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DIVERSE IMAGES English Pewter Models


















PLASTIC KITS OF 1950s and 60s















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The following F-89 facts were gleaned from internet sources. One of the most heavily armed fighter aircraft, the Northrop F-89 was the backbone of the North American Air Defense Command for more than 17 years. The F-89 was the first multi-seat, all-weather jet interceptor. It was the first aircraft designed to carry an all-rocket armament and the first to carry the Hughes Falcon air-to-air guided missile.

Northrop was awarded a contract May 3, 1946 to build two prototypes designated XP-89. The XP-89 rolled out of its California plant in the summer of 1948. After a number of taxiing and brake tests were performed, the XP-89 was moved to the high desert north of Los Angeles known as Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB). It was at this time it was re-designated as F-89, classifying it as a fighter. The air and ground crews at Muroc remarked that it looked like a scorpion ready to strike. The name stuck and was later officially recognized by the Air Force. The F-89 made its maiden flight Aug. 16, 1948, with the first production model being accepted Sept. 28, 1950. At the time of its production, the F-89 had an advanced radar system enabling the crew to track and engage hostile bombers in any weather. The F-89 helped the Air Defense Command to protect our skies during the period when Soviet intercontinental bombers first became a threat. The Scorpion never fired a shot in anger, but it was a major deterrent against attack during the Cold War in the 1950s.

The first F-89D was obtained by modifying F-89B serial number 49-2463, the aircraft being redesignated YF-89D. The first flight of the YF-89D took place on October 23, 1951. The first two production F-89Ds were delivered to the USAF on June 30, 1952. Some 125 F-89Ds had been built by the time that the problems with the Scorpion's wings were discovered and resulted in the grounding of the entire fleet. Major changes, therefore, were phased into production in order to correct the faulty wing design that had been principally responsible for the series of F-89C mid-air disintegrations. These F-89Ds remained at the factory until the wing modifications could be made that would make the aircraft safe to operate in the field. The F-89D, the most produced of the F-89 model series, actually epitomized the transition from WW II gun-armed interceptors to ADC's guided missile carriers of the late fifties. The transitional nature of the F-89 meant that engineering problems were all but certain to arise. Full production of the F-89D was not resumed until November 1953. A total of 682 production F-89D's were built.

New features of the F-89D included different Allison J-35-A-33 engines (later changed to -35) and high-altitude afterburners; additional 262-gallon nose fuel tank; and improved fire control and armament; the 20-mm nose-mounted cannons of earlier F-89 model series were replaced by 104 2.75 in, folding-fin aerial rockets, carried in permanently mounted wing-tip pods. Note: See the history of the 2.75 FFAR on the Missiles & Space page.

On 7 January 1954, ADC's 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., was the first to receive F-89Ds. At year-end, 118 F-89Ds were in the command's inventory, but these urgently needed aircraft lacked the E-6 fire control system and E-11 autopilot of subsequent D productions.

The RCAF's CF-100 Mark 4 was the first Canadian fighter to adopt the American practice of using clusters of unguided 70 millimeter (2.75 inch) "Mighty Mouse" folding fin rockets as an air to air weapon, instead of guns. The first flight of the Mk. 4 variant was in October 1952, the same time frame as the F-89D. The CF-100 was very similar in design layout to the F-89, but was a superior airplane and the mainstay of the Canadian air defense.

This Topping display model of the F-89D is a jewel - diminutive at only about 1:120 scale, the model rests on a very handsome Northrop logo base. This model is in "as new" condition and comes with the original Topping box made specially for Northrop. Topping models from the fifties were usually in larger scales with the exception of the globe mounted paperweights featuring fighters such as the F-86 and F-100. The box is in excellent condition. This is a rare example of the Topping F-89D in outstanding condition, virtually the same as when Northrop bought these promotional models in the early 1950s. The tail number of this model is "1400" making this the first of the production F-89Ds. The first block of serial numbers ran from 51-400 to 51-446. Note that the F-89D photo at the top of this article carries the tail number of "1422". This Topping fighter, over fifty years old, belies it's age; it would make a great addition to any collection of fifties fighters. The price of this fine, boxed model is SOLD.


The Allyn Sales Company, Los Angeles 1, California, made a series of metal models mounted on ashtrays (remember ashtrays?) or on stands. These models were sold retail and were purchased by many companies as promotional items and employee awards. This B-47 model is in much better than average condition with nice chrome surfaces free of corrosion - many of these that show up at sales have jet pods missing or broken and can be riddled with significant corrosion. The base pivot mount joint is complete and unbroken. A truly delightful piece that reeks of nostalgia for the early cold war period. The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was the earliest example of a swept-wing jet bomber that went into production and was the forerunner of all the subsequent Boeing swept wing bombers and transports. The first flight of the XB-47 was on December 17, 1947 and the first production version, the B-47A, flew on June 25, 1950 followed by the operational production bomber, the B-47B - a Wichita built airplane - which first flew in 1951. The SAC B-47s were rotated to overseas bases throughout the 1950s but the bomber never saw "action" other than as the reconnaissance type doing covert flyovers.

This B-47 model is mounted on a handsome base instead of an ashtray. The model has a few minor defects. A small "spot" is located on the port side of the fin and a few small chips are out of the port "U S AIR FORCE" decal; each is pictured below for your inspection.

An additional photo of the model is presented below.

Boeing B-47 on postcard.

This all-metal B-47 model is available for Sorry Sold. Photos will be posted soon of an Allyn B-47 on an ashtray base; this model has a pristine chrome finish and is defect free. It is priced at $525.00.

Allyn produced many of their line of models in both plastic kits and in the completed chromed or painted pot metal versions. Aircraft came mounted on either an ashtray stand or on a standard base. The models were rather basic with no panel lines, no landing gear, no pilot, and very little detail. Most of the single engine were in a large scale around 1:48. The models were molded in colored plastic (similar to many of the Topping models) requiring no painting. While these aircraft, in plastic, show up occasionally being touted as finished manufacturer's display models, I believe that they were sold by Allyn only as kits. It is very likely that the manufacturers bought these kits for promotional purposes and perhaps paid for their molds; Allyn sold these kits to the retail market and they were advertised in aviation and model publications. As mentioned, some of the Allyn plastic kits, but not all, were duplicated in the metal "ashtray" or hardstand models. For example, the Boeing models of the B-47, Stratocruiser and C-97 which were produced as plastic kits were also available finished in chromed pot metal on both ashtray stands and metal stands which exactly duplicated the shape of the plastic stands of the kits. The metal models were also sold retail but were definitely used by the companies as promotional items, employee rewards, etc. I was working in Wichita in the 1950s through 1961 and B-47s were a common sight as some were built there and many flew with training squadrons at McConnell AFB. I recall having the plastic Allyn B-47 on my desk.

For your information, the Allyn B-47 plastic kit is pictured below (previously sold); the metal and plastic B-47s both had a similar style base. The plastic kit comes in a large, brightly finished box as pictured below.

The kit is rather elementary and is made up of the same basic parts as the metal version. The kit parts are shown below along with a detail of engine pods for one wing.

A single sheet instruction leaflet came with the kit. This 8 1/2" x 11" leaflet shows some yellowing with age and you can view a high resolution PDF of this sheet by clicking here.

Allyn was also a large manufacturer of 1/2A engines in the 1950s, with a complete line of "Sky Fury" .049s which were also offered in outboard and inboard boat versions; twins up to .148 displacement were also made. Allyn was bought out by K&B which was later bought out by RJL.


