31 July 2006

diet coke and mentos

Busby Berkley's got nothing on these guys...just wonder if an environmental impact statement was filed in the making of this flick ;)

27 July 2006

Flightdeck Friday!

So it's early -- it is Friday somewhere else in the world... And for you DC Tailhookers, if you missed FCLP's today, well, your loss!

Jump in the wayback machine and set the dial for 1948...

1948 and the Navy was in trouble. Barely three years previous the US Navy was victoriously anchored in Tokyo Bay with warships and aircraft stretching to the horizon. Yet here it was in deep trouble as the upstart Air Force, fed off the Douhetists and the atom bomb, were contending there was no need for a Navy as they would be the primary keeper of peace. With the B-29, B-50 and B-36 long range bombers, they also were the only service capable of delivering nuclear weapons since nothing in the Navy’s inventory, especially carrier-based, was capable of handling the 10,000 lb class weapons (the latest variant being the Mk4).

An interim solution was found using a variant of the land-based P2V Neptune w/bomb bay mods and JATO packs (the P2V-3C) which began deploying with VC-5 in 1948. Problem was, it was a one-shot deal – the aircraft had to be craned onboard and once launched, either had to be ditched alongside a friendly ship or land at a (surviving) friendly base.

To ensure the viability of not only it’s current fleet of carriers, but that of the next generation of CVB’s, as represented by the USS United States, a
carrier-based nuclear strike aircraft was required.

On 24 June 1946, the Navy awarded North American a contract to build the aircraft that would become the AJ Savage. Intended as a carrier based bomber, the AJ was first reported in squadron service by VC-5 on 13 September 1949.

Every bit as large as the Air Force’s medium jet bombers of the time (i.e., the B-45 Tornado) the AJ-1 attack bomber had a crew of 3 and used two 2,400 horsepower piston engines to power four-bladed propellers for long-range cruise. The jet engine was used only for heavy takeoffs from a carrier, evasive action in combat, and for speed over the target. An AJ–1’s range was a nominal 1,500 nm; its combat radius about 700 nm. It could easily carry a Mark 5 atomic weapon (yield: 60 kilotons), which became available after 1952.

Carrier operations began in April 1950 on the USS Coral Sea. North American built more than 140 in the series. Not coincidently, one of the chief reasons the larger Midway-class CVBs did not see action in Korea was their being held in reserve and deployment to the Med due to the nuclear capability afforded by the AJ. However, like many aircrat of this period, the AJ was plagued with a number of developmental problems. Later, some AJ models were converted into aerial tankers. Others, the AJ-2Ps, were modified for recce missions and configured to carry 18 cameras of various formats. Their night shots were illuminated by a photo-flash unit in the fuselage. These models were standard equipment for the Navy heavy photographic squadrons until the early 1960s.

The Navy’s primary targets were Soviet naval installations in the Black Sea, the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk, and ports in the Baltic Sea, as well as Vladivostok and the maritime provinces in easternmost Siberia. An aircraft carrier cruising the easternmost Aegean Sea could be within 1,500 nm of Moscow, and a carrier in the Barents Sea north of Murmansk could be within 1,200 nm of Moscow.

An AJ–1 might reach Moscow, but it would never achieve a postattack landing in friendly territory, much less return to its carrier, a consideration that promoted Navy interest in aerial refueling. More important was extending the distance of the aircraft carrier’s launch point. Although interested from the time of the first Air Force experiments in 1948, the Navy did not equip its carrier airplanes for aerial refueling until 1953. As AJ–1s were displaced by improved AJ–2s, the AJ–1s became the Navy’s first aerial tankers.

After 1956, the AJ–2s were displaced by the Douglas A3D, an all turbojet aircraft weighing 82,000 pounds and with a combat radius of 900 nm. With aerial refueling from an AJ–1 tanker, that radius could be extended beyond 1,400 nm.

Personal note: The scribe was (and still is) intrigued by the Savage at a young & tender age -- something about big (prop) aircraft flying off and trapping on carriers that seemed, well, different. Guess you could say that bit was set early...


Post-war, Grumman had pretty well cornered the carrier fighter market with it's 'cats of various flavors (despite this newcomer) and Douglas was reasserting it's attack dominance once again with the AD, but what if the SPAD hadn't worked out? Was there an alternative? Next week -- the XBTM-1.


