Monday, July 26, 2010

Letters; We Get Letters, Whale Stuff, and the Double Dagger

It's In The Mail

To me, anyways. We published day-before-yesterday (almost, but not quite, a full week later than intended) and, as usual, we could've done some things a little bit better. Here are a couple of missives for your consideration:

First, from Tommy Thomason, a reference to more FJ-4 stuff at his blog. If you aren't already following Tommy's work you really need to start doing it. His site is, in my opinion, a must-read as far as naval aviation is concerned, and is well-worth bookmarking.

Good stuff in yesterday's post. Feel free to reference either of my blogs when appropriate (in this case see, which adds before/after pictures of the FJ-4 horizontal tail, and or use the pictures.

Best regards,
And I even made it easy for you! Just click on the link (that's Computer Talk, ya'll...) and you'll be on Tommy's site before you know it. Shazam!
I knew when I published that 30-year old FJ piece of Rick's that it might be dated, but it really came off pretty good, I think---in my world it's stood the test of time pretty well. Rick had a comment about it, though, and since it's his piece that I shamelessly published (the fault/blame therefore lies entirely with me) it's only fair to publish a correction!
Oh boy, now you’re embarrassing me; putting up research material over 30 years old! There is so much on here (that's) wrong now I don’t know where to start; CRIPES, I don’t even have a copy of this in my files any more! Among other things, I have tried to avoid the term ‘decommission” when referring to squadrons ever since Bob Lawson explained the officially correct term for that period was ‘disestablished’, at least until 1998, when the terms ‘activate/deactivate’ were adopted. (not that many seem to care- even official notices from the office of CNO still use the ‘wrong’ terminology).

Let’s just say it was a humble start back in the days when material was hard to come by, correspondence was by Postal mail and before everyone was an Internet expert As to other references on the type, I’d recommend Tommy Thomason’s book on Navy strike types and Steve Ginter’s books are good too, although I don’t believe he has an FJ-3 edition out yet. Concerning the VF-126 shot, they actually didn’t become the west coast F-14 FRS (that was VF-124), but were the Miramar instrument RAG, first with F9F-8Ts and then TA-4s. Much later they became an adversary unit.


Gotta remember, 124 had the Tomcats; 124 had the Tomcats...  Thanks for the correction, Morgo! And, to all of you who have yet to get it, may I firmly recommend Rick's book Tip of the Spear, Schiffer, 2007.

Put this one on your Must Have list if you have any interest whatsoever in American naval aviation. The book is that good.

Finally, do you remember that F-104 photo I ran last time around? (As if you could forget since it was only day-before-yesterday!) Don Jay, who submitted the photo, knows of my soft spot for the "Zipper" and he's sent along another photo or two, but these offer something just the least little bit different. (I was grinning when I wrote that, ya'll...)

 Sometimes the F-104 ended up being used as a chase plane, primarily due to its exceptional speed. I seriously doubt it could pace this airplane, though, even with it carrying that somewhat unusual airframe! Lockheed via Don Jay

Here's another shot of the airplane that isn't an F-104. I'll let Don tell you about the photographs.  Lockheed via Don Jay

Hi Phil, Since you enjoy the F-104, here is something for you.

Most folks know about the SR-71 program but few know of or know the difference between the A-12, YF-12, and the SR-71. Well how about the MD-21?

The A-12 was the original 'Blackbird' built for the CIA-many have heard the name Oxcart-which was its operational codename. 13 were built. In addition to these 13, Lockheed built two modified A-12s to carry a drone. The ac was called the M-21. The drone was the ramjet powered D-21. When mated, the system was known as the MD-21. The major difference between the A-12 and the M-21 was the removal of the 'Q' bay and insertion of a second cockpit for the Launch Control Officer.

Actual operations of the D-21 are shrouded in mystery and there are many conflicting stories as to what they did or didn't do. The operational name was 'Senior Bowl'. Several missions were conducted over China, N. Korea and N. Vietnam. Results were supposedly disappointing but our friends in China have one on display in one of their museums dedicated to us imperialists. I can only imagine their consternation of watching this drone fly over the entire country at 90k and Mach WOW!! That alone was worth it.

