Friends & Allies Part 2b - USAF and US Army Air Forces

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The first B-29 to enter the Pacific Theatre in World War II was given the name "Joltin Josie, the Pacific Pioneer".

Josie arrived in the Marianas on the 12th of October, 1944 with General Haywood S. Hansell in the pilot seat and Major Jack Catton - the aircraft commander - in the co-pilot's position. Hansell headed the XXI Bomber Command. Catton was a flight leader of the 873rd squadron in the 498th Bomb Group. The 497th, 498th, 399th and the 500th Bomb Groups and their associated organization made up the 73rd Bomb Wing.

After some 400 hours flying and 24 missions over Japan, during which Josie never suffered an abort and always hit the primary target, Major Catton was transferred to General LeMay's Headquarters. Captain Wilson C. Currier took over as aircraft commander.

Josie was lost on the first mission following Major Catton's departure. Immediately after taking off on 1 April 1945, she crashed into Magicienne Bay (also known as Laulau Bay) and exploded on impact. There were no survivors.

The Airfix B-29 kit is a bit of a handful, with difficult fit in some areas.  Nevertheless, it remains an enjoyable, if sometimes challenging build.

Boeing B-29A Superfortress,  498th Bomb Group, 873rd Squadron.

Saipan, Marianna Islands, November 1944

Friends & Allies Index RAF 1918-45 RAF 1945 to present US Navy & Marines NATO Other Allies Mirage & Rafale Civil Aviation

The US Army Air Forces:

#Superfortress

B-29 Superfortress

The US Air Force:

Lockheed F-104C Starfighter - 479 TFW, Vietnam, 1965.

I find the Starfighter a particularly good looking aircraft, particularly in bare metal finish; far more futuristic looking than any of its contemporaries. ESCI's superb kit is available in several versions (covering the F-104C, G and S) and has recently been re-issued by Italeri.

Decals are largely out the box, although several of the larger letters disintegrated during application (a problem I have encountered with many older ESCI kits) so were replaced 1 for 1 with spares (ex-Airfix I think).

The F-104 was another contemporary of the Lightning. Although this is a US version, its main users were non US, including many NATO Nations. Lockheed's efforts to sell the Starfighter to NATO in the "deal of the century" were engulfed in scandal and corruption, with a member of at least one European Royal Family being shown to have accepted large bribes to promote its purchase.

The Starfighter had a poor safety record and was very demanding to fly. License built and improved versions were produced by Canadair, Mitsubishi, Fiat (Aeritalia) and a consortium of european companies, including MBB, Messerschmitt, Fiat, Fokker and SABCA.

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Main Index #Starfighter

F-104C Starfighter

#phantom #thunderchief

F-105D Thunderchief

F-4E Phantom II

Republic F-105D Thunderchief - 357 TFS, 355 TFW, Vietnam, 1970.

Developed from the F-84 Thunderstreak, which in turn owes its heritage to Republic’s Thunderjet and Thunderbolt, the F-105 Thunderchief  entered service in 1958 as a fast (Mach 2) nuclear pentrator, in effect a one-shot weapon for a short “total war” against the Soviet Union.  

However it quickly found itself fighting a very different and limited conventional war, one of attrition and restricted engagements against North Vietnam.  Thunderchiefs  bore the brunt of the early bombing campaigns, flying from bases in Thailand to attack North Vietnamese targets, including Hanoi with its infamous SAM alley.  In the conventional role, theF-105 could carry a greater load than a WW2 B-24 or B-17 and over 20,000 combat sorties were flown, with 320 aircraft lost in combat.  

In view of the high level of attrition, the result of their intense use, rather than any fault in aircraft or pilots, F-105s began to be replaced in the bombing role  by F-4s in 1970.

Although not intended as fighters, USAF F-105s were also credited with 27.5 MiG kills over Vietnam.  


McDonnell Douglas F-14E Phantom II - 469 TFS, 388 TFW, Vietnam, 1970.

For many people, the F-4 Phantom was the ultimate Western Cold War fighter.  Like the British Buccaneer and the present day Hornet, it was  originally designed as a multi-role naval fighter, but became the key equipment of many land-based air forces (and Navies) around the world.

With its angular shape and massive weapons load, it was a very distinctive aircraft, equally at home as an interceptor, dogfighter or bomber.  The F-4E variant was developed from the earlier USAF F-4C and D and drew heavily on Vietnam combat experience, with the F-4D introducing the navy’s Sidewinder missile to the Air Force in place of the less effective USAF Falcon, and incorporating an internal M61 Vulcan cannon in the nose for dogfighting.  

The F-4E was first deployed to  Vietnam in 1968, where it began to replace the F-105  in the bombing role and as the primary Air Superiority fighter.