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Issue #72 May/June 2017

Warbird Digest

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Cover Caption: The only P-63F Kingcobra in existence is flying again thanks to the CAF P-63 Sponsor Group headed by Mark Allen and Craig Hutain. Here, Mark Allen flies the Kingcobra over Joe Pool Lake during the Wings Over Dallas Airshow on October 29, 2016.
Photo: Greg Morehead taken from Carl Best's T-6 Texan, flown by Trey Carroll


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One of One
by Stephen Chapis

The Bell P-63 Kingcobra was developed in 1941 to address the deficiencies in the P-39 Airacobra. Although it was an improvement over the previous aircraft, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) refused the fighter and over three-quarters of the Kingcobras built went to the Soviet Union. Today, just four of the 3,330 Kingcobras built remain airworthy, and the rarest of those is P-63F s/n 43-11719 of the Commemorative Air Force's P-63 Sponsor Group.


Chinos Fork Tailed Devil
by Frank B. Mormillo

Often referred to as "De Gabelschwanz Teufel" (The Fork-Tailed Devil) by its Luftwaffe adversaries, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the most distinctively-shaped fighter plane used by the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II. Intending to fulfill a 1937 Army requirement for a high-altitude interceptor with a top speed in excess of 360 mph at 20,000 feet, a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation design team headed by Hall L. Hibbard (and including the renowned Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) proposed the Lockheed Model 22, a twin-boom, twin-tail design powered with two turbo-supercharged 1,000-hp Allison V-1710 inline engines. Adding to the fighter's unique shape was the location of the pilot's cockpit in a separate nacelle attached to the wing between the twin booms.

National Warbird Operator Conference (NWOC)
by Ann-Marie Loos

This past February, warbird enthusiasts gathered in Virginia Beach for the annual National Warbird Operator Conference (NWOC). After taking a hiatus in 2016, the 2017 event was much anticipated by attendees, including regulars and many newcomers. Owners, operators and mechanics enjoyed a nice variety of informal speakers, individual breakout sessions, and two remarkable keynote guests.

The Flight To Tezgon
By George Jeffery

"Some of the most recognizable aviation photo books are Phil Makanna's iconic GHOSTS series. When World War II veteran George Jeffrey obtained a copy of Phil's second book, it revived old memories and inspired him to document his wartime experiences. Dispersed throughout the book are sheets of paper with individual excerpts of his World War II memories. Combined they provide a thorough account of one pilot's journeys. In honor of this unique heirloom, we present his tale of an epic journey, in George Jeffrey's own words." - Greg Morehead, editor-in-chief

Mekong Mauler
by Andrea Rossetto

Flying over South Vietnamese jungles at tree top level, in an aircraft that was little more than a general aviation aircraft equipped with radios and a few rockets, was an activity suited for the brave, unheralded pilots known as Forward Air Controllers (FAC). The first aircraft flown by FACs in the long conflict was the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog.

Suisse Mirage

by Ugo Vicenzi


Most tourists visit Payerne, Switzerland, for its rich history that dates to the Bronze Age, with relics that predate Christianity by many centuries. Artifacts offer evidence of the many cultures that existed there, including Celtic tribes and the Roman Empire. For those eager to learn about modern history, an aviation museum along the outskirts of a Swiss military base offers an education in the advanced development of manned flight. The most modern aircraft in the collection overlaps the late Cold War era with today's most modern jet fighter technology. It is available for all to see, and for those with means it is available for the experience of a lifetime: a flight in the amazing Dassault Mirage III-DS.


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