Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My New Toys

My fiance calls me a geek.

I can't understand why...

I just bought these slide rules on eBay. And yes, if you're thinking that they were the inspiration for my digital/analog post yesterday, they were. A slide rule is a wonderful example of an analog computer.

It also looks kinda cool swinging from your belt in a holster. Just ask any engineering student from the 60's.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Five Favorite Airplanes

I got this from Tam.

There's no way I could stick to just 5, so here are a couple of honorable mentions before getting to the list.

Honorable Mentions.

Northrup-Grumman B-2 Spirit.
It's a flying wing. How cool is that? Watching the B-2 in flight is like seeing what Wilbur and Orville had in mind all along. So what if it costs almost as much to build as an aircraft carrier?

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
When I was stationed at Virginia Beach, like everybody else, I got caught in the morning rush just outside the main gates to the base. One of the runways started just past the road into those gates and one morning, a C-5 was landing. I felt like I was in the opening scene of Star Wars with a Corellian Star Destroyer passing directly overhead. The C-5 was moving so slowly, it seemed like it should just fall out of the sky.

5. Grumman F-14
Yeah, the F-18 is quicker, lighter, and faster. But there's a reason that Top Gun was filmed with the F-14 over the F-18: the Tomcat is simply the baddest looking plane to ever launch from a flight deck. Not to mention one of the most versatile, flying air support, intercept, air superiority, and even bombing missions during its heyday. It was also one of the more expensive plains to manufacture, fly, and maintain.

4. Taube.
I only know about this plane through an RC Modeling magazine I subscribed to but isn't it beautiful? I want to build one eventually. It was used during WWI as an observation and reconnaissance platform. It flew high and slow and stable. One of the coolest things about it was that it didn't use ailerons on the wings. Instead, it used an arrangement of cables to warp the entire wind surface. It makes sense, doesn't it? Have you ever seen a bird with ailerons?

3. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
This one looks fast even parked on the tarmac. Mach 3+ and a ceiling that almost touches space, the SR-71 was faster and flew higher than anything our enemies could throw at it. I built an Estes rocket model of this one and it had one awesome flight,except that one of the glue joints failed, and when the charge to deploy the chute went off, the nose cone burst into flame. It made for a very dramatic and unfortunately terminal landing.

2. Chance Vought F4U Corsair.
Are you starting to notice a trend? I like planes that are unusual in some way. For the Corsair, it's the bent wing that grabs me. Yeah, it was hard to fly, and easy to crash. But it was one of the first carrier built fighters that could rival land based fighters in speed and maneuverability. And it was the plane flown by Pappy Boyington, the lead Marine ace in the Pacific during WWII with 28 confirmed kills.

And that brings us to Number 1. This plane was flown by the two top American Aces of WWII, Richard Bong and Thomas McGuire, with 40 and 38 kills respectively. I'm talking about the...
1. Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
The Germans called it "the fork tailed devil," and the Japanese "two planes, one pilot." It destroyed more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied fighter, except for the F6F Hellcat,and was the aircraft chosen to attack Admiral Yamamoto's air convoy, depriving the Japanese of the architect of their entire battle plan and changing the course of the war.

And it looks awesome!

All pictures from

Posted by Rich
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