Category Archives: planes
Some absolutely beautiful air-to-air.
I’d watch in full screen and volume all the way up…but that’s just me :)
First up, Stars and Stripes has an article on the USMC’s VMA-513 “Flying Nightmares” being decommissioned.
VMA-513 has participated in major conflicts such as World War II and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. It was one of the first squadrons to see action in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, spending nearly a year on deployment from October 2002 through the autumn of 2003.
The squadron also holds several aviation milestones, including the first kill of a supersonic drone with a Sidewinder missile in 1964, the first Corps squadron to transition to the Harrier in 1970, the only squadron in the world to simultaneously employ all three variants of the AV-8B in 2001 and the first squadron to employ the Lightning II targeting pod in combat.
That’s a lot of history.
The Bison was intended as a competitor to the TU-95 “Bear” but, despite it’s jet power-plants, never managed to have an extensive service life with the Soviet Air Force as the Bear did.
If you’re interested in new uses for Lockheed’s F-104 Starfighter, Star Lab is testing the Starfighter as a a vehicle to bring it’s reusable StarLab payload vehicle to a low-Earth orbit.
The Star Lab suborbital vehicle is an air-launched sounding rocket, which is designed to be reusable and can reach a maximum altitude of about 120km.
The Star Lab vehicle carrying scientific payloads is launched from the venerable F-104 Starfighter jet. After the Star Lab payload stage reaches its predetermined altitude, it will descend by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Star Lab is capable of carrying up to 13 payloads per flight
Here’s a photo of the vehicle being attached to the F-104 aircraft:
Finally, having quite a bit of time on my hands this week I found some cool walk-around photos from Warbird Radio:
The PA-48 Enforcer, is the ultimate development of the iconic P-51 Mustang fighter. The Enforcer was designed to be a cost effective, light, close-support aircraft. She’s currently on display at the National Museum of the USAF in the Research and Development Hangar.
P.S. Ever wondered what Earth sounds like when you capture it’s radio waves from space and convert them to sound:
Everyone have a great weekend.
Part 1 here.
Hardware and Software Development:
Early computers, being the size of rooms and lacking reliability, were considered out of the question for use in a range of applications, not just aviation. The amount of work (calculations) these early computers could do in a relatively short period of time, in the mind of scientists in the late 1940s outweighed the abysmal reliability.
That reliability can be traced to the number of parts in a system. Analog computers had a large number of moving parts therefore not a not very reliable. Digital computers on the other hand and fewer moving parts and better reliability. That meant a digital computer was an easy early choice in the NASA’s F-8 Program.
By the late 1950s digital computers were small enough (not by today’s standards) to be considered to be installed in aircraft. Most of the output errors in these early digital computers was due to manufacturing defects in vacuum tubes in the logic circuits. In 1952, John Van Nuemann, suggested that all systems fail at some point and the solution was to use triplicate logic circuits to “vote” on what was valid output. This solution really wasn’t practicable for aviation until a few years later when transistors started to replace vacuum tubes in digital computers.
In the 1960s a group of General Electric engineers stumbled across Van Nuemann lectures on redundancy, as it was to be called, and did some projections that showed that identical software feeding outputs from individual computers to majority logic voters made failures 300 times less likely in 100 hours of operations. As a matter of fact the longest lived spacecraft, Voyager 1, features a 3 digital computer redundant system…and it’s STILL working! The Saturn V booster also used a similar “triple-redundant” computer . At the that time continued shrinkage of the computer hardware meant that processor units could be made redundant.
All this paid dividends in the Apollo and F-8 programs. Draper Laboratory won the contract to develop the guidance and navigation computers. During hardware development, Draper Lab implemented very strict quality controls (QA, quality assurance) of manufacture. In fact so much so, that “every piece of metal could be traced to the mine it came from.” The strict QA paid off as there were 16 computer and 36 display and keyboard system failures in the 42 computers and 64 DSKYs (Display and Keyboard Unit) built – all on the ground. Along with zero in-flight failures in 1,400 hours of operation, Draper Lab was able to achieve a 99.9% reliability (over the target reliability rate for Apollo of 99.8%).
Software QA and validation became a major cost driver in the Apollo program and by 1967 NASA approached Bellcomm, Inc to study successful software development and management techniques. These processes formed a baseline for QA and development standards for the software industry, years in to the future.
In the F-8 program, Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Center would be responsible for overall vehicle integration. Draper Labs remained responsible for requirements analysis, software and interface design, simulator support and flight-test support.
No one had built an all digital flight control system before and Draper Labs ran into 2 issues initially. 1) the use of a digital system in an “all-analog” world and 2) how to ingrate the computer system in to an analog airplane. At the input end of the computer there was an analog-to-digital converter; at the output end a digital to analog to converter. When the pilot moved the stick, displacement translated to voltage. In the pitch axis for instance, the physical limit movement of the stick was 5.9 inches nose up and 4.35 inches nose down. The transformers were designed to generate a signal of plus or minus 3 volts. Therefore input to the analog-to-digital converter was scaled to the longer aft movement, so the forward movement had a maximum value of about 2.4 volts, while the aft movement topped out at –3.0 volts. The voltage from the transformers would be converted into bits and ten be used as input to the software control laws.
