Z-Car

Bell P-39N Airacobra – Little Sir Echo – Small Fry

Bell P-39 Airacobra - Little Sir Echo

This is P-39N-5 “Little Sir Echo / Small Fry” Serial Number 42-19027 which served with the USAAF 5th Air Force (AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (TRG), 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), from June 1943 to July 16, 1944. It was abandoned at Tadji, Papua New Guinea, a Japanese airfield that was liberated by the US Army on April 26, 1944. Tadji became a major Allied air depot for American and Australian forces, and the resting place for this P-39 for the next thirty years. It is now on static display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.

This specific P-39 was delivered to the US Army on April 28, 1943, and sent to the Pacific in May. Lyndall W. Tate was assigned to this aircraft. Lyndall was born Oct 20, 1920 in Texas, and passed away Sept 15, 2008. He served over 28 years in the military. If anyone else has any further information on Lyndall, please let us know more about this hero. The aircraft was recovered from Tadji in a 1974 salvage operation funded by David Talichet’s Yesterday’s Air Force (MARC). It currently is on static display at the Planes of Fame museum. It still supports its original markings of Olive Drab over Neutral Grey with White New Guinea theatre markings on tail unit, wing leading edges and spinner (thin White band on nose). In addition it features an interesting shark mouth on the center drop-tank.

The Bell P-39 was one of the US’s main-line fighters when war first broke out in the Pacific at the beginning of World War II. It was unique at the time for having a tricycle undercarriage and a mid-mounted engine located behind the pilot. This arrangement was due to the proposed installation of a powerful 30 mm cannon in the nose. Ultimately, the P-39 was unable to achieve the same performance of later US and European fighters, mainly due to a lack of a turbo-supercharged engine which greatly limited the P-39’s ceiling and speed. However, its low-altitude performance, mid-mounted engine, and armor plating allowed it to become a great ground-support aircraft, most notably used by the Soviet Air Force. In the end, the Bell P-39 became Bell’s most successful fixed-wing aircraft that they ever produced.


Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel – Beast of Kandahar

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The US Air Force today confirmed that it is using a drone named the RQ-170 Sentinel, in Afghanistan. The stealthy unmanned aircraft system is developed by the Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division, the same company that developed the F-117 Stealth Fighter. However, the RQ-170 looks like a scaled down version of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. The USAF confirms that the RQ-170 Sentinel is in development, and is expected “to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces”, according to a statement released on 4 December.

This announcement comes after a series of images of a jet-powered, stealthy aircraft have appeared on the internet last April, including a clear shot of the aircraft that circulated widely in early December. Besides describing the RQ-170 as stealthy, the USAF released no further technical information about its new UAV, or any photos. This plane has also been rumored to be called the “Beast of Kandahar”. The main purpose of the drone has been reported to be providing aerial and strategic information to the ground forces battling in Afghanistan. “RQ” represents that the aircraft is unmanned and unarmed, which is different from other drones named with “MQ” which are loaded with laser guided weapons.

The aviation authorities coined the name of the aircraft as “Beast of Kandahar” after its 2007 pictures were released which showed the aircraft in action in Afghanistan. The pictures gave the description of an aircraft that resembles a drone that has the ability to cheat radar and has the shape which resembles that of a stealth aircraft. Several aviation journals have made speculations about this mysterious aircraft and have published its pictures. The presence of “Beast of Kandahar” in the region has questioned why the U.S. is using such technology in a warzone where there are no radar systems available to militants. This has pointed towards the possible us of the drone over Iran and Pakistan. According to reports, the U.S. air force has targeted many terrorists in Pakistan with the help of Predators and Reaper drones.
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North American P-51 Mustang

U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) fighter aircraft manufactured by North American Aviation, Inc., between 1942 and 1945. In its role as a long-range bomber escort in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, the P-51 exhibited its greatest influence and is credited by many as the airplane that shifted the European airwar in favor of the allied forces.

This P-51 was used by the USAFF, USAF and various U.S. Air National Guard units during and after World War II, performing a variety of missions, including interception of enemy aircraft, long-range bomber escort, armament support for land and sea forces, photographic reconnaissance and flight training.

