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.
I’ve been too lazy to get to part 4 of the YC-15 series this week. I’m having motivational issues.
First up Russian Live Leak has an interesting perspective on the Aviation Museum at Monino.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll see:
It’s interesting to see the size difference between the different aircraft.
Next up, a link of World War 2 Russian aircraft. They appear to be taken during the time period.
I’m pretty sure that’s an Ilyushin DB-3.
There has been a lot of interesting books to come out about the Red Air Force after the Soviet World War 2 archives were opened up. Don’t tell anyone that I’m supposed to finish a book review for that…
Part one is a general description of the YC-15 aircraft. You can view that here. This post will detail the flight test program of the YC-15.
There were 2 YC-15 aircraft,serials 72-01875 and 72-01876. 875 was rolled on 5 August 1975. The first flight was 26 August 1975. 875 flew from the Douglas plant in Long Beach, CA to Edwards AFB. The only problem during this 2.5 hour flight was a landing gear door found to be ajar. The flight itself was therefore speed limited to 200kts at 20,000ft.
875 flew 3 times over the next 3 days, conducting general flight envelope verification and expansion tests. A further 2 weeks were conducting 7 air-worthiness flights. On 12 September, 875 moved to a Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) test facility at Yuma, AZ.
876 flew for the first time on 5 December 1975. This flight took the aircraft from Long Beach, CA to join 875 at Yuma AZ.
The YC-15 Joint Test Force (JTF) personnel from the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC), Air Force Test and Evaluation Center (AFTEC), McDonnell Douglas, Boeing (for the YC-14). The (Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), Army and the USMC played minor logistical roles in the flight test program. NASA also sent (short take-off and landing (STOL) engineers to analyse data gleaned in the AMST program. The core pilot cadre for the YC-15 was made up of 3 contractors, 3 AFFTC and 3 AFTEC pilots. The competing aircraft were housed in separate hangars with the JTF office between the 2 contactors. This became the model for both the ATF and JSF programs.
The consensus amongst the test pilots and crews was that the YC-15 had generally good handling qualities. The aircraft was easy to fly with the SCAS off and on. There was concern that the pilot could overload the aircraft with the SCAS off but control forces were considered light in both modes.
There was some discussion on whether or not the YC-15 should have a stick or yoke for control input. The intention was to have a “fighter-type” stick installed but there was some skepticism over it’s suitability from higher up the chain-of-command so the stick was removed. To counter, it was argued that the yoke obscured the view of the instrument panel.
The YC-15 had no natural warning upon entering the stall (i.e. vibration) so warning for the stall relied on an artificial “stick-shaker” to provide some warning within the critical angle of attack. This was judged as an inadequate solution because the shaker could activate in conditions of high thrust and flap settings when the aircraft clearly wasn’t in a stalling condition and because a high stink rate (such as during a STOL landing) could mask stalling conditions. As such, a Supplemental Stall Recognition System (SSRS) was developed and tested during the program. The SSRS provided an aural warning when the aircraft approached critical alpha during a given flight condition.
At gross weights of 149,300 the YC-15 flew STOL approaches at 87kts at a 6 degree glideslope giving a sink rate of 15.4 degrees per second. Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) approaches were normally made a 127 kts with a typical 8-12 feet per second sink rate with no flare at touch down. In STOL mode the aim-point for touch down was about 300 feet from the runway threshold . The YC-15 tested both flare and no-flare landing techniques in STOL mode. Testing at Edwards AFB showed the YC-15 was unable to land consistently in “hot-and-high” conditions in the required 2000 feet because of the slow actuation of the thrust reversers.
The thrust reversers could be used in-flight with some minor airframe buffet.
Testing the VAM, used approaches very similar to Navy carrier approaches were airspeed on approach is governed by angle of attack. The major issue was that the VAM didn’t display enough information to enable a completely “eyes-out-of-cockpit” approach.
33 STOL and CTOL off field demo landings, at Edwards, were conducted on 5000ft x 200ft runways with markers placed at 2000ft x 60ft. 5 pilots flew these tests and the YC-15s landing gear tire pressure was reduced. It was also found that the YC-15 could taxi over a 4-inch dump at 75-80kts. A unique procedures for the YC-15 during a STOL takeoff was extending the flaps from 14 to 23 degrees during the takeoff roll. Below is some archive video of STOL testing in 1975 (please pardon the music, Creed’s “Higher” just doesn’t work IMO):
During testing cracks were found in the blown flap material and fasteners had to replaced on a cracked rob. This was due to repeated exposure of hot jet exhaust. Direct Lift Control (DLC) (*see update below) was found to be effective for corrected high approach errors in the glide-slope but wasn’t effective for getting too low during approach. Flight path correction was done with a slightly high arrival at glideslope,correct with DLC, and then add thrust. Maximum DLC deflection angle was 20 degrees from flush on the upper surface of the wing. Orientation of the DLC actuation in the cockpit was a major “human factors” issue of debate among the pilots.