26 July 2006


Back online after going one-on-one with a balky router -- but that's not the source of tonight's outrage...

I could go on about former CIA chiefs who, not satisfied with having thoroughly messed up one institution, now presume to give us the benefit of their wisdom by writing of the passage of the big deck carrier -- but others have done so and quite eloquently...

There is, of course, the ongoing war in Lebanon and Hezbollah's leader possibly having 2nd thoughts about their COA...but not tonight

What has your humble scribe's blood in a righteous boil is yet another bit of "art" from Hollywood which is nothing more than the most egregious form of child porn. It isn't avant garde, it isn't edgy, it isn't envelope stretching, it is child porn, plain and simple. Think that's a bit over the top? Re-read again:

The screenplay for "Hounddog" - a dark story of abuse, violence and Elvis Presley adulation in the rural South, written and directed by Deborah Kampmeier - calls for Fanning's character to be raped in one explicit scene and to appear naked or clad only in "underpants" in several other horrifying moments.

Yep, that's 12 year old Dakota Fanning who is the subject and at the behest of her mother and agent, both (formerly) presumed to be sane, reasoning adults and one ostensibly concerned parent. The "parent" thinks this is a golden opportunity for an Oscar. I think this might be a golden opportunity for judicial review of the parental rights of this so-called parent.

Fortunately, the producer has run out of funds, though not before filming the rape scene, of course.
As a parent of three, including a daughter, I find this beyond reprehensible -- what sayest you?
(h/t Phibian)

24 July 2006

History - IAF in Lebanon War (1982)

...Here's one from the historical archives during the last dust-up in the region. For fellow Hawkeyes, what primary rule do you see the IAF crew violating?

23 July 2006

Salute to Volunteerism

For many folks, it's almost a toss-off to say "I support the troops..." You know, slap a yellow magnetic sticker on the ol' minivan and you're done. Others actually put forth real effort, not to prove themselves, but in genuine support for our folks. Case in point -- FbL has a track record where it comes to supporting our troops -- whether it be spotlighting Hilton during the Fran O'Brien's affair, pitching for Valor-IT or contributing significant time at the USO, here is someone making a difference. BZ and keep it up FbL!

22 July 2006

21 July 2006

Flightdeck Fridays

Well, we have Friday Musings , Fullbore Fridays, Beer and Babes Fridays, so I guess it's time to roll in with Flightdeck Fridays, presented herewith. What will one find? Well, it likely won't be the usual stuff. Sorry, but they border on the overexposed anyway. Instead this will explore some of the lesser known or more infamous types that have graced the flight decks over the years. Oh, and the occasional folly too...

Presented today is the F3H Demon:

The end of WWII and the Korean War soon demonstrated the emerging technical potential of the Soviet Union and its client-states. The emergence of the MiG-15 in Korea was a real eye-opening event. It forced the Navy to struggle with the integration of several jet designs for its air wings. Success in aerodynamic refinement was promoting several swept wing, high performance Carrier aircraft, but their success hinged on one vital element – successful, concurrent evolution of a couple of key jet engine designs, one of them
being the Westinghouse J-40.

Unfortunately, many promising designs for the Navy and USAF were based on the in-development Westinghouse J-40, which was proposed as producing 11,000 lbs basic thrust with an AB version to follow at 14,400 lbs – a BIG engine for that era. In addition to the Demon, Navy hopes included the F4D Skyray and the A3D Skywarrior. The J-40 never came close to the Westinghouse promise (some sources say it got up to 6800 lbs), and was failure prone to the point of being totally unsafe. The J-40 program was ultimately cancelled, and soon caused the demise of Westinghouse as a jet engine manufacturer. It also strung out several aircraft development programs due to their need to find a new power plant, and adapt those designs to that alternative.
Initial work on the F3H series had been laid out in 1949, and a prototype flight of the original F3H-1N took place in August,1951, powered by the J-40. However, during this design / construction period, McDonnell and the Navy became seriously concerned that the J-40 program was so far behind that both deliveries and performance hopes were totally unrealistic.
McDonnell took it on their own initiative to propose a redesigned “Demon” based on the Allison J-71 engine, which, though still in development , was progressing well toward full production with the promise of meeting performance goals. The Navy agreed to the plan as a fallback, and the J-71 proposal was subsequently designated the F3H-2(N).

