FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 4th thorough 7th 2017

Additional Sanctions Imposed on North Korea

The UN Security Council is credited with imposing ‘tough new’ economic sanctions on North Korea.  Good.  It’s also important to note the Security Council was unanimous in approving these sanctions including support from both China and Russia.  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson currently at the ASEAN summit in the Philippines indicated, “The best signal that North Korea could give us that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches. Those sanctions; they will take time to have an impact. Secretary Tillerson said the US will be monitoring implementation of the sanctions to ensure they are enforced by all countries.  Will they at last bring Pyongyang to the realization that a nuclear ICBM capable will not be tolerated?  I doubt it.  In the 25 through 27 July edition of FOD, I noted I don’t believe Kim Jong Un will be persuaded, as he is still able to control all aspects of his government’s supply and demand systems.

He allowed his people to suffer widespread famine and all previous attempts to isolate he and his “family business” government have neither deterred nor abated the progress of his nuclear development program.  For him, this is just more of the same and he can point to outside nations as responsible for his people’s further hardships.  The only way he will discuss any change of direction of his nuclear program is if he is assured regime change and the reunification of the Korean peninsula is somehow not a long term goal.  Then of course we would be supporting another dictator with an abysmal record on human rights.  What you think Friends of FOD?


Transgender Policy Post Trump Tweets

President Trump’s tweets declaring transgender service members unwelcome in the military has senior leadership officials left to sort out what a new policy might look like.  Which really means a bunch of military lawyers are meeting with White House officials to try to determine what a new policy should look like and what policies should govern those who troops who have declared themselves transgender.  The legal and moral issues extend to service members who have served honorably, many with combat tours completed.  Military Times is reporting, Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that talks between the White House and the Pentagon to work out the details of a new transgender policy have begun. Although it’s unclear what the result will be, the discussions illustrate that Trump’s aides aren’t writing off his three-tweet salvo last week as an isolated outburst but as guidance for an upheaval in one of the military’s most sensitive equal rights questions.  Whatever the final policy, court challenges are certain.  If Trump stands by his tweet and the Pentagon is told to beginning discharging transgender service members, officials must address several questions: Who would be thrown out? What type of discharge would they receive? How long of a grace period would they have before leaving? Comments?


New Hook3 Coming to Your Survival Vest Soon

Military Times is reporting, General Dynamics has released a new combat survival radio.  The HOOK3 provides direct line-of-sight voice and encrypted two-way data communications for downed pilots. It also automatically activates and then securely transmits location data when it detects specific G-forces or the presence of salt water.  “The HOOK3 radio is 30 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the HOOK2 radio, and has a smaller, longer lasting battery,” according to a General Dynamics news release. “In addition, the embedded GPS module has 32 channels enabling a faster position acquisition time, more accurate position reporting and better performance under forested or densely vegetated areas or near structures. The radio transmits encrypted GPS, user identification, situation reports and other critical information to rescue teams and aircraft in short bursts to reduce the risk of detection. The radio can also use multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).”  I wish I had had one when I ejected the first time some 120 miles off the coast of Mexico.  My Viet Nam era PRC-90 didn’t work.  The Mishap Investigation Board later found to have had a really weak antenna connection.  It would work OK in the confines of the paraloft testing environment, but wouldn’t transmit or receive outside of 20 feet.  So I pulled up my URT-33 seat pan beacon from its attached line and put it in my lap.  Never give any of your survival gear the float test.  The USCG helo was able to home in on that beacon and got me rescued as darkness was setting in.  I date myself.