The YC-15 displayed docile engine out characteristics with mild crew indication 4-6 seconds after an engine out occurred. The YC-15 also was unable to meet the range requirement of 2600nm. The aircraft had more drag than predicted giving it a range of 1760nm.
I’ll be standing fast on this post for now. I’m splitting part 2 into this and an additional part detailing some of the operational and international demonstrations as well as technical improvements and further flight test results.
Cross-posted at The Lexicans.
*[UPDATE]: For reader that may not know, direct lift control (DLC) is a system of spoilers, located on the upper surface of the wing. that either differencially control roll and in unison control pitch by dumping lift from the wings. They are common to most airliners.
McDonnell Douglas developed the YC-15 from the Breguet 941s, using extensive wind tunnel testing (for optimum configuration testing) and using Cornell Aeronautical Labs B-26B In-Flight Simulator (for flight control testing).
The aircraft itself is 124.25 feet long, wingspan is 110.36ft, height is 43.30. Max gross weight is 216,680lbs. The interior cargo-box is 47 x 11.8 x 11.4.
Thrust for the YC-15 was provided by the JT8D turbofan (also the DC-9 powerplant) and produced a total thrust of 16,000lbs. The engines were mounted on shallow pylons mounted ahead of the wings leading edge. Thrust reversal was accomplished using so-called “daisy nozzles.” During final approach, with flaps fully extended and facing the engine, the engines provided 54% of the YC-15 lift.
The straight wings consisted of ailerons, double-slotted flaps, leading edge high lift devices (Kruger flaps, etc), and spoilers. The trailing edge devices, flaps and ailerons spanned 75% of the wings trailing edge. The flaps could extend as much as 46 degrees into the downstream. The YC-15 was the first jet powered aircraft to use externally blown flaps (EBF).
Flight controls consisted of the conventional hydraulic system and a stability and control augmentation system (SCAS). The SCAS was dual channel and 3 axis enabling hands off flight for high angle approaches (tactical approaches) and modes for attitude, altitude and heading.
The YC-15 saw the first use of a heads up display (HUD) system, specifically called the VAM (Visual Approach Monitor). Developed by Sundstrand, the VAM displayed the horizon, flight path scale, airspeed indexer and touchdown point.
Being essentially a research airplane, the YC-15 did not need to fully conform to MILSPECS. As such it borrowed components from various aircraft, the DC-10 cockpit enclosure, the F-15 fuel pumps, the C-141 stabilizing struts, the A-10 UARRSI, the C-5 cargo handling equipment and other parts from 9 other types of airplanes. Cockpit instrumentation used components from 10 different airplanes.
Here’s a cutaway of the YC-14 and YC-15 for comparison:
Part 2 will detail the YC-15s flight test program.
Part 3 will detail the YC-15 technological contributions to the C-17.
Cross-posted at The Lexicans
[UPDATE- XBrad] I’ve added Mav as another author here. We’ve got a grunt, a rocket scientist, a Marine Artilleryman, a Chaplain, a Sigo/Civil War historian, and now, an aviator.
The Chinese Government is officially merely “suspicious” about the possibility of transmission by human contact of what has so far proven a deadly new strain of flu, according to China’s own CDC and state-run news media. The H7N9 strain of flu has reportedly killed 17 of 87 persons infected, a mortality rate of 20%. (H1N1 in 2009, by comparison, had a mortality rate in the neighborhood of 1.7 persons per 10,000 cases, or 0.0017% using CDC estimates, while the great Spanish Flu of 1918 was mortal to just under 1.8% of those infected.) It is also likely many of the people infected in China have a lower baseline health than Americans, and in the remote villages especially, lack of access to immediate and effective care, clean water, and antiviral medications, which leads to an artificially high initial mortality. Just the same, the news got decidedly worse today, despite the optimistic tone of the previous few days.
“Further investigations are still under way to figure out whether the family cluster involved human-to-human transmission,” Feng Zijian, of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper.
Glenn Thomas, a spokesperson for WHO, tells U.S. News that “it’s still too early to say” whether there have been human-to-human transmission, but that the team they’ve sent there will be investigating the possibility.
“There’s no evidence yet of sustained human-to-human transmission, but the team will be looking into this,” he says.
