Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle, Some Oddball Bureau Numbers, Oopsie!, A Neat Ramp, and Some Misawa Huns

OK, We're Done With The Movie and Back To Normal (More or Less)

Whew! It's been a busy few weeks, but that's behind us now and it's time to get going again. The movie was a lot of fun to do but exhausting, particularly when piled on top of my regular job. On the other hand, it's something I got into all by myself (and it was a lot of fun, and a great experience too!) so I really can't complain too much. Still, it's good to be back, and without further ado I think it's time to look at some airplanes!

A Tiny Mystery in Glossy Sea Blue

Just when you think you've seen it all, something else pops up to confuse the dickens out of you. This time it's a prefix to the BuNos on a couple of post-War Navy birds. They're Reserve aircraft from St Louis and both bear the letter "V" in front of the Bureau Numbers. I had (and still have) no idea of the significance of that letter, so I asked my two Official USN Go-To Guys, Rick Morgan and Tommy Thomason, about it. They didn't know either, so we're back where we started. Take a look at the following shots and feel free to contact me at if you know the significance of them. Please!

Here's an FG-1D, BuNo V-88212,  from the St Louis Reserve taken in the winter of 1952 by Gene Sommerich. The setting seems to be Lambert Field, and there's that pesky "V" sitting in front of the BuNo. This one's a puzzler!  Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And another puzzler for you! According to the data blocks on the vertical stab and rudder this aircraft is an NF6F-5, BuNo V94286. It's also from the Reserve outfit at St. Louis (and even says so under the cockpit) but the markings are an anomaly. Note that the side number appears to be in the same orange as the Reserve band around the aft fuselage, and the word "NAVY" seems to be in the same color beneath the horizontal stab. The aircraft has its outer guns removed but retains its rocket rails. Mystery Meat! Gene Sommerich photo via Mark Nankivil at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum

Sometimes Things Just Plain Go Wrong!

Grumman's immortal F6F Hellcat was reputedly easy to fly, even for an ensign right out of flight school, but it was a high-performance aircraft that could easily ruin your day if you didn't pay attention to what you were doing. Neither Mark Nankivil nor myself have any idea what caused this accident, but it's a good 'un! It's also a walk-away, which is the best kind to have if you're going to wreck an airplane!

Side number U-24 (BuNo 78957) of the St Louis Naval Reserve comes to grief, giving us a great view of its undersurfaces. In the NF6F-5 shot immediately above we saw that the outer guns had been removed from the wings, leaving only the inboard weapons in place. U-24 has retained its center guns but the inboard and outboard weapons have been removed. Note that the inner wing surfaces where the flaps retract appears to be in a color other than Glossy Sea Blue. Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

The Power and the Glory

The closest I've been to this next shot was the transient line at the late, lamented Kelly AFB, when a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico forced NAS Corpus Christi to send all its aircraft inland. VT-27 was operating T-28Bs at the time, and they all bounced into Kelly to sit things out. The noise, and the sight, was something I'll never forget, and it's easy to transfer the memory of those sounds to this next shot.

We're going to say this is an active ramp! Here's what a squadron of FG-1Ds look like when they're preparing to launch---can't you just hear them?! Note the directors getting the aircraft onto the taxiway, an the aircraft at the rear of the pack that still has its wings folded. St Louis has gone from the single letter tail code to "UF"; note that both the code and the side number are repeated on the forward landing gear doors. Of additional interest are the SBC-2s and PBYs in the background of the shot. This just may be the photo of the week, gang! Greater St Louis Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

A Little More About That Aussie Spit

Sometime during my Adventures in Movieland Rick Morgan sent some additional information regarding that Spitfire Mk Vc I ran a couple of weeks ago. Here's what he had to say about it:
The shot was taken at the South Australia Aviation Museum; I was actually at Port Adelaide to see their National Railroad Museum, which is practically next door. What I found curious is that the airplane are in a hangar that is several KM from a runway. I probably should’ve asked how they got them there.
Apologies to the folks at South Australia Aviation Museum, and a heart-felt Thank You for preserving and restoring that airplane!

More Misawa Madness (But Not Really)

You've heard me mention a fondness for the aircraft of the 39th Air Division stationed at Misawa during the late 50s and early 60s---I've rambled on about it to the point of tedium, I think. Old friend Dave Menard shares the same passion for the Hun, and for Misawa, and has provided a couple of shots from his collection for our enjoyment today:

F-100D-50-NH, s/n 55-2879, at Misawa AB Japan in 1961. The 39th AD had a classified mission during this time period and good photographs of their Huns are tough to come by. This shot depicts "Little John" complete with command stripes.  USAF via Dave Menard

And the other side, marked this time as "Schatze II". You'd almost think you were dealing with the 49th FG back in the Bad Old Days in Darwin with those differing nose treatments on the same airplane. The 39th AD's aircraft shuttled back and forth between Misawa and Kunsan AB, ROK, on TDY deployments. The mission was secret and PACAF strongly discouraged photography as a result. Menard Collection

That's It For Today

The internet is acting up again over here, which means I need to go out and cut down the tree limb that sways back and forth between my antenna and the one that serves our community (the old sit-com "Green Acres" comes to mind here). It's as good a time as any to put the day to rest, I suppose. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you a little later in the week.

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