Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Falcon Named Oscar

This latest installment of 'TWW' features our favorite Japanese fighter aircraft from the Second World War... the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa... known to the Allies as 'Oscar'. (Hayabusa ( ハヤブサ ) is Japanese for 'Peregrine Falcon'.)

Your blogmeister often refers to the Ki-43 as 'the other Zero' or 'the Army's Zero' (the Japanese Army, that is) because, as early war fighters are concerned, its performance was second only to the A6M Reisen... the original and much-vaunted 'Zero', known too by the Allied code name, 'Zeke'.

It's also somewhat fitting to refer to the Ki-43 as such because U.S. aircrew would often use the term 'Zero' in combat, regardless of the actual type of Japanese fighter that was encountered. This has undoubtedly led to the widely-held and sadly mistaken belief among the masses, even to this day, that the only Japanese fighters our boys fought during WWII were Zeroes. A belief that is especially strong among the more casual fans of the AVG, better known as the Flying Tigers, despite the fact that the AVG never met the A6M Reisen, the real 'Zero', in combat.

Anyhoo, here's a few shots of CBI Oscars...

This Ki-43-IIa is identified in some of our references as the Commanding Officer's ship from 2nd Chutai, 25th Sentai. China, 1944.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

This Ki-43-II of the 204th Hiko Sentai was found abandoned at Lashio, Burma... photo dated March 11th, 1945.

NARA via

A closer look...

NARA via

This poor quality image shows the other side of the same ship...

Project 914 Archives

That's it for now, though you'll probably see more Oscars in the future.

Fade to Black...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Apache Sunset

We've said it before and we say it again... we dig pretty pikshurs around here. Here's one showing a U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow in the area of Najaf, Iraq on March 23rd, 2003.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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Monday, November 16, 2015


If, by now, you're not aware of the events which took place in Paris on November 13th, 2015, then you're probably living under the proverbial rock.

I've been trying to think of what to write here. Nothing seems sufficient. So I will simply say that the Armée de l'air has stepped up its ongoing 'Opération Chammal' to include additional ISIS targets inside of Syria in response to the heinous and cowardly attacks which took place that night in Paris.

Not all of the following photos were taken after November 13th, 2015. But they all show Armée de l'air Rafales and Mirage 2000s whose crews have been taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and continue to do so.

I'll let the images do the rest of the talking...

All photos: Ministère de la Défense

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Baby Jug

In today's installment of 'TWW' we present a somewhat obscure 1930s pursuit ship that proved a fairly impressive successor to its younger cousin, the Seversky P-35, but which was, in turn, almost completely overshadowed by its phenomenally successful big brother... the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

The Republic P-43 Lancer exhibited excellent performance as compared to the initial requirements it was intended to meet. But, as with most 'modern' U.S. fighters of that period, evaluation of its foreign contemporaries showed that the P-43 was already obsolete by the time production got underway. Fortunately for Republic, the P-47 was in the pipeline. But it would be a while before the 'Jug' was fully developed... so, in the meantime, Republic's assembly lines were kept open and well-oiled with production of the P-43 until its successor was ready. And once that happened, the P-43 was destined to be thought of as nothing more than a historical footnote... a mere stepping stone to something greater.

A fine shot of the first of thirteen YP-43s ordered by the U.S.A.A.C. Between 1939 and 1942, a total of 272 P-43s would be built.

Project 914 Archives

Of the total number of P-43s constructed, 180 were originally earmarked for China. That number was then reduced to 125, and they were initially intended for use by an envisioned third American Volunteer Group. Ultimately, only fifty-one P-43s were delivered to China and there were no further 'A.V.G.' outfits formed.

Though a small number found their way into the hands of the first A.V.G., most of the P-43s were flown by Chinese pilots, as shown in this photo.

