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I'm a volunteer docent at Tucson's Pima Air & Space Museum (PASM), where I conduct walking tours of historical aircraft one day each week.  Wandering around the outdoor displays last Wednesday, I stopped in front of a dusty relic, a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, America's first operational jet fighter.  Here was the Model T ancestor of the F-15 Eagle I flew for the USAF during my own career.  I decided to learn something about it.

3-14-12_8

PASM's P-80B, serial #45-8612 (photo: Paul Woodford)

I always think of the P-80 (later redesignated the F-80) as a Korean War-era fighter.  It's true that the P-80 first saw combat in Korea, but development actually began in 1943, right in the middle of WWII, in response to intelligence reports about the super-secret Messerschmitt Me-262, the Nazi's jet fighter.  The Shooting Star was developed in equal secrecy at the Lockheed Skunk Works by legendary aircraft designer Kelly Johnson.

At the time the British were far ahead of us in jet engine design, and early American experiments with jet powered aircraft depended on close cooperation with our ally.  The prototype XP-80 first flew in January 1944, powered by a British Halford engine being developed for the deHavilland Vampire.  The prototype achieved a top speed of over 500 miles per hour, considerably faster than any propeller-driven fighter in existence.  The XP-80 was a giant leap over what the Germans had achieved with their early jet fighters.  Later production versions of the P-80, powered by the General Electric-designed, Allison-built J33 engine (also based on a British design), could just touch 600 mph.  Not only was it fast, it was (I believe but can't immediately verify) the first American fighter with a pressurized cockpit, allowing pilots to fly at sustained altitudes over 40,000 feet.

3-14-12_11
Allison J33 (photo: Paul Woodford)

Production P-80s, I was surprised to learn, came this close to seeing action during WWII.  In late 1944 four P-80As were sent to Italy and England so that American and British pilots could develop jet tactics for use against the Luftwaffe, but they didn't manage to mix it up with the Germans before the European war ended.  In the summer of 1945 another 30 P-80As were shipped to the Pacific aboard an aircraft carrier.  They were to have participated in the final assault on Japan, but in a classic SNAFU arrived without tip tanks and batteries -- by the time the missing parts caught up the Pacific war was over too.

When the USAF became an independent service in 1947, it eliminated the P (pursuit) prefix in favor of the F (fighter) prefix, redesignating all its Shooting Stars F-80s.  Standard armament for the F-80 was six nose-mounted 0.50-inch M2 Browning machine guns (300 rounds per gun).  Underwing hard points could carry two 1,000-pound bombs or eight unguided rockets.

3-14-12_12
Primary armament: six .50-cal. machine guns (photo: Paul Woodford)

In 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, the USAF had four F-80 units in Japan.  In the early stages of the Korean War, when the NK air force was still flying obsolete propeller-driven aircraft, our sleek 600 mph jets mopped up, easily establishing air superiority over NK skies.  But with the introduction of the Soviet-built swept-wing MiG-15 to the war, the F-80s were outclassed.  The MiGs were faster and more maneuverable, and at least in the early stages of their use in Korea, many were flown by experienced Russian pilots, some of them WWII aces.  We were by that time developing a swept-wing fighter of our own, the North American F-86 Sabre, and with its introduction the air-to-air role was given to the Sabres and the Shooting Stars were relegated to ground attack.  By the end of the Korean War the only F-80s still flying combat missions in Korea were RF-80 reconnaissance versions.

Over a five-year production run ending in 1949, Lockheed built over 1,700 P/F-80s.  The USAF retired its F-80s after the Korean War ended in 1953, but some RF-80s flew on until 1957.  Today there are no flyable P/F-80s, only a few on static display in parks and air museums.  A modified version with a longer fuselage and two-seat tandem cockpit, the T-33, remained in production until 1959, with over 6,500 built.  Generations of new USAF pilots trained in the T-33 -- also called the Shooting Star -- from the 1950s well into the 1970s.

PASM's Shooting Star is a P-80B, the second of three production versions (the A, B, and C models).  The P-80B was the first production fighter with an ejection seat -- in the earlier P-80A, you had to literally step over the side if you had to get out.  Our aircraft is serial # 45-8612, probably delivered to the Army Air Corps the year I was born, 1946.

Astute readers will notice that the wingtip fuel tanks on PASM's P-80B (top photo) are different from the tip tanks used on most other Shooting Stars (bottom photo).  As I understand it, most P/F-80s had the below-the-tip tanks, which I believe were jettisonable in flight.  Some P-80Bs, like PASM's example, were fitted with center-tip-mounted tanks, and I do not think those could be jettisoned.  Don't take my word for that, though.

In 1985, when I was an F-15 Eagle pilot in Alaska, I had an opportunity to fly a T-33 from the back seat on a flight from King Salmon Airport to Elmendorf AFB.  The airplane I flew was one of the last T-33s still in USAF service, and apart from the two-seat cockpit and lack of armament, identical to the earlier F-80.

A few things about that flight are still lodged in my memory.  One was the horribly cramped WWII-style cockpit, with the canopy rails literally touching my shoulders as I flew -- I feared that if I had to eject I'd leave my arms behind.  The flight instruments were Neanderthal by F-15 standards, dominated by a giant turn & slip indicator and early "black ball" attitude indicator.

P-80 instruments
P-80 cockpit & instrument panel (photo: USAF Armament Museum)

Another detail that comes back: fuel quantity and flow gauges calibrated in gallons, not pounds.  Flight controls were conventional as far as elevator and rudder, but the ailerons had a twitchy hydraulic assist, and only a highly experienced T-33 pilot could fly the airplane smoothly.  With my two hours of stick time, the best I could do was limit the constant side-to-side roll to five degrees either way.

And then there was the engine, dating from the dawn of the jet age.  Except for the centrifugal-flow turbines in the T-37 primary jet trainer I flew during pilot training, every jet engine I had experience with had been an axial-flow design with multiple compressor stages.  Flying the T-33 took me right back to pilot training, because that single-compressor centrifugal dinosaur took forever to wind up.  Imagine having to always depress the gas pedal of your car five seconds before you need to accelerate ... that's what these early jet engines were like (axial-flow turbines, which came into use in the early 1950s, eliminated most of the slow spool-up problems pilots had to contend with in earlier jets).

But boy, the Shooting Star was a hot jet in its day.  She may look frumpy to those who grew up on Eagles and Vipers, but this is what she looked like when she was young and sexy:

P-80
P-80A Shooting Star (photo: USAF)

That, I think you'll admit, is one good-looking fighter.

