Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spitfire Base Camp


Perhaps the most famous of all Spitfires still flying today, MH434 was built in 1943 at Vickers, Castle Bromwich. This Spitfire is completely original, and has never been fully rebuilt. A delight to fly, the aircraft is beautifully responsive and extremely manoeuvrable.







Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Last Vulcan

The Avro Vulcun
The Avro Vulcan is a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, which was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co (Avro) designed the Vulcan Although the aircraft's armament was primarily a nuclear weapon, in a conventional secondary role it was possible for the Vulcans to carry up to 21 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs. Since the 1960s, the RAF's Vulcan squadrons had conducted routine training missions in practice for performing conventional bombing missions in addition to nuclear strike missions. The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in 1982 during the Falklands War with Argentina. This was also the only time V-bombers took part in conventional warfare. The missions flown by the Vulcans became known as the Black Buck raids, which flew 3,889 mi (6,259 km) from Ascension Island to Stanley on the Falklands. On 1 May, the first mission was conducted by a single Vulcan that flew over Port Stanley and dropped its bombs on the airfield concentrating on the single runway, with one direct hit, making it unsuitable for fighter aircraft. The Vulcan's mission was quickly followed up by strikes against anti-air installations, flown by British Aerospace Sea Harriers from nearby Royal Navy carriers. In total, three missions were flown against the airfield, two further missions to launch missiles at radar installations; another two missions were cancelled. Victor tankers conducted the air-to-air refuelling; approximately 1.1 million gal (5 million L) of fuel were used in each mission. At the time, these missions held the record for the world's longest-distance raids. The Vulcan's ECM system was effective at jamming Argentine radars, British aircraft in the vicinity had a greatly reduced chance of coming under effective fire. Five Vulcans were selected for the operation; their bomb bays were modified, the flight refuelling system that had long been out of use was reinstated, the electronics updated, and new wing pylons fitted to carry an ECM pod and Shrike anti-radar missiles at wing hardpoint locations originally installed for carrying Skybolt missiles. The engineering work began on 9 April.





Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker

Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker - Photo Chris Lord

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 Р21 April 1918), also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. He is considered the top ace of that war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories, more than any other pilot. Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (better known as the "Flying Circus"). By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and was very well known by the other side. Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains quite possibly the most widely-known fighter pilot of all time, and has been the subject of many books and films.

The Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker (triplane) was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918. It became renowned as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 19 victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918.


Fokker Chasing An English Biplane



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Spitfire Attack

Spitfire Attack - Photo Chris Lord

The documentation to specification F.10/35, which was framed around the Spitfire, was headed "Requirements for Single-engine Day and Night Fighter" and stipulated that the aircraft be equipped with "(c) Night flying equipment". In line with these requirements Spitfire Is, IIs, VAs and VBs were fitted with a powerful, retractable landing-light in each wing. Dorsal and ventral identification lights could be operated in Morse code by the pilot using a small morse key in the cockpit. In an attempt to shield the pilot's eyes from the bright exhaust flames many Spitfires were also fitted with rectangular light-alloy "blinkers" secured to light-alloy brackets fixed to the sides of the fuel-tank housing: these could be easily removed. Spitfires were first used as nightfighters during the summer of 1940: the most successful night interceptions took place on the night of 18/19 June 1940 when Flt. Lt. "Sailor" Malan of 74 Squadron shot down two Heinkel He 111s of Kampfgeschwader 4, while Flg. Off.s John Petre and George Ball of 19 Squadron each shot down one He 111 of KG 4. A week later, on the night of 26/27 June, Pilot Officers R. Smith and R. Marples of 616 Squadron shot down another He 111 of KG 4; Flt. Lt. H. MacDonald of 603 Squadron shot down an He 111 of KG 26 and another He 111 of KG 26 was shot down, possibly with the help of A.A guns by Flg. Off.s A. Johnstone of 602 Squadron and J. Haig of 603 Squadron. Although Spitfires continued to be used on night patrols, the Luftwaffe bombers learned to fly well above the altitudes at which they could be effectively picked up by searchlights and the Spitfires were never to achieve the same success.


 

