Friday, December 23, 2016

Bear Hunting

Your blogmeister has long been fascinated by 'intercept' photos and has collected a good number of them over the years... so this will undoubtedly be the beginning of yet another recurring series here on 'TWW'.

From time to time the Russkies get a bit curious about what we're doing, and vice-versa. Sometimes one side gets a bit close for comfort, and the other side sends somebody out to say, 'Wasssuuuuup?'

The photo we present today documents one of these 'meet and greets' which occurred on February 15th, 1977 when an F-14A Tomcat from VF-14 'Top Hatters' intercepted a Tupolev Tu-95 'Bear D' over the Mediterranean Sea. VF-14 was at the time flying as part of CVW-1 aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, and this particular Tomcat was still decked out in special markings that had been applied to celebrate the USA's bicentennial the previous year.

U.S. Navy photo

More intercept shots to come!

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Learning to Fly

Today we bring you a really swell shot showing a stacked formation of five North American BT-9s from Randolph Field, Texas, circa 1940.

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Local Weather Modification

We loves-us some purty-pikshurs around these parts, and today's offering certainly qualifies. 'Tis an ausgezeichnet shot of a German Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom II turnin' and burnin' with the cloud machine switched on. Genießen!

Project 914 Archives

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Monday, December 19, 2016

A Deuce Lets Loose

Today we bring you a super-freakin' groovy shot of a Convair F-102A Delta Dagger firing its load of 2.75 FFARs, probably at a target drone... but if you use your imagination, you can almost see that Deuce sitting about a mile behind a Tu-95 Bear...

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sweeping Forward

Today we present a couple'a photos showing one of the most visually striking aircraft to ever take flight... the Grumman X-29.

On this day back in 1984 Grumman test pilot Chuck Sewell took the first X-29 into the air for its maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It had been more than a decade since an 'X' series aircraft had flown, and it would be a couple years shy of another decade before the program came to an end.

Two X-29s were constructed, based primarily on the Northrop F-5 airframe and incorporating completely new forward-swept wings. Their USAF serial numbers were 82-0003 and 82-0049. From 1984 to 1992, both X-29s made at least a couple hundred flights (the exact number eludes us, as every single reputable reference we've come across indicates a different number) testing flight performance of the the forward-swept-wing and its thin supercritical airfoil, variable camber wing surfaces, fly-by-wire control systems, and the use of new and novel materials such as composites in aircraft construction, among other things.

Anyhoo, this-here cyber-rag is more about the images than anything else, so here's a couple'a cool shots of the first X-29... enjoy.


First flight, of '003' December 14th, 1984.

USAF photo - Edwards AFB

And a super-groovy top-down view of '003' from 1985...

NASA photo

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Commando, With a Capitol 'C'

Although you rarely see any of them in this-here cyber-rag, we've got a soft spot for birds of the Curtiss-Wright variety around these parts, especially the P-40 Warhawk and the C-46 Commando. Your blogmeister's Grandfather did his part during the Second World War, working at Curtiss-Wright in Buffalo, NY, helping to build many examples of both aforementioned types, which has led to your blogmeister living a life-obsessed... and today he feels compelled to present something from his personal vault.

Curtiss Commando N9893Z was manufactured in Buffalo, NY as C-46D 44-77574. Although we currently have no information as to her wartime service, we do know that she served with the 335th Troop Carrier Squadron, 514th Troop Carrier Group at Burlington AFB, Vermont in 1952 and with the 2578th Air Force Reserve Flying Training Canter at Ellington AFB, Texas in 1953. After that, another blank period until 1961 when she came under the ownership of Capitol Airways.

During her time with Capitol, N9893Z was leased, first to Quicktrans which did contract work for the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Supplies and Accounts during the early-mid 1960s, and later to Lufthansa, helping to establish that line's cargo operations.

Though we do not know the name of the photographer or the location, the photo presented here was likely taken in 1969 or the early 1970s after N9893Z had ended her stint with Lufthansa. In 1973 she was sold to Shamrock Airlines, then went on to Caribbean Air Service a few years later, and in 1978 ended up in Colombia, re-registered as HK-2020, though we're not sure as to which outfit(s) she may have been operating with. Apparently the 'ole gal soldiered on into the new century but, again, we're not sure as to further details.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Weekend Warriors

Today we present a fine photo showing three examples of the North American FJ-1 Fury, only thirty of which were built and a type which could not be labeled as 'resoundingly successful'. Nonetheless, it was a stepping stone to greater things, ultimately leading to the F-86 Sabre.

Flown by the Naval Air Reserve outfit based at NAS Oakland in California, these FJ-1s, including BuNo. 120353, the jet nearest to the camera, were photographed in August of 1950, just a few years before the type was retired from active service.

Project 914 Archives

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ole' Magnet Ass

The last of the U.S.A.'s original space pioneers has gone West...

Before he became one of the 'Mercury Seven' and the first American to orbit the Earth, John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was a fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps, flying combat missions in both the Second World War and the Korean War.

During his first tour of duty in the Korean War he flew the Grumman F9F Panther with VMF-311. It was during this time that he acquired the nickname 'Magnet Ass'... apparently Lady Luck felt that it was Glenn's lot in life to attract more anti-aircraft fire than the rest of his squadron mates. On two occasions he returned to base with a jet that was riddled with more than 250 flak holes.

Glenn flew a second tour in Korea, though this time he was participating in an inter-service exchange program with the USAF, flying a North American F-86 Sabre with the 25th FIS, 51st FIW. It is the Sabre he flew during this second tour that is the subject of today's installment of 'TWW'...

Named 'MiG Mad Marine', and carrying the names of Glenn's daughter Lyn, wife Annie, and son Dave on the nose, the jet also displays three red stars under the windscreen which represent the three MiG-15s he shot down during the tour.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Stupid Stuka Tricks

Today's installment of 'TWW' is about as quick a quickie as you're gonna find around here... enjoy...

Original image found on Tumblr

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Back To the Future...?

With this installment of 'TWW' we begin what may or may not be a recurring series which we will dub, 'What in the Sam Hill is Going On Here?'

Well, we actually know what in the Sam Hill is going on here... sorta. An American Airlines DC-3 is taking off while a stagecoach rambles on alongside.

What's that? Your blogmeister thinks he can hear the readership of  about half-a-dozen or so exclaim, gratefully, "Thanks ever so much, Captain Obvious!"

You're welcome.

Now, the not-so straight dope on this, as we understand it, is that the photo was taken in 1937 and used in an American Airlines advertisement a while later... like, in 1949. Hey, that's what we came up with after a fairly short bit-o-digging on the interwebz. Whether it's 100% accurate or not, we dunno.

Anyhoo, we do know for sure that the photo was indeed taken... 'cuz here it is.

Project 914 Archives

And we also know that the photo was used in an advertisement, because... you guessed it, here'tis!

Project 914 Archives

Other'n that, we don't know what the Sam Hill is going on here.

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Writing the Book

In our last installment of 'TWW' we shared a photo showing a Lockheed P2V Neptune from US Navy Patrol Squadron Eight and mentioned that said squadron was part of Task Group ALFA when the photo was taken.

Also mentioned was that Task Group ALFA was at the time writing the book on modern combined anti-submarine warfare operations. In other words, they were using all available assets, surface ships, attack subs, and carrier-borne aircraft as well as land-based birds all as one big cooperative team in developing effective tactics and techniques for sub-hunting.

So then, here's a look at those assets... Task Group ALFA, circa 1959.

US Navy photo

Here's the Navy's caption for this photo:

"Formation portrait of the Atlantic Fleet anti-submarine group's ships and aircraft, taken during exercises in 1959 with Secretary of the Navy William B. Franke embarked. Ships include the group flagship, USS Valley Forge (CVS-45) in center, two submarines, and seven destroyers. Identifiable among the latter are USS Eaton (DDE-510) at left front, USS Beale (DDE-471) following Eaton, USS Waller (DDE-466) in the center foreground, and USS Conway (DDE-507) at right front. Aircraft overhead include two four-plane formations of S2F Trackers and three HSS-1 Seabat helicopters from the Valley Forge air group, plus one shore-based P2V Neptune."