M-21 60-6941 was lost in July 66 in an operational accident. The last reported launch of the MD-21 combo was in the late 66 timeframe. The D-21 survived to be mated to the B-52 and the last known op was in 1970.

Attached are photos from the 68 timeframe and as you can see in the first one, the 'zipper' is the chase plane. Of course what other ac could keep up with these hybrids? M-21 60-6940 in these photos resides in Seattle Wash. at the Museum of Flight. The D-21 you see at Pima Museum in Tucson is next to an SR-71.

All photos courtesy of Lockheed by some guy in an F-104!!

And all I can say to that one is I'm impressed! Many thanks, Don!
Ode to the Whale
How about a tribute to a Navy airplane that isn't an FJ-Something-or-Other? We've never done anything on That Other Douglas Attack Airplane, the A3D Skywarrior, so today's as good a time as any.
And you thought that catapult launches were hairy! The "Whale" could be fitted with RATO bottles, which dramatically decreased the take-off roll. Said launch assistance generally increased the excitement level in the cockpit, but it was a good way to get a heavily-loaded airplane out of a tight field. This A3D-2 belonged to VAH-4 and this particular takeoff added a new interpretation to the whole "it's not a job; it's an adventure" thing!  US Navy via R. Morgan
This may well be the most famous "Whale" picture ever taken. It depicts 138974 from Heavy Four when stationed on the Oriskany during 1966, and that's a Mk84 2000 lb bomb falling away from the aircraft. There's no telling about that bomb, but the airplane must've scared the Bad Guys to death!  US Navy via R. Morgan
The Navy tried out an over-all dark green camouflage during 1965 and 66. Here's one of VAH-4s birds wearing it when assigned to Air Wing 11 aboard Kitty Hawk; the aircraft has just trapped and the cross-deck pendant is still attached to the hook. Note the opened escape hatch above the canopy; this was SOP for the A-3. No bang seats were fitted!  US Navy via R. Morgan
Here's a "Whale" from an earlier era. This A3D from VAH-11 launches off the FDR in 1962. Note that opened escape hatch.  Frank Garcia
Here's another view of a bird from Heavy Eleven taking the cat shot. The HUP was a normal part of flight ops, and there's little doubt the guys in that Skywarrior are glad it's there! US Navy via Frank Garcia
Let's jump ahead a few years to April 24th, 1978. A VC-1 TA-4J formates with one of VAQ-33's ERA-3Bs during the 1978 iteration of Operation Rimpac. By this time the "Whale" had long-since left the attack community, while the "Tinker Toy" still had a few years left before its retirement. Douglas attack aircraft dominated the flight decks of the US Navy for some 20 years, with ADs, A3Ds, and A4Ds sharing the deck during the fifties and the first part of the sixties. Ed Heinemann knew how to design an airplane! Navy KN-26934
And Now For Something a Little Different
We all know the A-3 was originally an attack bomber, but it's usefulness in that role had long-since passed when the Navy decided to hang this particular weapon off of it for one phase of a test program:
Sometimes a big, heavy attack airplane can prove useful in the test role. This XAIM-54A Phoenix is shown during its 1966 evaluation at Point Mugu, and is mounted to a pylon attached to the port fuselage of a "Whale". When you think about it, the A3D might have been fairly effective as a platform for the Phoenix, but we'll never know. It's probably for the best. US Navy KN-13240
Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Two Men in a Tub
Convair's F-102A Delta Dagger was quite an airplane when it first entered service (after it was de-bugged!), and a two-seat trainer was considered to be necessary for flight training and proficiency on the Air Force's first supersonic interceptor. Nobody pays much attention to the TF-102A anymore, so it's only appropriate that we feature it today.
South Carolina's 157th FIS was flying the F-102A during 1971, so it was a natural that they have a TF or two hanging around for proficiency training. This TF-102A-26-CO basks in the sun on the ramp at McEntire ANGB on 19 August. The APUs indicate that a flight is in the offing. Note the striped treatment on the upper speed brake door.  Jim Sullivan
Nobody ever called the "Double Deuce" pretty, and it wasn't. Supersonic speed was possible, but only in a dive, and its usefulness was confined to training and, late in its life, flying BDA missions for B-52 Arclight strikes in SEA. This shot defines the aircraft's built-in headwind, and also shows both the taxi light and the Ram Air Turbine to good avantage. The airframe is 56-2374, an F-102A-45-CO, as it appeared in September of 1968. This airplane would make a pretty neat model, I think. Jim Sullivan
Here's our friend 55-4034 at Last Chance, getting ready to launch. She's carrying an infrared sensor ball on the upper nose, and the RAT is deployed. Of particular interest are the vortex generators spaced around the front of the canopy. Aerodynamics was a relative thing when the TF-102 was designed! Jim Sullivan
Scramble! 56-2339, a TF-102A-41-CO, launches for a practice intercept on  23 August, 1969. Note the tail markings, which differ completely from those on the other aircraft in this series. Jim Sullivan
Homeward bound, 56-2363 prepares to recover on 25 May 1968. You could never call it pretty, but I'd love to see a kit of it, or even a decent conversion kit for the elderly but still-viable Monogram F-102A. What a nifty airplane!  Jim Sullivan
And We're Done for the Day
I'm trying to figure out what to build next, so I'm off to ponder the ramifications of that weighty issue. In the meantime, be good to your neighbor. We'll meet again soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Finished Hillbilly, Still Truckin' Along With the FJ, Looking Backwards, and Another Zipper

