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MiG-15: Crude but Effective

MiG-15: Crude but Effective

The Yalu river runs wide and dark across the huge peninsula that is Korea. On either side, the topography is the same and at 40,000 feet, the hard blue sky doesn’t change color just because the politics below are different. One morning in 1950, however, when American and ROK (Republic of Korea) pilots came back […]
F/A-18 Hornet: a Dynasty in the Making

F/A-18 Hornet: a Dynasty in the Making

The Hornet has been a highly controversial airplane from the day it was initially proposed. Hornet detractors point at their hero, the massive F-14, and say the Hornet isn’t worthy of following in that great airplane’s steps. No range, no load, no nothin’. Well, folks, guess what? Right or wrong, the Tomcat’s on it’s way […]

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The A-10 Has No Warts

The A-10 Has No Warts

The A-10 isn’t an airplane. It’s a terrifyingly effective ball peen hammer designed from the onset to do one job and one job only: support the guys on the ground. At the beginning that meant it was to blunt the tank attacks cold war planners knew the Russians would send rolling across Europe in waves. […]
SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

by Budd Davisson When World War One broke out in 1914, the airplane was barely eleven years old and was nothing more than a plodding, noisy kite barely more dangerous than an observation balloon. As a weapon, it was difficult to take seriously. Four short years later it had been transformed into a multi-dimensional weapon […]

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GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

Today it’s impossible to think of the golden age of air racing without an R-1 or R-2 Gee Bee roaring across the mind’s eye. To the aviation public, the Gee Bees air racing — and vice versa. And that’ s only right. When Granville engineer, Pete Miller, drafted the first lines for the “R” series of […]
Stearman PT-17/N2S: The Biplane With So Many Lives

Stearman PT-17/N2S: The Biplane With So Many Lives

The PT-17 Stearman is literally the airplane that has always seemed to just be “there.” Although, it is most often thought of as the school marm that taught a generation of airmen the skills necessary to win a war, she has actually lived three distinct lives and is entering a fourth, from military trainer to […]

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Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

by Budd Davisson Okay, so we’ll admit it: just about every successful fighter of WWII was sleeker and sexier than a Hellcat. However, when it comes to fighters, “beauty is in the doing” and the Hellcat could do it. In spades! In terms of what it contributed to victory, it was the uncontested King of […]
F8 Wings Folded

F8 Wings Folded

On January 22, 1968, I was a young LTJG at Miramar, attached to Navy Fighter Squadron VF-53 preparing for a deployment to Vietnam aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. As a final part of the pre-deployment regimen, all pilots were briefed to fly [ FMLP ] Field Mirror Landing Practice about 2100 that night. This was our last chance […]

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Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Zero! Normally that’s a number signifying nothing, but to those who know history it indicates an able foe. A dainty, but lethal, dancer that cut a swath across the Pacific so bloody that for the first six months of World War Two it appeared as if nothing could stop it. The stories that filtered back […]
P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

One thing we often forget is that war is always fought by kids and, in the case of WW II aviators, that meant they were also extremely inexperienced. When I flew my first fighter, which happened to be the Mustang, I was 29 years old and had nearly 2,500 hours of flight time in a […]
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