The F3H never saw combat, and was operational for only eight years, but its weapons system allowed it to hold the line as a well-equipped All Weather CAP fighter, until the introduction of the F-8 and F-4 series.

If it were not for the weight “Death Spiral” caused by the failure of the Westinghouse J-40, the much-scorned Demon would likely have been a remarkable Carrier aircraft. It had the Navy’s first truly integrated all-weather weapons system, based on the new SPARROW AA missile – and it worked well for its time. From all accounts, the F3H flew well “up and away”, but was grossly underpowered, even with the substitution of the J-71 for the J-40. Many of its features were the basis for the development of McDonnell’s final Navy product – the F-4 series.
(h/t to Mike Concannon of the DC Tailhook Assoc.)

Next Friday: Two Props and a Jet...(or How To Stage a Nuke Off a Carrier, 50's -style)

19 July 2006

Hezbolla katyusha luncher destroyed by IDF


Israeli Exit Strategy in Lebanon?

Writing in today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer posits:

There is crisis and there is opportunity. Amid the general wringing of hands over the seemingly endless and escalating Israel-Hezbollah fighting, everyone asks: Where will it end?

The answer, blindingly clear, begins with understanding that this crisis represents a rare, perhaps irreproducible, opportunity.

The opportunity? Well, the liberation of southern Lebanon (and it's repatriation) by Israel following a Gulf War I style campaign:
It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Persian Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran's choosing.

Just as in Kuwait in 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded -- implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.

All well and good, one supposes, except Israel's been there before. Like anything else in history, not a perfect reprise of 1982, especially since the Hezbollah actions have generated the unprecedented, if somewhat muted, condemnation from the Arab League and prompted even Russia to join in condemnation at the G8 summit. Nevertheless, a 40+ day air campaign against Lebanon-based Hezbollah with nightly footage of Lebanese victims and their outraged countrymen would likely turn world opinion against the Israelies. One can already sense the drift in the reporting by the MSM from the ground in Beirut (no surprise there). The reality is the window of opportuity is probably only another week or two, absent action by Syria or another miscalculation by Hezbollah. Expect to see a growing campaign for a ceasefire and a "diplomatic soluiton."

It will be interesting to see how nations line-up in the coming weeks. Will Egypt and Jordan's outspoken criticism of Hezbollah withstand the restlessness of sympathizers in their own countries? Will continental Europe with its large (and growing) indigenous Moslem population press for an early termination of ops by Israel? And the US, already with much on its plate in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, how long before "quiet overtures" are made to the Israelies to wrap things up? How much pressure will there be for Secretary Rice to return from her trip to the region waving a document that promises peace?


18 July 2006

Laser Defense

Not a perfect weapon (toxic chemicals and handling issues) and not cheap. Probably a victim of the "better vs best" arguments, but if it had been deployed in even a limited sense on the northern border of Israel as originally envisioned, one wonders what different actions Israel would be taking today.

17 July 2006

New Posting -- Reflections: First Solo

Summer – 1973; Scribner, Nebraska.

Nebraska, particularly the central region with its broad, flat plains and farms laid out with near geometric precision, was a great place to learn to fly. The far horizon was a firm, straight line without the distractions of geologic features. The quilt work patches of fields bordered by arrow straight gravel roads were perfect for the basics of air work – turns, climbs, stalls; you lined up on one of those roads – set your nose just above the horizon and rolled into the turn… As you scribed along the horizon, you glance at the compass; 10, 20, 30 degrees into the turn – easy on the controls, a touch on the right rudder to keep from dropping your nose – there, time to roll out and see where you are in relation to your road reference on a reciprocal bearing. Hmm, a little to the left, forgot to take into account the cross-wind. Notice the fields of alfalfa, rippling like waves on the water in the omnipresent Midwestern breeze...

Launching v2.0

After being off scene/tactical for the last 1.5 months thanks to "he who styles his hair w/hand gernade" (note: if you think the days of port/starboard watches are behind you when you enter the private sector -- think again) the scribe is back and in a new location. Reflections and other items of longer content will still be posted here. This is also very much a work in progress and hints (preferably helpful) are always welcomed.