Daily Archives: March 26, 2019

26 March 1967

Republic F-105D-6-RE Thunderchief 59-1772, parked in a revetment. Colonel Scott flew this airplane 26 March 1967 when he shot down a MiG-17. (U.S. Air Force)
Republic F-105D-6-RE Thunderchief 59-1772, parked in a revetment. Colonel Scott flew this airplane 26 March 1967 when he shot down a MiG 17. (U.S. Air Force)

26 March 1967: Colonel Robert Ray Scott, United States Air Force, commanding the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, was leading 20 Republic F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers from Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, on an attack against an enemy military barracks near Hanoi, North Vietnam. Colonel Scott’s airplane was Republic F-105D-6-RE, serial number 59-1772, and his call sign was “Leech 01.” As he came off the target, he shot down an enemy Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 17 fighter with the 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon of his fighter bomber.

Colonel Robert R. Scott, U.S. Air Force
Colonel Robert R. Scott, U.S. Air Force

The third MiG-17 destroyed during the month was credited to the 355th TFW, Colonel Scott, who was leading an F-105 flight on a strike mission not far from Hoa Lac airfield on 26 March. His account follows:

“I had acquired the target and executed a dive-bomb run, while heading approximately 250°, altitude approximately 4,000 feet, I observed a MiG taking off from Hoa Loc airfield. I began a left turn to approximately 150° to follow the MiG for possible engagement. At this time I observed three more MiG-17s orbiting the airfield at approximately 3,000 feet, in single ship trail with 3,000 to 5,000 feet spacing. MiGs were silver with red star. I then concentrated my attention on the nearest MiG-17 and pressed the attack. As I closed in on the MiG it began turning to the right. I followed the MiG, turning inside, and began firing. I observed ordnance impacting on the left wing and pieces of material tearing off. At this time the MiG began a hard left-descending turn. I began to overshoot and pulled off high and to the right. The last time I saw the MiG it was extremely low, approximately 500 feet, and rolling nose down.”

Aces and Aerial Victories: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1965–1973, by R. Frank Futrell, William H. Greenhalgh, Carl Grubb, Gerard E. Hasselwander, Robert F. Jakob and Charles A. Ravenstein, Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF, 1976, Chapter II at Page 45.

This former Egyptian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevivch MiG-17F in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force is painted in the colors of the Vietnam Peoples' Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
This former Egyptian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevivch MiG 17F in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force is painted in the colors of the Vietnam Peoples’ Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

The pilot of the MiG 17, Second Lieutenant Vũ Huy Lượng, 923rd Fighter Regiment, Vietnam Peoples’ Air Force, was killed.

As a Northrop P-61 Black Widow pilot with the 426th Night Fighter Squadron during World War II, Colonel Scott had shot down two enemy airplanes. By destroying the MiG-17, he became only the second U.S. Air Force pilot, after Colonel Robin Olds, to achieve aerial victories during World War II and the Vietnam War.

Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17F in Vietnam Peoples' Air Force markings at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force).
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 17F in Vietnam Peoples’ Air Force markings at NMUSAF, Wright-Patterson AFB. (U.S. Air Force).

Robert Ray Scott was born at Des Moines, Iowa, 1 November 1920. He was the first of two children of Ray Scott, a railroad worker, and Elva M. Scott. He graduated from North High School in Des Moines, January 1939. He studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Iowa for two years before he enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 15 August 1941. Scott was 5 feet, 7 inches (1.70 meters) tall and weighed 144 pounds (65.3 kilograms). He was trained as a pilot and and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, 16 March 1942. He was assigned as an instructor pilot in California, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant 15 December 1942.

Scott was transferred to the 426th Night Fighter Squadron, 14th Air Force, flying the Northrop P-61 Black Widow in India and China. He was promoted to captain, 3 May 1944, and to major, 16 August 1945. Major Scott was credited with shooting down two enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

Captain Robert Ray Scott (back row, second from left) with the 426th Night Fighter Squadron, 1944. The airplane is a Northrop P-61 Black Widow. (U.S. Air Force)

Following World War II, Major Scott returned to the University of Iowa to complete his bachelor’s degree. He also earned two master’s degrees.

In 1952 he graduated from the Air Force test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, then served as a project pilot on the North American F-86D all-weather interceptor. Later he was a project officer at Edwards AFB on the Republic F-105 Thunderchief Mach 2 fighter-bomber.

Scott flew the North American Aviation F-86F Sabre during the Korean War. From January to July 1953, he flew 117 combat missions. From 1953 to 1956, Lieutenant Colonel Scott commanded the 405th Fighter Bomber Wing, Tactical Air Command, at Langley Air Force base, Virginia.

Lieutenant Richard Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Robert R. Scott (in cockpit) after their record-breaking transcontinental flight. (Unattributed)

On 9 October 1955, Scott set a transcontinental speed record by flying a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak fighter bomber from Los Angeles International Airport, California, to Floyd Bennett Field, New York, in 3 hours, 46 minutes, 33.6 seconds. Later he was a project officer at Edwards AFB on the Republic F-105 Thunderchief Mach 2 fighter-bomber.

Scott was promoted the rank of Colonel in 1960.

During the Vietnam War, Colonel Scott commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying 134 combat missions in the Republic F-105 Thunderchief.

Colonel Scott’s final commanding was the 832nd Air Division, 12th Air Force, at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. He retired 1 September 1970 after 29 years of military service.

