What Are Those Guys Doing Here?
That little fracas in Southeast Asia during that took place during the 1960s was quite an interesting affair. Most of us are familiar with the "normal" side of things, but there were quite a few sidebars to the conflict too; goofy things such as FJ-4Bs flying limited Alpha strikes into Laos during 1962, or somewhat unusual drones overflying interesting places. Another sidebar would surely be the unusual transients that occasionally showed up in Vietnam, Republic of. Let's start our day with a couple of those visitors.
A Graceful Tub
Once upon a time, Convair (remember Convair?) built a then-state-of-the-art interceptor known to the world as the F-102A. That airplane, fondly known to the aviation fraternity as the "Deuce", was advanced enough that it was felt a dedicated two-seat transition aircraft (a trainer, in other words) was required. The resulting airplane was both ugly and distinctly subsonic, and is the airplane usually voted most likely to have inspired use of the word "tub" when describing the modification of a single-seat-anything into a two-seater.
That was the "Deuce". When Convair designed the F-106 (originally the F-102B, if you recall) they spent a little more time on the two-seater, and came up with an airplane that wasn't that far removed from the single-seat F-106A. It was a neat airplane, and today we're going to take a look at it.
That's it for today's edition of Six into Nine (with appropriate apologies to Jimi), but we aren't done with this particular song yet---stay tuned for more in the weeks ahead!
It's All a Matter of Being in The Right Place at the Right Time
And Lockheed's P-38 Lightning was every bit of that. She was born as an interceptor, and went to war in the frozen high-altitude climate of Western Europe, where she proved to be indifferent at best. General George wanted her for the Pacific, even though a great many people predicted she would fail there once put into combat against the far more nimble fighters of the Japanese. In the end she proved them all wrong, and was developed into an aerial killer par excellance.
A T-Bird is a T-Bird is a T-Bird
While we're talking about Lockheed aircraft, let's take a quick look at a lesser-known example of the breed. We all know that the Air Force caused a two-seat trainer, the T-33, to be developed from its F-80 fighter, and we know that the immortal T-Bird subsequently trained tens of thousands of pilot over the course of its career. Some some folks may not know that the Navy operated the aircraft as well, and even had their own specific variation of it. Let's look.
There are Happy Snaps and then there are Happy Snaps. Today's offering is courtesy the camera of Rick Morgan, and might be termed "somewhat unusual".
The Relief Tube
Let's lead off today's offering with an explanation as to why we didn't publish anything last week. The simple truth is that a combination of minor illness plus employment demands, coupled with the length of time it takes to put one of these things together (and it takes longer than you might think) made publication impossible last time around. We'll try, as always, to do better, so stay tuned as it were. There are Good Things ahead.
One more thing before we get to our reader's input and corrections: You'll notice a change in the way our photographs are presented when you click on the images to enlarge them. That's a function of the blog software used, and we had nothing to do with the change. It's apparently universal---we went to the other sites that we know use that software and they're the same, so it ain't just us. We aren't sure whether we like it or not, but we can't do anything about it one way or another. We hope it's ok with you.
It's time to talk airplanes! Last issue we ran a couple of photos of an airplane we described as Mystery Meat, and asked for identification. I expected a response, our readership being what it is, but I never expected to hear back from anybody five minutes after the posting went up, which is quite literally what happened. Mike McMurtrey was the first respondent, but he wasn't the only one: That tri-geared cub is a YL-21 modified for aerodynamic research by the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University. They installed Cessna spring landing gear and a nose wheel. The hump on the cowling covered a pump that sucked boundary layer air into the wings. They even tried one without a prop to fly it as a glider in the same configuration. There are also pictures of one of these planes with a set of double tires on each side. Note that it belonged to the Army and not the Air Force. There were two YL-21s: 51-6495 and 51-6496. They were PA-18-135s special ordered in 1950. Mike
Steve Shefflin also checked in on the subject: Hi Phil, First, let me say how much I love your site. I download so many of your great photos to my wallpaper that I am in dire danger of filling my hard drive. Regarding your mystery photos, I too believe it is a modified Piper L-21 Super Cub. After staring at the partially visible serial numbers, and doing a little research, I think that it may be one of two YL-21 Super Cubs: 51-6495 or 51-6496 (c/n 18-749/750). I could, however, find no information regarding any tricycle landing gear mods. Finally, what in the world is that strange bulge on the upper cowling? Steve Sheflin Take a look at Mike's response just above, Steve. I think he's got that hump figured out!
