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1956 - 2023, Celebrating over 65+ Years of Service

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Excerpts from
AAHS Journal, Vol. 62, No. 4 - Winter 2017
Table of Contents

  • The First Zemke Fan, May 12, 1944 - Dr. Gerhard Kaschuba
  • C-141 Startlifters of the 164th Airlift Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard - John Vadas
  • The Aero Club’s First Exhibition and the Events Leading Up To It. - Simine Short
  • From an Airknocker to the Left Seat of a Flying Fortress - R.E. "Bud" Kingsbury >
  • "Burma Banshees" 90th Fighter Squadron P-47s - Gregory Pons>
  • U.S. Army Air Force 12th Bombardment Group in WWII. "The Earthquakers" - Charles H. Tucker, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.) with Larry W. Bledsoe
  • Dark Horse Running, Bell Martin-Bell’s Cold War Orbital Glide Bombers, Part III - Dave Stern
  • Stirring up the Airlines; Swizzle Sticks - Ed Martin
  • Forum of Flight - Tim Williams
  • President’s Message - Jerri Bergen

  • The First Zemke Fan on May 12, 1944

    In January 1944, Gen. James Doolittle took command of the 8th U.S. Army Air Force. The commander-in-chief of the USAAF, Gen. Henry H. Arnold, had previously given the order in his new Year’s message: “This is a must – destroy the enemy air force wherever you find them, in the air, on the ground, and in the factories.” Until then, the fighter groups of the 8th USAAF had been required to provide defensive escort for the bombers. Doolittle, on the other hand, saw in the fighters a flexible offensive weapon designed to fight the enemy far away from the bombers. Maj. Gen. William E. Kepner, commander of the 8th U.S. Fighter Command, informed the commanders of his fighter groups about the change of tactics. One of these men was Col. Hubert Zemke.

    Col. Hubert Zemke and the 56th Fighter Group
    In September 1942, the then Major Zemke assumed command of the 56th Fighter Group. The unit had been transferred to England in January 1943. On April 8, 1943, Zemke was promoted to colonel. He put great emphasis on flight discipline, teamwork and the development of new tactics. Under his leadership, the 56th Fighter Group by the summer of 1943 had risen to become the most successful American fighter group in Europe. General Doolittle once described Zemke as the “greatest fighter group commander.” During WWII, Colonel Zemke scored a total of 17.75 confirmed air victories and 8.5 aircraft destroyed on the ground. American media gave the 56th Fighter Group the name “Zemke’s Wolfpack.” As early as the summer of 1943, Zemke had begun to doubt the validity of the defensive escort tactics. Without the knowledge of his superiors, he experimented with new forms of escort protection. During the missions, he positioned a fighter squadron, for example, about five to 10 miles ahead of the leading bomb group. In this way, German fighters should be detected early and frontal attacks on the bombers significantly reduced.

    In April 1944, the 56th Fighter Group was relocated from Halesworth to Boxted. Both airfields were located in southeast England. The group was divided into the 61st, 62nd and 63rd Fighter Squadrons and equipped with the Republic P-47 . . . .

    63rd FS, 56th FG - Zemke’s squadron.

    C-141 Startlifters of the 164th Airlift Wing,
    Tennessee Air National Guard

    On April 1, 1961, the 155th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Tennessee Air National Guard turned in their RF-84s for the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter and were re-designated the 155th Air Transportation Squadron (Heavy). The 164th Air Transportation Group was activated as the parent organization. Since that time, the 164th has been in the heavy-haul airlift business and has undergone numerous changes in unit designations and type of aircraft flown. First, the C-97, then the C-124, followed by the C-130, the C-141, the C-5 and, today, the C-17, always meeting the challenges of whatever aircraft and mission they were assigned.

    During December 1991, the 164th Airlift Wing received the first two C-141B Starlifters, 65-0222 and 67-0024, from the 438th Military Airlift Wing (MAW) at McGuire AFB. For the next three months, the 164th AW continued to fly the C-130A while the crews transitioned to the C-141B. The last C-130A was transferred out in April 1992, about the same time that the third C-141B, 66-0157, arrived from the 438th MAW at McGuire AFB. By December 1992, three more C-141Bs had joined the unit. In June 1992, 61-2778 arrived from McGuire, 67-0021 arrived in September 1992, from McGuire, and 67-0029 arrived in December 1992, from Norton AFB. By March 1993, the 164th AW would have its full initial complement of eight Starlifters with the arrival of 63-8080 from the 438th MAW and 66-0139 from the 63rd MAW at Norton AFB.

    This is a look at these eight aircraft from a historic perspective, given a new lease on life with the Air National Guard when so many of their sisters started showing up at the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Tucson, Arizona. These initial eight C-141s were Primary Aircraft Assigned (PAA). Also assigned at a somewhat later date was 64-0627 that was unfunded and used as a spare. 64-0627 was named City of Memphis while it was assigned to the 164th AW. On average, the C-141s flew with the 164th AW for 10 and a half years and unlike other Reserve and ANG units, bore some very colorful nose art. In addition to regular line missions, the Starlifters and crews of the 164th AW were called upon to support Operation ENDURING FREEDOM after 9/11 as well as the relief efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998. Aircraft and crews of the 164th AW also flew Somalia relief missions out of Cairo North during 1992-93 in support of Operation SUPPORT HOPE. While assigned to the TN ANG, these aircraft were all converted to C-141 "C" models with an upgraded glass cockpit and instrumentation.

    65-0222, Draggin’ Wagon

    This aircraft was accepted by the Air Force on January 18, . . .

    C-141 "Memphis Queen"

    The Aero Club’s First Exhibition
    and the Events Leading Up To It.

    Throughout the 19th century there was a constant need to speed up transportation, as material and people had to be moved over ever increasing distances across the United States. However, to travel at a mile a minute was still only a dream for most railroads. To go faster, it was thought that one needed to travel through the air, where there would be no obstructions or obstacles by nature, but a proper vehicle for this mode of transportation was still futuristic.

    "The navigation of the air has heretofore been hardly considered a practical question by most men, chiefly from the reason that those who have attempted it have generally been persons without sufficient theoretical or practical knowledge to meet the conditions involved."[1]

    The well-known and respected civil engineer Octave Chanute had sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge to become involved, but he was concerned that he might be considered a "crank," to use an American slang word, and he surely did not want neighbors to point fingers at family members in the grocery store.

    When Albert Zahm suggested holding the 3rd International Conference on Aerial Navigation in conjunction with the Engineering Congress at the World’s Fair in Chicago in August 1893, Chanute hesitated at first. But he also knew that he should accept the chairmanship, as the principal object of any international conference was to share views on matters (such as aerial navigation), ascertain the problems then engaging the thoughts of sober experts and to exchange information. Such a conference would certainly be a good opportunity, as "the greater the number of minds that can be brought to bear upon a particular problem, the greater is the chance of early success."[2] Also, he could promote the idea to form an American Aeronautical Society, similar to the ones in Europe to encourage collaboration to discover the secrets of mechanical flight.

    Several flying clubs were formed in the next few years, some called "Gentlemen’s Clubs for Aerial Navigation," mostly by men who had attended the 1893 aeronautical congress. The Aero Club of New England, for instance, was organized in Boston on January 2, 1902. [FIG.1]. Their members were mostly interested in ballooning, while members of the Boston Aeronautical Society, organized on March 19, 1895, were more interested in heavier-than-air flight. But all these groups were mostly active on the local level.

    Organizers of the Louisiana Purchase World’s Fair in St. Louis wanted to stimulate the design and construction of dirigible balloons and flying machines by offering prizes of up to $200,000. To help publicize this aeronautical tournament in Europe, fair organizers looked for a goodwill ambassador and the 71-year-old Chanute happily obliged. Travelling to Europe in early 1903, he presented numerous lectures, shared his excitement of flying gliders and told his listeners that the flying machine would soon be in use for sport and recreation. His enthusiasm was contagious; several experimenters became . . .

    Exhibit Hall at the 1906 Aero Club Exhibition

    From an Airknocker to the Left Seat of a Flying Fortress

    I fell in love with airplanes at a very young age. Saving my pennies, I took my first ride in a plane at the age of 14 at the Chicago International Airport (now Midway Field). I would sneak out to the field (three cents on the street car) whenever I could get away from my parents. They would have cut my journey short if they had known what I was up to.

