Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Man's Navy, Done With the Deuce, Miss Mizzou 1958, Some Texas Voodoos, and The Best Friend You'll Ever Have

Pictures From a Friend

When we ran our series on the "Stoof" several issues ago we included a couple of photos of a burning TS-2A that ended up ditching alongside it's training carrier, the Lexington. A little later on, in our 100th issue, we ran the 1985 Approach article that detailed that incident, with the comment that the copies of that article came from Richard Adams, who was in the helo involved rescuing the crew of that crash. The copy that he provided was in his photo album of his time in the Navy, which also included the following shots. They provide an interesting glimpse into the TraCom of the early 1960s and we think you'll enjoy them.

Richard's photos weren't taken with an eye towards ultimate publication, and it's doubtful they were taken with a Leica or a Nikon, but they document aviation training in the pre-Vietnam War Navy. This TAF-9J is from NAS Kingsville's VT-21/TAW-2 and was photographed there in February of 1964. Orange and white look good on the Cougar!  Richard Adams

Ever wonder what a Cougar might look like during the wing-fold cycle? Wonder no more! This VT-21 TAF-9J has just returned from a hop and is in the process of folding the wings prior to shut-down. Check out the gold helmet on the pilot---a nice touch for any 50s-60s Navy jet model.  Richard Adams

TraCom had Skyraiders too. This A-1H was from VT-30 (previously ATU-301) and was photographed at NAS Corpus Christi in May of 1964. She must be a fairly recent addition to the squadron, since most of her paintwork is still the standard gull grey over white, although that is probably a patch of orange on her vertical stab---your guess is as good as ours on that one!  Richard Adams

The T-2A Buckeye was just getting into the Navy during the mid-60s. This example was with NAS Meridian's VT-7/TAW-1 when photographed by Richard at that station in 1964. We're prejudiced in the matter but honestly think the later variants of the airplane were more photogenic! It's all a matter of opinion!  Richard Adams

You don't see photos of Lockheed's T2V all that often, which makes this photo of one of NAS Corpus Christi's station birds all the more remarkable. 144186 was assigned to the base rather than to a squadron, but is in the appropriate TraCom markings. We like it!  Richard Adams

A prophetic photograph. Richard ended up in the SAR community flying HRS-3s, and was there to help get that TS-2A crew out of the drink. He photographed this overall orange station bird at NAS Kingsville in February of 1964. We've got F-18 kits coming out of our ears, and no decent 1/48th scale HRS or H-19 of any flavor. There's just no justice!  Richard Adams

Here's a good shot of the ramp at NAS Kingsville during mid-1964. The F11F is from VT-23, while the Cougar belongs to VT-22, both assigned to TAW-2 at the time. It's an excellent window into a bygone era and a great way to end this piece. Stay tuned, though; you'll be seeing more from Richard's collection another day!  Richard Adams

The Last of the Deuces (For a While, Anyway)

We all knew the time had to come---sooner or later we'd run out of either photographs or enthusiasm for our ongoing coverage of the "Deuce" and in this case it's the latter, which means today's the day for our last F-102 piece for a while. There's a ton of stuff we didn't cover, and we'll get around to it eventually, but there's so much neat material coming in on other topics that, quite frankly, we want the space! Patience is, as always, a virtue...

The F-102 program was the first of the Air Force's formal weapons systems and everything about the aircraft was designed with that concept in mind. At the end of the day it all added up to one thing: The F-102 was an interceptor! In this photo we get to see a "Deuce" performing a classic example of that role,  formating on an Antonov AN-12 "Cub" belonging to The Former Bad Guys. 56-1335 was from the 82nd FIS/ Det 1, and was based out of Suwon AB when this photo was taken in 1970. Note the angle of attack on both the "Deuce" and its prey; there's not a whole lot of  airspeed there, folks!  Smith via Isham

The F-102A got an extended lease on life when the USAF decided to convert the type into a high-performance drone via the Pave Deuce program. These aircraft are sitting on the Sperry ramp at Holloman AFB in the spring of 1974 awaiting conversion to PQM-102B status. From a tactical standpoint the program was successful, providing a high-speed "live" target for the Air Force. It was also successful from the perspective of the beancounters, because it made good use of an existing but increasingly obsolescent airframe. Still, it was a sad end to what was ultimately a highly successful weapons system. Rick Morgan

"Deuce" drones came in all flavors; 56-1347 was still in cammies when she posed for this photo in 1974. That unofficial "F-102D" designation we mentioned a few issues ago not withstanding, the F-102s assigned to the program all ended up as QF-102As and, in some cases, PQM-102Bs---1347 became a QF-102A shortly after this photo was taken. At the end of the day it didn't matter much; they all ended up the same way.  Rick Morgan

All of the QF and PQM-102s featured large areas of "Hey Everybody; Look at me!" conspicuity paint, but some also retained vestiges of their former unit markings. 56-1263 was a QF-102B and was assigned to the ADWC at the time this photo was taken. Her bang seat is gone, and she won't be far behind it. Love that sharkmouth!  Rogers via Isham

This unidentified F-102A belonged to the depot at Kelly AFB when photographed on the break in November of 1970. She's shopworn but gives a good idea of how those conspicuity markings were applied to the wings. She hung around at Kelly until the depot gave up F-102 maintenance; she was among the last of the "Deuces" flying thanks to her depot role as a program test hack.  Friddell

There's a lot more of this QF-102A left than was the norm when one was expended as a target; she took one for the team during the course of Stinger tests and was lying derelect when Rick Morgan photographed her at Holloman in 1975.  Rick Morgan

The "Deuces" that didn't end up in the Gulf wound up at MASDC or up a pole, but some were scrapped in situ at their overseas bases. This forlorn pile of F-102s once belonged to the 82nd FIS at Naha and was photographed there in 1971. The reasons they were scrapped out were varied but mattered little, the results were the same. Isham Collection

56-1416, an F-102A-75-CO, survived service with the 57th FIS and escaped both the Pave Deuce program and the scrapper's torch to be preserved at the AFM (we still aren't used to their new name and deem ourselves too old to change our spots, so AFM it was and AFM it still is around here, by Jingo!. She's shown there immediately after arrival in March of 1971 and prior to modification for display. In addition to 1416, a few of her sisters are up various poles or sitting on concrete blocks collecting bird poop, but if you squint just a little bit when you look at them you can still see what they looked like when they were young.  Marty Isham

And here's a young one to end our piece with. 56-1334 (another F-102A-75-CO) was with the 332nd FIS when photographed in the winter of 1962-63, and is shown recovering at an unknown Alaskan base. We hate goodbyes around here, so we'll just say so long to the "Deuce" for a while. You never know when she might crop up again someday. Oh yeah, and one more thing---can you say INTERCEPTOR?  Isham Collection

You Never Know Who You'll Meet on the Ramp

We run lots of pictures of airplanes around here and every once in a while we run pictures of people with airplanes too, but until today we've never run pictures of girls with airplanes. It's not anything we're going to do very often, but Mark Nankivil came up with some pretty nifty photos of an airplane with a Special Girl in front of it, and we figured you'd be interested. Let's climb into the Wayback Machine and take a look!

The Airplane: Republic's F-84F was an effective fighter-bomber in spite of all the jokes about her inability to take off from any runway regardless of length and went into the ANG fairly early in life, lasting until the early 1980s with some units. 53-6776 was built as an F-84F-66-RE and escaped Guard service; she ended up with the Turkish Air Force after a stint with the Federal Luftwaffe---quite a few Thunderstreaks ended up in Europe and its near vicinity. The airplane was a solid, if unspectacular, performer once the bugs were worked out.  Nankivil Collection

The Girl: Marjorie Critten was Miss Missouri of 1958, and is seen here in a publicity photo with one of the 110th TFS/131st TFW's Thunderstreaks. The shot provides an excellent view of the squadron's emblem and ubiquitous boarding ladder...  Nankivil Collection

We're not really sure why the guys in the 110th wanted Miss Missouri to smack the nose gear of one of their airplanes with a bottle of champagne, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. We're guessing the crew chief was less than amused!  Nankivil Collection

The airplane is named "Boots IV", and the girl in the photo is wearing boots. She doesn't appear to be Miss Missouri but she's obviously enjoying herself, and we're guessing this photo, as well as the other two, had pride of place over the bar in the O Club once upon a time.  Nankivil Collection

It was fun and games in 1958, but there was a serious side too. The Berlin Crisis reared its ugly head in 1961 and the 110th was promptly Federalized, deploying to Toul-Rosieres AB in France to become a component of the 7131st TFW, a temporary wing within USAFE. This photograph was taken at Lambert Field as the squadron was preparing to launch for deployment. A lot of folks used to look down their noses at the Guard. This photo helps illustrate why they shouldn't do that---those guys have always been there when they were needed and they've always done the job. Citizen Soldier? Right on!  Nankivil Collection

It's Big, It's Loud, and It's Ever So Cool

We are, of course, talking about McDonnell's incomparable F-101B Voodoo, an aircraft that was a mainstay of American (and Canadian) air defense for over two decades. Like any number of other first-line fighters, a large number of F-101Bs ended up in the Guard. These photos were taken on 22 May, 1982, at an airshow at Ellington ANGB in Houston. The unit is the 111th FIS of the 147th FIG and they were on their last legs with the type when these pictures were taken; they quickly transitioned into F-4Ds, and then F-16s, but neither type could match the Voodoo for sheer class...

