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LC-130 Hercules—the “Skibird”

16 December 2017

 

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LC-130 landing on ice—DoD image

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Like landing on water, judging the exact surface height takes experience—Dod image

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LC-130 in taxi—DoD image

An LC-130 "Skibird" from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, New York, sits on the ice runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Nov. 9, 2015. A total of seven 109th AW LC-130s are deployed this season and about 330 missions planned through the season which ends in February. This is the 28th season that the unit has participated in Operation Deep Freeze, the military component of the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. David S. Price/Released)

LC-130 “Skibird” from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, New York, sits on the ice runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica 09 Nov 2015. A total of seven 109th AW LC-130s are deployed this season and about 330 missions planned through the season which ends in February—U.S. Air National Guard/Capt. David S. Price

LC-130 "Skibirds" from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing in Scoita, New York, sit on the runway at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on June 27, 2016. Four LC-130s and about 80 Airmen from the Wing recently completed the third rotation of the 2016 Greenland season. Airmen and aircraft for the 109th Airlift Wing stage out of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, during the summer months, supplying fuel and supplies and transporting passengers in and out of various National Science Foundation camps throughout the entire season and also train for the Operation Deep Freeze mission in Antarctica. The unique capabilities of the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft make it the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, able to land on snow and ice. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin German/Released)

LC-130 “Skibirds” from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, New York, sit on the runway at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland 27 June 27 2016. Airmen and aircraft for the 109th Airlift Wing stage out of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, during the summer months, supplying fuel and supplies and transporting passengers in and out of various National Science Foundation camps throughout the entire season. The unique capabilities of the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft make it the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, able to land on snow and ice—U.S. Air National Guard/SSgt Benjamin German

LC-130H Primary function: Tactical and intratheater airlift; special capability for polar regions. Speed: 350 mph. Dimensions: Wingspan 132 ft. 7 in.; length 97 ft. 9 in.; height 38 ft. 3 in. Range: 2,500 miles unrefueled. Crew: Six. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez)

Lockheed LC-130H Hercules Primary function: Tactical and intratheater airlift; special capability for polar regions. Speed: 350 mph. Dimensions: Wingspan 132 ft. 7 in.; length 97 ft. 9 in.; height 38 ft. 3 in. Range: 2,500 miles unrefueled. Crew: Six—U.S. Air Force/MSg. Efrain Gonzalez

The crew of a ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules from the New York National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing takes off July 28, 2010, from a remote science research site on Greenland's ice sheet. The 109th Airlift Wing is the only military unit in the world to fly such aircraft and has flown missions to Greenland since 1975. The unit now provides airlift support to the National Science Foundation's polar research program there. (Department of Defense photo/Fred W. Baker III)

The crew of a ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules from the New York National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing taking off 28 July 2010, from a remote science research site on Greenland’s ice sheet—DoD image/Fred W. Baker III

A ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing takes off Feb. 2, 2011, during an Operation Deep Freeze mission in Antarctica. The 109th AW, which participates in the Antarctic missions from Christchurch, New Zealand, is the only organization that flies the ski-equipped LC-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing taking off 02 Feb 2011 in Antarctica. The 109th AW, which participates in the Antarctic missions from Christchurch, New Zealand, is the only organization that flies the ski-equipped LC-130s—U.S. Air Force photo

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Wings Over Hong Kong

13 December 2017

Wings Over Hong Kong: an Aviation History 1891–1998, Cliff Dunaway (ed), 1998, ISBN 962-217-542-2, 211 pp.

Wings Over Hong Kong: an Aviation History 1891-1998 front cover

I clearly recall that moment in 2013 when I landed at Honk Kong’s airport ands walked out in the international arrivals hall, roomy and splendid, to be immediately impressed by a Farman III suspended overhead. The faithful recreation aircraft was flown to honor a century of flight, beginning in 1911, in Hong Kong by group of inspired businesses and individuals—the Hong Kong Historical Aircraft Association (HKHAA). To see the aircraft you can read this post as well as this post.

I finally obtained another excellent contribution to Hong Kong’s aviation history by the HKHAA which is this book, of course, and it is masterful. Several authors contributed images and penned script to commit Hong Kong’s aviation history to research resource—it is so well done it is hard ti imaging it being done better. Sensible chapters divide the history chronologically as well as logically. Maps, captioning, images, clear understanding and artfulness are blended into a wonderful read which concisely brings the reader into the times and context of the day. The chapter on World War II is done especially well,not that it is written better than the other excellently written chapters, due to the black paper background white text and read captioning—stunningly done.

The evolution of Kai Tak Airport and development of Hong Kong International Airport are suitably addressed as they both became economic drivers in the Hong Kong economy.

This book has it all in a single package. Clear writing. Previously unseen images. Production values hardly exceeded. Understanding and explanation of Hong Kong’s varied and exciting aviation history as well as aviation’s economic importance in a developing world city.

Wings Over Hong Kong: an Aviation History 1891-1998 back cover

Logo of the Hong Kong Historical Aircraft Association—photo by Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Blitzkrieg: Myth, Reality, and Hitler’s Lightning War: France 1940

12 December 2017

Blitzkrieg: Myth, Reality, and Hitler’s Lightning War: France 1940, Lloyd Clark, 2016, ISBN 978-0-8021-2721-1, 457 pp.

