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.

The 325th Fighter Interceptor Squadron

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Maintenance men and pilots say “cheese” on the ramp of Truax AFB, Wisconsin in the late 1950’s. Of the F-102’s in the background, 56-1413 is now displayed at the Castle Air Museum in California. Beyond sits 1421 and she is no more.

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These photos are from the estate of the 325th commander, Lt Col John Beck. Seen here briefing his men, Beck had served as boss of the 87th Fighter Squadron in WWII and was a highly decorated pilot with both the US and British DFC’s.

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Beck in the cockpit of an F-102. Aircraft had changed a bit in the 15 years since he had flown the P-47.

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56-1390 on roll-out at Truax AFB, 1958.

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56-1412 speeding past what is now the ramp for the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

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Beck and his fellow pilots enjoy a squadron “dining in” at the Truax “O” club. Note the F-102 model mounted above the red bull mascot of the 325th.

F-106 at McGuire AFB, 1960s

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Basking in the warm (and humid) New Jersey sunshine, F-106A 57-2459 of the 539th Fighter Interceptor Squadron shares the ramp with an MC-131A and an F-105B. All of these aircraft were based at McGuire. Our F-106 had a long life, but she ultimately came to her end after being picked to pieces to keep other 106’s flying. Our MC-131 (52-5785) too had a long life but with a happier ending: After her USAF days she went to the Coast Guard, but is now on display at the Castle Air Museum in California. The F-105 (57-5784) spent most of her long career with the New Jersey Air National Guard (as seen here), but was saved and is now on display down Mexico way.

Kunsan Air Base Korea, 1951-52

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The crew chief and pilot of F-84E 50-1125, 474th Fighter Bomber Wing, standby for another trip “Up North.” Judging by the markings below the canopy, this will be its 24th mission.

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T-33A 51-4113 gets a going over. Note the painted over “buzz number” on the nose.

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F-84E 50-1157 of the 27th Fighter-Escort Group.

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Another Kunsan-based unit was the 3rd Bomb Wing with its B-26 Invaders.