Monday, 30 June 2014

Boeing P-26 Pea Shooter and Strange planes and Oddities

Gallery of the Bizarre: Odd looking aircraft: P-26 Pea Shooter

(photo: Michael O’Leary via Planes Of Fame)

The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California is sending their Boeing P-26A Peashooter to England this July to take part in the Flying Legends air show over the weekend of July 12th/13th at Duxford, in Cambridgeshire. This ulra-rare fighter plane is one of only two originals in existence, and the only one flying.

Interestingly, the Peashooter was the world’s first all-metal fighter, and the first monoplane in the US Army Air Corps. Boeing built 151 of them between 1932 to 1936. The type first saw combat with the Chinese Air Force on August 15th 1937, when eight Peashooter’s engaged twenty Japanese “Claude” bombers. They shot down two bombers without loss. A handful of them were still flying with the Army Air Corps in the Philippines when the US entered WWII in December, 1941. Ed Maloney acquired this example, 33-123, from the Guatemalan Air Force in 1957. The Guatemalan’s had used the type from 1943 until its retirement in 1957. The only other original survivor, P-26A 33-135, is on display with the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum at their Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. They also acquired it from Guatemala in 1957. There are a half dozen faithful replicas in various stages of completion dotted around the USA at present, and although one of these has flown in recent years, none are currently active.

It is probably the first time that a P-26 has ever visited Europe, and it is bound to cause a stir at Flying Legends. The Fighter Collection, organizers of the hugely popular air show, based at Duxford have close ties to many of the established vintage aircraft collectors/collections in the USA. They often work to bring one of their more unusual overseas exhibits to be a part of the Flying Legends air show to keep it fresh each year. Flying Legends will be the only chance to see the Peashooter flying during her UK visit. According to the air show details, the Peashooter will fly a carefully scripted solo routine each day of the show, and sit on the Flight Line during the remainder to allow close viewing of the unusual monoplane.


The Northrop N-9M was an approximate one-third scale, 60-ft wide, all-wing aircraft used for the development of the 172-ft wide Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 flying wing long-range, heavy bomber program. First flown in 1942, the N-9M (M for Model) was the third in a lineage of all-wing Northrop aircraft designs that began in 1929 when Jack Northrop succeeded in early experiments with his single pusher propeller, twin-tailed, twin-boom, all stressed metal skin Northrop Flying Wing X-216H monoplane, and a decade later, the dual-prop N-1M of 1939–1941. Northrop's pioneering all-wing aircraft would lead Northrop-Grumman many years later to eventually develop the advanced B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which debuted in Air Force Inventory in 1989.

Stipa-Caproni, an experimental Italian aircraft with a barrel-shaped fuselage (1932).
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Vought V-173, the "Flying Pancake", an American experimental fighter aircraft for the United States Navy (1942).
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Blohm & Voss BV 141, a World War II German tactical reconnaissance aircraft, notable for its uncommon structural asymmetry.
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Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster, an experimental bomber aircraft, designed to have a very high top speed (1944).
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Photo: U.S. Air Force

Libellula, a tandem-winged and twin-engine British experimental plane which gives the pilot an excellent view for landing on aircraft carriers (1945).
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Photo: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images

North American XF-82. Stitch together two P-51 Mustangs, and you get this long-range escort fighter (1946).
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Photo: U.S. Air Force

Northrop XB-35, an experimental flying wing heavy bomber developed for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II.
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McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, an American prototype jet fighter, intended to be deployed from the bomb bay of the Convair B-36 (1948).
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Photo: U.S. Air Force

Martin XB-51, an American "tri-jet" ground attack aircraft. Note the unorthodox design: one engine at the tail, and two underneath the forward fuselage in pods (1949).
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Photo: U.S. Air Force

Douglas X-3 Stiletto, built to investigate the design features necessary for an aircraft to sustain supersonic speeds (1953 - 1956)

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Lockheed XFV, "The Salmon," an experimental tail sitter prototype escort fighter aircraft (1953).
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Photo: U.S. Air Force

De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle flying platform, designed to carry one soldier to reconnaissance missions (1954).

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Photo: U.S. Army/army.arch

Snecma Flying Coleoptere (C-450), a French experimental, annular wing aeroplane, propulsed by a turbo-reactor, able to take off and land vertically (1958).

