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Mitsubishi A6M Zero

A Mitsubishi A6M Zero. (Photographer, and date photographed is not available. I apologize for any inconvenience.)

The A6M Zero was a light-weight, carrier-based fighter, that was built, and designed by the Japanese Mitsubishi Company. The Zero was the best of its kind when it was first introduced on July, 1940. However, as the war progressed, it was soon outpaced by many new and effective Allied planes, and the Economic situation Japan was in at the middle, and final stages of the war meant that planes could not be built fast enough, as lack of the precious metals was slowing starving the Japanese aviation industry. The Japanese also lacked pilots, which was also one of their problems. Meanwhile, American factorys were producing a huge number of planes everyday. Fresh recruitments of pilots every now, and then meant that the U.S. did not have to worry about pilot, or plane shortages.

The A6M was extremely light, as weight was reduced every way possible. It had virtually no armor, and did not include self-sealing fuel tanks. Even more astonishingly, Zero's do not have radars, and some pilots even fly without radios. This unarmoured plane, not having even the most essential instruments for flying was extremely vulnerable, but also extremely lethal. The Zero had great maneuverability, speed, range, and of course firepower. It was feared by almost every Allied aviator at the start of the war.

Zero's were used in almost all major Japanese campaigns in the Pacific, and Asia, which helped Japan expand it's Empire quickly, and efficiently. In the later stages of war, A6M Zeros were converted to the kamikaze* role. Kamikaze was Japan's last desperate attempt to save it's Empire from destruction, and to weaken the ever stronger U.S. forces. It did not succeed.

*Kamikaze means aerial suicide attacks.

The Three Musketeers - Miroslaw Feric

Miroslaw "Ox" Feric was born on June 17th, 1915, and was a RAF ace in World War II. With 8 2/3 kills, and 1 probables, he was one of The Three Musketeers in the Kosciuszko Squadron, based in Great Britain during its famous battle for air superiority with the German Luftwaffe over the English Channel. Unfortunately, Feric was the only one of the three that did not survive the war.

As a child, Feric was a daredevil. He loved to play with gravity, walking on the narrow iron railing around the fourth-floor balcony of his family apartment, and sometimes swinging on the same railing with only one arm to keep him from dropping into an almost fatal fall. He also loved to leap from the roofs of the garden sheds in the back. Another thing he wanted, but cannot do yet is to fly, he loved to go to the local aeroklub to watch planes take-off and land. Soon, he will be able to get in one of them.

By the time the invasion of Poland had begun, and thus World War II, he had already graduated from flight school and was part of the small Polish Air Force (PAF) that was defending its country from both the Nazi's, and the Soviets. Soon enough, Poland was overwhelmed but did not surrender. Like many other, Feric escaped to France via Romania, and then when France fell, took another long journey to Britain. There, he was assigned to the No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron, just in time for the Battle of Britain.

Feric was the only one in the squadron who was intent on recording everything that happened. He asked, and pestered squadron mates after the they have landed from a mission to fill in a spot in his diary, sometimes his questions were more of an order. Many of them were very irritated but agreed grudgingly. After his death, they continued his diary as a tribute to his memory.

How Feric died was much of a mystery. On February 14th, 1942, a cold midmorning, he took a Spitfire for a routine practice flight in the overcast sky. When the aircraft reached 900 m (3000 feet), part of a wing suddenly broke off, and struck the tail, achieving the destruction of both. The Spitfire started corkscrewing to the ground, getting faster as it plummeted. Feric tried to escape but his safety harness just would not let him go. His friends back on the ground watched desperately, as he and his plane slammed into a runway with a terrible roar. The plane was so fast that its nose was buried up to the cockpit in concrete. Pilots and ground crews sprinted to the wreckage as fast as they can, hoping that after all that, Feric was still alive. They found Feric's dead body hanging halfway out of the cockpit. It was clear that he had tried to get out of the plane before the fatal crash but was not able to overcome the G's and work himself free.

Miroslaw Feric was only 26 when he died but his memory would always be with many. There is an elementary school, which Feric attended, in a town called Ostrow Wielkolpolski, that is named after him. The 600 students in the school are taught of Feric's achievements during the war, his diary, and his patriotism. The school newspaper, which is published every 2 months, is named Ox. On Febuary 14th, 2002, the sixtieth anniversary of Miroslaw Feric's death, the children sent flowers for his grave in faraway England.

Honour his Memory!

The Three Musketeers - Jan Zumbach

Jan "Johnny" Zumbach, born on 14th April 1915 in Urysnow, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, was a RAF ace in World War II. His parents were Polish-born Swiss', which made him be registered as a Swiss citizen. He hid his nationality in order to join the Polish Army in 1934, and served as an infantrymen until he was transfered to the Polish Air Force in 1936. His graduation from flight training was the year 1938.

Thanks to a broken leg, Zumbach could not fly in the German invasion of Poland, which marked the outbreak of World War II. It was caused in a flying accident during the summer of 1939. After Poland was taken over, but not surrendered, he and a huge number of other Poles both civilians and from armed forces was evacuated via Romania to France. A surprise awaited him in Romania. It's government, after seeing the quick victory of the Nazi, and Soviet Forces in Poland, was afraid of sending aid to the Polish refugees. However, most Poles evaded arrest by bribing the Romanian officers, which cared very little for escaping Poles. The money was from the Polish Underground.

In France, he and the other Poles' treatment was just slightly better. The French blamed them for starting the war. Even though they encouraged the Poles to come before, when they arrived, their mood changed drastically.

After France fell, Zumbach, and the other Poles had to make another long journey to Britain. This time, however, the French officers, unlike the Romanians, strangely were extremely strict and they were stopping any Pole leaving. Nevertheless, Zumbach, and thousands of Poles still made it to Britain. Many of them were pilots like Zumbach and they formed numerous new squadrons in the RAF. One of them was the No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron, which Zumbach was assigned to. These new squadrons were very valuable in the upcoming Battle of Britain.

Zumbach survived the war with 13 kills, 5 probables, and 1 damaged, and was decorated with the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Military, the Polish Cross of Valour (with 3 bars); and the Distinguished Flying Cross (with bar). He also had many nicknames given to him by the British, the 2 most common is "Johnny," an Anglicization of his first name, and "Donald," because his sloping nose with its oddly upturned tip reminded people of Donald Duck's bill. Shortly after the war, he, and 2 other ex-RAF pilots started a charter air transport company that became a cover for a bank-note-smuggling operation. It's activities soon expanded into a wide range of illegal goods from various nations. Soon, he settled down, married, had a child, and stopped illegal smuggling for a while. In 1962, he set-up a primitive air force for Katanga, and another one 5 years later for Biafra during it's war with Nigeria. It's only aircraft was a World War II-vintage B-26, which Zumbach and his bombardier, an Ibo tribesman, dropped homemade explosives on Nigeria during bombing raids. Even in his seventies, Zumbach was still living on the edge. One day in late 1985, he told Ludwik martel in London that he was involved in a secret deal that was going to amek him a lot of money.

Jan Zumbach died mysteriously in Paris, France on 3rd January 1986 at the age of 71. Nobody knows why, but many of his friends were sure that he had met with foul play.

Nevertheless, Zumbach was a great man.

The Three Musketeers - Witold Lokuciewski

Witold "Tolo" Lokuciewski, born on February 2nd 1917, was one of The Three Musketeers of the No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron in World War II. An ace, Lokuciewski, was credited with 8 kills, although it could have been more, but he was shot down by a swarm of Me-109's during his return in a mission over France, and became a Prisoner of War (PoW). His brother-in-law was not so lucky, being one of the victims of the Soviet Union in the massacre at Katyn.

After his capture by the Germans, he was first sent to a hospital in Saint-Omer, where he underwent surgery to recover the injuries sustained by his left leg, and not long after, was transferred to a hospital in Germany. His final destination was to a Prisoner-of-War camp called Stalag Luft III, near Sagan, an area of Poland taken over by the Germany. At the time of his arrival, his inmates, most of them being Allied airmen were already planning, what would later be known as "the Great Escape." Lokuciewski sooned joined them.

