Monthly Archives: January 2015

Warbirds – P-38 Lightning

To honor the anniversary of the first flight of the P-38 Lightning on January 27, 1939 we present to you some great footage in this new edition of Warbirds. This iconic aircraft emerged from United States Army Air Corps specifications drawn up in 1937. It was designated an “interceptor” to bypass the bureaucratic restriction of less than 500lbs of armament in pursuit aircraft. USAAF ordered an initial 55 aircraft in 1939 with the initial lightnings deployed with the 1st Fighter Group’s 27th Pursuit Squadron in July 1941. The first Lightnings to see service in WWII were unarmed F-4 photo reconnaissance version with the 8th Photographic Squadron in Australia. Armed P-38’s began operating in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in May 1942. At the end of a 1000 mile patrol in August, a pair of Lightnings of the 343rd Fighter Group, 11th Air Force encountered and downed a pair of Japanese H6K “Mavis” flying boats. These were the 1st kills recorded for the aircraft nicknamed by the Japanese “two planes, one pilot”. In the European theater, P-38 Lightnings earned a fearsome reputation among Axis aircrews.  After 26 P-38’s destroyed 31 aircraft near Tunis in April 1943, it earned the nickname “fork-tailed devil” from German aircrews.

Over the course of its operational life, over 10,000 P-38’s were built.  It was the only American aircraft to serve continuously from start to finish of World War II.  Over 100 pilots became aces piloting this plane with several earning the Medal of Honor.  Her most famous mission is considered to be the interception of the transport and escorts of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto; resulting in his death.  Over a dozen working examples of this famous Warbird remain airworthy today and can often be seen at air shows.  If you get the chance to see one in action, you wont be disappointed.

Without further ado, here is some great video.

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Warbirds – F-16 Fighting Falcon

Our latest edition of Warbirds brings us to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.  This storied Cold War veteran took its first flight on January 20, 1974.

f-16 fighting falcon thunderbird

Requests for proposals in the 1972 Lightweight Fighter (LWF)  initiative brought five companies into competition.  General Dynamics and Northrop were eventually awarded contracts for prototype production.  During a near disastrous taxi test the XF-16 was forced into an unscheduled first flight to avoid destroying the aircraft.  Despite this, the Falcon went on to win the joint U.S. and NATO Air Combat Fighter competition – outperforming the Saab 37E “Eurofighter”, the Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1M-53, the SEPECAT Jaguar, and the Northrop P-530 Cobra (similar to the XF-17).  Citing better maneuverability, greater range, and lower operating costs, the Secretary of the Air Force announced in 1975 its intent to order the first 650 F-16’s.

f-16 fighting falcon line drawing

The first delivery of an F-16A to the USAF occurred on January 6, 1979.  Operational deployment began on October 1, 1980 with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB in Utah.  Since then, over 4500 units of a variety of models have been built.  Air forces of 25 nations have had the F-16 in their service.

f-16 fighting falcon weapons load display

The first combat experiences of the Falcon took place during the 1981 Lebanese Civil War.  F-16s of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) successfully downed in air-to-air combat a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter and a MiG-21.  Later that year, a combined flight of IAF F-16s and F-15s destroyed the nearly completed Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak.

In the 1980s, NATO and US deployment of the F-16 provided an effective counter to the massive deployments of Warsaw Pact aircraft in Eastern Europe.  Innumerable aerial challenges occurred through the end of the Cold War, but no real combat.  The first action seen by US and NATO F-16s occurred during the 1991 Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm.  From January 16 to February 28, F-16s flew over 13,000 sorties with seven aircraft lost.  Of these losses, only three were due to enemy fire.  Despite their heavy operational tempo, it would be 1992 before the first USAF F-16 would get an air-to-air kill.  During enforcement of the US/UK no-fly zones over Iraq, an F-16D shot down a Mig-25 with an AIM-120 AMRAAM.  This event also marked the first kill by an AMRAAM missile.

f-16 fighting falcon burning iraqi oil wells

F-16s continued to provide vital service throughout the next two decades.  Action was seen in the Balkans in ’93,’94, and ’99 as well as Pakistan from ’86 to ’88 against  Afghan Air Forces.  Later, the Falcons saw combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom (’03-’10) and during operations of the IAF in Lebanon in ’06 as well as from ’08 to ’09.  Today, Japanese and South Korean F-16s routinely deal with aerial challenges from Russian, North Korean, and even Chinese threats.

f-16 fighting falcon show of force

With the ongoing upgrade scheme, the USAF plans to keep the F-16 in service through 2025.  However, with the delayed acquisitions of the F-35 Lightning II, the Fighting Falcon may see its US service extended well beyond that date.  You should expect to see them in the air forces of other nations quite a bit longer.

This is a great documentary on the USAF Thunderbirds, their history, and the F-16. Enjoy!

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigration

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an American – January 3, 1919

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one soul[sic] loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

This quote made the rounds as an e-mail a while back and I hadn’t gotten around to sharing it.  Well, I finally got around to researching it and just needed to correct a couple minor mistakes so that it be taken in the proper context.  First, the quote is NOT from a 1907 speech made by Roosevelt while still in office.  The text actually comes from a letter he wrote in 1919 just days before his death.  I also restored a couple lines that had been edited out.  If you would like to see the original document from the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, it can be viewed here.

