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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Born a cargo aircraft, C-97A 49-2591 was soon converted to a tanker configuration as seen here. Her air refueling days were short-lived as she was then reconfigured to once again become a trash hauler. Not the very obvious rear cargo doors where the boom operator’s pod has been attached.
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.
From 1949-1962, the Skyblazers of US Air Forces Europe (USAFE) thrilled European audiences with feats of aerial precision and showmanship. Here they are in the early days atop one of their F-84 Thunderjets: team founder Major Harry Evans, pilots Lawrence “Dagwood” Damewood, and twin brothers Charles “Bill” & Cuthbert “Buck” Pattillo.
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.
With his .50 caliber gun muzzles showing evidence of wear & tear, the pilot of this 26th FIS F-80 (49-0649) drives past the tower at Naha Air Base, Japan.
49- 0453 sits quietly beyond the tower. Note the portability of said tower.
Nice day for flying as 49-0635 & co. cruise the Japanese skies in the early 1950’s.
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.
F-86D (52-3774) of the 93rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron in front of the alert barn at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico around about 1957. What was there to make it worth a man’s while to go up and intercept things you ask? Answer: New Mexico was home to all things atomic bomb.
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…
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.
Classy VW Bug in front of 59th squadron ops. The alert barn is to the right with an F-89 Scorpion getting some sunshine.
Goose Bay Air Base alert facility. T-33’s are lined up in the distance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An F-86 pilot, Barrett was commander of the 49th Fighter Bomber Group at Misawa Air Base, Japan, in 1957. His next stop was commander of the 329th Fighter Group (Air Defense) at Stewart AFB, NY, 1958-59.