Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON Section 4: Systems &
On August 1, 1950, the
Headquarters of the U. S. A. F. issued Development Directive A-6-1
authorizing the Air Materiel Command to initiate project MX-1602. The
project was dubbed Fighter Conveyor, which was contracted as FICON.
ultimate goal of Project MX-1602 was to combine the high speed and
maneuverability of the Republic RF-84F Thundeflash
with the long-range capability of the Convair RB-36. The mission profile
of the composite aircraft would consist of long-range, high-altitude
flight to the target area and high-speed reconnaissance over the
objective. The parasite aircraft system provided three basic advantages,
long-range in the logistics zone, high performance in the defended zone,
and an aerial base for launching and retrieving the parasite. Convair
designed a hydraulically operated trapeze mechanism to fit inside the bomb
bay of the RB-36 carrier airplane. The trapeze mechanism could carry,
release, and retrieve a parasite airplane. The carrier could take off with
the parasite stowed in the bomb bay, launch and retrieve the parasite
in-flight, and land with the parasite aboard.
Convair designed a hydraulically operated trapeze
mechanism to fit . . . . .
Last Formal Act
At 5:02 p.m. on November 7, 1959, a delta wing Convair
supersonic bomber - flying at 35,000 feet and twice the speed of sound
approached the small farming community of Duncan, Oklahoma, on a south-
westerly heading. As Duncan drew near, Raymond Fitzgerald, the company
test pilot at the aircraft’s controls, took his feet off the Hustler’s
rudder pedals and slowly placed them solidly on the cockpit floor.
Communicating via intercom with third station flight test engineer Donald Siedhof
to verify that the aircraft’s special data recording/transmitting
equipment was functioning properly, he simultaneously checked to make sure
the aircraft was trimmed and in level flight. Moments later - after
acknowledging radio contact with a ground monitoring team at Convair in
Ft. Worth, Texas - he purposefully reached over with his gloved left hand
and tripped a switch activating a cut-off valve that controlled the fuel
flow to the Hustler’s number four engine. It was the last formal
act he would ever complete.
forty-three years after Fitzgerald’s ill-fated reach and fifty years after
the Air Force’s B-58 designator was officially assigned to the Convair
Model 4 project on December 10, 1952, the bi-sonic delta-winged Hustler
remains the fastest dedicated bomber platform ever to achieve operational
. . . .
Convair B-58A, 55-664 midway through flight test career
Boeing Model 40 and Its Descendants;
the Great Mailplane of the Twenties
The Boeing Model 40 was powered
by a single 400 hp water-cooled World War One Liberty V- 12 engine. It was
built for the Post Office Department as a replacement for the de Havilland
As that were in use. Only one was built, msn 775. The first flight was on
July 7, 1925. The Post Office purchased the single Model 40 built, but did
not order any production aircraft. The aircraft had to be built to the
government’s specifications that required a Liberty engine. The Douglas M
series won the U.S. Post Office contract for a sailplane with orders for
In 1925, the Post Office
announced that it was going to turn the Air Mail service over to private
operators. It first called for bids on its stubs, or feeders, to the
mainline. Late in 1926, the Post Office called for bids on the
transcontinental route. Bids were for either San Francisco-Chicago or
Chicago-New York. They figured that no private operator was big enough for
the whole route. Bids were to be in by January 15, 1927. Bill Boeing’s
friend and partner in the 1919 Seattle to Victoria Air Mail service, Eddie
Hubbard talked Boeing into bidding on a route between San Francisco and
Chicago, CAM- 18, at about half the normal 1926 rate per mile. Boeing bid
$2.88 for a pound of mail carried between Chicago and San Francisco, where
as Western Air Express’ bid was for $4.25 a pound. By building Boeing 40As
with the new Wasp engine and two passenger seats, Hubbard figured they
could make a profit. The air cooled Wasp engine was lighter than the water
cooled Liberty. This allowed for more payload to be carried, which meant
more profit potential. After winning the contract on January 29, 1927,
Boeing was required to post a $500,000 performance bond due to the low
bid. Boeing Air Transport had to start . . . . .
Western Air Express (WAE) Boeing 40B-4, NC843M
"Flying Coffin" and "Pearl of the
Sky"; the worst and at the same time best fighter aircraft of WWII
When you hear someone say, "the best fighter aircrew of WWII,'' your
thoughts immediately go to the
Spitfire, the Focke-Wulf FW-190 or the P-51 Mustang with the
equally well known pilots like Gabresky Galland, Malan, Steinhoff and
Bader. No one will name the Brewster Buffalo and its highest scoring ace
Hans Wind. It is the only aircraft that is mentioned in two books with the
title "The Worst Fighter of the War".
Looking Buffalo, in service with the RAF RNZAF, RAAF, ML-KNIL
(Netherlands East-lndies Ail Force) and the U.S. Marine Corps, this
assessment is correct: of 63 Brewsters B-339C and -D Buffaloes used
by the ML. KNIL in the period December 1941 - March 1942, no less than 24
were shot down in air combat and 16 were strafed on the Brewster ground
against 10 confirmed Japanese aircraft kills. With the RAF in just two air
combats over Malaya on 22 and 24 December 1941,19 B-339E Buffaloes
were lost against two Japanese fighters.
The U.S. Marine Squadron VMF-221 lost 14 out of 20 F-2A-2 Buffaloes
and two of six F4F Wildcats against two Japanese fighters and four
bombers during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. The "Flying
Coffin,'' as the Marines called the Brewster . . . . .
Finnish Air Force Brewster 239
D-Day and the Yoxford Boys
By the first of June 1944,
everyone in the military forces of half a dozen countries in the United
Kingdom knew the Allied invasion of the continent was coming, and very
soon. The French coastal population knew it, and so did the Germans.
