Air and Space Photos from Alternate Worlds.

"The Destroyer" (TD) is basically doing a speedrun of Kerbal Space Program with the Real Solar System and Realistic Progression (career mode) mods. This ends up being one of the ultimate ASB spacewank timelines, with a joint US/USSR crewed Mars mission in 1960.

Along with some ridiculously impressive non-canon rockets like "S A T U R N V to SATURN"


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MEM Final Proposal.png

The Rockwell International Mars Exploration Module at contract award, April 1976
17 April, 1976 (HOUSTON) - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced this morning that it has awarded the contract for construction of the Mars Exploration Module (MEM) to Rockwell International of Downey, California.

Three other companies, Boeing, General Dynamics’ Convair Division and Grumman; the company who designed and built the Apollo Lunar Module, were shortlisted after nine responded to NASA’s Request for Proposals.

Rockwell International has significant experience in building manned space vehicles, including the Apollo Command and Service Module, which flew astronauts to the moon and now transports crew and supplies to Skylab II, and the S-II second stage of the gargantuan Saturn V booster. The company is also expected to produce parts of the injection boosters for the Ares programme.

Commenting on the announcement, NASA Administrator James Fletcher said: “Rockwell’s knowledge and experience will be central to the nation’s effort to travel to Mars. Their proposed lander combines proven design with advanced propulsion, guidance and navigation technology. We are confident that this design is realistic and can meet expected schedule and budget demands.”

Rockwell’s proposal is a 29-foot-tall cone shaped vehicle that will weigh almost 60 tons when it reaches Mars. On atmospheric entry it will be slowed by ballutes, before its descent stage - a 140,000lbf engine fuelled by liquid fluorine, liquid oxygen and methane, ignites for a soft landing. It will have provision for four crew for a thirty day stay on Mars, before a smaller engine returns the crew and vehicle to Martian orbit.

The comprehensive research, development and test programme required before the MEM reaches Mars is expected to start next month, and a draft NASA schedule suggests a first manned flight in 1980.
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a 140,000lbf engine fuelled by liquid fluorine, liquid oxygen and methane, ignites for a soft landing. It will have provision for four crew for a thirty day stay on Mars​
cripes, jinkies, rut roh, oh ffs. lets hope their spacesuits are fluorine proof, because the landingsite is going to be rather contaminated.
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cripes, jinkies, rut roh, oh ffs. lets hope their spacesuits are fluorine proof, because the landingsite is going to be rather contaminated.

As it's FLOX rather than pure liquid fluorine it is a bit tamer, and my understanding is that the thinner Martian atmosphere helps keep contamination to a minimum.
As it's FLOX rather than pure liquid fluorine it is a bit tamer, and my understanding is that the thinner Martian atmosphere helps keep contamination to a minimum.
the resultant is HF (hydrofluoric acid) though, boilingpoint 19,5C (292K), so there will be HF dew, since mars temps are below that boilingpoint
the resultant is HF (hydrofluoric acid) though, boilingpoint 19,5C (292K), so there will be HF dew, since mars temps are below that boilingpoint
I will have to look at what NAR proposed - if anything - in their original design submission. Maybe a propellant switch would be part of the development cycle...
Nakajima G8N of the commander of the "1st Long Range Bomber fleet" of the IJN, operation Ten-Go, September 10th 1945.


In September 1945 the IJN launched it's last major open water operation in WWII. While the battleships Yamato and Haruna, escorted by 2 light carriers and a dozen surface ships, sailed straight for Okinawa, 55 G8N (the entire inventory) launched a bombardment mission, timed to arrive at dawn over Okinawa, targeting the airfields of the USAAF. 12 G8N carried Ohka bombs, with the rest carrying conventional bombs. A force of 30 Zero provided escort. Arriving over Okinawa, the force was confronted with over 70 USAAF fighters, with more climbing. While the Zero escort did not provide many problems at first, the faster P-51 and P-47 quickly zooming past them, the bombers heavy defensive armament and sturdy construction came as a rude surprise to the US pilots, used to the previous generation of poory armed and flimsy japanese bombers, with no less than 20 fighters being shotdown by the aircrafts gunners. This, plus the dogged defense of the Zeros, allowed 35 bombers to reach their targets, leading to the destruction of two airfields and severe damage to two others. But at a heavy cost; only 4 G8N would return home, all damaged.
Dizzyfugu special:


North American FJ-4B Fury - 860th Squadron NL-MLD​


Some background:
The North American FJ-4 Fury was a swept-wing carrier-capable fighter-bomber, originally developed for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. It was the final development in a lineage that included the Air Force's F-86 Sabre. The FJ-4 shared its general layout and engine with the earlier FJ-3, but featured an entirely new wing design. And it was, as a kind of final embodiment with the FJ-4B, a very different aircraft from the F-86.

The first FJ-4 flew on 28 October 1954 and delivery began in February 1955. Of the original order for 221 FJ-4 fighters, the last 71 were modified into the FJ-4B fighter-bomber version, of which the Netherlands received 16 aircraft under the designation FJ-4B from the USA in the course of NATO support. Even though the main roles of the MLD were maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue, the FJ-4B was a dedicated fighter-bomber, and these aircraft were to be used with the Dutch Navy’s Colossus-Class carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81).

Compared to the lighter FJ-4 interceptor, the FJ-4B had a stronger wing with six instead of four underwing stations, a stronger landing gear and additional aerodynamic brakes under the aft fuselage. The latter made landing safer by allowing pilots to use higher thrust settings, and were also useful for dive attacks. Compared to the FJ-4, external load was doubled, and the US FJ-4Bs were capable of carrying a nuclear weapon on the inboard port station, a feature the MLD Furies lacked. The MLD aircraft were still equipped with the corresponding LABS or Low-Altitude Bombing System for accurate delivery of ordnance.

