It's a Long Way Across the Pacific
But sometimes you have to make the hop in a single-engined fighter. We pretty much take that whole global deployment thing for granted these days, but it's always been a tough date, up to and including right now. Right Now doesn't concern us though; instead, let's go back to February of 1966, when there was still some concern that the North Vietnamese Air Force might attempt a strike in the south, and point defense of American bases was still a significant concern. That concern led to the support deployment of the 82nd FIS to Naha AB, Okinawa, in a trans-Pacific journey named Operation Thirsty Camel. (Have you ever wondered who comes up with those goofy names? It's been a mystery to me for the past 45 years, with no answer in sight. I guess we should appreciate the humor...)
As a final note, at least three F-102s were lost in combat during the SEA fracas. Known losses are:
55-3373 509th FIS Lost to ground fire during close air support, 15 Dec 1965, RVN
56-1166 509th FIS Lost on CAP 03 Feb 1966, North Vietnam; shot down by MiG-21
56-1389 64th FIS/405th TFW Lost on CAP 14 Dec 1966, North Vietnam
A Little More On the "Deuce"
Most aviation enthusiasts are familiar with at least some portion of the F-102's story, and a lot of folks don't think much of the aircraft. That would be a mistake; once the "Dagger's" birthing pains were resolved it became a good, solid performer, providing yeoman service to the Air Force and Air National Guard for decades. It was, in short, a viable and highly effective weapons platform, and was a quantum leap ahead of the F-86Ds, F-89s, and F-94s it replaced in service. Here's a little more on the type for your enjoyment.
Here's Something You Don't See at Just Any Airshow
Things just aren't the same as they used to be. I can remember (and it isn't something I heard; it was something I saw) the Thunderbirds coming out of their "Bomb Burst" formation and crossing right over the heads of the crowd at a hundred feet or so at an air show at Sheppard AFB, ca. 1958. Similar excitements were formulated and played out for an enthusiastic public (I was darned sure enthusiastic, ya'll!) at Armed Forces Day celebrations across the land. Those heady times are far behind us now, with public safety actually being a primary concern rather than an afterthought, but it wasn't always so.
Sometimes You Have to Prove a Point
Which is what we're doing here. Take a look at 133370, a somewhat well-used US-2C from VU-1. Note the color of the airplane, and compare it to the crankcase covers on the front of the engines:
He's a Stubby Little Fellow
Jack Northrop, and his various design teams, has been responsible for a number of significant American military aircraft, including the immortal SBD Dauntless. The following Northrop design wasn't one of the significant ones...
Although not air-to-air, these photos were taken by Rick Morgan at the recent Avalon air show in Australia. The subject matter is different enough to warrant inclusion.
The Relief Tube
First, an admission. As soon as I received this e-mail from Marty I immediately went into the article and corrected the appropriate captions in the blog---the mistakes were just too awful to let stand. Still, I did it because of his correction, so let's give credit where credit's due:
I love your articles- I just recently discovered them. Please keep it up! I love 60's and 70's military aircraft but was too young to ever see most of the aircraft in active service and look forward eagerly to each new edition. I love the quality of the photos people share with you and appreciate their kindness in sharing their collections with all of us.
Just a couple of points here for the Tomcat Squadrons. The red rippers are actually VF-11 and the formation photo is VF-142 Ghostriders in their early paint scheme. Marty
Thanks, Marty! And if anyone else has any corrections/additions they'd like to send along, the address is email@example.com . Please send your comments there if you would, since I can't respond to you if you use the otherwise-appropriate feature in the blog. Many thanks, etc, etc.
You've probably all noticed that we're running an ongoing series on aircraft in post-War Japan. Another one of our readers sent comments about some our recent photos:
The F-61B (post 47) is from the 339th FS (AW) with the short lived black widow insignia. It was based at Johnson AB and, some time after reactivation, absorbed the personnel and equipment of the 6th NFS which had moved to Japan from Wheeler AFB in Hawaii in 1946. The aircraft shown still has the distinctive gothic style lettering and large nose numbers as used by the 6th post-war in Hawaii.
The OD/NG A-26 is probably from one of the 3rd BG WW II aircraft painted in that scheme. I think that Johnson AB would be a good guess as it doesn't look like Yokota AB. Also speaking of A-26s in Japan, the 38th BG also flew out of Itami AB in Japan for two years and I believe that they had absorbed the aircraft if not the remaining personnel of the 319th BG that flew out of Okinawa. The 38th adopted the colored tails like the 319th had used, but with a letter, not a number on the tail. The camo aircraft with the wheel on the tail is one the famous Chadwicks, (possibly it might be the first one, but it is not possible to inspect all of the name) named after and flown by the group/wing commander post war. The wheel referred to the 'big wheel' or head honcho. Honcho is from the Japanese term Han-cho or group/section leader. I always associated it with cowboys.
Great job that you are doing. Grant
Thanks Grant. Your comments are appreciated, and we're happy indeed to get clarification on the F-61!
Reader Brad Poling sends a comment regarding our affair with the North American FJ Fury:
I love the pix in your FJ series. Please keep them coming. The photo of FJ-1 116 you recently posted was flown by then Lt. (later LCDR) H. G. Bud Sickel. His name is just under the canopy. He held at least one speed record in that a/c. He was instrumental in the Fury program, test flying the XFJ-2's and delivering the first FJ-2 to the Navy. He landed the XFJ-2 during testing of the Antietam's canted deck in 1953. He later was killed in an FJ-3 crash.
Brad also sent along a couple of photos of a 1/18th Scale FJ-2 he modified from an Admiral Toys F-86. We'll take a look at those next time around. Meanwhile, thanks for the information on LCDR Sickel!
One final thing. We've been doing this for just a little over a year now, and have built up quite a following, it seems---if the stats can be believed Replica is getting some 500 hits per day, and I'd like to thank you for that. This is not a commercial site, but rather a labor of love, and we're glad you enjoy it. Neat things are in store so please stay with us. We wouldn't mind seeing any original photography you might be inclined to share either; if you'd like to contribute to our effort the contact address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Meanwhile, please accept our sincere thanks for helping to make the project what it is!
That said, be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.