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Now for something a lot better… April 15, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin.

I’ve probably given into way too much grousing already during this Holy Week.  No more.  If I do any more posts, just good stuff, like this:

The FSSP doing a solemn tone Salve…….fantastic.  Compare with my other favorite version of this prayer:

This is kind of neat, the Stations in video, haven’t seen it all, hope it doesn’t get goofy, but I am out of time:

That’s what I do when I’m late for Mass, I just dump out videos.

Quick Flightline Friday – F-20 Tigershark – 041414 update April 14, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, Basics, Flightline Friday, fun, silliness, Society.

Since I am going to be out most of the week, I am going to update this post today, instead of on Friday, when, God willing, I will be at church pretty much all day.

The F-20 755px-F-20_Northrop_colors_in_flightTigershark.  It is another of the great also-ran’s of American military aviation.  Derived from a design dating back to the late 1950s, incredibly, with the installation of a modern engine, updated digital avionics, and some minor aerodynamic changes, the F-20 Tigershark emerged as a very potent low-cost 4th generation tactical aircraft. Itcould have been, and maybe should have been, a big seller to third world NATO allied nations.  But it didn’t sell.

The Tigershark got its start as a Northrop design submission for a new trainer for the United States Air Force back in the late 1950s.  The design originally started out as a speculative lightweight fighter (the N-102 Fang), but when the USAF competition for a new advanced trainer began, Northrop realized their little fighter design would be a nice fit.  Northrop had sort of specialized in idiosyncratic designs, and small and light weight were sort of a fetish at the company for decades.

800px-T38-BankThe trainer became the T-38 Talon, which is still in use as the USAFs advanced trainer for fighter and attack aircraft today, over 50 years after it entered service.  But when Kennedy entered office in 1961, his administration sought to support a lightweight fighter for lower-rung, less-advanced allies that could serve in all the Cold War brushfire wars that administration was interested in prosecuting.  So Northrop returned to their trainer design, called the N-156, and produced a new model, the N-156F, that became the F-5A Freedom Fighter.

The Freedom Fighter had several advantages. It was cheap.  It was designed to be very easy to maintain, even in an F-5C_VNAF_23TW_522FS_BienHoa_1971austere environment without a great deal of advanced support facilities.  But it had very short legs and was certainly not overpowered.  Even by the late 60s, the F-5A was obsolescent for combat in all but the most permissive air defense environments, and competitors from other countries posed threats to this low-end fighter market. So, USAF fired up a competition for an F-5 follow-on, to ameliorate some of the Freedom Fighter’s shortcomings.

Naturally enough, Northrop won that competition, too, and what came forth was the F-5E Tiger II.  By adding 800px-Northrop_F-5E_(Tail_No__11419)_(cropped)afterburners to the small J85 turbojets, a small ranging radar, ability to carry infrared air-to-air missiles, and some other improvements, the F-5E and its two seat variant, the F-5F, went on to be best sellers throughout the 1970s, with nearly 1400 built.  The F-5E received a big boost when, in the early 70s, USAF bought a couple hundred to serve as aggressor aircraft in the air-to-air training role.  Air combat in Vietnam showed that USAF’s priority on fighting a nuclear war did not work out well in a conventional environment, with large, heavy aircraft designed to carry a nuclear weapon a long distance being rather poor performers in the air-to-air arena. Even more, the pilots had not been trained hard in that vital area, skills had deteriorated, and our guys had a hard time dealing with the very maneuverable aircraft used by the North Vietnamese. Nonetheless, at least as many losses were attributed to bad tactics and bad airmanship, as were due to unsuitable aircraft types.605px-Topgun_patch

The Navy had started its own intensive air-to-air training program, the famous TOPGUN program, in the early 70s.  As always, USAF did one better, developing a massive training environment at Nellis Air Force Base called Red Flag, where extremely realistic and difficult training was implemented.  F-5Es played a key role in that training, simulating such very maneuverable communist aircraft as the MiG-19 and MiG-21.

