Rare trio to fly on Thursday — Avro Lancaster + Avro Vulcan + Avro Lancaster
From The People’s Mosquito (TPM) — the noble effort to build (not rebuild) an original de Havilland Mosquito for the public trust — we have the latest news.
Supporter of The People’s Mosquito and more than famed pilot Bill Ramsey — who has flown as a Red Arrow and pilots both the Avro Lancaster as well the Avro Vulcan — will lead a once-in-a-lifetime formation flying this Thursday. He will be flying lead in the rare flying Avro Vulcan along with the rare pair of flying Avro Lancasters on a series of flypasts after departing RAF Waddington. These flypasts made by these aviators are absolutely spectacular and unerringly on time to the minute — flying with the military precision as you may expect.
The well done (i.e., not a blithe duo of paragraphs as is too often the case) interview article as well as photos can be seen in this Global Aviation Resource link.
Happily — another Huey has a home
27° 14′ 34″ N / 80° 49′ 49″ W
Like many of the smaller towns in the United States Okeechobee City (Florida) takes a keen interest honoring its citizens who have served in the military — with special care to recall those who perished while on duty. Okeechobee’s Veteran’s Park periodically gains an addition and the most recent was observed this month, a venerable Huey (Bell UH-1 Iroquois). We are uncertain of the model though it appears to be a Delta model at the earliest with is longer cabin — though it has a powerful rescue hoist on the pilot’s side.
Billy Mitchell’s War with the Navy: the interwar rivalry over Air Power, Thomas Wildenberg, 2013, ISBN 978-0-87021-038-9, 271 pp.
Billy Mitchell — hero, celebutante or a man overtaken by events?
Billy Mitchell is a personage of utmost importance and achievements in aviation’s history. He also has the singular trait of being the only person a U.S. military aircraft has been named for — the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber (which is especially fitting since he was a great proponent of aerial interdiction strategy in what has become the U.S. Air Force).
Mitchell was also quite controversial in the way he went about things and, to some, he was a visionary on a quest and, to others, he was insubordinate. Perhaps due to the emotion involved in these assessments he is also difficult for most of us to research by reading the many books written about him. Most books seem to be biased, or at least less than objective, and since more than one author inserts opinion as fact or don’t go to the original sources (professional historians always use original sources obtained from archives and compare what is found as the means of verification).
Fortunately author Thomas Wildenberg has thoroughly looked into the man writing this professional and unbiased biography of Billy Mitchell — Billy Mitchell’s War with the Navy. This book is so well written it can be used to teach a college level course about the man as well as a course about the business of historically researching for a biography. There is an amazing amount of analysis in Billy Mitchell’s War with the Navy comparing what Mitchell said about the same item of interest from instances which were separated by years (often Mitchell’s recollections were significantly different from one year to the next). There are also opinions of the author but they are clearly stated as such and supported by the presented facts.
As Wildenberg shows, Mitchell was a complex man and to say he was significant is much like saying Einstein was a scientist or da Vinci was an artist. Yes, Mitchell was complex and much of that is due to his salesmanship like, or statesmanship as you may prefer, personality.
The reader will likely conclude that Mitchell was all three — a hero (certainly a war hero and archetypal combat leader, a celebutante (in that he used his personality and the media in attempts to further what he felt was good for his country as well as his career) and a man overtaken by events (in that the U.S. Army Air Corps, later the U.S. Air Force, elevated his status in its competition for budget dollars against the U.S. Navy).
Wildenberg writes well and with completeness about Mitchell’s combat leadership (where his personality conflicts developed from the latent to the overt clashing with his peers as well as his superiors) where he was significant in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry and the St. Mihiel Campaign in World War I. Notably, he flew combat missions during these same battles so he was a brave man who led from the front. During this time he worked with RAF Marshall Trenchard and this appears to be where he first developed his ideas about strategic bombing (back in the day that was the term but as air forces have evolved in power today we would term it interdiction bombing).
Between the wars, when Congress again slashed military budgets by as much as 90%, he became involved in two inseparably intertwined processes — competition for too few dollars (these were the days prior to the Military Industrial Complex after all) and the heady ideas of strategic bomber forces being the end all of war time strategies (driving Mitchell to the belief that all air forces of the Army and Navy should be under a unified command — leaving the Navy without their aviation arm — and having Mitchell in overall command). It is at this point that Mitchell, frustrated at the lack of progress especially used his social standing to go to the media, which was fond of him for his war time achievements, to simultaneously promote his agenda as well as disparage the U.S. Navy’s aviation at every term. Wildenberg provides numerous instances in their full context of the time to help us understand both Mitchell’s actions as well as his thoughts (letters to his wife are helpful for this dimension) — and this is why Billy Mitchell’s War with the Navy is such a rich biographical treatment as the reader learns history as well as gets to know the man with all of his strengths and foibles. He certainly was a patriot, and should be recalled as such foremost, but his actions caused much harm as well as good. It would be an oversimplification to judge Mitchell as narcissistic since he should be judged by the standards of the time (which Wildenberg explains) not to mention that many effective military leaders of great import were, and are, narcissistic.
Mitchell’s strategic bombing philosophies were not his own (though he later claimed them to be) but he developed them and most importantly successfully employed them. His most pernicious aspects were his attacks against naval aviation as well as his caustic conclusions regarding the tragic crash of the U.S. Naval airship USS Shenandoah — conclusions arrived at while the wreckage still lay in the field uninvenstigated and the servicemen who perished yet to be buried. Mitchell had well learned the first to the media often was the victor. It was this use of the media to ravish the U.S. Navy to advance his agenda which brought him to his court marshal.
Wildenberg illustrates the path Mitchell traveled in a most revealing, dramatic (there is no other way to tell the story of this complex, incendiary and forward thinking man) and understandable way. This is not a book for those who look for a polarized and clear understanding of this significant part of history — it is the book for those who knows that human history, especially history involving war and politics, is a gumbo where some flavors remain identifiable and some blend to make other flavors.
B-23 Dragon Walkaround — slow but a first, 2 of 2
47° 07′ 54″ N / 122° 28′ 57″ W
[Note: the first part of this post published on the previous Monday]
The Airbus A380 strategy and the Boeing B-787 strategy — fundamentally differing from one another
The New York Times published a superbly researched investigative article written by Jad Mouawad entitled, Oversize Expectations for the Airbus A380. Published on 9 August 2014 Mouawad writes of the differences between The Boeing Company and Airbus Industrie when designing their respective new airliner designs.
The Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are each the apex of modern airliner design and made for the evolving 21st Century market. Each company’s idea of that future market could not be more different — hence the A380 which carries several hundred passengers seated on two decks and the 787’s carbon fiber efficiency sized to operate in and out of nearly any city’s airport.
The analysis in this article is intriguing as well as enlightening.
B-23 Dragon Walkaround — slow but a first, 1 of 2
47° 07′ 54″ N / 122° 28′ 57″ W
Douglas designed the B-23 Dragon as the successor to their B-18 Bolo (the search window will bring you to the walkaround as well as other posts). As a bomber it was a non contender as it was quickly eclipsed by other aircraft — notably the North American B-25 Mitchell, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Martin B-26 Marauder which were all quite a bit faster and carried weightier bomb loads.
The Dragon served during World War II at home in training, patrol as well as utility duties (as the UC-67). It has a niche in history, though, as the first combat aircraft with a tail gun position — a feature soon to become a standard with its contemporaries and successors. Dragon were powered by a pair of Wright R 2600-3 Cyclone reciprocating radial engines and defensively armed with a trio of 0.30 caliber machine guns as well as a single 0.50 caliber machine gun. Dragons could take up to 4000 pounds of bombs to the target at a leisurely cruising speed of 210 mph at altitudes up to 31,600 feet.
This Douglas B-23 Dragon is displayed in perfect condition on Heritage Hill Air Park which is part of the McChord Air Museum. Further detail of this particular aircraft can be found in this fact page with further information and photos of the aircraft type in the fact page of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
Next Wednesday — more photos :)
RAF No. 100 Group Association gets a good talking to ;)
Apologies for the misleading title but we hope it is amusing — the No. 100 Group Royal Air Force (RAF) holds a unique as well as significant place in aviation’s history and its association (RAF No. 100 Group Association) lives up to that reputation. During World War II it was No. 100 Group — largely flying de Havilland Mosquitos — which was the first to pioneer as well as develop aerial electronic counter warfare. No. 100’s specially equipped Mosquito air crews flew with,or ahead of, the RAF’s nocturnal bomber streams on their missions over Europe to harass Luftwaffe night fighter bases but to especially hunt the night fighters (using radar and equipment to detect Luftwaffe night fighter radar emanations) searching out the Allied heavy bombers. Hence their motto, Confound and Destroy. Nocturnal aerial combat had evolved due to No. 100’s work and would never be the same since hunters could now easily, and quickly, become prey. Though disbanded No. 100 Group’s legacy is alive today in that nearly every fighter aircraft today can fight in the night as well as exhibited in the fine City of Norwich Aviation Museum — a museum which should not be missed.
RAF No. 100 Group Association recently had their annual reunion last May and among the many fine presentations was one from John Lilly representing The People’s Mosquito – he is also a motive force in its noble task. Lilley is quite knowledgeable about the de Havilland Mosquito’s history, both developmental and combat, as well as a charismatic speaker. His enthusiasm and spontaneous yet sage speaking ability is infectious to hear. No matter how much one reads of the Mosquito, in talking with John Lilley one pleasantly always learns more.
A motive force on the RAF No. 100 Group Association is Janine Harrington who is avid in general and especially so with regard to her writing. She edits their quarterly newsletter, always well done, and is writing her 21st book (many of them relate to No. 100 Group RAF). This one is RAF 100 Group – Kindred Spirits: personal experiences of the RAF & USAAF on secret Norfolk airfields during WWII. This one will be especially rich and will fittingly be released shortly prior to Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the USA), this year, with the first 100 being collectibles and including original (i.e., not reproduced) signatures of No. 100 Group RAF members. It is books such as this one which place faces to history and are so significant in truly comprehensively understand past events beyond their singularly dimensional dates and statistics.
The People’s Mosquito is a project to build an original Mosquito (with original data plate) for the public trust — and will be the sole flying Mosquito that is not privately owned. Check out the website, donate should you think the cause worthy as well as shop the available high-quality merchandise for unique gifts.