Fortunately, Allied deception tactics had been successful, and the Germans
did not know the vital where and when.
At 8th Air Force station F-373, Leiston Airfield,
on the far eastern bulge of England, the 357th Fighter Group, had its
first hint late in May when Colonel Donald Graham, the Group IT Commander,
ordered all personnel to go armed at all times. Carbines, Thompson
submachine guns, and .45 caliber service pistols appeared out of foot
lockers and dusty corners. Mostly SN untrained in their use, it was
fortunate that no German troops appeared.
The 357th, with its three squadrons, the 362nd,
3631-d and or 364th, had arrived in the U.K. late in 1943, and by January
to 1944, was in place at its permanent wartime base, near the to town of
Leiston, in Suffolk County. Assigned to the Eighth Air Force, to provide
long range escort for the 8th’s B-17s and B-24s, it was the first group in
the 8th to fly the magnificent Mustang. The German propaganda radio
immediately chi-is- at tuned the Group THE YOXFORD BOYS, after a nearby
village of the same name. The Group has proudly borne that fr name
ever since. By the end of May, after three and a half months of operation,
the Group has flown 69 missions, shot down over 220 enemy aircraft, and
has lost 58 pilots, dead, POWs, and a few evaders.
362nd Squadron ground crews "sweating out" a mission.
Cabin Aircraft, Part 1, 1931 to 1935, the Early Years
In 1931, Waco introduced a series of cabin biplanes that were improved
in design and performance in each of the following ten years. A. Francis
Arcier, Chief Engineer and
Designer at the Waco Aircraft Company, had successfully designed and
produced the aviation industry’s highest performance open-cockpit biplane
- the 1931 QCF-Z. The new cabin Waco
was to be an all-weather, all-purpose aircraft and a companion to the
popular Model :T.'' The new cabin
design was to have performance characteristics typical of Waco
open-cockpit planes and carry four people.
The U.S. Economy was in a shambles in 1931 after the stock market crash of
October, 1929. Waco displayed a great amount of intestinal fortitude to
introduce another new model when other aircraft producers were closing
their doors or just barely able to stay in business. Waco produced a
superior prod- uct and their management was outstanding, the main reasons
they were able to stay in business during those depression years.
Waco's new cabin biplane designated QDC would
challenge Chief Engineer Arcier and
the engineering staff. Their aim was to produce a four-place cabin
aircraft that retained the . . . . .
Prototype Waco QDC, NX11250
Remembers" The Luftwaffe JG 27 Squadron
Kindsvater, Proficient Pilot,
Craftsman, Machinist, and a German Historian have been working on the
restoration of his historic Me-109-C4K for eleven years. He has
accomplished this feat for the most part by himself, with some support
from a few friends and especially the 376 EAA Group in near by Fresno,
California. Harold along with his wife Linda lives comfortably in the
country near Clovis, California. They have a lovely home that overlooks
Harold’s hangar and small dirt airstrip (about 2000 ft). His hangar
contains a machine shop where he also manufactures propellers for
highspeed boats of all sizes. Harold also owns and flies his Me-108 Taifun, another very
rare airplane he also had restored. When he is not busy restor ing or
flying one of his aircraft, he flies a club (California Warbirds loc)
owned P-51D "Strawboss #2" based at the Hollister Airport in
California. Harold also owns and flies a Beach Bonanza, when he has
time. Harold keeps very busy and he loves to fly.
Back in the 1960s Connie
Edwards of Texas was lured to England to help support the filming of the
movie " The Battle of Britain.'' His role was
to bring some of the aircraft to flying status and maintain all aircraft
until filming was completed. After the film was completed Mr. Edwards
obtained one of the Messerschmitt’s used in the film, Red #5 which was
later traded to the CAF in Texas. In the late 1980s the CAF traded it to
Harold Kindsvater for a German Storch
that had also been restored by Harold.
Harold wanted to finish his
Me l09-C4K in the paint scheme and markings of the Luftwaffe JG 27
squadron that had flown this type of aircraft in the Mediteranean and
North Africa. Being a German Historian he had manuals, books, and . . . .
Me 109/HA-1112, Buchon
For about a month
in the fall of 2000, the skies over Virginia and North Carolina were
witness to a strange birds a state-of-the art F-16C-30 in World War 11
Believed to be the only modern fighter in such markings, the colors
carried by the Virginia Air National Guard's 86- 0244 were a tribute from
one generation to another. The impetus was sparked by a short article in
1998 sent to the then commander of the 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air
National Guard, Col. Robert O. Seifert. The article (see side- bar) was
attached to a letter which asked the unit to consider its history. Of the
54 ANG squadrons with lineage linked to World War 11 units, that of the
192nd FW's 149th Fighter Squadron, is perhaps the most storied.
The 352,nd Fighter Group of the Eighth Air Force
in World War 11 was one of the premier organizations of arguably the most
impressive fighter force ever. Famed for their blue noses, the
"Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney" got their name in an apocryphal
story about Hermann Glaring. The rotund Reichsmarschal allegedly claimed
that he "knew the war was lost when I saw those blue-nosed bastards
of Bodney over Berlin."
True or not, the Blue-nosers had much to claim.
With eight aces in double-digits, the group claimed 519 1/2 enemy aircraft
in the air and another 287 on the ground. The war's end saw MAJ George E.
Preddy as top-scoring Mustang ace despite the fact that he was
killed by friendly fire on Christmas Day 1944. Preddy’s chief competition
was group mate LTC John C. Meyer. He ended the war with 24 victories to
Preddy’s 25.83. Meyer went on to command the Strategic Air Command. At the
end of the war, like so many other famed units, the 352nd and its
composite . . . . .
Virgina ANG F-16C-30, 86-0244 in "Cripes A’Mighty" markgings
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