Battle Of Britain

Battle Of Britain - Photo Chris Lord
At the time, the Luftwaffe's main single-engine, single-seat fighter was the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Some advantages helped the Spitfires win dogfights, most notably manoeuvrability: the Spitfire had a higher rate of turn and a smaller turning circle than the Messerschmitt. There are several accounts of Bf 109 pilots being able to outturn Spitfires, mainly because inexperienced pilots did not turn as tightly as was possible through fear of getting into a high-speed stall. Overall, the aircraft were closely matched in performance and the outcome of combat was largely decided by tactics, position and the skill of the opposing pilots. One major advantage enjoyed by the German Jagdgeschwadern was the use of better tactics. In the late 1930s Fighter Command were not expecting to be facing single-engine fighters over Britain, only bombers. With this in mind a series of "Fighting Area Tactics" were formulated, involving manoeuvres designed to concentrate a squadron's firepower to bring down bombers: with no apparent prospect of escorting fighters to worry about, RAF fighter pilots flew in tight, vee-shaped sections of three. The pilots were forced to concentrate on watching each other, rather than being free to keep a lookout for enemy aircraft. "Fighting Area Tactics" also stipulated that RAF fighter pilots were to open fire at long-range, usually 300 to 400 yards (274 to 365 m), and then break off without closing in. The usual practice was to bore-sight their guns on the ground to create a shotgun pattern at this distance. Luftwaffe fighter pilots, flying combat formations perfected in Spanish Civil War, and utilizing proved principles of the First World War, entered the Second using the basic unit of a pair (Rotte) of widely spaced fighters. They were separated by about two hundred yards. The leader was followed to starboard and to the rear by his wingman, who was trained to stay with his leader at all times. While the leader was free to search for enemy aircraft, and could cover his wingman's blind spots, his wingman was able to concentrate on searching the airspace in the leader's blind spots, behind and below. Two of these sections were usually teamed up into a flight (Schwarm), where all of the pilots could watch what was happening around them. Because the four 109s were spread out four-abreast the Schwarm was hard to spot, unlike the RAF vee formation, and all of the 109s were able to attack and defend, or retreat in pairs, whereas the RAF formations were often split up into individual aircraft which were then extremely vulnerable. The loose Schwarm, because of the reduced risk of collision between aircraft, were also able to climb faster and higher than the tightly grouped RAF fighters, which is one of the reasons why RAF formations often found themselves being "bounced" from above. When the Luftwaffe fighter units flew as a squadron (Staffel) the three Schwarme were staggered in height and wove back and forth as a means of mutual search and protection. With the Germans able to base their 109s in the Pas de Calais, close to the English Channel the "Fighting Area Tactics" became obsolete. Many of the RAF fighter squadrons which had not been engaged in combat over Dunkirk were slow to adapt to the fact that they would be encountering the potent German fighter over Britain. Some RAF units adopted "weavers", a single aircraft which flew a pattern behind the main squadron, which still flew in vees. The weavers were usually the first to be picked off in a "bounce" by the German fighters: more often than not the rest of the squadron did not even know they were under attack. RAF squadrons that did not learn from the Luftwaffe and adopt similar tactics suffered heavy casualties during the Battle. Leaders like "Sailor" Malan were instrumental in devising better tactics for the RAF fighters. It is no coincidence that some of the most successful RAF pilots were the Polish pilots who had been trained pre-war by their air force to fly in loose formations and open fire from close-range. The biggest disadvantage faced by Bf 109 pilots was that, without the benefit of long-range drop tanks (which were introduced in very limited numbers in the late stages of the Battle), the 109s had an endurance of just over an hour. Once over Britain the 109 pilots had to keep an eye on a red "low fuel" light on the instrument panel: once this was illuminated they were forced to turn back and head for France. With the prospect of two long over-water flights, and knowing that their range was substantially reduced when escorting bombers or in the event of combat, the Jagdflieger coined the term Kanalkrankheit or "Channel sickness".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catalina Flying Boat

Catalina Flying Boat  Photo Chris Lord
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections (called sponsons) from the fuselage. Flying boats were some of the largest aircraft of the first half of the 20th century, superseded in size only by bombers developed during World War II. Their advantage lay in using water instead of expensive land-based runways, making them the basis for international airlines in the interwar period. They were also commonly used for maritime patrol and air-sea rescue. Following World War II, their use gradually tailed off, partially because of the investments in airports during the war. In the 21st century, flying boats maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on forest fires, air transport around archipelagos, and access to undeveloped or roadless areas. Many modern seaplane variants, whether float or flying boat types are convertible amphibian aircraft where either landing gear or flotation modes may be used to land and take off.


Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin


USCG Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin - Photo Chris Lord
The Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin is a twin-engined, single main rotor, MEDEVAC-capable Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter operated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). It is a variant of the French-built Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin. The SA366 G1 Dauphin version was selected by the United States Coast Guard in 1979 as its new short range recovery (SRR) air-sea rescue helicopter, replacing the Sikorsky HH-52A Sea Guard. In total 99 helicopters, optimised for the USCG's search and rescue role tasks and given the designation HH-65A Dolphin, were acquired. Unlike the HH-52, the HH-65A is not able to perform water landings. The HH-65 normally carries a crew of four: Pilot, Copilot, Flight Mechanic and Rescue Swimmer.The Dolphin was manufactured by Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation (now American Eurocopter) in Grand Prairie, Texas. Textron Lycoming (now Honeywell) built the Dolphin's LTS101-750B-2 turboshaft engines in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Rockwell Collins manufactured the HH-65's electronic systems in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.The HH-65 Dolphin is used for homeland security patrols, cargo, drug interdiction, ice breaking, military readiness, pollution control, and search and rescue missions. The HH-65 is known for its Fenestron tail rotor and its autopilot capabilities, which can complete an unaided approach to the water and bring the aircraft into a stable 50 ft (15 m) hover, or automatically fly search patterns, an ability which allows the crew to engage in other tasks.

