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Editorial Aviation museums give an ever-changing and exciting glimpse of our heritage.

OnlineCxtras March 2005

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MY RECOLLECTION OF visits to mu-

seums in my youth brings back memories of glass-cased ancient artifacts, musty replicas of long-extinct mammals, dioramas of forgotten civilizations—awe-inspiring during the first couple of visits, but my interest soon waned. All that changed when I discovered aviation museums. These were not stagnant displays from long ago but a new sort of history that continued to evolve, with artifacts constantly added as this vibrantfieldcalled aviation developed at a breakneck pace. Along with ever-changing displays, there are interactive exhibits, educational and public outreach programs, great lectures and even simulators that visitors can take a ride in to get the feel of what it was like to fly in some of the aircraft and spacecraft now on display in museums. Here are a few of the new programs we recently heard about: •The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash., is one of the largest aviation and space museums in the world, hosting more than 400,000 visitors a year from around the globe. This past lune 6, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the museum held the grand opening of its new $53.5 million, 88,000-square-foot Persona! Courage Wing, which highlights the stories of heroism, determination, innovation and sacrifice of World War I and II aircrews. It presents the history, aircraft and memorabilia behind those human experiences through interactive displays and exhibits, flight simulators, live theater and multimedia presentations. The new wing contains 28 meticulously restored or replicatedfighterairplanes in two main galleries. Among the 10 World War II aircraft are representative fighters from the various theaters of that global conflict. Eighteen World War I aircraft are displayed chronologically, beginning with the one-of-a-kind Italian Caproni Ca.2O—touted as the worid's first fighter plane. For more, check out their Web site at: www.museumofflight.org. • The greatly expanded U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, has recognized its growing stature as a major facility by changing its name to National Museum 6 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

of the U.S. Air Force. The complex, which boasts more than 300 aircraft and 17 acres of indoor exhibit space and hosts nearly L4 million visitors a year, recently added a Cold War Gallery and a Missile and Space Gallery. Coming up is a center to house the museum's collection of presidential aircraft. Check it all out at www. wpafb.af.mil/museum. • The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is keeping busy with a new art exhibition at its downtown Washington, D.C., flagship museum. Titled "Generous Friends: Building an Art Collection for the National Air and Space Museum," the new exhibition features items from NASM's collection of more than 4,000 pieces of art. ft recognizes those who have donated works to the museum and provides a visual history of the people and events involved in the development of powered flight and space exploration through paintings, drawings. prints, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics and textiles. • NASM's Udvar-Hazy Center hasn't rested on its laurels since its grand opening in December 2003. It recently followed through on expansion plans by opening the 53,000-square-foot lames S. McDonnell Space Hangar, where the newly restored space shuttle Enterprise anchors a collection of 113 large and 500 smaller artifacts that reflect the scope of space exploration history. NASM's Web site is: www.nasm.si.edu. • We recently heard of the opening of a new museum dedicated to smaller but no less interesting aviation artifacts—the Stanzel Model Aircraft Museum in Schulenhurg, Texas. This facility has several interactive exhibits as well as more than 30 static displays illustrating the life work of Victor and loe Stanzel, pioneer model aircraft designers, model builders and model airplane toy manufacturers. Included is the original 1939 Tiger Shark, the first control-line model airplane kit. You can check them out at: www.stanzelmuseum. org. Want to see more? Go to Google on the Internet and initiate a search for aviation museums. But be careful—you might well find that this search is addictive. A.H.S.

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Goto www. TheHistoryNet.com/ahi for these great exclusives: Bomb Ploesti at Any Cost—A pilot's detailed firsthand account describes a mission to bomh Romania's oil refineries in August 1943. 77ieFfyingOm/Jcs—^Stuntwoman Phoebe Fairgrave fell in love with flying as a teenager—then fell in love uith lanky flier Vernon Omlie and married him while they were barnstorming their way across the United States in the Roaring •20s. Flying Capronis With 'Fwrello's Foggiani'^Mler American architect George M.D. Lewis joined a group of U.S. Army Air Service pilots training in Italy under the command of Captain Fiorelfo LaGuardia, he described his roommates as "eight young men, representing Columbia, Oklahoma, Yale, Chicago, Princeton, Dartmouth, Georgia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania." Eighth Air Force Bombers: Death on the High Road—\n October 1943, Eighth Air Force bombers flew through hell to bomb Schweinfurt, Germany. For tbem, Schweinfurt meant only one thing: a killer town that was one of the most savagely defended targets along the aerial high road above Hitler's Third Reich.


KUDOS Great editorial in the November issue! Like you, I was always amazed at the Convair XC-99 every time it passed over my head (many times). I am certainly glad to hear that it may he restored. I was a member of the class of 53A (multiengine, held at Enid Air Force Base). Like you, I flew Fairchild C-124s—both A and C models. I was assigned to Strategic Air Command's 1st Strategic Support Squadron at Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso, Texas, and I loved every hour in the C-124, despite certain shortcomings. Thanks again for another great issue. The only trouble is, I can't get any work done on the day each nev^i Aviation History arrives. JackHoyt Via e-mail SLAUGHTER IN THE SKY As I do with each issue, I read the November 2004 issue cover to cover. Of particular interest was Jon Guttman's article about the 11th Aero Squadron, "Slaughter in the Sky." World War I fighters and their pilots are pretty well known, while bombers receive scant attention in most accounts of the air war. In his description of the September 26,1918, raid on Dun-surMeuse, Mr. Guttman mentions the shoot-down and capture of 1st Lt. Merian C. Cooper. It may interest your readers to know that this is the same Merian Cooper who produced KingKongand a number of other films. In the 1920s he was the real-life Carl Denham, who traveled the world seeking "cannibal and jungle" documentaries, which were very popular with audiences of the day. Was Cooper the pilot or the observer during that flight? I also wonder whether his service in a bomber is the reason why the aircraft diat dispatches Kong in the film is a Vbught Corsair—an aircraft of the same general type as the de Havilland D.H.4, though much improved. Marc S. Russo Brooklyn, N.Y.

partment, in the early 1950s. As Mr. Getz described in his article, Gilligan was preparing to bail out when there was an explosion and he was thrown from the plane. He told me that, after being stunned and blown out of the aircraft, he opened his eyes and saw bright blue—and thought he was in heaven. The v m d rushing by him brought him back to reality. BillLigon Rockledge, Ela. Editor's note: Several alert readers noted that the photo on P. 44 of the Eisenach article, showing the crew o/Betty Lou's Buggy examining 20mm shell damage to theB-17aftera mission to Eschwege, is actually of a different aircraft than the one mentioned in the article. In fact, there were two Betty Lou's Buggys in the 91st Bomb Group, and the one pictured was the other aircraft. Also note that the date of the 91st's mission to Berlin, mentioned as being in September 1943 in the caption on P. 41, is incorrect. Groups of the Eighth Air Eorce did notfly to Berlin until March 1944. We regret the confusion.

WILDCAT WADE I enjoyed the excellent article about Texan pilot and ace Lance "Wildcat" Wade by Michael D. Montgomery in your November 2004 issue. It may interest you to know that the Lone Star Flight Museum of Galveston, Texas, is operating a flight-worthy Supermarine Spitfire whose paint scheme is representative of Wing Cmdr. Wade's aircraft. It seems that many of the Allied flghter pilots who served in the Mediterranean theater ofWorld War II did not get the recognition that their brethren in the European theater received. Another one is South African Squadron Leader Marmaduke T. St. John "Pat" Pattle of the RAF Pattle was credited with shooting down between 40 and 50 Italian and German planes, but many of his victories could not be conflrmed. He was shot down and killed over Eleusis Bay, Greece, by a Messerschmitt Me-110 on April 20,1941. As a regular reader, I especially appreciate stories and articles Jon Guttman responds: Longtime readers o/Aviation History may on aerial warfare in the European and Mediterranean theaters. remember that Merian Cooper's career was covered back in the The piece on the 1941 air war in Iraq, for example, in the May issue March 1993 issue, in the "People and Planes" department. Space ("Air War Over Iraq," by Kelly Bell) was outstanding. Please keep limitations—and the fact that Cooper was not in the 11th Aero up the good work. Squadron but in the neighboring 20th—necessarily kept his role Robert J. Curtis in my story peripheral. Cataumet, Mass. Cooper, who was a pilot, did indeed have a life as adventurous as the characters in his earlyfilms, also flying for Poland in its 1920 I recently read "Forgotten RAF Ace" in the November issue. The war against the Bolsheviks, with the American volunteer 7th last paragraph, which states that there were "no markers" to "Xbsduszto" Eskadra, until he was brought down bygroundfire honor Lance C. Wade's contributions, caught my eye. I am a retired Air Force pilot and a member of American Legion and taken prisoner. He then escaped with a Polish comrade and made his way across Russia in winter to rejoin his squadron. In ad- Post 326 and Longhorn Flight 38 of the Order of Daedalians in dition to writing King Kong with Edgar Wallace and producing Austin, Texas. Perhaps one or both of these organizations may be and directing it with Ernest B. Schoedsack, Cooperflew one of the interested in helping to establish a marker for Lt. Col. Wade in Vbught 02Us that shot the big ape off the Empire State Building— Recklaw, Texas, or elsewhere. If other groups have already tackled this worthwhile project, we might still be able to join them. with Schoedsack manning the twin guns in the observer's pit. Fred A. Hannah Jr. E- mailfredngene@evl .net BACK TO EISENACH I especially enjoyed the article by Lowell Getz, "Forty Seconds Over Eisenach," in the November 2004 issue, which included Send letters to Aviation History Editor, Primedia History Group, mention of the Boeing B- 17G Texas Chubby-TheJ'villeJolter and 741 Miller Drive, Suite D-2, Leesburg VA 20175, or e-mail to its co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Frank Gilligan. Frank (or Gilly, as he was called) AviationHistory@thehistorynet.com. Please include your name, and I worked together in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy De- address and daytime telephone number Letters may be edited. 8 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


People & Planes Lytle Adams struggled to perfect his own airmail pickup system in the 1920s and '30s. BY MARJORIE S. WERTZ

In January 1940, the airmail picl<up system that was refined and promoted by dentist Lytie S. Adams (right) is demonstrated at an airfield in Coatesviile, Pa.

A SEATTLE DENTIST BY TRADE, Lytle S. Adams

became intrigued by the unlimited potential of aviation during tbe 1920s. His belief tbat technology should benefit the majority of people led to a 15-year campaign to perfect the airmail pickup system. Adams saw aviation as a way to transport mail and other cargo efficiently and economically. If airplanes did not have to land, he reasoned, mail service could be expanded to out-of-the-way tovms and communities that did not boast the luxury of an airport. At age 41, Adams began work on his own airmail pickup system in Seattle. Between 1928 and 1934, he applied for and received numerous patents on his system, which was based on an early pickup method devised by Godfrey L. Cabot, a Boston scientist and engineer. Their systems incorporated the use of a 75-foot-long wire cable with a steel ball attached to a lower section of the airplane. The flier would maneuver the cable into a metal trap on the ground, which was wide at one end and enclosed by vertical walls that gradually tapered into a small slot. While the aircraft was flying at low altitude, the flight mechanic would drop the cable into the trap. The 10 AVIATION HISTORV MARCH 2005

steel ball would act as a grapple of sorts and slip inside a coupling at the tip of the slot, thereby carrying anything that was attached to it, such as a mailbag or package. At the same time, the connection at the end ofthe ball opposite the cable attachment would break, dropping the incoming mailbag or cargo at the narrow section ofthe trap. Adams improved on the original system hy adding a shock-absorbing device that precluded any damage to the aircraft caused by the sudden union ofthe ball and coupling on the ground. He first used an elastic cord to connect the cable to the airplane, then devised a spring mechanism for hauling in the cable and cargo. When those devices didn't adequately cushion the shock, Adams designed an adjustable, spring-activated catapult that threw the package forward at the same speed as the airplane. Adams constructed hundreds of scale models to test and refine his system. He gradually moved on to larger models before designing and constructing a full-scale version that was mounted on a turntable. At this stage in the design process, Adams received invaluahle support from aircraft builder and fellow Seattleite William E. Boeing, whose engineers helped to develop the turntable model.


By August 1928, after a series of successfu! test pickups, Adams felt confident enough to close his dental practice and concentrate on getting financial hacking for his system. He promoted his idea at aviation shows in 1929 and formed two companies—Airways Patent Holding Corporation, which controlled his patents and distrihuted licensing rights to the pickup system; and Adams Air Express Inc., a New York-based company that handled publicity. Adams soon saw a chance to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of his setup. At the time, mail from an incoming ship took more than 24 hours to reach Newark, NJ., which was the eastern terminus for the transcontinental airmail system. If the mail could be picked up while a ship was heading into port, Adams reasoned, delivery time would he greatly decreased. Paul Chapman, president of United States Lines, agreed to install an airmail pickup system on the ship Leviathan. He also outfitted a Burnelli monoplane with the necessary pickup equipment. On May 25, 1929, Leviathan left New York Harbor hound for Southampton, England. Adams' plan called for the Burnelli to meet the ship 600 miles out of New York on its return trip. Adams himself was aboard the ship to oversee the experiment. "I am very anxious that this first pick up

should be a successful one," wrote the inventor to Thomas A. Morgan of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, who was also on the hoard of directors of Adams Air Express. "While I do not feel it would mean our defeat I do feel that to make the pick up at the first trial would he a tremendous send off for our company." Adams did not get his wish. After the Burnelli was severely damaged in an accident at Keyport, N.J., on lune 6, a Loening Air Yacht was outfitted with the pickup equipment and sent to meet Leviathan off the coast of Nantucket Island. Stormy weather and a defective radio prevented that plane fi"om locating the ship. Disappointed hut unwilling to give up, Adams tried again. On June 12, Leviathan was 60 miles at sea when a Fairchild cahin airplane deposited a mailbag in the airmail trap on its deck. But the pickup mechanism malfunctioned as 2,000 passengers looked on. The Fairchild's pilot and flight mechanic made 12 unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the mailbag from the trap. The 13th try proved successful, and the mailbag was flown to Newark in the first ship-to-shore mail pickup. While the Leviathan trial wasn't nearly the success Adams had hoped for, one man who saw a demonstration in New York was impressed. Clifford Ball, operator of the Contract Air Mail (CAM) Route 11 between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, saw the new

system as a way to increase the volume of mail on his route without having to add stops. After Ball met with Adams, the two agreed to try out the pickup method on CAM Route 11. Ball was responsible for partial funding of the project and getting Post Office Department approval. SECOND ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GeneralW. Irving Glover declared his satisfaction with the route and equipment and authorized a six-month service test of the equipment. However, the department would not underwrite any of the costs, which had to be paid by Ball and Adams or any communities chosen as pickup points along the route. While Adams supervised the construction of pickup traps at two stops. Ball readied the airplanes and selected two of his most experienced pilots, Trowbridge Sehree and Lowell B. Scroggins, tofiythe pickup routes. George Smith and Dixon Markey were scheduled to handle the mail and operate the equipment. Two months after the start of the Adams/ Ball business enterprise. Ball asked the Post Office Department to relieve him of the service. By September 1930, the Post Office bad stopped the pickup service along Route 11. Ball told Post Office officials he was leaving the business because of troublesome equipment problems and disagreements Continued on page 66

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Enduring Heritage North Texas, an area rich inflightmuseums, has a new world-class aviation showplace. BY C.V. GLINES Texas' newest aviation museum in ttie Dallas-Fort Worth area showcases 25 mint-condition aircraft on indoor static display.

Its origins go back to Richardson, on the outskirts of north Dallas, where the nationally prominent History of Aviation Collection is located at tJie McDermott Library on the campus of the University of Texas, Dallas. The collection was originally established in 1965 at the University of Texas, Austin, by the late George E. Haddaway, an aviation magazine publisher whose donations formed the core of the collection's aviation hooks and artifacts. The collection was transferred to the University of Texas, Dallas, and with donations of material from estates and several hundred individuals connected with aviation, it now includes thousands of books, periodicals, photographs, aircraft maintenance manuals, motion pictures and videotapes covering the entire history of flight. The collection is especially noted for having acquired the extensive personal files and lighter-than-air artifacts of Vice Adm. Charles E. Rosendahl, the U.S. Navy's leading proponent of airships. One continually growing collection is represented by the extensive files of the China Air Transport/Air America airlines established by the CIA in Soutbeast Asia. Now declassified, they have been added to records donated by employees to provide a unique history of American secret activities during the Vietnam War. It is also the home of the James H. Doolittle Library, containing tbe books and correspondencefilesof the aviator plus the associated archive of his famous Tokyo Raiders. When the number of three-dimensional donated itemsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;artifacts such as a glider, aircraft engines and Zeppelin radio equipmentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;became too large to house at the university by 1988, tbey were among the initial objects used to create the Erontiers of Elight Museum at Dallas' PROBABLY NO OTHER STATE HAS as many museums Love Eield. The only space at the field then available was as Texas. The Lone Star State's Association of Museums a small area tbat had been a restaurant on the second lists nearly 500 member museums, including 19 devoted floor of the passenger terminal. to aviation. In addition, many cities and towns have statAll that changed on the night of May 21, 2004, when ues, monuments or plaques to remind present and future 1,200 formally attired guests dined at the opening gala in generations of contrihutions by individuals, industries the entirely new world-class, 100,000-square-foot, freeand the military to the state's aerospace history. standing Erontiers of Elight Museum. Located at the south The area surrounding the ever-expanding Dallas-Fort end of thefixedbase operators' hangar line on the east Worth International Airport (DFW) in north Texas is an side of Love Eield, the new aerospace showplace occupies especially thriving mecca for flight enthusiasts. There are the former site of a hangar that had become an eyesore. a dozen aviation museums and archives vdthin a short The gathering included Walt Cunningham, lunar module driving distance. And now there is an outstanding new pilot on the 11-day flight of Apollo 7 in 1968, and Colonel James H. Doolittle IJI, grandson of the famous Jimmy history of flight showplace in Dallas. 14 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