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sub Hunter

Today we bring you a splendid photo showing Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune BuNo. 128328 while she was assigned to VP-8 in 1959. Patrol Squadron Eight was at the time operating as part of Task Group ALFA which was writing the book on modern combined anti-submarine warfare operations.

Lieutenant Commander Robert Lee Hogg, US Navy (Retired)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The First Hornet

We've said it again and again... we love purty pikshurs around here, and for today's quickie we bring you one. F-18A BuNo. 160775, the first of three initial Full-Scale Development Hornets to be constructed, was photographed against a gorgeous golden sunset in 1979...

Project 914 Archives

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Der Geschwaderlöwe

It's mascot time again, folks!

This time around we have a lion cub named 'Simba', kept by Leutnant Franz von Werra of II Gruppe, JG 3 during the early stages of the war. Lions seem to have been a somewhat common mascot in the Luftwaffe, with the name 'Simba' being equally popular.

Project 914 Archives

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Monday, November 28, 2016


Today on 'TWW' we present what your blogmeister thinks is a super-groovy photo. The caption in the news tag on the reverse of the print provides only this vague description: "A Spanish Air Force plane flies over Sevilla." The date given is January 16th, 1941. For those among our readership of about half-a-dozen or so who may not be in the know, this 'Spanish Air Force plane' is a Henschel Hs 123.

First used in Spain by Germany's 'Legion Condor' during the Spanish Civil War, the type gained considerable favor with Franco's Nationalists as an excellent ground support aircraft and was given the suitable nickname of 'Angelito'... 'Little Angel'. After the end of the war, the victorious Nationalists purchased the surviving 'Legion Condor' machines as well as eleven additional examples for the Ejército del Aire.

Project 914 Archives

The Hs 123 was also used by the Germans during the Second World War, especially on the Eastern Front. Production of the type ended in 1940, though, and lack of spare parts saw its retirement from front line service by 1944. At least one Hs 123 is known to have soldiered on in Spanish service until 1945. Sadly, no examples of this robust and, by all accounts, highly effective warplane are known to survive today.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beautiful Demons

Today we have another quickie for ya'll... a fine photo showing Hawker Demons of 23 Squadron, Royal Air Force, during the 1930s.

RAF Photo

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Jumping Tigers

Today we bring you a super-groovy quickie... a photo showing three AV-8A Harriers of VMA-542 'Tigers' during maneuvers sometime in the 1970s. Sorry folks, we don't know much more than that, except to say that VMA-542 was the second U.S.M.C. outfit to convert to the quirky little British jump-jet.

Project 914 Archives (USMC photo)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mr. Bones and the Six

Today we bring you a quickie...

A couple'a friends of the blogmeister have family who served with the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron while that outfit flew the Convair F-106 Delta Dart out of Andrews AFB, Maryland and Dover AFB, Delaware during the very late 1950s and early 1960s.

This one is for you, Kit and Sam!


F-106A 57-2500 during an open house event at Dover AFB in the early-mid 1960s.
This jet was lost 32 miles WNW of Kwangju, South Korea on January 8th, 1970 while the 95th was deployed to Osan AB, South Korea.

San Diego Air & Space Museum (Ray Wagner collection)

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Águilas Aztecas

Of all the allied nations to take up arms against the axis powers during the Second World War, Mexico is not one that readily comes to mind, undoubtedly because its involvement was relatively minor.

Mexico's contribution to the allied war machine was the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana (Mexican Expeditionary Air Force) which comprised a single fighter squadron, Escuadrón Aéreo de Pelea 201 (201st Fighter Squadron). The 201st consisted of thirty pilots and roughly 300 ground personnel, all of whom had undergone training in the U.S.A. before deploying overseas to the Philippines where they were attached to the U.S.A.A.F. 58th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force.

