A Hog By Any Other Name
Great article on the Fairchild Republic A-10 in the November issue. As a former employee of Fairchild Republic in Hagerstown, Md., and a manufacturing engineer who helped produce the A-10, I thought I would pass on a brief history of the Thunderbolt II’s designation. The P-47 as stated was a close air support, or CAS, airplane in World War II. It was the original Thunderbolt built by the Republic Aviation Company, located in Farmingdale, N.Y. In 1965 Fairchild acquired Republic Aviation, so with the production of the A-10, it would be Republic’s second CAS aircraft—the origin of the A-10’s proper designation as the Thunderbolt II.
One of the biggest concerns with the A-10 was target affixation, in which the pilot was concentrating more on the target and not watching the altimeter. During the early 1980s, Fairchild was in the process of designing a tandem prototype, but with the discontinuation of A-10 production at 715 units, the concept was also discontinued.
I take great exception to a statement made in Stephan Wilkinson’s article “The Warplane Nobody Wanted” [November]: “the [F-111] Aardvark was largely a failure….” This statement is blatantly false, as the aircraft, though plagued early on with several deficiencies resulting from the cutting-edge technology it broached, eventually turned out to be a first-class machine. When it was retired, the avionics package had a mean time between failure of more than 20 hours. Further, the F-111 flew when others were grounded. It also killed more tanks in Desert Storm than any other weapons system.
I live seven miles from the base where I spent my last six years on the FB-111A. I might add that my mates down under didn’t shed their -111s until December 2010, about 10 years after we did. That’s how much they thought of it.
I enjoyed Hadley Dixon’s story “Letters Home” in the September issue, and it brought back memories of my uncle, Roman Mierzejewski. Uncle Ray turned 18 a few days before Pearl Harbor, and like many others left high school and joined the Army Air Forces. He soon qualified for flight training and became part of class 42-K. He trained at some of the same bases as Dixon. He was commissioned and awarded his wings a few days after he turned 19, making him one of the youngest pilots in the USAAF.
He went on to fly P-40s with the 325th Fighter Group out of North Africa, and was lost on June 28, 1943, over Sardinia while protecting bombers of the 17th Bombardment Group. The USAAF simply said, “Failed to return, cause unknown.” He is now buried in the ABMC cemetery just south of Rome.
Since most of my uncle’s records were destroyed in a St. Louis fire, it was great to learn more about his Stateside training. Thank you for sharing!
John B. Mier
C-125 Mystery Ship
After all these years I was finally able to identify one of your “Mystery Ships” [in the November issue]. During 1952 these weird-looking Northrop trimotors were used in the Aircraft and Engine Mechanics School at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for the engine start and run-up class. I remember that there was a hatch located over the cabin that the instructors would have open. They always stationed one poor unsuspecting student airman to sit in that opening as a “safety lookout.” Then at some point they would put the center engine’s prop in reverse and suck the airman’s hat off. They thought this was hilarious.
In 2000 I was surprised to see one of the trimotors (622) on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
San Diego, Calif.
I am concerned that the article about the restored F5U-5N Corsair in Australia [“Briefing,” November] is both inaccurate and misleading. Stephan Wilkinson’s article contains inexplicable negativity, alongside inaccurate discreditation of the aircraft’s identity and provenance.
The heading “Soccer War Corsair” is plain wrong. FAH 603 was damaged in February 1967 and then relegated to the boneyard, two years before the “Hundred Hour War.” It thus saw no action.
The line “The ‘project,’ as such parts collections are optimistically called…” is gratuitous, and not based on fact. Yes, the aircraft had been stripped of numerous parts and components, but the article leads the reader to believe it is a new build, incorporating new structural manufacture. This is not the case. The airframe was integral with data plate and indisputable provenance; a landing accident led to its withdrawal from active service and relegation to a boneyard. The owner/restorer has made no pretensions to anything else.
Perhaps most curious of all is the paragraph comparing the aircraft’s worth to vintage cars! Many of us own combat veteran aircraft with battle damage, furnished with original equipment and undeniable provenance. This is living history. To place a value on such items runs the risk of incurring the phrase “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia
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