And the Nate is Done

It shouldn't have taken this long to do it, except I didn't have a whole lot of time to finish the thing. The Bottom Line is that it's finally completed, and there are some photos below to prove it.

The kit itself is a treasure, and has held its age quite well against its more modern competition (of which there is absolutely none in 1/48th scale!). You'd never know the thing was pushing 40, and it's easy to see why Hasegawa keeps reissuing the kit. It's quite a tribute to those guys at Mania that the model is viable after so many years, and that it produces such a great replica with very little work on the part of the builder. We've already discussed most of what was done in our previous installments, but there are a couple of things worth noting before we get to the photos.

First, the canopy (either one) fits relatively poorly, but it does fit after a fashion and the gap created by its attachment is nothing a little bit of white glue can't fix. I'm not sure but I don't think anybody makes a vacuum-formed replacement for it, but with a little effort you can use the kit part with no ill effect.

Second, the upper portion of the landing gear struts (those little post thingies that stick up through the wing over the main mounts) really do look better if you cut the kit representation of same off the wings, drill an appropriate-sized hole, and insert a piece of plastic rod after the airframe is painted. The tiny bit of extra work is well worth the effort in terms of final appearance.

Third, the pitot tube is very much over-scale. The one on my model wasn't rebuilt, but it should have been. It's a lesson relearned, so to speak.

As for painting, which we'd may as well discuss, all of the colors are pretty much out-of-the-bottle. The lower surfaces are Testor IJAAF Gray-Green enamel, while the upper surface brown is Testor RAF Dark Earth. The lighter of the two greens is new Floquil Coach Green (which honestly bears no resemblence whatsoever to the real Coach Green---so much for progress!) while the darker shade is Floquil Pullman Green, which doesn't in any way resemble its honored predessesor either. I think they work together fairly well in this case, but you're more than welcome to do it another way if you don't care for the shades or tonal values. (And if you do, please send along a picture or two of your model---I'd really like to see what you're doing out there! The address is .

See, I told you it was done. The stripes aren't perfect but I can live with that, although the ones on the real airplane were a little more precise than these! The tops of the landing gear oleos are painted to match the top surfaces of the wings---that's a guess on my part but it's a logical one and that's how I did it. Feel free; etc, etc.... Weathering is minimal because the airplane in That One Famous Photo doesn't look too gnarly, or at least it doesn't to me. The base is a bamboo cutting board (appropriate, that), while the figure is from a Fine Molds Ki-10 Perry. And yes, the white glue on the radio antenna is still drying. I'm not terribly patient these days...

And a better view of those stripes. I really like the way the colors work on this one, and it's definitely something different for the JAAF shelf! Banzai, ya'll!

