Powerful moment, powerful story

One to make even the coldest, most unempathetic heart go pit-a-pat.

WWII RAF veteran reunited with Battle of Britain aircraft
A WWII RAF veteran had the chance to fly alongside the aircraft he helped maintain during the heroic Battle of Britain in 1940.

Jeff Brereton, who celebrated this 102nd birthday earlier this year, took to the air in BE505, the world’s only two seat Hurricane, with R4118, the only remaining airworthy Mk 1 Hurricane to have taken part in the Battle of Britain, and the aircraft Jeff worked on, flying alongside.

Jeff, who lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, said: “I have great memories of the plane. Of all the aircraft I dealt with, that was the one that stuck in my mind. It was unbelievable to be able to see that aircraft again, that it had survived.”

Jeff’s amazing story first come to light when he gave an interview with Air Mail, the RAF Association’s member magazine. The team realised that the Hurricane Jeff worked on had not only been restored but was still flying.

The Association immediately got in touch with James Brown, the current owner of the R4118 Hurricane. James runs Hurricane Heritage, an organisation based at the historic White Waltham Airfield where visitors can experience flying in and alongside these iconic aircraft.

James arranged for Jeff to come to the airfield with his family and jump in the cockpit and take to the skies.

James said: “The story is just an unbelievable coincidence and it’s so incredibly lucky to have found Jeff. I just couldn’t believe that there was this amazing guy who was still around and actually remembers working on our Hurricane.”

Is there video, you ask? Why yes, there is, and it’s three and a half minutes of good, good stuff. The last minute or so especially, when the in-flight footage of those two beautiful old Hurries tooling along in close right echelon kicks in.

During the in-flight sequence of the vid, after his unique check-ride, Brereton says:

The main signal he gave me…he said if you’ve had enough put your thumbs down, and I’ll get you down to the ground as quickly and safely as we can. But I didn’t want to, I was putting them up, I want to go up. And it was that feeling, that sort of feeling that…you can’t have that feeling on earth. You see the same clouds and things, but they don’t look the same, they’re not the same, they don’t feel the same. Just wonderful, I can’t wait to go again. I can’t.

Well said, sir. You just put into words the sensation that makes the miracle of powered flight in a piston-engine aircraft so incredibly addictive. I can’t imagine there’s an aviator alive who didn’t smile and nod his head knowingly in complete agreement with everything you just said. God bless you, Jeff.

Further details of Jeff Brereton’s RAF days perusable here.

(Via Bayou Peter)


A gripping Gripen story

Told in a context I still don’t give three whoops in Hell about.

Everything You Need to Know About the Gripen, Sweden’s Dark Horse Jet That Could Help Ukraine
Ukraine’s antiquated air force might soon receive fighter jets from an unlikely source: Sweden.

Sweden, NATO’s newest member, is looking into transferring some of its home-built Gripen fighters as part of an effort to expand the capabilities of Ukraine’s military. The lesser-known jet is one of the few built in Europe and outside NATO, and is designed to defend the country single-handedly from enemy attack.

Like I said: don’t care. UkraineUkraineUKRAAAIIIIINNNNE!!! bushwa aside, let’s talk about the Saab Gripen itself, shall we?

Named after the mythological griffin, the Gripen is the latest in a long line of Swedish designed and built fighters. As a neutral country, Sweden has traditionally avoided buying many major weapons systems from the United States, NATO, and the old Soviet bloc. This has necessitated building its own fighters, which also means opportunities to export those fighters abroad.

Gripen is a single-seat, single-engine fighter jet optimized expressly for Sweden. It has a slender profile, delta-shaped wings, and large canards just below the cockpit. The older Gripen C, which is the model most likely to go to Ukraine, uses the Volvo RM12 afterburning turbofan engine, reducing dependence on foreign suppliers.

Overall the Gripen is very similar to an American F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter. Both are 49 feet long, have the same 500-mile combat radius, same Mach 2 top speed, and same 50,000-foot service ceiling. In terms of performance, the Gripen is like an F-16 with a slightly lighter weapons load.

One major advantage for the Gripen is that it is cheap to fly. A Gripen C jet costs an average of $9,922 an hour to fly (adjusted for inflation), which is far cheaper than other western jets. The F-16C, by comparison, costs $26,927 an hour, while the F-35 costs $41,986 an hour.

While this might seem like an inconsequential number compared to a plane’s unit cost, it adds up, and over decades the cost per flight-hour can far exceed the cost of the plane itself. Over 8,000 hours of flight—the estimated life cycle of both planes—a Gripen will cost an additional $79.2 million, while the F-35 will cost a staggering $335 million. This is a major consideration for countries with smaller budgets like Ukraine.

Yep, the relatively-small (only 17 feet longer than the venerable P51 Mustang) Gripen is definitely a badass jet, with the added advantage of being a real looker as well:


See what I mean? Makes the Turducken look like the sickly, overpriced boondoggle it is, far as I’m concerned.


Hey, did somebody misplace a Turducken?

It would seem so, yeah.

Search for missing F-35 Lightning II fighter jet continues after pilot ejects during ‘mishap’
U.S. military officials are searching for a missing F-35 jet after a “mishap” caused its pilot to eject on Sunday afternoon.

Joint Base Charleston said on Facebook that the aircraft was a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II belonging to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The pilot ejected safely and was transported to a local medical center.

The base is working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to help locate the missing aircraft. Emergency response teams have been deployed to find the jet.

“Based on the jet’s last-known position and in coordination with the FAA, we are focusing our attention north of JB Charleston, around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion,” Joint Base Charleston said in a statement on Facebook.

Anyone with information about the jet’s whereabouts is urged to contact JB Charleston Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.

That strange sound you hear is hilarity, ensuing. For his part, BCE has a question.

Let me get this straight…
An 80 million dollar aircraft
Known as the “Flying Turducken” or “The Turd”
80 fucking million dollars, and they don’t even have the fucking thing LoJacked!?!
My car is fucking LoJacked FFS.

Not only that, but as I recollect, commercial airliners; boats/ships of a certain size both civilian and military; tractor-trailer rigs; and even most cars nowadays are all equipped with some sort of locator-beacon/tracking device or another. Have been for years, in fact. Yet somehow, a fully-tricked-out, state of the art, next-generation air-superiority fighter—supposedly the very best Amerika v2.0 can design, build, and deploy, the very tippy-top of the top of the line—ISN’T?

Naah, not sketchy AT. ALL. Now look, everybody, over there: SQUIRREL!!!


Moar purty zoom-zooms!

Another trip down one of the best Innarnuts rabbit-holes there is, and one of the hardest to extricate oneself from: early jet fighters and/or fighter-bombers. Consider it a knock-on effect of yesterday’s Eyrie post, maybe.

