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Messerschmitt  at the Beginning: An Icon is Born

Messerschmitt at the Beginning: An Icon is Born

At the age of 15, “Willy” Messerschmitt, who would eventually become a near-legend during WW II, started his apprenticeship with a group of “free-flight” enthusiasts in his hometown of Bamberg, in Bavaria. It was 1913; some 10 years after the Wright Brothers had flown, when Messerschmitt joined with the 33-year-old architect Friedrich Harth in experiments […]
The Turncoat’s Raid

The Turncoat’s Raid

Our Bombers Were Led by a Japanese Officer He was called the Benedict Arnold of Mindanao, a turncoat to the Empire of Japan. Yet few turncoats were as honorably and honestly motivated as Minoru Wada, a WW II Japanese prisoner of war, who voluntarily led an American air strike against his own military because of […]

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Mission into Darkness

Mission into Darkness

Flying the SB2C Helldiver into probable suicide On June 19, 1944, Task Force-58’s (TF-58) fighter and dive-bomber aircrews celebrated the combined destruction of 380 Japanese airplanes during the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. But our exhilaration was almost dashed the very next day when we went hunting for the fleeing Japanese fleet. Those of us flying […]
Before Its Name Was Mitchell: Free Wallpaper

Before Its Name Was Mitchell: Free Wallpaper

In response to a 1938 USAAC request for a twin-engine light attack bomber, North American Aviation submitted a prototype they designate NA-40. Powered by two P & W R-1830s eventually developing 1,600 hp each, the prototype crashed. But we would hear from it again. Visualize the NA-40 with a much wider fuselage and side-by-side cockpit […]

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Life Among the Nukes

Life Among the Nukes

By sheer coincidence, I am, at 86, one of relatively few ex-SAC members who can recall both how it was in the Strategic Air Command before General Curtis LeMay’s influence, and afterwards. It was a unique time in my life. In those days, the Strategic Air Command was a cocked fist carrying a knockout blow. […]
Escape From Agana Harbor

Escape From Agana Harbor

On June 6, 1944, while the Allies landed at Normandy, the greatest American combat fleet yet seen in the Pacific sailed from Majuro anchorage. Its goal was the Mariana Islands, 1,800 miles to the north-northwest. Seven heavy fleet carriers and eight light carriers of Task Force 58 under Admiral Marc Mitscher would support 535 ships […]

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Iconic Firepower: SAM SA-2:  The Aviator’s  Real Enemy

Iconic Firepower: SAM SA-2: The Aviator’s Real Enemy

U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was destroyed in flight over central Russia. From more than 60,000 feet, Francis Gary Powers parachuted into captivity for two years, giving Moscow a huge propaganda victory over President Dwight Eisenhower, who pledged to stop all overflights. The surface to air missile had arrived: the NATO alliance called it the SA-2 Guideline. […]
Twenty Years of Flight Journal

Twenty Years of Flight Journal

Publisher Louis DeFrancesco sat across the table from my wife, Marlene, and me on the second floor of an Italian restaurant in the Biltmore section of Phoenix and said, “We want to start a new magazine—only rather than being a hobby magazine, like our Model Airplane News, we want it to be on full-scale aircraft. […]

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Travel Air A-6000A: Back from  the Aerial Dead

Travel Air A-6000A: Back from the Aerial Dead

Looking back at the Travel Air Manufacturing Company of the late 1920s from this end of history’s telescope, it looks like an aviation dream team. Of course, at the time, there was no way to know that each of the company’s founders, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman would go on to become aviation […]
Bomber Crew: A Day in Their Lives

Bomber Crew: A Day in Their Lives

B-17 crewmen remember the German missions Aboard each of the thousands of B-17 Flying Fortresses that left the soil of England bound for targets in Europe were 10 young men. Outwardly, they were no different from any late-teen or early-twenties boy you’d meet anywhere in America. Same faces, same names, same youthful vigor and sense […]
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