The F-101 wasn't a cut-and-thrust fighter in any of its various iterations---its wing loading and that tee-tail guaranteed that---but it was fast and possessed of an exceptional rate of climb, making it an ideal interceptor. All it needed was a second cockpit to house a weapons system operator, which it got in the "B" model. At the risk of sounding prejudiced regarding Things Texan, we always admired the 111th's markings, which are shown to advantage here. 57-0308 was built as an F-101B-90-MC but was later converted to TF-101B status. She was still an interceptor when this photo was taken.  Friddell

The ANG has always been manned by high-time and highly professional pilots and aircrews; this four-ship from the 111th illustrates the point in spades. YourNever-Humble Photographer (promoted for the purpose of this piece from Never-Humble Editor) took this particular image with a 200mm telephoto. Those among you who photograph military airplanes with any regularity know just how low and close those guys had to be to get this picture. And yes, it was loud!  Friddell

The Missing Man formation became a staple of American air shows during the Vietnam era, and is a fitting tribute to those who never came back. The solo Voodoo popped into burner immediately after this photo was taken; it was an emotional moment for a whole bunch of people in that crowd.  Friddell

It's Big Too, and Sometimes It's the Most Beautiful Aircraft Ever Built

Every once in a while things Go Wrong with military airplanes. Sometimes the airplane breaks, and sometimes the pilot just messes up. Sometimes it's none of the above, but rather the effect of a Bad Guy who has managed to ruin somebody's day. If you're ever in that particular situation, the aircraft you're about to look at just may be the prettiest airplane you'll ever see.

Sikorsky's HH-53 family has proven to be far more versatile than its designers could ever have imagined. 66-14432 spent a fair amount of her career in the SAR role before going to AMARC in 2007. She's seen here at Lambert Field sharing ramp space with an RAF Buccaneer and wearing most of the upgrades her type eventually acquired.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

66-14428 ended up at AMARC in 2007 as well. She looks a little bit sinister in camo, and there are certainly variants of the HH-53 that could be described that way because of their mission, but she's a straight-up SAR Bird. Ask any military aviatior and they'll tell you SAR is an acronym for "angel".  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

Imagine yourself in that sling, being winched up into a hovering HH-53. Imagine the weather stinks. Imagine you're in a jungle, or on the side of a mountain. Imagine people are shooting at you. See what we mean about "angel"?  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum

Sometimes the crew gets to stay in the helo, as is the case here, but sometimes they don't. That's when a really gutsy aircrewman known as a pararescue jumper, or "PJ" for short, leaves the relative sanctuary of the aircraft to recover the downed aviator. Their motto is "That Others May Live". They take it seriously.  Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

Happy 4th of July!

We're almost reached the 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day here in the States, so it's fitting to run a photo of a somewhat patriotic airplane. 153088 was an F-4J in service with VX-4 when she was painted up to commemorate the 1976 BiCentenial. That commemorative paintwork was something really special and survived until at least May of 1978 when this photo was taken. There's nothing in our collection that's specific to the 4th of July so this shot will have to do for the time being. We think it's appropriate.  MJ Delgado

Happy Snaps

We've been looking at photos of F-4s in the archives, as the picture above might indicate. Today's Happy Snap is a direct result of that exploration.

You have to love the Phantom. She was, by the standards of her day, a big hulking brute of an airplane; some even said she was too big and clumsy to be a fighter. That claim was proved wrong time and time again during The Late Southeast Asia War Games, although the Vietnam War was long over when Jan Jacobs snapped this superb shot of VF-301's 153074, an F-4S, in April of 1984. We've said it before and we'll say it again; we miss the Phantom!  Jan Jacobs via R. Morgan 

The Relief Tube

Let's start today's adventure with a continuation of that whole What's The Red Thingy On The TA-4J Nose Gear question. There's now absolutely no doubt in our minds that the red nose gear on that two-seat "Scooter" we ran a while back was a replacement unit, mounted for ground handling use only. We're still looking for a good, close shot of that particular landing gear, but until it happens here's a close-up photo to show what the normal unit is supposed to look like:

And here it is; a stock, absolutely standard-in-every-way TA-4J nose gear, with all the hydraulics attached. There's a ton of detail in this photo if you're inclined to rework the NLG of your TA-4 kit. Also worthy of our interest is the boarding ladder attached to the aircraft. It's the standard-issue A-4/TA-4 ladder, but this one's worn a bit and shows how they looked after they'd been in service for a while.  Rick Morgan