I started off my day browsing through some of the other good ol’ 50s and 60s vintage aircraft, like the Convair Delta Dart and Delta Dagger, the F101 Voodoo, and another McDonnell product you just might have heard about already: one of the most fantastically successful military aircraft ever produced by this or any nation, the McDonnell F4 Phantom II.

The main impetus for this post would be Convair’s F106A Delta Dart, upon which hangs a wild and crazy tale.

The F-106 all-weather interceptor was developed from the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. Originally designated F-102B, it was redesignated F-106 because it had extensive structural changes and a more powerful engine. The first F-106A flew on December 26, 1956, and deliveries to the Air Force began in July 1959. Production ended in late 1960 after 277 F-106As and 63 F-106Bs had been built. The F-106 used a Hughes MA-1 electronic guidance and fire control system. After takeoff, the MA-1 can be given control of the aircraft to fly it to the proper altitude and attack position. Then it can fire the Genie and Falcon missiles, break off the attack run and return the aircraft to the vicinity of its base. The pilot takes control again for the landing.

The aircraft on display was involved in an unusual incident. During a training mission from Malmstrom Air Force Base on Feb. 2, 1970, it suddenly entered an uncontrollable flat spin forcing the pilot to eject. Unpiloted, the aircraft recovered on its own, apparently due to the balance and configuration changes caused by the ejection, and miraculously made a gentle belly landing in a snow-covered field near Big Sandy, Mont. After minor repairs, the aircraft was returned to service. It last served with the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron before being brought to the museum in August 1986.

Bizarre, no? Well, just check this out:

Like I said: crazy, man, crazy. As MAJ Foust notes, the “Cornfield Bomber” should really have been called the “Wheatfield Fighter,” just for accuracy’s sake. But hey, once a nick has been generated, it tends to stick like glue, and fairness or accuracy be damned. Knowing military pilots as I do, I think it entirely safe to assume that the amount of crap MAJ Foust caught in the ready room for the rest of his career would have been measurable in container-ship loads: “Hey, Foust, guess we know now where the real failure point was—that plane flew better with you OUT of it than IN it!”


Anyways, the above-mentioned McDonnell F101 Voodoo is yet another of my faves, one I also consider to be a good-looking aircraft. A few of the deets:

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo is a supersonic jet fighter designed and produced by the American McDonnell Aircraft Corporation.

Development of the F-101 commenced during the late 1940s as a long-range bomber escort (then known as a penetration fighter) for the United States Air Force’s (USAF) Strategic Air Command (SAC). It was also adapted as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber for the USAF’s Tactical Air Command (TAC), and as a photo reconnaissance aircraft based on the same airframe. On 29 September 1954, it performed its maiden flight. The F-101A set a number of world speed records for jet-powered aircraft, including fastest airspeed, attaining 1,207.6 miles (1,943.4 km) per hour on 12 December 1957.

Delays in the 1954 interceptor project led to demands for an interim interceptor aircraft design, a role that was eventually won by the F-101B Voodoo. This role required extensive modifications to add a large radar to the nose of the aircraft, a second crew member to operate it, and a new weapons bay using a rotating door that held its four AIM-4 Falcon missiles or two AIR-2 Genie rockets hidden within the airframe until it was time to be fired. The F-101B entered service with USAF Air Defense Command in 1959 and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1961. While the Voodoo was a moderate success, it may have been more important as an evolutionary step towards its replacement in most roles, the F-4 Phantom II, one of the most successful Western fighter designs of the 1950s; the Phantom would retain the twin engines, twin crew for interception duties, and a tail mounted well above and behind the jet exhaust, although it was an evolution of the F3H Demon while the Voodoo was developed from the earlier XF-88 Voodoo.

The Voodoo’s career as a fighter-bomber was relatively brief, but the reconnaissance versions served for some time. Along with the US Air Force’s Lockheed U-2 and US Navy’s Vought RF-8 Crusaders, the RF-101 reconnaissance variant of the Voodoo was instrumental during the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw extensive service during the Vietnam War. Interceptor versions served with the Air National Guard until 1982, and in Canadian service, they were a front line part of NORAD until their replacement with the CF-18 Hornet in the 1980s. The type was operated in the reconnaissance role until 1979. US examples were handed off to the USAF Air National Guard where they were operated until 1982. The RCAF Voodoos were in service until 1984.

Pretty? You tell me:


I‘d say she was pretty, yeah. Note some of the commonalities with the F4, which we’ll be delving into a bit more in just a sec, so hold yer dang horses, aiight? Low-mounted twin engines, tandem seating for two aircrew, tail section above and well aft of the exhaust, etc. Now for the justly-renowned F4 Phantom II.

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is an American tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft in history, and cementing its position as a signature combat aircraft of the Cold War.

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was initially designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record and an absolute altitude record.

The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. During the Vietnam War, one U.S. Air Force pilot, two weapon systems officers (WSOs), one U.S. Navy pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO) became aces by achieving five aerial kills against enemy fighter aircraft. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force, the F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the United States Air Force Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the United States Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms, acquired before the fall of the Shah, in the Iran–Iraq War. As of 2021, 63 years after its first flight, the F-4 remains in active service with the air forces of Iran, South Korea, Greece, and Turkey. The aircraft has most recently been in service against the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

Over its long and illustrious career, the Phantom II has proven to be one of the most capable, versatile, and deadly planes in ANY nation’s inventory, period. She was large and quite heavy for a fighter/interceptor, but her operators overcame those disadvantages quite handily. Fast? Oh, you betcher; like lightning, this old gal was fast.

World records
To show off their new fighter, the Navy led a series of record-breaking flights early in Phantom development: All in all, the Phantom set 16 world records. Five of the speed records remained unbeaten until the F-15 Eagle appeared in 1975.