But by the early 80s, the F-5E was running out of steam.  Many newer types were available, foreign competition was intense, and there had been so many incredible advances in engines and avionics that the Tiger II was looking pretty tired. It was at this time that Northrop decided to try to refresh the design again, putting in a modern engine, very modern avionics, and some aerodynamic changes to improve performance. And improve performance it did.

Originally called the F-5G, to seem newer and sexier, Northrop petitioned the Air Force for a new number for their aircraft, and was given F-20.  Northrop lobbied pretty hard for this number, to try to sell the fact that this new plane was a big advance on the “teen-series” fighters – the F-15, -16, etc.

The primary changes to the F-20 were the replacement of two small GE J85 engines with one F404 engine, a GE_F404_engineremarkably lightweight and durable powerplant. This engine was much, much more powerful than the two previous engines, as well as being much more reliable and fuel efficient.  Thrust increased from 10,000 lbst at sea level to 17,000 lbst.  This gave the F-20 a thrust-to-weight ratio of about 1.1:1 at combat weight, meaning it could accelerate going straight up.  In addition, the airframe was strengthened to permit 9 G maneuvering.  Coupled with the basic Tiger II aerodynamics, the F-20 was extremely competitive in terms of air combat maneuvers.

Radar_AN_APG-67_001What really improved the Tigershark over the Tiger II, however, was the avionics.  The very simple and limited ranging radar was replaced with a modern pulse-doppler set from GE, digitally controlled, with all kinds of modes: sea strike, synthetic aperture, track while scan, etc.  It could detect fighter size targets at about 40 miles (about the same as the APG-66 radar in the F-16), and could track 10 targets while engaging two.  The old Tiger II cockpit, which was a sea of analog gages and switches, was cleaned up remarkably with a good sized HUD and two large electronic multi-function displays (see below).

A huge selling point for the Tigershark was that its avionics were all brand new, 8-10 years newer than those used in the F-15 and F-16.  We all know how much digital electronics advanced in the late 70s and early 80s, and the Tigershark reaped the benefits of those advances.  This meant lighter weight, for one.  But more importantly thCA2AFV82compared to even the F-16s avionics, it meant much higher reliability.  At least, according to Northrop.  Northrop claimed that the Tigershark would have mean time between failures for major systems (engine, radar, inertial navigation system, etc) several times better than that of the F-16, and an order of magnitude better than the F-15. The F-20 was projected to consume 53% less fuel, require 52% less maintenance manpower, had 63% lower operating and maintenance costs and had four times the reliability of average front-line designs of the era

Typical A2A load: 2 AIM-9J, 2 AIM-7F

Typical A2A load: 2 AIM-9J, 2 AIM-7F

All this resulted in a very hot little fighter which would sell at a price substantially lower than any other American or even foreign aircraft of similar capability.  The Tigershark was a very modern, Mach 2 fighter on the cheap.  And in some areas, the Tigershark was more capable than the F-16 it ultimately competed against: the F-16 could not fire Sparrow radar guided missiles in 1984, whereas the Tigershark could.  The Tigershark had the quickest point intercept reaction time of any aircraft in the world at that time (and possibly today): from getting the launch command, the F-20 could be at Mach 1.2 at 30,000 ft in less than 3 minutes.

However, there were also a number of problems with the F-20.  This all had to do with Northrop recycling a design that started out as a 1950s training aircraft.  Because it was not designed from the start to carry large loads, the

Note minimal ground clearance

Note minimal ground clearance

Talon/Freedom Fighter/Tiger II/Tigershark all shared very short landing gear and a low mounted wing. This wing meant there was little ground clearance for ordinance.  This dramatically limited both the quantity and types of ordinance that could be carried.  In addition, the F-20, being both very small, and always rather limited in fuel capacity, had a much shorter range than aircraft like the F-16.  As an attack aircraft, the F-20 came up very short in comparison to other types.  Even the very design of the wing limited payload capability.  In addition, the F-20 was so small and cramped inside that, as vastly improved as it was, it did not show much promise for future growth.  The F-20 was an amazing improvement to the basic 1950s design, but it wasn’t going to go much further.

