Category Archives: Tomcats Forever

Cutaway Thursday: McDonnell Douglas F-4X-VG

The McDonnell Douglas F-4X-VG was a design proposal to improve the carrier landing characteristics of the venerable F-4 Phamtom 2 in US Navy service. This eventually lost out to Grumman’s F-14 Tomcat but like the Tomcat the F-4X-VG has a variable geometry wing. The Navy passed on this proposal due to the VG-X’s apparent inablility to carry the AWG-9/AIM-54 Phoenix weapons system suite.

F-4X-VG

 

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USAF MiG-21F-13s at Tonopah.

Before you read on if you haven’t been in-briefed on Have Doughnut go read.

MiG-21f-13 "Fishbed-C". Image credit Wikipedia.

MiG-21f-13 “Fishbed-C”. Image credit Wikipedia.

Have Doughnut was the combat evaluation of the Soviet-built MIG-21F-13 (NATO codenamed) “Fishbed-C.” The F-13 version of the -21 is an early version of the ubiquitous MiG-21 family. It was the first short range day fighter version of the -21 to be placed in mass production and was the first variant to use the K-13 air-to-air-missile. The -21F13 was also in service with the North Vietnamese Air Force and saw regular combat against USAF and USN combat aircraft in-theater.

Constant Peg was a training program that took Have Doughnut a step further an under the auspicies of the 4477th Test and Evaluation Force. The “Red Eagles” as they became known, equipped with the MiG-21F-13,  provided a somewhat formalized training environment, for both USAF and USN fighter pilots that saw the MiG as the primary threat aircraft.

From the Wikipedia page:

By the late 1970s, United States MiG operations were undergoing another change. In the late 1960s, the MiG-17 and MiG-21F were still frontline aircraft. A decade later, they had been superseded by later-model MiG-21s and new aircraft, such as the MiG-23. Fortunately, a new source of supply of Soviet aircraft became available, Egypt. In the mid-1970s, relations between Egypt and the Soviet Union had become strained, and Soviet advisers were ordered out. The Soviets had provided the Egyptian air force with MiGs since the mid-1950s. Now, with their traditional source out of the picture, the Egyptians began looking west. They turned to United States companies for parts to support their late-model MiG-21s and MiG-23s. Very soon, a deal was made. According to one account, two MiG-23 fighter bombers were given to the United States by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The planes were disassembled and shipped from Egypt to Edwards Air Force Base. They were then transferred initially to Groom Lake for reassembly and study.[2]

In 1987, the U.S. Air Force bought 12 new Shenyang F-7Bs from China for use in the Constant Peg program. At the same time, it retired the remaining MiG-21F-13 Fishbeds acquired from Indonesia.[citation needed][3]

The United States operated MiGs received special designations. There was the practical problem of what to call the aircraft. This was solved by giving them numbers in the Century Series. The MiG-21s and Shenyang F-7Bs were called the “YF-110” (the original designation for the USAF F-4C), while the MiG-23s were called the “YF-113”.[2]

The focus of Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) limited the use of the fighter as a tool with which to train the front line tactical fighter pilots.[1] Air Force Systems Command recruited its pilots from the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, who were usually graduates from either the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards or the Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Tactical Air Command selected its pilots primarily from the ranks of the Weapons School graduates at Nellis AFB.[1]

The 4477th began as the 4477th Test and Evaluation Flight (4477 TEF), which began 17 July 1979. The name was later changed to the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron (4477 TES) in 1980. The 4477th began with three MiGs: two MiG-17Fs and a MiG-21 loaned by Israel, who had captured them from the Syrian Air Force and Iraqi Air Force. Later, it added MiG-21s from the Indonesian Air Force.

Here are some newer photos of those MiG-21F-13s at the Tonopah Test Range sporting Soviet Air Force markings and cavorting about the Tonopah Test Range, probably in the 1970s.

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Several of these photos are probably in Steve Davies “Red Eagles” and Gail Peck’s “America’s Secret MiG Squadrons.” According to both of these books, after the aircraft reached the end of their useful lives, they mysteriously appeared at several museums throughout the United States. Reportedly, as the aircraft were dropped off, curators were told not to ask any questions about the aircraft.

If you haven’t read either “Red Eagles” or “America’s Secret MiG Squadrons” you should. You’ll get more information than what you read on the Wikipedia page.

Apparently, I have a cutaway drawing of the -21F-13 so if you’re wondering what it looks like under the skin, here ya go:

mig21f13

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Filed under Air Force, Airplanes, Naval Aviation, Navy, Red Flag, Tomcats Forever, USAF, Vietnam

Cutaway Thursday: Aero L-39 Albatros

In honor of our favorite Tomcat RIO.

L-39

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Filed under Aeronautical Engineering, Airplanes, Lexicans, Naval Aviation, Navy, Plane Pr0n, Tomcats Forever

Book Review: Inside the Iron Works: How Grumman’s Glory Days Faded

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This book is written by George M Skurla (a former President of the Grumman Corporation) and William H. Gregory.  Mr Skurla opinions on what happened at Grumman are certainly controversial and strong.

Grumman produced many of the legendary naval aircraft already familiar to readers.

There’s lots of interesting “behind the scenes” details of the F-14 program and the fiscal tool is took on the company. The F-14 Tomcat program was still a financial burden to the company even after the Iranians bought 80 of them in the 1970s. For years Grumman operated at a loss while trying to get the Tomcat into service and maintained properly. The A-6 Intruder program was more a success but Grumman didn’t even bid on the re-winging that Boeing eventually won. They were also unable to sell the improved  A-6F Intruder.

Some of the most successful programs that Grumman Aerospace had were the E-2 Hawkeye and the E-8 JSTARS.

Since before World War 2, the Government, the Navy specifically, had been Grumman’s primary customer. There were numerous attempts at diversification, canoes, aluminum truck bodies, electronics, refrigeration units, solar energy, trash disposal and many many more. The author believes that these attempts were distractions from building airplanes.

There’s some particular angst from the author over the spin-off of Gulfstream after Grumman had produced the relatively successful Gulfstream 1.

All in all a good book for anyone into learning about the “ins-and-outs” of the aerospace industry and Grumman’s internal politics in particular.

The book is available here.

I also found this somewhat average short documentary on the Grumman Corporation:

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Filed under Aeronautical Engineering, Airplanes, Flying, History, Naval Aviation, Navy, Tomcats Forever

The world’s longest swan’s song hits the final stanza

Originally published July 29th, 2006.

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by | July 29, 2012 · 4:07 am

I have an addictive personality

I suppose I should be a more in-the-closet kinda guy in today’s politically correct world, but I can’t help myself. I am who I am. I’ve struggled with this situation over and over again, and some days I think I should just admit that things will always be this way.

It is said that one of the first steps to recovery is admitting your problem, but I’m just not sure I want to recover.

Where Mongo balks at recovery.

And please don’t talk about how Bugs are the new age cure. That’s just too disgusting for words!

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