Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuna's Tuesday Trivia

Tuna’s Trivia Tuesday.  Hmm, I'm not sure you should get used to that title- for a few reasons.  These posts may not always be ready each Tuesday, I may not have enough material to keep it going, and if I regularly posted these valuable bits of useless trivia vice more controversial subjects, I might have to give up my amateur status as a pithy politically charged part-time blogger.  I’m just not sure I’m ready to turn pro- my co-workers are great, but the pay here ain't so hot.
For now though, I’ve got at least enough trivia (or should I say trivial?) material for this post.  Today we’ll focus on some superlatives among other things- firsts and lasts, biggest and smallest, and so forth.

Naval Archives
First off, who was the first person to launch an aircraft from a Navy ship? 
  1. LT Theodore Ellyson
  2. Glenn Curtis
  3. Eugene Ely
  4. LCDR Hank Mustin
If you said LT Ellyson, you’d be wrong.  On November 12th 1912, he made history with the Navy’s first successful catapult launch, but Eugene Ely beat him by two years- being the first person to launch from a Navy ship- the USS Birmingham, which had a wooden platform built on the bow.  LT Ellyson actually launched from a stationary coal barge for his feat.  Ely’s accomplishment was on Nov 14th, 1910, with a landing on the USS Pennsylvania two months later, for the first successful shipboard landing.

This issue can be tricky because it involves several different firsts and similar dates- the first Naval Aviator, the first actual launch, the first catapult launch, the first Naval ship, etc., and both were in November, but two years apart.    
How about the first man to launch an aircraft from a ship while underway?
  1. CDR Hank Mustin
  2. LT Theodore Ellyson
  3. CDR Charles Samson
  4. LT Alfred Cunningham
It’s not CDR Mustin.  He was the first US Naval Aviator to accomplish the feat, (5 November 1915), but CDR Samson did it for the Royal Navy from HMS Hibernia in May of 1912.

HMS Hibernia- Wikipedia
To continue on the theme of firsts and supposed firsts, when was the first carrier takeoff and landing of a jet?  Again, the Royal Navy beat us to it.  Lt Cdr Eric Brown landed a De Havilland Vampire on 3 Dec 1945.

The first carrier landing and take-off of a jet aircraft, by a De Havilland Vampire in 1945. - Wikipedia
However, the Brits only beat us as far as conducting jet launch and recovery ops. A month earlier (6 Nov, 1945), what aircraft made the first jet landing on a carrier?

a.     McDonnell F-2H Banshee                                                            
Fair use

b. McDonnell FH-1 Phantom 

c. Ryan FR-1 Fireball
Fair use

 d.    Curtis XF-15C-1
If you picked the FR-1 Fireball, you’d be correct.  However, that landing wasn't supposed to happen.  The FR-1 as you see above, was piston-driven, with jet propulsion as well.  The engineers at Ryan developed the fireball to meet the Navy’s requirements for a fighter with the speed of a jet, but the acceleration of a propeller plane.  In November of 1945, the Fireball was being operated by VF-41 as an experimental squadron, to CQ and test jet aircraft for shipboard ops. 

However, Ens. Jake West had an in-flight emergency while in the landing pattern using the piston engine.  Per the test, the aircraft launched with both engines, but the jet engine, due to the high burn rate, was shut down for low altitude flight.  The reciprocating engine failed and without enough altitude to start the prop, he lit off the jet engine and jockeyed the power in order to manage his decent rate and safely land. Since it was an emergency, the barricade was rigged, but he had engaged the last wire and would have landed safely without it.
This jet/prop concept was a failure and was replaced by the McDonnell F2H Banshee which was the first full-production jet for the US Navy starting in August of ’48, after development of the McDonnell FH-1 Phantom.
So the FR-1 Fireball was the first jet fighter for the Navy, but what was the last biplane fighter?  

That distinction is held by the Grumman F3F, which was also the first U.S. Navy fighter which deployed aboard aircraft carriers, in 1936.

Ok, enough of “ancient” Naval History.  How about something from some decades we remember?
What was the fastest U.S. Navy jet ever deployed?
a.     Boeing F/A-18E Hornet
b.    McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom
c.     Grumman F-14 Tomcat
d.    General Dynamics F-111N Aardvark
If you haven’t guessed yet or want to check your answer, click here.
That last option is a complete distraction, as there was never a Navy variant of the Aardvark.
Slowest?  That depends on what you mean, but any jet that can stay airborne at zero forward airspeed, I consider that pretty slow.

What was the smallest, lightest, U.S. Navy fighter jet produced?

a.     Grumman: F-11 Tiger

b.    McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

c. Douglas F4D Skyray

 d. Douglas F3H Demon

If you picked "C", when in doubt, Charlie out, you would have been right on every question so far, but I  had to mix it up.  If you picked the Skyhawk, you would have been right if I asked for the lightest jet, but I asked for fighter jet.  It depends on where you find the answer, and I'm not considering the deck multiple or footprint, but the A-4 had a gross weight of around 18.5K, almost 3K less than the next competitor, the F-3H Demon, with a weight of 21,133 lbs.  The others are close with the Tiger at 21,280 lbs and the Skyray at 22,648 lbs.  If you'd like the source for those numbers, feel free to stop by and take a look at my browsing history from last weekend.  

What does the S-3 Viking share with the A-7 Corsair II and the F-8 Crusader?

S-3 Facebook Page
They don't share a mission, gun, or manufacturer, but they all have the same tricycle landing gear.

Do you know what were the last U.S. Navy jets armed with cannons as their primary weapons?
a. F-4 Phantom
b. A-7 Corsair II
c. F8U Crusader
d. F3H Demon

What U.S. Navy jets that scored the most victories over Vietnam?  I'd be remiss if I didn't give you all a question on this blog that didn't have this aircraft as an answer.

For your final question, which aircraft were flown by both the Navy and Air Force?
This one is a given:


But what if I showed you this picture?

Yes, the Air Force flew the A-3D Skywarrior as well, although it was designated the B-66.

Here's a few more:
F2J Fury

F-86 Sabre
The A-1 Skyraider
Fair use

The A-7 Corsair II
USS Midway Museum
How about the A-4 Skyhawk, P-3 Orion, the F-14, and the F-18?  

I know there are some of you out there ready to comment that I have no idea what I'm writing here, but I'd remind you to do something a flight instructor once wrote on a test I failed- RTFQ.

Those would be pictures (all licensed for reuse) of an A-4 in the service of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, an Iranian Air Force F-14, and the Canadian Air Force (F-18 and CP-140 (P-3)).

Now don't you all feel smarter? 

Well, that's all my trivia and trickery for today.  I'll see what trivial stuff I can dig up for next time.   


  1. Heh. Good stuff Tuna.

    And yeah, the pay does suck. But at least we're all "World Famous," right?

    Oh, wait...

  2. Great trivia Tuna.

    I think I got 'em all right. Except for the Fireball.

    And I couldn't get the link to work for the "primary guns" question. My opinion is the Crusader. I think the Demon was designed with the AIM-9 in mind. Even my mom knows the Phantom was designed sans gun, and the primary weapons of the Corsair II were a bit more manly than 20 mike-mike.

  3. The USN flew the F-5 as aggressors for Top Gun (Navy Fighter Weapons School). As well as F-16N's and Israeli Kfir's (F-21s).

    In the movie about NFWS, the Mig-Somethingorother is played by F-5's from the NFWS aggressor squadron. I remember that because I was at Miramar going to Fleet Readiness And Maintenance Program (FRAMP) schools when the movie came out. Later I knew someone who joined the Navy because of seeing that movie.

    1. Freddy, if you'd like to read a pretty good book about TOPGUN and the making of the movie "Top Gun," you should read TOPGUN DAYS by Dave "Bio" Baranek. I just finished it, thought it was a good read.

      In the movie, the NFWS F-5s were portraying the fictional MiG-28.

      My daughter has ridden the Viper while down at NAS Key West. She says it's a way cool jet. Fast and sporty! (Not that her usual ride, the F/A-18F isn't.)

      Someone can correct me if I'm wrong (yeah, it happens from time to time) but the USN aggressor squadron does not fly the Kfir. Those are operated by ATAC (along with other foreign aircraft), a company out of Virginia. A good friend of many here died while flying a Kfir as an aggressor pilot out at NAS Fallon, Captain Carroll "Lex" LeFon, USN (Retired).

      I know of quite a few guys who joined the Navy because of that movie. Great recruiting tool.

