Friday, June 4, 2021

Is there even one of these that's airworthy today?



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    1. What does it say about their combat-worthiness when it's own pilots called it the "Peashooter"? It was okay when it was introduced, but by 1935 it was being outclassed. We were still flying some into 1942, mostly in the Panama Canal Zone.

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  3. Yes, Planes of Fame has a flyable example.

  4. S/N 33-123 was restored to flying condition. I believe it is currently at the Chino air museum - if I get a chance, I'll take pix of it. So funny to think of something like that as being "cutting edge" aviation tech when compared with, say, a P-51D Mustang.

  5. It just occurred to me that the main purpose of formation flying is to teach pilots the finer points of controlling their aircraft. Oh, it looks good, but looking good isn't going to kill the enemy.

    1. It also puts up a wall of lead, and much like an infantry line going back to hoplite days, if yours is longer than theirs, there's no way to flank it.

      Personally, I just like that they made an open cockpit life support system for the biggest radial piston engine they could find, at the time.

      BTW, besides Chino's (last flew in 2014), 33-135 is at the Smithsonian NASM.
      There are also four replicas either on display or being built.

      That's all.

      If Boeing would build them now, I'm betting they could sell all they made.

    2. I'm not a formation pilot, nor a military pilot, but I suspect formation flying is analogous to close-order drill, for ground troops. It's an efficient and orderly way of getting a unit from one place to another, following the leader. In addition to the obviously practical intent, it also reinforces precision airmanship.
      I once worked with a retired USAF pilot who had flown the Voodoo ("the Great White 101", he always called it), flew FAC in Vietnam in OV-10s, and instructed in T-38s. He told me about an incident wherein he was flying in a two-ship, as wingman to a fairly demanding leader, in poor visibility. At one point he radioed the lead and asked permission to increase his spacing, as he was having a little difficulty maintaining the desired close separation. Permission was granted and he later learned that the lead pilot had taken them through a barrel roll; my friend had not been able to tell that because visibility was so poor, and his attention had been, properly, fixed on the lead plane.
      There was a 1982 Thunderbirds crash resulting in the loss of 4 planes and four pilots. As I understand it they were practicing a formation loop when an elevator control linkage broke in the lead airplane - so he couldn't pull up. I think in the T-38 the mike button was on the throttle-control lever, and they presume the lead pilot had both hands on the stick, attempting to pull up. He could not pull up, nor could he radio the other planes, resulting in the other three pilots following him into the ground. (I read that the Thunderbirds went to a "hot mike" during shows, after that.)
      In close formation the wingman is focused on the lead, and the lead pilot is responsible for the navigation of the whole flight.
      In a combat formation the entire flight increases spacing, so that everyone can safely scan for the opposition while still following the lead.

  6. Might as well look good while you're killing the bastards.

  7. One flew in to the Wilkes Co NC airport and was hangared there for a while in the mid 70s

  8. I am pretty sure one showed up at Oshkosh in the 70s.