Tommy Thomason had some comments on those FH-1 Phantom shots we ran last time, and provided us with some additional information as well:

For completeness, here's an FH picture in color since you didn't seem to have one. VF-17 qualified most, if not all, its pilots aboard Saipan, (a CVL!), in May 1948 without dinging any in the process, unlike VF-51 in its FJs on the west coast. McDonnell seems to have pioneered red on the interior of gear doors. The nose gear doors don't seem to have a red interior but they are red on the Smithsonian airplane and its restorers are pretty careful about things like this. Also, in many of my pictures of parked FHs, the flaps are down. T

Here's the image that Tommy provided to show those red gear door interiors and dropped flaps. He also clarified something else on the photos---those light-colored access panels visible on the nose of almost every photo of the FH-1. We'd presumed them to be white like all the other markings, but this shot shows them to be yellow or possibly yellow zinc chromate! Many thanks for this one, Tommy!  Thomason Collection

And here's a photo that clearly shows VF-17's FH-1s aboard the Saipan. That deck must have been a special joy for anyone operating a seriously-underpowered jet fighter! (And all those early-50s jet fighters were seriously underpowered!) This photo reminds us that it was Fighting 17 who did the carrier suitability work with the F4U Corsair too; kindof makes you wonder what the NAV was thinking, doesn't it?  Navy via Thomason

Dave Menard provided us with the 86th FG P-47 photos we ran last time, and has some additional comments regarding their markings:

Phil, when the 86th FBW was flying Jugs(until the late summer of 1950 when 80 brand new F-84Es were ferried over for the conversion), they were not based at Landstuhl, but at Neubiberg AB, near Munich. NA1 was the CO's a/c, as NB was code for 525th, NC for the 526th and ND for the 527th. That NA was for HQ weinies! Notice the Luftwaffe style font on that tail number on 433801. The USAF hired many an ex Luftwaffe ground troops to help out, if you can believe it. We had them at Hahn and one worked on the first ejection seat trials on FW190s and another was in the Me163 program.

The original unit ID for the Jugs of the 86th was entire cowling in red with red cheat line along the anti-glare area. A few months before the F-84Es were due in, am not sure just how many months,  they changed this to entire cowling AND rudder in unit colors as well as that cheat line. Here is a shot of many all lined up for inspection(?) and you can see where some paint has weathered off to expose the red!  Unfortunately,  I have no idea what color went with what sqdn when the Jugs got the yellow, red and blue cowlings, cheat lines and rudders, and the retired pilots passed before they could answer those questions. Please credit the following photo to LtCol Frank Crain(RIP) . Cheers, dave

Comments on the various modeling boards notwithstanding, nothing proves the colors on an airplane like a good color photo and this one's a pip, showing most of the 86th FG on the ground on a bright, sunny day. The film was Kodachrome and shows those squadron-colored noses to a T (note that the insignia blue cowlings appear to be black until you compare them with the anti-glare panels of the aircraft that wore blue noses). Now, if we could only pin those colors to a specific squadron... Thanks, Dave!  LtCol Frank Crane

Martin Kyburz of Swiss Mustangs also had some comments to offer regarding the 86th's use of the "Jug":

Phil, great collection of those 86th FG P-47's at Neubiberg and Munich-Riem Airfields.... the 86th deployed to Munich-Riem in Spring-Summer 1948 when the runway at Neubiberg was extended. The two unmarked ships during a ferry flight most probably went to Turkey; as per my notes and photographs there were 75 P-47's stored at Neubiberg during February/March 1948 destined for delivery to Turkey under MDAP. Most of the ships depicted in your photographs later went to the Italian Air Force under MDAP! Details to follow!  Martin

Thanks, Martin! This is probably a really good time to remind our readers to check out Martin and Tommy's web sites, as well as the others that are listed in our Links section. There's some neat stuff to be found out there, and we're barely scratching the surface of it here at RIS. It's well worth your while to do a little exploring!

Finally, Hubert Petzmeier of 916 Starfighter has seen some additional information regarding a couple of those F-104s we ran last time:

Hi Phillip. I ran into your blog again; a few comments: See the full nose art on 749 in 1961 at and the story of the crash: . The story on my website (with info on the special centerline load): . Hubert

Thanks, Hubert!

And that's what we know for now. Please remember that you can contact us at if you've got any photos or information you'd like to contribute, or if you'd like to offer a correction or comment to anything we've published. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor and we'll talk again soon!

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