Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas, eh!


(Photo courtesy of the Canada. Dept. of National Defence/PL-41096)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Slim and Glenn


One of the great stories that emerged upon the passing of true American hero John Glenn was that he flew in World War Two with Charles Lindbergh. While many aviation fans are aware that Lindbergh flew combat missions during World War Two in the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, he also flew as a "non-combat" consultant on the F4U Corsair. John Glenn was a Marine flying Corsairs with VMF-115 at Emirau Airfield, Papua New Guinea. In late May 1944, Slim flew a few missions (four?) with the squadron. (I guess Lindbergh had a differing view of "non-combat" than mine!) So it is very likely that Glenn flew with Lindbergh during these missions. Lindbergh was involved in helping convert the F4U to a fighter bomber; using the then new technology Brewster bomb rack fitted with 1000 and 2000 pound bombs. By some reports, his input was invaluable.

Joe Foss, Slim, and Marion Carl during Lindbergh's days with
VMF-115 (Photo courtesy of the USMC)



A friend of my father's, Frank Arrufat of El Paso, Texas, purchased a FG-1D Corsair from El Salvador in the 1970s and undertook the long process of restoring the Corsair to flying condition. Just before the airplane was completed, he sold the Corsair to a new owner, but Mr. Arrufat was able to see his beloved Corsair "Kathleen" take to the air and appear at Oshkosh in 2010.  The restoration added "Slim" Lindbergh's name below the cockpit and featured a reproduction Brewster bomb rack under the fuselage. The Corsair won "Grand Champion World War Two" restoration at the show and is a fitting reminder of Lindbergh's contribution to the Corsair story. The header photo shows Frank Arrufat's FG-1D Corsair BuNo. 92489/N209TW at Oshkosh during the 2010 airshow. The Brewster rack, fitted with a Mk. 17 depth bomb, is obvious, but Col. "Slim" Lindbergh's name below the cockpit is just visible. (Al Sauer photo)

What is purported to be Lindbergh in a US Navy Corsair. (Photo
courtesy of the U.S. Navy)


This is a rather interesting photo shows John Glenn flying F4U-4 Corsair
N51. Often captioned as taken in 1943, and occasionally as taken during training
in the United States prior to deployment to the Pacific, this photo must be much
later as the F4U-4 did not enter service until 1945. So it might be very late war,
post war overseas, or training in the U.S. soon after hostilities ended. (Photo
courtesy of the USMC)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor


One of the lesser told tales about the morning of December 7, 1941, is that of the civilian pilots who were airborne over Hawaii during the Japanese attack. It is believed that the first U.S. aircraft downed by the Japanese during the raid was a Piper J-3 Cub flown by either Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) graduate Sgt. Henry Blackwell (NC35111) or the Cub piloted by his flying buddy Cpl. Clyde Brown (NC26950).  One of these men also was the first U.S. military casualty suffered during the attack.

Shockingly, on the 75th Anniversary of the raid, one of the civil aircraft that was actually airborne over Pearl Harbor during the attack now calls the skies of Washington state home. Interstate Cadet NC37266, nicknamed "The Pearl" is on display Heritage Flight Museum at the Skagit Regional Airport. How the airplane survived until 2016 is quite the mystery, but during restoration, some bullet holes were found.  On that historic day 75 years ago, an instructor and her student set out to do some touch and goes, but when the attack commenced were able to avoid a near miss with one Japanese attacker and were unsuccessfully strafed by other Japanese aircraft. The instructor,, Corneila Fort, survived the encounter only to lose her life in 1943 in the crash of a Vultee BT-13 while serving as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot).  A character using her name was featured in the in the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!."  Oddly, Ms. Fort was depicted flying a Stearman biplane in the movie.


Modeler's Note: Like many civilan types, there has never been a kit of the Interstate Cadet in 1/72 scale.  However, KP recently issued a neat 1/72 scale kit of the Piper J-3 Cub.  One of my future projects is to replicate Sgt. Blackwell's Cub in scale.  Watch this space!