Friday pictures: Douglas then and now

For quite a few years now, the Air Force has included so called Legacy Flights as a part of many airshows. These fly bys match one or more modern aircraft with one or more Warbirds, usually making for an intriguing combination. For the most part, the planes involved are fighters – P-51s, P-47s, P-39s, and P-38s are all understandably popular attractions.

This past May, there was a different pairing which I greatly admire. A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, which is made in the Douglas plant in Long Beach, California, appeared at Altus AFB in Oklahoma, flying in formation with a Douglas C-47 Skytrain. (It seems this same paring appeared in October in Texas, too.) To see these two Douglas designs next to one another, separated by decades of history and technological development, drives home not only the changes and advances aviation has heralded in such a short time, but also the difficulties that were overcome in the past when a C-47 was heavy airlift. (General Eisenhower once attributed the Allies’ vistory in World War II to the C-47, the jeep, the bazooka, and the bomb). Amazingly, the C-17 is not our biggest airlifter, but their shared lineage makes this pairing exceptionally appropriate. I am including a few shots here, and more can be found here. All photographs attributed by link to their source.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

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Rotary-wing Legos

I have managed to resist the urge to pass on any more scale Lego aircraft for almost two months (since this pair), but a pair of shots from Ralph “Mad Physicist” Savelsberg left me no choice.

We have previously seen his Boeing CH-46, but he now has build a model of its big brother a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook, also built by Boeing right up the Delaware River in Ridley Park (the old Vertol factory, which is the old Baldwin locomotive works). Here they are together:

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Additionally, he has posted a pairof attack helicopters that make another well crafted pair – a Bell AH-1 Cobra and a Boeing/McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache.

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As always, my hat is off to Ralph and his painstaking Lego modeling.

Friday pictures: World War II archive

I apologize for skipping a few installments of Friday pictures – work and Thanksgiving derailed me a bit, but I am back with a longer entry today, in part to make up for those missed posts. With no further ado…

As I say nearly every time I write these, Flickr offers an amazing chance to look through others’ eyes all around the world, and I have tried to show works here from across the country and from a few overseas photographers, too. The other dimension that photography permits us to travel easily is time, and I recently stumbled across a growing collection of pictures being assembled by Flickr user dougshely. A Missouri resident, Doug has gathered (as of this moment) 312 World War II images that are exceptionally well curated. They come from all over, although I think many of them are from Army and Navy historical archives. More recently, he has incorporated things from the Life collection recently released by Google. There are images of naval and land operations, but the majority of the pictures depict aerial actions and contain dozens of iconic, timeless images. Many of them were burned into my brain as I leafed through endless illustrated American heritage histories of World War II.

Of particular note is the effort Doug has taken to annotate the images – often deciphering plane names and associating them with units, serial numbers, and dates. It is a vivid reminder that these are not just striking pictures, but a record of the bravery and sacrifice put forth by thousands of young men in the service of their country and freedom. 

Choosing just a few of these pictures was hard, but here is a starting glimpse. You will want to look at the collection for yourself. My thanks for the work and dedication involved.

Some of them are beautiful.

Douglas A-20 Havoc medium bombers of the 9th Air Force over France
Douglas A-20 Havoc medium bombers of the 9th Air Force over France

Some are even in color. 

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force in formation
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force in formation

Some are saddening.

Douglas A-20 Havoc hit by flak over Germany
Douglas A-20 Havoc hit by flak over Germany

And some can never be forgotten.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator, severed by flak, falls from the sky
Consolidated B-24 Liberator, severed by flak, falls from the sky

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

The Unwanted Carrier

kh-12-1983-sat-image-of-nikolaev-shipyardA few weeks ago, I suggested you check out Information Dissemination for an update on India’s troubled acquisition of the Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov (a topic covered previously here). Good ol’ ID has a new post with further details and speculation, and if this is of interest to you, I encourage you to head over and read it.

It seems Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will soon be traveling to India and there is some speculation that this is the fish-or-cut-bait decision time for India whether or not to proceed with this deal.

For the full gouge, head on over to ID, truly one of my favorite reads on the web.

Friday pictures: Blaze of Glory

The Portland Airport is home to the 142nd Fighter Wing, which is part of the Oregon Air National Guard. Equipped with McDonnell Douglas, er, Boeing F-15 Eagles, the Redhawks provide air defense for the Pacific Northwest. They also attract a dedicated group of photographers on Flickr, who chronicle the unit’s operations in wonderful detail. Chief among them is Flickr member vector1771, whose photstream is full of hundreds of vivid pictures of F-15s in their element. I am a continent away from Portland, but by now I have watched this unit’s planes for so long I have begun to recognize tail numbers.

Today’s image naturally comes from vector1771 and captures the final flight of an Eagle driver, callsign Tug, as he lifts off and accelerates for his last unrestricted climb atop the Eagle’s two F100 engines. While I am sure this was a bittersweet day for Tug, I hope that he could set aside those thoughts while putting the plane through its paces for the last time. My thanks to Tug for his years of service to the nation, and my thanks to vector1771 for sharing his work so generously. You really want to click this and see it big. Really.

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If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Update on India’s acquisition of Russia’s Admiral Gorshkov

As a follow up to an old post of mine (here), I encourage you to head over to Information Dissemination for a detailed status review of the much-delayed Gorshkov deal between India and Russia.

U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

Will the Kitty Hawk ever see service in the Indian Navy? Unlikely, I’d guess, but still a fascinating topic of speculation.

Friday pictures: Hornet nears Mach

Aircraft performing at airshows in America do not, as a rule, break the speed of sound. I assume this is an FAA rule, and I see the value of it, but all the same I would love to attend a show where such a restriction were not in place.

Planes can still get close to Mach (for an explanation of that term, see here), and they do that all the time. If the air is humid enough, the rapid changes in air pressure lead to the creation of very small clouds. The location of these clouds correlates with areas of maximum cross sectional area, and ties in very closely with Frank Whittle’s are-rule theory that still shapes high-performance aircraft to this day. For more discussion, read this.

If all that theory bores you, then how’s this – I will stop yammering and move straight to Flickr user nelnov‘s picture of a Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. Taken at Scott AFB on September 20, 2008, this is a terrific capture of a spectacular phenomenon.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

[Update: I try not to do this, but I am compelled to add a shot to this post. Wow!]