Blown Slick Series#4
Seeming necessary for underpinning all further Blown Slick posts, a summary of the “generations” of jet tactical fast mover aircraft has been provided as a separate page found in the header – 5 Generations of Fighters
For the future, both the air-ground “attack” missions and the air-air “fighter” missions will be carried out by multi-role strike fighters, and steadily evolving towards all or a high percentage of 5th Generation types. Continue reading
The first post for the Blown Slick series made the point that the series is about attack – missions and pilots, so you might ask why “fighter pilots?” Words in this case can deceive. Please read till the end. Terminology needs to be addressed so the series can move on.
“Say what you will about him: arrogant, cocky, boisterous, and a fun loving fool to boot. He has earned his place in the sun. Across the span of 95 years he has given his country some of its proudest moments and most cherished military traditions. But fame is short-lived and little the world remembers.
Almost forgotten are the 1400 fighter pilots who stood alone against the might of Hitler’s Germany during the dark summer of 1940 and gave, in the words of Winston Churchill, England “It’s finest hour.” Gone from the hardstands at Duxford are the 51’s with their checkerboard noses that terrorized the finest fighters the Luftwaffe had.
Dimly remembered, the Fourth Fighter Group that gave Americans some of their few proud moments in the skies over Korea.
How fresh in recall are the Air Commandos who valiantly struck the VC with their aging “Skyraiders” in the rain and blood soaked valley called A-Shau? And how long will be remembered the “Phantoms” and “Thuds” over “Route Pack Six” and the flack-filled skies over Hanoi?
Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, Tally Ho. So here’s a “Nickel on the Grass” to you, my friend and your spirit, enthusiasm, sacrifice, and courage–but most of all, to your friendship. Yours is a dying breed and when you are gone, the world will be a lesser place!?”
The above with cartoon by an unknown author appeared in a 1968 special edition of the Grumman Horizons magazine (Volume 8 Number 1)entitled Dogfighters Are In Close! Special Issue: Our race for a better MiG-killer. Continue reading
He would go on to be Vice Chief of Naval Operations and head the FAA, but in mid-December 1971 Navy Captain Jim Busey was Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron 125 (VA-125), the squadron responsible for transitioning Naval Aviators into the A-7A/B Corsair II en route to their future combat squadrons, airwings and carriers. He had two combat tours (189 missions) in Vietnam under his belt in the A-4 Skyhawk and was the recipient of the Navy Cross, and three Distinguished Flying Crosses. I had all of 20 hours in the A-7 and had flown my first flight with Capt. Busey on my wing as the instructor pilot only a few weeks before. Four months later on April 30, 1972, as a new aviator in the VA-56 Champs, I would be night carrier landing qualified with 100 Corsair hours, and fly my first combat mission in Vietnam.
On that December afternoon at Naval Air Station Lemoore California, Capt Busey had called an “all pilots” meeting including the experienced instructors and the young aviators in training – mostly on their way to a first operational squadron. He began by noting that aircraft carriers were ships designated as CVAs and not CVFs. Continue reading
The Helenic Air Force will retire the last A-7 Corsair II on October 17, 2014 after 39 years in Hellenic skies and 49 years of global service. The videos below highlight some great low level flying and include US Navy flights in Vietnam.
Since 2007, the 336 Bomber Squadron has been the last squadron in the world flying the A-7 Corsair II.
Spirit of attack born of a brave heart.
I can never pass up the artist booths at airshows. Last weekend at the Camarillo Air Show (lead guy was Bill Thomas, President of the Corsair II Association) I visited Christopher Cross’s both of airbrush aviation art. Picture above caught my attention. 153241 is an A-7A currently under restoration in northern California – site escapes me. When I got home checked my logbook and found that “241” had been assigned to VA-56 in the spring of ’73 after USS Midway/CAG 5 returned from Vietnam and began prepping for the move to Japan. I have 10.1 hours, 3 traps and flew 3 of my last 10 flights before leaving the Champs in this good old “A.”
Cross’s perspective is somewhat different than many aviation artists and really appealed to me. I promised I would give him a plug, so here is the link to see his other work:
Christopher Cross Images http://www.crossimages.net/new-page/
I also really liked this rendition of the Corsair I.
They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of a war. More than that, they added a new name— Midway— to that small list that inspires men by shining example. Like Marathon , the Armada, the Marne, a few others, Midway showed that every once in a while “what must be” need not be at all. Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit— a magic blend of skill, faith and valor—that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.
