Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Dog Days, A Guy We Owe, They Weren't All Fighters, Bug Suckers in the Ice, A New Hampshire Lima, a Havoc or Two, and Some Oldies Made New (Sortof)

Back in the Kennel Again

OK, it's a corny title. Even I'll admit it; on a Clever Scale of one to ten it's about a three, maybe. Trouble is, that's the best I've got, so it's what you get, at least this time.

Once you get past the name of the piece, though, we're in pretty high cotton. Marty Isham has shared a few more "Sabre Dog" images with us, and Dave Menard has kicked in some special birds from the Far East to add a little added spice to the mix. It is, all in all, a pretty good way to start a week. Let's take a look.

The F-86D was the hottest thing going in 1954, at least as far as interceptors were concerned. Its design philosophy was proving itself to be sound, and it was becoming obvious that one man could manage both an airplane and a weapons system that included an on-board air-intercept radar. Few people outside of the type's immediate community were fully aware of the slow-to-warm-up computerized throttle, or the spray and pray FFAR armament; it was, by golly, an Interceptor, as typified by 51-8291, an F-86D-35-NA, which was assigned to the 85th FIS at Scott when this photo was taken. She was eventually transferred to Taiwan. Modelers might want to take note of the extensive stencilling on this airframe.  Isham Collection

One thing the "Sabre Dog" didn't lack was color. Most of the operational USAF squadrons who operated the aircraft were liberally splashed with it from nose to tail as shown here by 52-4180, an F-86D-45-NA in service with the 97th FIS during 1954. "Hoosier Hotshot" was her name, and she was a good-looking girl. The sharp-eyed among our readers will notice the deployed drogue chute doors at the base of her vertical stab. The F-86D may have fallen a little short in the capabilities department, but it sure didn't lack for looks.  Isham Collection

The 498th FIS, also known as "The Gieger Tigers" (and stars of a USAF-produced short subject of the same name) were no strangers to colorful airplanes, as illustrated in this 1955-vintage photo. 53-0866 had the color, a little bit of notoriety (she was flown by "King" Lotz and is appropriately marked "King's Queen"), and had a checkered history to boot. She was built as an F-86D-60-NA, was converted to an F-86L, and ultimately ended up with the Royal Thai Airforce, being stricken in 1967. If you happen to be a modeler and like to open up panels and fill the resulting holes with lots of fiddley details, this should give you some ideas for doing that sort of thing to your "Dogship" model.  Menard via Isham

The 56th FIS was with the 575th ADG and was flying out of Selfridge when this air-to-air of 51-6243 was taken in 1955. The silver lacquer of Operation Lookalike was still several years away and this photo shows the contrasting shades of natural aluminum so typical of the F-86 family, an effect of anodic coatings on different alloys, to considerable advantage. You could find black anti-glare panels on the F-86D, but OD (and sometimes dark olive green) was far more common. The devil's in the details!  Isham Collection

Let's go back to Scott and take another look at the 85th FIS. The year is 1958, and 52-3801 has become far less colorful than her 1954-vintage sister shown at the beginning of this essay. She's picked up the legend US Air Force across her fuselage and lost that gorgeous lightning flash and badge in the process. This photo provides a really good look at her gas bags if you're into that sort of thing. 3801 was an F-86D-40-NA.  Isham Collection

53-1020 was an F-86D-60-NL and was with the 318th FIS when Peter Bowers snapped this classic study of her. The "Sabre Dog" managed to look elegant and agressive all at the same time, and was arguably one of the most beautiful fighter aircraft of the 1950s. This view shows why people think that way.  Bowers via Isham Collection

Up to this point we've been looking at aircraft assigned to the ZI but, as you may recall, your editorial team has a thing for aircraft once assigned to Misawa AB, having lived there ourselves. We mention that because we're going to close out today's pictorial on the F-86D with some images of the 4th FIS while they were assigned there in the late 1950s. Hot Dog! SABRE Dog!!!

Here's the squadron area on what we presume is an early-winter or late-spring day in Northern Honshu. Big doings are obviously afoot, although we don't know what they might have been at this distance from the event. We do know that 52-4247 was the squadron commander's bird and that it wasn't unusual for the 4th's "Dogs" to have names painted on them, although none are visible here. Those red and black checkerboard windbreakers on the ground crew were a normal feature of ramp life at Misawa; your editor had temporary ownership of a yellow and black one during his tenure there. There used to be a whole lot of color in the USAF!  Col. R. Eichenberg via Menard

OK, it's Mystery Meat time. The unit is the 4th FIS, and the place is still Misawa. The serial number displayed on the vertical is about ten kinds of goofy and an explanation is in order. We touched on this once before, with a display of incorrectly-done serials on another "Dogship" way back in a previous issue. Dave, it's time for you to come to the rescue again---WHAT is the s/n on this airplane?!  Brewer via Menard

That bunny sure got around, didn't it? In our experience the F-86Ds assigned to the 4th were a whole lot more likely to feature names than they were art, but the image on the nose of 52-4000 was (and, to those of us of a particular age group, still is) iconic. It suits he airplane, we think.  Brewer via Menard

And our final shot for today; an absolutely gorgeous air-to-air of 52-4042 in flight. This was obviously a planned photo hop since the pilot isn't wearing either oxygen mask or bone dome, but the airplane is ten kinds of beautiful. It's an appropriate way to end this study for today.