What is not reassuring at all about the situation is memories of China’s massive cover-up of the SARS epidemic in 2002-3, during which Chinese officials denied the very existence of SARS, and of outbreak clusters for months. Chinese officials also transferred infected patients, and sometimes entire hospital populations, to keep them from World Health Organization physicians. Chinese government officials prevaricated, misled, and stonewalled, until the evidence could no longer be hidden.
Despite the embarrassment of the SARS incident, including the deadly results (most of which remained in China and virtually unreported in the world press), and the promise for more transparency, once again on this occasion the Chinese government waited close to a month to report the outbreak in Shanghai, and only on 29 March confirmed the virus as H7N9.
There are rumors of positive tests for H7N9 in asymptomatic people, suggesting a long incubation period during which a victim may be a contagious “carrier”, and there is now reports of confirmed cases among people who have not had any contact with birds or fowl. Reassurances by Chinese health officials ring increasingly hollow, as their pattern of reporting and non-reporting take on familiar and delusory tones.
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect strongly that human-to-human transmission has been all but confirmed in China for quite some time, perhaps weeks. Now, there are cases reported in Nanjing and Beijing, in addition to those around Shanghai. In the age of rapid and easy global travel, containing a deadly pathogen is all but impossible. Having to rely on Chinese transparency and honesty to have a head start is not at all good.
So, after Congress shut down the Navy’s plan to lease and operate four A-29B Super Tucanos in Afghanistan, it looks like the Navy has decided to try another tack.
Several OV-10 Broncos are still operational outside the DoD. Now comes word that the Navy has snagged one that NASA has been using and is apparently going to retrofit it to a combat capable role.
I’m stealing some info from a forum for veterans of VAL-4, the Navy squadron that operated the Bronco in Vietnam.
[redacted by XBrad] had the privilege of attending the first public showing of the updated OV-10G+ being operated by the Nay’s RCU-1, as a “Black Pony.” They are preparing a second airplane for light attack, battle field management and communications roles or as the unit calls it; “Find-Fix-Finish.” The airplanes are flown by Navy pilots with Marne WSO’s in the back seat. The ground crews include both Navy and Air Force personnel. This is not a Boeing project, it is a Navy program. The attached pictures and video were taken at NAS PAX river on March 22nd.
If all goes well, this airplane will be joined by a second one. Both airplanes came from NASA and pervious to that were used by the State Department as spray airplanes. Before that, they belonged to the Marine Corps. If everything works out right, both airplanes will be here in Fort Worth for BroncoFest May 3 to 5, 2013.
At present this project is proof of concept and is only funded through October. After that is anybody’s guess.
You will notice there are no sponsons on the airplane. Those will be added soon. The normal configuration for the missions will be centerline and with external fuel and four seven shot pods for laser guided 2,75″ rockets.
Funded through October means to the end of the current fiscal year. We’ll see what the FY14 budget has. I presume the impetus for this is coming from the special operations side of the house more than the NavAir side, and the fact that is as far along as it is says SPECWAR finds it pretty important. It wouldn’t suprise me a bit if they got money for next year, and maybe even another couple aircraft. There’s still quite a few Broncos out at the Boneyard.
And while they’ll eventually add the sponsons, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just forego installing the M60D guns in them. Mostly they’ll want the sponsons for holding the rocket pods.
As a long time fan of the OV-10, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. Why the heck didn’t we do this a decade ago?
Yep. Or at least, a fair portion of it. Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho, is home to one of the Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle fighter wings. These Eagles are specialized air-to-ground variants of the long serving F-15 family, and still retain full air-to-air capability. In practice, the F-15E is the successor to the F-111 Aardvark. The US operates about 200 F-15Es. It’s also becoming a rather successful export product. Variants have been sold to South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Singapore is, per capita, pretty damn wealthy. But it is also more of a city, than a country. And its exposed position at the tip of the Malay Peninsula leaves it vulnerable. And so Singapore invests very heavily in airpower.
And it’s a very respectable air force. In addition to the F-15SG, RSAF also operates other very respectable frontline aircraft such as the F-16C/D Block 52+, the AH-64D Apache, the CH-47D Chinook, modern AEW aircraft and modern transport aircraft, including KC-135R tankers. That is pretty damn respectable for a country pretty roughly the size of New York City.
The problem is, being such a small country, they have virtually no airspace of their own. In a shooting war, busting some borders isn’t a problem. But in peacetime, the restricted airspace means opportunities for effective training are limited. Because of this, about a third of the Republic of Singapore Air Force is actually stationed overseas.