Nevertheless, the F-20 should have been very attractive to a number of air forces, especially those of countries untitled2that don’t make a practice of going to war with their neighbors and blowing up their stuff (like we do).  As a point defense interceptor/fighter aircraft, the F-20 was hard to beat on price and capability.  And it was thought many countries would be interested in it.

Bu the Tigershark ran afoul of political maneuvering and typical USAF obstinacy.  The F-20 was far cheaper than the competing F-16, but the F-16 happened to be built in the home district of the House Majority Leader, Jim Wright.  Wright put a good deal of pressure on the USAF to not give any support to the F-20.  In addition, many elements within USAF did not want to see F-20s built, since they might take away F-16 customers, resulting in marginally higher price on the F-16 due to a lower production run.  So the USAF kept 0163470buying more and more F-16s, even for missions the F-16 was not particularly suited for, while the F-20 was never purchased by the Air Force. Without a US endorsement, foreign clients were reluctant to sign on – and General Dynamics sold F-16s at a loss to keep Northrop and its F-20 out of the marketplace.

I always felt this attitude by USAF was a bit ugly, and unreasonable. The F-20 would have made a perfect replacement/addition to the F-5E in the aggressor role (a role the Navy still uses it for today), since it could better represent more advanced competition from Soviet types like the MiG-29 and Su-27 than could the F-5E.  But USAF steadfastly refused to purchase the type for that purpose, for which it was eminently suited.  Today, the dissimilar air combat training that so benefited USAF pilots in the 70s and 80s, making them the best of the
f-20_2world, is defunct, since the Air Force does not have a dissimilar (that means, other than what is in service) type to train against, save for occasional Navy or foreign participation. So F-16s fight F-16s, F-15s and F-15s, etc.

The F-20 wound up also being hurt by a couple of crashes that had nothing to do with the aircraft.  Two of the three prototypes were lost due to what is called “G-induced loss of consciousness” – basically, the pilot pulls such hard Gs that he passes out, crashing as a result.  This was a problem back in the early 80s (and not just in the F-20), as the mega-capable modern fighters were going beyond the limits of what some humans could endure.  F-20-2

I am not one to say that the F-20 was a world beater that got entirely robbed by political shenanigans.  Like any aircraft, it had its upside and its downside. But it is probably one of the most capable aircraft ever to fail so totally, never garnering a single significant sale. And that sad end is, unfortunately, primarily due to politics, and not capability.  There was no reason, for instance, for a country like Venezuela to buy 18 F-16s, when they could have had 40 F-20s at the same price.

Anyhoo, now the important part, plane Pr0n.

I love these defense vids from the 80s.  So over the top in their earnestness and seriousness. Of course, the Cold War was serious business.

More Yeager greatness:

Uno mas vez:

I always thought the F-20 had a really great, clean cockpit design.  It was very good for its time, and fully modern even today:


Prayer Request April 8, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, Dallas Diocese, Holy suffering, Latin Mass, sadness.
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Bill DeVille has been a good friend of this blog online and off. He suffered a stroke over the weekend.  Could you please, in your charity, say a prayer for his healing and that he and his wife may offer up this suffering for their own sanctification and the good of the Church?  Bill and Beverly are pretty well known in these parts, I pray for Bill’s quick healing and growth in holiness and virtue in this trial.

Thank you for your kind consideration.



Flightline Friday re-post: The “almost” F-15 April 4, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, silliness, Society.
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Most people have at least some small familiarity with the mighty McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle.  First entering service in 1974, the Eagle has been the mainstay US air superiority aircraft for 40 years (uhhh….which isn’t exactly good that it’s been that long – can you imagine Wright Flyers fighting WWII?).  It’s a beautiful ship.  It has an unparalleled air to air combat record  – over 100 kills and zero losses (although, the quality of the opposition does sort of diminish that record).  But what everyone knows as the F-15 could have been a radically different, and in some ways even more capable, aircraft, had things gone a bit differently.

