Wednesday, October 16, 2019

R U Kidding?

(Source)
Whilst motoring down to the wedding venue on Friday, I noticed a flash of sunlight off of an object in the sky just above the horizon. Why, that must be an aircraft performing a turn of some sort, I said to myself. (Whereupon The WSO asked me to stop muttering to myself.)

We were not far from Culpeper, VA when I noticed this aerial phenomenon. Upon approaching closer, I saw an aircraft with a nice shiny blue paint job, a shiny old school U.S. Navy paint job whirling this way and that in the vault of the heavens. (Actually the aircraft was in the midst of an Immelmann, no whirling was involved.)

Said aircraft was promptly misidentified by Your Humble Scribe.

At first I thought this -

F6F Hellcat
Then I noticed that the aircraft had a bubble canopy and wasn't nearly as hump-backed as a Hellcat, so I immediately thought this instead -

F8F Bearcat
(Source)
So I fixated on that, telling The WSO, "That's a freaking Bearcat!" (To which The WSO replied, “What’s a Bearcat?” Kids these days…) A quick check on my handy-dandy smart phone (after the fact) seemed to confirm that the aircraft I had been looking at was indeed a Bearcat. Bubble canopy, rounded-nose indicating a rotary powerplant, and the tail looked about right.

But something bothered me about that tentative ID. I thought that the engine, while sounding like a military piston engine, didn't sound powerful enough. Not the engine sound I would expect from a big, powerful fighter aircraft. (And the Bearcat is big, not P-47 big, but big.) So I had to rethink my original ID.

Easy enough to search for the Culpeper Air Fest (saw signs for it eventually, that's how I knew what to search on), well easy enough if one is not at a wedding, more particularly one's own daughter's wedding. Sure we had Wi-Fi but...

"Put down your phone and help us move this stuff!"

So all the research had to wait until Tuesday.

"Why not Monday Sarge?"

Well, reasons. Like driving and flying and trying to catch up on much needed sleep. The first two things were successfully accomplished, just to mention in passing.

Anyhoo, discovered that the bird was actually a T-28 Trojan, a Navy trainer but also used in combat during the Vietnam War. The aircraft belongs to an astronaut, no really, here's the proof.

As to the "that's just not loud enough moment," here are the specs for the Bearcat's and the Trojan's powerplants -
F8F Bearcat: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-30W two-row radial engine, 2,250 hp 
T-28 Trojan: 1 × Wright R-1820-86 Cyclone 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 1,425 hp
But from a distance, with similar paint jobs, who wouldn't be confused?


They all have similar silhouettes don't they?

As to "Why no pictures Sarge?"

I decided to watch the show for as long as possible, rather than fumble the camera out, acquire the target, and miss the aerobatics on display. After all, we were headed to a wedding, weren't we?

So no kidding, Your Humble Scribe misidentified a warbird...

It's chagrined I am.



A pretty bird, neh?




48 comments:

  1. Oh, yeah, they’re good-looking airplanes. There was one on static display at the airshow this year, so got a pretty close look at it. Had my own moment of “OK, that *looks* familiar, but.. what is it?”

    If you haven’t seen it in your research, the story of the armored storm chaser Trojan is pretty neat:

    http://www.t28trojanfoundation.com/storm-chaser.html

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    1. Now that is pretty darned cool. Thanks for the link a bear!

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  2. When I was a rookie broadcast engineer in Houston, I lucked out big time. We hired a Recording Engineer. Mr. Heller was a private pilot, renaissance man, and shooter. We were coming back from the tower site near Alvin, when we saw the balls on the power lines. It was a grass strip, so we hung a left and drove down a row of houses with hangars out back. Way down on the end was a mailbox attached to a prop blade.

    Out back were 3 Trojans, one pretty much gutted, but on the way to restored condition. What a beauty of a bird. I went by several times after to monitor their progress.

    Lots of good memories of Mr. Heller, sitting off the end of HBY and identifying what was flying by and listening to ATC on the ham radio... He's in his 90's now I think. One of the neatest guys I've ever met.

    Thanks for the memories today, Sarge.

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  3. Ya.... first thought was Bearcat yet... something.... wrong in the fuselage and I had the advantage of looking at a photo, not a twisting plane in the sky eh? Would guess 800 HP might be noticeable 'tween these two engines. That last opening shot in the air fest vid kinda reminds me of a Skyraider now...that tail and nose. Oh liked that vid, good choice Sarge.

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    1. That video was shot the day after I saw the Trojan practising. I didn't mention "air show" at the wedding, didn't want to distract the guests ya know.

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  4. All I remember about the T-28 is that you almost need a grappling hook to get up to the cockpit.

    I did not know they were used in combat

    My most exciting warbird sighting was some years ago walking the dog and hearing the unmistakable sound of a radial engine airplane

    A big airplane

    I look up, and it was the B 29 FiFi less than 1000 feet AGL right over my head

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    1. Looking up to see a B-29 blasting along at 1000' would certainly get one's attention!

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    2. It certainly does! Was in my parents' back yard one afternoon when I heard the sound of approaching aircraft of the multiple piston engine type - kind of an unmistakable sound. I looked up to see a B-24 go by overhead at about that same 1000' altitude, followed closely by a B-29. The latter had an issue with the inboard starboard radial, it would periodically emit a puff of dark gray smoke. But that flyby was pretty awesome, especially since it was totally unexpected.

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    3. The surprise flyovers are always awesome. As a kid we'd see C-119s and the occasional P-2 Neptune come blasting over the trees at low level. Makes you jump, makes you smile.

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    4. yes they do - one time I was having lunch outside a little cafe in Annapolis in the May/June time frame. Almost got blasted off the chairs by a low level flyover by the Blue Angels, who were just starting a practice for their weekend airshow at the Academy graduation. I think some of the other diners may have needed new underpants. Needless to say, we left the cafe and hurried over to an area where we could watch more of the practice - free airshow! (the best kind!)

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    5. The best surprises come from flight demonstration teams.

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  5. Makes me wonder if you could stuff a P&W 2800 into a T-28...

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  6. The Navy used the T-28 as a primary trainer in the late 70's. My last duty station was at NAS Corpus Christi in support of the training squadrons. We were repairing 50's vintage avionics that used tubes more than solid state with youngsters trained only on solid state electronics. A typical bench conversation went something like "Hey Chief, what is this?" Me, "Well son, that's a screen grid and it helps modulate..."

    My neighbor was an instructor at one of the training squadrons who got this 500 hour private pilot a front seat flight in the T-28, What a thrill! He let me do everything from engine start to landing, even flying some aerobatics. That two hour flight remains as my favorite flying memory.

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  7. We were very fortunate to live for many years near the airport at Chico, CA. The airshow performances we saw from our front yard were at times just epic. Like four mustangs practicing on a Friday evening for the weekend show. They came in to land just about sundown. Line astern, base leg, gear and flaps down, and the light just low enough that we could see the blue flame from their exhaust stacks. Right over our house at about 600 ft.

    One day I was in our garage and heard SOMETHING piston powered fly over headed for the airport. Half of my brain was going "Hey! I've heard that before!" and the other half is going "Yeah, but what the heck IS it?". Got outside just in time to see the P-51 Red Dog VII in formation with a Trojan. Alrighty then. I saw them break formation and start their approach.

    My youngest son was mowing the lawn at the time. I grabbed him and my my video camera, and we jumped in my truck and headed for the airport. Don't remember where the mower wound up. We managed to get out on the ramp, and got some great close up video and still shots. Red Dog XII had Chuck Yeager's signature on the tail. Apparently he borrowed the ship at some point when the one he was flying had an engine problem. Maybe someone here has more details on that story.

    Sarge, check your email. Photos attached.

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    1. Well, can't blame spell check for this--not Red Dog VII, Red Dog XII. Yeah, I flunked Latin, too.

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  8. Your "lapse" is understandable given all the distractions of the moment.

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  9. Definitely an understandable mistake, especially given the circumstances.

    So far, my biggest mis-identification was seeing a black jet blasting off from the local airport/AFB a couple of years ago. Spotting brain said "That looks like a BAE Hawk trainer"! Logic said "How the Firetruck does a British trainer end up taking off from an airport in the middle of South Dakota? Nobody in the U.S. operates those. Your eyes are wrong, must have been a T-38 transiting."

    I know what a T-38 looks like, I saw plenty of them in the pattern over Palmdale when I was a kid, and that wasn't a T-38.

