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.

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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: South African Lightnings

Earlier this month, Douglas Barrie wrote a post on Ares, my favorite blog these days, about the English Electric Lightning receiving an Engineering Heritage Award (PDF) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As an insular American plane buff, I gave far too little time thinking about the Lightning. Barrie makes the claim, which may be true and may not be true, that the Lightning was “epitome of the single-role aircraft.” Surely the Lockheed Blackbirds vie for such a title, but I see his point. English Electric built 339 of these planes, all with their unique over-under engine layout. A decent summary of Lightning information is on Wikipedia, but there are many, many web sites devoted to this plane, which clearly has a very loyal group of enthusiasts preserving its memories. (As an aside, as an example of insular buffs, the press release for the above award refers to the F-35 Lightning II as the namesake of the English Electric craft, when everyone knows the Lockheed plane is named after its forebear the P-38. Silly Brits.)

Way down in South Africa,  a recent airshow saw two flying Lightnings performing, and I am sure they put on an amazing show. I only know about it through the wonder of Flickr’s myriad photographers, and this week saw a wonderful series of pictures come appear. Marked with sponsorship decals for Vodacom Business, these planes look simply fabulous, and my hat is off to all the sponsors who have put them in the air. A certain amount of googling suggests that the return to flight was in 2004, but I cannot pin that down for sure. No matter – Friday pictures are about aeronautic eye candy, so with no further ado, and thanks to silver~halide, here are this week’s shots (shots below are thumbnails; please follow the link to the photographer to see larger images).

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

Friday pictures: Supermarine Spitfire

Any collection of pictures that seeks to capture the beauty and grace of aircraft will eventually include a Spitfire. This plane is one of the most iconic machines ever built, with delicate lines that ensured recognition even by those whose eyes are never turned skyward.

This week’s specific Spitfire is a Mk. XVI owned by Vintage Wings of Canada. Built in August 1945, this plane is now 63 years old, and yet nothing about it seems antique. It and nearly 22,000 other Spitfires played a central role in England’s war effort, and came to embody much of the fighting spirit that defined the grim days of the Battle of Britain. To learn more about Spitfire development and employment, click here.

This week’s shot comes to us via Flickr’s Hawk eye 68, who captured this timeless portrait two weeks ago at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa. I do not know how many Spitfires remain in flying condition, but I can only trust that this one’s owners know what a significant piece of history they have and treat it with the requisite caution. These planes need to survive many generations to come.

Supermaine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire

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

Friday pictures: Lockheed P-38 Lightning

This post is more hurried than most, which is not fair, as the Lightning is a terrific plane, designed by Kelly Johnson, and deserves a slew of hyperlinks and background (I love the invasion stripes, for example). For the moment, I am going to have to let this picture speak for itself. Taken by  Mark Von Raesfeld, a familiar name around here, it is a natural follow up to last week’s shot of a Vought Corsair. (Mark’s work recently brought us a portrait of an F-86 and a MiG-15.)

Lockheed P-38 Lightning by Mark von Raesfeld
Lockheed P-38 Lightning by Mark von Raesfeld

 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 & MiG-15

Fifty-eight years ago, the North American F-86 Sabre and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 fought remorselessly for control of Korea’s skies, giving no quarter as they tangled in MiG Alley. Even though the skies over the Yalu River remain unwelcome to American aircraft today, times have changed sufficiently that these former foes now find themselves reunited in far more peaceful circumstances. I think it’s useful, as we look at the uncertainty in the world around us, to realize that the passage of two generations is enough time to witness profound changes in the world, and sometimes it’s change for the good.

Regardless of such thoughts, the two planes in this week’s picture are timeless examples of the first jet vs. jet combat ever. It is wonderful to see them in such perfect condition, and my thanks to Mark Von Raesfeld for his wonderful photography. As always, follow the link for a larger view.

F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino
F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino

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