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gary1701


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#2628 2008-06-17 19:33 GMT-5 hours    
Hi all,

Having spent a couple of months going through the database and looking at the new submissions in the queue as they're screened I thought I'd just run through a few points of interest. I realise most people who read the forum will probably already appreciate most of this so it's mainly for new photographers who have recently joined us.

Manufacturer

This follows on from the F-16 thread I posted a few months ago, but is a reminder that our aim is to have aircraft listed under their original manufacturer where possible, even after that aircraft/variant is produced by another company after the original no longer exists. The major exception to this is when a new variant is produced by the new manufacturer. A perfect example of this is the Harrier; the earlier first generation models (GR.1/3 and AV-8A/C/S types) are under Hawker Siddeley, with the later under British Aerospace (GR.7/9, T.10/12 and variants) for the British built and McDonnell Douglas (TAV-8B, AV-8B and variants) for the US - also note we have BAE systems listed although no Harrier assigned as all the Harrier variants were already in service prior to the name change. Where possible models and sub variants are grouped under certain manufacturer's when there are major changes in both. Another example; all C-130 variants are under Lockheed, whilst all C-130J variants are under Lockheed Martin, hopefully keeping the system as consistent and easy to follow as possible. I realise this isn't perfect when the same variant is in production through a company change (see the GD/LM discussion in the F-16 thread) but works reasonably well.

License built aircraft will - generally - remain under the original manufacturer. I'm sure many of us who upload elsewhere know of the Fokker and TUSAS F-16s (amongst others). We're not doing that. But, as always there are a few exceptions. When a second manufacturer's name has become known in common usage when referring to a aircraft (ex; Canadair Sabre, Short Tucano) you will usually find that combination in the database. I realise when choosing where and when to do that is very subjective and a case could probably be made for a lot more that we have listed (so far), but that could quickly get out of hand, which in turn, would make pictures very hard to find when searching the database. I think the best way to approach this is to think what people would search the database for, the two examples above would probably be known to most, yet the F-16 examples would probably draw a bewildered look from the majority! That's the critea I use when editing pics in the queue and what to look for when selecting the manufacturer.

Serial/Code/Cn entries

I'm finding there seems to be a few problems with the USAF entries, with a few variations appearing although hopefully I'm catching most in the queue. The format is, Registration: 86-0166, Code: EG, Construction number: 1014/C394 - the example here being a F-15C which once accepted appears like this: 86-0166/EG (cn 1014/C394). Obviously, I don't expect a complete c/n in the more obscure cases but I am finding quite a few basic serials and codes from all nations being left blank even when clearly visible on the image. I find the following sites quite helpful for data entry which may be worth a look when submitting pics;

For all US aircraft, whatever vintage:

http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/

UK military:

http://www.ukserials.com/index.php

Scramble, a Dutch site which has a database for many current air arms and a search function, of which the basic functions are free:

http://www.scramble.nl/milbase.htm

Air Force/Operator

I've edited this selection so that it is more consistent. When you enter a aircraft, under the Air Force selection you have two drop-down options. The first is the choice of nationality, which then gives you your air arm choice and is fairly straightforward. At that first nationality menu I have removed all private firms (BAE, EADS...etc) and warbird collections, so that the choice is a straightforward nationality or 'private'. All other company owned aircraft and privately owned warbirds are to go under 'private', where the second drop-down menu will then give you a list of the major manufacturer's and private owners. If your choice isn't there (it's not a exhaustive list by any means) then you can either just leave the first drop-down as 'private' or add the entry yourself (highlight 'other' at the bottom of the list and a space appears to the right to enter the text) - the choice is yours although I don't think every individual single aircraft operator ought to be added, they can be left as 'private' if possible. A word on private ownership. All warbirds in private ownership are 'private', not the air arm they appear marked as - that's probably the top edit I'm currently making. Only warbirds still operated by a military air arm (like the UK's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) are to go under that air arm. Current military aircraft operated by the manufacturer (be they long term company test aircraft or prior to delivery to a customer) are also 'private' until delivered.

That covers most of the current problem area's I've identified so far. Quite a lot of the above is still in progress so may not be completely correct. If anybody is after any clarification or has any query's - either about the above or anything else - PM me and I'll take a look. Likewise, if you see a entry in the database that you think needs to be brought to my attention please do so - most of what has been done is because I've stumbled across a anomaly while editing something else, so the more eyes looking the better.

Gary

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#2634 2008-06-19 07:28 GMT-5 hours    
Thanks Gary, quite a lot to take in there

Just a few observations. First, many thanks for adopting a common-sense approach to aircraft manufacturer listing. Your criteria of "the best way to approach this is to think what people would search the database for" is a very sound approach and helps to avoid the inclusion of Messerschmitt Starfighters for example! The only issue I encounter is where an aircraft has been modified and the designation changed, eg Harrier GR.7 to GR.9; in this case I enter the designation which applied to the aircraft when the photograph was taken.

Regards serials/codes this should be straightforward however I am encountering difficulties with some older warbirds. For example, I recently added a P-51D Mustang named 'Ridge Runner III'. Her original military serial was 44-13250, she was painted as 44-72308, and her civil registration was N151DM. At the moment she is listed in the database using the serial which she is currently wearing with her civil registration in brackets - 44-72308 (N151DM) - however both of these can change if she is repainted or is purchased by a new owner so surely it would be better to use her original military serial as this would give some continuity (though I guess the cn does this). I would find a reiteration of what should be done in this situation useful.

