I was on the road last week on Spring Break (at least here in Texas last week is our Spring Break), so there wasn't an installment of Flying High This Past Week last week. I'll thrown in a bit extra this week! So here's what's been getting a lot of page views this past week here at TAILS THROUGH TIME:
- The 24th Combat Mapping Squadron: Unsung Heroes of the Pacific War: The crews of the 24th CMS fought their battles not with bombs but with rolls of film. They were instrumental in getting good quality maps made of the China-Burma-India theater but also participated in postwar mapping efforts for several nations.
- The US Navy's First Nuclear Bomber: From 1948-1951 the strategic deterrent of the US Navy rested with three-plane detachments of Lockheed P2V Neptunes aboard the three aircraft carriers of the Midway-class. Their crews were tasked with essentially one way missions should the balloon have gone up and they had to strike Soviet targets. There was no recovery back aboard the carrier- the P2Vs lacked the provisions. The crews were to make for a shore base or bail out. After 1951, the North American AJ Savage took over the role and it wasn't until 1958 that the Navy had a submarine based deterrent when the first Regulus patrol went to sea.
- The Birth of Indian Commercial Aviation and Its Father: Unsually amongst Britain's colonial possessions in the 1920s and 1930s, commercial aviation development was neglected in India. Imperial Airways was only concerned with connecting India with London and it would take a growing merchant class in India to nuture airline development with J.R.D. Tata, head of the Tata Sons industrial conglomerate, to lead the way. Tata Air Lines became Air India International in 1946 with the technical assistance of TWA.
- Fox Two! The Birth of the AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile: Probably one of the most significant air combat weapons since the gun, the Sidewinder's simplicity stemmed from its humble beginnings as a free-time project by small group of engineers at China Lake. The push for simplicity made the Sidewinder successful and its operating principles influenced a generation of heat-seeking air to air missiles as a result.
- The Story of "5 Grand", the 5000th B-17 Flying Fortress Built: A flying tribute to the employees of Boeing that made their contribution to the war effort building the B-17, sadly the aircraft was lost to history out of penny-pinching by government officials.
Now for the special Spring Break edition, here are five articles from the archives you may have missed or might be of interest to new readers to my blog:
- The Cadillac of the Constellation Line: In my opinion, one of the most graceful airliners built along with the Vickers VC-10 is the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner. The Starliner's new wing gave it the highest aspect ratio (12:1) of any propliner along with 2,000 lbs more fuel than the Super Constellation. In a lot of ways, the Starliner was the propliner counterpart of the Boeing 747SP as few airlines in the world of the day had routes long enough with demand for nonstop service that dovetailed with the Starliner's performance.
- Foxbats Over the Sinai: From 1971 to 1972, Russian-operated Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbats reconnoitered Israeli defenses in the Sinai that assisted with Egyptian planning for the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Sinai deployment proved the Foxbat's capabilities in an operational environment, convincing the Soviet Air Force to accept the aircraft for service.
- The Australian Canberra in Vietnam: From 1967 to 1971, No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force flew combat missions all over South Vietnam from Phan Rang AB. The Aussie Canberras got very good at visual bombing from altitude and as a result, the RAAF Canberra force was the only combat unit to routinely use level bombing with visual bombsights from altitude.
- The L-1000: Lockheed's Own Jet Engine: Probably one of the more interesting turns in aviation history would have to be when Lockheed was developing its own jet engine that compared to contemporary engines of the day, was quite a bit more advanced.
- Martin, the Titan I and the Titan II Ballistic Missiles: The Titan program started out as a back up to the Convair Atlas ICBM but soon become an advanced successor to the Atlas. The modular design of the Titan and its rock-solid reliability led it to become a stalwart of the space program starting with Project Gemini and its use as a heavy-life satellite launcher until the last Titan IV launch in 2005.