Tuesday, July 23, 2013

KC-130J Hercules, from Futenma, Japan

Today, at about 3pm local, a Marine KC-130J, landed at the Yakima Airport.  Apparently to load some para-jumpers.  At about 4:15pm, it took off again.  This aircraft was accepted by the Marine Corps in October 2001.  Its tail code suggests that its usual base is MCAS Futenma, on the island of Okinawa, Japan.  

You can tell it is a KC(the K denoting a tanker, and the C denoting Cargo...don't ask me why K stands for Tanker, it just DOES.) by the drogue-bearing auxiliary tanks under the wings.  The Marine Corps likes to have birds that can perform several functions.  These birds can refuel any aircraft outfitted with a probe.  The US Air Force prefers to use the Boeing-developed Flying Boom method, in which a specially trained boom operator guides the refueling nozzle into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft.  The Navy uses the probe and drogue system like the Marines.  Given rivalries between the services, it seems fair to say that the Marine and the Navy pilots would argue that the boom method is for sissies, since you practically have someone refuel your aircraft for you, while the Air Force pilots might argue that you have to maintain a higher degree of exact flying to stay within the small box that the boomer can refuel in.  Both methods get the job done, though, and I pass no judgement either way.

Without having spoken to to the pilots, one can only surmise why this bird is so far from home.  Likely explanations include depot level overhaul, training, or just run-of-the-mill-that's-what-they-do-all-the-time.    
 Well, that's all that's going on in my little corner of Washington State, how about yours?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

USS CONCORD, PG-3, A part of her remains!

In March of 1890, more than 120 years ago, the USS Concord, a gunboat of the Yorktown class, began her life, when she was launched from Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engine Works.  She was 244 feet long with a beam of 36 feet.  She was armed with 6X 6 inch Mk IV breech loading howitzers.  She could make almost 17 knots with her steam engines, which were supplemented by sail, and she boasted a crew of 190.

Commissioned in 1891, she operated along the United States East Coast and West Indies until 1893, when she was transferred to the Asiatic Station.  She spent a year out of commission for upgrades most likely.  In early 1898, she was returned to the Asiatic Fleet and took part in the Spanish American War, where she and other ships helped decimate the Spanish Fleet under command of Admiral Dewey in The Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1st, 1898.

She continued to support operations in the Philippines and then patrolled off of Mexico, Alaska, and even China.  She was finally retired from active service and became a barracks ship in 1909.  In 1914 she became a quarantine ship in Astoria, Oregon.  In 1929, she was finally let go and, likely, scrapped.

Somewhere along the line though, at least two of her six inch guns were removed.  In 1915, these were given to the United Spanish War Veterans, who placed them in the War Garden at Woodland Park.  These two large caliber guns still reside there.  They are a link to that long ago war that brought the United States of America to the forefront of world politics.  Even though the USA attempted to maintain a backseat in two world wars, each time she was brought into the fray and her action helped win the day for the side she was on.  These victories earned her an unavoidable place in the spotlight and placed her center stage in the world as a superpower for well into the 21st century.

Even though they sit mute in the corner of a disused park, these guns recall a time when America and the United States were still an untried entity in world politics.  Admiral Dewey unleashed a fusillade of American might upon the Spanish Navy, and, in 115 years, that might has not changed nor backed down from a fight.

If you wish to view these fine symbols of American Might, and perhaps commune with their spirits and partake of their valor in bringing the fight to the enemy, you can find them in Seattle, Washington.  Look for the Woodland Park Zoo and go to the southern entrance.  On the west edge of the parking lot you will find these long forgotten behemoths keeping watch over your vehicle.