Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Things That Go Bang, Things That Go Boom, A Pranged Hawk, and Merlins on The 'Canal


A few days ago, or maybe more for all I know, we discussed Second World War US Army machine gun cartridges, providing a color illustration of the basic sorts of rounds and making a vague promise to do the same thing for the Navy at some point. Well, friends and neighbors; today is that day. The day for the Navy machine gun ammunition. A promise kept, as it were.

The following information is taken from the Aviation Ordnanceman's manual, NAVAER 00-80T-65 dated 1958. That's later than WW2, to be sure, but the rounds described were still in use, primarily in the turret mounts of the Nav's remaining patrol bombers. On the other hand, if you're modeling The Second World War and plan on detailing out a .50 caliber gun, you'll need this information:

The basic aviation rounds; notice there are abbreviations by each one. Here's the breakdown:

Ball:      The standard round, used against personnel and "soft" targets.
AP:       Armor Piercing.
INC:     Incendiary.
TR:       Tracer.
API:      Armor Piercing Incendiary
API-T:  Armor Piercing Incendiary, Tracer

These are specifically cited by the manual as aircraft rounds and have direct counterparts in that Army manual we cited a minute ago.

Bigger Boolits

You knew it was coming, right? Right! Here's an illustration depicting 20mm aircraft ammunition and showing the different types used:

You'll want the Secret Decoder Ring for the markings, of course. The different rounds for the M3 gun are:

High-explosive Incendiary                     Yellow ogive, red body.
Incendiary                                             Blue ogive, gray body.
Armor Piercing with Tracer                    Black.
Target Round                                        Black.

If the weapon in question is the Mk 12 gun, the colors are:

High Explosive                                       Red.
Armor Piercing Incendiary                      No Color
Target Round                                         Green

The projectile in a 20mm round is large enough to make stencilling viable. Since we're discussing these things as they would apply to a model airplane we aren't going to get involved with what was stencilled on the ammunition, but a quick glance at the illustration above will show you where it is and what it looks like, just on the off-chance that you're manic enough to want to duplicate it. (And I promise you, somebody will duplicate it on a model. Different strokes...)

The Big Bang; Second Verse But Different From the First

By popular demand, here's some more bomb stuff for you out of the same manual. The publication date is far enough along to include all the Aero shapes that were used in the Vietnam Unpleasantness and gives a pretty fair overview of what's what the Navy was hanging off its airplanes during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Sorry, Gang; no color this time around!

We've briefly touched on the different parts of a bomb once before (see the first B-26MA photo Way Back When for a reminder) but here's clarification in the form of a drawing. Note that American bombs can be fuzed at either end and, in particular, notice the component breakdown. Put an extended nose fuse on the bomb and you've got a daisy cutter. Change out the fins and you've created a high-drag weapon. Take an Aero Mk 81 bomb body, add a rocket motor at the back and a guidance package at the front, and you've got yourself an AGM-12 Bullpup. Do the same thing but with a Mk 82 bomb body and you've got an AGM-12D Big Bullpup. Fast-forward to the 1980s and add a guidance package and a rocket motor and you've got an AGM-123 Skipper II. Pretty cool, huh? Note the suspension and hoisting lugs, which are screwed into the bomb body rather than cast onto it.

Here's the drawing you've all been waiting for. In the top row, that can with the fins at the far left is a 350-pound AN-Mk 54 MOD 1 depth bomb, while the "stick" at the far right is an AN-M50XA2 4-pound incendiary bomb. All the other bombs are identified on the chart, which means that I don't have to list them one by one, for which I'm grateful! Of interest here are the AN-MK 1 and AN-MK 33 armor piercing bombs; notice the shape of their casings, which is defined by their purpose. The Aero series of bombs (MK 81 through MK 84) all feature a casing designed by Ed Heinemann back when he was working on the F3D.

Next time we talk about air-launched weapons we'll discuss rockets, but not today. I'm all weaponed-out for the time being!

Why You Don't Want to Loan Your Airplane to Other People

Back in the 80s I was priviledged to work with a former member of the AVG, armorer Jack Jones. Jack was kind enough to let me copy the photos in his scrapbook so you may have to endure the odd shot of American Volunteer Group Hawks from time to time. Here's the first, and it's a prang, ya'll! This 1st Pursuit ship, s/n 8105, was nominally assigned to John Jay Dean. He loaned it out to a Chinese aviator one day in 1942 with the result you see above. I'm guessing that harsh words were spoken.  Jack Jones via Friddell

Warhawks on the 'Canal

A lot of folks know that the AAF operated P-40s out of Guadalcanal, but many aren't aware that the 18th FG operated P-40Fs from there. Here are a couple of shots from my collection to round out the day.

Of poor quality, this photo shows a P-40F from the 18th FG preparing to launch. I've never understood the fascination some people have for the Merlin-engined Warhawks but they are clean airplanes and they are P-40s, even though the 49th FG never used them. I sure wish whoever took this photo had shot it from the side instead!   Friddell Collection

Gettin' ready to rumble. A mechanic is tightening the sway braces on the aux tank of this 18th FG P-40F. Of special interest to modelers are the propeller blades, which have the regulation yellow tips but not much else in the way of markings (although that may be stencilling on the top-most blade; it's hard to tell), and the brake line evident on the port landing gear leg (that would be the one on the right of the picture, just in case you got turned around). If you look closely, you can also make out the camouflage demarcation line coming up under the nose. Did anybody mention "primitive working conditions"?   Friddell Collection

Gettin' to the End of Things

I recently ran a couple of shots of an EA-6B and a couple of F-14s that were taken by Rick Morgan. The photos were right where they should have been, safely tucked away in my files in the appropriate folders. The photos were all labeled on the back, also as they should have been. The documentation for them was/is undoubtedly in the letter that Rick sent to accompany the photos, and that letter is, alas, nowhere to be found.

Why, you may rightly inquire, am I mentioning this? Well, there's another error to correct! (Lordy, how I wish I could use that "Relief Tube" name with a clear concience again; I'm really beginning to need that department!) The easiest way to fix things is to let Rick explain so, without further ado:
I finally noticed the shots of the TR's nose art you put up. This was actually done after the war, when we were bored with the lack of flying. VF-41 did it without asking permission, CAG Fallon thought it looked good and most of the other squadrons followed suit (neither of the F-18A units did for some reason). We ended up with a contest and the VAW-124 submission won.

The art remained until we our first port call in the Med, in May, when it was supposed to come off. Somehow the E-2 unit managed to cover theirs up and they unveiled it again for the July fly-off into Norfolk.   Rick
Thanks for the correction, Morgo. You guys did some seriously neat artwork on those airplanes!

Also, for long-time (and long-lost) friend Mark Morgan: Mark, if you're reading this, would you drop me a line at please? It's the right thing to do!

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor and we'll talk again soon.

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