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Doolittle, along with industry executives, writers and airline and military pilots. Many attending admitted they had never anticipated anything so impressive, remembering the austere displays formerly housed in the passenger terminal. It still hadn't seemed possible at the groundbreaking ceremonies, held on a frigid day in January 2003. But on this night they had come to celebrate and pay tribute to the realization of the goal of three individuals who had led the way to this brand-new aviation museum: U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, J. Jan Collmer and William E. Cooper, all well-known Dallas residents. Hutchison, the state's senior U.S. senator, is also active chairman of the museum's board of directors and fully appreciates Texas' rich heritage of aviation history and achievement. She said recently: "As a co-founder, I am especially pleased our dream of a Frontiers of Flight Museum is realized. North Texas now has a museum of national prominence to preserve that legacy and share it with the community and the country." Now up and running under the direction of Dan Hamilton, the museum features 25 mint-condition aircraft on indoor static display. The initial offering includes a Beech Staggerwing,VbughtA-7 Corsair and RF-8G Crusader, BuckerBii-133/wngmrarer, Pitts S-2B (donated by Collmer, an outstanding aerobatic pilot), Bel] UH-1 Huey helicopter, Learfan 2100, D-21 Drone, Glasflugel BS-1 sailplane. North American T-38 jet trainer, 1928 Temple Monoplane, World War I Sopwith Pup, and the Apollo 7 command module, on loan from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. As a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, it will be able to obtain more airplanes and spacecraft and equipment on loan to provide a constant flow of new exhibits. No aircraft will be stored outdoors. One of the major features designed into the structure is the 20,000-square-foot Education Experience Center. A model-making shop, simulated control tower, learning kiosks and a fully instrumented Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 cockpit and simulator are focal points for three age levels, preschool, middle school and high school. Even toddlers have their own make-believe control tower and jumbo jet, and they can also build paper planes and crank a collection of gears. There are more than 20 interactive and entertaining galleries with displays that teO the history of flight from the early dreamers to the activities of the jet, rocket and space-age pioneers of the new century. A special Love Field exhibit covers the history of the airport from its inception during World War I in 1917 to its present role as a vital airline hub. The histories of former local companies, such as Braniff International and Vought Corporation, shomng their impact on local


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aviation's past, are highlighted with threedimensional artifacts and photo displays. A 200-seat multimedia theater will feature special films for all age hrackets. The new museum has been made possihle hy a $7.2 million State Transportation Enhancement Project (STEP) grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. This was further funded hy $1.8 million in matching funds to expand the facilities and enhance the collections. More than 350,000 visitors are expected during the museum's first 12 months, Texans are proud of their aviation heritage and are anxious to show it. In addition to this new showplace, there are the other estahlished air museums easily accessible from the busy DFW airport. Nearest is the American Airlines/C.R. Smith Museum, conveniently located just off its south houndary. Displayed are hundreds of aviation photographs, airline memorabilia and artifacts including Flagship Knoxville, a lifesize American Airlines Douglas DC-3. Its exhihits feature the airline's history from the days when various companies went into forming the original American Airways, which was then reorganized in 1934 into American Airlines, now the world's largest international airline. On the west side of Fort Worth at Meacham International Airport is the Vintage Flying Museum, where more than 20 classic aircraft and a large engine collection are assembled. There is a heavy emphasis on air combat over Europe during World War II. The centerpiece is a Boeing B-17G, the last of the Pathfinder aircraft specially configured with target acquisition radar. The museum also features an FAA Aviation Education Resource Center, where teaching materials and information are available. Sharing a space with the Vintage Flying Museum is the OV-10 Bronco Association and Museum, dedicated to preserving the history of Rockwell International's OV-10 turboprop aircraft and the people who flew and serviced it for forward air control and armed reconnaissance missions in Vietnam. The Texas Air Command, also co-hangared at the Vintage Flying Museum, features a collection offlyableVietnam-era military helicopters, including a Bell UH-IH Huey and two Bell OH-58 Kiowas. The Pate Museum of Transportation, located in a suburb of Fort Worth near Cresson, features antique automobiles, a railroad car and a mine sweeper, as well as a diverse collection of artifacts represendng the scope of the technology and history of human transport. Its 15 airplanes and helicopters on display include a Douglas C-47, Vought F-8, Republic F-105, North American F-86, Fairchild C-119, McDonnell F-101, Grumman HU-16 and Kaman HH-43F helicopter. The Naval Air Station/]oint Reserve Base, formerly Carswell Air Eorce Base, located


northwest of Forth Worth, features some 15 aircraft on static display that represent a variety of types tised in operations by all the military services. The collection of modern fighters includes a Lockheed Martin F-16, Republic F-105, McDonnell Douglas F-4, Grumman F-16, Douglas A-4, North American F-86, Lockheed F-80 and a Sikorsky UH-34 helicopter. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum at Addison Airport on the north side of Dallas features one of the finest collections of flyable vintage aircraft in the American West. The earliest model here is a Sopwith Camel, and one of the latest is a Russian Mikoyan-GurevichMiG-31,capahleofMach2. it isoneof the few locations where visitors can regularly get flights in WWII trainers such as the Stearman N2S-4 and North American AT-6 Texan. The Dallas/Fort Worth Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) at Lancaster Airport south of Dallas also has a large collection of flyahle World War II aircraft that participate in airshows all over the country. Headquartered at Midland, Texas, the CAF's major objective is "to preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which wereflownby all military services of the United States during World War II." Only a half-hour drive north of Dallas/Ft. Worth, at the Texas Women's University Library in Denton, is the archive for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who delivered military aircraft from factories to U.S. bases during World War U. Terrell, east of Dallas, has the Terrell Heritage Museum, featuring memorabilia and photographs from the No. 1 British Flight Training School. Several hundred Royal Air Force pilot trainees received their initial flight training at a nearby airfield during World War IL For those interested in glider history, the Silent Wings Museum, formerly located at Terrell, is now established at the international airport in Lubbock. Its displays, collected by the WWII Glider Pilots Association, feature the memorabilia, equipment and history of the wartime American military glider program. The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum is located at the airfield in Tyler, an easy drive to east Texas. It features three-phase exhibit areas for contemporary and historic aviation items and memorabilia. The aircraft collection includes a Russian MiG-17F fighter, a Czech L-29 Delfin trainer and a Polish TF-11 trainer. A U.S. Navy North American Fl-4 Fury jet fighter and a U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-lllA Aardvark supersonic fighter-bomber are special attractions. Texans are proud of their many contributions to aerospace history. A trip to any of their excellent aviation museums will go a long way to explaining why "t"

MOSCOW AEROSHOW MAKS 2005 RUSSIAN AVIATION AND MILITARY RISTORY TOURS May and August 2005 Celebrating the 60th Anniversary ofthe Victory in WWII

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Aerial Oddities Fokker's twin-enginefighterhad potential, hut also prohlems—and time ran out hefore they were solved. BY JON GUTTMAN The Fokker D.XXIII was notable for its fore-and-aft engine arrangement—as well as aft engine cooling probtems.

bomber and the D.XXI fighter. Neither plane could be called groundbreaking when they entered Dutch service in 1938, but they performed reasonably well and they were relatively inexpensive, which ap„ pealed to nations with limited defense ? budgets. In consequence, Fokker D.XXIs— i or licenses to build them—were sold to I Denmark and Finland as well as the Netheri lands (see Aviation Histon'. March 2004). I Amid that sohd success, Fokker dis^ played another burst of creativity with the ^ G.I Jachtkruiser, a twin-engine, general I purposefighterprototype that had caused I a sensation at the 1936 Salon de I'Aeroy nautique in Paris and contributed to a s trend among other European countries, the United States and lapan to build variANTHONY FOKKER, WHO WAS BORN in the Dutch ations on the concept. While development proceeded on East Indies but staited his airplane building career in Ger- production variants of the G.I, in late 1937 the Fokker enmany, established an ambiguous reputation during World gineering team, led by Marius Beeling, set its sights on a War 1. On one hand, he hecame renowned for aviation in- new, advanced successor to the D.XXI. As Beeling put it, novations—the E.I with its forward-firing machine gun "After studying all feasible configurations, we had consvTichronized to fire through the propeller, the Dr.I tri- cluded that we should concentrate on a twin-engined plane with its cantilever wing structure and the fighter with a tandem, fore-and-aft arrangement of the redoubtable D.VIl hipiane. On at least two occasions, power plants...." however, the German aircraft inspectorate held up proBeeling's concept was hardly unprecedented^ack in duction on Fokkerfighters,the Dr.I and E.V monoplane, 1915 Fokker engineer Martin Kreuzer had experimented because of structural failure attributed largely to faulty with that ver)' arrangement on the M.9, and several other qualit\' control. aircraft firms had tried it thereafter. None of those That duality carried into the 1920s, v^hen Fokker con- tandem-enginefightersentered production, however, betinued to produce great aircraft in both the Netherlands cause of stability and cooling problems inherent in the and the United States, holding on to the fabric-covered, design. Beeling, however, was convinced that those probmixed metal and wood structures he had pioneered lems could now he overcome, and that the advantagesduring World War 1. while other aircraft builders were neutralized torque of the two engines, improved visibility adopting stressed-skin metal over an all-metal airframe. for the pilot (who would be seated forward of the wing), When a Fokker F- lOA airliner crashed on March 31,1931, fore and aft pilot protection afforded by the engines, a killing well-known Notre Dame football coach Knute "clean" wing unencumbered by the engines and no loss Rockne, the old suspicions of structural failure due to of stability' in the event of one failing—would make the poor qualit>' control re-emerged. By 1934, Fokker had left effort worthwhile. Although development of the G.I, the United States, but he continued to manufacture air- T.VinW fioatplane torpedo bomber and T.IX medium bomber had higher priorit)', in December 1937 Beeling craft in the Netherlands, In addition to his commercial endeavors, Fokker built and his team began work on the tandem fighter as an adContinued on page 68 aircraft for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, such as the T.V 20 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


In Jack Fellows' painting Vienna Mission, the Consolidated B-24H Maxwell House: Good to the Last Drop, piloted by Flight Officer Albert Lowe, is surrounded by flak bursts near the aircraft factory at Wiener Neustadt on May 10.1944 (Jack Fellows, Cactus Air Force Art Project}.

In May 1944. B-24 crews of the 460th Bomb Group encountered a deadly storm of flak as they approached the aircraft factory at Wiener Neustadt. BY TERRY M.MAYS


An aerial photo taken during an earlier mission to the Wiener Neustadt factoryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; on November 2,1943â&#x20AC;&#x201D;shows a Fifteenth Air Force Liberator over the target.

Truman, moved into the homb bay, and Smith began cranking the doors open. Just then Smith realized that he had snapped his chest parachute onto his suit backward. Although it would have stiiJ operated propedy. Smith let go of the door handles to reverse the chute. When the doors started to roll back down, Truman quickly leapt into the bomb bay and went through the opening just before the doors closed. Lowe kept the bomber as steady as possible while the crew members jumped. After the others had left the plane, he planned to turn around and make a running leap into the bomb bay area and parachute to safety. But Lowe later recalled that his co-pilot's face appeared extremely pale at that juncture, alerting him that something must have gone uTong with the evacuation. The plane was falling rapidly, and there wasn't enough time to reopen the bomb bay doors, Four crewmen remained in the powerless bomber. Lowe had been warned that his B-24 wasn't capable of gliding, but he started searching for an open area in which to crashland. He ordered his co-pilot. Lieutenant Robert Wilson, to pump theflaps.Lowe spotted a newly plowed wheat field, and the other crew members assumed their crash |)ositions as the plane descended. The B-24 hit the ground with a bone-shattering jolt. Lowe later recalled hearing deafening cracks and pops as the bomber slid through the rockyfield.Finally, what was left of the B24 decelerated and came to rest. They had told Lowe it couldn't be done, but he had done it. He had coaxed a powerlight Officer Albert Lowe peered from the cockpit of his less B-24 into a successful dead-stick landing. Consolidated B-24H, Maxwell House: Good to the Last Maxwell House was not the only 460th Bomb Group B-24 to suffer Drop, and spotted the long runway in the distance. Spinaz- fiak damage over Wiener Neustadt on May 10,1944. In fact, more zoia airfield, the hotne roost of the 762nd Bomh Squadron, than one quarter of the 460th's bombers (eight out of 28) suffered 460th Bomh Group. Fifteenth Air Force, lay only 10 miles ahead. The substantial damage from German anti-aircraft guns during the misfour-engine heavy bomher was apparently still airworthy despite sion. Five hombers were lost, two other heavily damaged planes seriousflakdamage from German anti-aircraft guns over the Wiener managed to reach other American airfields, and one more B-24 Neustadt aircraft plant earlier in the day The plexiglass over the nose limped home to Spinazzola with only half of its crew. The Wiener gunner's position had been hlown away when a flak sheO burst near Neustadt mission testified to the deadliness of German anti-aircrafi the plane. One engine remained feathered and useless, and Maxwell artillery American daylight bomber crews faced in World War 11. House was leaking both fuel and hydraulic fluid. Despite the Lowe, an original pilot with the newly formed 460th Bomb Group, damage, the plane limped toward home with an uninjured crew. had arrived in Italy with the unit in March 1944. The new group Lowe reviewed his approach again in his mind. He would guide found Spinazzola primitive compared to what it had been accusthe plane straight toward the airfield, fire a warning flare to alert tomed to during training in the United States. A horse stable served emergency crews on the ground, and then try for a crash landing as the mess facility, and the crews lived in tents. The group's initial bombing missions proved to be milk runs, with little German fighter on the dirt strip alongside the metal landing mat at Spinazzola. Then, without warning, the three functional engines gave dying opposition or flak. The missions became more difficult as the group chugs, followed by dead silence, as the last drops of fuel ran out. went after more challenging targets such as the Ploesti oil refineryLowe immediately hit the bail-out bell, and thefivecrew members in Romania. During no other mission they tackled, however, did in the rear leapt from the B-24 and opened their parachutes. The they encounter the intense fiak they found over Wiener Neustadt navigator. Lieutenant Thomas Smith, and the engineer, a Sergeant on May 10.

F

24 AVIATION HISTORY MAKCH 2005


An operations sergeant awakened Lowe around 3 a.m. on Uiat fateful morning. The pilot dressed and walked to the mess hall for a breakfast of cold pancakes and powdered eggs. After breakfast, the crews clambered into trucks for the journey to the briefing room, then sat on benches while briefers spoke from a stage at the head of the room. One speaker uncovered a screen on the stage to reveal a map with the day's targetâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the aircraft plant at Wiener Neustadt, outside Vienna, Austria. Lowe later remembered hearing a few moans as the men realized This 460th Bomb Group B-24 Liberator managed to limp back to Spinazzola airfield after what the group would be up against. The taking a hit in its number 2 engine on April 24,1944. target would be heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns, and the pilots could expect German fighter opposition both to and from the target. of guns, including the Flak 38, Flak 40 and Flak 41. The Flak 38s could Armament crews placed eight 500-pound high-explosive bombs in each B-24, and the maintenance personnel preflighted the planes. Looking back on the raid, Lowe had nothing but praise for his crew chief, a Master Sgt. Skinner, summing up by saying, "He was an excellent aircraft mechanic!" The pilots and crews boarded the bombers approximately 30 minutes prior to takeoff and initiated tbeir preflight checks. When a flare signaled it was time to start their engines, the first pilot opened his throttles and headed for a takeoff. As soon as the first plane began accelerating dowTi the runway, the next plane rolled into position. Once airborne, each squadron fortned on its leader until tbe formation was complete. By 8:30 a.m. the group had completed its formation and initiated a turn toward the Adriatic Sea.

A

total of 42 B-24S from the 460di Bomb Group took off from Spinazzola for the 2M- to 3-hour trip to Vienna. Seven aircraftâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the entire low box formation of the first attack u n i t aborted the mission because of weather, jettisoned their bombs over the Adriatic Sea and returned to base. Two aircraft returned early due to sick aircrew members, four abotted because of engine trouble and another plane turned back after a parachute was accidentally opened inside the plane. Twenty-eight bombers continued on toward a German reception that none ofthe crew members would ever forget. Surprisingly, as they approached the target at 22,000 feet, they had not encountered any German fighters, which must have been concentrating on earlier groups. Lowe and the other pilots maintained a tight formation to help deter any fighters that might be in the area. The tighter the formation, the greater tlie concentration of guns that could be massed against an attacking figbter. Lowe compared holding a B-24 in a tight formation to driving a truck without power steering, recalling, "You had to kick her, push her, and make her do what you wanted." The 460th was the third or fourth bomber group to hit the aircraft factory that day. Lowe remembered that the Vienna sky erupted as the first bomber group approached the target: "The sky looked black with flak. Aircraft ahead of us were being shot down, and we could see them falling out of formation. We could see the black puffs everyu'here as we flew closer to the target. Each puff seemed to be getting closer to us as the gunners acquired our altitude." The black puffs, often described by aircrews as looking like cotton balls suspended in tbe air, were dangerously deceptive. Any bomber within range of an explosion could expect shrapnel damage. The closer the flak burst, the greater the chance tbat shrapnel would tear through the aircraft, cutting cables and lines and ripping holes in fuel tanks, engine components and crew. German high altitude anti-aircraft artillery employed several types

burl 10-15 rounds of high-explosive shells every minute up to an altitude of 31,000 feet, The Flak 40s, normally mounted on large permanent flak towers, boasted 57-pound shells, and an experienced crew could fire 8-10 rounds per minute from the two-barrel gun. The Flak 4 Is, which entered service in 1943, incorporated wartime improvements in German anti-aircraft artillery. A Flak 41 crew could fire up to 20 rounds per minute to an altitude of 35,000 feet, but the barrel had to cool for five minutes after every 25 rounds. German anti-aircraft gun crews frequently ringed potential bomber targets. As bombers approached, gunners would often fire at the center ofthe lead formation. All the guns in a battery would fire at the same target to increase the odds of scoring hits. The more guns firing, the greater the chances that Allied bombers would be downed. Wiener Neustadt's defenders were thoroughly alerted by the time the 460th's B-24s reached the target. Two of the planes in the lead box formation were downed by flak even before they released their bombs, "it momentarily happens before your eyes," Lowe recalled. "Tbere was a flash of fire, and then a bomber would drift down from the formation." The first bomber fell at about 12:08 p.m., followed closely by the second at 12:10. Then flak claimed a third victim, which began losing altitude and was last seen at approximately 12:47 at 10,000 feet. At least one crew member from that plane parachuted to safet>' and managed to evade capture in Yugoslavia after being picked up by partisan forces. A fourth plane met a similar fate over the target. That plane was last seen hy the other crews at approximately 12:50, continuing to lose altitude but apparently under control. Ten parachutes were spotted nearby, indicating the entire crew managed to abandon the doomed bomber. Another of the B-24s limped back to Italy and landed at the American airfield in Foggia with only one engine operating by the time it arrived. Two crew members had been wounded. A sixtb bomber straggled into the airfield at Vis, an island off the Adriatic coast, vrith two wounded crew members. The seventh crippled bomber was hit 20 seconds prior to bomb release. Sbrapnel exploded the walk-around oxygen bottles and ignited a parachute that became wedged in the control cables, forcing the plane into a steep dive. Two manifold pressure gauge lines were severed, and a fire erupted on the flight deck. Smoke filled the cockpit, where the co-pilot. Lieutenant Edward Winters, was clutching his side, apparently hit by shrapnel. The pilot. Lieutenant William Hammond, ordered his crew to prepare to bail out ofthe stricken plane as Tech. Sgt. Joseph McChesney, tbe engineer, climbed out of the upper turret and began fighting the fire v^ith an extinguisher. McChesney discovered the burning parachute wedged in the cable controls and removed it, but the B-24 continued to lose altitude. The MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 25


Left: Bombs rain down on Wiener Neustadt from a Fifteenth Air Force bomber. Right: The day after he coaxed the powerless Maxwell HouseXo a successful dead-stick landing in an Italian wheat field, Lowe (left) visited the crash site. Below right: The force of the landing had crushed much of the lower fuselage and plowed a deep furrow in the field.

co-pilot, followed by the bombardier, moved past McChesney and leapt through the open bomb bay. The nose gunner followed the pair, and the navigator went out the nose exit. One waist gunner and the ball-turret gtinner jumped from the rear of the aircraft. lieutenant Hammond still fought to stabilize the crippled bomber and allow the rest of his crew 10 parachute to safety. McChesney opted to remain on board with his pilot, believing there was still a chance to save the aircraft. At that point, another flak burst rocked the bomber and ripped a large hole in the left wing. 1 he radio operator. Tech. Sgt. William Hartman, also had not bailed out. He moved forward to help fight the fire and plugged the broken lines with lead pencils. Hammond somehow managed to regain control of the bomber and leveled out at 15,000 feet. The tail gunner. Staff Sgt. fames O'Hara, also remained on board. He moved to the waist gu ns to be ready in case the crippled plane encountered enemy fighters on its way back to base. The B-24 staggered on, despite a rudder cable held together by only two cable strands. The crew had no functional radio and no navigational aids. A Messerschmitt Me-109G approached as the bomber passed near Zagreb, but after O'Hara fired a burst from the right waist gun as a warning, the fighter did not come any closer. The four remaining crew members were relieved when they crossed the Italian coast and landed at Spinazzola.

