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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.

 

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

14 April 2014

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

47° 31′ 09″ N / 122° 18′ 00″ W

 

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation in the Museum of Flight’s Air Park — photo by Joseph May

Is there is an aircraft more elegant than Lockheed’s Constitution? It is difficult to think of one other than the “Connie”, if there is one. The long slender fuselage paired with a high performance wing (scaled up from the Lockheed P-38 Lightning) and characteristic triple tail is certainly a hard combination to beat. What better than the Connie — well, the “Super Connie” of course. The Super Constellation was a bit longer, carried much more fuel and had more powerful engines — the example photographed in this series of posts is a Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation in the piped colors of Trans-Canada Air Lines (known now as Air Canada, the name it has always been known in French) located in the air park of the Museum of Flight. Four powerful Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone twin row radial engines powered this Super Connie. These engines are rated at 3400 hp/2535kW and have 18 cylinders divided evenly in twin rows. The engine is as elegant in design as the Super Connie is in appearance with its turbo-compound design collecting and utilizing the conventionally wasted power of the exhaust gas force. Cruising at 305 mph/491kph and ranging as far as 4140 miles/6650km with 50–120 passengers the Connies began to usher in the age of affordable air travel. Connies and Super Connies mark the conclusion of reciprocating engine powered major airline aircraft, along with the Douglas’s DC-6 and DC-7 aircraft, but what a lovely conclusion to this era was made by the Constellations!

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s flight deck and note the small panel alongside the fuselage which is part of the nose gear landing gear door system — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

The Lockheed Super Constellation’s nose could be fitted with a weather radar — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

The Lockheed Super Constellation is sleek from nose to tail — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Canada’s flag carrier early on was Trans-Canada Air Lines (the English name from the beginning while known always, in French, as Air Canada, by which it is now known) and always has used the red maple leaf — photo by Joseph May

 

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s wingtip tanks increased total fuel capacity by ~67% with each tank having a capacity of  1037 gallons/3925L — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s left tail fin  — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Super Constellation’s triple tail in profile — photo by Joseph May

More of this Super Connie in Wednesday’s and Friday’s posts :)

Zeppelin in black — the model of the LZ 20

9 April 2014

Zeppelin in black — the model of the LZ 20

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 in the Personal Courage Wing of the Museum of Flight (note the gondolas forward and aft) — photo by Joseph May

There is precious little information displayed with this large model, only the name of the vessel, the LZ 20 though it is a large model that is about 15 feet (~4.5m) long and finely detailed, making it well worth a study. It is about 1:48 scale, ebony black and shows the sophistication of German industry with Zeppelin’s ability to build enormous lighter-than-air flying machines. Crew figures can be seen manning positions to operate the LZ 20 as well as defend it as they flew through the night — likely using the night as well as altitude to best defend their craft against opposing fighters as well as antiaircraft fire.

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

Perspective view of the model LZ 20 showing the forward gondola — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

The fine detail of the LZ 20 model shows the numerous tension cables used to support the cruciform tail  (barely seen is the rear defensive machine gun station in the tail cone behind the dorsal fin) — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

The forward upper defensive machine gun position of the model LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

Closer view of the forward upper machine gun position shows it was a platform supporting three pedestal mounted machine guns open to the elements no matter how fast the LZ 20 or how cold and wet the weather — photo by Joseph May

 

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

The forward gondola detail of the LZ 20, note the sandbags as well as crewman on the ladder connecting the gondola to the fuselage as well as pusher mounted engine — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20 — photo by Joseph May

Model of the WW I German Navy Zeppelin LZ 20  as it sits in the upper gallery of the Personal Courage Wing — photo by Joseph May

This model, as well as many more, can be seen among the aircraft in the Personal Courage Wing of the Museum of Flight — not to mention many, many more in the other display areas :)

Caught! B-29 in the open in tightie whities, oh my!

7 April 2014

Caught! B-29 in the open in tightie whities, oh my!

47° 31′ 10′ N / 122° 17′ 49″ W

 

Boeing B-29 Superfortress — photo by Joseph May

Boeing B-29 Superfortress in protective white plastic wrapping — photo by Joseph May

This Boeing B-29 Superfortress, known as T-Square 54, flew combat missions in World War II and then served as a KB-29 during the Korean War before use as a ground gunnery target. Restored level by level it is now on loan to the Museum of Flight from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and under protective wrapping (the outer wing panels are in a nearby warehouse) until a display facility can be built where it will stand with a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (a side-by-side comparison will show how far technology advanced in only a few years, though on a wartime footing).

Boeing B-29 Superfortress — photo by Joseph May

An impression of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress’s  right wing as well as Numbers 3 and 4 engines — photo by Joseph May

Boeing B-29 Superfortress — photo by Joseph May

Boeing B-29 Superfortress, this angle sans the outer wing panel better shows the contours of the engine nacelles — photo by Joseph May

Boeing B-29 Superfortress — photo by Joseph May

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is marked by an impressive vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly — photo by Joseph May

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