

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 08:10:00 AM »
"this was more than made up for by the incredibly sleek, streamlined spatted landing gear which was the envy of aviators everywhere."  OMG, once again, I don't know what impresses me (and makes me grin) more: your concept, your execution of that concept, or the well-thought-out back-story.  Those newspaper front-pages were terrific, Brian!
A big 'thank you' to whoever it was that invented the OptiVisor!

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 08:33:53 AM »
I'm glad you guys liked it.

Frank, the whole time I was building it, I kept thinking you might be the only person I know who ever saw this kit before.

Baz, the Corrigan newspaper is actually authentic, the Snore-Again one not so much. I took great delight in using the phrase "Tuba Tragedy". I enjoy imagining them all falling over like bowling pins.

I've got another bit o' Scale o' Rama coming up for this GB and if luck holds, maybe a couple of other things too.

Brian da Basher

Offline finsrin

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 09:08:18 AM »
Such a masterful transition from rocket plane to Vultee Varsity.  I would not seen the Varsity hidden within rocket plane.  You brought it out.  Canopy paint adds that final design emphasis.  Perfect repurpose of Spirit of Saint Louis engine.  Is 1930's to the core, classy spats and all.   :smiley:

Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 12:39:02 PM »
That was a quick conversion to a passenger carrying aircraft and it looks like it belongs in that paint scheme.  Great work Brian!
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Offline Robomog

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 02:33:12 PM »
Really excelled yourself on this one Brian,  nice looking plane.

Is it me or do those old instructions have a Frog kit look about them ::) ;D

Mog
>^-.-^<

Offline Frank3k

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 05:07:42 AM »
I think the plates for the Frog instructions made the rounds in the former USSR. I don't know who "Modelist" was, or what else they made besides the BI-1... but they made a lot of those kits. One of the ones I have was included as "packing material" in  box of other, more useful kits.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2019, 06:20:25 AM »
...  I would not seen the Varsity hidden within rocket plane...

Or, indeed, the other way around! Until the Big Reveal, I had no clue what the basis was for Wrong-Way's mount was  :smiley:

... One of the ones I have was included as "packing material" in  box of other, more useful kits.

 ;D ;D ;D
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2019, 10:03:24 AM »
The N5531 was used again for an Eastern Airlines L-188 Electra that was blown up real good on the ground at Boston Airport.

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2019, 10:23:54 PM »
The N5531 was used again for an Eastern Airlines L-188 Electra that was blown up real good on the ground at Boston Airport.

I guess I've got a soft-spot for things that blow up real good.

H/T to the late great John Candy.

Brian da Basher

Offline Camthalion

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Re: Vultee's Varsity Blues - Going In Another (Wrong) Direction
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2019, 12:07:27 PM »
Looks good Brian