Of MiGs, Memorabilia, Costly Mistakes, and Sneaky Sabres
You want diversity? We’ve got diversity. Even though I’m supposedly the one who put this issue together, truth is, it kind of just “happened.” We started talking about an old flying helmet one of us had found at an antique store. Then Jim Busha mentioned an incredible interview he’d just had with an RF-86 pilot (we didn’t even know the type had existed) who regularly sneaked into Manchuria to take photos of Russian installations. At the same time, I ran into some killer MiG-21 eye candy shot by John Dibbs. Not a lot of planning involved. All we had to do is toss one of Mark Carlson’s pieces into the mix and we had an issue list.
About the memorabilia article, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the subject is one of my favorites. Skip to the back page of this issue and read Tailview and you’ll see why I’m high on neat old airplane stuff. The kinds of aerial artifacts we’re talking about don’t have to make sense. As Sam Tipton (a character in his own right) says in “Goodies from the Attic,” there are so many aero treasures to be found and so little time.
Who cares if they make sense?
And speaking about vintage artifacts, Fred Johnsen weaves the long, long saga of the MiG-21 around some of John Dibbs’s photos, making us all marvel at the 1953 design’s amazing longevity. Fred’s story title, “Perennial Bad Guy: The MiG-21,” says it all. Of course, the definition of “bad guy” depends on which side you’re on.
Jim Busha stumbled across Col. LaVerne Griffin, USAF, Retired, and absolutely couldn’t wait to help him tell his stories. This is because Griffin flew some of the first serious recon flights over Russia and he wasn’t flying a U-2. Nope, he was flying a specially modified version of the F-86. No guns (phony gun ports were painted on the nose), extra tanks, and a large-format camera and he was on his way deep into Manchuria. The film he brought back recorded several firsts, including our first look at Russia’s latest: the MiG-17.
In a sad and very damning tale of questionable leadership, “Which Way Did They Go?” Mark Carlson reveals why, at the Battle of Midway, Hornet’s torpedo pilots made the attack and all but one died, yet not a single one of its SBD dive-bombers was to be seen. Torpedo 8 gave their all, but Bombing 8 and Fighting 8 never made it to the action and many ran out of gas trying to return. A sad and little-known tale.
Have a good one! We certain have.