The military, in particular, almost never produces a weapon system without a competition within private industry to try to find the very best product available.  The competition that produced the F-15 was started in the late 60′s and was known as Fighter-Experimental (F-X).  The F-X competition had developed in fits and starts over the last half of the 60s, with the USAF originally wanting a Mach 2.7-3 superinterceptor+ ground attack aircraft – sort of an ultimate F-4.  But the disastrous performance of US aircraft in air combat in Vietnam made the USAF reconsider and reposition the F-X competition for an all out air supremacy aircraft.  There were 3 main contenders in the latter stages of F-X – Fairchild Republic, McDonnell Douglas, and North American Aviation, Inc.  We all know the McDonnell plane already, and the Republic plane didn’t really have a chance, but the North American plane almost won the competition, and some say should have.

Throughout the 1950s, North American had frequently been the #1 defense contractor.  But in the 60s, the company had a number of huge projects cancelled and even with their huge role in the Apollo program had fallen on somewhat hard times.  They needed to win this competition for the USAFs next generation mainstay fighter.  They pulled out the stops.

There is no question the NA-335 as it was known was aerodynamically far advanced on the F-15, possessing features that would not be seen on other aircraft for another 5-8 years (which, back then, was a very long time in aviation years).  It had wings blended into the fuselage, static instability, and the wings had a graceful, curving design that provided sufficient lift for hard maneuver but were shaped so as not to cause huge supersonic drag.  Horizontal stability may have been a bit of an issue without twin vertical tails, but the rest of the aircraft looked a winner.  The avionics package was very advanced for its time – even more advanced than McDonnell’s (and it is avionics – aviation electronics – that have provided the true edge for US aircraft since Vietnam and precipitated their dominance).  But it was expensive.

In today’s eras of trillion dollar deficits and military tactical aircraft with unit flyaway costs on the order to $100 million it’s amazing that a competition like the F-X would be decided on an expected cost differential of $200 million, but that was really the issue.  North American’s proposal involved the construction of a new manufacturing plant, and the cost of that, plus the  more complex avionics suite, caused the North American proposal to have expected lifetime program costs $200 million more than McDonnell’s.  There was also a comfort factor – McDonnell’s design had derived from NASA studies that had been extensively wind tunnel tested, and the Air Force may have had more confidence in the aerodynamic qualities of the McDonnell design.  Sadly, at that time, the USAF did not conduct fly-off competitions between aircraft and judged the merits on the paper designs – some aviation historians feel that if a flyoff had been held, the North American design would have emerged the clear winner.

Today, almost no one remembers this aviation also ran.  There are almost no pics of it on the web, although I have a book at home with some very nice artwork and 3-views.  I’ve posted the only photos I can find:

North American was bought by Rockwell International during the F-X competition.  Although North American Rockwell went on to produce the B-1 bomber and some test aircraft, the company gradually drifted more and more behind the times.  For the USAF’s next heavyweight fighter competition, the Advanced Tactical Fighter, their design finished last.  It was aerodynamically quite up with the times, but completely behind the times in terms of stealth technology.  North American Rockwell was absorbed by Boeing in the 90s and no longer exists.

UPDATED: Well shuck my corn, I just found 2 gorgeous prints of the North American model NA 335, the F-15 competitor:

It was said that the designer of the Sukhoi Su-27, the F-15′s Russian competition, was glad that USAF chose the McDonnell design over the North American one, because he felt he could design a superior aircraft relative to the McDonnell design, but not the North American one.  He did, at least aerodynamically.  In fact, the Su-27 appears to borrow a fair amount from the NA-335.

