Saturday, March 30, 2024

Flying Machines

I used to buy random boxes of slides, because it was fun to dig through them and look for especially good or interesting photos. Sometimes it was a bust, all photos of the Grand Canyon, babies, and high school graduations. Other times one could get really lucky and find some neat stuff!

Check out this first amazing photo, dated "11-1958", showing an Air Force pilot posing with a super-cool jet. I believe that it is a North American F-100 Super Sabre, but am prepared to be corrected! Wikipedia tells us that the Super Sabre was the first United States Air Force (USAF) fighter capable of supersonic speed in level flight. They were introduced in 1954; the USAF continued to use them until phasing them out in the early 1970s.

Next is this undated (1950s?) photo of a Lockheed Constellation which is a propeller-driven, four-engined airliner built by Lockheed Corporation starting in 1943. The Constellation series was the first pressurized-cabin civil airliner series to go into widespread use. Its pressurized cabin enabled commercial passengers to fly well above most bad weather for the first time, thus significantly improving the general safety and ease of air travel. Love that cool triple tail!

Notice that this Constellation has "Military Air Transport Service" (or MATS) on the side: was a now-discontinued part of the Department of Defense Unified Command. 

Of course Midway Island (roughly halfway between the continental U.S. and Asia, as the name implies) was an important strategic location for U.S. armed forces in WWII, and the "Battle of Midway" in 1942 was considered the "beginning of the end" of the Japanese Navy's dominance in the Pacific. 

Perhaps this photo was taken on Midway Island?

I hope you have enjoyed today's Flying Machines.


walterworld said...

Nice to see a Vintage Connie. Thanks Major

JB said...

Interesting that the jet's intake is in the nose instead of wing-mounted engines. I wonder when that switch-over occurred? It looks like there is a fir tree painted on the tail/stabilizer?

The second photo does have an island feel to it, doesn't it. Flat. And one can imagine the ocean being just on the other side of those trees in the background. Maybe Nanook can pinpoint the make/model of that pickup and nail down the year of the photo more accurately?

We never know what to expect on Saturdays! Thanks, Major.

walterworld said...

Hiryu, Soryu, Kaga, Akagi... 4 flatops that they couldn't replace, not to mention the pilots...

Budblade said...

I’m pretty sure the steps up to the constellation says Hickman Air Force base.

Budblade said...

Darn autocorrect. Hickam

JG said...

I’ve not got Nanook skills, but the dark blue truck is a 47-53 Chevy or GMC, so photo can’t be older than 1947.

Budblade, agree on Hickam…

Hickam AFB is now part of Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam, so Hawaii. Also “Pacific Division” on the boarding ladder.

Very cool photos Major! Love both these planes!


Chuck said...

The featured airplane in the first photo is indeed a North American F-100 Super Sabre. This particular airplane, 53-1586, is an F-100A.

Not sure where this was taken. My gut is telling me it’s George AFB in Victorville, CA, but it might also be Luke AFB near Phoenix, which is where the F-100 schoolhouse was. There’s not enough detail visible to tell what unit it was from other than it was the blue squadron (blue band on tail and nose) in whatever wing it was assigned to (each squadron was given a color - red, blue, green, yellow, etc. - just like in Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica).

In the right background we can see from right to left and in order of proximity to the camera another F-100, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster (a militarized DC-4), a Douglas B-26 Invader light bomber (this airplane was introduced during WW II as the A-26, was redesignated B-26 in 1948, and redesignated back to A-26 in 1966), and a Fairchild C-123 Provider transport (facing away from the camera with its rear cargo doors open).

The photo of the Constellation was indeed taken at Hickam AFB (good eye, Budblade!), located on the eastern side of the mouth of Pearl Harbor in what was probably the Territory of Hawaii when this was taken. Hickam shares a runway with Honolulu International Airport.

One of three main Army airfields on Oahu at the time, Hickam was targeted by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941. You can still see damage from that attack on the headquarters building for the USAF’s Pacific Air Force to this day.

Note that one of the Connie’s nosewheel doors is marked “VR-8 U.S. Navy.” Naval airlift assets were assigned to MATS during its entire existence from 1948-1966. VR-8 was a Naval airlift squadron based at NAS Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, CA. Navy assets were withdrawn from MATS’ successor organization, the Military Airlift Command (MAC), by the middle of 1967.