Colonel Robert Ray Scott flew 305 combat missions in three wars. During his Air Force career, Colonel Scott was awarded four Silver Star medals, three Legion of Merit medals, six Distinguished Flying Crosses and 16 Air Medals. He died at Tehachapi, California, 3 October 2006 at the age of 86 years. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Republic F-105D 59-1772 is credited with another air-to-air victory. Just over a month after Colonel Scott’s Mig-17 shoot-down, on 28 April 1967 Major Harry E. Higgins, 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, shot down another MiG-17 with the fighter bomber’s cannon, for which Major Higgins was awarded the Silver Star.

The Thunderchief, though, met its own end when it was shot down by 37 mm anti-aircraft gunfire 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Ko Hinh, Laos, 27 January 1970. The pilot was rescued.

Colonel Robert R. Scott, commander, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, checks the bombs loaded on a multiple ejector rack while preflighting his Republic F-105 Thunderchief. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Robert R. Scott, commander, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, checks the bombs loaded on a multiple ejector rack while preflighting his Republic F-105 Thunderchief. (U.S. Air Force)

The F-105 was the largest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history. It was designed as a Mach 2+ tactical nuclear strike aircraft and fighter-bomber. Republic Aviation Corporation built 833 F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers at its Farmingdale, New York factory. 610 of those were single-seat F-105Ds.

The F-105D Thunderchief is 64 feet, 3 inches (19.583 meters) long with a wingspan of 34 feet, 11 inches (10.643 meters) and overall height of 19 feet, 8 inches (5.994 meters). The total wing area was 385 square feet (35.8 square meters). Its wings were swept 45° at 25% chord. The angle of incidence was 0° and there was no twist. The wings had 3° 30′ anhedral. The F-105D-31 has an empty weight of 26,855 pounds (12,181 kilograms) and a maximum takeoff weight of 52,838 pounds (23,967 kilograms).

This Republic F-105D-10-RE Thunderchief, 60-0504, served with the 355th TFW at Takhli AB, Thailand. It shot down two enemy fighters. Similar the the F-105D flown by Colonel Scott, 26 March 1967, it is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)

The Thunderchief was powered by one Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W engine. The J75 is a two-spool axial-flow afterburning turbojet with water injection. It has a 15-stage compressor section (8 low- and and 7 high-pressure stages) and 3-stage turbine section (1 high- and 2 low-pressure stages.) The J75-P-19W is rated at 14,300 pounds of thrust (63.61 kilonewtons), continuous power; 16,100 pounds (71.62 kilonewtons), Military Power (30-minute limit); and Maximum Power rating of 24,500 pounds (108.98 kilonewtons) with afterburner (15-minute limit). The engine could produce 26,500 pounds of thrust (117.88 kilonewtons) with water injection, for takeoff. The J75-P-19W is 21 feet, 7.3 inches (6.586 meters) long, 3 feet, 7.0 inches (1.092 meters) in diameter, and weighs 5,960 pounds (2,703 kilograms).

Republic F-105D Thunderchief 60-0504 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

The maximum speed of the F-105D was 726 knots (835 miles per hour/1,345 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level (Mach 1.09) and 1,192 knots (1,372 miles per hour (2,208 kilometers per hour) at 36,089 feet (11,000 meters) (Mach 2.08). The combat ceiling was 51,000 feet (15,545 meters). The F-105D’s combat radius varied with the type of mission from 277 to 776 nautical miles (319–893 statute miles/513–1,437 kilometers). The maximum ferry range was 1,917 nautical miles (2,206 statute miles/3,550 kilometers).

The F-105D was armed with one 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan rotary cannon and 1,028 rounds of ammunition. It has an internal bomb bay and can carry bombs, missiles or fuel tanks on under wing and centerline hardpoints. The maximum bomb load consisted of 16 750-pound (340 kilogram) bombs. For tactical nuclear strikes, the F-105D could carry one B57 or three B61 nuclear bombs.

Two Air Force sergeants load belts of linked 20-millimeter cannon shells for the F-105’s M61 six-barreled Gatling gun. (U.S. Air Force)

The F-105 Thunderchief was a supersonic tactical fighter bomber rather than an air superiority fighter. Still, during the Vietnam War, F-105s shot down 27 enemy MiG fighters. 24 of those were shot down with the Thunderchief’s Vulcan cannon.

Republic Aviation Corporation built 833 F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers at its Farmingdale, New York factory. 610 of those were single-seat F-105Ds. Of the 833 F-105s, 395 were lost during the Vietnam War. 334 were shot down, mostly by antiaircraft guns or missiles, and 17 by enemy fighters. Another 61 were lost due to accidents. The 40% combat loss is indicative of the extreme danger of the missions these airplanes were engaged in.

Republic F-105D Thunderchief at Takhli TRAFB. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 March 1966

Allison Engine Co. test pilot Jack l. Schweibold with teh record-setting prototype Hughes YOH-6A, 62-4213, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1966. (FAI)
Allison Engine Co. test pilot Jack Schweibold with the record-setting number three prototype Hughes YOH-6A Light Observation Helicopter, 62-4213, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1966. (FAI)

26 March 1966: Allison Engine Company test pilot Jack Schweibold flew the third prototype Hughes Aircraft Company YOH-6A Light Observation Helicopter, 62-4213, to set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing of 2,800.20 kilometers (1,739.96 miles), including an Absolute Record for Class E (Rotorcraft).¹ These records still stand.