Based at Porac Airfield, located in the Pampanga Province on the Island of Luzon, the 201st began combat operations in June of 1945, flying alongside the U.S.A.A.F.'s 310th Fighter Squadron and using borrowed aircraft. In July the outfit received its own complement of twenty-five P-47s that were marked with U.S.A.A.F. insignia and theater markings. To these the Mexicans added their own national markings on the upper right and lower left wings, with rudder stripes... all in Mexico's national colors of red, white, and green.

When all was said and done after roughly two months in combat, the men of Escuadrón Aéreo de Pelea 201, who had dubbed themselves 'Águilas Aztecas', the 'Aztec Eagles', had flown 96 combat missions, losing five pilots in the process. Not only did the outfit's pilots see combat, but the ground personnel, too, had occasion to face the enemy with a number of firefights taking place, some of which resulted in Japanese prisoners being taken.

Small as it may have been, the Aztec Eagles' contribution to the war against Japan was no less valuable or welcome than any other.


Here's a fine shot of ship #18 that shows EAP 201's Mexican markings on the starboard wing and rudder.

Original image found on the Axis & Allies Paintworks forum

An earlier shot of the same ship shows the Mexican national insignia under the port wing.

NARA via

In his painting 'Strike of the Aztec Eagles!', Jack Fellows captures ship #18, resplendent in its combined American and Mexican markings, rolling in on a target.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Explorer's Air Yacht

Aside from being Sikorsky's first widely-produced amphibious flying boat, with a final production count of 101, the S-38 was also a pretty dang cool lookin' bird, reaffirming your blogmeister's belief that the world's best-looking airplanes were built in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

The type was used by many airlines, both large and small, a few military air arms, and a number of private individuals, the exploits of some of whom, including Howard Hughes and Charles Lindbergh, led to the type being dubbed 'The Explorer's Air Yacht'.

Project 914 Archives

As mentioned earlier, the S-38 was used by a few military air arms, including the United States Army Air Corps. Here's a fine shot taken in the San Francisco Area on January 17th, 1931 showing C-6A serial number 30-397, essentially an S-38A. This particular ship was operated by the 91st Observation Squadron based at Crissy Field, San Francisco, California. She was damaged just a couple'a weeks after this photo was taken, on February 2nd, 1931, after experiencing 'excessive porpoising' upon landing. The ship was repaired, but was scrapped two years later, in 1933.

San Diego Air & Space Museum - Paul Fedelchak collection

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Even the Grim Reaper Spends His Summers in Florida

In this installment of 'TWW' we bring you a groovy shot of  'Gunfighter 054', an F-4N of VF-101 'Grim Reapers' leaving NAS Oceana in April of 1977. The Eagle-eyed among our readership of about half-a-dozen or so may notice not only the Bicentennial markings from the previous year, but also the unusual squadron designator, 'VF-101KW'. This identified aircraft assigned to the Reapers' permanent Key West detachment which served in an adversary role.

Jim Leslie photo

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Sunday, September 4, 2016


For today's quickie we bring you a fine in-flight view of Hawker Typhoon IA R7700... enjoy...

From: Aeroplane June, 2002

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Delivering the Groceries

Today's installment of 'TWW' features one of our favorites... the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.

In this photo we see 'Gypsy 111', an F-14A of VF-32 Swordsmen passing over the USS Theodore Roosevelt during an UNREP... an underway replenishment. During an UNREP fuel, munitions, food, etc. are transferred to the carrier to keep the ship at sea for extended periods of time... basically, when they need to 'go shopping', the supermarket comes to them.

Anyhoo, we kinda thought this was a cool shot... enjoy...

US Navy photo

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dead-Stick SPAD

Having polled our readership of about half-a-dozen or so as to subject matter for future installments of this-here cyber rag, one suggestion received was that we share some 'skin pix'... you know, birds sans some'a their feathers. (cue cat-calls and bronx cheers) So, then, here's one by request... and it may just be the start of a recurring series...