The Dutch Furies were primarily intended for anti-ship missions (toting up to five of the newly developed ASM-N-7 missiles - renamed in AGM-12B Bullpup after 1962 - plus a guidance pod) and CAS duties against coastal targets, as well as for precision strikes. In a secondary role, the FJ-4B could carry Sidewinder AAMs for interception purposes.

The MLD's FJ-4B became operational in 1956, just in time to enhance the firepower of the Karel Doorman, which just had its 24 WW-II era propeller driven Fairey Firefly strike fighters and Hawker Sea Fury fighter/anti-ship aircraft backed up with 14 TBF Avenger ASW/torpedo bombers and 10 Hawker Sea Hawk fighters (the MLD owned 22 of these) for an ASW/Strike profile. The Furies joined the carrier in late 1957 and replaced the piston-engined attack aircraft.

In 1960, during the Dutch decolonization and planned independence of Western New Guinea, a territory which was also claimed by Indonesia, the Karel Doorman set sail along with two destroyers and a modified oil tanker to 'show the flag'. In order to avoid possible problems with Indonesia's ally Egypt at the Suez Canal, the carrier instead sailed around the horn of Africa. She arrived in Fremantle, Australia, where the local seamen's union struck in sympathy with Indonesia; the crew used the propeller thrust of aircraft chained down on deck to nudge the carrier into dock without tugs! In addition to her air wing, she was ferrying twelve Hawker Hunter fighters to bolster the local Dutch defense forces, which the Karel Doorman delivered when she arrived at Hollandia, New Guinea.

During the 1960 crisis, Indonesia prepared for a military action named Operation Trikora (in the Indonesian language, "Tri Komando Rakyat" means "The Three Commands of the People"). In addition to planning for an invasion, the TNI-AU (Indonesian Air Forces) hoped to sink the Karel Doorman with Soviet-supplied Tupolev Tu-16KS-1 Badger naval bombers using AS-1 Kennel/KS-1 Kometa anti-ship missiles. This bomber-launched missile strike mission was cancelled on short notice, though, because of the implementation of the cease-fire between Indonesia and the Netherlands.

This led to a Dutch withdrawal and temporary UN peacekeeping administration, followed by occupation and annexation through Indonesia. While the Dutch aircraft served actively during this conflict, flying patrols and demonstrating presence, visibly armed and in alert condition, no 'hot' sortie or casualty occured, even though one aircraft, 10-18, was lost in a start accident. The pilot ejected safely.

The MLD FJ-4Bs only served on the carrier until its overhaul in 1964, after which the carrier-borne attack role was eliminated and all aircraft were transferred to land bases (Valkenburg) or in reserve storage. The Seahawks were retired from service by the end of the 1960s after the sale of the Karel Doorman to Argentina, and the FJ-4Bs were returned to the United States, where they were re-integrated into the USMC until the end of the 1960ies, when all FJ-4 aircraft were phased out.

General characteristics:
Crew: 1
Length: 36 ft 4 in (11.1 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 1 in (11.9 m)
Height: 13 ft 11 in (4.2 m)
Wing area: 338.66 ft² (31.46 m²)
Empty weight: 13,210 lb (6,000 kg)
Loaded weight: 20,130 lb (9,200 kg)
Max. take-off weight: 23,700 lb (10,750 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Wright J65-W-16A turbojet, 7,700 lbf (34 kN)

Maximum speed: 680 mph (1,090 km/h) at 35,000 ft (10,670 m)
Range: 2,020 mi (3,250 km) with 2× 200 gal (760 l) drop tanks and 2× AIM-9 missiles
Service ceiling: 46,800 ft (14,300 m)
Rate of climb: 7,660 ft/min (38.9 m/s)
Wing loading: 69.9 lb/ft² (341.7 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight: .325

4× 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
6× pylons under the wings for 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) external ordnance, including up to 6× AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs, bombs and guided/unguided ASM, e .g. ASM-N-7 (AGM-12B Bullpup) missiles.


Atanasov BAMiG-15MT, the mysterious Bulgarian Z-FB


Some background:
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-15; NATO reporting name: "Fagot") was a jet fighter aircraft developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB for the Soviet Union. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful jet fighters to incorporate swept wings to achieve high transonic speeds. Introduced in combat over the skies of Korea, it outclassed straight-winged jet day fighters which were largely relegated to ground attack roles. The MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made; in excess of 12,000 were manufactured. Licensed foreign production may have raised the production total to over 18,000.

One of the foreign operators was the Bulgarian Air Force. In 1955 a massive modernisation program started and a wave of deliveries began that would replace many piston engine aircraft from the WWII era. This included the MiG-15, and later also the MiG-17 and MiG-19 fighters and Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, as well as the first helicopters (Mil Mi-1).

In late Fifties the Bulgarian Air Force already had a number of obsolescent MiG-15s with only some 30% of their flying hours used. Dimitr Atanasov was the head of the Bulgarian Air Force's 149 Aircraft Repair Base at Tolbukhin, and he became known through several suggestions for upgrades of the MiG-15 fighter.

One of these works was the conversion of surplus fighters into two-seated fighter bombers/trainers, called the UMiG-15MT, which were more or less a MiG-15 UTI trainers with full weapon capability. The 'MT' suffix simply stood for модифициран в Толбухин ('Modified at Tolbukhin'). The most radical proposal of Dimitr Atanasov was a twin jet fighter bomber, though, based on two MiG-15s mated together through a short, straight central wing and stabilizer. This would allow the new aircraft to carry an external ordnance of 1.500 kg (3.300 lb) while maintaining the MiG-15's performance, especially range and take-off/landing. This was a considerable offensive improvement, since the original MiG-15 could only carry light loads like a pair of 100 kg (220 lb) bombs or unguided rockets on 2 underwing hardpoints - or, alternatively, drop tanks.

