Monday, January 27, 2014

Incredible Modern Air Combat books!

So I read. Way more than I write. and I'm proud to say I now own 3 of the best, biggest, baddest books about modern air combat involving the United States Armed Services:

Both are incredibly entertaining, give background information, are chock-packed-full-to-the-rim with pilot interviews about what unfolded how when where etc.. More "The Rest of the Story" stories than you can know. Definitely, get your hands on these. There are amazing first-hand account from the cockpits of F-16 pilots (could have gunned that Jastreb down), F-15 pilots (Yes, F-15Cs actually performed some ground strafing, and sometimes coordinated A-10s in an impromptu AFAC role)., F-14 pilots (read how this Navy JO totally shamed his CAG with an A-A kill), and more!.

Another great book, while definitely air combat related its focus is the F-15 Eagle is:

Written by Davies, a noted Osprey writer, and Davies, who actually flew F-15s. Or the other way around. Anyway- they teamed up and made an incredible, comprehensive book full of photos, diagrams, history, narratives, and insider info on the development, use and future of the F-15 Eagle in USAF hands. Oddly, it doesn't dwell much on the Israeli Air Force's use of it (odd because they have the most kills of it than any other force, including the USAF) and it only brushes by the Air NAtional Guard Eagle units, with antiquated photos. Bit of a snub there. But still extremely worth it.

There aren't a lot of copies (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) of any of these, so move fast.

I also recommend this book:
Make sure it's the 1988 edition. The chapters about each individual aircraft that are in this book are bigger than some books. Most books. The information in them is over-the-top comprehensive. Development, assembly, oversea sales, avionics, deployment, and more! Superbly and completely illustrated. It's big, though. Very, very big. And worth it.

Do NOT get this one. It's the 2000 re-print of the one above. But it includes virtually ZERO updates on the planes it already had in the previous edition. Oh, it has a small section on new stealth aircraft, but there's nothing about new F-15C updates or Desert Storm deployment. Nothing about the F-14D and getting LANTIRN. F-18E/F is barely mentioned. Just skip this one:

 And, of course, anything from Osprey. Always trust Osprey publishing. They're a guaranteed awesome reading experience.

Oh, and anything by Robert F. Dorr.

More art to come next entry!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time For One of My Pieces...

As my background image, it's a little something I've been working on. For some reason, it's had a Sepia tone added to the illustration, which I'm working on getting fixed.:

There will be more to come as time goes by: Eagles, Flankers, Vipers, Warthogs, Raptors, Lightning IIs... even some WWII and Vietnam stuff!

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's just cool...

OK, it was never my intention to post sci-fi or fantasy stuff. 

But ya gotta admit- this is cool:
Evidently it comes from this gaming site:

Again, whatever it is, its' cool.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Makes the Air National Guard Great?

The Air National Guard was, once upon a time, regarded as a sponsored high tech flying club. Events after Korea and Vietnam turned that around, and State AIr Guard bases often beat out active Air Force units in readiness, safety, retention and other important performance metrics. Why and how are shown below, in an excerpt from the 142nd Fighter Wing's Photo Gallery:

"Oregon Air National Lt. Col. Gary Thompson (third from the right) stands with group of family and friends of Lt. Col. (ret.) Dave McKinney (center) after his Fini Flight on Sept. 27, 2006 at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. McKinney and Thompson won the Top Gun and Top Shooter awards at the 1988 William Tell Weapons meet at Tyndall AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Enlund (ret.) 142nd Fighter Multimedia department / released) "

What's the big deal? The two Lieutenant Colonels have been flying with the Air Guard for- literally- decades.  They're home boys. They know the space, the land, the planes and their Chain of Command... all like the back of their hand. They are in one place for the long haul and also know there's no ducking out of embarrassing goof-ups or charlie foxtrots.

Give it up for the Guard!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Aviation In All Its Beauty...

Nothing particularly thoughtful or controversial today... just an awesome photo of the Republic of Singapore's Black Knights F-16 aerobatic team...