Control devices in each axis have a deadband region in which small movements of the stick have no result. In a mechanical, systems the deadband is caused by stretching of the control cables from age and use. This deadband can vary over the lifetime of the cables and the aircraft and each axis has a unique deadband region. In a FBW system, small discrepancies are magnified. If the FBW designers ignored the deadband, the control surfaces would move with every tiny motion of the stick and rudder pedals. The airplane would become too sensitive to fly without the occurrence of pilot induced oscillations (PIOs) that result from constant attempts to dampen motion. Deadband had to dealt with via good old fashioned trial and error.
On the output end, signals causing gearing gains had to be calibrated. Gearing was non-linear because movement of a control device was translated by control laws into movement of the appropriate control surface. This was done by adjusting a linear variable differential transformer to provide a corresponding response.
Both deadband and gearing equations were at the center of control law development. The output to the actuators was a sum of the trim command from the electric trim button on the stick and the product of the stick gearing gain and stick deflection.
Through sampling techniques done every 30 milliseconds by the computer, control calculations would occur every 8 to 15 milliseconds.
Control law equations were written into specifications arranged by axis and functional groupings with no attention being paid to how they where used by the flight-control computer. This made the equations more difficult to manipulate and use. Here’s an example from Tomayko:
“DE meant “delta” or “change,” C is “command,” K is “constant,” GE is “gearing,” P is “pilot” and T is “trim.” The equation can be loosely translated as: “The command change equals the gearing gain times the pilot stick position plus the change in trim.”
Names for each variable were different for each axis of flight.
Changes to the software specification took place up to March 1973 when the final version of the flight-control software was published. In that time there were many which were managed by a 4-layer system. The lowest impact were “Assembly Control Board” requests. There were straight forward code changes that could be approved by the software manager at Draper. The next highest was an Anomaly – an error that needed to be repaired. Both DFRC and Draper signed off on it. Next was a Draper designed Program Change Notice – during development something that could not be implemented in the desired way, so the implementation had to be changed. Both managers signed off on this. The highest level was a “Program Change Request” – a chance to the specification. Both software and project managers had to sign off on this, as there was schedule and budget impacts.
The name for the flight control software was “DIGFLY” which was pronounced “digifly” and was written in FORTRAN. There were 2 copies of DIGFLY in the computer memory core rope (here’s a video on how it’s actually done). DIGFLY itself was divided into system and application components. The system software provided task management, a restart segment, service routines to monitor the IMU and provide self test modes. The application software contained flight control and some miscellaneous components. 60% of the F-8 software was taken from the Apollo program.
Converting the F-8 to DFW:
The F-8 Crusader was selected because there were quite a few airframes being retired and the F-8 itself had the internal space available for the necessary equipment. NASA received 4 airframes. F-8A Crusader Bureau Number (BuNo) 145385 was going to the be non-flying FBW test bed, the so-called “Iron Bird” and was given NASA tail number 816. F-8C BuNo 145546 (interestingly, the first C model to be built) was to the actual flying test bed aircraft. 546 was allocated NASA tail number 802.
Converting the F-8 to accommodate the DFBW hardware and software turned out to the rather straightforward, albeit with a lot work. Problems ranged from canopy that would fit to a sweatshirt found in 802’s fuel tank. It took a year to convert 802 but the interesting thing was that the aircraft retained its fighter-looks and for the most part, it’s performance.
Cooling problems were the first hurdles and persisted until almost first flight. After all the testing to resolve the cool issue, which even included a redesign of the heat exchangers, it was found that someone forgot to turn on the external cart to cool the computer during engine run-up. DOH!
The core ropes containing the flight control software arrived from Raytheon in January 1972 and the second version of the software, DIGFLY 2 was undergoing test and development work by Draper Labs. DIGIFLY 2 would use what remained of Skylab’s core rope which turned out to be the last ropes made for an Apollo computer.
Control sticks were initially tested that were originally tested for the Lunar Module were used in the iron-bird and a DSKY (installed the F-8s left gun bay) from the Apollo 15 Command Module was used to replace one that had been previously blown out due to errors in power requirements.
The F-8 initially retained an analog backup flight control system as well as it’s stock APC (approach power compensator, an autopilot for the throttle).
In flight once the pilot positioned the stick and rudder pedals a completely electric system took over. The inertial measurement unit was an arrangement of accelerometers and gyros that could track altitude, velocity and position changes without depending on external devices to get data. This reference was compared to the pilot’s control inputs were expressed as voltage from transformers to the control stick and rudder pedals, these were called Linear Variable Differential Transformers (LVDTs). There were 2 installed installed at the base of the stick for each control axis, pitch, roll and yaw. Each one served the primary flight control system and the other the analog backup system.
Actuators in had 2 systems, a primary and analog backup. In primary mode the digital computer sent analog position signals for a single actuation cylinder. This cylinder was controlled by dual self monitoring servovalves. One valve controlled the servo and the other was there for comparison. If position values differed from each servovalve then the backup mode, 3 servocylinders in a 3 channel arrangement, would engage and control the flight surface.