  • Operation Top Flight: On 6 December 1959, the second XF4H-1 performed a zoom climb to a world record 98,557 ft (30,040 m). Commander Lawrence E. Flint Jr., USN accelerated his aircraft to Mach 2.5 (2,660 km/h; 1,650 mph) at 47,000 ft (14,330 m) and climbed to 90,000 ft (27,430 m) at a 45° angle. He then shut down the engines and glided to the peak altitude. As the aircraft fell through 70,000 ft (21,300 m), Flint restarted the engines and resumed normal flight.
  • On 5 September 1960, an F4H-1 averaged 1,216.78 mph (1,958.16 km/h) over a 500 km (311 mi) closed-circuit course.
  • On 25 September 1960, an F4H-1F averaged 1,390.24 mph (2,237.37 km/h) over a 100 km (62.1 mi) closed-circuit course. FAIRecord File Number 8898.
  • Operation LANA: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation (L is the Roman numeral for 50 and ANA stood for Anniversary of Naval Aviation) on 24 May 1961, Phantoms flew across the continental United States in under three hours and included several tanker refuelings. The fastest of the aircraft averaged 869.74 mph (1,400.28 km/h) and completed the trip in 2 hours 47 minutes, earning the pilot (and future NASA Astronaut), Lieutenant Richard Gordon, USN and RIO, Lieutenant Bobbie Young, USN, the 1961 Bendix trophy.
  • Operation Sageburner: On 28 August 1961, a F4H-1F Phantom II averaged 1,452.777 kilometers per hour (902.714 miles per hour) over a 3 mi (4.82 km) course flying below 125 feet (38.1 m) at all times. Commander J.L. Felsman, USN was killed during the first attempt at this record on 18 May 1961 when his aircraft disintegrated in the air after pitch damper failure.
  • Operation Skyburner: On 22 November 1961, a modified Phantom with water injection, piloted by Lt. Col. Robert B. Robinson, set an absolute world record average speed over a 20-mile (32.2 km) long 2-way straight course of 1,606.342 mph (2,585.086 km/h).
  • On 5 December 1961, another Phantom set a sustained altitude record of 66,443.8 feet (20,252 m).
  • Project High Jump: A series of time-to-altitude records was set in early 1962: 34.523 seconds to 3,000 m (9,840 ft), 48.787 seconds to 6,000 m (19,700 ft), 61.629 seconds to 9,000 m (29,500 ft), 77.156 seconds to 12,000 m (39,400 ft), 114.548 seconds to 15,000 m (49,200 ft), 178.5 s to 20,000 m (65,600 ft), 230.44 s to 25,000 m (82,000 ft), and 371.43 s to 30,000 m (98,400 ft). All High Jump records were set by F4H-1 production number 108 (Bureau Number 148423). Two of the records were set by future distinguished NASA astronaut LCdr John Young.

On the bathroom wall at the H-D shop I used to wrench at, my old boss had a framed photo from his days as a Gyrine jet mechanic: him back-seating a check-flight on an F4—a reward from his superiors for being named USMC Mechanic Of The Year a cpl years running. The canopy is up as the aircraft taxis back over to the hangar area, after doing a high-speed pass at extremely low altitude over the base runway.

In the photo—shot by a fellow Marine from ground-level-right of the aircraft as it rolled smoothly by—Goose’s flight helmet is still on, strap undone and hanging loose, as he flashes two thumbs waaaay up. The woozy grin smeared all over his face is as wide and beatific as one would expect to see on someone who had just been personally introduced to Einstein, Beethoven, Chuck Yeager, and Jesus Christ Himself, all at the same party.

Now, here’s another vidya I ran across, of a matched set of MiG 29s taking fullest possible advantage of the vectored-thrust concept.

The real action starts at around 1:35 in, with the two MiGs standing on their tails only a few feet above the tarmac as if they’d been hung on a string from the ceiling of some kid’s bedroom. Guess we know now where at least some of that super-duper-top-secret UFO tech might’ve ended up.


The neverending story

Ever ask yourself why I long ago established a “The more things change…” post category here? The story of the Lockheed P38 Lightning, from which the ill-starred F35 Turducken misappropriated its own name, is supremely instructive.

Range extension
The strategic bombing proponents within the USAAF, nicknamed the Bomber Mafia by their ideological opponents, had established in the early 1930s a policy against research to create long-range fighters, which they thought would not be practical; this kind of research was not to compete for bomber resources. Aircraft manufacturers understood that they would not be rewarded if they installed subsystems on their fighters to enable them to carry drop tanks to provide more fuel for extended range. Lieutenant Kelsey (First LT Benjamin S Kelsey, godfather to three of the planes that won the war: the P39 Airacobra, the P38, and the P51 MustangM), acting against this policy, risked his career in late 1941 when he convinced Lockheed to incorporate such subsystems in the P-38E model, without putting his request in writing. It is possible that Kelsey was responding to Colonel George William Goddard’s observation that the US sorely needed a high-speed, long-range photo reconnaissance plane. Along with a change order specifying some P-38Es be produced with guns replaced by photoreconnaissance cameras, to be designated the F-4-1-LO, Lockheed began working out the problems of drop-tank design and incorporation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, eventually about 100 P-38Es were sent to a modification center near Dallas, Texas, or to the new Lockheed assembly plant B-6 (today the Burbank Airport), to be fitted with four K-17 aerial photography cameras. All of these aircraft were also modified to be able to carry drop tanks. P-38Fs were modified, as well. Every Lightning from the P-38G onward was capable of being fitted with drop tanks straight off the assembly line.

In March 1942, General Arnold made an off-hand comment that the US could avoid the German U-boat menace by flying fighters to the UK rather than packing them onto ships. President Roosevelt pressed the point, emphasizing his interest in the solution. Arnold was likely aware of the flying radius extension work being done on the P-38, which by this time had seen success with small drop tanks in the range of 150 to 165 US gal (570 to 620 L), the difference in capacity being the result of subcontractor production variation. Arnold ordered further tests with larger drop tanks in the range of 300 to 310 US gal (1,100 to 1,200 L); the results were reported by Kelsey as providing the P-38 with a 2,500-mile (4,000 km) ferrying range. Because of available supply, the smaller drop tanks were used to fly Lightnings to the UK, the plan called Operation Bolero.

Led by two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, the first seven P-38s, each carrying two small drop tanks, left Presque Isle Army Air Field in Maine on 23 June 1942 for RAF Heathfield in Scotland. Their first refueling stop was made in far northeast Canada at Goose Bay. The second stop was a rough airstrip in Greenland called Bluie West One, and the third refueling stop was in Iceland at Keflavik. Other P-38s followed this route with some lost in mishaps, usually due to poor weather, low visibility, radio difficulties, and navigational errors. Nearly 200 of the P-38Fs (and a few modified Es) were successfully flown across the Atlantic in July–August 1942, making the P-38 the first USAAF fighter to reach Britain and the first fighter ever to be delivered across the Atlantic under its own power. Kelsey himself piloted one of the Lightnings, landing in Scotland on 25 July.

The US insistence on a strategic campign of “daylight precision bombing” of targets in Germany turned out to be a misnomer if ever there was one, with an abysmally low percentage of targets destroyed (or even hit at all) compounded by a horrendous loss of 8th AF B17s and B24s, along with their near-irreplaceable aircrews. Meanwhile, as the Bomber Mafia generals nattered, griped, and maneuvered to protect their turf at the expense of…well, pretty much everything else, the practical utility of an extended-range P38 was being established over the Pacific by a little something called Operation Vengeance.

Operation Vengeance was the American military operation to kill Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy on April 18, 1943, during the Solomon Islands campaign in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Yamamoto, commander of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was killed on Bougainville Island when his transport aircraft was shot down by United States Army Air Forces fighter aircraft operating from Kukum Field on Guadalcanal.

The mission of the U.S. aircraft was specifically to kill Yamamoto, and was made possible because of United States Navy intelligence decoding transmissions about Yamamoto’s travel itinerary through the Solomon Islands area. The death of Yamamoto reportedly damaged the morale of Japanese naval personnel, raised the morale of the Allied forces, and was intended as revenge by U.S. leaders, who blamed Yamamoto for the attack on Pearl Harbor that initiated the war between Imperial Japan and the United States.

The U.S. pilots claimed to have shot down three twin-engine bombers and two fighters during the mission, but Japanese records show only two bombers were shot down. There is a controversy over which pilot shot down Yamamoto’s plane, but most modern historians credit Rex T. Barber.

To avoid detection by radar and Japanese personnel stationed in the Solomon Islands along a straight-line distance of about 400 miles (640 km) between U.S. forces and Bougainville, the mission entailed an over-water flight south and west of the Solomons. This roundabout approach was plotted and measured to be about 600 miles (970 km). The fighters would, therefore, travel 600 miles out to the target and 400 miles back. The 1,000-mile flight, with extra fuel allotted for combat, was beyond the range of the F4F Wildcat and F4U Corsair fighters then available to Navy and Marine squadrons based on Guadalcanal. The mission was instead assigned to the 339th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, whose P-38G Lightning aircraft, equipped with drop tanks, were the only American fighters in the Pacific with the range to intercept, engage and return.

Bold mine, and entirely dispositive. The aforementioned controversy over credit for the Yamamoto kill arose primarily because COL Barber was flying the Miss Virginia, a G-model usually assigned to CPT Robert L Petit (eventually, Major General Petit) and borrowed for the Vengeance mission by Barber, likely due to mechanical issues with his own aircraft. There were other complications, several actually, but the confusion pretty much started with that.

See what I mean, though? Higher-Higher jealously safeguarding their own fiefdoms to the detriment of the overall war effort, eventually costing the taxpayers millions of dollars and the lives of experienced flight crews needlessly, only to have their position revealed at the end of the day as complete folly—naaah, that doesn’t ring familiar in the contemporary ear at ALL.

A few caveats definitely apply here, most prominent among them that said folly needn’t necessarily be attributed to nefarious purposes when the generalship could quite as well have merely been mistaken, which would certainly hold true for at least some of them. That stipulated, the fact remains: yes, we did win the war—not so much because of the American military leadership corps, but in spite of them. T’was ever thus, I’m afraid.

Update! For Barry: a pic of a Shark-Mouth logo’d P38 (in its F5 photo-recon incarnation), the Florida Gator.


In the contemporary argot, one could say that this P38 identifies as an F5; us oldsters might insist that it’s trying to pass as one, being bred-in-the-bone RAYCISS!™ as we all undoubtedly are. A little historical background on the Gator and its sad demise can be found here.


Flying off into aviation history

After trying for decades to rid themselves of it—and, happily, failing miserably—the venerable, awesomely-capable A10 Thunderbolt II is finally getting shuffled off to Buffalo by the Chair Farce shitwits.

The A-10 Warthog Making One Final Flight — to the Boneyard
Beloved as much by the grunts on the ground as the pilots who flew it, the A-10 ground attack jet is being retired after five decades of very loud and effective service. Air Force enthusiasts everywhere are going to miss that ugly S.O.B.

The Air Force announced plans last week to replace two of the last remaining A-10 squadrons with more modern F-16s and F-35s. “This is all in line with the service’s goal of divesting the last A-10s before the end of the decade, if not sooner,” according to Yahoo News. Air Force brass have been trying to retire the hog for years but Congress has kept telling them no. This new announcement indicates that the A-10 will not keep flying until the 2040s, after all.

But what a jet, even if it did have a face not even a mother could love.

Hey, speak for yourself, Steve. I think they’re goddamned beautiful, myself.

Fairchild-Republic stepped up to meet the Air Force’s need, and the result was the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Neither sleek nor sexy, the Thunderbolt is usually called the Warthog or just the Hog. The whole jet was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary autocannon whose (airborne!) ammo magazine is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. It’s capable of firing depleted uranium shells that tear through the thickest armor like a hot knife moving at 3,324 feet per second through melted butter.

Because the A-10’s job is to get in close, the pilot sits in a “bathtub” made out of titanium. During the Gulf War — when the Warthog first really captured the public’s imagination — I saw one jet on CNN that returned from a mission missing almost a third of one wing and probably half of the other. (I’ve searched for years for that clip but to no avail.) A fully-loaded Hog can carry an additional eight tons of various missiles and bombs.

The Hog’s engines are mounted high and to the rear with a slight tilt up towards the front. That’s to avoid sucking in debris on damaged airfields. Those Fairchild engineers really did think of everything.

The first development version of the Warthog flew in 1972, and it entered service in 1977. More than 700 were built, but only a few dozen are still in service. Although built in numbers to counter Soviet armor, our much-reduced force of A-10s found plenty of jobs that only they could do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yup—which tends to be the way such things go, even in an age of overemphasis on flashy new technological gew-gaws and gimcracks: the older, sturdier, battle-tested platforms seem almost to be imbued with a will to live as powerful as any sentient being’s, and somehow always find a niche to fill. This next passage makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.

For what it’s worth, the Air Force has long argued that the F-35 Lightning II multirole stealth fighter is better prepared for ground attack in the 21st Century.

As a lifelong Warthog fan, it pains me to say this, but they’re probably right.

I wrote years and years ago at the original that “stealth is the price of admission to the modern battlespace.” Non-stealth jets simply don’t stand a chance against the latest generation of air defense systems. Hell, they barely stand a chance even against a slightly older one.

The war in Ukraine has proven me (and many others) correct on that score. Despite having a much larger and more modern air force than Ukraine, Russia has been unable to achieve air superiority — even in the early months of the war, long before Western antiaircraft systems began service with Ukraine. Russia has no combat stealth aircraft in service, so even their most advanced Su-34 attack jets have been mostly limited to lobbing inaccurate dumb bombs from safe distances, outside the reach of Kyiv’s air defenses.

