Saturday, September 26, 2020

Spirits and Astronauts in Cuba

Today we bring you a couple'a shots showing US Navy jets at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during February of 1960.

VF-33 'Astronauts' and VA-76 'Spirits', flying the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger and Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk respectively, were both part of Carrier Air Group Six (CVG-6), normally embarked aboard the 'Fighting I', USS Intrepid (CVA-11). We're not sure of the circumstances that led to these usually sea-faring birds taking roost on terra firma in Cuba, or even the exact location shown in the photos, but the latter would be either McAlla Field or Leeward Point Field. (A quickie digging session on the interwebz indicates that it may have been Leeward Point, as McAlla seems to have closed during January of 1960.)

Other aircraft shown are Vought F8U Crusaders from what looks to be two USMC squadrons, though we're not sure which at the moment, at least one recce Crusader (whose outfit is also currently unknown to us), and some North American FJ-3 Furys from NAS Guantanamo Bay's resident Utility Squadron Ten (VU-10).

Anyhoo, that's about all the commentary your blogmeister is prepared to offer. We'll let the pikshurs do the rest of the talking. Enjoy...


LIFE Photo Archives via Google Arts & Culture (Hank Walker photo)

LIFE Photo Archives via Google Arts & Culture (Hank Walker photo)



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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Spirit of New York at Sunset

Today we offer y'all a purty pikshur...

B-2A serial number 82-1068, 'Spirit of New York' of the 13th Bomb Squadron was photographed on October 26th, 2014 at Whiteman AFB prior to takeoff for a sortie during Exercise Global Thunder 15. This jet was the third B-2 built and was used as a radar and navigation test ship before joining the operational fleet.


USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester


That's actually a crop of the full photo...

USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester

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Friday, September 11, 2020

First in Fours

For today's quickie we bring you a rather nice shot of F4H-1 BuNo. 148381 of VF-74, taken on November 8th, 1961. VF-74 was the first USN fighter squadron to deploy with the then-new Phantom II, from August of 1962 to March of 1963 as part of Carrier Air Group 8 (CVG-8) aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59).


National Naval Aviation Museum

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Moving Van

Today we present a plain 'ole nice shot of what some regard as the greatest transport aircraft in aviation's short history... the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

Also known as the 'Herk'.

This particular Herk is C-130E 63-7788 of the 36th Tactical Airlift Squadron. The 36th was part of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing and flying out of McChord Air Force Base when this photo was taken on May 9th, 1978. Oh, and that huge pile of rocks in the background is Mount Rainier.


Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)
USAF photo by Sgt. J.P. Childs

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Pacific Sunset

We've told y'all that we like us some purty pikshurs around here, right? Well today's quickie is a bee-yoot...

This freakin' gorgeous shot was snapped from the USS Philippine Sea (CV/CVA-47) during one of her three cruises during the Korean War.

In the foreground are a couple'a AD-4 Skyraiders at rest.


Roland H. Baker photo

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Cleaning up a Messerschmitt...

Here at TWW we usually prefer to present images that are... well... presentable. To that end, your blogmeister will often spend a fair amount of time working on the images posted here, dollin' 'em up to look nice and spiffy for your viewing pleasure. So today we're doing something a bit different, and are offering up a little 'before and afterage', to give you, the readership of right around half-a-dozen, an idea of some of the schtuff that goes on 'behind the scenes' at this cyber-rag.


Your blogmeister started with this scan of a photo showing a Messerschmitt Bf 109G (or Me 109G, if you prefer... both are correct, no matter what your buddy who thinks he knows all about Luftwaffe Flugzeuge tells you) from an unknown (to us) Jagdgeschwader. Whatever the outfit, it looks like this Gustav is decked out in a pretty cool looking field-applied camo scheme.

Project 914 Archives


After a little bit-o-fiddlin' with his freakin' oooooooold but still-more-than-sufficient copy of Photoshop CS2, your blogmeister produced this image, which is way more than a bit more-gooder-lookin' than the original. To his rapidly aging eyes, anyway.