And, I retract what I said about horizontal stability, until I found that print on the bottom, I’d never seen those ventral stabilizers.  Beautiful ship.

For this 2014 update, I found one more pic of the NA-335.  BTW, it would have also been called the Eagle had it gone into service:



Below, by the way, is what the Republic version of the F-X would have looked like.  Rather F-14 in a way, but with two widely spaced engine nacelles which might have made control a problem if one had flamed out:


Quick hit query April 3, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Society, Admin, foolishness, asshatery, silliness, sickness, blogfoolery, disaster, error, fun, sexual depravity, secularism, manhood.
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If feminists (aka marxist lesbians) are so dedicated to crushing Teh Patriarchy!11! and smashing all “heteronormative” impositions of same (increasingly, crazed feminists define heterosexuality as a repressive tool of men)…..why do they all worship at the altar of a man, Marx?  Marxism is inseparable from radical feminism..

But if these womyn are such fierce man-crushers and dedicated to the destruction of a “male-dominated” society, how can they base their entire political-economic philosophy on the thinking of a hated man?

Pathetic much?

C’mon, grrrls, when are you going to develop a truly neo-pagan post-male patriarchy-crushing philosophy of your own!?



Look at all those Marxist men! It’s a veritable snausage party!  What are all you lesbians doing there?

That’s it, I’m done April 1, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin.
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This is it, my last post as a Catholic blogger.  I’ve tried to keep up a brave front, but I simply cannot stand it anymore. I can’t stand all the scandal, all the failures, all the abuses.  I’m tired of fighting.

Nope, I’m done, and I’m going back to where I belong, back to good old protestantism.  At least there, I can find some pastor  just like me who will tell me what I want to hear, all wrapped up in the warm warming fuzzy sweet sweet embrace of private interpretation.  We can pick and parse Scripture down till it reflects just what we want it to.  Heck, I might even become a pastor myself.  That way, I don’t have to agree with ANYONE on what the good book says, just what the Lord Jesus reveals to ME.

I know this seems rather sudden, but I’ve been thinking about it for a looooong time.  Hours, at least.  I know that’s where Jesus, my Lord and Savior, wants me to be.  Isn’t it amazing when the Holy Spirit guides you to make those easy choices, rather than encouraging you to continue the fight?!? I just ripped John 6 out of all my Bibles, along with Maccabees, Tobias, James chapter 2, etc.  Don’t need any “apocrypha!”

Another great benefit to my decision is that now I’ll be the beneficiary of all kinds of ecumenical outreach, rather than being one of those despised and ignored neo-pelagian restorationists!

Now I’m free, free to be me!   I wonder how many people will join me in my gay-friendly (oh, yeah, forgot to mention, tired of fighting on that, too, easier (and much more lucrative$$$) to just go along) radical traditional protestant sect, with simulation pretend offering availability of the Sacraments?  I mean sacraments, both of them.

Well, it’s been quite a journey.  I’ve made a lot of friends along the way, but they’ll all have to be bitter enemies now that I’m switching teams.  Again.  Because it’s all about me.

Toodaloo, I expect this life-shaking change to affect me for at least the next 16 hours or so.

Rock on, my good former co-religionist readers.

And, oh yeah, I almost forgot……have a happy April Fool’s Day.



Flightline Friday: My Favorite piston-engined aircraft, the Able Dog March 28, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, silliness, Society.
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The AD Skyraider was a product of that pinnacle of piston-engined aircraft design and manufacture that occurred at the close of WWII.  A number of extremely capable, rugged, reliable types were produced in the closing days of the war, or just after: advanced models of the F4U Corsair, the F8F Bearcat, the P-51H and P-47N, in Britain the Hawker Fury, and the creme de la creme, in my opinion, the Douglas AD Skyraider.  Powered by a big Wright 3350 radial, the Skyraider saw service from 1946 until 1972 in the US, and longer in other countries.  It was an incredible versatile workhorse that performed a huge number of missions: long range strike, medium bomber, airborne early warning, anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, even carrier on-board delivery.  3180 Skyraiders were produced in a great number of variants from 1945 to 1957.  The Navy phased it out in favor of the A-6 Intruder in 1968, while the Air Force used it until 1972 in the search and rescue CAP role in Vietnam.