The P-51 performed at levels surpassing other single-engine, propeller driven fighter aircraft during World War II.  The wingspan of 44-73287 is 37.03 feet and has a wing area of 236 square feet. The plane’s two-section, semimonocoque fuselage is constructed entirely of aluminum alloy and is 32 feet and 2 5/8 inches in length.

Laminar flow airfoil was used during World War II in the design of the wings for the North American P-51 Mustang, as well as some other aircraft. Operationally, the wing did not enhance performance as dramatically as tunnel tests suggested. For the best performance, manufacturing tolerances had to be perfect and maintenance of wing surfaces needed to be thorough. The rush of mass production during the war and the tasks of meticulous maintenance in combat zones never met the standards of NACA laboratories. Still, the work on the laminar flow wing pointed the way to a new family of successful high-speed airfoils. These and other NACA wing sections became the patterns for aircraft around the world.

P-51 Mustang


Fabrica Militar de Aviones IA 58 Pucará

FMA IA 58 Pucará
The FMA IA 58 Pucará (Quechua: Fortress) is a two-seat light attack aircraft powered by two turboprop engines. It was designed for the COIN (counterinsurgency) and CAS (close air support) roles for the Argentine Air Force. A low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with a retractable landing gear, it was manufactured by the Fabrica Militar de Aviones. It has narrow fuselage and tail section and a tandem seat cockpit with a steep sloping nose. Although heavily armed the weapons are unguided and visually aimed by the crew. The IA 58 only needs a minimum of ground support to operate; it is able to operate from unprepared rough terrains.

Named after a form of South American stone hill fortress, the Pucara’s origins can be traced back to the mid-1960’s when Argentina’s Fabrica Militar de Aviones ( Military Aircraft Factory ) was requested to develop a new combat aircraft capable of performing COIN, CAS and reconnaissance missions. The first flight of the prototype AX-2 Delfin, powered by a pair of Garrett TPE331-U-303 turbo props, took place on 20 August 1969. Subsequent prototypes were re-engined with French Turbom Eca Astazou XVIG turboprops.

The Pucara was designed to operate from rough field and unprepared sites with the minimum of ground support – a point it proved to good effect during the Falklands War of 1982. Operations are possible by night, but not in adverse weather conditions, and weapons aiming is achieved visually by the pilot making full use of the excellent forward visibility over the Pucara’s downward sloping nose.

The IA 58A is the main production variant of the Pucará design. About 108 aircraft were built for Argentina of which 6 were sold to Uruguay. About 3 aircraft were captured by the United Kingdom during the Falkland War, they are now preserved by the RAF. The production standard IA 58A first flew on 8 November 1974, with deliveries to the Argentinean Air Force commencing just over a year later.

The IA 58B is basically a IA 58A with 30mm cannons in place of the 20mm cannons present in the A model. Although a prototype has been developed, none were produced.

The IA 58C is a multi-role single-seat version of the Pucará. The changes included the addition of a Head-up Display, IFF (identification friend of foe), 30-mm DEFA 553 cannons in the nose, two extra hard points for Magic 2 Air-to-Air missiles and additional weapons capability, including Martin Pescador anti-ship missiles.

The IA 66 prototype was a IA 58A model fitted with 1,000-shp Garrett TPE331-11-601W turboprops, none were produced.

However, overall production figures have been modest at best, with exports to Uruguay, Sri Lanka and Colombia accounting for less than 20 aircraft in total

Specifications
Country of Origin Argentina
Wing Span 14.5m ( 47 ft 7 in )
Length 15.25 m ( 46ft 9in)
Height 5.36m ( 17ft 7 in )
Weight empty, equipped 4,037 kg ( 8,900 lb );
MTOW 6,800 kg ( 14,991 lb )
Engine two 988 shp Turbomeca Astazou XVIG turboprops
Maximum speed 500 km/h ( 311 mph ) at 3,000 m ( 9,840 ft )
Cruising speed 430 km/h ( 267 mph )
Service Ceiling 9,700 m ( 31, 825 ft )
Armament two Hispano HS804 20mm cannon each with 270 rpg, four FN Browning 7.62 mm cannon with 900 rpg; up to 1500 kg ( 3,307lb ) of free fall bombs, napalm tanks, 70 mm ( 2.75 in ) rockets, cannon pods, two auxiliary fuel tanks.
Role: counter insurgency, close air support, light attack
Builder: Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA)
Variants: IA 58A, IA 58B, IA 58C, IA66
Operators: Argentina, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay

Click the picture for even more great Pucará pictures!
FMA IA 58 Pucará


Grumman F-14 Tomcat

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, variable sweep wing, two-place strike fighter. The Tomcat’s primary missions are air superiority, fleet air defense and precision strike against ground targets. Recently phased out of active service, the F-14 has had a long and distinguished career. The person responsible for the F-14 project was Admiral Tom Conolly, Deputy Chief, Naval Operations for Air. The aircraft was dubbed “Tom’s Cat” long before it was officially named “Tomcat”. Naming their aircraft after ‘cats’ is a long held Grumman tradition.


The F-14 Tomcat had visual and all-weather attack capability to deliver Phoenix and Sparrow missiles as well as the M-61 gun and Sidewinder missiles for close in air-to-air combat. The F-14 also had the LANTIRN targeting system that allows delivery of various laser-guided bombs for precision strikes in air-to-ground combat missions. This enabled the Tomcat to acquire mensurated target coordinates that are accurate enough for GPS weapons, which was unique to the Tomcat. The F-14, equipped with Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) was the Navy’s only manned tactical reconnaissance platform.

The F-14 was designed in 1968 to take the place of the controversial F-111B, which was under development for the Navy’s carrier fighter inventory. The F-14A used the P&W TF30 engines and AWG-9 system and carried the six Phoenix missiles that had been intended for the F-111B. A completely new fighter system was designed around these with emphasis on close-in fighting “claws” along with standoff missile fighting. Grumman was announced as competition winner for the new carrier-based fighter for the U.S. Navy. Emphasis had been placed on producing a comparatively small, light weight, high performance aircraft with a significant advance over the then current F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 had three primary missions; the first was as a fighter / escort to clear contested air space of enemy fighters and protecting the strike force. The second mission was to defend the carrier task force with Combat Air Patrols (CAP) and interception operations. The third role was secondary attack on tactical ground targets.

From its first flight on 21 December 1970, the F-14A went through five years of development, evaluation, squadron training and initial carrier deployments to become the carrier air wings’ most potent fighter. Technical and financial problems that received a great deal of publicity were overcome in achieving this goal. Originally it was planned that the F-14B with the advanced P&W F401 would be the major production version. However, performance of the TF30-P-412 exceeded expectations while development of the F401 was delayed. One F-14B was flight tested, showing that an F401-powered Tomcat would be a potential future option.

The first operational ‘Tomcat’ squadrons with the U.S. Navy were VF-1 and VF-2. VF-2 flew the first operational sorties from the U.S.S. Enterprise in March 1974. The first ‘combat’ cruise of the Tomcat was in April 1975 when the Enterprise covered the withdrawal from Saigon, South Vietnam although no combat took place between American and North Vietnamese forces. In the 1980s, in what was known as the ‘Gulf of Sidra Incident’, a pair of VF-41 ‘Black Aces’ Tomcats from USS Nimitz shot down two Libyan Su-22 Fitters on 19 August 1981. A similar incident took place again on 4 January 1989 when a pair of VF-32 ‘Swordsmen’ Tomcats from USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers.

Also, during the 1980s, Iranian F-14s (the only export customer for the F-14) were engaged in combat against the Iraqi Air Force during the Iran-Iraq War. Apart from functioning in its intended role, Iranian Tomcats were also used as mini-AWACS, using their superior radar system to direct other Iranian fighter planes (such as the F-4 and the F-5) against Iraqi aircraft. The final kill by the US Navy Tomcat is an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter, shot down by an F-14 from VF-1 using a Sidewinder AAM on 7 February 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. These five kills are the only ones scored by the US Navy. The IRIAF Tomcats is much more successful, shooting down fairly large numbers of Iraqi warplanes using all the weapons systems available.

The Tomcat caps a long line of Grumman Cats. In the hands of Navy pilot/NFO teams, it provided the carrier task force with its first-line offense and defense against any enemy air threat in the tradition of its predecessors.  The F-14 became famous to the general public, as the star of the movie Top Gun, which also featured Tom Cruise.

