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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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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Airborne Awesomosity

P-38 Engine Start

Click to largerify

Click to largerify

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a damn sexy bird. It was primarily used in the Pacific Theater during WW2 as a bomber, night fighter, ground attack, and long range escort. It was extremely forgiving, but that meant it was also not quite as maneuverable as some of the other fighters in the war. Therefore, it’s use as a dogfighter was limited. It was also the only US aircraft to be in production from Pearl Harbor through V-J Day. Hit the jump for a video of the P-38J at the Chino Planes of Fame Museum, 23 Skidoo, startup and taxi. Crank up the speakers and immerse yourself in the sound of the two turbo-supercharged Allison V-1710-89/91 engines.

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Airborne Awesomosity

Hercules Goes For a Swim

C130 Seaplane 4

A good while back, 38 weeks ago, according to Intense Debate, I did a post on a particular variant of the C-130 that was developed for a mission to try and pull the Iranian hostages out by landing the plane inside the national soccer stadium in an operation called Credible Sport. If you’ll permit me to go off on a bit of a tangent, I’ll tell you how that story is related to what you see here today. Perhaps some of you have noticed the Featured Posts ticker that has recently come to adorn the top portion of the right side bar. This is a way for us to pick out some articles that we thought were cool, and that you might enjoy if you happen to have missed them the first time around (and, if you happen to have a favorite from the way back files that you don’t see over there, mention it in an email to the tips line, and I bet we can get it on the list!). Like any narcissistic self-evaluating writer would do, all of your contributors have taken a gander through their old stuff to pull out the good ones. I have been slow in getting around to this (and I probably made up for it by picking too many out), but yesterday I finally got around to it. In the process, I also went back and read some comments to see what I might have missed. On the post about Credible Sport (which was a subset of a program named Honey Badger, by the way), Plecostomus* happened to answer in the form of a question:

“I think it’s bloody BRILLIANT.

Except I like giant seaplanes.

Is there a flying-boat variant of the C-130, I wonder?”

Continue reading Hercules Goes For a Swim

Airborne Awesomosity

The Boeing XB-38 Watercooled Fortress

Note The Radiator Between the Engines

[image National Air Force Museum]

Towards the end of the war several unusual prototypes made their way off the drafting board.  This modification was yet another example of an aircraft answering a need that didn’t actually exist.


Continue reading The Boeing XB-38 Watercooled Fortress

Airborne Awesomosity

Blackbird Pron

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Nevada mountains sold separately.

I’ve spent most of the morning emailing back and forth between suppliers trying to coordinate details and approving valve performance tests. Emailing. I have done in 4 hours what would have taken days not that long ago. Yet, I look at aircraft like the SR-71 which, from contract award to first prototype, took just under 2 years and I wonder…have we really advanced?

Now that your brain is working, let’s get the rest of your body working after the jump.

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Airborne Awesomosity

Follow The Shooting Star – The Lockheed P-80


Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star


An answer was needed to counter the Messerschmitt ME-262 jet fighter. The U.S. Air Force gave Kelly Johnson and his team at Lockheed six months to develop a modern jet fighter in 1943.


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Vintage Celluloid

Vintage Celluloid

table-topJust a really cool picture, no idea of who took it.

And now…

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Not Stock: Orbital Sciences L-1011

In the 1960s, American Airlines was looking for a jet smaller than a 747 that could still fly long distances and carry 400 passengers. They approached Lockheed, who was reeling from the loss of some military contracts. Lockheed decided to give it a go, and wound up with a tri-jet configuration that would go by the name Lockheed L-1011 “Tristar”. Only 250 were produced, meaning Lockheed took a major loss on each one. Problems with engine supplier Rolls Royce hampered production. Meanwhile, the very similar Douglas DC-10 was stealing the show…and customers.
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Airborne Awesomosity

Lockheed Warning Star: Connie Gets Mean

In the early days of the Cold War knowing when the commies would come over the North Pole with their bombs and imperial intentions was a very high priority for the military. We built the Distant Early Warning Line of radar installations that would let SAC know to scramble interceptors and let the Secret Service know to get the President down to the bunker. However, that row of radar in northern Canada was limited to watching the sky over land. What if the Soviets came around over the ocean?
Continue reading Lockheed Warning Star: Connie Gets Mean