Initial studies for the 'близнак (Bliznak = Twin)' derivative envisaged two standard fighter airframes to be used, with two separate cockpits, or just a single seat cockpit in the port fuselage. Calculated performance figures for the twin MiG were even better than required by the Bulgarian Air Force, so some extra equipment like more fuel or armour could also be carried. Consequently, the space in the starboard fuselage formerly occupied by the cockpit was used for an additional fuel tank and an avionics bay, while the leftover cockpit received additional armor. The full cannon armament from both airframes was retained, and additional hardpoints under the central wings as well as in- ndd outside of the original wet wing pylons for light loads were added, for a total of seven plyons. In this form, two Atanasov BMiG-15MT protytypes were built and tested in 1958.

Much like the indigenous UMiG-15MT, the "new" aircraft was no offcial product of the OKB Mikoyan-Gurevich, but it received a 'thumbs up' and support from the original manufacturer.
Flight tests and acceptance trials lasted until 1960, when the MiG Bliznak was finally cleared for production/retrofitting at the Krumovo repair plant.

Thirty MiG-15Bs were created until 1963, not only from Bulgarian airframes, but also from other Eastern European Air Forces' stocks, e .g. from Czechoslovakia, where the MiG-15 was under license production. NATO's ASCC reporting name for the BMiG-15MT became "Fagot Z".
The Bulgarian Air Force remained the only operator of this exotic aircraft, since many countries had already received the more modern and potent Suchoj Su-7 fighter bomber or already used the MiG-17 in the fighter bomber role.

The BMiG-15MT would eventually expand its role, though. It is a well-known fact that the Soviet Air Forces in Eastern Europe received a large number of nuclear weapons in the early 1960s. During this period, the Yak-28 'Brewer' tactical bomber and the first genuine Soviet jet fighter-bomber, the Su-7 'Fitter', were introduced to service and provided the most potent offensive capabilities. For the Soviet Forces in Bulgaria, several Atanasov MiG-15 twins were converted as tactical nuclear bombers, designated BAMiG-15MT (атомен/atomen = 'nuclear').

These machines received a similar conversion like the UMiG-15MT, with a tandem cockpit in the port fuselage. The cannon armament was reduced in order to save weight, only a single 23mm cannon remained in the port fuselage, while the standard armament in the starboard fuselage was retained.
A BDZ-56FNM pylon for nuclear stores was added to the central wing, and the wiring for an RN-25 or RN-28 tactical nuclear weapon was added. These weapons were equipped with a remote or a direct impact fuse that determined the moment of detonation in order to create an aerial or a ground burst. Tactical nuclear bombs could be dropped using a LABS maneuver or during horizontal flight. In that latter case, a braking parachute was deployed behind the bomb.

In order to be able to deliver a weapon with precision during a toss bombing or LABS manoeuvre, the original MiG-15 weapon system had to be supplemented by an additional switchbox and indicator. The latter was called PBK (Pritsel dliya Bombometaniya s Kabrirovaniya or toss-bombing sight). On jets like the Su-7, the PBK was a separate box which was added to the left side of the instrument panel, in the BAMiG-15MT it was operated by the WSO/navigator on the rear seat, leaving the pilot free to concentrate on handling the aircraft. The LABS avionics were installed in the starboard fuselage.
A fixed point had to be selected on the ground to start the bombing run. That fixed point could be identified visually or it could be a radio beacon put in place by a commando unit or an helicopter. The PBK gave the informations necessary to complete the final bombing run.

Even though these machines were operated by the Bulgarian Air Force, the crews - at least when carrying nuclear stores or just when operated at the air bases with storage bunkers for nuclear weapons, were Soviet, even though Bulgarian crews were trained in the procedures for nuclear weapon delivery, too, and the BAMiG-15MT was a very good trainer for this task, even though unique in handling, especially on the ground where its wide track caused frequently taxiing accidents with unfamiliar crews.

The BA and remaining BMiG-15MTs were operated until the late Seventies, primarily as trainers. In the strike role they were already withdrawn in 1970, though, because the performance had become totally inadequate for the potential European battleground.

General characteristics:
Crew: 2
Length: 10.08 m (33 ft 1 in)
Wingspan: 12.68 m (41 ft 6 in)
Height: 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 24.6 m2 (265 sq ft)
Airfoil: TsAGI S-10 / TsAGI SR-3
Empty weight: 5,800 kg (12,775 lb)
Gross weight: 8,000 kg (17,620 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 9,770 kg (21,515 lb)
Fuel capacity: 2,450 l (540 imp gal; 648 US gal)

2× Klimov VK-1 centrifugal flow turbojet, 26.5 kN (6,000 lbf) thrust

Maximum speed: 1,059 km/h (658 mph; 572 kn) at sea level
1,033 km/h (558 kn; 642 mph) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
992 km/h (536 kn; 616 mph) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
Cruising speed: 850 km/h (528 mph; 459 kn)
Range: 1,640 km (1,020 mi; 890 nmi)
Service ceiling: 15,500 m (50,853 ft)
Rate of climb: 51.2 m/s (10,080 ft/min) at sea level
36.2 m/s (7,130 ft/min) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
21 m/s (4,100 ft/min) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)

3x NR-23 23 mm (0.906 in) cannon in the lower left fuselage
(one in the port side fuselage, two in the starboard fuselage, 80 RPG)
1x Nudelman N-37 37 mm (1.457 in) cannon, lower right starboard fuselage (40 RPG)
Seven underwing hardpoints for a total of 1.500 kg (3.300 lb) ordnance, including bombs,
napalm tanks, drop tanks, or unguided rockets.

Another Royal Navy Gnat: a flying boat version


Some background:
The Folland Fo-150 was directly inspired by the (modest) successes experienced by the Saro SR./A.1, a jet-powered flying boat fighter that went through trials in the late 1940ies.

The project had been kicked-off in the end phase of the 2nd World War, when the Imperial Japanese Navy with seaplane fighters such as the Nakajima A6M2-N (an adaptation of the Mitsubishi Zero) and the Kawanishi N1K demonstrated the effectiveness of a fighter seaplane.