References:

Originally posted to pwoodford on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks, Kossack Air Force, and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (134+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, SingleVoter, EdMass, Thousandwatts, David Kroning II, kestrel9000, buddabelly, Timaeus, Tinfoil Hat, Wheever, FrankSpoke, semiot, jwinIL14, PeterHug, subtropolis, last starfighter, markdd, leftykook, mookins, IndyReader, 207wickedgood, cassandracarolina, commonmass, BeninSC, pickandshovel, fgentile, billmosby, Shockwave, antooo, Yogurt721, eastvan, Otteray Scribe, lineatus, Melanie in IA, pengiep, Dburn, xaxnar, craiger, buckstop, yojimbo, JekyllnHyde, paradox, Carol in San Antonio, roadbear, windje, Navy Vet Terp, Marie, sawgrass727, Lorinda Pike, BobTheHappyDinosaur, Dahankster, MKSinSA, doingbusinessas, basquebob, wheeldog, mofembot, Horace Boothroyd III, Grannus, Just Bob, Thinking Fella, Chaddiwicker, NoMoJoe, Simplify, ExStr8, Bob Duck, JayBat, RumsfeldResign, fugwb, implicate order, NBBooks, pbearsailor, IreGyre, JLan, notrouble, bnasley, tung sol, Alumbrados, mythatsme, VTCC73, daddybunny, Quasimodal, drewfromct, ER Doc, Uncle Cosmo, thomask, boran2, WI Deadhead, Paulie200, IndieGuy, Grandson named me Papa, penguins4peace, gsenski, triplepoint, devtob, Denver11, koNko, IndyinDelaware, chuco35, YucatanMan, PrahaPartizan, Phl, flygrrl, dagnome, JohnInWestland, palantir, linkage, Shotput8, YellerDog, JVolvo, exsimo2, onanyes, SaraBeth, Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder, BlackBandFedora, TexasTom, david78209, gatorcog, TheCrank, Captain C, OpherGopher, ivy redneck, DavidHeart, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, coolbreeze, prfb, MPociask, ipaman, Railfan, ms badger, Neon Vincent, Indexer, stratocasterman, weneedahero, vet
  •  Duuude, I didn't know you were in Baja. (17+ / 0-)

    Wanna' join Baja Arizona Kossacks ? I love the PASM, been there several times. Although I am fascinated by aircraft design, and its history, the thought of basing the F-35 at D-M has me worried. I live just a mile north of the base and if these things are as loud as they say they are, I'm afraid my neighborhood may be rendered unlivable.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:22:20 AM PDT

    •  Azazello, if you can let me in (18+ / 0-)

      ... I'd love to join.  I also write about banned books and because of that try to stay on top of AZ state legislature bills that would result in school book bannings ... some quick surfing on Baja AZ Kossaks shows me that the group will help me stay on top of what those nutters are up to.  Some of my book banning diaries, the ones that pertain to Arizona, might be of interest to your group as well.

      •  Invite sent, (5+ / 0-)

        check your messages at the bottom of your gray box.

        The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

        by Azazello on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:35:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nice article...... (11+ / 0-)

        It's a shame there are none in flyable condition --- so many of the mass produced planes of that era are gone. One has to wonder why a few weren't saved. I remember seeing a picture from the Phillipines in late '45 or early '46 where a bulldozer was moving a pile of perfectly good P 38's into a pit ---- criminal! ( I say as a history geek ). To think how much those planes would be worth is staggering.
        Again, a shame that the USAF's first operational jet didn't have a couple saved out of thousands.

         The British had operational squadrons of the 'Comet' their first jet towards the end of the war in Europe. None ever met up with the Me 262, which would have been interesting ( the 262 was a great aircraft --- but very finicky in the wrong hands... ) but I think one or two might have brought down a V-1, but I'm not positive on that.

         Nice read, thanks.....

        it tastes like burning...

        by eastvan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:34:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The 262 is a favorite of mine... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eastvan, mythatsme, ER Doc, JVolvo
          the 262 was a great aircraft --- but very finicky in the wrong hands...
          The Germans lost so many pilots in training that they moved the fuel tanks outboard to allow for a training jumpseat - so the guys who survived long enough to learn to fly it could train new pilots...

          It was an interesting little jet... Junkers engine, IIRC.

          "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

          by Lorinda Pike on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:18:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sure you mean "Comet" and not (7+ / 0-)

          Britain's first operational jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor? I get those astronomical terms confoozled too...:D

          Opinion seems divided as to how the Meteor would have stood up to the Schwalbe in a dogfight. Adolf Galland, the quintessential Luftwaffe fighter pilot, spozedly said his ideal machine would have been the 262 with the Meteor's less powerful but more reliable engines.

          snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

          by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 04:01:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Meteor --- I stand corrected. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc, Uncle Cosmo

            There was a 'Comet' later on,I believe. Definatly the Meteor.

            it tastes like burning...

            by eastvan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 04:44:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  DH Comet was the world's first jetliner (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Azazello, PrahaPartizan

              & the first US jet plane was the XP-59 Airacomet. Easily confoozled.

              Then you wonder why we say "asteroid" for (relatively) small planetlike thingies & "hemorrhoid" for varicose veins of the posterior when the latter are the ones giving us the royal pains in the ass...English, love it or leave it...

              snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

              by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:25:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wasn't the Comet the plane that built Seattle ? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                PrahaPartizan, exsimo2

                That is, if the Comet had been more airworthy, Boeing may have had competition for the 707.

                The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

                by Azazello on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:49:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wing Defects Always Bad News (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Azazello, JVolvo

                  Alas, the Comet had a defect in its design of its wings, which led to premature failure of the main spar.  It put the program back two or three years since it necessitated a major redesign.  Kinda like what happened to Boeing's Dreamliner.  

                  What's really funny is that the British firms' (I use the plural because it applies to all of them) approach to wing design on bombers and transports made their planes more stealthy than the American approach.  Putting the engines in the wings rather than hanging them from pods did have some advantages.  It was a design consideration ahead of its time.

                  "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

                  by PrahaPartizan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:05:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Didn't the Comet have window issues too? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    craiger

                    IIRC the windows were square not round and suffered stress fractures?

                    Sorry going on PBS history of flight memories and not nearly enought sleep.

