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Curtiss A-8 — the 1930s attack aircraft experiment

23 July 2014

Curtiss A-8 — the 1930s attack aircraft experiment

The U.S. Army Air Corps compared air cooled radial engine powered aircraft versus in-line liquid cooled engines in attack aircraft designs, during the 1930s, and the Curtiss A-8 was one of these designs. Powered by a Curtiss V-1570-31 Conqueror (600 hp/~450kW) the A-8 carried its pilot–observer/rear gunner nearly 500 miles at 153 mph/245kph. Marked by two glazed tandem cockpits it had a semi-sleek appearance though with distracting wing bracing. Aside from the rear position armed with a single 0.30 caliber machine guns there were  four forward firing machine 0.30 caliber machine guns with the primary offensive armament of a four bomb mounting points for a total of nearly 500 lbs. /~230kg.

 

Curtiss A-8 — San Diego Air & Space Museum photo from the Charles M. Daniels Collection

Curtiss A-8 — San Diego Air & Space Museum photo from the Charles M. Daniels Collection

The A-8 design was phased out of the competition in the late 1930s with all models sent to be scrapped and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet.

The Yompers — winning a modern war on foot the hard way

21 July 2014

The Yompers — winning a modern war on foot the hard way

The Yompers: with 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84884-441-4, 208 pp.

The Yompers: with 45 Commando in the Falklands War by Ian Gardiner with jacket design by Jon Wilkinson

The Yompers: with 45 Commando in the Falklands War by Ian Gardiner with jacket design by Jon Wilkinson

We have read Ian Gardiner before with his other two excellent books and this one keeps to his high standard of excellent writing of his experiences, now as X-Ray Company Commander in the 45 Commando, as well as his wisdom and practical philosophical oversight. In Yompers the author covers logistics through tactics, politics through training as well as humour (we will use the Queen’s English spelling out of respect) and cigarettes.

Gardiner also has much in humour interspersed throughout Yompers and in fact succinctly explains why that trait is vital in when soldiers prepare to go into combat. Succinctness with spectacular writing marks Gardiner’s books as revelatory and educational as the reader not only learns of how it was like for individuals involved but also the strategic context of the issue at hand.

The overthrust of the story is how 45 Commando marched across unimaginably harsh terrain across East Falkland island to fight two night battles securing the western flank of Port Stanley. The story is an awestriking one. Since the heavy lift helicopter capacity was lost due to Argentinian attacks the 45 Commando had to “yomp” (i.e., march) with each man carrying a load of 120–150 pounds (55–70kg) over terrain that alternatively had them sinking up to their shins or traversing boot eating stone runs. As noted by Gardiner, this was the first battle fought without motorized vehicles since the invention of the reciprocating engine. From the first day of the march feet and clothing were not dry until its end so day after day men of the 45 Commando never slept well. Making matters worse the helicopter resupply was unreliable so food was often short in supply. Artillery ammunition had to be carefully thought out prior to commencing battle and boots often had to be liberated from the Argentine soldiers. But intense night assaults were made and Gardiner excels in describing the intensity of command decision making (advised by others but alone in responsibility) as well as the first hand accounts which are riveting. Only a thinking person who has experienced the event can write this descriptively and informatively.

Some of the above sounds counterintuitive and perhaps so it is but it is how the history unfurled. Gardiner writes an excellent prelude and summary illustrating the mistakes both countries made which brought them to war. His observations regarding the training of the Royal Marines and his comparison to the Argentinian officer corps could not be more stark. Some Argentinians fought well and some did not but the Falkland’s War was a close fought affair with remarkable gallantry on both sides which Gardiner freely acknowledges. His reflection on serving the Queen is both parsimonious, realistic as well as humourous.

This book, like his others, is happily challenging to write a short review of as each page is filled with insight or overview — more often both. So, much has to be left out of the material covered by Gardiner but to give an impression of the gamut addressed, and addressed well:

  • Why, in his experience gained in Dhofar, his company armed themselves with nineteen light machine guns (7.62mm) when the normal complement was nine
  • The unsung heroes of Britain’s merchant marine
  • How the Argentine military thought as well as how the British military thought
  • The incredible logistical effort to get man and equipment away is a short time and how some of the proverbial knots were untied along the route
  • How unexploded bombs were left in medical areas as men continued their work to save lives and heal wounds
  • The importance of air assets and how acute the feeling when they are not available
  • The American military has the SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR whereas the UK military has the AMFU, SAMFU and CMFU :)

This book should be read by historians and should be read by those who study leadership alike. The maps are drawn by the author and the many insightful images come from the Trustees of the Royal Marines Museum as well as the author and friends.