Your comments regards Air Force / Operator make sense. Personally I would just mark a warbird as 'private' and leave it at that because I normally have no idea who actually owns the plane and again ownership can change quite quickly and often.

Regards 'special categories' there are some inaccuracies at the moment. For example we have a Hawker Sea Hawk classed as a classic warbird ("Fighters and bombers of WWII and prior"), and in-service F-4 Phantoms as nostalgic warbirds ("The early jets and planes of yesteryear gone but not forgotten"). Also sometimes difficult to decide whether a special category applies or not. For example I have a P-3C Orion in the queue, as a maritime patrol aircraft does this match the 'Spy Planes and Reconnaissance' category? ("Special aircraft used for aerial photography, AWACS and UAVs"). Perhaps not however an EP-3E Aries probably would. Yet the very similar Nimrod MR.2 is clearly being used in a reconnaissance role over Afghanistan. I guess in real life things are not always clear-cut!

Anyway, for what they are worth those are my comments. Also, *thanks* for your hard work in improving the database it is becoming rare now to upload a photo and to have to manually create an entry for it.

Michael

"Rolling..." B-36H serial 51-5734 Film 'Strategic Air Command' 1955 - Six Turning and Four Burning!

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#2635 2008-06-19 18:57 GMT-5 hours    
Thanks for all the hard work and guidance Gary, and thanks for the input Michael. I agree with all the guidelines above and seems like a good approach.

Yes, it can get difficult at times, especially with the Private and older warbirds. Some planes, like B-17s for ex., carry so many serials and codes on the side, it's hard to figure out what is what, let alone classifying it. Putting them in categories can be somewhat confusing as well. We have Recce Phantoms in the Reconnaissance category, do they really belong there? I'm not sure, but many people have been uploading them that way. Also, I have seen the "Classic" F-14 Tomcats, and Phantoms, along with a few F-4s, F-5s, etc. The Classic and Nostalgic categories seem to cause the most confusion. Should we combine them? What should the cutoff be? I usually go through the categories once a week and fix whatever needs to be taken out or put in, so at times you will find some mis-categorized aircraft in there. I think we should set some guidelines for the categories and maybe have a dedicated categories editor. Any ideas?

-Ray

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#2636 2008-06-20 16:41 GMT-5 hours    
Hi again,

Many thanks for the thoughts guys. I must admit Michael, your pics contain some subjects that are certainly a little different from the norm - quite a few are types I see in the queue I've never heard of before!! That's the really interesting part of doing this as the first thing I do when I see a new type or variant submitted is I charge off to goggle and similar to do some research. Quite a eye opener and it's taught me a lot of info I didn't know before. I'll offer a few thoughts on the points raised.

You're spot on with submitting the variant shown at the time of the pic. It's not something that comes up that often but with the constant saga of Harrier upgrades in the RAF and the Typhoon upgrades now appearing it will become more common. Just to clarify then, data info should show the aircraft at the configuration depicted on the photo, regardless on if the aircraft has been upgraded since. For RAF Harriers, the following site's database should be quite helpful in pinning down what version a airframe is at any given time.

http://www.harrierlist.co.uk/

The warbird serial/reg debate; Oh dear, that's a difficult one. I see many of the most photographed civil operated warbirds on the site are currently split between their civil reg and mil serial (sometimes both). The P-51 used as a example has three different possibilties. Personally - and I haven't discussed this at all with anybody else yet - is I'd like to use the civvy reg as the main reference (accepting this may change at frequent times). My thinking behind this is that it's does seem to already be the main choice favoured so far. It's also the easiest reference for me to use for checking and correcting entries, and also for photographers submitting pics. That I think is quite important, bearing in mind I'me correcting and adding a lot of very basic info on current types that can be seen on the images. The more complex entries (like the P-51) would probably be missed by many who are not familiar with the history of a specific airframe. I realise the above is not the recommendation given previously and is something I need to discuss with Ray/Screeners before saying it's the favoured policy on the site - even if it is, by default, what we are actually doing. Not a consistent answer, I'd be the first to admit but we need some time on that one. For the moment, whichever you use as the primary serial entry, can you add the other known civil registration/fake, either in brackets or in remarks and if/when we change policy we have as much info available as possible - exactly as Michael above has done.

Marking the warbirds as 'private' and leaving them as that is fine. The secondary option is just that, a option. I'd prefer not to get too many secondary entries in there but unless it's one I'm personally familiar with (mostly UK warbird operations) or can find some background info on the net I really don't know how valid the secondary entry actually is, that's one where I have to trust the photographer is more familiar with the info than I am.

Categories: I'll admit, so far I haven't been paying too much attention to that. I usually look if I've pulled the photo entry up for something else and have corrected a few obvious errors (helicopters that weren't!). For the specific examples above I can see the problems with MPA's like the Nimrod. For simplicity I would agree that a standard MPA (Nimrod MR2 and P-3C as well as the special variants) could go under the 'Spy Planes & Reconnaissance' category because of the Recce heading. If we want to subdivide that further then maybe we ought to have a 'Maritime Patrol Aircraft' section as we could probably adminster that fairly accurately. The two warbird categories I would have thought would be quite clearly defined but I suppose in practise it's probably not the case so I would be perfectly happy to combine the two. I concur with the idea of a category editor as I haven't really done much in that area.

Gary

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