We don't have an exact date for this, but one day between September 1965 and December 1967 a US Navy SPAD pilot from VA-145, flying from the USS Kitty Hawk, found himself feet dry and in a bit-o-trouble, as the fan had stopped turning. His best option was to put 'er down at a friendly airfield, which turned out to be a little 'ole place called Duc Hoa, home to a US Army observation outfit, the 74th Recon Airplane Company which flew the O-1 Bird Dog. Anyhoo, our SPAD pilot brought his steed in dead-stick and gear-up, scratching up the runway some, as well as the bottom of the bird and ruining a perfectly good prop. When the crash crews reached the Skyraider, our Navy man apparently climbed out of the cockpit and nonchalantly inquired as to the location of the Officers Club. That guy certainly had his priorities straight.

So, here are some pix of the bird in question after having been stood on her gear again and looking a bit worse for wear while being prepped for a lift back to the flattop by a CH-54 Skycrane. Only a few feathers have been stripped away here, but we hope this is satisfactory for the fella who made the request.

All photos: Jack Walters via the 74th Recon Airplane Company Website

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Willows Singing On the Breeze

Today we bring you quite an atmospheric quickie... pre-war Japanese Naval Flying Cadets learning their trade with the Yokosuka K5Y 'Willow' under idyllic skies.

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An Italian Observer

Today we bring you a groovy shot of a not-so-well-known bird from the land of pasta, meatballs, really tasty bread, and the Mafia. Admittedly, your blogmeister knows little about most Italian aircraft of the Second World War... or any other era for that matter. But he sure does dig 'em.

Anyhoo, here's what we know... or think we know... about this-here really cool pikshur: the bird is an IMAM (Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche Meridionali) Ro.37 Lince (Lynx) of 39 Squadriglia Osservazione Aerea (39th Aerial Observation Squadron), the paesaggio (landscape) down there is apparently France (France), and the anno (year) is apparently 1940.

Project 914 Archives

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Einhängung eines Jumo-motors bei einer Ju 87

Today we bring you a quickie... 'tis an original period post card showing a Ju 87 Stuka during engine installation at the factory.

Project 914 Archives

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Blue Streaks Sabre

A couple'a installments back we shared a photo showing two F-86As of the 91st Fighter Interceptor Squadron on takeoff. Well, since then we've come across this color shot showing one of the jets from that other photo... enjoy...

From: Before Centuries: USAFE Fighters, 1948–1959 by David Menard (via Wiki)

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Tails Of Independence

Around these parts we like us some color... particularly color as done by US Naval Aviation in the latter half of the 20th century, especially if it's emblazoned on birds that are painted gull-gray and white. So, from back in the colorful glory days of NAVAIR, we bring you some color, courtesy of a few RONs that were assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seven aboard the USS Independence during her Med Cruise from March to October 1977.

From top to bottom, we see:

F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 157309 of VF-102 'Diamondbacks'
F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 155748 of VF-33 'Tarsiers'
KA-6D Intruder BuNo. 15292? of VA-65 'Tigers'
A-7E Corsair II BuNo. 157443 of VA-66 'Waldos'
F-4J Phantom II BuNo. 157305 of VF-102 'Diamondbacks'

US Navy photo - published in 'All Hands', February 1978 via Wiki Commons

Most notable among the five is the A-7; this jet was VA-66's CAG bird. Each squadron from an air wing has one aircraft assigned to the air wing's commander, referred to as the 'CAG bird' or 'CAG jet', and it's almost always the most colorfully decorated aircraft of the squadron. The acronym 'CAG', which means 'commander air group', is actually a holdover from the days when a carrier's complement of aircraft was known as a 'carrier air group'. Why the old moniker was kept we don't know for sure... but our guess is that, as acronyms go, 'CAG' simply rolls off the tongue a bit more smoothly than 'CAW'. Anyhoo, VA-66's CAG bird is notable in this instance because it still carries the special markings applied the previous year for the USA's Bicentennial celebrations and is therefore just a bit more colorful than would otherwise be the case.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Blue Streaks Scramble

Another quickie today... this time we bring you a super-groovy shot showing a pair of F-86A Sabres from the 91st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, the 'Blue Streaks', just after leaving the runway. The photo was possibly taken at Moses Lake AFB, Washington in 1950.

