Rub-a-Dub-Dub, That Fruitfly's a Tub
If you've been around NavAir for any length of time at all, you're aware that Naval Aviators have a tendency to give nicknames to their airplanes. The A-7 series, known as the "SLUF" to the Air Force Crowd, has always been the "Fruitfly" in the Fleet. "Tub" has long been the vernacular for any two-seat variant of a single-seat tactical aircraft, which leads us into today's continuation of the A-7 saga. We'll eventually get around to covering all the US variants of the type, but for today we're going to look at the NAV's two-seater A7s. Rub-a-Dub-Dub...
The "Fruitfly" started out as a single-seat light attack aircraft, of course, and was ultimately built in considerable numbers, which meant that a great many were available for conversion to the type-conversion trainer---24 A-7B airframes and 36 A-7Cs were ultimately converted to TA-7C standard, with a further 8 aircraft being modified to EA-7L configuration. The type proved its worth transitioning pilots new to the A-7 into the jet, and a great many ended up their careers overseas. Here's a photographic sampling of the Corsair II's training variant for your enjoyment.
They Called Her "Powerful Katrinka"
A couple of issues ago we ran some A-20Gs for you, including one photo of an aircraft bearing two different names on the nose. We stated at the time that we wished we could have read the lettering so we'd know what that name actually was; 3rd Attack owner and webmaster Gerry Kersey read that comment and decided to make things right. Here's what he had to offer:
It's been quite a while since we've run any photography on one of our favorite airplanes, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. We're thinking it's time to end that particular drought, so here's a selection of "Hogs" for your enjoyment!
Thanks once again to Bobby Rocker for sharing these images with us.
The Saga of Frantic Fraye
It's time to jump into the Official Replica in Scale Wayback Machine and take a look at what one of those late-60s English bands once aptly termed days of future passed. Today's big adventure carries us back to our one foray into the wonderful world of nose art. To wit:
Replica was long-gone, a victim of Life, Family, and General Stuff. In short, the project had run its logical course. Jim was continuing with it but in a completely different direction, birthing in the process a periodical called Aerophile that in turn produced some of the best aerospace journalism of its day. Meanwhile, your editor had abandoned all intent of publication to continue a life-long passion for off-road motorcycling.
That hiatus lasted for a few brief years, when Jim and I reassembled the team (that means we started working together again) to produce a handful of monographs under the Aerophile banner. We actually brought a couple of those projects to fruition and, therefore, ultimate publication, but most of our efforts were stillborn because, once again, we were long on Enthusiasm and Good Ideas and woefully short on time.
One of those projects that never quite left the ground was a special on USAAF and USAF nose art. we had the material to do it, and thanks to Jim's ongoing brilliance regarding Things Publicational we had the ability to make it happen. Planning began, and then came The Epiphany: If we were going to do a nose art monograph the cover of same ought to feature original artwork by the staff of Aerophile. It wasn't just a Good Idea; it was a GREAT Idea. There was only one tiny little fly in that particular glass of buttermilk---we wanted to do real nose art on a real airplane, and we didn't have an airplane to put it on. It was Time to Ponder.
Ponder we did, and, through the intercession of Mr. Shakespeare's slings and arrows of outrageous fortune we stumbled upon a solution. It seems that the part of the CAF's Central Texas Wing that based out of San Marcos had a TB-26B in flying condition that they regularly took to air shows, and your editor stumbled onto that fact while photographing one of said shows at Bergstrom. It began quite by accident, when we asked one of the crew what he might know about the history of the airplane. His reaction was classic; aviation wisdom at its finest:
"I don't know nothing about it except the damn thing's broke most of the time including today when the damn landing gear wouldn't come down and the airplane could've damn well killed us if I hadn't cranked the damn wheels down before we ran out of gas." (That's what we might call "perspective", except that today we're going to call it "opportunity knocking" instead!)
"Have you guys ever thought of putting nose art on this thing? It would look really great with nose art, and I know a guy (the guy being Jim, of course) who's ready, willing, and able to give you guys some killer artwork for your airplane. All we want is to be able to use a picture of it on the cover of a book we're doing."
