F-102 Delta Daggers!

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F-102A on a visit to Paine AFB, WA, circa 1959. Stationed just down the road at McChord AFB, 56-0972 bears the rather simple yet satisfying markings of the 317th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS).


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Another 317th FIS bird (56-0958) poses with a predecessor, a replica Spad.


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Early F-102A of the 327th FIS.


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Another early bird, 53-1817 of the Air Proving Ground Command, 1956. This aircraft was withdrawn from service in 1962 and was then displayed for decades at Lackland AFB, Tx. It is now on exhibit with the Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonville, Fl.


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The Washington Air National Guard’s 116th FIS flew the F-102 for only 3 years, 1966-69. This aircraft, 56-0985, is currently on display at McEntire Air National Guard Base, SC.


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Speaking of South Carolina, here are a brace of 102’s from that state’s 157th FIS, 57-0859 and 57-0818.


F-89D, 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron

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The year is approximately 1955 (The F-89, 53-2568, was written off in 1956), and it’s one of those great airshows of the era. We can only guess at what other aircraft graced the ramp of this unidentified base, so we will have to content ourselves with this gaggle of birds. The 58th FIS Scorpion is from Otis AFB, the B-29 (45-21800), from Langley. A well-known aircraft, this B-29 did the air drops of big name test airplanes way back when (The X-1, Chuck Yeager, being just one of many).

C-123 (54-577) brings up the rear. Scarcely visible behind the F-89 are F-84s of the USAF Thunderbirds. Like I said, one of those great old time airshows.

Open house, Langley AFB, 1962

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Naturally, one sees this photo and says “F-4 Phantom.” However, the picture is early enough to where the sign in front of the aircraft says otherwise: “F-110A Phantom”. That is a bit of a misnomer. While the Air Force did designate their version of the Navy’s F4H Phantom as the F-110, they chose the name “Spectre” instead. Carrying the Navy bureau number of [1]49406, this aircraft’s USAF serial number was 62-12169.

The F-105 alongside (59-1755) is from Seymour Johnson AFB’s 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron. This aircraft was shot down while engaged in a dogfight with a MiG 17 on July 19, 1966. The pilot, Stephen W. Diamond, was seen to eject, but was never found.


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F-104 Starfighter (56-0899) of the 479th TFW, George AFB. The F-106 alongside (56-0462), is from Langley’s 48th FIS. This aircraft suffered engine failure while on a high altitude (70,000 feet) intercept mission on June 6, 1975. The pilot, Captain Stephen Damer, made aviation history when he safely ejected at great altitude and descended some 12 miles or so to the Gulf of Mexico.


 

Mixed bag of B-29 Superforts

Starfighters of the 83rd FIS, 1959

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Despite its sleekness and speed, the F-104 was not well-suited to the needs of the USAF. Lacking the range and weaponry of the other interceptors of the day, the 104 never formed the backbone for America’s air defense. Though it served the Air Force for about twenty years, it typically never served in one interceptor squadron for long. Hamilton AFB’s 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron as seen here is typical: they flew the F-104 from 1958-60. On average, a USAF Starfighter squadron operated the type for only four years. This is in sharp contrast to the service the F-104 provided to air forces abroad. This was especially so in the skies of Europe where it was flown by a host of nations and was a familiar sight for decades.

Aircraft seen here are 56-0788 and 56-0819. In keeping with the Starfighter serving abroad theme, 788 was soon transferred to the Republic of China Air Force.

Oddball Aircraft

 

 

Hahn Air Base, 1956

124th Fighter Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard, 1951

The year 1951 was busy for the Iowa Air National Guard at Des Moines Airport. At the beginning of that year the boys had been flying F-84 Thunderjets, but with the Korean War now in full-swing those F-84s went to active duty units while Iowa reverted to the F-51. Having flown them from 1946-1949, the 124th and the Mustang were old friends. This state of affairs continued until the war ended thus making jets available once again.

 

Young pups: K/C-135’s in the early 60’s.

 

 

 

A soggy day for an airshow…

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It is a rainy day at McChord AFB, but such weather never deters the die-hard aircraft fans. B-47E 53-6219 – as with all Stratojets – was nearing the end of its days when this photo was taken in 1963, but it could still draw admirers. (Made a good umbrella too) This 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing aircraft was visiting from Mountain Home AFB, a place where rain is less a concern than dust and tumbleweeds.

When this photo was taken, McChord AFB was home to a rather large fleet of rather large aircraft: The C-124 Globemasters, many of which are seen in the background.

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…

The 59th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of Goose Bay Air Base in the less than tropic land of Labrador, Canada, in 1957

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Who doesn’t look forward to a little refresher in the fine art of arctic survival? You can see the enthusiasm written all over their faces.

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Classy VW Bug in front of 59th squadron ops. The alert barn is to the right with an F-89 Scorpion getting some sunshine.

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Goose Bay Air Base alert facility. T-33’s are lined up in the distance.

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Although the C-118 and C-124 are hidden by snowbanks, the melting ice tells us that summer cannot be too far off. It will be warm, just not for very long.

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SA-16’s of the 54th Air Rescue Squadron are dwarfed by the SAC hangars at Goose Bay. These hangars, along with many of the other such buildings in these photos, are still in use today. When one looks at these photos, it is sometimes hard to believe they were taken over six decades ago. The aircraft are long scrapped or, if lucky, in a museum. The young men are now old – most around 90 years of age – but they will remain, for a least a few moments here, forever young.

USAF Firepower Demonstration

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It’s the early 1960’s and the USAF is providing the taxpayers with a sample of the hardware they have available to deter anti-social behavior. We have B-52’s, the C-130, KC-135, B-58, and for the grand finale, the F-100’s of the USAF Thunderbirds. Oh, there is also a nifty two-tone 1958 Ford station wagon, and redheaded and blonde dames baking in the Nevada sun.

F-86 meets its fate in Fresno

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Although there was an F-86 squadron at Fresno, Ca. during the 1950’s, this is not one of theirs. The date is July 19, 1958, and this F-86E (51-12994) of the Van Nuys Airport based 195th Fighter Interceptor Squadron has met its fate away from home. Mechanical difficulties brought about this mishap which was sufficient enough to write-off the aircraft.