aviation-unit

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Tupolev Tu-144, the world’s first supersonic commercial airliner, but unlike the Concorde, a complete failure that among other things, had a noisy and hot cabin, vibration problems, and higher-than-expected fuel consumption.

Introduced to passenger service in 1978 (two years after the Concorde), and quietly retired from commercial service in 1983 as a mail freighter, one of the most notorious but often overlooked failures in civilian aviation.

16 units were build, and out of those two crashed during non-commercial flights.

General characteristics

Crew: 3
Capacity: 140 passengers (11 1-st class & 129 tourist class)
Length: 65.70 m (215.54 ft)
Wingspan: 28.80 m (with wingtips) (94.48 ft)
Height: 12.55 m (41.00 ft)
Wing area: 506.35 m² (5,450 ft²)
Empty weight: 99,200 kg (218,500 lb)
Loaded weight: 125,000 kg (275,330 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 207,000 kg (455,950 lb)
Powerplant: 4 × Kolesov RD-36-51 turbojet, 240 kN (44,122 lbf)[N 6] each

Performance

Cruise speed: Mach 2.15 (2,120 km/h (1,320 mph))
Range: 4000 mi (6,500 km)
Service ceiling: 20,000 m (65,600 ft)
Rate of climb: 3,000 m/min (9,840 ft/min)
Wing loading: 410.96 kg/m² (84.20 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 0.44

The ruggedness of aircraft produced by Grumman’s “Iron Works” is demonstrated by this late production F6F-F3 Hellcat, witch was returned to the plant for workers to see. It had more than 200 bullet holes in it from combat. According to information on the reverse of the photo, this Hellcat had been flown by Butch O'Hare. (Grumman photograph from the Detail & Scale Collection)

Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare (March 13, 1914 – November 26, 1943) was an American naval aviator of the United States Navy, who on February 20, 1942, became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of nine heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier. Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II.

“The Tuskegee Airmen were the 1st African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the Army. Despite these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction.”                

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     In 1953, Col. Scott Crossfield would don a flight suit, parachute and helmet, then be secured to an ejection seat inside the cramped cockpit of a Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. After weeks of planning and preparation, a four chamber rocket engine would thrust Crossfield into the history books, making him the first human being to exceed twice the speed of sound. During that golden age of flight test, few could dream that we would one day sip Champagne and watch movies aboard a double sonic airliner. Concorde would make that dream a reality.

     The joint Aérospatiale / British Aircraft Corporation Concorde flew at Mach 2, allowing passengers to enjoy opulence and comfort as they traveled from New York to London in 3.5 hours, not the 8 hours of a conventional airliner. Concorde flew for more than three decades as the first supersonic transport. It truly made the world a smaller place.

     One of only 20 built, tail number F-BVFA was the first ship delivered to Air France. She would roll up 17,820 flight hours over the course of 6,966 flights, culminating in one last landing at Washington Dulles International Airport for permanent display at Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, as the first Concorde to be permanently displayed in the United States.

Marina Raskova (1912-1943) was a Soviet pilot, navigator, and commander who founded 3 famous female air regiments during the Second World War.

Born to a middle-class Russian family, Raskova initially had aspirations of becoming a musician, but eventually abandoned the idea to study chemistry. While working in a dye factory as a chemist she met Sergei Raskov, an engineer, who she married and had a daughter with. She changed careers in 1931 when she joined the Aerodynamic Navigation Lab of the Soviet Air Force as a draftswoman. Aged 19 in 1933 she became the first female navigator in the Air Force and the following year became the first woman to teach at the Zhukovskii Air Academy.

In 1935 she divorced from her husband and focused on her flying career. She become a famous pilot as well as a navigator, setting a number of long distance records. This included the famous ‘Flight of the Rodina’ covering 6000km from Moscow to Komsomolsk, which she conducted with two other female pilots, Polina Osipenko and Valentina Grizodubova. However the flight ran into difficulties at the end of its 26 and a half hour journey when poor visibility hampered the landing. As the navigator’s pit was vulnerable in crash landings, Raskova bailed out with a parachute while the two pilots completed the landing.  She survived with no water and almost no food for 10 days before she found her way to landing site and reunited with her team. All 3 women were decorated with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ award, the first women ever to receive it.

With the outbreak of World War 2 the Soviet Union was in need of pilots and many women volunteered. However while there were no formal restrictions on Soviet women in the military, many found their applications were denied or mysteriously delayed. Raskova proposed the creation of women’s aviation units and used her celebrity status to propose the idea directly to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Following a speech by Raskova in September 1941 calling for women pilots to be welcomed into the war, Stalin ordered the creation of 3 new air regiments, the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, dubbed The Night Witches. These regiments were entirely formed of women, from the pilots to the engineers to the support staff. Each regiment contained around 400 women, most of them in their early twenties, who completed 4 years’ worth of training in a matter of months.

Raskova personally took command of the 125th Bomber Regiment, for which she obtained the very best equipment available, including the state-of-the-art Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers, which caused some resentment from male units. The 125th regiment went on to fly 134 missions over the course of the war, dropping over 980 tons of bombs.

Raskova herself was killed on January 4th 1943, while attempting to lead two other Pe-2’s to a safe airfield. She was forced into making a forced landing on the Volga Bank, which resulted in the deaths of the entire bomber crew. Raskova received the first state funeral of the war and her ashes were buried in the Kremlin Wall beside those of fellow pilot, Polina Osipenko. She was posthumously awarded the Order of Patriotic War 1st Class and the regiments she created continued to serve for the duration of the war.

Maj Luther Richmond assumed command of the 486th FS after the tragic death of Bill Hennon. Seen here at Bodney posing with his personal P-47D-5 42-8412 “Sweetie” in early 1944 (he had by then been promoted to lieutenant colonel), Richmond would remain CO of the unit until 15 April 1944, when he was shot down by flak whilst strafing Vechta airfield, south-west of Bremen. Flying his 67th mission at the time, Richmond was at the controls of his new P-51B-10 43-7196 “Sweetie II” when the fighter was hit by several well-aimed round, leaving its pilot with little choice but to bail out and become a Prisoner of War (PoW). Richmond claimed just one aerial victory - a Bf 109 shot down east of Vechta just minutes before he was himself ‘winged’ by flak.

Photo & caption featured in Osprey Aviation Elite Units • 352nd Fighter Group by Thomas G Ivie.

~~ TUSKEGEE AIRMEN ~~
Art by Francesco Francavilla

First African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces.
The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots. #BlackHistoryMonth #Day10

The Tuskegee are also the subject of DREAMING EAGLES, a new series published by Aftershock Comics and written by Garth Ennis with art by Simon Coleby (I’m doing the covers). You should def check it out!

Cheers,
FF

1Lt ‘Mike’ Sobanski climbs into his P-47C 41-4924 prior to flying his next mission in the autumn of 1943. Like many of the group’s pilots at this time, Sobanski has opted for RAF flying gear. British flying helmets and ‘Mae Wests’ were hangovers from the days when these men had flown Spitfires

Photo & caption featured in Osprey Aviation Elite Units • 30 4th Fighter Group 'Debden Eagles’ by Chris Bucholtz