In 1943, Lokuciewski's first attempt to liberty was thwarted by the Germans. He, and several other airmen managed to get out of the camp, and board a train, but was arrested by the Gestapo at the next station. When he returned, he joined in with the others to planning "the Great Escape." It involved a huge number of prisoners and so, in the initial breakout on March 1944, he was left behind. Turns out, he was lucky, 50 of the 78 prisoners who escaped were quickly captured and shot.

After the war, Lokuciewski chose to return to Soviet-controlled Poland and in 1956, was asked to rejoin the Polish Air Force (PAF), which he immediately accepted. After Stalin's death, the Polish Communist Government was much softer in its attitude toward returnees who fought for the British during the war. Together with several other Polish ex-RAF pilots, he underwent retraining in much more sophisticated MiGs, compared to the Hurricane, and Spitfire. However, Lokuciewski's skill in flying was so impressive that his instructors pronounced him ready for duty on the spot. Over the years, he grew in rank in the PAF and returned to London with his wife, as a military attache for Poland's Communist Government. Unexpectedly, many of his previous fellow pilots turned on him, especially those who remained in exile in Britain. To them, Lokuciewski had betrayed Poland by working for Communists, and through them, the Soviets. Luckily, the other Musketeer, Jan Zumbach, did not feel at all furious at him, and on the contrary, remained on of Lokuciewski's best friends.

Witold Lokuciewski died on April 17th, 1990. He was one of the best the Polish Air Force could ever have.

May he never be forgotten.

The Three Musketeers of the Kosciuszko Squadron

Jan Zumbach
Miroslaw Feric

Witold Lokuciewski
As the fighting progressed, and the Battle of Britain inevitable, fighter pilots were in huge demand. As a result, the thousands of Polish pilots who escaped to Britain after their country was taken over were called to duty. They formed loads of new squadrons, and amidst them, the No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron. This squadron was one of the best in the World during World War II, and among its many pilots are 3 extraordinary aces named Witold Lokuciewski, Jan Zumbach, and Miroslaw Feric, who called themselves 'The Three Musketeers'. Of the trial, Feric did not survive the war.
Final victory tally for The Three Musketeers:

Jan Zumbach- 13 confirmed kills, 5 probables, and 1 damaged.
Miroslaw Feric- 8 and 2/3 confirmed kills, and 1 probable.
Witold Lokuciewski- 8 confirmed kills.

Impressive McDonnell Douglas/Boeing IDS F-15 Eagle Photos

Here are some impressive pictures of the F-15 Eagle, enjoy!
A formidable line of F-15 Eagles.
An F-15 taking-off at maximum performance.
An F-15D Eagle of the 325th Fighter Wing, based in Tyndall AFB, climbing vertically while releasing flares.

The Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet

The first operational rocket-powered aircraft in the world and the only one of its type in World War II, the Me-163 Komet was an extraordinary leap in aviation technology. Even though it's performance was unrivalled by any aircraft at that time, it was an extremely dangerous aircraft that was not suitable for the role it was designed for, a fighter, or any others. In fact, more Luftwaffe pilots died in accidents in either landing or take-off than in combat. The problem is the Komet's highly explosive fuel that surrounded the cockpit which made it very, very hazardous to even be inside when the engine is on. In the end, the Me-163 was given up in favour of the Me-262 Schwalbe, which was much more successful and deadly.

A pilot boarding a Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet. The first operational rocket-powered aircraft.

Bell X-1: The first plane to break the sound barrier.

Orignially desingated XS-1, the X-1 was a joint NACA-US. Army Air Forces/Air Force supersonic research project. What's unique about this experimental aircraft is that it is powered by a rocket engine and that it is the first plane to exceed the speed of sound in controlled and level flight. It's design was like a "bullet with wings"that closely resembled the shape of a Browning .50-calibur (12.7 mm) machine gun bullet. The reason for this resemblance is because it was known that this type of bullet is stable in supersonic flight. The first pilot who achieved a supersonic speed in this aircraft was U.S. Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, on October 14th, 1947, in #46-062, 'Glamorous Glennis'. The plane was christened by him after his wife.

Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager in front of the Bell X-1, which he christened 'Glamorous Glennis', after his wife.

Vapor Cones

A Vapor Cone on an F-22 Raptor.

Vapor cones
on a plane is believed to be the result of a plane reaching supersonic speed or breaking the sound barrier, but it has nothing to do with it. The cone only forms when a plane flies past a particularly humid area, it's pressure envelope increases the air pressure around and causes the water vapor to instantly condense. Once the plane passes, the pressure is released and the condensed water would just as quickly re-vaporize. Of course the faster a plane goes, the greater the difference of pressure and so the effect will be more evident.

North American P-51 Mustang

Produced by North American Aviation, the P-51 Mustang was one of the most successful, most famous aircraft in World War II. It was introduced on 1942, flew most of the time as long-range bomber escorts in raids over Germany, and also saw limited service in the Pacific Theatre. In the beginning of the Korean War, the P-51 had been the main fighter of the United Nations but was forced to convert into the ground attack role with the introduction of more and more jet planes. Nevertheless, it remained in service with some air forces until the early-1980's, an extraordinary long period of time for a fighter that was introduced in 1942.
Four North American P-51D Mustangs of the 375th Fighter Squadron.

Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe

The Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe in mid-flight.

The first operational turbojet fighter aircraft in the world, the Me-262 Schwalbe, built by Germany's Messerschmitt Company was introduced in April 1944. It was a very fast plane that could intercept bombers and evade their fighter escorts. However, it came far too late in the war and in too little numbers to make a significant impact on the course of war. The Me-262 was not a very reliable plane with frequent engine failures, no doubt as the jet engine was a very new engine concept that was still in its primitive ages. However, the Me-262 still had a great influence on post-war Allied jet designs.

Grumman F-14 Tomcat (Picture)


(link)
An Amazing Picture of the F-14 Tomcat.

Lockheed Skunk Works SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71B Blackbird, a trainer version of the SR-71. Note the dual cockpit to allow the instructor to fly the plane.

The SR-71 Blackbird is currently the 2nd fastest plane in the world, next to it's predecessor, the A-12, which can reach speeds up to 3.35, while it is only capable of reaching Mach 3.2+. It was Designed by Clarence 'Kelly' Johnson and produced by Lockheed Skunk Works, and flies at the edge of Space doing reconnaissance missions over Russia during the Cold War. Due to its high speed and amazing altitude, it could easily evade surface-air missiles (SAM). As a result, no Blackbird was lost to enemy action, though 12 of the 32 were lost in accidents. The Blackbird had been so effective that it was brought back out of retirement in the 1990's but was permanently retired in 1998.

The secret of the SR-71's high speed lies in its engines, and material used for its structure. Of course, they do not come cheap military wise. The Pratt & Whitney J58-P4 engine used on the Blackbird was the only military engine designed to operate continuously on afterburner. Also, incredibly, the J58 engine became more efficient when air speed increases, whereas conventional jet engines loses efficiency as the plane speeds up.

When the Blackbird reaches Mach 3, the friction between its surface and the air is so much that the heat generated could actually melt the surface of the aircraft. That is not the case when 85% of the surface of the Blackbird is made of titanium, while 15% of it is made of composite materials. This was a first in the airplane industry. The setback of using titanium is that is was extremely scarce, and very expensive. Additionally, much of the titanium sent to Lockheed to make the Blackbird was imported from the Soviet Union. Making it worse, 80% of the titanium initially delivered to Lockheed had to be rejected due to metallurgical contamination.

The Cold War 1947-1991

The Cold War in some ways actually began during World War II. You might think the relationship between the Big 3 was of the best of friends but tension was already mounting, only in Stalin's point of view. He simply did not believe true friendship, no giving without taking, and that's why he did not trust any of his Western Allies. After the war, he immediately began to end his supposedly friendship with the US and Britain, racing them to snatch German technology and Scientists. Even after his death in 1953, his succesors continued the Arms and Space Race with the US. The first notable war started during the Cold War is the Korean War (July 25th, 1950-July 27th, 1953) , which seperated Korea into the North and South. The North being controlled by Communists and is still the same till now while the South is a democratic country. The second notable war is the Vietnam War (1959 or March 8th, 1965 when US troops are involved-April 30th, 1975) which ended in full Communist control. However, it has changed for the better with its people slowly acquiring more and more rights as time passes. The Cold War is definitely a very significant event in History and will always be.

McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II

Developed by McDonnell Douglas, British Aerospace, and Boeing/BAE systems, the AV-8 Harrier II is the result of a co-operation between the US and UK and is a notable Cold War defense achievement. It's a second generation V/STOL, (Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing) the first being the Hawker P.1127. Because of it's V/STOL capability, it does not need a long airstrip and thus can land in much more areas than other planes. A very useful advantage, given the toal area of large flat land on Earth. Problem is, the Harrier II can't vertical take-off with full load, of course it is due to the lack of engine power, but landing isn't much of a problem. It's main operators are the USMC, Spanish Navy, and Italian Navy.
An AV-8B+ Harrier II Plus on USS Nassau, an assault ship.

AIM-9 Sidewinder

An AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heatseeking, supersonic, short range, US$85 000, air-to-air missile carried by fighter aircraft, and recently, some gunship helicopters. It's first flight was on September 1953, and it entered service in 1956. The manufacturers of this missile are Raytheon Company, Ford Aerospace, and Loral Corp.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder was named after the Sidewinder snake, which detects the prey via body heat or infrared radiation. The other reason is the peculiar snake-like flight pattern the early versions liked to follow when launched. The AIM-9 widely immitated and copied by many countries as it was the first truly effective air-air missiles. Some airforces still have variants, and upgrades of the Sidewinder still in active service for 5 decades. The latest version of it is the AIM-9X.

In the first few years when the Sidewinder was introduced, new aircrafts developed abandoned guns and added new racks on the wings for Sidewinders. The Air Force thought with this new weapon, dogfighting was obsolete. This assumption was a terrible mistake. During the Vietnam war, U.S. aircraft loses mounted and kills were lessened. Most Sidewinders fired failed to lock on or missed. They soon realised their mistake and dogfighting was introduced again. Modern planes still have guns, but most are intended as a last ditch effort.

Vision Requirements to Fly in the Army

Like the rest, applicants must have normal colour vision and depth perception. Also, vision must be 20/50(correctable with glasses to 20/20) or better in each eye. After the flight training, vision has to be better than 20/400(correctable with glasses to 20/20) to remain on flight status.
Thanks to http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/genjoin/a/pilotvision.htm

Vision Requirements to Fly in the Navy and Marine Corps

Like the Air Force, you must have normal colour vision and depth perception. Before flight training begins, your vision must be 20/40 or better(correctable with glasses to 20/20) in each eye. During flight training, vision must not go worse than 20/100(correctable with glasses to 20/20) in each eye. After flight training graduation, if your vision has dropped to 20/200 or worse, you have to have a waiver for carrier operations. If it gets even worse than 20/400, pilots can only fly aircraft that have dual controls(ie, aircraft with co-pilot).
Thanks to
http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/genjoin/a/pilotvision.htm

Vision Requirements to Fly in the Air Force

First of all , you have to have normal colour vision and depth perception. Next, Your vision must not get worst than 20/70(correctable with glasses to 20/20) in each eye. Fortunately, after flight school, requirements would not be so high. To remain on flight status, your vision must not go beyond 20/400 in each eye(correctable to with glasses to 20/20).
Thanks to
http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/genjoin/a/pilotvision.htm

The Top 3 Fighter Planes in World War II

I personally believe that the top 3 fighter planes in World War II are the U.S.'s North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, Britain's Supermarine Spitfire, and Nazi Germany's Focke Wulf Fw-190. All 3 are excellent planes and have achieved a lot of fame during World War II

Supermarine Spitfire- The Excellent Plane

The Supermarine Spitfire, a plane that was the finest fighter of it's day, contributed a lot like the Hawker Hurricane in Britain's struggle through desperate times in The Battle of Britain. It was very manouverable and extremely fast. In fact, a Spitfire Mk XI flown by Sqn. Ldr. Martindale reached a speed of 975km/h (606mph) during a dive. This speed exceeds the jet planes that exists at that time of the war, as it was very close to Mach 1, the Speed of Sound. The Spitfire recieved many praises from its pilots and it more than deserved them. An excellent bird.

Damaged Spitfire Mk XI flown by Sqn. Ldr. Martindale that achieved a speed that is close to Mach 1 in a dive.

The Spitfire was produced in great numbers, and was the only Allied plane that was in production from the start of the war to the end. It's round wingtips made the fighter easily distinguishable from other planes in the sky. It's naval variant is the Seafire.

The Credit that is Due

In World War II, everyone knows that the Allies won, but who were the Allies was the question. Was it just Britain, France, U.S.S.R., and the U.S.A.? Obviously there was more but most of us don't know them. Among the 'mysterious' nations who were part of the Allies too, the Poles were one of the best. The only nation to fight the Nazis from the start of the war to the finish, Poland should have been given more credit than they now have. They did not surrender or collaborat with their enemy even after their nation fell. Hundreds of thousands of Poles escaped to Romania, then France, and then to Britain to fight for what they believed as their freedom. The Polish Army was one of the best, helping to take Monte Cassino and many key points in Italy and North Africa. They participated in all major campaigns of the Allies and was crucial to the victory. Their Navy was brilliant, having sunk more than 30 warships, and many more others. They also shot down a huge number of planes. Their Airforce was the best without a doubt. They literally saved the British in the Battle of Britain and played a major role in the Western front too. But how their Allies payed them back was another story. The U.S. and Britain did not give them back their freedom after the war, instead, they handed her to the U.S.S.R.. The whole war, the Poles believed that they were fighting for the freedom of their country, instead, they were betrayed by their Allies. The treatment of the Poles during and after the war should undebatably, be better.
The Polish Coat of Arms

The 2 Best Allied Squadrons in World War II

VMF-214 "The Black Sheep" Squadron Badge
No. 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron Badge

In my opinion, the 2 best Allied Squadrons in World War II is the United States Marine Corps VMF-214 The Black Sheep and the Polish Air Force No 303 "Kosciuszko" Squadron, which is situated in Britain at the time of The Battle Of Britain. VMF-214 had one of most 'kills' in all of the Marine Corps. and with its renowned squadron leader, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, they certainly are the best. The Kosciuszko Squadron is even better, with 205 'kills', 40 probables, 28 damaged, and 303 planes destroyed on the ground, they are unquestionably the premiers in the RAF and PAF, and maybe even the USAF and the Luftwaffe.

A Great Site on Aviation

This is a great site that is also on flying but has much more than this blog can offer. It's new so work is still in progress. www.freewebs.com/webaviation is the site. Hope you enjoy!

Stealth Technology

The best a pilot can wish for is that he will be invisible to radar, and that's what stealth technology provides. It has already reached it's fifth generation and has been applied to new US bomber and fighter aircraft. Examples are the B-2, the F-117, and the F-22. B-2 Spirit

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Brief Description

The latest and one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, the Joint Strike Fighter has not even been introduced, which is scheduled for 2011. Capable of stealth and V/STOL (Vertical of Short Take-off and Landing), the F-35 is a must-have for airforces that want air superioty.

Click here to read the full article

F-35 Lightning II.

The Wright Brothers and their aircraft

Wilbur Wright
Orville Wright

The Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were the first men to invent and fly an aircraft. Their flying machine was unique because they could control it while flying, something that others could not achieve. A decade and a bit after their invention, World War I began and somehow, from the primitive Wright Flyer, aircraft has become sophisticated enough to fight and drop bombs. A huge leap in terms of the time, which was only 11 years. For more information, check out this website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_Brothers

Wright Flyer I

Flying

Men has been able to fly for more than a century, from the Supermarine Spitfire to the modern Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35, the aircrafts we use to accomplish flight have changed a lot since the primitive Wright Flyer.

An F-22 Raptor during take-off.

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