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Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar, a VTOL disk-shaped aircraft developed as part of a secret U.S. military project (1959)

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HL-10, one of five aircraft built in the Lifting Body Research Program of NASA (1966 - 1970).
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Dornier Do 31, a German experimental VTOL tactical support transport aircraft (1967).
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Photo: amphalon

Alexander Lippisch's Aerodyne, a wingless experimental aircraft. The propulsion was generated by two co-axial shrouded propellers (1968).
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Bartini Beriev VVA-14, a Soviet vertical take-off amphibious aircraft (1970s)
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Ames-Dryden (AD)-1 Oblique Wing, a research aircraft designed to investigate the concept of a pivoting wing (1979 - 1982).

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B377PG - NASA's Super Guppy Turbine cargo plane, first flew in its out-sized form in 1980.

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X-29 forward swept wing jet plane, flown by the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, as a technology demonstrator (1984 - 1992).

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X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft, a subscale prototype jet built by McDonnell Douglas for NASA (1996 - 1997).

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Beriev Be-200 Seaplane, a Russian multipurpose amphibious aircraft (1998).

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Photo: amphalon

Proteus, a tandem-wing, twin-engine research aircraft, built by Scaled Composites in 1998.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Horton Flying Wing to be restored

Horton Flying wing to be restored:

The Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum reports that restoration of their Horten H IV V3 is underway:

This is a repost. Original article Warbirds News and phots copyright Smithsonian

The NASM's Horten H IX V.3 Flying Wing is being prepared for shipment to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Center this month. Here we see shop Foreman Rob Mawhinney gently guiding forklift operators Amelia Kile, Carl Schuettler, Anthony Wallace, and Carl Bobrow as they carefully lower the unique prototype onto its purpose-built cradle. The artifact is incredibly fragile, and it was vital to get it perfectly balanced on the frame. (photo by Lauren Horelick via NASM)

The center section for their unique Horten H IX V3 is being prepared for transport to their Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. This radical-looking, flying wing is the prototype for what would have been the formidable Horten Ho-229 jet fighter with the Luftwaffe had WWII lasted much longer. Only one of the prototypes flew, and it crashed, but the Horten brother’s had proven the basic concept with smaller, but similarly-shaped gliders, so it really was only a matter of time and resources before the jet-powered variant could have been perfected for combat. NASM’s example is the last of her breed. American forces captured her in the closing days of the war, and shipped her back to the US for evaluation. The aircraft is based upon a steel frame, but the exterior cladding is mostly plywood, which is in quite poor condition with significant delamitation in places.

NASM has selected the aircraft for display inside the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at their Udvar-Hazy Center. The wings have been at the facility for some time, and now NASM has mounted the center section to a custom-built steel frame at its long-time home, the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Center in Silver Hill, Maryland. A sturdy cover will eventually be mounted to the steel cradle, totally enveloping the aircraft for protection on its roughly 40 mile journey to Chantilly. NASM is currently talking with local transportation officials to plan the route and timing for the move, which will likely happen later this summer. Hopefully, this amazing aircraft will join the restoration queue in the near future for preservation, and formal display in the main building.

However, NASM’s rare Martin B-26 Marauder “Flak Bait” is next in line for restoration at present, with the nose section on its way from their downtown Washington, DC headquarters in the coming days.

Cockpit view

Monday, 23 June 2014

Happy 60th Birthday A-4 Skyhawk! Close to NZ's heart

22 June : Sixty years ago today, the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk took flight for the first time. 

 A classic of Naval Aviation, the A-4 was an extraordinary aircraft.  The legendary Ed Heinemann created the Skyhawk at one-half of the weight allowed and the type remained in production for over 20 years.  The A-4 became the most impressive conventional bomber of its era, flying like a fighter but capable of bombing targets with great accuracy.  

The Skyhawk was so small that it did not require folding wings for use aboard aircraft carriers.  Skyhawks were the US Navy’s primary light bomber during the early years of the Vietnam War, carrying-out some of the first air strikes during the conflict.  On May 1, 1967, an A-4 became a MiG-killer when Lieutenant Commander Ted Swartz downed a MiG-17 with air-to-ground rockets!  A total of 2,960 Skyhawks were manufactured in a number of variants.  

Significant numbers were exported to other nations and Argentina, Israel, and Kuwait have all employed the A-4 in combat.  The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron operated the A-4 from 1974 through 1986.  The Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program used the A-4 in an adversary role and the TA-4J model served as the advanced jet trainer until being replaced by the T-45 Goshawk.  The aircraft was affectionately known as “Heinemann’s Hot Rod” and the “Scooter.”