Another Legend is Gone

You've probably seen Bill Peake's work before in various and sundry publications. He was an historian and a photographer of exceptional abilities and, like so many others before him, has gone West. He passed back in February but is still with us in spirit by way of his remarkable photo collection, which his niece donated to the Greater Saint Louis Air and Space Museum. He was Mr. F-4 to a great many people and, thanks to the kindness of Mark Nankivil, we'd like to share this image of a very special Phantom with you today.

An F-4 is an F-4 is an F-4, except for when it's an F-110A, which was the type's original designation before the McNamara crowd decided that all the services should have the same designation system for their airplanes. They called it Commonality at the time, although a great many of us still tend to call it Unfortunate. Be that as it may, here's a photograph of the delivery of the very first F-110A to the Air Force in 1962. Colonels Graham and Laven (yes; that Laven) are doing the honors for the blue-suiters while a McDonnell rep goes through the motions of "handing over the keys". It was a different era and yes; we miss it.  Bill Peake Collection/Greater St Louis Air and Space Museum via Nankivil

An Unexpected Mustang

Everybody knows the P-51D made it to Japan after the War, and that it was a common fixture there right up to the start of the Korean fracas. It wasn't just the fighter outfits that flew the immortal Mustang out of Japan, though, as shown by our next photo.

There's been a whole lot of buzz in the scale modeling world about Tamiya's recent release of the P-51D in 1/32nd scale and the kit is, without question, worthy of the hype. One thing about that release that's surprised us considerably has been the amount of ink (electrons?) being expended by folks saying they really wanted to do a VLR Mustang, a minor variation of the type that's just the least bit different than a "standard" P-51D. This ain't that, but if a FEAF-based P-51 is your cup of tea, then you might consider modeling a bird from the 82nd TRS, which was assigned to Johnson AB post-war. "Angel Face" was a well-worn D-model (and no; we don't know what the rest of that fuselage looks like!) when this photo was taken, but she's still quite the looker. Those post-War Mustangs hold considerable fascination for us---anybody have a photo that shows the rest of that airplane? Martin---are you there?  Rocker Collection

It Gets Really Cold in Iceland

Ask anybody who's ever been stationed at Keflavik or, if you don't know anybody who fills that particular bill, just hang around here and take a look at some more photography from Doug Barbier, a frequent contributor who flew out of Kef while flying F-4Es with the 57th FIS. Here's a quick lead-in from Doug:
Kef 1979, ASA 25 film. Low light. Yes a couple are soft... oh well ... 2-fers coming and going on takeoff, Winter & Spring of 1979 from the RSU unit. Take a look at that slab as the nosewheel comes off the ground. 3 bags worth of gas was a lot of weight to lift...

No, there wasn't any sort of war going on except for that Cold one (both literally and figuratively in this instance), but Kef wasn't exactly a dream assignment. On the plus side you could occasionally intercept the odd Soviet whatever-it-might-have-been-at-the-time, but there was a whole lot of boredom there too. Add to that Iceland's less-than-hospitable conditions for a large part of the year and you begin to gain a new-found appreciation for the guys (and gals!) who flew in The Peacetime Air Force. It was a tough racket...
All five of the proceeding photos are by Doug Barbier

Hang Out Here Long Enough and You'll Be Amazed At What Turns Up

And what's turning up today is a photo we've run once before. A couple of issues ago we ran a shot of a mystery F-86L submitted by one of our readers up in The Great White North with the comment that the unit was unknown. Last issue we mentioned in our Relief Tube that, based on the aircraft's conspicuity markings and tail stripe, we were fairly certain the airplane was with the New Hampshire ANG. We still feel that way so we went back and dug out the photo that pointed us in that direction:

53-0593 was originally built as an F-86D-55-NA, but had been converted to F-86L status by the time this photo was taken. New Hampshire's 133rd FIS was flying the "Dogship" between April of 1958 and August of 1960, and their markings very closely match those of our mystery photo. Presuming the dates fall into the proper range, we think we've got a match. (Apologies for running this photo twice, but we thought it was important!)  Menard Collection

The Name Was Appropriate

The Army Air Forces got in the habit of naming their airplanes during the late 1930s, giving birth to such monikers as Tomahawk, Mitchell, Flying Fortress, and so on and so forth. Some (probably most, if the truth be known) were the offspring of some PR type, and most were allegorical. One name proved to be prophetic in the war soon to come, however. We'd like to finish up today's edition with a quick photo essay on Douglas Aircraft's aptly-named A-20 Havoc.

