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Found 31 results

  1. Old Viper Tester

    Test Support Viper - 78-0085

    Pretty sure 78-0085 came to Edwards from Luke AFB. 78-0085 carried the name FIREBIRD on the inside of the nose gear door when it arrived and the name remained when she was repainted. December 1991, we are on a solo mission in F-16D s/n 83-1176, and were called to join up with '085, also on a solo mission, because they had an unsafe gear indication in the cockpit. Nose and left gear up and locked, right gear indicating still in transition. Here, we've come aboard. Note the gear doors aren't completely closed The gear is up, but the right main gear door is still open Selecting gear down and checking the gear extension The gear looks good. Don't remember if they had a down and locked, i.e. "three green", indication or not. Elected to return to base. On our wing over Rogers Dry Lake on straight-in final for landing. Note that we had a wing tip launcher from one of the Bozo Fleet jets and '085 had two grey launchers. Giving them the lead to land while we continue our mission. Saw them through to safe landing and then we continued into the operating area for our mission. Thanks for looking, Sven
  2. Old Viper Tester

    Test Support Viper - 78-0007

    Another from the 6512th Test Squadron Bozo Fleet Over the then new Edwards control tower Thanks for looking, Sven
  3. Old Viper Tester


    NC-135A, USAF s/n 60-0371, of the 4950th Test Wing, Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command. October 1983, taking off from Edwards AFB Runway 22 with the Integration Facility for Avionics Systems Test (IFAST) in the background. Making a pass over the runway. Smoke generator running between the main gear wells? Optical resolution patterns on the forward fuselage. Sensor aperture in the raised panel? Aeronautical Systems Center shield below the cockpit windows - Systems Command shield is on the opposite side.. Thanks for looking, Sven
  4. Old Viper Tester

    B-1A Ship #2

    The B-1A program was cancelled under President Carter in 1979. The decision was based on the high cost, the success of the Air Launched Cruise Missile indicating that a penetrating bomber may no longer be required, and the promised of the Stealth Bomber (B-2) program. Faced with delays and rising costs of the Stealth Bomber President Reagan resurrected the B-1 program as the B-1B in 1981. The aircraft had many improvements in avionics capabilities and some trade-offs in high-altitude performance compared to the original B-1A. While waiting for B-1B test airframes, the USAF elected to get a leg up on testing with the original prototypes, with suitable modifications. These images show Ship No. 2, s/n 74-0159 after being painted as the program flag ship in 1983-84. Couldn't adjust the focus fast enough Thanks for looking, Sven
  5. Old Viper Tester

    F-16A 75-0746

    May 1985: Just a little off the beaten path... a USAF F-16 with a parabrake housing. 75-0746 was a Full-Scale Development airframe built to the original Norwegian AF specification - hence the tail fairing. It was also used for a lot of structures testing, so the airframe took a beating. All of those g's took their toll on the airframe. They were always replacing panels and patching fuel leaks. Gotta love the putty job on the back. They are tough to see, but there are wedge shaped blocks on top of the noses of the external tanks with wiring running back into the pylons - those are accelerometer housings used to measure the frequency and amplitude of the tank motion (wing deformation) during maneuvers. Refueling from NKC-135E, s/n 55-3135 April 1983, testing Penguins Things under wings: In 1983, '746 was used to evaluate what was called an MPP (Your guess what it stood for is as good as mine). The MPP was an attempt to increase the weapons carriage of the F-16. The MPP didn't catch on. Don't know what this suspension unit was, but it may have been a competitor with the MPP. Looks like an ancestor of the BRU-61 Small Diameter Bomb rack. Thanks for looking, Sven
  6. Old Viper Tester

    384th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R

    KC-135R, s/n 61-0315, at Edwards in January 1985. Came to Edwards to participate in Minimum Interval Take-Off (MITO) tests with the 6510th Test Wing prototype KC-135R. Of course, once they were in the air they had to make themselves useful... Refueling NF-4D 66-7483 of the 6512th Test Squadron. The prototype KC-135R, 61-0293, ready for the Edwards Open House in October 1982. Wonder why they referred to her as Pinocchio? Thanks for looking, Sven
  7. Old Viper Tester

