Saturday Bag o’ Photos

I hope you’ll forgive me for posting more wristwatch photos. Here’s the state of my collection as of today, the favorites in the display case and the overflow pieces on individual stands. The little plastic stands were a gift to myself for Father’s Day.



After taking these photos, I realized there’s yet another Timex, but since it’s almost the same as the second from left watch in the lower photo, I didn’t bother reshooting. The favorites in the upper photo are the ones I wear daily (to be clear, one per day in rotation), the overflow watches only occasionally. I still favor mechanical watches, even though they have to be wound and set before wearing; the quartz pieces only need attention after a 30-day month, when the date needs to be advanced.

I have other toys as well. Like these two:

IMG_3252 copy IMG_3258 copy

The McDonnell-Douglas F-15 desk model was presented to me by the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB in 1978 when I completed flight training in the Eagle. In those days what are now called FTUs (formal training units) were RTUs (replacement training units), and the 555th Triple Nickel was the first F-15 RTU. But back to the desk model: you had to graduate to get one.

During my follow-on assignment to the 32nd TFS in the Netherlands, I was chosen to attend a two-week air-to-air missile theory & employment course at Raytheon’s Lowell Research Institute. In exchange for a fun time in the Boston area and learning all about AIM-7 Sparrows and AIM-9 Sidewinders, I became the 32nd’s missile instructor, sharing my knowledge with squadron mates. As with the F-15 model, every graduate of the Raytheon course was given one of these Sparrow models (the Sparrow, at the time, was the Eagle’s main long-range weapon, a complicated and problematic piece of gear in which a thousand mechanical and electronic subsystems had to work perfectly in order to hit and destroy a target … a “thinking man’s bullet,” as I learned in detail).

A detail I’d almost forgotten … when Major Cliver, my boss in the 32nd TFS, took me aside to tell me I’d been picked to go to the Raytheon course, he said “You’re an engineer, right?” “No,” I said, “I’m an English major.” “Oh shit,” he said, “you have to be one to go to the course. I thought the ‘Eng’ on your form meant something else. Well, never mind, you’re going anyway.” And so I went, joining a group of USAF and Navy pilots and weapon systems officers who were to a man engineering majors for a course taught by engineers, but you know what? As a fighter pilot I was so steeped in engineering language and ways of thinking it was no problem.

This is my most recent photo of the Gang of Three, Fritzi, Lulu, and Mister B.


The most recent photo of all three together, that is. I took it Monday morning, the 20th of May. Fritzi and Lulu jumped up on the bench but Mr. B needed a lift, his leaping days behind him. Sadly, so too are his days of going on morning walks with his younger housemates. His hips are stiff and he’s also getting wobbly back there. He stays home now when I walk the other two. He’s starting to have accidents indoors, but it’s an occasional thing. I walk him out to the back yard a couple of times every evening before bedtime, and he gets through the nights okay. Getting old sucks.

One thought on “Saturday Bag o’ Photos

  • Early in the Vietnam War and to the end neither of our missiles worked as expected, Sparrow being especially bad: Forecasted AIM-7 hit rate = 71%, AIM-9 = 65% hits.
    Total fantasy predictions since the tests were invalidated by the use of slow, non-manuevering drones at high altitude, with enhanced radar blips. The coddled, hand picked missiles were far from average; test runs were cherrypicked to excuse failures.
    Reality: ‘During Rolling Thunder, about 330 AIM-7s were fired for about 27 kills, a success rate of less than 9 percent. The AIM-9B Sidewinder was slightly more effective: about 15 percent of its shots were kills.’
    ‘During the entire course of the war (1965–1973), 281 AIM-7E2s were fired and achieved only 34 kills—a 12 percent success rate.’
    The Air Force turned largely to technical fixes while the Navy emphasis was on training and organization.
    The lack of a gun, combined with missile ineffectiveness, meant the agile MiGs often outscored USAF and Navy planes, and disrupted attack sortees at will. Gun pods downed 4 out of 8 MiGs in early use. The Navy never used the gun pods, nor an internal gun.
    “The quality of Air Force air-to-air training was also poor. Pilots who went through it complained that it was confusing and relied on outdated formations and tactics, such as the Fluid Four. There was little true verbal instruction by flying instructors, who seemed to believe that they had learned the hard way, so their students should too.
    “Lastly, Air Force air-to-air training was unrealistic, largely because of the heavy emphasis on safety. The Air Force lost 824 aircraft in 1951 and 472 in 1959. Increased emphasis on safety reduced the loss rate to 262 in 1965, and no one wanted the rate to go back up. Consequently, TAC imposed strict limits on aircraft maneuvering and conducted all air-to-air training against similar aircraft.”
    The Navy did better in the resumed late air war because of Top Gun dissimilar training, and more use of the AIM-9, and less use of the sparrow.
    ‘The AIM-7 Sparrow continued to be a disappointment for both Services. Two-thirds of the AIM-7s fired by both Services malfunctioned. The Air Force never recognized the ineffectiveness of the AIM-7. An Air Force general who directed Pacific Air Forces operations noted in 1972 that Air Force aircrews felt the AIM-7 was a better missile than the AIM-9. The Air Force used the AIM-7 for 30 of its 48 kills. The Navy, on the other hand, realized by 1968 that the AIM-7 was unreliable. Top Gun instructors urged their students to avoid it in favor of the AIM-9. The Navy used the AIM-9 for 23 of its 24 kills.”
    The Air Force used a surveillance and control system called Teaball to alert pilots of sneak MiG-21 attacks, but it was often off line.
    Postwar both sides realized effective training was the key, Top Gun doubling down on dissimilar training even during ‘peace’. And the Air Force starting Red Flag training.
    Tod recently posted…Cheapskate Tips: Cheapest Glarry Tiny Bass, Blackstar Fly3 Mini AmpMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge