Saturday, August 22, 2009


Put Out The Fire!

We had some thunderstorms the other day. There were a few lightning strikes. Eastern Washington being a desert, these resulted in fires. I took a drive and took some pictures while investigating the smoke. Apparently fires started in 5 locales, all about 25-30 miles east of us. By Friday afternoon the firefighters had put out two.

One said they had had two choppers dumping water, but a third from some other showed up and was not responding to the on scene commander. So, air control had grounded all aircraft.

This evening we heard a noise out the font door. I stepped out and found this. It is headed in the direction of the fires. (they are still burning, we could still see the smoke today.) It is a CH-54 Tarhe, also known as the Skycrane. There are still several in flying condition and many are owned by a firm in Corvallis, Oregon. I was nowhere near enough to see its tail number or registration number. Suffice it to say, it's cool to see one in the area. There you have it.
and then we went for a walk about an hour later. As we were getting home we heard that sound again...I had the camera ready as it flew past us into the sunset.

Friday, August 14, 2009

August 15, 1945

A couple months ago, I acquired this newspaper. most fascinating, isn't it?

Sixty-four years ago, this is what was in our local newspaper. Note the sinking of the Indinapolis was no small story. Still, in the lower part of the page is a story that is of interest to me and you and anyone else tht reads this site. See, to the lower left? Where it says "Navy Flier Dies In Valley Crash?"

Now, I am still awaiting the accident report from the Navy, but they are, apparently, in the midst of a move and it may be awhile before the files I have requested can be sent to me. Still, it is an interesting find, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sentimental Journey

This afternoon, after work, I cleaned myself up and tok the cameras and went to see a B-17 that is at the airport right now. This B-17G has been touring the West for at least two decades. I remember being a kid in the 1980s and standing underneath this behemoth of the air. Four R-1820s proppel her through the air, one of which dripped some oil on me (not the first time, I had a B-24J ruin one of my favorite shirts about a decade ago. I actually found the oil this evening before I let it get in the this shirt will survive.). I wish I could afford the $425 to go for a flight on her.
Here am I standing in front. Some people like to get their photos taken with celebrities, or in front of the Grand Canyon...I prefer planes.
This is one of the turbosuperchargers, which used engine exhaust gasses to compress air for the carbueretors. This is what allowed them to fly so high.
She heads to Tillamook, Oregon on the 7th.
You cn find out if she will touring near your hometown, here: Arizona Wing of the CAF

All those fifties up front would make me wary of attacking her about you?
A close up ofthe R-1820.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome Home Mr. Speicher, Still Looking For #41-38253!

Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher is home. Shot down during combat, Captain Speicher's remains have been identified. He was among the first wave of the Desert Storm Air War, shot down on January 17, 1991. You can find the article here:

It is good that we never give up the search. So many never came home. Which brings me to the P-39 that disappeared on December 9, 1942 and has never been found.

On Decemeber 9, 1942, 2nd Lieutenant Lewis M. Russel taxied his P-39D, #41-38253, out to the main runway and gunned his engine. He took off into the low overcast for a local training mission. At 1000 feet he would have entered the overcast. He had two (2) hours of fuel. He was a member of the 77th Fighter Squadron of the 20th fighter group, assigned to Paine Field, Washington. He never checked back in.


Patrols and search parties were sent out over the next few weeks. As of the 28th of December, the weather had restricted the search. On December 30, the search was abandoned.

No one has reported finding his aircraft or his remains. The P-39D had a maximum speed of 360 MPH at 15000 feet. The accident report states that he had 2 hours of fuel. One wonders whether this was two hours at full throttle (Doubtful) or at some other specified regime of fuel management. Since it seems unlikely the pilot held it at full speed, one must search closer than 720 miles from Paine Field. The range on the 145 gallon internal fuel was 1100 miles at 196 MPH. One suspects the "Two hour" supply is not the best measurement of fuel on board. Still, 2 hours at 196MPH is just under 400 miles.

Neither 720, nor 400 miles seems likely. Paine Field is just North of Seattle and lies just a few feet above sea level. On one side is the Puget Sound, on the other is a range of mountains called the Cascades. Peaks of 5000 feet lie within 20 miles. With the overcast sitting at 1000 feet, the most likely course of events seems to be 2nd LT. Russel took off for a local flight and when he broke into the overcast lost his way. It seems completely possible that he lost his bearings and perhaps was so disoriented his aircraft fell out of the sky in a stall. If he came down in the Sound...well, we will have to wait for Mr. Robert Ballard to look for him with his mini-subs. On the other hand, given its wintery loss, it could remain in the hills and mountains near Paine Field.
Where is P-39D #41-38253? We may never know, but we can hope 2nd LT. Russel one day finds his way home.

February 6, 2010:  I recently got an e-mail that indicates that this aircraft has indeed been located.  One assumes Lt. Russel eventually found his way home.  It appears it was located as early as 1957.  

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Marine M-60 MBT on Display

**UPDATE** August 1, 2010:  I have a correction to make.  I was recently informed that this is an M-103 Heavy Tank.  The M-103 carried a 120mm gun.  The turret is correspondingly larger to deal with the extra size of the gun.  The M-60 carried a 90mm main gun.  You can get some more info here, here, and here.  Many thanks to Mr. Rains for calling this error to my attention!  **UPDATE**

Yesterday, I took the time to visit the 4th Tank Battalion, Bravo Company HQ in Yakima, Washington. I was there to take photos of the Ex-Iraqi T-72 MBT. I managed to convince my marine escort to let me walk the extra 20 yards and take pictures of the M-60 on display nearby. Which got me thinking...

The cities of Yakima and Union Gap have between them, three M-60 tanks on display (I will be posting photos of the other two soon) and one T-72. This is not a big idea in itself, it is the fact that this knowledge is not widely known.

For other types of equipment, information is widely available: you can Google any type of military airplane and locate where one is that is on display. You can use Google to discover which Naval ships remain, and where they are, and which ones are open to the public. There appears to be no such ability for military armor.

If you think about it a little, I am sure you can list a handfull of canons, tanks, or other military vehicles on display in your town or towns near you. So, I am contemplating putting together a site with a list of Tanks and Armor on display. I cannot do all of it myself, obviously, so I will be relying on others to submit information concerning those pieces of equipment near them. All the new site would be is a gathering place for this information. I would post pictures of the tank or vehicle, its location, and its type. I think it would be possible to organize it according to state, city, and type. So, here is my question, would those of you who visit this site be interested in this new site? Would it be a useful tool? PLEASE comment or give me an e-mail.
The location of this tank is on 16th Ave. not far from Washington Ave. (and the airport) in Yakima, Washington.
The M-60 was based on the M-48 Patton. Production began in 1960 and did not end until 1983. During that time 15000 of them were built. About 200 were used in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. They were about 60 tons, 32 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 12 feet high.

you can find more informtion about the M-60 here.