    Fast forward a couple of years to our local airshow, when our Friends to the North send down a few aircraft for the cold static display area, plus their CF-18 demo team. What's on display but a black CT-155, the Canadian designation for the BAE Hawk? Suddenly that old sighting makes perfect sense, knowing now that the the RCAF likes to use KFSD as a layover when transiting back home from some of their joint training operations with US forces that they do during the cold winter months.

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    1. Thanks. Now if only I could manage to successfully ID the (probable) wreckage of a crashed Cessna 172, I wouldn't feel like the past weekend had been a total waste.

      Okay, correction, it wasn't a total wash. Adventure Girl got her name and picture in the local paper, along with another cadet, because two cute female CAP cadets running mission radios for a live SAR makes a great photo lead.

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    2. Makes for a good lead in photo indeed. Very impressive accomplishment running the mission radios for an actual SAR mission. Kudos to them!

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    3. I'll be sure and pass that on. Definitely a more interesting picture than three members of the squadron's heavyweight division squeezing themselves into a CAP Cessna 172!

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  10. I was wondering, what with the title and all, if the plane was going to be some Yak attack or something. But a Trojan is a nice plane. Love rotary engines. Strong like bull, hard to kill, not effete like in-lines.

    Seriously wonder if Trojan pilots called themselves 'Trojan Man'?

    Udder dan dat, all three planes you talked about are nice planes. I actually prefer the F6F over the F8, if'n I had my druthers.

    Did the cats leave you any presents, speaking of yak? Mine always did when we went on long trips. I think one time all of them conspired to write a novel, well, at least it was a novel experience...

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    1. The cats were well-behaved and left no presents for us.

      They get along very well with the neighbor who feeds them, she is their godmother. No. Really.

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  11. Visual ID is a skill with a long learning curve and a short retention. However, since I see T-28s over my house several times a year, I think I'd get that one right. Speaking thereof, it's about time for another formation school. Whoop!

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    1. Pictures, we need pictures. (Within all safety constraints of course...)

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  12. Nice video, and yes T-28s saw combat in Vietnam as VNAF ground attack birds.

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    1. Seeing that same pilot practicing on Friday was pretty awesome as well!

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  13. How the Hell could you tell the engine's power just by the sound? What are you, some kind of airplane mechanic?

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    1. Hahaha!

      Used to be able to tell which jet fighter was flying over without even looking.

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    2. I'm about 90% able to do that with the rotary types that fly over from MCAS New River. Ospreys, Super Stallions, Cobras, Hueys for the most part. Used to have Chinooks, but have't seen those in several years. We have a deck above our roof line, and I've been tempted to paint a big white "H" on the deck and see what I could capture - with possession being the goal. But I might have to reinforce the house structure just a tad to support the weight.

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  14. When traffic is landing to the north at DFW, we get a lot of it overhead as they make a left turn from approach to base, along with the accompanying Doppler sound effect. When the wind changes, we get traffic going into Arlington Municipal, flying a lower north approach on our left and turning right onto base. The Bell Flight Research Center is also at Arlington, so we also get regular Osprey low level passes. I'm getting pretty good at IDing the Ospreys by ear.

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    1. Love seeing the Ospreys in flight, saw two go by fairly low and in formation not that long ago. Pretty cool.

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  15. The F6F-6 was going to have a bubble canopy. I suspect it would have looked like a Bearcat that lifted weights.
    The T-28 does look a lot like a F8F.

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    1. I'm surprised the Hellcat didn't have a bubble canopy.

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    2. I think the Navy didn't want the delay from the rejigging the assembly line.
      I should think that every assembly jig from the rear of the cockpit, to the start of the empennage would need replacement.

      Still, I find it odd, too.

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  16. We get a Trojan RON here twice a year as the owner and his pile-it head to and from Oshkosh. Painted in late-70's VT-27 colors, it really rings a bell for me. Vids/images over at my place https://prairieadventure.blogspot.com/2016/07/echoes.html

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  17. Lush probably doesn't realize that the T-28 Trojan preceded the T-34 Mentor down in the Cradle of Naval Aviation (aka Pensacola). So she should have let you mutter. That makes the Trojan sort of the great grand pappy of her and Big Time's wings o' gold.

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    1. I just saw that Flugleman already mentioned the trainer bit, but the point still remains- she needs to have more respect for her elders! haha.

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