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Additional books by Ian Gardiner and reviews:

In the Service of the Sultan: a first hand account of the Dhofar Insurgency, Ian Gardiner, 2006 (reprinted several times since), ISBN 978-1-84415-467-8, 189 pp.

The Flatpack Bombers: the Royal Navy & the Zeppelin Menace, Ian Gardiner, 2009, ISBN 9781848840713, 224 pp.

Further:

Ian Gardiner is an interesting fellow who writes and talks about so much more — these can be investigated at this link where his other articles are equally well written and intriguing.

 

 

Air New Zealand’s 787-9 stretched Dreamliner encore

17 July 2014

Air New Zealand’s 787-9 stretched Dreamliner encore

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Nocturnal view of Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

As Boeing demonstrates and displays the newest Dreamliner version, the stretched 787-9 at Farnborough Air Show this week, Air New Zealand has flown the first of ten to be purchased to Auckland. Preparations and training will see the stretched Dreamliner begin to ply the Auckland–Perth route commencing on 15 October. Shortly Air New Zealand will have at least 10 of these stretched Dreamliners connecting points across — as well as within — the Pacific Rim. The all black fuselages, with the Kiwi symbols of the koru and silver fern and white wings, will spend most of the their flight hours over blue water while looking positively striking at the airside.

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing stretched 787-9 Dreamliner in Seattle’s twilight showing off the black fuselage and white wings to best advantage — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Boeing 787-9 landing at Auckland  — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 landing at Auckland — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Rob McDonald (Chief Financial Officer, Air New Zealand) on the left, next is Bruce Parton (Chief Operations Officer, Air New Zealand) and Capt. David Morgan (Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer) on the right as well as two flight attendants after landing their new 787-9 in Auckland — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

The main article, describing Air New Zealand’s unveiling of the stretched Dreamliner, posted on Monday this week with many more photos and information :)

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — polar route aviation explorer

16 July 2014

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — polar route aviation explorer

47° 31′ 06″ N / 122° 17′ 49″ W

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — photo by Joseph May

The bust of Hero of the Soviet Union Valery Pavlovich Chkalov at Seattle’s Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

This bust of Valery Pavlovich Chkalov, located at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, honors an aerial explorer in aerobatics and long distance flight. Chkalov proved the value of polar and near polar flight routes in the 1930s — losing his life on such a flight from the former Soviet Union to the Seattle area. His body as well as the crash site has not been found. His exploration of these routes is valued daily on the routes connecting Chicago as well as New York City with Beijing and Hong Kong. His bust poetically faces toward SeaTac gazing upon the northward departures. Unfortunately, the artist’s name was not available.

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — photo by Joseph May

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov with Boeing’s Red Barn as backdrop — photo by Joseph May

Travel for Aircraft earns its nickel

15 July 2014

Travel for Aircraft earns its nickel

Travel for Aircraft is five years old.

How in the world…

Originally begun as a writing lab, as well as a way to post images, it has evolved into a reference resource not to mention an immense learning experience. This is in no small part to creative and writing advice from a cadre of friends who go unpaid as is fitting since their advice is priceless. The primary mission then — as it is now — is about illustrating aviation’s history, where to find it and those who preserve it.

Beginning with simply posting photos this blog has grown into a bit of research, reviews (books, films as well as DVDs) and, on occasion, breaking news. There are now several hundred posts, many dozens of reviews and (especially fun) several dozens of museum reviews — plus thousands of images. The museum lists continue to grow in number (sadly with some deletions and happily with new museums appearing).

Travel for Aircraft will continue to be non revenue in character (i.e., no advertisements) and will soon migrate to a unique URL — the migration should be seamless but to ensure regular readers do not get lost there will be an unveiling post with pertinent information.

Our primary reference resources which help to make Travel for Aircraft unique continue to be:

  • Shortfinals’s Blog — a superlative blog written by Ross Sharp who has a depth of knowledge which cannot be fathomed as well as a charming writing style. Travel for Aircraft owes much to this blog’s style and high standards
  • Indy Transponder — published on a daily basis serving as an aviation news center and is invaluable
  • Vintage Aeroplane Writer — written by the aviation author James Kightly, an Aussie who knows and goes
  • 神風 Kamikaze Images — by Bill Gordon who is an authority who studies the Japanese kamikaze units as well as having traveled to most, if not all, their sites and memorials.
  • Aces Flying High — by Deano (he does not use his full name so nor will I), traveler extraordinaire, author, photographer and fellow admirer of those who preserve history
  • Jet City Star — by Isaac Alexander who organizes news beyond compare and who has been generous with his technical support
  • Apron 6 — a blog which publishes creative aviation photography serving as an inspiration for our photography

There are also more than a few who correspond and are sources of information and improvement who have our immense gratitude as well:

