New York City Vintage Photographs Part IV

A Douglas DC-3 of The Great Silver Fleet over Manhattan before the war. The DC-3 is a classic design, adapted as the primary air transport type of the U.S. and Allied services under a wide variety of designations. Many still fly today.
A fireboat welcomes the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) to New York Harbor in 1958. Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and the first submarine to travel submerged to the North Pole under the arctic ice sheet.
Another submarine from a different era, USS Plunger (SS-2) underway off the Brooklyn Naval Yard. In September 1905 Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to submerge in a submarine aboard Plunger. In 1909 she was commanded by Ensign Chester Nimitz, who would rise to the rank of Fleet Admiral in the Second World War.
A Y1B-17 flies over New York with Manhattan in the background. The US Army Air Corps almost did not order Boeing’s B-17 into production, some officers favoring the less expensive and less radical Douglas B-18 Bolo instead.
A beautiful photograph of the ill-fated French liner SS Normandy entering New York Harbor with the Manhattan skyline in the background. This view would be seen by thousands of U.S. soldiers and sailors leaving for and returning from the war in Europe.
A NYC police officer directs traffic as a US Army M-7 Priest self-propelled howitzer navigates an intersection. The M-7 received its nickname because of the round “pulpit” with machine gun for the vehicle commander.
The USS Saratoga (CV-60) seen leaving New York Harbor. The automobiles on the flight deck indicate she is transiting to a new home port, the crew being allowed to take their cars with them as deck cargo.
The crew musters on the deck of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) for her commissioning ceremony on Navy Day, 27OCT45. She was the second of three Midway class aircraft carriers, which were half again as big as the previous Essex class carriers but too late to see action in WWII.
The Iowa class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) silhouetted against the Manhattan skyline. Missouri was the site of the formal Japanese surrender which ended the Second World War on 02SEP45.
The Douglas DC-4E prototype over Manhattan. This aircraft was evaluated by United Airlines during 1938-39. The design was later refined with a shorter wingspan and more conventional tail as the DC-4, and was adopted by the USAAF as the C-54 transport. Japanese Airways bought the DC-4E prototype, which was reverse-engineered by Nakajima as the unsuccessful G5N “Liz” bomber.

Part V here:

USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Book Review


USN McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

By Peter E. Davies, illustrated by Adam Tooby and Henry Morshead

Series: Osprey Air Vanguard Book 22

Paperback, 64 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing March 2016

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472804953

ISBN-13: 978-1472804952

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

This is the first book in the Osprey Air Vanguard Series which I have read.  Like most Osprey books, it covers a lot of ground in a small number of pages, so it is best thought of as a primer or an introduction rather than a comprehensive history.  The story of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom could easily (and does!) fill several volumes so it is wise that Osprey have focused on USN F-4s in this work while issuing a separate book on Phantoms operated by the USAF.  Having said that, this volume also covers Phantoms in US Marine, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy service, so the USN in the title is a bit of a misnomer.

The first chapters are devoted to the developmental history and technical description of the Phantom.  This is well known among aviation enthusiasts but is useful for being concise – an example where the brevity of the format is a strength.  There is a description of all the major sub-types operated by the naval services, and then a history of the type in service.

Like most Osprey books, this one is profusely illustrated, mostly in color.  There are several pages of artwork including portraits of two aircraft and profiles of nine.  The profiles are reproduced to a much smaller format than either those in the Aircraft of the Aces or Combat Aircraft series and there is much less information presented in the captions.  One of the nicer presentations is one which I almost overlooked – the back cover is actually a gatefold which contains an annotated cut-away illustration of the Phantom.

Overall a nice package, the contents and quality of which would not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with this publisher.


Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units in Combat Book Review



Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units in Combat

By Shlomo Aloni, illustrated by Jim Laurier

Osprey Combat Aircraft Series Book 81

Paperback, 96 pages, heavily illustrated, 24 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing November 2009

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846034302

ISBN-13: 978-1846034305

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.9 inches

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is one of the classics of aeronautical engineering.  It was developed as a carrier-borne light attack aircraft for the U.S. Navy.  It was designed by Ed Heinemann and exceeded its design expectations in every respect – it was lighter, smaller, faster, and cheaper than specified.  It was also loved by both pilots and ground crews, it was easy to fly, simple to maintain, and could absorb significant punishment.  Almost 3,000 were produced.