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later by McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated A4D under the U.S. Navy's pre-1962 designation system.

The Skyhawk is a lightweight aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 pounds (11,100 kg) and has a top speed of more than 600 miles per hour (970 km/h). The aircraft's five hardpoints support a variety of missiles, bombs and other munitions and were capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low altitude bombing system and a "loft" delivery technique. The A-4 was originally powered by the Wright J65 turbojet engine; from the A-4E onwards, the Pratt & Whitney J52 was used.

Israeli A4

Skyhawks played key roles in the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Falklands War. Fifty years after the aircraft's first flight, some of the nearly 3,000 produced remain in service with several air arms around the world, including from the Brazilian Navy's aircraft carrier, São Paulo.

Skyhawks were the U.S. Navy's primary light attack aircraft used over North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War; they were later supplanted by the A-7 Corsair II in the U.S. Navy light attack role. Skyhawks carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the conflict, and a Marine Skyhawk is believed to have dropped the last American bombs on the country. Notable naval aviators who flew the Skyhawk included Lieutenant Commanders Everett Alvarez, Jr. and John McCain, and Commander James Stockdale. On 1 May 1967, an A-4C Skyhawk piloted by Lieutenant Commander Theodore R. Swartz of VA-76 aboard the carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, shot down a North Vietnamese Air Force MiG-17 with an unguided Zuni rocket as the Skyhawk's only air-to-air victory of the Vietnam War.

From 1956 on, Navy Skyhawks were the first aircraft to be deployed outside of the U.S. armed with the AIM-9 Sidewinder. On strike missions, which was the Skyhawk's normal role, the air-to-air armament was for self-defense purposes.

In the early to mid-1960s, standard U.S. Navy A-4B Skyhawk squadrons were assigned to provide daytime fighter protection for anti-submarine warfare aircraft operating from some Essex-class U.S. anti-submarine warfare carriers, these aircraft retained their ground- and sea-attack capabilities. The A-4B model did not have an air-to-air radar, and it required visual identification of targets and guidance from either ships in the fleet or an airborne Grumman E-1 Tracer AEW aircraft. Lightweight and safer to land on smaller decks, Skyhawks would later also play a similar role flying from Australian, Argentinean, and Brazilian upgraded World War II surplus light ASW carriers, which were also unable to operate most large modern fighters.Primary air-to-air armament consisted of the internal 20 mm (.79 in) Colt cannons and ability to carry an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on both underwing hardpoints, later additions of two more underwing hardpoints on some aircraft made for a total capacity of four AAMs.

Specifications (A-4F Skyhawk)

"Top Gun" aggressor unit

Data from Wiki,
General characteristics

Crew: one (two in OA-4F, TA-4F, TA-4J)
Length: 40 ft 3 in (12.22 m)
Wingspan: 26 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Height: 15 ft (4.57 m)
Wing area: 259 ft² (24.15 m²)
Airfoil: NACA 0008-1.1-25 root, NACA 0005-0.825-50 tip
Empty weight: 10,450 lb (4,750 kg)
Loaded weight: 18,300 lb (8,318 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 24,500 lb (11,136 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet, 9,300 lbf (41 kN)

Maximum speed: 585 kn (673 mph, 1,077 km/h)
Range: 1,700 nmi (2,000 mi, 3,220 km)
Combat radius: 625 nmi, 1,158 km ()
Service ceiling: 42,250 ft (12,880 m)
Rate of climb: 8,440 ft/min (43 m/s)
Wing loading: 70.7 lb/ft² (344.4 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight: 0.51
g-limit: +8/-3 g

Guns: 2× 20 mm (0.79 in) Colt Mk 12 cannon, 100 rounds/gun
Hardpoints: 4× under-wing & 1× under-fuselage pylon stations holding up to 9,900 lb (4,490 kg) of payload
4× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× 127 mm Mk 32 Zuni rockets)
Air-to-air missiles:
4× AIM-9 Sidewinder
Air-to-surface missiles:
2× AGM-12 Bullpup
2× AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile
2× AGM-62 Walleye TV-guided glide bomb
2× AGM-65 Maverick
6× Rockeye-II Mark 20 Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU)
6× Rockeye Mark 7/APAM-59 CBU
Mark 80 series of unguided bombs (including 3 kg and 14 kg practice bombs)
B57 nuclear bomb
B61 nuclear bomb
up to 3× 370 US gallons (1,400 L) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks (pylon stations 2, 3, 4 are wet plumbed) for ferry flight/extended range/loitering time