M

axwell House, the eighth flak victim, shuddered as a shell exploded in front of the plane. "The plexiglass cover on our front gun turret peeled off," remembered Lowe. "I figured the gunner [Philip McLaughlin] was dead, but I still called to him on the intercom system. McL^iughlin held up his hand into the open sky and waved. He was OK!" Flak had saturated the B-24 with fragments. The hydraulic lines were leaking in the bomb bay, and a severed fuel line also leaked aviation fuel in the upper deck area. Shattered glass lay everywhere in the cockpit. The pilot and co-pilot had been saved by the armor plating in the front of the cockpit, but Lowe recalled that it was awfully windy, with much of the glass blown out of the windows. An oil pressure gauge indicated a dangerous situation with engine number 3, which had apparently been hit. Lowe asked co-pilot Wilson to shut down the engine and feather the propeller. Meanwhile engineer Truman climbed out of the top gun turret and devoted his attention to the fuel leak. The entire forward deck reeked of aviation fuel and hydraulic fluid. A single spark could easily have ignited the mixture and destroyed the plane and its 10 crew members in midair, as Lowe had seen happen with other bombers during

the past lew minutes. The battle damage reduced the bomber's speed, and Lowe slowly pulled it to the right and out of formation as another B-24 automatically slid into the lead position. The remaining bombers tightened their formation as Mojcivell House slowly descended over Vienna. Lowe recalled nearly 60 years later that it was a beautiful clear day over the Austrian city. The bomber still carried its bombload, and Lowe reached up to manually salvo the load. But when he pulled the cable, it simply came out in his hand. The crippled bomber, leaking fuel, still carried 4,000 pounds of high-explosive bombs. Lowe called LieutenaJit John Kellogg, the bombardier, and ordered him to manually release the bombs. Kellogg grabbed a walk-around oxygen bottle and proceeded to manually release each bomb. Then he slowly cranked shut the bomb bay doors, to reduce drag on the damaged aircraft. The crew faced a long journey back to Italy in a crippled B-24 with one engine out, no hydraulics, a flak hole in the right wing flap and leaking fuel. Lowe ordered the crew members to jettison everything in the bomber, including the guns and ammunition. If they encountered German fighters, Lowe surmised that he could lower the landing gear as a sign of surrender and then order the crew to bail out. He had heard that German aviators were reasonable in such situations, and he meant to test their sincerity rather than risk carMAKOI 20()S AVIATION HISTORY 27


rying the extra weight of guns and ammunition. Thirty minutes later, two specks appeared in the sky and drew closer—Lockheed P-38s. The twin-engine fighters approached Lowe's plane but were not able to communicate with him. Lowe could see the pilots, however, who were waving. The fighter pilots slowed their planes and began flying S-curves to stay with the bomber on its journey hack to Spinazzola. After an hour, one of the P-38 pilots indicated he was low on fuel and waved goodbye, and both fighters headed back to their base. If a crew member was forced to parachute over Yugoslavia, his

harness and seat belt still held him to the pilot's seat. Unhooking himself, he stepped from the cockpit—right onto the ground. Normally the cockpit of a B-24 sits approximately 12 feet above the ground, but the force of the landing had crushed much of the lower fiiselage, and the lower half of the bomber had plowed a deep furrow. The nose section of the bomber was missing, and the glass structure over the cockpit bad been stripped away. Turning toward the hissing sound, the pilot was relieved to find its source was only a ruptured oxygen bottle rather than a fire. Then Lowe heard a muffled cry for help from someone still inside the fuselage. The navigator. Smith, had been behind Lowe as they crashed. He was apparently trapped in the wreckage. Also trapped was the nose gunner, McLaughlin; the upper gun turret had slammed down and pinned his feet. He remained conscious. Within minutes, several Italian farmers arrived on the scene and helped remove the co-pilot from underneath the instrument panel. Aside from several cuts on one of his legs, he was not badly injured. Lowe continued to talk to his trapped nose gunner. In less than an hour, a truck and ambulance arrived from Spinazzola, but soon after their arrival, McLaughlin suddenly stopped talking and collapsed. Medics determined that he had Rescue personnel had to use axes to extricate the navigator from the mangled wreckage. More than 25 hit his head during the crash percent of the 460th's bombers were destroyed or crash-landed in the course of the May 10 mission. landing and died from a concussion. A crew used axes to free prospects after recovery depended on who picked him up. A civil war Smith from inside the wreckage and then took the men to a fleld raged in Yugoslavia as various pro- and anti-German factions battled hospital. The crew members wbo had hailed out just before the crash across the country. Recovery by a pro-German faction meant death or had fared well. The radio operator suffered from facial bruises, but a German prison camp, while being found by an anti-German parti- otherwise they escaped unhurt. san group could mean being turned over to an Allied liaison officer Although Germaji flghters did not hit the 460th's bombers on May and a clandestine flight back to Italy. 10, flak had taken a terrible toll on tbe formation. Six of the eight Ditching in the Adriatic Sea was also not a good option. Unlike its 460th Bomb Group B-24s that were severely damaged or totally deolder stablemate, the Boeing B-17, the B-24 did not ditch well. The stroyed in the Wiener Neustadt mission belonged to Lowe's outfit, Liberator's bomb bay doors rolled up the fuselage side, while those of the 762nd Bomb Squadron. The squadron's after-action report listed the B-17 closed flush along the bottomoftbe plane. When a B-24 35 men missing in action, four wounded and McLaughlin killed. ditched. Its bomb bay doors tended to crumple underneath it, al- Four of the group's bombers, including Maxwell House, were hit lowing water to quickly swamp the aircraft. Crew members were un- before they could drop their bombs on the target—surely a success likely to make it out before they drowned. Much of tlie flight from in the eyes of the German defenders. Vienna was over Yugoslavia and the Adriatic. The next day the squadron operations officer transported Lowe The prospects for a safe arrival at Spinazzola brightened as the back to the crash site. That officer photographed the wreckage and bomber approached the eastern coast of Italy. Lowe began to feel later gave Lowe a set of the photos as a memento. Lowe completed his hopeful. They cleared the Italian coast at 6,000 feet. Lowe wanted tour with the 460th Bomb Group, includingflvemissions over Ploesti, to hold this as a minimum altitude, so the crew could still bail out before returning home. As a tribute to his lost comrade, nose gunner if necessary. When the other three engines shut down, Lowe quickly Philip McLaughlin, Lowe later named his own son Philip Edward, 't hit the bail-out bell, then glided toward the wheat Held. Lowe was dazed as he glanced up from die cockpit after sliding Terry M. Mays is an assistant professor at Tiie Citadel and a frequent the bomber across the field. A hissing sound indicated there was contributor to Primedia History Group publications. For additional probably a fire somewhere behind him. Glancing to his right, he reading, he suggestsTheWM Blue, by Stephen Ambrose. could see his co-pilot, Wilson, slumped below what was left of the instrument panel. He couldn't see any other crew members, but he To read ahout a bomher mission to Romanian oil fields in knew everyone had to get out of the wreckage. 1943, go to TheHistoryNet at www.thehistorynet.com/ The pilot attempted to move forward, but he couldn't budge. His abi and see "Raid on Pioesti," by Lyndon Shubert. 28 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


SQUADRON of DEATH BY GERALD A. SCHILLER

Above: The blockbuster Hell's Angels was made during barnstorming's golden age, when flying stuntmen were wooing cinematic audiences (Cinema Photo/Corbis). Opposite: Floyd Parsons transfers from a speedboat to a Curtiss JN-4 piloted by Frank Scheltz in 1924 (Courtesy of Art Ronnie).

30 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

T

hey flew their rickety aircraft within a few feet of the ground, looped them again and again in dangerous maneuvers and roared earthward in seemingly suicidal dives, pulling out at the very last minute. Some clambered out onto the wings thousands of feet above the ground to do handstands, swung from ropes to transfer from one plane to another, or hung suspended from the struts of their aircraft and dropped onto other vehiclesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;planes, speeding boats or automobiles. These


-fibâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;^

p - ^

A dariii^ group of former barnstormers introduced American filin fans to flying thrills and chills in the 1920s.

were the danger-loving fliers of aviation's early days, widely known as barnstormers. In the aftermath of World War I, a select group of these daredevils found new audiences, performing their stunts in the silent feature films and serials that proliferated throughout the 1920s. The novelty of flying was highly appealing tofilmproducers, and audiences of the day were fascinated by this new technology and its everpresent dangers. An elite group of pilots would gain fame from their cinematic exploits. Dick Kerwood, Al

Wilson, Frank Tomick, Ormer Locklear and Dick Grace all started out performing their stunts on the county fair circuitâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;until tbe movie industry made them famousSadly, the breathtaking stunts that wowed movie audiences also claimed the lives of many skilled aviators during those heady years. It was no wonder that stunt pilots became known as the "Squadron of Death." Efforts to make the stunts appear more realistic onscreen often led to some unintended consequences. loe Bonomo, who did many parachute jumps in his career. MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 31


A remarkable photographic sequence documents a wingwalking performance near Hollywood by former tJ.S. Army Air Service instructor Ormer Locklear on a Curtiss Jenny piloted by Milton "Skeets" Elliott— both of whom died while filming The Skywayman in 1920 (Courtesy of Art Ronnie).

described one scene that almost resulted in his drowning when he bailed out of a plane over water. He and another performer were supposed to leap from an aircraft with only one parachute, but wben no other stunter would agree to jump with him, he decided to use a dummy—which proved to be a wise decision. When Bonomo hit the water after the jump, the wind was blowing violently and his parachute was pulled through the water like a sail at a rapid clip. Using the dummy as both life preserver and shield (to block the water hitting his face], Bonomo managed to stay conscious. It was almost half an hour before a speedboat finally arrived to pick him up. Bonomo later quipped, "I'm probably the only man in the world who owes his life to a dummy." Such quick thinking under pressure was common among stunt pilots—and many would owe their lives to it. Ormer Locklear had built a reputation as a fearless flier long before he started stunt-flying, while he was serving as an instructor for the U.S. Army Air Service. Wlien the radiator cap blew off his aircraft during a training flight, for example, he casually climbed out and stuffed a rag in the opening to prevent boiling water from blowing back into the cockpit. In 1919, while performing at a carnival, he made what may have been the first public transfer from one plane to another in midair. It was at such carnivals and fairs that Locklear pioneered many of the eye-popping stunts other wing-walkers would copy in the years to come. Locklear eventually made his way to Hollywood. One of his first films was The Great Air Robbery, which enabled bim to perform many of bis signature moves. In one scene he changed planes in midair, and in a later sequence he climbed down from a plane to a speeding car, fought with the villain, then grabbed tbe undercarriage of the plane above him and climbed back into it just as the car overturned and crashed. In 1920 Locklear and his friend and pilot Milton "Skeets" Elliott were hired by producer William Fox to do aerial scenes for the film The Skywayman. Locklear performed a variety of hair-raising stunts for that movie, including a train-to-plane transfer and wing-walking. He even performed at night—rare at the tinte—illumi-

32 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

nated by searchlights. On August 2,1920, he and Elliot were to execute the film's final aerial stunt, a spiraling dive at night over oil fields near Los Angeles from 5,000 feet with phosphorus flares glowing on the wings to give the impression the plane was on fire. Locklear had told the director to kill the searchlights illuminating the dive to signal when it was time for the pilot to pull out. But for some reason the lights were never turned off, and when Locklear and Elliot finally realized how low they had fallen, it was too late. The plane crashed into the pool of an oil well, killing both occupants. Not one to sacrifice exciting film footage, producer Fox took advantage of the publicity and rushed the film into release—including the final, fatal plunge. To his credit, however, the moviemaker did earmark 10 percent of the film's profits for the families of the men who had died. Clearly, safety precautions were seldom uppermost in the minds of early stunt fliers. Few used parachutes, and often the only safety device involved in stunt sequences was a rope tied to the plane's strut and the ankle of the performer. In a way, stuntmen seemed eager to tempt fate. Earl Burgess, who had also served as a flying instructor during World War I, became a barnstormer at the war's end. Hired as the stuntman in a film diat was evenmally dubbed 5^^ Eye, he executed plane-to-plane transfers, a leap from a plane to a speeding train, and a fight on the wings of an aircraft in flight. On February 6,1920, Burgess was doing a scene in a film for comedian Chester Conklin and accompanied by flier Walter Hawkins. Like too many stunt fliers. Burgess had refused to wear a parachute. According to some reports, he was also out of condition and overweight. He was apparently supposed to climb out on a wing, simulate a fight with a dummy, knock the dummy (the "villain") off the plane, then climb back into the cockpit. After the scene was filmed the first time, they fiew back to the airfield to give Burgess a rest. However, the scene had to be reshot—either because they needed another copy for foreign release or because the director was unhappy with the first take (accounts differ). Burgess insisted on doing the second take right away rather than wait until the next day.


This time, after he threw the dummyfromthe aircrafr, Burgess began to work his way back to the cockpit. But when he reached the wing skid, the two men in the camera plane flying nearby couJd tell the stuntman was close to exhaustion. A.C. Mann, the pilot of the camera craft, tried to maneuver below the plane where Burgess hting, so that be coitld get his top wing under the tired performer. But the stuntman looked across at the other plane, shook his head hopelessly and let go. He fell 500 feet onto some high-tension wires and died shortly thereafter, Dick Kerwood, another noted stuntman and aerial performer, is credited with creating a host of dangerous stunts. Like so many others, he suffered numerous injuries in his work. In a serial called The Eleuenth Hour. for example, Kerwood was supposed to he in a plane that was hit by gunfirefroma submarine below bim. His

aircraft was rigged with an explosive charge that had a 10-second delay, to enable bim to bail out just before the plane blew up. But tbe delay device did not work, and before he could climb out, the explosion knocked him unconscious and threw him out of the plane. Fortunately a piece of shattered wing hit Kerwood, jarring bim awake. He was wearing a parachute, and when he saw that most of the debris bad cleared around him, be pulled tbe ripcord and was relieved to see the chute open. But gasoline bad sprayed his chute, and he could see that it was burning in several places. He quickly realized tbat unless be could extinguisb tbe flames he would be a goner. With great coolness, he pulled bard on the shroud lines on one side to partially collapse tbe chute, then as he fell, let tbe air back in. By repeating that maneuver several times, he succeeded in From left, comedian El Brendel, Richard Arlen, Charles "Buddy" Rogers and an unidentified actor are in the foreground of this still photo from Wings, which won the first Academy Award for best picture.

MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 33


Dick Kerwood's luck ran out in 1924, when he fell from a ladder dangling from an aircraft.