    F-16XL Images

    I had previously submitted some F-16XL images to Pappy's Skunk Models F-16XL WIP Unfortunately, with the Photobucket third party posting debacle, all of those image links have been broken. Anton K55 asked if I would repost them for reference in his build. Here is my best guess of what was posted earlier - I'm still working on cleaning up my XL slides for a more coherent posting. I had been posted as a flight test engineer to the F-16XL Combined Test Force after graduating from the USAF Test Pilot School. Made a right pest of myself with my camera from mid-1982 to early 1984... T-lug suspension in the stores pylons, hence no sway braces Underside of XL-1 showing shadows of pylon locations. That's a spin recovery parachute quadrapod and canister mounted above the exhaust nozzle XL-1 with BDU-38s. Note the brackets fore and aft of the mid-body fins of the AMRAAM shapes. The ARAAM dummies were bolted to the airframe as there was no missile suspension/launcher equipment installed in the airframe. XL-1 with CBU-58s. Most of the CBU store load outs used what were then call Tactical Munitions Dispensers, later became the CBU-87 series of canisters, which were painted gloss OD . XL-2 tucking in with the T-38 safety chase XL-2 aerial refueling Belly shot of XL-2 in Heater-Ferris scheme Some detail shots XL-1 inlet antennas XL-2 UHF antenna relocated near the tail hook Total Temp probe and raked cooling inlet - this intake is vertical on stock F-16s Two left-side AOA probes on the XLs This shot was after the aircraft was repainted in overall camo, the shadow of the blue spine remaiins Thanks for looking Sven
  8. Old Viper Tester

    F-4C USAF s/n 63-7408

    Another test support fleet phantom with the 6512th Test Squadron at Edwards AFB. April 1985, aerial refueling from NKC-135E, s/n 55-3135, from the 4950th Test Wing, Aeronautical Systems Division out of Wright-Patterson. In the pre-contact position waiting for the boom operator to clear him in. On the boom, in the green, and taking fuel May 1985 and she's been misbehaving... roped off and getting maintenance on the Eddie ramp. That notice taped ahead of the forward formation slime light says the aircraft is impounded. Jump to 1988 and, like the rest of the Rhinos, she's gone albino and her designation has been formally changed to NF-4. This image from June 1990. September 1990, retired and waiting to go to AMARC. She is one of the fortunate ones, going to the National Museum of the Air Force inventory, eventually ending up on display at Tyndall AFB in Florida. At Tyndall, she's in Southeast Asia camouflage and has an Air Combat Command shield on the tail even though she spent her entire operational life with Air Force Systems Command. Thanks for looking, Sven
  9. Old Viper Tester

    U-Boat: AC-130U

    Some images of s/n 87-0128 of the 6518th Test Squadron, Spec Ops Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB in 1991. I assume that's some kind of IR suppressor above and behind the engine exhaust. In the end they went with this, seen on 89--0510 which joined the CTF a year later Thanks for looking, Sven
  10. Old Viper Tester

    NC-131H TIFS

    This is a highly modified Convair C-131 Samaritan, the Total In-Flight Simulator. The aircraft is a variable stability research platform for investigating flight control designs with the test cockpit in the forward drooping nose and the safety cockpit in the production cockpit. But the aircraft is also capable of doing sensors research via a modular nose unit that replaces the test cockpit with a large bulbous radome nose. The aircraft was assigned to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, but was operated and maintained by the Calspan Corporation out of Buffalo New York. These images were taken on the Edwards AFB Transient Ramp in November 1984. Just a few reinforcing straps behind the cockpit sides and atop the fuselage... And one from the damaged slides box taken at Wright-Patt in 1979... Thanks for looking, Sven
  11. Old Viper Tester