Project 914 Archives

We're not gonna go into great detail as to how this was achieved, we'll simply say that your blogmeister adjusted the levels for better contrast, and that a fair amount of cleanup was done to remove most of the unsightly stuff from the image. (For any photoshoppers out there, your blogmeister's tool of choice for that task is the 'Healing Brush'.) Many if not most folks might think that scratches are to be counted as 'unsightly stuff', but your blogmeister rather likes some of them and will often leave them untouched, as he thinks they lend a certain character to many old photos. The finishing touch was to flood the image with a bit of sepia via the 'Photo Filter' and then end with a small amount of sharpening with 'Unsharp Mask'. Not too much, though... a little sharpening, and everything else involved, can go a long, long way.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Flying Elk

The Westland Wapiti wasn't a pretty airplane by any stretch. So today's quickie is also the latest edition of a recurring series we like to call 'So ugly only a mother could love it'.

This particular Wapiti IIA was operated by 1 Flying Training School, Royal Australian Air Force. That is, it was until it crashed shortly after take off from RAAF Point Cook in Victoria on August 13th, 1935.

Ken Rowland via ADF-Serials

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Magnifiques Mirages

A quickie today, and it sure is a purty one. (We may have mentioned in the past that we dig purty pikshurs around here.)

Though we're not entirely sure, we here at TWW suspect that today's offering is somehow connected with 'Opération Chammal', the ongoing French campaign over in Camel-ville to rid the world of fanatical rag-headed religious extremist nut-jobs.

All we know for sure about this somewhat surreal photo is that it shows a pair of Mirage 2000Ds (some sources say 2000Ns) from SPA 75 of the Armée de l'Air.

And that it's super-freakin'-groovy.

Ministère des Armées

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Si vis pacem, para bellum

We may have mentioned once or thrice in the past that we've got a thing for aerial combat of a nocturnal nature around here. (After all, night-time is the right time.) Well, among the earliest books that your then-young blogmeister read while still a fledgling nut for things with wings was one titled simply, 'Night Fighter', by C.F. Rawnsley and Robert Wright.

That book caught your blogmeister's imagination and held it as tightly as any, and he has since read it again, numerous times. Matter of fact, so often have its pages been turned, that old paperback is now on the verge of falling to pieces.

Anyhoo, 'Night Fighter' is a wartime memoir; that of Cecil Frederick 'Jimmy' Rawnsley. It's also largely the story of one of the more successful aerial collaborations of the Second World War; that between Rawnsley and his pilot, John Cunningham. The two were pre-war members of 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force, which was in those early days flying the Hawker Demon. Rawnsley started off as a seemingly ground-bound aircraftman, but soon finagled his way into the back seat of a Demon, something which he managed more and more often, eventually training to become an air gunner. As 604 Squadron's mission changed from that of a day-time fighter outfit to night-time, Rawnsley again trained for a new job; that of radar operator. The Squadron's equipment also changed, first to the Bristol Blenheim, which was outfitted with some of the early AI (airborne intercept) radar sets and flown as an ad-hoc night fighter, then to the Bristol Beaufighter, a type that was built specifically for the purpose. Ultimately the outfit would transition to the fabled de Havilland Mosquito, as would 85 Squadron, the outfit with which the pair would fly their last tour in night fighters together. Cunningham ended the war as one of the most successful RAF night fighter pilots, scoring twenty victories (one during daytime), and Rawnsley was there for most of them.

Success rarely comes outright, however, and many a page of the book tells of the frustrating struggle to develop the equipment, operating procedures, and tactics involved in conducting early night fighter operations over England. Your blogmeister found all of this to be rather enthralling, but it was the parts of the book that dealt with the Beaufighter which truly had his imagination off and running.

Here's what 'yer typical Beaufighter from 604 Squadron looked like. This is Beaufighter IF T4638, 'F for Freddie', finished in the oh-so attractively ugly 'sooty' black paint scheme typical of British night fighters of the period, and equipped with the Mk.IV AI; note the aerials on the outer wings and that just visible on the nose.

604 Squadron Association via 600 Squadron Association Newsletter: 'The Right of the Line' Nov. 2013

Here's the duo in question, 'Jimmy' Rawnsley on the left, and 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham on the right, with a Mossie.

Cunningham disliked the 'Cat's Eyes' nickname, which sprang from the whole 'carrots improves your eyesight' myth that may or may not have originated in Britain during the war, but was certainly popularized and perpetuated there. The connection of this myth with that of successful RAF night fighter pilots was an attempt at disguising the actual reason for the success of the night-flyers; radar. Radar was still a tightly-held secret in those days and the RAF wanted to do all it could to keep it that way, even if it meant telling tall tales. Cunningham was touted as having such good eyesight, even without the benefit of a carrot-rich diet, that he could see in the dark like a cat. Ridiculous, but the public ate it up, apparently, and the name stuck.

