Enhanced photo of a UFO sighting near to the Confederate "Area 31" sighting, in Nevada. This was part of the famous 1960 'UFO Invasion' in which a massive amount of unidentified craft were seen across North America, and the world.
The 6th launch of the A1 rocket. This was the 6th (Russian) manned mission to the moon. Taken in early 1970. This was the famous "Almost Death" incident in which the manned capsule had to return to Earth after a malfunction, never landing on the moon.
The Russo-Confederate space station 'Mir' as seen in 2019. The space station has been in service for well over 30 years and more expansions have been planned aswell as renovations.
After the UN withdrew from Africa in 1980, the Latin American and Carribean states of the Rio Treaty established a regular cycle of year-long multinational foriegn deployments to meet UN requirements. In addition to individual national deployments, the Air Task Force (ATF) program annually brought together a well-rounded contingent of aviation assets and personnel from across the Rio Treaty members. Each ATF deployed for a financial year and undertook multinational training and forward deployments across the UN’s area of operations.
ATF90-91 included Mexico’s Escuadrón Aéreo 405 (Grumman A-6E TRAM Intruder), Chile's Grupo de Aviación Nº8 (Mirage F1E2C, E2CR and D2C), Cuba’s UM 5010 Escuadrón de Caza (Jaguar CA) and Venezuela's Escuadrón 132 (Mirage 2000EV), plus support assets including KC-135E tankers (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico), C-130H, EC-130H and KC-130H Hercules (Brazil, Mexico and Peru) and airborne early warning E-2C (Mexico). For SAR, liaison, security and special forces deployment, ATF90-91 included Ecuadorian Army UH-1N Twin Hueys and Brazillian Army CAE (Helibras assembled) Ruby Down AS532 UL/AL Cougars.
ATF90-91's “World Tour 90-91” was meant to climax with a six month deployment to Hodeidah, Yemen, after conducting a six month series of major exercises as it transited through the Americas, across the Pacific, and through south-east and south Asia. These included Red Flag 90-3 in July (USA), RIMPAC 90 in August (Hawaii), Cope Thunder in September (Philippines) and Cope Cobra in November (India).
In early August 1991, the Iraqi government collapsed through the combined efforts of an Iranian offensive and Kurdish and Shia revolts in the north and south, respectively. The Iranians proposed to break-up Iraq into separate Kurdish, Shia and Sunni nations, but the UN demanded that Iran withdraw and full Iraqi sovereignty be restored under the legitimate government of Saddam Hussein. Nethermind that Iran had, finally, brought to an end a war that started in 1980 when Hussien’s government launched an unprovoked invasion of Iran, resulting in over a million and a half casualties and that Iraq had denied all attempts at finding a peaceful settlement. But with Iranian tanks now on the border of UN member states Kuwait (itself now effectively occupied by the Iraqi Army) and Saudi Arabia, the UN launched Operation Desert Shield to defend its interests and build-up the necessary military strength to liberate Iraq by force.
As UN units passed through on their way to join Operation Desert Shield, ATF90-91 was held in reserve and not deployed to Yemen as originally planned. Instead, ATF90-91 continued with its programme of exercises and by mid-December they were based at Trincomalee/China Bay in Sri Lanka, on alert to meet possible contingency operations. Making small deployments to India, ATF90-91 increasingly focused on preparing to interdict mobile ballistic missile threats, with a focus on finding and destroying transporter erector launchers (TELs). This was in acknowledgment of an Iranian threat to fire ballistic missiles over Afghanistan and Pakistan (both neutral nations) and into India as a means of drawing India into the looming conflict. This was based on the false premise that bringing India directly into the oncoming war would fracture the support of the UN's Muslin members due to the issue of Kashmir. As Iranian propaganda over Kashmir ramped up and evidence of the mobilisation of its long-range ballistic missile forces increased, so did diplomatic efforts to obtain a UN military presence in Pakistan, along with transit rights through Afghan airspace, should missiles start falling in India. Although Pakistan had collaborated with the Iranians in jointly manifesting a multi-layered ballistic missile capability, it was the Indians who provided their UN allies with valuable intelligence on the Iranian ballistic missile threat.