Just too late for WWII, the AD, or A-1 Skyraider was a workhorse of both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and may have flown in combat in third world nations until about 1980. It was the product of 40 years of piston engine design and one of the peaks achieved in that design medium.  Soldiering on in a time when jets were replacing almost every other piston engine type, the Skyraider had unique capabilities that jets of the 50s could not match.  It’s range and payload would not be equaled until the A2F (A-6) Intruder entered service in the early 60s.

I don’t have much time to post more details, so here are some videos of the glorious “Sandy,” “Able Dog,” “Spad,” “Hobo,” “Fat Face,” “Flying Dumptruck,” “the Destroyer,” – “Mr. Attack Aviation” Ed Heinemann’s A-1 Skyraider:

A-1H of VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet" prepares to fly a mission in 1965 with a special purpose bomb, outfitted with an 'E' award for battle efficiency, aboard CV-41 "Magic" Midway.  This bomb was actually flown and dropped on a mission as a joke. The North Vietnamese actually accused the US of "bacteriological" warfare because of the stunt.

A-1H of VA-25 “Fist of the Fleet” prepares to fly a mission in 1965 with a special purpose bomb, outfitted with an ‘E’ award for battle efficiency, aboard CV-41 “Magic” Midway. This bomb was actually flown and dropped on a mission as a joke. The North Vietnamese actually accused the US of “bacteriological” warfare because of the stunt.

A short video of two restored A-1′s having fun:

Discovery Wings episode Able Dog:

Here is a nice “ride along” video from onboard a Skyraider:

Low-res video of the retirement of the Skyraider from the USN in 1970:

Here is a low-res vid of USAF combat search and rescue operations deep in indian country in Vietnam featuring CH-53 Jolly Greens, A-1 Skyraiders, HC-130 Hercules, and OV-10 Broncos.

That’s all for now.  Have a blessed weekend.


New pro-life blog to check out – prolife365.com – UPDATE, another good local blog! March 26, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Abortion, Admin, Basics, contraception, disaster, error, General Catholic, scandals, secularism, sexual depravity, sickness, Society.
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A friend and fellow parishioner of mine has started a new pro-life blog.  It’s so new there is only one post but it should be good, because the author, Kevin Kukla, and his wife Melissa are pro-life stalwarts in the Dallas Diocese.

The first post discusses how Kevin played a role in finding aborted baby parts in the dumpsters of abortion mills.  That raised a ruckus when the news first broke in 2008, but I’m sure it still goes on, because abortionists are fundamentally immoral.  A priest last night at a catechism class spoke of how sin darkens the intellect and clouds one’s thinking, leading one further and further down a path of darkness.  Think of how much murdering a dozen or two babies a day would darken the intellect!  So, it’s little surprise abortionists have few scruples about improperly disposing of the babies they kill.  To them, they’re just the “products of conception,” anyways, and not a “real” human being.

As for me, perhaps it’s the abortionists who are not the “real” human beings.

Some excerpts from that first post:

I hope not much time would be needed to convince you that our culture is a mess:  Rampant promiscuity.  Widespread sexually transmitted diseases.  Commonplace pornography use.  A 50% divorce rate.  Fatherless homes.  Unabashed promotion of the homosexual lifestyle.  So-called “same-sex marriage.”  The list goes on and on of scourges on our culture.

I hereby propose that the cause of the majority of our cultural decline is a product of the acceptance of contraception use.  [Woot!  I think it is a major part.  Of course, I think there are also some deeper roots: such as the protestant exaltation of the self and the subsequent deformation in the proper understanding of the Faith viz a viz society (it is via protestantism that we got the noxious idea that religion should be compartmentalized into one's private life and not be a matter of affairs of state), but contraception is one of the core causes for our ongoing societal collapse]

Such a thesis will be explored and, I believe, proven over time, in postings on this blog.

