Tag Archives: air force

The story of how Remington helped win the air war

On the skeet range at N.A.S. Saint Louis, Missouri, 29 April 1944. Gunner is Lieutenant Junior Grade Rothschild, instructed by Martin. Shotgun is a Remington Model 11, 12 gauge semiautomatic, on a shotgun mount assembly Mk. 1 Mod. 0 consisting of gun mount adapter Mk. 12 mod.2 and .30 caliber stand Mk.23 Mod.0. Note boxes of Peters “Victor” brand skeet cartridges. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-237387

Rapid sight alignment when leading a flying target was a skill quickly taught to aerial gunners in World War II with the help of more than 70,000 training shotguns.

The Model 11 was the first auto loading shotgun made in the USA. Patterned after the old Browning square back shotguns, this shotgun is reliable and effective. There were approximately 850,000 of these shotguns made from 1905 until 1947, and they are still considered classics.

It’s a simple concept, with a shotgun being easier and cheaper to cut a trainee’s teeth on “wing shooting” than a full-sized machine gun. Accordingly, the Army and Navy bought 59,961 Remington Model 11 semi-auto (the company’s version of the Browning A5) and 8,992 Model 31 pump-action shotguns as well as 204 million clay targets and got to work.

U.S. gunner with a training weapon, a or Remington Model 11 set up to emulate flexible-mount .50 caliber M2 Browning. The most common version was the Remington 11-A Standard Version with a 29-inch Barrel and a built in Cutts compensator.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Another 14,000 of these Remington Sportsman guns were delivered with the smaller 20-inch barrel and different stock from the Remington 11-R version (Riot special-made for the Police market) for issue to military police, penal units and base guard forces, but that’s another story.

Little Birds, Afghan style

“Train Advise Assist Command – Air (TAAC – Air) advisors from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing fly Afghan Air Force’s newest MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters for a training event. The new helicopters are capable of firing 2.75” rockets and .50-cal machine guns for close air support.”

The U.S. Army adopted the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed “Loach”, after the program acronym LOH—Light Observation Helicopter) in 1965 and fielded more than 1,400 of these egg shaped killers in the Vietnam era and, while largely replaced by the 1980s, the AH6/MH6 Little Bird variants did yeoman work with special operations units in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere during the Reagan era (see Operation Prime Chance).

Over Mogadishu during the Blackhawk Down affair, it was four MH-6s (Barbers 51-54 of the 160th SOAR) that kept the city at bay overnight.

“In the movie, the gunships are shown making only one attack. In fact, they were constantly engaged all night long. Each aircraft reloaded six times. It is estimated that they fired between 70 and 80,000 rounds of minigun ammo and fired a total 90 to 100 aerial rockets. They were the only thing that kept the Somalis from overrunning the objective area. All eight gunship pilots were awarded the Silver Star. Every one of them deserved it.” (source)

Today the Army still has about 47 Little Birds of various marks, and the Afghan Air Force is using the next best thing.

The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior, shown turning and burning above, is flown jointly by U.S. and Afghanistan forces and see combat just about every day. The last four of 27 MD 530Fs arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul aboard a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifter in late August as noted by Janes.

They are all moving to use the Enhanced-Mission Equipment Package (EMEP) which offers the FN Herstal 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) or 70 mm rockets.

The scariest Persians

Iranian F-14 Tomcat pilots during the Iran-Iraq War

The last shah of Iran placed a $2 Billion order for the most advanced combat aircraft the world in 1974, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The order contained an airbase, a huge parts store, 80 F-14A fighters and nearly 714 of its unique AIM-54 Phoenix missile-the only one capable of knocking down an airborne target 100 miles away. Deliveries to the IIAF, Imperial Iran Air Force, began in 1975 from Grumman’s Calverton, NY plant with airframe BuNo 160299. Pilot/RIO training and support was done by the US Navy in CONUS bases during the same time period.

Ultimately 79 of the huge F-14s and 284 Phoenix missiles were delivered by 1979 when the Iranian revolution halted deliveries. Cut off from US-support and suffering from contractor sabotage and a loss of qualified pilots and mechanics, the IRIAF, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, have continued to operate the F-14s for the past 30+ years.

The Iranian F-14 force saw much more combat than their US brothers. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war IRIAF F-14 drivers claimed some 100~ confirmed victories over Saddam Hussein’s air force. It is known that only 5 of the Iranian F-14s were lost in air to air combat during the war, giving them a very respectable kill ratio of some 20:1. Their victims included both older MiG-21 and 23 series aircraft but also the more advanced Mirage F1 and the vaunted MiG-25. Standing orders to pilots in Saddam Hussein’s air force was that when an F-14 arrived in the sky they were not to engage but to break off and evade combat.

The most successful Iranian F-14 pilot was Major Jalal Zandi, who shot down 9 confirmed and 3 unconfirmed Iraqi combat aircraft. Another Iranian F-14 pilot, Major Rahnavard, flying alone attacked a formation of 12 Iraqi MiGs over the Persian Gulf in two separate engagements, downing four aircraft in one day.

Air and Space Magazine has a great new article with much more information here.