In theory, seaplanes were ideally suited to conditions in the Pacific theatre, and could turn any relatively calm area of coast into an airbase. Their main disadvantage came from the way in which the bulk of their floatation gear penalized their performance compared to other fighters.

The new jet engines offered more power and aerodynamically cleaner designs, and the Saro SR./A.1 proved the soundness of the concept. But while the Saro SR./A.1 proved to have good performance and handling, the need for such aircraft had completely evaporated with the end of the war. Furthermore, the success of the aircraft carrier in the Pacific had demonstrated a far more effective way to project airpower over the oceans. The project was suspended and the prototype put into storage in 1950, but it was briefly resurrected in November 1950 owing to the outbreak of the Korean War, before realization of its obsolescence compared with land-based fighters, the prototype last flying in June 1951.

Anyway, this was not the end of the jet-powered flying boat fighter. After the Korean War, Saunders-Roe came up with a design called the "Saunders Roe Hydroski" (reminiscent of the Convair F2Y Sea Dart) to improve the performance closer to land-based aircraft but "received no official support". Other ship-based fighter concepts were developed and proposed, too. In the early Fifties, Folland made several proposals based on its newly developed light fighter, which would evolve into the Gnat.

The Gnat was the creation of WEW "Teddy" Petter, a British aircraft designer formerly of Westland Aircraft and English Electric. It was designed to meet the 1952 Operational Requirement OR.303 calling for a lightweight fighter. Petter believed that a small, simple fighter would offer the advantages of low purchase and operational costs. New lightweight turbojet engines that were being developed enabled the concept to take shape.

In 1951, using company funds, he began work on his lightweight fighter concept, which was designated the "Fo-141 Gnat". The Gnat was to be powered by a Bristol BE-22 Saturn turbojet with 3,800 lbf (16.9 kN 1,724 kgp) thrust. However, the Saturn was cancelled, and so Petter's unarmed proof-of-concept demonstrator for the Gnat was powered by the less powerful Armstrong Siddeley Viper 101 with 1,640 lbf (7.3 kN / 744 kgp) thrust. The demonstrator was designated Fo-139 "Midge".

From this land-based basis, several navalized variants for the use on board of smaller ships were deducted and taken to the hardware stage. The Gnat's selling point was its very small size and low weight, so that it would be easy to handle, operate and stow, even if it was no dedicated carrier.

One development direction focused on rocket-assisted ZELL (Zero-Length-Launch) and conventional landing on land-based airstrips, while another direction reverted to the idea of a light jet-powered flying boat conversion for reconnaissance and (daylight) interception and attack duties.

Both were taken to the hardware stage as private ventures (even though supported by the MoD since both concepts were regarded as fundamental research), and the flying boat project took shape under the handle Folland Fo-150, internally referred to “Project Volans”.

The Fo-150 had only rudimentary similarity with the land-based aircraft, though. Beyond the addition of a hydrodynamic, lower hull, the fuselage was stretched between the cockpit and the wings, for a better CoG distribution. The wing area was increased considerably in order to compensate for the higher all-up weight, improve handling and lower landing speed. The horizontal stabilizers were moved away from the original low position, higher onto a new cruciform tail, in order to keep these surfaces away from spray. The fin itself was slightly enlarged, too.

Power came from a modified Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet, rated at 3,100 lbf (14 kN). In order to protect the engine from water ingestion the air intakes were extended forward under the cockpit canopy and featured spray dams. Balance in the water was achieved through semi-retractable stabilizer floats. These could be folded backwards under the wings, behind bullet-shaped fairings at about half the wing span that also contained a pair of 30mm Aden cannons. Hardpoints above and under the wings allowed the carriage of light external weapons like unguided rocket pods, or, alternatively, test equipment and camera pods.

The first airframe for Project Volans was built in Folland's facility on the western side of the Hamble peninsula and later taken to the Solent in May 1955. On 14 June 1955, the aircraft inadvertently made its first short flight during a fast taxi run – the enlarged wing created a massive ground effect that easily lifted the light aircraft up into a glide when the nose raised through wakes to a certain degree. The Fo-150’s official maiden flight was on 9 July 1955.

The underpowered engine made the fighter sluggish, and the strong uplift close to the ground made handling complicated and created violent vibration during takeoff and landing. Work on the wings leading edge profile improved this situation somewhat, but they could not cure the sluggish performance.

Otherwise, handling turned out to be good, but the Fo-150 could never show its full potential due to the weak engine. A second airframe was finished until late 1955 and joined the flight tests from early 1956 on, while a third airframe was reserved for static tests.

Anyway, even before that, the Navy had been losing interest (problems with supersonic fighters on carrier decks having been overcome, and ship-based missiles filled the aerial defense role much more efficiently than aircraft). This relegated the Fo-150 and the whole Volans program to pure experimental status. As a consequence, the two airworthy airframes were de-militarized and the aircraft kept in service as testbeds for hydrodynamics, especially for the development of planing bottoms, hydrofoils and hull shapes for high speed ships.

In 1960, WS685 was also used for the development and tests of hydroskis, while its sister ship was retired and used for spares. This program lasted until 1963, and after that, the worn-out airframe was scrapped, too.

