Tuesday, 18 June 2019

ramp scene at NAS Oceana 1961, Jaguar display - picture of the day #4

USAF Thunderbirds F-100 Super Sabres, Royal Canadian Air Force F-86's of the Golden hawks, and F11F-1's of U.S. Navys' Blue Angels. An F-8 Crusader and 2 x T-2c Buckeyes thrown in for good measure on a busy ramp at NAS Oceana in June 1961 (S). Mark Taylor collection

Harry Tranter and Colin Collis photos - Jaguar display getting airborne at BAe Woodford and IAT 95

Friday, 7 June 2019

74 Sqdn Phantoms over RAF Wattisham - Ebay photo find #92

Some nice air-to-air shots of RAF 74 Sqd Phantoms over RAF Wattisham prior to a move to RAF Valley, Anglesey, and a switch to BAe Hawks taken in September 1992

On offer here

" Der Rote Baron " : Die ganze Geschichte des Manfred von Richthofen. Joachim Castan.

Joachim Castan. Der Rote Baron: Die ganze Geschichte des Manfred von Richthofen. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2007. 360 S. EUR 24.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-608-94461-7.

Reviewed by Richard Byers (Department of History, North Georgia College and State University) Published on H-German (July, 2008) " De-mythologizing the Red Baron.."

"....Few figures of aviation history rank higher in popular consciousness than Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest air ace of the First World War, forever immortalized in Western culture as the "Red Baron." Historian and documentary producer Joachim Castan, with assistance from Richthofen's surviving descendants, has written a new biography of the air ace due to the need, in the author's view, to confront the mythological memory of the Red Baron, replete with "gross exaggerations, vulgar clichés, wishful thinking, pure fantasy, beloved legends and bright shining lies" (p. 15), with the "complete" history of his short but illustrious life. The work that results from this approach is a richly-detailed, more nuanced assessment of Richthofen than earlier works, which Castan rightly asserts based their arguments on popular mythological assumptions rather than documentary evidence. Castan's access to Richthofen's personal papers and family archival holdings, cited extensively throughout his account, reinforce his theses and provide a wealth of information for interested scholars and non-scholars, particularly into the family relationships of the Richthofen clan from the beginning of the twentieth century into the First World War and beyond.

Many aspects of this work warrant praise. Castan's documentary background makes him keenly aware of the importance of the role played by the German government and media in transforming Manfred von Richtofen from an unknown airman into a national celebrity. With the death of the previous air "idol," Oswald Boelcke, in late 1916, German military officials embraced and cultivated Richtofen as Boelcke's heir and successor. As a result, Richtofen's meetings with higher officials and the Kaiser were carefully choreographed to maximize their potential as propaganda, both for internal and external consumption. Castan is at his best here, as he narrates the growth of the Red Baron's fame and transformation, by 1917, into wartime Germany's most recognized hero. Additionally, Castan's concluding chapter on the use of Richtofen by the Nazis, and the development of the "Cult of the Red Baron" during their reign, is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the air ace's posthumous legacy, and will be of interest to scholars of the propaganda and mythology of the Third Reich. When he moves into contemporary discussions of Richtofen's utility as an example for the Bundeswehr and NATO, however, he is on less solid ground.

More problematic, though, are Castan's attempts to analyze the Red Baron psychologically, a theme that recurs throughout the work. Correctly confronting the partisan nature of previous literature, which uncritically accepted wartime representations of Richtofen as a paragon of Prussian and German chivalry and honor, Castan draws from Richtofen's 1917 autobiography and unpublished family documents to paint a different picture of the air ace as a cold, amoral aerial predator who sought to hunt and kill his opponents in a manner reminiscent of a game hunter. In Castan's view, Richtofen never viewed his enemies as human; instead, he viewed them as "targets" to be shot, and their aircraft debris as trophies to be displayed at the squadron mess hall, like the preserved heads of vanquished game. Castan repeatedly attempts to explain these realities by resorting to psychological analysis of Richtofen's childhood, adolescence, and family relationships. This process does yield some interesting insights, such as the recognition that Richtofen never developed a normal maternal bond with his mother, but in my opinion Castan's approach never materializes into a convincing case that helps explain Richtofen's actions and motivations. As many readers will recognize, psycho-historical approaches are useful as a tool to help explain the actions of historical actors, but they rarely achieve this aim in isolation from other methodologies. Castan's approach is no exception. At times these sections become repetitive, lessening the impact of the overall narrative, and they tend to minimize the importance of the brutal wartime environment on Richtofen and his contemporaries. Castan correctly points out that Richtofen's perspective on aerial combat was hardly unique; nearly all of the most successful "air aces" of the war possessed the same detached, perhaps pathological attitude toward their actions.

Despite these criticisms, however, this important work furthers our understanding of the First World War's most recognizable figure. It also encourages scholars of German military history to consider a re-evaluation of the conflict and its protagonists, in line with recent research on the conduct and motives of combatants in the Second World War, and to take the ideological atmosphere of the First World War seriously. More similarities may be found between the two conflicts in these terms than previous scholarship has suggested. Additionally, his astute analysis of the problematic nature of German military heroism, and its legacy for present and future generations of German military personnel, is worth serious consideration...."

Monday, 13 May 2019

British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 - most interesting military jet - Quora opinion piece

Alex Patrick
Alex Patrick, B.Sc (Hons) Digital Media Technology

Saturday, 27 April 2019

French naval air arm types displaying Balkenkreuze, Cherbourg August 1940 - picture of the day #3

Photo taken at Querqueville, next to Cherbourg during August 1940. A selection of French naval air arm types displaying Balkenkreuze and possibly used as decoys.

Those a/c were used as decoys with fake German markings to be later "bulldozered" on to the nearby beach. All a/c are former French naval aviation types, 'left over' on June 18 1940 when the station was evacuated. The reverse of the photo is marked " Lockvögel auf FF Platz Querqueville Aug. 40". The German word "Lockvogel" (plural Lockvögel) means decoy. From L to R : Two Potez 631 (ex F1C) MS 406 (ex Armée de l'air, evacuated from Calais by Lt Habert of AB4 squadron), two Dewoitine 376 (ex F1C), one Loire-Nieuport 401 or 411 (ex F1A), Potez 567 (c/n n° 9), Levasseur PL.7 (station "hack"), Potez 631 (ex F1C)

Monday, 8 April 2019

Why was the British Swordfish so strong at sinking ships, even the Bismarck? Quora opinion piece

Mike Milne
Mike Milne, former Weapons Engineer Officer at Royal Navy (1966-1972)

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Barbarossa victims -more Soviet aircraft destroyed. Quora opinion piece on Soviet aircraft by Charles McDevitt

Charles McDevitt
Charles McDevitt, former Retired Biologist

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Baltimore Mk.IIIA FA353/X - picture of the day #1

Baltimore Mk.IIIA FA353/X 69 Sqn or 203 Sqn, Luqa, Malta 1943

Tonka finale - 9 ship of Tornados over RAF Marham

A repost from the RAF Marham twitter feed of the nine-ship formation that flew to mark the end of the type in RAF service. A single click to view here. Posted using twitter embed code.

via Ian Black twitter feed.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Hellcats and Helldivers - French Carrier "Arromanches" in Indo-China Operations (1953) Gulf of Tonkin - SB2C Helldivers de la flottille 3F - Bernard Klotz memoir 'Enfer au paradis'

French carrier Arromanches, and below, scenes on the flight deck of the Arromanches, off French Indochina in the Gulf of Tonkin, circa 1951. Arromanches was a light aircraft carrier of the French Navy, serving from 1946 to 1974. She was previously HMS Colossus of the Royal Navy. The carrier was home to the SB2C Helldivers of flottille 3F and the Hellcats of 11F during the Indochina war (1954)

Arromanches/Colossus was the name-ship of the Colossus class of light carriers. She was commissioned in 1944, but did not see any action in World War II. She served with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945–46, as an aircraft transport and repatriation ship. In 1946, she was loaned to the French Navy, and renamed Arromanches; she was bought by the French in 1951. Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War in three campaigns from 1948 to 1954, and the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1968 she was converted to an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier. She was decommissioned in 1974, and broken up in 1978.

ARROMANCHES' aircraft flotille 3F (Helldivers) and 11F (Hellcats) were in action against the Viet Minh over Diên-Biên-Phu on March 13, the day the all-out assault on the camp was launched. That day just 4 Hellcats were overhead. One of them, piloted by the LV DOE of MAINDREVILLE was was lost. Following this the decision was taken to base the carrier's aircraft ashore reducing transit times and pilot workload. Their main mission was to provide Dien-Bien-Phu with maximum fire support against Viet Minh concentrations, artillery and enemy AAA and to ensure the protection of aircraft parachuting food and equipment.

Losses of the 2 flotille during this period:

- 15 March: shot down by anti-aircraft fire, LV LESPINAS of 11F was reported missing aboard his Hellcat 6 km from Dien Bien Phu.

- 31 March: LV ANDRIEUX 3F CO, shot down by anti-aircraft fire 2 km from the Gabrielle support point (KIA)

- April 9:  EV LAUGIER (3F) shot down by flak aboard his Helldiver. (KIA)

- April 23: LV Bernard Klotz of 11F was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Jumping clear he was picked up on the ground by the legionnaires of the 13° DBLE. Taken prisoner by the Viet Minh when the camp fell, he was released in September.

- April 26: the Hellcat of SM ROBERT (11F) was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The latter also parachuted but fell into enemy lines. Taken prisoner, he died of exhaustion in the forced march to an internment camp.

Lt. Bernard Klotz's account of his dive-bombing sortie flown on 23 April as a preamble to a counter-attack following the loss of 'Hugette 1' to the Viets;

"...During the night of April 22-23, the enemy seized "Huguette 1". The loss of this fortified position located at the midpoint overlooking the runway was serious- the whole airfield was now dominated by Giap's artillery and by the machine-guns and mortars of his infantry. Even more serious it shrunk the size of the drop zone, reducing the space available for parachuting. The latter ensured the survival of the garrison, provided however that the personnel and equipment dropped by the transport aircraft were recoverable. As of 22 April at least a quarter of what was being parachuted was going to the Viêts. For the camp commander, the loss of "Huguette 1" was unacceptable. He decided to launch a counterattack. First of all, the occupants had to rendered stunned by a large-scale aerial bombardment which had to be effective. It was therefore the Hellcats and Helldivers that de Castries requested first and foremost. As leader of the second 'patrouille'  "Savart vert" ('Savart green Leader')I started my dive from 8,000 ft (cf. Windrow p530) with two 500 lb bombs. The weather was excellent. The target was clearly visible. So was the anti-aircraft fire. I had to be very precise. Believing that my attack would not be, I aborted my first attempt and informed my comrade Goizet that I would have to repeat it. He replied that white smoke was billowing from my right wing. I wasn't happy, but the most pressing thing was to drop my bombs on the target. I released them between 2 and 3,000 feet and started to pull out. At that very moment I experienced a violent impact in my machine as my instrument panel exploded. I briefly considered landing on the earthen runway of "Isabelle" which was right in front of me about a minute's flying time away.

I had no time.. My machine was on fire....

In fact, in the seconds that followed, I lived two simultaneous lives. I was two characters at the same time, one whose leitmotif was to say "It's over", and another who would do whatever it took to make the first one lie and thought of nothing but to impose his will on fate. For each of them time had slowed down. Each second was worth a thousand normal seconds. To the first, who kept saying "I'm fucked ", he would scroll his life below and beyond the present moment at which, without a doubt, he would not survive. The second ignored that a bit of doubt, hesitation or clumsiness that would compromise his immediate goal: to get out of this aircraft before it exploded. A pilot does not like to abandon his machine, hence my first idea was to land mine, even on fire, on a nearby runway. The memory of Robin, who had experienced a similar situation on December 5, immediately dissuaded me from doing so. A parachute bail out requires some preliminary operations. First, climb, if possible, so as not to be too low when opening the parachute. At the same time, always if possible, direct the plane towards a favourable area, that is, for "him" outside our lines, but for me, close enough to them so that I did not fall into enemy hands. Two objectives that were difficult to reconcile in this particular case. Then unhook the seat harness, jettison the canopy, stand up, roll the plane - the last act of piloting - and dive into the void with enough effort to prevent the tail or rudder from hitting your head as it flashes past. Once in the atmosphere, all that remains is to deploy the chute. Despite the whining of my double pessimist, I did all of this very well, as if carrying out an exercise, except for the last but essential manoeuvre. To deploy the parachute you have to pull on a handle. It's simple. So that's what I did. But the handle came off in my hand. The cable connected to this handle was broken. The parachute would not open. I had no idea how to proceed ignoring the secrets of its functioning. While my 'double' kept up the mantra, "..this time it's really over" I stubbornly sought another solution. I imagined it lay behind my back thinking that maybe, although without seeing or knowing, I would be be able to do something manually. Instead of crossing my arms on my chest, I flung the, behind me to rummage around on my back. It was at that moment, when I must have been free-falling at around 750 feet, that the parachute mush-roomed open but, as it unfolded, the lines suddenly carried my misplaced arms with them and dislocated  my right shoulder..."


Klotz was rescued by Legionnaires after coming down in the camp and was taken captive on 7 May 1954 with the fall of Dien Bien Phu. He survived the long march into captivity and was finally released by the Viet Minh in September 1954.

At that time he had flown 1090 hours, carried out 180 combat sorties over Vietnam and made 187 carrier landings in the Hellcat.

This was only the start of a long career that saw him command 16F (Etendard IVP) and the French carrier Foch. His memoir covering his three tours in Vietnam was entitled "Enfer au paradis" (Ardhan)

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Victor B.2 XL513 & XL 512 carrying Blue Steel - ebay photo find #57

An original Ministry of Defence photograph of Handley Page Victor B.2 XL513 equipped with a Blue Steel Missile. Note the four Vulcans on...