Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing, Part 4

Regarded by many as the premier fighter aircraft of World War II, the P-51D Mustang is also, in my humble opinion, one of the most handsome planes of all time. The P-51A was introduced in 1942 and Mustangs continued in service in the U.S. Air Force until 1957 — although other countries used the aircraft until 1987.

P-51 fighters were equipped with six 0.50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns with a total of 1,880 rounds mounted in the wings. You're staring at them.

The aircraft could carry two 1,000-pound bombs or external fuel tanks to increase its range. It could also carry six to ten five-inch H.V.A.R rockets.

In last week's issue I quoted the tribute to the late Robert Odegaard who restored this airplane. I think you can agree just looking at the pictures that he did an outstanding job.

Looking up, we spot a three-quarter scale model Fokker E.V World War I Parasol Wing Fighter (without armaments). This aircraft became operational in 1918 and less than 400 were produced.

The fighter carried two 7.92 mm Spandau machine guns mounted in front of the cockpit. After the war, a small number of surviving aircraft were sent to other counties including the United States. Imagine in those days seeing a German fighter flying over the American homeland.

Next is a T-28C produced by North American Aviation (NAA), known as the producer of the finest military aircraft of the World War II era — including the P-51 Mustang fighter (see earlier images) and the B-25 Mitchell bomber. During and immediately following the war, the Air Force approached NAA to produce a next generation, high performance advanced trainer. That A model led to B and C models for the Navy for training pilots for carrier-based operations.

Many of these trainers were later upgraded, this unit is now powered by a Wright Cyclone R-1820-86B engine, producing 1425 HP.

The domed cockpit allowed clear vision in all directions for both the student pilot and the flight instructor.

i love the paint job with the black tail plus skull and crossbones. There was no informational placard so I do not know if this is standard or just a nice custom job. A quick scan of the images online show most T-28Cs do not have this paint configuration — so my conclusion is "custom".

But not so fast! My brother-in-law saw the original LAHP issue and recognized the tail ensignia and told me that during his Navy service, that squadron was at his base. It is the VF-84 Jolly Rogers. The squadron was active from 1955 until 1995 when it was disestablished (Navy-speak not mine) due to the downsizing after the end of the Cold War. And now you know the rest of the story.

Since this is a Navy variant, it has a tailhook — used to catch the arresting cable upon landing on an aircraft carrier.

By the way, this plane is for sale — asking price: $250,000. Get your credit card out.

Last for this week is a Stearman/Boeing VN2S which was the primary trainer prior to and during most of WWII. Production began in 1936 then in 1938, Boeing purchased Stearman Aircraft Corporation thus the dual name.

This may be the world's most produced biplane with some 10,400 produced. After they were retired from military service, many survived in civilian hands as crop dusters and forest service aerial firefighters.

I have to say this is one fine-looking aircraft. And I'll bet it is fun both to pilot and to enjoy the ride as a passenger.

To be continued.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com