NARA via

You can see another shot of a Chinese P-43 in one of our earliest installments of 'TWW'... HERE.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hurricane in the Clouds

Something's been naggin' at your blogmeister over the last couple'a days... he felt compelled to issue an installment of 'TWW' that featured the Hawker Hurricane. Now he knows why... yesterday, November 6th, was the 80th anniversary of the Hurri's first flight.

Proof positive that you should sometimes listen to those voices in your head.

Anyhoo, as we've made it clear that we dig pretty pikshurs around here, here's a real pretty one... dedicated to Mr. Sydney Camm, father of the Hurricane.

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Camel Amongst Race-Horses

Today we bring you our latest installment of a series we like to refer to as 'That Thing Flies?'.

Many flying machines really do look as though they were meant to take to the sky.

Others... not so much.

Here at 'TWW' we feel that this-here contraption is most definitely one of the latter. 'Tis the Short Seamew, an anti-sub bird designed in the early 1950s which was meant to replace the aging Grumman Avengers flown by Reserve units of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

Although the Seamew was ordered into production and despite the successful completion of carrier trials, the contract was cancelled after only twenty-four production examples had been built. The main reasons were the airplane's mediocre overall performance and a change in Britain's defense doctrine which saw the disbanding of the Reserve units to which the Seamews were to be allocated.

All but one of the Seamews built were scrapped in fairly short order... some of them had not even been delivered. The lone survivor was bought back from the government by Shorts and used as a ground instruction airframe until 1967 when it too was scrapped.

Here's a somewhat dramatic shot of the Seamew prototype, XA209, during takeoff at Farnborough in September of 1953.

Project 914 Archives

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Monday, October 12, 2015

A Majestic Machine

Of the three 'heavies' employed by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, the Short Stirling was the least successful, falling short of the other two (the Halifax and Lancaster) in all categories except perhaps the least important... aesthetics. None of the three were what you'd call 'lookers'... they were all less than beautiful. Even the widely worshiped Lancaster. *your blogmeister dons his flak jacket*

But, of the three, the Stirling possessed in its looks a singular charm. It was more... distinguished, or perhaps dignified looking than the other two. Certainly it was much more majestic in appearance, especially while sitting on the ground... albeit in a somewhat ungainly fashion.

Project 914 Archives

The Stirling served as a main force bomber for right around three years, from early 1941 to early 1944, before high losses and ever increasing numbers of the superior Halifax and Lancaster forced its relegation to secondary roles of training, leaflet dropping, covert night ops, mining, and pulling assault gliders around the sky, among other things. If somewhat unsuccessful in its intended role, the Stirling served admirably in these other tasks until the final victory was won.

Fade to Black...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Nejlepší přítel člověka

We're willing to wager that the title for this installment of 'TWW' threw ya'll for a loop, yeah?

Well, a good while back we started what we hoped would develop into a regular series on this here cyber-rag... said series is to deal with mascots. What you're looking at right now is only the second of that series, but we wish to assure you that the theme of aircrew and their faithful, furry, and/or feathered friends will indeed be a recurring one.

Anyhoo, back to the unusual title for today. The photo presented here is said to show a Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot in the RAF with his pooch, named Sally. Now, as the dog is said to be man's best friend, and, in this case, the man in question is Czech, we thought it appropriate to title today's installment 'Man's Best Friend' in this fella's native language.

Or at least that's what 'Google Translate' tells us it means...

Project 914 Archives

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Connie

For today's quickie, we present one of the most B-U-T-FULL birds to ever grace the skies... the Lockheed Constellation.

This particular ship is a USAAF C-69, serial number 43-10315. After the Second World War ended, she was operated by a few different civilian outfits before being scrapped in 1965.

Project 914 Archives

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Bounty Hunter

Yesterday we gave ya'll a look at a Tomcat from VF-1 'Wolfpack', one of the first two FITRONs to become operational with the F-14. Today we give you a look at a Tomcat from the other squadron... VF-2 'Bounty Hunters'.