There was an attempt to upgrade the power plant of 802 from the J57-P20A to a more powerful –p420 but there wasn’t time and the installed –P20 was sent to the Navy for refurbishment by the October 1971. By February 1972, the software and hardware had been thoroughly tested and installed in 802. The engine, pilot’s seat and tail were reinstalled in April.
It was time to fly :)
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
The troops did not fail. More than 140,000 Allied soldiers came ashore at Normandy, on this day 69 years ago. The Second Front so long in the coming was established. The cost was more than ten thousand casualties, of which approximately 4,000 were killed. The same number that died in Iraq in eight years, died on the French coast in a single morning. Tens of thousands more would die before Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally eleven months and one day later.
General Dwight Eisenhower’s famous note hearkens to a brand of leadership seemingly all but extinct today. People in positions of great responsibility shouldering the burden for their decisions and everything that is done or fails to be done by those in their charge. What difference does it make? The difference between victory and defeat, liberty and subjugation, existence and extinction.
From English-Russia. Both from the Russian Airforce Museum at Monino (I’m hoping to make a trip there someday).
Found this vid out on the interwebs tonight. It has some of the best Bronco footage I’ve ever seen. Flight, weapons and development test, combat in Vietnam (including VAL-4 “Black Ponies”), a subsystems overview and a performance and specification summary.
Some of the best-est Bronco footage I’ve ever seen.
You’re welcome xbradtc :)
A quick history of flight control systems:
A system of pulleys and cables enabled the Wright Brothers were the first to take to the air in controllable flight on 17 December 1903. Aircraft of World War 1 methods to control aircraft remained basically the same cable and pulley system. Pilot control inputs through stick and rudder pedals were transmitted to the control surfaces via pulleys and cables.
By the time World War 2 started aircraft were more complex, faster and far more capable. Most flight control systems at the time remained cables and pulleys but the problem of stability remained. There needed to be a method for reducing the constant need for pilot control input especially during long flights.
Wartime technological leaps enabled postwar aircraft designs not only increase in speed but also increase in size. At 1000 knots there simply isn’t enough time for a human being to react. The larger size of aircraft also meant there was a great deal more inertia for a human to struggle to control. Due to the increase in aircraft size, inertia and dynamic pressure, without some from of mechanical assistance flying would become too difficult for pilots to handle because of the force amount of force required to move to control surface. The solution was to connect the pilot’s stick and rudder pedals to hydraulics which were, in turn, connected to surfaces with which to control the aircraft.
Development of hydraulic flight control systems meant there was no direct connection between the stick/rudder pedals and the control surface. Pilots develop a sense of what an aircraft is doing, not only from visual cues, but also from seat of the pants flying to understand orientation of the airplane. Hydraulic systems brought about the need for “artificial feel systems” that replicated force feedback to the pilot through the stick and from the control surface.
Hydraulic flight controls are heavier than pulleys and cables, adding weight to the aircraft. That translates into less weight overall an aircraft can use for a given task. Less weight devoted to fuel for range in a fighter, less weight devoted to cargo or passengers in the airlines. In spaceflight weight is also a critical issue. The more a spacecraft weighs, the more thrust is required to bring that space to orbit. Controlling a spacecraft with hydraulics to going to be too heavy.
NASA used a simple binary logic flight control program in the Mercury program. The logical design consisted of a control signal that transmitted “on/off” commands for firing of the maneuvering rockets. The attitude of the spacecraft could be changed by the pilot’s moving a hand controller with the direction of the controller’s movement indicating pitch, roll or yaw to the control system. The control system then sent appropriate signals to fire the correct sets of rockets to achieve the desired effect. The Mercury flight control system was only capable of attitude control.
By 1968 all the NASA was focused on putting a human on the moon. Grumman, designer of the Lunar Module, was tasked with NASA and MIT to develop a flight control system capable of landing on the moon. The flight control system for the Lunar Module was called PGNCS (Primary Guidance, Navigation and Control System pronounced “pings”). Considerable experience in developing PGNCS was gained by engineers that worked on the Polaris SLBM and Atlas ICBM programs.
PGNCS had all the elements that were going to be needed to develop a flight control system. The most important element was the inertial measurement unit. The Lunar Module used 3 IMUs (inertial measurement units), 1 each for each axis of flight (pitch, roll and yaw). The IMU generated analog signals that had to be read by one of the first digital computers.
This video details the development of the IMU and integration with the Lunar Module’s flight control system (it’s a fascinating 3-part series).
The LLRV (Lunar Landing Research Vehicle) was developed to test flight control laws (programming code) for the Lunar Module here on Earth. The LLRV used reaction control jets because the Moon has 1\6th of the Earth’s gravity. The LLRV was not an aerodynamic vehicle as it used solely engine thrust to get airborne. Once flight control laws were developed, testing of the LLRV wound down but a group led by NASA thought that software developed and tested on the LLRV and the Apollo Lunar Lander might be beneficial to aircraft control. After LLRV, computers, sensors and actuators became advanced enough to start flight-testing.
