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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