Most of their basic flight training takes place in Australia. RSAF also maintains a training base in France. But here in the good old USA, the Republic of Singapore Air Force has no less than four training locations.
Luke AFB, AZ is home to RSAF F-16 operational training. Silverbell Army Heliport , also known as the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, at Marana, AZ is home to AH-64D training. Redmond Taylor AHP, part of the Joint Reserve Base Dallas complex, is home to CH-47D training. That leaves Mountain Home Air Force Base.
As noted, Mountain Home is already home to one of the US Air Force’s Strike Eagle wings, so bedding down the RSAF Strike Eagles there makes sense. Plus, Mountain Home has a very respectable range complex available for training.
Oddly, the RSAF squadrons stationed in the US have adopted US squadron numbers and tailcode markings, though they wear RSAF roundels. Currently, the squadron at MHAFB is the 428th Fighter Squadron.
Actually, here’s where it gets a little weird. The 428th Fighter Squadron is a US squadron. It has about 25 US Air Force personnel assigned. And about 140 RSAF folks. And falls under the 366th Operations Group, along with two US fighter squadrons. Of course, it isn’t a deployable asset like the other two squadrons.
In addition to serving as a training squadron for the RSAF, having roughly a third of their F-15SG fleet stationed here leaves them a nice war reserve to replace any losses Singapore may suffer.
This is hardly the only foreign fighter squadron to be stationed in the US. For many, many years, Germany maintained F-4F and Panavia Tornado squadrons in the US for a similar purpose.
Earlier incarnation of the 428th Fighter Squadron, when it was the prime RSAF F-16 training unit stationed at Cannon AFB, NM.
Today is the 68th anniversary of L-Day, known as “Love Day” to the half a million Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines whose mission was the conquest of the island of Okinawa. An armada of 1,300 ships included 40 CVs, CVLs, and CVEs, and close to 400 amphibious vessels carrying 187,000 troops, thousands of trucks, artillery tubes, mortars, tanks, amtraks, and many thousands of tons of ammunition and all classes of supply to sustain the landing force of the XXIV Corps and the Marine III Amphibious Corps in the fighting ashore.
The Japanese, to the surprise and immense relief of the invasion force, barely contested the beaches. Almost every unit came ashore without opposition, as the first night saw more than 60,000 ashore. The Japanese 32nd Army’s 100,000 defenders and the locally recruited militia of Okinawan men would instead meet their American enemy inland, in expertly-prepared and defended positions on key terrain. But all of that, the massive kikusui of the kamikaze aircraft, the drenching rains that turned the island into a reprise of the horrors of the Western Front in the Great War, the savage fighting for Naha and the Shuri line, the Half-Moon, Sugar Loaf, the sacrifice of the Yamato battle squadron in Operation Ten-Gō, the massed suicides of civilians, was yet to come. On this day, casualties were negligible, and a lodgment established. The question became not if, but when, Okinawa would fall.
Ninety-five years ago, on 26 March 1918, at a conference in Doullens, the Allies, the French, British, and now the Americans, finally agree to appoint an Allied Supreme Commander for the Western Front. For three and a half years, neither the British nor the French were willing to countenance placing their forces under command of a General from the other respective nation for any but the most local and temporary situations. Differences in philosophy, national pride, individual ego, and centuries-old mutual distrust (exacerbated by the very lack of coordination such a situation made inevitable) created an environment where the alliance became, at times, highly contentious and all but hostile. The result was most often a stunning lack of coordination of effort and vision that played into the hands of the Imperial German commanders, allowing them to defeat in detail discordant Allied offensive efforts that might have otherwise seriously pressed the Germans.
The Great War on the Western Front is a grim and maddening exposition of military incompetence with the most tragic of consequences. There are myriad reasons for this seemingly endless phantasm which wasted an entire generation. Elderly, ossified commanders who had neither the energy or mental flexibility to wage modern war. Weapons technology that rendered a generation of tactics (and tacticians) dangerously obsolete.
To these shortcomings and failures must be added the lack of a single overall commander to coordinate strategy, impart mediation, and provide the vision for fighting the armies of the Western Front. Unity of Command, one of the nine principles of war, did not come until very late in the day, and that under extreme and compelling conditions as the German Spring Offensive threatened to break the British 5th Army and capture Paris.
So it would be Ferdinand Foch, erstwhile Chief of Staff for Marshall Petain, who would finally, at long last, command in the West.
In 1952, Boeing, using its own money, began development of a jet transport prototype. From its first flight in July 1954, Boeing knew it had a winner, and proceeded to develop two new aircraft based on this 367-80 design.
