Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SWOTUSAF

In the spirit of those books that fetishize every doodle in the margins of a WWII German aeronautical engineer's notebook as "It's a good thing they never built this super war-winning weapon!"* or WWII flight simulator expansion packs that let you duel Lockheed P-80s and Grumman Tigercats against He-162s and Ki-83s comes Project Terminated, which details canceled projects of the Cold War period and What Might Have Been...

I was hooked at the cover "photo", which is a boomer's-eye view of a North American F-108A dropping away after tanking up.

Each chapter covers a different cancelled project. The first part of each chapter covers the actual history of the project and why it was cancelled, followed by a few pages of beautifully-illustrated glossy-paged "What If?" The effects of cancellations on other projects are explored, politics are dicussed and, most importantly of all, you can see a picture of a Vietnam-era camouflaged Northrop B-49D tanking up from a KC-135...

Most of the aircraft in the book are American, although the Avro CF-105 and BAC TSR-2 each get their story told as well. (And are shown on the back cover, formating on a B-70 for an over-ocean "photo" op.) If you're a plane geek or an alternate history geek, you might enjoy this book. If you're a plane geek and an alternate history geek, I'm not sure how you've managed to live this long without it.

27 comments:

Scott said...

I do not know if I can excuse you, since I am starting to drool after looking at the links. I remember reading something in my dark dim past of a book or article on the Skunk Works and the YF-12/SR-71 program. This book looks fascinating...

Boat Guy said...

I'm not quite sure HOW I have managed this long, but I'm certainly glad I DID live long enough to see this.

Mattexian said...

Very interesting, tho a bit late for this point' boy to add to his dad's fathers day gift bag. A lot of that was during his era in the USAF, and before that he made models of the UFO-lookimg flying wings.

Fred said...

And.... add to wishlist.

Mattexian said...

*po'* boy... stupid autocorrect... that is our modern curse.

fast richard said...

So many books... so little time. That looks like a good one.

Ed Foster said...

Perhaps the greatest "What-If" would have been the Lockheed L-133. The team that designed it said they could have been in production in six months, but the AAC decided to go with more piston driven aircraft.

Picture the Normandy landings covered by hundreds of super sleek Lockheeds, with an 80 knot speed advantage over the Me-262, the maneuverability of a Mustang, and four 20mm's in the nose.

Plus it was just about the prettiest plane I've ever seen. With a few powerplant tweaks over the years (the L-1000 had enormous developmental potential) and possibly a supersonic wing swap, a la the Grumman F9F, it would have ruled air-to-air combat from the mid-40's to the late 50's.

Christ, the L-1000 had hollow cast blades, something nobody else got around to for another 25 years, and early versions of it were flying in the mid-1930's. What-if indeed.

perlhaqr said...

Ed: Well, I dunno about "prettiest" (I'm pretty darn fond of the F4U) but it's definitely got a very art-deco feel to it, somehow. And yeah, it would have made things pretty different for the air superiority contest over Europe.

Kinda make you wonder if Hitler would have actually had Goering shot for not getting the ME-262 working faster.

Tam said...

Thank jeebus the Nazis squandered all that blood and treasure working on not-yet-ready-for-primetime jets and rockets instead of building more 190Ds and 109Ks.

Germany's WWII jets didn't save the Allies by arriving too late; they helped the Allies by arriving too early.

Tam said...

(Same with tanks: Every VIb they built was two VGs or three IVHs they didn't...)

Leatherneck said...

Actually the F-108 concept did see life as the A-5 Vigilante. I never flew the nuclear attack variant, but I did have a couple of hops in the RA-5C recce derivative. The Vig had one thing going for it: beauty. I'll just remain tactfully silent on its other attributes.

TC

GMC70 said...

Tam, wouldn't have mattered. The Luftwaffe was exhausted, and not of planes. Planes they had.

Pilots they ran out of.

Tam said...

GMC70,

I was referring to the effort spent in 42-43 to turn out planes in 44-45, but yeah.

