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The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown—time for the UAB to step aside!

16 January 2020

Those who are aware, or who have been following the story of World Ware II aircraft recovery from Lake Michigan in this blog, will like to know of this recent as well as dynamic change in the situation. The situation being the apparent sickness that is the Underwater Archeology Branch (UAB) of the U.S. Navy denying continued recovery of these aircraft (many are World War II battle veterans such as SBD Dauntless 2106) as well as harm to the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM). This has resulted in a cessation of aircraft recovery for a decade, just as invasive mussels have impacted the ecology of Lake Michigan to the detriment of these wonderful aircraft (they use the aircraft as a substrate to cement themselves where, back in the day, no such destructive problem existed prior to the moratorium). This began the ticking of the clock as the aircraft inexorably deteriorate to nothing.

Tik tok! Tik tok!

 

Actual Douglas SBD Dauntless displayed as if on the bottom of Lake Michigan as a conserved wreck (prior to the mussel invasion) in the National Naval Aviation Museum—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Dauntless 2106, the sole Battle of Midway combat veteran on display which was found and recovered by A and T Recovery as well as restored by the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Pilot’s cockpit of a Douglass SBD Dauntless (prior to the Zebra and Quagga mussel invasion of Lake Michigan)—image courtesy of A and T Recovery

Mussel encrusted cockpit dash panel of a Vought F4U-1 Corsair—image courtesy of A and T Recovery

In concert, A and T Recovery and the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation (NNAMF) for the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) have recovered and restored over three dozen of these aircraft. They serve the American public well by having loaned these perfectly restored aircraft to museums and airports for public display across the country—as well as a few foreign countries to boot. Their effort spectacularly found, recovered, and restored the sole Battle of Midway combat veteran aircraft on display—SBD Dauntless 2106 with its 200+ flak/bullet hole patches. The UAB has attempted a handful of aircraft recoveries elsewhere with an abysmal record of zero successes—as illuminated on their website.

See these links for the story so far:

The UAB, as miserably as they have behaved, appeared to be moving toward improvement over the last few years but recent events show this has been a less-than-valiant ruse. Not only has the UAB been stiff-arming and stone walling the team of A and T Recovery and the NNAMF they recently have attempted to academically steal the credit for an important archeological discovery made by A and T Recovery which is the World War I German submarine known as UC-97. That is right—World War I not World War II! This is a rare example in the Western Hemisphere and represents the maturation of a strategic weapon from the odd to the ubiquitous.

Read the announcement below to come up to speed on this most recent embarrassing behavior by the UAB in the name of the U.S. Navy—which shows the UAB’s true colors.

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A and T Recovery Announcement

To All Concerned:
For the past thirty-something years, A and T Recovery, L.L.C. has surveyed the southern basin of Lake Michigan in search of the once lost World War II United States Navy aircraft.  We have recovered approximately forty of the aircraft, mostly on behalf of the National Naval Aviation Museum with support from the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and many others.  Many of the recovered aircraft have been restored and are now on display at nearly two dozen of our country’s most prestigious museums and airports.
Since circa 1993, the Naval History and Heritage Command (at one time called the Naval Historical Center) has opposed our efforts as well as those of the staff at the National Naval Aviation Museum, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation to present these wonderful machines of peace, used by the “Greatest Generation”, to the American public.  We at A and T Recovery, L.L.C. believe that the staff of Naval History and Heritage Command, in particular the Underwater Archaeology Branch are ill qualified for the management of these historic assets.
This past year our attempts to negotiate with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command, to include their general counsel, has continued to strengthen this belief.  We at A and T Recovery, L.L.C. have presented multiple proposals that were solicited by the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command.   The ordeal began with the following email that was sent on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

“Taras, on a similar note, we have been conducting an archival review and update of U.S. Navy losses in Lake Michigan for management and documentation purposes. Presently, we are seeking data from local entities that may possess more precise locational information for naval aircraft and UC-97 beyond the historical records. Any information you are willing to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,

Bob

Robert S. Neyland, Ph.D.
Branch Head
Underwater Archaeology Branch
Naval History and Heritage Command”

