Friday, November 15, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 15 November


I believe I have a couple of readers who have expressed their love of the Skyraider, what was sometimes called the "Spad" back in the day. Well, sit back and enjoy. This flyby is all Skyraider and nothing but Skyraiders.


Wikipedia -
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider (formerly AD) was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after the French World War I fighter. The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career, even inspiring its straight-winged, slow-flying, jet-powered successor, the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

It was operated by the United States Navy (USN), the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF), and also saw service with the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force, the Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam (VNAF), and others.
With a H/T to "Spill"

Wikipedia -
Skyraiders were also used by the USAF to perform one of the bird's most famous roles: the "Sandy" helicopter escort on combat rescues. USAF Major Bernard F. Fisher piloted an A-1E on 10 March 1966 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing Major "Jump" Myers at A Shau Special Forces Camp. USAF Colonel William A. Jones, III piloted an A-1H on 1 September 1968 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In that mission, despite damage to his aircraft and suffering serious burns, he returned to his base and reported the position of a downed U.S. airman.
Major Bernard F. Fisher
Medal of Honor
United States Air Force

Major Fisher and Major Myers
Shortly After the Rescue

Major Fisher's Medal of Honor Citation 
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On that date, the special forces camp at A Shau was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Hostile troops had positioned themselves between the airstrip and the camp. Other hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were continuously raking it with automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. The tops of the 1,500-foot hills were obscured by an 800 foot ceiling, limiting aircraft maneuverability and forcing pilots to operate within range of hostile gun positions, which often were able to fire down on the attacking aircraft. During the battle, Maj. Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Maj. Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot, heavy ground fire was observed, with 19 bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to lift-off at the overrun of the airstrip. Maj. Fisher's profound concern for his fellow airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Colonel William A. Jones, III
Medal of Honor
United States Air Force
Colonel Jones

Colonel Jones' Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Col. Jones distinguished himself as the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider aircraft near Dong Hoi, North Vietnam. On that day, as the on-scene commander in the attempted rescue of a downed U.S. pilot, Col. Jones' aircraft was repeatedly hit by heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire. On one of his low passes, Col. Jones felt an explosion beneath his aircraft and his cockpit rapidly filled with smoke. With complete disregard of the possibility that his aircraft might still be burning, he unhesitatingly continued his search for the downed pilot. On this pass, he sighted the survivor and a multiple-barrel gun position firing at him from near the top of a karst formation. He could not attack the gun position on that pass for fear he would endanger the downed pilot. Leaving himself exposed to the gun position, Col. Jones attacked the position with cannon and rocket fire on 2 successive passes. On his second pass, the aircraft was hit with multiple rounds of automatic weapons fire. One round impacted the Yankee Extraction System rocket mounted directly behind the headrest, igniting the rocket. His aircraft was observed to burst into flames in the center fuselage section, with flames engulfing the cockpit area. He pulled the extraction handle, jettisoning the canopy. The influx of fresh air made the fire burn with greater intensity for a few moments, but since the rocket motor had already burned, the extraction system did not pull Col. Jones from the aircraft. Despite searing pains from severe burns sustained on his arms, hands, neck, shoulders, and face, Col. Jones pulled his aircraft into a climb and attempted to transmit the location of the downed pilot and the enemy gun position to the other aircraft in the area. His calls were blocked by other aircraft transmissions repeatedly directing him to bail out and within seconds his transmitters were disabled and he could receive only on 1 channel. Completely disregarding his injuries, he elected to fly his crippled aircraft back to his base and pass on essential information for the rescue rather than bail out. Col. Jones successfully landed his heavily damaged aircraft and passed the information to a debriefing officer while on the operating table. As a result of his heroic actions and complete disregard for his personal safety, the downed pilot was rescued later in the day. Col. Jones' profound concern for his fellow man at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
HH-53 Jolly Green Giant with a Sandy Escort

Pre-Flight

Skyraiders Over Vietnam, 1965

AD Skyraider of VA-195 USS Princeton
Korean War

Paper Tiger II

The U.S. Navy Douglas A-1H Skyraider (NE-572, BuNo 135297) "Paper Tiger II" (which was a temporary name used for just this one flight) of Attack Squadron VA-25 Fist of the Fleet* being readied for a mission over the Mekong Delta in October 1965. VA-25 was assigned to Attack Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41). To commemorate the mark of having delivered 6,000,000 lb. (2721.56 to) of ordnance NE-572 was equipped with a special "bomb", a toilet! The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard. One of the plane captains of VA-25 saved it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it. VA-25 personnel maintained a position to block the view of the Air Boss and the ship's Captain while the aircraft was taxiing forward to the catapult. The plane was piloted by X/O Cdr. Clarence W. Stoddard, wingman was LCdr. Robin Bacon (in NE-577, BuNo 139768, with Lt. Clint Johnson shot down a MiG-17 on 20 June 1965). When the "sani-flush-bomb" was dropped, it almost hit LCdr. Bacon's plane due to its light weight.
Take Off

Nellis Air Show

Royal Navy AEW.1s of 778 Naval Air Squadron
Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, 1950s

VA-152 Skyraider

The Spad

No Matter the Variant,
A Tough Looking Bird

Okay, I can see why some folks like the Skyraider.

You can count me in!




*VA-25, One of Lex's Old Squadrons.

27 comments:

  1. For some reason I always liked that plane I think it's all the stuff hanging off it everywhere.Then again I think an A-10 is one of the prettiest planes ever built must be the contrarian in me.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more. On both counts.

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  2. There is only one time this aircraft is good looking. When it's orbiting over your position while you're waiting for the Jolly's to come pick your sorry butt up. But then that also applies to the Jolly's themselves. God bless all who flew both. Thankfully never was in need of their services, but was glad they were available.

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    1. Excellent point Juvat. Those guys had brass ones.

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  3. They were definitely a workhorse.
    We saw them mostly when working plane guard station ...or if one was towing a sleeve for AA practice.
    Our ship was never much good at AA.
    Those 5"/38 twin mounts weren't designed for that kink of shooting ...and the platform wasn't all that stable either.

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    1. I think I'd be a little nervous towing a sleeve knowing that some destroyer was going to be taking shots with their 5"/38 mounts.

      Would make me think twice it would.

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    2. Oh yes, I can see that. Shooting down friendlies being considered "not career enhancing".

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  4. Looking at those pics is like going back in a time machine. I can smell the humid air and the exhaust & fuel fumes as if I were there once again...I sometimes look back at times like this and ask myself: "Was I really there, or was it all a dream?"

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    1. But you came back Virgil. You came back.

      From the reality, and the dream.

      I know the feeling, certainly not with the same intensity, but I understand.

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  5. PS: I mentioned this book once over at Lexs' place, but in case you missed it, an EXCELLENT book by an ex-SPAD/Sandy driver in Laos@NKP is "My Secret War" by Richard S. Drury. Go read the reviews on Amazon! A bit pricy (but I was given a hard-cover as a gift)

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    1. I'll have to check that out. Thanks Virgil.

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  6. Another tour de force. You're getting pretty good at this. ;-)

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  7. The pilots who flew those earned their money. But they sure made it count and the bad guys on the ground had to be hating it when a pair showed up.

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    1. An awesome ground attack bird. Truly the immediate ancestor of the A-10.

      Every good pilot has my respect. Any pilot who flies in combat has my deepest respect. Any pilot who flies in combat, but fights down low where any Gomer with a bolt action rifle can take a shot has my reverent respect.

      Brass ones!

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  8. Oh--and here's a few more.

    http://shekel.blogspot.com/2013/08/thunder-over-michigan-flight-of.html

    When I get home again I'll try to add some myself.

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    1. I see my lead-off bird "Bad News" is in that post as well. I'm betting it's from the same air show, Thunder Over Michigan. (The WSO has in-laws in Michigan, I need to get out that way for their next Air Show. I've seen YouTube footage from that one as well, it's a good one!)

      Thanks for the link!

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    2. Aaron of The Shekel and I will probably be at next year's TOM show. It's a great one. Let me know.

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    3. Sweet! Time to mark the calendar. Time to make plans.

      (Now where did I put that astrolabe...?)

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  9. So tell me about that 4 seater variant in the last picture. It doesn't have the AEW pod so what was its mission? Going for a ride in a Spad would be a thrill.

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    1. Tuna/

      Can't recall the original reason for that variant, but in SEA it was used in-country with VNAF pilot front-seaters & USAF FACS in rear as IPs/proficient English language radio-operators to work the radios with the USAF TACC net. In LAOS it was the reverse, with USAF A/Cs and Lao back-seaters to act as inte;/arty spotters and coordinate with LAO/MEO gnd units..

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  10. AND it was originally designed as a nuclear (one way) bomber...

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    1. I would disagree, OLD NFO. IIRC it was developed as a WW II requirement for a heavy attack fighter-bomber, but arrived too late in the Fleet to take part. The "Nuke" variant was a jury-rig attempt by the Navy to remain relevant at a time when SAC was eating up ONE THIRD (1/3rd) of the ENTIRE DEFENSE BUDGET and with SAC contending that in the nuclear age the Navy was irrelevant (which led to the famous "Revolt of the Admirals" over the Defense budget in the mid 50s)

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  11. Wonderful. Bunch of links below that you may appreciate. Maybe add some VNAF ones next time. We had to ground them after the last paltry authorization by the "Democratic" congress.

    "I've mentioned before that the VNAF pilots were like kids with new playtoys when we sent them back up near the end, after the ***Skyraiders had been grounded because of money. They loved them."

    http://www.namsouth.com/viewtopic.php?t=2316&highlight=skyraider

    http://www.namsouth.com/viewtopic.php?t=1409&highlight=skyraider

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    1. Good stuff Brock. Nice to get more data on that VA-25 "toilet bomb".

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)