    B-1A Ships #1 and #3

    The first B-1A prototype, s/n 74-0158. It's just been towed to its static spot in preparation for the 1984 Edwards AFB Open House. I don't know what's going on with the top of the vertical tail, but it doesn't look right. Ship No. 3, 74-0160. The spine fairing is part of the development program to improve the offensive and defensive avionics suites for the B-1B. March 1981. Except when it was on display, it seems this jet was always surrounded by all this support equipment... September 1981, ready for the open house Parked for static display at the 1983 open house. That's the Anti-Satellite F-15 in the background. Thanks for looking, Sven
  12. Most of these are USAF images recovered during the A-10 Combined Test Force shut down Wish I had dates for the USAF images. Apparently you can build this jet with production or modified vertical tails... Those pods (below) are precursors to the LANTIRN system used on the F-16 and F-15E... Those pods again... Taller tails... The museum piece on display at the 1988 Edwards Open House. No seats, no engines. Waiting for the Flight Test Museum to be built... Thanks for looking, Sven
  13. Old Viper Tester

    Test Support Viper: 81-0688

    Shortly after arrival at Edwards with the 6516th Test Squadron, February 1990. Moved to the 6512th TS, Test Ops, as a dedicated test support jet, October 1991. Someone forgot the Flight Test Center tail band. On static display October 1992, Systems Command is no more and the AF Materiel Command shield is now on the tail. Safety chase training mission, December 1992. That's the AF Flight Test Center shield behind the canopy on this side. The 6510th Test Wing shield is on the opposite side. Over the Sierra Nevada foothills. Over the Boron mines, a prominent rejoin landmark just north of Edwards. He's now on our wing. Aero-braking on Runway 22 Hasegawa released a 1/72nd scale F-16B in these markings back in 1999, but I don't think anyone else has bothered with it. I think I read somewhere that all of the white/red test support Vipers are now gone. '688 went to AMARC in 1995 according to Baugher. Thanks for looking, Sven
  14. Old Viper Tester

    Call Sign: Opus

    Images of the MC-130H Combat Talon during flight test at Edwards. Many of the test organizations experienced name changes during my second tour at Edwards between 1988 and 1993. In the case of the Special Operations C-130s, they started out as the Special Operations Combined Test Force, or SpecOps CTF. Around 1989, a squadron structure was added to the CTFs. in the case of SpecOps, this was the 6518th Test Squadron. The 6518TS identified the Air Fore Systems Command contingent in the CTF working beside AFOTEC (operational test contingent), and the Lockheed/Raytheon (or was it still Hughs back then?) contractor test contingent. In July 1992, Systems Command was merged with Logistics Command to form AF Materiel Command and all the unit numbers changed. The 6518TS became the 418th Flight Test Squadron, the parent 6510th Test Wing became the 412th Test Wing. USAF s/n 84-0475, 1988... Not usually a fan of showing my air show pictures. You never know what's going to show up on the ramp in California - and I'm not referring to the aircraft. But these show the best nose detail from the images I have. What are those kids doing inside the ropes? 1989 and I got to fly in a safety chase for one of their test missions Opus was the call sign for the MC-130H at Edwards, a reference to its "beak" and the similarity to the penguin (?) character in the comic strip Bloom County. to complete the reference, the control room for MC-130 missions used the call sign "Bloom County". Normally, mission control rooms used the aircraft call sign and the word control, e.g. Zoom Control for an F-16 mission, so it imparted a bit of whimsy when you herd Bloom County over the air. 1990 saw the addition of a second test bird, 83-1212. Here is '475 moving into pre-contact position from the tanker '1212 front right quarter '475 front right quarter '475 rear quarter '1212 rear quarter '475 making a pass down the Rogers lakebed tower fly-by line. Tower fly-bys were used to calibrate the pitot static system at lower altitudes. There was a sighting grid in the tower used to determine the actual altitude above the lakebed and those numbers were compared to what was indicated in the cockpit. 1991, '475 Thanks for looking, Sven
  15. Old Viper Tester

