Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Fishbed)

According to Military Today:

The most widely produced supersonic jet fighter of all time, the MiG-21 (Western designation: Fishbed) is an incredibly prolific aircraft. Dated but nimble, it has allowed skilled pilots in past decades to defeat more advanced aircraft. However, its days appear to be numbered as the majority of air forces switch to newer fighters.

The Mikoyan design bureau began development of the MiG-21 in the 1950s, in order to replace the crash-prone MiG-19s. Its first flight was in 1956. Production began in 1959, and it entered service soon after. Although no longer in production, after over 50 years (counting Chinese production), more than 10 000 units were produced, serving in 50 countries. It holds the record for the most-produced jet aircraft. The MiG-21 continues to serve in around 20 countries to this very day.

The MiG-21 was nothing radical—it was a continuation of the existing MiGs (the 17 and the 19). Compared to its predecessor, MiG-19, the Fishbed’s main design difference is its triangular delta wings (as opposed to the swept wings on the MiG-19). Its primary improvements were its speed, better design, and greater capacity for armament. The MiG-21 was relatively simple in design and technology. This allowed to produce these aircraft in large numbers.

The MiG-21 could carry a fair amount of armament. Located to the left of the cockpit, the twin-barreled GSh-23 23 millimeter cannon was standard with 420 rounds carried. Optional were a variety of guided air-to-air missiles (the K-13, K-13M, and R-60, for later models) and unguided bombs or rockets. A total of 2 000 kilograms of ordinance could be carried.

The MiG-21 was highly maneuverable for its time, although even this feature is now outdated compared to fly-by-wire aircraft. In its day (the 60s and 70s), it posed a considerable threat in the hands of a good pilot to more modern western aircraft such as the F-4. One U.S. Air Force pilot said, “Perhaps the most important lesson on fighting the MiG-21 was that it was very maneuverable and that it was better to take care of it before you got into a tussle with it”.

In its many years of service, the MiG-21 has generated an excellent combat record, for the most part. Against Pakistani F-86s, F-104s, and MiG-19s it performed respectably, taking down several while suffering a few losses itself. Against well-trained Israeli pilots and their Mirage IIIs and F-4s, the MiG-21 and its mediocre pilots performed poorly with many shot down. In Vietnam, the MiG-21 showed its true capabilities, shooting down dozens of American F-4s or F-105s, mostly in close-range dogfights, where its maneuverability and lower speed gave it the edge. Overall, the MiG-21 has proved a highly successful fighter with a low price but much agility.

After over fifty years of service, the MiG-21 appears to still be going strong, although it is gradually leaving the scene of active service. Despite the advance of newer Russian fighters like the MiG-23 or the still more advanced MiG-29, the Fishbed has yet to be entirely ousted. Many low-budget countries continue to use it, for lack of something better. China and some other countries retain upgraded versions of this fighter aircraft.

Taken with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D on the USS Intrepid.

New England Air Museum – de Havilland C-7A (DHC-4) ‘Caribou’

According to the Museum’s website (which also provides technical specifications):

Courtesy of the United States Army

This C-7A was built by de Havilland Canada in 1962 and is one of 159 purchased by the U. S. Army. It saw service in Vietnam and used for cargo and troop transport, and medical evacuation. It is a STOL (short takeoff and landing) airplane designed to be extremely rugged and reliable, and could operate on unimproved landing surfaces of less than 1,000 feet for close support in forward battle areas. The Caribou was a workhorse for the Army and could be configured to carry up over four tons of cargo or vehicles, 32 fully equipped combat troops, or up to 20 patient litters. Rear doors facilitated quick loading and unloading, and could be opened in the air for dropping paratroopers.

This aircraft had been assigned to the Connecticut AVCRAD (Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot) in Groton. It was flown to Bradley International Airport in September, 1991 and was the last official flight of any C-7 in U. S. military service.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

New England Air Museum – Grumman E-1B (WF-2) ‘Tracer’

According to the Museum’s website (which also provides technical specifications):

THIS AIRCRAFT IS ON LOAN FROM THE NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Yes, this plane actually could fly! The “Tracer” was the first purpose built airborne early warning aircraft used by the U.S. Navy and could operate from an aircraft carrier. It was originally designated a “WF-2” which led to the affectionate nickname “Willie Fudd.” In 1962, military aircraft designations were changed and the Tracer became the E-1B. The piggyback 20′ X 30′ umbrella houses long-range search radar to detect targets beyond the line-of-sight of surface vessels.

The plane’s first flight was in late 1956 and was introduced into service in 1958. It was retired in 1977 and was replaced by the more modern Grumman E-2 “Hawkeye.”

A rare aircraft now, the Tracer represents one of the Grumman special purpose aircaft family that also included the C-1 “Trader,” C-2 “Greyhound,” E-2 “Hawkeye,” OV-1 “Mohawk,” and S-1 “Tracker.” The Museum’s aircraft was the last one to leave Navy service, and was one of 88 manufactured.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

New England Air Museum – Douglas A-3B ‘Skywarrior’

According to the Museum’s website (which also provides technical specifications):

THIS AIRCRAFT IS ON LOAN FROM THE NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

The “Skywarrior” was designed as a strategic bomber to operate from an aircraft carrier. The test version, XA3D-1, first flew in October, 1952 and in March, 1956, the A3D-1 entered service with the U.S. Navy. One year later, the main production variant, the A3D-2 (later to be re-designated as A-3B) was delivered. For many years, it was the largest and heaviest carrier-based aircraft earning it the unofficial nickname, “The Whale.”

The A-3 was initially used as a bomber, but the aircraft proved to be very adaptable and its roles evolved to include photographic and electronic reconnaissance, electronic warfare, air refueling tanker, high speed transport and trainer. It proved very valuable in the Vietnam War as the EKA-3B in providing intelligence and jamming of enemy radar systems and communications networks, and as the KA-3B for in-flight refueling of attack aircraft. The Skywarrior was retired from service in 1991 as one of the longest serving carrier-based aircraft in history.

While the Navy was the primary user of the aircraft, a derivative, the B-66 “Destroyer,” also served with the U.S. Air Force as a tactical bomber, electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft until the early 1970’s.

This plane was flown to the Museum from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD, by Navy Commander Joel H. Graham.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

New England Air Museum – Grumman HU-16E ‘Albatross’

According to the Museum’s website (which also provides technical specifications):

THIS AIRCRAFT IS ON LOAN FROM THE NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Grumman designed the “Albatross” to meet a U.S. Navy requirement for an amphibious utility aircraft that could also operate with skis from snow and ice. The Albatross has been likened to a “bird of good omen.” It has also been called “The Goat” because of its stubborn, slow response to controls and was known as “Old Dependable” due to its ruggedness.

It has been a primary search and rescue craft for the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force. The Albatross was active in the Korean Conflict and rescued nearly 1,000 United Nations personnel including hazardous rescues behind enemy lines. It later saw action in the Vietnam War.

Grumman HU-16E AlbatrossIntroduced into service in 1949, the craft had a long operatonal history with the final USAF flight taking place in 1973, the final Navy flight in 1976 and final Coast Guard flight in 1983. Ted Lattrell, who flew this actual plane in the 1970’s graciuosly supplied the picture at the left of the final flight of HU-16s stationed in Miami which included #7228.

This plane, was originally with the U.S. Air Force designated SA-16B and was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard originally designated UF-1G and in 1962 was redesignated HU-16E. It was used for twenty years for air-sea rescue in the South Pacific and later along the Atlantic Coast.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.