weapons testing

The British nuclear test of Orange Herald, moments after detonation in the South Pacific, 31 May 1957. Attempting to crack thermonuclear weapons during the ‘Grapple’ tests, Orange Herald was a fusion boosted fission weapon, large enough to imitate a thermonuclear device for political reason. With a 720-kiloton yield, it remains the largest fission device ever tested. The weapon was dropped by an RAF Vickers Valiant.

me, in training range: (stands there for one second without tearing anything to pieces)

overwatch: Hey why are you here? Why are you at the training range? Why are you not attacking? Test out your weapons! Test out your weapons! Test out your weapons !You will be kicked due to inactivity!


The Fighter Pilot Who Shot Himself Down,

On September 21st, 1956 Grumman test pilot and World War II veteran Thomas W. Attridge Jr. took off in a F11F Tiger fighter plane on a test flight over the Atlantic. His mission was simple, to do a weapons test by strafing an part of the ocean.  Once in the designated area,  Attridge entered a shallow dive from an altitude of 20,000 feet and readied his cannon. The F11F was armed with four Colt Mark 12 20mm cannon, which were capable of firing at a rate of 1,000 rounds per minute. Once he reached 13,000 feet, he fired a four second burst from his guns. He then kicked in his afterburners, steepened his dive, and fired another burst from his guns at 7,000 feet, then pulled out of the dive. It was then that Attridge was alerted to a loud series of clangs and his windshield buckled inward.

Attridge believed that he had struck birds, and thus decided to return to base.  However, as he made his way back to the airfield, he began to lose engine power. A half mile short of the runway the engine gave out entirely. Attridge was forced to make an emergency landing in the forest below, crashing into the trees and shearing off the aircraft’s wings. The fuel of the jet ignited, but Attridge was able to scramble out of the cockpit despite suffering a broken leg and three fractured vertebrae. 

After the crash an investigation into the incident revealed what had happened. It was no a bird strike as Attridge had believed, rather the jet was found to be peppered with 20mm dummy training rounds, some of which were lodged in the engine. As it turns out, when Attridge first fired his guns then accelerated, he outran his own stream of cannon projectiles, which had slowed due to air friction.  Once Attridge pulled out of the dive, the cannon projectiles caught up with him, and in a one in a million shot managed to strike his aircraft.

The story of Attridge’s self shoot down became water cooler talk among combat aviators around the world. Today, pilots are taught to either pull up or turn off course to avoid a similar accident.

Airworthy B-17 Flying Fortresses, 2017

A quick guide to the survivors, and how to quickly identify them.

Sentimental Journey, 44-83514, CAF Arizona Wing

“Triangle U” fin flash, denoting the 457th Bomb Group, 1st Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force.  This aircraft served as a mothership during Operation Greenhouse, a series of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in 1951.  She is based out of Mesa, Arizona.

Memphis Belle, 44-83546, Military Aircraft Restoration Corp.

Olive drab fuselage paint with yellow identification markings, lacks a fin flash for unit identification.  The aircraft is actually a B-17G modified to resemble the real Belle for the 1990 movie, and carries the markings of the original aircraft.  Note the flatter Sperry top turret (not visible in this picture), lack of a chin turret, and larger waist windows.  She is based out of Anaheim, California.

Miss Angela, 44-85778, Palm Springs Air Museum

Unpainted main fuselage, bright red forward fin, yellow ring around the nose compartment, the markings of the 34th Bomb Group, 4th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force.  The aircraft was delivered to the 6th Air Force and served post-war in Brazil.  She is based out of Palm Springs, California.

Fuddy Duddy, 44-83563, Lyon Air Museum

“Square K” fin flash, denoting the 447th Bomb Group, 4th Air Wing, 8th Air Force.  Unpainted main fuselage, yellow fin and control surfaces, double green band on rear fuselage and fin.  This aircraft served as a VIP transport in the Pacific at the end of WWII.  She is based out of Santa Ana, California.

Nine-O-Nine, 44-83575, Collings Foundation

“Triangle A” fin flash, denoting the 91st Bomb Group, 1st Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force; olive drab fuselage, vertical red bar on fin, aircraft code OR-R, extensive mission markings for nose art.  The aircraft was subjected to three nuclear explosions in 1952 before being sold for scrap, then restored.  She is painted to resemble the original Nine-O-Nine and is based out of Stow, Massachusetts.

