FLYING THE BIG B-50's
After a 30-day leave in
Pasadena visiting family and friends in the greater Los Angeles area, I
reported for duty on 10 October 1952 at my new station, Mather AFB
(originally called Mather Field during its first 30 years), a few miles
southeast of Sacramento, California. Before leaving the Far East, I had
requested a West Coast assignment. This was it! At Mather, the 3535th
Observer Training Wing trained and graduated navigators for the USAF and
some allied nations, using both old B-25's and the newer Convair T-29's,
military versions of the Convair "240" airliners. I was assigned
to the 3537th Support Squadron (Flying) which had the job of turning out
"triple-threat" officers who were qualified equally as
navigators, bombardiers and radar operators for the "K-System"
in the new Boeing B-47 swept-wing jet bombers. For this we had 46 Boeing
B-50's: II TB-50A's, II TB-50D's, and eventually 24 new TB-50H's.
Before leaving Japan, I had requested Very Heavy
Bombardment type of aircraft, and the Boeing B-50 was exactly that. I was
delighted with my new assignment. The big B-50 had a superficial
resemblance to the familiar B-29 Superfortress (and even used the same
"popular" name), although the '50 had a much taller tail, and
four huge 3500 hp (for take-off) Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35B Wasp Major
four-row, 28-cylinder radial engines, the largest aircraft piston engines
ever in production. They swung four bladed, reversible, Curtiss-Electric
propellers. Fuel was 115/145 octane gasoline. Because of the unusual
number of cylinders . . . .
Boeing B-50D-95-FN, AF 48-096
Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON
Section 1: Thunderjet
In the early years of
the cold war, the United States Air Force was faced with a requirement for
an airplane that . could photograph targets deep inside the Soviet Union,
Large areas of the Soviet Union, were inaccessible to conventional U. S.
reconnaissance airplanes. There was no airplane with sufficient range lb
reach deep into the Soviet Union, that could also fly low and fast enough
to evade Soviet air defenses.
The giant Convair B-36 was used extensively for
reconnaissance in the early post-war period. They were built in two major
versions, the standard B-36 bomber variant and the RB-36 version tailored
for aerial reconnaissance. The B-36 bomber was equipped with four bomb
bays, The RB-36 version had an additional pressurized compartment for
camera gear in place of the forward bomb bay of the B-36 bomber. RB-36s
carried electronic reconnaissance and countermeasures equipment in the
rear bomb bay. The doors of the rear bomb bay were removed and the opening
was skinned over. The remaining two bomb bays were equipped with a single
pair of bomb bay doors, 100-pound photoflash bombs were carried in the
center bomb bays to illuminate the landscape below the airplane for night
The RB-36 had great endurance and could carry large
reconnaissance cameras. The reconnaissance bombers flew long missions
along the perimeter of Soviet Bloc countries taking long-range oblique photographs into the interior of the target countries using extremely long
focal-length telephoto lenses. They also used the electronic
reconnaissance gear to ferret out sources of radio, radar, and telemetry
signals within the target countries.
In 1950,the Air Force initiated a program to equip
RB-36s . . . .
F-84E, 49-2115, secured in a three point position on GRB-37F, 49-2707
Operations of Standard Oil Corporation And Affiliates,1919-1941 (Part of
Oil became involved with aviation strictly by a happy accident. When the
Wright Brothers were getting ready to test their first "flier"
at Kitty Hawk, they needed some gasoline and motor oil for their engine.
The nearest source of supply was a boat yard located at Elizabeth City,
Standard Oil agent to ship two barrels of motor gasoline and a few pints
were poured into the "'flier-s" tank, oil added to the crankcase, and
off they flew into history!
There was no such thing as aviation gasoline in the
U.S. Pioneer airman had been using, when they could get it, "high
test gasoline", the connotation then applied to high gravity fuel.
This was merely very light and extremely volatile fuel that would burn in
an aircraft engine without causing too much "pinking", or engine
knock. These early airmen were well acquainted with the effects of heavier
and less volatile fuel that The First World War caused a tremendous demand
for new Allies requested that we supply aviation fuel in quantities. Our
"Export Aviation" gasoline, although suitable for use here at
home, was totally unacceptable by the British and French. and Sumatra
gasolines, refused to run properly on our fuel!
Although they had set up new refining equipment to
turn out . . . . .
Boeing Model 226, NC233M, a revised Model 80A airliner
Bristol XLRQ-1 Glider Story - Bristol Aeronautical
Corporation New Haven, Connecticut
It appears that gliders
were used for the first time in warfare, by the Germans in early WW II. In
actual combat they used them in attacks on Belgium and other locations.
In other attacks the Germans landed their gliders on
the island of Crete, where they defeated the Greek and British Empire
military forces stationed there.
In about May of 1941 some contracts were generated
by the American military, specifically the United States Navy and Marine
Corps. The bids would be for construction of an "aquaplane-type
glider or troop transport glider."
The Naval Aircraft Factory (Philadelphia and
Patuxent) was requested to undertake preliminary design of a personnel and
equipment transport glider, to be of 12 and 24 place amphibian gliders
constructed of wood or plastic by firms not already engaged in building
military aircraft.. Initial contract was No. 92657 to Allied Aviation
Corporation, Dundalk, Md.
Some of the bidders were Aeromold, Allied Aviation
Corporation, Timm Aircraft Corporation, Bristol Aeronautical Corporation,
and the Snead & Company.
The Navy apparently did little research on any of
these firms as to their qualifications. The Snead company for instance
manufactured library book shelves. Others were in the lightplane business
or newly organized firms with no aviation experience.
