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“Fat Albert” – Blue Angels C-130 Hercules

Fat Albert Putting on its Show

Fat Albert taking off

U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, C-130 transport aircraft, affectionately known as Fat Albert, takes off during a demonstration at the California International Airshow at the Salinas Municipal Airport.

Fat Albert History

In 1970, after operating a variety of logistics aircraft, the Blue Angels transitioned to a Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules – a tactical transport aircraft. It was operated by an all-Marine crew and affectionately named “Fat Albert.” The team still recruits an all-Marine aircrew to operate its Fat Albert logistics aircraft today, but has upgraded to a Lockheed Martin C-130T Hercules.

Light the Rockets – JATO

Part of Fat Albert’s demonstration used to include JATO take offs – Jet Assisted Take Offs. Although the name says Jet, more accurately they’re solid-fuel rockets, four strapped to each side.

Inside the Fat Albert Cockpit

More USMC in the Marines Zone

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Love the Smell of Afterburners in the Morning

Burned jet fuel has a distinct, sweet type of burning smell, and we can’t get enough of it. As far as the five senses, smell is the second to last with which we experience aviation, the final one of course being touch.

F-15 Eagle taxies onto the runway while a Strike Eagle lights up morning.
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B-1 Lancer Bombers Surprise Saudi Arabia Arrival

Multiple B-1B Lancers launched from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 24, 2019, as part of Bomber Task Force operations in U.S. Central Command.

A B-1B Lancer taxis past the PRIDE Hangar at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 24, 2019, before taking off to be a part of a Bomber Task Force in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The B-1 can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary. Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)
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Loading F-18 Fire Shell on USS Gerald R Ford

NORFOLK (Nov. 4, 2019) Sailors assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) air department onload an F/A-18 Hornet shell onto the ship’s flight deck. The aircraft shell will be used for training by Sailors to simulate firefighting response to aircraft casualties. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Angel Thuy Jaskuloski)

One of the most important roles on any ship is ensuring fire protection. The US Navy’s latest Super Carrier, the USS Gerald R Ford, is no exception.

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How Deadly is America’s A-10?

The A-10 Thunderbolt II has been a formidable asset in the US Air Force’s arsenal for decades. Its origins can be tied all the way back to the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, when the Military began looking for more intense Close Air Support (CAS) options. The original requirements for the plane from the Air Force included “extreme survivability.” The result is this massive tank of an airplane below, the A-10.

An A10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the Air National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing executes an austere landing on the Freedom Landing Strip, June 5, 2019, at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. The IDANG is participating in Green Flag-West with flying operations at the NTC in support of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered at Boise, Idaho.

The GUN

The A-10’s most notorious feature is also its most deadly – the massive 30 mm canon mounted directly under the pilot. The effects of this canon are pure devastation. Each round is crafted from depleted uranium, which means they are incredibly dense and strong. Traveling twice as fast as most projectiles fired from aircraft, that combination of speed and density takes the impact of these shots to whole new levels.

The A-10’s GAU-8 Avenger Auto-Canon displayed next to a VW car for scale.

The canon on the A-10 can fire up to 3,900 rounds per minute. Yes, that’s about 65 rounds every single second. 65 rounds of depleted uranium, delivered timely and accurately, every single second. Unsurprisingly that spells some pretty bad news for any tanks or other armored units in the area. For this reason, and many more, the A-10 is one of the most deadly aircraft for enemy ground troops in the US Air Force.

Why is the A-10 so formidable?

So much of the A-10’s advantage comes from the “extreme survivability” aspect the Air Force requested. Specifically the A-10 is designed to take direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles, and keep on flying! The pilot is protected by the “Bathtub,” a 1200-lb titanium shield capable of withstanding a hit from projectiles up to 23 mm in size. The cockpit windows are also bullet-proof, protecting the pilot against small arms fire from the ground.

The pilot is protected by the “Bathtub,” a 1200-lb titanium shield

The A-10’s unusual design also lends to the overall survivability of the aircraft. The plane features two large turbofan engines mounted up and behind the center of the jet. Having the engines positioned where they are allows the A-10 to operate on unimproved airports, meaning this awesome combat aircraft can literally lift off from a dirt road.