'Bullet 2', an F-14A assigned to VF-2's XO, climbs on full afterburner over the South China Sea, April 3rd, 1989 while deployed as part of CVW-2 aboard the U.S.S. Ranger.

Lt. David Baranek - U.S. Navy

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wolfpack Cat

We've said it before, we say it again... we love our Tomcats around here... and we love 'purty paint-jobs, too. So, for today's quickie here on TWW, here's a look at one of the most 'purrrrty paint jobs to grace the beautiful lines of the most badass jet fighter to ever fly in the sky...

F-14A BuNo. 159000, 'Wichita 14' of VF-1 'Wolfpack', seen at NAS Miramar in 1974-75.

Photographer and Source unknown

This jet was among the original complement of Tomcats delivered to VF-1 and sister squadron, VF-2 'Bounty Hunters', which were the first operational FITRONs to equip and deploy with the F-14. Their first cruise was as part of CVW-14 (Carrier Air Wing 14) aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in September of 1974.

More Tomcats to come!

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Meteors From Down Under... Over Korea

When one thinks of the air war over Korea, images of colorful U.S. Air Force F-86 Sabres, shiny, dark blue U.S. Navy F9F Panthers, or even gleaming silver MiG-15s are often the first that come to mind.

What does not often come to mind are images of  Royal Australian Air Force Gloster Meteors.

Yup... the Aussies were in on that shindig, too, and played just as important a role as their more numerous contemporaries. Initially equipped with P-51 Mustangs, 77 Squadron R.A.A.F., which was stationed in Japan as part of the occupation force put in place after the Second World War, was called to action. The outfit flew ground attack, close air support, and bomber escort missions...first from its base at Iwakuni, Japan, and then from a number of air bases located in Korea. The Aussie Mustangs roamed Korean skies, engaging North Korean ground forces and other targets at will.

Then the MiGs came.

When the first MiG-15s were encountered, it was clear to all the UN air forces that the aircraft they had been using up to that time, P-51s/F-51s, F-80s, F-84s, and other holdovers from the Second World War and immediate post-war period, would have to be either replaced with or protected by something more capable of countering the new threat. For the U.S. Air Force it was the F-86 Sabre. For the R.A.A.F, it was the Gloster Meteor, obtained from Great Britain's Royal Air Force. (The F-86 would have been the Aussies' first choice, but priority was naturally given to the U.S.A.F.)

Between April and June of 1951, 77 Squadron made the transition from the P-51 to the Meteor, and soon found out that their new mount was no match for the MiG-15. The outfit managed to destroy just three MiGs during its time in Korea, for the loss of at least five Meteors shot down and several more damaged.

If not up to the task of tackling MiGs, 77 Squadron's Meteors were ideal for ground attack, and the outfit excelled in this area, earning many an accolade and great respect from the combined UN forces. They paid a heavy price, however... numbers cited by our sources are in conflict, but it seems that 77 Squadron lost some forty pilots and a little more than fifty Meteors, mostly to ground fire.

Here's a small selection of photos showing 77 Squadron Meteors in Korea.


Meteor F.8s of 77 Squadron are refueled at Kimpo Airbase. In the foreground is A77-859, ex-RAF WK688, which crashed while on final approach to land at Kimpo in August of 1953.  In the background is A77-982, ex RAF WA950... this jet crashed during a ground attack mission during June of 1953.

Project 914 Archives

Two views of 77 Squadrom Meteors leaving Kimpo for missions up North...

Project 914 Archives

Australian War Memorial

Meteor F.8 A77-570 getting a bit of TLC at Kimpo Airbase, circa 1952. All of 77 Squadrons Meteors were ex-R.A.F. machines; A77-570 was deliverd to the Royal Air Force (serial WE890) on June 3rd, 1951 and was transferred to the R.A.A.F. on December 28th, 1951. This jet was was written off on March 18th, 1954.