Computers in flight control systems come into 2 distinct types. Analog and digital. Mechanical analog computers operate by creating a mechanical analogy between the position of numbers on various scales and the products, quotients, squares, cube roots, etc that it’s used to calculate. In terms of flight control computers, control laws are hard-wired via the circuitry in the computer. While analog computer is resistant to power surges and viruses it’s very difficult to re-program. That requires a physical reconfiguration of the embedded circuits. Analog computers also run at higher temperatures because data is in the form of amplitudes and temperature effects modulate the amplitude.
The first vehicular use of an analog computer was with the German A-4 [V-2] rocket of World War 2 fame. The A-4 used an electronic analog computer that modeled the differential equations of the control laws and accepted voltage values and input and generated voltage as output to an amplifier. The amplifier then sent those commands to the control surface actuators. This technology formed the basis for digital computers almost 40 years later.
Digital computers on the other hand read data in binary, “1”s and “0”s. Data needs to be converted to binary string of bits before it can be used by the computer. The problem is these bit streams, coming from multiple sources, can be too dense and rapid for proper computer processing into readable data sets. After 1963 improvements in transistors and work on “sampling theory” made the use of digital computers more widespread not only in aviation but a whole range of applications.
In 1954, the NT-33 In-flight Simulator was developed to test other equipment that would be needed in a digital flight control system. The NT-33 tested improvements in gyroscopes, actuators, effectors, stability augmentation and pitot-static systems. Also in 1957 the USAF flew a modified B-47 (53-2280) with fly-by-wire channel in the pitch axis.
By early 1971 the NASA Office of Advanced Research and Technology wanted to see more technology transferred from the Apollo program. Luckily for them the flight control computer was, up that time, one of the most reliable computers ever built. Soon the office approved for a feasibility study to install Apollo flight control system hardware into an F-8 Crusader.
The F-8 Crusader is a single seat, single engine, carrier borne fighter from the 1950s. The ‘sader, as it’s properly known, gained a fearsome reputation as a MiG killer in the skies over North Vietnam however by the 1970s the ‘sader was being phased out in-favor of the newer F-4 Phantom II. NASA chose the ‘sader because it was readily available and cost effective. The intention was to modify the ‘sader by removing the horizontal stabilizers and placing them in front of the wings (as canards). The F-8s centerline air inlet would have been unaffected by this modification. However this was considered too costly to be included in the program.
By 1970 NASA acquired 4 F-8Cs on their way to the boneyard and sent them to the Dryden Flight Research Center. Money for NASA’s Digital Fly By Wire was appropriated $1 million dollars for the first year. Over time the entire cost of the program, which ran just over 10 years, would run $12 million dollars. The program itself would be conducted in 3 phases starting in early 1971. Phase I, scheduled to start in 1971, would have 2 goals: ensuring the technology worked and developing the tools to move forward. Phase IB would introduce a second computer in the flight control system and begin to test and develop system redundancy. Phase II, scheduled to run Q2 of 1974, was to concentrate on gaining knowledge and developing techniques for increasing computer reliability. Over time the schedule wasn’t met but the objective for each phase never changed. Over the next year Flight Research Center hardware and software engineers began modification work on the F-8 aircraft.
The next segments will cover modification of the F-8 aircraft, phases of the flight test program and benefits to future aircraft programs.
I’m a big fan of airshows. I don’t think that will surprise anyone.
Having said that, I’m also a bit conflicted about them. Operating aircraft near the edge of their performance envelope, and doing so at low altitude, with the pressure to “put on a good show” tends to raise the accident rate to far higher than normal levels.
Five years ago, at an airshow in Italy, David Cenciotti, The Aviationist, caught an Italian NH90 helicopter in its last moments.
Stolen from one of the Lexicans off Facebook.
I’d sell URR’s spare kidney for a chance at a ride like this.
Mind you, when FiFi goes flying today, she’s taking off from nice long concrete runways, minus many tons of bombs and fuel. Makes it a touch easier than flying off of Tinian or Saipan.
As the Allied Dyle-Breda Plan collapsed under the pressure of the Wehrmacht’s Blitzkrieg, most of the British Expeditionary Force of more than 320,000 men fell back against the French coast around Calais and Dunkirk. Germany’s Fall Gelb (Case Yellow) had been radically modified in early 1940 from a plan looking nearly identical to that of 1914, to one which included a decisive armored thrust through the Ardennes Forest that would break the Allied armies in two and trap the preponderance of Allied combat power in a pocket north of Paris. The Blitzkrieg which began in 10 May 1940 had shattered the Dutch, Belgian, and French armies.
The Wehrmacht employment of auftragstaktik allowed German commanders at all levels to consistently defeat Allied tempo of decision-making, which led to countless occasions where German units slammed into French and British formations who were de-training or still in road march formation and unready for battle. Speed, both in tactical mobility and command and control, was as decisive as any other single factor in the Battle of France.
Sixteen days into office, Prime Minister Winston Churchill had known since 15 May that the French were finished. Despite attempts to reinforce his French allies, by 21 May the objective of the BEF was to conduct a fighting withdrawal to a Channel port, from where it might, if extremely fortunate and able to gain local air superiority, be evacuated back to Britain.
