Daily Archives: June 13, 2017

13 June 1962

Captain Richard H. Coan, USAF, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)
Captain Richard H. Coan, USAF, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)

13 June 1962: At Mono Lake, California, Captain Richard H. Coan, United States Air Force, set a  Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing with a specially prepared Kaman HH-43B Huskie, serial number 60-0263. With cowlings, doors and unneeded internal equipment removed—including brake lines to the rear wheels—the helicopter had an empty weight of just 5,300 pounds (2,404 kilograms).

Captain Richard H. Coan prepares to lift off aboard the HH-43B Huskie, 13 June 1962. (U.S. Air Force)
Near Mono Lake, California, Captain Richard H. Coan prepares to lift off aboard HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263, at dawn, 13 June 1962. (U.S. Air Force)

Flying along a 12-mile (19.3 kilometer) section of California Highway 167 (Pole Line Road) on the north shore of the lake, Captain Coan flew 27 laps in just over seven hours, until the Huskie ran out of fuel and settled to the pavement in a low-altitude autorotation. Without brakes and with the rear wheels locked, the helicopter rolled off the side of the roadway, but came to a stop before ending up in a ditch. The total distance flown was 1,055.16 kilometers (655.65 miles), a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing.¹

Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 parked at the edge of the roadway after it’s record-setting flight, at Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)
Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 parked at the edge of Pole Line Road after its record-setting flight near Mono Lake, California, 13 June 1962. (FAI)

This same helicopter, flown by Captain Chester R. Radcliffe, Jr., set an FAI World Record for Distance Without Landing when he flew it from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Springfield, Minnesota, 5 July 1962.²

A turboshaft engine drove a unique system of counter-rotating and intermeshing rotors to provide lift, thrust and directional control. The counter-rotation cancelled the torque effect so no anti-torque, or tail, rotor was necessary. This allowed all of the engine’s power to drive the main rotor system.

The Huskie was used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, primarily for short range rescue operations. It was operated by two pilots and two rescue crewmen.

The fuselage of the H-43 was 25.0 feet (7.62 meters) long. Each rotor had a diameter of 47.0 feet (14.33 meters). The helicopter’s empty weight was 5,900 pounds (2,676 kilograms) and its maximum gross weight was 7,100 pounds (3,221 kilograms).

The H-43B was powered by one Lycoming T53-L-1B turboshaft engine, rated at 860 shaft horsepower at 21,510 r.p.m. The engine uses a 5-stage axial-flow, 1 stage centrifugal-flow, compressor with a single stage gas producer turbine and single-stage power turbine. A reverse-flow combustion section allows significant reduction in the the engine’s total length. The power turbine drives the output shaft through a 3.22:1 gear reduction. The T53-L-1 is 3 feet, 11.8 inches (1.214 meters) long and 1 foot, 11.0 inches (0.584 meters) in diameter. It weighs 460 pounds (209 kilograms).

The Huskie’s maximum speed was 107 miles per hour (172 kilometers per hour). Its hover ceiling in ground effect (HIGE) was 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and it had a range of 250 miles (402 kilometers).

Captain Coan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the record flight. Later as a major, he commanded Detachment 8, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base during the Vietnam War. He retired from the Air Force at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

With the call sign Pedro, the HH-43 was a rescue helicopter that served in combat during the Vietnam War.

The record-setting Kaman HH-43B Huskie 60-0263 was last assigned to Detachment 3, 42nd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. It is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Its distance record still stands.

Kaman HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Kaman HH-43B-KA Huskie 60-0263 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

¹ FAI Record File Number 1258

² FAI Record File Number 13208

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 June 1944

LNER's Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944.
LNER’s Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944. (The National Archives)
A LNER Class B-12/3 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)
LNER Class B-12/3 standard gauge 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street railway bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)

13 June 1944: At approximately 4:30 a.m., the first V-1 flying bomb struck London. The “buzz bomb” detonated on a London and North Eastern Railway bridge crossing over Grove Street, between Devonshire Street and Osborne Road in Bethnal Green. Six persons were killed by the explosion, and twenty-six others were injured.

Twelve homes were demolished and at least fifty others badly damaged.

The bridge was along an important railway route. It was heavily damaged and the LNER decided to replace it rather than undertake any repairs. The new bridge was in service by 7:45 p.m., that evening.

A Mr. Dowe witnessed the attack from the Bethnal Green Town Hall. He said, “When warning went I saw my wife and family into the shelter and then stood at the entrance to watch events. I heard a plane in the distance, then gunfire and then the sound of the plane as if diving. There was an orange flash, followed by a terrific explosion. There were no sounds of bombs falling as in the blitz, only only that of the plane zooming.”

Three other “P.A.C.s” (Pilotless Aircraft) fell in Kent and Sussex with little effect.

V1 vor dem Start Aus guter Deckung wird "V1" an die Abschußstelle gerollt. Der Start erfolgt durch eine Pressluftanlage. Mit Hilfe eines Fernlenkverfahrens trifft die "V1" das befohlene Ziel. Die gleichbleibend hohe Geschwindigkeit, die von keinem Feindjäger erreicht wird, erhält "V1" von einem Raketenantrieb. Diese erste deutsche Vergeltungswaffe ist eine hervorragende Schöpfung unserer Luftrüstung. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress
A V-1 flying bomb is brought out of a protective bunker for launching. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress

The Fieseler Fi 103 (better known as the Vergeltungswaffe 1 (“retaliation weapon”), or simply, the V-1, was what would today be considered a cruise missile. It was designed and built by the Gerhard Fieseler Werke GmbH. Construction of the missiles was very simple and it was mass produced at a rate of about 8,000 per month.