The F-14 Tomcat performed superbly in Operation Allied Force and the strikes in Operation Southern Watch. While the Navy provided only eight percent of the total dedicated aircraft in Operation Allied Force, the Navy was credited with 30 percent of the validated kills against fielded forces in Kosovo as a result of the superb performance of the Tomcat in the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) (FAC(A)) role.

Specifications
Function: Carrier-based multi-role strike fighter
Contractor: Grumman Aerospace Corporation
Unit Cost: $38 million
Propulsion:
F-14A: Two Pratt & Whitney TF-30P-414A turbofan engine with afterburners
F-14B and F-14D: Two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofan engines with afterburners
Thrust:
TF-30P-414A: 20,900 pounds (9,405 kg) static thrust per engine
F110-GE-400: 27,000 pounds (12,150 kg) static thrust per engine
Length: 61 feet 9 inches (18.6 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 72,900 pounds (32,805 kg)
Wingspan: 64 feet (19 meters) unswept, 38 feet (11.4 meters) swept
Ceiling: Above 56,000 feet
Range: 1239 km 1994 km
Speed: Mach 2+
Crew: Two: pilot and radar intercept officer
Armament: Up to 13,000 pounds to include AIM-54 Phoenix missile, AIM-7 Sparrow missile, AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, air-to-ground precision strike ordnance, and one M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon.
Date Deployed: First flight: December 1970

Grumman F-14 Tomcat


Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet

The F/A-18 “Hornet” is a single- and two-seat, twin engine, multi-mission fighter/attack aircraft that can operate from either aircraft carriers or land bases. The F/A-18 fills a variety of roles: air superiority, fighter escort, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, forward air control, close and deep air support, and day and night strike missions. The F/A-18 Hornet replaced the F-4 Phantom II fighter and A-7 Corsair II light attack jet, and also replaced the A-6 Intruder as these aircraft were retired during the 1990s.

The F/A-18 has a digital control-by-wire flight control system which provides excellent handling qualities, and allows pilots to learn to fly the airplane with relative ease. At the same time, this system provides exceptional maneuverability and allows the pilot to concentrate on operating the weapons system. A solid thrust-to-weight ratio and superior turn characteristics combined with energy sustainability, enable the F/A-18 to hold its own against any adversary. The power to maintain evasive action is what many pilots consider the Hornet’s finest trait. In addition, the F/A-18 was also the Navy’s first tactical jet aircraft to incorporate a digital, MUX bus architecture for the entire system’s avionics suite. The benefit of this design feature is that the F/A-18 has been relatively easy to upgrade on a regular, affordable basis.

Making the first flight in November 1978, the F/A-18 and its two-place derivative [subsequently redesignated the F/A-18B]

underwent most of their development testing at the Naval Air Test Center under the new single-site testing concept. While much attention was focused on development problems, these were largely typical of those in any new program, with their resolution being part of the development process. For the most part, these occurred in the basic aircraft hardware rather than in the digital electronic systems.

The original F/A-18A (single seat) and F/A-18B (dual seat) became operational in 1983 replacing Navy and Marine Corps F-4s and A-7s. It quickly became the battle group commander’s mainstay because of its capability, versatility and availability. Reliability and ease of maintenance were emphasized in its design, and F/A-18s have consistently flown three times more hours without failure than other Navy tactical aircraft, while requiring half the maintenance time.

The Hornet has been battle tested and has proved itself to be exactly what its designers intended: a highly reliable and versatile strike fighter. The F/A-18 played an important role in the 1986 strikes against Libya. Flying from USS CORAL SEA (CV 43), F/A-18s launched high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs) against Libyan air defense radars and missile sites, effectively silencing them during the attacks on Benghazi facilities.

Following a successful run of more than 400 A and B models, the US Navy began taking fleet deliveries of improved F/A-18C (single seat) and F/A-18D (dual seat) models in September 1987. These Hornets carry the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and the infrared imaging Maverick air-to-ground missile. Two years later, the C/D models came with improved night attack capabilities. The new components included a navigation forward looking infrared (NAVFLIR) pod, a raster head-up display, night vision goggles, special cockpit lighting compatible with the night vision devices, a digital color moving map and an independent multipurpose color display.