Marty and Jayne Davis Ross Sharp David McLay
Bill Ramsey Allan Shappert Gene Fioretti
Isaac Alexander David Lord Deano
John Lilley Nick Horrox

 

Travel for Aircraft also continues to especially provide support for:

  • The People’s Mosquito Project — the noble effort to build a de Havilland Mosquito for the public as well as for education and remembrance
  • Wings Over Miami Air Museum — a local museum and the only aviation museum with aircraft in southeastern Florida
  • Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum — another local museum, and a most recent one, which packs a large punch in a small package
  • Florida Aviation Historical Society — a venerated organization which has a fantastic number of professionals who were part of or witnessed aviation’s history
  • There are many museums and societies — all of which would gladly accept your help in any way that can be offered, we also help others whenever we can
  • Images have also been donated to authors for their books since these authors toil for their largely unprofitable task and, for which, we are benefited greatly

Writing is process learned, practiced then repeated in a continuous cycle. Future posts may become less complex in order to offer more time for research and, hopefully, much more in-depth writing on occasion — in order to broaden that cycle.

Thanks to all, from Travel for Aircraft, for helping in this blog’s primary focus to recall aviation’s history and those who preserve it :)

Air New Zealand unveils the stretched 787 Dreamliner — and more

14 July 2014

Air New Zealand unveils the stretched 787 Dreamliner — and more

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Kia ora to Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Last week Air New Zealand unveiled its first Boeing 787-9 stretched Dreamliner and what an occassion! The unveiling saw over 1000 attending, the showing of Air New Zealand’s edgy new livery and The Band Perry playing to ensure all were as pleased as could be.

Air New Zealand’s 787-9 is a full 6m (~20 feet) longer than conventional Dreamliners. Air New Zealand’s plans are to serve the Pacific Rim with these aircraft with each able to carry 302 passengers in greater comfort (larger cabin windows, much lower cabin pressure altitude and higher relative humidity) than before as well as with much greater fuel efficiency and substantially less emissions as far as 15,372km (~9600 miles) while cruising at Mach 0.85. The comfort does not end there as seats in all classes are of brand new design with both comfort and style in mind (including in the economy class). No less than 2000 hours of entertainment content will be available as will be 14 rows of Air New Zealand’s unique Skycouch feature where three seats in a row can be converted into a large sofa-like space. Powering the 787-9 are a pair of Trent 1000 turbofan engines with each rated at 74,000 pound of thrust giving the stretched Dreamliner an ETOPS rating of 330 minutes (cannot be more than 330 minutes from an airfield should an engine cease operation).

Ten more 787-9 Dreamliners are to be acquired by year’s end in 2017 which will fill the Pacific Rim routes for the airline. This aircraft, ZK-NZE, will commence service on October 15th flying the Auckland–Perth route. The Auckland–Shanghai and Auckland–Tokyo routes have also been approved.

Perhaps the most visually striking dimension is the new livery Air New Zealand has selected. An all black affair with white lettering, white koru (the spiraled shape of a fern prior to unfurling) on the tail fin and white representation of the silver fern (officially known as the New Zealand Fern Mark but only officials use the term) on the rear fuselage.

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

The cabin crew selected for the delivery flight to Auckland — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Model of the stretched Dreamliner of Air New Zealand — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Neil Perry, Kimberly Perry and Reid Perry (The Band Perry) performing at the unveiling — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Kimberly Perry singing while playing her McPherson guitar (note the offset sound hole which is above the strings) — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s black fuselage and white wings are edgy in appearance and carry a lot of style — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner departs Seattle for its home in Auckland nicely showing the silver fern and koru emblems (the silver fern is on NZ passports as well) — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

The first of over 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners flying for Air New Zealand arrives in Auckland — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

No official welcome to New Zealand comes without a haka chant and a haka dance — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

At rest after a trans-Pacific flight crossing the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere going from Summer to Autumn, also showing Air New Zealand’s use of 350 liters of black paint to great effect — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

The crew deplanes casually as there is no airside schedule for this noncommercial flight (note the pilots in the cockpit) — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Standing for the obligatory photo-op and all with charming smiles are Rob McDonald (Chief Financial Officer, Air New Zealand) on the left, next is Bruce Parton (Chief Operations Officer, Air New Zealand) and Capt. David Morgan (Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer) on the right as well as two flight attendants after landing their first of ten Boeing 787-9 stretched Dreamliners in Auckland this week — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's first Boeing B- 787 Dreamliner — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

One of Air New Zealand’s faces, she’ll make your flight comfortable but she’s really there to save your bacon during emergencies — photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Note: our thanks to Air New Zealand for providing the information and photos used in this post!

 

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