                    It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

                    by Solarian on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:40:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  There are replicas of the 262 flying... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alumbrados, Shotput8, ms badger

            There was (it's been a while) a group of hardcore enthusiasts in Everett, Washington working on building complete replicas of Me-262's with modern engines, using old Huey turbines I believe. Last I knew they had one built and flying. They might have been 3/4 scale too, I'm kinda fuzzy on that, as it has been about 5 years or so I heard anything.

            I seem to recall Paul Allen being involved with them to a degree, as he loves his warbirds. He's got quite the collection going now, with most of what he owns flyable.

        •  Meteor v 262 (6+ / 0-)

          The British fighter was the 'Gloster Meteor' (the Comet was another jet first..), which was the first Allied jet fighter to enter service, although the Me 262 just beat it into service.

          The 262 was in many ways a better aircraft, certainly aerodynamically (although the swept wings were actually to move the aircraft's centre of gravity, rather than to get a better Mach number).  On the other hand, its engines were poor (although as turbojets, were a more advanced design).  The Germans lacked the advanced alloys available to the Allies, and were reduced to using tin coated steel in the combustion chambers.  They had an average life of 10-12 hours, and were one of the main reasons why the Me 262 did not have the effect it could have done (the Hitler Bomber order is a bit of a red herring).

          The Meteor is a bit of a classic, but its a much more convential aircraft and I suspect that the Me 262 would probably have the advantage, especially if it was flown by one of the 'experten'.  

          On the other hand, this assumes that everything would have been equally balanced, and that the 262's engines did not stop during combat or that they had the fuel to mount an operation.  In reality, the Allies swarmed around jet bases so much that they were able to shoot them down during takeoff/landing, when they were very vulnerable. And the engines for both Allied aircraft were far better.

          Postwar tests against the P80 (a more advanced aircraft aerodynamically than the Meteor) showed that the 262 would probably have won in a one to one.  

          This arguement seems to be a perenial on the  internet
           and here again!!

          The original article was very good, and remined me of a book I read on early jets in RAF service.  Those early centrifugal engines were slow to spool up and were thirsty on fuel.  A lot of postwar RAF pilots (often not greatly experienced and flying in poor conditions) were killed flying these early jets (early versions had no ejector seats), and the Meteor also had poor asymentric control if one engine went out.  

          145 crashed in 1953 alone, a rate which would simply be unacceptable today.  On the other hand, getting out of a Vampire was widely seen as near impossible, so either plane was a worry, and I suspect that the P80 was little different.

          It would be interesting to see what a pilot who had flown all three types might think, and I suspect that Capt. Eric Brown is probably the one.  Its worth reading anything he's written, and I recall that he thought the 262 was the best jet of the war.

          BTW - Howard Hughes got hold of an 262, and wanted to enter it in the Bendix air race against airforce P80's. Perhaps sadly, he was not allowed to do so...

          •  Me 262 Junkers engine (0+ / 0-)

            I saw one those Junkers engines at Spartan A&P school in Tulsa, OK.  Cut open to make a display out of it.

            Modern Jet engines use the same strategies, air cooled blades, lots of cooling flow, as the Junkers folks had done.

            For the same reasons I suppose, modern alloys can't survive the higher temperatures with out engineering trickery.

        •  The P-38 had IMO the best nickname of the war (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, bartcopfan

          even if it was bestowed by the enemy:

          der Gabelschwanz Teufel
          (the Fork-Tail Devil).

          snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

          by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:11:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Just wait, eventually all will be resurrected... (0+ / 0-)

          Piles of literal junk are being put back into the air these days, if they have to be totally remanufactured just using the wreckage as templates for new parts. Russia has been yielding up wreckage at a good rate for a couple of decades now, for example. And BIG money is available for warbird fanciers now. Paul Allen has an FW-190 flying with the proper BMW 801 engine in it. Most of the others of that type use a Russian 14 cyl radial in its place. And as somebody mentioned below, there are new-build Me-262s flying. And also new-build Fw-190s as well.

          I look for an Me-163 any day now, but finding a pilot willing to risk flying such a potential bomb might be a more difficult proposition than building one, lol.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 09:19:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Two of those P-38s are now (0+ / 0-)

          at the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs and are in the process of being restored by WestPac Restoration.   The dirt they were buried in can be seen in the exposed parts of the cockpit. National Museum of World War II Aviation

  •  Wonderful diary...my father was (21+ / 0-)

    a crew chief in the USAF.  His plane was a U-2 until the pilot of his plane made General and was assigned to Lackland AFB to run a school there.  He greatly admired the way my father took care of his plane and got him reassigned to his unit.  He took care of a T-38 for the General until he decided to leave the service.  He took him up on a few occasions and let him fly "his" plane.

    My father always loved jet engines...he helped build the first 747 at Boeing in Washington.  He was laid off (like thousands of others) after they built the first 747.  He had to go into making vacuum cleaners.

    He would share your love of these planes.

    •  Wow, the first 747. I lived in Lynwood then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc

      and remember that plane flying over often.  A friend that used to work at Boeing talked about a test flight where they took that plane between the summits of The Brothers in the Olympic range.

      "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

      by Delta Overdue on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:10:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this tour and info .. (9+ / 0-)

    A neighbor and early pilot of one variant (B/C, I think) recounted some of the operational/reliability issues that kept him on his toes. They were always checking for fatigue cracks near the wing attachment area on one particular side, which was known as the weak point. Yikes.

    It is an interesting gestation, regarding the development of both the aerodynamic and thrust components of early jet planes. The Germans couldn't develop engines that were powerful and functionally practical (probably a good thing, historically speaking), yet seemed to have nailed the initial (swept wing) fuselage design, with captured Me-262s used as springboards for the second generation of the Allied country's jet fighters.

    I was in Wendover, UT, during a Speed Week event, when a friend and I explored the airfield, running into an eccentric older pilot (with a German sounding name... but can't recall) that had an incredible collection of planes in one of the hangars. His stories were fascinating, with a favorite being his bettering of the piston-engined P-51 Mustang owners in terms of top speed and fractional cost of ownership with his T-33 jet.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

    by FrankSpoke on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:29:45 AM PDT

    •  In my research for this diary (8+ / 0-)

      ... I read that a good number of test and early operational pilots lost their lives in P-80 mishaps.  I remember the T-33 had some treacherous flying characteristics, especially when it was a low speed in the traffic pattern.  I chose not to go into that here, but the links I listed describe a lot of the plane's early accident history.