Hughes YOH-6A 62-4213 at Edwards Air Force Base, 1966. (FAI)
Hughes YOH-6A 62-4213 at Edwards Air Force Base, 1966. (FAI)

One week earlier, 20 March 1966, Hughes Aircraft Company test pilot Jack L. Zimmerman flew the same helicopter to set another distance record of of 1,700.12 kilometers (1,056.41 miles).² One 27 March, Zimmerman would set six more world records with 62-4213.³

Jack Schweibold wrote about the record flight in his autobiography, In the Safety of His Wings (Holy Fire Publishing, DeLand, Florida, 2005). He was one of a group of military and civilian test pilots selected to attempt a series of world record flights at Edwards Air Force Base, in the high desert of southern California. From 20 March to 7 April 1966, they flew 62-4213 over a series of distances and altitudes.

Edwards Air Force Base, California, circa 1970. The runway complex is at top, center. (U.S. Department of Defense)

Jack Schweibold’s record attempt began at midnight to take advantage of the cold desert air. The cold-soaked YOH-6A had been fueled with pre-cooled JP-5 in order to get the maximum amount of fuel on board. In addition to the standard fuel tank, two auxiliary tanks were placed in the cabin. The helicopter was so heavy from the overload that it could not hover. Jack made a running take-off, sliding the skids across the concrete until the increasing translational lift allowed the aircraft to break free of the ground. He began a very shallow climb.

Schweibold was flying a 60 kilometer (37.28 miles) closed course, but because of the near total darkness, he flew on instruments and was guided from the ground by Air Force test range radar controllers (Spatial Positioning and Orientation Radar Tracking, call sign SPORT). Accuracy was critical. The attempt would be disqualified if the helicopter cut inside of a pylon—which Jack could not see—but if he flew too far outside, the extra distance flown would not be counted and time would be lost. The maximum range would be controlled by the amount of fuel carried in the three tanks, and by the endurance of the pilot.

Throughout the flight, Jack gradually increased the altitude, as the T-63-A-5 turboshaft would be more efficient in thinner, colder air. He was flying a precisely calculated profile, taking into consideration aerodynamic drag, the efficiency of the helicopter’s rotor system, and the performance characteristics of the engine. He had been airborne for four hours before he climbed through 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).

At 14,000 feet (4,267 meters), Schweibold was on oxygen. He continued through 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) but was having trouble staying alert. (It would later be discovered that there was a malfunction in his oxygen mask.)

On the final lap, at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters) Jack had to fly around a towering cumulus cloud and radar contact was lost. He dived to lose altitude and popped out from under the cloud about a half-mile short of the runway.

When he shut down the engine, Jack Schweibold had flown the prototype YOH-6A 2800.20 kilometers (1,739.96 statute miles), non-stop. His record still stands.

Jack set 30 FAI World Records between 1966 and 1986. 26 of these remain current.

Frederick Jack Schweibold was born at Toledo, Ohio, 8 November 1935, the son of Henry E. and Jeanette Schweibold. He attended Ohio State University and majored engineering. He had enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve in 1952 and then joined the United States Air Force as an Aviation Cadet in 1954.

Schweibold went through pilot training at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, flying the T-34 and T-28. He went on to train in the B-25 at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and received his pilot’s wings in July 1957. In a momentary decision, he selected helicopter training.

Air Rescue Service Sikorsky H-19A Chicasaw 51-3850. (AR.1999.026)

Lieutenant Schweibold flew the Sikorsky H-19B for the U.S.A.F. Air Rescue Service, assigned to Oxnard Air Force Base, California. (The airfield is now Camarillo Airport, CMA, where I first soloed, and is about ten miles away from my desk.)

After leaving the Air Force, Jack flew Sikorsky S-55s for Chicago Helicopter Service, then Bell 47s for Butler Aviation. In 1960, he was hired by the Allison Division of General Motors as a test pilot and engineer for the new 250-series turboshaft engine.

A Chicago Helicopter Airways Sikorsky S-55.

I had the good fortune to have known Jack Schweibold. I first met him through his involvement in the Helicopter Association International’s biennial flight instructor re-certification seminars, held during the HAI’s annual conventions. He kept the seminar classes on track, and in between, was always available for questions. Jack was the authority on Allison’s 250-series turboshaft engines, and over the years I often called him for technical information and operational advice. On top of that, Jack Schweibold was just an all-around nice guy. It was a pleasure to know him.

U.S. Army Hughes YOH-6A prototype 62-4213 at Le Bourget, circa 1965.
U.S. Army Hughes YOH-6A prototype 62-4213 at Le Bourget, circa 1965. (R.A. Scholefield Collection)

The Hughes Model 369 was built in response to a U.S. Army requirement for a Light Observation Helicopter (“L.O.H.”). It was designated YOH-6A, and the first aircraft received U.S. Army serial number 62-4211. It competed with prototypes from Bell Helicopter Company (YOH-4) and Fairchild-Hiller (YOH-5). All three aircraft were powered by a lightweight Allison Engine Company turboshaft engine. The YOH-6A won the three-way competition and was ordered into production as the OH-6A Cayuse. It was nicknamed “loach,” an acronym for L.O.H.

The YOH-6A was a two-place light helicopter, flown by a single pilot. It had a four-bladed, articulated main rotor which turned counter-clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right.) Stacks of thin stainless steel “straps” fastened the rotor blades to the mast and also allowed for flapping and feathering. Hydraulic dampers controlled lead-lag. Originally, there were blade cuffs around the main rotor blade roots in an attempt to reduce aerodynamic drag, but these were soon discarded. A two-bladed semi-rigid tail rotor was mounted on the left side of the tail boom. Seen from the left, the tail-rotor rotates counter-clockwise. (The advancing blade is on top.)

