31 July 1944, famed French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry), flying for the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (the Free French Air Force), departed Borgo Airfield on the island of Corsica. He on a reconnaissance mission of the Rhône Valley. His aircraft was a Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning, serial number 42-68223, an unarmed photo reconnaissance variant of the P-38J Lighting twin-engine fighter.
Saint-Exupéry was never seen again.
In 1998 a fisherman found his silver identity bracelet on the sea floor south of Marseilles. Parts of the aircraft were recovered in 2003.
“Saint-Ex” wrote Night Flight, Flight to Arras, Wind, Sand and Stars and The Little Prince, as well as many other works. He was a gifted writer.
31 July 1923: The original patent application, Serial No. 654,955, for the legendary Browning .50-caliber machine gun was filed with the United States Patent Office on 31 July 1923. Patent Number 1,628,226 was issued to the estate of John Moses Browning by the Patent Office on 10 May 1927.
The majority of United States combat aircraft during World War II were armed with the Browning Machine Gun, Caliber .50, AN-M2. The machine gun could be mounted as a fixed weapon in the aircraft’s wings or nose, in flexible mounts, or power-operated turrets.
“The basic aircraft Browning machine gun, cal. .50, AN-M2. . . is an automatic, recoil-operated, belt-fed, air-cooled machine gun. The metallic link disintegrating belt is used in all firing of the gun. The gun is designed for all cal. .50 aircraft machine gun installations. By properly repositioning some of the component parts, ammunition may be fed into the gun from either the right or the left side.”
—TM9-225 War Department Technical Manual, BROWNING MACHINE GUN, CALIBER .50, AN-M2, AIRCRAFT, BASIC, 28 January 1947, Section II., Paragraph 3. General, at Page 2
The Browning Machine Gun (“BMG”) was designed by John Moses Browning, who also designed the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911, the standard sidearm of the U.S. military for 74 years; the Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918 (best known as the “Browning Automatic Rifle” or “BAR”); the Browning Machine Gun, Caliber .30, M1919; and the Browning Hi-Power, a 9 × 19 mm double-action semiautomatic pistol designed for Fabrique National (FN) of Herstal, Belgium.
The basic weapon had an overall length of 56.25 inches (1.429 meters) and weighed 61.00 pounds (27.67 kilograms). The barrel is cylindrical, and 36.00 inches (0.91 meters) long. It is surrounded by a barrel jacket with ventilation holes to dissipate heat. The bore has 8 rifled-grooves with a right-hand twist, making one complete turn in every 15.00 inches (0.381 meters). The weight of the basic gun was 61.00 pounds (27.67 kilograms).
The basic AN-M2 gun could be modified to be manually fired with the substitution of a “spade grip” back plate. It could also be changed from left-hand ammunition feed to right hand by reversing some internal parts.
The M2 machine gun had a rate of fire of 750 to 850 rounds per minute.
Ammunition is ball, armor-piercing, armor-piercing-incendiary, tracer, blank (no bullet), and dummy. The armor-piercing cartridge, M2, has a muzzle velocity of 2,840 feet per second (866 meters per second) and maximum range of 7,275 yards (6,652 meters). Some .50 caliber rounds have muzzle velocities as high as 3,450 feet per second (1,052 meters per second), though most range from 2,730 fps to 2,900 fps (832–884 m/s). The ammunition produces chamber pressures of approximately 55,000 pounds per square inch (3,792 bar).
The .50 BMG cartridge is 5.45 inches (13.843 centimeters) long (NATO 12.7 × 99). The rimless, tapered bottleneck case is 3.91 inches (9.931 centimeters) long, with diameters of 0.560 inches (14.224 millimeters) at the neck, 0.735 inches (18.669 millimeters) at the shoulder, and 0.804 inches (20.422 millimeters) at the base. The bullet is 2.31 inches (58.67 millimeters) long, with a maximum diameter of 0.510 inches (12.954 millimeters) and weighs 706.7 grains (1.6 ounces, 45.8 grams).
