That Little Fokker - Models and Vintage Wings

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The drawing of the RNAF Fokker that got Bud White to thinking about a model build. Photo: D. H. Yellamo

A year and a half ago, we ran with a little April Fools story about the Royal Newfoundland Air Force. It was done with great respect, a smidgeon of humour and lots of supporting historical data and even a half dozen technical illustrations of RNAF aircraft profiles. It worked like a charm... duping even seasoned and well-read history buffs and aircraft nuts. Rumour has it that it even temporarily hood-winked one of Canada's most important military historians (whose identity will remain a secret). People have asked me many times how did I find the time to write a full history and I reply - it's very easy to write when you don't have to do research, find resource material, adhere to the facts or tell the truth... You just go where you want to go.

Despite being had, most loved it, every Newfoundlander who read it rejoiced and alas, one humourless sod replied with invective. I soon learned that it would be best to attach a bold warning to the beginning of the piece if I was going to allow it to continue to exist on our website. I could just see some dimwitted high school student plagiarizing the whole thing and making a presentation in his history class. Despite this warning, someone has taken the link, removed the warning and kicked it out into the cybersphere like cargo from a DC-3 over Burma.

Over the past months, this story has circulated back and forth, arriving at my laptop's doorstop every couple of months - sent by a well meaning enthusiast to his entire e-mail entourage with subject lines such as "Little Known History" or "The Heroes of The Royal NewfoundLand Air Force" or "I never knew!". Every now and then I check to see if it has showed up on the de-mything website Snopes.com, but it hasn't gone that far yet. For some reason, this April Fools hoax just won't die.

Modeller Bud White was not fooled however and he enjoyed the article and its spurious good humour so much he thought that building one of the aircraft from the article would make a good project for an up-coming Rocky Mountain Model Show in Calgary. Bud contacted me to ask for the source drawing I had done for the Fokker, and though I had no idea which category he would be entering it (Perhaps Air Forces of the Parallel Universe - Second World War or maybe Flying Hoaxes of the Golden Age of Colonial Flight), he in fact won a third place. I wonder if the judges went home that night and checked their reference books to see if their really was an RNAF. 

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A close up of Bud White's Newfoundland Flying Corps Fokker Dr-1 Tri-plane (which he lovingly called "April") from the infamous "Cod in the Ring Squadron". Photo by D.H. Yellamo

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White had only the single side view drawn by Divad Yellamo (see above) for reference when creating the paintwork on his Fokker Tr-plane model, interpreting how the upper wing sources might have looked  - a job well done according to Yellamo, Canada's leading expert on the history of this little known aerial fighting force. Photo by D.H. Yellamo

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A big man builds a small airplane. Bud White, a Vietnam Veteran and member of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (The Blackhorse) of the US Army, shows off his three-dimensional tribute to a mythical fighting force. Photo via Bud White

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White contacted Vintage News to see if he could get the electronic files from Yellamo to create his custom set of decals for his build - the only ones ever in existence. The aircraft sits atop its white upholstery stuffing shipping material which protected it during its journey from Calgary to Oshkosh aboard the Hawk One Sabre, thence to Ottawa via automobile. Photo by D.H. Yellamo

But it was Bud's good humour and wonderful little model that got us thinking it would timely to take a look at other model projects of Vintage Wings aircraft. Now, to be perfectly clear, we do know that Bud's model RNAF Tri-plane is not actually a tribute to one of our 20 vintage aircraft, but it is indeed a tribute to our greater mission to educate, commemorate, inspire and even tickle the funny bone of Canadians and others. Bud is one of nearly 4,000 readers of Vintage News around the world and it shows that many are listening and someone are "getting it. The model will reside with Divad Yellamo and then go on disaply at Vintage Wings of Canada.

In many ways, Vintage Wings of Canada is building models too - full size models. We apply the same passion, research, attention to detail and historical accuracy to our projects as do these dedicated miniature builders. And we do it for all the same reasons - to tell stories, to commemorate our veterans and to celebrate the flying machine in all its surrounding minutia and colourful culture. We research markings, paint aircraft, apply decals, photograph them and even enter contests with them - just as modelers do. Bud White won at the Rocky Mountain Show, but we also won at Oshkosh!

So let's take a quick look at just a few of the models that have been brought to our attention over the past three years and celebrate the fascination and workmanship of the Lilliput Air Force, featuring aircraft of the Vinatge Wings of Canada collection.