    A-10A Test Jet, 73-1666

    One of my A-10 flight tests in 1984-85 with the 6512th Test Squadron. The A-10 Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB was shut down at the end of 1983. The remaining A-10 test programs and two A-10s were turned over to the 6512th. When the test programs were completed in mid-1985, the A-10s were sent to the 3246th Test Wing at Eglin AFB as part of a consolidation of Systems Command A-7Ds at Edwards and A-10s at Eglin. '666 was my Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS, pronounced jip-wiz) test jet. A program aimed at reducing controlled flight into terrain incidents. The A-10 GPWS consisted of a black box processing radar altimeter (RADALT) data and making voice and HUD warnings. Because of the low altitude maneuvering of the A-10A in prosecuting close air support, RADALT transmit and receive antennas were installed on both vertical tails as well as under the horizontal stab. An attitude sensor switched which RADALT pair were active at any given time to preclude a sidewards proximity, like a canyon wall, creating a pull-up warning. '666 prior to GPWS installation After. GPWS antennas at the base of the tail. You can just make out the GPWS antennas beneath the horizontal stab GPWS evaluation essentially consisted of throwing the jet at the ground in various attitudes and verifying that the "roll-out" and/or "pull-up" warning came on when it was supposed to. Not the best camo for the Mojave Desert... Approach to a touch 'n' go at nearby George AFB Refueling from the 'Business Effort' tanker from the Illinois Air National Guard With test events completed, joining up with a 6512TS 'Vark Return to base. South end of Rogers Dry Lake flooded - not unusual in the winter/spring. Always check the status of the lakebed runways before stepping to the jet! Thanks for looking, Sven
  16. Old Viper Tester

    The Elder: F-4C s/n 63-7407

    '407 was referred to as "The Elder", being the first F-4C built for the USAF. It spent it's whole life as a test and test support jet in USAF's Air Force Systems Command bouncing between the 3246th Test Wing at Eglin AFB and the 6510th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, finishing up at the latter. All of the air-to-air shots were taken on May 3, 1985. '407 transferred to Edwards in Feb 1985. The Armament Division tail code, AD, had been modified to the 6510th Test Wing tail code, ED, by painting over the A and replacing it with an E. The maintenance forms binder that follows the jet typically just has the serial number in large characters on the cover. '407's book had the serial number and the legend "THE ELDER" in large block letters. Refueling from NKC-135E s/n 55-3135 of the 4950th Test Wing out of Wright-Patterson AFB. The 4950th was part of AFSC's Aeronautical Systems Division, hence the ASD tail band. 1990 and now an "Albino Rhino" as part of the Edwards test support fleet. Gave up the Euro 1 paint scheme in early 1988. Name on the nose gear door... 1991 and retirement: The Elder was saved and is now on display outside the Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. Thanks for looking, Sven
  17. Old Viper Tester

    The Ba***rd, YF-4E 65-0713

    The nom de guerre for this Phantom lies in its configuration. As it began life on the production line as an F-4D but was finished as the prototype F-4E. From the rear cockpit bulkhead aft it was essentially an F-4D, from that bulkhead forward it was an F-4E. In the 6512th Test Squadron, we maintained a unique flight manual denoting the differences and peculiarities of this airframe. Of course, the maintainers had unique manuals to keep this bird in shape. November 1981, shortly after returning to Edwards from Programmed Depot Maintenance at Ogden Air Logistics Center. She always went to the depot with a shark mouth on her, but always returned without one. Here she is in December 1983. Also has the short gun muzzle fairing replaced with a later long/vented fairing. On the way to the Utah Test and Training Range in April 1984 carrying an instrumented BDU-33 shape. A lucky shot as we barrel-rolled over her to check left side. On the Edwards ramp, May 1985. January 1989, returned from Ogden again and back to a short muzzle fairing. On her way for another test support mission January 1990. The pattern to the range skirts the Edwards housing area, seen beneath her. The didn't get her shark mouth again this time before being retired in 1992. The name in block letters on the gun fairing. October 1991, her last open day display. Thanks for looking, Sven
  18. Old Viper Tester