General characteristics:
Crew: 1
Length: 10.44 m (34 ft 5 in)
Wingspan: 8,71 m (28 ft 6 in)
Heigh (keel to fin tip)t: 3.74 m (12 ft 3 in)
Wing area: 19.00 m² (204.5 ft²)
Empty weight: 2,560 kg (5,644 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 4,235 kg (9,336 lb)

1× Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet, rated at 3,100 lbf (14 kN)

Maximum speed: 695 km/h (375 knots, 432 mph) at sea level
Cruise speed: 324 km/h (175 knots, 201 mph)
Stall speed: 145 km/h (92 knots, 106 mph) with flaps down
Endurance: 1 hour 45 min
Service ceiling: 30,000 ft (9,150 m)

2× 30mm ADEN cannon with 80 RPG in underwing pods
Two overwing hardpoints for 500lb (227kg) each,
e.g. for SNEB rocket pods containing seven 68 mm rockets
or pods with 7.62 mm machine guns
Two underwing hardpoints for 500lb (227kg) each,
for bombs or a pair of 50-Imp Gal (226 litre) drop tanks
Comrade Harp F-4 Phantom special:


Of-4j Pave Pirate​


McDonnell Douglas OF-4J “Pave Pirate” Phantom II
“Laser Lips Laura” 811 Sqd, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Commonwealth Special Operations Wing – Vietnam, Camh Ranh Bay, 10 May, 1972
Pilot: Lt. Renee Skase
WSO: Lt. Dick Bond
Mission: Nocturnal special littoral operations warfare and fast Forward Air Control (FAC)

Perhaps the best known aircraft of the Operation Half back flanker period, Laser Lips Laura was flown by a dynamic, charismatic and ultimately controversial pair of flyers, pilot Lt. Renee Skase and Weapons Systems Operator (WSO) Lt. Dick Bond. During this time, they flew many dangerous missions, including fast night FACs over Hanoi in support of special operations forces and controlling night rescue missions over Haiphong. In 1975, their exploits were published in the best-selling adventure tale Laser Lips Laura, which went on to become a popular squash buckling film of the same name in 1979.

On the night of 10th May, 1972, Skase and Bond were tasked to a night FAC patrol over the Tonkin Gulf when called in to support a special operations mission in downtown Hanoi. A US Navy SEAL team attempting to assassinate a leading Vietnamese Communist Party official were discovered by the North Vietnamese Army and were involved in a running battle as they attempted to head for their exfiltration helicopter landing zone. For over an hour, the crew of Laura Laser Lips provided FAC and some close air support with their 20mm cannon, dodging surface to air missiles and drawing anti-aircraft fire as they directed the battle.

Their aircraft was an OF-4J Pave Pirate I, the first in a series of three OF-4 night fast FACs. Subsequent models introduced new sensors such as the Pave Tack (OF-4S Pave Pirate II) and LANTIRN pods (OF-4S Pave Pirate III), plus more modern computers, radios and displays.

Leaving the RAN in 1980, Skase and Bond went on to each build major business enterprises and became respected for their philanthropy. However, in the late 1990s both men had a spectacular from grace with a raft of business fraud and tax evasion convictions. Burke became a bankrupt and spent 5 years in jail. Skase meanwhile skipped the country on a private yacht and found a safe haven in neutral Burma, where he facilitated the illegal and lucrative trade between China and businesses in United Nations member states.

Mission marks:
White bombs: Non-laser missions, including LORAN lead ship and Zuni illumination target marking
Black laser guide bombs (LGBs): Missions where 3rd party laser designation provided
Red LGBs: Missions where own GBU.10 Paveway II LGBs were dropped on hardened North Vietnamese coastal defence targets designated by RAN Special Boat Service (SBS) personnel.

370 US gal (1,420 L) external fuel tank
2 x AIM-9E Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AAMs)
TER + 2 x LAU-10 Zuni rocket pods, each with 4 x 10 inch illumination rounds
DECM jammer aerials
Pave Sword laser spot tracker (LST) pod
2 x AIM-7E Sparrow AAMs
Mk.4 20mm cannon pod
Long Range Air Navigation (LORAN) “towel rack” dorsal antenna
Pave Fork forward looking infra-red (FLIR) pod
CARDE “Magnolia Mist” ChaffWinder and “Sulphur City” FlareWinder pods on Sidewinder mounts
Pave Knife low-light level television (LLTV) and laser designator (LD) pod
370 US gal (1,420 L) external fuel tank

(the most recent)

Malaysian F-4D Phantom II​


McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II
#TUDM M22-04, 12 Sqd. Royal Malaysian Air Force
TUDM Butterworth, 9 February 1979
Personal mount of Lt. Col. Mokhtar Dahari (pilot) and Cpt. Santokh Singh (WSO)

When the UN was forced out of IndoChina in the wake of the disastrous Operation Half Back Flanker offensive into Laos and North Vietnam, Cambodia was occupied by the victorious Khmer Rouge, backed by troops from China and the Socialist Union (SU). The presence of these foriegn powers served to constrain the Khmer Rouge’s worst excesses, so that the occupation period from 1973 to 1976 was tense but mostly peaceful. Once the foreign forces left, an internal power struggle resulted in leadership being gained by the Khmer Rouge’s most violent and extremist elements, so that during 1977 the country would plunge into what became known as the killing fields of Year Zero. During the course of 1978, the Khmer Rouge would expel all foriegn citizens, mount genocidal campaigns against the country's non-Khmer ethnic minorities, make repeated violent incursions into Vietnam and implement a policy of autarky, which saw it tear up its agreements with its Red trading partners. By December, its socialist neighbours and erstwhile allies agreed that the Khmer Rouge had to go and China and the SU sanctioned a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.