F/A-18Cs have synthetic aperture ground mapping radar with a Doppler beam sharpening mode to generate ground maps. This ground mapping capability that permits crews to locate and attack targets in adverse weather and poor visibility or to precisely update the aircraft’s location relative to targets during the approach, a capability that improves bombing accuracy. New production F/A-18Cs received the APG-73 radar upgrade radars starting in 1994, providing more precise and clear radar displays.

The F/A-18C Nigh Attack Hornet has a pod-mounted Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal imaging navigation set, a Loral AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk FLIR targeting pod, and GEC Cat’s Eyes pilot’s night vision goggles. Some 48 F/A-18D two-seat Hornets are configured as the F/A-18D (RC) reconnaissance version, with the M61A1 cannon replaced by a pallet-mounted electro-optical suite comprising a blister-mounted IR linescan and two roll-stabilized sensor units, with all of these units recording onto video tape.

On the first day of Operation Desert Storm, two F/A-18s, each carrying four 2,000 lb. bombs, shot down two Iraqi MiGs and then proceeded to deliver their bombs on target. Throughout the Gulf War, squadrons of U.S. Navy, Marine and Canadian F/A-18s operated around the clock, setting records daily in reliability, survivability and ton-miles of ordnance delivered.

The multi-mission F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet” strike fighter is an upgrade of the combat-proven night strike F/A-18C/D. The Super Hornet will provide the battle group commander with a platform that has range, endurance, and ordnance carriage capabilities comparable to the A-6 which have been retired. The F/A-18E/F aircraft are 4.2 feet longer than earlier Hornets, have a 25% larger wing area, and carry 33% more internal fuel which will effectively increase mission range by 41% and endurance by 50%. The Super Hornet also incorporates two additional weapon stations. This allows for increased payload flexibility by mixing and matching air-to-air and/or air-to-ground ordnance. The aircraft can also carry the complete complement of “smart” weapons, including the newest joint weapons such as JDAM and JSOW.

The Super Hornet can carry approximately 17,750 pounds (8,032 kg) of external load on eleven stations. It has an all-weather air-to-air radar and a control system for accurate delivery of conventional or guided weapons. There are two wing tip stations, four inboard wing stations for fuel tanks or air-to-ground weapons, two nacelle fuselage stations for Sparrows or sensor pods, and one centerline station for fuel or air-to-ground weapons. An internal 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon is mounted in the nose.

Carrier recovery payload is increased to 9,000 pounds, and its engine thrust from 36,000 pounds to 44,000 pounds utilizing two General Electric F414 turbo-fan engines. Although the more recent F/A-18C/D aircraft have incorporated a modicum of low observables technology, the F/A-18E/F was designed from the outset to optimize this and other survivability enhancements.

The Hughes Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infra-Red (ATFLIR), the baseline infrared system for the F/A-18 E/F, will also be deployed on earlier model F/A-18s. The Hughes pod features both navigation and infrared targeting systems, incorporating third generation mid-wave infrared (MWIR) staring focal plane technology.

The aircraft made its debut at Patuxent River (Md.) Naval Air Station in September 1995. The F/A18-E/F has achieved many milestones since its debut. The most significant was initial sea trials aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. These first Super Hornet carrier qualifications occurred in January 1997 off the coast of Florida, and consisted of a series of tests including catapult launches, arrested landings and various other system evaluations conducted by flight deck crews.

The Super Hornet is fully capable to conduct both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions. This includes air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter-escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, forward air control and refueling. The Super Hornet has greater range/endurance, can carry a heavier payload, has enhanced survivability, and a built-in potential to incorporate future systems and technologies.

Specifications
Wing span: 37 feet 5 inches
Length: 56 feet
Height: 15 feet 3 1/2 inches
Weight: Fighter mission takeoff: 36,710 pounds
Attack mission takeoff: 49,224 pounds
Speed: more than 1,360 mph
Ceiling: approximately 50,000 feet
Range: Fighter mission: 400 nautical-mile radius
Attack mission: 575 nautical-mile radius
Ferry range: more than 2,000 nautical miles
Power plant: two GE F404-GE-400 low-bypass turbofan engines
Crew: F/A-18A/C models: one; F/A-18B/D: two
Contractor: prime, McDonnell Douglas; airframe, Northrop