The Texas-based Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has recently decided to update its planning strategy in order to increase its profile and the relevance of its message to the general public, reports Richard Mallory Allnutt. The organisation will establish several "Airbases" around the USA which will be, for the most part, existing, well-established facilities within the CAF structure, featuring some of the more prominent aircraft within the fleet. However, each of these operations will transition into a more formal aviation museum, open to the general public on a daily basis with interactive displays, educational activities and events, which will include an annual air show. The CAF has announced that Midland/Odessa in Texas, the current CAF Headquarters, is the first of these Airbase locations. The organisation has also determined the need to establish a National Airbase more centrally located to a major population area. This will become the CAF's new national headquarters.
When the P-51 first took to the air, no one could know that it would have such far-reaching effects in nearly every theater of combat. Simultaneously, nobody foresaw that the initial disappointment in its performance, when measured against its peers, would turn into near-elation as the concept became a world beater. The Mustang's evolution began with a cutting-edge airframe mated to a marginal engine, which was then replaced with one of the finest powerplants ever. The original design's limited range was expanded with more internal fuel and drop tanks that made all the difference as a bomber escort. Armament also evolved, including significant air-to-ground ordnance-plus cameras. Climb aboard for a galloping ride aboard a star player on a global stage.
After a more complicated then usual recent hobby project, something a shade easier was needed. One of those ideas that had been on the back-burner for some time and looked ideal, was a small simple model based on the WW2 RN River class frigates. These were the follow-on design to the Flower class of corvettes which had carried the brunt of the fight against U-boats in the early years ofWW2. Being larger and with twice the installed power, these frigates answered the shortcomings of the corvettes. Their larger hulls made them more suitable for the rough conditions which had placed a great strain on the corvette crews. Their extra speed also allowed them to run down surfaced U-boats, something the Flowers' could not do. Perhaps the most important improvement was the increase in anti-submarine weapons with the ahead throwing Hedgehog mortar and up to 150 depth charges carried. Thus it was possible for a frigate to be detached from the convoy escort group to prosecute a sustained attack on a submerged U-boat which could not escape by surfacing, yet still have the speed to return to the convoy later.
The men in control of the 19th century's armies were, at best, a conservative bunch. Military thinking during that period always found innovation of any sort difficult and nowhere was this predilection so marked as in the area of repeating rifles. The British Army did not introduce a magazine rifle until 1888, when the Lee-Metford, with a magazine holding ten rounds, began its service life. Unfortunately the Metford's barrel was not suitable for the new smokeless ammunition then being introduced, and the rifle began to be replaced in 1895 by the Lee-Enfield, a weapon which will be familiar to many both in and out of Britain's armed forces. The Army Command was concerned about soldiers issued with a magazine rifle wasting ammunition however, so the Lee-Enfield was fitted with a magazine cut-off to allow the rifle to be loaded with a single cartridge between shots, thus conserving the contents of the magazine.
As anyone who reads this page knows, it's the one I have trouble with. Yep, this is the 24th draft, so I am not doing well. As usual, it was an influence completely outside the research that gave me the key to how to begin this issue, how to define and distil the towering legend that is the history of this company. With the Mosquito it was Monty Python, with Lockheed Martin it was Gillan, Ian Gillan's rock band. Again, if you read this page, you will know that I listen to music or comedy while I am writing; it frees the mind and lets the details, the facts, become a story. In this case, I was listening to the excellent Glory Road and was humming along to No Easy Way when I suddenly got it. Nothing Lockheed Martin has ever done has been done the easy way. Just look at its track record or flick through these pages and you will see what I mean. Everything has always been at the cutting edge of technology or capability, pushing the edge of the envelope of manned flight further, higher or fester. The P-38; a supercharged twin when the norm was single-engined. 'Hie P-80; the first operational jet fighter in the US. The F-104; a Mach 2 interceptor.
Also known as the Aberdeen Proving Ground Tiger or Fgst.Nr. 250031, is the oldest surviving Tiger I today. Although a well known surviving Tiger, not much of it's service history is known. Fgst.Nr.250031 was the 31st Tiger to be manufactured and left the production lines somewhere between late October and early November 1943 and was sent to Tunisia, allocated to the sPz.Abt.501. Sometime in May 1943 Tiger 712 was abandoned by it's crew and later found by Allied troops, the second complete and running Tiger "captured" during this campaign, (the other being Tiger 1 31, now at Bovington). Why and where 712 was left by it's crew, and what happened during it's service life is still a mystery. Only a few wartime photos of 712 in original condition are known, some photographed in Tunisia, and some at APG (of which most show 712 after it had been repainted). After studying these photos it seems 712 lived a hard life and took some punches, with at least three hits on the turret.