Like most other stunt pilots, Al Wilson started out performing on the county fair circuit. In 1930 he flew this 1910 Curtiss pusher biplane from Chicago to Los Angeles.

subduing tbe flames enough so that he did not end up plummeting uncontrollably into the water. He was later picked up by a Na\'y seaplane. But even the coolheaded Kerwood's luck ran out in 1924, when he died in a fall from a rope ladder dangling from an aircraft. He became another in the growing list of fatalities among the stunt fliers of the early days of the movies. It was estimated that by tbe early 1930s, of the top 23 aerial performers, 18 had been killed and four were unable to fly after suffering major accidents. As tbe 1920s came to a close, flying sequences in films were becoming more common, but the productions were also becoming more spectacular. Two such lavishly made films are still revered today by film historians. Wings (1927) was directed by William Wellman, himself a veteran of the Lafayette Flying Corps, a group of American pilots who flew for France during World War I. The film starred Buddy Rogers, Richard Arlen and Clara Bow and included the first brief appearance of a young Gary Cooper. Considered by many the last great silent epic, it was chosen as the winner of the very first Academy Award for best picture. Wings is highlighted by aerial dogfights, bombing raids, spectacular crashes and a massive re-creation of tbe September 1918 Battle of Saint-Mihiel that involved 3,500 infantrymen and five dozen planes. Despite the impressive numbers of aircraft and performers involved. Wings was a relatively safe film, resulting in few accidents. Tbere were, however, several major stunts tbat bad to be done, and the always-in-demand Dick Grace was hired to execute tbem. One of tbe top stunt fliers of his day Grace bad earned a reputation for skillful aerial work that spanned many years. When Grace saw the deteriorated World War I-era planes that were going to be used in the film, he had a skilled engineer work with him to rebuild the aging air-

34 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

craft (Spads and German Fokkers). Once the repairs were complete, Grace expertly weakened tbe ones be would use so tbey would come apart on impact to beigbten the drama of the crashes. For one scene the field be was to crash into had been set up with barbed wire, 6-foot cedar posts, trenches and shell craters—some as much as 12 feet deep. The terrain was meant to resemble no man's land. Director Wellman assured Grace that a 25-foot section would be rigged witb flimsy balsa-wood posts and yarn instead of wire—in case bis crash landing went awry. But the stunt flier would have to bit his mark traveling at almost 100 miles per hour—and also avoid hitting several cameramen on the field. Grace bad an entire emergency crew ready with an ambulance, tools to extricate bim from the wreck and another plane ready to rush him to a hospital if he was injured. In late September 1926, all was ready for the scene, and he executed the first crash in a Spad witb consummate skill, bitting tbe ground just 17 f'eet from tbe closest camera. Grace himself later described the moment of collision as he roared in at 90 miles per hour: "I jerked tbe stick over to the right, giving just a slight left rudder. The wing dipped and tbe ftiselage swayed to the left. In this position I knew tbe ship would be a cincb to go on its back, hut that's what Bill [Wellmanj wanted. "With a dull thud the wing bit and crumpled, then the landing carriage crashed. Tbe poor sbip tottered over to tbe other wing and broke that, and tbe thing started over on its hack. As it did I ducked my bead forward. It was my one measure of protection, but it happened to be just the right one. Witb a terrific crasb something wedged between my flying coat and the back of the seat." When be examined tbe wreckage, Grace realized that he had missed tbe flimsy balsa posts and had bit the hardwood ones. As the plane turned over, two jagged pieces of cedar fencepost had come through the fuselage, and one was just inches from where his bead had been. Ducking his head had probably saved his life. When Grace performed a second crash—with a Fokker D.VII—he was not so fortunate. As he hit the ground at 110 mph, the impact caused the straps holding bim to snap, and bis head went into the instrument panel. When Grace was pulled from the wreckage, be seemed unhurt. But he later collapsed, and an examination revealed a broken neck: Four cervical vertebrae were crusbed, and a fifth was dislocated. Told by doctors that he would be in a cast for a year, Grace refused to follow their advice. After 11 weeks be took off the neck harness and jumped out of his second-floor hospital room to spend an evening with his girlfriend, Unfortunately his appearance (a slight paralysis on the right side of his face, which caused bis features to be twisted out of sbape) shocked the young lady According to his own explanation, the


next day she decided to become engaged to someone else. Realizing he should finish his therapy before he ruined any more relationships, Grace completed the prescribed 17-week hospital stay. Even though he was advised by doctors not to continue with stunt flying, he was back at work in 1928, organizing a squadron called "the Buzzards" to perform in a minor film. Lilac Time. He managed to break several ribs in one of the crashes he did for this film, but again his luck held and he survived. Several other Buzzards, however, were not so fortunate. Three of them would die shortly after Lilac r/me—though not in film-related accidents. Another noted aerial movie produced in die latter days of the 1920s was the brainchild of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Hager to make an aerial film, Hughes had been furious when the script for Wings (written by his friend John Monk Saunders) was bought hy Paramount. The resolute Hughes decided to make his own epic—one that would outdo Wings. It would be called Hell's Angels. Then just 23, Hughes hired star actors and spent more tlian half a million dollars buying and renovating 89 airplanes. He put well-known flier Frank Tomick, who had worked on Wings, in charge of obtaining all the aircraft he could for the film—on an open budget. Because Hell's Angels look piace in England, the planes for the film had to look British and German, so many of the aircraft Hughes acquired had to be repainted and redesigned to simulate unobtainable foreign aircraft. He also needed airfields, so he bought a cow pasture near Van Nuys—just north of Los Angeles—and dubbed

A youthful Jean Harlow starred with {left} James Hall and Ben Lyon in Hell's Angels, vj\}\c\\ premiered in 1930.

it Caddo Field. There he built hangars and other btuldings, personally supervising construction. He also bought land in Inglewood, south and west of Los Angeles (in an area that would later become the site of Los Angeles International Airport) and property in Chatsworth, in the far west part of the San Fernando Valley, which would be used to simulate a German base. One of the final dramatic scenes in the film was the diving, spinning crash of a Sikorsk\' S-29A bomber—repainted to represent a German Gotha. Both Dick Grace and Frank Clarke had refused to do the stunt for less than $10,000, but Al Wilson agreed to perform the dangerous dive. Smoke effects would be created by using lamp black, with a mechanical blower system blasting

In the late 1920s, Howard Hughes spent half a million dollars to equip his Hell's 4/?ge/s "squadron," shown here, with refurbished World War l-era biplanes.

f

MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTOHV


As Al Wilson started his downward spin, the other pilots noticed the fabric tearing away from the left wing.

Top: Dick Grace survived this crash, staged for the film Young Eagles in 1930, but many other stunt fliers vtfere not so lucky. Above: Some veteran actors from early flying films got together for a special screening of W/ngs in 1968, including (from left): Lucien Hubbard, unidentified, William Weilman, Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen.

the black "smoke" from the diving plane. A young mechanic, Phil Jones, volunteered to ride along and operate the smoke machine. On March 22,1929, with three camera planes in the air to record the stunt, Wilson took the Sikorsky up to 7,500 feet. As he started the downward spin, the other pilots noticed the fabric tearing away from the left uing, and then pieces of cowling from the left engine began to break away. Wilson realized he was in trouble, and he climbed from the cockpit and opened his parachute. The three cameras recorded the plunge of the plane as they waited for a second parachute to appear. But it never did. The plane crashed with Phil Jones' body inside, his parachute still strapped to him. Al Wilson was shattered when he learned of the mechanic's death. He swore he had twice yelled to him to jump, but whether Jones heard him or not, Wilson had no way of knowing, He received a great deal of criticism after the accident, but an investigation found him not guilty of negligence. His pilot's license was suspended briefly as a result of tlie incident. Hell's Angels was not completed until 1930, by which

36 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

time sound had been introduced and audiences were shunning silent films. Hughes decided to reshoot many scenes to make what had started as a silent film into a sound film. The production ended up costing him $4 million—one of the most expensive pictures made up to that time—but it was to prove a success, mainly because of its spectacular aerial scenes. To highlight thefilm'spremiere on May 27,1930, planes flew low over Hollywood Boulevard, dropping flares and parachutes. Veteran racer Roscoe Turner also participated in the gala event, completing a flight from New York to Los Angeles in a record 24 hours and 20 minutes. Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off in one direction before the movie's initial screening, hut the crowd, eager to see the stars arrive, was immense, and traffic soon came to a standstill. The film went on to play to packed houses worldwide. Whether or not it eventually made a profit is hard to gauge. Hughes always claimed it did, but others were not so sure. The project had certainly drained a vast amount of money from his odier enterprises. He had shot almost 300 times the amount of film tliat was eventually used and lavished time and effort on the project. In an interview some years later, Hughes admitted, "Making Hell's Angels by myself was my higgest mistake... .Trying to do the work of twelve men was Just dumbness on my part. I learned by bitter experience that no one man can loiow everything." Demand for stunt fliers began to wane as the newly evolving airline industry grew eager to provide filmmakers with opportunities to photograph their own planes taking off and landing and even made available mock-ups of their interiors—which they had buih to train airline staff. Then, as now, product promotion was becoming a fact of life for the movie industry. The military also began cooperating with the industry by providing film companies with both planes and personnel. They saw this as an effective way to recruit young men for the Army Air Corps. But a more important reason why there were few accidents in those later days involved the evolution of more sophisticated special effects. Miniatures, rear projection and matte shot techniques were being developed to a point where many dangerous scenes could be faked. Thus the era of the Squadron of Death, which had claimed the lives of so many talented fliers, came to an end. It had provided audiences^and the stunt pilots who survived—with some of the greatest thrills ever captured on film. + Gerald A. Schiller is the writer/director of numerous educational films and documentaries. Additional reading: The Motion Picture Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies, by H. Hugh Wynne; and Broken Wings: Holl\'wood's Air Crashes, by James H. Farmer.


B-58 Hustler

Convair's Supersonic Se Capable of more than Mach 2, the B-58 homher captured nearly every speed record in the world. BY E.R. JOHNSON

Y

ou're in an aircraft moving at 20 miles a minute across a cloudless sky. Even 10 miles up, the sensation of speed is spine-tingling, the one-mile section lines below flicking past like crossties on a railroad. There is no sound except the whispering "white noise" of air flowing past the cockpit. Outside, there are standing shock waves rippling ahead of the pitot boom and the engine spikes. Inside, the windshield is hot to the touch. With the aircraft flying level at 50,000 feet, and power reduced just enough to keep air inlet temperatures within limits, the Mach meter on the instrument panel reads 2,0. Carrying a normal load of fuel, the aircraft can, if the pilot wishes, maintain this velocity for another 45 minutes. The pilot is one of the pri\ileged few to fly the Convair B-58 Hustler. He will log more time at Mach 2 on one mission in this aircraft than the average flghter jock of his day experiences in an entire career.

The B-58 redeflned perceptions of speed and power. Consider how it got to Mach 2. First, taking off: With power set at maximum afterburner, 160,000 pounds of aluminum, titanium and lP-4 fuel begins moving down the runway. Acceleration is spectacular— within 28 seconds, the indicated airspeed moves from zero to 170 knots, as the wing bites the air; moments later, at 185 knots, lift exceeds weight and drag, and the rumbling abruptly ceases—the B-58 has become a creature of the air. Then, with the landing gear tucked in its wells, the pilot eases back on power to maintain the best economic climb, about 2,500 feet per minute at 425 knots. Passing through 30,000 feet a little under 12 minutes later, he checks the flight control dampers and center of gravity and makes sure the engine inlet spikes are set on automatic. Now he's ready to set his hair on fire. He selects maximum afterburner ajid pushes the four throttles up to overspeed. With the nose pulled up slightly, the big plane quickly accelerates through Mach 1 and continues on to Mach 2, still climbing. Hard to believe, but there it is. When it's time to return to earth, die pilot has to keep in mind that landing a B-58 changes the concept of "margin of error." In this case it means zero—anything above that will kill you. Descending toward the base, his first task is to slow the big beast down. Because there are no flaps or slats, the pilot eases the nose up to a 12.5-degree angle of attack, in effect using the entire bottom of the plane as a giant speed brake. Once it's low and slow, in the pattern with the gear down, the B-58 is still rock steady, but tbe pilot is locked into a very delicate balancing act between the forces of lift, drag and thrust. With a careful hand on the throttles, he uses the enormous power of his four General Electric )79-GE-1 engines to literally hold this bird in the air. It's no wonder that some of the pilots jokingly refer to the aircraft as "a flying manhole cover." On final approach at 200 feet, the nose obstructs forward view of the runway, and the pilot has to feel his way down to the threshold using instruments 38 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


nsation Stan Stokes' painting Arctic WusWer depicts a Convair B-58A on a low-altitude mission out of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in the late 1960s (Stokes Collection).


and depending on his own peripheral eyesight. On final approach, the pilot deploys a drogue chute just to get down to touchdown speed. Over the fence now, looking good at 190 knots. The big plane settles down, and this is it—the main wheel bogles plant themselves on the pavement in a protesting screech. The nose has to be held off until speed dissipates. Finally, almost in slow motion, the nose settles. The B-58 has defied gravity and cheated death again. s a technological achievement, the process of bringing the B-58 into existence should be ranked up there with tbe Apollo Project tbat put men on the moon 13 years after the Hustler first flew. In the context of the postwar period, the engineering challenge posed—building an airplane that could sustain speeds equal to the muzzle velocity of a .30-caliber bullet, yet function as a strategic bombing platform—was totally unprecedented. But much like the computer revolution of the last 20 years, American aviation technology moved by leaps and bounds in the decade following 1945. So much so, in fact, that by late 1951 the U.S. Air Force was prepared to issue its first general operating requirement (GOR) for a supersonic aircraft bomber (SAB). GOR/SAB-51, as it was known, specified a bomber with a high subsonic cruise, supersonic dash capability, an unrefueled range of 2,000 miles and an operational ceiling of 50,000 feet. The principal contenders for the GOR/SAB-51 project were the Boeing Airplane Company of Seattle and Convair Aircraft Corporation of San Diego. Both companies had already devoted considerable research to the supersonic bomber problem by 1951 but bad arrived at surprisingly different solutions. Boeing's approach was fairly conservative—a four-engine, sweptwing aircraft with a conventional layout. But Convair's idea—a smaller, sharply pointed delta-wing plane—looked like an illustration from the pages oi Amazing Stories. Perhaps more than any other U.S. aviation firm, Convair was wedded to the true (i.e., tailless) delta-wing concept, having successfully flown itsfirstdeltawing jet in 1948 (the experimental XF-92). In fact, months before GOR/SAB-51 was announced, the Air Force authorized Convair to pursue a follow-on design for a delta-wing supersonic interceptor, designated the YF-102.

A

Left: In 1954 Air Research and Development Command chief Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Power was a proponent of Convair's proposed supersonic bomber. Below left: Strategic Air Command chief General Curtis E. LeMay argued that the much larger Boeing B-52 was a better bet for SAC. Right: Following the XB-58's first flight on November 11, 1956, pilot Beryl Erickson (at left) posed with engineer Charles Harrison and observer and systems specialist J.D. McEachern.

40 percent larger (140,000 pounds) and featured four afterburning engines slung under the wings in paired nacelles. Further refinements of the design repositioned the engine arrangement and placedfixedfuel pods on the outer wings. The centerline-mounted pod, while no longer rocket-powered, was longer than the airplane itself and had to be jettisoned before landing. Despite the operational complications posed by the pod, the Air Force's Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) believed that, compared to its rival Boeing, Convair's MX-1964 proposal was not only the least costly alternative but also represented the best hope for realizing a supersonic bomber any time in the foreseeable future. On November 2, 1952, Convair was announced the winner of SAB competition and authorized to complete design work on an aircraft that would be designated the B-58.

Before the design of the new bomber could be completed, however, both Convair and the Air Force would be forced to learn some costly lessons in delta-wing aerodynamics. In early 1953, extensive wind tunnel testing of a full-scale mockup of the YF-102A interceptor revealed that excessive transonic drag would render the airplane incapable of exceeding Mach 1 in levelfiight.Air Force officials were stunned, given that the aircraft had already been put into production solely on the basis of detailed design and mock-up work. Despite their expertise, it was obvious that Convair's engineers had overlooked sometliing. The solution was found in "area rule," a principle discovered only the year before by NAGA (later NASA) engineer Richard T. Whitcomb. By pinching in the waist of the fuselage to a Goke-bottle shape, the drag buildup at the wing joint was substantially eliminated. Wind tunnel testing of the YF-102A also indiIn connection with the SAB competition. Gonvair evolved a cated that the plane would be dynamically unstable, so that other number of highly imaginative concepts for delta-wing bombers ca- major modifications—cambered wing leading edges, reflex wingtips pable, in theory, of making a supersonic dash to and from a target. and a rearward relocation of tbe wing itself—were dictated. In effect, Its MX-1626 design of March 1951 envisioned a comparatively small a virtual redesign was needed. (100,000 pounds gross weight) true delta with 60-degree leading Using the lessons learned from the YF- 102A, Gonvair's design staff edge sweephack, two afterburning engines in wing nacelles and an laid down the definitive aerodynamic form of the B-58 in August 1954. expendable weapons pod that also functioned as a rocket-powered, After considering various options, tlie designers decided to locate the air-to-ground missile. The MX-1964 configuration of mid-1952 was four afterburning engines in individual nacelles that hung from 40 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


as the B-58 should be built, even if only experimentally, and if SAC did not use it, it might have a role somewhere else. A review board of top Air Force officials was assembled in early 1955 to decide the issue. Generally favoring ARDC's view, the board subsequently agreed that 13 B-58s should be huilt for experimental and service test purposes even if the type was never used as a strategic bomber. The board's next action was to recommend production of a wing-size unit of B-58s, though it made no provision as to which Air Force command would actually use the new aircraft. In December 1955, the Air Force gave Convair a contract to build 13 airframes and 31 pods as the B-58A, and five months later the contract was enlarged to maintain production at a "minimnm sustaining rate" (i.e., enough to keep the assembly line open) until October 1956, when the Air Force would decide whether or not to continue. The Hustler signified a quantum leap in the materials and methods used to build an aircraft. Supersonic aerodynamic loads, skin heating from friction (250 degrees at Mach 2), and sonic fatigue (171 decibels in maximum afterburner) placed new demands on the airframe. Similar to warship construction, the main structural components consisted of span-wide duralumin frames set at only 11 - to 15-inch intervals, which integrated the wing to the fuselage in an unbroken strucUire. Convair evolved a new duralumin and fiberglass "sandwich" material for the wing skins that was both strong and heat resistant, and two layers of metal were bonded together to form the fuselage. Despite its compact size—96.8 feet long, 56,8-foot wingspan and 163,000 pounds takeoff weight—the B-58 was designed according to a "high density concept" (that is, much of its interior volume was utilized to store fuel). In fact, almost 50 percent of its takeoff weight (80,000 pounds) consisted of fuel. The system of fuel pylons beneath the wings. The external weapons pod, which had tanks was also used to compensate for the aft movement of the caused much debate, was now shorter than the fuselage and could center of gravity as the aircraft accelerated to supersonic velocities. be carried when the plane landed. Increased internal fuel storage Movable control surfaces consisted of a swept rudder and elevons stemming from the fuselage redesign allowed elimination of the fuel along the wing's trailing edge, interconnected to serve as both elepods on the wings. Wind tunnel tests of this configuration showed a vators and ailerons. The conventional stick and rudder pedals were significant increase in supersonic performance over earlier MX-1964 not mechanically linked to the control surfaces themselves but to estimates. The design would thus remain unchanged up to the time an electrohydraulic assembly designed to simulate control feel at of thefirstflight. Convair's public relations department probably in- various speeds and flight attitudes. Anticipating the hazards inhertended to name the futuristic bomber "delta-something," like its ent in the Hustler's speed and delta-wing planform, the engineers F- 102A Delta Dagger predecessor, but the company's project engi- tried to eliminate as much human error as possihie. For example. neers were a step ahead. They'd already labeled it the Hustler, Ironically, it was at this point that the B-58 almost became an idea that never happened; Convair was prepared to build the plane, but factions within the Air Force were not sure they wanted it. General Curtis E. LeMay, chief of Strategic Air Command (SAC), was not sold on the "small" supersonic bomber concept. He and his staff believed that Boeing's subsonic B-52 Stratofortress— Tk times heavier and scheduled to enter service in 1955—would fulfill SAC's strategic bomber requirements beyond the next decade. In fact, his staff had not even bothered to include the B-58 in the Air Force's future bomber force projections. On the other side of the argument, ARDC chief Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Power contended that an aircraft as advanced A Convair B-36—carrying the fuselage of a B-58 in its bomb bay—lands in Ohio prior to B-58 stress testing. MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTOHV 41


cellent visibility from his multipaneled, wraparound windshield, but the N/B and DSO had only small side windows. The N/B's panel was equipped with state-of-the-art bombing and navigational equipment, and the DSO's station contained the aircraft's active and passive defense system monitors. The B-58 was originally fitted with standard explosive-propellant ejection seats—virtually useless above 600 knots—but these were later replaced by a fully encapsulated, rocket-powered system that permitted ejection from ground level up to 70,000 feet at Mach 2. One of the more distinctive features of the B-58's weapons system was its multipurpose, 75-foot-long centerline pod. Originally conceived as a one-piece, fin-stabilized aerod\Tiamic "shape," it contained two fuel tanks and a variable-yield thermonuclear bomb. Because of fuel leakage problems, the one-piece unit was replaced by a two-component pod. which separated the weapon from the fuel and allowed the lower fuel pod to be jettisoned before the weapon was delivered to the target. Defensive armament consisted solely of a radar-guided 20mm rotary cannon mounted in the tail, which could befiredautomatically or manually from the DSO's station. The Sperr\'-builtASQ-42 navigation/bombing system—probably one of the largest collections of vacuum tubes and mechanical analog machinery ever built by man—was developed specifically for tbe B-58's high-altitude supersonic mission. Through the flight computer/autopilot, the system could guide the plane along a great circle track at a constant Mach number to virtually any point on the globe. In bombing mode, the system kept the plane on a correct heading to the target while compensating for wind drift and Corioiis effect. At the precise moment calculated to provide an optimal A cockpit view of the B-58. On finai approach, the bomber's nose burst over the aiming point, the system would automatically release obstructed the piiot's forward view, so he had to feei his way down the thermonuclear weapon. based on instruments and peripheral vision. On November 11, 1956, the first YB-58A lifted off the runway at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, with Convair test pilot Beryl A. Erin automatic mode, the flight control system provided three-axis ickson at the controls, and three weeks later, on its third flight, damping and constant G-limiting, making it effectively impossible punched through the sound barrier at 35.000 feet and throttled up to manually exceed the plane's load limits in supersonic flight—and to Mach 1.6 (1,062 mph). Two moreYB-58As were delivered during the trim system, requiring no input from the pilot, automatically 1957 to augment the flight test program. To say that the aircraft excompensated for changes in pitch, roll and yaw through takeoff, ceeded its performance expectations would be a colossal undercruise and landing. Because so much can go wrong so fast in a Mach statement: By the end of the year, the plane had attained an 2 airplane, the designers introduced a highly conspicuous warning astounding maximum speed of Mach 2.11 (1,388 mph) at altitudes and caution light system to immediately alert the pilot to any mal- over 50,000 feet and had maintained a speed in excess of Mach 1 for function, This system was later augmented by an auditory system in which a female voice warned of 20 different emergencies. The B-58 carried three crew members, a pilot, a navigator/bom- Note the centerline pod, designed to carry fuel as well as a bardier (N/B) and a defensive systems operator (DSO). seated in thermonuclear bomb, on this photo of a Hustler—whose pilot self-contained, tandem compartments. The pilot, in front, had ex- has deployed a drogue chute to get down to touchdown speed.

42 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005


Theodore von Karman, Supersonic Prophet

O

nce described as one of the world's eight true geniuses, Theodore von Karman was born in Budapest, Hungary, on May 11,1881. He received his formal education at Gottingen, acquiring a full fellowship in the early 1900s to pursue his doctorate in mathematics. The young genius' interest in aeronautics was triggered while spending a holiday in Paris, where at the suggestion of a friend he watched French aviator Henri Farman successfully complete a twokilometer flight. From that point forward, the Hungarian mathematician devoted his entire life to the advancement of aeronautical and astronautical technology. In 1912, at the age of 31, von K a r m ^ was appointed director and professor of the Aeronautical Institute at Aachen, Germany. During World War I, he was drafted into military service by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where he acted as chief of research for the Imperial and Royal Air Service. Working at Austria's Military Aircraft Factory at Fischamend, von Karman helped develop a helicopter prototype that proved itself capable of maintaining hovering flight while tethered to the ground. Although the project never got past the experimental stage, the helicopter was perceived as a potential replacement for the highly vulnerable hydrogen balloons then manned by artillery observers. Returning to his post at Aachen after the war, von Karman began traveling widely as a lecturer and consultant to the aviation industry. In the fall of 1926, while visiting the United States at the invitation of Donald Douglas, he helped found the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Four years later, because of growing Nazi influence in German academic circles, von Karman permanently relocated to Southern California, where he became director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical lab. Under his leadership in the 1930s, the lab grew into one of the world's foremost centers of aeronautical research and development. There, von Karman continued his work on a variety of theoretical problems, including the first serious research into the largely unexplored areas of transonic and supersonic aerodynamics. During World War II, General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, chief of the U.S. Army Air Forces, appointed von Karmdn chairman of the Army Air Force's Research and Development Board. Arnold, who foresaw that the United States' military responsibilities would not end with the war, told the scientist to develop a technological blueprint for a postwar Air Force with global striking powers. Among the military systems proposed under von Karman's leadership were remarkably advanced concepts for supersonic aircraft, nuclear weapons systems and ballistic missiles. One of the projects fostered by his efforts was the rocket-powered Bell X-1, which shattered the sound barrier on October 14,1947. Emboldened by this and other break-

a period of 91 minutes. Successful pod drops were made from 42,000 feet at speeds over Mach 2. Overall flight control and stability proved excellent. The rigid delta wing produced a steady fiight platform, exhibiting none of the "air springs" pitch and roll effects in turbulence common to fiexible-wing aircraft. But as B-58 pilots would discover, ease of handling did not mean easy to fly, for when mishandled, the sleek bomber could be fatally unforgiving. At the same time that the test program Hustlers were setting new standards for supersonic flight, they were also revealing a long list of serious problems. The experimental YJ79 engines—developed by General Electric specifically for the B-58—generated excessive vi-

The B-58's lineage can be traced to pioneering research fostered by Hungarian-born physicist Theodore von Karman.

throughs, government, scientific community and aircraft industry officials began working together in earnest to develop a future generation of supersonic aircraft. Among the progeny of their efforts was the Gentury Series of U.S. Air Force fighters and the world's first supersonic bomber, the Convair B-58 Hustler. Among von Karman's many other accomplishments was the founding of Aerojet General—the first U.S. company to manufacmre rocket engines. In 1944 he become tbe co-founder of what is known today as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the first research program sponsored by the U.S. government for the development of long-range missiles and space exploration. In 1963 von Karman became the first recipient of the National Medal of Science, which he was awarded by President John F. Kennedy. He died on May 7, 1963. E.RJ.

bration, and their erratic afterburner operation produced unpredictable yawing at supersonic speeds. The nearly new airframes bad already developed cracks along rivet lines in the fuselage from sonic fatigue. Fuel sloshing back and forth in the tanks as the aircraft accelerated or slowed created dangerous stability problems. During landings, the tires frequently caught fire. There was still no safe means of escape—an ejection at supersonic velocities would probably be fatal. And if all those problems were not enough, the supersophisticated ASQ-42 nav-bomb system was nowhere near ready for installation and testing. During 1958 and 1959,27 more preproduction B-58s were deiivMAKCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 43


A total of 116 Hustlers were built. In 1965 the Defense Department announced plans to phase out the B-58 fleet (John MacNeill).

ered and the aircraft moved into its second phase of testing, designed largely to evaluate its operational suitability. By this time, most ofthe Air Force's upper echelons agreed that if used it all, the B-58 should become part of SAC's strategic bomher force. General Power, who had received his fourth star and heen given command of SAC, wanted the Air Force to huy the Hustler in large numhers to replace its aging Boeing B-47 Stratojet fleet. LeMay, now serving as the Air Force's vice chief of staff, still opposed the idea, maintaining that the potential cost of the supersonic program outweighed its strategic usefulness, but he stood virtually alone, In June 1959, while Category II testing continued, the Air Force announced plans to acquire 290 B-58s, enough to equip a five-wing homher forceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; but the controversy was far from over. Airframe modifications, improved engines, new electronics and other systetn changes rectified many ofthe Htistler's earlier faults, but its accident rate was downright shocking. Between 1958 and 1960, seven ofthe 30 preprodiiction airplanes crashed. SAC officials began 44 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2t)05

to bave doubts about tbe bomber's planned operational deployment and asked for an extension of the test program; the surviving fleet of B-58s was restricted to subsonic flights until the problems could be addressed. Investigation ofthe crashes ultimately revealed a major design flaw in the flight control system, which was redesigned and corrected in all remaining aircraft. But the experience effectively left the Air Force hesitant about the B-58's future. And even if the supersonic bomher became operational, there were new questions about the integrity of its mission. A study completed in 1959 by the Rand Corporation for tbe Air Force's Air Staff recommended scrapping the B-58 program altogether in favor of re-engined B-47s, The study, based on recent intelligence predictions, claimed that even at supersonic speeds tbe B-58 would provide only marginally better penetrative ability against the newest Soviet fighters and anti-aircraft defenses. Despite General Power's best efforts, the B-58 was fast becoming the unwelcome stepchild of SAC. The only two factors keeping it alive Continued on page 60


Build Your Own Convair B-58 Hustler

T

he Convair B-58 Hustler was the world's first supersonic jet bomber, but the Strategic Air Command's commander in chief. General Curtis E. LeMay, wasn't interested in the sleek and technologically advanced aircraft. General LeMay was a "big bomber" advocate who wanted aircraft like the Consolidated B-36 and the Boeing B-52 for SAC's arsenal. However, successor General Thomas S. Power, previously the head of the Air Research and Development Command, campaigned for tbe advanced B-58p and SAC finally adopted the Hustler in the early 1960s. B-58 models are produced in all g ofthe popular scales. The smallest is | from Academy in 1 / 144th scale and 5 fits comfortably on desktops or display shelves. (This kit is in the same scale as the B-47E built for the November 2002 issue.) Construction starts with assembling and painting the interior crew compartments gloss aircraft gray, FS-16473. Decals are provided for the three instrument panels. For a little color contrast, paint the crew ejection pods a slightly darker gray. Glue the completed interior to a fuselage side, and tben cement tbe two balves together. Tbe large delta wing should be glued into place next. Note that the wing-to-fuselage joint will take careful fitting to avoid a large filling and sanding job later. Skip the assembly of the landing gear and build up the four General Electric J-79 engine pods. On the real aircraft, the pods were fabricated from several alloys. Painting them varying shades of silver will add contrast to an otherwise dull color scheme. The exhaust cones should be airbrushed with Model Master's "magnesium," the aft portion of the main pod with "titanium" and the forward sections with Floquil "old silver." With the engines complete, go back to the fuselage and fill, sand and polish all the seams. An undercoat of light gray will bring out any construction errors. Metalizer paints magnify surface scratches and flaws, so work to get a mirroriike finish on the plastic. I painted the fuselage with Floquil's "platinum mist." This is a lusterless color that simulates aluminum which has been subjected to wear and high speeds. Again, to simulate the different types of metal used in the construction of the aircraft, mask and spray tbe leading edges of the wing and vertical stabilizer with Floquil "bright silver." This will give the impression that the metal has been subjected to high temperatures and speed. (Floquil paints are lacquer-based and should be used with proper ventilation.} When the fuselage paint has dried completely, mask and paint tbe radome with semigloss black, FS-27038, and the anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit with flat

black, FS-37038. The nose booms on B-58s were generally painted silver or white with a contrasting "barber pole" spiral of red or day-glo orange. Paint the boom according to your references, but hold off attaching it until the model is finished. Note that this piece is very fragile and can easily pop off. The B-58 landing gear was an "18-wheeler" (16 tires on the main gear and two on tbe nose gear), The tires are aircraft interior black, FS-37031. To paint the wheel rims, cut the point off of a wooden toothpick and "dot" the centers with Testor's silver. The final construction steps include painting the inside ofthe crew compartment covers gloss white, tbe landing gear wells and door covers interior green, FS36151, and constructing and painting the large weapons-fuel pod located under the fuselage with "platinum mist." With the painting complete, attach the engine pods to the wings. To get a good fit here will require some trimming and sanding. The kit decals for our mode! represent an aircraft from the 43rd Bomb Wing stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., in 1961. Jay Miller's book Convair B-58 Hustler, published by AeroFax, is an excellent reference for details and markings. With the decaling finished, "weather" the model by spraying a very thin mixture of Tamiya's "smoke" in streaks over the pane! lines to simulate exposure to the elements. The less is more principle is best here. Assemble and attach tbe very delicate landing gear to the fuselage. You'll need a steady hand to glue the more than a dozen parts required to complete tbe undercarriage. Mask the clear sections and paint the pilot's windscreen, then attach it to the front cockpit along with the hatch covers for the crew compartments. Finally, glue the needle-size nose boom to the front ofthe radome, and your model ofthe B-58 Hustler will be ready for display. Dick Smith MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 4=


I N T E R V I E W

Italian IHmotor Ibrpedo Dalmazio "Dal" Corradini, his four crew members and the squadrons of the Aerosilurante (torpedo bomber service) of Italy's Regia Aeronautica flew some of the most successful and dangerous missions of World War II, Their attacks, combined with those of their German allies, came close to strangling the British island base of Malta. By 1943, however, the Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79, though still considered the superior torpedo aircraft of its type by Corradini and his fellow pilots, could not defend itself against the faster, heavily armed fighters of Britain's Desert Air Force. In an interview with Ken Amold, Corradini described the hazardous missions that ultimately led to his becoming an Allied POW. Aviation History: Tell us about your background. Corradini: I was born in February 1919 in Naples. My parents were from the Marche region (south of Venice and east of Florence), on the Adriatic coast. My father had gone to Naples in 1910 to open a restaurant, where he did well until he died in 1931. My mother supported my brother and three sisters by starting a business of making and selling egg noodles. We did not bave a lot of money, and we did not have a car. I only started driving after I came over to the United States in 1947. AH: Who were your heroes as a young man? Corradini: ItaloBalbo had a lot of admirers. I was one of them. Balbo created a wave of enthusiasm for Italian aviation when he took a formation of 12 sea-

46 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

Flying SavoiaMarchetti S.M.79S andS.M.84s, torpedo bomber pilots like Dalmazio Corradini sank more Allied shipping than the entire Italian fleet. BY KEN ARNOLD

planes over the Atlantic a few years after Charles Lindbergh's crossing. I bad no previous experience in a\iation. I just came to like it and decided to join the air force. AH: When did you join the Re^a Aeronautical. Corradini: At age 19 I joined the air force as a trainee for the officer's school, and I became a second lieutenant pilot in |une 1940. Italy always had compulsor\^ military ser\'ice for all men on a temporary basis, and career service for people who wanted to stay in the military all their working life. I joined thefiegz'aAeronautica as a noncareer officer because I had the qualifying diploma of my studies and was called "ujficiale di complemento." As such, I was supposed to serve 18 months and then get an honorary discharge and go home to civilian life. The war changed the time of service, and after the usual 18 months I was "retained in the service for war reasons." So from the beginning, January 1939, to tbe end, in October 1945,1 spent nearly seven years in tbe air force. AH: What aircraft did you train on? Corradini: I trained on single-engine biplanes, such as tbe Caproni 100, Breda 25, Fiat C.R.20 and


Bomber Pilot Fiat C.R. Caccia [fighter). Later I trained on multiengine planes, such as the Savoia-Marchetti S.M,79, S.M.81 and S.M.84. The cadets who scored high on acrohatic flights were assigned to thefighterplane groups. Those who, like me, were classified as good navigators and steady fliers were assigned to the homhardment units. At the end of the course we wouldfindour names listed on a poster outside our harracks with a notation by the side, indicating "civilian pilot license" or "military pilot license." Then we would go out, huy the corresponding wing hadge and put it on. AH: Did you ever do any joy riding or stunt flying? Corradini: The Italian word for a pilot who does that is scapestrato |an individual who uses his head only to scratch it once in a while]. Once I went up with my co-pilot and the engineer. The official reason for the flight was "instmmental flight training," which meant that one of the two pilots would fly blind behind a curtain at 3,000 meters' altitude and only rely on the instruments while the other pilot would keep his eyes open to avoid hitting a mountain or some other plane. That day our instrumental flight was a series of huzzings over some hoats hy the beach, scaring the daylights out of the poorfishermenwho, at the approach of the plane,

As depicted by Ernie Boyette, this SavoiaMarchetti S.M.79 torpedo bomber was frequently flown by 2nd Lt. Dalmazio Corradini of the Italian 228th Torpedo Bomber Squadron

(Ernie Boyette).

would either lie flat on the bottom of the boat or, on some occasions, jump into the water. Everything was working out well for us that day, and we were having a lot of fun when, with the plane flying at ahout 3 or 4 feet from the water, a bunch of ducks flew out of some bushes and were hit hy the plane. With several holes along the edges of the wings, we returned to the airport. When we saw the squadron commander 1 explained that, while my co-pilot was behind the curtain, these birds came at us and before 1 could even see them they were hit by the plane. This is when I was given a week of house arrest hecause, as the commander said, "Ducks don't fly at 3,000 meters." AH: How and where were you trained in torpedo attack techniques? Corradini: Our training as torpedo pilots started after we had been bombardiers for a year or so. The torpedo school 1 attended was at the Naples airport, near the sea. I would take off with a disarmed torpedo窶馬o explosive in the head, only sand to retain the normal weight. A small ship, usually a minesweeper, would go up and down at different speeds, to give us a chance to work out our "triangle of

MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 47


launching." This meant trying to figure out the speed of the ship and setting our aiming instrument accordingly. The aiming instrument was a primitive device shaped like a horseshoe with several nails sticking out of it. As I saw the ship, I was to estimate its speed. The only clue I had for this was the length of the wake; if it was equal to the length of the ship, the speed was estimated at 20 nautical miles per hour. For a wake half the length of the ship, the speed was estimated at 10 miles per hour. Any other length of the wake would give me a corresponding estimated speed of the ship. Once the speed had been estimated, I would aim the corresponding nail of the horseshoe at the ship and launch the torpedo in the direction of the front nail of the device. This would create a triangle, where the ship and the plane were at the two lower points, and the torpedo would bit the ship at the third, higher point. Our training torpedoes would travel at a depth of 15 to 20 feet in order to cross under the ship without hitting it. By the side of the target ship there was a fast motorboat that would chase the torpedo and recover it with a special net. AH: What was yourfirstoperational squadron assignment? Corradini: I was with the 228th Sqiiadriglia Aerosilurantiâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;my assigned S.M.84 was No. 5. The 228th, together with the 229th, formed Gruppo [group] 89. The other group, which with the 89th formed the 32nd Stormo [uing], was the 38th. Our units were interchangeable, since aircraft were not assigned to any given crew permanently. For instance, my plane was No. 5, but if it was being repaired I would befiyingsomeone else's plane, irrespective of the number or symbols painted on the fuselage. Our group traded in the S.M.84 for the S.M.79 in December 1942 because the old 79s were better than the new 84s. I flew both, and like many other pilots I felt that the 79 was better for size, weight and, most of ail, maneuverahility. AH: How many missions did you fly, and what were you armed with most of the time?