Still Crankin' Along With the Fury

We should've finished up with the FJ series a couple of installments ago, but the photos that Doug Siegfried sent along were just too good to ignore, so tonight we're going to take a look at the Ultimate Fury, the FJ-4, also known as the F-1E and AF-1E in the McNamara realignment of America's military aircraft designation system in 1962.

Your Humble Servant first began to care about the FJ back in 1980 or so, which was when he (that would be me) decided to put together a unit list. I sent it off to our mutual friend Rick Morgan for annotation and correction and he was was kind enough to re-do it and send it back to me. Here, with considerable apologies to Morgo, is that compilation from Way Back When, scanned in from its typed (anybody out there remember typewriters?) original. It'll be easier to read if you remember that Rick appended both previous and subsequent aircraft types to the lists.

Rick was quite a scholar even then, and these lists definitely show why his books are so darned good. You might note that I did a little editing on the sketch of the Marine emblem on the last page. If you were in the Nav or the Corps you know what the missing phrase said. If you weren't, it may not matter. I covered it over just in case there might be folks of a sensitive nature reading this thing. Oh yeah, and please note that there's no attempt whatsoever to edit the piece.

And now for a couple of pictures:

Here's a gorgeous photo of 143549, an FJ-4B from VA-144. Note the color inside the wing fold; it ain't yellow green! Modelers take note: the airplane is lightly weathered.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

GMGRU-1 hung some interesting stuff off their FJs. Note how the pylon sweeps around to conform to the aft end of this particular store. Kindof makes you wish somebody would do a decent set of 50s/early 60s-vintage tanks/stores/pods/etc., doesn't it?  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The FJ-4 was a transition aircraft in many ways, and a lot of them ended up in utility squadrons. 139439 is shown while serving with VU-7; colors are Engine Gray, Chrome Yellow, and International Orange. It was an ignominious if colorful end to the career of a great fighter.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

VX-5 flew the Fury in several variations. Their treatment on the -4 was particularly pretty, I think, and this shot of 139549, an FJ-4B, displays it well.  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

When most of us think of VF-126 we think of the late, lamented West Coast F-14 RAG, but they were the Real Deal when they were VA-126 flying the FJ-4. Love those markings!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And another really pretty FJ-4B scheme, this one from VA-151 on display at an airshow. In reality the FJ series wasn't much of an attack aircraft, putting the lie to their assignment to attack squadrons, but then no other Navy jet of their era was much better. It could be argued that the A-4 only became viable with the advent of the MER and TER, while the A-6 represented the next generation of VA birds. Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Saga of Reptiles and Scales

No, this isn't another flying dinosaur thing, gang. It's a true story from Those Good Old Days when Jim and I were trying to birth the original RIS which does, I suppose make it old, but it ain't that old, ya'll! Stay with me and I'll tell you a tale.

Jim and I had met in the late 1960s, back when I was going to college and "working" at a San Antonio hobby shop. We'd talked about the mutual disappointment we felt in regard to the modeling magazines available to us, and then decided we could do better than those other guys were doing. It couldn't be that tough, could it? And no, at the end of the day it really wasn't that tough to do the magazine, although I'll admit the business end of it was a little tricky.

Anyway, we'd decided that a modeling magazine, one done our way, was in our future, so we began work on our Very First Issue. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of planning, and a substantial (to us, at least) infusion of cash, but The Big Day came and we submitted our copy to the printer (a quick-print sort of place, because it was all we could afford for that first issue) for production. What we got back wasn't bad at all, and served its purpose well in terms of launching the magazine. It was the bill that surprised us.

That first bill wasn't all that bad in monetary terms; just a few hundred bucks (we're talking early 1970s, remember?), but the printer's invoice was for a periodical called "Reptiles and Scales". It was hilarious then, and it's funny now, at least to me. It's possible that it wasn't terribly humorous to the poor soul who wrote it out, since we called the owner of said Quick-Print-Sort-of-Place and told him about it, but we thought it was a riot. It didn't take a whole lot to amuse us back then, I guess.

There's no moral to this story, and there really isn't much of a punch line either, but it caused us to refer to ourselves as "Reptiles and Scales" for years to come. It could've been worse.