Bram said...

I was fascinated by the Crusader III that was but-ugly but could fly circles around the Phantom.

Sigivald said...

Oh, the (X)B-70.

Good times.

Ancient Woodsman said...

I work with folks from Canada on a regular basis. I haven't met one yet that doesn't have a very strong opinion about the cancellation of the CF-105.

Seems to me folks up there either love, love, love John Diefenbaker or hate him worse than anything, ever - there doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Thanks for the post. I remember a childhood dreaming of B49s, P6Ms, MBT70s, and so forth. Someone like that grew up & made a book about it. Nice.

Joseph said...

Century series fighters are my favorites closely followed by the early supersonic bombers like the B-58 "Hustler".

I'm a bit partial to the F-107 of those that didn't make it to service. Something very cool about a plane that could suck you into the intake if you tried to depart before shutting the engines down.

Sheldon said...

Ed Foster, I wonder if I'm the only geek that looked at a picture of the Lockheed L-133, and thought, "Oh cool, so that's where they got the idea for the Klingnon Bird of Prey..."

Jon S said...

Damn it, now I had to go buy it!

Ed Foster said...

Sheldon, you nailed it!

Ed said...

I find the accounts of Allied jet aircraft chasing V-1’s interesting, as radar directed and layed 90mm AAA gunnery firing proximity fused munitions had as much if not more of an impact both at Dover, England and around Antwerp, Belgium. The 90mm gun was also used as an anti-armor weapon during the Battle of the Bulge by AAA crews serving as infantry.
http://www.allpar.com/history/military/radar.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/90_mm_Gun_M1/M2/M3
http://www.antiaircraft.org/90mm.htm
http://olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_90mm_aaa.php
http://www.skylighters.org/buzzbombs/antwerpx.html
http://sill-www.army.mil/firesbulletin/2008/jan_feb_2008/Jan_Feb_2008_pages_42_45.pdf
http://www.veteransofthebattleofthebulge.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/american-units.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximity_fuze
http://naelibrary.nae.usace.army.mil/dp192/ned96100.pdf

Dan said...

Thanks Tam, just bought this for my buddy's birthday. Also see "My Tank is Fight!"

ASM826 said...

One of the reason that some of these birds got cancelled was that better designs came along to overtake them before they got operational. One example is the F-108A. It could fly at 60,000 feet at a speed of Mach 1.7 (1,122 mph), with a range of 1,000 miles.

The F-4 Phantom, developed in the same era for the Navy, could match that ceiling, fly at Mach 2.2 and had a range of 1400 miles.

It was enough of a superior design that the Air Force took the F-4 into service, and the F-4 was the fighter aircraft with the longest service life in history. It was used as an all weather interceptor, fighter, and bomber.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Order for my dad. Little late for Fathers Day, but I figured he'd appreciate it anyway having spent 30 years in the USAF flying jets.

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mariner said...

If you're a plane geek and an alternate history geek, I'm not sure how you've managed to live this long without it.

Easy.

I didn't know about it.

markm said...

Ed: The low efficiency of early jet engines was the killer. The L-133's projected range was only 310 miles.

"Picture the Normandy landings covered by hundreds of super sleek Lockheeds, with an 80 knot speed advantage over the Me-262, the maneuverability of a Mustang, and four 20mm's in the nose."

I'm picturing them with a time over target of only 10 minutes, and flying so fast you'd be doing well to get one hit with the quad 20's in a pass at on a slow-moving target such as a Stuka. Or in a bomber role, they'd be unstoppable but could not reach much past the front lines, with no time to look for targets or to check on whether a pre-assigned target was still in German hands.

Jets could have done the Germans some good if they had used them to intercept strategic bombers, with a radar network to get them in the air just as the bombers arrived over the fighter airfields, and with weapons that could kill a B17 in a single high-speed pass. But political decision-makers put most of the German jet strength into roles ill-suited for the early jet technology.