On behalf of the United States Navy, he was soliciting the intellectual property that belongs to a private company.  In response to that solicitation we (A and T Recovery, L.L.C.) prepared multiple proposals for the staff at Naval History and Heritage Command for the survey of Lake Michigan that would locate remaining missing Navy aircraft.  Each proposal was met with a response that dramatically introduced a set of increasingly complex technical requirements that were unrealistic and clearly not necessary for the successful accomplishment of the original solicitation.  It appears to us that they were seeking to establish a set of requirements that made it impossible for A and T Recovery, L.L.C. to perform the tasks.  We do not believe that the staff at Naval History and Heritage Command ever intended to negotiate in good faith.  It should be noted that the survey methodology proposed by A and T Recovery, L.L.C. is the same methodology utilized by the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage to locate under water objects for identification and recovery.
Taking into consideration all that has occurred with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command over the past years, we have come to the conclusion that the staff at the National Naval Aviation Museum and the American public are far better stewards of the once lost U.S. Navy World War II aircraft of Lake Michigan.
The actions of the Naval History and Heritage Command are allowing many historic aircraft to corrode to nothing at the bottom of Lake Michigan when they could be recovered and presented to the public.  Realizing that we do not have the ability to change the harmful attitude and actions of the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command or the decision of the Navy to place this responsibility with this command, A and T Recovery, L.L.C. intends to begin an action of our own.
The American sport scuba diver does several tasks very well, the first being the boasting of their exploits.  They do this by venturing below the water where they photograph and video what they see to share with others.  It is our intent, starting in the spring of 2020, to begin sharing with the American sport diving community locations of the remaining once lost U.S. Navy World War II aircraft of Lake Michigan.  This is in keeping with our traditional behavior, acting “pro bono publico”, for the public benefit.   Over the past forty years we have shared dozens of locations of once lost shipwrecks with the American sport diving community.  This has led to much of our shared history being presented to the American public, in an array of venues.  This includes, film festivals, other public forums and presentations, book publications, print and visual media, and social media, e.g. YouTube, Face Book, LinkedIn.  If the Naval History and Heritage Command won’t make these aircraft available to the public, the sport diving community will.
The United States Navy, by placing this responsibility with the staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command, is failing the people of the United States of America.  We shall seek to overcome this short coming by continuing to enlist the assistance of the American public.  A group of people for which the staff of the Navy History and Heritage Command has demonstrated a complete lack of respect and utter disdain.
Very Respectfully,
Taras
Taras C. Lyssenko
General Manager
A and T Recovery, L.L.C.
305-794-4457
 
PS.  Please do share this email with the world.
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What can be done?

Email the following today as they do listen to the American public they serve:

  • Thomas.B.Modly@navy.mil (Honorable Thomas B. Modly/Secretary of the Navy)
  • Richard.A.Brown@navy.mil (Vice Admiral Richard A. Brown//U.S. Navy)
  • Sierra_Anderson@rickscott.senate.gov (supporter and representing the Pensacola area for Senator Rick Scott)
  • Julie.devine@mail.house.gov (legislative director for Congressman Sam Graves in Congress with a direct interest in warbird history preservation)
  • mike.ryan@mail.house.gov (in-district representative for Representative Fred Upton, also a Congressperson charged with preserving aviation history )
  • kai.bernal-leclaire@navy.mil (Assistant Counsel/U.S. Navy)

UAB and Admiral Cox—still denying the public historic aircraft and wasting taxpayer money

12 January 2020

The incredulous issue of the subversive bureaucratic bullying being wrought by the Underwater Archeology Branch (UAB)—each under the Naval History and Heritage Command—against the National Naval Aviation Museum (also within the same command) has not not gone away or corrected itself. The UAB has not only brought to a halt the progress of recoveries and restorations of historic aircraft they have done harm to the National Naval Aviation Museum—as well as the general public who are their paymasters.

The NHHC’s commander is Admiral Sam Cox and he recently went on the record (see press release below) that recoveries may continue but he has not received proposals. This is ludicrous and patently false—there can be no misinterpretation on the admiral’s part as he has received at least two proposals. These came from A and T Recovery and the Kalamazoo Air Zoo which are famed each for successful records and budget keeping with several aircraft now on exhibit. The UAB is also party to this sinister conspiracy. Yes, Admiral Cox and the UAB—a laughing-stock type of  embarrassment to the U.S. Navy to those aware.

Another recent bad faith action on the part of Admiral Cox and the UAB is their attempt to map and image the World War I German U-boat known as UC-97 (renamed as a transfer of ownership war prize). There is no need as this work has been accomplished in excellent fashion (highly accurate GPS positioning as well as HD video by A and T Recovery) yet the UAB, in concert with NOAA, have on public record how they are performing the same work as original effort on their part. Embarrassingly, though trying to steal the academic and discovery credit, their combined efforts as well as in each’s work quality is abysmal in comparison to that of A and T Recovery. Simply a waste of taxpayer money as well as a shaming Bogart attempt.

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Fuller explanation on the poor service of the UAB, as well as their dirty tricks, can be found in these posts:

Why Does the Navy’s Underwater Archeology Branch NOT Wish to Have Historic WW II Aircraft Recovered?

8/4/2019

When will the UAB play nice with the National Naval Aviation Museum?

9/11/2019

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The just released press release, below, by A and T Recovery has more details as well as historical links:

Naval History and Heritage Command and NOAA Waste Taxpayer Money Attempting to Repeat A and T Recovery’s Success

On January 7, 2020 NOAA’s office of Coast Survey posted the following on their website:

https://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/updates/noaa-in-the-great-lakes-supports-inter-agency-search-for-wwii-aircraft/

The title of the posting is, “NOAA in the Great Lakes supports inter-agency search for WWII aircraft.”   

The side-scan sonar image screen shot at the top of the post provides the aware person with some very interesting insights to the wasteful actions of these two Federal agencies.  There is a side-scan sonar image of an aircraft and information box that states, “NHHC-NOAA\UC97\2019-244.”

This is significant, because it clearly shows that their search was for the former German Submarine U.S.S. UC-97.  In June 16, 2017 the staff A and T Recovery, at our own expense, took the Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, Samuel Cox to the precise site of the former German Submarine U.S.S. UC-97, so that he could see the vessel for himself.  

https://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/06/26/uc-97-forgotten-wwi-history-in-an-unexpected-place-lake-michigan/

Author’s note: I wish thank Mr. Taras Lyssenko for his invitation to accompany him on a visit to the UC-97 site—Admiral Cox

A few more media links about the UC-97

https://abc7chicago.com/archive/9108423/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1998-01-28-9801280009-story.html

The entire NOAA posting is additionally significant, because during the past year we at A and T Recovery have attempted to work with both NOAA and the Naval History Command to present our findings of the U.S.S. UC-97, scores of shipwrecks, the dozens of the once lost in Lake Michigan U.S. Navy World War II aircraft and to the American public.  We have been met with slanderous defaming reviews of our proposal to NOAA and absolute nonsense from the staff at Navy History and Heritage Command, demanding that we sign non-disclosure agreements to keep our knowledge from the American public along with many other crazy things.  

It should be noted that all our work on Lake Michigan has been done “pro bono publico”, “for the public good.”   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_and_T_Recovery

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

10 January 2020

“City of Savannah”, a B-17G wonderfully restored by the museum representing the 5000th Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress processed during World War II through Hunter Air Field (of Savannah)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force—a long name for not a huge museum—The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum as a name is more to the point though but, semantics aside, this is an excellent museum with a sharp focus. World War II veterans in Savannah GA remarkably established a museum complete with an English style chapel, an English style pub, as well as their research library housing innumerable stories of the 8th’s combat crews. Stories are no small part of this facility and are in fact its nexus.

The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The building itself is a purpose-built wonderfully architecturally designed single structure. The location is in Pooler GA just off an exit of I-95 about 10 miles south of Savannah GA and Hunter Army Airfield which is no coincidence. Savannah was the home of the 8th AF when it was first formed early in Word War II for the purpose of launching strategic bombardment missions within the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

The museum pays excellent homage to this effort as well as addressing the 8th’s Cold War and current duties. There are models for aircraft for which there is no display space available including an impressive diorama of a World War II airfield in Great Britain at something like 1:48 scale. A larger room dedicated to artistic representations is generous in space and displays.