A Well-Used Zipper

Don Jay sent me this F-104A a while back, but I'm just now getting around to publishing it:

This F-104C-5-LO was photographed at Edwards back in the mid-60s. The aircraft is 56-0934, and it's shown prior to being transferred to NASA as a space re-entry trainer. This is one of the few times, not counting the use of the aircraft in SEA, when a Century Series fighter appeared as heavily weathered as most modelers depict them.  via Don Jay

Better Late Than Never

Which is what we could've titled this installment since it's appearing almost a week later than it should have. Life got in the way again, ya'll! Anyway, I'll try to do better next time, so until then be good to your neighbor.


Monday, July 12, 2010

A Nimrod Song, I Happen to LIKE the Fury, Even More Corsairs, An Oddball B-47, That Nate, and Any Old Albatros in a Storm

You Gotta Have a Theme Song, So Here's One For the Nimrods

Don Jay is our official Nimrod, having served with them and all, and he's sent us another bit of information on the outfit in the form of their unofficial song. This one's a little different than most Air Force songs because you can actually sing it in semi-polite company!

First, the lyrics:

On November 20, 1966, four Cricket FACs wrote this song in honor of the Nimrods. Woke up ops officer (Joe Kittinger) to sing it to him. Sung to the music of ""NIMROD BALLAD"

An old VC truck driver went out
One dark and rainy night

He would have to drive that dark trail
Without a beam of light

He knew that Uncle Ho Chi Minh
Would be so proud of him

So he loaded up his P-O-L
And headed out of Vinh

Nimrods, Nimrods, those truck killers of the night

He rattled through Mugia Pass
(missing verses)

The call came through the night ... Nimrod Lead this is Gombey 105 *
Lead your cleared in hot if you've got that truck in sight

They bombed and strafed and flared ... and blew that bastard up
Oh Nimrods, Nimrods ... Truck Killers of the night

Nimrods, Nimrods, those truck killers of the night.

(*) Gombey - call sign for the Cessna O1-E Bird Dog FAC

And he also gave us a link to a performance of the song, which hopefully will work if you copy and paste it into your browser bar (I think that's what they call it---this audio/visual stuff is a new wrinkle for me!)

http://www.woolyfsh .com/seasongs/ Nimrod.mp3

You Can Never Have Too Many FJ-3s!

That's how I feel about it, anyway! Here are another couple of shots of one of my favorite birds, obsolescent as it was when it was operational. (As were the CougarBanshee, and Demon too, come to think of it...)

Here's Randolph's flight deck ca. 1958. The FJ-3Ms are from VF-84 back before they assumed the Jolly Roger from VF-17---it's a heritage thing, right? Lots of aeroplanes on that flight deck!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And some more FJ-3Ms from Fighting 121 during 1957. I don't think I ran this one before (I've had computer issues all day & am trying to get this thing published before the next crash!) but if I did please forgive the duplication. Stuff happens sometimes!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

The Argonauts of VF-33 had a crack at the Fury too. Here's one of their glossy sea blue FJ-3s in flight while deployed to the Med aboard Lake Champlain in 1955. It's possible that I'm just the least little bit prejudiced, but I don't think the Navy ever had prettier airplanes than the glossy sea blue jets!   Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

And finally, another blue bird. This one's from VF-51 as deployed aboard the Kearsarge during 1955. You modelers might note that both the leading edge slats and the tail bumper are deployed on this FJ-3
Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Old Hose Nose

The F4U series is one of my all-time favorites, and it's time for another picture of one, or maybe even more than that. Our first shot's from the collection of Jim Sullivan and shows a -5 on the boat:

An F4U-5 launches off the USS Wright on 3 November 1948. It's peacetime and this VF-21 bird is clean, with no ordnance or gas bags to ruin its lines. The -5 was, in my opinion, the most pugnacious appearing of the Corsairs, but what an airplane!  Sullivan Collection

This -5 is loaded for bear but it's not headed for combat. The photo was taken during July of 1951 and the bird is from VX-3 while based in Atlantic City. I don't think I'd want to be on the receiving end of that salvo!  Sullivan Collection