In a war with China or Russia, the A-10 likely wouldn’t survive. If — and this is a big if — there’s still a role for manned ground-attack jets, it’s with stealthy planes like the F-35 that are hard to see, harder to kill, and can fire a variety of long-range stand-off weapons.

Yeah, no, not so much. In the first place, war with China or Russia is unlikely in the extreme. In the second, you’re (and the Chair Farce as well) making some highly unfounded assumptions about the one-size-fits-nothing F35 Turducken, which is so bug-ridden, fantastically expensive to build and maintain, and over-engineered it’s no better than fifty-fifty whether a full squadron could even manage to get off the ground in-theater.

As for the casual dismissal of manned combat aircraft, that’s another thing the desk-bound zoomies have been pimping for decades now with little to no success, for a very simple reason: there is no substitute for boots on the ground, swabbies on deck, eyes in the sky, and Marines storming ashore. All the adolescent onanism extolling futuristic, bloodless warfare waged exclusively via drones, combat mechs, and AI geekery controlled from extreme standoff range will never replace the human ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome on-scene, in the heat of the moment—especially in the kind of 5G brushfire conflict against some dimestore dictator in Shitholistan’s ragtag army of goatherds we’re much more likely to find ourselves engaging in going forward.

Stephen’s point about latest-generation air defenses is well-taken, certainly. But how many of those exorbitantly expensive cutting-edge systems are going to be finding their way into the hands of the kind of backasswards Third Worlders we’re likely to be squaring off against, really? Admittedly, I damned sure wouldn’t want to be caught with my ass in the breeze at the stick of an A10 and have some illiterate yahoo set off my threat-warning alarms by pointing one of those high-tech death spikes at me. But still. I don’t have any numbers on how many times such a thing has happened to some poor ‘Hog jock, so I won’t offer any guesstimates on the odds for or against, or what the frequency of such incidents might actually be.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, the days of massive armies marching in serried ranks to take up entrenched positions along a clearly-defined MLR, underneath a sky-full of overly delicate air-superiority aircraft, are over. At least for the foreseeable future, war will be grubbier, dirtier, closer-in, and more vicious than some tech weenie peering at a computer screen a thousand miles away can begin to imagine. Modern warfare has become more of a shoot-and-scoot proposition, fought by adversaries close enough to smell each other’s weeks-ripe BO before things go loud. Hyper-sensitive, persnickety gadgetry that can be rendered combat-ineffective by a fistful of dust in the avionics suite or sucked into an intake won’t be up to the job.

Maybe the A10 really is past it, I’m hardly qualified to say. But I bet there would still be plenty of occasions when some poor ground-pounder up to his eyeteeth in the real, the bad, and the scary would be mighty glad to hear one in the hands of an experienced, crafty pilot loitering overhead. To abandon a proven-effective tool in favor of the premature forced adoption of an apteryx like the Turducken is exactly the kind of fanciful wishful-thinking shitlibs have become notorious for.

A real leemer

LEEMER noun (FEAR, DREAD): Fighter-pilot slang for an unspecified quantity of ice-cold piss injected directly into the heart; describes the feeling a Naval carrier aviator might experience in reaction to, for example, a ramp strike, sudden in-flight engine failure (flameout), or a cold cat shot.

House damaged, person injured after aerobatic display collision

Two aircraft from the Swiss military aerobatic display team, Patrouille Suisse, collided on Thursday with falling debris hitting a house. One person on the ground was slightly injured in the accident.

The two F-5 Tiger planes were part of a formation practicing for a yodelling festival in canton Zug, central Switzerland.

The nose cone of one aircraft broke off and hit a house in the vicinity of the town of Baar, damaging the façade of the building and slightly injuring one person with shattered glass.

The braking parachute of the other aircraft deployed in mid-air but caused no damage and was later recovered.

All the seven aircraft involved in the practice session landed safely and no pilot was injured, according to the defence ministry.

Bayou Pete has video of the incident shot from ground-level, in which the midair and the loss of the nose cone from off the aircraft flying Number Three position can be easily, if not necessarily clearly, seen (older eyes may need to squint a little). Watching his miraculous recovery from a mishap which might very well have ended in real tragedy, all’s I can say is that Number Three’s pilot is one hell of a shit-hot stick—a truly badass fighter jock and one VERY cool customer to boot. For that, I salute you, sir.

The Northrop F5 Tiger, by the by, is a twin-engined supersonic air superiority/ground attack aircraft flown by the USAF and many of our ally nations beginning in the mid-60s, with 400 of them still in service as of 2021. They saw widespread use in the USAF, USMC, and USN during the Vietnam War, until changes in Air Force doctrine had them more or less dumped for larger, heavier aircraft such as the F4, the F100, and the F105 Thud. The Navy used them after the war at its renowned Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), mostly as either trainers or OPFOR adversary aircraft. They’re also widely seen in movies, albeit usually mislabeled as something else entirely for some bizarre reason—as everything from Phantoms to MiGs, which I always found hilarious.

The F5 is small, light, nimble, and more durable than one might expect at first glance, given those first two qualities. Although it was a pretty good aircraft, and any military pilot worth his wings will be quite familiar with it, the F5 somehow never quite achieved the same fame as the Phantom II, the F86 Saber, or latter-day siblings like the F14 Tomcat. The Tiger is a pretty, graceful-looking little thing for sure.


That one’s in USAF livery, all kitted out with a full combat load of Mavericks and Sidewinders. Impressive, no?

The plane that wouldn’t die

Tell me, oh Magic Eight Ball: Is the indomitable, perenially-awesome, so-ugly-it’s-beautiful Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt II the best damned combat aircraft the US has ever fielded? Signs point to YES.

A-10s Return to Middle East with a New Mission, and a New Weapon
Tensions with Iran, Russia have CENTCOM calling upon the venerable Warthog once again.

A squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets, specially modified to nearly triple their bomb loads, has been dispatched to the Middle East to boost U.S. airpower in the region amid increased tensions with Iran-backed forces in Syria.

With each plane carrying four SDB (Small Diameter Bombs—M) bomb racks, a flight of four A-10s could bomb up to 64 ground targets, a nearly three-fold increase. Each plane can also carry laser-guided rockets along with its famed 30mm tankbusting gun.

“That’s a lot of targets that you can hit from an air-to-ground perspective,” Grynkewich said.

The rugged attack jet also gives commanders more flexibility because it can fly from short or dirt runways.

“We would be able to maneuver [the A-10] very rapidly to different locations and show an ability to do strike operations that really would be very difficult to to counter in any meaningful way should things escalate,” he said.

The A-10 could also be used to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, where Iranian go-fast boats have harassed warships and tankers.

