A soggy day for an airshow…

Webp.net-resizeimageWebp.net-resizeimage (1)

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”

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (6)Webp.net-resizeimageWebp.net-resizeimage (10)Webp.net-resizeimage (9)Webp.net-resizeimage (8)Webp.net-resizeimageWebp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (11)Webp.net-resizeimage (7)

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.

Webp.net-resizeimage (5)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (4)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

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.

Webp.net-resizeimage (12)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Webp.net-resizeimage (5)Webp.net-resizeimage (4)Webp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (2)Webp.net-resizeimage

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


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

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

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.

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (2)Webp.net-resizeimageWebp.net-resizeimage (7)Webp.net-resizeimage (8)Webp.net-resizeimage (4)

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.

Webp.net-resizeimage (9)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (5)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (6)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (10)

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


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

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

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.

Webp.net-resizeimage (4)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

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

Webp.net-resizeimage (5)

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

“The Fighter School”


Originally a TF-80C and renamed (of course) the T-33A, 48-370 was in fact the 15th of these aircraft built. Truly, an early T-Bird. The photo says “Selfridge Field”, but the T-33 belonged to the 3525th Pilot Training Wing at Williams AFB, AZ (says so under the cockpit sill). However, the pilots wear the crest of the Selfridge’s 56th Fighter Interceptor Wing on their epaulets and the background does not look very Arizona-esque. Lt. Leonard Lilley, on the right, wears a US Army hat, so this is during the uniform transition period of the late-40’s to early 50’s. Note the stars denoting victory markings on the nose. Some of those markings may reflect the fact that the aforementioned Lilley shot down 7 MiGs during the then ongoing Korean War.

Shaw AFB, 1955

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

RB-57’s and RB-26’s of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing bask in the South Carolina sunshine. With their black paint jobs, the interior of these aircraft must have been hotter than an atomic sauna.

PS. Whatever 1950’s chemical is in those green barrels killing the grass beneath would probably drop a man dead with one sip.

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

More RB-57’s. The hangar under construction is still in use today.

Webp.net-resizeimage (4)

C-119’s and RB-26’s.

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

More C-119’s and RB-57’s with a couple of RT-33’s in the distance. Constructed in 1941, Shaw was slowly modernizing in the 1950’s but there are still plenty of WWII buildings in the background.

Webp.net-resizeimage (5)

F-86s arriving at Shaw on a cross-country hop from Alexandria AFB, LA. Renamed later that year as England AFB, it was, in 1955, home to the 366th Fighter Bomber Wing and their Sabres.

F-51 Mustangs, Korea, 1951


The Chinhae Air Base flightline is a flurry of activity as F-51’s of the 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron are refueled and rearmed for another strike on the attacking North Korean and Chinese forces. As pilots dash back and forth, maintenance men and armorers are swarming the aircraft. By the time this busy day was done, there were going to be quite a few less enemy troops than when it began.

B-47 Stratojets in Phoenix


I do not know what the occasion was, but these bombers are not what one typically finds crowding your city airport (there are at least a dozen B-47’s), in this case, Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Judging by the vehicles at the Avis Rent-A-Car, I would say this slide photo dates from circa 1954. There is a 1962 date stamped in the slide, but I think that is when a copy was made. My evidence: the B-47’s in 1962 wore different markings, and, the rental cars are all early to mid-1950s vintage – a company like Avis would have much newer cars on the lot way before 1962.

F-86 Sabres of the Korean War


When photographed by yours truly at Taegu Air Base in 1990, these were Republic of South Korea Air Force (ROKAF) birds. Ah, but in the days of the Korean War, they belonged, respectively, to the USAF’s 311th Fighter Bomber Squadron and 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Of course, in 1990, these Sabres (52-4829 and 52-4526) were no longer front-line aircraft, but they were still lingering about the base. Camouflaged 526 was not going anywhere soon, but 829 was.

Story as follows: We USAF guys were tenants of Taegu. Both us and our ROKAF hosts flew variants of the F-4 Phantom and therefore shared certain facilities. One of them was the “trim pad” – the engine run-up area. We had an RF-4C that needed the use of said trim pad and, having been told it was in use by the ROK’s, I drove over to ascertain how long they would be. To my complete surprise, there sat this F-86, 829. As seen by 526, there were several rather sorry looking Sabres scattered about the base, but I had no idea they also had a flyable one. And flyable it was; the next day I saw it streaking over the base. I learned from a ROKAF friend that when their general needed to get his hours he didn’t do it in some new fancy jet like the F-4 or F-16. No, he strapped on the bird that he had cut his teeth on, the F-86 Sabre.

B-52’s of long ago…

Webp.net-resizeimage (13)Webp.net-resizeimage (12)Webp.net-resizeimage (11)

A Boeing bomber 4-ship consisting of the B-52, B-47, B-29, and B-17. This B-52C (54-2676) crashed in 1957, the B-47E (52-0165) of the 9th Bomb Wing was scrapped. Now the two oldtimers up top, B-29 44-62022 and B-17 44-83684, survive to this day in museums.

img383Webp.net-resizeimage (10)

Little do the men working on these factory-fresh Fortresses realize that over half a century will pass and these planes will still be flying. The four tail numbers I can make out (60-0004, 0038, 0041, and 0043) are in service today. Location is the flightline at Wichita, Kansas.

Webp.net-resizeimage (9)Webp.net-resizeimage (6)Webp.net-resizeimage (5)Webp.net-resizeimage (7)Webp.net-resizeimage (8)