The A-20 got to the Pacific early in the game, as typified by "Hell and Fire", an A-20A built as 40-3160, shown here with the 89th BS out of 3-Mile Strip at Port Moresby during 1942. A lot of the early Havocs ended up in the jungle or the ocean, but "Hell and Fire" survived to be tranferred to the RAAF. She was finally scrapped out for parts in 1945.  Rocker Collection

Several A-20s achieved a level of fame while flying with the 5th AF; 40-0166 was one of them. She was another A-20A from the 89th, this time named "Little Hellion", and was badly damaged by Japanese defensive anti-aircraft fire during a raid out of Port Moresby on 01 November, 1942. She made a belly landing at Seven-Mile Strip, and was salvaged out for parts. Her remains were mated to another damaged Havoc, 39-0724, and she became "The Steak and Eggs Special", tasked with bringing in food and booze from Australia. Her luck ran out in 1943 when she got caught in bad weather near Cooktown and went in hard. It wasn't always the enemy that got you...  Rocker Collection

The A-20 was an early recipient of the legendary Pappy Gunn's affections, and was modified into a strafer pretty early in the game. By the time the A-20G came along the type had been developed into a ground attack aircraft par excellance. We've all seen "Eloise" before, but this image came off a first-generation print and is a little bit better quality than we're used to seeing, which makes it worth running. To some of you we're probably beginning to sound like a broken record, but we'd like to invite you to look at the face of her pilot. It wasn't fun, and it certainly wasn't any sort of games. It was a war, ya'll. Thanks, GI.  Rocker Collection

This A-20G belonged to the 312th BG's commanding officer and was a heavily-used veteran when this photo was taken. There were never that many A-20s in the theater (there were never that many airplanes in the 5th at all in the early days) and they were used hard in the rough-and-tumble arena of low-altitude attack. They were obsolete by the time the war ended, but they'd done their part.  Rocker Collection

The 3rd BG entered the war as the 3rd Attack but was quickly redesignated. This photo is lacking in quality but is fascinating because it shows a wing-mounted aux tank in place. The late-model A-20s (this one's an A-20G) could carry external fuel as well as other stores, but you don't see it very often. It's probable that this aircraft was about to be ferried to a different field.  Rocker Collection

Sometimes we see a photograph that's just so remarkable we have to run it. This is one of those photographs. The A-20G is from the 312th BG and is helping to cover the landings at Cape Sansapore. Look closely at the center of the photograph and you'll see a downed aircraft at the base of that plume of smoke, and a PBY circling prior to landing to try to rescue the crew. We hope those guys got out of there, but it doesn't look good...  Rocker Collection

Let's finish up today with yet another famous Havoc; "Little Isadore" from the 3rd BG's 89th BS. Your editor first became aware of this airplane back in the late 1960s when a profile drawing of her appeared in an old IPMS Quarterly. The markings showed up again years later as a decal offering in AMT's often-underrated A-20G kit, and model of her is sitting on your editor's display shelves as this is written. We consider it to be a tribute.  Rocker Collection

Everything Old is New Again

Yeah, I know... I just said we were done for the day, but we aren't. Rick Morgan sent in a few images of some special Navy birds that are all painted up in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation. Here are Rick's comments about the photos: Phil: If you haven’t been following the CONA birds, there are quite a few more out there. I was up at Whidbey for the VAQ-132 homecoming (the first EA-18G return) and was able to shoot these guys. Credit for the CONA schemes goes almost entirely to CAPT Rich Dann USN Reserve, who has worked from the AirPac staff to get drawings and concepts out to units and companies to make this happen. The P-3C is the “bounce bird” (trainer) for VQ-2.  Rick

Most of us grew up in an era of Light Gull Grey and white P-3s, but they started their career in the NAV in white over Engine Grey. VQ-2 painted one of their P-3Cs, 158206, in that original scheme for the Centenial. We like it better than the current scheme, but that's just how we are.  R. Morgan

If you're going to be painting airplanes in commemorative schemes, at least one of those paint jobs needs to be overall GSB. VFA-204 repainted F/A-18A 162866 up as a 1951-vintage Reserves bird, which is appropriate when we remember that 204 is a Reserves unit. We've never thought of the Hornet as a particularly elegant airplane, but this paint job shows how pretty the bird really is. We like it!  R. Morgan

