Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Of Super Guppies and Petulant Porpoises

It was cold. It was windy. There was a light drizzle. We were in an open tram taking a tour of the aircraft placed in the open area of the Pima Air and Space Museum on the outskirts of Tucson.

In spite of these conditions, we would take the tour again. We missed identifying all the aircraft, but there were several that we would have liked to have spent more time studying.

Fairchild C-123B Provider
The Provider was a short-range assault transport used for airlifting troops and cargo to and from small, unprepared airstrips.

Lockheed AP-2H Neptune
Four P-2Hs were modified in 1966-67, designated AP-2H, by E-Systems to carry a radar package (black square under the nose) for night interdiction operations over the Mekong Delta.

Grumman S2F-1 Tracker
Grumman designed the S2F-1 in the early 1950s as the U.S. Navy's premier sub hunter, outfitted with the latest submarine detection equipment, including a penetrating light mounted under the wing.

NASA KC-135A "Vomit Comet"
NASA used this aircraft to fly parabolic arcs, allowing the occupants to enjoy about 30 seconds of weightlessness. Unfortunately each of these weightless episodes was followed by a thirty second, 2G pull out. Flying a series of these arcs led to the aircraft rightly deserving its nickname of the "Vomit Comet."

B-377SG Super Guppy
This was the first "Super Guppy" built. Its parts came from at least two different aircraft. It was designed to carry very large, but relatively light cargos. The planes proved to be very useful for carrying segments of rockets and much of the Saturn rocket that powered the Apollo Program was transported in the Super Guppy.

Convair B-36J Peacemaker
The B-36 was the largest bomber produced by the United States. The B-36 was the symbol of American air power in the first years of the Cold War, but all of the 383 Peacemakers built between 1947 and 1954 were out of service by the first months of 1959.

Cessna T-37B Tweet
The T-37 is a twin-engine primary trainer used for teaching the fundamentals of jet aircraft operation and for flying on instruments, in formation and at night. Affectionately known as the "Tweety Bird."

T-28C Trojan
This was the first trainer designed to transition pilots to jet aircraft.

T-2 Buckeye Trainer
The T-2C Buckeye jet trainer aircraft was produced for the U.S. Navy and established an outstanding record of safety and reliability.

CH-54A "Tarhi" (Sky Crane)
This helicopter transport could drop a first aid station where needed near combat zones. They are now used to help fight forest fires.

Grumman J4F-2 Widgeon Petulant Porpoise
First flown in June 1940, the Widgeon entered production in 1941 with over 50 aircraft delivered to civil customers. The Widgeons served primarily as coastal search and rescue aircraft and as utility transports in the United States.

Martin PBM-5A Mariner Seaplane
Originally the PBM-3 and PBM-5 were pure "flying boats," the -5A version of the Mariner became the largest amphibian ever built. The PBM planes served through World War II and the Korean War as a long-range patrol bomber and rescue aircraft. Of the 1367 PBM Mariners of all models built, this is the last intact aircraft in existence.

SR 714A Blackbird
Design of what would become the Blackbird began in 1958 with a request from the CIA for an aircraft to replace the Lockheed U-2. It holds world speed and altitude records and is the only manned, jet-powered aircraft to routinely exceed Mach 3.

Columbia XJL-1
There were three XJL-1s built, and this is the last of the three. Completed in 1946, the aircraft did not live up to the expectations of the Navy with repeated structural failures of various parts reported during testing. Testing was abandoned on September 21, 1948.

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