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Flightline Friday: The RAW deal of the Century September 19, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, history, reading, silliness, Society.
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In the late 1950s, many NATO governments were looking for a supersonic fighter to replace the first generation jets then in service, like the F-86 Sabre.  Because so many countries were in the market for basically the same jet, and because NATO countries took their defense obligations much more seriously back then, there was potential for a very big sale.  As such, many aircraft manufacturers pushed their own types, but the competition quickly settled down on two American aircraft – the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and the Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger.



The Grumman aircraft started life as a carrier based day fighter/interceptor to meet USN requirements.  At the time the original F11F Tiger was developed – 1953-4 – the Navy was severely embarrassed that its jet aircraft lagged severely behind their Air Force counterparts.  They did so for several reasons, including Navy concern over using swept wing aircraft onboard carriers (they were afraid the swept wings would cause problems in the landing pattern, a problem obviated when the Navy switched from straight to angled decks) and the USN’s penchant for demanding its aircraft manufacturers use really, really bad engines.  The Tiger was an attempt by the Navy to narrow the performance gap, but once again, the Navy made a terrible choice for the engine – the Wright J65, a license built British jet.  Unfortunately, by the mid-50s, Wright was just about exhausted as a major player in aviation, and their J65 engine series never lived up to its expected potential.  So, the F11F wound up underperforming expectations badly, being barely supersonic (Mach 1.1), instead of equivalent to its contemporary Air Force counterpart, the F-100 Super Sabre, which managed Mach 1.4 with its far superior J57 engine.

However, Grumman felt their design was being poorly served by the J65, and on their own cost and initiative, installed the then very new and highly advanced General Electric J79 engine in a slightly modified F11F they called the F11F-1F (a mouthful!).  The J79 was very new, and not readily available, so it was mid-1956 before the installation could be completed.  However, once it was, the F11f_grumman_tigerSuper Tiger achieved Mach 1.44 on one early flight, and by late 1957 had reached Mach 2.04 through various minor improvements for better high speed stability.  This speed was fully equivalent to the highest performing USAF types of the day, and faster than any then-current Navy fighter.  Unfortunately for Grumman, the Navy had already selected THE GREATEST MILITARY AIRCRAFT OF ALL TIME!, the Chance-Vought F8U Crusader, for its supersonic day fighter requirement, so the Navy was no longer interested (and they were so for very good reasons – the F8U was almost as fast, but had far longer range and could carry a much larger load.  It was at least as maneuverable as the Super Tiger, and probably more so in most regimes).

But, Grumman was sitting on a really hot little fighter, with sparkling performance for its time, and it was sure someone would want to buy it.  As already mentioned, several NATO countries were looking to make several hundred aircraft buys of supersonic fighters.  The competition, as mentioned, quickly devolved in most countries down to the F-104 Starfighter, also Mach 2 capable and possessing even higher performance than the Super Tiger in a few areas of flight, and the F11F-1F.

Super Tiger

Super Tiger

Both aircraft were incredibly short ranged – the F-104, even with wingtip tanks, had a mission radius of less than 200 miles for most missions.  The Super Tiger was somewhat better – you could say about 50% better, on average, but it was hardly long legged.  Both aircraft were quite small, essentially being the smallest airframe wrapped around the biggest, most powerful engine possible.  That did give them high performance and made them a delight to fly, but did cost in terms of range and payload.

The first major player in the competition for new supersonic aircraft was the German Luftwaffe, which wound up buying nearly a thousand.  As in every subsequent case, the judgment of the all the test flight personnel was that the F11F-1F was a far superior aircraft overall, even if the Lockheed bird could out climb it.  The problem with the Starfighter was its T-tail and its very small wing.  The small wing caused the Starfighter to have absolutely ludicrous takeoff and landing speeds – the aircraft  landed at about 250 mph.  It also had atrocious energy management, meaning the aircraft had to be kept going very fast until the last possible moment over the runway, when the aircraft would be quickly flared and then landed. It was really, really hard to land.  Given that the Luftwaffe had only been reconstituted in 1955 and had many inexperienced pilots, the combination of the Starfighter’s difficult landing characteristics, its tendency to stall when pitched up at too high an angle of attack, and all those inexperienced pilots, made the Starfighter a very dangerous choice.  The Luftwaffe strongly recommended the F11F-1F, but the F11F-1F_NAN12-56government overruled them and selected the F-104.  Why that occurred would later become a great scandal.