A-10 Thunderbolt II In Action

The end result of all of the above, extreme survivability, an incredible weapons system, and unique overall design, combined to create a one-of-a-kind Close Air Support asset for the US Military. Fortunately we’re the only military in the world that gets to enjoy air support from such a cunning and deadly platform.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., fires its 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling cannon during close air support training mission Sept. 23, 2011, over the Nevada Test and Training Range. U.S. Air Force Weapons School students participate in many combat training missions over the NTTR during the six-month, graduate-level instructor course held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The A-10 will hopefully remain flying for the US Military for decades to come. Despite several efforts to ditch the airframe in favor of less costly and less capable options, so far the Thunderbolt II has come up on top. Its Close Air Support skills and capabilities are just too fantastic to pass up.

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How much can you lift? The Mighty C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy has been around a long time now. But that’s no reason not to celebrate it’s insane airlift capabilities! They’re just as amazing and relevant today as they were during the ramp-up of the Cold War. Below we’ll take a look at some of the amazing specs, crazy photos, and some great first-hand accounts of flying the largest plane in the US Air Force.

C-5M super Galaxy lifts off at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 13, 2017. Aircrews fly the new M-model around the world supporting Department of Defense missions with improved capabilities such as fuel efficiency, reduced noise and greater payloads. The Travis AFB mission provides Rapid Global Mobility quickly and decisively in response to unexpected challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Heide Couch)
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Why is the F-35 a Game Changer in the Pacific?

The F-35 is the one of the most well known, and expensive, defense projects in human history. With new capabilities just now hitting the battlefield, the full implications of its deployment are still be realized on the world stage. With Western air superiority established in much of the Middle East area of operations, the Pacific region stands to be impacted more by the F-35’s arrival to the scene.

Even more intimidating is that same carrier stocked up with fifth-generation US stealth fighters

An F-35B Lightning II assigned to the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 122 lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). America is currently underway conducting routine operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vance Hand/Released)

Japan has been flying the F-35, right next to China, since early 2018. And just last month, the F-35 was officially welcomed into the South Korean Air Force. In the space of 24 months, the US and two of its allies deployed the stealthiest, and one of the most capable, fighter jets in the world, right in China’s back yard. Additionally the US Marines now operate the F-35 aboard amphibious assault aircraft carriers criss-crossing the South China Sea, pushing back against China’s advances and increasing territorial claims.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), standby on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during routine training in the Eastern Pacific, Sept. 28, 2019. 3rd MAW is capable of conducting missions across the range of military operations and continues to promote the defense of our nation and its interests. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)

As deliveries to allies continue to ramp up, along with the delivery of the Navy’s variant, the F-35C, pressure on China is only likely to continue increasing. When the F-35C is fully operational with the Navy, the US will also be able to employ its fleet of nuclear-powered Super Carriers to push US stealth fighters right where they need to be.

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), prepares to land on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during routine training in the Eastern Pacific, Sept. 28, 2019. 3rd MAW is capable of conducting missions across the range of military operations and continues to promote the defense of our nation and its interests. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 30, 2019) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Sabrina Bales, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6, signals an F-35B Lightning II assigned to the Flying Leathernecks of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 122 to take off from the ship’s flight deck. America is currently underway conducting routine operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vance Hand/Released)

A fully crewed Nimitz-class Super Carrier is an awesome and frightening sight to behold by adversarial nations. The only thing even more intimidating is that same carrier stocked up with fifth-generation US stealth fighters instead of their old Super Hornets. Much of the world’s attention is expected to continue looking towards the Indo-Pacific. The F-35’s arrival on the scene, only sure to continue increasing, will change the game in the Pacific region.

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Need for Speed: A close look at the Art of the Afterburner

What’s faster than a jet engine?

Turbine engines are notoriously capable of achieving incredible speeds. But shortly after their initial development, a novel idea was born… Dump raw jet fuel straight into the exhaust of a jet engine.

A phenomenal mixture of combusting fuel and hot gasses roaring out the back of the engine…

CORAL SEA (July 16, 2019) An EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 launches from the flight deck aboard the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is participating in Talisman Sabre 2019, which illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship. It is the eighth iteration of this exercise. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Janweb B. Lagazo)

Rather than fueling the engine once, when the incoming air is at its most compressed, engines fitted with afterburners also known as “reheat,” inject fuel twice. The result is a phenomenal mixture of combusting fuel and hot gasses roaring out the back of the engine, thrusting it and everything to it forward with incredible energy.

An F-15E Strike Eagle rockets out of RAF Lakenheath on a mission over Europe.

Recon drones and commercial aircraft generally don’t require the acceleration provided by afterburners

Future of Afterburners

While some rapidly advancing areas of aviation, especially drone and eco-friendly initiatives, are making great strides with the need for afterburners, they are solidly here to stay. Recon drones and commercial aircraft generally don’t require the acceleration provided by afterburners, but it is absolutely essential for modern fighter jets.

Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. During the exercise wings confirmed their ability to employ a large force of jets against air and ground targets, demonstrating the readiness and lethality of the F-35 Lightning II. As the first combat-ready F-35 units in the Air Force, the 388th and 419th FWs are ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Justin Fuchs)
F-35s lined up for a Show of Force exercise, testing ability of aircrews to assemble and support a large rapid response force.

The F-35 Lightning II, the latest fighter jet to join the US Military inventory, is equipped with an afterburning engine capable of producing 43,000 lbf of thrust.

More Beautiful Afterburners

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F-35A First Operational Strafing Run

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Airman Baltazar Enriquez, Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch and Airman 1st Class Emily Villela, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, preform the first-time operational loading of 25 mm target rounds in an F-35A Lightning II, Aug. 10, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Airman Baltazar Enriquez, Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch and Airman 1st Class Emily Villela, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, preform the first-time operational loading of 25 mm target rounds in an F-35A Lightning II, Aug. 10, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

 

Airman 1st Class Emily Villela and Airman Baltazar Enriquez, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, accomplish the first-time operational loading of 25 mm target rounds in an F-35A Lightning II, Aug. 10, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Airman 1st Class Emily Villela and Airman Baltazar Enriquez, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, accomplish the first-time operational loading of 25 mm target rounds in an F-35A Lightning II, Aug. 10, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

 

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

 

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

 

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training. The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate. The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility. (Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

 

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US F-22s Spread Out Across Europe – Poland, Norway & Germany

An F-22 Raptor from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., participate in a multi-aircraft flyover in Warsaw, Poland during the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and Armed Forces Day. The F-22s forward deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base Germany, to Powidz Air Base, Poland on Aug. 14 for theater familiarization and to conduct interoperability with Polish and NATO aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

U.S. Air Force Airmen refuel F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Base, Fla., at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 14, 2018. The 95th FS deployed to Europe as an opportunity to train with other Air Force aircraft in a realistic training environment. The deployment ensures the 5th-generation fighters are able to rapidly deploy to European bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

U.S. Air Force Airmen refuel F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Base, Fla., at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 14, 2018. The 95th FS deployed to Europe as an opportunity to train with other Air Force aircraft in a realistic training environment. The deployment ensures the 5th-generation fighters are able to rapidly deploy to European bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

 

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation after an air refueling over the Mediterranean Sea. After refueling, the F-22s trained with Spanish aircraft and landed at Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, Spain where a pilot briefed the Raptor’s capabilities to military and civilian personnel from NATO allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation after an air refueling over the Mediterranean Sea. After refueling, the F-22s trained with Spanish aircraft and landed at Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, Spain where a pilot briefed the Raptor’s capabilities to military and civilian personnel from NATO allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

 

An F-22 Raptor from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., participate in a multi-aircraft flyover in Warsaw, Poland during the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and Armed Forces Day. The F-22s forward deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base Germany, to Powidz Air Base, Poland on Aug. 14 for theater familiarization and to conduct interoperability with Polish and NATO aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

An F-22 Raptor from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., participate in a multi-aircraft flyover in Warsaw, Poland during the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and Armed Forces Day. The F-22s forward deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base Germany, to Powidz Air Base, Poland on Aug. 14 for theater familiarization and to conduct interoperability with Polish and NATO aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

 

Two F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation and conduct training operations with two Royal Norwegian air force F-35A Lightning II aircraft during an air refueling over Norway, Aug. 15, 2018. The F-22s deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany on Aug. 8 and will remain in Europe for several weeks to train and forward deploy to NATO nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

Two F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation and conduct training operations with two Royal Norwegian air force F-35A Lightning II aircraft during an air refueling over Norway, Aug. 15, 2018. The F-22s deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany on Aug. 8 and will remain in Europe for several weeks to train and forward deploy to NATO nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

