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by Scotaidh on June 15, 2013, 10:11:00 PM
I've always been intrigued by the fact that two aircraft using the same engines could be so different in appearance yet similar in top speed - but one has two engines and the other only one engine.
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by Scotaidh on March 23, 2013, 10:48:00 PM
The British Aircraft Corporation and Saab had a love-child ...
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by Weaver on March 12, 2013, 07:56:00 PM

Sparks in the Jungle
Nicaragua's TS-11 Iskras

(Official photo of two FAS Iskra's "patrolling the country's borders". The censor has blacked out the cockpits & ident. nos.) 

   Following the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, the CIA became completely paranoid
about the possibility of the country acquiring MiG-21s, and scrutinised every satellite photograph
and scrap on intelligence for signs of suitably-sized crates being shipped there. On becoming
aware of this fixation, the Soviet Union decided to exploit it. Casting around for a combat aircraft
that could be shipped in a much smaller crate, they settled on the Polish-made TS-11 Iskra 
("Spark") BR300, whose tailboom could be removed to pack it in a much shorter, fatter crate
than would be thought possible for any kind of aircraft. The ruse worked, and the shipment of
aircraft arrived in Nicaragua without challenge.

   The Iskra BR300 was a single-seat development of the standard Polish trainer, with a
fuel tank in place of the rear seat and a twin-barrelled GSh-23 cannon in place of the NS-23
fitted to it's BR-200 predecessor. Since the aircraft would be Nicaragua's only jet fighters,
they were also given an air-to-air capability by wiring them for R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) AAMs,
although this capability was concealed for some time after the existence of the aircraft 
themselves was acknowledged. The PZL factory wern't told the destination of the aircraft
for security reasons and the only guidance they got for a colour scheme was "forest",
resulting in an attractive, but rather too dark scheme by Nicaraguan standards. The Fuerza
Aérea Sandinista had more important things to do that re-paint aircraft though, so the 
"Polish Jungle" scheme remained. 

   The number of aircraft supplied, and their full combat history, remain unclear and the
subject of much rumour and speculation, with the FAS providing no useful information to 
this day. What is known is that their first recognised air-to-air kill was a Honduran A-37B
on a mission in support of the anti-revolutionary Contras, whose wingman saw the Iskra fire 
a small missile at his leader, and another (which apparently malfunctioned) at his own aircraft.
 This was the first indication that the Iskras had R-60 capability, but it may not actually have 
been their first kill, since another pair of A-37Bs had vanished without trace two weeks 
beforehand, and their fate remains unknown.

The only other established fact is that, a month after the A-37B shootdown, the tables 
were turned when a flight of A-37Bs apparently ran from a pair of Iskras, only to lead them 
into a trap sprung by Honduran Super Mystere B2s, resulting in both Iskras being downed 
in short order. No further recognised air combats took place, although a number of transport 
aircraft supplying the Contras vanished both before and after these incidents, and it's widely 
believed that the Iskras were responsible for at least some of those losses. They also flew 
many ground attack missions in support of the Nicaraguan Army, during which some of them 
were almost certainly damaged by ground fire.

The aircraft pictured  is showing signs of wear and tear, despite the fact that, as "the pride 
of the FAS", they were generally very well maintained. Although the GSh-23 cannon provided 
far more firepower than it's predecessor, the shorter barrels caused problems with muzzle
-blast, which can be seen to have rippled the skin nearby. This aircraft also has patches
 on it's port wing, and the port aileron and wingtip have been replaced, suggesting damage 
by small-calibre rounds. The combination of the red-black-yellow Sandinista roundels with 
the pre-revolutionary blue-white-blue fin flash might seem incongruous, but in fact this was 
standard practice for all Nicaraguan aircraft of this period. 

Kit: Mastercraft 1/72nd TS-11 Iskra 100/200

Mods: cannon from brass rod and filler, rear seat tank from Evergreen, jetpipe blanked 
with plasticard, seat straps from masking tape, missiles from spares box.

Paint: Humbrol enamels, sprayed and brushed. Karismacolour pencils and black pastel 
for weathering.

Decals: home-printed national markings, kit stencilling.

Best bits: ummmm the green paint (wish I could remember the formula...) and some of 
the home-print decals.

Worst bits: the grey/brown paint going wrong, most of the kit stencilling decals falling apart, 
oh yeah and the fit of whole damn kit! 

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by Weaver on March 12, 2013, 07:53:00 PM

El Salvadors Whistling Death Planes

by Carlos Fiasco

(from Central Region of Americas Plane Spotting newsletter #8) 

(pictures temporarily deleted due to a problem with imageshack hosting)

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa)

    The buying by Israeli of the Aerospatial "Super Magister" program in the
beginning of 1970s meant, of, course, that many of older IAF Fouga Cm-170 
Magisters were now excess to requirement and so were rebuilt and reupgraded 
by Isarel Aircraft Industries for the export purpose. Most of these were 
simplistic refurb-ishments of the standard 2-seat trainer variant and went 
on to serve in many world airforces as long-lived basic trainers, of which 
some are in place still. However, to make more sales of  Fouga Cm-170 
Magisters to more customers, Isarel Aircraft Industries begat 1-seat attack 
verison with the name IAI CM-170K Tzukit.

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable is 
one seat)

   IAI CM-170K Tzukit was got from inspiration of Air Macchi Mb.326K (also 
named Impala in Southern Africa) and K-designation was in fact blatent copy 
of this name also. The designer's direction was to fit 2 DEFA 553 cannons 
(of which Israeli had a manufacturing permission) in bumps underneath, with 
many cannon shells in place of the rear pilots seat and bottom. But when this 
configuration was test-flown, kickback and shaking damaged the aircraft frame 
parts and even meant that that prototype was written away not to be flown again. 

