Sunday, August 7, 2011

Old Shakey in the Guard, Early Days at Selfridge, And Some Odds and Ends

An Important Message for a Sunday Night

OK, Houston---We have a problem! At this point it's impossible to see what's going on but the blog software is buggy tonight. We don't want to lose what we've already done so the beginnings of this week's blog are staying up and there's more to come, so please stay with us while we deal with whatever-it-is that's causing the problem. What you see below will become an honest-to-goodness regular blog in a day or two, but as of Right Now This Minute everything we've tried in order to fix the problem has failed. Your patience is greatly appreciated!  The Editors (That would be me!)

UPDATE: Now it's Monday and we obviously overcame most of our problems, but it's been a fight. Please enjoy what we've got for today and come see us next week when we're back to the normal thing again!

Big and Beautiful

There we were, sitting at the dining room table having a family meal with our next-door neighbors, when my dad mentioned his first tour in Japan or, more properly, how he got to his first tour in Japan because, like so many other servicement during the 1950s and early 1960s, he went overseas inside a C-124. It was a memorable trip for him, mainly because it took so long to get there. In point of fact we have to wonder if Rod Serling didn't experience a flight in a Globemaster II and use the event as the basis for his classic Twilight Zone episode about the airplane that went up and could never come back down. One has to wonder...

One thing we don't have to wonder about is Jim Sullivan's photography. Dave Menard started the ball rolling with his comments regarding the 3rd SSS a few issues ago (we accidentally ran a photo of one in our F-94 piece), and Mark Morgan helped us out with a complete listing of those unique C-124 squadrons used in weapons-hauling. Those two things led Jim to ask if we were interested in some Guard "Shakeys" and, of course, we were...

If you were to judge the C-124's size by that of something really big, like maybe a C-5, you'd probably wonder what all the fuss was about, but back in The Day it was a giant of an airlifter, one of the largest around. It had two decks inside; one for cargo and one for troops and the like, and it had a set of clamshell doors in the nose and a hoistable platform in the aft fuselage to on-load and off-load cargo. It could carry Big Stuff too, like trucks and even light tanks. In the world of repciprocating-engined transports it was a horse; there was simply nothing else quite like it. Jim shot 53-0014, a C-124C from the North Carolina ANG, on final at Charlotte in March of 1969---this photo gives a good idea of the Globemaster's size.  J. Sullivan

It's February of 1968, this time at Shaw AFB, as 53-0026 begins to climb out. Those shapes on the wingtips give the appearance of being aux tanks but they're not; they're cabin heaters and the wingtips, way out there far away from fuel and people,are a really good place for them to live. When those old-style gasoline-fired heaters worked right they were A Thing of Beauty, but a malfunction could easily cost an airplane and a crew. Some ideas are better than others, ya know?  J. Sullivan

"Old Shakey" was a big 'un, if you know what we mean. Our next photo gives us a really good idea of how far up there the flight deck really was. That extra "0" in the serial number means she's more than ten years old, which the airplane certainly was by the time Jim photographed her in 1960, but the type was still hauling folks and stuff back and forth to Southeast Asia even at that late date. Note the deflection on her elevators as she heads towards the barn.  J. Sullivan

Her skin shows considerable wrinkling from a hard life as a working airlifter. The Globemaster certainly wasn't any sort of Glamor Girl, but the USAF and ANG of the '50s and '60s couldn't have done without her.  J. Sullivan

The C-124 ended up in quite a few airlifter squadrons, including Tennessee's 105th MAS/118th TAW. This is yet another taxi shot, but this time with a twist; it wasn't all that unusual for a crewman to stand up in the hatch just aft of the cockpit during taxiing. The activity helped the pilot and co-pilot tremendously since most of the airplane couldn't be seen from the cockpit. An extra set of eyes with 360-degree view could be a Very Good Thing in the Globemaster!  J. Sullivan

Here's our final C-124 for the day, so it's appropriate that she's somewhat special---if you check out her nose you'll see a big old honkin' kangaroo stencilled there. 53-0013 is yet another bird from North Carolina's 145th MAG and was photographed in September of 1968 after a trip Down Under. Most zaps are a little bit smaller than this one, but then again the Globemaster was a pretty big airplane.  J. Sullivan

Old Timers at a Classic Airfield

Some roads are paved with Good Intentions, and this could well be one of them. Doug Barbier used to fly out of Selfridge, and has done more than a little bit of research there too, so it was a natural to ask him to look for some of the older stuff that might be hanging around in their archives. He promptly went digging for us, and we just as promptly put the photos aside, meaning to run them week after week after week but never quite getting around to it. There's no excuse to be offered---the fault is ours---but here are the photos we asked Doug to locate. We hope you enjoy them!

OK, sharp-eyed readers---what is it? If you guessed Thomas-Morse MB-3 you guessed right; otherwise it's off to the corner for you! The MB-3 and MB-3A were mainstays of the budding Army Air Force's pursuit squadrons from 1922 until mid-1925, although they weren't very good airplanes. On the other hand, they were somewhat better than the ships they replaced, as we'll see in a minute. This example was from the 94th Pursuit and looks pretty much all used up even though she's very nearly new.  Barbier Collection

Here's one of the airplanes the MB-3 replaced; the venerable Spad XIII, here marked for the 17th Pursuit Squadron. The Spad was one of the best performing, as well as one of the sturdiest, aircraft to come out of the Great Wa,r but by the 1920s a rapidly-developing aviation technology had passed her by. The MB-3 wasn't much, but she was better than the Spad. Barely...  Barbier Collection

Curtiss built 3 PW-8 fighters pretty much on the come, without a contract from the government. It never became a fighter in its own right, but was in many respects the father of all those Curtiss pursuits that followed; it's immediate offspring was the quasi-immortal P-1. We don't run very many People Pictures around here, but if you look closely you'll see a fairly-young Douglas McArthur standing on the right of this shot.  Barbier Collection

If we wanted to play a quick round of Stump the Champs we'd ask who'd ever heard of the Berliner-Joyce PB-1, but since we aren't playing that particular game we won't do it, at least not today. The Army contracted for a prototype of a two-seat fighter called the XP-16, then placed an order for 25 Y1P-16s which were eventually redesignated as PB-1s. They were built from 1929 until 1932, and served briefly before passing from the scene---this example was photographed at Selfridge in 1934. It would make a nifty model if we could ever get folks to stop producing kits of Mustangs and Focke Wulfs...  Barbier Collection
And finally, a trainer assigned to a first-line fighter outfit. This Consolidated PT-1 was flying with the 27th Pursuit when photographed at Selfridge in 1927. Much like the PW-8, she gave birth to an entire family of trainers. The airplane looked fragile but was no worse than many of her contemporaries in terms of ruggedness.  Barbier Collection

Other Stuff We've Been Meaning to Run

That's pretty much a cop-out of a title, but we've had some problems with today's issue and it's time to wrap it up before something else goes wrong. Before we leave you, we'd like to run a couple of photos that were meant for other articles but never quite made it there, for whatever reason. They're pretty neat photos in their own right and we think you'll enjoy them.

Mystery Meat. We re-discovered this one the last time we looked through our A-4 files but aren't really sure of much of anything having to do with the photo. We know it's an A-4E, and we know the BuNo (148613) but beyond that we're stumped. John Kerr used to have an unerring knack for finding partially-disassembled airplanes laying around and if we just had to assign the blame for it we'd say the shot was his, but the slide wasn't identified so there's no way to know for certain. We like the photo anyway---it reminds us of our workbench!  Friddell Collection

The Grumman TBM really got around, and more than a few survived the war to end up derelect in somebody's salvage yard. These sad examples once flew with with New Zealand but were sitting in what appears to be a salvage yard when Vince Reynolds photographed them. It was a sad end.  Reynolds via Kerr

There are a lot of aviation photographers out there (or at least there were!) and John Parchman is one of the best. The fact that he had considerable access to the Dearly Departed Kelly AFB's transient ramp during the '80s and '90s helped, of course, but John knew his way around a camera too. This "Whale" from VAQ-33 was just passing through when John shot her in April of 1989. We'd call it a Classic Study.  Parchman

And finally, a "Hun" to end our day. 56-3814 was an F-100F and was assigned to the 50th TFW when this shot was taken in the early 1960s. We think she typifies everything that made the Silver Air Force great. We'll argue the point, too...  Richard Franke

The Relief Tube

Here's how it is today, folks---we're dead tired and, on top of that, we've fought (and mostly lost) the Battle of the Blog for the better part of two evenings. Because of that, and because we're essentially editing and re-writing a live blog rather than a draft copy, we're getting out of here before something else goes wrong. Don't despair, though; we'll be back next week as good as ever we were. Until then be good to your neighbor, and we'll meet again soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment