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The Medal of Honor: a history of service above and beyond

9 October 2014

The Medal of Honor: a history of service above and beyond

The Medal of Honor: a history of service above and beyond, Editors of Boston Publishing, 2014, ISBN 9780760346242, 304 pp.

Medal of Honor by the Editors of the Boston Publishing Company

Medal of Honor by the Editors of the Boston Publishing Company

 The USA’s highest military award is the Congressional Medal of Honor and its history as almost as varied as its recipients. There have been several versions of the medal, even a peacetime medal until the end of World War II, as well as changing criteria for awarding the medal as we know it today.

Remaining constant throughout the medal’s history is the selflessness displayed by the men and single woman awarded the Medal of Honor. Almost invariably each story involves fire and pain as well as desperate circumstance and diminished odds. The Medal of Honor illuminates war’s paradox of bringing the worst and the best out of people. The Medal of Honor also illustrates the wars the United States has fought since the inception of this most honored of medals with the Civil War and is current through June 2014. Each chapter succinctly and quite honestly describes the specific war, setting the context for the events leading to Medal of Honor awards. It is humbling to read of so many actions done by one person at a time to save a few.

Not all of the hundreds of Medal of Honor citations are found within the book, though all those awarded are specified, but dozens are and they are incredible each in their own way. Examples are: an airman manhandling a lit magnesium flare (burning at thousands of degrees) out of his aircraft; a cavalryman galloping to and fro in no man’s land under intense enemy fire for 20 minutes to retrieve an ammunition laden as well as very frightened mule; a sailor who bled to death spending his final 20 minutes saving his ship leading damage control efforts.

Editors of the Boston Publishing Company have produced a book worthy of these recipients. The Medal of Honor is a coffee table book with full color embossed Medals of Honor on the cover. The book can serve as a primary reference — due to its attention to detail and its excellent writing — it is as well at home on an officer’s desk as it is on a teacher’s desk as it is on the family coffee table.

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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.

Lighter-than-Air flying with the Navy’s MZ-3

8 October 2014

Lighter-than-Air flying with the Navy’s MZ-3

Airship pilot Marty Chandler discussing the flight over Patuxent MD in the lighter-than-airship MZ-3A with Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder (Chief of Naval Research) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Abe McNatt

Airship pilot Marty Chandler discussing the flight over Patuxent MD in the lighter-than-airship MZ-3A with Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder (Chief of Naval Research) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Abe McNatt

The U.S. Navy formerly flew a great many lighter-than-aircraft yet operates a single manned one today through a contractor. The MZ-3 is a blimp produced by the American Blimp Corp. and is generally used for research purposes whether testing sensor payloads or investigating other research and development endeavors. Power is provided by a pair of Lycoming engines (180 hp each) making for a maximum speed of  just under 60 mph. The MZ-3 is 178 feet in length and can take 2500 pounds aloft 12 hours at a time.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and airpship pilot Marty Chandler converse while aloft in the MZ-3A – U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Spec Sam Shavers

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (R) and airship pilot Marty Chandler converse while aloft in the MZ-3A – U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Spec Sam Shavers

 

Aboard the MZ-3A Senator Bill Nelson (also an astronaut) prepares to fly over Fernandina Beach FL – U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Adam Henderson

Aboard the MZ-3A Senator Bill Nelson (L) prepares to fly over Fernandina Beach FL with ground assistance provided by what appear to be identical twins – U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Adam Henderson

 

Ground crew address airship MZ-3A with Sen. Bill Nelson aboard (wearing the tie) in Fernandina Beach FL – U.S. Navy photo Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker

Ground crew address airship MZ-3A with Sen. Bill Nelson aboard (wearing the red tie) in Fernandina Beach FL – U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker

 

MZ-3A, the U.S. Navy's sole manned airship aloft and in flight over Patuxent River MD – U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

MZ-3A, the U.S. Navy’s sole manned airship aloft and in flight over Patuxent River MD – U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

 

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways

6 October 2014

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways, Bill Gunston, 1995, ISBN 978-1-4351-5282-3, 152 pp.

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways by Bill Gunston with cutaway drawing by Max Millar

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways by Bill Gunston with cutaway drawing by Max Millar

JH Clark and Max Millar produced cutaway drawings since the days of World War II, often producing those of Luftwaffe aircraft after studying their wrecks. Gunston lovingly describes their work and some gems are laid about for those to discover. Gunston also notes their rare errors — some due to understandable mistakes on wreckage inspection but some inexplicable perspective drawing mistakes. Over three dozen aircraft cutaway drawings and a handful of engine cutaway drawings fill this book with the marvels of flight engineering during World War II.

 

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways (backcover) by Bill Gunston with cutaway drawing by Max Millar

Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways (backcover) by Bill Gunston with cutaway drawing by Max Millar

Gunston’s book is a joy for an aviation fan and best enjoyed with a cool drink and a magnifying glass for observing the details.

British Aircraft Carriers — and more!

1 October 2014

British Aircraft Carriers — and more!

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories, Davis Hobbs, 2013, ISBN 978 1 59114 074 0, 384 pp.

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover “HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942″ by Anthony Cowland

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover "HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942" by Anthony Cowland

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover “HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942″ by Anthony Cowland

This is thoroughly delightful for the author’s expertise, knowledge, images, illustrations and weight. The book is an encyclopedia of British Aircraft Carrier design history as well as ship service records. The British Royal Navy (RN) invented the aircraft carrier and lead the way to each major carrier design evolution save nuclear power and size. The RN were the first to armor flight decks, utilize catapults, angle their flight decks, and used ski jumps (useful for conventional as well as STOVL aircraft).

Hobbs devised a few of the devices used by RN pilots to bring their aircraft aboard and could hardly write better or more objectively. Successes are described and failures discussed. Hobbs is enlightening and so many areas of carrier design and aviation development as well as employment. Design details are placed under a knowing eye and battle actions are descriptive and succinct. Ships plans for a few carriers are provided in fold-outs — these are reproductions of wonderfully crafted documents which have been given an aged look.

There are significant bonus sections in Hobbs’s excellent and easily read book: discussions of the aircraft carriers of several other navies, discussion of the UK’s choice to eliminate aircraft carriers then bring on two small sized carriers, and what the author’s opinion on the future of aircraft carriers. These are not simplistic discussions as economic facets are also brought into the analysis. The design differences of aircraft carriers across the world are laid out and better understood for where they are expected to serve, with mistakes noted.

This book is one for the personal library as well as for the person who wished to have an overall awareness of aircraft carrier design and service history — not a U.S. Navy centric one.

de Havilland Mosquito print by the renowned Ken Brookes awarded to The People’s Mosquito

30 September 2014

de Havilland Mosquito print by the renowned Ken Brookes awarded to The People’s Mosquito

TPM lapel

 

While at the airshow in Duxford this year Ken Brookes and Stuart Bourne (Quality Aviation Photos International), both famed professional aviation photographers, gift this copyrighted photo to  The People’s Mosquito to honor the effort to build a flying de Havilland Mosquito for the public trust. Brookes obtained this particular image at the 1962 Farnborough airshow. This specific Mossie was tail number TW117 at the time — a T Mk.III — and now resides in the Norwegian Aviation Museum (Norsk Luftfartsmuseum), in Bodø, restored as an FB Mk.VI variant though labeled as a T Mk.III.

Photographer Ken Brookes gives away the TPM print

Photographer Ken Brookes (on the left) gifting his copyrighted Mosquito print to a portion of The People’s Mosquito (TPM) staff representing TPM at this year’s Duxford airshow. Continuing from the left are TPM staff members Ross Sharp, Nick Horrox and Steve Manning. Photo provided by Kenneth A. Brookes ©2014

Watch for a post by The People’s Mosquito publishing this photo as well as a possible path to obtaining this nearly mystical image :)

The People's Mosquito

The People’s Mosquito

Wait…there are several well made items available now! TPM — The People’s Mosquito — is the unique project to build a new de Havilland Mosquito from the original molds up. TPM has been marked by the regular building of momentum and donations (the site has this web button for donations) as well as newly released pleasing and enjoyable fund-raising merchandise.

 

 

Fat Albert on the gas

29 September 2014

Fat Albert on the gas

Fat Albert under JATO — U.S. Navy photo by MAss Com Spec. 3rd Class Andrew Johnson

Fat Albert under JATO — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Andrew Johnson

“Fat Albert” is the C-130 Hercules assigned to the USN’s Blue Angels and here it is seen climbing at an extreme angle enabled by four JATO units on each side of its fuselage. AT one time there was a JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) option and a RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) option — in the present day it is all RATO but they are called JATO, such is the English language!

Obviously, JATO shortens an aircraft’s take-off roll by rapidly accelerating to flying speed. Imagine how even more attentive the pilot must be to an engine failure or JATO bottle failure as sudden onset of asymmetric thrust must be that much more difficult to handle — especially since JATO bottles cannot be switched off once lit!

 

Donating made easier

26 September 2014

travelforaircraft:

The worthy project to fill the empty niche of no flying de Havilland Mosquito in a public trust. A shame that this aircraft, one of the few which fought above its weight so effectively as well and sensationally, has only private owners which fly them. This can be remedied with your support for The People’s Mosquito.

Originally posted on The People's Mosquito:

TPM lapelIn April of this year we launched our fundraising campaign to return Mosquito RL249 to the sky. Donations have been steady but relatively slow, so in an effort to further engage with our supporters and make it easier to donate we have signed up to make use of two third-party online donation facilities. The two services we have chosen to use, which are described in detail below, will cost us nothing, but will help generate a steady income for the fund, while offering a simpler, more direct way for people to support us and help return a British-based Mosquito to flight.

make-a-donation

How it works:

The make-a-donation website allows you to donate directly to The People’s Mosquito fund, and making a donation from the easy-to-use website ensures that the fund receives your whole donation. There are no fees or commissions charged to either you or The People’s Mosquito. We call that win-win!

How to donate via make-a-donation.org:

1. Go to the website

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