The UN's campaign to oust Iran from Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, was launched on the night of 16 January 1991. On the17th, Iran fired 3 ballistic missiles at India and 2 more on the 18th. On the 19th, 2 of the 3 missiles fired at India fell in Pakistan, prompting an aggressive rebuke from the Pakistani government, who threatened military action against Iran if more of its missiles crashed into Pakistan. Iran briefly paused its ballistic missile campaign against India, but on the 23rd 2 missiles attacked India and another landed in Pakistan, injuring 3 civilians. The next day, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to facilitate an UN-lead response and ATF90-91 was ordered into Pakistan. All of these missiles were conventionally armed weapons, with poor accuracy and small warheads, but it was a widely held belief that Iran had developed chemical warheads for them.
ATF90-91’s combat squadrons deployed to Quetta in Pakistan, with some of the larger support aircraft flying from Nur Khan. It flew its first combat missions into Iran on 27 January. Targets included fixed ballistic missile launch sites in mountains near Mashhad and numerous targets in Mashhad itself, including an airfield, missile fuel and manufacturing facilities, command, control, intelligence and communications facilities,, radars, SAMs plus the many hides where TELs, missiles and fuel were potentially hidden in eastern Iran. The Mexican A-6E combat missions were flown exclusively at night, while each Mirage squadron was split into day and night cells. Venezuela’s Mirage 2000 EVs initially concentrated on providing offensive and defensive fighter support, but as the Iranian fighter threat diminished, they took on fighter-bomber duties. The Chilean Mirage F1 squadron specialised in tasks such as SEAD and photographic and electronic reconnaissance. The Cuban Jaguar crews exclusively flew daylight missions, performing attack, kinetic SEAD and armed photo-reconnaissance missions.
With just four combat squadrons operating over a large and hostile battlespace whilst also defending their support aviation of AEW and tankers loitering over Afghanistan and Pakistan, the crews of ATF90-91 soon became proficient at swing-role missions. Daily taskings routinely saw mixed formations rotating between offensive and defensive tasks, providing mutual support and tag-teaming between duties. Fortunately, the Iranian air defences in their area of operations were weak and no enemy fighters were encountered; however, the SAM engagement zones around the “Mashhad target complex” and a few other sites had to be approached with caution.
Under the cover of this UN intervention, the Pakistani government launched a genocide against the country’s Shia community, civilian riots resulting in mass killings and an exodus of refugees to the Iranian border. Changes in the Pakistani military dictatorship during 1990 had seen a cabal of Pakistani Sunni nationalists seize control; they saw Shia Muslins as a threat and wanted closer relations with the UN. They also wanted to take control of the Shia-dominated Iranian smuggling trade. In response, Iran launched a ballistic missile and shelling campaign against Pakistan, resulting in a series of Pakistani Army border incursions. When the Pakistani government demanded that the UN, and therefore ATF90-91, provide it with direct military assistance, publicly the UN demurred. Secretly, the UN established deconfliction protocols, provided intelligence and ATF90-91 was tasked with delivering non-kinetic support to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) attacks into Iran.
ATF90-91 remained in Pakistan until 3 May 1991, by which time the US President had declared that “major combat operations in Iraq” had ended and the Iranians had signed a ceasefire agreement. The force spent the rest of their deployment time returning home, stopping along the way for several rest and recreation opportunities. Like those involved in the UN’s aerial Scud hunt against Iranian (mostly captured Iraqi) ballistic missiles in Iraq’s Western Desert, the personnel of ATF90-91 claimed the destruction of several Iranian TELs. Like the claims made in the Western Desert Scud hunt, none were confirmed and missiles continued to be fired until the ceasefire. Despite this apparent lack of success, the Indian government refrained from employing the air strike force they had on alert to strike Iran. In many ways, ATF90-91’s campaign has been judged to have been a political, more than a military, success; although, ATF90-91 did succeed in leaving Iran's military and industrial capabilities in its eastern provinces a smoldering mess.
Canadair/GAF Jaguar International CA
a/c K A140, UM 5010 Escuadrón de Caza, ATF90-91
31 January, 1991
Cuba acquired its Jaguar fleet during the early 1980s. All were built to the Jaguar International (Africa) standard and included both single-seat (CA - Cuban Attack) and two-seat (CT - Cuban Trainer) versions. The Jaguar International (Africa) series was an export development designed to meet a 1978 UN requirement to provide new attack jets to its African member states. As part of its Africanization policy, the UN began to withdraw overseas combat forces from Africa in the late 1970s and at the same time initiated a series of programs to modernise African air arms. Operation Golden Cat intended to supply at least 200 aircraft of the Jaguar International (Africa) series to the air forces of Angola, Chad, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Zaire. All were to be built in Australia by the Government Aircraft Factories (GAF), which had partnered with Canadiar (later, CAE) in designing the Jaguar.
