Friday pictures: Tornado vapor

I know it’s been too long since I did this. I regret that. So many great shots to post, so many Fridays gone to waste. Yet life is full, and this can slide with no harm to anything, and so it has. Mea culpa.

Today we look at a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 pitching up at high speed, reheat engaged on both of its RB199 engines. Such power! This image was captured by Flickr user F6MAN, to whom I extend my thanks.


This aircraft grew out of the same 1960’s fascination with variable-geometry wings that spawned the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger, and the Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer, among others. Dassault tinkered around with swing wings on its Mirage G, G4, and G8 series of prototypes, which partially led to the Tornado. Wikipedia gives a useful timeline of the various studies that led to the Tornado – the AFVG, the MRA, the MRCA, etc. It is amazing to me to see how long it takes to move from desired capability to requirement to design to prototype to service introduction. The Tornado first flew in 1974, after almost a decade of development, and the last one rolled off of the line in 1998. It is operated by Britain, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, who together bought 992 airframes. At one point early in the effort, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands all showed interest as well – Canada went on the operate the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas/Northrop F-18 Hornet), and the others adopted the Lockheed (General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon.

To see previous appearances of the Tornado in this series, please click here, here, or here.

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


Friday pictures: F-86 Sabre

I seem to come back to the Sabre again and again – but how can I not? Its classic design, its stirling combat record, its place in a truly impressive lineage (P-51, F-86, F-100, F-107), and the fact that it flew in an era when planes wore flashy markings all combine to great effect.

The above shot, taken by Flickr user gunfighter157, shows one of the 655 Canadair-built North American F-86 Sabre VI . Curiously, although it wears USAF serial number 47-1461, that serial number was in fact assigned to a Republic F-84C Thunderjet. Web research turns up some information on its heritage, including:

Mk VI [CL-13B] (1956) 352 SAAF, N38301 (1983/3), stored dismantled and uncovered (by 1982-1990), to Michael Dorn (1996/1/30), to Frank Borman (1999/11), delivered to Chino CA for restoration (1999/11), N186FS (2000/1/3), to Edward H. Shipley (2001). This Sabre was previously owned by actor Michael Dorn and later former astronaut Frank Borman.  It is marked with the tail number “71461” but this does not match any USAF F-86 serial numbers.

Also this:

The paint scheme of this F-86 is a combination of two F-86 liveries which Frank Borman flew at the 3595th Combat Crew Training Wing and the USAF Fighter Weapons School.

From design in Ohio, to construction in Montreal, to service in South Africa, to California – this plane has seen a lot of the world over its 53 years, but it looks as vital as ever. As always, my thanks to those who maintain these aircraft and to those who photograph them so well.

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

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.

Friday pictures resuscitated

It has been quite some time since I last filed an entry in the Friday pictures series, and for all of my many loyal readers, I wanted to apologize for the unanounnced hiatus. Holidays and life clobbered the habit, and I will try to climb back in the saddle and resume what has been, I realize, a popular feature here at QES.

While I understand today is not Friday, I figured I would include a quick bonus picture here as a taste for the items to come.

The following image comes from Flickr user Moving Pictures Photography, and is taken of a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 rolling inverted as it flies low through Cad West over Wales. There are several Flickr photographers who haunt this training area for the RAF, and collectively their pictures document the skill and power dejmonstrated by the RAF as they refine their low-level flying skills. Many of the shots seem as if they could only be taken air-to-air, but are in fact simply shot down from the valley ridges at the planes below. Most impressive – I would love to see this in person, and hear it, too, of course.

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

Friday pictures: Big Bossman

Today’s installment of avaition pictures come from shots taken by Flickr user EverydayTuesday this past September at the Reno Air Races. The plane in question is a Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat named Big Bossman. Manufactured in 1946, bureau number 80503 led a varied life – dismantled in a California hut in 1973, registered to a Houston museum in 1988, rebuilt in Colorado, then off to Galveston in the nineties. Since 2003, this plane has been in the race cicruit. The Tigercats are very large, twin-engined planes, and I chose this week’s pictures since they show to such dramatic effect what a speedy, imposing plane this is. As always, my thanks to the photographer. Please follow the links to see larger versions, as well as additional pictures taken by EverydayTuesday.



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

Friday pictures: Raptor reprise

As much as I mourn for the ill-fated F-23, I am delighted to see the F-22 arrive in squadron service. While I have only seen one perform a very tame series of flyovers in a local air show, the Raptors are appearing in more and more airshows and that means more and more great shots of this amazing airplane. Here are this week’s three, all of which deserve to be viewed much larger, so please follow those links:


Raptor Reheat

F22 Raptor topside vortices and re heat 2.jpg

F22 Raptor turning

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

Friday pictures: Hawker Hunter

I’m not sure why I gravitate to so many British planes for this series – Jaguars, Tornados, and now a Hunter. The US has so many beauties, but Flickr seems to have some truly gifted English photographers, I guess. Next week, I’ll look for something non-British and see what I come up with. In the meantime, take a moment to revel in this gorgeous Hawker Hunter trainer, taken by timuss. Perfection. There are a few planes that look to me like the simple forms that kids draw in Middle School study hall. The Mirage F1 and the Lockheed F-90 are both examples of this. The YF-16 almost was, although few kids would have dreamed up the ventral inlet. The F-104 has a bit of it, too. Quintessential, timeless shapes.

Hawker Hunter

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