Widespread porn use? Well, why not? If sex is merely a pleasureful experience, according to the contraceptive mentality.

Rampant fatherless homes? Makes sense, does it not? I mean, raising children is not supposed to be a byproduct of having sex, according to the contraceptive mentality.

There is a lot more at prolife365.com.  Go check it out!

UPDATE:  I am such a jerk.  A long time reader has also started up a blog I have been meaning to intro for some time, but I have kept forgetting to do so.  And I did so again today.  Let me correct that.

There is another local Catholic blog that started up some time back – The Unfinished Tales of a Hunt County Catholic.  The reader who operates that blog has been kind enough to link to my blog several times, and I’ve been reading his for a while.  Unfinished Tales covers a variety of topics, not just strictly theological or directly Church-related, but also on the domestic church, raising a family in the country, livestock, and a host of other matters. I’ve been enjoying it a lot and could not kick myself for not having blogged on it earlier.  But now I have.  So go check it out, too!  Actually, I know some readers have, and I’ve seen they seem to enjoy it, too.

Many souls received the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit this weekend! March 24, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, family, fun, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Sacraments, Tradition, Virtue.
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I think close to thirty souls received Confirmation this weekend in the traditional Rite, and as splendid as it was to assist at this amazing supernatural reception of Grace for anyone, two of them were especially dear to me:



These girls studied hard and really knew their stuff!  They passed their examination with no difficulties.

I greatly appreciate the sponsors and families that traveled long distances for this most auspicious event.  And those that did not travel very far.  Having a lot of family around made it all the more special.  I thank them for that.

If we keep having big families, eventually, we will win.  It was very edifying to see so many children present for Confirmation from one traditional parish.

Like the dresses?  You can contact marymyway for info.

Flightline Friday – Blackbird Capabilities March 21, 2014

Posted by tantamergo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, silliness, Society.
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I normally read only books directly related to the Faith, but occasionally I’ll revert to reading some military



history/aviation technology books for a break.  I’ve been doing so of late, reading several books on the Lockheed Blackbirds I’ve had lying around for years.  I’ve read a couple of Squadron/Signal books on the Blackbird, and this very good photo compilation from Tony Landis.  Squadron/Signal books have always been very fun to me, lots of really excellent photos but with a hefty amount of technical detail.

There were ultimately 3 main Blackbird variants – the original A-12 single-seat recon plane that was developed by and for the CIA.  Then there was the YF-12A interceptor variant for USAF I’ve

A-12 after fleet received radar-defeating black "iron ball" paint

A-12 after fleet received radar-defeating black “iron ball” paint

already blogged about.  Finally and most well known was the two seat SR-71A used by SAC as a strategic reconnaissance platform for many years.

One of the prime questions regarding the Blackbird family has been their true level of performance.  USAF data sheets almost invariably quoted the type as being capable of Mach 3+ with an altitude of 70,000 ft.  Enthusiast publications long thought those numbers were probably gross underestimates, with most authors claiming the Blackbird actually capable of Mach 3.3+ and altitudes in excess of 80,000 ft.  These reports were based on some very solid information – in 1976, an SR-71A set a world speed record of

A-12 had pointier, more slender fuselage - less drag

A-12 had pointier, more slender fuselage – less drag

2193 mph at 82,000 ft – Mach 3.32.

But there were many who felt even these figures were underestimates, as there had been rumors for years of Blackbirds routinely exceeding both figures.  Some of these estimates were ludicrous – speeds over Mach 4, even Mach 5 were quoted in some hyperventilating sources, but there long remained belief that the Blackbird’s true capabilities had never really been known.