Vietnam launched its invasion of Cambodia on 25 December, 1978 and advanced rapidly through the country. As the Khmer Rouge retreated towards Thailand, the Thai government became concerned about the growing refugee problem and the likelihood of border confrontations with the Vietnamese. Appealing to the UN for assistance, the UN voted to establish a Cambodian Peace Zone (CPZ) along a swathe of Cambodian territory roughly parallel to the Thai border. The Khmer Rouge and other anti-Vietnamese political and military groups formed the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) and all associated with this umbrella group were allowed to operate freely within the CPZ, to the exclusion of Vietnam and its new Cambodian puppet government. Averse to putting UN boots in the ground, the UN agreed to feed, arm and train KPNLF forces and to defend the CPZ with airpower.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF, Malay: Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia; TUDM) received 26 ex-RAAF McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom IIs in 1970 in response to the growing Red threat to UN hegemony in the South China Sea. In the late 1960s, the Chinese began fielding Badger and Blinder bombers armed with anti-shipping missiles able to reach the southern regions of the South China Sea, including the so-called Malayasian Gap between the Malayan Peninsula and Borneo. To counter this threat, the RMAF raised a requirement in 1968 to acquire long-range interceptors capable of providing air superiority across this maritime region. With the RAAF standardised its F-4 fleet on the new F-4E, its F-4C and F-4D model Phantom IIs were released for export, Indonesia receiving 31 F-4Cs and Malaysia acquiring 26 F-4Ds. The F-4Ds met the RMAF’s demand for a fighter to provide air defence across the Malayasian Gap and were issued to 6 Sqd at Labuan and 11 Sqd at Gong Kedak.

In 1975-76, the F-4Ds were supplemented by the delivery of 32 new F-4E Phantom IIs. These new aircraft replaced the F-4Ds of 6 and 11 squadrons in the air defence role and the F-4Ds were assigned to 12 squadron at Butterworth (replacing F-5A Freedom Fighters). Tasked with air-to-surface attack roles, the F-4Ds were customised by 1978 with an LORAN blind bombing capability, the integration of Pave Spike laser target pods and ALQ-119 ECM pods. Munitions included AGM-45B Shrikes, AGM-65B Mavericks, GBU.10 and GBU.12 Paveway IIs, Rockeye II CBUs and Brazillian Kormoran anti-shipping missiles.

The UN launched its defence of the CPZ on the morning of 9 February, 1979. By then the Vietnamese had control over about two thirds of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge had retreated to defensive positions, making a stand at the city of Battabang. This was a strategic location, as it had an airfield and sat astride the Chas River, straddled the railway line between Thailand and Phnom Penh and sat across several major highway junctions. The plan was to draw the enemy into an open, providing targets for UN airpower.

As the four RMAF F-4Ds or Hornbill Fight neared the Thai coast that morning, the fighter controllers of an RAAF E-3A Sentry routed them through Thai airspace before requesting a turn towards the Cambodian border. In the lead were pilot Lt. Col. Mokhtar Dahari and his backseater Cpt. Santokh Singh flying their personal mount, TUDM M22-04. The 3 red stars on the plane's port splitter plate reference Lt. Col. Dahari's kills (2 Fitters and a Fishbed) over Cambodia in 1972 while flying an Australian-built Mirage IIIM. This aircraft and two others in the flight were equipped with 2 Mk.20 Rockeye II, 3 GBU-12 Paveway II, 2 TER, 2 AIM-7E-2 Sparrow, 2 AIM-9L Sidewinder and 1 each of AGM-45B Shrike, ALQ-119, AVQ-23E Pave Spike and a 600 gal centreline fuel tank. The 4th F-4D in the flight dispensed with the underwing Paveway and Shrike in favour of a pair of AGM-65B Mavericks.

Approaching Battambang, Hornbill Flight came under the control of a Thai OV-10C Bronco crew. If Hornbill Fight was armed for bear, the Vietnamese were locked and loaded for buffalo. As the Bronco crew cued the Malayasians onto tanks, APCs and artillery, the UN airmen dodged and duelled with triple-A and SAMs. Then came the Vietnamese Flogger Gs, followed soon after by a pair of RAAF F-15As. The resulting furball left the Bronco shot down by an Strela SAM (its crew safely ejecting) and the Maverick-armed F-4D badly damaged by an SA-6 Gainful. Dahari and Singh got a good Sparrow shot on a Vietnamese Flogger, as did the RAAF's Flt. Lt. Tim Cahill, forcing both pilots to eject. Along the way, the crews of Hornbill Flight claimed the (vigorously disputed) destruction of 3 T-55 tanks, 2 BTR-60 APCs, a Straight Flush radar and several artillery pieces.


Ecf-4m Phantom Ii​


Due to delays with the locally developed Orange Harvest Martel armed SEAD Phantom, as a stop gap Canada equipped 49 of its ECF-4Ms with the American Standard ARM and GBU.8.

"Grim Reaper", 429 Sqd, Canadian Armed Forces, Zinder, Niger, 17 March 1968
Crew: Lt. louis LeVier (pilot), Cdr David Hooker (WSO)

The CF-4, built in Canada and using Canadian Rolls Royce engines, was symbolic of the changes in the Canadian armed services at the time. With the merging of the armed services into the new Canadian Armed Forces in 1967, the Phantom represented an aircraft that in its CF-4L (carrier capable) and CF-4M (land based) forms could be shared by the Maritime and Air Commands. The "two blues" colour scheme of these aircraft, which was retained until the late-70s, was reflective of this joint approach, as was this crew pairing.

Miss Virginia on the Eastern Front​

Hawker Typhoon 1B

Miss Virginia, 469th Fighter Squadron, Joint Anglo-American Fighter Wing, Pyriatyn Socialist Republic, Socialist Union, 22 June, 1944

469th Squadron was one of three squadrons formed in late 1941 to train pilots and ground crew from the Socialist Union (S.U.) in the operation of American Lead-Lease fighters. The 469 trained Reds on the P-39, while sister squadrons 467 trained with the P-40 and 468 on the P-50. By the end of 1943 this training was no longer required, but instead of leaving the Reds to their own devices on the Eastern Front, the USAAF applied President Roosevelt’s “war on all fronts” strategy to form Eastern Command and send two squadrons of fighters to join the RAF’s 153 Wing in Russia.

