Saturday, July 31, 2010

Historic Flight Foundation’s Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat

The Northwest has become quite the meca for winged flight.  That is to say, flight museums.  I mean, sure, we have Boeing, and even a few other manufacturers, but museums is where you get the aircraft of the ages!  I live in Central Washington and even Yakima, Washington has its own air museum.  The McAllister Museum of Aviation has been celebrating the life and times of Charlie McAllister for several years now.  He was a local aviation legend.  He held a pilot’s license signed by one of the Wright brothers!  This July the museum began a series of aircraft showcases every Saturday.  This Saturday, today, was the first time I got the chance to visit.  Today, they hosted a visit by the Historic Flight Museum’s Grumman F7F Tigercat! 

Grumman began business in 1930.  It was known for its Navy fighters!  The Grumman “CATS” served the Navy well.  It’s last “CAT” retired in September of 2006.  The list of “CATS” is a long one.  Including the Wildcat, Hellcat, Tigercat, Bearcat, Panther, Cougar, Tiger, and Tomcat!  Grumman was known as the Grumman Ironworks by those who flew and maintained their aircraft.  Grumman aircraft were known to bring their crews home when other aircraft would not. 


The Tigercat was built to serve during WWII, however, the first shipment of Tigercats, like the first batch of Lockheed P-80s, missed the war by a small matter of time.  They turned out to be just a might too big and too fast for even the largest carriers of the era (the Midway class).  They were the Navy’s first twin engine fighter.  It was the Navy’s first tri-cycle landing geared aircraft.  And it was cool looking.

This particular aircraft was a fire-bomber.  According to the owner/pilot, there are only 4 air-worthy F7F Tigercats in existence.  He is John Sessions.  He is the founder of the Historic Flight Museum, which opened its doors this spring at Paine Field, across the runway from the Flying Heritage Museum.  He gave a short speech on the Tigercat and her flight characteristics. 


(Above: John Sessions talking about his Tigercat)

Apparently, unlike a P-38, the Tigercat’s props turn in the same direction.  This makes losing an engine at speeds under 140mph very bad.  Another difference is that the ‘cat has radial (or ROUND) engines instead of in-line or V engines. 

Sessions said the F7F had one kill during Korea: a WWI era biplane.  For the most part they were used for recon, he said.  The last F7F was retired from US Military service in 1954.


Whatever the case, the F7F was here!!   Say “HELLO” to “BAD KITTY!”


You can see the four .50 calibers in the wing root, and the four 20mm canons in the nose.  If this aircraft HAD deployed during WWII…let’s just say the Japanese pilots would have been hard pressed to escape with their lives.  As it was the Grumman Hellcat had a terrific record in plane vs. plane engagements.


The Pratt & Whittney R2800s, as with ANY radial, leaked copious amounts of oil…but they sound SOOOO GOOD!!!  With 18 cylinders in each engine, that was A LOT of horsepower!  We were lucky to see this flying treasure!!  We have Mr. Sessions to thank for his generous time and resources.  Sharing this precious aircraft with the world is a gift.  It is good that we have philanthropists who spend their money to bring good to the rest of us! 

Here are a few more pictures so you can enjoy the clean lines of the F7F!!










The skies offered to decide our fate.  Thunder rolled and Lightning flashed, but we stayed near our Iron Maiden.  She promised to hold back the skies.  In the end, she alone stood under the onslaught.  She alone weathered the…weather.





Thank you Mr. Sessions!  I look forward to seeing the rest of your collection!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

C-17 Down Near Elmondorf

This just happened within the past hour or so.  A C-17, apparently practicing for an Air Show this weekend, has crashed near Elmondorf, Alaska.  There is no word as to where the Globemaster III was based or who its crew was.  Reportedly, there were four air crew.  This story is still developing and I will add to it as I find out more.  See here.

Given the location, McChord seems to be the most likely place where the C-17 was based.  Let us hope that the crew made it out safely and that their families are safe and find comfort tonight.

***UPDATE*** There is a short blurb in the October issue of the magazine Combat Aircraft concerning the Elmondorf C-17 crash.  No word yet as to cause, but the crew of four was lost.  ***October 25, 2010***

Friday, July 16, 2010


Seventy-five years ago today, Man entered the Atomic Age.  Man did this with the plutonium created in the reactors at the Hanford Engineering Works in Washington State.

In the early morning of July 16, 1945 (About half after 5AM), the experimental implosion device was tested near Alamogordo, New Mexico.  It created a HUGE explosion.  You can read more about it here and here.  

This is when Robert Oppenheimer said, "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."  Or something to that effect.

Then, twenty-four years later, man left this planet for a different one.  Three men lifted off from Earth and left orbit for the Moon.

All-in-all, this is a historically significant day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nuclear Tests

I discovered this on Information Dissemination.  This is a movie of all the atomic/thermonuclear tests that went on during the Cold War and into the 1990s.  It is a fascinating way to understand just how many tests/explosions were detonated.  Please have a look, it is worth the time.

Here are a few things that are of interest to me:

1. The obvious alliance between Britain and the US...check out those later British tests.

2.  The French and the way their tests seem to go unimpaired by treaties from the 1980s to 1990s.

3.  Just HOW MANY were conducted in the US.

4.  The Israelis apparently have never tested a nuclear device (I am under the impression they have nuclear weapons [correct me if I am wrong]).

5.  The Soviet Union's SLOW beginning, where as the US conducted tests of multiple devices during a short period early on, the Soviets appeared to do one at a time.

Enjoy and let me know what YOU think!