The Reserves used the -5 too. This Glenview bird is taxiing out in early 1952. Note the absence of that pesky "V" prefix to the BuNo!  Sullivan Collection

And another Glenview bird. This one shows the International Orange fuselage band and the matte blue anti-glare treatment to advantage. Few people model Reserve aircraft but I can't understand why---this one's a beauty!  Sullivan Collection

The Navy Flew Some Oddball Stuff From Time to Time

And here's a prime example of same. Rick Morgan dropped us a quick note after the last shots from Douglas Tulsa and commented that the Navy had a couple of EB-47Es there at one time. He's right, of course, and I'm thinking we need to see a photo or two of at least one of them:

A Navy EB-47E, originally AF52-0410 and flown as BuNo 24100 by the Navy, at Douglas Tulsa ca. 1974. Note the pylon with the Whatsis (either telemetry gear or a sensor pod, but I don't know which) hanging from it. I await your letters with anticipation!  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

What a neat photo of 42100! Of considerable interest is the OU helmet on the nose; wish we knew what that tic-tac-toe thingy was for! Guess it's time to go look up some info on this program, huh?  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And here's the entire airplane. Note the pylon, which appears under both wings.  When the Navy first took possession of their two EB-47E-80s (52-0410 and 52-0412) the pylons were used for the mounting of podded sensors and telemetry gear. Later on the left pylon was used to mount a GE TF34 turbofan for testing. Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And one final shot of 4120 . I think it's time to seriously investigate this program and see if I can turn up a little more photography on it. We aren't finished with this one, gang!  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

As a postscript, 52-0412 (not illustrated here) ended up as a display aircraft at Dyess Linear Air Park in Abilene, Texas. It's not displayed in Navy markings, though!

And another postscript, because I just checked my e-mail! Rick Morgan is pretty sure the pod under that EB-47E is in fact an ALQ-31. Here's a shot of one on an RF-8G of VFP-62 to finish out our day:

And with this photo (and the additions you may have noticed on the preceeding B-47 piece) we really and truly are done with this for today. We are. I promise...  USN via Rick Morgan

So Where's the Nate?

Not done is where it is. I'm doing the panel lines right now, and it's so close to finished that it could almost fly off on its own, but it still isn't ready and there's nothing to show you that you haven't already seen, so No Nate Today! Instead, here are a couple of photos to prove that you can build the unbuildable, even though it might be a little bit of a challenge to do it!

Back before there were Wingnut Wings kits, Roden were pretty much it as far as Great War kits in 1/32nd scale were concerned. They did some neat subjects, but you could never call the kits easy to build. Here, as a case in point, is their 1/32nd scale Albatros DIII, more or less done in the markings of Otto Hartmann from Jasta 28 ca. 1917. 

Here's a 3/4 front view. The plywood effect was done with a stiff brush and pastels over light buff paint, each panel being done individually. I don't like the way I did the prop and may redo it some day, presuming I ever build another 1/32nd scale WWI model to go with this one.

This shot shows beyond any doubt why everybody hates Roden decals. Check out the cross on the left wing. Arghhh!

It looks pretty good in this view, though. There's truth in the saying that the camera never lies, but it's entirely possible to make it fib a little bit...

I like this shot quite a bit, but that's mostly because of the lighting. I don't like the prop, but we already discussed that. The rigging, which I don't think I mentioned before, is stainless steel wire; it actually serves a structural purpose on this model which might have fallen apart by now if it hadn't been used. Roden does their struts and affiliated attachment points in scale thickness, ya'll!

Eduard makes a photo-etch set for this kit, and it was used on the model you see before you. It's a great set and is essential if you're going to build this thing! In addition to that PE I also scratch-built the engine rocker arms and wound all the individual valve springs, which was fun but pretty much counterproductive at the end of the day. I like the model, but that's mostly because I'm a sucker for biplanes. It looks ok though, doesn't it?

Sometimes We Build Stuff For Our Kids

and that's where this came from, built back in the late 80s, I think. I put it in here just to see if you guys were paying attention. Letters to the editor are not necessary; it won't happen again!