During the winter of 1943-44, 153 Wing laid-up in British occupied Iran to regroup and re-equip. Their Hurricane IIC and D fighter-bombers were replaced with Typhoon 1B and their Spitfire Vs with Spitfire IXs. Re-organised into the Joint Anglo-American Fighter Wing (JAAFW), the RAF reduced their commitment to the Eastern Front by two squadrons, their place being taken up by 468th (flying Spitfires) and 469th (flying Typhoons). In March, 1944, JAAFW entered combat against the Axis on the Eastern Front. By then, the Spitfire squadrons were receiving P-50Js, which were American built long-range Spitfires.

The existence of Eastern Command and the establishment of JAWF was a prelude to Operation Frantic, an USAAF shuttle bombing campaign. Several Frantic mission were flown between June and August, 1944, ending as secret negotiations between the British and Americans and the German anti-Nazi coup leaders began. JAAWF’s primary role was to “gather intelligence through combat” on Axis Eastern Europe, overflying and photographing key landmarks, potential targets and routes. To disguise this, a deception campaign was waged that saw JAAWF attack targets not associated with Frantic and used as a propaganda tool eulogising East-West co-operation in American and British newspapers and newsreels.

Miss Virginia was the personal mount of Captain James Elliott, the plane being named after his sister, Rose Marie Elliott, who was Miss Virginia in 1939 and fourth runner-up in the Miss America pageant that year. Captain Elliott had previous flown F-6A Mustangs with the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in the Mediterranean. Like the Typhoon, the F-6A was armed with four 20mm cannon and this, along with his experience at flying armed reconnaissance missions, probably contributed to his selection for the JAAWF. Indeed, several pilots with reconnaissance and intelligence experience were recruited to the 469th for its JAAWFassignment.

The two kill markings on Miss Virginia are both Captain Elliot’s. The first was a Luftwaffe Ju-52 shot down whilst returning from an armed reconnaissance mission near Sicily in 1943. The second was a Luftwaffe Bf109G shot down over Ukraine in May, 1944.

Miss Viginia is depicted here as photographed on 22 June, 1944. The night before, Luftwaffe bombers had destroyed 47 USAAF Operation Frantic B-17s at Poltava. In reply, JAAWF conducted an attacked on airfields around Minsks where many of the Luftwaffe bombers had massed for the attack. 43 Lufwaffe aircraft were destroyed. As was usual wing JAAWF’s long-range missions, drop tanks were used (limiting the rocket load to two per wing).

JAAWF remained in the field until 17 August, 1944, when it was recalled and Eastern Command disbanded. Its men were flown back to Iran, although the fighters were flew across Axis occupied Europe to Italy without incident. By then, peace negotiations were drawing to a conclusion and relations with the Reds had completely broken down. The Americans and the British publicly stated that, as the German’s were rapidly withdrawing, shuttle bombing was no longer necessary. Therefore, JAAWF and Eastern Command, as supporting elements to Operation Frantic, were no longer needed. On 21 August, 1944, the guns fell silent across Western Europe as the Germans and the Western Allies announced their Separate Peace, what is known to the Reds as the Great Betrayal. The Reds finally defated the Germans and those nations in Eastern Europe alligned with them in May, 1946.


Alligator Detachment NoK-7 UBK​


Belarus Defence Industries Cooperative NoK-7 UBK
Personal mount of Regiment Leader Nina Rusakova, 1st Aligatoro Taĉmentoj (Alligator Detachment), 194th Regiment, Smolensk Oblast, Socialist Union, 2 September 1941 (on the occasion of her 4th kill in the War Against Fascism)

The NoK-7 (named after the Belarus Defence Industries Cooperative’s chief designers Uladzislau Novik and Alyaksandr Kulchywas) was produced in response to a 1936 Moscow Pact requirement for a fast, modern, monoplane fighter with a good climbing speed. Proposals came from design bureaus and manufacturers from across the Moscow Pact, resulting in the production of the Belarus Defence Industries Cooperative NoK-7 and the Ukranian production of the Kyiv Aviation Institute KAI-11. The Moscow Pact’s largest military aviation operator, the Socialist Union Red Army Air Force, accepted deliveries of both types.

The most significant difference between the KAI-11 and the NoK-7 was that the former featured an all-metal structure and the later was largely built of wood. Additionally, although the requirement called for armament to be centred around a 20mm cannon, various technical difficulties meant that early production versions of the NoK-7 were built without the cannon. The first 653 NoK-7s were powered by the M-103 engine and armed with 2 × 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns and a single 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Berezin BS heavy machine gun. These were followed by 1,378 NoK-7 UBK, which was propelled by the more powerful M-105 and armed with four 12.7 mm UBK machine guns. The 20 mm ShVAK cannon finally entered the production program with the NoK-7M, the weapon firing through the "vee" between cylinder banks of its M-105P engine; the outer pair of UBK guns were deleted. 3,568 NoK-7Ms were replaced on production lines in October 1942 by the NoK-7B, which featured a bubble canopy, a retractable tailwheel, improved engine cooling and the Klimov M-105PF engine: 3,645 were built. During the course of its production, the NoK-7 was manufactured by the Belarus Defence Industries Cooperative in Minsk until the factory was evacuated ahead of the German advance and relocated to the Saratov in the Socialist Union, where it remained in production until replaced by Yak-3 in March 1944.

Regiment Leader (R/L) Nina Rusakova was a leading test pilot and weapons instructor by the time of the June 1941 Axis invasion of the Moscow Pact nations. Twice awarded with Hero of the Socialist Union (in 1935 and again in 1940) for her 14-kill combat record during the Second Russian Civil War (aka, The War Against Stalinism), test flying and record-breaking flights, and with honours including Merited Test Pilot of the Moscow Pact Award and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Rusakova was a living legend of socialist aviation. By 1940 she had earned a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Aeronautical Engineering. In June 1941 R/L Rusakova was a Chief Weapons and Tactics Instructor at Savasleyka in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and the Commanding Officer of the 148th Fighter Combat Training Center.