Overhead photograph of a Hughes YOH-6. Note the blade cuffs. (U.S. Army)
Overhead photograph of a Hughes YOH-6A. Note the blade cuffs. (U.S. Army)

The YOH-6A was powered by a T63-A-5 turboshaft engine (Allison Model 250-C10) mounted behind the cabin at a 45° angle. The engine was rated at 212 shaft horsepower at 52,142 r.p.m. (102% N1) and 693 °C. turbine outlet temperature for maximum continuous power, and 250 shaft horsepower at 738 °C., 5-minute limit, for takeoff. Production OH-6A helicopters used the slightly more powerful T63-A-5A (250-C10A) engine.

The Hughes Tool Company Aircraft Division built 1,420 OH-6A Cayuse helicopters for the U.S. Army. The helicopter remains in production as AH-6C and MH-6 military helicopters, and the MD500E and MD530F civil aircraft.

Hughes YOH-6A 62-4213 is in the collection of the United States Army Aviation Museum, Fort Rucker, Alabama.

The third prototype YOH-6A, 62-4213, testing the XM-7 twin M60 7.62 weapons system. (U.S. Army)
The third prototype YOH-6A, 62-4213, testing the XM-7 twin M60 7.62 weapons system. (U.S. Army)

¹ FAI Record File Numbers 786, 787 and 11656

² FAI Record File Number 762

³ FAI Record File Numbers 771, 772, 9920, 9921, 9922, and 9923

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 March 1955

Pan American World Airways' Boeing 377-10-26 Stratocruiser serial number 15932, N1032V.
Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Clipper United States, N1032V.

26 March 1955: At 8:15 a.m. Saturday morning, Pan American World Airways Flight 845/26, a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, Clipper United States, N1032V, departed Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SEA, or “SeaTac”) on a flight to Sydney, Australia, with intermediate stops at Portland, Oregon, and Honolulu, Hawaii. The airliner departed Portland (PDX) at 10:21 a.m., with a crew of 8 and 15 passengers on board.

Captain Herman S. Joslyn was in command of N1032V, with First Officer Angus Gustavus Hendrick, Jr.; Second Officer Michael F. Kerwick; Flight Engineer Donald Read Fowler; and Assistant Flight Engineer Stuart Bachman. The cabin crew were Purser Natalie R. Parker, Stewardess Elizabeth M. Thompson, and Steward James D. Peppin.

Clipper United States was cruising at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) when a severe vibration began, lasting 5–8 seconds. The Number 3 engine (inboard, right) was violently torn off of the starboard wing. The damage to the airplane resulted in severe buffeting. The nose pitched down and airspeed increased. Captain Joslyn reduced engine power to limit airspeed. The Stratocruiser quickly lost 5,000 feet (1,524 meters). Because of damage to the engines’ electrical system, the flight engineer was not able to increase power on the remaining three engines. The Boeing 377 was too heavy at this early stage in the flight to maintain its altitude.

At 11:12 a.m. (19:12 UTC) the flight crew ditched the Stratocruiser into the north Pacific Ocean, approximately 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of the Oregon coastline. [N. 43° 48′ 15″, W. 125° 12′ 40″] The conditions were ideal for ditching,¹ but the impact was hard. Seats were torn loose, and several occupants were injured. Evacuation began and all three life rafts were inflated. The water temperature was 47 °F. (8.3  °C.).

A North American Aviation F-86F Sabre flown by Captain W. L. Parks, 142nd Fighter Interceptor Group, Oregon Air National Guard, located the scene of the ditching and observed smoke flares which led to two life rafts tied together. A Lockheed Constellation was also inbound to the scene from the south. After confirming that Air Force rescue aircraft were on the way, Captain Parks returned to Portland, very low on fuel.

Miss Natalie R. Parker (Medford Tribune)

The airliner’s purser, Miss Natalie R. Parks,² had been assisting passengers with their life vests and seat belts when the airliner hit the water. Standing in the aisle, she was thrown forward, knocking down five rows of seats as she hit them. She was badly bruised and suffering from shock.

Along with other crew members, Miss Parker assisted the passengers in abandoning the sinking Stratocruiser. After entering the water, some began to drift away. Miss Parker, despite her injuries, swam after one and towed him back to an inflated raft.

Her actions were particularly mentioned in the Civil Aeronautics Board accident investigation report:

The purser, a woman, although suffering from shock swam and towed the only seriously injured passenger to the nearest raft, some 200 feet [61 meters] distant.

—Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report SA-304 File No. 1-0039, 15 November 1955, History of the Flight

The airliner floated for about 20 minutes before sinking. Of the 23 persons on board, four, passengers John Peterson, David Darrow, First Officer Hendrick, and Flight Engineer Fowler, died of injuries and exposure.

The survivors were rescued after two hours by the crew of USS Bayfield (APA-33), a U.S. Navy attack transport.

The U.S. Navy attack transport USS Bayfield (APA-33) during the rescue of the survivors of Pan Am Flight 845/26, 26 March 1955. A Standard Oil Co. tanker, SS Idaho Falls, stands by to assist. Two of the airliner’s life rafts are visible at the right edge of this photograph. One is at the end of the smoke trail crossing the center of the image. The other is a bright object at the right lower corner. (U.S. Coast Guard)

During the Civil Aeronautics Board hearings into the accident, Vice Chairman Joseph P. Adams commended the flight’s purser, Miss Parker:

“. . . all of us feel inspired that a fellow citizen, or just a fellow human being, can rise to such an occasion in the manner in which you did. It is most commendable, Miss Parker.”

—Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report SA-304 File No. 1-0039, 15 November 1955, Footnote 3

Because the engine and propeller were not recovered, the exact nature of the failure could not be determined, but the most likely cause was considered to be a fracture of a propeller blade resulting in a severely unbalanced condition, followed by the violent separation of the engine from the wing. This was the fifth time that a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser had lost an engine following the failure of a hollow-steel Hamilton Standard 2J17 propeller blade.

When the flight engineer attempted to increase the propeller r.p.m. on the three engines simultaneously, an electrical overload occurred which opened the master circuit breaker. This prevented any engine power increase.

Airline stewardesses examine a cutaway model of the Boeing Stratocruiser. (Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)

Clipper United States was a Boeing Model 377-10-26, serial number 15932, registered N1032V. It was one of twenty of a specific variant built for Pan American World Airways. The airliner had been delivered to Pan Am on 21 May 1949. At the time of its loss, it had flown a total of 13,655 hours.

The Model 377 was a large, four-engine civil transport which had been developed, along with the military C-97 Stratofreighter, from the World War II B-29 Superfortress long-range heavy bomber. It utilized the wings and engines of the improved B-50 Superfortress. The airplane was operated by a flight crew of four. It was a double-deck aircraft, with the flight deck, passenger cabin and galley on the upper deck and a lounge and cargo compartments on the lower. The airliner was pressurized and could maintain Sea Level atmospheric pressure while flying at 15,500 feet (4,724 meters). The Model 377 could be configured to carry up to 100 passengers, or 28 in sleeping births.

A color photograph of a Pan American World Airways Boeing 377 Stratocruiser in flight. (Pan Am)
A Pan American World Airways Boeing 377 Stratocruiser in flight. (Boeing)

The Stratocruiser was 110 feet, 4 inches (33.630 meters) long with a wingspan of 141 feet, 3 inches (43.053 meters) and overall height of 38 feet, 3 inches (11.659 meters). The airliner had an empty weight of 83,500 pounds (37,875 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 148,000 pounds (67,132 kilograms).

N1032V was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 4,362.49-cubic-inch-displacement (71.488 liter) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major B6 engines. These were four-row, 28-cylinder, radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1.

The B6 had a Normal Power rating of 2,650 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m., at 5,500 feet (1,676 meters), and Maximum Continuous Power rating of 2,800 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. at 3,500 feet (1,067 meters). The Takeoff Power rating was 3,500 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. with water/alcohol injection. ³

The engines drove four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic 24260 constant-speed propellers with a diameter of 17 feet (5.182 meters) through a 0.375:1 gear reduction.

The Wasp Major B6 was 4 feet, 7.00 inches (1.397 meters) in diameter and 8 feet, 0.50 inches (2.451 meters) long. It weighed 3,584 pounds (1,626 kilograms), dry. The propeller assembly weighed 761 pounds (345 kilograms).

The 377 had a cruise speed of 301 miles per hour (484 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 375 miles per hour (604 kilometers per hour). During testing by Boeing, a 377 reached 409 miles per hour (658 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling was 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) and the range was 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers).

Boeing built 56 Model 377 Stratocruisers, with Pan American as the primary user, and another 888 military C-97 Stratofreighter and KC-97 Stratotankers.

Clipper America, a Pan American World Airways Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser. (Boeing)

¹ Captain G.B. Cardew, master of the Matson Lines’ S.S. Hawaiian Educator, which had arrived on scene soon after the ditching, said, “The weather was perfect. The sea was calm and the sky warm and clear.”  —Oakland Tribune, Vol. CLXII, No. 86, Sunday, 27 March 1955, Page 2-A, Column 3

Natalie Parker, 1943. (Crater)

² Miss Natalie R. Parker was born 2 June 1925, the first child of Carold J. Parker, a potato chip manufacturer, and Ruth A. Parker, of Portland, Oregon. She attended Medford High School with the Class of 1943, where she was very active in extracurricular activities. Following graduation from high school, Miss Parker attended Reed College at Portland.

In 1945, Miss Parker enlisted in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps, U.S. Public Health Service, and trained as a nurse at the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated 13 June 1948.

Miss Parker joined Pan American World Airways in 1951.

Miss Natalie R. Parker married Rodney Collins Earnest, a building contractor, in Ellsworth, Maine, 21 October 1956. They resided in Seattle, Washington.

³ During a demonstration of the Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major engine (military designation, R-4360) a regular production engine was taken from the assembly line and run for 22 continuous hours at 4,400 horsepower, then checked and run for another hour at 4,850 horsepower. It was then run for 100 hours at 3,000 horsepower, and 50 hours at 3,500 horsepower. When the engine was disassembled for inspection, it remained in serviceable condition.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 March 1938

A. E. Clouston on the wing of Australian Anniversary, Croydon, 26 March 1938.

26 March 1938: On Saturday afternoon at 5:40 p.m., RAE Farnborough test pilot Flying Officer Arthur Edmond Clouston ¹ and his co-pilot, newspaper correspondent Victor Anthony Ricketts, ² landed at Croydon, London. England, completing an 11-day, 26,450-mile (42,567 kilometers) round trip flight from England to New Zealand and return. Their airplane, a twin-engined de Havilland DH.88 Comet, G-ACSS, named Australian Anniversary in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Australia, finished the course in 10 days, 21 hours, 22 minutes. During the flight, four Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Speed Over a Recognised Course were set. ³

The Comet was one of three built especially for the 1934 MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, England to Australia, which it had won with an elapsed time of 70 hours, 54 minutes.

