Dog Days at the Blog
There's a method to the madness around here, although you'll have to admit the pattern is rarely evident to the casual observer. Then again, it's rarely evident to us either, which ought to tell us all something. One thing that should be evident to all concerned, however, is our love for The Silver Air Force of the 1950s and early 1960s. One of the airplanes that typified that era was the North American F-86D (and L) Sabre, colloquially known as the "Sabre Dog" or "Dog Ship".
Whatever you choose to call it, The "Dog" was a mainstay of the ADC for almost a decade, first as the F-86D and then, later in its career, as the F-86L. (Those L-models were conversions from existing Ds, so don't go looking for purpose built Limas; there aren't any!) The type was even sold overseas, both as the D and the gun-armed export-only K. It's an airplane that just screams Fifties Air Force, and today we're going to look at the first of several installments featuring the type. Are you ready? Alright then; let's get down to it!
It's time to end today's look at the F-86D family but there's more to come, so stay tuned. We aren't done with the "Dog" just yet!
Some "Thuds" in Europe
It's a familiar story, and most amateur aviation historians can quote it chapter and verse: The F-105D Thunderchief was built for nuclear war but ended up being attrited into oblivion in Southeast Asia. That's a pretty fair assessment of what happened, but there's a part that some folks don't know about---the "Thud" stayed around in Europe far longer than a lot of folks realize. Let's take a look back at the F-105D while the type was assigned to the 36th TFW assigned to Bitburg AB, Germany, in 1965.
It Was a Crummy War
It's easy to glamorize things from nearly 60 years worth of distance, but the air war in the Pacific was a thoroughly dirty, nasty little war, with precious little glamor to it. The 49th FG were in it from almost the beginning, being formed in Australia in early 1942 and incorporating a handful of Philippines and Java campaign veterans into its ranks. It was a hot outfit from the very beginning, overshadowed (and some, including this writer, will dispute that) only by the 475th FG during the latter years of the war after the best and the brightest were taken from the previously-existing fighter groups to create that outfit.
The 49th flew the P-40, P-47, and P-38 in combat during its stay in the Pacific. Today, thanks to the kindness of Bobby Rocker, we're going to take a look at them during their time with the P-40.
Froggy Went A-Courtin' and Turkey Came a Cropper
When we recently ran several of Jim Sullivan's TBM photos we did it because we thought it made for a neat article. Then, a little over a week after we ran the original piece, we read where someone on one of the modeling boards was modeling a VU-1 TBM for his collection, which reminded us that Jim had sent along a late-comer to that photo essay. It's a neat photo so we're going to break precedent and run it today. We hope you enjoy it.
Very few of our readership own their own aircraft, and fewer still own ex-military examples of same. That means that we probably aren't beginning a new section of the blog today, but one of our readers is getting ready to go aviating in a rather unique airplane and we thought you might enjoy seeing it.
We've bragged on Doug Barbier's air-to-air work many times before, and we haven't shown any of it the past issue or two. It's time to make amends:
The Relief Tube
Given the fractuousities we experienced with the equipment last time around we can honestly say its a relief of the highest magnitude to be able to get out a "normal" edition. That said, we do have some entries for the Relief Tube today, so let's get started.
First off is that photo of the disassembled "Scooter" that looked like a model airplane project gone wrong. As we suspected it turned out to be one of Maddog John Kerr's shots, but it's a fascinating airplane in its own right. First, let's hear from Maddog: Phil, yes it is my photo. It was taken in September 1992 at Buckley ANG, CO. I have it marked as an NA-4E. I believe the aircraft had been on display there, and was in the process of being airlifted to New York state. Believe it is now on display at the Village of Oriskany New York. John Rick Morgan noticed some other details on the photo and has provided this addtional information for us: Phil: Regarding the detached Scooter 148613, it’s actually a YA4D-5 (YA-4E) and was one of two prototypes for the E-model. It was apparently delivered with A-4C nose and intakes . The China Lake page at the Skyhawk Association site shows it in proper configuration as an NA-4E, so it appears to have spent most of its life as a test aircraft. It’s now on display at Oriskany NY marked for VA-163. Rick Thanks, Morgo. Rick also provided a link to the Skyhawk Association Web Page, which is well worth checking out if you've got a spare minute. That address is: http://a4skyhawk.org/content/148613-douglas-douglas-aircraft-photo-202011-2190
Chris Banyai-Reipl, who publishes Internet Modeler, had this to say about that F-86L shot we ran last week:
Hi. I just wanted to drop you a line and say, first off, thanks for your blog and the efforts of the old Replica in Scale. I still read those magazines for inspiration and to remember how modeling used to be.
