The Immortal Jimmy Doolittle

Webp.net-resizeimage (1) - CopyAlready a legend in aviation, on January 23, 1930, Lieutenant Doolittle was in New York as the Air Corps advisor on construction of Floyd Bennett Field. Happily enough, he signed the back of his calling card for an admirer. Only three weeks later, Doolittle resigned from the active duty Air Corps and went to work for Shell Oil. He retained a commission in the Reserves, and was, of course, back in uniform for World War II and further exploits.

Berliner-Joyce OJ

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The prototype XOJ-1 (A8359) seen at NAS Anacostia. Note the machine gun mounted in the upper wing. The hangars of the Air Corp’s Bolling Field are in the background. It was not unusual at the time for the Army and Navy to have a patch of ground they practically shared but were in fact distinctive and separate airfields. Those days are over; today the 100 year old facilities are known as Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling


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Two views of an immaculate OJ-2 (A9196) at Boeing Field. Aircraft was assigned to Naval Air Reserve Base Seattle just a few miles up the road.


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Open house at CGAS St. Petersburg

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Above: B-18’s of the 32nd Bomb Squadron have flown cross-country from there home at March Field Ca. The B-18 would become a familiar sight to locals when MacDill Field opens nearby in 1941.


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Douglas O-25


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Classy mom and dad. The hangar still stands, and the base is still in use today, but is no longer an air station; it is now USCG Sector St. Petersburg.


C-47 and B-36’s at Carswell AFB

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This photo, among other things, illustrates just how flat the world can be – that is downtown Dallas in the far distance. The C-47 says MATS (Military Air Transport Service), but is also assigned to Airways and Air Communication Service (AACS). MATS was higher up the totem pole than AACS, hence the wing markings) The B-36’s are of Carswell’s 7th Bomb Wing.

The XB-19 buzzing the field

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Lesson of the day: Do not always trust the caption on a photo. This one states the photo was taken at Long Beach, California, in 1941. A sharp-eyed reader noted something in the photo that puts that caption in doubt: There appears what seems to be piles of melting snow. For those not familiar with the climate of Southern California, there is about as much a chance of it snowing in Long Beach as there is in Miami Beach. Further reflection makes me guess this photo was not taken in 1941, but rather 1942. The aircraft is painted, and still has radial engines (It was re-engined with Allisons in 1943).

But, where then was the photo taken? I took a guess, looked at some old photos for verification, and can confirm the aircraft is approaching the west side of Wright Field, Ohio. (And hey: It snows there often.)

The 零式艦上戦闘機 of the US Navy

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The  “零式艦上戦闘機” (or, “rei-shiki-kanjō-sentōki”) is better known to the rest of the world as the Mitsubishi Zero. The first image is the intact Zero brought back from the Aleutian Islands in 1942. It is seen here at NAS North Island in that same year. The second image is of what I assume to be a different aircraft some six or seven years later at NAS Whidbey Island.

I was quite surprised to find this photo showing a Zero still around well after the war. It is at least 1948: There are P2V Neptunes in the background as well as an R5D coded “RS” of VR-5. That tail code entered service in 1948.

O-1 Falcons of the 5th Observation Squadron

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September 1932, Mitchel Field. One was taking off, the other landing. The result: an eventful take-off, and an eventful landing.


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Close-up of the insignia of the 5th Observation Squadron.


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But wait – there is more to the story. The above photos are near & dear to me because a piece of an O-1 of the 5th Observation adorns my wall. Scrawled on it: “Fifth Observation Squadron, U.S.A. Crack-up at Trumbull Field, Groton Conn., August 21, 1931.” Research reveals that Lt. Elmer Tapley was the pilot and that he crashed on landing (but he walked away).

Given the time frame, the insignia seen on the mishap aircraft and on my wall were probably painted by the same man.


Keystone B-3’s of the 28th Bomb Squadron

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Given that the 28th was stationed at Nichols Field in the blazing hot Philippines, it’s no surprise the rest of the bomber’s crew are taking a siesta under the wing.


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The locals come to gawk at the the largest aircraft that they (and pretty much everyone else) had ever seen. They join the crew in taking advantage of the shade offered by the 74-foot wingspan of the B-3. Both photos were taken circa 1933.


Frederick Martin, the Douglas DWC, and the first flight around the world.

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Major Frederick L. Martin and his crewman, S/Sgt Alva L. Harvey. They are about to set off in the “Seattle” to begin the famed first flight around the world in 1924.


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Fellow pilots on the upcoming journey, Lt.’s Lowell Smith and Leigh Wade, assist Frederick.


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Harvey & Frederick. Alva Harvey retired as a full colonel in the USAF. Frederick was moving smartly up the ladder until December 7, 1941 when it was his misfortune on that fateful day to be in command of the Hawaiian Air Forces.

Harvey and Frederick crashed in Alaska on the first leg of the world flight. After an eventful 10 days in the wilds, they returned.