Bendix AN/APN-141 Low altitude radar altimeter (refitted to C and E, standard in the F)

Stewart-Warner AN/APQ-145 Mapping & Ranging radar (mounted on A-4F, also found on A-4E/N/S/SU)

Vietnam Experience:
 The first combat loss of an A-4 occurred on 5 August 1964, when Lieutenant junior grade Alvarez, of VA-144 aboard the USS Constellation, was shot down while attacking enemy torpedo boats in North Vietnam. Alvarez safely ejected after being hit by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire, and became the first US Naval POW of the war; he was released from being a POW on 12 February 1973. 

The last A-4 loss in the Vietnam War occurred on 26 September 1972, when USMC pilot Captain James P. Walsh, USMC of VMA-211, flying from his land base at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, was hit by ground fire near An Lộc. An Lộc was one of the few remaining hotly contested areas during this time period, and Captain Walsh was providing close air support (CAS) for ground troops in contact (land battle/fire fight) when his A-4 was hit, catching fire, forcing him to eject. Rescue units were sent, but the SAR helicopter was damaged by enemy ground fire, and forced to withdraw. Captain Walsh, after safely ejecting, had landed within NVA (North Vietnamese Army) positions, and had become a POW as soon as his feet had touched the ground. Captain Walsh was the last U.S. Marine to be taken prisoner during the war, and was also released from being a POW on 12 February 1973.

Although the first A-4Es were flown in Vietnam in early 1965, the A-4Cs continued to be used until late 1970. The Seabees of MCB-10 went ashore on 7 May 1965. On 1 June 1965, the Chu Lai Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) was officially opened with the arrival of eight A-4 Skyhawks from Cubi Point, Philippine Islands. The group landed with the aid of arresting cables, refueled and took off with the aid of JATO, with fuel and bombs to support Marine combat units. The Skyhawks were from Marine Attack Squadron VMA-225 and VMA-311.

On 29 July 1967, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was conducting combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. A Zuni rocket misfired, striking an external tank on an A-4. Fuel from the leaking tank caught fire, creating a massive conflagration that burned for hours, killing 134 sailors, and injuring 161. 


During the war, 362 A-4/TA-4F Skyhawks were lost due to all causes. The U.S. Navy lost 271 A-4s, the U.S. Marine Corps lost 81 A-4s and 10 TA-4Fs. A total of 32 A-4s were lost to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and one A-4 was lost in aerial combat to a MiG-17 on 25 April 1967.

Royal New Zealand Airforce:
In 1970, 14 A-4K aircraft were delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These were later joined by 10 A-4G Skyhawks from the Royal Australian Navy in 1984; all were converted to A-4K Kahu standard.

Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

The RNZAF withdrew the Skyhawks from service in 2001 and put them in storage awaiting sale. Draken International signed an agreement with the New Zealand government in 2012 to purchase eight A-4Ks and associated equipment for its adversary training services. The buy was later increased to 11 A-4Ks. These were subsequently relocated to the U.S. at Draken's Lakeland Linder Regional Airport facility in Lakeland, Florida. The other A-4K aircraft were given to museums in New Zealand and Australia or sold to individuals or organisation.
The New Zealand Government has not replaced the Skyhawks.

The first of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s former Skyhawk fleet being disassembled at Woodbourne, near Blenheim, as part of the Government’s decision to place some of the aircraft in museums around New Zealand.
NZ6254, a two-seat TA-4K Skyhawk, has had its protective coating removed and was dismantled into its major components ready for movement by Defence Force transport to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand at Wigram, Christchurch, the birthplace of New Zealand military aviation.

The Museum was very keen to acquire NZ6254 as it was the first Skyhawk to fly in New Zealand following delivery in May 1970 aboard the USS Okinawa. It was also one of two Skyhawks to undertake test-firing of the Maverick air-to-surface missile in 1989, the other aircraft being NZ6205, a single-seat model, which has also been allocated to the Museum. Both aircraft were the prototypes for Project Kahu which resulted in the aircraft fleet receiving a major upgrade to their avionics.
NZ6254 was reassembled at the Museum by the Unit and went on display soon afterwards so that visitors can get the opportunity of seeing the aircraft at close quarters.
Happier days for NZ6205

Amelia Earhart's sad demise

Dozens heard Amelia Earhart's final, chilling pleas for help, researchers say Distilled from 2 posts in the  Washington Post a...