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Chock

Once a black sheep...

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A few weeks back I posted in Hangar Chat about being rushed into hospital. So I figured I'd update you all on how I am, and tell you an amusing tale in the process...

So, you may recall I initially thought I had 'man flu' and was putting up with being very ill, in an attempt 'not to be a pussy' about feeling ill. Eventually however, it got so bad that I staggered into the local hospital's casualty department, and within five mins of seeing a triage nurse, I was on a trolley with blood samples being taken and IV drips going in my arm and the very obvious indication that I would not be going home later that day lol. After a lot of tests, it was determined that I had a streptococcus infection, pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and a few other bits and bobs too (as if all that wasn't enough).

After around four of five days in a ward where they were shoving antibiotics into me IV and testing blood pressure etc every hour, I was transferred to another hospital with a more specialised ward for what was wrong with me. This led to me having a lung drain put on me (quite a painful op) and three days of that hauling the infection off my collapsed lung. Now, here is where the fun starts...

Far be it for me to slag off doctors and nurses, but sometimes the way they are managed can leave a bit to be desired, so when something is wrong, I've always felt it is incumbent on us to not stand by and say nothing about it, for if we do, then things will not change for the better. It didn't take me long when on that new ward in that new hospital to realise that something was definitely amiss in terms of overall care. In fact there were a lot of things which could have been better, and talking to my fellow patients on the ward only served to confirm that. However, everyone seemed too reserved to complain about it (typical Brits). But you guessed it, not me, I've always been a bolshy sod lol. Chief among complaints was that the staff rarely communicated with the patients to let them know exactly where they were in terms of care and progress, and being that some people on the ward (myself included) were in a fairly serious and potentially life-threatening condition, I found this unacceptable, other more trivial but nonetheless important overall matters included very poor food, which was in fact so bad that most patients were resorting to buying additional food and having relatives bring stuff in. Suffice to say that I ended up with a laundry list of complaints and some phone video evidence of what needed improving. With all that gathered, I demanded to see the healthcare trust's manager, or someone of equivalent status, so that I could make these concerns known. Now, you've never seen hospital staff get a rocket lit under their arses so quickly when you say something like that to them lol. Within about half an hour, I had some head honcho at my bedside, where I explained to them that the real problem was that care and healing comprises two things: physical care, and mental care, i.e an holistic approach to getting people well. One is no good without the other, and I told them in no uncertain terms that whilst they might be fulfilling the physical care side of the bargain, this would be for nothing if people were not kept informed of their progress and what was to occur next in their care plan, and to be kept in the dark with regard to such matters would in fact be detrimental, and I and others were experiencing just exactly that. To round it off, I challenged said head honcho to eat one of the meals which would be coming around that day, and asked them if they would happily give it to their dog, let alone eat it themselves lol. Because I certainly wouldn't have given it to my dogs. To illustrate: By the time I came out of that hospital, I weighed less than 70 kg because of the poor dietary provisions, I was so thin and weak that I literally looked like I'd come from a refugee camp rather than a modern hospital. Not good when one needs to build strength.

Anyway, the upshot was, following me expressing my grievances and those on behalf of my fellow ward members, things changed quite a bit in there, with much more communication going on, and within a day and a half, I was out of there, this at my insistence because I felt I would be better off out there and managing my own medication. Although one suspects they were glad to see such an unruly patient go lol.

That was about a week and a half ago. I'm currently at home, gradually coming off the medications, and getting stronger. To help with my mental healing, I'm indulging in something I haven't done for a long time - building a model aeroplane, since to do so requires a bit of mental exercise, what with all the research into detailing, markings etc, this again being the two stage healing process, helping your mind as well as your body after having sat doing so little in hospital to challenge one's mind.

So, the time came to pick which aeroplane to model: Well, given my bolshy pain in the butt actions against the authority of the hospital (not without good reason), there really could only be one choice couldn't there? Good old Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington's F4U-1 Vought Corsair of VMF-214, aka the Black Sheep Squadron lol. I know that a lot of the 'tale' of Boyington and VMF-214 is sometimes more a case of shrewd US Navy propaganda for a hungry press back in the States during the dark times of the war in the Pacific than much of the reality, but as with most legends, they're usually based on some truth, so I figured it was a fitting choice.

Here she is so far...

IMG_20170515_205924209_HDR_zpsecgfef93.j

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Great to know you're in Good Shape !

Nice model there !!! WoW!

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I was wondering how you were doing Chock. Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery! Your story had me in stitches. As I read it I was imagining the hospital staff talking among themselves and saying "We've got to get this guy better and out of here. Imagine what he'd be like if he had two good lungs!".