    I see that TheRealMrEd is working on a "Super SLUF" over in the WIP section: Maybe the pics below will provide some additional information/inspiration. The YA-7F was an attempt to create a faster close air support platform to supplement or replace the A-10. The old TF41 turbofan was replaced with a P&W F100 engine, the fuselage lengthened, the vertical tail enlarged, a leading edge root extension (LERX) added, and the horizontal tails "flipped" to create anhedral vs the original A-7's dihedral. In the end, the proposal was rejected in favor of using F-16s for fast response and soldiering on with the A-10 for heavy lifting and loitering. Here is USAF s/n 71-0344 showing the un-shrouded F100 exhaust. Note the orange wiring and strain gauges along the nozzle fairings at the 12,3,6,and 9 positions. The orange wiring and components in the avionics bays are also test instrumentation. Nose on showing the horizontal tail anhedral. '039 and '344 with shrouded exhaust. USAF s/n 70-1039 used for high-AOA testing with spin recovery chute assembly surrounding the engine exhaust. Spin chute load distribution straps running the length of the aft fuselage. Spin chute attachment assembly at the top of the exhaust shroud. The cable connecting the the chute running around the left side and into the compartment below the shroud housing the spin chute itself. Thanks for looking, Sven
  19. Old Viper Tester

    Northrop's AX Contender, the YA-9

    As I noted in the Icing a Hog posting, when the A-10 Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB was shut down, we were told to do what we wanted with what remained after the engineering and history offices had retrieved what they wanted. I had found a number of slides in the back of a desk drawer. Here are more of those slides, cleaned up as best I could. This is one of the Northrop YA-9 aircraft, s/n 71-1368, used in the fly-off competition with the Fairchild A-10. The YA-9 lost the "Attack - Experimental" (AX) competition and both airframes eventually ended up on display. '368 is on display at March AFB. Its sister ship, '367 was on display at Castle AFB and has since been moved back to Edwards AFB as part of the Flight Test Museum. Left console and throttles Right console The YA-9 has been the subject of two 1/72nd scale models: a vacuform from Maintrack Models Project-X series and a resin kit from Anigrand. The only 1/48 kit I am aware of is a card model. I have the Maintrack kit in my stash (somewhere), maybe I'll get to it one day. Thanks for looking, Sven, still cleaning retrieved A-10 slides!
  20. Old Viper Tester