30 July 1983: Flying a modified World War II-era fighter, Frank Taylor set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 15/25 Kilometer Straight Course¹ with an average speed of 832.12 kilometers per hour (517.056 miles per hour)—(0.686 Mach). The record flight took place at Mojave Airport (MHV) in the high desert of southern California. The runway elevation at MHV is 2,801 feet above Sea level (853.8 meters). The airport is about 19 miles (30.6 kilometers) northwest of Edwards Air Force Base.
Flying magazine briefly commented the record run:
“. . . he ran the Mustang’s Merlin engine at 110 inches of manifold pressure[372.5 kilopascals] and 3,800 r.p.m. (it was designed for 61 inches and 3,000 r.p.m.) and fed it 110 gallons [416.4 liters] of 115/145-octane fuel with manganese additive, enough for only two passes.“ —Flying, Vol. 112, No. 1, January 1985, at Page 64.
Taylor’s air racer was Dago Red,² a North American Aviation P-51D-30-NA Mustang. The fighter had been built at Inglewood, California, in 1944 with U.S. Army Air Corps serial number 44-74996. When the U.S. Air Force retired the last of its Mustangs from Air National Guard service in 1957, 44-74996 was sold as surplus.
It was issued the civil registration N5410V. The Mustang changed ownership many times before it crashed following an engine failure at Concorde, California, 16 August 1970. After a decade in storage, the wreck was rebuilt as an air racer.
The P-51D was modified for air racing. It’s wings were “clipped” (shortened) and the upper fuselage re-shaped, both intended to reduce aerodynamic drag. Approximately 2½ feet (0.76 meters) were removed from each wing tip. The Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engine also received many internal modifications to increase power output, and to survive that increase. The Merlin turned a Hamilton Standard “paddle blade” propeller. (Dago Red‘s current engine is based on the post-war 620-series commercial variant.)
On 21 August 1989, an Unlimited Class Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, Rare Bear, exceeded Dago Red‘s record speed while setting its own FAI record,³ averaging 850.24 kilometers per hour (528.315 miles per hour) over a shorter 3 kilometer course. Both airplanes’ records stood until they were retired due to changes in the sporting code.
In addition to its world speed record, Dago Red has won the National Championship Air Races six times.
¹ FAI Record File Number 8434
² “Dago Red” is a derogatory American slang term referring to an Italian-style blended dark red wine. It was also the name of a commercial brand sold in the 1970s. Dago Red sold for about $2.00 per bottle ($13.00 in 2017). (Thanks to “Dr. Vinny” for the info).
30 July 1939: Major Caleb Vance Haynes, United States Army Air Corps, with Captain William D. Old, Master Sergeant Adolph Cattarius and Staff Sergeant William J. Heldt, flew the Boeing XB-15 experimental long range heavy bomber to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Greatest Payload Carried to a Height of 2,000 meters. The XB-15 carried 14,135 kilograms (31,162 pounds) to an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) over Fairfield, Ohio.¹ The flight set a second record by carrying 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) to an altitude of 8,228 feet (2,508 meters).² Both records were certified by the National Aeronautic Association, the American organization representing the FAI.
The Boeing Model 294, designated XB-15 by the Air Corps, was an experimental airplane designed to determine if a bomber with a 5,000 mile range was possible. It was designed at the same time as the Model 299 (XB-17), which had the advantage of lessons learned by the XB-15 design team. The XB-15 was larger and more complex than the XB-17 and took longer to complete. It first flew more than two years after the prototype B-17.
Designers had planned to use an experimental 3,421.194-cubic-inch-displacement (56.063 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged and turbosupercharged Allison V-3420 twenty-four cylinder, four-bank “double V” engine with a compression ratio of 6.65:1. It produced a maximum of 2,885 horsepower at 3,000 r.p.m. The engine was not available in time, however, and four air-cooled Pratt & Whitney R-1830 (Twin Wasp) engines were used instead. With one-third the horsepower, this substitution left the experimental bomber hopelessly underpowered as a combat aircraft.
The XB-15 was a very large four-engine mid-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear. It was of aluminum monocoque construction with fabric-covered flight control surfaces. The XB-15 had a ten-man crew which worked in shifts on long duration flights.
