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RiderFan

Armed aircraft and open equipment bays

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Hi there.

So I've read numerous times that it's a major no-no to have an aircraft armed and have electronic bay doors open. I've even seen and heard "experts" at model shows mention this many times that it bugs the heck out of them that a fully armed aircraft also has every possible electronics bay door open.

Then I see photos like this (from wikipedia)

640px-A-7E_VA-72_on_USS_America_%28CV-66%29_Apr_1986.JPEG

Amazingly, this is exactly the type of display I want, an open electronics door but with some form of load out so the pylons are not empty (read dull).

So my question is, how common is this? If I build this scene and take it to a model show, how likely am I to be deducted points for inaccurate representation??

David

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If I build this scene and take it to a model show, how likely am I to be deducted points for inaccurate representation??

David

My experience is a model built this way won't get dinged for perceived inaccuracies.

Terry

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I think some aircraft have a ground handling bay somewhere on them which stays open until the very last moment before the plane starts taxiing to the runway, no? this is where the ground crew can do those last minute preps and checks.

I know the Gripen has a panel just ahead of the wing root on the right side which is always open just before take off and just after landing when the ground crew is tending to the jet:

Gripen4.jpg

It would be no different if the Gripen were armed.

Edited by Kevan Vogler

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As Kevan said it much depends on airframe and panels. Some examples: F-104 had the avionics bay opened up until the pilot was ready to start climbing the ladder. F-16 have the comunication panel opened until it starts taxiing. An so on.

Once I had to judje a F-111 in a model contest. It was the best kit I have ever seen in my life but wing pylons were full of bombs while one of the wing was missing several panels and also the fuselage was half naked to show all the interiors tubes and wires. That was too much work for an armed plane, I suggest the modeller to just remove the bombs to have a prize.

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David, there are always exceptions to the rule, as mentioned some panels were required to be open until prior to launch, others so the pilot can check certain items. Anyway here are some examples.

M-39 cannon being removed from a F-100, note panel removed at the right of the pic and a Mk-82 loaded on the pylon:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Airmen_remove_M39_cannon_from_F-100_at_Phu_Cat_1967.jpg

Pic 10 here of a loaded Mirage F.1 with an open panel:

http://www.air-actualites.com/diaporama/12-2013-campagnef1/

Italian Tornados ready for missions over Libya:

http://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/crw_1163.jpg

A-1 getting some work even with a full bomb load:

http://www.gstatic.com/hostedimg/2d75e6ae259521c3_large

Jari

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I think another factor might also be where the aircraft is operating at the time. I'm sure I've seen pictures of aircraft operating in hot environments where the photo captions said something to the effect that some electronic bay panels were left open to the natural flow of air for cooling purposes.

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Technically, it is inaccurate. Yes, certain panels are open prior to flight. On the F-16, the comm panel on the right side is open. I think the panel that covers the engine bit ball and maybe the hydraulics panel are open. Performing maintenance on loaded and armed aircraft is not permitted. And, yes, it does lend to boring models.

Vern

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Yes, it is possible to see some panels opened with weapons loaded on the jet. Some are opened normally, as with the A-7E in your photo. Also, once the engines are started, if a fault is discovered during pre-flight checks, an avionics bay can be opened to remove and replace the offending box. What you won't see is heavy maintenance being done with ordnance on the jet. For example, all the panels along the spine removed to work on the flight controls or fuel lines, an engine change, etc.

What you see as boring, as a former flyer, I see as a jet that's ready to go flying, which is much more exciting than sitting around waiting for maintenance to finish their work while my bombing range and low level route times slip away... :)

As for your fear of being penalized in a contest, you won't. The only thing the judges consider is the construction of the model: seams filled, wings level, alignment of the various components, application of finish and decals (no silvering, etc.). Historical or technical accuracy are not part of the judging criteria. My personal interest is ordnance and I frequently have to hold my nose when judging a model that, while beautifully constructed, features ordnance that is incorrectly marked or loaded on the model. While judges each have some area of special interest, they have to check that at the door because they could penalize one model based on a technical flaw while another that may have an even bigger flaw the judge isn't aware of skates by.