"Hey, that would be great! Let me ask Mr. Stokes (that would be John Stokes, who actually owned the airplane at the time) if it's ok. Can you guys paint a nekkid girl on our airplane?"
And the conversation went on, the bottom line being that Mr. Stokes agreed to the nose art as long as we could work his wife's name (Fraye) into the design, and as long as it was tastefully done. We agreed and set to work.
The actual blow-by-blow painting of the nose art will be featured on these pages sooner or later (we have to find the slides first!), but suffice it to say that Jim and I drove out to Gary Field one Spring afternoon, MEK, Mil-Spec primer, and paint in hand, and set to work. Here's one iteration of how it all came out:
A Shameless Plug for a Friend
You've probably figured out by now that some of the folks included in our circle of friends are aerospace journalists. One of the people who falls into that category is Rick Morgan, a man who's becoming increasingly prolific in terms of this whole publishing thing. His latest is a monograph on the Grumman A-6 and its use in the Vietnam Fracas.
Nope; not this time. We're still trying to get things back on some sort of viable schedule and just haven't had a chance to go looking for air-to-air shots in the collection. Maybe next time.
The Relief Tube
First, a correction from Dave Menard regarding a couple of those Texan captions from a few weeks back:
Phil, GREAT to see some more blogs again. But the shot I took a week before enlisting in Oct 55 was the yellow 991 bird, a Chanute AFB visitor. The red trimmed one was in instrument trainer markings, which was red nose,tail feathers, and 45 degree bands across the tops of the wings. Have seen these on T-33s, C-45s, and I think a C-54. Cheers, dave
Thanks, Dave---it's good to be back!
Next up is an image of a T-6 under restoration from a reader known only as Norm:
We've picked up quite a few new readers over the past several months, which has resulted in a series of comments regarding some of our older features. Scott Leslie had this to say about one of our pieces on the TBM:
Hi, I was reviewing all the posts and saw the question on the TBM-3E from NAS Squantum in 1947. The question was on the Zulu Alpha tail code; Z or Zulu designated Squantum (later on NAS South Weymouth when Squantum was closed and all flying operations were shifted to what had previously been a mostly heavier then air NAS), and A or Alpha was for attack. Post war the USN dropped S for Scouting, B for Bombing, and T for Torpedo, deciding on A for Attack; S would become ASW squadrons, when the composite squadrons which did the ASW mission in WWII were disestablished. I could go on, but that's the gist of it. I wasn't sure if this had been answered yet. Thanks, Scott Leslie
And thanks to you for writing in, Scott! Another one of our readers had this to say about a different article:
That photo of F-84G FS-058-A is not a 27th FEW plane. The 31st FEW badge is visible under the side of the canopy. The pilot deplaning appears to be the wing commander, Col. David Shilling. FS-058-A also has an antenna just in front of the wind screen. That was a navigation antenna installed on the lead plane. FS-058-A was a 307th FES jet.
We'd like to give credit where credit's due, but this particular message came to us via the "comments" feature of the blog, which we don't use. We'd like to make certain that everybody gets the credit due them when they write in to us so please send your comments, photographic or literary contributions, etc., to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Finally, we're still receiving reports of our photography showing up on other people's websites without any sort of provenance. While we used to see that sort of thing as an outright act of intellectual thievery, we now suspect that it's happening largely because the spiders that crawl websites on behalf of folks like Google and Bing just pick up random images (we discovered that by accident when we did a search on Replica in Scale in Bing "Images" the other day and saw dozens of photos we'd published hiding in there). Those photos all linked to our site just like they should, but anyone taking the images for their own use would have to be concerned about where they came from in order to note the source and properly credit them when they published them in their own blogs or user groups, and it's pretty obvious that the great majority of those guys just don't care. That's all the more reason for us to watermark the non-official photography we run, so we can give credit where credit's due and, hopefully, foil the Picture Pirates in the process. There doesn't seem to be any other way around it!
And that's what we know for today. Be good to your neighbor, don't steal our photography, and we'll see you again real soon.