Operation DYNAMO, which would include a massive commitment of the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and thousands of small ships and craft, began on 26 May 1940. With two French divisions holding against German pressure, British units began to move toward the beaches and piers, the ships and craft (in the surf line) which would shuttle them both to larger ships and to England itself. That German pressure was not nearly as heavy as it might have been, thankfully for the British. Reichsmarshall Goering had promised Hitler that his Luftwaffe would destroy the Allied evacuation efforts without having to risk von Küchler’s Panzer and Panzergrenadier units in coastal sand unsuitable for their deployment.
In the end, German commanders convinced Hitler to launch concerted attacks on Dunkirk, but it would come too late. Dunkirk was finally captured on 4 June 1940, but by that time, 198,000 British and 123,000 French troops had been evacuated. The RAF had paid a heavy price for the furious defense of the skies over Operation DYNAMO, losing 177 precious fighter aircraft that had been jealously hoarded for the battle over the skies of England that was sure to come. The Royal Navy lost six modern destroyers, and several hundred small craft. Virtually all of the BEF’s heavy equipment, tanks and trucks, artillery pieces, and more than 70,000 tons of ammunition was left on the beach. And nearly 15% of the BEF’s soldiers were dead, wounded, or prisoner.
But the vast preponderance of British manpower had been saved. German intelligence reports in preparation for SEELÖWE noted the toughness and high quality of the British Soldiers, including the Territorials. Most of them were back safely on British soil, and the Wehrmacht would have to deal with them in the near future under far less favorable circumstances. Those plucked from the Dunkirk docks and surf included the British Commander of II Corps, Lieutenant General Sir Alan Brooke, later Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and Major General Bernard Law Montgomery, in command of the 3rd Infantry Division. Dunkirk had been a miracle indeed. And the Germans would pay dearly for their mistake.
Churchill’s admonition that “wars are not won by evacuations” not withstanding, the successful evacuation of the bulk of the BEF from Dunkirk allowed England to survive until the Soviet Union and the United States entered the war. Lost on the 73 years since the evacuation of Dunkirk was the fact that there was a considerable body of opinion in Parliament that desired a negotiated peace with Germany. With the loss of the BEF, such a body of opinion might have been strong enough to have blocked Churchill’s desires to fight Hitler to the bitter end. DYNAMO signaled what Churchill told the British people, that “the Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin”. Defending the Island Nation was the force evacuated from France.
Which, I know the basic type, but could actually use some help on the sub-type.
The F/A-18 family has been a pretty successful program for Naval Aviation, from it’s origins as an inexpensive lightweight fighter, to a replacement for legacy F-4 Phantom and A-7 Corsair II aircraft. It’s evolution into the much larger F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EF-18G Growler were surprisingly smooth programs.
But the program isn’t without its faults. For instance, the major weakness of the family has always been seen as its relatively low “fuel fraction,” that is, the percentage of the aircrafts weight devoted to fuel. A low fuel fraction leads to relatively short range. External tanks and aerial refueling mitigate this to some extent, but not without penalties in performance, payload, cost, and time.
The Super Hornets also have one other minor issue. A fair amount of attention was paid to reducing the radar cross section of the jet, without having to go full stealth. But when weapon separation tests were conducted on the prototype, it turned out that some loads were not leaving cleanly. The modified wing of the Super Hornet was doing things to airflow that no one had foreseen. Rather than have to redesign the entire wing, the fix turned out to be toeing out the external wing pylons by 4 degrees. Of course, this imposes a healthy bit of drag, both for the pylons themselves, and for any stores on them. It also pretty much shot to hell all the attention to reducing the radar cross section of the jet.
So, with the pylons off, the Super Hornet is pretty sprightly, and has fair low observable characteristics. But it doesn’t have any range, or any weapons.
Boeing is trying to work around that issue. In recent years, other “teen” series fighters, the F-15 and F-16, have used “conformal fuel tanks” fitted to the outside of the airframe to increase “internal” fuel, rather than having to carry drop tanks on pylons. With care, the design can have minimal impact on airframe drag or radar cross section. That goes a long ways toward tacking the range issue. But what about weapons? Boeing is also designing a semi-stealthy pod for the centerline that resembles a drop tank, but is instead a weapons pod.
Jason pointed out this article at The DEW Line showing a mock-up of the configuration that Boeing and the Navy will flight test this summer.
You can see the Conformal Fuel Tanks over the wing root, and the weapons pod on the centerline. Close observation will also show a sensor window under the nose, as opposed to the usual method of mounting a pod on one of the engine bays. Less drag, more stealth.
The concept is to give the Super Hornet fleet some limited ability for “first day of the war” stealth to penetrate enemy air space. My major concern is that the weapons pod right now is only configured (so far as we can tell) to carry four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, giving it a fair air-to-air capability. What it really needs is a capability to carry weapons to attack enemy surface to air defense systems. Some way of carrying anti-radiation missiles, or at a minimum, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs is going to be critical. I suppose designing an alternative pod shouldn’t be too great an engineering challenge.
Boeing is smart enough to see that its rival Lockheed Martin is struggling to make the F-35C a reality, and is trying to offer a low cost, low risk alternative that will keep the carrier air wing viable through the first half of the 21st Century.