    2. True that Freddy. There's also the T-6 Texan II, the T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentor, and T-38 Talon, but I didn't really consider these for the post since none of these, nor the F-5 and F-16 were flown in the fleet. TOPGUN had a MiG-29 on the ramp when I was last in Fallon (over 10 years ago), so there's another I suppose. Several countries fly or flew the S-2 Tracker, and one of them likely has an Air Force and not a Navy. I didn't dig into the WWII history though and there's probably others I missed.

    3. Sarge, VF-43 Challengers flew the F-21 Kfir (leased from IAI iirc) in the early 80's. A Marine squadron also flew them at Yuma. They were aggressors. The Kfirs went back to Isreal in the mid-80's when the navy bought the F-16N.

    4. I did not know that PA. I stand corrected.

      My readers - increasing my knowledge a bit every day. Live and learn.


  4. Don't forget the PBJ, the PBY, the PB4Y, and the Mighty SNEEB!

  5. PA is right. Also there actually was an F-111B that was slated for the Navy, and actually did CQ back in the late 60's. They were all pre-pro, but there is one left at, I think, China Lake. They were replace by the F-14.

  6. 1. The Grumman F3F was most certainly NOT the first fighter deployed on US carriers.
    2. No such critter as an F-111N. Just the F-111B. Incidentally, the actual carrier trials took place after the program cancellation.
    3. While the A-4 Skyhawk was NOT a fighter jet, and hence not the correct answer, they DID deploy as fighters. ASW Carriers routinely carried a detachment of four or so armed with Sidewinders for CAP duties. There was even a squadron, VSF-1 as a parent organization.
    4. The A3D and the B-66 were two different aircraft, with the differences going far, far beyond a mere designation change. Virtually no component was shared between the two. True, the A3D inspired development of the B-66, but the AF saw a good idea, and "improved" it to death. You'll note the A-3 served much, much longer.
    5. While the FJ-2 and the F-86 were very close, again, not quite the same aircraft. Though to be fair, they were closer cousins than the FJ-2 and the FJ-4 were.
    6. Did you know the Army flew the A-4. Not just any Army, but OUR Army?

    1. C'mon Brad, you're killing my buzz here! Ha ha. I'll dig up where I took that info on the F3F from. I know there's no F-111N- I completely made that up as a distraction- I could have used the F-246 which is also a bogus answer. Were the A3D and B-66 based on the same fuselage? According to my research it was. I know they aren't the exact same aircraft, but they were both used by our Sailors and Airmen so I wasn't going to get all technical. I think that's the same issue with the Fury/Sabre: "The North American FJ-2/-3 Fury were a series of swept-wing carrier-capable fighters for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Based on the United States Air Force's F-86 Sabre (itself based on the earlier FJ-1 Fury)." I didn't know about the US Army A-4, but I didn't know I had any Army guys here that I need to pander to!

    2. Found it here. Search for "1936" on this page: http://www.aviationtrivia.org/U-S--NAVY-JETS.php Then click the link. "U.S. Navy fighter first deployed aboard aircraft carriers in 1936: Grumman VF-4" and the link will take you to the F3F.

  7. Echoing XBrad, the USAF B-66 "Destroyer" was used mainly as a recce and ECM bird and had ejection seats, which the A3D did not.

    1. PS: The book "BAT 21" was about a USAF O-5 ECM "CROW" on an RB-66 ECM bird that was shot down behind enemy lines and the monumental effort made to get him out because of the secrets this senior ECM officer held. It was made into a movie by the same name starring Gene Hackman (as "BAT 21") and Danny Glover as the FAC that orchestrated his recovery. (Glover was, of course, a composite of the many FACS on station over days during the extraction efforts. And a historically poor choice as well, as I never met a single black FAC in my entire lifetime--although there must have been at least one--because in those days circa 66-71 there were damn few black pilots of ANY kind, e.g., my squadron in the UK was known as the "integrated" squadron because we had one black and one native Hawaiian pilot. The other two in our Wing and every other squadron in all of USAFE, to the best of my memory, were all white. Get the book (paperback) It's a great SERE read.

    2. PS: Just realized that I didn't make clear that "BAT 21" was a true story..

    3. I have read that book and can second what Virgil said. Excellent book.

  8. As a kid I built a model of the B-66.
    Even after I joined the Navy I had difficulty remembering it as the A-3.
    But then all of them look alike on a radar scope... even the Russians and Chinese.


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