And on that note I think it's probably time to say goodbye 'til next week! In the meantime, be good to your neighbor!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twice in One Week!, Some Corrections and Additions, More on the Destroyer, That Danged Stratojet,

It's Me Again!

Yep, call the Headline News; it's two, count 'em, TWO, of these things in one week. Who'd-a-thunk it? This one is a real short one, but still; how long has it been since we've done a Twofer Week? Hot dog!

Letters; We Get Letters

Which are a Very Good Thing in my world, correcting and adding to my somewhat limited knoweledge as they do. Rick Morgan had some comments about a couple of the things we ran on Saturday night:

Phil: Fascinating photos, as always, in the latest edition. The B-66s shown at what I presume is Kelly would appear to be part of the EB-66E mod line- note the long tail section being grafted onto 519, which is one of the RBs that were converted. (Note: The B-66/EB-66 photos came from the folks in Tulsa, although the shot wasn't captioned so we aren't sure where it was taken. Kelly's a good guess given the size and configuration of the hangar, but there's a fairly good chance it was taken at the old Douglas/Tulsa facility too. pf)

As doe the VF-121 FJ-3Ms, there were probably shot during the 1957 deployment in Lexington. Air Group 12 had four primary squadrons, 121, which had the day fighter mission, VF-124 with F3H-2 night fighters, VF-123, F9F-8 day fighter/light attack, VA-125 AD-6 prop attack. They also had, of course, the usual dets from VAW-11 (AD-5W), VFP-61 (F9F-8P), VAAW-35 (AD-5N), VAH-6 (AJ-2) and HU-1 (HUP). This would be their last deployment as the Group was pulled out of the fleet in 1958 and made the Replacement Air Group on the west coast.


Thanks, Rick!

And in that same light, here's one that was lost in the shuffle last week:

This shot was on the file but I'd skipped right past it. Tommy Thomason had the photo in his collection too and sent it along for our enjoyment which is, I think, a reminder for me to pay better attention to these things! The photo shows a couple of 121's FJ-3Ms in company with a VF-123 F9F-8 Cougar, all with Air Wing 12. Those were the days!  Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried and Tommy Thomason Collection!

And another one I'd missed! Aside from giving a great side view of a Fighting 121 FJ-3M, it also shows a little bit of a VAW-12 F3H-2 from VF-124 as well as the aft section of a VF-123 F9F-8. If this photo doesn't make you wish for someone to give us decent kits of these aircraft nothing ever will! Tailhook Association via Doug Siegfried

Ever Been to Tulsa?

Douglas had a major production and mod facility there until the unfortunate demise of that icon of American military aviation, and there was a lot going on in that part of Oklahoma, particularly during the Vietnam War.

Here's a small sample of what was happening at Douglas/Tulsa during December of 1967. This tantalizing photo shows what I presume to be an ERA-3B (Morgo?), three EB-66s, and what seems to be an EC-121. That "Connie" is particularly interesting because of its markings; note the "ARMY" legend painted on the aft fuselage. Sure wish this picture could talk!  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

How to Ruin Somebody's Day

Once upon a time American bombers were equipped to defend themselves against fighter attack through the medium of radar-predicted tailguns. (Yes, I know B-52s had tail gunners for a long time, but we aren't talking about B-52s here so cut me some slack, ok?) Here's a fine shot of that sort of installation in a B-47:

Here's how you slave the radar to the gun installation on a B-47. Although the notion of tailguns in a jet bomber seems ludicrous, they were used in air-to-air combat at least once when a recon Stratojet was jumped by Soviet MiG-17s during an early-60s Cold War overflight. The subsequent hassle and running gunfight resulted in the use of those obsolescent tail guns, which evidently provided discouragement to the aforementioned MiGs if nothing else. This shot was taken on the ramp at Douglas/Tulsa.  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

I LIKE B-47s!

And here's a classic shot of them to end our day.

I grew up in an Air Force family, and used to hear these guys coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Look on this as a nostalgia shot!  Tulsa Air & Space Museum via Mark Nankivil

And That's All she Wrote

For this week, anyways. We'll see you again in a few days, but in the meantime, be good to your neighbor!