Airpower, Elephants, Fallacies, Bonfires, Something Old, Something New

Blown Slick Series #8 (Part 1)

Airpower characteristics itemizes strictly enduring physical features:
speed, reach, height, and as a consequence ubiquity, agility, and concentration.

KKong Empire St Attack

A relatively high technological focus by air forces is inevitable, necessary, and indeed desirable. But the balance is wrong if that focus translates in practice into an air force that bears some resemblance to a costly and exclusive combination flying club and science and engineering society at the expense of what should be the dominant features of a fighting force…

To fly well is one thing; to fly well in combat, at least in aid of combat, is something else that requires focus on the dueling aspect of all warfare. The history of air warfare reveals that the best pilots have not always been the most effective fighting ones. Flying skills and killing skills are not synonymous, valuable though the former is for the latter.    Colin Gray

What follows is a quick overview of airpower in light  of current and future application. The discussion is not focused on airpower theory, nor is it anywhere close to being comprehensive. It is intended to be viewed in context of previous articles as one mosaic piece. Continue reading

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Users’ Guide Part 2 – Tools

Blown Slick Series #7 (Part 2)


… We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back together (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.     Boyd

Part 1 provided an introduction to the Blown Slick analysis process and the boundary conditions and related operational threads as airpower’s past and future are perceived.  Throughout the time since airplanes were first employed in warfare, there have been many rules/assumptions/lessons learned, some good, others proven outright wrong, and some still staking their ground. Here in Part 2 the concepts of intersections, triangle perspective, and snowmobiles are introduced. Their application in a manner in which the elements are combined and contrasted with past elements and with those potentially significant as the result of emerging technology will hopefully assist in gaining usable perspective for future airpower. Continue reading

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Users’ Guide for Building A Blown Slick “Snowmobile”

Blown Slick Series #7 (Part 1)

To discern what is going on we must interact in a variety of ways with our environment. In other words We must be able to examine the world from a number of perspectives so that we can generate mental images or impressions that correspond to that world. More to the point We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back together (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.   John Boyd


Proposed theories and historical use of airpower  are discussed in detail in many excellent books, PhD theses, and blogs covering air warfare, its organizations, people, technology, and operations. In the previous post in this series selected key references were provided that are currently in use for Blown Slick – Light Attack Fast Pursuit Airpower Analysis.

This series, as noted in previous offerings, intends to  provide and discuss elements that appear to have significance for understanding and future application of airpower in a mosaic style . The metric of the series success will depend on not only the what and the how of the analysis, but also most importantly on how critical aspects are pieced back together to offer a future view for consideration and critique.

Given that the mosaic approach will most certainly jump around, here in this piece,  I am providing short descriptions of the mental and organizational  tools I’m using -sometimes in combination – for not only gaining perspective on future airpower, but also for how I offer the information to Remembered Sky readers for their own consideration. The following (in two parts) is both a guide and a reference, certainly for me to stay focused and hopefully for readers to comprehend why certain elements are discussed in a particular manner. Continue reading

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“It’s Only Reading If You Do It”

Blown Slick Series #6

It is a true statement but not an indictment, that the fleets of the world never had a formal requirement for an airplane, or a submarine, or a communications satellite. Instead, in all cases, a debate was established within the fleet (indeed, within the fleets of the world) and over time, doctrine, technology, people, and organization came to fruition.


Requirements cannot be divorced from detailed understanding of their implementing strategy. In practice, the best requirements come from operators who understand technology in detail and who can, in their mind’s eye, envision the new tactics it makes possible.
Vice Admiral Jerry O. Tuttle

Googling “airpower” will get you nearly 41,600,000 links and Amazon Books near 2000 entries. So prior to getting into more specific topics, this post offers for reader consideration a small handful of books and studies covering multiple aspects of airpower and war in the air that I have found of great interest and use, and indeed to certain different degrees, are references for future articles. Continue reading

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The 4th of June – Remembered Sky Day

Blown Slick Series#5

The A-7 Corsair II carried a healthy fuel load for a carrier based strike aircraft.  On major strikes – those to significant, highly defended targets – into North Vietnam called “Alpha Strikes” with 30 -40  A-7,s, A-6’s, F-4’s, bombers, fighters, Iron-Hand MiG Cap, tankers, Electronic Warfare birds and an E-2 control – the A-7’s mostly took off first, landed last. The strike group launched and rendezvoused in a circle above the USS Midway before heading into as we non-PC called it, Indian Country. It took a bit and once


joined on my flight lead, it was both a time of anticipation and building tension, and additionally, a somewhat relaxed reflection period of just waiting. You can take this as gospel or not, but over several dozens of these Alphas in an 11 month cruise, I don’t think I ever did not think and wonder about Pat Patterson in his Dauntless and all those guys doing the same thing – looking out over the partially cloud covered Pacific Ocean – on the 4th of June, 1942 as they launched from Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown on their way to the most significant naval battle of World War II.


And so today -4 June 2015 – for me “officially” becomes the first remembered sky day. Continue reading

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Memorial Day 2015: Mondo and Arlo

midway a6

Sometimes on days like today, I find myself lost in the abstract -service to country, freedom, sacrifice, the flags, the tombstones of Arlington. The feelings are not wrong, indeed they are most important and necessary, but at the base are people who laughed, cried, drank beer – sometimes too much – told dirty jokes, howled at the moon, chased women, and jousted at a few dragons, all the while loving their wives, kids, dogs, squadron mates, …. and their country.

The video below was just published on You-Tube on 14 May. It provides the memorial service on USS Midway in San Diego Harbor for Mike “Mondo” McCormick and Alan “Arlo” Clark. Their names were added under the cockpit of the VA-115 A-6 on Midway’s flight deck. Mondo and Arlo were shot down over North Vietnam on the tenth of January, 1973 and were the last A-6 crew lost in the war.

While some may find the video long at a little over an hour, it is very well edited and  reflects not only the memory of loss and sadness, but also the joy of squadron aviation and love of family and friends. Great job by former VA-115 aviator John Stubbs.

Worth your time and for me, perfect tone for Memorial Day.

Those who came home will never forget those who could not.

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BLOWN SLICK – Light Attack Fast Pursuit; Airpower Analysis by Boris

Blown Slick Series#4

Light Attack Fast Pursuit2

“… it has been decades since the last significant contribution to airpower theory. Given the shifting character of war and rapid technological change, a solid modern airpower theory will be required for the West to achieve strategic success in future conflicts.”

Reviewing Airpower Reborn;The Strategic Concepts of John Warden and John Boyd  by JP ‘Spear’ Mintz

Out of the process of reading, researching, communicating with old airwing friends, and in addition reaching out for the Air Force side – leveraging the “Rats” of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, plus all the while observing the more recent past of airpower use in Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, etc., the emergent anti-access/area denial threat particularly in the South China Sea, and the on going issues with the F-35 and the apparent end to the A-10, I began formulation of a next series for the site.  This  is the back story to discussion of the evolution of fighter, attack, and strike warfare – Blown Slick-Light Attack Fast Pursuit Airpower Analysis – the series.

Continue reading

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Multi-role “Fast Movers” – The Fifth Generation

Blown Slick Series #3

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

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The “Fighter Pilot”

Blown Slick Series #2

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 toFighter Pilot 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

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The Mission of “Attack” – The Blown Slick Series Introduction

Blown Slick  Series #1

(See also :  Preface to Blown Slick -the series: The evolution of fighter, attack, and strike warfare)

attack 3

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

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