Thursday, December 04, 2014

Udvar-Hazy, The Jets

Well we did find one aircraft there that I really don't care to fly--the ME-163 Komet.
Basically a rocket with wings, it took off, climbed almost vertically and raced around until it's fuel was gone--about fifteen minutes--and then it glided back to land in it's skid, having jettisoned the wheels on take-off.
It was supposed to be one hell of a ride, but the Komets had a disturbing tendency to explode on landing if any of it's fuel was left in the tanks. Thanks, but I'll pass on this one.

Then we spotted this MiG-21, and Old AFSarge starts in: "Oh, there's one of the big-tailed MiGs...I think that one was made in 1963...on a Thursday...after lunch." Did I mention that he knows his airplanes?
And then there's this way-cool F-4 Phantom, one of McDonnell-Douglas' finest creations. Do you think that this one didn't evoke a few stories from Sarge?
Rear view of the Phantom. Maybe he'll post the story he told me about those dive brakes on his site.

Old adversaries, now neighbors. Russian-designed Mig-15 (left) and North American F-86 Sabre (right). Many of these birds used to tangle over the Yalu River between Korea and China.
This F-86A actually saw combat in the skies over Korea. Chuck Yeager once said that it was the sweetest-handling jet he ever flew. I only regret that I'll have to take his word for it unless I hit the lottery and suddenly find myself able to afford one. But if I ever do hit that lottery...
The MiG, Actually a Chinese-built F-2. Hey, thanks Britain for selling the Russians those Rolls-Royce jet engines after World War Two. They couldn't have had this plane without that technology.

Grumman A-6E Intruder, the first true all-weather attack plane. Navy Intruders flying off of carriers caused much pain for the Vietnamese communists...and at least one mediocre movie.
This Vought F-8 Crusader logged 400 combat hours in SE Asia and 7,475.2 total flying hours, the most of any Crusader. The F-8 was the first fighter to break 1,000mph in level flight. This one is shown with it's emergency generator deployed out the right side. Ideally, this generator would provide enough power to get the plane home if it's main electrical system went out.
OK, crank up the Top Gun music. This Grumman F-14D actually killed a real MiG over Libya in 1989.
The museum's North American F-100 Super Sabre looks airworthy and combat-ready to me....and it's awfully close to the door.
And then we have my favorite jet--the Republic F-105D Thunderchief, or "Thud", as it was renamed nby it's crews.
This single-seat D model flew missions in SE Asia out of Tahkli before it finished it's flying with the District of Columbia Air Guard.
This aircraft was originally designed to deliver tactical nuclear weapons to targets in Europe. It found it's fame as a low-level conventional attack bomber in Vietnam, however. This aircraft and it's crews brought the fight right to Hanoi and ultimately brought the Vietnamese to the bargaining table to end the war, but it did so at a cost: 350 were lost there out of 610 built.
Want some good books on the Thud? Try When Thunder Rolled by Ed Rasimus, Going Downtown by Jack Broughton, and Tahkli Tales by Billy Sparks. All three of these air warriors flew the Thud over North Vietnam and wrote about their experiences, and sadly, all three have since "Gone West".
An old fat guy contemplates the Thud, wondering what it would be like to actually fly it and sighing because he knows that he'll never get the chance to find out--the world will never see (or hear) another F-105 take flight.
Cool shirt at least, eh?

22 comments:

  1. I do love that t-shirt!

    For those of you not paying attention, Murphy's Law knows his airplanes as well! (Better'n me, truth be told!)

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  2. I would probably not want to get in that plane, either. Looks like it should just be a movie prop. Would be neat just to see all of those and amazing history!

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  3. Did you know the Thud has Boarding Steps?

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    1. Alas, as in the case of the Phantom, there was both a fence and OldAFSarge present to stifle my exploration and discovery.

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  4. The Komet was not one of Germany's better ideas; best left in the dustbin, etc etc. But nice pix & stories.

    Thank you.

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  5. You are forgeting the ME 262 which if not for Hitlers coment of a Revenge Bomber could have shot the Bombers from the UK and USA out of the sky if he had not stuck his nose in.

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  6. I didn't forget it--I love that jet. They just don't have one over here. The Smithsonian's Me-262 is still at their main museum in DC. I will visit it soon though, just because.

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  7. IIRC the Air Force museum in Dayton has a 262. Chuck Yeager shot one down with his P51D.

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    1. They do have one there, and it's a beauty.

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  8. Thank-you for sharing these pictures and stories

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  9. Hey Murphy,

    Dangit....Now I an looking to a hole in my schedule to go up there again and drool er I mean look at the planes again.

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  10. Im sorry to say this but if he shot one down it might have been when it was coming into land or not working at full power or a very lucky shot there was nothing to touch them,the USA used them to design the Saber as did the USSR with the Mig which is why they looked so alike. There is a company building them now but with modern engines and as two seaters for people with the money to buy one even now they would make a brilliant ground attack aircraft like the A10s.

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    1. This story seems to check out, per Yeager's own military report. Says he got it as it was landing.

      Yeager ME-262 After Action

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  11. Phantoms. An American plane designed and built at the height of American power. We will not see those days again.

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  12. Thanks for the virtual trip Murph!

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    1. You come up and stay for a day or two and I'll give you a real one.

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  13. Thud Ridge is a good book on that aircraft in Viet Nam.

    The Komet was rumored to dissolve it's pilots in the cockpit if the tank ruptured and let the rocket fuel in. Who wants to fly an aircraft where the wheels always fall off on takeoff anyhow?

    I remember seeing lots of those old warbirds out on the flight line at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque in the early seventies. My cronies and I would go out there just to see what had come into the transit line. I remember seeing my first real F14 in the flesh out there.

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    1. Thud Ridge. Broughton's first book. I suck, missing that one. Thanks for catching it.

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  14. Thank you Murphy for backing up what i said no disrespect to Col Yeager but as i said there only vunrerbility was when they were landing the Allies had nothin to touch them in flight.

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    1. Gen Yeager, in his book, said it was low and slow and that he made a very lucky shot. If they had gotten them operational a year sooner, the air war would have had a whole different outcome.

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  15. I've got about 4000 hours in the Sabre 65 which I believe has the exact same wing as the -86. Awesome airplane (unlike the Sabre 80 with the CF700 "I spit on your grave" engines).

    Just got a note from your Mom, who finished The Book of Barkley and gave it two paws up. Tell her thanks for the note.

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  16. Nice pics, and great stories! And that is a NAVY F-4...LOL Seriously, originally an F-4J, saw time in Nam, then converted to an F-4S (Marine) bird.

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