De Havilland DH-88 Comet G-ACSS, Australian Anniversary, Blenheim, New Zealand, 20 March 1938 (National Library of New Zealand)

Clouston and Ricketts departed Gravesend, Kent, England, at 8:17 p.m., Tuesday, 15 March 1938. They arrived at Blenheim, on New Zealand’s South Island, at 04:57 G.M.T., Sunday, 20 March. They began the return trip at 10:20 G.M.T., 21 March.

After listing the stops during the flights, with times and distances for each leg, FLIGHT commented:

     Set down thus in bare figures, that it may be kept on record, the story of the flight sounds, perhaps, prosaic. But against this background may be pictured the actual sensations of the two men who made it; the ten-hour 2,000-miles stretches, sometimes protracted to 12 hours by head winds; the incessant roar, scream and bumping in the cramped tandem cockpit, the desire for sleep; the anxieties of taking-off from small aerodromes in “thin” tropical air with nearly a ton of petrol; fog, cloud and thunderstorms, all of which were encountered. These things considered, one may marvel at the enthusiasm of people who will do them—and it so happens that quite “uncommercial” enthusiasm has played a large share in the present flight.

FLIGHT, The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 1527, Vol. XXXIII, 31 March 1938, Page 318, Column 2

The de Havilland DH.88 Comet was a two-place, twin engine monoplane with retractable landing gear. It was built of wood, with a framework covered with spruce plywood for the skin of the fuselage, and a layer of doped fabric covering the wings.

The airplane was 29 feet, 0 inches (8.839 meters) long with a wingspan of 44 feet, 0 inches (13.411 meters) and overall height of 10 feet, 0 inches (3.048 meters). It had an empty weight of 2,930 pounds (1,329 kilograms) and loaded weight of 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms).

De Havilland DH.88 Comet three-view illustration with dimensions. (Flight, 20 September 1934, Page 969)

The Comet was originally powered by two air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 9.186 liter (560.573-cubic-inch-displacement) de Havilland Gipsy Six R engines. The Gipsy Six was an inverted, inline six-cylinder, direct-drive engine. The R version had the compression ratio increased from 5.25:1 to 6.5:1, and produced 223 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m. for takeoff. The engines turned two-bladed, variable pitch propellers.

The Gipsy Six R engine was designed by Major Frank Bernard Halford C.B.E. F.R.Ae.S., who had designed the four-cylinder de Havilland Gipsy engines and would later design the Goblin and Ghost turbojet engines. Halford was awarded the Silver Medal by the Royal Aeronautical Society for his work on the DH.88 Comet in the MacRobertson race.

The DH.88 had maximum speed of 255 miles per hour (410 kilometers per hour). Its range was 2,925 miles (4,707 kilometers). The service ceiling was 19,000 feet (5,791 meters).

Two additional DH.88 Comets were built. Of the five, one crashed in the Sudan in 1935. The crew safely bailed out. Two more were destroyed in a hangar fire at Istres, France, in June 1940. G-ACSP, Black Magic, which had been flown by Jim and Amy Mollison in the MacRobertson Trophy Race, was located in Portugal and is under restoration at Derby Airfield, England.

De Havilland DH.88 Comet c/s 1966 was purchased by Arthur Octavius Edwards (better known, simply, as A.O. Edwards), and registered G-ACSS, 4 September 1934. Edwards named the airplane Grosvenor House, after a luxury hotel in Park Lane which he had developed from “the biggest and most spectacular” mansion in London.

De Havilland DH.88 Comet K5084 (c/n 1996) in Royal Air Force markings. © IWM (MH 5416)

In June 1935, G-ACSS was “taken charge” by the Air Ministry for flight testing. It was re-painted silver and assigned the RAF identification K5084. While undergoing flight testing, the Comet was damaged during a landing at the Aircraft & Armaments Engineering Establishment (A&AEE) at RAF Martlesham Heath and sold as scrap. It was purchased by Frederick E. Tasker, an architect famous for his Art Deco buildings, and rebuilt by Essex Aero Ltd., Gravesend. Essex replaced the Gipsy Six R engines with Gipsy Six Series II angines.

By June 1937 the racer was once again airworthy. It carried the identification mark “E.1” on the fuselage before reverting to G-ACSS. Flown by A.E. Clouston, it competed in the Istres–Damascus–Paris air race of August 1937, placing fourth.

In October–November 1937, Clouston flew G-ACSS from London to Cape Town and return, establishing records in both directions. ⁴ The Comet was again re-painted, this time beige, and re-named The Burberry after its new sponsor, Burberry Ltd., makers of the classic gabardine “trench coat.”

The Comet was placed in storage and scavenged for parts during World War II. De Havilland employees restored G-ACSS in 1951. It was donated to The Shuttleworth Collection in 1965.

G-ACSS has been restored to flying condition and is in the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome, Bedfordshire, England.

De Havilland DH.88 Comet G-ACSS, photographed 7 September 2014. (Woldere via Wikipedia)

De Havilland’s experience with the Comet led directly to their success with its big brother, the famous World War II fighter bomber, the DH.98 Mosquito.

