Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old Shakey, The Big Green Pickle Before It Was Green, More Things That Go Bump in the Night, and Lighting Things Up a Little

Shakin' It One More Time

For those of you who served with the C-124, or maybe even just grew up around them like I did, here's one more photograph for your perusal. (Bet you didn't think I knew fancy words like that "perusal" one, did you?) It's a C-124C undergoing maintenance at Kelly AFB in the early 1960s. Beyond that I don't know much about it (the story of my life; ask anybody who knows me well), but it's a nifty picture and deserving of publication.

AF52-1012, a C-124C from the 53rd TCS (Heavy)/63rd TCG out of Donaldson AFB, South Carolina, preparing for engine runs at Kelly AFB. Note the way the cowlings hinge to allow full access to the aircraft's R4360s. The nose doors are opened in this shot and the twin ramps have been deployed, while the aft cargo doors (under the wing filets) have been opened as well. Note the arctic conspicuity markings and, in particular, the way they wrap around the USAF lettering underneath the port wing. This photo was taken at the north end of the transient area at Kelly, where the bicycle was a normal part of airfield life. Visit the facility some day and you'll understand why; two of them are evident in this shot. This aircraft was damaged beyond repair and written off in the Philippines in 1967.   KAFB History Office 13066008

It's a Big 'Un

For many years the Lockheed C-5 family held the distinction of being the largest aircraft in the world. Still in active service after some 40 years, it's proven itself to be a heavy lifter par exellence and has become sufficiently invaluable to have been declared a National Asset. (That's a Really Big Deal in case you didn't know...) Mostly I cover the tactical side of things, but since we're already off in Heavy Lifter Land this week I thought you'd enjoy seeing these photographs too:

Here's 66-8303, the first C-5A,  undergoing flight test. Note the test boom and chase T-33.  Can anybody say "majestic"? Or maybe "large"? Lockheed via Jus Rose

Tanker trials. Here's a very early C-5A (66-8303 or 8304) sneaking up on the boom. That, my friends, is one big honkin' airplane!  USAF via Jus Rose

Closing in. Note the open boom receptacle just aft of the windscreen. I'm guessing there was a fairly high concentration level inside that cockpit when this photo was taken!  USAF via Jus Rose

Hooked up and passing gas. Of interest is the walkway demarcation running from just forward of the refueling receptacle to the vertical tail. Note the "Galaxy" logo visible on both sides of the fuselage.  USAF via Jus Rose

Everybody knows the C-5 is a big airplane, but if you've never been around one undergoing maintenance you may not appreciate just how big it really is. Here's 69-0013 undergoing maintenance at Kelly AFB during the early 1960s---it's a 4-story drop to the ground from the tip of that fin. I'm not sure I'd want that job!  KAFB History Office, File No. N/A

Shine a Light

We've already looked at a couple of categories of airborne weapons during our brief time together. Today's opening installment of same is something just as important but less directly lethal; AAF pyrotechnics. The chart below comes from TM 9-1900 (June 1945) and depicts the signal cartridges, flares, and photoflash bombs in use at that time. Overall color of pyrotechnics was specified to be gray with black markings. Any colored markings on the casing would indicate the color of the pyrotechnic effect produced, although the color purple was reserved for incendiary devices. Not all pyrotechnics were painted, and it's possible to find casings in natural aluminum or magnesium as well as in gray paint.

More than you probably wanted to know about pyrotechnic devices used by the AAF at the close of the war.  The scale is defined by a six-inch bar at the top of the illustration. Look for the little bar that says "inches" with a number 6 in the corner.

Even More Bomb Stuff

This is the part where you can wonder why I didn't just put everything together in one big ordnance article instead of spreading it around like I have. The answer's simple; it's not how I wanted to do it. Besides, I'm still waiting for either one of The Two Jims to publish their weapons book which (it's Broken Record Time again) will be the definitive work(s) on the topic. Consider this stuff to be an interim effort until those books arrive. Until then, just follow along and you should end up with a pretty fair overview of US aviation ordnance from 1941 'til 1970 or so. Or not. It's your call, I suppose, but here's some more on USAAF bombs, once again taken from our Old Friend, TM 9-1900.

A couple of days ago we took a look at how a typical Mk-Whatever bomb was broken down into its constituent parts. Here we have the same thing from TM 9-1900 , but illustrating a typical WW2 bomb instead of the Aero shape.

Here's an illustration defining the differences between a general purpose bomb, a light case bomb, and a depth bomb. The light case bomb is a blast weapon and contains a high ratio of explosive-to-casing thickness. The depth bomb is essentially a blast weapon as well, although it's intended for underwater useage and normally utilizes a hydrostatic fuse for that purpose. A conventional fuse could be utilized instead, thus making the depth bomb a viable weapon for surface warfare, but that was rarely if ever done in practice. All of these weapons were painted in OD with yellow stripes and black stencilling.

 Semi-armor piercing, armor piercing, and practice bombs. The percentage of explosive filler is much reduced in these weapons (and not there at all in the practice bomb, which is filled with concrete rather than explosives) and the casings are extremely heavy to allow penetration of the target. Note that the fuzing of these weapons is done at the tail. The capped semi-armor piercing bomb is just that and features a steel cap to the bomb's casing at the nose. My scanner cut off part of this page (and no, I'm not going to cut up the book so you can see it better!) but the face of the cap is only slightly curved and is very nearly flat. The cap termininates at the edge of the illustration.

And finally; the mighty parafrag. Based on a pre-War frag bomb, the parafrag is the weapon you see trailing behind A-20s and B-25s on itty-bitty parachutes in the Pacific. The finned weapon is a variation on the same thing. Casing color is OD with yellow stripes and black markings.

And that's enough for today. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again real soon.

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