Annual Meeting Notice
Mark your calendars. The AAHS Annual Meeting will be held February 13, 2016.
Current planning will have the meeting held at the newly restored, historic Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal.
So mark your calendards for your opportunity to visit a unique piece of American Aviation history.
For additional information and registration, check the link on the AAHS homepage or:
Annual Meeting Notice
The McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo Penetration Fighter;
The Comeback Kid of the Early 1950s
In the late 1950s I was a budding Air Force historian and one of my most cherished possessions was James C. Fahey’s little 32-page pamphlet USAF Aircraft 1947-1956. A companion to his U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946, Fahey’s 1956 update was chock-full of information about Air Force aircraft, both present and recently past.
I knew that Air Force aircraft were numbered in succession, but there were gaps in my knowledge. For example, I was familiar with the famed North American F-86 Sabre and the Northrop F-89 Scorpion, but had no idea about the two aircraft in between. Fahey’s handy-dandy booklet informed me that the two “missing” models were the Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk and
the McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo.
I was intrigued; there was another Voodoo before the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. A quick glance at the miniscule photos in Fahey’s booklet revealed that there was a family resemblance between the XF-88 and the F-101. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the full story about the XF-88, an airplane that I call “The Comeback Kid of the Early 1950s.”
This is the story of the first Voodoo.
The Penetration Fighter
The Air Force’s concept of the penetration fighter mission was explained in my companion article “The Lockheed XF-90 Penetration Fighter” in the Fall/Winter 2014 edition of the AAHS Journal, so I will not go into detail here. Briefly, however, in the mid-1940s the Army Air Force (AAF) felt that it would need long-range escort jet fighters to accompany long-range bombers (then, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the Consolidated B-36, and the expected Boeing B-50 Superfortress) to enemy targets. Since the enemy would probably have jet interceptors, the current propeller-driven escort fighters in the AAF inventory, the North American P-51 Mustang and P-82 Twin Mustang, would not have the performance to deal with their potential
During WWII the AAF had already briefly flirted with the dilemma of developing a long-range escort jet fighter, however,
the fuel-thirsty early jet engines were a problem.
The Convair XP-81 was one approach. It had a turboprop engine for long-range cruising economy and a jet engine for dash speed over the target and contending with enemy fighters. However, the performance of the XP-81’s turboprop engine fell
below par and the project was dropped.
Bell offered its portly XP-83, a bulked up version of its pioneering XP-59 Airacomet, to fill the jet escort fighter . . .
XF-88, 46.525 at Edwards AFB
Allison’s Contribution to Supersonic Propeller Research
In the course of aircraft design, many ideas are tried. Some work well, and continue to be incorporated in new designs. Some work well enough, but are superseded by even better ideas. Others are tried but testing reveals unexpected problems that made the ideas unacceptable. This article is about two ideas that were tried but never made it through the test phase – primarily about supersonic propellers but also with consideration of afterburning turboprops used in conjunction
with supersonic propellers.
Supersonic propellers were developed in an attempt to allow propeller-driven aircraft to operate at higher speeds – into the transonic speed regime. In order to do this efficiently the blades had to be very thin and rotate at higher speed, with tip speeds as high as Mach 1.81 if the aircraft forward speed was high enough. Because studies performed by the NACA and propeller companies showed promise for supersonic propellers, there became a need for flight data to prove the concept. The XF-88B and the XF-84H were built and used to test supersonic
Probably because the Allison Division of General Motors was a leader in large turboprops in the 1950s and had experience in gearbox design going back to the Liberty engine days, it became involved in developing hardware for supersonic propeller test programs. Aeroproducts was also a division of General Motors, and their experience in developing propellers made them a good match for participation in this effort. At the beginning of the effort it would be fair to say that there was optimism in the potential for supersonic propellers. In the end it appears that the noise made by supersonic propellers made them unacceptable for use, and research ended by 1957. Over time much of the information on this program has been lost, and by now many (or perhaps most) of those who worked on the program are gone. This article is an attempt to document some of this work based on information that has been found, primarily in the archives of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, which contains some of the records from the old Allison
Division of GM.
Most propellers operate with their tip speed below the speed of sound. This is because when the tip speed becomes supersonic it produces shock waves, which increase the drag on the propeller, thus requiring more power, which reduces propeller efficiency. Table 1 shows the tip speed for several propellers in order of decreasing maximum propeller tip Mach number. These numbers were computed at the maximum propeller speed and the maximum aircraft speed, so they
represent worst-case conditions.
It may be noted that the C-133 had a supersonic tip speed when flying at its maximum speed, but this was apparently not without its problems. In Reference 1 it is stated that: “If the . . . .
The First Flying Tigress, Norah O’Neill
Without intending to do so, Norah O’Neill became a pioneer of women’s role in airline aviation. She was the first woman pilot hired by the Flying Tiger Line, a worldwide freight carrier – and such a rarity at the beginning of her career that many people who heard her on the radio thought some “regular” crewmember was letting her talk as a prank.
It was also a time when many male pilots were resistant to the idea of female cockpit crewmembers. They said women’s personalities were unsuited for the job. Women lacked sufficient physical strength to handle emergency maneuvers like manual reversion of the flight controls after a hydraulic failure. They would panic in emergencies. They lacked the technical background to understand complex aircraft systems. In some cases, even male pilots’ wives objected to the idea of a rather glamorous former model being with their husbands in the cockpit and on layovers in distant lands.
This resulted in adversarial relationships with some crewmembers, situations that today would be regarded as frank sexual harassment and discrimination, and an atmosphere that demanded grit and perseverance considerably beyond that normally required of an airline pilot advancing up the seniority list at a major carrier. She served as a role model for other female pilots who followed her into the airline ranks and faced problems that are only today really fading away.
Woven through all of this was a love of flying, satisfaction in mastering the large airplanes, friendships with many Tiger people who were on her side, enjoyment of traveling all over the world, and learning how to deal with the naysayers while earning herself a niche in unique spirit and camaraderie of the Flying Tiger Line team.
In 1973, Norah O’Neill was hired to model winter ski clothing during a photo shoot on the side of Alaska’s Mount McKinley.1 That adventure, which involved a flight up the mountain and back in a light airplane, ignited a fire that caused modeling to metamorphose into a nearly 30-year career including such milestones as the first female DC-8 flight engineer and pilot, the first woman pilot to fly passengers in a Boeing 747, and qualification as a FedEx MD-11 captain.
Having been fanged by the flying bug as she rode on the copilot’s seat on the flight back from Mount McKinley, the first increment of career change was a job as a nine-to-five (9 p.m. to 5 a.m., that is) waitress at a popular Kodiak Island watering hole, to earn enough money for flying lessons. When winter closed in on Alaska, she traveled south where she could live with her parents and continue flight training in San Diego, California.
With Commercial and Instrument Pilot certificates in hand and after a trek northward with a friend in an old Piper Pacer taildragger, she cast about for a flying job in Fairbanks, Alaska. This was a time of the century when there were few women pilots, even fewer of them in demanding types of revenue flying, and Alaskan operators weren’t interested in pioneering the concept. She struck out in Fairbanks, except for a guy who told her to call him back after she’d gotten a Flight Instructor . . .
Norah O’Neill’s last Tiger flight
Arctic Operations, Part VI
Between 1947 and 1948, the 46th/72nd Reconnaissance Squadrons (RS) worked diligently to gain proficiency in applying grid navigation and aerial photography techniques, while adapting their RB-29s and F-13s to the Arctic’s inclement weather. This included ongoing modifications to both their RB-29 and F-13 airframes, engines and onboard equipment. Simultaneously, they initiated tri-Metrogon photo mapping of uncharted Alaska Territory thus accumulating valuable experience applicable to other highly classified mission folders.
However, the 46th/72nd flights were continually interrupted by inclement weather (sometimes only two missions per week),1 mechanical problems grounding their fleet (seven were simultaneously grounded at one time), although most mission folders were eventually completed and the intelligence (Intel) delivered to end-users by 1949. Many “air-aborts” resulted from severe communications interruptions triggered by solar storms generating tremendous ionosphere radiation and lighting the sky over the Arctic hemisphere like a silent firecracker - radio communications thus crackled with heavy static that drowned out military voice and Morse-code radio traffic - including Alaska’s famous “Bush Telegraph,” a series of private radios citizens utilized throughout the Territory.
Despite the 46th/72nd’s stressful Top Secret operations, extreme weather conditions, breakdowns in supplies (a cargo ship from the Lower 48 carrying their priority cargo sank), Alaska provided excellent relief for the men. Hunting and fishing licenses allowed the squadron to happily augment bland military food with moose and caribou steaks, roasts and ground meat (for moose-burgers) and moose-loaf. Included were White Mountain sheep, snowshoe rabbit and willow ptarmigan (Alaska’s quite tasty state bird), plus an abundance seasonal berries.
Morale was also enhanced by the finest fishing in North America with Grayling (a hardy Arctic trout), Dolly Varden (small trout), Cutthroat, Rainbow and Steelhead plus salmon (the State fish), when in season. One could also pan for “color” (gold flake or nuggets) in numerous creeks meandering through the Golden Valley and surrounding Fairbanks. Squadron personnel could also bet on the date and time to the nearest minute when the Tanana River ice broke up beneath a tripod that stopped a clock (Alaska Standard Time) on shore. Known as the famous State approved lottery or Nenana Ice Classic (just off the docks in Nenana, Alaska), a man or woman could cash in big-time (tickets were strictly limited to Alaskans) if a winner.
INTELLIGENCE REVELANT TO ALASKA
U.S. military intelligence actively collected Soviet military and espionage probes relevant to army, air force and navy operations in Alaska and the Arctic regions. DeclassifiedTop Secret Intel reports provide insights of Soviet interest and intelligence activity between 1947 and 1949 that targeted Alaska. The take was shared with the Alaska Air Command’s Yukon Sector “War Room,” they being responsible for the northern Territory’s defenses. This collection formed the core of their “intelligence library,” including Soviet maps and photo reconnaissance data collected by the 72nd RS and other participating squadrons based in Central Alaska and Elmendorf AFB.2
Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington received intelligence estimates that USSR’s Eastern Military District (adjacent to Alaska) aviation assets totaled 220 fighters, 110 attack and 120 bomber aircraft; 200 aircraft (100 fighters, 50 attack aircraft and 50 light bombers) were located at bases in northeast Siberia and Kamcatka Peninsula.3 An RB-29 mission off East Cape Siberia to Wrangel Island reported 13 vapor trails at around 25,000 feet with an unspecified B-29 being circled twice at high speed by what the crew believed was a jet fighter; reports indicated that 46 jet fighters were listed in the Soviet Order of Battle to protect the Chukotsku defense area.4 During . . .
Landing on Muldrow Glacier
Two Years in Strategic Air Command: A Navigator’s
Introduction to Strategic Air Command
In the summer of 1955, I attended my first Civil Air Patrol (CAP) summer encampment at Portland AFB, Oregon. Aged only 15, I knew little about the young United States Air Force (USAF), which I was eventually to enter in 1963. My knowledge of the air service focused mostly upon the airplanes of WWII. The encampment was therefore the first introduction to three of the four Air Force missions of the time; airlift, air defense and the strategic bomber force. From the small eastern Oregon town of Lakeview, an Air Force Reserve Curtiss C-46 took me and other CAP cadets to Portland. There, the primary assigned aircraft were Northrop F-89D air defense fighters. During the encampment, all cadets had an orientation flight in a Douglas C-124. Then, we went to a special showing of the new James Stewart film, Strategic Air Command. Most knew of the Convair B-36 bomber and the movie was a true thrill. Also, the film was an impressive portrayal of life in Gen. Curtis LeMay’s command.
Over the years, there was an occasional observation of a B-36 flying over Eugene, Ore., accompanied by the unique sound of its six reciprocating engines and four jets on later models.