During my research on this I found some other quotes by Teddy Roosevelton along similar lines.  Here are a couple.

“Let us say to the immigrant not that we hope he will learn English, but that he has got to learn it.  Let the immigrant who does not learn it go back.  He has got to consider the interest of the United States or he should not stay here.  He must be made to see that his opportunities in this country depend on his knowing English and observing American standards.  the employer cannot be permitted to regard him only as an industrial asset.

We must in every way possible encourage the immigrant to rise, help him up, give him a chance to help himself.  If we try to carry him he may well prove not well worth carrying.  We must in turn insist upon his showing the same standard of fealty to this country and to join us in raising the level of our common American citizenship.”

Excerpted from a speach by former President Roosevelt from The New York Times of February 2, 1916.

“I appeal to all our citizens no matter what land their forefathers came from, to keep this ever in mind, and to shun with scorn and contempt the sinister intrigues and mischiefmakers who would seek to divide them along lines of creed, or birthplace or of national origin…  The effort to keep our citizenship divided against itself by the use of the hyphen and along the lines of national origin is certain to breed a spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens.  If some citizens band together as German-Americans or Irish-Americans, then after a while others are certain to band together as English-Americans or Scandanavian-Americans, and every such banding together, means down at the bottom an effort against the interest of straight-out American citizenship, an effort to bring into our nation the bitter Old World rivalries and jealousies and hatreds.”

Memorial Day speech by former President Roosevelt from The Washington Post of June 1, 1916.

Now, I am not a big fan of either Roosevelt.  But Teddy, despite being the first progressive president, was still able to recognize the exceptional nature of America and that it needed to be protected from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Lost and Found – January 3rd Edition

What to remember about January 3rd…

  • 106 BC  Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero is born (d. 43 BC)
  • 1521  Pope Leo X excommunicates Martin Luther from the Catholic Church, declares Luther an outlaw and heretic
  • 1777  While evading a superior British force, Patriot troops ambush straggling rear guard at Battle of Princeton
  • 1834  Founder of Texas colonies Stephen Austin is imprisoned by President Santa Ana after delivering their new Constitution
  • 1861  Vote to secede from the Union fails in Delaware
  • 1892  English author J.R.R. Tolkien is born (d. 1973), creator of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
  • 1919  Emir Faisal and Chaim Weizmann sign agreement at the Paris Peace Conference to develop a Jewish homeland
  • 1938  President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis; later renamed the March of Dimes foundation
  • 1959  President Eisenhower signs proclamation admitting Alaska as the 49th state in the Union
  • 1987 Aretha Franklin becomes 1st woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • 1990  During invasion of Panama, dictator Manuel Noriega surrenders to U.S. forces after 10-day standoff
  • 1999  NASA launches Mars Polar Lander atop Delta II rocket

the hobbit first edition dust jacket book cover

Lost and Found – January 2nd Edition

What to remember about January 2nd…

  • 1776  Congress publishes Tory Act to advise colonies on how to deal with persons remaining loyal to Britain
  • 1788  Georgia becomes 4th state in the Union by voting to ratify the U.S. Constitution
  • 1909 Father of modern conservatism and 5-term U.S. Senator Barry Morris Goldwater is born in Phoenix, Arizona (d. 1998)
  • 1923  Albert Fall, Secretary of the Interior under President Harding resigns over corruption charges in Teapot Dome scandal
  • 1935  Bruno Hauptman goes on trial for the murder of the infant son of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh
  • 1974  President Nixon signs Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act to establish a national speed limit during oil crisis
  • 1980  President Carter reacts to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by delaying implementation of SALT-II Treaty; Soviets unimpressed

Lost and Found – January 1st Edition

What to remember about January 1st…

  • 1781  1500 Patriot troops under General Anthony Wayne mutiny over not being paid; they march off on their own to capture Princeton
  • 1808  As the 20-year constitutional prohibition against legislation in relation to slavery expires, Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves goes into effect in any U.S. jurisdiction
  • 1863  As promised, President Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in rebellious America; Union army is instructed to liberate any they find
  • 1892  Federal immigration receiving station opens on Ellis Island
  • 1934  Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring goes into effect in Nazi Germany; court ordered sterilization
  • 1942  President Roosevelt and Minister Churchill issue proclamation at end of the Arcadia Conference vowing to create United Nations
  • 1958  At San Quentin Johnny Cash plays his 1st prison performance; inmate Mearle Haggard is inspired to change his life
  • 1959  Communist led by Fidel Castro force Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista to flee the country for the Dominican Republic
  • 1962  United States Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land Teams (SEALs) are established
  • 1966  Advance units of 1st Marine Division arrive in Vietnam; by march 20,000 Marines will be in country
  • 1984  As a result of 1974 anti-trust lawsuit brought by Justice Department, AT&T is broken into 7 holding companies known as “Baby Bells”
  • 2004  Roman Catholic and Protestant Boy Scout organizations reunite after almost a century of division