By Dave O'Malley

Model projects of Vintage Wings of Canada Aircraft

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The 442 Squadron Mustang IV, one of the most-loved aircraft in our collection, is also the subject of many model projects - most certainly because of her beautiful yellow spinner and upper fuselage. Photo by Eric Dumigan

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A detail from a well-executed model of our Mustang shows the dramatic yellow and camouflage markings. The builder was none other than Sean Martin, one of Vintage Wings most dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers. The decals for this model build and many of Vintage Wings collection aircraft are readily available from CanMilAir Decals. Photo via Sean Martin

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Not all models are of the plastic type. These days modeling aircraft "skins" for FlightSim-type electronic simulators and games is a growth area for those interested in aircraft detailing. As in plastic modeling, there are many levels of competency with some so perfect, they are difficult to distinguish from the real thing, especially when you combine the aircraft model with a landscape model such as those developed by the freeware software geniuses of Flight Ontario. Image by "Larry" at A2A Simulations forum. (Sorry Larry... when you see this, please send me your last name)

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A beautiful shot of Hawk One in her interim "Roll-Out" paint scheme dedicated to the Centennial of Powered Flight in Canada. Roll-Out, Run-ups and initial flight tests were done in this scheme. Once she was fully serviceable, she was flown to CFB Cold Lake for her Golden Hawk paint job in this scheme. Here in a photo taken from the Aerospace and Engineering Test Establishment CF-18 Hornet, we see Paul Kissmann arriving overhead Cold Lake. Photo by Jennifer Chaisson

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Wayne Foy, whose models have continuously graced the hangar at Vintage Wings for three years, asked to build a model of Hawk One for Vintage Wings. I suggested that there would be many models built over the next year or so that celebrated Hawk One in her Centennial Golden Hawk paint scheme but that there would likely be no model done of her interim paint scheme. He took on the challenge and created a diorama showing Hawk One as she was the day she was rolled out - replete with temporary decals, remnants of her previous USAF Korean scheme, remove before flight flags and even unfinished chromate painted panels. He included two Hawk One pilots in this ramp scene. Photo by Wayne Foy

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This large scale (1:18) model of our Hawk One Sabre (With Centennial of flight logo on tail) was built with CanMilAir decals by Robert Roy in Comox, British Columbia where she made quite a stir in 2009 when she joined the Snowbirds to work up for the 100th Anniversary of flight air demonstration season. The model was used in a display at the formal dinner held at the end of that training session. Photo by Robert Roy

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VWC volunteer Wayne Giles built this superb model of Hawk One. It graced our hangar for the Centennial Year allowing folks a glimpse of the aircarft when she was gone from our facility - which was most of the year! Photo by Wayne Giles

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Different lighting can create dramatically different views - as in this nice "ramp" shot  with canopy back of Giles' Hawk One model project. Photo by Wayne Giles

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Once again, Sean Martin takes on another Vintage Wings of Canada aircraft - the 421 "Red Indian" Squadron William Harper Spitfire XVI (SL721 is the serial of this particular airframe and not the serial of Harper's original AU-J. Here he lines up his model with the real thing out on the VW ramp at Gatineau. Photo by Sean Martin.

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A clipped wing Spitfire XVI  AU-J built by Wayne Giles. This is not of our own SL721, but rather one known to have actually been flown by William Harper of Niagara Falls. Photo by Wayne Giles

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The real life Gray Ghost Corsair rips up the infield at her Gatineau, Quebec base. For more on Gray's original 115 Corsair, click here or visit. www.vintagewings.ca/grayghosts/ for information on the Gray Ghost Program Photo by Peter Handley

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Robert Johnson of Wilmot Station, Nova Scotia built this large 1:18 model of Gray Ghost One (an FG-1D), using a Corsair IV model and decals from CanMilAir. For more information on the Gray Ghost Corsair and Robert Hampton Gray visit www.GrayGhost.ca. The model was built from a 21st Century Toys Kit and finished as a Royal Navy aircraft. Photo by Robert Johnson

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Another spectacular model of the Robert Hampton Gray Corsair "115", the aircraft number most people associate with Gray's Victoria Cross mission. Some dispute claims that he flew 115 that day as some records indicate 115 was flown later that day in another operation. Regardless, there is a powerful fascination and a focus of history, art and imagination to be found in every well-executed model like this 1/72nd scale Tamiya kit by Al Sauer which I found during a web search for VWC model projects. Because it does not have the clipped wings of a Royal Navy Corsair, Sauer declared (with a smile) that it was a model of the Vintage Wings Corsair to avoid the barbs of overly knowledgeable folks. One particularly picky guy on this forum even pointed out that there was a thumbprint in the paint on the cowling. Photo by Al Sauer.

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Last fall, Jack Lowe requested some detailed photos of the Gray Ghost Corsair from mechanic André Laviolette of Vintage Wings. On August 12th, of this year, he had the opportunity to visit the real Gray Ghost at the Victoria Open House at the Victoria Flying Club and chat with her pilot. On the following weekend he debuted his remarkable hyper-scale flying model of this historic aircraft at the Victoria Largest Little Airshow. Many of the spectators at this show were present the week before and all applauded the detail, workmanship and complexity of Lowe's model. The model is shown here at the time of completion in Jack Lowe's workshop. Photo via Jack Lowe

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A close-up of the folding-wing mechanism of the model Corsair looks remarkably like the real thing. And it performs like the real thing with the wings able to fold down and lock by remote control. Photo via Jack Lowe

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The master model builder Jack Lowe runs up the engine of his Gray Ghost Corsair. Photo via Jack Lowe

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While practicing for the Largest Little Airshow, Lowe's Gray Ghost Corsair folds down its wings. It's the little things like this that make this RC aircraft a real crowd pleaser. The air show raised $21,000 dollars for local charities in just two days and considering it conflicts with the Abbotsford Air Show where the real Corsair was performing. Photo via Jack Lowe

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Lowe's Corsair makes a low and dirty pass with gear and boards a-hangin'. With the dark overcast, this could easily be just another photograph of a real Corsair in action in the Pacific. Photo via Jack Lowe

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Lowe brings her low and fast down the show line. Most people would be hard-pressed to identify this thing as a model. Photo via Jack Lowe

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A beautiful photo in low-angled light of our restored P-40 Kittyhawk over water near Ardmore, New Zealand. Photo by Gavin Conroy

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The light and altitude are different, but the veiw is the same - Wayne Giles' model of Stocky Edwards' 260 Squadron Kittyhawk . Photo via Jack Lowe

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The Vintage Wings of Canada Harvard 4 in the markings of John Gillespie Magee's Harvard 2 climbs out at Gatineau. Photo by Olivier Lacombe (Flickr)

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A perfectly detailed model of the Vintage Wings of Canada Harvard 4, which is painted and marked as a Harvard 2 known to have been flown by John Gillespie Magee, the ill-fated poet who penned the iconic "High Flight". A search was made for images of any of the 12 different Harvards found in Magee's log book with only a single photo coming to light - that of Harvard 2866. Vintage Wings volunteer Sean Martin built the model which was mounted on a three dimensional plaque dedicated to another volunteer. The image in the background is of the famous Wings Parade scene in Captains of the Clouds - filmed at Uplands where both Magee and 2866 were based at the time. Again, the decals for this build come from CanMilAir. For acloser look at the details of this model, click here. Photo by Sean Martin

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Pilot Rob Erdos gives us an up close and personal view of the 6 Squadron Hurricane IV. Photo by Eric Dumigan

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Wayne Giles, a key Vintage wings volunteer, created this model of our 6 Squadron Hurricane IV.  Photo by Wayne Giles

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I am not sure where I got the following three photographs of the Vintage Wings 6 Squadron Hurricane IV. I believe they were sent by Bob Swaddling a couple of years ago. They attest to the extreme level of skill and patience that some modelers can achieve.

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A close up of the canopy of the Hurricane IV - hard to believe it isn't the real deal. I mean.. the mirror is actually a mirror for god's sake.

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The best modelers go out of there way to create an authentic representation of the aircraft they build. Some weather and distress their models to appear as they were when they were hard working aircraft in a wartime setting - complete with chipped paint, boot scuff marks, gun smoke stains over the wings and in the case of this hyper scale model, exhaust stack soot stains.

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A nice full-on side shot of the Vintage Wings Lysander on her maiden flight this past June, 2010. Both Vintage Wings and modeler Wayne Giles utilized available historic photos (see below) to create their models - Giles in 1/48 scale and Vintage Wings in "full scale".  For more on the source images of the original 416 visit "The Malton Lizzies". Photo by Peter Handley

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Commemorated by the Vintage Wings of Canada Lysander, 416, the first Canadian-built Lizzie looks splendid in her factory test finish - all-over aluminum paint with wing tip and fuselage roundels and prominent serials. Photos like this were utilzed by Giles to create a model that graced our lobby for months before the real thing was completed. Photo: Tucker Harris Collection

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A little gem of a model Lysander by builder Wayne Giles. It differs slightly from the Lysander in the first flight photo above in that it has a spinner and skirts over the tires. Since that first flight, however, the real aircraft has been fitted with these... to make it like the model! Photo by Wayne Giles

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When I saw this beautiful model on the web, I knew the tables were about to be turned. In preparing the paint and markings for our soon-to-be-finished Willie McKnight Hurricane XII, I knew that modelers could help us determine the right markings. Instead of a modeler building a Hurricane and referencing photgraphs of one of our aircraft, we would use models like this beauty by Dan MacKay by of the Rocky Mountain Model Club to assist us in getting the paint right. Photo by Duane Wood

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