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Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair, 2 of 2

23 April 2014

Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair 2 of 2

The D-21 was a high performance vehicle, built to live but once at Mach 3 while at extremely high altitude. It’s mission solely to overfly foreign territory for photo reconnaissance and return to a safe area where the camera-film pack would drop away and descend under parachute for a mid-air retrieval — the drone itself would self-destruct over deep ocean waters. Flying as far as 3400 miles/5440km, and as high as 95,000 feet/~2900m, on their own, D-21 Tagboards could overfly almost any point on Earth in combination with their motherships. The Museum of Flight has a rare treat to experience having a D-21 Tagboard mounted atop an M-21 looking as if a Cold War high value item is soon about to be photographed.

 

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

A detailed view of the D-21B mounted the purpose-built dorsal fin on the M-21 mothership, note the minimal clearance in regard to the vertical fins of the M-21 − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Rear aspect view of the Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Tail end view of  the Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Close view of the D-21B exhaust cone used by the Marquardt XRJ43 ramjet engine − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

A view of the camera-film pack module hatch of the D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

John L. Little (Asst. Curator and Research Team Leader/Museum of Flight) provided a wonderful set of references to more deeply investigate the Lockheed D-21 Tagboard, to quote him, as well as to thank him:

“I would suggest the article by James C. and Nora D. Goodall, “Senior Bowl: From the Shadow of Black,” International Air Power Review 3 (Winter 2001/2002): 106-119.  Jim Goodall, who is now retired, used to work for our museum, and knew Ben Rich personally.  Among other information, Jim acquired from Ben a copy of Kelly Johnson’s personal logbook, in which Kelly recorded his thoughts and actions on the various aircraft that he designed, including the D-21.  Another good source of information is Jay Miller, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, rev. ed. (North Branch, MN: Specialty Press & Wholesalers, 1995), pp. 134-41.  Jay also had access to Kelly’s log.”

Just Say Yes — “Payback…is beautiful.”

22 April 2014

Just Say Yes — “Payback…is beautiful.”

Just Say Yes: what I’ve learned about Life, Luck, and the Pursuit of Opportunity, Bernard L. Schwartz, 2014, ISBN 9781626340749, 375 pp.

Just Say Yes: what I've learned about Life, Luck, and the Pursuit of Opportunity by Bernard L. Schwartz

Just Say Yes: what I’ve learned about Life, Luck, and the Pursuit of Opportunity by Bernard L. Schwartz

Payback…is beautiful.”

Bernard Schwartz, retired now, is the sort of man most would love to have for an uncle, boss, mentor or president (either in business or political sense). The Loral conglomerate — perhaps unknown to most — was for decades (under Schwartz) a leader in electronic combat reconnaissance and surveillance, simulation and training, and telemetry-command-control. Specifically, their vital electronic combat components can be found on the:

  • Lockheed S-3A Viking
  • McDonnell F-4D Phantom II (Wild Weasel variant)
  • McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
  • Lockheed P-3C Orion

How Loral got to be that way is Bernard Schwartz’s story as is the development of his philosophies which we could all use today. “Just say yes.” is the tell to his thinking which is to commit and move forward after listening to strongly held opinions based upon solid information. No consensus building as his opinion is that is the road to “second rate conclusions”, at best. After a decision was made a new person might come up with as what if and they would be told, “Just say yes.” – consider, decide, matter closed and move forward looking for the yes needed to meet a production goal or overcome a design challenge.

Schwartz accomplished this for a near record 96 consecutive growth quarters, ultimately growing his company from an initial $32 million to an acme of $5.5 billion when sold in 1996. Remarkably he did this with an upper management staff numbering less that ten (naturally each subsidiary had an integral management staff) all staying in constant communication, not of the busy work sort, with little need for formal internal meetings.

So different from the 21st Century!

Why so?

Schwartz explains his experiences along the way. The insights are as interesting as they are varied:

  • Learning the defense industry
  • Learning the civilian industry
  • Negotiating with Israelis
  • Negotiating with the Chinese
  • The boom and temporary bust of the satellite market in the early 1990s
  • Good business is not a zero-sum game — all parties should benefit
  • Much more as the 375 pages are all rich in experience and plain good thinking

So…why?