After the Luftwaffer, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and the Canadians also compared the Super Tiger and the Starfighter.  Events developed much has they had before, with the services strongly recommending the Super Tiger and the government later overruling.  In the case of the JASDF, this was particularly egregious, as the government had actually formally announced the Super Tiger the winner of the competition, but later renounced its own decision and went with the Lockheed bird.

In every case, the Starfighter had an absolutely atrocious safety record.  In Germany, about 1/3 of the entire fleet of 700 Starfighters were lost to accidents.  In Canada, almost half were lost.  Even the USAF, which bought only a few Starfighters due to its short legs, and which had the best Starfighter safety record of all, twice as many Starfighters were lost to accidents as other contemporary types.  It was a very problematic design.



So why did the Starfighter win all those competitions, selling over 2000 aircraft, when the Super Tiger was bought by none?  When Lockheed won all those NATO contracts, they called it the “deal of the century.”  But it was later discovered that the reason they had won all those competitions was because Lockheed had spent tens of millions of dollars bribing government officials in almost every single country where the Starfighter was chosen.  It was called the Lockheed bribery scandal, and forced the resignation of both the CEO and Chairman of Lockheed, and almost resulted in the collapse of the company.  As Corky Meyer, Grumman’s chief test pilot for the Super Tiger said: “Grumman only knew how to build aircraft, Lockheed knew how to sell them.”

Only two Super Tigers wound up being built, and the type became an aviation also-ran, which was a worst fate than it deserved.  While limited in range and payload, it was relatively cheap and easy to maintain and operate, and would have served well in many smaller air forces around the world.

An interesting anecdote regarding the F-104.  It was the first service aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in level flight. One of the ways that speed was achieved was by having very small, very thin wings, which reduced parasitic drag (but also lift, hence the high landing speeds).  The wings are actually so thin, and the leading edge so sharp, that ground crew had to wear special gloves to keep from cutting their hands on them. I used to think that had to be an exaggeration, until I cut my hand on the wing leading edge of an F-104C at Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

The Navy did buy a couple hundred of the original F11F Tigers and they served until the early 60s in squadron service. They served much longer with the famous Blue Angels, who used the type until the late 60s due to its honest flying characteristics and good maneuverability.

The Tiger is mostly forgotten, even among many aviation enthusiasts.  I guess that’s why there aren’t many videos on Youtube.  I did find a few.  This first one is silent and shows F11F, A4D, F3H, and helicopter operations on CVA-19 Hancock in 1955!  See that huge A3D “Whale” takeoff @1:30!

Below see the Blue Angels performing in Tigers in the late 60s:

Last one, an F11F takes the barrier on CV-38 Shangri-La:

I don’t know what the last half is about, looks like someone’s home movies!

Ah, what the heck, one more – more flight deck action including F11Fs in heavy Pacific seas in the late 50s:

I am probably the only person who watched every bit of those.


What are they thinking? September 16, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, error, foolishness, non squitur, paganism, rank stupidity, secularism, sickness, silliness, Society.

This is a bit non sequitur, but what the heck are these truckers thinking?  I see more and more of this lately, truckers sporting huge spikes on the lug bolts of their front tires.  Do you know what that could do to some car’s tire?  Or another truck?  Or even the car itself?


I would say about 1 in 10 or 15 trucks these days has these things.  And the number is growing rapidly –  I never saw these even a year or two ago.  I caught these two in a traffic jam on 635 within a minute or two of each other a few days back.



I don’t know if this is some attempt to be cute, some theft deterrent, or just being “bad,” but I’ll say this – they are dangerous, and I can’t believe they are legal.  How would someone like it if I had spinning saw blades mounted on the side of my vehicle?  Well……when travelling at any speeds, that’s exactly what these things are.

I suppose, being understanding and all that, they could be just for appearance and are really made out of soft plastic and designed to break away upon contact?  But that would still leave a potential to hose up the finish on someone’s car pretty good.  On the other hand, they could be a sign of the growing indifference many people have towards their fellow man.  I could see someone’s tire getting blown out by these things and then their vehicle flipping and getting run over by the trailer.  And wouldn’t that be fun?

Anyone know what’s up with these things?

FSSP Seminarian update September 15, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Latin Mass, priests, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.
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Reader MFG sent me an update on the FSSP seminarian in need of financial support I blogged about a couple of weeks back.  Thanks to your generosity and that of many others, the seminarian has reached his goal and has both his debt from last year and expenses for this year fully covered:

I just wanted to thank you all again for all the support you have given Mike and his family. I think it is safe to say, that we are all shocked by all of this, and we are extremely grateful. Our goal for the $13,000 has been reached. The grace of God is just awesome!! Please remember Mike in your prayers, and remember there are other seminarians, as well, who need financial help too.

