Mechanic ‘Accidentally’ Fires Vulcan Cannon & Obliterates F-16 Sitting on the Runway
The F-16, hit by the cannon fire, caught fire and exploded having recently been refuelled and made ready for a training sortie due to take place later that day. Another aircraft received minor damage.
If anyone ever needed a reminder of the lethal dangers of working with live munitions, then a recent incident at Florennes Air Base in Belgium is the ultimate wake-up call.
It is thought a maintenance worker accidentally activated the six-barrel 20mm Vulcan M61A-1 cannon hitting another plane parked on the runway.
“You can’t help thinking of what a disaster this could have been,” he said. The area was secured and checked to ensure there was no further discharge of toxic substances.
They have pics of the smoking ruins, and they’re…gruesome. Naturally, the BAF brass SPRANG into action right away:
The Belgian Air Force was reluctant to discuss the cause of the incident until the full investigation had been completed but were quick to condemn Belgian newspaper De Standaard for an article for unfairly lampooning the Air Force for destroying one of its own aircraft.
“Unfairly”? A little history, which is always of interest to a geek like moi.
Two fighter squadrons, 1 Squadron, formed in 1917, and 350 Squadron formed in 1942 in Britain during World War Two, are based at Florennes.
The base was used by the German Luftwaffe during WWII up until its capture by the Allies in September 1944. Ju88, Bf110 night-fighters and Focke-Wulf Fw190 day-fighters were based at the airfield.
Following capture the Allies based the USAAF 430th Fighter Squadron here flying ground attack missions with P38 Lockheed Lightnings. At night the Americans flew Northrop P-61 Black Widows with the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron.
My fellow military-aviation buffs will be quite familiar with the hallowed P38, whose proud escutcheon is currently being disgraced by the F35 Lightning II. Amusingly, the less well-known Black Widow looks quite similar:
The F-16, Fighting Falcon was developed by General Dynamics for the US Air Force as a superiority day-fighter and proved to be a versatile all-weather aircraft.
It’s also proved to be capable of kicking the crap out of the F35 in a dogfight—a bit of an unfair comparison, maybe, since avoiding a dogfight altogether is kinda the whole point behind the F35’s overall design.
Via MisHum, who quips: “We’ve all had bad days at work, amirite? I don’t think your day was ever quite this bad.” God, I should hope not.
I’m totally with ya on the P-38. One of my two favorite aircraft of WW II, the other being the F-4U Corsair.
Also with ya on that abomination F-35. We never should have spent a dime on that piece of shit. Should have gone with the F-22 instead.
I used to work for a guy that had been hit by a Gatling gun: he was a USAF crew chief and it fell out of the fighter and landed on him. Luckily, a large tool case deflected most of the impact and only one hip, 6 ribs and an arm were broken.
Enjoyed your pix of the P-61. My dad, after joining the Army’s Signal Corps (he did a quick ROTC at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, was working on his electrical engineering BS) returned to the states from England after setting up their coastal defense radars against the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s V1 and V2 rockets. Once back here, he was sent down to Orlando FL’s AAF aircraft systems development base and led the team that developed the P-61’s radar. As you know, the P-61 was our nation’s first night fighter and went on to significantly affect positive outcomes conducting night ops in both the European and Pacific theaters. Loved to hear his stories of test flights around central FL jumping other AAF fighters. The Black Widow was a hot rod and always was victorious over the surprised pilots in the other aircraft. BTW, his pilot in FL was often Col. Norm Appold, who went on to fame as one of the element leaders in the extremely dangerous mass daylight low-altitude B-24 Liberator raid on the Nazi oil refinery complex at Ploesti Romania. Dad went on to earn a PhD in nuclear physics from Harvard and MIT and yet, sadly, died from Alzheimer’s a few years back. I miss him still everyday and will always consider him my hero….
As well you should, Steve. As do I, actually. He sounds like a real American character, of a stripe they just ain’t making any more, alas for us all.
Thanks for the kind words re. Dad, we obviously see eye-to-eye on these things. Please allow me the honor to pass on just one more great story from him. On his way over to England, aboard a converted cruise liner re-purposed for troop carriage, him and some of his buds built and used a sextant to determine the ship’s position. Of course, due to German U-boats prowling the Atlantic looking for just these types of targets, any info whatsoever related to position and course was strictly top-secret. So after determining the ship’s position, just for fun, they got hold of one of the ship’s officers and rather accurately informed him of the ship’s position. He and his buds were immediately taken to the captain and asked how they knew this info. After realizing the serious trouble they were in, Dad explained to the captain their experiment with celestial nav. Cooler heads prevailed, but Dad and his buds were made to immediately toss their homemade sextant overboard and were told that if they ever pulled such a stunt again, they’d spend the remainder of the trip in the makeshift brig and ultimately be turning big rocks into little ones back at Leavenworth in the states. Please keep up the great work with Cold Fury.
HA! GREAT story, Steve. A most excellent example of the kind of good old American ingenuity and dauntless can-do attitude we seem to have lost along the way somehow. Your dad definitely sounds like one hell of a guy, the kind none of us can ever know too many of.