Based on the pickup truck, this picture was probably taken before 1962, so the Constellation would have carried the Navy designation of R7V-1. This airplane became a C-121J on 18 Sept of that year under the Tr-Service Aircraft Designation System.

This particular airplane crashed on 3 Nov, 1964, while landing at NAS Patuxent River, MD. No fatalities or injuries were reported, but the airframe was written off as a total loss.

The two airplanes in the left background and at the extreme left are Boeing C-97 Stratofreighters. The C-97 was based on the wings and lower fuselage of the B-50 bomber (which was an upgrade of the previous B-29). The rear loading doors are open on both of those aircraft. The airplane at left is 51-0696, but I have not been able to find anything about its specific history.

There is another airplane in the right background. It’s hard to tell what it is at this distance, but it looks like it might be a B-50 variant.

Thanks for some fun photos, Major!

Now, what did Mrs. Chuck want me to do again today…?

Major Pepperidge said...

walterworld, Constellations are definitely “up there” among my favorite airplanes!

JB, that is not an intake, it’s where the pilot could store candy. Don’t be embarrassed, many people make that mistake. I get the feeling that the pickup truck predates the photo by quite a lot, but I’ll see if Nanook has a guess. Though he is sleeping in today!

walterworld, you know a lot more about that stuff than I do!!

Budblade, all I could discern was “(Something) Air Force Base”, so you get a gold star. And maybe I need new glasses.

Budblade, don’t say “darn”, it’s a bad word! ;-)

JG, I was thinking that the truck looked like it was from the 1940s - and I’m sure that the photo is not that old. Who is this Hickam character anyway? That base should be called “Pepperidge Field”. Because I like to look at pictures of airplanes. That qualifies me, right?

Chuck, an F-100A?? Now all the kids at school are going to laugh at me. “You thought it was an F-100? What a maroon!”. Yes, the kids at school talk like Bugs Bunny. I was going to make a Star Wars joke re: “blue squadron”, but you beat me to it. I am impressed that you were able to ID those other aircraft, many are only seen in bits. I think Hickam AFB has appeared on this blog once before, a distant photo of what appears to be WWII aircraft sitting on the ground. I did see the “VR-8” marking, but of course had no idea what it meant. I’m amazed at how often I will share a photo of a particular airplane, and someone will casually mention that it eventually crashed. I thought airplane crashes were rare! They should build Constellations again, I don’t care if they were slower, they are cool, and that’s what is important. I noticed that rear loading door, having never seen one of those open before - were they unique to Connies used by the military? Thanks for all the info, Chuck, I’m glad you enjoyed these!

Chuck said...

Major, I think your question is about the open cargo door on the side of the Connie rather than the rear C-97 doors that I linked in my comment. Most military Constellations - the C-121/R7V variants - were delivered with cargo doors on the rear left side of the aircraft. Civilian Connies built as freight aircraft also had at least one freight door (and sometimes two). It’s probably open in this photo to provide some ventilation and light for ground crewmen servicing the aircraft.

Chuck said...

Just remembered something to help date that Connie photo…

The Pacific Division of MATS was renamed “Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF)” in 1958, so we can date that photo to no later than the end of that year.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, you are right, I get an "F" in Reading Comprehension. I was looking at the Connie instead of the C-97. I only have eyes for the Connie!

Chuck, aha! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Being an "Air Force brat", I am amazed at the talents displayed in the comments of the GDB family. And I concur...including Chuck's comments about the damage on the HQ building at Hickam. An early Happy Easter to all. KS

JB said...

Chuck, I knew you'd do your "Chuck Thing" today so I just sat back and waited patiently. Thanks.

Major, next time I'm with a group of people and we happen to come across an old-style jet like the one pictured, I will point and proclaim confidently and knowingly that "That's where the pilot stores his candy!" Everyone will be amazed at my vast knowledge! We learn so much here on GDB!

JG said...

Chuck, thank you for the exposition, much appreciated!

I believe candy storage is an important flight function.


JB said...

^ Well of course! We wouldn't want Tootsie Rolls and Life Savers bouncing around the cabin during turbulence; it could put someone's eye out!