      •  They had a run of bad turbine disks early on, (5+ / 0-)

        in which one half of the disk would part company with the other half without warning. Instant loss of airframe just aft of the wing resulted. They traced the problem to impurities settling to the bottom of the original turbine disk material ingots. So until the problem was finally solved metallurgically, they solved it temporarily by only using the top half of the ingots.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:11:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You wanna talk treacherous flight characteristics, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Simplify

        let's go straight to the F-104 Starfighter, which arguably did more damage to the Cold War-era Luftwaffe & the Royal Canadian Air Force than any Warsaw Pact attack ever could have.

        [One of the F-104's nicknames was] "The Flying Coffin" from the translation of the common German public name of Fliegender Sarg. The F-104 was also called Witwenmacher ("Widowmaker"), or Erdnagel ("ground nail") – the official military term for a tent peg.
        With a single engine & tiny wings that gave it the glide characteristics of a thrown brick, I have to wonder if low-level flameouts of the Tent Peg inspired the term "auger in".

        Iven Kincheloe, possibly the most righteous of those with The Right Stuff, coaxed the X-2 rocket plane to >2,000 mph and >126,000 ft, but before could ride the X-15, lost his life in an F-104A.

        snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

        by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 04:44:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Flew an a 2-seater Canadian F-104 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Uncle Cosmo, Simplify

          ... when I was posted to the Netherlands in the early 1980s.  Great flying airplane, smooth as hell ... and fast.  What I remember hearing about the Zipper was that it had very bad stall characteristics in that the nose would pitch up and you couldn't push it back down because the high T-tail was stuck in the turbulent air coming from the stalled wings.  Early F-104s also had a downward ejection seat, and I believe ejections killed many pilots, including Kincheloe.  But man, did I enjoy that flight.

          •  Sweetest lines of any jet fighter before or since (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Simplify

            I understand that the leading edge of that wing was so sharp they had to fit them with felt covers whilst on the ground to protect the ground crew.

            snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

            by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:05:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Wright-Patterson... (0+ / 0-)

          IIRC had one there that had that. Another problem was that if the stall devolved into a spin (apparently common on takeoff), it spun fast enough that reaching back over the shoulders to eject was difficult to impossible.

          In any event, the one at WP spun on takeoff, but the pilot managed to eject. The impulse from the ejection apparently pushed the aircraft out of the spin, and if flew on to belly land in a field many miles away. It was recovered and sent to the museum.

    •  The swept wing on the 262 wasn't for aerodynamics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrankSpoke

      it was for cg purposes. It just had the added benefit of the aerodynamic effects of the swept wing. The Germans, however, were working on swept wings in order to intentionally reduce the critical mach number at the time.

      Also, as an aside, the first F-86's used the leading edge slat mechanism form the 262.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:05:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  would have been something in WW2 Europe (9+ / 0-)

    Another of Kelley Johnson's amazing contributions to aeronautics. According to a trusted source, the first prototype was built in just 143 days once Lockheed received the go-ahead.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 11:12:58 AM PDT

  •  Good work PW (10+ / 0-)

    The P-80 was actually our second jet fighter.  Bell's P-59 proceeded it by over a year.  Bell wasn't up to the challenge, the plane never went into production and the AAF turned to Lockheed.  Richard (Dick) Bong the AAF's highest scoring ace in WWII was killed in a acceptance test flight of a P-80A.

    The P-80 / T-33 was also developed into the F-94 Starfire that was one of the first jet powered all weather interceptors.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 11:30:21 AM PDT

    •  True about the Bell P-59, (8+ / 0-)

      but it never went into production and was never more than a testbed.  I described the P-80 as the USA's first operational jet fighter in the text but not the title ... mainly because I didn't want the title to be too long.

      •  Right, the P-59 was never operational (6+ / 0-)

        But it flew less than 4 months after the Me 262.  I wonder what would have happened if Bell could have gotten their act together

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 12:25:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I seem to remember that the P-59 was only (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, Simplify, ER Doc

          meant as what we would call a technology demonstrator these days. As was the I-16 engine it was powered with. The P-80 was not all that advanced in terms of schedule from the P-59, and it initially used a precursor to the I-16 as well (one of Britain's few airworthy prototypes at the time, I think). Then the J-33 came along and made for a whole lot better airplane.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:15:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It was operational... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markdd, billmosby

          ...but it was limited to learning how to use jets. I think they flew mainly in Alaska.

          That's also why the P-80's were sent to Europe. They weren't really sent there to fight at the end of the war, they were sent there to see how they would perform under actual military front line conditions. Oddly, both of the aircraft in England crashed, but the two in Italy survived. They were also quite different from the operational F-80s in that their canopies were different, I think the cockpits were slightly aft or forward of where they ended up in the production version and they had the early inlets without the boundary layer splitter plates.

          Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

          by Alumbrados on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:09:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pilots took a while to get used to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            billmosby

            the jet engine.  One B-24, B-36 driver I knew got out of the AF because he was afraid of the B-47.  Part of SAC's doctrine for formation flying included frequent throttle adjustments to keep station with the other bombers.  Jets didn't deal well that kind of tinkering.

            “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

            by markdd on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 10:24:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  IIRC the radar-equipped Starfire (6+ / 0-)

      picked up the UFOs-by-the-White-House in Truman's time, that scattered group of bright spots.

      And the French COMETA report mentions a training exercise in the mid-seventies where a group of about six T33's took off at two-minute intervals one night, all flying to the same destination , and two or three of them saw a big bright light rise from the ground in the distance, and then it flew off fast I guess.

      Just a little trivia... Space Aliens seem to like 'em.

    •  And he's still famous in WI (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, markdd, Railfan

      Although he's kept in the news because he had the most stolen road sign in the state....

      It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

      by Solarian on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:51:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can tell you the day he died, Aug 6 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd

      on my birthday (Or two days before) because I have the newspaper (Chicago Daily Trinune) my parents bought the day I was born, which I still have.

      Equally large headlines said "Japs Hit By Atomic Bomb!" and right underneath "Bong KIlled In Jet Crash". He was only 24, had 40 Japanese kills to his credit, and was known throughout the country.

      So Maj. Bong's death in a plane crash in those days was equivalent in the headlines to bombing Hiroshima. Nobody actually had a grasp of what an atomic bomb could do or the total dead in Hiroshima - that didn't happen for another week or so....but that's how big a deal Dick Bong was - and a lot of it in P-38s, too.

      Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

      by blindcynic on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 04:41:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the interesting diary (13+ / 0-)

    We've got a Shooting Star variant at our museum at NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum, better known as Cape May County Airport, New Jersey....

    Ours is a Navy TV-1, T meaning trainer, V meaning Lockheed...

