WARBIRD RADIO – It’s been a historic week for military aviation. The next generation of US Naval aviation catapulted it’s way into history with the X-47B. According to a news release from Northrop Grumman the U.S. Navy launched a new chapter in the history of unmanned systems – carrier-capable unmanned aircraft – by successfully catapulting the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush(CVN-77).
The launch occurred May 14th 2013 at 11:18 a.m. Eastern time while the carrier was under way off the coast of Virginia. The tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft flew autonomously back to Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it landed safely 65 minutes later.
“Today’s catapult launch of the X-47B is a momentous feat for naval aviation,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command. “It proves that the Navy’s goal of operating unmanned systems safely and effectively from aircraft carriers is well on its way to becoming a reality.”
Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B air vehicles for the program. Air Vehicle 2 completed the catapult shot.
“Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H.W. Bush is an event as historic as the Navy’s first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in Nov. 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12),” said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman. “We are delighted to help launch this new era of naval capability.”
The X-47B catapult launch occurred just one day after the USS George H.W. Bush had departed from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
The current at-sea period is the second such test period for the UCAS-D program. In December 2012, the program hoisted an X-47B aircraft aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), then demonstrated that the aircraft could be maneuvered safely and precisely on the ship’s flight deck, in its elevators and in its hangar bay.
In preparation for the launch, the UCAS-D program successfully completed a series of shore-based catapult shots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River between November and March. The air vehicle was transported by barge from Patuxent River to Naval Air Station Norfolk in early May, then hoisted aboard the ship.
Northrop Grumman’s UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, GE Aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Lockheed Martin, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins. The latest news and information about the UCAS-D program can be found by clicking on the Quick Link posted below.
QUICK LINK: X-47B
WARBIRD RADIO - The National Museum of the United States Air Forces reports one of history’s most famous aircraft will celebrate two anniversaries this weekend. Seventy years ago, the B-17F Memphis Belle was flying over the skies of Europe on bombing missions during World War II. Today, the famed aircraft is undergoing restoration at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
On May 17, 1943, Capt. Robert K. Morgan flew the Memphis Belle against a target in Lorient, France, on his 25th officially credited mission (it was the Belle’s 24th combat mission). Two days later, on May 19, 1943, Lt. C. Anderson and his crew flew the Memphis Belle on its 25th officially credited mission to Keil, Germany. Several decades later in October 2005, the historic aircraft arrived at the museum, where staff began a careful, multi-year conservation and restoration effort – including corrosion treatment, the full outfitting of missing equipment and accurate markings – to bring the aircraft back to pristine condition.
“The museum’s restoration crews have been working long and hard to see that the Memphis Belle is restored as a national icon,” said Roger Deere, chief of the Restoration Division. “We’ve been working on the Belle for more than seven years, and every step brings us closer to getting it on display where all of our visitors can see the aircraft.”
Current plans call for the aircraft to go on display in the museum’s World War II Gallery in late 2014, with some final restoration work to be completed on the exhibit floor. Once on display, the Memphis Belle will join one of the world’s best collections of aircraft and memorabilia from the World War II era. This comprehensive restoration process is fitting for this storied aircraft. Pilot Robert Morgan named the aircraft after his wartime girlfriend, Margaret Polk, of Memphis, Tenn. Morgan chose the artwork from a 1941 George Petty illustration in Esquire magazine.
The crew and the aircraft beat the odds by completing 25 combat missions, and upon their return to the United States in June 1943, they flew the aircraft across the country on a three-month war bond and morale boosting tour. With the bond tour and the 1944 William Wyler documentary film titled The Memphis Belle – depicting actual combat footage – the aircraft and its crew became widely known and celebrated. In 1990 a major motion picture of the same name added to their fame.
“The Memphis Belle became a national icon, and its crew represented the thousands of Army Air Forces Airmen who were taking the war to the enemy in Europe,” said Jeff Duford, a curator at the museum. “There is enormous significance having the Memphis Belle at the Air Force’s national museum – it gives our visitors a better understanding and appreciation of the service and sacrifice of our military members during World War II.”
For more information, photos and videos of the Memphis Belle, click on the Quick Link posted below. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.
QUICK LINK: Memphis Belle Photo & Video Gallery
WARBIRD RADIO – Planes of Fame Air Museum (Chino, CA) is presenting its monthly Living History Event Day this Saturday May 18th 2013. From 10am-12pm the event ‘Regia Aeronautica: Italian Aircraft’ will take place. Aviation historians and modeler builders Charlie Isaacs and Kevin Thompson will provide an overview of Italian military aircraft through the years. A first for the Planes Of Fame Air Museum, this informative seminar will cover the lesser-known history of Italy, its aircraft and role in World War II. Warplanes and record-braking planes from Caproni, Fiat, Macchi, Reggiane and Savoia-Marchetti will be covered in discussion with an audio-visual presentation, as well as a display of over 20 models of Italian aircraft in constant scale. There will be a question and answer period following the seminar. Everyone is invited at 12:00 noon. A Membership Sponsored raffle flight will also occur.
QUICK LINK: Planes of Fame
WARBIRD RADIO – May 15, 2013 – According to a recent news release the first Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft arrived today, on schedule, at India Naval Station Rajali. The P-8I is one of eight aircraft Boeing is building for India as part of a contract awarded in 2009.
“Boeing is proud to deliver this advanced aircraft to meet the Indian Navy’s unique maritime patrol requirements,” said Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. “The P-8I team, which includes our customer and Indian suppliers, has done a fantastic job working together, and we’re on track to deliver the next two P-8I aircraft later this year.”
Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy. The P-8I incorporates not only India-unique design features, but also India-built subsystems that are tailored to the country’s maritime patrol requirements.
WARBIRD RADIO – On this episode of Over The Front Radio (OTF) host Stephen Skinner visits with League of WWI Aviation Historian’s President JR Williams. Find out what’s new with the League and what’s in store for OTF Radio. If you have questions or comments feel free to post them in the section below.
To learn more about WWI Aviation and League of WWI Aviation Historians simply click on the Quick Link below. Thanks for tuning in!
QUICK LINK: League of WWI Aviation Historians