This Allyn B-52 display model is mounted on a chrome base which has the mounting ball intact. The B-52 model represents the "B" version, the only version with the small auxiliary tanks and the tall vertical fin. The venerable B-52 has been in service "forever." The first XB-52, 49-230, was delivered in 1953. This "B" version was first delivered in 1954-1956 which would be about the time frame that this model was made by Allyn. The last B-52, the "H", began deliveries in 1961; of course, the late versions are still in service!

This B-52 model is about in average condition with micro-corrosion/pitting and some decal loss. It is not up to the standard of the B-47 shown on this page. The photos shown here reveal any defects in close-ups. The model does offer a nice representation of the B-52 and is a handsome piece on a display shelf setting. You can own this Stratofortress for only SOLD.

A soft cover book, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, by William G. Holder, Aero Series 24, 1975, will accompany this model.

B-52G on postcard.


Is that who I think it is holding a Topping F-100 and a Douglas F4D? No, it can't be - but it is - President Dwight David Eisenhower. You too can join the exalted ranks of Topping F-100 owners.

From the USAF Museum: Developed as a follow-on to the F-86 Sabre used in the Korean Conflict, the F-100 was the world's first production airplane capable of flying faster than the speed of sound in level flight (760 mph). The prototype, the YF-100, made its first flight on May 25, 1953 at Edwards AFB, California. Of the 2,294 F-100's built before production ended in 1959, 1,274 were -D's, more than all the other series combined. The -D, which made its first flight on Jan. 24, 1956, was the most advanced production version. Its features included the first autopilot designed for a supersonic jet and a low-altitude bombing system. The Super Sabre had its combat debut in Vietnam where it was used extensively as a fighter-bomber in ground-support missions such as attacking bridges, road junctions, and troop concentrations.

F-100D-15-NA, s/n 542230. USAF photo.

The Topping model of the Super Sabre is in 1:48 scale and carries a tail number of 42121. The tail number is close to the number of the F-100D in the photo above and the tail fin antenna bulge matches in shape. The model represents the very first production F-100D-1-NA, 54-2121,the "D" model "Hun". The "D" also has a wider chord at the wing root because of an extension of the trailing edge.

This model of the Super Sabre is in nice condition on its original stand and represents a very historical series of American fighters, the beginning of the Century Series and the very first production supersonic fighter - and one that proved itself in battle. The length of this model, including the pitot tube, is a large 14 9/16 inches. The photos presented here are of a sister model - the stand upright on the model being offered is slightly yellowed.

Several plastics companies were grouped together in Elyria, Ohio; this particular model has the Topping logo on the underside of the elevator although the model could have been made from the Topping molds by Orvis Plastic Company in Elyria, following the demise of Topping in 1964/65. Some of the F-100s came in an Orvis box which carried a date of 12.2.66 on the inside bottom.

Own this example of a President Eisenhower endorsed, Bill Topping F-100 model for only $300.00.

An excellent F-100 book, F-100 Super Sabre At War, by Thomas E. Gardner is available; the 2007 book is sold by Zenith Press and is priced at $19.95.

A video of a 1959 USAF airshow at Nellis AFB featuring F-100s dropping napalm can be viewed by clicking here. All jet aircraft in the USAF inventory are shown, including the B-58, B-47, KC-135,and B-52 along with fighters.


A Topping Models B-58 USAF HUSTLER Bomber with base also marked, "Convair Division of General Dynamics Corporation." The Convair B-58 was the first supersonic bomber to go into production for the USAF. The first flight of the B-58, 55-0660, was on November 11, 1956, piloted by Beryl A. Erickson; the prototype had red and white nose and tail colors. This outstanding model has tail code of "50670" which identifies it as one of the initial trials aircraft. The Mach 2 B-58 was a grand looking airplane, however the pod slowed the craft down. This model has a length of 9 1/2 inches and a wingspan of 5 1/2 inches for a scale of 1:120. The pod is removable. This serial number 50670 was eventually modified into a trainer version with two cockpits; 670 was the first of the trials aircraft to be converted to a trainer and it first flew in that configuration in May, 1960. The model, as configured, would represent a 1958 version, a YB-58A.

Convair became part of General Dynamics in May, 1953 although Convair kept doing business under their Convair name because of marketing and public relations. In May, 1961 Convair was divided into two regions with the aircraft manufacturing centered in Fort Worth; at that time the Convair name was dropped and the aircraft manufacturer became General Dynamics/Fort Worth. Although this is an early tail number B-58, the Topping model was probably made around 1958-59. The B-58 production was coming to a close in 1962; the very last B-58A to be produced was delivered in October, 1962, tail number 12080. This B-58A is shown below in a 1988 CollectAir photo at the Pima Air Museum, followed by a more current of the restored airplane.

The remarkable B-58 was totally out of service by the beginning of 1970; six have been preserved. The B-58 had a high accident rate but set many speed records. One of the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Brig. Gen. Everett "Brick" Holstrom, pilot of B-25 crew #4, stayed in the service and was assigned to SAC where he flew B-58s - Gen. Holstrom died in December, 2000; Gen. Holstrom is pictured below.

The B-58 was a ground breaking airplane and was faster than USAF fighters. I was attending a seminar on aircraft structural fatigue at Wright Patterson AFB during the B-58 era and a test B-58 was undergoing structural fatigue testing in one of the hangars. The airplane was being subjected to repeated loads through the use of the usual load "trees" and while this bending, twisting and assorted tortures was being applied, the structure was also heated to the elevated temperatures experienced at Mach 2. The monitoring "computers" that adjusted the heating elements to maintain the proper temperature distribution and level were located around the mezzanine of the hangar and were the size of small frigs. A modern laptop could probably have done the job!

More pictures of the Topping "Hustler" are shown below. The model is not perfect as some of the decals are chipped as can be seen in some of the photos below - about average condition. The model is complete with all parts in fine condition and makes a superb display piece. This model is available for SORRY SOLD.


". . .Over western Texas on the morning of January 6,1965, a revolutionary new aircraft, designated the F-111A, redesigned itself in flight from the straight-wing shape of a slow flying transport to the arrowhead configuration of a supersonic fighter. This achievement marked the first use of a variable-sweep wing by a production aircraft - and it introduced a new era of flight." General Dynamics brochure, December,1966.

Over the next few years, several versions of the 111 were developed. The strategic bomber, FB-111, the F-111A fighter, the proposed RAF version, F-111K, and the Navy F-111B are just a few examples. Eventually, versions through the "F" were produced including an Australian version.

The General Dynamics Fort Worth Division printed a handy reference guide to the FB-111, Number LTP12-19, and dated 17 March 1967 - the booklet was marked, "For Official Use Only." The F-111 models offerred here are from the 1967, or introduction, era.

The FB-111 and F-111A are compared as follows, starting on page 8 of the booklet - just a sampling of the discussion:

"A major objective in developing the FB-111 was minimum modification of the basic F-111A airplane to take advantage of the savings in manufacturing costs as well as reducing spares and other support requirements over the life of the weapons system. Due to variances between SAC and TAC mission requirements, some differences in design are necessary. In general they are as follows: Electronics equipment differs as necessary to support the mission requirements peculiar to SAC. Internal and external stores provisions vary for specific mission requirements. Fuel tank capacity is higher and weapons bay tanks are provided to support the long range desired by SAC. And the wing area is increased and landing gear strengthened and equipped with heavier tires to carry the added weight.