    I soloed in 1940 at the age of 19 in an old "Airknocker" (Aeronca Champ). A few months before Pearl Harbor I applied for training in the Aviation Cadet Program, U.S. Army Air Corps. I passed all the required tests and was sent home to wait for a call. Right after December 7, 1941, they called us up by the thousands. I was sent to the Santa Ana, Calif., Preflight Center for processing. Much to my delight, I was given a much coveted pilot’s slot. At the Preflight Center we were busy learning navigation, radio, etc. and how to become officers and gentlemen.

    I was then sent to Hemet, Calif., for primary training in the Ryan PT-22 (the "Maytag Messerschmitt"). One of the cadets in my lower class would go on to become one of the most famous pilots in the world – Aviation Cadet Chuck Yeager.

    My class was then sent to Minter Field near Bakersfield, Calif., to fly the Vultee "Vibrators." The basic training at Minter was a lot different than primary. The BT’s had two-position props, a much larger engine and we had air corps flying officers as instructors instead of civilian instructors. We learned to fly formation and were introduced to night flying.

    There was a large washout rate at Hemet, but the Ryan pilots had a lower washout rate than the Stearman pilots did at Minter while flying Vultees.

    The class was then sent to the twin-engine flying school at La Junta, Colo., to train in AT-17s and AT-9s. We had no washouts at the advanced school, but lost two cadets in a crash. I finally made it to the top of the mountain – I was a "second Louie" and I had pilot’s wings.

    Four days after getting my wings I wound up at Blythe, Calif., as a copilot in a new provisional group for first phase combat training. I spent the next few weeks learning as much as I could, constantly bugging my pilot to let me land, fly formation, do the air-to-ground gunnery runs and every other task assigned to us. I will always be grateful to him because he gave me a lot of left-seat time also. We were now ready for our second phase of combat training at a new base. A new provisional group was to be started and the base commander asked all the aircraft commanders to select any of their copilots they thought could qualify for left seat status. My pilot, Jack Harris, put my name on the list. I think I bugged him too much and he wanted me out of his hair!

    I made a few runs with several check pilots and was rated as an aircraft commander. That was a very proud day in my life. My wife, Kay, and I had a big celebration that . . .

    Kingsberry’s crew and B-17

    "Burma Banshees" 90th Fighter Squadron P-47s

    Several articles have been published about the famous 80th Fighter Group assigned to the 10th Air Force in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater while the unit flew P-40s. The recent discovery of a photo album that belonged to a ground mechanic of the 90th Fighter Squadron gives us an insight to this period during the time the unit was transitioning to P-47s, replacing its tired and obsolescent P-40Ns decorated with a painted skull on their hoods.

    Here Comes the Thunderbolt

    June 8, 1944, while the 90th Fighter Squadron was temporarily based at Moran in India, Lt. Col. Albert L. Evans Jr. (CO of the 80th Fighter Group) led the first flight of 12 P-47s in from Karachi. Captains Bulkeley and Daine, Lieutenants Cherry, Roane and Pedersen, and six new pilots flew the new planes. These P-47s were the first to be assigned to the squadron in this theater. The planes were equipped with additional droppable wing tanks. Two days later, 10 new P-47s arrived from Karachi with five new pilots. Eight of the squadron’s P-40s were sent to the 88th Fighter Squadron. During the following days, war markings were applied on the planes. Each P-47s of the 90th Squadron wore an individual fuselage number ranging from 70 to 99 and a blue ring around the engine cowling. Black stripes were also applied on their tails as fast identification markings.

    On June 20, 10 pilots left Moran with P-40s to take them to Panaghar. They would continue on to Karachi to bring back more P-47s. A few days later, Major Powell took off with a P-47 carrying two 1000-lb bombs. On June 25, two strafing missions were carried out with P-47s in the Myitkyina area in Burma. These two missions were the first successful missions since June 6, due to weather interfering with operations.

    On June 27, the first enlisted men from the 90th FS started on their way to the United States under the War Department rotation policy. Two days following, Captain Frey and nine other pilots returned from Karachi with P-47s while another detachment of eight pilots with their P-47s went to Shingbwiyang to carry out tests with these planes from the forward strip.

    Saturday, July 1, "D" flight leader Captain Ward and Lieutenant Wells returned from 20 day leave in the "Hill Station" of Darjeeling where they had found relief from the heat and had been able to refresh their recollections of such things as fresh meat, milk and white women.

    On the morning of July 3, 1944, Major Powell and a four-ship flight of Thunderbolts took off at 0700 and did not return until 1115. Their determined, persistent efforts to get through . . .