XBRADTC’s post on hardware nicknames led me to 2 comprehensive lists airplane nicknames:
Aardvark General Dynamics F-111 Able Dog Douglas AD Skyraider Aerobee Aerojet General X-8 All Three Dead Douglas A3D Skywarrier Aluminium Overcast Convair B-36 Peacemaker Aluminium Overcast Lockheed C-5 Galaxy Aluminium Overcast Douglas C-124 Globemaster Ambar ("Barn") Beriev MBR-2 Angel Lockheed U-2 Anushka Antonov An-2 Anushka Polikarpov Po-2 Ass-Ender Curtiss XP-55 Ascender Awful Terrible Six North American AT-6 Texan Baltimore Whore Martin B-26 Marauder Bamboo Bomber Cessna UC-78 Bobcat Banjo McDonnell F2H Banshee Bantam Bomber Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Barge Douglas SBD Dauntless Bat Plane Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk Beast Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Bee Tee Vultee BT-13 Valiant Bent-Wing Bird Vought F4U Corsair Blackfish Fairey Swordfish (built by Blackburn) Blechesel ("Tin Donkey") Junkers J I Bloody Paraliser Handley Page 0/400 Biff Bristol F.2B Big Bird McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle Big Stick Convair B-36 Peacemaker Billy's Bomber North American B-25 Mitchell Blackbird Lockheed SR-71 Black Jet Lockheed F-117 Bleed-Air Blimp Lockheed C-130 Hercules Bone Rockwell B-1 Lancer Boomerang Northrop B-2 Spirit Brisfit Bristol F2B Britschik ("Little Shaver") Bell P-39 Airacobra Bucon Hispano HA 1112K Budget Bomber Northrop B-2 Spirit Buff Boeing B-52 Stratofortress (Big, Ugly Fat F*****) Bug Smasher Beech C-45 Expeditor Bumble Bee McDonnell XF-85 Goblin Buzz Bomb V-1 Cadillac Northrop M2 Canuck Curtiss JN-4D Catfish Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk Cee One-Oh-Boom Consolidated C-109 Liberator Chaika (Gull) Beriev Be-12 'Mail' Chaika (Gull) Polikarpov I-153 Chickenhawk Cessna T-41 Mescalero Chipmunk Boeing RC-135C Clunk Douglas SBD Dauntless Coconutknocker Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Connie Lockeed Constellation Convertor Cessna T-37 Cradle Fairchild PT-19 Cranberry Martin B-57 Canberra Crane Sykorsky CH-54 Tarhe Crowd Killer Fairchild C-87 Packet Crowd Killer Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar Dagger Convair F-102 Delta Dagger Dart Convair F-106 Delta Dart Delta Queen Convair B-58 Hustler Deuce Convair F-102 Delta Dagger Dinosaur Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar Dogship Grumman A-6 Intruder Dollar Nineteen Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar Doodlebug V-1 Dorito MDD A-12 Double-Breasted Cub Cessna UC-78 Bobcat Double Ugly McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Double Ugly Grumman EA-6B Prowler Dowager Ducchess Douglas C-47 Dakota Dragon Lady Lockheed U-2 Dreifinger (Three Fingers) Junkers Ju 88 Droop Snoot Lockheed P-38 Lightning with glass nose Egg Hughes OH-6 Cayuse Electric Jet General Dynamics F-16 Emil Messerschmitt Bf 109E Etagere (Elevator) NC.1071 Faithfull Annie Avro Anson Fat Albert Lockheed C-130 Hercules Fertile Myrtle Grumman AF-2W Guardian Fifi Grumman F3F Fliegendes Stachelschwein Short Sunderland Flying Banana Vertol CH-21 Workhorse Flying Bathtub Northrop M2F Flying Bedstead Rolls-Royce TMR Flying Carrot Westland Lysander Flying Coffin Airspeed Horsa Flying Dump Truck Douglas AD Skyraider Flying Edsel General Dynamics F-111 Flying Eggbeater Sikorsky R-4 Hoverfly Flying Gas Station Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Flying Prostitute Martin B-26 Marauder Flying Potato Martin-Marietta X-24A Flying Flatiron Martin-Marietta X-24B Flying Shithouse Kaman HH-43 Huskie Flying Suitcase Handley Page Hampden Flying Speed Brake Lockheed Constellation Flying Washboard Ford Trimotor FOD Vacuum Northrop F-89 Scorpion Ford Douglas F4D Skyray Fork-tailed Devil Lockheed P-38 Lightning FRED Lockheed C-5 Galaxy (Fantastic Ridiculous Economic Disaster) Fritz Messerschmitt Bf 109F Frog Martin P5M Mariner Frustrated Palm Tree Sikorsky R-4 Hoverfly Gabelschwanzteufel Lockheed P-38 Lightning (Fork-tailed devil) Gator Boeing T-43 Go Get Him Fido AIM-120 AMRAAM Ghost Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk Ginnie Vickers Virginia Gipsy Rose Lee Curtiss P-40L Warhawk Gliding Electric Show Grumman EA-6B Prowler GLOB Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker (Ground Loving Old Bastard) Gooney Bird Douglas C-47 Dakota Grach Suchoi Su-25 Grand Old Lady Douglas C-47 Dakota Ground Gripper De Havilland Trident Ground Loving Whore Republic F-84F Thunderstreak Guppy Grumman AF-2W Guardian Gustav Messerschmitt Bf 109G Gutless Cutlass Vought F7U Cutlass Habu Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Halibag Handley Page Halifax Heinneman's Hot Rod Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Helldiver Curtiss F8C Herk Lockheed C-130 Hercules Hog Republic F-84 Thunderjet