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A Look Back: The 2017 Defenders of Liberty Air Show

Boeing-Generations

Before I was a Media Contributor, I was an avid air show photographer attending 8 to 10 shows a season. In addition to my annual driving-distance shows, I would take one trip that was a fly-and-drive, going someplace I had never been. In 2017, I set my sights on the Spring air show at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana.

The lineup was great, the timing was right, and I wanted to see a lot of B-52s. I flew in to Dallas and drove approximately 200 miles to the base. The weather was perfect for the two days of the show and it did not disappoint.

I did have some concerns as I knew there were high mast lights between the runway and the ramp. I was also surprised that there was a fence along the entire length of the ramp. There was a happy solution as the public ramp extended down to the midfield taxiway and was even bumped out from the rest of the crowd line. That was my spot for both days.

The sun angle was tough in the morning along the single Runway 15/33 but improved as the day went on. Heat haze prevented a lot of clean photos on the runway.

The stars of the show were the hometown B-52s. Each morning, three BUFFs launched to return later in multiple formations. These dissimilar formations featured the old with the old, old and newish, and our modern bomber force. In retrospect, the America Strong Flyovers of 2020 were the only time I had seen dissimilar formations like these. In 2017, I had never seen their likes before.

On the ramp, all the based squadrons were represented. Barksdale is the home of Global Strike Command, the Eighth Air Force (yep, that one), the Second Bomb Wing and the 307th Bomb Wing. The 11th, 20th and 96th Bomb Squadrons all have lineage to World War I and carry the tail code LA. The 93rd and 343rd Bomb Squadrons are Air Force Reserve and carry the tail code BD. Finally, the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron resides here and carries the tail code OT. There were even some Minot, “MT” tails in the show and on the ramp.

In the air, the Canadian Sky Hawks Parachute Team opened the show out of a C-17. Aerobatic stars Michael Goulian, Rob Holland and Kevin Coleman were there. A World War II theme featured the B-29 “Doc”, B-17 “Texas Raiders”, B-25 “Doolittle Raiders”, P-51 “Quicksilver” and an ME-262B Replica.

Jet teams featured Randy Ball in his Mig 17, Greg Colyer’s T-33 “Ace Maker” (but not flown by Greg Colyer) and, oh yeah, the Blue Angels were there.
My only regret is that I did not leave time to visit the Eighth Air Force Museum just north of the base. This air show was great, making it worth a look back.

A McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Scrapbook

JASDF-501

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a well known fighter-bomber-photorecon-Wild Weasel twin-jet of the 1960s through the turn of this century. The type was used extensively throughout the so-called “Free World” and was an important weapons system for NATO, PACAF, the IDF and other users. The U.S. Navy, Marines and the Royal Navy used versions aboard aircraft carriers, although most Phantoms were land-based.

After their usefulness was diminished by newer designs and airframe fatigue, the rather elderly design led to many being either scrapped or used as Full Scale Aerial Targets (drones).

Here is an assortment of models used as operational fighter-bomber-wild weasel-photorecon versions, in the colors of just some of the international users who operated Phantoms for half a century. Later next week, a big group of USAF and Navy drone QF-4s will follow in these pages. Our photographic team ahs culled many negatives and SD cards for you!

Photos by: Shawn Byers, Scott Zeno, Scott Jankowski and Ken Kula.

Here’s a larger scrapbook of F-4 and RF-4 images, enjoy! Photos are from the collections of Shawn Byers, Scott Zeno, Bob Finch, Scott Jankowski and Ken Kula.

Our QF-4 Phantom Scrapbook

SEA-Reno

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a well known fighter-bomber-photorecon-Wild Weasel twin-jet of the 1960s through the turn of this century. The type was used extensively throughout the so-called “Free World” and was an important weapons system for NATO, PACAF, the IDF and other users. The U.S. Navy, Marines and the Royal Navy used versions aboard aircraft carriers, although most Phantoms were land-based.

After their usefulness was diminished by newer designs and airframe fatigue, the rather elderly design led to many being either scrapped or used as Full Scale Aerial Targets (drones).

Here is an assortment of models used as Full Scale Aerial Target versions, in the colors of the  USAF and Navy. Last weekend we ran a scrapbook of non-drone F-4 Phantom IIs here in ClassicWarbirds.net. Our photographic team has culled many negatives and SD cards for you!

Photos by: Shawn Byers, Scott Zeno, Scott Jankowski and Ken Kula.

North American B-25 Bomber – On-The-Ground Scrapbook

 

Wild-Cargo-Blue-Flames-Night

This is part 2 of a two part look at the B-25 Mitchell bomber, operating as warbirds and located in museums. The first part ran on these pages earlier this week. 

The B-25 Mitchell is well remembered as the U.S. Army Air Corps bomber type launched from the U.S.S. Hornet against multiple Japanese targets in 1942. The Doolittle Raid’s 16 B-25B medium bombers all either crashed of force landed in China or Russia, but made a huge morale boost for the U.S.

Later in the War, the B-25 was used in every theatre of the conflict… Pacific, Atlantic, Europe, Africa, and China-Burma. It performed many duties… bombing, strafing, photographic reconnaissance, anti-submarine patrol bomber and VIP transport.

After the War, B-25s labored on as navigation trainers, squadron multi-engined transports, trainers and staff currency “hacks”. Many were assigned to newly formed Air National Guard units.  The first flight of a B-25 occurred on August 19, 1940, and the final USAF VB-25J (VIP transport) was retired in May, 1960.

It was a large aircraft, with a length of 53 feet and a wingspan of over 67 feet. Powered by a pair of Wright Cyclone radial engines, it could top 300 miles per hour and had a range of some 3,000 miles (depending upon weapon load). Normally, a crew of five was carried. Over 9,800 of all versions of the airframe were produced.

This TB-25N is painted up as a B-25B used during the Doolittle Raid. In reality, it is the last active USAF B-25 airframe that was retired in 1960, now at the USAF Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida.

Here are some photos from part of our team… contributors are: Scott Jankowski, Mike Colaner, Shawn Byers, Scott Zeno, Corey Beitler, and Ken Kula.