    A line of 90th FS Thunderbolts

    U.S. Army Air Force 12th Bombardment Group in WWII.
    "The Earthquakers"

    The 12th Bomb Group’s Three Year Odyssey

    In the early morning hours of August 31, 1942, German Gen. Erwin Rommel resumed his attack on the El Alamein Line in his drive to take Egypt and open a pathway for German access to the rich oil fields in Iraq and Iran. It became known as the Battle of Alam Halfa. Three B-25s from the 12th Bombardment Group (12th BG) joined 15 South African Boston (A-20) bombers in attacking Rommel’s advancing forces. This was the 12th BG’s first combat mission and was the beginning of a three-year combat odyssey.

    The 12th BG’s journey into combat began two years before when the 12th Bombardment Group (Light) was activated at McChord Field, Wash., on January 15, 1941. They were equipped with Douglas B-18 Bolos and Douglas B-23 Dragons. In addition, they were assigned several Boeing PT-17s. It was the only bombardment group on the West Coast north of San Francisco.

    After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the 12th began round the clock anti-submarine patrol off the Pacific coast. They were also redesignated the 12th Bombardment Group (Medium).

    In March 1942, the group was transferred to Esler Field, La., and equipped with new C and D model B-25 Mitchells. The organization grew in size as pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and gunners, fresh out of school joined the group and continued their training for combat. The 12th BG would eventually be comprised of four squadrons: 81st BS, 82nd BS, 83rd BS and the 434th BS.

    In early May, the 12th BG was sent to Stockton, Calif., for a special mission that was not disclosed to them. Half the planes were loaded with 500-pound bombs. Half the crews were on alert during daylight and the other half flew and dropped practice bombs on a bombing range near Fresno, California.

    After the successful Battle of Midway in early June 1942, the 12th BG returned to Esler Field and continued training for combat. According to Harold Elder, a pilot in the 434th BS, he found out after the war, "The Navy knew the Japanese . . .

    Shot of personnel from the 82nd BS

    Dark Horse Running, Bell Martin-Bell’s Cold War Orbital Glide Bombers, Part III

    EVENTS 1955-1956

    The BoMi engineering team was heavily revising MX-2276 BoMi in accordance with development requirements, System 118P’s (Part II Hypersonic proposal) guidelines in late 1955, when the Lockheed empire again, cast a covetous eye upon Bell Aircraft. For the fifth year their management negotiated with Larry Bell to secure a merger with their company.[1] Larry Bell stated that he would talk merger so long as his company became a stronger organization; that declaration ended the talks, thus Bell remained an autonomous company.[2] Addressing his employees during the company’s 20th anniversary celebration in 1955, Larry hinted that the firm was committed to conceiving and building vehicles flying between 7,000 to 14,000 mph up to 50 miles and higher, within the next two decades.[3]

    During 1955, hypersonic research was underway at nationwide wind tunnel facilities, the NACA, universities and subcontractors, manufacturing especially engineered components for missiles and advanced aircraft. For example, executives at Glenn L. Martin Company’s Middle River, Md., headquarters created a subsidiary research laboratory that would join with Bell to compete for the USAF’s RS-620A Dyna Soar I project in March, 1958. It was the Research Institute for Advanced Study (RIAS), a design department headed by Welcome W. Bender.[4] Their charter included "building-block" studies encompassing negative-gravity research, advanced design, warm structures (renamed hot-structures), high speed warhead delivery and hypersonic vehicle designs.[5]

    RIAS departments investigated both theoretical and physical disciplines including electronics, physics and other fields, all focused upon advanced ideas and solutions. RIAS management modestly stated their desire to remove "the spaceship" from comic-book creations and transform it into a respectable future vehicle.[6] RIAS was reportedly modeled on Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), engaging in both theoretical and experimental science studies.[7]

    Simultaneously, NACA, Princeton, MIT, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (Curtiss Wright’s research facility transferred to Cornell University),[8] Battelle Memorial Institute and other facilities applied old research tools coupled with new gas dynamics tunnel technology to accumulate hypersonic aerodynamics data.[9] During the mid-1950s a NACA faction emphasized constructing metal hypersonic wind tunnel models. They believed that accurate hypersonic research could only be accomplished by economical ground research, rather than actual prototype flight testing, via piloted or robotic flight.[10] Concurrent with this work was an intense nationwide research program to develop survivable re-entry ICBM nose-cones, also applicable to hypersonic boost gliders; both ICBM and . . .