In order to comply with U.S. regulations relating to local content (based primarily on the value of individual components of the aircraft), engineering changes were required — notably, the SA365's original Turbomeca Arriel engines were replaced with LTS101-750B-2 powerplants, which at the time represented the cutting edge of turboshaft design. Unfortunately, initial teething problems with this engine worsened as the HH-65's weight grew, resulting in several in-flight loss-of-power events. The USCG funded a program to improve engine reliability, but the resulting LTS101-850 failed to meet expectations. In 1994, the USCG therefore held a fast-track competition to select a new powerplant, and in March 2004 the Guard announced the selection of the Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG, already installed on the EC155. This upgrade began in 2004, and has resulted in a safer and more capable aircraft. These modified HH-65As and HH-65Bs, which also gained new avionics and other enhancements, have been designated as HH-65Cs. The HH-65A's minimum equipment requirements exceeded anything previously packaged into a helicopter weighing less than 10,000 pounds. 75% of the HH-65's structure — including rotorhead, rotor blades and fuselage — consists of corrosion-resistant composite materials. Some Coast Guard pilots have nicknamed the Dolphin as "Tupperwolf", a portmanteau of tupperware (because of the aircraft's high composites content) and Airwolf (from the 1980s TV series). Also a unique feature of the Dolphin is its computerized flight management system, which integrates state-of-the-art communications and navigation equipment. This system provides automatic flight control. At the pilot's direction, the system will bring the aircraft to a stable hover 50 feet (15 m) above a selected object. This is an important safety feature in darkness or inclement weather. Selected search patterns can be flown automatically, freeing the pilot and copilot to concentrate on sighting & searching the object. A distinctive feature of the HH-65 is its fenestron ducted-fan anti-torque device. The fenestron consists of 11 blades spin inside a circular housing at the base of the helicopter's tail fin.

Certified for single-pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) operation, the HH-65A was the first helicopter certified with a four-axis autopilot, allowing for hands-off hover over a pre-determined location. Operational history The Dolphin is primarily a Short Range Recovery (SRR) aircraft. There are now total of 102 Dolphins in the Coast Guard Fleet. The fleet has home ports in 17 cities on the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and the Great Lakes region.The Dolphin is usually deployed from shore but it can be deployed from medium and high endurance Coast Guard Cutters, as well as the Polar Icebreakers.

The Dolphin's main jobs are: search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties (including drug interdiction), polar ice breaking, marine environmental protection including pollution control, and military readiness.When deployed from an icebreaker, the helicopter acts as the ship's eyes, searching out thinner and more navigable ice channels. They also have the job of airlifting supplies to villages isolated by winter, or transporting scientists to conduct remote research.The HH-65C is also used to patrol the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around Washington, D.C., also known as the National Capital Region (NCR). Seven new-build HH-65Cs were acquired for this mission.

Monday, January 2, 2012

US Army Air Corps B17G Flying Fortress

US Army Air Corps B17G Flying Fortress - Photo Chris Lord
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed in the 1930s for the then-United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances. The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets.

Sally B
The United States Eighth Air Force based at Thorpe Abbotts airfield in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in Operation Pointblank to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields. From its pre-war inception, the USAAC (later USAAF) touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a potent, high-flying, long-range bomber that was able to defend itself, and to return home despite extensive battle damage. It quickly took on mythic proportions, and widely circulated stories and photos of B-17s surviving battle damage increased its iconic status. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as an effective weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of the 1.5 million metric tons of bombs dropped on Germany by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s. As of September 2011, 13 airframes remain airworthy, with dozens more in storage or on static display. As beautiful as this aircraft appears here the realities of war should always be remembered and the fact that 46,500 young men were wounded or killed flying these machines can not be brushed over.

Battle Scarred but Heading Home - Photo Chris Lord

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire Photo Chris Lord

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War and on into the 1950s as a front line fighter and in secondary roles. It was produced in greater numbers than any other Allied fighter design and was the only Allied fighter in production throughout the war.
Many developing countries purchased Spitfires as the industrial countries phased out propeller powered aircraft in favour of the new jet engines. As these nations too started to update their air squadrons Spitfires and other Second World War vintage aircraft were sold to the public or for scrap. In Hong Kong the Spitfires that remained there on active duty with the UK colonial wings were bulldozed into the sea when the runway was lengthened by reclaiming land from the water.
Soon the private collectors began to band together in a group of like minded individuals that became known as the Warbird Movement. Warbird companies began to spring up as hobbies and for profit companies that focused on preserving vintage aircraft. Warbird companies are often bankrolled by the film industries need for authentic craft in Second World War movies. One of these aircraft, Spitfire Mk IX, MH434, is probably the most famous Spitfire survivor with many film credits to its name. MH434 not only had a lengthy Second World War record with the RAF but saw service in the Royal Netherlands Air Force (1947) and Belgian Air Force. She was brought back to the UK in 1956 by private owners and has since starred in a number of films including The Longest Day (1962), The Battle of Britain (1969) and A Bridge Too Far (1977).
Some 22,500 Spitfires and Seafires were built between 1938 and 1946 and almost 300 of them survive in museums and private collections around the world today. Approximately 50 Spitfires and Seafires are airworthy with another 20 currently undergoing restoration to flying condition.