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Cold War Aviation

Creation of the U.S Air Force

Henry "Hap" Arnold

        Because we are all in Civil Air Patrol we believe it is safe to assume that you already know the story of Billy Mitchell and how he sparked the idea of an independent Air Force. But who was the last straw? Who pushed Congress over the edge to decide on an independent Air Force. One of the people to make such an influence was Henry "Hap" Arnold. The leader of the Army Air Corps throughout the Second World War. His incredible work and usage of the Army Air Corp proved to Congress the importance of an independent Air Force and further fortified what Billy Mitchell advocated for. The work of Hap Arnold helped create the independent Air Force we see today.

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The Strategic Air Command

        The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the main bombardment group of the newly formed United States Air Force. It was founded to have an organized and powerful force of bombers to conduct strategic bombing missions in the case of nuclear war. The need for the SAC was proven during WWII when strategic bombing proved to be one of the most effective tactics of war. The first commander of the Strategic Air Command was General George Kenny. To learn more about the beginning of the Air Force's strategic bombing group check out the article linked below. 

Strategic Air Command

This is the official portrait of Gen. George Kenney.

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Bell X-1

      The Bell X-1 was the first plane to break the sound barrier. This plane was piloted by Chuck Yeager, and in 1947, achieved a speed of 958 mph (1585 kph), breaking the speed of sound/Mach 1 (767 mph/1234 kph). If you want an in-depth analysis of the plane, Here is a website you can follow.


Lockheed C-141 Starlifter

        An iconic strategic airlifter of the Gulf War. And one of the most reliable ones to say the least. The C-141 was a fairly large aircraft famous for helping transport 144,661 tonnes of cargo and 93,126 within 8,536 airlift missions in 1991. Want to learn more? Check out this video here.


B-50 Lucky Lady II

        The B-50 was a modified B-29 bomber to better fit the rising standards for better bombers after WWII. But bombing was the least notable accomplishment of this plane. The B-50, specifically the Lucky Lady II, became the first plane to circumnavigate the world without landing. It had to refuel in the air several times and landed on March 2nd, 1949 after a 94-hour and 1-minute flight. To find out more, check out this video!


The SR-71 Blackbird

The J-58 Engine

        For those who don't know, the SR-71 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney J58 turbojet engines. They are fitted inside of a ramjet engine which creates a special kind of engine called a turboramjet engine. This is what allowed the SR-71 to fly at speeds of Mach 3.2! If you are interested in learning more about the J58 engine, feel free to watch this video here. Make sure to make the playback speed a bit slower because the narrator speaks a bit fast.


For more in-depth or detailed information on the SR-71 Blackbird, I recommend reading the SR-71 Users Manual - Declassified. Another option would be the SR-71 Owners' Workshop Manual. Both of which are available for ordering on Amazon.



F-14 Tomcat

       Ah yes, the MIG killer, that plane in Top Gun. We've all seen it. It's the one, the only, legendary F-14 Tomcat! This truly is an incredible historical fighter of the Cold War. And for those who are interested in the nitty-gritty details of this outstanding feat of aviation, Here is the perfect website for you.


         AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control System) is a type of aircraft that is meant to track enemy aircraft and feed information on the location of said enemy aircraft to friendly aircraft so that they can engage the enemy. There are many types of AWACS aircraft but during the Cold War era. Here are some videos on a couple of them as well as some images of several AWACS aircraft (both Russian and American).


EC-121 Lockheed Warning Star

        This plane was a Lockheed Constellation airliner that was converted into an AWACS aircraft. It served a solid 24 years as an AWACS aircraft until the E-3 Sentry finished replacing it in 1978. 


E-3 Sentry

        This plane was a Boeing 707 that was converted into an AWACS aircraft. It first entered service in 1976 and is still in service to this day. These planes can locate enemy aircraft much faster than the EC-121 and can do so with significantly less human-based calculation involved.


Airborne early warning and control aircraft A-50U (Red 41).jpg

Soviet Beriev A-50 AWACS aircraft courtesy of Wikipedia 



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