Navy cadets moved from the T-34B to the T-28 in the aircraft progression process enroute to gaining their wings of gold. More powerful than the '28 as employed by the Air Force, the T-28B and T-28C which followed, were powered by the Wright R-1820 with 1,425 horsepower. The splendid handling characteristics of the T-28 spoiled the cadets of both services and prepared them well for the jets that would follow on. The cadet depicted below is on a solo flight in the vicinity of Whiting Field in Milton, Florida. This NAS Pensacola associated facility is the busiest naval aviation training center in the country.
By the time of the Vietnam war the aerial dog fight as it was known historically had very nearly ended, replaced by the more modern air-to-air missles and laser technology. Perhaps the last of the real gun fighters to ply the skies on our side was the Vought A-7 as depicted below. It may not have been the prettiest girl at the party but the A-7, designed to replace the venerable A-4 Skyhawk, was an extremely capable aircraft in the role of dog fight opponent or when delivering a variety of ordnance on enemy positions. Dubbed the Corsair II, the A-7 carried on the tradition of the F4U Corsair series fighters of WWII fame. This A-7E is painted in the colors of VA-27, the "Royal Mace," and is shown climbing out over NAS Lemoore in central California, where the squadron was based in the very early '80's.
As the low overcast begins to break up, LCDR Ted R. Swartz is about to descend and join his shipmates aboard Bon Homme Richard, CVA-31, in early May of 1967. In just a few weeks Swartz would become the only A-4 pilot in the Vietnam War to down a Mig, in side number NP 685 an A-4C from VA-76, Spirits. The Skyhawk was a very capable light attack aircraft and while it carried a minimal amount of 20mm ammunition, limiting it's air combat effectiveness, Commander Swartz found a way to use it to its best advantage.
It was a time of serious evolution in high performance aircraft design when the Supermarine company's answer to the government design spec 300 was K5054, the predecessor of the famous Spitfire. Reginald Mitchell and his design team, only months behind the Hawker Hurricane, penciled out and began building one of the most famous fighters of all time. First flown in 1938 the Spitfire prototype impressed the ministry and an order was placed for 310 of the exciting new design. It arrived too late for the Battle of Britain but the Spitfire quickly became the premiere British interceptor. Mitchell died in 1938 but had he lived until 1947, he would have seen more than 22,000 Spitfires built and put into service by allied countries across the globe. The "Spit" pictured below is MH434, credited with seven kills during the war, pulling up into a victory roll over the English countryside.
Designed shortly after WWII, the Douglas Skyraider was intended to replace the navy's existing torpedo and dive bombers that had served them so well throughout the war. Radial engine technology had advanced at that time to the point that the Pratt R-4360 and the Wright R-3350's were able to extract more than 2500 horsepower from those massive round power plants-more than enough to allow a single engine aircraft like the Skyraider to achieve a 375 mph top speed and to hoist more than 8000 pounds of explosives aloft. In fact, a B-17 could lift no more and required a crew of ten men and four engines to accomplish the mission. The A-1H pictured below in the markings of the CAG, belongs to my friend Bob (Skyraider Bob) Grondzik of San Diego and is shown catching a three wire on CVA-34, Oriskany. The squadron markings are that of VA-165 Boomers.
The J2F-6 Duck is the latest in the series of Grumman amphibians built before and during WWII. Powered by the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine, the Duck was capable of speeds up to 190 mph, but cruised at a more leisurely 150. The Duck was used primarily in the search and rescue mode during the war but was also armed and delivered a small amount of traditional ordnance. Production ended shortly after the war and all but a handful of the -6 production run of 330 airplanes has been scrapped.
Below is another version of the artist's T-34B. When a friend asked, and I affirmed that my airplane's bureau number (Buno) was 140901, he sent me a photograph of the airplane in flight over Pensacola FL in 1968, painted exactly as you see here. This was basically a modification of the the second theme that the Navy used on the T-34. A base white color was accented with high visibility red. This scheme was used until the fleet was put out to pasture in 1976.
Taking a slight leave of my own mission statement to feature only historic aircraft on this site, we present below the very impressive T-45 Goshawk, Navy trainer. Born the British Aerospace Hawk, the T-45, first flown in 1988 and put into service by the Navy in 1991, is ideal in its role of advanced trainer for the future F-18 Super Hornet Navy. Capable of 560 knots top speed, the aircraft, its integrated education program, and its demonstrably on time reliability make this the perfect compliment to the Navy flight syllabus. Side number 111 in this drawing was flown by Ensign Joel Nogle, son of a long time friend Jim Nogle, to the USS Truman (CVN-75) for carrier qualifications, just prior to his earning his wings of gold. Good job and congratulations Joel.
Immediately prior to, and during the early stages of WWII, the nation's aircraft factories could not turn out enough primary trainers to suit the Army and the Navy. Ryan, Fairchild, and Stearman in particular supplied enormous numbers of aircraft to support the pilot training efforts as the war heated up. Pictured below is a Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet. More than 10,000 examples of the ubiquitos bi-plane were manufactured in just over a six year period. The original design dates back to 1935 and to be sure, this was quite a utilitarian flivver, heavy on the controls and definitely underpowered by today's standards. With engines of 220 to 225 horsepower supplied by Lycoming, Continental, and Jacobs, the army's PT series and the navy's N2S, were capable of about 120 mph top speed at best. Slowly in this case, but surely, thousands upon thousands of fledgling military pilots cut their teeth in the Stearman.
Following the Korean war the Navy recognized the need for a long range subsonic attack aircraft capable of all weather operations and devastating accuracy. From the concept emerged the Grumman A-6 to fill the bill. First flown in 1960, the A-6 would serve the Navy and the Marines for more than thirty years in several iterations. Known best for its ability to lay down a large load of ordinance on target while flying at night and in bad perpetually bad weather over Vietnam, thanks to its terrain following capabilities, the A-6 was indispensable. Pictured below is an A-6E in the colors of VA-52 at the time the squadron was aboard Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) on a western Pacific tour during the Vietnam war.
One of the sweetest little jets ever produced, the Temco TT-1 Pinto, is pictured below. In the mid '50's Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company desperately wanted a piece of the military training pie and the Pinto was the horse they pinned their hopes to. The TT-1 lost out to the T-37 in the Air Force fly-off but some time later the Navy ordered 14 of them built to test the concept of pur jet training from start to finish. In 1959 the test began with both the T-34B and the TT-1 sharing ramp space at Saufley Field in Florida. The original Pinto was underpowered with only 930 pounds of thrust and woefully short legged. Perhaps because of these shortcomings the jet did not live up to Navy expectations and the program was abandoned in 1960. Since then virtually all remaining Pintos have been upgraded to "Super Pinto" status with 2,850 pounds of thrust from the J-85 engine and extended fuel capacity turning the pony into a tiger.