    F-4C USAF s/n 64-0727

    This was one of my favorite Phantoms at Edwards AFB. '727 was one of the most reliable Phantoms in the 6510th Test Wing Fleet. Operated by the 6512th Test Squadron as a test support bird, she rarely cancelled a mission for maintenance (CNX MX - I don't think she ever cancelled when I was scheduled to crew her), and usually came back Code 1. Not bad for a 15 to 25 year old jet. This is a USAF photo showing her chasing the YC-15 in 1976. She wears light gull grey top sides and white undersides. Unlike the US Navy scheme, her control surface uppers are grey. Note the US Bicentennial 'pretzel' logo on the vertical tail and the external tanks in SEA camo. The McDonnell-Douglas YC-15 was an Advanced Manned Short Take-Off Technology (AMST) prototype being evaluated at Edwards along with the Boeing YC-14. The YC-15 is fitted with a flight test nose boom and is trailing a static cone from the top of the vertical tail. The static cone is a way to more accurately measure the static pressure in the area of the aircraft - the theory being that large aircraft create such a large pressure disturbance around the aircraft such that it is impractical to make a nose boom long enough to get out in front of the aircraft pressure envelope. The cone is normally deployed about 150 to 200 ft behind the aircraft. Quite a family resemblance with its younger cousin, the C-17. Enough about the YC-15... This is '727 when I first met her in 1981. The pretzel is gone and the radome is now Air Defense Command Gray, as is the rest of the airframe. National insignia are smaller and the serial presentation on the tail has gone tactical. 1984, and I got to chase her on a training mission. Wrap-around camo, some paint touch up on the underside, and the ejection seat warning triangles sun-bleached to a distinctly pink color. One wing pylon in original SEA camo, the other in wrap-around. Aircraft serial number on the canopy frames. One of my favourite shots. Had a large framed version displayed in every one of my offices until 2016 In the shadow of our F-4 over the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. 1989. Painted in the test support scheme that was phased in between 1986 and 1988. What we referred to as the "Albino Rhinos" and part of the "Bozo Fleet". That's the Air Force Flight Test Center shield on the intake, the Air Force Systems Command shield on the vertical tail, and the full serial number on the front nose gear door below the landing/taxi lights. Thats the serial on the forward frames of the canopies as well. In 1990, she was retired to the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center, AMARC (now AMARG), more familiarly known as "The Boneyard" (they hate it when you call it that). She was eventually sold for scrap and broken up (big sigh). Thanks for looking Sven
  21. Old Viper Tester

    Chasing a Falcon

    The 6512th Test Squadron, aka "Test Ops", at Edwards AFB was responsible for providing test support to the major test teams under the 6510th Test Wing. While a test team like the F-16 Combined Test Force 'owned' their own test pilots and test aircraft, Test Ops provided support aircraft and crews as required. In the 1980s, Test Ops aircraft were primarily A-7Ds, A-37Bs, NKC-135s (often on detachment from the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson), various models of the F-4, and T-38s. Test Ops also performed what was referred to as 'Cats 'n' Dogs' testing. Usually small test programs that didn't warrant creating a large, dedicated test force. The HU-25B was one of these test programs, sponsored by the US Coast Guard. The original HU-25 flight testing was performed by Dassault, certification for the USCG relying heavily on the FAA certification of the Falcon 20 biz jet, from which the HU-25 was derived. Addition of mission pods is not normally covered by the FAA, so when the HU-25B was proposed, a separate test program was required to cover the effects of carrying Side-Looking Airborne Radar and other sensor pods under the wings and fuselage was required. The program was assigned to Test Ops in 1983. The aircraft provided (2118) was fitted with special instrumentation to collect data for aircraft performance, flying qualities, and structural loads. I got to participate as a safety chase observer for one of their missions in May 1983... 2118 with a Yaw and Pitch sensor nose boom installed. The silver strips at the base of the vertical tail are strain gauges covered with silver "speed tape". That big pod mounted under the forward fuselage decreases the lateral stability of the aircraft, thus the vertical tail might work harder to keep the aircraft on its intended path. The nose legend reads "EDWARDS" beneath the aircraft number. The left side view show additional speed tape covering the wiring and sensors to measure rudder hinge loads. They also did an icing test for the pods at some point... That's NKC-135A, s/n 55-3128, the long serving icing tanker. '128 belonged to the 4950th Test Wing, which is why it carried the Aeronautical System Division (ASD) blue tail band outlined in yellow. The aircraft could still serve as a refueler, but it had its plumbing modified so that a fuselage fuel tank could be isolated and filled with water. A control station was installed to vary pump speed/droplet size. A spray ring is installed at the end of the refueling boom - installation similar to fitting a refueling drogue. The water contained dye for better visualization of ice build-up, hence the yellow ice adhering to the sensor pods. As for 2118, when the test program was over, the flight test instrumentation was removed and the aircraft eventually found its way to the Sacramento USCG station. It's since been retired and is now in the Aerospace Museum of California. Thanks for looking, Sven
  22. McDonnell-Douglas (McAir) and the Naval Aviation Test Center (NATC) deployed to the Edwards AFB to conduct stability and control flight test near Rogers Dry Lake. While a relatively rare occurrence, it was possible that engines might "flameout" due to compressor stall as a result of high angle of attack and/or yaw disturbing the airflow into the intakes. The Edwards airspace had four test areas designated within flameout landing distance of the local dry lake beds (Rogers or Rosamond) should the need arise for an emergency landing. While the "spin areas" might also be within flameout landing distance of the Edwards 'hard' runway (R22/04) The lakebed landing areas allowed greater tolerances for approach and landing. Images from from four safety chase missions All are fitted with a spin recovery parachute assembly on the tail... 7 May 1984 - On this mission, the jet has mounting pads for cameras above the wing roots, just inboard of the flaps. 8 Jun 1984 - Cameras installed on the mounting plates. Confirmed that the cameras are facing aft to record a planned deployment of the spin chute. Note the loads distribution strap running along the aft fuselage from the spin chute assembly to the wing root... 13 Aug 1984 - Cameras and mounting plates removed. Lower light grey areas repainted white? Previously camouflaged upper wing areas now painted white. 19 Jan 1985 - The orange-red and white scheme is to aid determining aircraft attitude by ground based optical trackers. Note the stripe on the lower right wing. An image of the AV-8B spin chute assembly taken at the 1884 Edwards Open House: Thanks for looking, Sven
  23. Old Viper Tester