Tesla Model 3 Hits the Streets, But Other High Performance EV’s On the Way

I’m sure all of us motor heads and Friends of FOD noted Elon Musk first showed the Tesla Model 3 to the world in March 2016, speculation about the electric equivalent of the BMW 3 Series has, at times, reached levels of obsession. While the first 12 months or so were largely limited to design analyses and hot takes that often seemed to more closely reflect the author’s position on Tesla stock rather than the car’s potential merits, the start of prototype production in late February led to numerous spy shots of both the amateur and professional varieties.  Somehow, the California automaker managed to keep details under wraps until tonight’s presentation of the first 30 customer cars to their new owners, who have waited patiently since putting down a $1,000 deposit nearly 16 months ago. (The first production car, SN1, became Musk’s property after board member Ira Ehrenpreis gave away his claim to it as a birthday present.) (above left).  But if you’re looking for an electric vehicle, several more are on their way to a dealer or a place near you.  The Porsche Mission E is the internal designation for the first generation fully electric powered Porsche, which was unveiled as a concept car at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor ShowThe Mission E (left) is built at an entirely new platform, and has over 600 HP. It goes from 0–100 km/h in 3.5 seconds and 0–200 km/h in 12 seconds. The projected top speed is over 250 km/h. Porsche is aiming for the Mission E to achieve a range of over 500 km (310 mi).  The NIO EP9 is an electric-powered, two-seat supercar manufactured by NIO, assisted by their Formula E racing division. (below right)It holds several track records.  Each of the EP9’s wheels has its own motor and transmission. Each motor has 335.25 horsepower, giving the car a total power output of 1,341 hp (1,000 kW; 1,360 PS). The EP9 is both all-wheel drive,[2] and individual-wheel drive. The EP9 has an advanced torque vectoring system that can adjust the power output to each wheel. The Fisker Emotion is another high end, and high performance vehicle at this point in the planning stages. The Lucid Motors “Air” boosts a 100 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack comes standard; combined drivetrain performance is 1,000 horsepower; the 0–60 mph time is 2.5 seconds; and the model comes standard with a full self-driving tech hardware suite that includes LiDAR (right). Pricing is around $100,000 for lower-optioned vehicles.



Blue Angels Lookin’ Good at Sea Fair

There was some reduced visibility this year for Sea Fair, but the Blue Angels put on a very nice show over Lake Washington.  The Canadians are still fighting major wildfires just over the border and sending the smoke our way.  We took the boat down the east side of Lake Washington and stayed a bit north of the I-90 bridge (which is always closed for the airshow).  That gave us a little different perspective relative to show center this year.  Anyway, nice execution, sharp maneuvers, great separation.


Sea Fair and Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot “Tex” Johnston

And speaking of Sea Fair, on August 6, 1955, Boeing’s Chief of Flight Test, Alvin M. “Tex” Johnston, barrel-rolled the Model 367-80, prototype of the KC-135 Stratotanker and 707 Stratoliner, over Lake Washington.  Twice.  This photograph was taken by the flight test engineer, Bill Whitehead.  I covered this in a previous edition of FOD recently, but the aileron roll is certainly worth mentioning again.



Navy’s Combatant Craft Assault Boats In Middle Eastern Waters

Navy Times is reporting, U.S. special operations is reportedly using the Navy’s stealthy Combatant Craft Assault boats in Middle Eastern waters, reports The DriveThe CCA is used for medium-range, maritime interdiction operations in higher threat environments, per an unclassified Maritime Systems presentation, the outlet reports.  The boat’s design, with its composite hull and high-performance diesel engines, enables it to operate with low risk of detection, per The Drive.

161209-N-ME988-738 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 09, 2016) – Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) throw line to Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) with Special Boat Team (SBT) 20 during a training exercise in the ship’s well deck. The team practiced mooring and maneuvering their craft inside the ship’s well deck. Carter Hall is underway with the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) participating in ARG/Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (ARG/MEUEX). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Darren M. Moore/Released)

This makes the CCA an ideal craft for the insertion and extraction of special forces.  The CCM Mk1 is the current variant, but the Mk 2 version is planned for sometime soon.  Each craft receives an individual hull number, but they don’t receive names (much like the PT boats of WW II).






Catalina PBY Engages in Recycling in 1943

On 04 August 1943, a radar-equipped Catalina PBY carries out predawn bombing of a submarine base and main Japanese camp area on Kiska. The Catalina also drops 92 empty beer bottles (for the disconcerting whistling effect they produce) on those targets.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, was an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.  During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfarepatrol bombingconvoy escortssearch and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. A flight of Catalinas spotted the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of MidwayThe PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and the last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. In 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.