Distilling to its essence it is guiding decisions along a relational basis instead of a simplistic transactional basis — knowing who you are working with at some personal level and not simply “completing the transaction and getting the commission.”

That is to say to think of all involved so that all parties not only benefit but continue to benefit and that includes the employees, in Schwartz’s case especially the employees. During times of low business he ensured employees were financially taken care of and not simply dismissed. He makes intelligent decisions, often ahead of the analysts, because he is bold when called for and never forgetting to give back — “Payback…is beautiful.”

Along the way in this great read the reader gets insights into White House dinners and preparing annual reports to shareholders. What it is like to get into the satellite manufacturing business as well as making handshake deals with high government officials (occurring more than may have been thought). Learning that corporate raider Mark Rachesky may not be so good but, surprisingly, that Michael Milken may not be so bad.

The stakes in the experience the author so skillfully relates are quite high, well into and above nine figures but the acquisition of Ford Aerospace (not as a hostile takeover as that is against Schwartz’s relational good business philosophy) brought Loral into the satellite game. What a game! China loses $250 million in a deal nixed by the U.S. government (during a highly politicized event in part based upon bad press) under the guise of not allowing China to see satellite technology. At the time the U.S. license for such a sale required the satellite to remain under the manufacturer’s direct and sole control until launch. China could not get Loral’s satellite delivered, though Loral would be in control, so China bought from France which had no qualms allowing China to see inside the their satellite.

The start of the Globalstar (a satellite phone service) and how promising it was, the loss of $100 million and ¼ of their constellation, and the greater than predicted development of mobile phone networks is an epic story of business rapidly responding to mercurial conditions.

The collapse of Globalstar placed Loral into Chapter 11 (bankruptcy reorganization) and how that was done to legally protect an investor significant to Loral’s future — relational as opposed to transactional.

We also learn how investigations can become overzealous through his experience in the FBI’s Operation Ill Wind. The investigation did much to correct corruption in the defense industry but a small conversation was cherry-picked and taken well out of context. Schwartz observes that he had small worry but what if he had been a little person with few resources? The response by the Attorney General is chilling and so unlike what we witness in Law & Order.

Like the above, it is Schwartz’s continuing thoughts for the regular person as well as his absolute faith in, as well as love for, the United States which make this person’s life so rich and worth reading of so we may learn from him. The last three chapters are well worth reading and rereading — in fact they could constitute the material for a high school civics class.

Indeed, his account of  visiting the World Trade Center shortly after the 9-11 attack is stirring — good soldiers move to the sound of battle and good citizens move to smoke and fire.

Get this book to learn of high level business dealings. Get this book to learn of a person who has made, and continues to make, this world better. Get this book to learn. Just say yes.

 

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As is the publishing business custom, Greenleaf Book Group provided a copy of this book for an objective review.

Bernard Schwartz’s website

 

Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair, 1 of 2

21 April 2014

Blackbird Mach 3 Duet − M-21 “Blackbird” + D-12B Tagboard rare pair, 1 of 2

 

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed’s M-21/D-21B Tagboard in the Main Gallery of the Museum of Flight − photo by Joseph May