48 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

Left: "Dal" Corradini at the controls of an S.M.79. Right: After completing his initial training in single-engine biplanes at Aviano Air Base, he served for a year as a bombardier before attending torpedo attack school (Photos: Courtesy of Dalmazjo Corradini).

Corradini: My war missions werefiveas a bomher and 15 as a torpedo pilot, all against the British fleet. Myfirstmission was on May 10,194I, with bombs, and the last one on March 27, 1943, vidth the torpedo. The "mad bombs," bomhe matte, were actually small torpedoes that were parachute-retarded, entered the water when released from the parachute and, with the rear propeller going, would go around in an expanding spiral unt^ they hit something or exploded by themselves at the end of their run. I had some training with them, but never bad occasion to use them in a war mission. AH: Were there shortages of equipment and torpedoes? Corradini: Our group in Sardinia was isolated and took orders from the air force general in charge of the island. If the order was to go out with the bombs because there were no torpedoes, we wouldn't have known. Therefore, if there were shortages, we were not told. We knew of spare parts shortages because very often the answer to our requests was, "Not in stock." In such cases we had to find a way to fix the old or damaged ones. I remember cases when, for lack of tires, we would have our "specialists" make do by using some wire or tape to keep the old tires from jumping off the rims. AH: Was your group generally successful in attacking the convoys and escorts? Corradini: With the exception of the one case w4ien I returned with the torpedo, we always found some ship to hit, either with the bombs or witb the torpedo. At the end of every mission, we would bave a meeting with our commander and, if it was a collective action, with the crews of the other planes. In those meetings we would all agree on the results. For example, for a bombardment mission: "I saw the battleship hit by four bombs. I saw the plane carrier hit hy two bombs. I saw one bomb on the cruiser, which was on the right side of the battleship and was shooting at us like crazy. Look at the photographs and see if you agree," In all cases, it was almost Impossible for us to say whether the ship


was sinking or not. lo see tliat, we had to be around and take pictures, and very few pilots did that. When I did it, I certainly paid for it. AH: Teil us about the events leading up to your hnal mission. Corradini: It all started on March 27,1943. At that time, I was stationed at the military airport of Milis in Sardinia. That morning a motorcycle messenger came to my lodging (a room I shared with my friend Roberto Bocca) and told me that 1 was due on the flying line "right now." 1 shouted goodbye to Roberto and told him that we would have lunch together upon my return. Little did I know that I would not see him again for 20 years. In general, we would fly until we didn't come backfroma mission—captured or killed. By now war was a part of our life, and we took it as it came. Were we superstitious? Yes. Like everybody else, we didn't want to be photographed before a mission because it was had luck—like saying, "This is the last time we saw them!" Each one of us had his ovm silly ways to avoid the "evil eye" and create a good luck situation for himself. This included special lucky charms we carried with us (usually something received from one of our girls), or some special gesture from the sign of the cross, or scratching some part of our body for good luck. At the airport, my plane's engines had already been started and were warming up. The memhers of my crew were waiting for me, as was our captain, who, in a few words, told me what the action was about. My plane, with possibly a second one to follow me in reserve, was to go to the Gulf of Philippeville |now the Gulf of Skikdal on the Tunisian coast to torpedo a cargo ship coming in from Gibraltar and due to arrive there around 11 a.m. or noon. We were to travel with other aircraft from the squadron, including the lO5th Gnippo. But our trusted No. 5 suffered damage to the right landing strut during the taxi out to the strip. We had to transfer to another aircraft, No. 1. The rest of the squadron formed up but could not wait. As we tried to catch up, they went on without us. We came into the action late.

S.M.84S Of the 228th Squadron on Sardinia. In December 1942, the last of the disappointing S.M.84S were replaced by older but superior S.M.79S.

In general, we would fly until we didn't come back from a mission-captured or killed.'

behind the main body, and made our attack alone. Our plane was a trimotor S.M.79 that, with a full load, could travel at about 150 mph. Our slang expression was, "Slow on the way out and fast on the way back," and it made a lot of sense considering that on the way out we had a torpedo, a flill load of gasoline, ammunition for four machine guns and a crew of five. The return was at over 180 mph because we had no torpedo, half tanks of gasoline and, in many cases, only a small residue of ammunition. The fked machine gun we bad on the S.M.79 was controlled by me, the commander of the plane, and I used it only on those rare occasions when the plane was aiming at the ship, just to distract the gunners and, as they say in Italian, "to make them suffer a little." AH: What were some of the tactics you used when fighters were protecting a convoy? Corradini: If the convoy we were going to attack had an aircraft carrier, or if the action took place neartheTunisian or Algerian coast, there would be fighter planes, eitherfromthe carrier orfromland. When we were up high, operating with bombs, if there were clouds around, they would become our hiding place. In such cases, soon after dropping the bombs, we would break formation and go separately into the clouds, spiraling there, hoping the fighters would go away. Sometimes it worked; on other occasions Supermarine Spitfires would be circling around or under the clouds, waiting for us to come out. When we were in formation, our gunners would try to create a defensive area with the crossfire, but we knew we were in a losing game—with the higher speed and the higher caliber arms of the fighters, we were like sitting ducks. The one lucky thing for us was the fact that our planes were made of light wood and light pipes, covered with cloth. This means that many bullets would go through the fuselage or wings without producing much damage. We used the radio very seldom in action, hecause we felt that the British could spot us if we had the radio on. At that time we did not know there

MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORY 49


Left Corradini poses with was a device called radar that could spot our planes. a (hopefully unarmed) AH: How many were in your crew on that final March 27 mission? torpedo during a lighthearted moment at Corradini: Our crew offiveincluded the first and second pilot, radioman, engineer and machineMilis, Sardinia. Right: gunner. As an officer, I was thefirstpilot and comShips in the Allied convoy mander of the ship, with my co-pilot, a sergeant, KMS-11 burn in March serving as second in command. The other three 1943 after being attacked men were corporals, each one attending to his by the 228tb's S.M.84S function and all assigned to man a machine gun (Photos: Courtesy of when needed. Walter Bonacini had been my coDalmazio Corradini). pilot since he came to my squadron in Septemher or October 1942. We did not havefixedcrews permanently assigned to a commander. AH: What occurred during that last mission? Corradini: By 11:30 a.m. we were by the port. Our target was practically stationary, and therefore it was easy for me to launch a torpedo directly at it, The ship split in without considering any angulation for speed and direction. The torpedo was launched by the first two sections...and I pilot hy pulling a lever at an estimated distance of ahout 2,000 feet from the side of the ship. This distance was needed to overcome the "dolphin" tra- asked the engineer... jectory of the torpedo at the first impact with the to take all 35 water, until it would stabilize itself at about a 3-foot depth, preset hefore takeoff. In this particular case, exposures of the with the ship stationary, it was a hull's-eye in a few seconds. The two corvettes escorting the ship had sinking vessel. It was just heard our engines and started shooting at us when the torpedo hit and exploded. As torpedo the wrong thing to do.'

50 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

pilots, we were operating not in a formation but isolated, just to minimize the effects of the hanage fire of the ships. During our attacks, the large ships would shoot their high-caliber guns, aiming in front of us. On impact, the shell would raise a huge column of water, sometimes up to over 60 feet high, and if a plane ran into it, it would disintegrate, like hitting a solid harrier. AH: What happened when your torpedo struck? Corradini: The ship split in two sections, forming a "V," with its front and rear in the air and the middle section slowly sinking. It was a spectacular sight, and 1 asked the engineer, who doubled as photographer, to take all 35 exposures of the sinking vessel. It was the wrong thing to do. As I was gyrating around the ship, stealing precious minutes from my limited getaway time, the two corvettes had us in their firing range, and this also allowed two Englishfighterplanes, the famous Spitfires, to reach us a few miles from the coast, over the open sea, while we were trying to go back home, flying low at ahout 10 feet from the water surface. AH: What tactics did the British fighters use? Corradini: Thefirstround of hullets shot ahead of our plane, a sign language meaning, "I am giving you a chance to hail out hefore I shoot you down." We were flying too low for any parachute jump, and I kept on going. But it was a short run. Before my three men could get behind their machine guns, my left engine, hit hy a cannon round, started smoking and the wing gasoline tank behind the engine started burning. ICorradini had been attacked by Pilot Officers jack Torrance and Robert Turkington of No. 43 Squadron, RAF. Corradini and Bonacini rememher that some of Torrance'sfiremissed, with the cannon splashes appearing in front of the fleeing S.M.79. Corradini's interpretation was that it was a signal to ditch or turn about to surrender, while Bonacini believes


that Torrance jusl missed the target. Both feel it was the second plane, flown by Turkington, that scored the hits which started tbe fire in the left engine.] AH: What happened at that point? Corradini: I was lucky to ditch the plane hefore it exploded. We hit the water and were submerged for a while. At this point 1 started wondering whether we would die hy heing burned or drowned. But then, after what seemed to be an eternity, I saw the sky again—the plane had come up and was floating. Out we went on tbe wing, got out our rubber raft from the plane, and miracle of all miracles, it inflated hy itself at the pull of a lever. We jumped in, and as we tried to row the raft away from the plane we were ail talking and crying, screaming and even laughing, because we were still alive. This was the only time I was wounded in my career. The Spitfires circled us, and we feared that they might shoot us in the water, as we had heard stories that the South Africans and Australians had been known to do this to other crews. These two, however, were gentlemen, and waggled their wingtips and flew away. Later a small civilian-looking plane came over us and circled. It fired a red flare, and as we hobbed on the swells of the sea we could see a mast coming our way. A ship came to rescue us. As they pulled up, someone shouted at us in English, which we did not understand, and then in German: "Are you German or Italian?" One of our crew was from northern Italy's Tyrol province and knew German. He answered, "Italian." We were helped onto the bridge, wet, tired, burned and scared. My hands were so badly hurned that the fiesh was coming off. I was taken to a small room and placed on a cot while a crewman helped remove my flying jacket.The ship landed in the port, and I was carried

In a circa 1940 watercolor that appeared in the French edition of the German journal Signal, S.M.79s bomb British bases on Malta (AKG-lmages).

on the cot on the shoulders of some of the crew. We were put in an amhulance and taken to a nearhy hospital. It was here for the first time that I saw the reality of war. Before this, war was just another form of sport for me, like boxing—1 beat you or you beat me; or a bullfight—I kill the hull or can even get killed by the bull. I saw people burned like cbarcoal. They were the sailors of the ship we had torpedoed, and they were suffering much more than we did. This is when I saw what our torpedoes did to the victims and felt ashamed to have caused such damage. AH: How did you come to he an American POW instead of a British one? Corradini: An English medical officer who spoke French told me that they did not know what to do with us. They didn't even have enough room for their own wounded. The next day an American Douglas DC-3 landed in a nearhy field and brought supplies and medicines to the English hospital. Someone must have told the pilot about our predicament, because he decided to take us with him to his base in Casablanca. During the first week

MARCH 2005 AVIATION HISTORV 51


Kammer, a German POW who had heen looking at us without understanding our conversation, said: "What are you doing? Fraternizing with the enemy?" "You are right," I said, "This man is my brother!" AH: What about your family back in Italy? Corradini: The air force notified my mother that I bad died in action, hut sbe never believed it. A few weeks later, a relative of ours heard my name in a list of halian POWs given over the radio by Radio London and told my mother that I was alive. When my cousin Joe went to see my mother in Naples, he confirmed that I was alive and in good physical condition. Later on, my mother started getting a letter a month from me, which as a POW I was entitled to send via the Swiss Red Cross. AH: What happened to your crewmen? Corradini: All the members of my crew got out of the wreckage, hurned but alive. I lost contact with them after Casablanca in early April 1943 and never beard from them again—with one exception. After almost 60 years, Walter Bonacini and J were reunited in the summer of 2002. AH: What happened to you after tbe war ended in 1945?

in the hospital. _ __, iher day I was taken to the infirmary on a cot, given a shot in the arm to be put to sleep and have my bandages changed. My hands and head were completely covered in bandages, with a few openings for my eyes, nostrils and moulb. One day, as I woke from my medication, I found an American sergeant sitting on my cot. As I opened my eyes, be asked me, in very good halian: "How are you doing? Do you feel better now?" The American reached for bis cigarettes, put one in my moutb and lit it. Tben be said, "I'm not bere to question you about the war, I only want to know if you are from Naples." "Yes," I said, "i am from Naples. What is it to you?" The sergeant asked, "Do you have relatives in the States?" "Yes, I do," i answered. At this point, the sergeant became more and more agitated, started moving bis hands and stuttered, "I wiil tell you their names: One is Dominic and one is Joe, and.. .and I'm Joe!" He was Joseph Corradini, from Kenosba, Wis., son of Frank Corradini, my fatber's brotber. We embraced each other. At that point

52 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

Corradini recalled that "many bullets would go through the fuselage or wings without producing much damage." After one such incident, he returned to base with the wing damage shown above (Courtesy of Dalmazio Corradini).

Corradini: In October 1945,1 was sent back to Italy, resuming my studies until December 1946, wben I earned a Ph.D. in political science. In 19471 traveled to Detroit, Mich. After an initial period of part-time jobs and study at Wayne State University to learn the language, I got a B.S. in business administration. On September 3, 1949, I married Amelia Buscb, my lovely wife and mother of our four children. I later left the university and worked for several major corporations in the automotive industry' before striking out on my own. In 1983 I joined SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) as a volunteer. We are sponsored by the Small Business Association, and our function is to help people who want to start their own business or who are already in business and want to improve tbeir operation. AH: Had tbere been no war, wbat do you think you would have become? Corradini: The usual pattern—school, degree, job, career. In my case, with a Ph.D. in political and social science, my career would bave been in tbe diplomatic field. But I am glad, war or no war, that my life developed the way it did. I was lucky to bave immigrated to this country and to have become an American citizen—and very proud of it, too. i r Ken Arnold, who writes from southern New Jersey, participates in a Web-based veterans history project recording memories of aircrews and ground crews from around the world. For additional reading, he recommends: Courage Mone, by Chris Dunning; and Air War Italy 1944-45, byNickBeale.


Reviev\/s Airline pilot Bob Buck translates a lifetime of flying into a memorable read. BY C.V. GLINES I WAS THE EDITOR OF AIRLINE PILOT magazine, on my way home from a press junket to Europe and sitting in the cockpit jump seat of a Boeing 747, Behind us in those preterrorist days was a planeload of passengers traveling from Paris' Orly Field to New York's JFK Airport. It was a cold, crystal-clear night, and we were fljang over southern Greenland, with the aurora borealis flashing its eerie fireworks across the northern sky. Polaris, the bright star that sits over the North Pole, was high to our right. It was one of those unforgettable sights that are difficult to translate into words. Can anyone really describe it? Captain Bob Buck can. He is one of those rare airline pilots who can tell us plainly what it's like to experience nature's beauty and its wrath and be responsible for transporting thousands of passengers during a lifetime of flying. The title of his book North Star Over My Shoulder (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005, $15) refers to that same North Star he saw often as he made so many oceanspanning flights. He writes, "Whoever created the universe and put Polaris over the North Pole did a big favor for those who traverse the sea and sky." Buck's life story provides memorable accounts of the unusual succession of people and places that he has met because of his piloting. He began flying at age 15, with an unsuccessful flight in a glider he helped to build. Although that craft represented his first crackup, he was hooked. He earned his private license in 1930 and progressed through the years, flying in light aircraft, then advancing to aircraft vrith higher horsepower and speed. At age 16, he flew an open-cockpit Pitcairn Mailwing solo coast-to-coast. It took five days, 23 hours, 47 minutes flying time, then a record for a light aircraft. This was followed by flights to Cuba and Mexico City. Buck was the 148th pilot hired by Transcontinental and Western Air (later TWA) after he had logged 1,300 hours in lightplanes. He began flying as a co-pilot in Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s. He describes a DC-2 trip from Indianapolis to St. Louis with a frozen heating system one winter night: "God, it was cold. We sat with coats, hats, and gloves on, plus blankets over our shoulders. The passengers were buried beneath blankets, and the hostess— coat, hat, boots, and blanket wrapped around her—tried to serve coffee. It began OK, but the 30-below air inexorably, cruelly crawled and crept in—to yoitr feet, through the weave of the blankets and coats, into the leather gloves, through the walls; Arctic cold is like that. It was numbing and the passengers, though none said a word, looked grim, and their eyes revealed second thoughts about their enthusiastic Willingness to go." 54 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

Many World War II pilots will certainly recall their own experiences flying the C-47, the DC-3's military version. They were noted for their leaking cockpits, failing heaters, nervewracking radio static and ice on the windshields, plus the advisability of landing on the main wheels instead of trying to make threepoint landings, especially in crosswinds. Some airline pilots, although civilians, were pressed into service during WWII with the Army Air Forces Air Transport Command, and Buck was one of them. His first flight was in February 1943 in a four-engine Douglas C-54 over the South Atlantic to Cairo. He then made bis first North Atlantic flight to Prestwick, Scotland, followed by a trip from there to Marrakech, Morocco, via a course off the coasts of France and Portugal. He flew these transatlantic trips for seven months and relates his experiences fighting a pilot's worst enemy—the weather. The rest of Buck's WWII experience deviated from that of other airline pOots. He flew a Boeing B-17 bomber chasing thunderstorms between Point Barrow and the Aleutians in Alaska to the Panama Canal Zone, and as far west as Midway Atoll. The hundreds of hours he spent seeking the worst weather that could be found were for precipitation static research. One of Buck's unusual postwar assignments with TWA was to fly Tyrone Power, the movie actor, to South America, Africa and Europe in a plush former C-47. The request had come from Howard Hughes, principal owner of the airline. The result was Buck's first inside look at Hollywood and a sincere friendship tbat lasted until Power died of a heart attack in 1958. Buck's life returned to normal as he flew the line and checked out in Lockheed Constellations, Boeing 707s and evenmally 747s. He takes the reader through these transitions and also provides a rare look at the operations' shortcomings and improvements as the airline expanded. His seniority and experience in weather led to his appointment as chief pilot and to service on government committees on meteorologv' and flight safety. Buck, forced to retire at age 60 as are all airline pilots, says he was fortunate to have been part of aviation's


growth at a time thai cannot be experienced again, adding: "Now my days of flying live only in reverie when I dream of the quiet, dimly lit cockpit of a 747, high over the North Atlantic, swiftly cutting across the sk>' creating a precise contrail in the moonlight, headed east to Paris, with my old friend, the North Star, over my shoulder." Those Other Eagles: A Companion Volume to Aces High, by Christopher Shores, Grub Street, London, 2004, S95.