    We've also got a couple of similar engines on stands...

    Any East Coast aviators out there looking for a cool place to drop into on a nice day, drop by the Cape May County Airport and taxi right up to the hangar by the antique control tower, and spend an hour or two looking at all our cool planes...

    We've got a beautiful F-14 (painted by real live Anchor Clanker maintenance guys who came by a few years ago and painted her up) we've got a coupla Stearman trainers, a Commie Mig 15, a USMC Northrup F-5 in OPFOR drag, a TBM (painted the wrong color unfortunately) a BT-13 trainer, an OE (Army L-19) that my dad used to take care of when he was the chief mechanic at the USMC Aviation Museum at Quantico (he had it painted in his old Korea squadron's colors and IDs.
    We've got a Douglas A-4 Scooter painted in Blue Angels colors...We've even got a WWI Gnome rotary engine on a stand!

    There's a lotta other stuff in the Museum;  Come on down!

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 11:49:04 AM PDT

    •  You've also got the Cape May Brewing Co... (0+ / 0-)

      Mighty fine beer being brewed there. Alas, they don't export to the Midwest yet...

      •  Whut? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Railfan

        Huh?

        Really?  When did THAT happen?  I've been away since last June....

        When I'm there I drink the Pride of Pottsville, Yuengling Lager (since 1829) at Pop's Veteran's club, the Disabled American Veterans Club...

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 04:02:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Last year, I think. (0+ / 0-)

          I was in Cape May with my wife's family right after Irene (Thank God it didn't do too much damage), and we discovered it then, along with several vineyards.  The brewery had opened for business earlier in the year.

          In Cape May. Who knew?

  •  Rememberances, fond or otherwise… (10+ / 0-)

    When I hired in (FAA) the F-80s were long gone, of course, the F4 Phantom II being the point-of-the-spear fighter for all services at the time, but boy, were the T-33s still around. We called them T-Birds—who knows why—and on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of each month we'd see tons of them tooling around. That was when the military pay period was winding down and all the desk jockeys still pulling flight pay signed one out and went on a cross country in a T-Bird to keep their quals.

    They were much like a Citation (or as we said, slow-tation), good for about 420 knots (compared to 480 for the commercial jets in those days, and therefore in the way if they were at FL310 or FL 330. Fortunately, they didn't usually go a long way, so we didn't have all that much difficulty working around them.

    The big challenge, and I never see this written about anywhere—probably because there aren't too many dinosaurs like me left—was if they lost their transponder, we would have to dial up our primary radar to track them. Let's just say T-Birds/F-80s were the original stealth fighters. Skin paint, as we call it, was very minimal. They were very hard to see.

    Of course having a primary jet fighter training base in the area (VAD) netted lots of opportunities to work T-38s both in the training regime and cross country, so reverence for its predecessor wasn't readily forthcoming. That was a hot airplane!

  •  I flew a T-33 (10+ / 0-)

    It was my dream.  And it came true.  Long story.  Maybe I'll diary one day.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:03:00 PM PDT

  •  Wow, another blast from my past. (7+ / 0-)

    I was stationed at D-M in the early 70s. The museum had been kind of staked out then, and they were in the process of moving some of its inventory into the enclosure but I don't think it had been opened yet. D-M hosted the 100 SRW's U-2s, a drone controller DC-130 organization, A-7Ds, and occasionally the ANG's F-100s from across town.

    I lived about 2 streets East of the back gate that now leads to AMARG (or whatever the boneyard is called this week, lol). In those days the facility held great old planes like the C-124, C-47 (including one all dolled up in Army Golden Knights livery about 200 yds from my house), newly-arrived B-52Ds, a few partial B-58 airframes, seemingly hundreds of new T-38s waiting for their time to shine, and on and on.

    I lived over on Aviation Highway before that, and took a gate into the base from there that passed by a number of planes stored off the runway there that ended up in the museum inventory as well. C-97, a P5M or some such, a Boeing 307 for a while, and a couple of others.

    I wonder if the base still has anything that can climb as impressively steeply as a U-2, at least at the somewhat leisurely pace of that bird. U-2s are way overpowered at low altitudes and seemingly can get to operational altitude while still over the base, lol.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:06:27 PM PDT

    •  The U-2 used what was basically (5+ / 0-)

      sailplane technology of the late 1940s and it shows in the design.  Unusually high aspect ratio, low-drag wing that generates a LOT of lift energy.  

      At altitude, they had to keep the airspeed within a very narrow window, with stall on one side and compressibility on the other.  

      •  I remember reading about that "coffin corner". (5+ / 0-)

        I went to the same Aero Engineering school that Kelly Johnson did, about 35 years later, so I have always been interested in his designs. I never worked in the field, though.

        Oh, and another thing I saw. About 7 years ago I had occasion to visit the Military Museum in Ekaterinburg on weekend R&R from a job I had working in the closed atomic city of Novouralsk. That museum held onto about 1 sq foot of skin from Powers' U-2 which was shot down not all that far from the uranium enrichment plant I worked in as a monitor for the Megatons to Megawatts program. The rest of the U-2 wreckage was long since moved to a museum in Moscow, so I read somewhere.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 02:56:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have a friend who was stationed at D-M... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby

      in the mid 70's. He was a ground crewman on one of the first A-10's. It was also the first A-10 they took to the Paris Airshow. He had a fun story to tell about that. Not the A-10, just the trip in a C-130 to the Azores. All my friends who in the USAF all have some good stories.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:13:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, that was a while after I left, I believe. (0+ / 0-)

        I got out in about April of 74, and Wikipedia's article on the base says the A-10s arrived in Oct 76.

        I had occasion to look down on several 2-ship elements of them while on horseback at a dude ranch about 30 miles or so south of Tucson in 2004. The horses were well used to seeing them which was a good thing seeing as how we were standing at the edge of a 500 very steep incline at the time. A-10s are pretty quiet, and that helps.

        The U-2s decamped for Beale AFB, Marysville CA, to join the SR-71s there, also in 1976.

        Those A7-Ds were about the least interesting planes the Air Force ever flew in my opinion, though. No offense to SLUF drivers, lol.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:23:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Impressive Climb? C-130 Rocket Assist Takeoff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby

      I saw this at the Andrews AFB airshow - the solid fuel rockets only put out little flame like a propane torch, but that transport plane stands right on its tail.