A de Havilland Mosquito in USAAF colors (no information given about the painting or the aircraft but likely a weather recce aircraft)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Miss Lace was a wartime morale booster by artist Milton Caniff (flirty not promiscuous and served solely during World War II)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Aircraft on outside display are: a McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II, a MiG-17 (NATO codenamed Fresco), and a Boeing B-47B Stratojet wonderfully on view from northbound I-95.  The centerpiece of the interior is the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “City of Savannah” which is joined by a Messerschmitt Bf-109 (an Emil model restored with some Gustav parts), a Boeing-Stearman N2S-3 Kaydet as well as the nose (sans Norden bombsight) of a Consolidated B-24D Liberator (restored to replicate Operation Tidal Wave Ploesti raider ‘Fightin’ Sam”). A large scale model P-51 Mustang is suspended overhead. Much of the previous information is from internet research as signage in the museum can sadly be somewhat lacking.

MiG-17A in North Vietnamese Air Force the camouflage of the Vietnam War—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phanton II—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Boeing B-47B Stratojet (sans the Lillipution nose windows in the bombardier/navigator nose position as this originated as a TB-47B). This was Boeing’s bomber after the B-29, quite a step forward in aerodynamic design as well as propulsion not to mention electronics emphasis—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

B-17G “City of Savannah” bombardier position (note the chin turret as well as cheek machine guns)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Consolidated B-24D nose of the Ploesti Operation Tidal Wave raider “Fightin’ Sam”—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Messerschmitt Bf-109 (an Emil variant recovered and restored partially from another variant, a Gustav)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

In the rear is a remarkably well appointed memorial garden with more than artful markers complimented with the previously mentioned chapel. The restored B-47B Stratojet predominates as well.

English style chapel of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum —©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Marker—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Marker—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Marker—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Jimmy Dolittle figured prominently as commander of the Eighth Air Force—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Jimmy Dolittle figured prominently as commander of the Eighth Air Force—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Marker detail—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

An outer wing panel from a crashed battle damaged B-17 sits inside which was recovered from Belgium. To me the most prized relic is the panel portion from a Liberater which was shot down over Romania on the infamous Ploesti raid. This raid is portrayed in a large (~1:48) scale diorama and the valor as well as heroism is nicely addressed but without mention of the mission’s strategic failure. Though the mission led the way in the shift to destroying the POLs (petroleum, oil and lubricants) of the Axis war effort. Fantastically brave B-24 crews flew lower than crop dusters through a well integrated zoned antiaircraft defense network—perhaps uniquely, machine gunners had a running gunfight with a flak train!

Relic of Operation Tidal Wave from one of the many combat loss bombers—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The museum is extremely visitor friendly as it is easy to get to with many hotels nearby—two only a short stroll away. There is plenty of parking and the on-site pub for a welcome break as well as keeping children fed and as distracted.

De Havilland Mosquito, Vol. 1 by Ron MacKay

6 January 2020

De Havilland Mosquito, Vol. 1: The Night-Fighter and Fighter-Bomber Marques in World War II, Ron MacKay, 2019, ISBN 978-0-7643-5820-3, 112 pp.

De Havilland Mosquito, Vol. 1: The Night-Fighter and Fighter-Bomber Marques by Ron MacKay

“If it’s by Ron MacKay it’s gold.” That is what I heard from aviation author Nick Veronico (several of his books, all excellent, have been reviewed in this blog) when I was discussing the coming review of this title.

And Nick is absolutely correct!

Through photos and fat captions MacKay details the loved “Mossie” in its night fighter and fighter-bomber variants including with the Royal Navy and its evolution into the Hornet as well as Sea Hornet. Those unfamiliar with this paradigm setting aircraft will easily get well acquainted with de Havilland’s revolutionary design (one of the very few bomber designs that could successfully defend itself by use of speed and altitude). Those familiar with the “Wooden Wonder”—as the airframe and wings were made of various wood varieties—will be pleased to see all manner of photos detailing the aircraft in its multitude of variants as well as missions. MacKay’s body text compliments the captioning and is used to open each of the book’s twelve chapters.