With only UN ”advisors,” “embassy security teams” and “special intelligence forces” left in Africa by the end of 1979, the governments of all the UN’s African member states were overthrown by Reds by the end of 1980. This left GAF’s Jaguar production line without customers, as RAAF deliveries had been completed in 1979 and the UN-funded Jaguars jets going directly into storage. The Jaguar International (Africa) series offered a cheap and effective multirole tactical combat aircraft that featured a laser rangefinder, a photo reconnaissance capability and Rolls Royce Murray Mk.811 turbofans in a durable airframe with good range (potentially boosted via the type’s retractable inflight refueling probe), solid performance and a useful payload. Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand all expressed interest, but the only sales came from Cuba (72 Jaguar International CA/CT) and Indonesia (16 Jaguar IA/IT), production ceasing at 88 airframes. Cuba’s Jaguars replaced EMB-326Ks and F-5A/B/RF-5A Freedom Fighters and Indonesia’s Jaguars replaced F-100D Super Sabres.
The Cuban Air Force’s UM 5010 Escuadrón de Caza was equipped with 12 Jaguar International CA and a single CT for ATF90-91. In addition to their internal pair of Orenda Yellow Flower 30mm DEFA cannon, the deployment was armed with Mk 82 and Mk 84 bombs and kits to make these into GBU.10 and GBU.12 Paveway II LGBs. All aircraft were integrated with the daylight-only Orenda Honey Pie Atlis II laser targeting pod. CBUs were Mk.20 Rockeyes and the subsonic CAE Marshmallow Pie ARMAT missile was used for anti-radar work. Self-defence came from the AIM-L Sidewinder (usually carried singly on the outer starboard pylon), the Phillips Canada Rose Wine Barax ECM pod and Phillips Canada Black Coffee Alkan Corail 5020/21 conformal chaff/flare pods. Loadouts usually included two external fuel tanks, an AIM-9L, two Corail pods and a Barax, with the centreline carrying the Atlis II, a single ARMAT, one 2,000lb bomb (Mk84/GBU.10), or two Mk82/GBU.12s or two Rockeyes on a Phillips Canada Panther Hold Alkan 5010 twin store carrier. Cuban Jaguar ATF90-91 combat missions were mounted exclusively in daylight. The ARMAT was used on SEAD missions, GBU.10s were used against fixed targets with the GBU.12s and Rockeyes carried on interdiction patrols. The Jaguars routinely flew in mixed formations with fighter, ISR and buddy lasing support from the Chilean and Venezuelan Mirages.
This aircraft is depicted as photographed on 31 January 1991. It has 4 mission markings and carries an ARMAT on the centreline pylon. On this day, ATF90-91 mounted a strike package against 2 underground ballistic missile launch sites, and three hardened tunnel and bunker entrances in the mountain range immediately to the west of Mashhad. The GBU.10 was the weapon of choice, with 3 Jaguars also armed with the ARMAT for SEAD. This area was defended by MIM-23A Hawk SAMS, MANPADS and AAA of various calibres and forms of guidance. Additional SEAD was provided by Chilean Mirage F1s carrying ARMATs and the Phillips Canada Blueberry Rise Caiman jamming pod. Venezealan Mirage 2000 EVs provided fighter escort and sweep. No Iranian fighters were encountered and, despite several SAM launches and plenty of AAA, there were no losses among the strike force.
Nakajima Ki-43-III Hayabusa
Personal mount of Rikugun Taisa (Colonel) Atsuto Uchida
56th Hiko Sentai
Obama, Japan, 2 May, 1946
On the 2nd of May, 1946, at about 03.30 hours (local time), a lone fighter plane landed at an airfield near Obama, Japan. RAF ground crews initially rushed to what they thought was a friendly plane using the dimly-lit airstrip as an emergency landing field, but their progress was soon overtaken by the resident armed RAF Regiment personnel. As torch light beams flashed along the flanks of the now silent and rather non-descript plane, they revealed as Hinomarus. The pilot, waving an Allied-produced surrender leaflet, shouted in a heavy accent "Don't shoot - I surrender." The RAF regiment men approached cautiously and took him into custody.