Group Captain A. E. Clouston, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., Royal Air Force. (Art UK)

¹ Air Commodore A.E. Clouston, C.B., D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C., Royal Air Force (29162)

Pilot Officer Victor Anthony Ricketts, DFC, Royal Air Force.

² Flight Lieutenant Victor Anthony Ricketts, D.F.C., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (77341), flying a DH.98 Mosquito B Mk IV with No. 248 Squadron, was killed in action 12 July 1942.

³ FAI Record File Numbers: 13253, 19 March 1938, 209,71 km/h (130.31 m.p.h.); 13254, 20 March 1938, 180,26 km/h (111.85 m.p.h.); 13255, 26 March 1938, 134,31 km/h (83.46 m.p.h.);, and 13256, 26 March 1938, 130,78 km/h (81.26 m.p.h.).

⁴ FAI Record File Numbers: 13242, 16 October 1937, 214,08 km/h (133.02 m.p.h.); 13259, 20 November 1937, 168.26 km/h (105.55 m.p.h.)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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23–26 March 1932

Blériot-Zappata 110, F-ALCC.

23–26 March 1932: At 6:00 a.m., local time, Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot and Maurice Rossi took off from Es-Sénia aerodrome near Oran, French Algeria (Algérie française), in an attempt to break their own Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance Over a Closed Circuit Without Landing, set the previous year.¹ Their airplane was the same Blériot-Zappata 110, F-ALCC, which set the earlier record. It was named Joseph Le Brix, in honor of another aviator killed the year before.

With good weather, the airplane averaged 146 kilometers per hour (90.7 miles per hour) for 60 hours. The pilots initially ran the V-12 engine at 1,950 r.p.m., but gradually reduced that to 1,400 r.p.m., as the airplane burned off fuel and became lighter. On the third day, Bossoutrot and Rossi encountered strong winds and rain squalls, and at times the Blériot-Zappata’s ground speed dropped to just 90 kilometers per hour (55.9 miles per hour).

At 10:35 a.m., Saturday, after 76 hours, 35 minutes in the air, Bossoutrot and Rossi landed at Es-Sénia. They had flown a distance of 10,601.48 kilometers (6,587.45 miles), setting a new FAI world record.² (They also exceeded their previous World Record for Duration ³ by 1 hour, 12 minutes, though no new record is listed on the FAI’s Internet web site.)

Filippo Zappata

The Blériot-Zappata 110 was an experimental long-range airplane ordered by France’s Service Technique de l’Aéronautique, the government agency responsible for coordinating aviation research. It was designed by Italian aeronautical engineer Filippo Zappata and built by Blériot Aéronautique S.A.

The airplane was a single-engine, two-place, high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear. (A contemporary news article referred to it as a “monomotor monoplane.”)

The pilot and co-pilot navigator were positioned in tandem behind the fuselage fuel tanks. Their outward view was very restricted, with only two small port holes on each side. The forward view was provided by angled mirrors acting as a periscope. There was a bunk located behind the seats for crew rest.

Illustration showing internal arrangement of the Blériot-Zappata 110, from Popular Mechanics Magazine, Vol. 60, No. 6, December 1933, at Page 807 (Illustration by George Horace Davis)

A technical description of the Blériot 110 appeared in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Aircraft Circular No. 138, which also contains many technical illustrations of the airplane’s construction, and makes interesting reading. The Blériot 110 was 14.57 meters (47.80 feet) long with a wingspan of 26.50 meters (86.94 feet) and height (to the top of its cabane strut) of 4.90 meters (16.08 feet). The wing had an area of 81 square meters (872 square feet). The airplane’s empty weight was 2,400 kilograms (5,291 pounds) and the gross weight was 7,300 kilograms (16,094 pounds).

The airplane’s wing was built in three sections so that it could be disassembled for ground or sea transportation. The wing had two spruce spars with an oblique aileron support spar that increased its torsional strength but contributed to the airplanes overall light weight. The ribs were of plywood, braced by steel cables. The wing was covered with plywood. The wing was braced by a system of wires above, connecting to the upper cabane strut, and below, to the fuselage. The use of wire bracing allowed the wing to be built with approximately half the weight of a similar cantilevered wing.

The fuselage cross section was rounded at the top, narrowing to a single keel. It was built of frames and longerons which were then covered with three layers of diagonal 5 centimeter-wide whitewood strips, glued and nailed, each layer overlapping the one below at a 45° angle.

Fuel was carried in four fuselage tanks and two wing tanks. The total capacity was 7,020 liters (1,854 gallons).

Hispano-Suiza 12 Lbr SOHC 60° V-12. (Hispano-Suiza)

As originally built, the Blériot-Zappata 110 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 31.403 liter (1916.351 cubic-inch-displacement) Société Française Hispano-Suiza 12 Lbr, a single-overhead-camshaft (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine with a compression ratio of 6.2:1. The engine had a nominal rating of 600 cheval vapeur at 2,000 r.p.m. (592 horsepower), and 640 cheval vapeur for takeoff (631 horsepower). This engine used a 2:1 propeller reduction gear and drove a two-bladed propeller. The engine was 1.939 meters (6.362 feet) long, 0.756 meters (2.480 feet) wide and 1.028 meters (3.373 feet) high. With the reduction gear unit, it weighed 485 kilograms (1.069 pounds).