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:07:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Q: about those 6 nose guns. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    Would they fire at the same time? Or sequentially? Was this something the pilot could select?
    That certainly is a pretty plane.
    BTW, I was in King Salmon in 1988. Not flying, but fishing. Well, flying on the way to fish. Well, stuck in the motel for a couple days waiting on the weather... What a town.

    •  I think they were standard 50 cals (0+ / 0-)

      Americans lagged behind other countries for at least a decade in putting actual cannons on planes but the migs in korea I think had two cannons.

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 09:13:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Weapons System Mismatch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        prfb

        The MiG-15 was equipped with three cannons - two 23mm and one 37mm.  As I recall, it created a bit of a problem for its pilots because its gun-sight was relatively primitive and the two cannon types had different muzzle velocities and, hence, trajectories.  Trying to get the guns bore sighted so that they could arrive at target on time proved to be a real challenge.  The MiG-15 had originally been designed as an interceptor to take on the American bomber force and this variation would not have been that noticeable.  In dogfights, the difference proved more problematic.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:13:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Dogfighter vs. Bomber Interceptor (0+ / 0-)

        The American aviation community decided that the higher rate of fire for its fighters would prove more useful in dog-fighting conditions than the more powerful but lower rate of fire aviation cannons then available.  When those first aircraft were designed they were expected to be used mostly for air superiority missions and not bomber interception.  The second generation of American fighter aircraft had pretty much all shifted to cannon, since the bomber intercept mission had advanced in priority.  It didn't hurt that the rate of fire on aviation cannons had improved considerably as well.  With the introduction of the cannon Gatling guns firing well in excess of 3000 rounds per minute from a single location, rate of fire issues could be ignored.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:31:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Used to be in USAF Muntitions (0+ / 0-)

          When F4-Ds started getting deep in North Vietnam they would carry tanks but if they got jumped by MIgs they would punch off the tanks to dogfight with missiles. When we first got the SUU-16/a wing mounted gun pods with M61 20mm cannons we thought they'd go out there and kick ass. but, the first day out reflexes took over, and when the Migs came, so the story goes, everybody reflexively punched off external stores....including the gun pods...then they all realized what they'd done, and had to do a 180 and hit the burners to get out of there....we were pissed we didn't get out gun pods back...

          The F4E models had internal 20mm in the nose, but they had their teething troubles too - fire the gun for about ten seconds and the gas pressure buildup in the nose would blow panels off....and also the stream of brass coming out of the nose did bad things to the elevons as they went by....

          Oh well, that's what test pilots are for...

          Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

          by blindcynic on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 05:01:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did A Double-Take (0+ / 0-)

            Had to read your comment with attention after your reference to the F4-D.  Were you speaking about the Douglas F4D Skyray or one of the versions of the McDonnell F4?  Clearly the reference to gun pods cleared that up, since the Skyray was equipped with internal cannon from its original design inception.  Of course, it officially never entered combat, but one never knows about what really happened in SE Asia during the early 1960s.

            "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

            by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:41:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I love the Tucson Air Museum (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, ER Doc

    One of the F-111's is one that my father-in-law actually flew.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:07:11 PM PDT

  •  Another fine diary, pwood. (0+ / 0-)

    I really enjoy your aviation diaries. Keep up the great work!

    T&R, of course.

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:11:14 PM PDT

  •  Richard Bach and the F-84 (7+ / 0-)

    A jet from the same era is the F-84, produced in both straight and swept wing variants, and several names. As with many early jets, there was some getting used to peculiarities. Here's a good quote from wikipedia on that:

    Pilots nicknamed the Thunderjet "The Lead Sled".[2] It was also called "The Iron Crowbar", "a hole sucking air", "The Hog" ("The Groundhog"), and "The World's Fastest Tricycle", "Ground Loving Wh-re" as a testament to its long takeoff rolls.[2] F-84 lore stated that all aircraft were equipped with a "sniffer" device that, upon passing V2, would look for the dirt at the end of the runway. As soon as the device could smell the dirt, the controls would turn on and let the pilot fly off the ground. In the same vein, it was suggested a bag of dirt should be carried in the front landing gear well. Upon reaching V2, the pilot would dump the dirt under the wheels, fooling the sniffer device.[2
    There is a great if not well known book by Richard Bach "Stranger to the Ground" in which Bach recounts his experiences during a night flight in an F-84 over Europe during the Cold War, including an encounter with a thunderstorm, while also musing over his other flying experiences in the Air Force. It's an incredible book.

    He mentions a couple of memorable anecdotes: the jet sitting on a ready pad with the engine idling - at just the right rpm to set up a resonance with the tailpipe. Think of the giant humming noise from Hell!

    The ANG airshow where the entire unit's F-84s launched for a flyover. Bach was in one of the aircraft in the last pair to launch; the air temps over the runway had raised from the prior takeoffs to the point where he and his wingman barely manage to get in the air before running off the end of the runway.

    An wonderful book written from a pilot's perspective.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:12:35 PM PDT

    •  Stranger to the Ground really is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      a great book.  Nobody but a pilot could have written it.  Not positive, but I think it is Bach's first book.

    •  XF-84H Thunderscreech to the Rescue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      One of the more interesting variants of the F-84 family was the infamous Thunderscreech.  It mated a very powerful turbo-prop engine to a modified F-84 airframe.  Having a short prop blade rotating at supersonic tip speeds caused all sorts of issues, not least of which was the noise.  I have seen some claims that the noise from this plane exceeded 200 db at a distance.  We likely would not have needed to use bombs with the plane -- just use its noise to destroy targets.  

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:44:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why the Ground Sniffer? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      Wasn't the F-84F one of the first tactical fighter-bombers designed to carry nuclear weapons?  Would that have accounted for the need to install such a curious device on a plane?

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:47:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Ground Sniffer was pilot snark (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina

        It seemed like the F-84 insisted on using every available foot of runway for take off.

        As for nuclear weapons, Bach describes training to use them. Wikipedia actually quotes from the book, in the entry on toss-bombing.

        The last red-roofed village flashes below me, and the target, a pyramid of white barrels, is just visible at the end of its run-in line. Five hundred knots. Switch down, button pressed. Timers begin their timing, circuits are alerted for the drop. Inch down to treetop altitude. I do not often fly at 500 knots on the deck, and it is apparent that I am moving quickly. The barrels inflate. I see that their white paint is flaking. And the pyramid streaks beneath me. Back on the stick smoothly firmly to read four G on the accelerometer and center the needles of the indicator that is only used in nuke weapon drops and center them and hold it there and I'll bet those computers are grinding their little hearts out and all I can see is sky in the windscreen hold the G's keep the needles centered there's the sun going beneath me and WHAM.