    NF-15B STOL-MTD Eagle

    Just noticed that Sprue Brothers have the Hasegawa 1/72 NF-15B ACTIVE/IFC in stock. The Box photo shows it in NASA markings. When the aircraft first showed up at Edwards AFB it was as the Short TakeOff and Landing - Maneuvering Technology Demonstrator (STOL-MTD). I assume the Hasegawa kit has the stock cylindrical engine exhaust nozzles and some F-18 horizontal tails for the canards. Probably a lot of work to back date it to the STOL-MTD, but I'd like to try it some time. Here are some images of the aircraft arrival at Edwards in June 1989 - original configuration with two-dimensional vectoring exhaust nozzles and YAPS nose boom... Couldn't swing my camera fast enough! Note the canard actuator fairings on top of the intakes. At the Edwards open house four months later... 2-D nozzles replaced with circular nozzles and the YAPS boom is gone. Thanks for looking, Sven
  24. Old Viper Tester

    Tigers in the Sky

    Just a few images of Northrop flight test operations at Edwards AFB in the 1980s... F-5E, USAF s/n 71-1418, seen in 1983 with YAPS test nose boom fitted: Test missions without the nose boom in 1984: RF-5E, s/n 71-1420 I know its fuzzy, but it shows the placement of the camera aperture covers. Tiger motif on the vertical tail... Was it Airfix that did an RF-5E in 1/72? RF-5E, s/n 80-0334, in Malaysian markings. Ready to take Runway 22... RF-5E, s/n 84-0199, with refueling probe and Saudi markings: F-5E, s/n 72-0891. Okay, this one as shown is no longer a Northrop test bird, but it retains the double tiger tail markings and F-5 operators flag panel beneath the windscreen from its test days with Northrop. Here, it is with the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, 405th Tactical Training Wing stationed at Williams AFB Arizona. Thanks for looking, Sven
  25. Old Viper Tester