The Museum of Flight has a beautiful pairing of Mach 3+ aircraft created for high value Cold War reconnaissance missions, the Lockheed M-21 as well as D-21 drone — the M-21 (known by Lockheed as “Archangel” and by the USAF as  “Oxcart”, now known most often as “Blackbird”) was the mothership to the drone which has the codename Tagboard.  The M-21 design is modified from the A-12 (the direct ancestor to the SR-71 ) externally differentiated by a second cockpit, the Launch System Operator’s position — making it difficult indeed to determine if one is looking at an M-21 or an SR-71 unless the D-21 is mounted atop the fuselage. The D-21 Tagboard shares in the Blackbird lineage with its titanium construction and a design to live in the Mach 3+ extremely high altitude regime — not briefly visiting it. Unlike the M-21, it was powered by a ramjet engine (Marquardt  XRJ-43) and intended as a one shot vehicle — giving an idea how valuable recce information can be and the costs associated with the Cold War. The M-21, of course, would lift the D-21 to altitude and speed whereupon the D-21′s engine would be started and, with the three M-21/D-21 engines at full power the drone would release and ease upward, between the closely neighboring vertical fines of the M-21, through the mothership’s Mach 3 shockwave. Easy to envision but the aeronautical physics were daunting. After a few successful releases a catastrophic accident occurred during a release in which both aircraft were lost as well as one of the crew. This ended the M-21/D-21 program with a mothership change to a B-52H with modifications to the D-21. All remaining Tagboards were modified to the D-21B design by the addition of dorsal shackles (for mounting to the Stratofortress wing pylons), a 20% increase in the vertical fin area and ventral mounting points to attach a booster rocket (needed to propel the drone to ramjet operational speeds).

 

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

A closer view of  the rare pairing of the Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard exhibit − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

The intelligent end of the M-21/D-21B Tagboard duo − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 was a two seat version of the A-12 (the 2nd position is for the launch system operator) and made it externally very much alike the SR-71 − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

The business end of the Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard strategic reconnaissance assembly − photo by Joseph May

Lockheed M-21 and D-21B Tagboard − photo by Joseph May

The Lockheed M-21/D-21B Tagboard pairing had three high tech engines (all three used JP-7 fuel) for continual operation at Mach 3 and higher − photo by Joseph May

John L. Little (Asst. Curator and Research Team Leader/Museum of Flight) was more than kind to clarify why M-21 has a D-21B mounted atop rather than a D-21 and it is simply that there are no D-21 Tagboards as all existing ones had been modified to the D-21B. Additionally, both aircraft are on loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. More from Mr. Little in the Wednesday post which emphasizes the D-21B Tagboard.

Next Wednesday, this two part photo essay addresses the D-21B.

 

 

Lockheed Super Constellation walkaround — elegance in red stripes (Part III)

18 April 2014

Lockheed Super Constellation walkaround — elegance in red stripes (Part III)

47° 31′ 09″ N / 122° 18′ 00″ W

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation at the Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s left wing engine pair — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s right wing engine pair — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

The nacelle which ensconces the Number 2 engine (Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone rated at 3400hp/2535kW) — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation as viewed from the ground crew perspective — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s left main gear truck which is housed in combination with the Number 2 engine nacelle — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) Lockheed Super Constellation in repose at the Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

This concludes a three post photo essay — please see the previous Monday as well as Wednesday posts for information and additional images :)

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Some special links for the Constellation:

Ralph M. Petterson’s Constellation Survivors Website — kept current and well informed

How the Constellation Became the Star of the Skies — shameless pun aside, well written history on the manufacturer’s website

Breitling’s Super Constellation — which is kept flying with many photos of this aircraft as well as news of four other Constellations

 

 

Invasion Rabaul — MORITURI VOS SALUTAMAS

17 April 2014

Invasion Rabaul — MORITURI VOS SALUTAMAS

Invasion Rabaul: the epic story of Lark Force, the forgotten garrison, January–July 1942, Bruce Gamble, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7603-4591-7

Invasion Rabaul: the epic story of Lark Force, the forgotten garrison, January–July 1942 by Bruce Gamble with cover design by Kent Jenson

Invasion Rabaul: the epic story of Lark Force, the forgotten garrison, January–July 1942 by Bruce Gamble with cover design by Kent Jenson

Gamble’s first of a trilogy of books is enlightening for the history that has largely been forgotten and it is superbly done. The invasion of Rabaul by the Japanese early in the Pacific theater of war during World War II was an immense, and embarrassing, disaster handed to the Australian military. Caught without sufficient men or machines the personnel of Lark Force (the name given to the  1400 service men, as well as 6 nurses, assigned to defend Rabaul) these Aussies never stood a chance. But it is what their leaders in Canberra did which is why this portion of history has been largely swept under the carpet. Incredibly, Lark Force was written off by their high command well before the Imperial Japanese Navy appeared on Rabaul’s horizon. Lark Force could have been evacuated, could have even been told, could have had better aircraft (they had 10 Wirraways [AT-6 Texans] and 4 Hudsons) as well as more heavy guns of which they had a scant handful — but their leaders safe in their homeland’s capital decided to betray their trust instead. Gamble quotes these Canberra men as stating that Lark Force would  be consigned (i.e., written off) as “hostages of fortune” — simply incredulous.

