Airborne Awesomosity

Atomic Fission – The Lockheed XF-90 An Arrow to the Heart of the Enemy

Lockheed XF-90


The Lockheed XF-90 was one of the beautiful designs of the Cold War. Although like most fighters of the era it was underpowered and heavy but as with most things in life you can get away with murder when you look this good.

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User Input

User Input: It’s Getting Colder


Most of the readers here I feel are probably fairly up on current events, so you have probably seen where there is a country that rhymes with Prussia that has (finger quotes) invaded (finger quotes) a country that rhymes with Brukraine. This particular event has gotten more than a few folks considering the possibility of a return to the Cold War that we knew and loved, and I don’t use the word love entirely with sarcasm–there does seem to be a certain excitement about for a nostalgic return to the heady days of living free and hating on Commies. I came across this question on Motherboard the other day, and they were coming at the situation from an angle that I hadn’t thought of, but I found quite interesting. Does a new Cold War mean a new Space Race?
Things that go BOOM!

Team Titan


For you Sunday afternoon viewing pleasure, how about a Titan missile launch sequence! The video is footage from old video and portions of the tour you can take at the Titan Missile Museum in Arizona. Hit the jump for video ad enjoy!

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Airborne Awesomosity

Bears in the Air


The Cold War we all know and love hasn’t really been the same since the USSR sort of stopped being quite so united and quite so Soviet.  But as we have seen from our own engineerd™, the Russian still engage in a little bit of saber rattling, thanks to the extended range and patrol capability they have in the Tu-95 Bear.  Beginning production in 1956, the Bear has been coming to visit just off the shores of the US of A and O Canada both for a good many years, as well as our friends in Europe.  As such there have been a good number of times in which the country being patrolled has felt it was in their best interest to send out an escort plane, just to say hello.

Well, back when engineerd™ wrote about the Bears last year, a kind gentleman sent us a few photos that held a slightly different perspective on such intercepts, photos that we totally forgot about have been saving for a special occasion.  We are all used to seeing what it looked like from the perspective of the forces of good in the world, holding the hordes at bay.  As it turns out, the forces of the evil empire had cameras as well, albeit somewhat lower quality.  The pictures were collected and sent in to your Toasters staff by a fellow by the name of Miguel Vargas-Caba, who just happens to be working on a book covering the Bear patrols of the Cold War.  Hit the jump to take a look at the pictures, and I’ll give our friend a little free advertising.

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AT Book Club

Toasters Reads: The Pilgrim Project


A few weeks back we looked at a speech memo written for the US President in the event that some catastrophe befell the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and they were unable to return to Earth.  In the write up for that, I mentioned that some other posts sort of along a similar vein would be forthcoming, and this look at the science fiction book The Pilgrim Project, by Hank Searls, is the first of those.  When I came across that memo, this story was the first thing that popped into my head.  This book seems to be somewhat of an unknown, and was one of those books that my family just happened to own when I was growing up, and my brother and I read it as our interest in space and technology began to grow.  For those of you [Professor, cough, cough] that might have been around, you may recall a film entitled Countdown, make in 1968 and based on this book.  Reviews indicate the film was somewhat forgettable, and likely overshadowed by the actual Moon landing the following year.

The Pilgrim Project seems to have been inspired by actual ideas tossed around during the early days of the space race, and that always made it more interesting to me.  In 1962, at a symposium in New York, members of the Institute of Aerospace Sciences proposed sending an astronaut on a one-way trip to the Moon.  This was no suicide mission, but a long term mission.  The theory was that we had rockets powerful enough to get someone to the Moon, but not to execute the then early plans for an Apollo type mission, where an orbiting capsule would send a lander down and then back up, then safely return to Earth.  Instead, a simple capsule would land the intrepid astronaut on the lunar surface, and a separate launch from those same less powerful boosters would sent up a living quarters.  Then those same rockets would launch re-supply containers at frequent intervals, until such time, perhaps a year or two in the future, the Saturn booster was ready for a full Apollo mission, at which point our lonely explorer would stand relieved and return to Earth.

Why go to extremes to get to the Moon? To beat the Russians, of course!

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User Input

User Input: Era vs. Era

Come on, how can you not love these?

There’s been a bit of backstage discussion amongst the various Toasters contributors in the last week or so. Much of it has revolved around wondering if we’ve had enough or too much or too little material from any one particular era. Now, when we originally […]

Airborne Awesomosity

Imitation or Innovation: The Mig-15

File:MiG-15 being hit over Korea c1953.jpg

Mig-15 about to meet its end

Yesterday we looked at how the Russians had copied the B-29 Superfortress bolt for bolt. Today we look at the Russians being innovative.


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Atomic Awesome

Atomic Wonderland: Toy ICBMs


There once was a time when it was perfectly socially acceptable to let your child play with toy versions of American weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were protecting us from the lousy Commies not entirely peace-loving Soviet peoples, some of whom weren’t all that bad, but we didn’t really like them back then, so no one minded ingraining a little bit of the old “Peace Through Superior Firepower’ mantra into the kids of the day.

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Spy vs Spy Week

Operation Gold

A tunnel and a media circus

One of the major parts of spying is intercepting and collecting communications from hostile nations. In the early 1950s, Berlin was probably the best places in Europe for the West to try to intercept communications by the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries. It was the largest city on the continent and communication lines from Western France to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were routed through Berlin. It became even more important in 1951, when the Soviets began switching their secure communications from wireless to encrypted land lines, especially all of their military traffic.

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