Tag Archives: Luftwaffe

Last flights, from Dublin to Virginia Beach

A few platforms with a decidedly long life are fading away this week with others being on their last legs.

The Republic of Ireland in 1972 picked up nine French-built Cessna 172 variants which have proved solid workhorses in the past 47 years. The Reims Rocket FR172H were originally intended for border patrol during “The Troubles” and could be fitted with a pair of Matra rocket pods under each wing.

Using a Rolls-Royce built, fuel-injected, Continental IO-360D 210 hp engine with a constant-speed propeller, the Reims (Cessna) FR.172 Rocket got its name from the fact it could carry twin 12x37mm Matra pods, as above. No. 207 Irish Air Corps, seen taxiing in at Casement Aerodrome Baldonnel Circa 1980. Via Flickr 

Over the course of 63,578 hours clocked up (7k hours per airframe), they fulfilled various roles besides border surveillance including “explosive escorts, cash escorts, in-shore maritime surveillance, target towing, bog surveys, wildlife surveys, general transportation flights, and even one air ambulance mission.”

They will be replaced by a trio of (unarmed) Pilatus PC-12NG Spectres.

Meanwhile, as noted by Naval Air Forces Atlantic, the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet, aircraft number 300, made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2.

“Assigned to the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, aircraft number 300 completed its first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. Lt. Andrew Jalali, who piloted the Hornet for its final flight was also born in 1988.

The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31-years of service. The aircraft took off from NAS Oceana accompanied by three F/A-18F Super Hornets for a one-and-a-half-hour flight and return to Oceana where it will be officially stricken from the inventory, stripped of all its usable parts and be scrapped.”

The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oct 2. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

Notably, the Marines still fly the type while overseas allies such as Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Spain, Malaysia, and Kuwait also keep the older Hornets around.

Meanwhile, in semi-related news, the “Rhino” looks short-listed to be adopted by the Germans to replace their increasingly aged Panavia Tornados. Then-West Germany went with the swing-wing Cold War classic in 1974 to replace the scary dangerous F-104 Starfighter for both ground strike/air defense by the Luftwaffe and maritime strike in the Baltic by the Bundesmarine’s Marinefliegerkommando.

How about some of that old school 1970s Tornado goodness?

Today, just 90~ active Tornados are left of the original 359 picked up by Bonn and are slated to be phased out by 2025. The RAF has already put the type out to pasture while the Italians are not far behind.

Apparently, it is the Super Hornet’s easy likelihood of being able to quickly be cleared to carry NATO-pooled B61 tactical nukes– a mission currently dedicated to the German Tornados– that gave it the upper hand over the Eurofighter Typhoon and others.

Germany currently uses the Typhoon for air superiority tasks and Quick Reaction Alert duties. 

A slice of the Wehrmacht, heading home

This is just dying for Osprey to make a uniform plate:

National Archives 80-G-353582

Here we see a group of German WWII Prisoners of War arriving at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, on 9 June 1945. The date is important because it is more than a month after VE-Day, the end of the war in Europe. The men are a mix of Heer, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe non-commissioned officers wearing a variety of tropical (Afrika Korps, anyone?) and continental uniforms. All have U.S. raincoats with “P.W.” stenciled on each arm.

Odds are the group had been in an EPW camp somewhere in the South and are heading back home to a Germany that looks very different from the one they left. For train buffs, note the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) cars in the background.

Also, note the U.S. Army (or more likely Florida Defense Force) personnel including a corporal with a M1917 revolver in a M1911 shoulder holster. Contrast it below with the very sweaty Florida Defense Force personnel at the Jacksonville USO in late 1942, outfitted with a variety of 1903s and M1917 rifles.

Spottswood Studio Collection

When it comes to captured enemy weapons, the Army never throws anything away

I recently had the chance to tour U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, the keepers of the flame for military history in the country.

The 15,200-acre installation in North Alabama was established in World War II and overhauls both small arms and vehicles for the Army. A longstanding tenant on the sprawling base, based out of Building 201, is the Museum Support Center, operated by the Center of Military History. The CMH maintains an immense collection of 650,000 historic items across 228 sites including 57 large museums that are a part of the Army Museum Enterprise. Items not yet on display, waiting for a public home, or are excess to current museum needs are stored in the “Army’s attic” in Anniston.

In secured storage at the MSC are 13,000 live weapons of all sorts, ranging from 13th Century Ottoman gear to guns captured recently in Afghanistan…and they were gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for me:

More in my column at Guns.com

The most ornate military-issued rifle of the 20th Century

Click to big u 1800×575

Above we see a beautiful example of a World War II  J.P. Sauer and Sohn’s produced drilling in 12ga side-by-side (SXS) over a 9.3x74R M.30 rifle along with case and accessories that is up for auction at Rock Island next month. This unlikely military arm was ordered by Goering for use as the M30 Survival rifle for Luftwaffe aircrews operating over the vast expanses of North Africa. Just 2,456 of these handy 7.5-pound break actions were produced in 1941-42 for the service and today they are an extremely rare firearm that is worth mega bucks even in poor condition (this particular example is estimated to fetch $18-25K)

Never heard of the 9.3x74R? It is a .366-caliber cartridge that dates to about the time of the Boer War that was big medicine down on the veldt. The round was popular with German farmers in pre-Great War African colonies as well as great white hunters on the continent who found it was adequate for everything from the elephant to the dik-dik, a small (20-lb) but very fast antelope. In many parts of Africa today, the 9.3x74R is still loaded and used regularly and Ruger offers it in a chambering for their No.1 Farquharson style-trophy rifle.