I was in the hospital years ago due to a lung infection and had a similar experience. I had good insurance and I felt they didn't want to let me go because  they were milking it. They said that I could not be discharged until I had a blood oxygen content of 98% at a brisk walk. I told them most people walking the streets can't do that. I demanded to see the hospital admin and challenged him to take the same test. He failed.

I had the same complaints about the food and couldn't wait to get home. However when I got home my food tasted bad also. It wasn't until the medication passed from my system that food started tasting better. I felt bad then about all complaining I did in the hospital regarding the food. Although the hospital food was still just diner quality. You certainly would think that the hospitals would serve you something nutritious while they are trying to get you better.

Anyway, good to see you back,

Ted

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Glad to hear your on the way back, Allen.  Have been wondering where you were. Avsim just isn't the same without you.

Great job on the F4U --- that doesn't look like a kit either!

Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

Bruce

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Black sheep in deed! Glad you're out and on the mend. What scale's that F4-U?

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You say, "more a case of shrewd US Navy propaganda" in your review of VMF-214.  I would say "US Marine propaganda".  Them pelicans never flew with 214.

Glad you are on the rebound!

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4 hours ago, HighBypass said:

Black sheep in deed! Glad you're out and on the mend. What scale's that F4-U?

It's 1/32nd scale. The basis of it is the (fairly awful) oldish Revell Kit, much of which has to be either discarded, tweaked or scratch-built to get something which will look half decent, for example, the pilot looks nothing like a US Marine Pilot at all, so I'm gonna have to make one up myself completely from scratch owing to the less common 1/32nd scale.

Ironically, more contemporary Japanese (of all nations lol) kits of the Corsair which utilise sliding mold technology and better sectioning are much better, and would certainly be an easier build than this one, but then again, where's the fun in having it all done for you eh?

One plus point of depicting a Marine aircraft from WW2 however, is that like most Marine and Navy units, and contrary to many of the 'news' pictures of Boyington and other 214 aviators sat in the cockpits of Corsairs festooned with 'meatball' kill markings, VMF-214 never used personal aircraft at all. Like most wartime units based at temporary Seabee airfields on a rapid advance, the availability of aircraft, parts, personnel and time available for servicing between missions at the kind of rough forward bases Marines operated from, would make such an indulgence of vanity completely impractical. Thus 214's aircraft were all shared, so it then becomes apparent that any pics of Corsairs with kill markings on them for the benefit of the press were exactly that - pictures for the benefit of the press generally mocked up for the occasion, with stuck on kill markings, including numerous well known pics of Boyington in the cockpits of Corsairs numbered '86', '883' '915' etc. So pretty much any Bu Number on the side of the thing will be an accurate depiction lol!

Thanks for all the nice comments from everyone too by the way. It means a lot. :-)

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I went to an airshow at KAPA(Arapaho County) in the early 80's and saw Pappy in a flight suit sitting at a table promoting/selling his book. He looked absolutely terrible -- and maybe hungover. I took a picture of him, but it's long gone.

Bruce

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I've built the Revell 1/32 scale F4U-1A a couple of times.  Nope, it is far from being a perfect kit, but it has a whole lot of potential.  First time around, I built it straight from the box.  Second time around, and almost two decades later, I built this one with a lot of scratch built details.

Corsair1.jpg

 

Corsair2.jpg

 

Corsair4.jpg

Corsair3.jpg

 

And if you are going to build it as the Corsair used for the photo-op, ie: #86, then be advised the kit decal is incorrect.  Col. Boyington always contended that the name on this Corsair was Lulubelle, but photos have been found that reveal it was actually Lucybelle.

BoyingtonLucybelle.jpg?h=ZoOfcTkaO3GB2N3

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Alan and Ted, Thanks for sharing your hilarious renditions of very serious medical conditions. A daily dose of laughter is healthy . . . reading you this morning will do me for the rest of the week!  All the best.

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2 hours ago, stans said:

If you are going to build it as the Corsair used for the photo-op, ie: #86, then be advised the kit decal is incorrect.  Col. Boyington always contended that the name on this Corsair was Lulubelle, but photos have been found that reveal it was actually Lucybelle.

Actually, there are no decals for a specific VMF-214 version in my kit, so I'd have to knock some up anyway. Nice model shots BT.

The reason for the confusion over Lucybelle/Lulubelle name on Corsair number 86, is because of Boyington's relationship with a woman at the time and his later wish to avoid connections with her lol. That and the post-war (1976-78) Steven J Cannell TV Series, Baa Baa Black Sheep (later syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron and also edited down into a two hour movie for VHS release in the early Nineties), which did much to muddy the waters between truth and reality.