The prototype bomber was 87 feet, 7 inches (26.695 meters) long with a wingspan of 149 feet (45.415 meters) and overall height of 18 feet, 1 inch (5.512 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 37,709 pounds (17,105 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 70,706 pounds (32,072 kilograms)—later increased to 92,000 pounds (41,730 kilograms).
As built, the XB-15 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 1,829.39-cubic-inch-displacement (29.978 liter) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-11 (Twin Wasp S1B3-G) two-row 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1. The R-1830-11 was rated at 850 horsepower at 2,450 r.p.m. and 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), and 1,000 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. for take off. They turned three-bladed controllable-pitch propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The R-1830-11 was 4 feet, 8.66 inches (1.439 meters) long with a diameter of 4 feet, 0.00 inches (1.219 meters), and weighed 1,320 pounds (599 kilograms).
These gave the experimental airplane a maximum speed of 197 miles per hour (317 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and a cruise speed of 152 miles per hour (245 kilometers per hour) at 6,000 feet (1,829 meters). The service ceiling was 18,900 feet (5,761 meters) and maximum range was 5,130 miles (8,256 kilometers).
The bomber could carry a maximum of 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms) of bombs in its internal bomb bay, and was armed with three .30-caliber and three .50-caliber machine guns for defense .
Only one XB-15 was built. During World War II it was converted to a transport and redesignated XC-105. In 1945 it was stripped and abandoned at Albrook Field, Territory of the Canal Zone, Panama.
29 July 1957: Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, 11th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 343d Fighter Group (Air Defense), U.S. Air Force, won the Bendix Trophy Race, flying a Convair F-102A Delta Dagger from O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C., a distance of 619.73 miles (997.36 kilometers). His elapsed time was 54 minutes, 45.5 seconds, for an average speed of 679.053 miles per hour (1,092.830 kilometers per hour).
The six F-102 interceptors in the race departed O’Hare at five minute intervals. Captain Chandler, flying the fifth Delta Dagger, departed at 1320.0 hours.
Captain Chandler’s commanding officer, Colonel Robert L. Gould, also flying an F-102, placed second in the race.
Chandler’s F-102 ran out of fuel while taxiing to the ramp.
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported the event:
KOREA JET ACE WINS BENDIX TROPHY RACE
Sets New Record of 679 M.P.H.
Washington, July 28 (AP)—Capt. Kenneth D. Chandler, a Korean War jet ace, set a new Bendix Air Race record of 679 miles an hour today.
Chandler, 33, flew a Convair F-102 delta wing interceptor 620 miles from Chicago’s O’Hare field to nearby Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 54 minutes, 45½ seconds. Five other Air Force pilots made the race, flying F-102s.
Second place went to Col. Robert L. Gould of Baltimore, with an elapsed time of 55:16:8.
Chicagoan Is Third
Captain Leroy W. Svendesen of Chicago placed third with an elapsed time of 55:17:2. There was a difference of only about two minutes in the times of the first and last place planes.
Chandler smashed the 666 mile an hour set last year by Maj. Manuel (Pete) Fernandez. Fernandez flew an F-100 from Victorville, Cal., to Oklahoma City.
The Ricks Memorial trophy flight today also ended at Andrews. The winner of the 2,680 mile flight from Fresno, Cal., was Maj. Peter R. Phillipy, 35, of Pittsburgh. Phillipy made the trip in 4 hours, 13 minutes and 40 seconds, averaging 638 miles an hour.
Springfield Pilot 2d
Second place was won by Capt. Shirley V. Drum, 29, of Springfield, Ill.
Chicago area pilots in the race were Maj. Aloysius X. Hiltgen, 33, of Park Ridge, whose time was 4:31:7, and Capt. John C. Nowacki, 34, of Cicero, 4:31:36.
The Bendix and Ricks air races were highlights of an air show sponsored by the Air Force Association, in a salute the 50th anniversary of the United States Air Force.
A crowd estimated at more than 75,000 persons witnessed the first public flights of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet and the Republic F-105 supersonic fighter-bomber.