Concerned by the high rate of attrition among the Moscow Pact fighter pilots confronting the Luftwaffe, R/L Rusakova proposed a “frontline instructional intervention” to “update and evolve tactics, decrease the combat and operational losses, increase the air combat kill ratio, improve airframe readiness and improve [the] morale” of those serving in the combat units. To do this, she proposed the establishment of roaming deployments from training units such as her own to visit frontline units for “immediate and practical organic combat instruction.” This involved sending the best weapons and fighter tactics instructors, engine maintainers, airframe fitters and armament specialists on what she called Aligatoro Taĉmentoj (Alligator Detachments) to “sharpen the hunting teeth of our air defences.”

There were 27 Aligatoro Taĉmentojs detachments between August 1941 and December 1942, each made up of between 4 or 6 pilots plus ground crew. They flew whatever the Regiments they were visiting flew, including BeSS-1s and -3s, I-16s and I-153s, KAI-11 and -13s, NoK-1s, Yak-1s and -7s, LaGG-3s and MiG-3s. Identified by the red-painted cowlings, wingtip under surfaces and tails of their aircraft and marked with alligator teeth and eyes, the Aligatoro Taĉmentojs led from the front and achieved their goals, reversing the kill-loss rate and improving overall combat effectiveness and morale wherever they deployed. By December 1942 the situation both with training and frontline effectiveness had stabilised sufficiently to end the Aligatoro Taĉmentoj detachments.

R/L Rusakova flew on 3 Aligatoro Taĉmentojs, flying the NoK-1 UBK White 79 during August-September 1941 with the 194th Regiment (as depicted here), a KAI-13 with the 212th Regiment in April 1942 and the Yak-1b with the 268th Regiment during May and June 1942. In her autobiography “Life with wings” she notes that White 79 was like most NoK-1 UBK planes flown by the 194th Regiment at the time in that it lacked undercarriage covers. This was partly due to mud build-ups due to operating from muddy grass and dirt airstrips during autumn and partly because there had been repeated, dangerous in-flight failures of the fasteners holding the covers to the undercarriage legs. White 79 is depicted here following Rusakova’s fourth victory of The War Against Fascism (a Luftwaffe Bf 109F) on 2 September 1941; the 4 red stars were painted on to the port side bort number. During the Aligatoro Taĉmentoj deployments Rusakova was credited with 27 confirmed air-to-air kills.

Following these detachments R/L Rusakova went on to serve in several test flight programs, being among the first group of test pilots to fly turbojet-powered planes and becoming the Test Program Director for the Red Banner Air Force Research Institute. Following military retirement, Rusakova became a university lecturer and aviation consultant. Born in 1905, Regiment Leader Nina Rusakova died on 12 November 1987.


A6M9 Hado ryu​

Kani, Honshu. Japan
302 Tokkō Tai Kokutai, Imperial Japanese Navy, March 1946

In early 1945 the Imperial Japanese Navy issued a request for proposals for existing aircraft that could be adapted to accept the Maru Ka10 pulsejet. One of the industry proposals adopted for production was Mitsubishi's A6M9 submission, which adapted new production and existing A6M5 airframes to accept a ventrally mounted pulsejet. These mixed-powerplant aircraft used the Nakajima Sakae 21 engine; when this engine went out of production in favour of the Mitsubishi Kinsei, the plan was to apply the pulsejet to the A6M8 to produce the A6M10, but none were completed. Instead, a program of reclamation began, rebuilding derelict A6M airframes of various models to accept the Maru Ka10, resulting in various, undocumented standards of conversion, all of which were simply designated A6M9 Hadō ryū (wave dragon).

This aircraft was discovered by American troops at Kani after the war in May, 1946 and subsequently removed back to the U.S., where it eventually became a exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. Kani was one of several airfields that operated the A6M9. According to Japanese documents 49 A6M9s were available on Y-Day, 1 March 1946. The U.S. Navy recorded 5 shot down by fighters, with another 8 credited to anti-aircraft guns. 27 U.S. Navy vessels were struck by A6M9s, resulting in 10 ships sunk. Multiple aircraft, including 3 A6M9s, hit and sunk the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto.

Numerous external points of interest in modelling the A6M9 are evident in his testimony. The extended tail wheel arrangement was necessary for reasons of ground clearance; it was also detachable, being removed when the airframe was jacked up for pulsejet engine ground runs and jettisoned following take-off, otherwise it would be damaged by the jet's exhaust. The main undercarriage was also jettisoned in flight, explaining the removal of the upper landing gear cover parts. He noted that the undercarriage bay was only closed-off by a clipped-on canvas sheet for combat flights. Since this plane was unable to fly its combat mission the bay was found uncovered by the Americans. It should be noted that the discovery of this plane was of great interest to the Allies, as their intelligence had failed to identify pulsejet augmented hybrids as being under development until they were fighting them on Y-Day.

According to Lieutenant Commander Masaaki Higashiguchi all A6M9s had their wing guns removed, the resultant cavities being filled with explosives. The fuselage weapons were usually retained for self-defence. This plane, based on a Nakajima-built A6M5c airframe, was found with its combination of fuselage-mounted 7.7 mm Type 97 and 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns intact.

Lieutenant Commander Higashiguchi's experience is itself of interest. In late 1945 he was assigned to the A6M9 program, rebuilding Sakae 21 engines and supervising their maintenance with the 302 Tokkō Tai Kokutai. On Y+5, all of the unit's personnel were ordered to the frontline on the Kanto Plains, where they were to serve as infantry. Walking to the front, their progress was slowed by poor footwear, illness and a lack of food, harassment by Allied air strikes and Honshu's heavily damaged road infrastructure. It took 3 weeks to reach the town of Odawara, close to the battlefront south-west of Yokohama, by which time they had lost about two-thirds of their force as casualties. At Odawara they were met by an American artillery barrage, leaving Higashiguchi with a fractured left leg and shrapnel wounds. He spent the remainder of the war recovering in hospital and was one of a handful of survivors from the A6M9 program found by the Allies.