The pic of number 86 was taken on November 26 at Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santu. Boyington is seen in the cockpit of plane 86, which wears 20 Rising Sun kill markings, Boyington's name and rank, and the name Lucybelle, are also either painted on the aircraft or added photochemically. However, a bystander's arm obscures two letters of the woman's name, leading to speculation that it could say either Lucybelle or Lulubelle, although to be honest, you can just about make out the end of a letter Y, which kind of clarifies it as Lucybelle. Either way, you can tell it is a hastily knocked up mock up, because even some of the rising sun stickers are put on crooked and upside down and even the number 86 looks questionable:

lulubelle_b&w4.jpg

At the time of that pic, Boyington was involved with a married woman (not for the first time either; it was a fight between him and a senior officer some years before -  over a woman - which saw him resigning from the Marines to join the AVG, that decision being pretty much in order to avoid being drummed out of the Marines on a charge of striking a superior officer lol). But back to number 86, that woman and that pic: She was Mrs Lucy Malcolmson, but things did not go well with her and following their break-up, Lucy kept $15,000 of Boyington's money that he had entrusted to her, so he was less than thrilled at her and loathe to credit her with anything when it came to post war recollections. Author and Boyington biographer Bruce Gamble, puts it rather succinctly: 'He had about fifteen thousand reasons to forget Lucy, each one worth a dollar.'

Thus Boyington was happy (as was usually the case) to never let the truth get in the way of his desires and aims. As such, about the only two things that are true concerning that TV series, are the Squadron number (VMF-214) and the type of aircraft featured. Cannell had said to Boyington - 'screw the truth, I want to make entertainment'. Boyington understood the value of someone who knew how to make an entertaining legend, after all, he'd been doing that himself and in fact did exactly that himself in order to talk his way back into the Marines having returned from China after serving with the AVG, so he was happy to let Cannell turn him into a legendary figure with episode scripts which bore little resemblance to real events (some aspects bear a passing nod to the truth, for example, it is indeed true that Boyington and some Japanese pilots did taunt one another over the radio and challenge each other to 'come up and fight' when on sweeps, but the episode where Boyington chats with a Japanese pilot and they both end up downed on an island, meet up and chat with one another in person, is a pure fabrication).

Other members of VMF-214 were reportedly less than happy with the TV series - not least because unlike Boyington, they were not employed as 'advisors' on the show, thus receiving no money from it - but more for reasons of making a 'good drama', the show portrayed them as a bunch of misfits awaiting court martials etc, with Boyington being the 'old man' who whipped them into a legendary squadron. It's true he led them well, but the real truth is also that many of them were already aces when they joined 214, they were nearly all hugely combat-experienced pilots who had simply finished their tours with squadrons and were assigned to 214 from the Marine pilot's pool, in fact quite a few of them had college degrees, so they were far from the drunken rabble the show often depicts them as.

For all his faults, Greg Boyington was clearly a remarkable and persuasive man, a very inspirational leader, and even taking into account some of the questionable victory claims, still quite evidently a very good and indeed very aggressive fighter pilot who undoubtedly achived a lot of aerial victories.

For anyone who really wants to be sure of modelling an aeroplane which he genuinely was around, it is known that he really did at least sit in all of these Corsairs, and definitely did fly combat in two of them:

No 18086: The one in the famous cockpit photos.

No 17740: The one used in "baseball" photo session.

No 17883: Definitely flown in combat by Boyington.

No 17915: Also definitely flown in combat by Boyington, since it was the one he was shot down in during his last mission, and he was observed by other members of 214 shooting down at least one Japanese fighter in this aircraft on that last mission.

Apparently the way aircraft were assigned, is that jeeps would drive the pilots along the flight line, and the aircraft crew chiefs would give a thumbs up if that aircraft was good to go. when a servicable plane was reached, a pilot would jump off a jeep, and board that craft, when all pilots were boarded, off they would go. Since this invariably occurred at dawn or even pre-dawn, it was regularly the case that the pilot would not even know his aircraft number, he'd just get in it and go. Upon return, he'd taxy it in, report any damage or faults to the crew chief and that would be it, filling out paperwork was rare, so it is hardly surprising to learn that there are few accurate records of who flew what aeroplane and when.

 

 

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A nice bit of research - hope the model turns out to your liking. :cool:

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Nice to see I'm not the only one who has done some serious reading and research on the 214 and Col. Boyington.  My journey into the Corsair and the 214 started with the tv series.  I enjoyed the show, mostly for the aircraft as the story lines often made little sense for a combat unit, but it did start what has become a life-long love affair with the Corsair.  Given the number of airworthy FG-1D's (and one F4U-1A), which could easily be painted to look like F4U-1A's, in the U.S., coupled with CGI graphics, I really wish a true telling of the story of VMF-214 would be made by Hollywood.  But, seeing what they like to do (CHiPs movie... barf!), it might be worse than the tv series.

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