MacKay does not consume pages with the raw data of production runs and aircraft numbers as there are other texts for that historical information. He does use the pages to stock his book with photo upon photo with each being pertinent, entirely nonderivative, and in combination with fully descriptive captions. Images and full captions—an excellent formula for giving specific subject matter particular attention in an easily understood way—done well by MacKay.

De Havilland Mosquito, Vol. 1 is another superb book in the Schiffer Military series Legends of Warfare. MacKay, a great author who admirably tells much of the Mosquito’s story and contribution to World War II with Volume 1 and Volume 2 is now eagerly awaited.

Pooler GA’s Boeing B-47B Stratojet

3 January 2020

The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum’s Boeing B-47B Stratiojet—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (it’s easier to say Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum) is located along I-95 on the east side about 10 miles south of Savannah and you cannot miss seeing their impressive Stratojet. It sits on a pebbled pad with an English style chapel in the background and looks fabulous.

The Stratojet’s six engines, bicycle landing gear and black radome are clearly seen at this viewing angle—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The B-47’s design began in World War II but was changed drastically and nearly immediately with the post war analysis of Germany’s swept wing research. This made the Stratojet the world’s first swept wing bomber and Boeing didn’t stop setting the new paradigm with only the 35° angle of wing sweep. Boeing also made the wing section thing to allow for high cruising speeds with the results of moving the engines from within the wings to pylons slung beneath them. This paradigm is relevant to this day with airliner designs. Landing gear also was innovative using a bicycle arrangement with outrigger gear for the wings which could flex 17 feet or so. Features which would also carry over to the future B-52 Stratofortess. A yaw dampening system was vital to combat aileron reversal when the wings flexed.

The forward bicycle landing gear main of the B-47—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The three engines on the left wing and note the outrigger gear as well—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Living with the B-47 was challenging as the crew numbered only three. The pilot. The copilot who managed the fuel as well as the defensive machine guns in the tail. The navigator who was also the bombardier. Trim was vital at cruise altitude as was speed so the pilot closely monitored airspeed (only a few knots separated stall from overspeed) and the copilot transferred fuel around the aircraft as required. The nav/bomb sat in the nose without much of an outside view and even this parsimonious amount of view was eliminated on subsequent models.

The bicycle landing gear allowed for a long bomb bay which was required for the nuclear weapons of the time and were set so the wings were at the angle of attack for taking off—no rotation needed. The engines had long spool up times so final approaches were accomplished with the aid of a deployed 16 foot diameter approach parachute—this drag allowed the pilots to keep the engines spooled up. This parachute would be dropped upon landing with a larger 32 foot braking parachute was subsequently used.

Although not on later models the bravo variant had a pair of small windows in the nose for the navigator/bombardier but these have been faired over in this pilot training version (TB-47B) restored as a combat bomber (B-47B)—©2019 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Other recaonnaisance versions were built as well as models. The various recce versions carried an increased crew within the fuselage but shared the same windowless environment as the navigator.

JetRanger Double Take

17 December 2019

JetRanger Double Take—©2017 Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Much More About the Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan

28 November 2019

Taras Lyssenko’s unique book The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and the Aircraft they Rescued is continuing to climb into public consciousness. An excellent podcast by Veterans Radio interviewed Lyssenko interviews Lyssenko and is an excellent way to learn from him as he is engaging, entertaining and accurate with his talks. A quick mind which can enlighten as well as ignite—and all without notes, as I’ve witnessed.

Additionally, NBC out of Chicago produced this hi-res video sequel to a recent report detailing the recovery plan for an Operation Torch veteran SBD Dauntless by A & T Recovery with the cooperation by restoration by Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo as wonderfully explained by Troy Thrash (President and CEO). Both Troy and Taras are wonderful to listen to on, as well as off, camera. The Air Zoo has joined with A & T Recovery in the past and have produced spectacular results—so this is an opportunity to see a future success in the making though with some real drama (not that Cheese Whiz reality show pap manufactured drama).