Under interrogation, the pilot soon identified himself as Colonel Atsuto Uchida of the Itami-based 56th Hiko Sentai. This unit had mostly conducted night interception duties, although since Y-Day+3 in March, 1946, it had been all-but dormant following a brief flurry of interception and kamikaze activity. Equipped with a handful each of Ki-43 and Ki-84 fighters, it had been reduced to a rump of professional officers who had few opportunities to pursue conventional combat activities due to a lack of fuel and complete Allied air superiority. As a fighting force, it had been all-but forgotten.
At first, the RAF intelligence officers who questioned Colonel Uchida wanted to know how he had managed to land at Obama without incident. He explained, observing that he had flown into the airfield many times, day and night, and often at low-altitude, on instruments and in bad weather. But, he explained to the Japanese interpreter in the room, there was another question they should be asking. Why was a Colonel of the Imperial Japanese Army flying into an Allied airfield to surrender? He demand to speak to someone more senior, immediately.
When RAF Wing Commander Roderick Henderson arrived, Colonel Uchida advised him that that Emperor Hirohito was on the verge of surrendering. Hirohito, who had been deposed in the August, 1945 coup lead by Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni and replaced by the minor Akihito, had managed to gain the support of key personnel and was the verge of mounting a counter-coup. To facilitate this, Prince Regent Higashikuni's supporters needed to be killed or isolated in their command centre at a Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters tunnel redoubt. Colonel Uchid had brought with him plans of complex and recommended that the RAF destroy it with Grand Slam bombs.
The Allies were aware of the Matsushiro complex and had bombed it twice with B-29s, but were unaware of it's true scale and role. After confirming that Hirohito was not imprisoned there (which is what the coup leaders had originally planned), but was under house arrest near Kyoto, a Grand Slam strike was ordered. On 5 May, the Lancasters of RAF 617 Squadron plastered the Matsushiro tunnel complex with their earthquake bombs, killing Higashikuni, Akihito and several top military leaders. The next morning, Hirohito made an unprecedented radio broadcast stating that he had returned to the throne and that Japan had accepted the Allies' peace terms, with a ceasefire to take effect immediately.
Thus, it was a Hayabusa and conventionally-armed Lancasters that brought an end the war in the Pacific, much to the annoyance of many Americans who had been led to believe that it was their atomic-armed B-29s that were going to force a surrender.
Although the plane that Colonel Uchida flew to Obama on the 2nd of May was without kill-markings, he was an ace thrice-over. An expert night fighter pilot, he had flown twin-engined fighters before converting to the Ki-43-III for night interception work in July, 1945 (when all remaining twin-engined fighters were re-assigned to kamikaze duties). Before dawn on Y-Day, Uchida penetrated a stream of USAAF C-47s carrying paratroopers to the Kanto Plains and shot down three, taking his tally to 17. Two nights later, he earned his final kill when a US Navy PV-2 Harpoon fell to his guns.
Although a respected warrior, he had trouble with the post-coup leadership's irrationality and found himself recruited by Hirohito's "peace camp" supporters. It was through these clandestine connections that Uchido came to pursue his final wartime duty to his nation, delivering the plans to the Matsushiro tunnel complex to the British.
Bell P-39Q Airacobra
24th Air Regiment, DPRK Korean Liberation Air Force
Koksan Air Base, DPRK
27 July, 1950
Korea’s association with the Bell P-39 began May 1943 when exiles in the Soviet 413th International Air Regiment first trained on the type. During much of 1944 they saw combat in Europe against the Nazis before returning to their base near Vladivostok in January 1945. In August that year they joined in the liberation of Korea, seeing action against the Japanese occupation force.
In 1948 as the DPRK established the Korean Liberation Air Force (KLAF), the 413th withdrew, leaving around 50 P-39Qs for service with the KLAF’s 24th Air Regiment.
With more modern fighters in service, the P-39s undertook a variety of training roles and during 1949 around 20 were refurbished. These Airacobras were used for adversary training, having their internal .50 cal machine guns removed and faired over to save both weight and drag. The removable .50 cal underwing gondolas were retained, but not usually fitted. However, in preparation for the 25 July 1950 offensive, the underwing guns were permanently re-instated from early May. As part of their refurbishment the aircraft also lost their camouflage, being finished in silver a scheme that resembled that of USAF and RoKAF F-51 Mustangs.