—Chicago Daily Tribune, Volume CXVI—NO. 180, Monday, July 29, 1957, Part 1, Page 15, Columns 1–3.
The Convair F-102A Delta Dagger was a single-place, single engine, supersonic all-weather interceptor. It featured a delta wing and was based on the experimental Convair XF-92 of 1948.
The F-102A was the first production model and was vastly improved over the YF-102 pre-production prototypes, which had first flown 24 October 1953. The redesigned YF-102A made its first flight 20 December 1954, and the first production F-102A flew six months later, 24 June 1955.
The Convair F-102A was 68 feet, 4.5 inches (20.841 meters) long with a wingspan of 38 feet, 1.5 inches (11.621 meters) and overall height of 21 feet, 2.5 inches (6.464 meters). It had an empty weight of 19,350 pounds (8,777 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 31,500 pounds (14,288 kilograms).
The F-102A was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 axial-flow turbojet engine. The J57 had a 9-stage, low-pressure and 7-stage high-pressure compressor section, and a single-stage high-pressure turbine and 2-stage low-pressure turbine. The J57-P-23 was rated at 10,200 pounds of thrust, or 16,000 pounds with afterburner. The engine was 20 feet, 4 inches (6.198 meters) long and 3 feet, 3 inches (0.991 meters) in diameter. It weighed 5,175 pounds (2,347 kilograms).
The Convair Delta Dagger was the first American production interceptor that could reach supersonic speed in level flight. Its maximum speed was Mach 1.25 (825 miles per hour, 1,328 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). The service ceiling was 53,400 feet (16,276 meters).
Armament consisted of six Hughes AIM-4 Falcon missiles, either radar-homing, infrared-homing, or a combination of both. The missile bay doors contained launch tubes for twenty-four 2.75-inch (70 millimeter) unguided Folding Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR).
Between 1955 and 1958, Convair built 889 F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors. The F-102A remained in service with the U.S. Air Force Air Defense Command until 1973, and with the Air National Guard to 1976.
The Bendix Trophy-winning F-102A, 56-1196, was delivered from Convair to the 326th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 328th Fighter Group (Air Defense), at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, south of Kansas City, Missouri, on 2 July 1957. It later served with a number of Air Force and Air National Guard squadrons. Its last operational unit was the 157th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, South Carolina Air National Guard. Placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, in March 1975. 56-1196 was converted to a QF-102A target drone, and in August 1978, a PQM-102B.
Kenneth Donald Chandler was born 14 October 1923 at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the second of six children of Thomas Brown Chandler, a cabinet maker, and Gladys A. Smith Chandler. While growing up, his family lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and Compton, California.
During World War II, Chandler flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers in the European Theater of Operations. In 1950, he flew a North American Aviation F-86A Sabre as Captain Chuck Yeager’s wingman during the filming of aerial sequences for Howard Hughes’ movie, “Jet Pilot,” which starred John Wayne and Janet Leigh. (RKO Pictures, 1957.)
While flying an F-86 Sabre with the 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Group, 18 November 1951, Chandler, flying just ten feet over the ground, destroyed four enemy Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 15s parked at the south end of Uiju Airfield, on the North Korean side of the Yalu River. He and his wingman, Lieutenant Dayton W. Ragland, damaged several others. On 13 December, he shot down a MiG 15, but his Sabre, F-86A-5-NA 49-1159, ingested debris from the damaged enemy airplane. Chandler flew the crippled fighter to the vicinity of Chŏ-do Island, where he bailed out and was rescued by two South Korean airmen in a small boat, and taken to a waiting helicopter.
Captain Chandler and 1st Lieutenant Frank Latora, both of the 343d Fighter Group, were killed when their Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star jet trainer crashed 12 miles (19 kilometers) north east of Parker, Colorado, while on a ground-controlled approach to Lowry Air Force Base on the night of Friday, 28 March 1958. Captain Chandler’s remains are buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California.
TDiA would like to express its appreciation to Johan Ragay for the use of the exceptional photographs of 56-1196, and for some additional details of its service history.