 Finally, how about something in classic Tri-Scheme? VA-129 took one of their EA-18Gs (166899) and did it up as a bird from the Shangri La ca. 1944. We like the GSB a little bit better on the F-18 airframe, but that's all a matter of individual taste. We're just glad the NAV decided to follow this path for there 100th year---neat stuff!  R. Morgan

Happy Snaps

We're going to start out today's Happy Snaps with a request to all of our ex-military aviators; we're always looking for photography, and would like to invite any of you who might like to share yours with our readers (for Happy Snaps or otherwise) to contact us at . Full credit is always given and we can pretty much guarantee that our readers will enjoy your work. Here's a somewhat exceptional example of what we mean:

We haven't run much on the "Six" around here, but that's going to change in the near future. Meanwhile, let's let Doug Barbier tell you about this shot: Here's an F-106 from Fresno moving up on the T-bird for some pictures. The IR dome is up to help find that little bugger. We're out in the Whiskey areas off the California coast in 1977. Beauty! Thanks, Doug.  Barbier

The Relief Tube

We've got a couple of comments to share, so let's get right down to it:

Phil, LOVED the Dogs and USAFE Thuds! Here are some comments now on latest blog:
1. that "97th" bird isn't, but is a 93rd FIS bird out of Kirtland AFB NM, not Nellis (no Sunrise Mountain range in background like most Nellis shots show).
2. 30931 of the 56th taken on Wright Field, probably on Armed Forces Day(remember those, third Saturday of every May?).
3. 30792 & 30891have same badge on fins but I wonder if that is 30th Air Division or 4708th Air Defense Wing? 792 was a 94th bird enroute to or from Yuma from Selfridge for a gunnery meet.
4. 598 does indeed have masking tape on that radar access panel on top of nose forward of cockpit, but no tape on that blue area under intake which is white bordered. Notice the difference in coloring. I suspect the tape was put on the top panel lines so the bird could get a wash down before open house?
5. That light colored fabric covered aileron on that P-40 was not finished in zinc chromate (no reason for it on linen!)but either clear or silver. Just love your blogging, even on Navy a/c! cheers, dave That's high praise indeed---thanks, Dave! (And to our more alert readers: Yes, we did go back last week and fix a couple of those captions after reading Dave's comments. You aren't really going crazy, or at least you aren't going crazy because of this!) And, for those of you who are too young to have been around back in the 50s, here's a somewhat unusual contribution from Dave. To a young boy growing up loving airplanes it was the stuff dreams were made of:

Boy, does that ever bring back memories! Thanks, Dave!

And from Doug Barbier:  Absolutely OUTSTANDING stuff in the latest blog. I love Thuds.... and Sixes...  I have to agree with Dave Menard on a couple Sabre issues though.. to wit:

23814 is 93rd FIS bird out of Albuquerque. I would bet a whole bunch of $$ that the reason it doesn't have tanks is that the air density at the altitude there wouldn't allow him to get off of the ground safely with them. Even today, the airliners have to down load passengers, fuel or both, to be legal for takeoff in the summer. Been there, done that. (my record is an 11,500' takeoff roll from Delhi India in the summer with a max gross weight B-777. Hot & heavy makes for an interesting day - or night, as the case may be.)

30891 of the 47th FIS at Niagara Falls IAP has a 30th Air Division badge on the tail, as does 30792, which is from the 1st FIW at Selfridge. Those with really sharp eyes can see the yellow & red portions of the arrow that goes through the 30th Air Div Shield on the tail. Red for 71st, Yellow for 94th. And I'll agree with Dave - it's a 94th FIS bird headed for Yuma.
30641 - hmmm Red, 71st FIS OK. But note that the tail has been painted out with aluminum lacquer. And 71st FIS "L" models are really rare. According to the Air Force, they never got them. They did.... just like the 94th (almost) got F-104A's. Saner minds prevailed however and the jets went to the 56thFIS down at W-P instead. I don't think I would have been very happy trying to land a zipper on a slick 9,000' runway in the winter, with a crosswind to boot, at Selfridge. But I know that they had pilots already checked out before the change was made. Wouldn't THAT have been something to see!

Keep up the great work. Doug  Thanks, Doug, and keep those corrections and additions coming!

Next, a Head's Up for our readers. Osprey have just released a new title called F-100 Super Sabre Units of the Vietnam War by Peter Davies and Dave Menard. We have yet to see the book but have no doubt it will be a must-have for most of our readers and we're looking forward to it.

And that's all we've got for today. Thanks for stopping by, and be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again real soon.

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