"The design 'g' loading requirements of the F-111A (a fighter) is on the order of twice the requirement for the FB-111, (a bomber), therefore, the gross weight of the FB model was increased as a trade off of 'g' loading for weight with very little change in the basic structure. The same advanced design concepts are utilized on the FB-111 in the area of wing pivot, crew module, fuel tank sealing and corrosion protection as were used on the F-111A.

"The major structural features of the aircraft are the use of large one-piece machines structural members and honeycomb bonded stress skin panels. Both features provide extremely high strength-to-weight ratios. The bonded honeycomb panels are highly resistent to warping or wrinkling and also provide excellent thermal insulating properties. The use of taper lock bolts to assemble the structure provides high rigidity, longer fatigue life, and greatly enhances fuel sealing."

The booklet has numerous diagrams showing aircraft functions and operating systems. The variable sweep wings are explained in the following diagram:

The glowing General Dynamics brochure descriptions of the F-111 are somewhat at odds with the history of this compromise airplane.

In 1961, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara initiated the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) program for the US Navy and Air Force. McNamara believed that Navy and Air Force requirements for a new tactical fighter could best be met by development of a common aircraft. McNamara defined the basic mission requirements when the Air Force and Navy could not agree, and in October 1961, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued to industry. Boeing won all four stages of the competition that followed, but McNamara overruled the source selection board. After extensive study of the recommendations of a joint Air Force-Navy evaluation board, McNamara decreed on 24 November 1962, that the General Dynamics and Grumman Team would build the TFX. In 1963, political turmoil surfaced as a special Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator McClellan of Arkansas held hearings on the award of the TFX Program. The decision, based on cost-effectiveness and efficiency considerations, irritated the chief of naval operations and the Air Force chief of staff, both of whom preferred separate new fighters for their services and Boeing as the contractor. The TFX program, born in controversy, was carried out by General Dynamics with the innovative F-111 that was supposed to satisfy the requirements of both the Navy and Air Force but, in fact, was compromised by the "commonality" factor. The Navy version built by Grumman, the F-111B (see Display Model Annex 2), was eventually scrapped, so by 1968, the Air Force was left with a TFX design that was compromised by McNamara's original decision. Ultimately, the Air Force fielded the TFX as different variants of the F-111 at five times the planned unit cost per airframe. The aircraft never developed all the performance capabilities proposed in the original program. The problems with the TFX can be directly attributed to the restrictions and requirements imposed by the common development program. Some of McNamara's critics in the services and Congress labeled the TFX a failure, but versions of the F-111 remained in Air Force service decades after McNamara decided to produce them.

F-111A, General Dynamics photo 30-28436.

The F-111, the most sophisticated design of its time, was plagued with problems for many years although the airplane remained in service for several decades. The early F-111A exhibited numerous engine problems, including compressor surge and stalls. NASA was a participant in finding solutions to these problems, as its pilots and engineers flew test flights of the aircraft to determine inlet pressure fluctuations (dynamics) that led to these events. Eventually, as a result of NASA, Air Force, and General Dynamics studies, the engine problems were solved by a major inlet redesign. On December 19, 1962, representatives of General Dynamics and Grumman visited NASA Langley for discussions of the supersonic performance of the F-111. The manufacturers were informed that the supersonic trim drag of the aircraft could be significantly reduced and maneuverability increased by selecting a more favorable outboard wing-pivot location. Unfortunately, the manufacturers did not act on this recommendation, and it was subsequently widely recognized that the F-111 wing pivots were too far inboard. (It should be noted that the F-14 designers, aware of this shortcoming, designed the F-14 with a more outboard pivot which became an outstanding Navy aircraft). Uncontrolled departures from controlled flight during maneuvers at high angles of attack were experienced. Unless the pilot was monitoring the angle of attack, the aircraft could enter a range of high angles of attack where a loss of directional stability resulted in an unintentional yaw departure and spin entry. These findings led to an Air Force program in 1973 to develop a stall inhibitor system (SIS) for the F-111. Several F-111 aircraft were lost in spin accidents during fleet operations; however, the subsequent implementation of the SIS prevented stalls and eliminated spins as an operational concern. The wing carry through structure experienced failures at the pivot fitting. In December 1969, an F-111 experienced a catastrophic wing failure during a pull-up from a simulated bombing run at Nellis Air Force Base. This aircraft only had about 100 hr of flight time when the wing failed. The failure originated from a fatigue crack, which had emanated from a sharp-edged forging defect in the wing-pivot fitting.

F-111A, General Dynamics photo 30-31227.

Nevertheless, the F-111 is a rather handsome airplane and the manufacturer's models are attractive display items. Two models are presented below; the first is the fighter version, the F-111A, tail number 39766, with a functional swing wing (notice the short wing) - an airplane with a very balanced appearance.

The FB-111A shown below has the camouflage scheme. Notice the longer wing as used on the FB.

The FB-111A carries two of these nuclear weapons in the enclosed weapons bay. A General Dynamics photo.

FB-111A weapons bay. A General Dynamics photo. The nose section electronics bay is shown below, both left and right sides - GD photos.

Each of the above models is priced at only SORRY, BOTH MODELS SOLD. The models were most likely made by the Elyria, Ohio firm of Rolen Plastics, Inc.

An RAAF one-eleven made a wheels up landing in July 2006 after a gear failure - no crew injuries. Now that's low flying! The aircraft was trapped.


Topping models of N.A. FJ-3 and FJ-4 Fury.

The original straight-wing North American FJ-1 Fury was an immediate post-war design which went into limited production of only 30 units - by the time it was delivered in 1948, there were new fighters which proved much more promising. The FJ-2 Fury was a follow-on swept-wing naval version of the F-86; the -2 Furies, however, were only delivered to Marine units beginning in 1953. North American soon became aware that the FJ-2 left something to be desired.

Perhaps as much on account of this failure to secure prime Navy contracts for the FJ-2 as for the successful development of late-series F-86s, North American commenced on March 3, 1952 the design of the FJ-3 Fury using the Wright J65-W-2 Sapphire engine of 7800 lbs. thrust, built under licence from Armstrong-Siddeley Motors Ltd., in England. The first Sapphire-powered Fury was the fifth production FJ-2, 131931, this being used as a trial installation aircraft and thus became the prototype FJ-3 (though no XFJ-3 was officially recognized). The first production FJ-3, 135774, was completed at Columbus on December 11, 1953 and was first flown by William Ingram. Differing from 131931, the production FJ-3s were powered by J65-W-4s with enlarged air intakes. Slatted wings and flying tail were retained but ammunition for the four 20mm. guns was increased by 48 rounds.

The FJ-3 succeeded where the FJ-2 had failed and altogether twelve Navy squadrons were thus equipped. By July 1954 twenty-four aircraft had been accepted and VC-3 and VF-173 performed the Fleet Introduction Program at Patuxent River in the record time of 29 days, completing 703 flying hours. Two aircraft were written off, though through no fault of the design; one aircraft suffered an explosion after debris had been ingested during ground running, and another was ditched in the Patuxent River when the pilot became lost and ran out of fuel.

FJ-3M (141435) of VF-73 taking the cat on the USS Randolph in 1957.