A larger, longer variant went on to become the world famous Boeing 707. But a smaller, shorter plane, very similar to the Dash Eighty, would also go on to a remarkable career.
In the mid-1950s, the Air Force Strategic Air Command was shedding its piston powered B-29, B-50, and B-36 fleet in favor of jet bombers such as the Boeing B-47, and B-52. As fantastic as those two jets were, they still needed in flight refueling to meet the range requirements to hold at risk targets deep inside the Soviet Union. Existing tanker aircraft, based on the B-29, and its cousin the B-50,* simply couldn’t provide enough fuel, nor fly fast enough, to fulfill the mission.
So it came to pass, in the mid 1950s, the Air Force, wanting a jet tanker for Strategic Air Command, held a competition to build one. And as we all know, the winner was… Lockheed? Yep. Lockheed. They had proposed a jet with a configuration similar to the later VC-10. But since it would take some time before Lockheed could get around to building any tankers, the Air Force gave an interim order to Boeing to build 28 tankers based on its Dash Eighty prototype. That order soon grew to 250 tankers. And pretty soon, the Air Force it would be silly to support two separate tanker fleets, and cancelled the Lockheed program. Boeing’s order book continued to grow, and in addition to tankers, “vanilla” transport versions without the refueling equipment were ordered. The basic designation for the design was the C-135. Tanker variants were known as the KC-135 Stratotanker. From 1957 to 1965, Boeing delivered 820 tanker and transport C-135 Stratolifter aircraft, the vast majority of them as KC-135A tankers.
Originally intended primarily to support the Strategic Air Command’s bombers, the KC-135A tanker fleet found itself more and more involved in supporting tactical aircraft in Vietnam. The F-105s and F-4s based in Thailand would have been unable to strike the heart of North Vietnam without the support of the Stratotankers. Since that time, the fleet has been deeply involved in virtually all use of tactical airpower, and increasingly has supported US Navy carrier operations, particularly the very long flights in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From first delivery to the early 1980s, the KC-135s underwent very few modifications. That’s a testament to the basic soundness of the design. But engine design in those years lead to far more powerful engines, with much better fuel efficiency, and lower noise levels. As commercial 707s began to retire, some KC-135s assigned to the Air National Guard were re-egined with their surplus TF-33 turbofan engines. More powerful engines meant a shorter take off roll. More fuel efficiency meant more of the fuel onboard could be transferred to other aircraft. These converted jets were known as KC-135E’s.
Fifty-six KC-135A’s were specially modified to support the SR-71A. Since the SR-71A uses a special fuel (JP-7) that normal jets can’t use, these modified tankers had to be able to segregate their own fuel from that intended for offload. Designated KC-135Qs, several tankers could be expected to support every operational SR-71 sortie.
Eventually, the remaining KC-135A fleet was re-engined with the CFM56 high bypass turbofan engine, essentially identical to what a modern civilian airliner would use. Twice as powerful as the original J57 engine, far more fuel efficient and much quieter, it has given the fleet much lower operational costs, lower maintenance requirements, and better available fuel offload. With the new engines, they were redesignated KC-135R. With the retirement of the SR-71, the KC-135Q’s were also re-engined, and designated KC-135T, and used alongside the “R” fleet.
Finally, from 1999 to 2002, the fleet, now down to about 365 jets, underwent a modernization program known as Pacer CRAG (Compass, Radios, Avionics, and GPS), which completely updated the flight deck to modern standards. With the new engines and flight deck, navigator position could be eliminated, and crew costs reduced, all while improving aircraft efficiency and reducing operating costs.
Today, the KC-135 still forms the backbone of the US tanker fleet.
Almost as soon as the first of the C-135 family entered service, the Air Force recognized that such a sound airplane could be used for other roles.
One of the very first “off label” uses was to remove the refueling boom at the rear of the jet, and replace the operator station with a battery of panoramic cameras. These RC-135As were used for photomapping and topographical survey.
They also spawned a bewildering array of modified C-135 airframes for a variety of specialized reconnaissance roles, most in the Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) missions.
The Air Force tends to give programs a two word code name, generally with the first word being the “umbrella” for a particular genre of programs, and the second one being a specific designator. For instance, virtually all programs that begin with “Pave” have to do with electro-optical and infrared sensors to improve night flying or targeting.
The two major programs that most recon and special mission C-135s fell under were “RIVET” and “COBRA.” RIVET was usually a SIGINT or ELINT program, while COBRA usually meant gathering intelligence on Soviet ballistic missile tests.
