Airborne Awesomosity, Military-Grade Awesome

Antiquity in the age of the atom – The A-26 Invader

Flip a COIN heads or tails about its mission

In a war with mach 2 bombers this was a leftover from another age

One of WWII’s great planes that would go on to see a long and varied career that would last thirty five years.



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Military Surplus, Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun – The movie makers Mig of choice

Can you name all the movies that F-5's have pretended to be Migs? I can't.

Formation of three aggressor F-5E aircraft of the 527th TFTS, RAF Alconbury, U.K., on Jan. 15, 1983. (U.S. Air Force photo)

No aircraft signifies fake MiG’s more than the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter in Hollywood.  During the late seventies and up until early nineties it would be featured in countless movies as the enemy. Naturally the truth is stranger than fiction on several levels.

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Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun – Heinemann’s Hotrod the Douglas A4 Skyhawk

One gets physical with the pilots while the other checks out the rubber hoses.


Welcome back to the Top Gun posts. One of the unlikely stars of Top Gun was Jesters ride. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk deserves far more than one post. Although it has already graced this site in several forms. What Top Gun showed us is its grace as a very unlikely fighter. A role it was never meant to do until a redesign very late in life.


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Atomic Hangovers, Military Surplus, Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun is thirty


Top Gun 1 Gizmodo


It’s been thirty years since Top Gun first premiered. Now that you feel nice and old then lets go back to remembering those fun years when nuclear devastation hung over our head.
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Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar - aka Top Gun

Famous Control Tower at NAS Miramar – aka Top Gun


Today, May 13 marks the 7th annual “Top Gun Day”, where you too have permission to buzz the tower and quote cheesy lines from the megahit 1986 jet-fighter flick.

(or better yet, just mill about yelling “DANGER-ZONE!!” at random)

And in celebration of this “Need for Speed” filled day, may we present to you a behind the scenes look at how the movie was made. The entire series is fascinating, but the visual effects portion is the most intriguing. Be warned however, it’s kinda like peeking behind the screen in the Land of OZ… a little bit of the magic gets revealed in the process… however the technical aspect is still just as cool. Continue reading Top Gun Day – Behind the Scenes (Visual Effects)

Military-Grade Awesome

Archiving History

AF Archive March ARB

Towering over a man are the US Air Force archives at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, CA. Volumes upon volumes of film are stored at the Defense Imagery Management Operation Center. Soon, that film will be available to everyone via the series of tubes we call the innerwebs.

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Military-Grade Awesome

Pew! Pew!


No discussion of lasers could ever be complete without at least one space laser, and courtesy of Soviet Russia, here is one such weapon. While this little ray gun doesn’t seem to have ever gone to space, it does appear (judging by some semi-literately translated scientific papers) to have been a functional low output prototype that might have actually worked as intended in the cold vacuum of space.

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Military-Grade Awesome

Vudi Dyatel!

In the depths of the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation lurks a giant antenna array. Depending on the source, the Russians shut it down when the Chernobyl ‘incident’ happened, or perhaps they kept the whole thing running for a few years afterwards. Just what was it all for? When the array came online in 1976, its presence was announced by a 10 Hz ‘tapping’ all across the shortwave bands, and the ideas began to fly. Was it a radar system, or a weather control system, or perhaps even some sort of mind control weapon? The prevailing theory was that it was an over the horizon radar used for missile defense, and after the end of the Cold War, it was confirmed to be the transmitter array for a Duga-3 system, part of the Soviet ABM early-warning network, named Steel Yard by NATO.

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Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

USS Ford

This morning the new “Next Generation” aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was christened during ceremonies in the Newport News Shipbuilding facilities, Hampton Roads Virginia… you can watch a replay of the ceremonies here.

At 1,080 feet long, 100 feet high, a beam of 134 feet and 250 feet wide at the Flight-Deck, this behemoth used around 47,000 tons of steel and will have over 90,000 tons of displacement.

Replacing the ex-USS Enterprise, it is the first entirely new class of U.S. aircraft carrier in 45 years since the Nimitz of 1968. The island is 140 feet further aft than previous designs and its three aircraft elevators are electromagnetic – doing away with the traditional cable-hoisting. (I wonder if they are still keeping the old-style warning horns? Those things were cool.)

But the BIG news is the Navy’s new EMALS system, which translates into landlubber speak as the “Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System”. This modern technology does away with the steam-powered catapults that have flung aircraft into the sky for the last half-century, which is both exciting and a little sad. Continue reading Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

Military-Grade Awesome

Sturmgewehr 44

Ardennenoffensive, Grenadiere in Luxemburg

You may have seen this photo before. It shows Volksgrenadiers fighting in the Ardennes offensive by Germany in WWII. Like most people, I wondered what kind of rifle the grenadiers are using. It’s a Sturmgewehr 44 (storm rifle 1944), and it’s considered by many to be the first true “assault rifle”.

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