In addition to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps the Skyhawk was exported to several other air arms, Israel was the largest export customer.  The A-4 was intended to replace both the French Mystere and Ourangan in IDF service.  This book details the political maneuvering and negotiations which resulted in the initial acquisition of the A-4 in 1965 using first-hand accounts from the participants.  I found this process fascinating, and the “What If” crowd will certainly enjoy reading about the multiple aircraft types in consideration for the contract.

The A-4 saw considerable combat while in Israeli service, and these actions are covered well here using pilot interviews and mission summaries.  The factors which lead to changes in tactics and adaptations of the aircraft are interesting.  There is discussion of the organizational structure of the Israeli Air Force and the evolving mission tasking of the Skyhawk force.  It was surprising to see how suddenly the shifts in personnel were conducted, in many cases squadron Commanding Officers were shifted overnight.

The book covers Skyhawk service in the IDF through several major conflicts – the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, along with more limited actions against the PLA and in Lebanon.  This is an interesting narrative which did not get bogged down in dry mission statistics but struck a good balance between first hand accounts and keeping the larger strategic picture in focus.  One of the better volumes in Osprey’s Combat Aircraft Series.



Douglas SBD Dauntless Color Photographs Part 3

More SBD Dauntless color photographs, if you missed the earlier posts just follow the tags at the bottom of this one.

The first five pictures are from the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection, and are an ideal illustration of one of the hazards faced by modelers in determining color schemes.   The aircraft are SBD-1 of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 132 (VMSB-132) operating from Quantico Virginia in 1941.  The aircraft are painted in the overall non-specular Light Gray scheme authorized from 30DEC40 through 20AUG41, when Blue Gray was to be added to the upper surfaces.  The pictures all depict the same aircraft on the same flight, coded 132-B-4.  During the flight the photographer has utilized different cameras with different films to capture the scene, which in this case has resulted in some very different variations in appearance.  In the last picture the upper wing surfaces are visible which reveal temporary white crosses added to the wings for identification during wargames.

The second group are a series of LIFE magazine photographs of Dauntlesses from a stateside training command.  The barred national insignia with the Insignia Blue borders became standard on 31AUG43.  A beautiful series of photographs and a useful study in paint wear.  Enjoy!
























Douglas XB-19 Interior Photographs

The flight deck of the XB-19 was quite spacious by aviation standards.  This compartment was fitted with acoustical batting to deaden engine noise and the pilot and co-pilot are provided with tinted sun visors.  Note the padded leather office chair in the navigator’s position behind the pilot and the parachutes in the chairs.  This photograph was taken at march Field, pilot is Major Stanley Umstead, co-pilot Major Howard Bunker, flight engineer Warren Dickerson (between the pilots), and radio operator Duncan Hall in the foreground.

A similar view looking forward.  This may be one of the earliest XB-19 test flights as the pilot to the left is Major Stanley Umstead who was first to fly the XB-19.  The bombardier is visible at his position in the lower nose.  Behind the pilot is the navigator’s position, behind the co-pilot is the aircraft commander.  (Coleta Air & Space Museum photograph)

A technician makes adjustments to the bomb release mechanism in the nose compartment.  While designed as a bomber, the XB-19 functioned as test bed for new equipment and was instrumental in the development of American heaver bomber programs.

The flight deck looking aft.  To the left is the radio operator.  The flight engineer’s station with its array of engine gauges and controls dominates the rear of the flight deck.  Immediately behind the engineer is the chief mechanic.  

A similar view aft shot from the aircraft commander’s position showing minor changes.  The XB-19 was designed to carry a crew of sixteen with the provision for eight additional relief crewmen in a berthing area with galley.  In practice her payload was test equipment and technicians.

The engines of the XB-19 were serviceable in flight.  The mechanics could access the engines by crawl tunnels inside the wings.  Not a job for the claustrophobic!

A similar view of a mechanic inside one of the wing tunnels.  A considerable amount of electrical cabling has been added compared to the previous photograph.

A crewman uses the intercom in the tail of the aircraft.  To the rear is the tail gunner’s position, behind the crewman is the gun port for the starboard .30 caliber gun with ammunition racks behind.

A slightly different view of the after fuselage.  Racks for both .30 caliber waist guns are visible and equipment bins have been added along the centerline.  Note that none of the interior surfaces in any of these photographs have been primed, all remained in natural aluminum.