Oh, and here's the old paperback in question...

There's much, much more to this book than what little is described above, and your blogmeister truly recommends it, with two thumbs up, for anyone interested in air warfare of the Second World War.

One last thing... for those wondering about the title of this installment of TWW, it's a Latin phrase meaning: "If you want peace, prepare for war."

'Twas 604 Squadron's motto, as well as a sad and timeless truth.

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

A New Kind of Cat

Today we bring you a quickie...

The F9F was the first of Grumman's jet-powered Cats, and arguably the most-goodest-lookin' one, too. Here we present the very first example, XF9F-2 BuNo. 122475, snapped in the vicinity of Long Island during her first flight on November 21st, 1947. Famed test pilot Corwin 'Corky' Meyer was behind the stick.


San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives (Charles M. Daniels collection)

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Six Shooter

The last two installments of this-here little cyber-rag have got us hunting for pix of the 'Six'. And today we present a couple'a beauties taken on June 28th, 1985 showing F-106A 59-0024 of the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron which flew out of Griffiss AFB at Rome, NY from 1959 to 1987.

The pictured 'Six' is equipped with an M61A1 20mm cannon, one of a dozen supplied to the 49th FIS. Read more about this interesting mod for the F-106 HERE.


USAF photo (SRA William Lamoureux, photographer) via NARA

USAF photo (SRA William Lamoureux, photographer) via NARA

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Monday, July 6, 2020

В Советской России Медведь перехватит тебя!

Здесь, в TWW мы ... oops.

Here at TWW we are loath to publish anything with a watermark because we loathe watermarks.

Can't stand 'em.

But every now and again we come across something which has that which we loathe but which is also entirely waaaaay-too-freakin'-groovy to pass up.

Kinda like today's offering.

In our last installment, we shared a couple'a photos showing the 159th FIS Bicentennial jet, F-106A
58-0760. As some of you, our readership of not more than half-a-dozen may be aware, the 'Six' was a pure interceptor. When the Russkies came-a-knockin' on CONUS' door back in the 1970s and 80s, chances were good that a Six or two would be there to greet 'em.

Anyhoo, back in the mid-1970s, 'ole '760' made at least one intercept
while decked out in her party dress, as evidenced by this neat-o-keen pic, snapped by someone aboard the Bear that was being intercepted. (presumably an Ivan named A.Rubljov)

Наслаждаться... errr, enjoy...

Image source:

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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Spirit of '76

Seeing as today is July 4th, and TWW is brought to you from the good 'ole US of A, today's installment has a patriotic twist to it.

Back in 1976, many a USAF squadron (as well as USN and USMC) celebrated the USA's Bicentennial by decking out at least one of their birds in a special paint scheme. Some outfits were fortunate enough to have an aircraft whose serial number included a '76', and incorporated this into the design of their paint jobs.

F-106A 58-0760 of the 159th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Florida Air National Guard was one such aircraft, and carried what your blogmeister thinks was the most breathtaking Bicentennial paint job of them all...

Original image source:

Original image source:
Don Spering photo (G.H.L. Scharringa collection)

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Friday, July 3, 2020

The Big Bottle

As a young nut for things with wings growing up during the height of the Cold War in the early to mid 1980s, your blogmeister was fascinated for a time with Red Stars. Conjuring in his head images of air fighting over European battlefields involving Warthogs and Phantoms and MiGs (oh my), he was initially little aware of the likes of the Sukhoi Su-15, or its mission. But upon learning of this Russian interceptor, and viewing it as something of a mystery, seldom covered as it was in aviation rags of the time, the 'Flagon', as NATO knew it, captured his imagination like no other Russkie jet.

The Su-15 entered service with the Soviet Air Defense Forces in the mid-1960s, replacing the earlier Su-9 and Su-11, both of which, over the course of less than a decade, had proven somewhat insufficient for the task of intercepting Yankee Air Pirates that dared intrude upon Matushka Rossiya's airspace. The Flagon was not without problems of its own, though, as is usually the case with pretty much every type, but it was nonetheless a vast improvement over its short-lived predecessors. So much so that it remained in service with the Soviets until the early 1990s.

In the future we may delve a bit deeper into the operational history of the Sukhoi Su-15. But for now, we leave you with an iconic image of the Flagon that caught your blogmeister's eye so many years ago...

US DoD photo

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