Battle of Mobile Bay

At the Battle of Mobile Bay onboard the USS  Hartford  Rear Admiral David G. Farragut (left) assaulted the Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan (below right) and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay.  Farragut led a mixed fleet of 18 vessels eight were conventional wooden-hulled ships carrying large numbers of guns that fired broadside. Four of these had been with the West Gulf Blockading Squadron from the start (flagship HartfordBrooklynRichmond, and Oneida) and had fought in its battles on the Mississippi. Two smaller gunboats had likewise been with Farragut since the capture of New Orleans: Kennebec and ItascaGalena was now very much like the others, but she had begun life as an experimental ironclad. Her armor had been found to be more hindrance than help, so it was removed.  Three were double-enders (OctoraraMetacomet, and Port Royal), a type of warship that had been developed during the war to navigate the tortuous channels of the interior rivers. Finally, four were representatives of the New Navy: ironclad monitors. Of these, Manhattan and Tecumseh were improved versions of the original Monitor, featuring two large guns in a single turret. The Chickasaw and Winnebago were twin-turreted river monitors of light draft; each mounted four guns that were smaller than those carried by the other two.  At dawn on August 5, conditions were nearly ideal for the attack. The tide was running in, so Farragut had his ships reduce steam pressure in order to minimize damage if their boilers were hit; he relied on the current to give them speed. The southwest breeze that sprang up would carry smoke from the guns away from the fleet and into the faces of the artillerymen in Fort Morgan.  The fleet approached the fort with TecumsehManhattanWinnebago, and Chickasaw in order leading the way. The second column was led by Brooklyn lashed to OctoraraBrooklyn had the lead because she carried four chase guns that could fire forward, while the other large ships had only two. She was also fitted with a device for removing mines, referred to as a “cowcatcher” by Farragut in his reports.  Following were Hartford and MetacometRichmond and Port RoyalLackawanna and SeminoleMonongahela and KennebecOssipee and Itasca, and Oneida and Galena.  An anecdote of the battle that has some dramatic interest has it that Farragut was lashed to the mast during the passage of Fort Morgan. The image that it brings to mind is of absolute resolve: if his ship were to be sunk in the battle, he would go down with her. The truth, however, is more prosaic. He was indeed lashed to the rigging of the mainmast, but it was a precautionary move rather than an act of defiance. It came about after the battle had opened and smoke from the guns had clouded the air. In order to get a better view of the action, Farragut climbed into Hartford‘s rigging and soon was high enough that a fall would certainly incapacitate him and could have killed him. Seeing this, Captain Drayton sent a seaman aloft with a piece of line to secure the admiral. He demurred, saying, “Never mind, I am all right,” but the sailor obeyed his captain’s orders, tying one end of the line to a forward shroud, then around the admiral and to the after shroud.  Later, when CSS Tennessee made her unsupported attack on the Federal fleet, Farragut climbed into the mizzen rigging. Still concerned for his safety, Captain Drayton had Flag Lieutenant J. Crittenden Watson tie him to the rigging again.  Thus, the admiral had been tied to the rigging twice in the course of the battle.  Most popular accounts of the battle relate that Brooklyn slowed when Tecumseh crossed her path, and Farragut asked why she was not moving ahead. The reply came back that torpedoes (mines) were in her path—to which he allegedly replied, “Damn the torpedoes.” The story did not appear in print until several years later, and some historians question whether it happened at all.  Some forms of the story are highly unlikely; the most widespread is that he shouted to Brooklyn, “Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead!” Men present at the battle doubted that any such verbal communication could be heard above the din of the guns. More likely, if it happened, is that he said to the captain of Hartford, “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells,  Captain Drayton.” Then he shouted to the commander of Metacomet, lashed to Hartford‘s side, “Go ahead, Jouett, full speed.” The words have been altered in time to the more familiar, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  In any case that’s what is remembered.  This Union victory, together with the capture of Atlanta, by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman was extensively covered by Union newspapers and was a significant boost for Abraham Lincoln’s bid for re-election three months after the battle.



First Production Boeing B-52A First Flight

I have addressed the XB-52 and the YB-52 in the past, but on August 5, 1954, the first production B-52A, Stratofortress BO 52-001 made its first flight from Boeing Field, Seattle, WA.  There were a couple distinct differences in the production model than the two prototypes mentioned.  Side-by-side seating replaced the tandem seating of the prototypes and the predecessor the B-47.

Boeing B-52A (S/N 52-001) in flight. Note the external fuel tanks have been removed. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Additionally the B-52 had an inflight refueling system so as to allow it to take fuel from the KC-97.  BO-52-001 and two other test aircraft 002 and 003 were used as the test articles.  52-001 was scrapped at Tinker AFB in 1961.






Enola Gay Drops First Nuclear Weapon

On the early morning of 06 August 1945, at 0245L, Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named for Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets departed from the  North FieldTinian in the Marshall Islands.