On the F-86D at the end of your column, I have some updated information for you. Unfortunately, I do not have a squadron for you, but I can tell you that it is in fact an F-86L, not an F-86D. While the easiest identifier for the F-86L is the SAGE antenna on the left side, there are other clues to the type. As the F-86L had the 6-3 wing with the 12" tip extension, the straight pitot tube and ailerons not going to the tip of the wing are also good clues. Of course, in that photo, you can't see the wingtips, so that easy identifier is not going to help. However, the 6-3 extension will, as at the root it places the leading edge of the wing ahead of the angle point on that prominent fuselage panel. The F-86D has the leading edge of the wing aft of that angle point. Finally, the junk behind the seat under the canopy is different. The F-86L is much more tightly packed with boxes and stuff. It's more open on the F-86D, but that can be tough to discern from an angle or a distance.
I went through all of this working on my book and it took me a while to figure it all out. Once I did, though, I discovered quite a few more F-86Ls than I had figured! This photo is particularly interesting, as I haven't come across many fluorescent F-86Ls with the star-n-bar in the center of the fuselage. I look forward to seeing if you find out the unit, as I'd love to add that example to my 2nd edition, when I get to it (I need to finish up the book on the F-89 and F-94 first, though).
Again, thanks for all the great work you've put into this hobby of aviation history and scale modeling! Chris Thanks Chris, both for the kudos and for your comments. As an addendum, we're now more than certain that particular F-86L is from the New Hampshire ANG; its paintwork and markings (that tail stripe) tally perfectly with the 133rd FIS' livery for the time period in question.
In our recent TBM photo essay we ran a shot of a "Turkey" marked with a ZA tailcode and requested help with its identification. Tommy Thomason came to the rescue on that one: According to Elliott, Aircraft Circular Letter No. 156-46 dated 7 November 1946 established a two-letter tail code for Naval Reserve Air Stations, with the first letter identifying the station and the second, the squadron's mission. In this case, Z was Squantum and A was Attack. This became a one-letter tail code per Naval Air Reserve Training Command Memorandum No. 160-48 dated 23 September 1948, less than two years later, dropping the aircraft class letter. T Tommy also had this to say about one of the captions in our recent FJ-1 piece: "(FJ-1) 120346 was assigned to the Navy's AT-3 when this photo was taken at Pax River in 1948." The caption implies that AT-3 was a unit. The test functions at NATC were divided into divisions. The names have changed, mergers have occured, etc. but at the time there was an Armament Test division. You'll also see ST for Service Test, ET for Electronics Test, FT for Flight Test, TT (my favorite) for Tactical Test, etc. sometimes followed by a number, sometimes not. My guess is that the number was another way for the division to keep track of the airplanes assigned to it. T Thanks as always, Tommy!
Mike McMurtrey offered an insight to the ID of one of those TraCom transports we ran a while back:
Thought I had sent this to you last week, but just now discovered that I sent it to myself! She was indeed BuNo 50743 (c/n 26079, ex-USAAF 43-48818). Here is her complete history:
Del Date 24 Sep 1944, San Diego
FAW 29 Sep 1944
VH-5 5 Oct 1944
VE-3 Dec 1944
VE-1 Jan 1945
FAW-14 17 Mar 1945
ComAirPac SCF Apr 1945
Pearl Harbor oct 1945
Alameda Nov 1945
Jacksonvill mar 1946
Com NABS 17 Aug 1946
NAS Kodiak Sep 1946 - May 1950
MCAS Yuma 3 Aug 1960
NAATC Kingsville 1 May 1963
Corpus Christi 18 Nov 1965
Struck 17 Apr 1958 (sic) - probably error for 1968
This info comes from the latest edition of Air Britain's DC-3 book courtesy Matt Miller. My earlier report that she was reported for sale at Corpus Christi in 1949 came from the info in the first edition of that same book, a copy of which is in my possession, and which has obviously been corrected and updated. Guess it's time for me to spring for the new edition. Mike Thanks for sticking with that one, Mike! We appreciate the information. (And we agree with you---go buy that book!)
Finally, Dave Menard had a comment on that 50th TFW "Hun" we ran last time around: Phil, GORGEOUS shot of 814! I worked on her during my time with the 50th TFW (May 59-May 62). The red fences and trim on the nose meant she was a 417th TFS a/c out of Ramstein AB Germany. Since the buzz number is painted over, the photo was taken post January 1965 when T.O. 1-1-4 deleted the buzz number section. Did not take long for them to get painted over, darn it. As Bob Hope used to say, thanks for the memories. Cheers, dave We're glad you enjoyed it, Dave, and thanks to you for all the support you continue to give to the RIS project!
It's now officially all over but the shoutin', at least as far as this edition is concerned. Thanks for your patience last week, and keep those cards and letters coming ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again next week.