    NASA-Langley free flight tunnel with a version of 455L

    Stirring up the Airlines; Swizzle Sticks

    Google’s definition of swizzle stick is:

    A small thin rod, often adorned on one or both ends with spokes, spheres, or other ornaments for stirring mixed drinks.

    This does not seem adequate for an item that is utilized at 35,000 feet when traveling at more than 500 mph - stirring a mixed liquid while avoiding spillage. If swizzle sticks were used by the U.S. Air Force or NASA in the space program, it would most likely be classified as a "Reciprocating Fluid Propulsion System" (RFPS) or some similar exotic nomenclature.

    Why then would something as lowly as the simple swizzle stick be worthy of customization? Why not just give the customer a highly functional flat wooden or plastic stick to stir their drink with? The answer comes from marketing, where the objective of the item being placed in the receiver’s drink is to help build brand awareness, launch new products or services and to enhance customer relationships.

    Airline swizzle sticks usually provided with drinks served in the premium classes once had identifiable character and were very collectible. Unfortunately, today, they are becoming extinct. Gone are the days when your in-flight drink came with a thought provoking swizzle stick in various colors related to your flight or destination. With the passage of time, many of the airline logos present here have gone the way of the specialized swizzle stick, and some of the airlines themselves have followed as well.

    Airlines provided swizzle sticks in many colors and sizes, so as a collector one needed to fly a lot and drink frequently in order to build a complete set. If some observant reader is disappointed that his or her special airline swizzle stick is not displayed, it is due to this author’s limited drinking ability and infrequent flights, thus having an incomplete collection.

    Back in the days, some airlines went so far as to customize their swizzle sticks to specific routes. For example, flying on American Airlines with Hawaii was your destination your drink came with a substantial decorative "Hawaiian canoe paddle" swizzle stick, allowing as you stirred and sipped for your thoughts to drift toward those balmy breezes and light waves. However, as you stirred your fingers also clasped the "AA" logo or airline name on your swizzle stick, which of course was to remind you who was contributing to your enjoyable moment. But should your flight be to New York on the Douglas DC-7 "Royal Coachman Service," your in-flight drink swizzle stick might come in the shape of a "Top Hat" as a reminder of all the wonderful theater shows you might attend upon arrival, with of course the always attached airline identification.

    American Airlines provided most of their swizzle sticks in red, white and blue - their corporate colors, also the colors of the national flag. The "AA" flag swizzle stick may be . . .

    Swizzle sticks from international airlines

    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 92605-3023. 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.

    Colorful Navy F6F target drones

    President’s Message

    How does an organization, formed when computers were the size of supermarkets, phones were fixtures, books held the predominance of recorded knowledge and cameras needed film to record images, adapt to a world where your computer, phone and camera all reside on one device, provide data instantaneously, and is carried in your hip pocket?

    The tools and methods we use to record and share aviation history have changed, but our mission remains the same. Aviation is still a key driver of technology innovation and our record of that progress and the people who made it happen generate fascinating history. Adapting to change, and crafting our product to suit the interests of today’s audience is definitely harder, and we realize that partnering with other organizations with similar goals can improve our chances of long-term success.

    In the 60+ years of the AAHS Society, we have been headquartered apart from the aviation community, existing in small office areas or strip malls, which have given rise to the long standing joke that AAHS is "the best kept secret in aviation." In recent years we have reached out to partner with groups like the American Society of Aviation Artists and The Antique Aircraft Association, to better spread our message, and we need to continue this movement toward other aviation groups.

    One of the decisions AAHS has recently made involves relocating the AAHS headquarters office out of its current month-to-month light-industrial, strip-mall environment to an aviation community that supports a long-term view of our mission. AAHS is planning a move to Flabob Airport, of Rubideaux, Calif., approximately 60 miles east of our current location in central Orange County.

    We are excited at the prospect of housing the AAHS archives and Library at Flabob Airport, a private, not-for-profit entity that not only operates an active airport but is primarily dedicated to aviation education, promoting the next generation of aviation professionals and enthusiasts.

    Flabob Airport is home to the Replica Racers museum and is currently erecting facilities for a second museum, both of which will be supported by AAHS archive material. Flabob is also home to the Quiet Birdmen Headquarters and their historical archive material. Two different aviation education . . .