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104th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle 85-0125 with Special Unit Member Names and US Flag Nose Art

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The 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, based at Westfield Barnes Regional Airport, recently applied amazing art work to both sides of the nose area of wing jet F-15C Eagle 85-0125. The art work consists of all members’ names, to form a US Flag. Additionally, past members who are Gold Star names, are in gold. Also, this jet scored an Iraqi MiG-29 kill during the Gulf war in 1991.

I was fortunate to be able to get some photos of the jet on 25 February 2021. Seeing it up close and in person was an honor, and really showed the creativity and challenges overcome with the creation of the art, and working around the various parts of the airframe. Here’s a link to the Wing’s official story with more details:

104th Fighter Wing Flagship F-15 receives symbolic graphics > 104th Fighter Wing > Article Display (af.mil)

Very special thanks to all the 104th Fighter Wing members, and to Colonel Tom “Sling” Bladen – 104th FW Commander, who escorted me to capture these photos.

Our L-Bird Review

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Prior to World War II, the US Army, Navy and Marines utilized various light aircraft to act as observation craft for spotting long-range cannon fire, photography and general communications duties. These aircraft were usually identified with the letter “O-”  for “Observation”. During the war, the O changed to “L-“, for “Liaison”, but their prior duties remained and were expanded into fledgling forward air control (FAC) duties as well… armed with radios and light weapons. 

After World War II ended, the “L-birds” continued to be useful; their duties were more of a tactical recon platform (photographic, communications relay and intercept, and light attack/Forward Air Control) as well as small transports. The fabric-covered light aircraft of World War II were replaced with more modern metal-covered airframes, and engine size increased too, into the Vietnam War era. Observation aircraft like the O-1 Bird Dog, OV-1 Mohawk and O-2 Skymaster utilized the “O-” suffix in their types, and the new “U-” for Utility aircraft were recoded… especially after 1962 when a uniform ID system was adopted throughout the US military branches.

Throughout the history of this class of aircraft, many were militarized versions of a civilian light aircraft. For instance, the L-5 Sentinel was a militarized Stinson Voyager, and the LC-126 was a militarized Cessna 195 executive transport.  The Piper L-4 was a copy of the J-3 Cub too.

Here are a series of photos of L-birds (and O- birds and U- birds too). You can hover over a photo for a quick ID of the maker and type.

Multi-Engined Piston Powered Warbirds Scrapbook

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Here’s a look at a group of multi-engined, piston powered warbirds. Their duties include serving transports, bombers, observation, liaison, fighters and trainers. You can click on each photo to enlarge it, and hover over each photo to see their basic type designators too. 

Next week, we’re going to delve into the world of liaison aircraft much deeper, so stay tuned!

Kaman SH-2 Sea Sprite Scrapbook

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Kaman’s UH-2 Sea Sprite was first operated by the U.S. Navy in 1962. Originally powered by a single turbine engine, it was found to be underpowered, and a fix to this problem was hastily approved. The first twin-engined UH-2Fs were produced in 1968 and were used during the Vietnam War for search and rescue, and shipborne transports and utility helicopters. 

During the early 1970s, all  remaining U.S. airframes were converted to SH-2F LAMPS anti-submarine aircraft, operated from destroyers and frigates as well as some aircraft carriers. Their diminutive size allowed them to operate from ships with smaller landing and hangar facilities, earning them a niche in the Navy’s carrier task forces.

In 1994, the SH-2F was retired from the active U.S. Navy, but two dozen upgraded SH-2G Super Sea Sprites were delivered to Naval Reserve squadrons… 18 units were remanufactured SH-2Fs and six were new-build airframes. These upgraded helicopters were operated from 1991 through 2001.

Additionally, SH-2Gs were/are operated by Poland, New Zealand and Egypt. Some of New Zealand’s original SH-2Gs have been sold to Peru, and Australia had ordered 11 airframes, but after protracted development issues, the contract was ultimately cancelled.

 

Here are a number of photos of Kaman SH-2s from a few of our ClassicWarbirds.net photographer team, enjoy!