It is so encouraging to see people showing such generosity for strangers and having such concern for the future of the Church.  Thank you to all who were so generous in your support.  May God bless you!  And may God continue to bless His Church with such worthy young candidates for the priesthood.

Flightline Friday – A direct link from WWII to today in a single picture September 12, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, history, sadness, secularism, silliness, Society, technology.
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How old are American military aircraft?  World War II ended almost 70 years ago.   On November 12, 1944, with the war at the peak of its intensity, the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter took to the air for the first time.  Derived from the B-29 Superfortress, not many cargo versions of the aircraft were built, but over 800 tanker versions – the KC-97 – were built, starting in 1948.

The Northrop P-530/YF-17 Cobra has already been covered on this blog. First conceived in 1969, the YF-17 engaged in a flyoff competition with the YF-16 in 1974.  The photo below is from that competition.  At the time, highly obsolescent KC-97 tankers were rapidly passing from service.   They were all gone by 1978, for a service period of 30 years.  The YF-17 was developed into the F-18 Hornet, which entered service in 1980.  It has been in service, then, 34  years, and is at present the Navy’s most modern fighter in squadron service (the F-35 still hasn’t achieved that).


So in a single photo, you can see a direct line of constantly operational US military aircraft from 1944 to 2014 – 70 years.  In fact, since the Super Hornet will be in service for at least another 20 years, that almost 100 years of aviation in one photo. 70 years ago, it would have been unthinkable that an aircraft could remain in service for so long, but it is common in the military today. The USAF used to have a policy of painting an “O,” for obsolete, in front of the tail numbers of all of its aircraft more than 10 years old (in fact, you can see that on the tail of the KC-97L above).  From the inception of flight until the 1970s, that was a pretty fair policy, since most aircraft served less than 10 years and were replaced.  In the go-go 50s and 60s, when American aviation was at its peak, new types were introduced almost every year, and “old” types retired. Now, we’re so broke, there is barely a new fighter for each decade, and a new bomber or cargo aircraft once each generation.  This trend is the inevitable result of the advanced state of socialism in our political-economic system. In fact, the average age of the USAF fleet is over 30 years.  Many types, like the B-52 and KC-135, are over 50 years old.

Britain once ruled the waves.  Until at least the 1930s, Britain was as powerful a nation as any in the world.  Fighting WWII alone for a year did terrific damage to the British economy, but that’s not why Britain is in the pathetic state, militarily, that it is today.  In all honesty, I do not think Britain even retains the ability to defend their nation from external attack, let alone project any power.  At present, the Royal Navy is 2/3 the size of the United States Coast Guard – and about as combat effective.  The British Army only has 36 operational tanks.  The Royal Air Force consists of about 100 combat capable tactical aircraft (and most of those, the Typhoons, are still very limited).

Britain, in terms of socialism, has been, consistently since WWII, about 20-30 years ahead of the United States.  The same budget pressures, caused by massive transfers of wealth from productive to unproductive sectors of the economy, and ham-handed centralized economic planning, that have left Britain almost defenseless, are at work in the United States.  The US military is in the process of being gutted, once again.  I won’t go into the details, but in 5-10 years the US military will be a shadow of its former self.  Perhaps that is as it should be, given what an immoral instrument the armed services have become under the past two demonrat administrations.

This post is a bit of a lament. I loved the US military of the 80s, strong, well-armed, well-funded, with tons of great kit being produced, and most of all – not used.  At least not much.  There were no endless, draining wars back then.  There didn’t have to be, the world knew the US military circa 1987 was large, capable, and not to be messed with. Even the massive Soviet military machine respected and, to a degree, feared our military capabilities.  As that military weakens, and our political leadership becomes increasingly feckless and beholden to domestic political interests, more and more adversaries will be tempted to take a shot.

The world is going to become a much bloodier, messier, less happy place.  I am not recommending a massive increase in defense spending, or more wars, especially not with the current clown college running things in this country, but I am maybe sounding a bit of a note of caution.  It’s easy to bash military intervention and pine for isolationism, but all that will have a cost.  Human nature being what it is, when the alpha male weakens and resigns the field, others will take their chance.  We’re seeing that in abundance already.  And I fear it will only get worse.


The Hellenic Air Force still uses A-7H’s.  Hopefully next week I’ll have time to do a post on the A-7, a very underrated and under-appreciated bird.

SpaceX chooses South Texas launch site September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, fun, Society, technology.
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Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, CA, better known as SpaceX, has chosen a site in rural Cameron County, Texas, along Boca Chica beach south of the mouth of the Rio Grande River for its first fully private, commercial launch site.  The site was long favored by SpaceX, which may also develop other launch sites at other locations in the future.  The Texas site is expected to see around 12 launches a year beginning late this decade:

Elon Musk’s commercial space-transport firm, SpaceX, is building a commercial launchpad in South Texas along the Gulf of Mexico with help from more than $20 million in state and local incentives.

Local officials believe the launch site, east of Brownsville near Boca Chica Beach, will create 500 jobs over a decade and require as much as $100 million in capital investment. Beyond the $15.3 million Texas is giving the project, SpaceX will collect another $5 million from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp.

The SpaceX facility will cover about 50 acres along the coast, a few miles from South Padre Island, and involve a launchpad, control center, and ground-tracking station. The facility is designed to launch about a dozen commercial satellites each year, a lucrative business that SpaceX maintains it can perform more cost-efficiently than rivals can.

“In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area,” Musk said in a press release on Monday from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office. SpaceX also has a rocket development facility in central Texas, near Waco. The company also considered sites in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Alaska.

It will be pretty neat to be able to drive down to south Texas and see space launches.  I’ve never seen one, personally, though I saw the contrail left by a Titan IV launched from Vandenberg when in LA, once.  That was pretty cool.

Maybe they’ll even launch the Falcon Heavy from there.  4 million lbs of thrust in that one:



More frequent will be the Falcon 9:


There have been reports, and continue to be, that SpaceX also wants to use this new spaceport as a production site for a new line of rockets with far larger core diameters.  The current Falcon 9 family has a 12 foot core, but SpaceX has proposed versions with cores on the order of 24 to 33 feet – the same as the first stage of a Saturn V.  One proposed version, called Falcon XX, would be capable of lifting over 240 tons per launch.  It is difficult to conceive whether there would be much demand for shooting 5oo,000 lb at a shot into orbit, or 200,000 lbs to the moon or Mars.  But SpaceX did produce a paper outlining such a few years ago, and this image has appeared on the web:


The one on the right is far larger than a Saturn V.  The point being, this launch site could develop into something much more than that, a very large production complex with ease of access, via the Intracoastal Waterway, to Cape Canaveral.  And that would be a great aid to the economy of South Texas.  This $20 million public investment, hardly an egregious amount, could turn into billions of dollars of infrastructure in one of the least developed parts of the state.


Rebuttals/Clarifications on the canonical standing of various MICM/Immaculate Heart of Mary groups September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, catachesis, episcopate, General Catholic, Latin Mass, religious, Tradition, Virtue.
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A couple of days ago I put up a post noting a beautiful occurrence in the Church, the entry into the novitiate of a young woman in the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (MICM) in Still River, Massachusetts. As part of that post, I mentioned again that I did not understand why there still seems to be some lingering suspicion towards this group in particular, which is completely regular in every respect.  This statement led to some discussion in the comments about other Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary/MICM groups, and their canonical status.  I was frankly a bit ignorant, or had fallen for some of the prevalent rumors, in stating that I didn’t think the other groups were fully regular, or that I at least thought there was some question on their status.

Well, Brother Andre Marie of catholicism.org and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond, New Hampshire dropped by to provide some clarification on the matter of the canonical status of these different branches of the Slaves, all originally descended from the Saint Benedict Center/Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary centered around Father Leonard Feeney.  Here is what he had to say:

Canonically, the group that you speak of here has the same exact status as the group in New Hampshire (of which I am the Prior). Both are essentially private associations of the faithful.

The other group in Still River is Saint Ann’s House — http://sistersofstbenedictcenter.org/ — a house of Sisters only (affiliated with male house of MICM — the Benedictines next-door are no longer MICMs.). The Sisters of Saint Ann’s House actually have a higher canonical status than any of the other MICM houses, as they are an episcopally approved private association of the faithful. (In Canon Law, there is a distinction between a de facto private association of the faithful and one that has episcopal approval.)

The New Hampshire Slaves (also called the Saint Benedict Center) discuss their canonical status at some length here.