USAF photo

On March 27th, 1953 Sergeant George Hale scored 77 Squadron's third and final kill, jumping what he thought was a lone MiG-15 near Sinmak, North Korea. He and his wingman, Sergeant David Irlam were then attacked by two more MiGs. His Meteor damaged, Irlam dropped out of the fight, but Hale mixed it up with the interlopers and damaged one of them before running out of ammo. He then hit the deck and returned safely to Kimpo.

Australian War Memorial

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

The 6,000 Pound Dog Whistle

Back in 1952 the Air Force sent out an open memo that said, 'We need a new jet trainer'.

Cessna received the memo, rang up the Air Force and told 'em, 'We can do that'.

The Air Force was thrilled and asked, 'Can you make it annoyingly loud?'

Cessna was like, 'Hell yeah... how many decibels we talkin'?'.

And the rest, as they say, is history...

Okay, so perhaps things didn't transpire exactly as described above. But the basic gist is the same; the USAF wanted a new, lightweight, 2-seat, jet-powered basic trainer and Cessna came up the winner with a design that has become a true classic over the course of its half-century service life...

...the Cessna Model 318, USAF designation, 'T-37'.

The first prototype, XT-37 serial number 54-716, which was destroyed during spin testing.

Project 914 Archives

And yeah, it was loud... freakin' loud. The rush of air through the intakes made a godawful high-pitched whistling noise. Combined with the not inconsiderable sound generated by the engines themselves, this piercing whistle was enough to give one an instant headache, and ear protection was mandatory for anyone working with the aircraft. The USAF even went so far as to install sound-proofing in the buildings at bases from which the T-37 was regularly operated.

T-37B 67-14745 served from the late 1960s until it was sent to the boneyard in 2003.

Project 914 Archives

And there you have the origins of the T-37's plethora of nicknames... some of which were, 'Screaming Mimi', 'The 6,000 Pound Dog Whistle', and its semi-sorta official nickname, 'Tweety Bird' which was often shortened to just 'Tweet'. But your blogmeister's favorite is 'The Converter'... meaning that the bird took fuel and air and converted it into noise and smoke.

We don't plan on running a long series on the T-37 and its trouble-making brother, the A-37, but keep an eye out for more of both in the future!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

The First Superfort

Today, a quickie...

The first Boeing XB-29 Superfortress made its maiden flight on September 21st, 1942, seventy-three years ago today, at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington.

Here's a photo of the event... enjoy...

Project 914 Archives

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Misty Bugs

We've probably mentioned it before, but we love purty pikshurs around here. And today TWW brings you a couple'a bee-yoots...

These two shots of Swiss Air Force F/A-18 Hornets all wrapped in vapor were snagged by Peter Gronemann at the Axalp Airshow in October of 2012.

Peter Gronemann photo

Peter Gronemann photo

See more of Peter's photos from Axalp 2012 HERE.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Hey, Bird Dog, Get Away From My Quail...

During the 'Last Good War' (WWII) the U.S. Army employed a large number of light aircraft in the artillery-spotting, observation, and liaison roles... aircraft such as the Piper L-4 and Stinson L-5, among others. Universally known as 'Grasshoppers', partly because of their STOL (short take-off and landing) characteristics, and partly due to the fact that they were, more often than not, operated from rough, grassy fields, these little birds were comparatively fragile, just like their namesake. They were constructed largely of metal tube frames covered with fabric skin, and did not always stand up well to the rigorous use they saw in numerous combat zones around the globe. After the war, the U.S. Army wanted to replace all of these 'grasshoppers' with something just as capable, but a bit more sturdy.

Enter the Bird Dog...

Essentially a development of the civilian Cessna 170, the all-metal Cessna Model 305A, later dubbed the 'Bird Dog', was chosen by the Army as its new, 'more sturdy grasshopper' and production began in 1950, with deliveries starting in December of that year. Soon thereafter the first Bird Dogs were sent to Korea to take part in their first shooting war.

An Army L-19A, serial number 51-4829, shortly after coming off the assembly line at the Cessna factory in Wichita, Kansas.
This Bird Dog survives today and is regularly flown by a civilian owner.

