Mitsubishi A6M1 Zero

Part of the first wave of great World War II fighters, the first flight of Mitsubishi’s famous Zero came on April 1, 1939.

Let’s take a look at an important type that was so secret it was almost entirely unnoticed at first.

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Posted in Fighter, Japan, prototype | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Gloster Gladiator Mk I

At the start of World War II every combatant still had hardware that looked like leftovers from the previous era. But some of those weapons were very effective in the right hands.

Let’s look at a British plane and a proficient pilot.

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Posted in Britain, Fighter | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Road Trip!

My wife, her parents and I spent a few days out of town this last week, and I wanted to share some things relevant, at least tangentially relevant, to this website.

First day was at that long time favorite destination of mine, the Museum of the United States Air Force. It seemed funny to visit there just a day after I posted the Memphis Belle here! I’ve done enough longer posts on that Museum I won’t worry about rehashing too much of it again.

Yes, its a genuine Wright Brothers bicycle!
Stained glass window featuring the wreck of the “Lady Be Good”, North Africa
Original main gear from the XB-36 prototype. I don’t know why my wife wanted those two guys in the way…
Looking up the motive of the B-70 Valkyrie.

The next day was spent at the 2021 Dayton Air Show. At four hours long it was a bit on the short side this year, and traffic management in and out seemed much worse than I recall. But that said, after a whole year of nothing, it was awesome to see an air show again!

The AeroShell team in their AT-6 Texans put on a good formation show, and proved they were “the noisy North Americans”!
Navy Legacy Flight put an F4U Corsair and F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Interesting face off. That’s “Shockwave”, the three jet powered semi-tractor against a Pitts. They had a fair and sporting drag race in the true WWE sense of the word…
The clouds parted, and behold, there were Thunderbirds!

The next day I wasn’t even planning on mentioning here, but much to my surprise it proved relevant both to my love of history AND scale modeling!

The Ark Encounter in Wiliamstown Kentucky. I’ve heard (call this here say, no documentation) this is the most popular tourist destination in Kentucky. And I’d believe it! It’s huge, well conceived in every sense of the word, and busy, busy, busy…
Inside is a gorgeous model of their speculative Noah’s Ark, its even in 1/48 scale. It is SO MUCH bigger than anything I’ve ever built! The ancient sources we have for information on this (The Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible) really offers very little information about its form or any details. But it absolutely does give its dimensions! The unit of measure used is the Cubit, which varies some across the years but is generally around 18 inches. So that all means, even if a lot of guesswork and artistic license is involved in the details, the bulk of the Ark is exactly as reported!
The real challenge was getting photos without kids swarming all over! This was really awe inspiring, and quite a popular exhibit.
Posted in Miscellaneous, Museums | 6 Comments

Theme Build 3

Prototypes

I think most often when we think of prototype aircraft its as the first example of some famous type. But of course the term actually has much broader usage. There are actually four completely different sorts of prototypes I’ll look at for this theme build.

One will be exactly that most expected sort. But I’ll also do one that’s an established type’s alternate. Any time there was a significant change to an airframe it could lead to a new prototype. One famous example comes to mind is the P-51 Mustang, when two early examples were held back for conversion to a new Packard built Merlin engine they became “XP-51B”, test beds for the new power-plant. Later yet, the rear fuselage was cut down for an improved visibility bubble canopy; the first experimental build was tagged “XP-51D”. Which is all to say any major aircraft type may have several “prototypes”. In US usage this meant an “X” in front of the designation. In German usage this usually meant a “V” suffix. Every nation’s services had their own ways of tagging these things.

I will also build what was known as a service test, or pre-production prototype. Often with more unusual new designs a number are ordered before the main production run. In US use this is a “Y” prototype. These aircraft are often assigned to a test squadron that is trying to identify all service needs in addition to the best ways of using the new aircraft. Often, the various “Y” prototypes aren’t even all built the same way, and may have different features too. This is all about figuring out what’s going to be the best way to build, maintain and use the aircraft. Often these service test types do not lead to a production type, I suppose from a manufacturer’s perspective that means they failed the test. But the military user may still feel valuable lessons were learned that can be applied to whatever comes next.