The mission was to build enough gliders to be able
to transport one infantry battalion (715 men) with equipment. They figured
that 20 of the PBYs could tow 60 12 man gliders to accomplish their goal
or mission. They felt it would be the equivalent of 55 PBY patrol
aircraft. . . . . .
Bristol XLRQ-1, BU SER 81069, taken just after lift-off while under tow
SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY The Air Fields of the Sixth Air Force
The last time I set foot on old France Field, Canal
Zone, in 1969,1 was the solitary human on an installation that had been
the cradle of what would eventually become a huge Army aviation
establishment crafted to defend that engineering marvel, the Panama Canal.
I stood in front of the hangar where Charles Lindbergh had housed the
immortal "Spirit of St. Louis" during his epic 1928 Latin
American tour. As I walked across the unexpectedly crude and rough surface
of the former landing area, only sea birds and the ever-present stench of
decaying dredge material confronted my senses of sight, sound and smell.
It was left to the imagination to picture de Havilland D.H.4s, L.W.F.
NBS-ls and later, Martin B-10s, Northrop A-17s and Curtiss P-40s operating
from this seemingly crude, landfill aerodrome. A contemporary of other
great dawn-age of aviation Army airfields, France Field was created at
almost the same stroke as places named
Langley, Carlstrom, Boiling, Brooks and Kelly
Fields. By 1969, the remaining hangars and structures were padlocked and
utterly abandoned, and the landing area, which had been rutted, pitted and
sinking back into the swamp that it had once . . . . . .
French Field, Panama Feb/28/1928, with Navy Airship USS Los Angeles on field
Helicopter Projects at GE's Schenectady Flight Test Center
Most aviation enthusiasts would
have some familiarity with the Hughes XH-17 heavy lift helicopter but only
a few would be aware of the fact that it was initially a Kellett Aircraft
project and fewer still that the General Electric Company was a principal
player in the origin of the project and also a major contributor.
In the fifth article of this series ( lgor Bensen -
the GE Years, Vol, 46,#4) some of Bensen's many experiments with rotary
wing systems were described. Included was his work with the Doblhoff
helicopter, a machine that was developed in Austria during WW II and later
brought to the U.S. for evaluation by the Air Force.
The Doblhoff power system used an engine driven
blower to supply a pressurized fuel/air mixture which was ducted through
the rotor blades to burners at the blade tips. Such a system had some
obvious advantages such as no need for a transmission to transfer power to
the rotor and the absence of torque reaction on the fuselage. During the
same time period that Bensen was working with the Doblhoff machine, he and
GE vice president D.C. Prince had developed close ties with Kellett
Aircraft of Philadelphia PA. Kellett was under contract with GE to
fabricate and assemble a flight test rig for the proposed GE heliplane
which Bensen and Prince were promoting and had also supplied two autogyros
to GE for Bensens' experiments.
The possibility of using a Doblhoff type system to
power a very large helicopter was a topic of discussion between Prince,
Bensen and Kellett's chief engineer Lee Douglas. The scheme appeared to be
a neat way around helicopter gross weight limitations imposed by the very
large transmissions required for . . . . .
Flight 203 Remembered
The twin-engined Douglas DC-3, dangerously
low on fuel, circled over the city at 1500 feet altitude. An unexpected
storm had reduced ceilings and visibility to near zero at all airports
along the east coast.
Captain John Booth picked up the microphone
and called the American Airlines dispatch office. "Can you give me
any airport that's still open?" The dispatcher on duty hesitated and
then said, "Johnny, I'm sorry but there isn't anything open within
your fuel range."
This story began fifty-five years ago, on a
wintry Sunday, January 5, 1947. American Airlines Flight 203 was scheduled
from New York to Nashville, Tennessee, with several enroute stops, of
which Baltimore and Washington, D.C., were the first two.
The flight departed LaGuardia Field at 5:34
p.m., and was cleared to cruise at 2000 feet. Sufficient fuel was aboard
for approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes operation.
The January 5th weather forecast prepared
by the U.S. Weather Bureau for New York and vicinity read as follows:
Mostly sunny today, highest temperature, 35 to 40 degrees; moderate to
fresh westerly winds. Tomorrow, partly cloudy and colder, fresh northwest
to west winds. . . . . .
American Airlines DC-3, NC21746, on Jones Beach, L.I., New York, Jan/5/1947
Operated by Pure Oil Company 1931-1940 (Part of Project Oilwings)
Pure Oil Company began operations on 9 April 1914 as the Columbus
Production Co., Columbus, Ohio-12 days later becoming The Ohio Cities
Gas Co. upon acquisition of firms supplying natural gas to Columbus,
Dayton, and Springfield. Oil was a secondary phase of the business until
acquisition of oil and gas leases in West Virginia. On 14 December 1914,
an oil producer was brought in at Cabin Creek, West Virginia, on land
belonging to Williams Coal Co-putting the company into the oil business.
By 1916, the Cabin Creek refinery had been started, and the producing
and refining properties of Southwestern Petroleum Co. were purchased. By
1918, Ohio Cities Gas had completed purchase of all the properties of
Pure Oil Co. (New Jersey), and on I July 1920 the corporate name was
changed to The Pure Oil Co.
A period of acquisition by Pure followed-until, by
1925, Cornplanter Refining Co., of Pennsylvania; Moore Oil Co., of Ohio;
Pure Oil Co. (South Dakota); Oklahoma Producing and Refining Co. of
America; and Humphreys Oil Co. of Texas had been added by Pure Oil. Also
during this period the Heath refinery at Newark, Ohio, and Smiths Bluff
refinery of Nederland, Texas, were constructed. . . . .
Fokker Super Universal, NC761Y
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