Project 914 Archives

Roughly 3,200 Bird Dogs were built between 1950 and 1959, initially seeing widespread service with the U.S. Army as the L-19 and the Marine Corps as the OE-1. In 1962 designations for U.S. military aircraft were standardized, and all Bird Dogs received the designation O-1. Not too long afterward, the Bird Dog took part in its second shooting war... Vietnam.

It was during this conflict that the Bird Dog was utilized in what has become its most iconic role... that of FAC (Forward Air Control) for the U.S. Air Force. In this role the Bird Dogs would loiter in a combat area, using smoke rockets to show the Air Force, Navy, and Marine fast movers where Charlie was so that they could accurately drop their things that go boom without hitting friendlies. The FACs also directed SAR (Search and Rescue) operations to pick up downed pilots. In both of these roles the Bird Dog excelled, though quite the price was paid. The slow and low-flying FACs constantly took direct fire from Charlie, and the O-1s suffered heavy losses. Rarely was a FAC pilot's day described as boring.

An O-1 FAC fires a smoke rocket to mark a target for attack birds, January 1967.

Project 914 Archives

It wasn't long before the O-1 was replaced in the FAC role by more modern and more capable types, such as the O-2 Skymaster and OV-10 Bronco. But the 'ole Bird Dog soldiered on for a while longer in less demanding roles until it was retired from U.S. military service in the mid 1970s.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Last Supermarine

For our first appearance in right around thirty more than half a full three-sixty-five, we here at TWW thought to bring ya'll something of an obscurity from the heyday of the Cold War... an obscurity known as the Supermarine Scimitar.

Compared to its somewhat distant and world-renowned ancestor, the Supermarine Spitfire, the Scimitar is indeed not all that well-known. But it was a significant type in that it was the Royal Navy's first swept-wing, single-seat jet fighter, and its first nuke-carrier. It was also significant in being the last aircraft manufactured under the fabled Supermarine name.

The Scimitar served with five squadrons, 736, 800, 803, 804, and 807, aboard the Royal Navy's flattops for a little over ten years. Despite a horrible accident rate that saw the loss of 39 of the 76 production aircraft delivered, (which was due more to incompatibilities of the relatively small British carriers and a fairly large, powerful aircraft than any inherent deficiencies with that aircraft) the Scimitar was well-liked by those associated with it, and the type was able to fill a number of roles, including interception and reconnaissance, aside from its primary function as an attack bomber. Later on, toward the end of its front-line service life, the Scimitar also filled the role of flying gas station, bar-tending to thirsty, gas-guzzling customers... especially its replacement in Fleet service, the Blackburn Buccaneer.

Scimitar F.1 XD215 of 736 Squadron at RNAS Lossiemouth in 1964.

Project 914 Archives

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Gamblers BIC

Oh, hey, look! It's another purty-pikshur we gots-for-ya today! Actually, a few of 'em...

This time the subject is an F-16C of the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, which currently roosts at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The 77th is one of the oldest squadrons still serving in the U.S.A.F. and is also one of your blogmeister's faves.

Anyhoo, the 77th FS jet shown here is F-16C serial number 90-0821. ('Tis a Block 50B airframe, for anyone who's keeping score.) In this first shot, taken on June 12th, 2012, she's just lifting off from Eielson AFB, Alaska for a sortie during 'Red Flag-Alaska 12-2'. This photo is pretty groovy for obvious reasons... shock diamonds blowin' outta the pipes almost always make for a pretty picture. But this Viper is also pullin' some vapor off the strakes... 'twas obviously a humid day... and that adds just a bit more to the grooviness factor.

USAF/DoD photo (TechSgt. Michael R. Holzworth, photographer)

This second shot, also taken during 'Red Flag-Alaska 12-2', shows '821' high above the Alaskan wilderness. Looks like she's decked out for the SEAD role, with that HARM under the port wing. The date on this shot was June 20th, 2012.