Why? That remains unexplained but Gamble tells the tale of Rabaul’s invasion and Lark Force’s hasty defense as well as elements of Lark Force (who had to quickly dissolve into the jungle to evade and escape) — a tale Aussie’s can be justifiably proud. Gamble understands the complexities of the strategies, personalities and culture — explaining it well with the a flowing yet efficient writing style.

Readers will learn of the combats and tactics employed as well as the machines and even a bit of geology. Those are the bricks. Readers also learn so much about many of the individuals involved. This is the mortar that fills in the spaces between the bricks making the story a solid and sound structure. Gamble excels in this ability.

Gamble’s research also found dark and light sides of human nature which occurred in this portion of the battle for Rabaul — as well as heroism and tragedy:

  • The sinking of the Montevideo Maru with tremendous loss of Allied POW lives by the USS Sturgeon
  • Massacres as well as avoidable death of POWs by disease and starvation at the hands of their Japanese captors
  • The fate of William Arthur Gullidge, Australia’s world famed big band composer (recall it was music’s Big Band Era at the time)
  • One characteristic which define Aussie service men from other armies
  • The endurance of persons under conditions of extreme exposure and unremitting danger

One statement sums up Lark Force’s situation as well as their spirit. Gamble researched the quote sent by Squadron Leader John Lerew when the invasion was imminent, realizing the jig was up, and they were left to be lost without preparation for a proper fight — yet fight they would and there would be no doubt of that. He asked Flight Lt. Geoffrey Lempriere to write, in Latin, for a transmission which had to sent in the clear to give a situation report back to Canberra. The terse three word statement read, “Morituri vos salutamas” — the traditional Roman gladiatorial salute to Caesar, “We who are about  to die salute you.”

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Note: this book was originally published as Darkest Hour: the true story of Lark Force at Rabaul — Australia’s worst military disaster of World War II

As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore provided a copy of this book for an objective review.

The first book of Bruce Gambles trilogy addresses the defense and surrender of Rabaul and is, Invasion Rabaul: the epic story of Lark Force, the Forgotten Garrison, January–July 1942. It is published by Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore.

The second book of Gamble’s Rabaul trilogy is, Fortress Rabaul: the Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942–April 1943, which address the Allied seizure of the initiative to isolate then eliminate the Japanese garrison there. It is published by Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore and the review of this book can be found here.

The third book of Bruce Gamble’s Rabaul trilogy is, Target: Rabaul the Allied siege of Japan’s most infamous stronghold, March 1943–August 1945, which sums the events which reduced Japan’s greatest stronghold to waste – it also encapsulated the human suffering, sacrifice and heroism experienced daily by thousands for those 44 long months. It, too, is published by Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore and the review of this book can be found here.

Lockheed Super Constellation walkaround — elegance in red stripes (Part II)

16 April 2014

Lockheed Super Constellation walkaround — elegance in red stripes (Part II)

47° 31′ 09″ N / 122° 18′ 00″ W

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation at the Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

The previous post, on Monday, introduced this beautiful Trans-Canadian Air Lines Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation at the Museum of Flight — and Friday’s post will have several more images. Please, enjoy :)

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s required tall gear struts for propeller clearance, a design challenge but also enhancing the Super Connie’s elegance — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation was also a power brute with four Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone twin row radial engines generating a combined 13,600 hp/10,140kW — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation nose gear — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s graceful as well as characteristic triple tail — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s usually embarked and debarked passengers from the rear of the main cabin — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Right fin of this Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Next Friday will complete the photo essay of this wonderfully conserved Trans-Canada Air Lines Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation — and recall the previous Monday post’s information :)

Target Rabaul

15 April 2014

Target: Rabaul the Allied siege of Japan’s most infamous stronghold, March 1943–August 1945

Target: Rabaul the Allied siege of Japan’s most infamous stronghold, March 1943–August 1945, Bruce Gamble, 2013 , ISBN 978-0-7603-4407-1, 390 pp.