   Serendipitously, a solution was found. Isarel Aircraft Industries was at 
the time remaking Israeli Air Force Skyhawk aircrafts with DEFA cannons, so 
there old Colt Mk.12 20mm cannons were spare for fitting to Fouga Cm-170 
Magisters and when this was tested in flight it worked OK.

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are 
20mm cannons in bumps on bottom)

   As well as the cannons, the wing beams were made stroger to carry more 
ordnance and the Turbo Mecca Marbore motors were tuned for more horsepower. 
An ejecting seat, some armour and sighting electrical boxes were added also. 
This was all called "Stage I". Stage II was conceived to start with new 
General Eclectic J-85 motors (same as Super Magister) to give the horsepower 
to carry more weights of ordnance, and a diffently arranged wing with 6 bomb 
racks made possible by the moving of the air brakes to  the back of new wing 
end fuel tanks which looked like those on Sukhoi Su-25 Frogsfeet.

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are two bomb 
racks only)

   Unfortunately for Isarel Aircraft Industries, the IAI CM-170K Tzukit did 
not get sales to many customers. This was foremostly because even with the 
stroger wings, ordnance weight of the IAI CM-170K Tzukit was too little, even 
with clever Israeli-developed weapons such as "square" FFAR pod with 9 rocket
projections, whilst, alternatively, the, Stage II version with heavier 
ordnance weight was too expensive to be buying for an already used aircraft. 
Arabian boycott of Israel exports was a large problem also. Only a few Stage 
I aircraft were sold and no Stage II aircraft were ever sold, but 1 customer 
was El Salvador.

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are 
9 rocket FFAR pods)

   American Government ideas was for many years defeat the export of 
hi-technology weapons such as jet fighter planes to Central American countries, 
but this policy was "blown up" by the Israeli in the 1970s when first they 
made a sale of Dassalt MD.450 Oragans to El Salvador then, a sale of Dassalt 
Supermystere B2s to Honduras. El Salvador followed this mode then by buying 
of 20 re-made Fouga Cm-170 Magisters of which the last 8 were conveerted to 
IAI CM-170K Tzukits before they were remade. Accusedly El Salvador wanted 
Stage II IAI CM-170K Tzukits but they were told by American Government that 
permissions to sell to them the American Gereral Eclectic J-85 motors would 
not ever be made, so they got Stage I only. 

   El Salvadors IAI CM-170 Tzukits were sent in normal IAF dessert camoflage 
of green sand and brown paints due to a mistaken communication between the 
Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena and the Isarel Aircraft Industries. In El Salvador 
it was seen that these paints were too light of hue for the flora of that 
place, so it was decided to paint across the sand paint with a green paint 
of darker hue that was sent with the Dassalt MD.450 Oragans. A sotry is that 
the first painter saw a snake under the plane and was epiphanied to leave 
"snakes" of sand paint in the paint colours (or maybe he justly made a big 
mistake and it looked fine and they kept it, but the first story is better 
to tell in bars maybe?).

(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable is sand 
paint "snakes". Paint is badly after many years of fight)

 The Salvadorean IAI CM-170K Tzukits and also there 2-seat Fouga Cm-170 
Magisters fought a lot in the El Salvador Civil War in the 1980s years and 
soon 4 were crashed or shot down but they did many bombings of rebels. The 
palnes were said to have been given the name "Whistling Death" because of 
the sound of there motors (but truthfulness of this history is unclarified 
so far by researching). 

   But from the middle of the 1980s Cessna A-37B Dragonflys were sent from 
America because of American President Ronald Reagans changes of American 
Government policy about El Salvador. The IAI CM-170K Tzukit was a lot 
posterior to the Cessna A-37B Dragonflys becasuse this plane (thrust with 
irony by General Eclectic J-85 motors that IAI CM-170K Tzukit was not allowed) 
had much bigger weight of ordnance, and so the IAI CM-170K Tzukit became less 
and less seen. Now only 1 is ordained to still be alaive in El Salvador with 
2 Fouga Cm-170 Magisters also.


(All photos by author - pardons that closeup photos of aircraft on ground 
all taken by Military Police who arrested author at B.A. de Mayaculpa)

Kit: Airfix 1/72nd Fouga Magister
Gun Blisters: Revellobox 1/72nd Mystere IV rocket pod halves
Gun barrels: Airfix 1/72nd early Skyhawk
Pylons: Airfix 1/72nd BAe Hawk

Paint: Humbrol enamels, sprayed (badly) and brushed, Karismacolour pencils and black pastel 
for weathering

Decals: home made national markings, magister stencilling, Hawk ejection seat triangles

Mods: headrest to make moulded-in seat look like ejector seat, masking tape seat straps, 
scratchbuilt gunsight, single cockpit and cut down canopy, gun blisters added, tailpipes blanked off, 
pylons added, rocket pods scratchbuilt from brass tube and Evergreen rod.

Best bits: the way the single seat conversion came together, the rocket pods and the gunsight.

Worst bits: when the filler cockled the engine door skin, and when the brown paint went horribly, 
horribly wrong.....












Full build thread here: 




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by Librarian on February 21, 2013, 05:52:00 PM

This is a kit-bash I finished some time ago. Currently working on some other projects.
If my memory serves me it was a mix of 1/48 TSR-2, SU-24 and Vigilante. I've tried to submit over on the Forums but I couldn't seem to access my pictures to upload them. Looking forward to showing the latest when they are complete. I've shown these before over at the IPMSUK What-If forum.
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