Douglas A-1H “Spad”: Ol’ Trusty.

The Skyraiders didn’t only wears Southeast Asia camo in Vietnam with the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). The Spads were also used by US. Air Force. One of those rare cases of US. Navy designed aircraft which saw service with them. Their primary mission was interdiction along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and close air support missions for U.S. and Vietnamese ground forces. But they were best remembered by the “Sandy” role, when they flew cover for helicopters engaged in pilot rescue missions inside “Indian Country”.

A Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) based A-1H of the 1st Special Operations Squadron (SOS) flying along the Mekong River. Really mean-looking with its mighty oil spitting Wright Duplex-Cyclone, a plethora of weaponry and that old times open cockpit canopy. A real “Firebird”.

Brewster SB2A Buccaneer: Cargoes of Bullshit.

The main claim of the mass-produced Buccaneer/Bermuda is that not one of them took part in any front-line service. This “world-beater” was an updated evolution of Brewster’s 1936 SBA dive bomber. More powerful and well-armed, a very promising design, in resume. When first flown in June 1941, the hard reality became soon evident. The prototype was dangerously unstable and suffered lethal dive brake asymmetric deployment and buffeting both in those brakes and with the intended turret. During its development some faults were solved, but the Buccaneer/Bermuda endemic instability remained untamed. Hard to understand why 1,052 were produced with nowadays hindsight. Anyway, the vast majority was simply scrapped by their “happy” receptors (RAF, RCAF, USAAF and the US. Navy) or just employed in training.

To give you an idea of the SB2A’s awfulness: the US. Navy preferred the Son of a Bitch 2nd Class instead…. The funny thing was according to the company “Brewster Builder” magazine (July 1943): “Bermudas (its British nickname) are over there by the hundreds (true*), and everybody who has flown them is enthusiastic (not so true*). The Squadrons are located in North Ireland, Scotland, England and South Wales. They would rather fly the Bermuda than any other plane….(oh, well*).”

Boeing IM-99A Bomarc: Unmanned & Unafraid.

The stunning Bomarc was the only operational United States Air Force Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM). This supersonic long-range nuclear-warhead equipped  SAM was used during the the “hottest” part of the Cold War in the defence of whole North American continent, both by the USAF and the Canadians. Originally planned to cover an ambitious number of places, in the end it was procured in fewer quantities and proved to be a costly effort. Technical problems were numerous and development dragged on; the service rivalry with the US. Army didn’t help either. As a curiosity note, it was originally designated as “F-99”, just like a manned fighter. They’re in service just 13 years, from 1959 until 1972. A poor investment by any means.

Fiery 1958 Aurora model kit box cover by artist Joe Kotula.