Over the next eight years, I learned much more about the Air Force through my reading, CAP training and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps experience at the University of Oregon. Commissioned in 1963, I reported to the USAF Undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT) school at James Connally AFB, near Waco, Texas. There, it became apparent that many UNT graduates would be assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC), like it or not. This article will detail my experiences related to SAC between 1963 and 1967. It will be spiced a bit with cartoons by Capt. Jerry Thompson, a B-47 pilot in the 68th Bomb Wing (BW) at Chennault AFB, La., and in the B-52H with the 319th BW, Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Days of the Bomber Barons(1)
During the early 1960s, when I was new to the United States Air Force, SAC was nearing its zenith, which would continue for many years. At the end of WWII, Gen. Hap Arnold, the Army Air Force (AAF) commander and Gen. Carl Spaatz, who commanded bomber forces in Europe and the Pacific, insisted that American air power be built around strategic bombardment. Bomber operations during the war were seen as adequate demonstration of the theories of Billy Mitchell, Italy’s Giulio Douhet and Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Marshal Hugh Trenchard that strategic bombardment was the key to air force success. By 1946, the AAF also had the atomic bomb and one unit, the 509th Composite Group at Roswell Field, N.M., capable of delivering the bomb. The AAF established SAC on March 21, 1946, at Bolling AFB, D.C., commanded by Gen. George C. Kenney. The command’s initial equipment was B-29s, B-17s, a few B-25s and P-47s, P-51s and three P-80s. . . .
SAC Intelligence Briefing
C & S - Chicago & Southern Air Lines
The twentieth century was the age of airline pioneers, men whose names were synonymous with the companies that they built: Juan Trippe and Pan American, C.E. Woolman and Delta, Eddie Rickenbacker and Eastern, to name just a few of the more famous. These men were the captains of the airlines that they helmed, and the airlines were reflections of their own personalities. One of these ‘airline men’ who built a company from scratch was named Carleton Putnam and his airline was called Chicago and Southern.
Putnam was a child of privilege. As a young man in his twenties he spent summers on dude ranches or sitting on the veranda of the new Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix in between his semesters at law school. He purchased his first airplane, a Curtiss Robin, on the spot when he saw it in a Curtiss-Wright Aircraft showroom display window on West 57th Street just off of Fifth Avenue in New York in 1930. After learning to fly and falling in love with the freedom of flight, Carleton Putnam spent the summer of 1931 in the early years of The Depression, touring the western United States in his new airplane. While stopping at a hotel in North Platte, Neb., in the middle of the night he heard the sound of the engines of a United Air Lines flight on its approach for landing. The plane flew over his hotel and he ran to the window of his room just in time to see the glow from the exhaust as it was settling in for its landing at the North Platte airport. In one of those “ah, ha!” moments, young Mr. Putnam decided then and there that his future was in the airline business and that, more specifically, he would start his own airline.
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN!
Carleton Putnam loved California. Although air service between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area had operated steadily for a few years, both nonstop and via cities of the San Joaquin Valley, service along the coast via Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Salinas and other communities, had been sporadic. E.L. Cord’s Century Pacific Airlines had operated the route in 1931 and Grant Schley II’s Coast Airways had provided service for a short time in 1932. But when Carleton Putnam was ready to start his airline this route was once again without service and Putnam jumped in. In his autobiography, High Journey, Putnam waxed poetically about the romantic vision of an airplane circling above the old
Spanish Mission at Carmel.
Putnam started his airline in the summer of 1933 and called it, appropriately, Pacific Seaboard Airlines. The new company vigorously undertook its mission and began plying the route between Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal in Los Angeles and Mills Field in San Francisco with intermediate stops along the coast. With no regulation of intrastate carriers in California at the time, Pacific Seaboard operated its little fleet of two Bellanca Pacemakers without radios in a basic flyingby-the-seat-of-your-pants operation. Passengers and freight . . .
C&S DC-3A, NC17882
Eddie Andreini - a Pilot’s Story
Eddie Andreini, a California aerobatic pilot, performed both in front of audiences and behind the scenes. Over the years, Andreini won respect for his showmanship, for his efforts to support the airshow industry, and for helping in his home community. He was awarded the highest recognition of his profession less than six months before his career ended.
His first professional performance was for a small audience at an airport near California’s wine country. He flew for airshow fans in the U.S., Canada, and around the world for over 50 years. His last performance was in front of nearly one hundred thousand people and ended tragically. His final show took place within 30 miles of his first.
Andreini grew up in rural country close to San Francisco. He was the son of farm-workers who had emigrated from Italy. He discovered his talent for handling equipment - bulldozers and airplanes – in his teens, and he continued working with bulldozers and airplanes for the rest of his life until his death in May 2014.
EDDIE’s LIFE BEFORE FLIGHT
The Andreini Family and Early Years Eddie Andreini’s father was Angelo Andreini, an Italian immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1921. Angelo was 14 years old when he arrived in California, and settled in farm country, 40 miles from San Francisco. He became a farm laborer in one of the many fertile valleys whose streams empty into the Pacific Ocean. His future wife, Rosina Guerra, was living with her Italian immigrant family closer to Half Moon Bay, the principal community on the Coastside.
Angelo Andreini came to the U.S. before the Great Depression gripped the country before WWII broke out. The elder Andreini saw Prohibition. The Coastside was well located to thrive during Prohibition. Its many isolated hills and canyons were often shrouded in fog, hiding moonshiners and bootleggers from view. With its miles of lonely coastline, the Coastside became a conduit for secret landings of smuggled Canadian whiskey. Andreini, like many other locals, added a second vocation to his farm labors. He began driving some of the powerful cars that moved alcohol around the Coastside and on to the cities around nearby San Francisco. Angelo spent those days speeding big straight-eight Buicks and Packards along the San Francisco Peninsula with the Feds sometimes in hot pursuit.
After Prohibition ended in 1933, Angelo returned to the quiet farm life near San Gregorio Creek, just south of the town of Half Moon Bay. He earned a modest living, about $1.50 a day plus room and board, and his wife Rosina worked as the ranch cook. Eddie was born in 1937. People living on the coast . . .
Eddie Andreine and his Stearman
A Cold War Veteran’s Memorial for a B-52 Crash
The sun was going down at 8:00 on a warm
September evening in 1958. August Kahl and his
15-year-old son, Loren, were loading tomatoes
into their farm truck so they could get an early start
from their farm in Inver Grove Heights to the market at
South St. Paul, Minn., the next morning.
The sound of jet engines high overhead was nothing new to the Kahls. They had heard the sound
before. There were the new jet airliners landing at
Wold-Chamberlain Field 15 miles away, and there were
the Air Force bombers on training missions that could
be heard every so often. But tonight, the sound seemed
unusual. Loren Kahl followed the path of the sound
as it circled around him. It was getting louder. And
louder. And all at once there was a heavy “boom” from
an area on the other side of the barn.
For an instant, the farm lights blinked out, and
then the Kahls were enveloped in a fireball that swirled
around both sides of the barn. They began to run toward
the farmhouse a hundred yards away...but the fireball
seemed to surround them. The ground was on fire
and a noisy hot wind was blasting at their unprotected
skin. Loren could feel the skin on his face tighten from
the heat. August Kahl tripped on something and fell
headlong into the roaring ground fire, regained his
footing and managed to find his way to the house.
Inside the house, six other members of August’s family
were struggling to understand what had happened and the house was a roaring inferno. Part of the stairway had been carried
away and grandpa Kahl needed help to get to the bottom.
They managed their way out of the house and staggered some
distance away from the heat to look back and catch their breath,
most of them in shock and aghast at the scene.
Only scant minutes before, the cause of the massive
explosion and fire had been an Air Force B-52D Stratofortress
maneuvering at 36,400 feet overhead. On a Cold War training
mission to simulate a nuclear strike on the Twin Cities of
Minneapolis-St. Paul, the plane had been home to six flight
crewmembers and two instructors. The plane, from the 69th
Bomb Squadron, 42nd Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command
(SAC), had departed Loring AFB, Limestone, Maine, earlier in
the day. It had made ECM runs at Bath, Maine, Albany, N.Y., Williamsport, Pa., Youngstown, Ohio, and Bellefontaine, Ohio. The flight had continued to Richmond, Va., where a GPI Nav-Bomb run was started that was to terminate at Minneapolis. There it would be scored for bombing accuracy by the Air Force Bombing Radar Site at Wold-Chamberlain Field.
Four times the big plane crossed the target, with “bombs
away” for the fourth run at 2016 CST, Minneapolis. As it rolled
off the last bomb run, something went wrong. An elevator trim “excursion” began to send tremors through the ship. Whatever . . .
Memorial to B-52 Crash
Forum of Flight
The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for each member to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or unusual photographs. Negatives, blackand-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked “Forum of Flight,” P.O. Box 3023, Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3023. Mark any material to be returned: “Return to (your name and complete address).”
Please include as much information as possible about the photo such as: date, place, names, etc., plus proper credit (it may be part of your collection but taken by another photographer)
General Motors TBM-3E Fire Bomber
News & Comments from our Members
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