VF-173 was the first U.S. Navy squadron to land on a carrier when it joined U.S.S. Bennington of the Atlantic Fleet on May 8, 1955. A Fury of VX-3, flown by Commander R. G. Dose on August 22, 1955, was the first American aircraft to use the mirror landing system, a system that became standard throughout American carriers. Another Fury squadron, VF-21, was the first squadron - in January 1956 - to land on U.S.S. Forrestal, the giant carrier designed expressly for jet aircraft operation. Furies had, during 1955, undergone a number of alterations; in July the U.S. Navy abandoned the all-blue finish in favour of dull grey upper and white under surfaces.

This Topping model, pictured below, of the FJ-3 Fury is in pristine condition in every respect. Representing the first FJ-3, Bu No 135774, this Fury model is available for SORRY SOLD.

The leaflet shown below was included with the Topping FJ-3 model; no leaflet was found included with the FJ-4. Note that the FJ-3 is pictured as grey.

The photo below is an outtake from a 1959 U.S. Navy film, the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (MN 8613 1959), which covers the activity at Patuxent River NAS. The naval officer is pictured studying a Topping North American FJ-3 Fury model, an early version molded in blue (perhaps a FJ-2?). It is interesting to see the Topping models in "action." You can view the film by clicking here.


In February 1953 North American began work on the ultimate version of the FJ Fury series of aircraft, one that would provide for increased range over its predecessors and increase the aircraft's capabilities as a fighter-bomber. Whereas its predecessors had been modified variations of the Air Force F-86, the FJ-4 was a distinctly new airplane. In order to accommodate an increased internal fuel capacity, engineers redesigned the fuselage to make it shorter and deeper. Particularly notable was its wing design, which featured high lift flaps, a controllable drooping leading edge, and mid span control surfaces. This translated into not only better performance when operating from a carrier, but also allowed for better performance at higher speeds.

The FJ-4 joined squadrons beginning in 1956, and as was the case with the FJ-2, most aircraft were operated by Marine Corps squadrons. The appearance of the FJ-4B, an attack version of the aircraft that featured underwing pylons that could carry conventional or tactical nuclear weapons and Bullpup air-to-ground missiles, introduced Navy pilots to the aircraft as well. No matter the service, most who flew the FJ-4/4B Fury enjoyed the experience. "You wore the plane like a glove. It s maneuverability made it a fighter pilot's dream," recalled Blue Angel Chuck Hiett. Around the boat, the FJ-4 was responsive to control movements and very stable, making it an excellent carrier aircraft.

This is an exceptional Topping model of the FJ-4 with Bu No 139281, the third FJ-4 off the line. This model came new in the box. I opened the box for the first time in about fifty years, cutting the factory-applied tape and disclosing this mint condition model covered in its factory wrappings (see photos below)along with the Topping inspection slip. You can't get a better example than this! Own this Navy fighter and the box that it came in for only $SORRY SOLD$.

The photo below is an outtake from a 1959 U.S. Navy film, the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, which covers the activity at Patuxent River NAS. The naval officer is pictured studying a Topping North American FJ-4 Fury model. It is interesting to see the Topping models in "action." You can view the film by clicking here.


The North American X-15A rocket plane was perhaps the most important of the USAF/USN X-series of experimental aircraft. Although not as famous as the Bell X-1, the X-15A set numerous speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of space and bringing back valuable data that was used in the design of later aircraft and spacecraft.

During the X-15 programme, 13 flights met the US criterion for a spaceflight by passing an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) and the pilots were accordingly awarded astronaut status by the USAF. Out of these, 2 also qualified for the international FAI definition of a spaceflight by passing the 62.5 miles (100 km) mark.

The original Request for Proposals was issued for the airframe December 30, 1954, and for the rocket engine on February 4, 1955. North American received the airframe contract in November 1955, and Reaction Motors contracted in 1956 to build the engines. As with many of the X-aircraft, the X-15 was designed to be carried aloft under the wing of a B-52 and air launched. The fuselage was long and cylindrical, with fairings towards the rear giving it a flattened look, and it had thick wedge-shaped dorsal and ventral fins. The retractable landing gear consisted of a nose wheel and two skids - to provide sufficient clearance part of the ventral fin had to be jettisoned before landing. Because of the large fuel consumption, the X-15A was air launched at 45,000 ft and a speed of about 500 mph. Depending on the mission, the rocket engine provided thrust for the first 80 to 120 sec of flight. The remainder of the normal 10 to 11 min. flight was powerless and ended with a 200-mph glide landing.

The first flight of the X-15A was an unpowered test made by Scott Crossfield on June 8, 1959, who then followed up with the first powered flight on September 17. Three X-15s were built in all, and they made a total of 199 test flights, the last one on October 24, 1968, over forty years ago!

Dryden pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15A ship #1 (56-6670) after a research flight. Armstrong made his first X-15 flight on November 30, 1960, in the #1 X-15A. He made his second flight on December 9, 1960, in the same aircraft. This was the first X-15 flight to use the ball nose, which provided accurate measurement of air speed and flow angle at supersonic and hypersonic speeds. The servo-actuated ball nose can be seen in this photo in front of Armstrong's right hand. The X-15 employed a non-standard landing gear. It had a nose gear with a wheel and tire, but the main landing consisted of skids mounted at the rear of the vehicle. In the photo, the left skid is visible, as are marks on the lakebed from both skids. Because of the skids, the rocket-powered aircraft could only land on a dry lakebed, not on a concrete runway.

The second X-15A was rebuilt after a landing accident. It was lengthened by about 2.4 ft, received a pair of auxiliary fuel tanks slung under the fuselage, and was given a heat-resistant surface treatment, the result being called the X-15A-2. It first flew June 28, 1964, and eventually reached a speed of 7,274 km/h (4,520 mi/h or 2,021 m/s).

Following the retirement of the X-15s in 1968, X-15A #1, 56-6670, was sent to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. X-15A #2, 56-6671, is on display at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. X-15A #3, 56-6672, was destroyed in a crash on November 15, 1967; test pilot Michael J. Adams was killed when his X-15A-3 began to spin on descent and then disintegrated when the acceleration reached 15 g . On June 8, 2004 a memorial monument was erected at the crash site near Randsburg, California. Twelve test pilots flew the plane, including Neil Armstrong, later the first man on the Moon and Joe Engle who went on to command Space Shuttle missions.

X-15 #3, 56-6672, painting by Cal Smith on American Modeler, November, 1961.

X-15A 56-6670 at NASM. 1978 photo by CollectAir. This X-15 made the most powered flights, 82, of the three ships.

X-15A 56-6671 at the Air Force Museum. 2004 photo by CollectAir.

The X-15 research aircraft was developed to provide in-flight information and data on aerodynamics, structures, flight controls, and the physiological aspects of high-speed, high-altitude flight. A follow on program used the aircraft as a testbed to carry various scientific experiments beyond the Earth's atmosphere on a repeated basis. For flight in the dense air of the usable atmosphere, the X-15 used conventional aerodynamic controls such as rudder surfaces on the vertical stabilizers to control yaw and canted horizontal surfaces on the tail to control pitch when moving in synchronization or roll when moved differentially. For flight in the thin air outside of the appreciable Earth's atmosphere, the X-15 used a reaction control system. Hydrogen peroxide thrust rockets located on the nose of the aircraft provided pitch and yaw control. Those on the wings provided roll control.