Walter Lord; Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway
For those who’ve followed this site, you know that in early June I always put together something on the Battle of Midway and always pay tribute to my first post flight school boss, LCDR Pat Patterson. See the 2013 post:
The picture above is a recent find of Pat’s SBD right after landing on USS Yorktown rather than on Bombing Six’s own USS Enterprise. As noted below, due to landing on Yorktown rather than Enterprise, Pat and his pilot were listed as missing in action along with nine other aircrews of Bombing Six in the initial action report by Enterprise’s commanding officer.
Action Report 8 June, 1942: Battle of Midway Island, June 4 – 6, 1942 — Report of Commanding Officer USS Enterprise (CV-6), Captain G.D. Murray
The report on the 13th would reduce VB-6’s losses to 7 pilots and 8 gunners with total Air group losses at 31 aircraft, 24 pilots and 25 gunners. (Note, then we must add Hornet and Yorktown losses – including all of Torpedo Squadron Eight – to understand the the magnitude of that battle, of that victory)
Action Report 13 June 1942: Air Battle of the Pacific, June 4-6, 1942, report of Commanding Officer USS Enterprise (CV-6), Captain G.D. Murray
Captain Murray would conclude:
CONCLUSION: ENTERPRISE Air Group, both pilots and gunners, displayed a spirit of utter fearlessness, resolution and determination throughout all air actions. This spirit, though shared by pilots and gunners alike, found its highest expression in the person of the Air Group Commander, LtComdr C.W. McClusky, Jr. U.S.N. On June 4, prior to intercepting the main enemy forces, it was his decision, and his decision alone, that made the attack possible which lead to the destruction of a major part of the enemy forces. It is the considered opinion of the Commanding Officer that the success of our forces hinged upon this attack. Any other action on the part of LtComdr McClusky would inevitably have lead to irreparable loss to our forces.
The entire ENTERPRISE Air Group merits the highest praise and commendation for a hazardous job well done. In separate correspondence, recommendations for awards and citations will be submitted.
Pat had to abandon ship on Yorktown – jumping over the side. Picked up by a destroyer, he never stated when he actually returned to his squadron on board the Enterprise.
I’ve often wondered what thoughts were in his head on the 5th of June, but here is what is written in Walter Lord’s book:
Wade McClusky , leading the group, had a picture of a clean hardwood deck, an untouched island on the starboard side, some planes tuning up toward the stern. Earl Gallaher, coming in fourth, saw fountains of water from two near-misses, the blinding flash of his own bomb landing among the parked planes. Dusty Kleiss, seventh to dive, found the after end of the ship a sea of flames, the painted red circle up forward still untouched— then his own bomb changed that. And so it went until Ensign George Goldsmith, the 25th and last man down, had his turn too. By now the carrier was a blazing wreck, swinging hard to the right in a desperate effort to ward off further blows. Goldsmith kept her in his sights.
In the rear seat, Radioman James Patterson called off the altitude as they plunged down. During dive bombing practice they normally released at about 2,200 feet. This time 2,000 spun past the altimeter, and they were still going straight down. Then 1,500 and finally Goldsmith pulled the release. Patterson watched the results with amazement: “He had been the world’s worst dive bomber pilot during the practice hops I’d flown with him previously, but that day Ensign Goldsmith earned every dime invested in him as he put our bomb right through the flight deck, just aft of amidships.”
Pat was 19.
So here’s to you my friend, to Ens Lew Hopkins in SBD Dauntless 6B12 (awarded the Navy Cross and retired as an admiral), and all who shaped the course of carrier aviation.
Fly Navy, the BEST Always Have.
I attended the Celebration of Life for Dave Snako Kelly on Saturday 3 May on-board USS Midway.Hot afternoon but not nearly as hot and humid as it was 42 years ago in the Gulf of Tonkin. Dave and all the rest of us were about to learn about real air war over North Vietnam. We were about to become “these good men.”
Dave was a great friend, superb Naval Aviator, member of VA-115 flying the A-6 Intruder off of Midway on the ’72 war cruise. He is also the author of the recently published story of his flying years Not On MY Watch.
For anyone who has followed Remembered Sky, you are aware that several chapters of his book have been posted here beginning with the Prologue. Snako was co-“owner” for Remembered Sky. Below is the Epilogue to Not on My Watch.
Only 30 copies of this movie were made and they were given to the families of Torpedo Squadron 8. The Youtube version comes from the wife of squadron commander John Waldron.
Fly Navy, the best Always Have
These good men will never be forgotten.