Blitzkrieg: Myth, Reality, and Hitler’s Lightning War: France 1940 by Lloyd Clark

Many books describe the advent of modern combined arms combat but few if any cover the original blitzkrieg as objectively and insightfully as Lloyd Clark’s Blitzkrieg.

Clark has taught the subject for a quarter century at university level as well as interviewing combatants and civilians for the last several years. His depth of knowledge and comprehension may be unsurpassed.

So. What can be learned from this book at the end of the day that we have not learned elsewhere? Although France, the Netherlands and Belgium were captured in less than six weeks this blitzkrieg was more closely run  than first appearances and the too many simplistic historical summations read elsewhere

Tanks. All have heard of the infamous panzers but half were Panzer I and Panzer II tanks which were a bit more than armored cars of small armament, with the Panzer III and Panzer IV not much more heavily armed. So, it wasn’t about the panzers but about their combat training, tactics, mobility and more importantly radio communication capability. Like radar would occur later, radio communication at the individual tactical unit was revolutionary and the Germans used it first as well as best. Often the superiority of the French Char B1 tank cost the panzers dearly but there were just too few to be strategically influential.

Aircraft. All have heard of the Luftwaffe and the accuracy of the Stuka. Wehrmacht generals knew from the invasion of Poland that Stukas were accurate enough but not pinpoint often enough, as often inferred by others. They were however excellent in demoralizing opposing forces at the point of contact at the most decisive moment—and this was tactically invaluable.

Dunkirk. All have heard of Dunkirk. Clark interestingly portrays the stop order by Hitler not as a strategic error but as a power play to place his stamp of authority over the Wehrmacht general staff—which was a continuing fight since before the invasion. This concept is revealing and sensical in the context explained so well by Clark as with the prosecution of further invasion to the south including Paris.

Clark also clears up what worked and did not work with the French forces, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the Royal Air Force, the Belgians and the Netherlands forces. There is much to it but suffice to say that the French prepared well for another invasion á lá World War I including the agreement with Belgium to have their land used as a delaying action—as well as poor military governmental support and paperwork making enacting of orders taking days to enact. There were Allied bright spots of individual heroism. There were tantalizing opportunities to severely interrupt  the onslaught of this Blitzkrieg, a few missed opportunities by only minutes which Clark writes of in riveting fashion.

Intriguingly Clark also describes the heartless decision by Mussolini to sacrifice thousands of his troops so he could sit at the surrender of France with pride—and how his decision produced laughable shame, a precursor to future military expeditions by Italy in WW II. importantly, how civilians reacted to invasion of their country is also described well by Clark and is as important to understand as any strategies implemented by general staff. Understanding the combatants as well as generals is described by Clark nicely so the reader can vicariously experience their experiences as well as decisions in the context of the time.

Clark also describes well what this new way of warfare was and was not in its crucible formation days of the invasions of Poland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands—and how it evolved along the way by supporters and opposed by conservatives in the Wehrmacht. This book is one to get for study of aviation’s coming importance as for strategic historians. Rich in maps, images and resources—not to mention Clark’s sage authorship—this book is enlightening.

Dornier Do J Wal Mystery solved!

11 December 2017

Spain’s “Plus Ultra” on its historic flight across the South Atlantic—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Thanks to Jesus Alonso Millan the story of this Dornier Do J Wal has been brought to light. Registry letters appear to have changed since this photo was taken and the aircraft of of Spanish registry and a very special aircraft it is. Specifically, she is the Plus Ultra and was flown on an early crossing of the South Atlantic (Palos de Moguer to Buenos Aires) in 1926 by Spain. Here is a link describing the event and the aircraft. Many thanks Jesus.

Night Fire

10 December 2017

 

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom strafes a practice target (note the ricochets)—U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez

Marine Flight

9 December 2017

 

USMC KC-130 Hercules crew in flight—USMC image

A brace of USMC KC-130s Hercules tankers—USMC image

A KC-130J Hercules cruising with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 cruising along—USMC image/Lance Cpl Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

An MV-22B Osprey with the “Blue Knights,” soars over Afghanistan—USMC image

An AH-1W Cobra with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 flies toward Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune—USMC photo/Lance Cpl. Manuel Estrada

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion test flying near West Palm Beach FL—USMC image

 

USMC Capt. John Beattie pilots an AV-8B Harrier II—USMC image/Lance Cpl Christian Cachola

Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots, over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan—USMC image/Cpl Gregory Moore

An AV-8B Harrier flies in position for aerial refueling training—USMC image/Gunnery Sgt Chad R. Kiehl

USMC Grumman EA-6B Prowler—USMC image/Cpl. N.W. Huertas

Giving

6 December 2017

 

Since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 452 million toys to more than 209 million children in need earning the Marine Corps the title of unchallenged leader looking after less fortunate children at Christmas. It is easy to donate, just visit http://www.toysfortots.org/donate/Default.aspx—U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt Mark Fayloga