Based on data I’ve correlated from four different books, all published after the Blackbird retired and much data was declassified, it seems the real maximum performance figures by type were as follows:

  • A-12 – the fastest variant, top speed Mach 3.6 (2380 mph) with peak altitude over 95,000 ft
  • YF-12A – the slowest variant (the huge radome significantly increased drag), Mach 3.2, ceiling 85,000 ft
  • SR-71A – top speed Mach 3.45 – 3.5, ceiling ~90,000 ft.


All of the Blackbirds were capable of exceeding these figures in an emergency.  The Birds were moderately robust – if an inlet unstarted violently (this happened when supersonic airflow made it into the giant J58 turbo-ramjet engines and literally blew the engine out, like blowing out a candle), it would be all day with you – but its titanium structure was pretty forgiving of overspeed.  While Mach 3.3 was the normal operational speed limit at least on the SR-71, in emergencies pilots did exceed this limit.

The key parameter was the knots estimated air speed at a given altitude.  Exceeding this limit – normally set at lockheed_sr71_l2500 KEAS at 80,000 ft – would expose the airframe to dynamic pressures and heat loads beyond which it was designed to handle.  On one test flight, a Blackbird reached a peak KEAS of 582 knots – quite well beyond it’s design limit, but the aircraft landed with no damage.

Note that KEAS has nothing to do with true airspeed or ground speed, it is a calculated value dependent on altitude, ambient temperature, density altitude, etc.

Because KEAS was one of the critical factors limiting Blackbird performance, atmospheric conditions on a given lockheed_sr71_l3flight could have a substantial impact on performance.  Flying in the high polar regions generally permitted faster speeds due to lower density altitudes and ambient temperatures. However, one Blackbird crew did report briefly touching Mach 3.5 (this may be exaggeration) on a mission over Libya in 1986, after Operation El Dorado Canyon, in which they were targeted and fired on by multiple surface-to-air missiles.

One final note – as you can see in the photo below, the SR-71 had a removable nose section.  Different nose were produced for different sensor packages.  Two of the most common were a nose housing a large “optical bar camera” with a 60″ focal length, and a package housing an Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar for radar mapping.

I love me some good Blackbird Pr0n.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (2)


Can you believe this was designed in 1959-1961?

Can you believe this was designed in 1959-1961?

SR-71 of Det. 9 at Kadena AB, Okinawa. Blackbirds were affectionately known as Habu, the Okinawan name for a very nasty poisonous snake

SR-71 of Det. 9 at Kadena AB, Okinawa. This is an operational mission during the Vietnam War. Blackbirds were affectionately known by their crews as Habu, the Okinawan name for a very nasty poisonous snake

You want still more Blackbird notes?  OK, at Mach 3+, the engines ran at full afterburner, but the vast majority of the thrust was actually made by the convergent/divergent nozzles (Bernoulli effect) at the front and back end.  The pointy cone in front of the engine in the photo above?  Those would translate back and forth 26 inches during flight to control airflow.  The air going through the engine had to be subsonic or the engine would “unstart,” or literally blow out.  These events were violent and dangerous, one SR-71 was lost over New Mexico due to an unstart. At Mach 3, the pressure effect of forcing the air into a narrow channel and then letting it expand provided 80% of engine thrust, while the fuel burning in the afterburner only provided the remaining 20%.  All Blackbirds flew in full afterburner throughout their operational sorties.  The J-58 engines were rated at 34,000 lbst each at sea level, I do not know what kind of thrust they produced at altitude.

A total of 50 Blackbirds of all types were built.  A great many were lost in accidents – about 1/3 of the fleet.

The aircraft grew 3″ longer in flight.  The skin on the SR-71 would heat up to 850 degrees in places at Mach 3+.  That is why it had to be constructed almost entirely of titanium.  Stainless steel could have been used, but would have been far heavier.

11 operational SR-71s at Beale, date unknown. I would guess late 80s by the paint schemes on the tankers in the background

11 operational SR-71s at Beale, date unknown. I would guess late 80s by the paint schemes on the tankers in the background


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