The 1916 mission to bring Pancho Villa and his desperadoes to justice was the first military operation for the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. Despite the primitive conditions and seemingly frail aircraft, the 1st Aero Squadron proved invaluable for the Army’s operations.
Beginning in mid-March, 1916, the aircraft seen here, Signal Corps No. 43, flew many of the 1st’s early missions. Usually piloted by Lt. Herbert A. Dargue, No. 43 was considered one of the more reliable machines. However, aircraft reliability in 1916 was measured in weeks: No. 43 developed engine trouble on April 19, 1916, was forced to land in hostile territory, and was subsequently destroyed to prevent its capture. Hiking through the badlands of Mexico without food or water for two days and nights, Lt. Dargue and fellow pilot Robert H. Willis managed to avoid capture.
The patches worn on the hats of these maintenance men tells us they are members of the 30th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Looks like a typical rainy day for Germany, and especially for Spangdahlem.
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
A salute to the forerunner of the world’s most famous bomber. Most of the photos taken of the 299 are well known, but here at Jivebomber’s you not only get to see them again, but in many cases, they are original 1935 photographs from long-discarded Boeing archives. Enjoy.
The Seattle Star of July 17, 1935, tells us that Boeing’s “Mystery Bomber” had rolled out the factory door only the day before.
The 299 being ogled by appreciative onlookers at Boeing Field. Another famous product of that company can be seen in the hangar – the P-26.
The 299 takes to the skies.
Artist’s conception of the Model 299 over Wright Field, Ohio.
The Stinson L-1 Vigilant seen here has had a long and interesting life. Delivered to the Air Corps in 1941, 40-3012 served all over the United States before being purchased at the war’s end by legendary Hollywood pilot, Paul Mantz. After decades of work as a camera plane, this airworthy craft now resides in the Fantasy of Flight museum in Florida. This photo shows the plane shortly after its sale to Mantz. The aircraft had last been assigned to the Air Transport Command (ATC) division in Alaska (that is the difficult to see totem pole insignia below the cockpit).
This L-1 was a rare bird. Built as 41-18912 for the Army Air Force, it was equipped with floats and redesignated the L-1F. Only a handful were so converted.
First flown in 1925, the XPB-1 with its all-metal hull seemed promising enough, but was plagued by difficulties with its liquid-cooled engines.
Despite the engine problems, the rugged XPB-1 was retained for testing purposes by the navy who eventually replaced the original motors with radials. Still, there was only one built.
Poland’s fledgling air force began with top of the line machines such as the German-built Albatross. When war came with the Soviet Union in 1919, the untried Polish air force gave a good account of themselves and were instrumental in the victory over the USSR.