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  1. I play too, though I'm into the 5 string variety.....and my current daily driver is also an LTD.....here's mine: https://www.espguitars.com/products/9898-f-5e-ns?category_id=1963374-f-series-2 This one has about the best feel of anything I've owned in a long time. Ebony, mahogany and maple wood.
  2. This article might shed some light on the issue: https://www.defensetech.org/2017/09/11/retired-still-flying-f-117-nighthawk-may-soon-fade-black/ It would appear that several have been seen flying in recent years, but the USAF is removing 4 of them from storage each year, starting this year, for demolition. I suspect, much like in many other situations, that the USAF retired these because it had something else to replace it with. Ask yourself why the U-2 still flies missions today, even though it is now a 60 year old design. It's still flying because there's no replacement for it that's yet in service. The plan is to use the RQ-4 Global Hawk to replace the U-2, but that plan is behind schedule and there's a question of potential capability gap. Some feel that the RQ-4 cannot do the job as well. The F-35 claim is not a valid argument for this one, though, IMO. F-35 is meant to be a tactical weapons system--multi-role, and despite its small size, it can still carry more weapons than an F-117 can. Nighthawk can carry exactly two bombs. That's it. No defensive weaponry. No room for expansion. The F-35 has the ability to carry external weapons on 4 wing stations plus two additional stations near the wingtips, in addition to the 4 weapons it can carry internally. The 117 was a strategic weapons system, designed for one thing and one thing only---to penetrate air defenses unseen and delivery "first night" strikes to critical targets. F-35 cannot be compared to the 117 for so many reasons. Technology for one....multi-role ability for another. The 117 was designed to be used in a very specific way--and no other way. Missions were planned so that the aircraft would arrive at a specific point in the airspace at an exact time, down to the second. The mission planning was as much a reason for the success of the plane as the technology used in it. When one was shot down, it was that precise planing that allowed this to happen....planners got comfortable flying the exact same route at a specific time, and the enemy learned the pattern. F-117 did not allow any real mission flexibility. Aircraft had to even retract a comms antenna when flying an operational mission to protect RCS. So radio silence was key. Once that antenna was retracted, the pilot was on his own and required to stick to the plan. F-35 is so filled with technology not even dreamed of when the 117 was designed that its abilities at intelligence gathering and information sharing might turn out to be its greatest contribution. If I had to guess, I'd say that the $$$ being used for the 117 program was thought to be of better use for new programs like the 35. Add in the B-2's abilities, and the fact that we now even see B-1B's and B-52s using such things as Sniper pods, and you can see why the 117 has sort of become all dressed up for the ball, but without a date. F-35 can carry up to 6,000 pounds of bombs on external racks, plus some bombs internally, and still carry up to 4 A2A missiles at the same time as those 6,000 pounds of bombs..... Let's also not forget that the 117 was designed with old stealth technology. The B-2 for example is far more capable in this arena.
  3. There are some that, by bureau number, I can say they still exist. That does not mean that they still have the wood structures....it's possible that along the way, they were rebuilt to have the standard aluminum alloy structures. One example is N694US, an SNJ-4 that has a current registration and is valid until 2020. It's Bu. No. is 51360. There are others, and this is a list you can check to see which ones might still be flying, or maybe on static display. http://www.warbirdregistry.org/texanregistry/texanregistry.html#SNJ-4
  4. I can think of two reasons for this. First, USMC F-4s were more likely to carry the centerline gun pod than USN jets, which would leave only two options----wing tanks, or a lot more aerial refueling. Second, the primary job for a Navy F-4 would have been as an air to air interceptor--even if bombs were carried, the Navy F-4s were still loaded for, and expected to tangle with, the MiGs....the primary job of USMC pilots is to provide cover to the Marines on the ground. Everything else is secondary for the USMC pilots. Marine pilots flying CAS missions could have to loiter in the target area for a longer period of time. By comparison, USN Phantoms that flew, for example, MiGcap missions for the strike packages off the carriers, they would fly in, escort the bombers. Bombers would drop their bombs on their assigned targets and then get outta dodge. There was no need to loiter, and often no need for the bombers to make multiple passes....drop and go. If you look at the 4 links Finn posted above, the last one is a USMC bird. Notice that it carries cluster bombs on the inner stations and bombs on the outer stations....but no Sidewinders at all. USN birds usually did not fly combat missions without sidewinders on the inner station, above the cluster bombs in that pic. During the entire Vietnam war, at least 63 USN aircraft were credited with either shooting down or sharing in the credit for shooting down enemy aircraft....by comparison, I found exactly one USMC MiG kill,an F-4 Phantom from VMFA-333 in 1972. Regarding the outside pylons, a search turns up as many photos without them installed as with. For this one, I would check the specific a/c you're looking to model. See if you can find one photo from the time period, and go with it. That's what I would do. Since the pylon was easily removable, and there are plenty of photos that show F-4s both ways, it's really a toss-up.
  5. Outer pylons would often be left off if not loaded with ordnance. It also depends on the variant and the mission. Example, the outer pylons on Navy F-4s were commonly used to haul bombs on MERs. So, if you're building an F-4 that was flying MigCap, chances are good that the outer pylons would be left off, or at the least, empty. But a Phantom that's on an air-to-mud mission would commonly be loaded up with Rockeyes, Mk. 82's, etc. and would be more likely to have stations 1 and 9 installed and loaded up. The most common way I have ever seen the outer stations used is with MERs. Keep in mind that when Duke Cunningham and Willie Driscoll became aces, they were flying an aircraft that carried a centerline tank, a combination of Mk. 20 Rockeyes and Sidewinders(on TERs) on stations 2 and 8, and no pylons on 1 and 9 if I recall right. You are correct that USN/USMC Phantoms did not often carry wing tanks for combat sorties. Remember too, an awful lot of this depends on the specific aircraft you are modeling. Some squadrons might use different practices than others. Of course, the mission matters. You would also see rocket pods, I believe more commonly on a USMC bird, and Snakeyes too. I've always seen rocket pods on 2 and 8 when they were loaded. Then, you also might see a centerline mounted gun pod too, since the early Phantoms(and all Navy birds) had no internal cannon. Sometimes, on 2 and 8, USMC birds would have TERs installed with a couple canisters of napalm each. If you're building one that was on air-ground mission, you could always use the MER on the outside stations and leave it empty. That's how it would have looked coming back from a mission anyways.
  6. Holy.....absolute....crap.....that's amazing....
  7. awesome looking model....but some of the rotor blades look like they are on backwards. Now, to knock down some unneeded walls in the house so I would have somewhere to display it.....
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