Several times, a single KC-135 or C-135 would be specially modified for a particular purpose, receiving both a new designation, and a new code name. One example would be the C-135B modified in 1960 to RC-135E RIVET AMBER, equipped with a special phased array radar to track ballistic missile warheads. With the stupendous cost of $35,000,000 for the radar alone, it was at that time probably the most expensive plane in the Air Force. Only one was modified. After it was lost in an accident in 1969, it was not replaced.
Quite a few aircraft would see their original mission change, undergo further modification, and receive yet another new designation and code name. Keeping track of all the variants is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice to say that the number of variants has used up almost all the available letters for designations.
The major RC variant is the RC-135V/W RIVET Joint, used both for strategic and tactical SIGINT and ELINT. Even today, RIVET Joint supports the war in Afghanistan.
That doesn’t count the various EC-135 variants, most (but not all) of which served as airborne command posts. Per wiki:
Then there are the “weather reconnaissance” WC-135s. The only “weather” the WC-135C and WC-135W ever looked for were radioactive clouds produced by nuclear explosions. They use special air sampling equipment to retrieve particulate matter to analyze the results of foreign atomic testing (and they’re still in service).
Various C-135s permanently converted to specialized test aircraft were designated NKC-135s, most being one of a kind modifications.
Finally, there is the OC-135B. Under the Open Skies treaty, the US and other signatory nations (including Russia) have the right to conduct scheduled aerial reconnaissance missions over any other signatory nation on a reciprocal basis (that is, for each overflight we make, the Russians can overfly the US). There are limits to the equipment used (any recon equipment an Open Sky plane uses must be made available to any other signatory nation). The US operates two OC-135Bs, and maintains one in storage.
This doesn’t even count the several Air Force jets that actually used the Boeing 707 airframe, such as the E-3 Sentry AWACS, the E-8 JSTARS, or the E-6 Mercury TACAMO.
For well over half a century, the C-135 family has served the United States well, and current projections have it serving until, at a minimum, 2040. I guess when it hits 80 years old, it will have earned its retirement.
*The B-50 was essentially a B-29 with the R-3350 engines replaced by the R-4360- a radial engine of 4,360 cubic inches of displacement. The other major piston powered tanker of the time, the KC-97, used the wings and powerplant of the B-50 with a new, much larger fuselage to form the C-97 transport, which was further modified to the KC-97 tanker. The KC-97L would actually continue to serve for a long, long time, with the last one retired from the Texas Air National Guard in 1978.
There is a saying among historians that the best place to find a new idea is in an old book. Time and again over the years, I have cracked open long-forgotten volumes to find gems of timeless and timely wisdom, astute commentary, and unimpeachable good sense. Contained on those yellowed pages are answers to problems and challenges not at all different from contemporary times, and appreciations of conditions and factors that are surprising for their sophistication and insight.
In the March 1921 edition of The Marine Corps Gazette, then-Major Earl H. “Pete” Ellis penned an article entitled “Bush Brigades”, which dealt with the deployment of US Marine forces into areas in the Western Hemisphere in which instability and violence threatened US interests and the safety of the native populace. These interventions, known collectively as the “Banana Wars”, were the basis for the seminal 1940 Small Wars Manual. Interestingly, nearly two decades before SWM was published, Major Ellis struck upon a number of maxims that fairly leap off the page, and would have been excellent counsel for US commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the minimum, Ellis’s words would have permitted today’s Officers and NCOs (and politicians!) to understand that the challenges and issues faced in the decade-long counter-insurgency fights were not new or unprecedented, but rather something with which US military thinkers had had to wrestle and solve for a significant portion of the previous century. And in those words and the words of others might have been lessons and cautions that aided in success on the battlefield and in the newspapers.
The mercurial Major Ellis expounded upon a number of topics from large to small, that military thinkers would find highly relevant today. I will attempt to do justice to the more salient of those topics below:
a) A somewhat disorganized attempt to prevent landings.
b) More or less resistance in cities followed by a race to the jungle.
c) The organization and operation of armed bands, at first risking open battle and finally waging guerilla warfare.
d) The operation of outlaw bands (bandits, ladrones, cacos) who murder members of the forces of occupation and their own people indiscriminately.
In general, enemy operations will be those of irregular forces or guerilla bands with the usual series of surprise raids, ambushes, and assassinations. The enemy will have moral support from most of his own people, material support from many, and will operate in their midst.
Replace “landings” in a) with “invasion”, and “jungle” in b) with “desert”, and you have a pretty accurate description of the course of things in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Marines are down in Jungleland!- and killed a man in a war!
And the oft-forgotten fact that
…the Marines are only doing their job as ordered by the people of the United States.