I am certainly not a canon lawyer, nor an expert in these matters, but I wanted to make clear all of these groups both claim to be and appear to be recognized as having regular canonical status in the Church, and are not under any episcopal/ecclesiastical approbation.  There is a great deal of confusion around the internet regarding the status of these groups, with many folks retaining the impression that because Father Feeney was once in a problematic position several decades ago, any or all of the groups associated with him in the past or “descended” from those associated with him must still be so today.  The evidence indicates that Father Feeney died reconciled to the Church and that the groups listed above have regular recognition/interaction with their local dioceses as private associations of the faithful.  I know the Saint Benedict Center in Still River and in Richmond both have priests in residence offering valid Masses and with valid faculties for Confession.  I believe, but have not confirmed that the Saint Ann’ House group does, as well.

Hopefully this helps clear things up. Sorry for perpetuating any confusion.


Apologia for Father X September 10, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin.
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Sometimes in blogging, zeal can get ahead of prudence.  Other times, there are just plain miscommunications.  And sometimes people take something they read online and read way too much into it.  Irrespective of all the above, and in spite of the due diligence I thought I had done before posting, I apologize profusely for any problems that post may have caused.  It is very likely the intended recipient will never read this, but on the off chance he does, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  So sorry, Father, and I believe the matter has been rectified.

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Awesome early Flightline Friday September 9, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, fun, silliness, Society, technology.
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Readers will know of this blogger’s strange fascination with aviation in general and military aircraft in particular.  But I have an even more freakish subsidiary interest, and that is in cockpit/instrument panel design.  I especially love photos of cockpits at night with all the instruments lit up.  Back in the day, the backlighting would all be red, but now it is green for night vision compatibility.  Courtesy the United States Air Force Air Combat Command 134th Air Refueling Wing and 71st Rescue Squadron, two photos of a (very new) HC-130J Combat King II tanking at night from a (fifty year old) KC-135R:


I did not know tankers were lit up so much at night.  That sure ain’t combat conditions.  This was shot over Tennessee.  Beautiful shot, though.


Even better detail of the instrument panels.  I am in Hercules heaven.  You can see the very advanced instrumentation of the J model Hercules to good effect, including the flat panel color LCD displays and HUDs for both pilots.  Too bad the pics are not even higher resolution, I’d love to see even more detail.

BTW, if anyone has a shot of the interior of Apollo Command and Lunar Modules with the ambient lighting off and just the instrument backlighting on, please let me know!  I have one of the lunar module with most ambient lights off, but it’s not the best photo.

This was a case of a tanker refueling a tanker.  HC-130J are used to refuel rotary and tilt-wing aircraft during long rescue missions.  This capability was developed during Vietnam, and has been retained ever since.


I think that’s a P model Herc, not a J. Tanker to tanker refueling happens all the time:



One day I’ve got to do a post on the “son of F-8″ A-7 Corsair II, also pictured above.  That’s a KC-135E refueling a KC-10A, with a couple of A-7Ds waiting in the wings. Always remember:


Non Sequitur – 2015 Silverado Longhorn Edition September 5, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, silliness, fun.
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Oh, me wants one, me wants one very much:

2015 Chevrolet Silverado University of Texas Edition


My truck, which I spent a lot of time and money making just so, is getting pretty old.  I have planned to hang onto it more or less forever.  And, I have been rather unmoved by all the full size pickups released in the past 10 years or so.  As far as I’m concerned, pickup truck design and execution reached a zenith in the early oughts and has not returned to that level, since.  And then there was the whole bailout deal with GM, which pretty well soured me on them.

But I don’t know, an officially licensed UT edition with university-approved burnt orange color, that’s pretty tempting.  And only a $795 adder on a normal Texas Edition.  Hmmmm…….

Still, it’s a half ton.  And not a 4×4.  And doesn’t have a 6″ lift.  And no Ranch Hand.  All of which took me years and many $$$$ to acquire for my current truck.  And it just would not be the same without them, glorious burnt orange or no.

Speaking of, I cannot recommend Ranch Hand products enough.  I have had both a massive grill guard and a rear bumper from Ranch Hand on my truck for 10 years.  That truck has never seen a garage, or any kind of covered parking.  There have also been some collisions.  In spite of all that, both front and rear have not lost their paint, shown any rust, or really degraded in any appreciable way. The boys in Shiner build some good products.

Overall, I’m afraid I’d probably have to say no to this one, too.  I like my trucks to have a certain understated quality, in an over the top way……..this is probably too showy for me.

Something to think about, though.  If my leg doesn’t fall off.

Quick and ugly post September 4, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, General Catholic.
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I am back at work at least part time but I wanted to let folks know I’m improving.  I don’t have much content for this post, other than this is what my leg looked like Friday:


It looks somewhat better. I feel much better.  It’s a long slog with staph.

A photo of my recovery room, which my daughters kindly decorated for me:




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