    6510 Test Wing ALCM Chase Mission

    I wasn't sure whether to put this topic here or in the photography forum where I usually post. This one has a lot more words than images, so thought it should go here. Between 1977 and 1987, flight test of the AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) was accomplished for full-scale development of the missile and subsequent upgrades. Many test launches took place in the Western Test Range off the California coast, the missile threading its way between population centers to impact on one of the land test ranges in the western United States. A typical mission would have the missile follow a pre-programmed mission profile, going “feet wet” near Vandenberg AFB, through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the Edwards /China Lake operating airspace, then north to targets in the Utah Test and Training Range near Hill AFB. Safety chase aircraft were required to accompany the ALCM along its flight path to ensure the missile didn’t deviate from its programmed profile or to ‘mark the spot’ if the missile crashed at some point during the mission. The safety chase mission was assigned to a dedicated group of aircraft under the 6510 Test Wing under the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB. The aircraft were flown by the 6512 Test Squadron (Test Ops). Between four to six aircraft were required, depending on the mission profile, plus a spare, and a tanker. The aircraft selected were F-4Es and comprised what was often referred to as the ALCM Chase Flight. Normally, finding such a group of similarly configured aircraft on the Edwards ramp would be difficult, but the 6510TW had inherited the F-4s previously operated by the USAF Aerial Demonstration Squadron, AKA the Thunderbirds. These F-4Es were relinquished by the team in the wake of the 1973 ‘oil crisis’ in favor of the T-38A. The aircrafts had no radar fitted, the original short cannon muzzle fairing was retained with the aperture faired over, the rear most fuselage fuel tank (tank 7) was isolated to carry smoke oil, and several other modifications that made them less than desirable for operational Phantom units. The only modification needed for the ALCM mission was a missile destruct radio control unit in the rear cockpit to be activated if the missile deviated from the planned flight path towards, say, a population center or a condor preserve. These aircraft were USAF serial numbers: 66-0286 66-0289 Note: in 1984/85, ‘289 carried a deer kill on the left splitter plate in light grey. 66-0291 66-0294 66-0315 66-0319 66-0329 – Note this jet had a production “long” cannon muzzle fairing during this time. 66-0377 An ALCM chase mission basically consisted of two aircraft at the launch point. They would watch the ALCM separate and launch from a B-52, then proceed to chase the ALCM to monitor the flight path and watch for any anomalies. In the meantime, up ahead, at altitude, would be the KC-135 tanker with additional chase jets in tow. These F-4s in the tanker formation would take fuel as necessary to stay ’topped up’ ready to replace the chase birds when low on fuel (“Joker”). This is what the relief birds would look for: Hence the white upper wings – easier to spot than a full camo jet or the missile itself against the terrain. The relieved jets would climb and join the tanker formation for aerial refueling. The procedure would continue until the ALCM reached the target area or its flight was terminated. Markings Already mentioned the white upper wings. The white on the wings wrapped around the leading edge and wing tips. Before 1979, these jets wore standard SEA camo with the light grey undersides. The blue tail band with the white borders and X’s was indicative of the 6510 TW. The national markings were in full color. No tail codes. Between 1979 and 1981, the aircraft received the wrap-around camo treatment and all but ‘377 carried segmented/stenciled national insignia. ‘377 retained the full color star and bar. Some aircraft had black canopy rails yet few carried crew or maintainer’s names. The “ED” tail codes were applied in late 1982. In 1984, someone had the idea to name the jets after Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Unfortunately, they started with “DOPEY” on ‘291. The name was in black two-inch block letters on either side of the nose cannon fairing. Before any other names could be applied, the wing CO went out to fly ‘291. When he saw the name that was the end of that. I mentioned the deer kill on ‘289. On a deployment to Eglin AFB the jet hit a deer on the runway when landing. The deer was taken down the left side going between the main gear and the external tank…. lost the gear door and killed the fuel tank. The deer didn’t survive either. When we went to pick up the jet (on the way back from the Piper Enforcer visit) the Eglin maintainers had painted the silver deer “kill” on the left intake splitter and the name “DEER SLAYER” in 2-in black block letters on the cannon fairing. When the dedicated ALCM chase mission went away, so did the camouflage. I left Edwards for a posting in London in 1985, by the time I returned to Edwards in 1988, all of the F-4s had gone “albino” – overall white with red conspicuity markings on the wingtips and tail surfaces. They had also been formally redesignated as NF-4Es. And ‘329 got its short muzzle fairing back… Your humble scribe with the DEER SLAYER - “Hero” portrait for the squadron photo album – many years (and pounds) ago. Thanks for looking, Sven