Project 914 Archives

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Satan's Kittens Gunfighter

A quickie this time 'round...

Your blogmeister has stated a number of times in the past that he rather fancies this bird or that a bit more than all the rest. Well, here's another he holds just a bit higher than the masses; the Vought F-8 Crusader... also known as the Gunfighter. And in this particular photo we see a Gunfighter from one of your blogmeister's favorite US Navy FITRONs, VF-191 Satan's Kittens, about to trap aboard the USS Oriskany, CVA-34, off the coast of California back in 1970.

US Navy photo via the National Naval Aviation Museum

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Brewster's Bane

Interrupting our series on the P-51 once again...

The Brewster Aeronautical Corporation's legacy is one of failure. Through a combination of poor designs and production techniques and, most importantly, utterly deplorable management, Brewster would seem to have been doomed from the start. Its greatest achievement, the F2A Buffalo, could be termed only a moderate success at best, with two other original Brewster designs, the SBA/SBN and SB2A Buccaneer, each barely worthy of the term 'successful'. Even the F3A-1, Brewster's license-built variant of the otherwise grandly successful Vought F4U Corsair, was deemed a failure because of substandard materials and components as well as poor overall workmanship.

When war came for America in 1941, only the Buffalo was to see action with American combat outfits... and then only very briefly during the early months of fighting. Past mid-1942, the Buffalo and all other aforementioned types, including the license-built Corsairs, would see service only with training units. Obsolete well before entering production in 1941, the mere thirty examples of the SBA/SBN to be produced (and produced by the Naval Aircraft Factory, not by Brewster) were withdrawn from service in August of 1942 and scrapped or relegated to duty as instructional airframes for ground crews.

If the poor records of all these types produced by Brewster were deemed detrimental to the company's health, then the XA-32 could be considered its death knell.

The XA-32 was slow in jumping from the drawing board to the production floor... its first flight was on May 22nd, 1943... nearly two years after it was originally designed. The type was also slow... well, it was just slow... and fell short in nearly every other category of performance. Maximum speed achieved by either of the two prototypes built was 279mph, which, on the surface, seems to be on par with the type's contemporaries... until you take stock of the fact that that speed was just barely attained without internal armament and other weighty equipment, or external stores... the addition of which naturally degraded performance.

1943... a fine inflight view of the first XA-32, serial number 42-13568.

Project 914 Archives

Long story short, the XA-32 was poorly designed and fell short of projected performance numbers. Waaaaay short. Brewster was already in hot water with the government for its piss-poor management practices and the apparent ineptness demonstrated by the company's design section was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. In April of 1942 the government literally seized control of the company, placing the head of the Naval Aircraft Factory, G.C. Westervelt, in charge.

Two views of the second XA-32, serial number 42-13569, circa 1944.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

National Museum of the United States Air Force

The XA-32 was the last original design to be built by Brewster and its failure is credited as having put the company out of business. Brewster was shut down in October of 1944, shortly after testing on the XA-32 ceased, and the company was officially dissolved by its shareholders in April of 1946.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Working With the Colonials

So far in our series on the P-51, we've covered only the prototype and early, Allison-powered Mustangs of the RAF. After all, the type was designed and initially built for the Brits, so we figured we'd give 'em first billing. But the US Army eventually got into the derby as well. So as something of a segue before we delve into star-clad Ponies, we thought to share a groovy photo showing Royal Air Force and US Army Air Forces wrench-turners getting familiar with an RAF Mustang I, serial AG411, at RAF Burtonwood on April 1st, 1943.