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Does it happen? Yes. Is it common? Probably not. As noted above, even though it's not common, you can find pics of it and on certain aircraft some panels need to be open for preflight.

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I find that the context of the display affects my perception. If I see a stand-alone model with a bunch of open panels and a full ordnance load, I chalk it up to artistic license. But, that same model on a tarmac/airfield ramp base, or even more so, in a diorama, sets off the "BS" warnings - with the exception of the standard access panels that would normally be open prior to startup, or in the event that the builder has provided a photo of a specific instance that they chose to duplicate. Context is important.

But that's just my opinion - with only as much value as you think it's worth.

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Like others above have stated, "maintenance" on a loaded jet is a not permitted. A model with a bunch of panels open to portray it in a maintenance setting, while having ordnance loaded is inaccurate. However, there are panels that will be open just prior to launch on most jets. On the F/A-18, the panels on the starboard forward fuselage are typically the last to be closed just before the aircraft is taxied for launch.

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My maxim in modeling is "build what you see". If you see a photograph of an airplane loaded for bear with every access panel hanging open, go for it. You won't find such a photograph, but if you did...

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Well I happen to be a little more liberal in my opinion of what is "acceptable." To me, one of the purposes behind building a model is to show features of the real aircraft for display and education. So an F-14 with wings out, flaps dropped, slats drooped, loaded up with weaps, speed break deployed, canopy open, radome and gun bay panels open...is all okay with me.

On the other hand, if it is sitting on the cat with a JBD behind it, I would want it operationally accurate.

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We maintain aircraft everyday in deployed locations with live weapons on board. They are only removed when necessary, like when the jet will be down for heavy indepth maintenance. If we had to remove the bombs everytime we had to fix the jet, a lot of time would be wasted.

Shaun

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They are only removed when necessary, like when the jet will be down for heavy indepth maintenance.

Shaun

This at times is what's implied in some builds, which I believe is what most are referring to. There were plenty of times a gripe was discovered on our jets during preflight inspection. If the jet was loaded with ordnance and the gripe could be quickly fixed, the ordnance was left on. If the gripe was serious, the jet would be downed, ordnance downloaded and the maintenance done.

There are the 'rules' and then there are exceptions due to a number of factors. Generally speaking though, ordnance on a jet with all kinds of panels missing to depict a maintenance scene is technically 'incorrect'.

For those that are after accuracy, this would apply. For those that don't care about these types of little details, enjoy!

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This at times is what's implied in some builds, which I believe is what most are referring to. There were plenty of times a gripe was discovered on our jets during preflight inspection. If the jet was loaded with ordnance and the gripe could be quickly fixed, the ordnance was left on. If the gripe was serious, the jet would be downed, ordnance downloaded and the maintenance done.

There are the 'rules' and then there are exceptions due to a number of factors. Generally speaking though, ordnance on a jet with all kinds of panels missing to depict a maintenance scene is technically 'incorrect'.

For those that are after accuracy, this would apply. For those that don't care about these types of little details, enjoy!

I do agree with you. But my point was that for normal everyday maintenance in deployed locations, the weapons will not be removed. So if someone wants to display an aircraft with a few panels open and the live weapons still loaded, it would still be accurate.

I also completely agree with what mrvark posted earlier. Take care,

Shaun

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Head covers on AIM-9 L/M Sidewinder missiles are another good example. They should always be on for all parked jets, but I leave them off because I'd rather see the missile head than a hunk of red plastic with a phoney looking RBF flag.

You know, at times like this I often think we all worry to much about "accuracy" and what is "correct", me included. Ignoring scale, we all have to remember that these aircraft are made of plastic- which isn't exactly correct in the first place! ;)

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Open panels on armed aircraft NEVER happens - well that is it never happens

in the world of the self proclaimed "experts".

