Tales the flightsuits tell

B-36, 92nd Bomb Wing


44-92060 had, by today’s standards, a brief life. Delivered in 1949, and assigned to the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild AFB in 1951, it did its part for five years until it was scrapped in 1956. Made for a lot of pots and pans.

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The patch of the 92nd during the B-36 days at Fairchild. B-52s arrived in 1957, and, alas, this patch design was done away with.

84th Bomb Squadron (Tactical)

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With its tail number of 47-084, this B-45A was a natural choice for assignment to Langley AFB’s 47th Bomb Group, 84th Bomb Squadron. The unit later moved to RAF Sculthorpe in the UK.

The B-45 was, of course, America’s first jet bomber, and like many of those early jets it had a checkered career (of the 143 B-45s built, almost one-third of them were destroyed in crashes and other mishaps). There are very few survivors, and 47-084 is not one of them: it ended its days in 1958 at Ramstein Air Base as an instructional airframe for training firemen.  In other words, a charred and smashed wreck.


Insignia of the 84th

460th Bombardment Group


It’s always fun to browse thrift stores for bargains; never know what you might find. The patches seen here illustrate that point: They were glued to a cheap imitation leather flight jacket that was priced $4.99. Alas, there was no name on the jacket – it no doubt belonged to a veteran who wore it to reunions and such. He would have flown the B-24’s of the 460th from their bases in Italy (the patches are Italian made). But the patches live on, and those mementos of a veteran’s service have been saved for all time.

Here’s five feet of the 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron


Five feet is the length of this photo, and given that I had to scan it in segments then stitch it all together, I would not have minded had the 18th FIS done its job with fewer men. That being said, it is a great shot of the entire squadron at Ladd AFB, Alaska, on July 18 1955, Major John “Buck” Rogers commanding. The following summer they moved to the somewhat less frigid Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan. F-89D Scorpions were the weapons of choice for the 18th in Alaska. One can be identified: 52-1839.

Hot “Dog”

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The “D” model of the famed F-86 Sabre was, of course, labeled the “Dog” model. However, this was not just for the phonetically proper D-for-Dog but for what that model’s radome did to alter the aircraft’s appearance. Compared to the previous Sabre models whose front end was an intake (comparisons were made between it and a fish with its mouth open), the addition of the black radome did indeed give the D model the look of some sort of canine.

The 15th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew the F-86D from 1954-1957. The latter date coincides with that of this photo. Well, photo yes, but it is actually a postcard used by “Tex and Paky”.

PS. Get it?: Hot “Dog”…D Model…”Sunny Tucson”…(?) Yeah…

Vietnam War Flight Nurse Jo Miller

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During the Vietnam War, crazy flightsuit-like garments were made by local tailors for wearing at the club. These “party suits” were usually in squadron colors, festooned with patches, and completely outlandish. Well, that was for the men, but what about the nurses? It seems they had their own after hours attire as seen here: A mini-skirt with emphasis on “mini.” The patch is the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron from Udorn Air Base, Thailand. Nurse Miller would not have been assigned to the 11th (their’s was man’s work), but this dress would have been made with their blessing. Year: about 1969.

9th Air Division (Defense), 1954-58


Based at Geiger Field, WA, in the mid-1950’s, the 9th Air Division controlled the fighter interceptor squadrons of Larson AFB, WA that guarded the skies of Eastern Washington & Oregon, and all of Idaho. They were also in charge of the various radar squadrons in the region.

Of note on this big patch is the Ground Observer Corps watchtower superimposed over the radome. Even in the mid-1950’s, the radar coverage of North America had gaps that still required eyes, and not electronics.