Flying Control Conversion

On April 27th, three years after buying the Jeep, I began to convert it to a Flying Control vehicle. This was to make a co-ordinated display with Rupert's 'Flying Control' Dodge WC51.

The first step was to paint 'Flying Control' across the screen. This involved moving the name 'Jessie' to the left to allow the text to be large enough and centred on the screen frame. It is seen here in temporary 9th Air Force 437th Troop Carrier Group bumper markings for the 'Route to Victory' tour at the beginning of May 2008.

So that stray B-17's don't taxi into me, I made this little 'field mod' bracket bolted to the rear corner of the body and the 6 ft mast slots into the mounting tube and is secured by two small screws.

August 12th '08 - Checker Summer Top

At the back end of April '08, I added the 'Flying Control' sign to the screen of the jeep, plus a checkered warning flag. This was only stage one of the change. Lynne didn't want the whole Jeep to turn checkered, so I set about looking for an old summer canvas for the Jeep that could be painted to help give the Jeep a more Flying Control feel. While searching for a spare canvas, I found a picture of an original F/C Jeep which was still olive drab, and just a checkered canvas.

In August I found one, and rapidly started to mark it up and paint the checks. This added up to over 30 hours work in both marking out and then painting, as the canvas soaked up so much paint, it required a second or third coat to give a reasonable finish.

August 27th '08 - Follow Me Light Board

With the canvas top complete, the next step was a light board for the back of the Jeep. The board illuminated in various ways to direct following aircraft where to go when taxiing, particularly for aircraft that were visitors to the base.

The wooden box is mounted on the rear of the Jeep by a metal frame. This frame bolts to the hood bows, and extends rearward. The unit is fitted with lights which are connected to a cable which plugs into the trailer socket of the Jeep. The arrows are linked to the indicators, STOP to the brake lights, and GO to the headlights.
Sept 18th '08 - BC-348 Radio

The next step for the Flying Control Jeep was a radio to talk to the aircraft. The radio would need to replace the battery crate in the Jeep as this was the only place in the Jeep for it to go. This would mean the radio would also have to hold the battery and inverter that powers the music stereo as I also wanted the stero for playing aircraft and F/C sounds. As a result, I didn't want to pay Ebay prices for something I needed to gut, so I set about making a replica of a BC-348 aircraft radio.

The basic box was 1/4 plywood, skinned in 1mm styrene for a smooth finish. Knobs, buttons, switches and handles were made from styrene, resin and wood. After the basic box was built and skinned, a divider was added to keep the battery compartment separate from the Inverter. This is removable to aid removal of the batteries if needed. It is seen below in the early stages of construction and almost complete. After painting black, lettering was added with Lettraset, prior to adding the knobs, buttons and switches which would get in the way. Screws which make up some of the surface detail were real.

The picture above right shows the dual parallel wired car batteries and just visible is the inverter in the bottom of the right section. Below right is the completed radio, just needing a mounting base. The wooden base was designed to lift the radio up in the Jeep to make it more visible, but it also allowed a neat storage area under it that holds a couple of bottles of water for the Jeep radiator, some fuel additive and a container with the side door screws in. Having the radio hinge like this also allows access to the rear locker located under the end of the radio. 
October 11th '08 - Aldis Lamp

Rupert gave me a spare Air Ministry Aldis Signalling Lamp, which I refurbished, and made an adapter to hold a new bulb. It is wired through a socket under the radio, linked to the Jeep 24 volt batteries. A storage clip has been mounted to the roof bows of the Jeep to hang the lamp when not in use.

October 31st '08 - Radio Aerial

As the aerial needs to fit the left side of the Jeep, the first job was to move the flagstaff mounting point to the right side of the Jeep. This will prevent the flag from wrapping itself around the aerial. In addition to moving the base support, I added another tube to the follow me frame to support the upper end of the flagstaff.

The aerial was collected at the Sedgefield event in October '08, and it was fitted on Friday 31st October, just in time for the Stainton Camp trip out the following day. Mounting it was a little difficult, needing to position the bolts clear of the footman loop, plus the internal structure of the rear body and wheel arch locker.
At the Stoneleigh Military fair in 2009, I picked up a canvas aerial bag to keep the sections in when not fitted to the Jeep.
March 23rd '09 - 'Follow Me' Sign

One of the last little touches to the Jeep for the Flying Control/Follow Me impression was the addition of a 'Follow Me' sign above the direction lighting.

The ply sign is held bolted to three aluminium channels which are slotted at their base. These slots fit under bolt heads fastened to the back of the lighting box, allowing the sign to be easily removed for distance driving as it sticks up quite a long way into the airflow.

July 9th '09 - Rear Door Panel Painting

Just before the Breighton Airfield event, I painted the rear section of the door panels checkered to further enhance the Flying Control appearance and visibility of the Jeep on an airfield.

August 27th '10 - Red warning flag

Most vehicles seen on the active area of an airfield seemed to have red warning flags on them somewhere. A steel tube was welded to the front bumper with a machine screw through to hold the flag pole.

New July 29th '12 - New Stencilling

I saw this stencilling on another F/C Jeep a couple of years ago at the Rougham Airshow, and thought it looked good, telling myself I must add it to 'Jessie'. Two years later, an hour or so cutting the stencil, and another half an hour with a paint brush, it was done.

Something else I wanted to add was a sign I'd seen on another wartime Follow Me Jeep, the 'Plane Taxiing' notice. I presume this was a general warning to flight line personnel to keep clear as a plane was likely to be following.
Another addition is this lamp to illuminate the perimeter track behind the Jeep for following aircraft. It was originally fitted to the roof of the Dodge, but didn't seem appropriate, so was removed. I saw a wartime Jeep with a similar lamp fitted, so made use of the lamp which has been sitting around in a cupboard for two years.
The Jeep in action
P-51D Janie

Spitfire IX MH434

Piper L-4 Grasshopper