…it must be emphatically stated that a flying column should never be sent into the bush unless amply provided with CASH. With it can be purchased knowledge of the terrain and movement of the enemy, and food. It is safe to say that at least 50 percent of the so-called harsh measures used in bush warfare could be eliminated by providing troops with adequate information money.
The site of the post should have, if possible, the following characteristics:
a) Be capable of defense by a small detachment.
b) Be of sufficient extent to permit the bivouac of … one hundred men, with mounted detachment.
c) Permit control of any town in the vicinity and all approaches, especially roads and ravines.
d) Have sufficient elevation to generally observe the surrounding country.
e) Permit control of a landing field for aeroplanes.
The main requirement for a fortified post, garrisoned as it will be by only a few men, is that it cannot be rushed.
The above would have been a helpful guide to the Officers who decided to emplace COP
Kahler Keating in Wanat.
To enforce one’s will upon an enemy of the nature depicted without subjecting one’s self to undue criticism is one of the most difficult tasks that can confront a soldier. The “Rules of Land Warfare” lay down certain rules which are to be followed, subject to military necessity during hostilities between regular forces of civilized nations. The “Rules of Land Warfare” for the guidance of regular forces engaged in hostilities with irregular or guerilla forces have never been written; and it is doubtful if they ever will be written…
It is the final phase which is difficult because, owing to the policy pursued, the following conditions will prevail to a greater or lesser extent:
a) Bands of murderers and other criminals base in thick, difficult country, and prey indiscriminately on the peaceful people in the production areas.
b) These bandits have no property other than that which they carry with them or keep in hiding.
c) Many bandits, having been captured and turned over to proper authority, have been permitted to escape and have rejoined their bands.
d) The inhabitants of localities frequented by bandits keep them informed of the movement of the force of occupation
e) The forces of occupation are at a minimum.
Major Ellis’ article was never officially published by the Marine Corps (the Gazette is as then an MCA publication), but nonetheless provides context and narrative which our current generation of Officers and NCOs would find startlingly familiar a century hence. As it would be to Napoleon’s veterans of the Peninsula War a century previous.
Most famous for his prescient divination of the character and requirements of the Pacific War yet to come, Ellis was no stranger to the counterinsurgency efforts of the Marine Corps in the early 20th Century, nor was he unversed in conventional war. He had been plucked from Quantico by General Lejeune and was a key planner for the successful Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France in 1918. Ponder.
*** Milblog writer/reader/commentor “Moe DeLaun” was most gracious in his gift to me of the March 1921 Marine Corps Gazette (along with a wonderful collection of Kipling by Somerset Maugham and the DVD of The Man Who Would Be King!) There is much more in that March of 1921 edition that I will be sharing and commenting on over the next several months, including articles on Russia, American Marines in Nicaragua, and the Aisne-Marne Offensive of the late war. THANKS MOE!
NBC News reports that two Russian bombers were intercepted in international airspace near the island of Guam. The incident happened Tuesday, during the President’s State of the Union address.
U.S. long-range radars and satellites tracked the two bombers as they took off from northeastern Russia and headed south on a long-range flight that required “multiple refueling.” Japan also scrambled fighter jets as the bombers passed near but did not enter Japanese airspace.
One should be concerned with Russia’s recently-rediscovered global reach. Not overly so, as yet. But we have for too long dismissed Putin’s stated intentions, assuming that the means and will to begin to achieve them didn’t exist. That is unwise in the extreme with a man like Putin, and a Russia whose sense of its place in Europe and in world affairs has been reawakened under him.
U.S. military officials say “it’s highly unusual but not unprecedented” that Russian bombers would fly training missions in the vicinity of Guam. According to one official, “It wasn’t provocative but it certainly got our attention.” U.S. long-range B-52 bombers, also capable of carrying nuclear weapons, are based at Guam.
Damned sure should have “got our attention”. The naive and foolhardy push to unilaterally reduce the US nuclear stockpile should be viewed in light of a resurgent Russia and increasingly hostile China. And not like it would at some protest on the steps of the student union. They are damned sure testing us, and will do so increasingly as our capabilities are reduced by our self-inflicted dismantling.
How’s that “reset button” working for ya, Hillary?
Interesting pic stolen from Theo Spark. Two F-15E “Beagles” from Alaska launching simultaneously. Now, that’s not too uncommon. What’s interesting is what they’re shooting. Rather than the AIM-120 AMRAAM, both missiles are the older, semi-active radar homing AIM-7. “Fox One” is the brevity code for a radar guided missile launch, announced when the shot is taken.
I guess you gotta burn through the stocks eventually.
I’m curious how old the picture is. The Beagle entered service in the late 80s, and the AMRAAM entered service just after Desert Storm. I guess this could be a fairly old pic. Or fairly new. Who knows?
Lots of bombs, in fact.
Because of its prominence in Strategic Air Command and it’s Cold War nuclear deterrence role, people sometimes forget the B-36 Peacemaker was originally designed as a conventional bomber.
I can honestly say, this is the first video I’ve come across of one conventionally armed.
I’ll leave it to SteelJaw to tell the story of the birth of Airborne Early Warning, but I did want to touch on one of the key components of his history of Project Cadillac.
Right from the beginning, the folks at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, in conjunction with Hazeltine, came up with the radar they wanted for airborne early warning, the AN/APS-20. The challenge they faced was more a matter of integrating the radar not with the airplane, but with the fleet.
The radar itself turned out to be remarkably long lived.
Picture stolen from SteelJaw. AN/APS-20 installation on AD-3W.
While it took a highly trained operator to get the most out of the APS-20, it was reliable, and not only worked reasonably well in the AEW role, it was also, when used at low altitudes, a very capable surface search radar.
And because it worked so well, it was fitted to a very wide variety of aircraft. Just off the top of my head:
1. TBM-3W Avenger
2. PB-1W Flying Fortress (Navy version of the B-17)
3. AD-3W, AD-4W, and AD-5W Skyraiders
4. Modified B-29s (oddly, the three modified Air Force B-29s seem to not have had a special variant designation)
5. Grumman AF-2W Guardian (one half of the Guardian Hunter/Killer team, the other half being the AF-2S)
6. WV-2/EC-121 Warning Star (modified Lockheed Constellations)
7. P-2 Neptune family of maritime patrol aircraft
8. HR2S-1W (CH-37 series helicopter modified- two built for testing)
9. ZP-2W Blimps
10. Canadian CP-104 Argus maritime patrol plane
11. Fairey Gannet AEW.3 (modified ASW plane to replace Royal Navy AD-4Ws- they simply pulled the radar sets from the old AD’s, and installed them in new airframes)
When the Royal Navy retired their big deck carriers in 1978, they also retired their Fairey Gannets. But Great Britain still had a desperate need for AEW. The RAF’s project to build their own AEW system was something of a disaster. As an interim solution, they pulled the APS-20 radars from the Royal Navy’s Gannets, and installed them in obsolete Shackelton maritime patrol planes. Up until 1991 the Royal Air Force flew a piston engine powered evolution of the Avro Lancaster equipped with the same radar that had first flow during World War II. As front line equipment.
Not bad for a radar developed as a crash program during wartime.
Designed to operate from austere, short runways ashore, the OV-10 was actually quite capable of operating at sea from carriers, without using traditional catapults or arresting gear. It was never operationally deployed this way, but the testing did take place.
Later, OV-10s would also conduct suitability trials aboard big deck amphibious ships. Again, it was never deployed, but it was an option.
There are many superbly written and gripping accounts of the disastrous August 1942 engagement known as the Battle of Savo Island. Works that explore the decisions and failures of Allied naval commanders, and sequences of events that led to the annihilation of three US heavy cruisers (and one Australian) in the narrow waters near Guadalcanal. James Hornfischer’s masterpiece Neptune’s Inferno is among the most recent.
However, the document that provides among the most compelling commentary is the Battle Damage Report, filed 13 months after the action, which describes in heartbreaking detail what took place aboard the three doomed vessels. It bears reading and absorbing in its entirety, as it tells both a cautionary tale and one of an incredibly adaptable “learning organization”, to use modern jargon. The report outlines events, without flowery language or hyperbole, but in the solemn professional language of the post-mortem of a catastrophe suffered at the hands of a skillful and determined enemy at a time when control of the Pacific hung in the balance.
Much of the report summarizes the frightful carnage each ship suffered, piecing together eyewitness accounts from ships’ crews who witnessed events on their own ships and on others in the ill-fated Allied cruiser column. Para. 52 tells the tragic tale of Quincy (CA-39):
Events aboard Astoria (CA-34), which had returned the ashes of Japanese Ambassador Saito to Japan just 28 months earlier (commanded by Captain Richmond Kelly Turner), were just as dreadful:
Interesting in the report is Part E, which is Notes and Recommendations by Commanding Officers, and how quickly the wartime Navy took them to heart, and acted upon them. One can only hope we would be so nimble in the present day.
There are twenty-six pages to the Savo Island Damage Report. Every one is worth the read. It was the tragic beginning of the finest hour of the US Navy, and is the unvarnished story behind the stories.