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1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 62, No. 2 - Summer 2017
Table of Contents

  • The Ugly Duckling, Sikorsky S-38 - Mitch Mayburn
  • Dark Horse Running: Bell and Martin-Bell’s Cold War Orbital Glide Bombers, Part II - Dave Stern
  • A Life in the Heavens: Irving Krick and the Art of Weather Forecasting - Justin H. Libby
  • Tribute to Albert Hansen, 1932-2017
  • An Unforgettable Picture - Sid Yahn, USAF (Ret.)
  • Fights of Fancy: The Air Wars of Dean Ivan Lamb - Joe Martin
  • The History of Republic Airport - Robert G. Waldvogel
  • The First Airborne Flushable Toilet - Larry Elman
  • Forum of Flight - Tim Williams
  • President’s Message - Jerri Bergen

  • Dark Horse Running:
    Bell and Martin-Bell’s Cold War Orbital Glide Bombers, Part II

    Dr. Dornberger joined Bell Aircraft while the Soviet Union was constructing its initial RDS-1 series of A-bombs, and its Dal’naya aviatsiya was operating reverse-engineered B-29s given the NATO designation TU-4 Bull. A long range rocket program plus heightened tensions during the Korean War, with Soviet involvement inflamed the Cold War nightmare. Dornberger was briefed on Bell missile and rocket engine contracts but was perhaps unaware of Bell’s mid-1930s flirtation with rockets. Bell engineers consulted with Dr. Robert Goddard about installing two non-existent liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket engines (350 pounds thrust each), on their Model-3, “super performance” fighter.[1] A Top Secret project issued directly to Larry Bell and Harland Poyer by General of the Army Air Force, Hap Arnold resulted in the Bell YP-59A Airacomet, America’s first jet fighter.

    On December 4, 1944, Bell chief designer Robert Woods and Bob Stanley swore a secrecy oath and received a contract for a rocket powered aircraft designated MX-524, a.k.a. MX-653, Bell Model 44 and XS-1.[2] A November 13, 1945, USAAF ATSC (Air Technical Services Command) specifications letter, won Bell a contract for a supersonic air to ground missile,[3] MX-776, XSAM-A-2 re-designated GAM-63 Rascal.[4]

    In late 1946 the Navy Bureau of Ordnance awarded Bell Aircraft a contract to develop Project METEOR’s rocket engine – an Air-to-Air missile, under MIT guidance.[5]

    They also contracted Bell to construct 42 800-pound thrust, lox-alcohol fueled rocket engines for Project Kingfisher.[6] In 1949 Bell engineers designed an acid-aniline rocket engine for MX-776A (RTV-A-4) the X-9 Shrike concept test missile for Rascal. Bell also constructed the X-1A, X-1B, a modified X-1 identified as X-1E and MX-743 or X-2, a swept-wing supersonic rocket research aircraft. In 1951 at the Niagara Frontier Division offices, Larry Bell, Dr. Dornberger and an engineering team initiated discussions about his rocket bomber concept around a huge wood table shaped like a large aircraft wing.[7]

    Meanwhile, Hugh L. Dryden, Director of the NACA, contacted Larry Bell informing him that the NACA Industry Consulting Committee compiled a four volume set of accumulated NACA aeronautical data.[8] It contained the latest data on aerodynamics, aircraft propulsion, aircraft construction methods and operating problems. Classified Secret due to National Security issues . . .

    Assembled model of the three-stage MX-2276 BoMi.

    Life in the Heavens:
    Irving Krick and the Art of Weather Forecasting

    It was said of Irving Parkhurst Krick, that he spoke faster than his tongue could handle the language and the listener could comprehend the content of his comments. Nonetheless, his accomplishments were legion in the art of weather forecasting. All who fly or have flown owe him a great debt, but he is relatively unknown compared to the legendary pilots and businessmen who helped build the foundation of aviation empires that flew then and still do now convey passengers millions of miles in comfort and safety, but could not have done it without the knowledge, expertise and accomplishments of men like Irving Krick.

    Krick was born to Harry I. and Mabel (Royal) Krick in San Francisco on December 20, 1906. His father died when Irving was 10 years old and his mother turned to teaching music in order to support her son and daughter. Krick became a pianist prodigy of some significance thanks to his mother’s tutoring and at the age of 13 he was giving Sunday afternoon concerts at the open air Greek Theatre in Berkeley. Later, he would enroll in the University of California at Berkeley from which he graduated in 1928 with a degree in physics. During his days at the university he toured the United States and Asia as an accompanying piano player for the glee club. Following graduation he took a position as assistant manager of radio station KTAB in San Francisco preparing programs and playing the piano over the air. He was also a practicing stock broker with an uncle who was a banker, but music was his first love and he undertook to further his career while studying with a concert pianist in Denver. Kirch and his teacher would later form a music school in Los Angeles but the enterprise did not succeed.

    Kirk’s life and career would change forever when in conjunction with operating an amateur short-wave radio transmitter he became fascinated with the study of meteorology. This interest would eventually bring him to the door of Transcontinental and Western Air. Influenced by his brother-in-law, Horace Byers1, who had graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Krick was about to transfer his love of music to the melodies of meteorology and make a significant impact on weather forecasting.

    In 1932 at the age of 26, Krick entered the world of aviation and in time advanced the safety and the efficiency of transport operations. Krick began his adventure by applying for a meteorological position at Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA) proclaiming he was an expert on weather predictions. The interviewer, somewhat annoyed that his time was being taken up by someone he considered too eccentric, told Krick there was nothing at T&WA, but why not try Western Air Express . . .

    Irving Krick and his Univac 120 circa mid-1950s

    Tribute to Albert Hansen, 1932-2017

    We are sad to report that long time AAHS member Albert Hansen passed away on June 5, 2017, after a short illness.

    Al was an early member of the Society, Member #81, and actively engaged in Society activities up until recently. He was a long time editor of the AAHS Journal “Forum of Flight” and served on the Board of Directors for a number of years. He also served as Executive Editor of the Journal as well.

    In addition to Forum of Flight, Al contributed well over 30 other articles to the Journal. His primary interest was in Golden Age aircraft - Waco, Stinson, Lockheed, etc. He was the go-to person for those of us in AAHS office on early aircraft and general aircraft identification. He regularly attended the EAA fly-in each summer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

    Al’s interests also included air racing from both the 1930s as well as more recently. He was a regular attendee of the Reno National Air Races until recently.

    Al served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1950s and spent a long career as an engineer with North American Aviation and later North American Rockwell.

    Al’s calm, warm friendly presence to those around him and contributions will be sorely missed by all of us in the Society.

    Albert Hansen, 1932-2017

    An Unforgettable Picture

    The spectacular picture associated with this article is one of the most frequently used photos depicting the Korean Air War. Although numerous people have seen it, few know its true story. This is not surprising since it is doubtful that the story has ever been published. Add to this that it has been six decades since the picture was taken making much of the existing data concerning this event questionable at best. For these reasons, the author’s intent is to set the record straight as far as this particular picture is concerned.

    To begin with, the picture was taken on May 8, 1952, by a pilot (name unknown) assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) based on Kimpo AB (K-14), Korea. The reconnaissance pilot was deployed to Suwon AB (K-13), Korea, and tasked to fly a mission with the 8th Fighter Bomber (FB) Wing. For whatever reason, the pilot was designated to fly with the author’s flight during a napalm mission against a large, heavily-defended, supply area near Suan, North Korea. (The authors’ flight log also listed Namioang-Ni as the target).

    That morning, the author led the 80th FB squadron (Headhunters) on a napalm strike against the very same target area. Several aircraft received battle damage, which only helped confirm that the area was a so-called “hot target.” If there were any positive results from earlier flak suppression missions, they were not noticeable to the author.

    The aircraft in the picture is an Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star, which was assigned to the 80th FB Squadron, Suwon AB (K-13), South Korea. What may be the most significant feature of this photograph is the 37mm or 40mm anti-aircraft round passing up from beneath and behind the aircraft as the pilot releases a napalm tank.

    As a precaution, the flight was briefed to fan out, rather than fly in trail, during their low-level approach to the target. Consequently, the author is convinced the reconnaisance pilot was following the late Lt. John Shannon (number four position in the flight) when this outstanding picture was taken. Lieutenant Shannon’s call sign that day was “Ice Age Charlie Four”.

    Unfortunately, the 80th FB Sqdn. lost two Headhunters during the mission. Both were excellent officers and fine gentlemen. One was Maj. Arthur Faunce, who was flying his first mission as squadron lead, after being assigned commander of the 80th FB Sqdn. The second was Lt. Robert G. Coffee, a . . .

    Korean Era P-80 attack photo.

    Fights of Fancy: The Air Wars of Dean Ivan Lamb

    “I saw the enemy plane and edged over in its direction. As I neared the machine close enough to note details, the pilot pushed up his goggles. Sure enough, it was Phil Rader. He seemed to recognize me and while trying to edge a bit closer we nearly locked wings. He quickly sheered [sic] off shaking his fist at me, then straightened out flying parallel. He drew a pistol and fired downward below my machine. It occurred that he had not actually aimed at me, but beneath. Following his example, I fired twice.”

    “He straightened out again and copied my example by firing two shots. We then fired spaced shots until our guns were empty at about the same time. It proved very difficult to eject the empty shells and reload. The cartridges could not be ejected as one would do on the ground because they would be carried back by the wind into the rapidly spinning propeller. While attempting to eject and reload, the planes had drifted apart, but I could see that Rader was also having his difficulties. I finally solved the problem by placing the pistol inside my shirt, ejecting the empties there, and was able to reload a cartridge one at a time while holding the pistol between my knees. He succeeded in reloading in some manner as we both edged in to continue the ‘battle,’ but Rader’s pistol was in his holster as we neared…then I caught the signal to turn and nodded. Phil waved his hand and continued straight to the east while I turned back…and landed as gasoline was running low.”[1]

    Adventurer, Aviator, Author
    The teller of this tale was Dean Ivan Lamb, one-time mercenary, sometime pilot, and full-time raconteur. This alleged aerial duel continues to be cited, often by respected aviation writers, as the world’s first dogfight. Some versions of the incident go so far as to identify the types of aircraft involved; a Curtiss pusher for Lamb, a Christofferson biplane for his antagonist, Phil Rader. It’s a colorful little anecdote, but there’s one small problem - not a shred of substantiating evidence, even of the hearsay variety, has ever come to light.

    Exactly how and when this mildly fantastic yarn morphed into a historical fact is impossible to determine, but the story apparently rests on nothing more than Lamb’s recollections, published 20 years later as a flamboyant autobiographical tale entitled The Incurable Filibuster – Adventures of Colonel Dean Ivan Lamb. To a lesser extent than his purported encounter with Phil Rader, Lamb’s accounts of his aerial exploits elsewhere in Central and South America have also crept into mainstream aviation history.[2] But a careful look and a bit of research casts doubt on the veracity of almost all the tales spun by this self-styled filibuster.

    The Dogs in the Fight
    Neither Dean Ivan Lamb nor Phil Rader are well known names today although Lamb, thanks mostly to his own self-promotion, did achieved a degree of notoriety in his later years. Rader remains virtually unknown, even though his brief history is somewhat more easily verified.

    Dean Ivan Lamb was born February 3, 1886, in Cherry Flats, Tioga County, Penn., to Henry and Viola English Lamb.[3] Before the age of 25 he had, so he would later claim, worked as a merchant seaman, a pearl fisherman in the Philippines, an agent for the Imperial Chinese customs, a cattle puncher in Arizona, a construction boss on the Panama Canal, and fought in a couple of Latin American revolutions.[4]

    Phillips Dwight Rader, or “Phil”, as he was known, was born September 6, 1891, in Biddeford, Me., the son of Rev. William Rader and his wife, Sophie Wells Rader. At some point not many years thereafter, the family moved to the San Francisco Bay area. In 1908, Phil graduated from the industrial arts program at San Francisco Polytechnic High School. Already touted as an up-and-coming cartoonist, he quickly found employment in the newspaper industry. On April 10, 1910, in a ceremony performed by his father, young Rader . . .

    Dean Lamb's British aviator's license photo.

    The History of Republic Airport

    Located in Farmingdale in the center of Long Island, N.Y., Republic Airport is a historically significant airfield to the both the region and the world, having played a major part in the development of both military and civilian aircraft. Before its present form as a general use airfield, it was the site of aircraft manufacturers that were a major part of aircraft history for the area as well as the world.

    “The Industrial Revolution and airplane manufacture came to Farmingdale during WWI when Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese established their pioneering factories in the community,” wrote Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in their book, Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (Arcadia Publishing, 2016, p. 9). “They were drawn by the presence of two branches of the Long Island Railroad, … the nearby Route 24, which brought auto and truck traffic to and from the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge in Manhattan; the level outwash plain, which provided land for flying fields and the proximity to skilled workers…”

    The area’s first aviation roots, however, were planted as far back as 1917. The Lawrence Sperry Airplane Co., incorporated that year with $50,000 of capital and located on Rose and Richard streets in the village of Farmingdale, produced its first aircraft in the form of the Messenger.

    Designed by Alfred Verville of the U.S. Army’s Engineering Division at McCook Field, the minuscule, 17.9-foot-long, all-wood biplane was intended for “aerial motorcycle” missions, alighting in small clearings to drop off and pick-up messages from field commanders, thus earning its name. Powered by a 60-hp Lawrence L-4 radial, the 862-pound aircraft sported a 20-foot wingspan and could operate within a 45- to 97-mph airspeed envelope. Subsequently provisioned with an in-flight hook, the Messenger was first dropped from Army blimp TC-7 on October 23, 1924, and first re-connected to blimp TC-3 two months later, on December 12. Eventually, Sperry would construct 42 airplanes, including prototypes, which were track-launched as “aerial torpedoes” in order to test various airfoils, cambers, and tapers before the definitive configuration was chosen.

    The succeeding Verville-Sperry R-3 Racer, a low-wing, aerodynamically sleek monoplane built at the Sperry Rose Street factory, introduced the first retractable undercarriage. Completed in 1921, the same year that the company relocated to the 10-acre flying field on Motor Avenue in South Farmingdale, the aircraft, powered by a 350-hp Wright H-2 engine, could achieve 216 mph.

    Farmingdale’s aviation roots were equally cultivated by Sydney Breese, whose Breese Aircraft Co., located on Eastern Parkway, designed the Penguin. Resembling the Bleriot XI, the mid-wing airplane, powered by a two-cylinder, 28-hp, roughly-running Lawrence engine, was a non-flying, preflight . . .

    Republic Airport, early 1960s

    The First Airborne Flushable Toilet

    The Setting
    In 1964, I joined the volunteer staff of the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association (CAHA), which eventually gave birth to the New England Air Museum (NEAM). NEAM is the name by which most of you know CAHA today. Within months I was doing historical research and by 1965 I was one of Harvey Lippincott’s “troubleshooters.” That also was the year that the annual Northeast Aero Historians meetings began. This conference, always in October on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend so that our Northern friends could participate, included many aviation historical organizations (AAHS, Cross & Cockade, Wingfoot and others), but was primarily composed of air museums north of Virginia, south of mid-Canada, and east of the Mississippi. Included in addition to CAHA were the Smithsonian (National Air and Space Museum), the Air Force Museum from Wright-Patterson AFB, the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, sometimes even the Naval Aviation Museum from Florida (when it could find a speaker able to himself fund the trip) and many others. As they were founded, a number of additional museums were added – Long Island’s Cradle of Aviation Museum, New York harbor’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and several others. The annual location varied from year to year and museum to museum in a circuit. I do not know if this meeting still exists, but I did attend what I believe was its 20th anniversary meeting. If it does still exist, GO TO IT – it is wonderful. Also, let me know the current status!

    One firm policy was that the host museum for that year MUST provide a set number of additional presenters and topics that either never got used, or were presented in addition to the pre-announced program. The reason was quite simple – there was an emphasis on getting presentations from early pioneers, many of whom were elderly and in questionable health. After the premature deaths of a few and the unexpected hospitalizations of others, the firm “extra presentations” rule was enacted so that there would be few, if any, blank spots in the program.

    Enter Harvey Lippincott, the Enforcer
    Harvey H Lippincott was my friend, my boss at CAHA, CAHA’s founder and “Guiding Light,” and a man I deeply and humbly respect and admire. He was the East Coast pillar of AAHS, and he forced United Aircraft (now United Technologies) to save priceless artifacts other aircraft companies threw out. But he was also the guy who ordered, cajoled, bribed and enforced as needed that the annual Northeast Aero Historians meeting worked. Sometimes, Phil O’Keefe, Moe Ertman, Bob Stepanek, several others and even me, were dragooned into whatever plots might succeed, even when CAHA was not the host.

    Then came one of those years when CAHA was the host. On Tuesday evening a few days before the conference, as I was leaving my office at United Aircraft Research Labs, Harvey phoned. “Larry, you are on as a replacement speaker for Friday evening. Get a full presentation ready.” “Harvey, I am not on this year’s list of additional speakers, and today is Tuesday. I have no research anywhere near ready to present – it’s impossible.” “Don’t argue, just DO IT!!” A lengthy argument ensued, and in anger I told Harvey that if he forced the issue I would give a talk on the history of airborne flushable toilets. “That is disgusting and would embarrass CAHA. Don’t you dare!” “Then get someone else!” “No, you are IT!!” More argument. The call ended in an impasse. So I went home and wrote an article on the History of Airborne Flushable Toilets. After I relate the remainder of this tale, I will provide excerpts from that article – excerpts because my notes are long lost, and because I do not claim this is an exhaustive full historian’s version of the many incidents and devices involved in this subject.

    Friday’s Event
    Friday evening, of course, Harvey asked what talk I had prepared. When I told him, another argument began and he explained in painful details what he did to mutineers on the Good Ship CAHA. But of course, by then it was too late.

    I was just about 20 minutes into the presentation, when the electricity failed in the hotel ballroom where the talks were given that year. The manager rushed in with many flashlights, explained that the estimate to repair would be about 15 minutes, and said that we should all go out on the adjoining veranda where some refreshments would be set up. . .

    Douglas DST lavatory

    Forum of Flight

    This edition of Forum of Flight offers two featurettes: Day-Glo paint schemes of the mid-century and the photographic work of two of our Society’s pioneers.

    The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for members to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or unusual photographs. Negatives, slides, black-and-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Digital submissions are also acceptable, but please provide high resolution images (>3,000 pixels wide). Please include as much information as possible about the image such as: date, place, msn (manufacturer’s serial number), names, etc., plus proper photo credit (it may be from your collection but taken by another photographer).

    Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked “Forum of Flight,” P. O. Box 3023 Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3032. Mark any material to be returned: “Return to (your name and complete address).” Or you may to wish have your material added to the AAHS photo archives.

    North American A3J-1 Vigilante prototype

    President's Message

    It’s getting warmer, and time to hang out at the local airport; follow the sounds of engine noise to a runway, where you can find people rebuilding worn out engines, families barbequing with friends among the kit plane projects, young (and old) student pilots earning their wings and hangar bums telling their stories.

    Its not just stories as told by the people who lived them, but also the sites and aircraft themselves that contribute to our understanding of history. The AAHS supported the Flabob Airport DC-3 Fly-in recently, and got to hang with 10 DC-3/C-47s and their pilots, owners and fans from all over the United States and other parts of the world. Although a relatively small event, people flew in from such places as Austria, Brazil and Iceland just to see a group of these famous aircraft fly together again, and be part of their histories (see photos on our AAHS Facebook and Flickr sites).

    The level of interest in these 75-year-old aircraft from individuals outside the United States might be surprising to Americans, but entirely reasonable when you think of the history Europeans and other countries have with these aircraft.

    We Americans haven’t had the experience of watching waves and waves of dark green twin-engine transports flying purposefully overhead (some formations taking 45 minutes to pass by!) moving towards a war front to stop an enemy advancement, to drop food to starving cities cut off from other avenues of aid, or to pick up soldiers and return them home again. Americans weren’t the citizens who watched these aircraft taking enemy fire overhead, sometimes crashing nearby, engines afire, or rescuing a pilot or crewmember who managed to escape the wreckage.

    We Americans can also overlook the lineage of our modern air transport system that traces its roots back to the same DC-3. Developed prior to WWII to answer to the budgetary, speed and range needs of early airlines, the DC-3 was key in developing our modern air travel system that accommodates over 941 billion passenger miles . . .

    Flightline at Flabob’s DC-3 Event