Posted in Images Military History

Packed house

Members of the American Ordnance Association pack USS Valley Forge‘s island near Long Beach, Cal., 27 April 1949. An F8F-2 Bearcat — the Navy’s last piston-powered fighter — is parked in the foreground. (U.S. Navy photo)
Posted in Military History

Today in military history: ‘Eight days in a garbage can’

1918: When enemy fighters shoot down Ensign George M. Ludlow’s Machhi M.5 seaplane (featured image) off the Austria-Hungary coast, Charles H. Hammann lands beside him and rescues the downed aviator. Hamman’s fighter is also damaged, and the winds high and seas choppy, but he manages to take off with Ludlow holding the struts behind him (the plane wasn’t designed to carry two pilots) and flies 65 miles across the Adriatic Sea to the air station at Porto Cassini, Italy. The plane sinks from the weight of the extra passenger after landing but both aviators are safe.

Grumman F8F Bearcat fighters ready for takeoff aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Tarawa (CV-40) circa 1948. (U.S. Navy photo)

Hammann, an enlisted pilot at the time, becomes the first Naval aviator awarded the Medal of Honor and is commissioned as an ensign after his daring flight.

1942: On Guadalcanal, around 900 soldiers of Japan’s 17th Army slam into about 2,500 Marines manning positions along Alligator Creek. Wave after wave of Japanese soldiers are cut down by the Marines, killing well over 700 attackers – including the Japanese commander – while inflicting nearly 100 percent casualties.

1944: Grumman’s last piston-powered fighter, the F8F-1 Bearcat, makes its first flight. The warplane can fly faster and climb more quickly than the venerable Hellcat, but enters service too late to see action in World War II. The Blue Angels will begin using the Bearcat for their demonstrations, and many Navy and Marine aviators – including Neil Armstrong – consider the agile warplane as their favorite.

Continue reading “Today in military history: ‘Eight days in a garbage can’”