1/72 AMT F-100F Wild Weasel

Gallery Article by Andrew Desautels (a.k.a. “Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy”) on July 29 2019

 

      

This is the first of my Wild Weasel collection, the complete series of 5 built between 2014 and 2019.

Early in the Vietnam War, American air power was blindsided by the development of the surface-to-air missile system (S.A.M.). Deployed in great numbers, easy to conceal, and initially impossible to detect or track in time, air strikes found themselves being decimated by the Soviet-supplied weapons. In the early days, often the first indication of a SAM’s presence was one’s wingman exploding.

Eventually, hardware was developed that could actually detect the electronic patterns of a SAM system, from its search emissions to lock on and launch signals, and even direction-bearing indicators. This meant the possibility of not only knowing if a SAM was operating in the area, but also knowing if it was preparing to launch (or not), and the direction to its location. What if this equipment could be mounted in an aircraft, giving it the ability to hunt down these stealthy killers? 

The first attempt used the F-100F as the platform for the developmental equipment, an aircraft in abundant supply as a combat-capable trainer. A total of only four F-100F’s were heavily modified for the new role, having their original wiring and much of the electronic gear stripped and replaced including redesigned cockpits (especially for the back seater, the Electronic Warfare Officer/EWO). 

Aircrews gathered as volunteers for a special mission of which they knew nothing until their first briefing. Upon being told that they would be actually finding, and tracking....and then attacking....on purpose....the newest, most feared and seemingly-invincible weapons of the time, and with only experimental equipment and tactics...well, the aircrews felt they had signed up for a suicide assignment! One of the grizzled vets stood up in bewilderment and spoke the words which have become the Wild Weasels’ eternal motto: “You’ve gotta be s****ing me!!!” Hence the letters “YGBSM” which adorns so many Weasel emblems and operations centers.

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This is the AMT 1/72 F-100F modified as the first Wild Weasel to successfully attack and destroy a SAM site. Flown by Captains Al Lamb and Jack Donovan, aircraft 58-1226 was used on 22 December 1965 to track and locate a SAM system hidden in a village. With supporting firepower from F-105’s, Lamb and Donovan destroyed the site with rockets and cannon fire. 

Most of the modifications to the kit were the installation of Weasel-appropriate antennae, plus the air intake at the base of the tail’s leading edge. Modified resin ejection seats were used to replace the kit seats, and a replacement metal pitot boom was installed (kit plastic never lasts long for a pitot boom the size of the Hun’s!). 

Wolfpak decals were used for this special aircraft, and Testors Model Master enamels, plus Alclad for the exhaust area. A note on the colors: I picked up a tip years ago that for a good Vietnam-war-zone appearance, many folks use 34052 Marine Corps Green instead of the “correct” 34079 Dark Green. I had tried it on a few Phantoms and loved the result. This time on the F-100, I’m not sure....

Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoy my Weasel series!

Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy

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