RAF Tonkas at CFB Cold Lake. Note long sleeves and hat it was cold so

no need to keep components cool. However if it was warm enough its

possible there's a greater need to keep panels open as getting good

cooling airflow to electronics can be an issue on some combat aircraft

i.e. the F-35 has an on board ACMI contained internally that's cooled with

liquid nitrogen. I checked the EXIF data on these pictures and in spite of

the FOD covers being in place these aircraft launched in under 24 minutes

from the time I took these shots.

I recall seeing F-18 Hornets and F-15 Eagles loaded with panels open however

being a visiting guest I was not permitted to take pictures of aircraft with

open panels, it is often normal protocol for visiting photographers on bases

to be instructed not to shoot aircraft with open panels.

In the case of these images I asked for permission and was given it. If in

doubt always ask the PAO (or whoever is running your visit) before you take

the shot, as being allowed to do this was an exception rather than the rule.

pictures.

I recall an incident when someone pointed a camera at aircraft we had been

told NOT to shoot literally within seconds we had two base police cars on top

of us and 8 of us came pretty close to loosing our camera gear and being chucked

off of the base because someone didn't follow the PAO's instructions.

I'm not by any means saying that open panels are the norm but I've seen it on a

number of occasions.

Tonka1_zpsc49d3a9f.jpg

Tonka4_zpsfcded5b7.jpg

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I think yes, armed (parked) aircrafts and opened panels can coexist ... because even after the plane has armed they could (after) however have problems that force them to open and inspect some avionics bays ... all without having to dismantle the missiles whenever.

in some photos (like the ones posted by centuaryseries and Jari) Italian and English Tornados are armed, parked and with some open panel ... I mean, there are the safety pins so it is very difficult that the missile explodes there so easily :-)

the only exception that I can say is when the plane is ready to take off... then yes it has to be completely closed.

cheers.

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we didn't download our jets when we had to change a engine on one of our Hogs over in the desert. There is a part in the T.O. that gives you procedures to "Make safe for maintenance". But Then again that goes for a A/C I know, other A/C might have different requirements. Like Jenning's said "model like you seee it" Also to be quite honest with you if the jet was broken for a while they would probably D/L the weapons from the broke jet and put them on another to take the broke jets spot in the schedule.

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Here are some more, note some are panels that need to be open or can be easily closed/secured, for the most part:

http://www.916-starfighter.de/916starfighter/world/large/104wU886.jpg

http://vietnamremembrances.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/3-242-with-napalm-under-her-wings-ready-to-rumble.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/67th_TFS_Republic_F-105D-25-RE_Thunderchief_61-0217_1965.jpg

http://www.osan.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/110404-F-MA715-093.jpg

http://www.dumpert.nl/mediabase/foto/11b62e3e_15203030.jpg

Plus if you search you can find lots of pics of loaded a/c with all panels closed. When I loaded a/c one of the last steps was to button up the aircraft, close all panels and canopy plus put the ladder away. However on the flight line if the panels were open when I got to the a/c, I left them open, I just closed the canopy and put the ladder away. Once I signed the book, the a/c was no longer my responsibility and the ground crew was free to prep it for flight by opening panels if need be, open the canopy and set the ladder in place.

Jari

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A common access panel (usually has latches instead of screws) would be open or opened as part of launch procedure. What takes away the realism of a display for me is when the pilot is seated, the Aircraft is stuffed to the rafters with weapons and the engine is being changed! Sorry, after a career of Aircraft maintenance, that ruins it for me.

Edited by phasephantomphixer

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While looking at pics to see how many I had of open doors,,,,,,,,,I saw a strange one

A pic with an open flare door on a VF-154 F-4N, while in burner on the cat on Coral Sea,,,,,,,just a second before launch

I am sure making sure those were latched was a part of the checklist before attaching the bridle and hold back cable

it is in Double Ugly, USN

it is a different "door open deal",,,,but, it did catch me off guard

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