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Remember, today is not about how much you can save on bedding

“Infantryman” by Capt. Harry Everett Townsend, American Expeditionary Force to France, 1918, via U.S. Army Museum/CMH

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Remember, “No Shave November” is now officially here

In honor of which, I give you Robin Olds, a triple ace with 16 confirmed kills, four in Vietnam and 12 in the European Theater of WWII. Seen here at the controls of his F4 Phantom, 1966.

Textron is now the largest Mirage F1 operator in the world

Former Armée de l’Air Dassault Mirage F1s could be a familiar sight over U.S. skies near aggressor bases

As noted by Flight Global, Textron subsidiary Airborne Tactical Advantage Company just picked up 63 former French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) Mirage F1B, F1CT, and F1CR for dissimilar air combat training and aggressor squadron purposes for the U.S. Air Force. The deal included 150 engines and a host of other gear the French weren’t using anymore.

“Textron is planning to retrofit the F1s with modern avionics systems such as digital radio frequency memory jamming capabilities and upgraded radars,” ATAC chief executive Jeffrey Parker says. “The requirements we’re seeing the air force describe clearly include a modern radar such as AESA or a highly capable mechanically scanned array radar.”

A tip-top dual purpose strike fighter when introduced in 1973, over 720 F1s were fielded with the French using the lion share (246) and the Ecuadorian, Greek, Iraqi (the Exocet attack on the USS Stark), Libyan, Moroccan, South African, and Spanish getting smaller quantities, though almost all have retired them.

The French disbanded the last squadron flying the F1 in 2014 and today only Gabon flies a few surplus Armée de l’Air jets, and the Libyans have a handful the French are upgrading while the Iranians are thought to have about a dozen operational F1BQs and F1EQs that escaped Desert Storm by skipping over the border in 1991.

When military-issued shorts, Century-series fighters, and platinum blondes were all in

Actress Barbara Lang hanging out with one of the 327th Fighter Interceptor Squadron’s Convair F-102 Delta Dagger interceptors, 1957. The location is George Air Force Base, California, about 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles, meaning Lang only had to drive a little over an hour to get there.

The F-102 became the standard Air Defense Command (ADC) fighter starting in mid-1956, and the 327th FIS was the first operational squadron equipped with the delta-winged interceptor.

And, yes, the shorts were standard issue, being part of the brief 1956 USAF Summer Uniform which paired the 505 short sleeve shirt with khaki short pants.

Everything you see above soon faded.

The USAF ditched the shorts soon after the photo was taken. The 327th moved to Thule Air Base, Greenland in July 1958 and was inactivated just two years later. Lang retired from acting in 1960 with about a dozen credits to her name and passed in 1982 at the still young age of 54. The F-102 by the 1960s were increasingly transferred to Air National Guard units and retired altogether by 1976, with the type just in Air Force service for 20 years. George AFB itself outlasted them all, closing in 1992.

More photos from the same series above here.

Warthogs on the highway

Last week eight combat controllers of the USAF’s 352d Special Operations Wing surveyed a two-lane section of the Jägala-Käravete Highway in Estonia, deconflicted airspace, and exercised command and control on the ground and in the air to land a eight-aircraft stick of A-10Cs from the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Wing’s 104th Fighter Squadron.

Does it get any more 1970s Reforger than that?

New skins for an old warrior

When my grandfather joined the National Guard at 17, but before he headed off to war on active duty, he bought a “fighing knife” from a local hardware store as any strapping youth in olive drab needed just such the item.

It was a PAL RH-36.

The PAL Cutlery Company of Plattsburgh, NY. was established in 1935, specializing in kitchen implements. The company was a merger of the Utica Knife & Razor Company of Utica, NY and the Pal Blade Company of Chicago, IL. Pal used both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades until they went out of business in 1953. They purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1939, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs and soon began production in the old Remington owned factory in Holyoke, MA.

The design of the RH-36 came from that Remington acquisition, as the designations meant “Remington, Hunting, Pattern 3, 6” blade”. These were one of the most common US fighting knives of WWII, these were bought by all branches during the war, often with unit funds, and were also available as private purchase knives– such as my gramps.

Overall length is 11-inches with the razor-sharp blade just over 6, thus balancing well. Though some blades were parkerized, this one is bright though there is some patina. The old “PAL RH-36” markings are clear on the ricasso. The leather washer grip with red spacers is still tight, though dark. The pommel and guard are still surprisingly tight after more a half-century of use.

It has been sharpened and resharpened perhaps hundreds of times and was used by my grandfather overseas until he left the military in 1974, then sat in a box until I recently inherited it. The original sheath has long since broken, and subsequently discarded, leaving the blade naked.

Now, with the help of my friend Warren at Edged Creations who handcrafted the new sheath with three layers of leather, hand stitching and copper rivets, it should be good for another 70 years.

Thanks, Warren!

Runways are overrated

Meet ZELL– short for Zero-length Launch, a kind of Will-e-coyote strapped to a rocket way of launching a jet from the back of a truck.

“Program began with a launch of an F-84G in 1955. Each test utilized a USAF fighter mounted on the back of a flatbed truck and had a rocket motor attached to the airframe. The footage in the clip took place in Indian Springs, Nevada in 1958 when an F-100 was used.”

Then of course, in the 1960’s there was the Marine Corps’ Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS), which used a jet turbine powered trackless catapult to sling A-4s and A-7s down a short improvised runway that could be set up in a snap and doesn’t look to have more than a few hundred failure points.

 

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