The Enola Gay (Model number B-29-45-MO, Serial number 44-86292, Victor number 82) was built by the Glenn L. Martin Company (now Lockheed Martin) at its Bellevue, Nebraska plant, located at what is now known as Offutt Air Force BaseEnola Gay was personally selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., the commander of the 509th Composite Group, on 9 May 1945, while still on the assembly line. In its bomb bay was Little Boy, a gun-type nuclear weapon L-11, the first nuclear weapon to be used in war.  The bomb, weighed 9700 pounds and contained 64 kilograms (141.1 lbs) of highly-enriched uranium.  It had been brought to Tinian secured to the deck of the USS Indianapolis (see FOD earlier edition).  Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s, The Great Artiste, carrying instrumentation, and a then-nameless aircraft later called Necessary Evil, commanded by Captain George Marquardt, to take photographs. The director of the Manhattan ProjectMajor General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., wanted the event recorded for posterity, so the takeoff was illuminated by floodlights.   After leaving Tinian, the aircraft made their way separately to Iwo Jima, where they rendezvoused at 8000 feet and set course for Japan. The aircraft arrived over the target in clear visibility at 32,333 ft. Captain William S. “Deak” Parsons of Project Alberta, who was in command of the mission, armed the bomb during the flight to minimize the risks during takeoff. His assistant, Second Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson, removed the safety devices 30 minutes before reaching the target area.  The release at 08:15 (Hiroshima time) went as planned, and the Little Boy took 43 seconds to fall from the aircraft flying at 31,060 feet (9,470 m) to the predetermined detonation height about 1,968 feet (600 m) above the city. Enola Gaytraveled 11.5 mi (18.5 km) before it felt the shock waves from the blast. Although buffeted by the shock, neither Enola Gay nor The Great Artiste was damaged.  The detonation created a blast equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT (67 TJ).  The U-235 weapon was considered very inefficient, with only 1.7% of its fissile material fissioning. The radius of total destruction was about one mile (1.6 km), with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles.  Americans estimated that 4.7 square miles (12 km2) of the city were destroyed. Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and another 6–7% damaged.  Some 70,000–80,000 people, 30% of the city’s population, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 injured.   Out of those killed, 20,000 were soldiers.  Enola Gay returned safely to its base on Tinian to great fanfare, touching down at 2:58 pm, after 12 hours 13 minutes. The Great Artiste and Necessary Evil followed at short intervals. Several hundred people, including journalists and photographers, had gathered to watch the planes return. Tibbets was the first to disembark, and was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross on the spot. Restoration work on the aircraft began in 1984, and would eventually require 300,000 staff hours. While the fuselage was on display, from 1995 to 1998, work continued on the remaining unrestored components. The aircraft was shipped in pieces to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia from March–June 2003, with the fuselage and wings reunited for the first time since 1960 on 10 April 2003 and assembly completed on 8 August 2003. The aircraft is currently at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, since the museum annex opened on 15 December 2003.  When I was an airline pilot I had several trips to Saipan and on one of those trips took a boat over to Tinian Island.  You can walk unobstructed to the North Field and see the pit where Little Boy was placed and then loaded aboard the Enola Gay.  It is a truly eerie experience.



CNO Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Issues Z-Gram 116

ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt was the youngest man to serve as Chief of Naval Operations. As an admiral and later the 19th Chief of Naval Operations, Zumwalt played a major role in U.S. military history, especially during the Vietnam War. A decorated war veteran, Zumwalt reformed U.S. Navy personnel policies in an effort to improve enlisted life and ease racial tensions.  He was a graduate of  the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, class of 1942.  In January 1944, Zumwalt reported for duty onboard USS Robinson. On this ship, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device for “heroic service as Evaluator in the Combat Information Center …in action against enemy Japanese battleships during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944.”  After the end of World War II in August 1945, Zumwalt continued to serve until December 8, 1945, as the prize crew officer of the Ataka, a 1,200-ton Japanese river gunboat with a crew of 200. In this capacity, he took the first American-controlled ship since the outbreak of World War II up the Huangpu River to Shanghai, China. There, they helped to restore order and assisted in disarming the Japanese.  As CNO, he served during some tremulous years where major changes were needed to reform the Navy to a modern era.  He was particularly focused on reforming Navy personnel policies in an effort to improve enlisted life and ease racial tensions of the times.  “Z-gram” was the semi-official title for policy directives issued by Elmo Zumwalt as Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).[8] Many of these directives were efforts to reform outdated policies potentially contributing to difficulties recruiting and retaining qualified naval personnel during the period of United States withdrawal from the Vietnam War.  On 07 August 1970, he issued Z-Gram 116, Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women.  MY POSITION WITH RESPECT TO WOMEN IN THE NAVY IS THAT THEY HAVE HISTORICALLY PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF OUR NAVAL MISSION. HOWEVER, I BELIEVE WE CAN DO FAR MORE THAN WE HAVE IN THE PAST IN ACCORDING WOMEN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR EXTENSIVE TALENTS AND TO ACHIEVE FULL PROFESSIONAL STATUS.