Hog Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II Hog Lockheed C-130 Hercules Hog Bell UH-1 Iroquois Hog Nose Boeing RC-135M Hook Boeing CH-47 Chinook Huey Bell UH-1 Iroquois Huey Cobra Bell AH-1 Cobra Hummer Cessna T-37 Hummer Grumman E-2 Hawkeye Hun North American F-100 Super Sabre Iron Butterfly Republic F-105 Thunderchief Ironworks Grumman Ishak ("Jackass") Polikarpov I-16 Jenny Curtiss JN Jug Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Jump Jet BAe/MDD AV-8 Harrier Kaasjager (Cheese fighter) North American F-86K Sabre Katy Payen Pa 49 Katyusha Tupolev SB-2 Kanonenvogel Junkers Ju 87G Kobry ("Cobra") Bell P-39 Airacobra Kraft Ei (power egg) Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet Kukuruznik Antonov An-2 Lanc Avro Lancaster Lawn Dart General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Lawn Dart Rockwell B-1 Lancer Lead Sled McDonnell F3H Demon Lead Sled Republic F-84 Thunderjet Lead Sled Republic F-105 Thunderchief Lead Sled Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Lead Sled Boeing RC-135U Lieutenant Eater Republic F-84 Thunderjet Little Hummer General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Little Hummer Douglas A-26 Invader Little Racer Douglas A-26 Invader Lizzie Westland Lysander Loach Hughes OH-6 Cayuse Magnesium Overcast Convair B-36 Peacemaker Man-Eater LTV A-7 Corsair II Maytag Messerschmitt Ryan PT-22 Recruit Meatbox Gloster Meteor Mezek ("Mule") Avia S-199 MiG Master Vought F8U Crusader Mighty Iron Hardware Republic F-105 Thunderchief Mighty Mite Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Monkeyknocker Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Mos Neata (Geezer) I.A.R. 39 Mosca (Fly) Polikarpov I-16 Nighthawk Lockheed F-117 Ninak De Havilland D.H.9A North American Safety Jet North American T-2 Buckeye Old Metuselah Douglas C-47 Dakota Old Shaky Douglas C-124 Globemaster Old Smokey McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Olive on a toothpick Hughes OH-6 Cayuse One-Oh-Wonder McDonnell F-101 Voodoo Overcast North American B-70 Valkyrie Panzerknacker Junkers Ju 87G Peacemaker Convair B-36 Pea Shooter Boeing P-26 Peter Dash Flash North American P-51 Mustang Pinball Bell RP-63 Kingcobra Placid Plodder Douglas C-47 Dakota Plastic Bug McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet Polecat Grumman X-29 Porker Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II Pregnant Beast Grumman TBF Avenger Puff, the Magic Dragon Douglas AC-47 Pylly Walteri Brewster B-239 Buffalo (Finnish) (Bustling Walter) Queen Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Q-bird Grumman EA-6B Prowler Queer Grumman EA-6B Prowler Radial Interceptor Beech T-34 Mentor Rhapsody in Glue Cessna UC-78 Bobcat Rhino McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Sabre Dog North American F-86D Sabre Scarier BAe/MDD AV-8 Harrier Scrapper Grumman AF-2S Guardian Seven Balls Two Convair XF-92 Shagbat Supermarine Walrus Shar BAe Sea Harrier Shithook Boeing CH-47 Chinook Silver Bullet Convair XP-81 Silver Dollar North American F-100 Super Sabre Silver Sow Boeing C-135 Six Convair F-106 Delta Dart Six Shooter Convair F-106 Delta Dart Skooter Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Skunk Works Lockheed's Burbank plant Skycrane Sykorsky CH-54 Tarhe Skyhog Douglas A-4 Skyhawk SLAT Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II (Slow, Low Aerial Target) Sled Lockheed SR-71 Slick Bell UH-1 Iroquois Slick Chick North American RF-100A Slow But Deadly Douglas SBD Dauntless Slow Navy Bomber Beech SNB Kansan Sluf LTV A-7 Corsair II (Short, little ugly fellah) Snake Bell AH-1 Cobra Snake Lockheed P2V Neptune Son of a Bitch 2nd Class Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Spad Douglas A-1 Skyraider Spam Can North American P-51 Mustang Sparkvark Grumman EF-111 Raven Speedy Three Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless Spit Supermarine Spitfire Squash Bomber Republic F-105 Thunderchief Staggerwing Beech 17 Superbolt Republic P-47 Thunderbolt with 'bubble' cockpit. Stanley Steamer Northrop F-89 Scorpion Star Lizard Lockheed C-141 Starlifter Sterile Arrow Grumman EA-6B Prowler Stoof Grumman S2F Tracker Strat Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Stratobladder Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Strike Pig Boeing T-43 Stringbag Fairey Swordfish Stuka Junkers Ju-87 Super Hog Republic F-84F Thunderstreak Super Shitter Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion Swinger General Dynamics F-111 Switchblade General Dynamics F-111 Swoose Goose Vultee XP-54 Tadpole Grumman A-6 Intruder Taivaan Helmi (Sky Pearl) Brewster B-239 Buffalo (Finnish) Tank Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Tante Ju Junkers Ju 52/3m Tausendfussler Arado Ar 232 T-bird Lockheed T-33 T-bolt Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Tennis