Here's the NARA caption for this photo:

"Allied servicemen receive instructions on repairing airplanes at Burtonwood Repair Depot, Warrington, England. Shown, checking instruments and electrical connections on a P-51 Mustang are (left to right) F/Sgt R.A. Wellersman, Margate, England; S/Sgt Arthur Cunningham, Brewster, Minn.; T/Sgt F.L. Resnak, Washington D.C.; LAC S.H. Cooke, London, England; and T/Sgt Robert Root, Corbin, Kentucky."

NARA via

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Monday, July 4, 2016

The Independence Day Raid

During the early stages of the United States' involvement in the war against Hitler's Germany, the gears in the USA's war machine turned somewhat slowly. The first elements of the U.S. military to set up shop 'over there' were of the USAAF's Eighth Air Force, with the first contingent of personnel (mostly HQ staff) arriving in May of 1942. Soon thereafter, combat outfits began arriving... slowly... and it wouldn't be until the Fall of that year that the Eighth's VIII Bomber Command was able to mount its first heavy bomber mission against the Axis.

With the powers that be eager to see our boys in action against the Germans as quickly as possible, if only for the purposes of a morale-boost aimed at the folks back home, VIII Bomber Command's 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light), the only complete AAF combat outfit in the UK at the time, was tossed into the fray. Attached to No.226 Squadron of the Royal Air Force at Swanton Morley, the 15th was 'learning the ropes', so to speak, from their experienced compadres. Though we mentioned that the 15th BS was the only 'complete' AAF outfit in the UK, this was only so far as personnel was concerned. The squadron had no aircraft of its own and, for the time being, was flying 226 Squadron's aircraft... the Douglas Boston, known to us Yanks as the A-20 Havoc.

The date for the USAAF's first 'official' mission against the Axis was set for July 4th, 1942... no doubt an effort to stir the pot of patriotism that was boiling in the USA. The targets were four German airfields in Holland, at DeKooy, Bergen Alkmaar, Valkenburg, and Haamstede. Though labeled as the first USAAF mission in the ETO, this was to be a joint RAF/AAF operation. Of the twelve 226 Squadron ships participating in this mission, half would be manned by American crews.

The first Boston lifted off from Swanton Morley at 07:09 hours on the morning of the 4th. Within five minutes all twelve ships were airborne and, after forming up over the Norfolk countryside, headed toward the coast at low-level. While over the North Sea, the Bostons encountered some enemy coastal patrol vessels which probably alerted the Luftwaffe to their presence. On reaching the Dutch coast, the formation of twelve split up into four formations of three and headed toward their targets.

At Haamstede all three ships, 'G for George', flown by Flt.Lt. A. 'Digger' Wheeler, a New Zealander, 'F for Freddie', flown by Plt.Off. Eltringham, and 'M for Monkey', piloted by AAF Capt. Bill Odell, bombed and strafed the target successfully shortly before 08:00.

The attack on Bergen Alkmaar saw the mission's first casualties. Arriving at about 08:02 and led by Flt.Lt. R. 'Yogi' Yates in 'Y for Yorker', all three ships managed to bomb the target but AAF Lt. Stan Lynn's ship, 'V for Vic' was hit by flak within seconds of bomb release and crashed on the airfield, with all aboard killed. Minutes later, upon leaving the target area, Plt.Off. 'Hank' Henning's 'U for Uncle' was shot down by Uffz. Johannes Rothenow of IV Gruppe/JG 1. Rothenow had managed to get an Fw 190 from Bergen Alkmaar airborne during the attack and chased the remaining two attackers to the coast.

At Valkenburg, a navigational error and a mistake in using the bomb bay door controls by Sqn.Ldr. John Castle, flying 'A for Ac', saw this three-ship fail to drop its bombs, instead strafing only. Castle, along with AAF Capt. Martin Crabtree in 'D for Don' and AAF Lt. Leo Hawel in 'J for Johnnie' returned to Swanton Morley with full bomb loads.