“There certainly are maritime threats that are out there that are promulgated by the Iranians,” Grynkewich said. “The A-10 brings you a capability that can counter that, as well—kinetically if necessary with those rockets and the gun.”

Designed in the 1970s as a specialized ground-assault weapon, the A-10 has won the love of generations of infantry. Protected by a “bathtub” of cockpit armor, Warthog pilots fly slow and low, eyeballing their targets before ripping into them with copious armament. But Air Force leaders have spent decades trying to win Congressional permission to retire the twinjet. They call it a sitting duck for modern air defenses, and they say stealthier, higher-flying, more lightly armed fighter jets can do the job. Earlier this year, Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said the last A-10s would be gone by decade’s end.

Grynkewich’s command is also responding to a call from CENTCOM’s Kurilla to be more innovative. Air Forces Central aims to experiment with the A-10’s ability to shoot down enemy drones. Since the A-10 lacks a radar, officials plan to use a network of U.S. and allied radars to guide the attack jets to their uncrewed targets. The Warthog could then use its infrared targeting pod to engage a drone with heat-seeking missiles or laser-guided rockets, Grynkewich said.

Is there ANYTHING the ‘Hog can’t do? Apparently not. Stout, amazingly versatile, a-bristle with ferocious lethality—she’s a credit to her noble lineage and her namesake, no doubt about it.

Update! So in the comments, I said this to Steve:

Pretty sure I’ve told this story before here, but back when the band was regularly traveling from NC to NYC for shows, we always took the back way up the spine of the Shenandoah on 81, through Harrisburg, and then on into a stretch paralleling a mountainous area with a USANG base close by (Fort Indiantown Gap, I believe it was). The base had A10s attached, and quite often we’d see a flight of ‘Hogs practicing attack weaves, crisscrossing low and slow from one side of the mountains up over the crest to the other and back again.

We’d all watch this airshow completely spellbound, which is when it occurred to me how truly awful it must be to be a ground-pounding camel-humper being hunted by one of those truly magnificent bastards. Bet there’s been whole damned laundry-trucks’ worth of djellabahs ended up smeared in fresh-squeezed shit by guys in that unenviable position. If not, then they were just too stupid to live anyhow.

Just for shits and giggles, I poked around some when what to my wondering eyes did appear but this choice vid:

And dammit, that’s IT, the spontaneous, unannounced “airshow” we looked forward to seeing on every trip up to the Rotten Apple. Hell yeah! How fuckin’ cool is THAT?


Lobbing a doo-doo bomb at the Gooks

Okay, this one’s just too hilarious not to put up here.

It’s True! A toilet was used as an aerial bomb during the Vietnam War

On November 4, 1965, some Vietnamese came across a very strange object that looked as if it had been dropped from the sky. Was it a bomb? Well, it had tail fins and a nose like a bomb. But it was white, and shaped like – a toilet?

It was a toilet in fact. It had been dropped by a VA-25 A-1 Skyraider on a mission to the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. It had come from Dixie Station, an aircraft carrier base in the South China Sea. The plane’s pilot was CDR Clarence ‘Bill’ Stoddard.

As Stoddard approached his target, he began preparations for attack. He read the ordnance (list of weapons the aircraft carried) to Forward Air Control. At the end of the list, he read ‘and one codenamed Operation Sani-flush.’ What was Stoddard talking about?

The story of the toilet drop was told by Captain Clint Johnson, the pilot of another VA-25 A-1 Skyraider. The toilet was a damaged one that was going to be thrown overboard anyway. But some plane captains decided to rescue it, dress it up to look like a bomb, and drop it in commemoration of the 6 million pounds of ordnance that had been dropped by the U.S. Air Force. The Air Control team said it made a whistling sound as it came down, and that it had almost struck the plane as it came off. A film was made of the drop using a video camera mounted on the wing.

Just as the toilet was being shot off, Johnson said,’ we got a 1MC message from the bridge, “What the hell was on 572’s right wing?” There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film.’

I can’t believe nobody at the storied Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (Fist of the Fleet) DID; it would speak very poorly indeed of all involved if they didn’t. But knowing Navy combat aviators as I do, and I do, I’d be willing to bet that CDR Stoddard at least might’ve glommed a copy for himself, which is probably still floating around (ahem) out there somewhere—making it the absolutely coolest family heirloom in all human history. I certainly hope that’s the case, anyway.

Before you ask, yes, there are pictures, and They. Are. Good.


Too, too perfect.

All this talk of the Able Dog and pictures and such-like practically demands a re-link of this old post, wherein you’ll find pics of one of the greatest experiences of my entire life, to wit: actually piloting one. It was arranged for me by my late, lamented cuz CPT Reggie “Regbo” Carpenter, God rest him.

See, Reg had an older friend who just happened to be the proud owner of an A1D, an Able Dog enthusiast scheduled to be flying at an annual airshow up in Hickory that Reggie had been instrumental in founding and running.

Reg didn’t tell me so beforehand, but as it turned out setting up a free-of-charge ride in a Douglas Skyraider would be just the beginning for me that fine day, the sneaky bastid. Although that would certainly have been enough and to spare, I would’ve been more than satisfied with it.

To my eternal delight, Regbo’s bud had me help out with the preflight walk-around when me, my cousin Mark, and my brother presented our giddy selves at the A1D’s assigned parking spot for our gratis check ride. I was then asked to fill out the preflight checklist form once I’d gotten myself strapped into the right seat.

Perhaps it was the pilot’s subtle way of making sure I knew at least something of what he’d soon have me doing, I dunno. If so, I wouldn’t blame him at all for his judicious exercise of caution. I was a complete stranger to this guy; whatever assurances Reg may have given him to the contrary, for all he knew, he was about to relinquish complete command and control of his cherished, expensive, and increasingly rare (3,180 built, fewer than 20 still airworthy) aircraft to a clueless noob who knew no more about flying a plane than most people do about the construction of a tokamak reactor.

Once we were wheels-up and level, he offered me the stick, whereupon I murmured a duly-stupefied “co-pilot’s airplane” through a grin so wide I nearly swallowed my own ears. After letting me ferociously toss that surprisingly-nimble pig all over the sky for a good twenty minutes or so, he pointed down to a house below (visible through the port cockpit window in one of the pics from the earlier CF post) and said, “See that house down there? That’s where my daughter and her husband live. Pilot’s airplane,” thereby assuming command of the trusty old warbird again.

From there, we racked back around to enter the landing pattern, which was crowded with a flight of three vintage Stearman biplanes in the queue ahead of us as we were coming out of the break onto final ourselves. A pic of them through the canopy:


The pilot was having trouble spotting the Stearman flight and asked me if I had ‘em visually, which I did after a moment’s scan of the airspace ahead. I then acted as his eyes in the sky, literally, helping to walk him all the way to a gentle, trouble-free touchdown—the most deflating, depressing part of every flight, for every aviator.