Topping X-15 in Seattle Museum of Flying exhibit - 6/08. CollectAir photo.

This X-15 mockup is currently being exhibited at the newly opened Evergreen Space Museum (June 08) located in McMinnville, Oregon. The mockup was originally constructed by North American for engineering studies during the design phase of the X-15. The mockup has bounced around over the years, being displayed/stored at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. It was also exhibited at the EAA AirVenture Museum in 2001 and 2002. It is now marked as 56-6672, ship #3 which crashed. CollectAir photo.

The X-15 pilots are chronicled in a lengthy article on the X-15 program in the November 2007 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian. Bill Dana describes some of the flight activities and fellow X-15 pilots. The death of Mike Adams in ship #3 had a profound affect on the program, according to Mr. Dana. Bill Dana flew the very last flight, number 199, on the X-15 in 1968.

November 2007 issue featuring the "Ultimate Airplane," the X-15.

A video interview with Bill Dana can be seen by clicking here.

Additional information on the X-15, along with a card model, can be viewed by clicking here. An X-15 walkaround tour can be taken by clicking here.

Richard Hallion, well known historian, wrote the following in his 1981 book, On the Frontier - Flight Research at Dryden, 1946-1981: The public had little understanding of the X-15 and, after the early fanfare, saw only the occasional items in newspaper back pages on new speed and altitude marks - as if that was all the X-15 did. Laymen could not understand what went into a flight: the mission planning; the hours of simulator time; the flight practice; the endless maintenance; the annoying delays for weather; the excitement as the B-52 took off; the long wait to drop or, disappointingly, to an abort; the moment of launch, with ignition and boost, or an abort and emergency landing; the tenseness of the control room; the hypersonic glide back; the chase and X-15 coming in like a flock of ducks; the resounding smack as its skids thumped into the lake; and, once again, the maintenance, debriefing, data analysis, and planning for the next mission. They could not know the strong bonds the program forged, nor the collective worry produced by an errant flight or an emergency condition, nor the heartache generated by the death of Mike Adams. They could not fathom the emotional and psychological release of the parties at Juanita's. For a decade, the Flight Research Center sustained this effort, and its personnel found new kinship and dedication. When the X-15s left the lake for the last time, a little bit of the center and its personnel went with them. But there were other programs, other vehicles.

Offered here is an X-15 display model by Orvis Plastic Company; Orvis Lenovitch was a former employee of Topping. This model is in excellent condition and comes with the original box. This model is from the 1960s. This X-15 display model is priced at $1350.00.

Some versions of this model came with the NASA marking on the vertical fin although I've only seen photos of one example.

The X-15 appeared on many magazine covers during the 1960s.

The 1992 book, At the Edge of Space - The X-15 Flight Program, by Milton O. Thompson, is an excellent read and description of the program by one of its pilots. Each of the twelve test pilots involved is profiled. The book is highly recommended for fans of the amazing X-15 program. A summary of the book can be viewed by clicking here. The used book is available at a reasonable price at any of the internet book sites.

Illustration from book.

This is the definitive book on the X-15 program. The cover states: "(authors) cover the entire story: the establishment of the new science of hypersonics; the project 1226 competition that led to the X-15; the design, construction, and systems of the three black airplanes; and the most productive flight research program ever undertaken. More than 550 photos, many in color, along with a detailed summary of every X-15 flight round out this comprehensive look at one of the most significant research airplanes ever flown, a vehicle whose accomplishments are still impressive alomost 50 years later." This book is a "must" for anyone interested in the X-15.


A large, aluminum, 1:50 scale model of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. The U.S.A.F. Thunderchief became operational in 1959; the F-105 was designed to replace the Republic F-84F. The Tactical Air Command used the F-105 as its primary strike fighter by 1961 and it was also operational with the USAFE in Germany. The first prototype YF-105A was test flown on October 22, 1955 and it exceeded Mach 1 on its initial outing. The F-105B incorporated a bigger engine, the J75, and it first flew May 24, 1956. It also featured the swept-forward air intakes and an area rule fuselage. 75 "B" models were delivered to the Air Force by 1960, followed by the "D" model, the best known service version - 610 were delivered. The Thunderchief, known as the "Thud", was used extensively in Vietnam as a bomber, carrying 50% more bomb load than the WWII B-17! A descriptive history text covering the F-105 is available by Clicking Here.

Very little distinguishes the "B" model from the "D" externally; the later was one foot three inches longer. This all-metal model was contracted through Air-Parts International, a Dutch supplier firm, and carries a label which specifies that it was "Modeled by M.M. Verkuyl (Matthys M. Verkuyl, Badhoevedarp) Holland The Hague".

It is reported that only a modest number (probably fewer than 10,000)of these models were produced for Republic Aviation (taken over by Fairchild-Hiller in 1965). I've seen several different examples of the base name plate - a similar model with plastic canopy and a two-piece base was made by Topping. My guess is that this model represents the earlier F-105B. The tail serial number markings represent a 1954 contract, hence the "4" and the first batch had serial numbers from 100 to 112, hence the "0105", putting this model chronologically around 1958 or so. However, Verkuyl probably used the "40105" number as a play on F-105, not knowing that actually serial number 54-0105 was completed as a RF-105B with a reconfigured camera nose. An excellent website exists which covers the F-105 in detail.

Republic F-105B by the late Walter M. Jefferies Jr., published in January 1958.

Colonel Jack Broughton, USAF, authored the famous book, Thud Ridge, which describes in breathtaking detail the low level combat action in a F-105 over North Vietnam and some of the mismanagement of the air campaign by Washington. First printed in 1969, it is reported that President Johnson had the first hard-cover run of the book bought up and destroyed by the Pentagon but I believe that this is an "urban legend" in that inexpensive copies of the hardback can be purchased on the internet. A paperback version accompanies this model.

A F-105D version.

The model is in excellent condition with only a few minor nicks or scratches and the decals are about 95% complete. The decal areas haven't been polished in order to preserve the decal material. The photos below show in detail the finish of the model and any minor blemishes of nicks and scratches which, in no way, diminish the beauty of this model. The finish is polished with no corrosion whatsoever.

This exquisite F-105 is in a class with beautiful sculpture - an aluminum masterpiece.

Own this large, superb, polished aluminum model of the F-105 (note the sweeping lines of the stand) for $Sorry Sold.


This model is the first of the Matthys M. Verkuyl-made F-105s; it carries a slightly different name plate than the Air Parts model offered above and has a cockpit marking and a fuselage color that are similar but not quite identical. The model is in outstnding condition. Note in the photos below that the streaks on the painted portion of the fuselage are reflections, not imperfections. The price of this sculpture is Sorry Sold.


The Netherlands firm of Matthijs Verkuyl is well known for quality display models manufactured from both plastic and aluminum; the company was purchased by IMC in 1978. Verkuyl primarily made commercial airliner models and military aircraft. The 1:50 scale F-105B made from an aluminum sand casting and highly polished has been offered on this website several times and is a popular and hard to find collector's display model - the Verkuyl 1:50 scale F-105B model was made between the mid-1960s to around 1969. Originally, the model (with a clear canopy)was made by Topping but the company went bankrupt in 1964. I was under the impression that the 1:50 scale model was the only metal F-105 made by Verkuyl - reportedly they made as many as eight to ten thousand. It came as a surprise that Verkuyl also made a larger, 1:32 scale, metal model of the F-105B, as pictured below.

Most Verkuyl aluminum models were painted following a filling and surface finishing to perfection. This model was cast to a high degree of fineness with particular attention to scale thickness of surfaces and realistic air intake ducts with deep recesses. The tail surfaces and wings are beautifully done - ultra thin. The model has a painted finish.

The date of manufacture for this exquisite model is unknown so a possible timeline can be explored. Topping displayed the aluminum F-105 model (8 ½" wingspan) in the 1961 and 1960 catalogs - a smaller scale F-105 in plastic was also made - perhaps by Precise. Following Topping's demise in 1964, the contract for the 1:50 scale F-105 was obtained by Verkuyl and later through Air Parts for Verkuyl. Evidence is available that shows that the 1:50 model was being presented to F-105 pilots as late as 1969, perhaps later. Markings were never changed on the 1:50 models, keeping the "FH-105" and tail number of "40105" indicating the very first production batch of F-105Bs in 1958 with the first flight of "40101" on May 26, 1956. Republic probably contracted with Topping for the 1:50 models in the 1958 era and it is known that no models were made by the original Topping company after about 1964. Verkuyl began manufacturing the 1:50 model (with same markings but with an aluminum cockpit and different stand) soon after that. But when was the large 1:32 model made - with same markings? The timeline gets sticky at this point.

The claim by the previous owner of this 1:32 F-105B is that this particular model was given to the Crew Chief (his grandfather) of the F-105B piloted by Brig. Gen. Joseph Moore, commander of the 4th FW, as he set a new world speed record of 1216.48 mph over a 100 km closed circuit during Category II testing at Edwards AFB - project Fastwind - on December 11, 1959. Note the "1959." If true, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, then Verkuyl would have had a contract to make this beautiful model long before they began manufacturing the 1:50 model. The model itself gives credence to this timeline as it bears little resemblance in construction style to the later 1:50 model which was apparently cast from reworked molds as used earlier by Topping. The mold for the 1:32 model is much finer with more accurate thicknesses and recessed ductwork when compared to the 1:50 model - note the boundary layer splitter plate. Also, control surfaces are detailed with scoring. Considering the 1959 date, it becomes apparent that Republic probably had contracted with both Topping and Verkuyl for display or presentation models during the original production stage of the F-105B. The large Verkuyl 1:32 model has not been publicized or acknowledged on any of the websites that I've reviewed. Certainly the 1:32 model would have cost considerably more than the 1:50 version. The Verkuyl label on the 1:32 model matches the label on the first versions of the 1:50 Verkuyl F-105B. I've concluded that this 1:32 model is relatively rare and was probably made in small numbers for presentations and awards as opposed to give-away to service pilots. Maybe an Air Force general in the Pentagon had one of these on his desk. Republic experienced many technical problems with the "B" and it wasn't until the "D" version became operational in around 1961 that progress was made. The last F-105F was delivered in January 1964, the end of Thunderchief production. However, experience in Vietnam combat resulted in many modifications to the existing F-105s including the two-place "G"modification/rebuild which was active in Vietnam up to the 1973 ceasefire. Some existing "B" models made it into the USAF Reserve at Hill AFB and were being used as late as 1977.

Most F-105s used in combat were painted a camouflaged scheme although some of the early arrivals in Vietnam were bare metal to match this model.

F-105B-5RE, serial number 54-0104, on early test flight. Note markings.

This exacting model has several small defects. The nameplate is missing from the stand and there is a small chip out of the aft vertical fin tip and the left horizontal surface. Ownership of this fine F-105B will cost $2950.00.

Afterburner duct cooling ram air intake.


The OV-10A was a twin-turboprop (two Garrett-AiResearch T76s [-G-10, left; -G-12 right] of 715 shaft hp each) short takeoff and landing aircraft conceived by the U.S. Marine Corps and developed under a U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps tri-service program. The first production OV-10A was ordered in 1966, and its initial flight took place in August 1967.

The Bronco’s missions included observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, gunfire spotting, utility and limited ground attack. The USAF, however, acquired the Bronco primarily as a forward air control aircraft. Adding to its versatility is a rear fuselage compartment with a capacity of 3,200 pounds of cargo, five combat-equipped troops or two litter patients and a medical attendant.

The first USAF OV-10As destined for combat arrived in Vietnam in July 1968. A total of 157 OV-10As were delivered to the USAF before production ended in April 1969. An example of the OV-10A is shown at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, as shown below.

This display model in 1:40 scale was made for North American Aviation - Columbus, a division of North American Rockwell in the 1960s by Rolen Plastics, Inc. The model is complete with its original box and is in excellent condition; it is priced at $600.00.

The Bronco was featured in the January 2010 issue of Aeroplane. An excellent OV-10 reference as pictured below.


The Ryan Firebee was a series of target drones or unmanned aerial vehicles developed by the Ryan Aeronautical Company beginning in 1951. It was one of the first jet-propelled drones, and one of the most widely-used target drones ever built. It is being included in this secion as an "airplane," not a missile.

In 1948, the Pilotless Aircraft Branch of the USAF issued a requirement for a jet-powered aerial target with a high subsonic speed, for use in ground-to-air and air-to-air gunnery. The designation Q-2 was assigned to the project, and in August 1948, Ryan was announced winner of the design competition. The first powered flight of an XQ-2 occurred in early 1951, and in the same year, the drone was ordered into mass production as the Q-2A Firebee. Similar versions were also ordered by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army as KDA-1 and XM21, respectively.

When ground lauched, the drone was boosted into the air by an Aerojet General X102F solid-fueled rocket booster. The Navy's KDA-1 and Army's XM21 were powered by a Fairchild J44-R-20 engine, and could be recognized by the distinctive intake center body. The Firebee could be recovered by a two-stage (brake/descent) parachute system, which was automatically deployed when the drone was hit, or when vital components like engine or remote control equipment failed. Of course the parachute descent could also be initiated manually by radio command.

The Navy obtained several improved variants of the KDA-1, including the "XKDA-2" and "XKDA-3", which were not built in quantity, and the "KDA-4", which was the main production version for the series. These variants were hard to distinguish from the KDA-1, differing mainly in successively uprated J44 engines and minor changes.

In the late 1950s, the USAF awarded Ryan a contract for a substantially improved second generation Firebee, the "Model 124", originally with the designation "Q-2C". The initial prototype performed its first flight in late 1958 and went into production in 1960. In 1963, it was redesignated the "BQM-34A". The old first-generation KDA-1 and KDA-4 targets that were still flying with the Navy were then, somewhat confusingly, given the designations "AQM-34B" and "AQM-34C" respectively.

The BQM-34A emerged as the Firebee as it is recognized today, with a bigger airframe, longer wings, and in particular a "chin"-type inlet under a pointed nose, in contrast to the circular intake of the first-generation Firebees. It was powered by a Continental J69-T-29A turbojet, a copy of the improved Turbomeca Gourdon derivative of the Marbore, with 7.56 kN (770 kg / 1,700 lb) thrust. The Navy also adopted the BQM-34A, while the Army obtained a ground-launched version designated "MQM-34D", with longer wings and a heavier RATO booster.

