Tag Archives: planes

Night Stalkers!

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was formed initially as Task Force 160, as a result of the debacle at Desert One during Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue Americans held hostage by Iran. The failure of helicopters in that raid convinced the Army, and more importantly, Special Forces, that they needed an aviation unit dedicated to the support of special operations.  With their modified versions of the Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters, as well as the MH-6 and AH-6 Little Birds, the 160th SOAR provides special operations units the ability to deliver forces at long range at night or in bad weather. The Night Stalkers are probably best known to the public for their losses in the Battle of Mogadishu, made famous in the movie Black Hawk Down.

In addition to providing transport, the 160th provides fire support on the ground with AH-6 Little Birds, and with a modified MH-60L know as the Direct Action Penetrator, or DAP. Armed with forward firing miniguns, 30mm cannon, and 70mm rocket pods, it can unleash a hail of fire to support ground forces.

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Fox 2!

“Fox 2” is the radio brevity code for the launch of an infrared homing missile… like the AIM-9 Sidewinder.

And the fine folks at Detail&Scale just reminded me that today is the anniversary of the first successful launch of the Sidewinder. Clear back in 1952, the Navy was well on its way to developing a missile that is still in production and use today.

From this:

Photo: Knox posts: for reasons known only to the FB Genie, it didn't post the referenced picture so here it is again....


To this:


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Budapest Airshow 2014

As Tailspin Tommy notes, the Hungarian version of the FAA has a different take on what’s acceptable for an airshow in a downtown area.

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Airbus A400M Atlas

Personally, I’d prefer if our European allies simply bought C-17s and C-130Js from us, but I’ll settle for them producing their own transport aircraft. At least they’re putting money toward some capability.

The Airbus A400M is a turboprop powered transport roughly between the C-17 and the C-130 in size. It’s also a fairly sprightly bird when lightly loaded.

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Dash 80 First Flight- 60 Years Ago Today

Not the first commercial jet transport, but certainly a game changer. The Boeing Model 367-80, commonly referred to as the Dash 80, was the prototype for what became the Boeing 707, 720, and C-135 families of aircraft. Even today, the descendants of the Dash 80 serve throughout the world.


Model 367-80, The Dash 80

And yes, Tex Johnson really did barrel roll the Dash 80 over Lake Washington.

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When’s the last time you saw an actual P-51D firing actual .50cal machine guns? Well, here’s your chance. Parrothead Jeff sent this along.


You’ll notice not a lot of rounds were actually hitting the target. The best aerial marksmen in the world won’t do well if the guns aren’t “harmonized.” You’d expect the guns in the wing of a fighter to point straight ahead. But in fact, you want them to point inward ever so slightly. Ideally, the stream of fire from all six guns would converge at a point 250 to 300 yards ahead of the fighter. That was typically considered the maximum range a pilot could effectively shoot in aerial combat in World War II. And of course, the idea was to have the greatest possible weight of fire hitting the enemy at once.

The mounts in the wing of fighters allowed both for the guns to be securely and firmly mounted, while also allowing the direction of the gun to be dialed in. The process was straightforward, if rather time consuming. The plane would be placed on the range with the tail elevated as shown, at the distance desired, let’s say 250 yards from the target. Then one by one, each gun would be fired for a very short burst, with the armorers noting the point of impact, then adjusting the guns until they were on target, center mass. After all six guns were adjusted, a final burst would confirm the guns were harmonized.

Each plane had small differences in tolerances, so each plane had to be individually adjusted. However, once the actual adjustments were known (say, for instance, gun #1 needs 4 clicks up and 7 right to be on target) each time the guns were removed for cleaning and reinstalled, the same clicks could be applied. An occasional confirmation firing would suffice to ensure the guns were still harmonized.

Note also that while the Browning .50cal is externally quite similar to the gun used by ground forces, it’s been designed to have a significantly higher rate of fire, about 750rpm, versus 500-550 for the ground version.

Even today, the guns of fighters have to be fired on an actual range to ensure they’re pointed where the pilot thinks they are.


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Bronco Monday

A pair of OV-10G+ Broncos in Black Pony markings stopped by this weekend to visit the Fort Worth Air Museum for the museum’s Founders Day.


Now, the Navy’s been pretty quiet about just what they’re currently doing with the Broncos, but you may have noticed that the pilots were wearing expeditionary camouflage uniforms, rather than the more conventional flight suit.

Not sayin’… just sayin’…

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