Court McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle Thud Republic F-105 Thunderchief Thunder Piglet Fairchild Republic T-46A Thunderscreech Republic XF-84H Tin Goose Ford Trimotor Tinker Toy Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Tin Mossie Vickers 432 Torbeau Bristol Beaufighter TF.X Tripehound Sopwith Triplane Triple Threat Republic F-105 Thunderchief Tsetse De Havilland Mosquito FB Mk.XVIII T-tailed Mountain Magnet Lockheed C-141 Starlifter Tub Convair TF-102 Delta Dagger Turkey Grumman F-14 Tomcat Turkey Grumman TBF Avenger Tweet Cessna T-37 Tweety Bird Cessna T-37 Ubiytsa (Killer) Yakovlev Yak-3U Ultra Hog Republic F-105 Thunderchief Useless 78 Cessna UC-78 Bobcat Useless Deuce Lockheed U-2 Velcro Hawk Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Vibrator Vultee BT-13 Valiant Viper General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Voting Member F-16 pilot Warthog Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II Whale Douglas F3D Skynight Whale Douglas A3D Skywarrior Whispering Death Vought F4U Corsair (apocryphical?) Whispering Death Bristol Beaufighter Whistling Shitcan BAe/MDD AV-8 Harrier White Rocket Northrp T-38 Talon Widow-Maker Martin B-26 Marauder Willy Fudd Grumman W2F Wimpy Vickers Wellington Wobblin' Goblin Lockheed F-117 World's Largest Dog Whistle Cessna T-37 Yastreb (Hawk) Polikarpov I-16 Yastrebok (Little Hawk) Polikarpov I-16, also for other fighters Yellow Peril Stearman N2S / PT-17 Kaydet
and here too but there may be some overlap. I’m sure most are familiar to most readers. Feel free to add some in the comments that aren’t listed. 2 that I didn’t see were the Cessna 208 called the “Baja” and the Citation 1 called the “slowtation.”
A nice little video of an Airbus A380 flying into San Francisco. A nice little tour of the Bay Area.
The Cold War ended more than 20 years ago and things like this still make me realize just how much things have changed.
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – The U.S. Air Force launched the final A-10 Thunderbolt II tactical sortie in Europe at Spangdahlem AB May 14, 2013.
The airframe belongs to the 52nd Fighter Wing’s 81st Fighter Squadron, which inactivates in June.
“I’m proud to be a part of the last sortie,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Hogan, 81st director of operations and a pilot from today’s flight. “It’s definitely a sad day for the (81st) as we end 20 years of A-10 operations here. I’m just proud to take part in this historic event.”
The A-10 has been a Cold War icon in Europe for over 20 years and was originally deployed to stop the hordes of Soviet armor across the Fulda Gap in then West Germany.
I’d always pictured that operations would look something like this:
Speaking of Soviet Armor, English Russia has an interesting feature on the Armoured Repair Plant №61 in St. Petersburg.
On a side note there’s, as of yet, there is no comment from DoD on whether or not the 81st Fighter Squadron will be reactivated and deployed to counter the “cat-tank” threat that has recently emerged in the Chicago loop (the vid was sent to me by a friend as I was working on this post. She works here.).
I usually do a “cutaway Thursday” over that The Lexicans. It’s features unusual aircraft cutaway pictures I’ve got saved in my stack-o-stuff. This one was too awesome to not pass along.
Not posting the actual cutaway but this site for the iconic Boeing B-17 features one of the best interactive cutaways I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the mission tally and nose art of Nine-O-Nine.
You’ll need to set aside an hour for this one and maybe some alone time too :)
This week marks VE Day, commemorating the Victory in Europe over Hitler’s Third Reich. The last and perhaps the most savage battle was for the German capital of Berlin. This from the Battlefield series, which was aired weekly on Far East Network (“Forced Entertainment Network”) when I had an artillery battery in Okinawa in 1996. The entire series is superb, and if you look, you can find most of them on line. They are also available on DVD. They contain a pretty good description of the higher tactical through the strategic picture, and have enough detail and technical stuff, but not too much.
Since the series was made, Russian archives have been explored more completely, and the number of Soviet casualties have been scaled up more than two-fold, from the 305,000 quoted in this episode, to nearly 700,000. Note the ever-present use of artillery and mortars, rockets, and field guns, even in an urban environment. The episode is 116 minutes, roughly the time one spends clicking on all of Mav’s aviation links and cool pictures and videos and stuff. So get your Eastern Front geek on, and watch it. You know you wanna.