Another prototype I’ll look at is straight up test aircraft. For my use here this is still stopping short of what we think of as pure “X” craft today; that is, at some point they were considered as a possible new combat type and are given a military designation. But before the prototype ever flies the operator has decided it will not lead to a production order. They are looking at experimental data, something that may impact another aircraft in development or an idea that’s not fully formed yet. Usually, if an aircraft technology is rendered obsolete before it ever flies the project dies. But in many cases, really more often that you might expect, someone feels there is still a lot to learn from a design they know will never advance. Several of the aircraft I looked at in my previous “Hypotheticals” theme were derived from this sort of project. But this time I will only look at things that were built and flown.

The four prototypes I will build are for a Mitsubishi A6M, Grumman F4F, Blohm und Voss
Bv 141 and Curtiss P-55.

Posted in Theme Build | 2 Comments

Krupp Kfz.70 Protze

This common 6 x 4 medium duty truck served the Wehrmacht throughout the War years.

Let’s take a brief look.

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Posted in Germany, Vehicle | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress

Perhaps the most famous Flying Fortress of them all, the Memphis Belle flew combat at a time when casualty rates for bombers was pretty high.

Its claim to fame was as the first such bomber to complete a full tour of 25 missions.

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Posted in Bomber - Strategic, USA | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Bedford MWD

Time for another look at a workhorse vehicle, a “general duty” truck from the British Bedford brand.

This will be a quick look.

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Posted in Britain, Vehicle | Tagged , | 8 Comments

The Eastern Fleet and the Indian Ocean by Charles Stephenson

An intriguing recent history of the Royal Navy’s fleet in the Indian Ocean through most of the Pacific War. Subtitled “The Fleet That Had to Hide” which pretty much sums up the challenge.

This is one of those little known niches of the War that caused much frustration at the time, yet today is almost wholly ignored.

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Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Salute to Canada by The Yankee Air Force

This last weekend (6/12 & 6/13) the Yankee Air Museum, at Willow Run Airport, hosted a mini Air Show scheduled for just two hours each evening.

They kicked off the evening with their own flying collection doing fly bys, this meant Stearman, Huey, O-2; then the big girls, C-47, B-25 and B-17. A Canadian aerobatic pilot I was unfamiliar with was also added to the line up, apparently very last minute because I can’t find his name anywhere on-line!

Then the main event was the RCAF Snowbirds, followed by a CF-18 demonstration team.

The Snowbirds put on a fun show in their CT-114 Tutors. They fly the largest formation of any North American jet team, normally nine planes.

A single CF-18 closed out the night with an acceptable amount of noise!

It was a drive-in event, a new format due to lingering Covid restrictions that involved driving your own vehicle onto airport grounds and being assigned a parking slot with plenty of room for your own seating, blanket or whatever. It was a fun way of doing things, and presumably a bit of a rehearsal for Thunder Over Michigan in August. The good news is, no problems finding your car after! But this was obviously an inefficient use of space, expect the main airshow to be severely limited on capacity.
Also notice the pictures here are much better than what I normally post of an air show, thank my wife and her much better than an iPhone camera!

One very nice thing about this way of doing an airshow, tickets were sold by the carload. So we asked a couple of friends along at no extra cost to anyone! The one in front had never seen an airshow before.

Posted in Air Show, Museums | Tagged | 4 Comments

North American P-51D Mustang

Among the better known American fighter groups of the Second World War, the 332nd Fighter Group made a name for itself in Italy.

Let’s take a look at a plane and a pilot that saw action in the Group’s largest combat.

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Posted in Fighter, USA | Tagged , , | 10 Comments