Friday, June 17, 2011

Wright-Patterson Museum visit, Pt. 6.

An aircraft that played an important role in Vietnam was the Cessna O-2A, a militarized version of the Model 337 Skymaster. This aircraft was used for Forward Air Control (FAC) duties and it's pilot had to try to mark targets for jet bombers while simultaneously talking to the jet pilots, troops on the ground on a second radio, and air traffic control on a third radio, all while trying to fly the plane and not get shot down by ground troops who knew that the jets couldn't hit them without the FAC.I was actually going to buy one of these several months ago, but someone that I trust helped talk me out of it.
Another holdover from earlier days was the World War Two-designed A-1 Skyraider. This ground attack aircraft was used extensively in Korea because it could carry a lot more ordnance than any jet of it's day, deliver it with more accuracy due to it's slow flight capability, and loiter in the area longer. It was a big plane, which is why I had the big woman in front of it for scale.
OK, she would't move.Air Force Skyraiders in Southeast Asia are probably best remembered for their support of search and air rescue missions. Operating under the call sign Sandy, the A-1's ability to fly over a downed Airman for an extended period complemented its massive firepower. Whereas jet aircraft often had to leave an area for refueling or rearming, the Sandies provided nearly continuous suppressing fire until helicopters could extract downed Airmen.

The A-1E on display (S/N 52-132649) is the airplane flown by Maj. Bernard Fisher on March 10, 1966, when he rescued a fellow pilot shot down over South Vietnam. For this deed, Fisher received the Medal of Honor. The airplane, severely damaged in further combat in South Vietnam, came to the museum in 1967 for preservation.
One of my all-time favorites: The Douglas B-26K Counter Invader. Originally modified from the World War Two A-26, these wonderful aircraft flew day and night ground attack missions along the Ho Chi Minh trail, interdicting supplies that were headed south to kill our troops.
Modified by On Mark Engineering, the B-26K differed from stock A-26 Invaders in that tey had a rebuilt fuselage and tail, strengthened wings, improved engines, reversible propellers, wing-tip fuel tanks and other refinements
Oh--and there's this gun nose, too. Eight forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns made this a wicked aircraft to be downrange of.Some A-26 aircraft are still used in Canada today as firefighting aircraft and are slowly being retired and sold to civilians. I want, I want, I want...
And here's the museum's other A-26, an A26C with the glass bomber nose. This one flew interdiction missions in Korea, mostly at night after the MiGs became problematic.
Often described as a bomber that flew like a fighter, this versatile aircraft served in three major wars and several CIA operations in Africa and the Bay of Pigs.
Dream Girl. Yep. I dream about having one of these in a hangar of my own. Someday, when I hit the lottery...
Another hat. Until I saw this, I had no idea that renowned aviation pioneer Dick Rutan even served in Vietnam, much less that he flew 105 Misty FAC missions.

More to come tomorrow. It's late and I'm tired.


  1. More beautiful planes. Good stuff!

  2. Great post! Reminds me of a 'funny' story... Guess I'll have to do a post on that... Also, the A-26 design was based on Pappy Gunn's design from WWII,15240,96616,00.html

  3. My late brother-in-law, an A&P, said the rear engine on the Skymaster was a real witch to service.

    Nonetheless, I always thought the centerline thrust concept was cool.

  4. You took a hat picture and it isn't mine? In that case with the Misty hat, just to the right you see Robin Olds' picture and then next to it is my hat with 250 missions logged on the band. Also some pictures of a much younger guy labeled with my name!

  5. I got your hat too, Ed. Keep reading on down. And yeah, you looked young back then. What happened?