All this was used to advantage on the 27th July, when 6 P-39Qs attacked the airfield at Kimpo. On the 25th, South Korean ant-aircraft gunners opened fire on 2 uncamouflaged RoKAF T-6 Texans. The next day, 4 USAF F-51D Mustangs also came under fire from South Korean gunners. Acting to reduce the changes of fratricide and believing that all KLAF combat aircraft were camouflaged, the South Korean military HQ issued an order late on the 26th not to fire on any “silver painted” aircraft. Within hours, the KLAF was aware of this.
Using RoKAF call signs, 6 silver painted P-39Qs (including Yellow 9) entered Kimpo’s controlled airspace at around 10.35 hrs on the 27th and completed their first firing pass before attracting any return fire. On the completion of their third pass they were met by two USAF F-82G Twin Mustangs. The USAF pilots quickly shot down four of the much slower Airacobras, but not before several civilian transport planes and RoKAF Texans and Mustangs were destroyed or damaged.
This brought an end to KLAF P-39 combat operations. Clearly outclassed, the aircraft were thereafter used as unit hacks.
P-39Q Yellow 9 was later found by UN troops at Kimpo, abandoned and with a damaged port undercarriage. Recovered to the USA, the aircraft was stored at Wright-Patterson until handed over to the Smithsonian in 1955. Restored to static display status, it became a controversial part of the museum’s Red Air exhibition from 1960 as a reminder of WW2’s Lend Lease policy.
In an alternate 1970s, the L3 Complex separates from the Blok-V 3rd stage of its N1 launcher and settles into a parking orbit. 25 hours later, the Blok-G main engine will send the complex and its two cosmonauts to the moon.
The CANT Z.2003 was designed in the late 1930s to a requirement of the Regia Marina for a carrier-capable dive bomber. Intended to operate from the carriers Aquila and Sparviero, the abandonment of these unfinished ships in mid-1943 made the 27 extant CANT Z.2003s surplus and they were transferred to the Regia Aeronautica. By now thoroughly obsolete, their new owners assigned the planes to meet an urgent German request for renewed Italian air support on the Eastern Front. When Italy surrendered to the Allies in early September 1943, the air and support crews of 357 Squadriglia were training in Germany, where their CANT Z.2003s had been converted to Z.2003 C.O. (Cannone Orientale - Eastern Cannon) standard, with Bordkanone BK 37 cannon pods, additional amour and German radios. Challenged as to their allegiances, the unit's personnel selected continued service with the Axis rather than face being interned.
Following Mussolini's rescue and the establishment of his Italian Social Republic in northern Italy, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) was formed, incorporating 357 Squadriglia as the Squadriglia "Dino Ballacci". Dino Ballacci was a famous Italian fighter ace (16 kills) who had been presumed killed on the Eastern Front in August 1943 (he was actually taken prisoner and wouldn't be returned to Italy until November 1944).
Sent to Belorussia, Squadriglia "Dino Ballacci" entered combat on 17 November, 1943 and remained active until disbanded on 23 March, 1944 with just 3 airworthy planes left in service. Their primary role was to employ the Bk 37s against Red Army tanks, although trains, other vehicles and strong points were also attacked. Built to demanding carrier specifications, they proved capable of withstanding tremendous punishment but heavy operational use under harsh conditions lead to the unit's demise through irreplaceable attrition.
An unusual feature of the CANT Z.2003 C.O. was the retention of the out under-wing hardpoints. These were not used in combat, but had been kept to enable the carriage of luggage pods, as the Italians had anticipated a nomadic campaign of airfield hopping. This proved to be the case, as the unit retreated with the Red Army's advance across Belorussia and Ukraine and was shifted along the line to meet demand, ending up in Romania, where they were disbanded.
From the outset, the CANT Z.2003 C.O. was seen as an interim solution to providing an Italian anti-tank plane for the Eastern Front. They were meant to be replaced in early 1944 by a Bk 37-armed version of the Caproni Ca.337, itself a converted dive bomber. However, poor industrial output combined with a low priority given to the resulting Ca.337 C.O. meant only that 5 had been completed before the Caproni factory building them was bombed in April, 1944, terminating production.