This Topping contractor's model of the KDA-1 is from the 1950s. Some of the Firebee KDA-1s had arrow-shaped end plates on the horizontal tail surface but the Topping contractor's model did not have end plate fins - many configurations of the Firebee line were developed between 1951 and 2003. This model in 1:28 scale is available for $600.00


The Lockheed JetStar series for civilian and military use evolved from an early design by the famous Al Mooney when he worked for Lockheed in the 1950s; though not a big company man, Mooney designed several airplanes at Lockheed as well as finding work for his brother Art. The small jet that he designed was aimed at the business market and would have been competition for the Cessna Citation, Hawker and larger Learjets. His proposal did become the Lockheed JetStar, a production business jet with four small jet engines paired up two per side on the aft fuselage.

The Lockheed JetStar was the first business jet. It was designed, as a Lockheed private venture, in the late 1950s by the famed Lockheed Skunk Works under the direction of Kelly Johnson. A four-engined aircraft, with several engine models installed, the aircraft was in production from 1957 (prototypes) to 1979. It entered service in early 1961. The first two Jetstars were twin engined airplanes, powered by Bristol Siddeley Orpheus turbojet engines. The second was refitted with the four Pratt & Whitney JT12 engines that were installed on all the first Jetstars. Garrett TFE731 turbofans were installed on later airplanes. A total of 204 Jetstars were built by Lockheed in several models. Military versions (about 16) flew four U.S. Presidents, carrying the Air Force One designation while they were aboard (some jokingly called it Air Force One Half).

The JetStar made it's first flight 4 Sept 1957 from Burbank, and like many of Kelly Johnson's Lockheed designs, this was only 241 days after design completion. Most importantly, this airplane became Kelly Johnson's personal airplane. He flew in it, from Burbank to meetings in the Pentagon, or to supervise the activities of his many secret projects at Groom Lake in the famed "Area 51."

This model represents the Lockheed CL-329 JetStar (C-140 in USAF service), a business jet produced from the early 1960s through the 1970s. It is distinguishable from other small jets by its four engines, mounted on the rear of the fuselage in a similar layout to the Vickers VC-10 airliner, and the "slipper"-style fuel tanks fixed to the wings. A number of JetStars were produced for the United States Air Force. Five of the airframes purchased by the Air Force were configured as Flight Inspection aircraft to perform airborne testing of airport navigational aids. These aircraft were designated C-140As. They began service during the Vietnam War and remained in service until the early 1990s. The "Flight Check" C-140A JetStars were a combat-coded aircraft that could be distinguished from the VIP transport version by their distinctive camouflage paint scheme. The last C-140A to be retired was placed on static display at Scott AFB, Illinois, to honor its distinguished service.

An additional eleven airframes were designated C-140B. The C-140Bs were used to transport personnel by the Military Airlift Command. Six of the aircraft were operated as VIP transports by the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington DC. These VIP aircraft were designated as VC-140Bs. The VIP transport fleet occasionally served as Air Force One during the 1970s and 1980s. Several other countries, such as Germany and Canada, have used military JetStars as transports for their heads of state, heads of government, and other VIPs.

A NASA operated JetStar.

JetStar production for civilian use totaled 160 aircraft by final delivery in 1973. Noise regulations in the United States and high fuel consumption led to the development of the 731 JetStar, a modification program which added new Garrett AiResearch TFE731 turbofan engines and redesigned external fuel tanks to original JetStars. The 731 JetStar modification program was so successful that Lockheed produced 40 new JetStars, designated JetStar IIs, from 1976 through 1979. The JetStar IIs were factory new aircraft with the turbofan engines and revised external fuel tanks. Both 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs have greatly increased range, reduced noise, and better runway performance compared to the original JetStars. Most original JetStars have been retired, but many 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs are still flying in various roles.

Verkuyl, Space Models, Topping and others manufactured various models of the JetStar series. Topping first came out with the early twin-engine prototype version with no wing tanks and soon after modified the model with four engines, still with no wing tanks. Space Models made a nice 1:72 scale plastic model of the JetStar II which was previously offered on this website.

This aluminum model, N1007, decorated in Lockheed "house" colors, has a 13 5/8" wingspan for a large scale of 1:48. The underside of the left-hand stabilizer is marked with "Made in Holland by Matthys M Verkuyl Badhoevedorp." The aluminum Verkuyl models were sand cast, then finished, blemishes filled with putty, primed and painted - a labor intensive process by today's standards. The model is in excellent condition as shown in the photos. This is a beautiful piece of aerodynamic blends that is a tribute to America's first business jet - amazingly, a few of the JetStars are still flying. Own this attractive model for $Sorry sold.

The advertisement for Lincoln, shown below, is from 1960 and shows a top view of the early JetStar.


McDonnell F-101B "Voodoo" at USAF Museum.

The Voodoo was initially designed to serve as a SAC long-range escort and penetration fighter but was later switched to the Tactical Air Command. It was the heaviest single-seat fighter in the USAF when first introduced into service. A large airplane, the F-101A was 67 ft. 4 3/4 in. in length. The example of the two-seat interceptor F-101B in The National Museum of the United States Air Force (see above) does look big when you're standing alongside it! The F-101 first flew on September 29, 1954. There were 807 Voodoos, F-101A through the final RF-101C, manufactured from 1954 to 1961 (Office of Air Force History).

Topping F-101B, tail number 80232.

Topping F-101A (prototype) - this example previously sold.

Of interest is the fact that the F-101A and C were nuclear bombers only, incapable of delivering conventional bombs. The "C" model set a FAI world speed record of 1,207 mph on December 12, 1957; it was the fastest tactical fighter in inventory until the F-104. The "B" model, F-101B, was a two-place, long-range interceptor which first flew in March 1957 and only entered operational service with the Air Defense Command after two years of extensive testing. An observer was carried behind the pilot in an elongated cockpit as can be noted on the F-101B model shown above as compared to the F-101A model. The Air Force lost one fifth of its "B" interceptors in 10 years of operation, most during early use caused by spins, "a definite hazard to inexperienced pilots." The F-101B, in its primary all-weather version, was armed with two unguided Douglas MB-1 "Genie" nuclear rockets (see model in Missiles section) in addition to three Falcons carried in the bomb bay.

The long-nose RF-101 photo reconnaisance version was the airplane that took the pictures of the Soviet missile sites during the Cuban crisis in 1962. The RF was also used in Southeast Asia in the 1960s. Phaseout of the F-101s took place during 1969 to 1971.

This Topping F-101B model is of particular interest in that it is an excellent example of a "new" Topping model - this model is what the customer saw when the Topping box was opened in the late 1950s or early 1960s. This is as good as a Topping model gets - this box was only recently opened to disclose this time capsule from fifty years ago. The photos below show the box markings and the packing of the model as it was originally shipped.

An exceptional "new" Topping model of the McDonnell F-101B in 1:72 scale, this boxed beauty is available for $795.00.

A three-view of the original F-101 was carried by the August 1955 issue of Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men. This This drawing by Walt Jefferies, can be viewed and printed by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return.


WF-2 photo from the 1960-61 Jane's. This factory fresh aircraft with no markings appears to be the source of information for the Topping model which is finished in a near copy of this photo.

There was early interest at Grumman in developing an airborne early warning aircraft based on the S2F Tracker; the Bethpage Preliminary Design group began working on the project in 1955 as Design 117. Wind tunnel tests of a S2F with a large radome were conducted and it was determined that a rearward radome extension was required to reduce drag. The S2F was abandoned as the airframe and was replaced with the TF-1 Trader which had a larger fuselage - the TF-1, a carrier-based transport plane, was an outgrowth of the S2F. Because of the radome, the wing folding had to be changed from the TF-1's vertically folding wing to the "sto-wing" which folded to the rear alongside the fuselage. A TF-1 was modified into an aerodynamic prototype and first flown in this configuration on December 17, 1956. Development continued, primarily with the electronics, and the first WF-2 flew on March 1, 1958.