Because that’s the sad, sad moment, see, when it hits you that the fun is truly over, until the next time you’re privileged to take to the air once more, and truly live again.


Rooster tale

The part of this one that’s most worthy of note isn’t in the news article itself, for a change.

Irish rooster with a violent past kills man with attack to the back of his leg, court says
An Irish inquest found that a man who died in April 2022, was attacked by a rooster with a history of attacking people, according to reports.

The Irish Examiner in Cork, Ireland, reported that Jasper Kraus was allegedly attacked by a Brahma chicken that was moved to his property in Ballinasloe after it attacked a child.

Garda Eoine Browne said during the judicial inquiry that he responded to reports of a sudden death on April 28, 2022, and when he arrived, he spoke to paramedics who said CPR attempts to revive the victim were unsuccessful.

Brown said the man, later identified as Kraus, was on the ground in the kitchen in a pool of blood, with a wound on the back of one of his legs.

A gruesome story, sure enough. But the real action, as is so often the case, is to be found in the comments section, kicking off thusly:

1 day ago
This whole thing could have been prevented with flour, hot grease, and a plate of biscuits.

And with that tasty quip we’re off and running, each commenter outdoing the one before with recipe suggestions, useful ideas for how excessively aggressive roosters might be made to calm the fuck down (with a hammer handle or an axe, natch), and such-like ribaldry. Be prepared to laugh until your face feels like it might crack down the middle from the strain, it’s that hilarious. Good, good stuff, no doubt about it.

“What happens when you land on the wrong aircraft carrier?”

Hilarity ensues.

When there used to be more than one carrier in a task group, if an aircraft landed accidentally on the wrong ship, some fun was had before sending him “home”.

Imagine doing this today.

The flight deck crew would be sent immediately to undergo 100 hours of mandatory sensitivity training, so as to be sure Peter “Wrongway” Peachfuzz’s hurt feeeeeelings were properly assuaged, of course. But none of these all-in-good-fun hijinks would be possible today, sad to say. For one thing, it would require a sense of humor, which is a rara avis indeed in these parlous times.

I purely love what they did to this F2 Banshee.

Must be Chair Farce—heh

The “Down Bird” Phantom is good too.

Down bird!
Captured by the Bonnie Dick

FYI, it’s an aircraft from USS Constellation, see, that mistakenly set down on the deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard, whose crew-assigned nickname (all USN ships have one, which is voted on by the crew from a list of candidates which have been pre-approved by their CO) is the Bonnie Dick. Lots more rib-tickling photos at the link, going all the way back to an old F4U that got itself declared a “POW” owing to its poor pilot having shit the bed, so to speak, in similarly spectacular fashion.


Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt II: the plane that wouldn’t die

The plane the Chair Farce couldn’t kill off, more like (via Ed Driscoll).

A-10 Warthog: The 50 Year Old Plane That Just Won’t Die

Despite being nearly fifty years old, how does the U.S. A-10 Warthog continue to survive various efforts to cancel it each time it’s in budget-cut danger? An airplane that is as ugly as its name, the A-10 can bring the heat to the air-to-ground battle. Its many critics have to admit that this thing is just awesome at close-air-support. Designed as a “tank plinker” during the Cold War, the Warthog showed extreme prowess during Operation Desert Storm while destroying all kinds of Iraqi weapons systems.

How Many Lives Does the Warthog Have?

But the Air Force has wanted to eliminate the A-10 for more than 20 years. It is considered too slow and ponderous after decades in service. And despite its achievements in the air-to-ground fight, opponents believed the money used on upkeep and maintenance could be better spent on more modern aircraft.

Enter the Biden Administration and the U.S. Senate

Then politics entered the picture. First, the Biden Administration said no more Warthogs and proposed to retire dozens of them.

Because of course he did. It’s a US military aircraft that works extremely well, enheartening beleaguered American ground-pounders and striking abject terror into the hearts of America’s enemies every time it comes howling in low on another deadly strafing run with that enormous GAU 8 cannon; for a shitheel like Traitor Joe, what’s to like?

Be sure to watch the whole vid; it’s eight minutes-plus of pure, unadulterated glory, that’s what. Oh, and I DID mention that the GAU 8 Gatling-cannon is enormous, didn’t I? Why yes, I believe I did at that.

Big gun
Big enough for ya?

You aviation buffs will doubtless be aware that the A10 platform was actually designed and built around the GAU 8 Avenger rotary gun, resulting in one of the most successful combinations in military-aviation history. The A10 came into being as the replacement for the venerable Douglas A1 Skyraider, a warbird I was lucky enough to get some stick time in at an airshow years ago:

Co-pilot’s aircraft!
Cranking the Able Dog hard a-port
Note the AoA indicator, at top center

The USAF, despite the A10’s matchless record of battlefield success, doesn’t see CAS as its role, greatly preferring the old-school glamor of aerial dogfighting, strategic bombing, and standoff-range missile engagements instead. Hence its longstanding dislike of the A10, dubbed by its opponents in Iraq as “the Devil’s Cross.” They feared the A10, and were right to do so; its other ordnance aside, the GAU 8’s stout 30mm depleted-uranium rounds ripped many a pinned-down Republican Guardsman into Kibbles ‘N’ Bits over the course of both Iraq conflicts, without its pilots’ ever breaking much of a sweat.

Ahh, but is the A10 durable? Don’t even go there.

Air Force Pilot Landed Damaged A-10 Using Only ‘Cranks and Cables’

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) — Maj. Kim Campbell, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot here, shared her story with Women’s History Month luncheon guests about a mission in which her A-10 was hit by enemy fire over Baghdad.

While deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, then Captain Campbell and her flight lead were flying over downtown Baghdad during a close air support mission April 7, 2003.

“We were originally tasked to target some Iraqi tanks and vehicles in the city that were acting as a command post, but on the way to the target area we received a call from the ground forward air controller or FAC, saying they were taking fire and needed immediate assistance.”

The FAC ultimately turned out to be a member of the captain’s squadron. Once over the target area, they descended below the clouds to positively identify the friendly troops and the enemy’s location.

“We could see the Iraqi troops firing RPGs, or rocket propelled grenades, into our guys,” she said. “It was definitely a high threat situation, but within minutes my flight lead was employing his 30 mm Gatling gun on the enemy location.”

The two-ship formation of A-10s then made several passes over the enemy location, employing 30 mm bullets and high explosive rockets.

