Thursday, April 15, 2010

More On That Demon, A Different Kind of Tommy, Utility Squared, and a Spiffy Hawk or Two

A Possible Answer

When last we met I published a short photo essay on the McDonnell F3H-2 Demon as used by VF-14 aboard the Roosevelt when she was stationed in the Med during the early 60s. The third picture in the set showed a pair of Demons on what appears to be a lighter, but there are more than a few unanswered questions regarding the shot. I requested help from those of you who read this blog and received this response from Tommy Thomason:
What's really interesting about the third F3H picture is the fact that the aux inlet air door was open. I've never seen that on a fleet Demon, not to mention one late enough to have the MB seat retrofit.

However, in response to your question, my guess is that this are airplanes too broken to repair on ship and are being dumped (Naples? FDR was in the Med.) for either repair at an NAS or transport back to the states. One problem with this guess is that they not only don't look dinged, they have stuff on them (Sidewinder rails) that you'd think maintenance would pull before giving them up. Another possibility is that they were flown off to make room on the ship and then it was more convenient to float them out to the ship to get them back aboard. That doesn't explain why the wings aren't folded or the aircraft in the foreground has the slats extended and the flaps down, a very unusual shutdown configuration. One scenario that fits both that and bringing two aircraft back to the ship on a lighter is that 106's pilot had a hydraulic problem and landed ashore at a civil airport near a harbor, accompanied by his wing man.
And, while we're thanking Tommy for his input, let's also take a minute and give you a link to one of his blog sites, which is . I've used the term "go-to guy" on a few occasions to refer to people I know whom I consider to be authorities and essential references in their given fields. Tommy's one of those people, and his site is well worth a look. Check it out!

A Different Kind of Tommy

Here's yet another photo in an ongoing series of "where in the world did I come up with this?" shots:

When's the last time you saw a Thomas Morse MB-3A in flight? Better yet, have you ever even heard of a Thomas Morse MB-3A? The Army Air Corps used the type as a trainer during the early 1920s, with some 54 of them in service during that time. We still couldn't figure out how to build an effective pursuit ship back then, but we did pretty good single-seat trainers. That would soon change...   USAF via Unknown

They Also Served

You won't find many kits, or books for that matter, of liaison types designed and built in the United States during the 1940s, but they played a key role in the overall air power picture and provided sterling if unsung service during the war. Here are a couple of photos of the Stinson L-5 to whet your appetite for a kit; this one would be a natural for one of the Czech companies to do!

Stinson L-5B 42-99574, which may have been the very first air ambulance for the type. Here's a scan of the tag sheet on the back of the photo:   Stinson 4387

It's interesting to read this description, and to remember that casualty evacuation by air was still a relatively new concept during WW2.  Stinson, attached to Photo 4387

Putting Gomer in the airplane. Human nature being what it is, somebody probably had to remind the "casualty" to be still and try not to laugh while the picture was being taken. No PhotoShop here; it was a far simpler time.  Stinson 4383

Buttoning up. Of interest here are the com gear just behind the pilot's head and the light color of the undersurface gray; Neutral Gray is by specification a somewhat darker color than what's actually on this airplane, albeit a color that seemed to wander all over the place in actual practice.  Stinson 4379

Don't Hold Your Breath For a Kit of This One

Way back during the 1950s, back when I was a kid, Comet (I think) and then Aurora did an off-scale model of the AeroCommander. As far as I know nobody has done one since, and it's highly doubtful that even the short-run guys would touch it as a kit nowadays. It's a neat little airplane, though, so let's look at a couple of photographs of it.

Here's AF55-4642, an L-26B-AD, in flight near Wichita. It's military, but you have to look to see it in this view; note the "United States Air Force" logo on the outer nacelles, and the tiny presentation of the serial number. (The aircraft does carry the full complement of stars and "USAF" logo, but none are entirely visible here.) In keeping with then-standard USAF practice the colors are probably dark blue over white. In 1962 the designation was changed from L-26 to U-4. This aircraft was surplused out and ultimately became N2268B.   USAF via Kerr

A fine in-flight study of 56-4023, an L-26C owned by the Army. This photo gives us a better idea of the way the markings were applied to the type while in military service; the "United States Army" logo appears on the nacelle as on the L-26B shown above, but the national insignia and underwing logo aren't hidden in this view. Colors are probably OD and white. This aircraft was removed from service in 1982 and subsequently acquired by Everett Community College in Washington. When the military's aircraft were redesignated in 1962 the Army's L-26s became U-9s, leading us to wonder about that whole "simplification" thing; the aircraft was an L-26 to both the Army and the Air Force prior to the designation change, after which one became the U-4 and the other became the U-9. Go figure!  US Army via Kerr

So Now You're Probably Ready to Look At a Classic Fighter, Right?

Then I guess I'd better oblige you. It's been a while since we've looked at anything from the Jack Jones AVG collection, so here are a couple of photographs to conclude our day:

Jack was nominally assigned to the 1st Pursuit (Adam and Eve) as an armorer, so it's not surprising that most of his photography was of ships from that squadron. Here's the nose of #25, which was assigned to Ed Liebolt.  The pilot of #20 sitting immediately behind is not known at this time.  Jack Jones via Friddell
#13, s/n P-8170 and shared by James D. Cross and Robert L. Little. Prop blades are black but lack yellow tips, and the airplane is getting to be a little ratty in appearance. Of considerable interest here is the set of jacks that support the aircraft at the wing roots. The tail appears to be resting on and tied down to the bed of the truck parked behind the airplane---when you're in the field you do what you have to do! This photo, and the one before it, were taken in Rangoon in early 1942.  Jack Jones via Friddell
Done For the Day
Well, maybe you aren't, but I am! Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again soon.

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