Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a

One well known part of the Me 262 story is how Hitler insisted on ordering the type into service as a bomber, rather than as a fighter which it was clearly better suited for.

Let’s look at one such bomber, and the impact of that decision.

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Sd.Kfz. 2 Kettenkraftrad

A quick look at Germany’s lightest artillery tractor.

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Grumman F4F-3S Wildcatfish

Japan may have been the only nation with a fully successful float-plane fighter, but others tried.

Let’s look at a US Navy attempt.

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Posted in Fighter, prototype, USA | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Ilyushin Il-2 Stormovik

With over 30000 examples built (over 40000 if we count the Il-10 follow-on), the Soviet flying tank remains the most produced combat aircraft in history.

Let’s take a look at an early example

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Posted in Bomber - Tactical, Soviet Union | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat

The Hellcat is best known for its central role in devastating Japanese air power in the last two years of the Pacific War. But it also served, if briefly, against the more land locked opponent.

Let’s take a look at a Hellcat that flew against the Nazis.

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Posted in Fighter, USA | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Thunder Over Michigan 2021

After missing 2020 for obvious reasons, Thunder Over Michigan was back this year! The format was different, it was a drive in event. You simply set up chairs, blanket or whatever right next to your parked car. There were concessions (and port-a-potties!) available on site.
All things considered it was a fun way to do things. It certainly made it easier to bring along supplies (some home made desserts, check! rain coat? Might need it, so, check! Cooler with our own choice of beverages, check!) and locating your car after was much easier.
I do think the price points were badly fumbled, it was really only a bargain if you had four or more people in your car. But then they broke the show into two halves that were not the same and required their own tickets. I understand the capacity was MUCH less than normal (I would guess less than 1/10th normal) and the Yankee Air Museum was likely scrambling to make sense of the whole thing. But there were hundreds (thousands?) of unsold tickets and they will need to rethink this if things aren’t back to normal next year.

But it was so good to have this show again. And it was really well loaded with things to see.

Nothing like a Mustang, Thunderbolt and Lightning all in one picture! Or maybe I should say P-51, A-10 and F-35.
This was the show’s Heritage Flight. There was also a Navy Legacy Flight with Corsair and Growler.
As you may have guessed, an F-35 demo was a special treat. I’d never seen the type fly before, and I bet most viewers could say the same.
Airshows are so much fun when its humid!
An interesting visitor. An A400 Atlas of the Luftwaffe put on a good show too. Sort of an Elephant ballet.
Any event hosted by the Yankee Air Museum will have World War II types!
The two Mustangs in back, “Old Crow” and “Gentleman Jim” both represent the 357th Fighter Group and are owned by Jack Roush. That means they show up most local gatherings. The one in front was new to me, “Mad Max” (not a historic name) carries 31st Fighter Group colors and looks to have a post-War “Cavalier” style tail.
The official theme this year was “Mitchell Madness!” They used the same theme about 15 years ago (?), but actually had more planes this time. There were 15 Mitchells in total, one was a show time scratch but that still meant 14 up all at once!
They mostly gave us a continuous stream of low passes for 15 minutes, but late in the program several of the planes formed up.
Let’s just say my wife’s camera blows away anything I can do on the iPhone!
Did I mention it was a humid day?
I took my own F-18 up so I could get a good close-up… Sorry, day dream inspired by Jodie’s new camera…
Okay, extra bonus treat. This was the first time ever in Michigan that Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were at the same airshow.
Interesting that the two seaters seem to have extra fuel?
The jet teams did their low shows because of a low cloud deck. Now doubt the Thunderbirds’ vertical burst is amazing to see; but the flat burst pointing strait at the viewers is hardly less!

This may be the most photos I’ve ever put in one post, and I deleted everything on the iPhone…
There was more we didn’t shoot. Before the Navy Legacy Flight the EA-18G Growler did a demo, as did the A-10. The Mustang “Mad Max” did a brief aerobatic display. They really did a good job of putting something in the air all day long. Except for maybe one year in Dayton I think that was the most after-burners I’ve ever seen (and heard!) in one day.
The re-enactors’ land battles were missed, but with so many cars it would have been tough to see anything on the ground. Hopefully that part will return next year.

Posted in Air Show | Tagged | 8 Comments

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.

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