Hispano-Suiza 12 M SOHC 60° V-12. (Hispano-Suiza)

For the March 23–26 flight, the original engine was replaced by a 27.077 liter (1,652.364 cubic inch displacement) Hispano-Suiza 12 Mc 500 CV électron. This was also a water-cooled, normally-aspirated SOHC 60° V-12. It was a direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 7:1, and drove a four-bladed propeller. This engine was rated at 500 cheval vapeur at 2,000 r.p.m. (493 horsepower), and a maximum of 640 cheval vapeur at 2,200 r.p.m. (631 horsepower). The cylinders had hardened (nitrided) steel liners, and the crankcase was made of an aluminum/magnesium alloy called Elektron. The 12 Mc was 1.982 meters (6.503 feet) long, 0.760 meters (2.493 feet) wide and 0.920 meters (3.018 feet) high. It weighed 390 kilograms (860 pounds).

The Blériot-Zappata 110 had a maximum speed of 210 kilometers per hour (130 miles per hour). Its ceiling at maximum gross weight was 2,000 meters (6,562 feet). The airplane had maximum range of more than 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles).

Blériot-Zappata 110 with list of world record flights.

F-ALCC set a number of world records. In 1933 it was transported to America aboard the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique passenger liner S.S. Champlain. Maurice Rossi and Paul Codos flew it non-stop from New York City, New York, to Rayak, Syria, a distance of 9,106.33 kilometers (5,658.41 miles).⁴ ⁵ The airplane was scrapped in 1935.

Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot, 1932. (Agence Meurisse)

Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot was born 16 May 1890, at Tulle, Corrèze, Nouvelle-Aquitane, République française. He was the son of Antonin Bossoutrot, an armurier (gunsmith), and Antoinette Nouailhac. He made his first airplane flight in 1910, while employed at a bank. His pilot license, No. 1856, was issued 1 April 1915 by the Aéro-Club de France. The following month, 19 May 1915, he became a pilot in the Aéronautique Militaire. In 1917, he bombed the iron ore mines at Briey, Meurethe-et-Moselle. While this source supplied iron ore to Germany, it also supplied France. Bossoutrot was placed under arrest by General Phillipe Pétain.

Bossoutrot was assigned as an acceptance test pilot at Avions Farman. He helped Henri Farman in the development of instrument panels for airplanes. He continued working for Farman after the War.

Bossoutrot served in the military for 7 years, 4 months. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with three citations.

On 8 February 1919, Bossoutrot flew a Farman F.60 Goliath from Paris to London, carrying twelve passengers and an aircraft mechanic. This is believed to have been the first international commercial passenger flight. In August 1919, Bossoutrot flew an F.60 Goliath while pioneering the Paris-to-Dakar air route.

The journey was made in several stages. Bossoutrot, along with eight passengers, departed from Mogador on 15 August. A radio message was sent at 5:45 a.m., 16 August, requesting wind information at Dakar, but the airplane did not arrive. Because of a loss of one of its propellers, at 7:30 a.m., Bossoutrot made a forced landing on a beach approximately 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of St. Louis. There were no injures, but the airplane was damaged beyond repair.

One 13 November 1920, Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot was appointed Chevalier de la légion d’honneur.

On 23 August 1925 Bossoutrot was promoted to Officier de la Légion d’honneur.

When Air France was formed in 1933, Bossoutrot was its first captain.

In 1934, Bossoutrot was promoted to Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur.

Lucien Bossoutrot. Assemblée nationale.

Bossoutrot entered politics in the 1930s and was elected to the Assemblée nationale (the national legislature) as a Radical Socialist. He led the Commission on Aeronautics and the Committee of Commerce and Industry in the Chamber of Deputies. These positions allowed him to travel extensively through Europe and the Soviet Union. He raised his concerns to the legislature about the rearmament of Germany which he had seen, but his warnings were generally ignored.

After the surrender of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Bossoutrot initially supported Marshal Pétain, but later changed his opinion. Because of his opposition, he was arrested by the Vichy government in February 1943. He was held for fifteen months before he was able to escape and join La Résistance française.

Lucien Bossoutrot was married three times. He had a daughter from his first marriage. He had flown more that 7,000 hours, and set at least 36 FAI world records.

Jean Baptiste Lucien Bossoutrot, Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur, died 1 September 1958 at Viry-Châtillon, Seine-et-Oise, France. He was buried at the cimitère des Batignolles, in Paris.

Capitaine Maurice Rossi, Aéronautique Militaire, 1932. (Agence de presse Meurisse)

Maurice Rossi was born 24 April 1901 at Leverdure, La Séfia, Algérie française (French Algeria). He is credited with ten FAI world records. He died in Paris, France, 29 August 1966.

Blériot-Zappata 110, F-ALCC.

¹ FAI Record File Number 9514: 8,822.32 kilometers (5,481.94 miles), 1 March 1931

² FAI Record File Number 9292: 10,601.48 kilometers (6,587.45 miles, 26 March 1932

³ FAI Record File Number 9513: Duration in a Closed Circuit, 75 hours, 23 minutes, 7 seconds, 1 March 1931

⁴ FAI Record File Number 9297: Distance in a Straight Line, 9,104.70 kilometers (5,657.40 miles), 7 August 1933

⁵ FAI Record File Number 9,301: Distance in a Broken Line, 9,106.33 kilometers (5,658.41 miles), 7 August 1933

Armée de l’Air  Capitaine Maurice Rossie (left) with Lieutenant Paul Codos, Paris, France, 1934. The Blériot-Zappata 110 is in the background. (Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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