Target: Rabaul the Allied siege of Japan's most infamous stronghold, March 1943–August 1945 by Bruce Gamble

Target: Rabaul the Allied siege of Japan’s most infamous stronghold, March 1943–August 1945 by Bruce Gamble

This is Bruce Gamble’s final book in the Rabaul battle trilogy and shows well his 15 years of research as well as his deep understanding of its complex history. Without Gamble’s work it is entirely possible this significant and incredibly long battle would be largely forgotten to most.

As Gamble writes, Rabaul is World War II’s longest battle if one does not compare it to the Battle of the Atlantic (which ranged over thousands of miles). Regardless, Rabaul became a lynchpin in Japan’s strategy to conquer the southwest Pacific as well as isolating Australia and New Zealand. The battle for Rabaul raged 44 months from 4 January 1942 until 15 August 1945 (though the Japanese naval base was neutralized by February 1944 and the air war had become decidedly one-sided in favor of the Allies).

Gamble has the facts, to be sure he includes plentiful stories of combat actions (both heroic and tragic and on both sides), but also gives the reader an understanding of the personalities who influenced the decisions, therefore the course of events.

Rabaul was the most heavily defended Japanese position outside of Japan’s home islands. Gamble goes into detail describing the activities and weapons of the over 100,000 man garrison. He also mentions oft untold facets such as the unexplained fates of nearly 15,000 Japanese civilians on Rabaul (businessmen and their families who set up businesses in the recently occupied city of Rabaul). Gamble also completely describes the experiences of the captured Allied combatants as well as civilians (including Germans, surprisingly). Many of their fates are known but the vast majority (thousands) simply disappeared with hardly a war crime indictment. The cruelty and starvation visited upon these prisoners is difficult to comprehend but Gamble describes their experiences well – so well that the reader may soon feel the grime and the lice on their skin. Another facet is the often overlooked, by other authors, is the foray by the U.S. Navy into drone warfare with the Interstate TDR-1.

Gamble also tells the tale of a variety of combat experiences so well that the roar and vibrations of the immensely powerful aircraft engines are nearly palpable. Raids by B-25 Mitchell gunships (General Kenney led the effort which developed A-20 Havocs and B-25 Mitchells to become ship killers by skip bombing and strafers with eight fixed forward firing heavy machine guns) are described and Gamble has the reader almost feeling the terror experienced by the Japanese as waves of strafers raked airfields from stem to stern with tens of thousands of bullets expended during each wave as well as several hundreds of parafrag clusters.

Aside from personality descriptions, Gamble also literalizes important meetings as well as moments – it is not surprising to learn that many strategic decisions, where thousands of lives hung in the balance, were decided in an atmosphere of personality clashes (to be polite). Gamble’s description of political maneuvering, and how surprising successful it was, during a visit to Washington D.C. is enlightening regarding how understanding the personalities of your superiors is as important as understanding your enemy.

This is the concluding book in Gamble’s Rabaul trilogy and is a summation of the events which reduced Japan’s greatest stronghold to waste – it also encapsulated the human suffering, sacrifice and heroism experienced daily by thousands for those 44 long months.

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As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore provided a copy of this book for an objective review.

The first book of Bruce Gambles trilogy addresses the defense and surrender of Rabaul and is, Invasion Rabaul: the epic story of Lark Force, the Forgotten Garrison, January–July 1942. It is published by Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore.

The second book of Gamble’s Rabaul trilogy is, Fortress Rabaul: the Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942–April 1943, which address the Allied seizure of the initiative to isolate then eliminate the Japanese garrison there. It is published by Zenith Press and On-line Bookstore and the review of this book can be found here.

 

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