The third loss of the mission, and very nearly a fourth, occurred at DeKooy. Another navigational error and intense flak saw this formation also fail to bomb its target. The leader of this flight, Sqn.Ldr. Kennedy in 'X for X-ray', was able to strafe anti-aircraft positions and personnel near the target, and would have had to return with a full bomb load had he not found some targets of opportunity on the way home... two trawlers in the sea. His bombs missed but he was able to strafe both vessels. The third loss of the mission was AAF Lt. Jack Loehrl's 'P for Pip'; the ship was hit by flak north of the airfield and crashed onto a beach, killing all aboard except the bombardier, AAF Lt. Draper who became a POW.

Boston 'Z for Zebra', flown by AAF Capt. Charles Kegelman, the 15th Bombardment Squadron's CO, almost became the fourth loss of the day. Taking a hit in the starboard engine that blew the prop off, Kegelman almost augered in... bouncing off the ground and at one point cutting a furrow in the grass with the starboard wingtip. Kegelman jettisoned his bombs and began to limp back home, strafing a flak tower on the way. 'Z for Zebra' was the last to arrive back at Swanton Morley, a few minutes past 09:00.

All in all, not the most auspicious of beginnings for the fledgling USAAF organization that would later become known as the 'The Mighty Eighth'.

But it was indeed only the beginning.


With his painting 'The First Mission', Nixon Galloway depicts a very tense moment for Captain Kegelman and the crew of 'Z for Zebra'...

A closer look...

On July 11th, 1942, a recently-promoted Major Kegelman and his crew were honored in an awards ceremony. Kegelman received the Distinguished Service Order, while bombardier 2Lt. Dorton, and gunners Sgt. Cunningham and T/Sgt. Golay each received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Left to right, Cunningham, Golay, Dorton, Kegelman.

American Airpower Museum (Roger Freeman collection)

Another view of the four honorees with a 226 Squadron Boston.

American Airpower Museum (Roger Freeman collection)

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Monday, June 27, 2016

A Pair of Ponies

Today we continue our series on the P-51 Mustang with a pair of photos showing a pair of ponies from 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force. The following is the Imperial War Museum's caption for the first photo:

"Mustang Mark Is, AG550 ‘XV-U’ and AM112 ‘XV-X’, of No. 2 Squadron RAF based at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, in flight over Cambridgeshire. AG550 is being flown by Wing Commander A.J.W. Geddes, the squadron commander."

Imperial War Museum

And here's a second view that shows these same two Mustangs on the ground...

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Misty Cat on the... Cat

We interrupt our series on the P-51 to bring you this kickass quickie...

I know, it's beginning to sound like a broken record. Your blogmeister has something of an affinity for the Grumman F-14 Tomcat... so you'll  be seeing that BAMF'n jet here fairly often. 'Purty pikshurs are also favored around here... so today we bring you a super-freakin'-groovy shot of a Cat being positioned for hookup just prior to a cat-shot.

U.S. Navy photo

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Monday, June 20, 2016

The First to Mount Up

Continuing our series on the North American P-51 Mustang...

The first Royal Air Force outfit to be equipped with the Mustang was 26 Squadron, at Gatwick, which had previously operated the Curtiss Tomahawk and Westland Lysander. The outfit received its first Mustangs in either January or February of 1942, depending on whose account(s) you choose to believe. Let's just call it 'early 1942'... how's-about-that? Anyhoo, at this time 26 Squadron was tasked with tactical reconnaissance and 'daytime intruder' missions... low-level affairs for which the Allison-powered Mustang was ideal.

Here's a couple'a views of a 26 Squadron Mustang I, serial AM148. This ship was flown by Squadron Leader Goodale during the Dieppe Raid on August 19th, 1942 and was damaged by flak, running off the runway during landing back at Gatwick. She was repaired and went on to serve with 430 (RCAF) Squadron, finally being struck off charge in April of 1944.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)

Project 914 Archives

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