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California ANG Fighting ‘Holy Fire’ – Behind The Scenes

MAFFS 6, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, is seen behind its sister-craft, MAFFS 4, also from the 146th, during a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. Both MAFFS aircraft flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in nearby Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick McBride, left, and Maj. Nick Kim, right, both of the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, sit in the cockpit of MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 146th, during a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. MAFFS 4 flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick McBride, left, and Maj. Nick Kim, right, both of the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, sit in the cockpit of MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 146th, during a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. MAFFS 4 flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

 

MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, arrives at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018, to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, arrives at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018, to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

 

MAFFS 6, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, is seen behind its sister-craft, MAFFS 4, also from the 146th, during a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. Both MAFFS aircraft flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in nearby Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

MAFFS 6, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, is seen behind its sister-craft, MAFFS 4, also from the 146th, during a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. Both MAFFS aircraft flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in nearby Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

 

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cameron Davis, a loadmaster with the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, closes the ramp of MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th, after a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. MAFFS 4 flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in nearby Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cameron Davis, a loadmaster with the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, closes the ramp of MAFFS 4, a modular airborne firefighting system equipped C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 146th, after a stop to reload with fire retardant at the U.S. Forest Service San Bernardino Airtanker Base, in San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8, 2018. MAFFS 4 flew to support state agencies battling the Holy Fire in nearby Orange and Riverside counties. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

 

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Memphis Belle: America’s Celebrity Bomber

Memphis Belle at one of the war bond tour stops.

The B-17F Memphis Belle poses for photos before moving into the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on March 14, 2018. Plans call for the aircraft to be placed on permanent public display in the WWII Gallery here at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 17, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Lush)

The B-17F Memphis Belle poses for photos before moving into the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on March 14, 2018. Plans call for the aircraft to be placed on permanent public display in the WWII Gallery here at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 17, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Lush)

 

Memphis Belle crew and ground crew celebrating the completion of the tour.

Memphis Belle crew and ground crew celebrating the completion of the tour.

The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan’s sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the aircraft Little One, which was his pet name for her, but after Morgan and copilot Jim Verinis saw the movie Lady for a Night, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew. Morgan then contacted George Petty at the offices of Esquire magazine and asked him for a pinup drawing to go with the name, which Petty supplied from the magazine’s April 1941 issue.

The 91st’s group artist, Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl as art on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her suit in blue on the aircraft’s port side and in red on the starboard. The nose art later included 25 bomb shapes, one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft claimed shot down by the crew. Station and crew names were stenciled below station windows on the aircraft after her tour of duty was completed.

 

Memphis Belle at one of the war bond tour stops.

Memphis Belle at one of the war bond tour stops.

In his memoirs, Morgan claimed that during his publicity tour he flew the B-17 between the Buncombe County Courthouse and the City Hall of Asheville, North Carolina, his home town. Morgan wrote that after leaving a local airport he decided to buzz the town, telling his copilot, Captain Verinis, “I think we’ll just drive up over the city and give them a little goodbye salute.” Morgan turned the bomber down Patton Avenue, a main thoroughfare, toward downtown Asheville. When he observed the courthouse and the city hall (two tall buildings that are only about 50 ft (20 m) apart) dead ahead, he lowered his left wing in a 60 degree bank and flew between the structures. He wrote that the city hall housed an AAF weather detachment whose commanding officer allegedly complained immediately to the Pentagon, but was advised by a duty officer that “Major Morgan…has been given permission to buzz by General Henry “Hap” Arnold.”

 

Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. B-17's flew in every combat zone during World War II, but its most significant service was over Europe. Along with the B-24 Liberator, the B-17 formed the backbone of the USAAF strategic bombing force, and it helped win the war by crippling Germany’s war industry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. B-17’s flew in every combat zone during World War II, but its most significant service was over Europe. Along with the B-24 Liberator, the B-17 formed the backbone of the USAAF strategic bombing force, and it helped win the war by crippling Germany’s war industry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

 

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USS America: Sinking A Supercarrier

Sinking an Aircraft Carrier

The USS America was originally intended to be scrapped, like most other US aircraft carriers. But some creative Navy officers found a more creative end for this massive ship.

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