Yankee Lady, 44-85829, Yankee Air Museum

“Triangle L” fin flash, denoting the 381st Bomb Group, 1st Air Wing, 8th Air Force; unpainted main fuselage, red vertical band on the fin and red markings on the wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, aircraft code Y-GD.  The aircraft was transferred to the Coast Guard in 1946 where it was stripped and turned into an air-sea rescue plane.  She is based out of Belleville, Michigan.

Thunderbird, 44-85718, Lone Star Flight Museum

“Triangle C” fin flash, denoting the 303rd Bomb Group, 1st Air Wing, 8th Air Force; olive drab fuselage, large group markings on the fin and starboard upper wing surface, aircraft code U-BN.  The aircraft is painted to represent the original Thunderbird which flew 112 missions without a crew injury.  She is based out of Galveston, Texas.

Texas Raiders, 44-83872, CAF Gulf Coast Wing

“Triangle L” fin flash, denoting the 381st Bomb Group, 1st Air Wing, 8th Air Force; olive drab fuselage, red wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, group markings on the fin and starboard upper wing, aircraft code X-VP.  The aircraft served in the Navy as a PB-1W AWACS aircraft before being retired in 1955.  She is based out of Spring, Texas.

Madras Maiden, 44-8543, Erickson Aircraft Collection

“Triangle L” fin flash, denoting the 381st Bomb Group, 1st Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force; unpainted main fuselage, red wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, red band on the fin, black/red open band on the starboard upper wing, aircraft code F-JE.  The aircraft was converted into a Pathfinder with the H2X radar set before being retired in 1959.  She is based out of Madras, Oregon.

From 1979 until 2013 44-8543 wore the colors of Chuckie, “Square W” 486th Bomb Group, 4th Air Wing, 8th Air Force.  In these pictures she is painted with a yellow fin, triple yellow bands around the rear fuselage, yellow wingtips and yellow ring around the nose.  This is how the aircraft was displayed at my local air museum, and how it is most often pictured.

Aluminum Overcast, 44-85740, Experimental Aircraft Association

“Triangle W” fin flash, denoting the 398th Bomb Group, 1st Air Wing, 8th Air Force; silver main fuselage, red wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, red vertical band on fin, group markings on fin and starboard upper wing.  The aircraft was delivered too late to see service in Europe and was sold as surplus, entering the civilian market.  She is based out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Sally B,  44-85784, B-17 Preservation Ltd.

The aircraft carries identical markings to Memphis Belle, acquired during the filming of the 1990 movie.  Her #3 engine cowling (starboard inner) is painted with a yellow-black checkerboard pattery.  She is based out of Duxford, England, and is the only airworthy B-17 in Europe.

Several other B-17s are listed as airworthy, including The Pink Lady (44-8846, last flown 2010), Boeing Bee (42-29782, flown 2006 with no plans for further flights), and Shady Lady (44-83785, recently acquired by the Collings Foundation with plans to return to flight by 2017).  Several others are under restoration to airworthiness.

Tactical Shooting Competition

The following are videos from stages 2, 3, 4, and 6 from yesterday’s (05Nov2016) Infidel Gunfighter League three gun match at 37PSR, in Bunnlevel NC.  It was super double plus good.  Basically, it was a three gun training exercise run as a competition.  Great idea.

The first stage was a weapon’s manipulations skills test, and didn’t get filmed.  The second stage, below, was a solo rifle stage.  Range rules for the entire event were high port when moving, a target was considered appropriately serviced with two A zone shots OR one shot in the head.  Brown targets were baddies, whites were no shoots.  In the second stage, below, there were three sets of targets color coded to their positions (look at the target stands): white from the first position, red from the second, and black from the third.

The next stage was a head to head rifle, pistol, and carbine shoot.  I did pretty well, only dropping two shots.  I still lost though (it didn’t help they other guy had one less target than I did, or that all his plates fell when hit).

The fourth stage was a solo pistol stage, focusing on lateral movement and multiple targets.

The fifth stage was a 100 yard rifle shoot.  Untimed, with a spotter, the goal was to put three shots as close to the bullseye as possible, shot from prone.  No real craziness there, and it also didn’t get recorded.

The final stage was a single man deliberate clear of a full 360 degreee shoothouse.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  It was also my first time ever in a shoothouse (or really shooting in/around any real structure), and was very educational.  I did OK, I made two main tactical errors that I was penalized for.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

So that’s it.  I am going back next month (asssuming that this doesn’t turn out to be training for Wednesday morning …), this was an excellent training day and huge fun as well.  Thoughts, questions, and suggestions are welcome!