06 July 2010

QC Air Show Part 3 of whatever-Giving Props

Back to the airshow after a break. I thought I'd show everyone the craft with props and rotors that were there.

This is, of course, the C-47 (Dakota to the Commonwealth), the primary Allied transport of World War II. The C-47 served in the US Army Air Corps and Air Force into the Vietnam era, and there are quite a few still flying, a few still serving as military transports in some Third World countries, still more with small airlines and charter services. The plane was designed some 65 years ago, so the guys and girls at Douglas did a good job. This example is supposedly the oldest C-47/DC-3 still flyable. It's owned by the Ozark Aviation Museum. I'd guess this plane served in the Israeli Defense Forces by the camouflage scheme and colors-it's the scheme the IDF called 'cafe-au-lait'.

Kind of a favorite of mine-the P-38 Lightning. I like the center 'pod' for the cockpit and weapon bay. It isn't a bad arrangement, though I'm told the cockpit could get cold on long flights, since there's no waste heat coming back from the engines. The Lightning had good speed, decent manueverability (though a bit tricky to handle), and long range-qualities required for long flights over the Pacific or doing bomber escort into Germany. Although the Mustang and Thunderbolt supplanted the Lightning as the primary USAAF fighter by 1944, the P-38 still served as a photorecon bird until the end of the war. The Germans referred to the Lightning as 'Der Gabelschwanse Teufel' (the 'Fork-Tailed Devil), showing their respect for the plane's abilities.

The TBM Avenger, primary torpedo bomber of the US Navy after Midway in 1942. The Avenger was a tough design and well-liked by its crews. The primary mission of the Avenger was to carry a torpedo to destroy enemy ships, but the big roomy hull and crew of 3 allowed the Avenger to be converted into an anti-submarine plane (which would be what those underwing rockets would be used for-hopefully catching an unwary U-Boat charging batteries and relatively helpless), ground support, Carrier Onboard Delivery (transport), and even as some of the very first radar-equipped Airborne Early Warning planes. The Avenger was replaced by the Douglas Skyraider in US service, but during the war the TBM served with the US Navy, Royal Navy, France, and New Zealand.

A look inside the TBM. This is the radioman's position. Above him would be the rear gunner and, forward and above, the pilot. The weapons bay is directly in front of the seat. The radioman doesn't get a great view of the world from where he's sitting.

This plane is the Nord 3202, a postwar trainer built by France. It's recognizable by its landing gear with 'knees' on them. I personally think the nose art is awesome!

Our last prop plane is the Pilatus PC-9 (T-6 Texan II in USAF service). This bird is down from the Canadian Air Force (Canada usually has a presence at the airshows around these parts. I suppose it isn't very far for them to come.). The Texan II is an advanced trainer for the USAF (before pilots get into jet trainers). Many air forces use the PC-9 as a trainer and light attack aircraft, and I believe the PC-9 is the primary mount of the RAAF Roulettes aerobatic team. Plenty of plane for most pilots to have to deal with!

We leave the prop planes and go to the helicopters.

Here's the big MH-53 Super Stallion helicopter from HS-14 (Helicopter Squadron 14) of the US Navy. The Stallions are essentially a derivative design of the 1960's era Sikorsky Skycrane, with a proper fuselage instead of the skeletal design of the Skycrane. The Super Stallion is used primarily for mine-clearance, troop transport, and cargo transport, and can be found primarily on board amphibious assault ships.

The vintage CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The design dates to the early 1960s, but they're still the backbone of the Army's transport copter fleet. Several nations fly the Chinook, including Israel, Britain, and I believe Australia (one of you will correct me if I'm wrong). This example came clear from the National Guard base next to the airport-a flight of some 700 feet. I've seen a lot of these flying around the area. Again, got the nose art, which I believe is the Miller Beer Girl from the Miller ads from around the turn of the last century, and the name of the 'copter is 'Magic Bus'. Probably a good name for the Chinook!

And finally, a helicopter that has been in service since 1984, but I've never seen up close! Odd since I've been to a lot of airshows. It's the AH-64 Apache, which has replaced the venerable HueyCobra in Army service (though the Marines still like the Cobra for their attack helos). I used to play Gunship on the old Commodore 64 back in the day. That was a pretty good simulation of the Apache, at least for the mid-1980s. Here you get a good view of the 30mm chain gun and sighting/targeting systems. These are connected to the helmet of the weapons officer, so basically he/she can shoot what he/she is looking at. The system worked so well that the Soviets used helmet sighting on the MiG-29, and now it's fairly standard to the current generation of fighters. This Apache has the standard weapons loadout of 8 racks for the Hellfire anti-tank missile, and 2 19-round unguided rocket pods (this loadout can be adjusted to 16 Hellfires or 4 rocket pods as required).

The Apache has served well in the Middle East. It has taken its share of losses in addition to inflicting them. Helicopter warfare is a nasty business. Helicopters are inherently aerodynamically unstable in addition to having a lot of the propulsion system and drivetrain exposed. Landing an unpowered helicopter (autorotation, which is a procedure involving disengaging the rotors from the gearbox, letting them spin free, then pulling the nose up for lift) is dicey at best and depending on conditions might not be possible at all. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast.

Good to be able to get an up-close-and-personal with the -64. Quite impressive.

Reckon we'll finish up here with the fast movers, including the A-10. Hope y'all enjoyed.

yankeedog out.


  1. There was an Apache game on the Amiga which was pretty awesome.

    Quite a bit of old military bird action in Christchurch, if you get down to the south island of NZ. The RNZAF have an impressive museum in their old airbase hangar at Wigram.

  2. Doc-I wonder if that might have been Gunship, ported to the Amiga. I'd play it today were I able.

    NZ is quite the warbird hub. I believe they've got an Avenger down there as well. The RNZAF was fairly large back in the day.

    Bangar- 'Sall right.