Another reader known only as Norm way up there in New Hampshire also nailed the airplane: What a great web site! I check in every day to see if there is something new. I'm that nifty fiftie and sixties birds vintage. Bird in question is a Mississippi State research bird. BTW: They still have their square tail Bird Dog flying. Norm
We've begun a series of photo essays on Convair's remarkable F-106, and co-conspirator Dave Menard had this to say about the airplane: Phil, Latest blog in this morning and as usual, interesting as hell! In the write up for the Six, mention is made that none went to "furren" AFs. I wonder. Reason for wondering is while on an officially escorted photo shoot at McClellan AFB in the spring of 1973 when I was stationed at Mathe r(across town from McClellan) and noticed some A and B model Sixes with 100% cocooning on them sitting on a barge waiting to go downriver to SF Bay to be loaded on a ship(?). Serials were in large(3 or 4 inch) stencils on both sides of their noses, but I did not write them down for reasons forgotten. McClellan was THE depot for the Six (as well as the F-100, F-105, A-1, to name some more) so logically, any Sixes for export would have left after full rebuilds. Hmmmmm. Have wondered over the years where they went. They were not Deuces as I do know the difference. Guess we will never know…Cheers, dave Looks as though we've got another challenge for our readership! Does anybody know where those Mystery Sixes ended up? There's no prize for the answer but we'd really like to know!
And speaking of Sixes, here's a comment and a correction we snuck in that correction last week!) from Mark Williams: Phil, very nice selection as usual! You snuck a Monday post in on me, and when I checked your blog I realized I was a few days late! I'll take it though!
I really enjoyed the F-106s! As you can tell by my e-mail address, I'm sort of a fan. I never got to work on them myself -- I started as a crew chief on KC-135s, and ended up as a Flight Engineer on C-130s before I retired (nine days ago to be exact!) I noticed you described 58-0780 as, "New York's 49th FIS". I kind of think that might confuse some readers into thinking that the 49th was an ANG unit, but it was not. They were active duty, and now the 49th FTS out of Columbus AFB, MS. In fact, a bunch of the old active FIS's are FTS's now. The 5th FTS is out of Vance AFB, OK now, and the 87th FTS is out of Laughlin AFB, TX.
BTW, I also caught you accurately described that 56-0461 is on display at the Sawyer museum, but did you know they repainted the tail number to accurately depict an actual 87th FIS aircraft? It's painted as 57-0231. I was there for the dedication ceremony exactly five years ago today! Personally, I'm not a big fan of changing tail numbers, but it wasn't my display. Anyway, great post! Keep sneaking in a few F-106 photos. Maybe I'll send a couple of mine sometime! Have a good weekend, Mark O. Williams Thanks for the corrections, Mark! As always, they're appreciated.
And finally, it seems our mention of those childhood favorites, the Colby books, struck a chord with at least one of our readers, Gary Kato: Phil, Not long ago I was trying to remember who made some of the military picture books that I used to check out often at the Public Library when I was a kid. Colby! I don't actually remember aircraft books but I do remember a military vehicle book or two. Finding your blog motivated me to find my issues of RIS and Aerophile. I only had 2 issues of RIS but I remember thinking it was a great magazine. Back then there weren't that many magazines doing things for modern aircraft model builders.Thanks, gary And thanks to you for writing, Gary. Those Colby books encompassed just about everything as I recall---I can distinctly remember aircraft, warships, and military vehicles in the series. I keep hoping I'll run across the aviation titles in a used bookstore some day!
And that's about all we have for today. We've had some remarkable submissions of late so good things lie ahead---stay tuned for The Further Adventures of Whatever It Is We Do Around Here. Meanwhile, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.