The V-1 is an unmanned mid-wing monoplane, constructed of a welded steel fuselage with straight wings which were covered by sheet steel. A pulse jet engine was mounted above the fuselage. It was 8.325 meters (27 feet, 3¾ inches) long with a wingspan of 5.370 meters (17 feet, 7½ inches). The aircraft had a total weight of 2,160 kilograms (4,762 pounds).

Powered by an Argus Motoren Werke GmbH As 014 pulse jet engine which produced a maximum thrust of 360 kg (3,530 newtons/794 pounds of thrust) at 750 kilometers per hour (460 miles per hour) at Sea Level. The pulse jet engine had no moving parts and fired 45–50 times per second. It burned low-octane gasoline with compressed air.

The V-1 was controlled in flight through pneumatic servos connected to a gyroscopic automatic pilot built by Askania Werke AG. A magnetic compass in the nose could be set to direct the V-1 in a particular direction. Air driven vanes at the nose drove an air log, which kept track of the distance flown by means of a turn counter. At a preselected count, the device shut down the pulse jet engine and the flying bomb entered a steep dive and crashed into the ground and the warhead detonated. The V-1 was only accurate enough to land in a general geographic area.

The aircraft had a maximum speed of 600 kilometers per hour (373 miles per hour) at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). The maximum range was 235 kilometers (146 miles).

The warhead contained 830 kilograms (1,830 pounds) of Amatol 3 gm (a mixture of the high explosive TNT with ammonium nitrate). The warhead could be detonated by any one of three fuses: an electrical impact fuse, a mechanical impact fuse, or a mechanical delayed action fuse.

V1_Flying_Bomb_C4431
This illustration from an official report is dated 16 June 1944, just three days after the first V-1 attack on London.

The V-1 was usually launched from an inclined ramp by catapult, though it could also be air launched from a carrier airplane.

Between 13 June 1944 and 29 March 1945, approximately 10,500 V-1s were launched against England. In the area around London, 6,184 people were killed and 17,981 others seriously injured. The V-1 was also targeted against cities on the European continent, especially Antwerp. 8,696 V-1s were launched against that city, and 3,141 fired at Liège. These attacks killed 4,683 persons and wounded 10,075.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 June 1943

USAAF Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress with left outboard engine on fire and right wing shot off, out of control and going down over Europe, World War II. (U.S. Air Force)

13 June 1943: On Mission Number 63, 76 Eighth Air Force B-17F Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bombers of the 4th Bombardment Wing were sent to attack the U-boat pens at Kiel, Germany.

German submarine attacks on transatlantic convoy were a major threat to the Allies. Destruction of the submarine bases and repair facilities was therefore a very high priority for the Eighth Air Force. These were often very heavily reinforced concrete bunkers where submarines could be serviced and repaired, safe from air attack.

60 bombers made it to the target but were met with the heaviest fighter attacks to that point of the war. 22 B-17s were shot down. Of those that returned to England, 24 were damaged, 1 so badly that it was beyond repair.

3 airmen were killed, 20 wounded and 213 were listed as Missing In Action.

Before the war, it was thought that the defensive machine guns of the Flying Fortress would be able to protect it against enemy fighters, but losses like those suffered in this raid proved the necessity for escorting fighters to defend the bomber formations.

NOTE: A very detailed analysis of this mission, “USAAF Mission #63: Bremen and Keil” by Andreas Zapf can be found at

http://www.andreaszapf.de/blog-chronicles-media/USAAF-Mission-63-Bremen-and-Kiel.pdf 

U-boat pen
U-boat pen

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 June 1937, Late

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, in Africa. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

13 June 1937: Leg 16. After refueling the Lockheed Electra 10E Special at Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan continue on to Massawa, Eritrea, about 300 miles (483 kilometers) further on.

“Exactly two hundred miles out we crossed at right angles at Athara River which flows northward into the Nile. Thence the low desert roughened and rose, first into sloping sandy foothills, then mountains where green vegetation, almost the first we had seen in Africa, began to appear below us. Well into Eretrea we flew over the headwaters of a second considerable river, the Khor Baruka, which drains this highland region northward into the Red Sea. Heated air blasted up from the mountain slopes, buffering the ship unkindly. Even above 10,000 feet it was rough going. . . Massawa admits to being one of the hottest cities in the world. In the summer the thermometer often hits 120 degrees in the shade. . . On the evening of our arrival the thermometer registered 100 degrees, but that night it became comparatively cool. . . It had been a long day, what with the landmarkless desert flying, the stop at Khartoum, the rough going over the mountains the long trip down, and there was fair reason for a pilot to feel famished. (As usual I had forgotten to eat.) “Are you hungry?” an English-speaking officer asked me. “As hollow as a bamboo horse.”Amelia Earhart

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 June 1937, Early

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special, NR16020, at Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 13 June 1937. (Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections)

13 June 1937: Leg 15, El Fasher to Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 501 miles (806 kilometers).

East of El Fasher our route crossed a cartographical blank space as large as an outstretched hand with not a contour line on it or a river or the name even of a ‘village of the sixth grade’. . . The first half is utterly flat, arid, uninhabited, and lacks landmarks altogether. . . Two hours in Khartoum! So . . . we refueled and paid our respects to the cordial British officials whose language sounded so very pleasant to our ears. That done, and our bill for 3 pounds 22s. landing fee settled, we were on our way again. . . .”Amelia Earhart

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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