        My airplane rolls hard to the right and tucks more tightly into her loop and strains ahead even though we are upside down. The Shape has released me more than I have released it. The little white barrels are now six thousand feet directly beneath my canopy. I have no way to tell if it was a good drop or not. That was decided back with the charts and graphs and the dividers and the angles. I kept the needles centered, the computers did their task automatically, and the Device is on its way.

        [edit]

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 04:14:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not A Good Place to Be (0+ / 0-)
          "...little white barrels are now six thousand feet directly beneath my canopy..."
           plus
          "...the Device is on its way."
          So, the Device is on its trajectory to the target, those little white barrels, traveling just about as fast as the aircraft and the cockpit is directly over the target?  Isn't that a rather delicate place to be when the Device will be turning the immediate neighborhood into a small corner of hell in less than five seconds?  I had always read that the F-84 approach lobbed the bomb at the target from a distance, so that the aircraft never got close to the target itself.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:22:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As I understand it, (0+ / 0-)

            The bomb is still rising while the aircraft is heading away from the target. It's slightly less crazy than it sounds.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:49:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Theory Versus Actual Description (0+ / 0-)

              I'm familiar enough with the description about how toss bombing is supposed to work.  The bomb is supposed to still be on a ballistic trajectory while the aircraft has turned 180 degrees and is heading away from the target.   Of course the plane lofting the bomb never reaches the target.  That's not what the pilot in the book described.  He speaks about being right over the target after having released the Device.  So, somehow the description of the process has not been accurately laid out.

              "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

              by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:46:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Toss Bombing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xaxnar, PrahaPartizan

            aka "click the link given"

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            Slightly better than the armies man portable nuke rocket (dig a hole, set up rocket, get in hole, launch) but not what we'd call "safe"

            It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

            by Solarian on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:13:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Davy, Davy Crockett (0+ / 0-)

              Thanks for providing the link to the toss bombing.  The lob bombing approach I had seen previously had the aircraft lofting the bomb before passing over the target so that the bomb lobbed onto the target like an artillery shell.

              You got something against the Davy Crockett nuclear mortar?  Some of the specifications I've read on the weapon indicate that the blast radius was greater than the weapon's range.  That couldn't have inspired much confidence in its users.

              "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

              by PrahaPartizan on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:53:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's correct (0+ / 0-)

                the blast radius was larger than the range of the rocket. hence the importance of step one. What I always wondered is why you'd be all alone with a nuke infront of the rest of the army, or does everyone have to dig a big hole?

                It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic. - WSC

                by Solarian on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 07:06:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I heard the same tale about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      F-84's, except that the bag contained sand....

      “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

      by markdd on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 12:32:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yay! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello

    I am not the only Eagle Driver on this forum!

    Oh yeah, and a nice aviation diary too.

    If I wasn't a christian man, I'd be kicking yo ass! ~Daddy Rich

    by Dahankster on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:15:17 PM PDT

  •  I Spent A Lot Of Time In A P-80 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrankSpoke, Simplify

    .....it was on the playground,,,with the engine removed.  I think the tail was sealed up but there was a small service hatch above the left wing that probably only a child could fit through, and I used to slither through the air intakes into the empty engine compartment.  It smelled like insulation and old rubber.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:50:58 PM PDT

    •  me, too.. at least I assume it was a P-80 .. (3+ / 0-)

      Ours was displayed in the park/playground by a public pool (Larsen, now Sava) off 19th Ave., in the 60's/early 70's, in SF.

      Crawling through the fuselage, the myriad of hydraulic fittings, range of textures, coatings and metallurgy represented, and all those riveted aluminum brackets were hypnotizing.

      That's right! - the smell was certainly unique.

      As the years went on ..and fear of litigation increased, no doubt.. the plane became safer (sealed air intakes, etc.) and less interesting. And don't get me started on the old steam locomotive at the Zoo.

      Between that plane, the train and a slot car set, my motorhead proclivities became forever rooted.

      Thanks for that memory jog!

      ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

      by FrankSpoke on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:20:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ours Had The P-80 Orange Wing Tanks nt (0+ / 0-)

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:22:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  darn - I stand corrected: was an FJ-2 Fury .. (0+ / 0-)

          Looking for an image, I came across a ref. page of surviving FJ-2s (Naval version of F-86 Sabre) which lists the SN/location:

          132115    FJ-2    San Francisco, Carl Larsen Park

          Now I remember.. it was supplied by the USS Hornet. I believe it was scrapped in the 80's.

          ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

          by FrankSpoke on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:47:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, Simplify, prfb

    I LOVE Pima Air & Space Museum!! I drop by every time I'm passing through AZ.

    What a great gig to volunteer there!

    I still need to make it to the Bone Yard, which I've always missed the tours because of the timing. You can bury me there!

    I remember my first trip to PASM and finally seeing a B-58 and the B-47 - and the Super Guppy!! Wish I could have seen those flying - especially the B-58.

    Looking at the google maps satellite photo, it looks like they added a Mig 29 next to the Mig 21, and is that a B-36 being restored?

    Can't wait to get back there!

    Ever seen the XP-80 at the Smithsonian? In mint condition.

    Also a great one at the USAF museum in Dayton, OH. The experimental aircraft hanger there is probably one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. Getting to stand under an XB-70! - and all those awesome aircraft: X-3, XF-92, X-15, YF-12, F-107 - maybe bury me there instead. Speaking of F-15s, I wish they would put the Streak Eagle on display.

    Thanks for the great post!

    There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why...
    I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? ~ Robert Kennedy

    by Reality Bites Back on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:52:43 PM PDT

  •  Fascinating (0+ / 0-)

    I used to love reading about fighter jets when I was a kid. I had this great Larousse guide on them with amazing pics but I lost it. Great diary, thanks.

  •  I'm not passionate about planes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alumbrados

    but I do enjoy looking at them occasionally. For several years we have had a membership at the EAA museum in Osh Kosh because the kids like to go. If you have never been to it I recommend making a special trip to Wisconsin.

    We have never gone to the annual airshow (crowds are too much trouble, usually) but have been to the museum several times each year. I don't know if they have a P-80 but I'll be sure to look next time I go.

    www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:27:07 PM PDT

  •  The only planes that I've been on... (0+ / 0-)

    ...required that I pay for baggage and had peanuts for a snack, but I found this post very interesting.  Looking forward to your next one.

    Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:32:46 PM PDT

  •  My Dad helped build them! (3+ / 0-)

    My Dad worked for Lockheed as a sheet metal man and was involved in building the experimental Jets; Lockheed would not let him be drafted until the War was over. Then he spent 2 years in Korea. I was born in 42.
    Thanks for a great story, I did not know much about what Dad did, except for what is stated here. Have always loved aircraft though; In the Navy, served on the USS Ranger CVA 61 as a shipboard Radar ET.

    "Three things cannot be long hidden; The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth." Buddha

    by Grandson named me Papa on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:55:23 PM PDT

  •  so waddya think---are the days of piloted aircraft (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    in combat, numbered?  Will the F-35 be the last? Will unmanned aircraft pretty much take over?

    •  IMHO no. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alumbrados, cassandracarolina

      Certainly not for the froeseeable future.  Unmanned aircraft have carved out a military mission niche, but it's a narrow one.  That's just me ... I have nothing to back that up with.  Would you get on a remotely-piloted airliner?  The capability exists, but who would risk it?

    •  No, they will be adjuncts to manned aircraft... (0+ / 0-)

      ...because you still need a man in the loop and some situations dictate that be immediate, especially with regard to A2A combat. Plus, we will definitely need much more advanced AI.

      Having said that, the day will come when there will be more unmanned aircraft performing more missions, simply due to the threat environment. I wouldn't be shocked if fifty to sixty years from now, you don't have pilots maneuvering, you just have missles and UCAVS maneuvering and super VLO (Very Low Observable) aircraft acting as mini AWACS controllers controlling the fight from relatively nearby while staying just outside the direct threat envelope.

      Also, with LASERS otw as advanced offensive/counterair/defensive weapons, it's really hard to predict where anything is going to go. Missiles are amazingly reliable and accurate today, but ECM keeps getting better and laser defenses should be able to take missiles out. It's my feeling that a lot of warfare in the future will be non-kinetic, except in terms of needing to break things on the ground.

      Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

      by Alumbrados on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:21:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No Technology Every Fully Replaced (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, we'll probably see some crewed aircraft in combat situations in the future, but I suspect the ratio will be something like 1:19 crewed versus uncrewed.  Why?  We haven't been able to design a live pilot who can pull better than 11g turns and acceleration.  We can build airframes so much better now, capable of withstanding 3X the forces a human can, that any UCAV can just outperform a crewed vehicle.  With that sort of performance advantage available, the faster decision cycle available to a person on the site is almost immaterial.  Throw in the extra weight and design factors required to crew the airframe and the performance penalties become overwhelming.  The future of armed aerial combat will be UCAV.  We will need live pilots for the transport aircraft though.  Will the USAF relinquish that mission when that's all there is for the folks with the right stuff?

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:30:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  UAV's are still piloted aircraft... (0+ / 0-)

      .. the autopilot may be fancy and the pilot may be in a different location but there is still a human in the loop for now.

  •  Cool, checkin out thr site!! Now (0+ / 0-)
  •  Great diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    I was a CH-46 pilot in the Navy during the 70s/80s.  Now I fly jets commercially, and think about what I missed out on not flying them during my misspent youth.  Oh, well.

    Always fascinated by the ME-262, and what effect it would have had on the air war.  Hitler was convinced his "miracle weapons" would turn the tide of war in Germany's favor, but was reluctant to support/fund them over his other military initiatives, those being the more traditional land forces with which he was much more familiar.  Had it not been for Fatso Goering, I doubt very much the 262 would have ever seen a test flight, much less any kind of deployment.

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:22:39 PM PDT

  •  Don't Forget the Naval Aircraft (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, cassandracarolina

    I would encourage the series to include the naval jets which were developed during the 1940s and 1950s as well.  Today we've pretty much forgotten the aircraft Ryan, McDonnell and Grumman developed during those early days of jet flight, not to mention those weird birds which came out of Douglas and Chance-Vought.  Engine development was important too, because several airframe programs crashed and burned because the powerplants went "pffft."  Trying to achieve specificed speed, altitude and range is tough when the jet engine is putting out only two-thirds promised output.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:36:40 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for a great history lesson (0+ / 0-)

    This was fun since I grew up reading about (and seeing) the F-80 and F-86 (looking forward to your write up on that).   Thanks a lot.

  •  Is that where JFK's Air Force One is located? (0+ / 0-)

    If so, my son and I were there a few years ago, and it was an incredible experience to walk among those planes. Actual SAC bombers that held nuclear warheads. The remarkable collection of military jets. I love it!!
    The Air Force One is freaking spooky. To imagine him there at that desk. (banging stewardesses) Kidding, I'm kidding!!

    •  There is a DC-6 that was an Air Force One (0+ / 0-)

      ... for both Kennedy and Johnson.  They used it to fly into airfields with short runways, where they couldn't use the 707.  It used to be open to the public and you could walk around inside, but the USAF -- which still owns the airplane -- made us seal it up a couple of years ago and now you can only walk around outside it.  We also have Ike's old Air Force One, a Lockheed Constellation called Columbine.

  •  really interesting, thx eom (0+ / 0-)

    " In England, any man who wears a sword and a wig is ashamed to be illiterate. I believe it is not so in France" Sam. Johnson, per Boswell

    by Mark B on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:05:03 AM PDT

  •  Navy-Marine McDonnell F1H Phantom 1 & F2H Banshee (0+ / 0-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    The McDonnell FH Phantom was a twin-engined jet fighter aircraft designed and first flown during World War II for the United States Navy. The Phantom was the first purely jet-powered aircraft to land on an American aircraft carrier[2][N 1] and the first jet deployed by the United States Marine Corps. Although its front-line service was relatively brief, it helped prove the viability of carrier-based jet fighters to the leadership of the Navy. Furthermore, it was McDonnell's first successful fighter, leading to the development of the follow-on McDonnell F2H Banshee, one of the two most important naval jet fighters of the Korean War. Only 62 FH-1's were built before production switched to the more powerful F2H Banshee.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    The McDonnell F2H Banshee was a single-seat carrier-based jet fighter aircraft deployed by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps from 1948 to 1961. It was one of the primary American fighters used during the Korean War and was the only jet-powered fighter ever deployed by the Royal Canadian Navy,[1] serving the RCN from 1955 until 1962. The aircraft's name is derived from the banshee of Celtic mythology.

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:13:23 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary. I've spent some (0+ / 0-)

    time at the Pima Air Museum and have loved fighter planes my whole life. My favorite is the F-104 Starfighter.

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