WF-2 (E-1B) of VAW-11 from the USS Oriskany in 1965/66.

The radar fitted to the Tracer was the new AN/APS-82 manufactured by Hazeltine, original builders of the AN/APS-20 which was the first AEW radar ever used. The AN/APS-82 introduced many technological advances including stabilized antenna and Airborne Moving Target Indicator (AMTI) which allowed the radar to detect low flying targets against the clutter of radar reflections from the surface of the ocean. 88 WF-2 and E-1B Tracers were built by Grumman for the U.S. Navy with operations extending from 1958 to 1977 when the E-2 Hawkeye completely replaced the aircraft in service.

The WF-2 was redesignated as the E-1B in 1962. Known throughout the Navy as the "Willie Fudd" or as the "Stoof with a roof." The WF-2 was powered by two Wright R-1820-82A engines of 1,525 hp and had a gross weight of 26,600 lbs. Several museums have E-1Bs in their inventory.

WF-2 (E-1B) of VAW-11 on USS Hancock in 1962.

This Topping model would have been made in relatively small numbers because of the limited number of squadrons flying the WF-2. The photo below shows the WF-2 as pictured in the 1961 Topping catalog.

This model is in excellent condition considering that it is around fifty-years old. It has the original stand which has had a less-than-expert regluing of the vertical mount, but acceptable - see photos. The WF-2 is available for $895.00.

The photo below shows the Topping WF-2 as displayed in the Patuxent River NAS Museum (6/05).

F-86 versus MiG-15 Ashtray

This is an unusual piece which probably stems from the Korean War period. The F-86A model has a wingspan of 5 3/8" which is a scale of 1:82. The models appear to be made of aluminum castings and the stand is a rather unsophisticated, bent sheet aluminum arrangement placing the aircraft in a "dogfight." I acquired the piece about 20 years ago and know nothing about its provenance.

My guess is that this model grouping was constructed in Korea or Japan by GIs during the Korean War. The ashtray is marble and there are no markings. The ashtray alone is a giveaway as to the time period. I can't imagine that there are many of these floating around. An interesting display, perhaps one of a kind, that you can own for $500.00. If you are inventive, you could make up your own tale as to its origin.


A manufacturer's display model in 1:100 scale of the Boeing T-43A (727-200), USAF Navigation Trainer from 1975. Boeing made the decision to build the 737 in February 1965 with an initial order of 21 airplanes by Lufthansa. Boeing has been building the 737 in many variants continuously since then. This model was probably made by Pacific Miniatures but is unmarked. Own this nice example of the USDAF T-43A for only Sorry Sold.

Topping LTV Michigan XM561 Prototype Test Vehicle for the Gama Goat

The Gama Goat was a six-wheel-drive semi-amphibious off-road vehicle originally developed for use by the US Military for the War in Vietnam. It was famous for an articulated body, which allowed it to travel over exceptionally rough terrain and for a unique four-wheel steering arrangement with the front and rear wheels turning in opposite directions.

The nickname came from two sources, "Gama" from the name of the inventor of its powered articulated joint, Roger Gamount, and "Goat" for its mountain goat-like off-road ability. Its production military designation was M561, 6x6 tactical 1.5 ton truck. There was also an ambulance version known as the M792.

The concept for the vehicle came when the French Army reported that the U.S. Army trucks provided to them were woefully inadequate for the terrain in Vietnam. In 1959, ARPA funded a research project called Project Agile to develop a new tactical truck for the Southeast Asia theatre, as well as other projects of interest to the then looming Vietnam War.

Several companies bid for the contract including Clark, General Motors and LeTourneau, but the contract was given to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) aerospace, best known for their A-7 Corsair II aircraft. LTV developed the XM561 experimental vehicle which underwent extensive testing and subsequent significant changes were recommended by the U.S. Army. Production of the M561 vehicle began in 1962 by Consolidated Diesel Electric Co.

The Gama Goat was a successful off-road vehicle but due to a plague of mechanical problems, its loud engine noise, and special driver training because of its four wheel steering habits it was not pursued in future contracts and was eventually replaced in function by the M998 series HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). If you would like to learn more about the Gama Goat, click here.

This Topping model of the Experimental XM561 is in 1:32 scale and represents the first test version - the production M561 is quite similar. Topping would have made this model in the 1959-60 era. It is presented here to show the wide range of models that Bill Topping produced for industrial promotional purposes. NFS.

M4 Sherman "Easy Eight" Medium Tank 1:24 Scale

M4 Sherman "Easy Eight" Medium Tank 1:24 Scale Model.

This large, 1:24 scale model of the Sherman tank is constructed from wood, metal, rubber and resin and is not made in China.

The M4 Sherman was the primary tank used by the United States Army during World War II. The Sherman's effectiveness was controversial because of both armament and armor deficiencies, but it was easy to build in large numbers which became a key element in World War 2 strategy.

M4A3E8 tank at the Patton Museum.

The M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman tank.

U.S. Marine Museum, Quantico. CollectAir photo.

M4 Medium tank production exceeded 50,000 units and its chassis served the basis for numerous other armored vehicles such as tank destroyers, tank retrievers and self-propelled artillery. The M4 was named the Sherman after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. The M4 medium tank was used by the US until the end of the Korean War and many nations continued to use the tank in the late 20th century and was used in both training and combat roles.

In October 1942, the first Shermans saw action with the British Army at the Second Battle of El Alamein. As the North Africa campaign progressed, M4s and M4A1s replaced the older M3 Lee in most American armor formations. When the Sherman first entered service, it was far more superior to the German tanks it encountered in North Africa and remained at least on tactical par with the medium Panzer IV series throughout the war.

In June 1944, after it landed in Normandy, it was found that the Sherman's 75mm gun was incapable of penetrating the front armor of the heavier German Panther and Tiger tanks and was only capable of defeating the Panther and Tiger in close range or from the flank. But American armor units were able to overcome this handicap and achieved favorable results on the battlefield.

The M4A3 was the first to be factory-produced with the new HVSS (horizontal volute spring suspension) suspension with wider tracks for lower ground pressure and the smooth ride of the HVSS with its experimental E8 designation led to the nickname Easy Eight for Shermans so equipped. The first HVSS Sherman to see combat was the M4A3E8(76)W in December 1944.

There were only a few tank battles encountered with the Japanese. Shermans with 75mm guns were able to dominate the battlefield since the Japanese seldom used any armor heavier than light tanks.

The internet has many sources of information for the Sherman tank. You can click here for a sample website.

The following photos show the 1:24 scale Sherman "Easy Eight" tank model. Well packaged for shipment, this handsome piece can become an important part of your WW2 collection for $399.95.

Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard book, M4 (76mm) Sherman Medium Tank 1943-65, by Steven Zaloga and illustrated by ASAA Fellow, Jim Laurier. This title covers the M4 when equipped with the 76mm gun and explores the HVSS suspension as used on the "Easy Eight." Shown below is the cover and an illustration by Jim Laurier of the "Easy Eight" in Korea. An excellent companion to the M4A3E8 tank model, this Osprey book is priced at $15.95.

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