Letters From Readers—September 2013, Aviation History

Dambusters Revisited

I really enjoyed the Dambusters article in the July issue. As a matter of fact, just about all the articles were great.

I was stationed in Germany when the movie based on the raid came out [The Dam Busters, 1955]. When you have a “little” airplane to play with and some detailed maps to find your way, it makes sense to go have a look. I first went to the Möhne Dam, and you could see the obvious patch from the breaching done by the Lancs. It only seemed right to make a pass in the manner of the Dambusters. This dam was quite easy to ap­proach, as the lake was wide and the hills were not that imposing to drop down over. Easy, of course, as no one was shooting at me.

The Eder was another story. Talk about a winding approach to the dam! Wow, it scared me, and I was flying in broad daylight. My little B-57 had to be more maneuverable than a Lancaster, and I could fly considerably slower than the required speeds mentioned in the article. How they managed that one at night is miraculous.

I don’t remember the Sorpe as being difficult to approach, but since my petrol was getting a bit low, I figured I would pretty much ignore that one and get back before I turned into a glider.

A very good article, and it sure jarred old memories. That was nearly 60 years ago, but it was impressive. 

Bob Webster
Hardin, Ky.

Monster Landing

I enjoyed Stephan Wilkinson’s article, “Monster Singles,” in your July 2013 issue. However, the Tupolev ANT-25 that was flown nonstop from Moscow to the United States landed in Vancouver, Wash., rather than Portland, Ore., as stated in the article. Vancouver has an avenue named in honor of the pilot, Valery Chkalov. The site of the landing, Pearson Field, is the oldest operating airfield in the United States, beginning its career when Lincoln Beachey landed a dirigible at Vancouver Barracks in 1905. The first airplane landed there in 1911.

Doug Myers
Vancouver, Wash.

Thanks for the correction. The Russian crew evidently intended to land at Portland, but when they saw the crowds there, they decided to land at the military airfield in Vancouver instead. –Ed.

Beech Test Pilot

I was pleased to see the mention of Robert S. Fogg as the test pilot of the A17FS in 1934 [“Extremes,” July]. I’ve been compiling in­formation about Fogg, and I knew from his own notes that he was a test pilot for Beech at that time, but didn’t know for sure what he was testing. He flew the A17F as a corporate pilot for Goodall Mills in Sanford, Maine, during the summer of 1934 on trips to the Midwest, thus his expertise in that type of aircraft. I bet those company executives made an impression when they landed in that airplane!

Readers might be interested in seeing an image of NC12583 [P. 7, current print issue], which was sold by Goodall to Howard Hughes in 1935, made a couple of unsuccessful attempts in the Bendix Race and was apparently de­stroyed by fire in 1944. This picture comes from Fogg’s scrapbooks, which are preserved at Dartmouth College.

Fogg served in both World War I and World War II; started the Concord, N.H., airport with a Curtiss Canuck in 1920; flew seaplanes on Lake Winnipesaukee during the 1920s and ’30s; and also had some adventures flying to Newfoundland to cover the arrival of several transatlantic flights, including the Junkers Bremen in 1928.

Jane Rice
author of
Bob Fogg and New Hampshire’s Golden Age of Aviation

Tiny Tim Rockets

The references to the Tiny Tim rockets in “Aviators” [May 2013] brought back some fond memories from my time in naval aviation during the Korean conflict. In 1953 Air Group 10 went aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt for a Mediterranean cruise. One of our ports of call was Beirut, Lebanon, and on October 23 we left port after a group of dignitaries came aboard. We then put out to sea for some goodwill “show and tell,” part of which was an airshow.

After some of the planes took off, the dignitaries were lined up in chairs across the aft portion of the flight deck. The ship then towed a “sled” on a cable so the pilots could use it for target practice with their guns, bombs and rockets. Some of the attack planes were carrying large Tiny Tim rockets left over from World War II. Because of their size and powerful rocket motors, they were dropped from the planes, after which the rocket motors were supposed to ignite. What was humorous to those of us who were not high naval officials was the fact that so many of the Tiny Tim rockets never did ignite; they just dropped into the sea. I am sure the brass were quite embarrassed by those almost 10-year-old rockets that turned out to be duds before the dignitaries!

Bruce K. Alcorn
Warsaw, Ind.

Send letters to Aviation History Editor, World History Group, 19300 Promenade Drive, Leesburg, VA 20176-6500, or e-mail to aviationhistory@weiderhistorygroup.com.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.