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There are some authors whose name Set in England during 1943, this novel by Terence T. Finn alone is sufficient reason to huy a book, and recounts the combat experiences of Lt. Col. Tom Forester, Christopher Shores is surely one of these. Shores is a leader in that great band of commander of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter group and his British writers who hold down day jobs romance with Helen Trent, an Englishwoman several years while still cramming in sufficient research and writing time to delight their fans. By his senior. How they fall in love and profession a chartered surveyor, he served THE BTr.ST how he leads the P-47s into battle form in the Royal Air Force in the 1950s, so his of writing bears the stamp of authenticity of the core of this story. one who has labored in the ill-paid hut ohTIMriS so-rewarding vineyard of a\iation. Available for purchase at your local Shores seems to delight in the challenge of subjects seldom covered, making his conbookstore, Amazon.com, tributions all the more valuable. His twoor by calling Ivy House at volume Bloody Shambles deals with the i-800-948-2786. Southeast Pacific during World War II and has no counterpart in the market to my knowledge. Similarly unique are his/i/rlV«r for Yugoslavia. Greece and Crete; Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-4I: and Fledgling Eagles, an account of operations during the FINISH YOUR "Phony War" and the Norwegian campaign. His latest work, the monumental Those PAPERWORK Other Eagles, is as its title states a companWITH YOUR ion to its well-received predecessor, the twoFAVORITE volume Aces High: A Tribute to the Highest Scoring Fighter Pilots of the British and AIRCRAFT Convair B-58 Hustler Commonwealth Air Forces in World War II. M5058 $9-^° Price includes S8iH and Curreni Supplement The latter provides brief histories of each of We have over 1,000 detailed Aviation Rubber Stamps for your enjoyment. the pilots who hadfivetotal aerial victories, individual or shared. ImaginAir Designs Tliose Other Eagles covers the British. Commonwealth and Free European fighter pilots 1007 Woodland NW Dept.AH Albuquerque New Mexico 87107 who claimed between two and four victories Toll free (866) 299-2308 in aerial combat between 1939 and 1982. Fly to our new website www.iniaginairdesigns.com This extension from beyond World War II does not add a great percentage of entries, but is all the more valuable because so little has been written about this long period, which included wars in Malaysia, Korea and the Palklands. It could be argued that Those Other Fagles is actually a more important Whether you want 25 books as family keepsakes, or work than Aces High, for it provides infor3000 copies of your memoirs, let Gorham Printing create a mation that only years of research could custom book for you produce, and which probably will not be available to future researchers simply beEconomical template designs and hardcover also available cause the events and personalities are likely to be obscured by the passage of time. Call 1-800-837-0970 or visit our website to request our FREE informative book In 671 very well-written pages. Shores provides more than 1.800 entries, from Wing GORHAM PRINTING Commander Richard lames Abrahams to A GBEAI LOOK FOR YOU> SHO«I->JN BOOK Squadron Leader ]ozef Zulikowski, Each WWW. gorham print ing. com • 334 HARRIS ROAD, ROCHtiSTRR WA 98579 entry gives the name, rank and serial number

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of the flier, the date of the victory, the type of aircraft shot down, the type of aircraft being flown by the victor, and often the latter's serial number and/or letter markings. The position of the victory is recorded, as is the victor's flying unit. And that is just the tabular presentation. Each flier also gets a biographical entry that is surprising in its detail, taking you from the birthday of the pilot through his education, training, units to which he was assigned and his wartime record, often including decorations. If he survived—as sadly, so many did not—information on his postwar career is included as well. Now, this is not a hook you can sit down with and read straight through, but it is one you will return to time and again, not only for reference but simply to dip into the rich detail provided on these vibrant lives. Where else would you learn that a U.S citizen. Buck Feldman, would receive one-half credit for destroying a Ju-88 while flying a Typhoon, then shot down a slew of V- Is while flying a Tempest, only to round off his total by destroying an Egyptian Macchi M.C.205 while flying an Israeli Spitfire in 1949? A tip on enjoying the book—just flip through and let the names of the victorious types leap out at you. In one single pass I found Whirlwind, Defiant, Gladiator II, Buffalo, Sea Gladiator, Firefly, Beaufighter and Seafire II. You can do the same with victims, and there they are: Me-262, Me-323, M.C.202, S-82, Iu-90, lu-188 with glider bomb, Re-2001, Ar-96, Zeke, Zero, Dinah, Tojo—what fun! The hook is not inexpensive, but it is well worth its price, If you decide you cannot afford it, try to persuade your local library to huy it. Neitheryou nor the lihrary will be sorry. Wjilter I. Boyne

American Volunteer Airmen in World War I will come away with a depth of knowledge that few others could impart. Guttman takes the Lafayette Escadrille from its idealistic origins through the moment in February 1918 when the battle-hardened unit was transformed into the 103rd Aero Squadron of the U.S. Air Service. Escadrille Spa.124 did not die with the transformation, but maintained its identity as a French unit. As with all of Guttman's books, excellent illustrations enhance tbe narrative because eacb one is provided with an original caption, not just some sliver snipped from the text. This gives tbe author a chance to riff on his knowledge of the subject, pointing out details of markings, serial numbers and locations that the average reader would certainly miss. The photos are reinforced by the remarkable color profiles of Harry Dempsey. Tbe author follows tbe unit from its inception, giving intimate capsule views of the squadron members' personalities as well as their combats. Guttman's previous research efforts arm him with an amazing array of facts, so that air-to-air combat is not rendered between a named escadrille member and some nameless German, but in most cases between two well-identified personalities. Tbis provides a palpable authenticity to the book. Tbese are not mere anecdotal stories of air combat—althougb the individual accounts are fascinating—hut accounts supported by bard evidence, and often commentary, from the enemy side, What a fascinating group of young men they were. It is one thing to volunteer for sucb service, but it is another to serve it out, day after day, under the rigors of combat. The toll of tbe war is seen in the changes in the faces of tbe pilots over time. It was largely a blue-blooded group, but it bad its eartbier members as well, including of SPA 124 Lafayette Escadrille: course Raoul Lufbery and Bert Hall. American Volunteer Airmen in World War I, by Jon Guttman, Osprey One of tbe most interesting chapters conPublishing, Oxford, England, 2004, cerns the Oberndorf bombing raid of Octo$21.95. ber 12,1916, in which Lufbery became the There is a possibly apocryphal story told first American ace. It speaks of the quality of about the first attempt to hold a reunion of the book that there is an actual in-flight the Lafayette Escadrille during the early photograph of a German pilot (Lieutenant 1920s. According to the story, more than Otto Kissenbartb) flying the very same 4,000 people wrote in swearing that they Fokker D.II {a comparative rarity in itself) in were a member of the squadron. As there which be opposed the raid. And for the spewere only 38 members of the original unit, cialist, there is a photograph of Ernst Udet's and only 209 in the Lafayette Flying Corps, Fokker D.III, which had a dummy gunner that tale gives an indication of the early mounted behind the cockpit. popularityand historical importance of the If SPA 124 Lafayette Escadrille: American unit. A variety of films, ranging from the ex- Volunteer Airmen in World War I attracts ecrable Lafayette Escadrille starring Tab your interest—and it should—you might Hunter to some excellent documentaries, also like to get Dennis Gordon's Lafayette Eshas ensured that the public maintains a cadrille Pilot Biographies. It is more limited vision of the young American men who in overall scope than Guttman's book, but went to fly, and too often die, for France. provides far more details of the pilots' lives. Walter J. Boyne Ion Guttman pays tribute to the legendary quality of this unit, and does it in his For additional reviews, go to www. usual fact-filled, color-huttressed style. Readers of his SPA 124 Lafayette Escadrille: historybookworld.com.


Art of Flight The Birth ofa Beam documents the advent of a vital new technology in World War II Britain. BY CHARLES J. THOMPSON

Radar apuiaiui^ JMIJ u.iyiiieers who had V.GI Kuu at ii-u,. jouy Manor during World War II contributed to the authenticity of The Birth of a Beam by sharing with the artist their memories of Britain's first operational radar station.

'THE WAR WILL BE WON by science thoughtfully applied to operational requirements," wrote Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. commander in chief of Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command, to the head of research at Fighter Command. His words summed up the essence of the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain, hut this aspect is often underplayed in accounts of World War II. Without an effective detection system, defending fighters would have had to spend long hours on standing patrolsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;which, with its limited resources, the RAF could ill-afford to do. Before 1935, early warning of the approach of enemy aircraft was achieved only hy use of sound detectors. As the threat of war loomed, a desperate British military began constructing huge concave, concrete sound mirrors, 200 feet long and 25 feet high with microphones along their length, on the heaches facing the English Channel. Their usefulness was extremely limited, however, so the timely arrival of a far more efficient device was providential, Robert Watson Watt is generally credited as the father of radio direction finding (RDF), as radar was then called. Working at the Radio Research Establishment, he was responsible for investigating new methods of defense and early warning systems. The fact that he was asked to look into the feasibility of a "death ray" device indicates how 62 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

dire the situation was. But Watson Watt instead suggested that there was promise in developing an early warning system based on the phenomenon of very high frequency (VHF) reception being disrupted by aircraft flying near the receiver. An impromptu demonstration was staged in a field near Daventry on February 26,1935, using the radio broadcasting transmitters situated there, and the modern wonder of radar that is now taken for granted first saw the light of day. The receiver used on that occasion is now on display at the Science Museum in London. The origins of my painting The Birth of a Beam began back in 1996, when I received a letter from Knowler Edmonds. Both he and his wife had been connected with Chain Home radar stations during the war and belonged to the Radar Reunion organization. As editor of the organization's newsletter, he was concerned about the lack of pictorial depictions of radar, and he asked if I could create a circa 1941 aerial view of the vast Bawdsey Manor site, showing the radar masts along the coastline. My first reactions were negative. Edmonds was only interested in producing prints to sell to members of his reunion group, and a painting without an aircraft in it was of little use to me, as it would be ineligible for the Guild Continued on page 70


Airv\/are Two recent titles give computer pilots a choice between World War I and World War IL BY BERNARD DY Far left In Wings of War, both aircraft and terrain offer impressive variety. Left: A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress drops its twmbload in Pacific Fighters.

Wings of War Wings of War ($30, requires Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XR lGhz processor, 128 MB RAM, 3D video card with 32 MB RAM, www.gathering.com, also available for the Microsoft Xbox console) gives gamers a rare visit to the skies of World War I. The treatment here is totally fictional, however, with little attempt at realism. The planes in Wings of Warflyin a world without physics, and thus flying is more like riding a magic carpet than frantically trying to keep a frame of wood and canvas aloft. And yet this game's collection ofWWI birds offers an impressive variety of both fighters and bombers. The graphics are appealing enough and the game's performance is smooth enough that cruising around in these crates is a pleasure. At a reasonable $30, you could do worse than to spend some time playing this with your children. Let it pique their interest and give you an opportunity to tell them about these funny airplanes with the bright colors and curiosities called propellers.

is always producing fixes and enhancements. Commercial expansion packs like Forgotten Battles keep expanding the title's breadth and depth. Pacific Fighters is the next evolutionary step for this remarkable simulator franchise. The last major flight game to explore WWlI's Pacific theater was Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator 2 (CPS2] in 2000. Although CFS2 was a welcome effort, Pacific Fighters is a generally superior product. The graphical details are stunning, featuring accurate color and insignia schemes, and dynamic details like bullet holes and damage accurately appear on the aircraft model as it is struck. The game offers a strong variety of aircraft in both the fighter and attack roles, and the developers continue to create historical notes and missions to accompany them. Other games have done some of these things, but the Sturmovik franchise is tbe best at putting it all together. There are also various enhancements to the game engine, but the one with the greatest impact in Pacific Fighters is the addition of aircraft carrier-based operations. The game takes simulated WWII naval aviation to a new high. Carriers move with the motion of the sea, are Pacific Fighters festooned with anti aircraft guns, and mark their moveA sharp contrast to Wings ofWar, Pacific Fighters ($50, rement not only with water wakes but also by exhaust from quires Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium Illclass lGhz processor, 512MB RAM, 3D video card support smokestacks. Pacific Fighters comes with scripted missions playahle with 64MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 1.2GB hard drive space} is a hearty offering for simulation buffs interested at any time, as well as several dynamic campaigns that in realism. This shouldn't surprise readers who realize this simulate tbe careers of military service pilots. The Pearl new title comes from the makers of the acclaimed 11-2 Harbor historical missions are notable and allow the player to fly for either side of the war. In re-creating the fateful Sturmovik simulation. Sturmovik received deserved praise for its deft fusing of December 7,1941, attack, a player can fly a Mitsubishi realism and visual splendor. Perhaps one of the finest A6M Zero or an Aichi D3A"Val" and seefirsthandthe path strengths of the title is its developer support. Russian de- the Japanese squadrons flew and the limited resistance velopment team Maddox Games has continued working on they met that day. Conversely, players can try to defend the title constantly since its 2001 release, and the company Continued on page 72 64 AVIATION HISTORV MARCH 2005


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People & Planes Continued from page 12

between himself and Adams. Besides those difficulties, the Route 11 pickup system was not generating enough revenue to keep the husiness afloat. Installing group equipment cost ahout $3,500 for each community added to the route, and two communities. Beaver Falls and New Castle, raised only $900 between them. Adams either would not or could not help with the costs, Ball said, and he had had to make up the difference himself. It was the final straw between the fledgling partners. The end of the partnership did not deter Adams from continuing to market his invention. The airmail pickup system proved to be a complete success at an exhibition in Chicago. Yet that success did not lead to any backing frotn fitianciers or the Post Office. Convinced the setup needed modification, Adams spent the summer of 1935 simplifying the trap, and by 1937 be bad received a new patent on bis system.

received contracts from the Post Office Department for two experimental routes, designated 1001 and 1002, that extended fi-om Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh to West Virginia, respectively. Du Pont and the board of directors approved the purchase of four Stinson SR-lOs. equipped vdth 260-hp Lycoming engines. Several experienced pilots and fiight mechanics were also hired to run the new routes. Before the airplanes could be put into service, du Pont wanted modifications completed on Adams' equipment. Adams was not asked to participate in the redesigning of his system. Instead, the board offered 750 shares of All American stock to Godfrey L. Cabot, wbose airmail pickup design of the 1920s had been an early inspiration for Adams' work. The corporation acquired all rights to C^abot's patents in airmail pickup technology' and elected him to the board of directors.

ADAMS BITTERLY resented the changes made to bis system. He urged du Pont to put him in charge of overseeing tbe employees and all revisions made, but du Pont believed Adams was too emotionally involved to be effective. Engineers hired to work in perHAVING MOVED TO IRWIN, PA., in the fecting tbe pickup system felt that Adams' mid-1930s, Adams formed a new partner- method was flawed and dangerous. ship with Arthur P. Davis, president of the Although du Pont did not want Adams' Arma Engineering Corporation of Brooklyn, help in modifying the mechanics, he valued N.Y. The two formed All American Aviation his input as a promoter. The company paid Inc., chartered as a Delaware company in the inventor a monthly retainer for his marMarch 1937. Adams and Davis also created a keting skills and important Washington, second corporation, Tri-State Aviation, to act D.C., contacts. But Adams' resentment inas the operating segment of their business. tensified as time went on. Airmail pickup service throughout westOn May 12, 1939, service for Route 1002 em Pennsylvania and West Virginia was spo- from Pittsburgh to West Virginia comradic. There was no fixed schedule, and menced when three Stinsons took off for LaTri-State Aviation lost money. But even trobe. Pa. About 7,000 people, including du though he had already suffered through a Pont and Adams, were on hand at tbe Mordecade of financial losses, Adams was not gantown Airport to watch the inaugural about to give up his dream. He convinced pickup. Two days later, service for route 1001 first ladyEleanorRoosevelt of the reliability began in Camden, N.J. All American Aviation of his system for rural use. Sbe then spoke was officially in the airmail pickup business. to her son. Franklin D. Roosevelt ]r., and his Du Pont was working to completely oust bride, the former Hthe! du Pont. That con- Adams from tlie company, and by lune 1940, versation would change Adams' life. the break was complete: Adams resigned as Ethel du Pont's brother, Richard C. du vice president of AJ! American. Witbin two Pont, was an experienced glider pilot who months, du Pont canceled tbe loan agreebecame very interested in the financial po- ment with Adams and gained the majority' tential of the system. He agreed to provide of voting stock in the company, a move that Adams with the backing necessary to make gave du Pont controlling interest in Trithe system a success, and he loaned Adams State. Adams had been outmaneuvered. $45,000, payable vwithin two years. As collatIn 1943 Richard du Pont was killed while eral, Adams gave du Pont his patents, 40 per- testing experimental gliders for tbe military. cent of Tri-State Aviation's class A stock and On March 7, 1949, All American Aviation 51 percent of the company's class B stock. stopped picking up mail and began flying In 1938 du Pont built a complete corpo- passengersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and was renamed All American ration around the airmail pickup system, Airways. In 1953 it was renamed Allegheny adding a board of directors that would vote Airlines, which subsequently became U.S. on all business relating to Tri-State and All Air in 1979 and U.S. Airways in 1997. American Aviation. But Adams was already Lytle Adams left western Pennsylvania in out of the loop, as du Pont placed his own 1951 and moved to Arizona, where he conkey people throughout the corporations. tinued to dabble with various inventions On December 13, 1938, All American until his death in 1970. -t"


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ditional, company-funded venture. The Fokker engineers began with three concepts built around three different engines: the Czechoslovakian-buih, inverted V-12, air-cooled Walter Sagitta; the British 12cylinder, liquid-cooled Rolls-Royce Merlin II; ajid the French 14-cylinder, air-cooled radial Gnome-Rhone 14M4. The Merlin was favored as offering the best performance and fewest cooling problems. The initial plan to use a tail wheel swiftly gave way to a retractable tricycle landing gear, which would assure sufficient ground clearance for the rear propeller. The aft airscrew was also accommodated hy a twin-hoom arrangement, with the horizontal tailplane supported on twin vertical stabilizers. Work proceeded in a desultory manner until late February 1938, when Anthony Fokker took serious notice and invited Beeling and his assistant, Henk Barto, to discuss this new design at his chalet. Fokker was so impressed that he proposed that the fighter be publicized as the D.XXIII and that a fullscale mock-up be readied for display at the next Paris Salon at the end of November. That accelerated demand forced Beeling to build the first prototype around the most immediately available engine—the 520-hp Sagitta I-SR, which the A.S.Walterfirmhad readily loaned to Fokker because of its own interest in the D.XX1II project. THE D.XXIII WAS ORIGINALLY supposed

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Continued from page 20

to have been the third Fokker to feature an ail-metal structure and stressed-skin wings. Given the time constraints they now faced, however, Beeling and his team hastily cobbled together a mock-up from cheap pine wood, with only the engines and the undercarriage being genuine components. In typical Fokker fashion, carefully finished surfaces and extra pedestal support fooled all but the most observant visitors, and the D.XXIII was considered one of the most unusual and interesting designs displayed at the Salon. In addition to the mock-up, Fokker displayed alternate engine options, using the RollsRoyce Kestral XV, Hispano-Suiza 12Xrs, Junkers lumo 210Ga and Isotta-Fraschini Delta RC-35ID. Fokker's deadline for completion of a flyable first prototype also imposed compromises on Beeling's team—its wings, too, were of wood construction, though the fuselage and tail booms were metal. In spite of the fighter's unorthodox design, the entire fuselage was sensibly laid out with detachable panels offering direct access to all internd components as well as the engines. As built, the D.XXIII had a wingspan of 37 feet 8% inches, with a wing area of just over 199


square feet. The plane's overall length was 35 feet 5/j inches, and it stood 12 feet 5-;^ inches high. Weight was 5,071 pounds empty and 6,614 pounds fully loaded. The Fokker engineers anticipated a maximum speed of 326 mph at 12,450 feet with the Sagitta engines, but expected the Kestrels to raise it to 351 mph at 14,520 feet. Range was projected at 540 miles and service ceiling at 29,530 feet. The D.XXIII was to he armed with 7.9mni FN-Browning machine guns on either side of the pilot's cockpit and boommounted 13.2mm FN-Brownings, tlie latter weapons fed by an unusual and complex system that conveyed the ammunition from circular cartridge magazines in the fuselage through the wings to each boom. That armament was never installed, however. The D.XXIII's first taxiing trials, in April 1939, consisted of the mock-up, newly returned from Paris, being towed down the rujiway by a car. When test pilot Gerben Sonderman taxied the actual prototype in May, he discovered that by gunning the forward engine and throttling back on the rear one, he could use the forward propeller's torque to perform a riglit turn, while reversing that procedure would turn left. It was a complicated way to control an airplane on the ground, however, and the Fokker team concluded that a steerable nose wheel was essential. The prototype went up for its first flight on May 30, with die landing gear extendedit would not be fully retracted until luly 3, Almost from the start, Sonderman reported cooling problems with the rear engine. Although it did not exceed the maximum permissible cylinder temperature of 518 degrees while running on the ground, it rose as high as 608 degrees during takeoff, and even while cruising at 13,125 feet, the rear engine's temperature gauge registered on the red line. Part of the problem was traced to the unretracted or partially retracted wheels impeding the flow of air to the rear intake. Fully retracting the undercarriage improved things to such a degree that a special indicator was installed so the pilot knew when it was fully retracted. Beeling's team managed to redesign the cooling system enough to reduce the rear engine temperature to at least an acceptable degree, though they never achieved a completely satisfactory level. Wind tunnel tests conducted on a Ki.-scale model early in 1940 showed that the rear propeller was somewhat more efficient than the forward one, and that overall the D.XXIirs configuration was iust as efficient as that of a conventional plane with a single tractor propeller. In practice, however, the prototype suffered from malfunctions in the variable pitch mechanism of the propellers. Yet another problem envisioned during the D.XXIII's first flights involved how the pilot would exit the plane in an emergency with a propeller behind him. The Fokker en-

gineers' primitive preliminary solution was to mount a handrail on the right fuselage side ahead of the cockpit, theoretically allowing the pilot to clamber out onto the wing before jumping clear and parachuting to earth. WANTED: Seasoned conibjt pAt>i\ n> tly ,i target jirplaiii\iith hundrtds cifljght bulbs that would flash each ILTHC The German invasion of Poland in Sep- arigged niivitc's bullets hit your airplinc. Don'l worry about getting tember 1939 and the outbreak of general hos- hit - ^ few extra layers ofamior has been aiiiicd tiir your \ikxy. tilities in Europe placed a new urgency on In the cvenl vou do get shot liown, the orange paint H-ill make you easy to find. development of Fokker's advanced fighter. The Bell P-63 "Pinbill." Itist one of Classic Aircrafl Collettiun's historital airplants modeled to Solving its problems impeded its progress, museum qualiti' pcrtcttion in durable resin. however, and Sonderman was only able to take it up 11 times, accumulating just four hours of flight time. He found its flying qualities to be basically good, but the rear engine temperatures, still borderline at best, prevented him from being able to put it through tight turns or serious aerobatics. "The Sagitta engines failed to create an impression of reliability," Beeling wrote, "running unevenly at cruising altitude and smoking badly." Ultimately, time ran out for the D,XXIII when the Germans invaded the Nedierlands on May 10,1940, and Luftwaffe aircraft atQuestions answered bi real-live aviation nuts who'll tacked Schipol airport, where the prototype gUdly answer ^uestiuns and was undergoing tests. Bomb splinters send viiu a fret brochure grounded the fighter for the next three critical days, but after the Dutch surrender, Beel800-289-3167 ing and his colleagues found the damage to ww«-. airc r jfi mod c Is. com be reparable, enuil: concatitusSaircriftmodeis.com German occupation forces showed conCollectors Airmodel Company siderable interest in the D.XX1II, leading the 10232 Maria Dr., Fort Worth, Texas 76108 Fokker engineers to request permission to Fax: 817-246-6111 conduct three more hours offlighttesting in August 1940, promising to have the prototype back in flying condition within three weeks. German interest apparently waned, however, because the only response came in May 1941, when they removed tlie Sagitta engines and returned them to the Walter factory in the occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The D.XXIII's airframe was deBOOKS/DOCUMENTS stroyed in the course of a series of load tests, BOOK: Guiik £u Over 900 Aircraft Musturm, bringing the development of Fokker's last USA/Canada 22nd Ed. Charge or CK/MO single-seat fighter to an ignominious end. $20 postpaid (Overseas extra) to: Michael No fighter using the fore-and-aft engine Blaugher, 124 E. Foster Parkway, Ft. arrangement ever got into production Wayne, IN 46806-1730. 260-744-1020. before the jet age rendered it a moot point. Email: airmuseums@aol.com; web: www. Nevertheless, the promising concept finally aircraftmuseums.com did achieve success in the United States when the Cessna Aircraft Gompany, seeking PHOTOGRAPHS to sidestep the need for a twin-engine pilot's DAVIDSON AVIATION license,firstflew its "centerline twin" Model JESSE 336 on February 28, 1961, followed in 1965 ARCHIVES. Historic aviation phoby the 337 Super Skymaster with retractable cofiraphs, books, atitographs, documents. Visit landing gear. Although designed as a private our wehsite at: www.aviationhistoryphotos. cabin monoplane with a top speed of only com or contact: 516-829-8946. 205 mph, the Gessna 337 also saw military For information to place an ad, please call: use as a forward air control plane during the Lauren Bamiak Vietnam War as the 0-2. Soon after demonstrating the Super Skymaster in the NetherPh: 215-968-5020, ext. 132 lands, Cessna test pilot Bob Williams ^ ^ Fax:215-579-804 •«acknowledged its ancestor in the August 31, email: lbarniak@mktgservices.com 1967, issue of the Telegraaf, saying, "That the formula of this plane is similar to that of the Mail ad copy and payment to: ingenious Fokker fighter of 1939, the Aviation History Classifieds D.XX1I1, indicates that there is still a great 6405 Flank Dr., Harrisburg, PA 17112 future for the basic Fokker concept.""!"

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Art of Flight Continued from page 62

EAA's Spring Celebration of Flight and convention has something for everyone. THE EXPERIMENTAL Aircraft Association each year holds a Spring Celebration of Flight and convention tliat draws participants from around the world to Lakeland, Fla., and EAA's Sun 'n Fun campus at Lakeland-Under Regional Airport, The event, occurring April 12-18, includes a daily airshow, static aircraft display, more than 500 commercial exhibits and many educational opportunities, among them more than 450 forums and hands-on workshops throughout the week. For information see www.sun-n-fim.org or call 863-644-2431, Feb. 8: American Flyers of WWII England, featuring the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino Airport, Chino, Calif. For information call 909597-3722 or visit www.planesoffame.org. March 2: Industry and career expo on the Prescott, Ariz., campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Go to www.erau. edu/pr/careers to view previous industry attendees, or call Adriana Hall at 386-2267018 for information. Embry-Riddle also maintains a Daytona Beach, Fla., campus that holds career fairs as well and extendedcampus learning centers in the U.S. and Europe. March 5: Air Operations Over Iwo Jima, featuring the North American P-51 Mustang, Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino Airport, Chino, Calif. For information call 909597-3722 or visit www.pianesoffame.org. March 8-10: Aviation Industry Week, Sands Expo and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev. The event hosts AS3-Aviation Services and Suppliers Supershow, the National Air Transportation Association's (NATA) 2005 annual convention and the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association's [PAMA) 34th Annual Aviation Maintenance Symposium. Call 800-8278009 or visit www.aviationindustryweek. com for more. March 8-10: SAR 2005-The Americas, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami, Fla. Organized by the Shephard Group. Topics include issues facing civil search-and-rescue authorities and combat SAR particularly of concern to the Western Hemisphere. Visit www.shepberd.co.uk for details. March 22-24: Sea Air Space 2005 Exposition, MarriottWardman Park Hotel, Washington. D.C., presented by the Navy League 70 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 201)3

of the United States. Seewww.sasexpo.org for more information. March 25-26: Parachuting. Easter Boogie, Sky Dive Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert between Phoenix and Tucson. Call 520466-3753 or visit www.skydiveaz.com for information. March 30-31: Avionics Expo Europe, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. See avionicsQ5.com for more.

Military flybys are among the attractions at the Orlando Air Fair, April 2-3.

April 2-3: Orlando Air Fair, Orlando Executive Airport. Go to www.orlandoairfair. com or call 407-894-7331 for information. April 5: Air Power over Southeast Asia, Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, Calif. For info call 909-597-3722 or visit www. planesoffame.org. ^ r i l 7: Aeroexpo 2005. international trade show and convention, Toluca Airport and Cuernavaca, Mexico City, Mexico. Check out www.aeroexpo.com.mx for more. April 8-10: London Air Show, trade show and exhibition at Earls Court Exhibition Center London, UK. Go to www.tondon airshow.co.uk for more. April 10-12: Helicopter Association of Canada, convention and trade show, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Vancouver, B.C. For information, see www.h-a-c,ca. Every 1st Saturday: Antique Aircraft Display. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Frazier Airpark, Hollister, Calif. Call 408-779-2356 or visit www.frazierlake.com for details. Mary Beck Desmond Aviation History welcomes submissions. Please send to: Events Editor, Aviation History Magazine, 741 Miller Driue, Suite D-2, Leesburg, VA 20175 or via e-mail to AviationHistory@thehistorynet.com.

of Aviation Artists or the American Society of Aviation Artists annual exhibitions. But four years later I got another call from Edmonds, who was now willing to purchase the painting, which he planned to hang at Bawdsey Manor. I was supplied with massive amounts of reference material and wartime photographs. 1 also had an aerial photograph taken of the whole complex on which to base my painting, and 1 was very lucky to capture an image of the last remaining radar mast, a 350-foot transmitter aerial still standing on the site. Years before WWII began, a team of scientists and electronic engineers headed by Watson Watt initially set up their laboratories and workshops near the tiny fishing village of Orfordness, facing the North Sea. By the end of 1935. they were forced to move to larger premises at Bawdsey Manor, farther down the East Anglia coast. Bawdsey Manor became the first operational radar station and the model for all others that followed. Eventually, they lined the shores of southern and eastern England and hecame known as the Chain Home defense system. Once the system was complete, it was possible not only to detect enemy planes before they crossed the Channel but also to determine their number, altitude and bearing. Once the enemy crossed inland, the job of tracking them was taken over by the Observer Corps. All this information was sent to a central filter room, where the information was plotted onto maps and the siuiation assessed before fighters were dispatched to deal with the enemy intruders. My painting The Birth of a Beam looks north-by-nortbeast, Tbe North Sea can be seen at the top and the Dehen River at the bottom. Four 350-foot transmitter masts are at the top left, with four 250-foot receiver masts scattered farther to the right. The redroofed manor lies at the top edge of the large grass lawn on the right. Naturally a lot of the landscape had changed since 1941, and as the painting progressed I got help from several former radar operators and engineers who had worked there. Their contributions were vital to the historical authenticity of the painting. Today visitors to Bawdsey Manor can see The Birth of a Beam. They will also find a plaque mounted in the main hall that reads: In the year 1936 at Bawdsey Manor Robert Watson Watt and his team of scientists developed the first air defence radar warning station. The results achieved by these pioneers played a vital part in the successful outcome of the Battle of Britain in 1940. ~t-


Airware Continued from page 64

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Order online: www.TheHislorvNetShOD.com Or CALL: 1-800-358-5327 by mail: Aviation History • P.O. Box 60 • Dept. AV503A • Kingstree, SC 29556

72 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2003

against the attack by flying one of the few Curtiss P-40Warhawks that tnanaged to get airborne. Beyond the Pearl Harbor sorties, however, there's a dearth of static historical missions, which is one of the few disappointments. This is effectively mitigated hy the inclusion of scenario-building tools, which allow for easy creation of scripted missions. The dynamic campaigns, called dynamic hecause they change the course of the war based on player success, may not he exactingly accurate from a historical perspective, but they do add a bit more urgency to the player's involvement in the game. Pacific Fighters includes some interesting alternatives to the expected Imperial Japanese Navy, Imperial Japanese Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps campaigns. Available too are careers with the U.S. Army Air Forces, the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force, The Sturmovik franchise, of course, would not be what it is without both popular and obscure aircraft in the stable. U.S. Army Air Forces strike pilots will begin their campaigns flying the Douglas A-20 Havoc, while the Australian pilots will fly the Bristol Beaufighter Mk.21, aircraft not modeled in other popular simulations. Many of the campaigns also offer different specializations, so actually there are about 11 to choose from, and because the campaigns are dynamic, they have a higb replay factor. As a stand-alone product, the individual missions, campaigns, scenario builder and multiplayer support give Pacific Fighters plenty of' material to enjoy. If you have II-2 Sturmovik and its two expansion packs [Forgotten Battles and the Ace Expansion Pack] installed. Pacific Fighters can in-

stall as an expansion to the existing group of simulations, giving you a giant simulation that spans hoth war fronts. Despite the title's strengths, no one familiar with the franchise should be surprised there are a few flaws in Pacific Fighters. As outstanding as the game's presentation is, it remains largely old-school, with simple but functional menus, canned noninteractive tutorials, sometimes-quirky artificial intelligence and—for all its technical brilliance— a demure ambiance. While there are several realism toggles, to permit tailoring the difficulty level to player preference, even with these the title can still be intimidating to the novice. And it still requires a fast PC and video card if a player wants to see it at its best. Still, these criticisms should not deter simulation fanatics from putting this excellent product on their wish list, as Pacific Fighters catches the three-wire where it counts tbe most, "t"


Legacy of Flight BY NAN SIEGEL The venerable Boeing B-52 was still doing yeoman service during 1991's Operation Desert Storm, 39 years after the Stratofortress first flew.

APRIL 15,1952, SEATTLE, WASH.-The second prototype of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the YB-52, took off for the first time. The hig homher fiew from Boeing Field to Moses Lake, Wash., with legendary' test pilot A.M. "Tex" Johnson and Lt. Col. Guy M. Townsend at the controls. While the first prototype had secretly been rolled out some four months hefore, on November 9,1951, it did not take to the air until October 2,1952.

Powered by eight Pratt & Whitney YI57-8-3 turbojets, it was capable of 556 mph at 40,000 feet. Thanks to its mammoth 185-foot wingspan, it also necessitated a top-secret crossuind main landing gear that would make it possible to land safely even in a crosswind of 43 knots. Another design feature was the use of a pneumatic system as the primary power source for all auxiliary functions. The initial production order had already been placed for 13 B-52As in February 1951, and those production aircraft would be notably different in terms of the cockpit. Where both prototypes had a tandem seating arrangement for the pilot and co-piiot—as in the B-47—production versions of the B-52 would have side-by-side seating, Today, 57 years after the design process for this venerable warhorse began, an updated model of the Stratofortress is still in service, the B-52H, which was most recently deployed over Kosovo and Iraq, "t"

9 5 Years Ago This Month MARCH 18,1910, DIGGER'S REST, VICTORIA, AUSTRAUA- later capitalized on the public's growing fascination with fiying A few short months after teaching himself to fly in Hamburg, by taking the lead in stunt-fiying sequences for film (see reGermany, the world's hest-known escape artist tackled a new lated story, P. 30). Most notably, he would incorporate hairchallenge. This time, however, no illusions or tricks would be raising wing-walking moves in The Grim Game, one of the involved. Ehrich Weiss, better known as Harry Houdini, wotild three serial thrillers in which he starred in 1919. In that film— ensure himself a legitimate place in aviation history by maldng the first to record an air collision (actuaUy an accident around the first significant fiight in Austraiia. He had been inspired which the original script was rewritten on the spot)—he first in part by a theater manager from Down Under who offered used his escape powers to free himselffi-omjail and then perhim a salary to undertake the long sea voyage with his newly formed a lengthy series of stunts in midair. acquired Voisin biplane. With characteristic showmanship, the 36year-old entertainer took pains to publicize his latest feat. He had already emblazoned his stage name in huge letters on the aircraft, and now he aiso arranged to have his fiights filmed. In fact, the whole setup echoed the performer's very first efforts at self-promotion at age 9—a backyard "circus" for which he charged 5 cents admission and billed himself as "Ehrich, the Prince of the Air" for a trapeze act. His unprecedented March 18 flight at Digger's Rest, during which he traveled more than two miles, enabled him to upstage efforts by a handful of competitors, including Colin Defries, Fred Constance and Ralph Banks. Interviewed for the newspaper The Age after a six-mile flight later that month, Houdini declared: "I am perfectly satisfied. I can now fly, and my machine is a perfect piece of mechanism, i never have enjoyed any experience so much." A grim-looking Harry Houdini clings to a wing strtit in this still shot taken like other performers of his day, Houdini during production of the 1919 silent film The Grim Game. 74 AVIATION HISTORY MARCH 2005

Flight disaster 2015  

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum at Addison Airport on the north side of Dallas features one of the finest collections of flyable vintage aircraf...

Flight disaster 2015  

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum at Addison Airport on the north side of Dallas features one of the finest collections of flyable vintage aircraf...

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