“Yes, there was risk involved, but these guys on the ground needed our help,” Major Campbell said. “It’s what any A-10 attack pilot would do in response to a troops-in-contact situation. That’s our job; to bring fire down on the enemy when our Army and Marine brothers and sisters request our assistance.”

After her last rocket pass, the captain was maneuvering off target when she felt and heard a large explosion at the back of the aircraft.

“There was no question in my mind,” she said. “I knew I had been hit by enemy fire.”

Yes, there are pictures, all of which serve to confirm the doughty MAJ Campbell as a true master of understatement. Mind, hers is but one of many stories of ragged, chewed-up, shot-to-hell-and-gone A10s nonetheless bringing their pilots home safely.

It may very well be true that the battle-proven A10 Warthog’s moment in the sun has at last flitted on by, and that it should therefore be mothballed with all the honors and respect it has so richly earned over its storied career. That’s an argument I’ll gladly leave to others to make. Whatever the case may be, the A10’s retirement will stand as a marker of something sad and depressing: one of the last reminders of America’s faded glory, its atrophied military muscle, and its bygone ability to engineer and produce war matériel of unparalleled quality, toughness, and worth.

The A10 Thunderbolt II is quite simply the very best CAS aircraft ever built, by anybody. The F35 Turducken as its replacement? Yeah, right.

Update! Just remembered another personal A10 experience I had all but forgotten about, involving the now-defunct Myrtle Beach AFB.

The Myrtle Beach base used the A-10 Warthog jet, and Pat McCullough of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission said the Air Force considered the jet “limited to a low-threat environment”, while the Army believed it was “a very powerful close-air support asset.” The Air Force chose to phase out the A-10, which led to the base’s closing, but the Army wanted the A-10 to continue flying; the decision to keep the A-10 came after the decision to close had been made.

The base closed 31 March 1993.

Now, when I was a kid we always took our summer vacation down at MYB every year, where the fam would often sit on the beach watching those A10 squadrons practicing attack-weave patterns low and slow out over the water, not terribly far from our ocean-front perches. Being but a callow stripling, I just assumed those Warthogs were lowly training jets, not really worthy of a whole lot in the way of notice. It was not until years later that it finally hit me that what I was witnessing was in fact one of the most badass warplanes ever built, swooping and diving around amongst the seagulls no more than a couple hundred yards away from where I sat.

Ahh, youth.

Hot brass update! Another personal A10 memory, this one from Big Country.

No bullshit, I was actually showered with fucking 30mm brass from a close air support mission in Iraq back in the day. Thank Christ I was wearing a helmet bro…Them fucking brass shells are a fucking heavy motherfucker when they’re falling from the sky.

Heh. Yeah, I imagine so. Just the same, I bet you were glad of ’em at the time, though.


And YOU are there

Weasel links to a riveting helmet-cam vid shot from the cockpit hot-seat of a bona fide classic: the legendary P47D Thunderbolt Mk II (ie, the prettier, more elegant bubble-canopy version, not the razorback). When, at around 2:50 or so, the pilot turns the engine over and that Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp finally catches and comes rumbling and grumbling to life, I confess I wet myself just a little.

That tandem takeoff roll is pretty damned schweet too, as are the simulated attack runs on some kind of boat or barge in the river. The pilot proceeds from there to really put the Jug through its paces, albeit at relatively low altitudes (many of those who flew them in both the European and Pacific theaters held that the P47 performed best above 30,000 feet, despite its great success in the ground-attack role), and it’s great fun to watch as he does it.

From the looks of the river and the nearby city skyline, I suspect this was filmed at the annual Thunder Over Louisville airshow, which I was fortunate to kinda-sorta attend several times from a hotel room when I was there for the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. See, the hotel we always stayed at was on the glide path to the airport nearby, which to my boundless delight also happened to be where the various planes staged from, before heading down to the river to do their fly-by passes for the show.

Any red-blooded American male with an ounce of affection for military aviation in his soul is bound to enjoy this video as much as I did myself, I’d imagine; it’s 44 and a half minutes of pure flyboy enjoyment, shot from a perspective that leaves you veritably gasping for breath at times. Mucho, mucho thanks to Weasel for hipping us to this.


Horror show

A terrible, terrible tragedy at a Warbirds show in Dallas today.


The midair occurred when the pilot of a Confederate Air Force (now known as the Commemorative AF, I’m sure for the obvious reason) Bell P63 Kingcobra inadvertently flew into the B17’s airspace, hitting the bomber just behind its port-side wingroot, near as I can make out. Everybody is probably familiar with the B17 Flying Fortress, I expect much less so for the P63, so here ya go.

Two old warbirds
Bell P63 with the justly renowned, and vastly superior, P51 Mustang

The Kingcobra was the successor to the P39 Aerocobra (or Airacobra, as the RAF dubbed it), a pursuit/interceptor aircraft with which its pilots had what you might call a love/hate relationship. Although the P39 was adequately armed and sturdy enough generally, the heavy airframe was hindered in aerial combat by an excruciatingly poor rate of climb and relatively low ceiling. While the P39 saw service in nearly every national air force and all theaters in WW2, the P63 only saw action with the Soviet Air Force, and was rejected by the USAAF, even though it surpassed the capabilities of its near-ubiquitous older brother in every possible way.

Both the P39’s and P63’s original powerplant was the same Allison V-1710 V12 engine that condemned the P51 Mustang to also-ran status in its early career, until it was eventually replaced with the more-powerful, just-plain-better Rolls Royce Merlin, instantly transforming the Mustang into the legendary world-beater it was destined to be.

I’ve attended many Warbirds airshows, which are always wonderful, and know the CAF pilots and ground-crews to be highly-skilled, seasoned devotees of the old WW2-era piston-engine warplanes, meticulous to the nth degree about maintenance and safety. I hate so much to see something like this happen, I truly do. May God receive into His mighty arms the souls of the men who left this mortal coil this awful afternoon, and grant to them eternal peace.

Update! Six dead: five B17 crew, and the P63 pilot. Prayers up, y’all.


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Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Claire's Cabal—The Freedom Forums


"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Daniel Webster

“When I was young I was depressed all the time. But suicide no longer seemed a possibility in my life. At my age there was very little left to kill.”
Charles Bukowski

“A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.”
Ezra Pound

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
Frank Zappa

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.”
John Adams

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
Bertrand de Jouvenel

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged."
GK Chesterton

"I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free."
Donald Surber

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved."
Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil."

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork."
David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"If the laws of God and men, are therefore of no effect, when the magistracy is left at liberty to break them; and if the lusts of those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war, those seditions, tumults and wars, are justified by the laws of God and man."
John Adams

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine."
Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it."
NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in."
Bill Whittle

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