USAF/DoD photo (TechSgt. Michael R. Holzworth, photographer)

We wanted to give ya'll a look at either the 77th's emblem, carried on the air intake, or their fin flash... or both. Well, during an admittedly brief web search, we were able to find only one suitable photo, showing the latter... and guess which jet it is? Yep, 'ole '821'. We love it when a plan comes together... even when that plan was laid out by Lady Luck with no help from us...

Norman Graf photo (Source)

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Black Cat

Here at 'TWW' we're sometimes a bit slow... and we just realized now that today is 'Black Friday'... or, Friday the 13th.

So in light of that fact we present you with a somewhat appropriate 'TWW' 'extra'...

This here's a Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat... with the 'N' in the designation identifying this 'Cat' as a nightfighter. 'Twas the U.S. Marines who used this variant of the Tigercat primarily and, as such, they were painted black... hence our use of the term 'Black Cat'. (Yeah, yeah, we know that the ship in the photo is, in all likelihood, actually painted dark sea blue or some such... but, as we just figured out that it's Friday the 13th and this was the nicest shot of a Tigercat nightfighter that we could come up with on such short notice... and it's a black'n'white image... we figure, 'close enough'. So work with us here, will ya? kthxbai)


Project 914 Archives

Fade to Dark Sea Bl... errrr... Black...

Misty BUFF

We've said it before... here at 'TWW' we love purty-pikshurs... and today's installment fits that bill admirably.

We don't know much about this photo... only that a KC-135 from the 911th Air Refueling Squadron is bartending for a thirsty B-52 and that someone inside the BUFF has turned on the cloud machine. Oh, and some rich guy in his yacht is photobombing the whole thing... albeit not in particularly spectacular fashion.

Anyhoo, enjoy today's 'purty-pikshur'...

USAF photo

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Thursday, February 12, 2015


Back in nineteen-hundred and twenty-eight the folks at Boeing took a look at one'a their PW-9D pursuit ships... United States Army serial number 28-41 to be exact... and said, "We can do better". So they yanked the ship's Curtiss D-12 engine, replaced it with a Curtiss V-1570 Conqueror and, viola...

...the XP-7, or Boeing Model 93, was born.

The result of this conversion was a reduction in weight of some 75 pounds and an increase in speed of about 17mph or so over the PW-9D. Unfortunately this was about all the remaining potential to be coaxed out of the original Boeing Model 15 design and no further P-7s were produced.

With testing finished the XP-7 was converted back to PW-9D configuration, and 'ole 28-41 soldiered on with the U.S.A.A.C. for a few more years before being destroyed in a takeoff accident on September 4th, 1931 while serving with the 43rd School Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas.

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Bengals Bantam Bomber

Alrighty... we're thinking that some of you, the readership of about half-a-dozen or so, are probably getting tired of the A-4 by now. Can't really blame ya'll, so we're going to put our Skyhawk series on the back burner for a while... after we share one last photo.

This time it's an A-4E from VMA-224 'Bengals', just seconds away from leaving terra firma at Chu Lai Airbase, on its way to visit Charlie and drop off some gifts. The date was September 24th, 1966.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Although we're putting our series on the A-4 to bed for a bit, there's plenty more to come in the future... so keep 'yer eyes open.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Kiss of Death

Returning to our series on the A-4 Skyhawk...

The 'Flying Ubangis' of VA-12 had as their squadron emblem a skull blowing 'kisses of death' to the enemy. Who says war ain't romantic?

Anyhoo, here's a groovy shot of a VA-12 A-4C about to drop things that go boom on Charlie. The 'Flying Ubangis' were deployed as part of CVW-8 aboard USS Shangri-La (CVS-38) from March 5th to December 17th, 1970.

And here's some color shots of VA-12 Skyhawks taken at NAS Atsugi, Japan on July 16th, 1970 during the same cruise... starting with two views of the CAG bird.

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