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, 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

Moments in History, Uncategorized

“LEFT FULL RUDDER!”

Carrier donuts

Carrier donuts

U-turn!

USS Coral Sea (CV-43) – the 3rd and final ship of the WWII era Midway class Aircraft Carriers, shows off with a demonstration of just how incredibly maneuverable these ships were, 1953.

Along with her older sisters USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Franklin D Rosevelt (CV-42), these triplets were the US Navy’s first “Super-carriers” as they were then known, a superlative that would eventually come to describe the much larger Forrestal design, and even more so those that followed. But for nearly a decade, these three remained the largest and most capable warships in the world.

They had some inherent sea-keeping issues such as a low freeboard – the flightdeck wasn’t very high so bluewater (unbroken waves) would regularly crash over the bow in high seas. And they tended to bob like corks… especially the Midway which had its hull widened to address the freeboard issue, only to create an even bigger monster with a fast roll center, which also caused the ship to corkscrew in rough weather.  It was such a wild ride our system’s gyros would regularly go on the fritz during storms, necessitating a trip up the aft radar tower to fix them, in the rain, in the dark, with only a red penlight to see with, trying not to short anything out or electrocute yourself while planes tried in vain to land down below you. Good times!

These 3 sisters were known to cause the sea-legs of even the saltiest sailors to wobble as they chewed on crackers, even more so than the smaller escort ships that accompanied her (which we joked went over one wave, then under two). They certainly put hair on the chest of all who sailed upon her decks.

BUT, they could also turn on Neptune’s dime.

Nearly 40 years after the lead photo was taken, in February 1991 we would have some fun with that maneuverability Continue reading “LEFT FULL RUDDER!”

The Style of Technology

Steampunk Diving with the US Navy

This is a US Navy diving suit from the early 1900s. The diver was supplied with this canvas suit, brass “hard hat”, weighted belts and boots, and a knife. That’s it. Air came via a hand-operated bellows pump on the deck of the boat and a hose connected to the helmet. Divers with […]

Airborne Awesomosity

F-4J Phantom II on Super 8mm

I have this vague recollection rattling around in my head from when I was but a wee lad. Our family was over at someone’s house for a backyard barbecue type lunch get together that happened to be on the same day as an airshow. These folks lived near enough to whatever airfield that the show was out of that parts of the show could be seen from the back yard, and while the details of where/when all this happened are fairly fuzzy, and I am sure I was quite young, I distinctly remember being able to see the Blue Angels. Perhaps this was one of the events that instilled a love for aviation from early on, as our vantage point was situated such that when the Blues would depart from the center of the show, and turn and regroup, it was right over our heads.

This great old home video is from a show in 1970 at Suffolk County AFB, Long Island, New York–now named Francis S. Gabreski Airport, located near Westhampton, NY. While I am not aged enough to have ever seen the Blue Angels flying the F-4s (1969-1974), the video made me remember again watching that show back years ago. It is a little grainy, and there is no sound, but fire up the way-back machine and take a look!

Continue reading F-4J Phantom II on Super 8mm

Military-Grade Awesome, Moments in History

Track and watch the USS Iowa on her final voyage!


The Iowa dwarfs the shipyard cranes that inspired the Starwars AT-AT transports on a last night of rest before her final journey

(UPDATE: The tow has been delayed on a day-by-day basis due to a storms system off the California coast that would make the tow dangerous)

This afternoon (20MAY2012) at 12Pm PST (DELAYED), the last Battleship USS Iowa BB-61 is scheduled to depart her temporary berth in the Richmond California shipyard and begin making her way south enroute to her new home at the Port of Los Angeles to become a floating museum.

This marks what may well become her last voyage at sea for the old warrior, and possibly the last “at-sea” for a battleship of any kind.

AND, thanks to the power of the intertubes and the kind people at PacificBattleship.com you can track the Iowa in real time on her voyage! Continue reading Track and watch the USS Iowa on her final voyage!

Military-Grade Awesome

Battleship, 16 Inch Gun Training Film

Fresh on the heels of yesterday’s USS Iowa Post, comes this period training film on the loading and firing of the Iowa class’s massive 16 inch/50 cal Mk7 gun. Here you will see the inner workings of the turret, as well as projectile and powder-bag handling. This may come in handy someday if you suddenly find yourself on a re-commissioned WWII battleship.

Hey, it could happen. You gotta be prepared.

Below is a cutaway diagram of the major parts and general arrangement. It’s kind of like an angry flaming iceberg, where you only see a small part above the surface… if you can call 3 gigantic 16 inch diameter 66 foot long guns “small”. Continue reading Battleship, 16 Inch Gun Training Film

Moments in History

What happens in Vegas, can sink a navy

 

20 years ago today several thousand Naval Aviators woke up with hangovers and said “Holy crap, thank god Facebook hasn’t been invented yet.”

The week of 8-12 September was the 35th annual symposium of the “Tailhook” association, which refers to a retractable hook underneath the tail of Naval aircraft, allowing them to catch an arresting wire on the flightdeck and stop quickly. Tailhook was formed in 1956 by active duty naval aviators as a non-profit fraternal organization supporting “the interests of sea-based aviation, with emphasis on aircraft carriers.”

At the time little known outside the “bird-farms” of the US Navy, I myself only heard mention of it in passing while hanging out in CATCC (Carrier air Traffic Control Center) on the USS Midway while stationed in Yokosuka Japan that fateful summer of 1991.

What followed would change everything. Continue reading What happens in Vegas, can sink a navy

Military-Grade Awesome

I Can’t Drive 55: The LCAC

I’m on a bit of a military kick. Probably because much of our technology has its roots in the military. That computer you are reading this post on and the intertubes that transport it to your monitor both hearken back to military needs. So does the Landing Craft Air Cushion.
Continue reading I Can’t Drive 55: The LCAC

Military-Grade Awesome, Startup

Startup: A Nuclear-Powered Floating City of Ass-Kicking

Not a sight you want to see in your rear-view mirror. Mostly because it would mean you were driving in the ocean.

If he were still alive, today would be Chester Nimitz’ 126th birthday. And he’d probably be very tired, but he’d still be in active duty. For those who are unaware, Nimitz […]

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