Here's the site link: 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Calif ANG Flies... Wait, What? Part 2

So we all know about the Government Tit-for-tat sequester last Summer that not only ruined my airshow season but put the US's National Air Defense on its tail for a while as well. But, the story that didn't make the news was how the Great American Southwest has been left practically undefended by it.

You see, in the middle of that sequester, the California Air National Guard was in the middle of training up its pilots on their new F-15 Eagles. They had been flying F-16 Vipers, but those jets were retired and replaced with recently upgraded F-15C Eagles from the Montana Air National Guard.

So they didn't get to fly them. Or train in them. OR anything.

Now there's something you need to understand about fighter pilots: they're a determined, aggressive, forward-looking bunch. They are there, they are the best, and they're up there because they WANT to be the best. Sometimes to a point of ruthlessness or ice-bloodedness. And they don't want to eventually climb to the top of a ladder, they want to be the best NOW.

And here they were, their sexy, fast and deadly Vipers taken away and exchanged for, sexier, faster, deadlier Eagles. And then they were told, "But due to a government squabble, you can't fly them."

And that was probably a pretty luke-warm slap in the face. Tell a fighter pilot he can't fly, and you know what? He'll go fly somewhere else. Which they did. From what I've read, about half the CANG left to go fly elsewhere.

There were no more than 8 pilots left to fly their 14 F-15s for a while. Wow. The government scrambled to keep them happy on the ground by offering them $250,000 to stay put. And you know what? They turned it down. Evidently, sit still money doesn't calm the urge for the air.

So, they went out and recruited a bunch of new pilots. But they weren't even Eagle babies yet. To help the slack, they just flew the CANG jets up to Kingsley Field and began training them there.

So in about 4-6 months the squadron might stand up at full strength. But until then, Thank you Washington D.C., for showing that you, and you alone, were strong and brave enough to bring down over half a squadron of F-15s.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Calif ANG Flies... Wait, What?

So the California Air National Guard finally got its new F-15Cs flying with their gorgeous new tail sashes. But something weird is going on- they seem to be incorporating into the Eagle Training Wing at Kingsley Field! What is going on here?

I'll be researching and reading more about this and posting here soon. For the mean time, enjoy a couple pics of their jets, old and new (click link to follow):

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

F-35 Bad Press Boondoggery!

I keep getting so frustrated when I see comparisons of the F-35 Lightning to the F-22, or F-15, or other high-performance fighter jets. The F-35 was not ever intended to be an air-superiority platform.

(graphic stolen from an official USAF document comparing the F-22 and F-35)

It is meant to be a stealthy, precision bomb delivery platform. Only two bombs? Sure. Worked great for the F-117- for how many decades? I never heard anyone complaining about that warload- especially with how effective it was. Imagine the F-117 upgraded to fly supersonic, carry a couple air-to-air missiles to defend itself, and increase its situational awareness by a factor of ten with a helmet mounted display, and a combination of passive and LPI active sensors all over its skin. Oh, and some versions can land on a ship or a baseball diamond. People would be saying, "Wow, that's great! Let's get lots of `em!"

But wait- there's more! When the enemy's IADS is reduced, you can hang more bombs and missiles OUTSIDE it! Effectively quadrupling its effectiveness, or its destructiveness. Wow.

But no, we keep comparing the F-117 to the F-15, which isn't a comparison at all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Beginning With Something New

Welcome to my blog. I've been following the World of Aviation for close to fifty years now. I remember involuntarily snapping my gaze up toward the sky as F-4 Phantoms in their amazing camouflage roared through the sky over me, demanding my attention and awe. Today I watch F-15 Eagles and F-16 Vipers do the same, and I still have to look... and I never get enough.

This blog will be a depository of my art and photography, as well as some of the same from other similar enthusiasts as there is plenty across the Web. I hope you'll come by often and enjoy the commentary as well as the view.

Tom Shallow