F-22 export update

An interesting article from Japan Times, especially in light of my earlier post on prospects for the export of the Lockheed Martin F-22, and another subsequent update.

Hat tip: The DEW Line

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: 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.

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.

Friday pictures: Shades of a Raptor

Last week I broke custom and chose a picture of a Spitfire on the ground. I will return to aerial shots, but not until next week. We will remain on the ground for another week with this week’s selection. It has been three months since I last selected the F-22 for this series, and that has taken discipline as this powerful plane lends itself to a lot of wonderful pictures that can be found on Flickr. At some point I will highlight some of those shots, but this week I am drawn to an image that approaches a Raptor as still life.

As usual, I want to make sure to extend my thanks to the photographer, Scott Lowe, and encourage you to follow the links and enjoy his other work, which includes several other pictures taken in the same series.

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

Nice gestures and smiles

I have in the past featured a number of posts covering intercepts between Russian and U.S. or NATO aircraft (1, 2, 3, and 4). With that in mind, I enjoyed the following, from an article by AP reporter David Nowak regarding an early-August tour he took of the Russian Engels air base (here, and background here).

The pilots, the more senior of whom earn only about $800 per month, appeared genuinely content and particularly excited about the mid-air camaraderie when U.S., Norwegian and British fighters approach.

Stekachyov said he usually gives them a thumbs-up.

“In the air we meet like colleagues,” he said. “It’s really nice to socialize with our foreign counterparts. It’s not like some make it out to be. There are always nice gestures and smiles.”

Hat tip: Ares (of course, which notes, regarding the nice gestures, “We’ll see how long that lasts.”)

P.S. Back in the day, Russians were freer with nice gestures and smiles, like this: