Sunday, September 9, 2012

More Cobras Over the Falls

A few posts back we shared a couple'a inflight shots of Bell P-63s with a world-famous water feature in the background. Today we bring you a third... two Kingcobras bound for the Soviet Union, with the Canadian 'Horseshoe Falls' as a backdrop.

Project 914 Archives

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Winged Invasion Fleet in the Making

In this installment of BuffaloWingz we bring you a photo showing Curtiss C-46 Commandos and P-40 Warhawks under construction in Buffalo, NY... here's the caption from the reverse of the photo, which is dated August 20th, 1942:

Winged Invasion Fleet in the Making

Buffalo, NY......Row on row of torpedo-shaped fuselages for Curtiss Commando military transport planes are shown in mass production in one of the Buffalo plants of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. These planes, the world's largest twin-motored airliners are the new troopships of the sky, designed especially to give maximum striking power to the U.S. Army by getting there fustest with the mostest men and equipment. Efficient production has won the Army-Navy 'E' for the company.

Yeah, you read that right... it said 'fustest with the mostest'. 'Fo-shame! =P

Project 914 Archives

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Send Me a Postcard

Today's post on BuffaloWingz will be short and half-toned...

This is a postcard image showing three members of the Convair 240 family, operated by American Airlines, at Buffalo Airport circa 1956 or thereabouts.

Project 914 Archives

And another, this time an artist's illustration showing a couple'a Convairs and DC-4s. This postcard was from a slightly earlier period in time... perhaps the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Project 914 Archives

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Saturday, August 11, 2012


During 1928 the Cunningham-Hall Aircraft Corporation was formed in Rochester, NY by Randolph F. Hall, a group of former employees of the Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corporation, and James Cunningham, Son and Company, which manufactured automobiles. The firm's first design was the PT-6... a 6-seat biplane of all-metal construction.

Only two PT-6s were built, although the following ad might have given one the impression that dozens had been constructed and delivered to satisfied customers nationwide. Such was the face of advertising of the period...

And here is the same ship shown in the ad, outfitted with skis, ready for a relatively short but undoubtedly chilly flight between Rochester and Buffalo during a typical New York winter. Hopefully a cabin heater was one of the 'refinements' alluded to in the advert...

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Call to Duty, Mustangs, and a Look Into the Past

This is the second installment of a series featuring the local Air National Guard outfit that's based in Niagara Falls, NY.

When last we saw our intrepid Guardsmen, they were flying the Republic F-47 (nee P-47) Thunderbolt during the late 1940s and into the early 50s. On March 1st, 1951 the 136th Fighter Squadron was ordered into active duty for 21 months, and forty percent of its personnel were sent overseas to serve in Korea, Germany, Alaska, Guam, and the Philippines. While serving in Korea, Lt. Arnold Wackerman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In late 1952 the 136th Fighter Squadron personnel deployed to Korea returned home, and that December the outfit completed its conversion to a new mount... the North American F-51H (nee P-51H) Mustang. Unfortunately, we have only one photo of the F-51H in 136th service to share. But it's perhaps somewhat appropriate that we have just the one photo... the F-51H served with the 136th for just a little over a year; the shortest tenure of any principal type used by the outfit.

Niagara's 107th Fighter Interceptor Group
40th Anniversary Book

Another change took place during 1952, one which reflected the 136th's mission of Air Defense; the 107th Fighter Group was re-designated as a Fighter Interceptor Group, with its component squadrons being similarly re-designated. Thus, the 136th Fighter Squadron became the 136th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.


As we have only the one photo to share for this period in the 136th's history, your blogmeister thought it appropriate to look back into the outfit's lineage to a time when an earlier model of the P-51 was flown by the 136th's predecessors...

On August 12th, 1942 the 339th Bombardment Group (Dive) was activated at Hunter Field in Savannah, Georgia, and was initially equipped with the A-24 Banshee and A-25 Shrike. (USAAF versions of the Navy's Douglas SBD Dauntless and Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, respectively) The outfit converted to the Bell P-39 Airacobra in July of 1943, and was also re-designated as the 339th Fighter Bomber Group.

Deploying to England in early 1944, the 339th converted to the type with which it would go into combat... the North American P-51 Mustang... and was again re-designated as the 339th Fighter Group. In October of 1945 the 339th returned to the States and was inactivated, but in May of 1946 was re-activated, re-designated as the 107th Fighter Group, and alotted to the New York National Guard, eventually being officially recognized by Uncle Sam in 1948.

When the 339th was given its new identity as the 107th, the outfit's component squadrons, the 503rd, 504th, and 505th, followed suit, with the 503rd Fighter Squadron being re-designated as the 136th Fighter Squadron. So, now that we've established that connection, here's a few photos of the 136th's predecessors, the 503rd Fighter Squadron, during World War II...

The NARA caption for this first photo reads:
North American P-51 "Mustang" in revetment in England. 16 January 1945.

This is P-51C serial number 43-25050, assigned to Lt. Esteban A. Terrats of the 503rd FS. Lt. Terrats, who hailed from Santurce, Puerto Rico, was KIA while flying this aircraft on March 2nd, 1945. 

NARA via Fold3

 P-51D 44-11325, coded D7-K, named 'Princess Pat', flown by Lt Philip E. Petitt, 503rd FS, 339th FG. This ship was lost on April 7th, 1945, due to friendly fire. Lt Davie (David?) A. MacKenzie was KIA. 

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)

Howsabout some gun camera stills?

LtCol. Dale E. Shafer claimed an Arado 234 destroyed on April 18th, 1945... (defunct site)

Lt. Clarence Ferrell caught this Me 262 in his sights briefly on April 17th, 1945, but apparently didn't damage the jet as no claim was made. (defunct site)

 November 27th, 1944... Lt. Luther Francis, has a blast while strafing a train... (defunct site) (defunct site)

Project 914 Archives

Project 914 Archives

Project 914 Archives

Next time we look in on the boys of the 136th, they'll be flying jets...

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Today we bring you a really nice inflight shot of a Bell P-39F Airacobra. Aesthetically, the P-39F was almost identical to the P-39D... the only major differences being the P-39F's twelve exhaust stacks per side, and the Aeroproducts propeller that replaced the Curtiss-Electric prop used on the P-39D.

Project 914 Archives

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fast Mover

Today's post on BuffaloWingz is short and sweet. Here's a groovy shot of an F/A-18F Super Hornet at the 2011 'Thunder of Niagara' airshow at Niagara Falls, NY...

USAF photo: Staff Sgt. Joseph McKee

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Cobras Over the Falls

Northwest of Buffalo, NY is a place known as Niagara Falls, where they have a neat little tourist attraction that involves a fairly large amount of water. This super-sized backyard-garden water feature is often used as a backdrop for photos, both on the ground and in the air, and here at BuffaloWingz we think that such pikshurs are kinda 'purty.

So here's a couple'a purty pikshurs, compliments of a good friend...

First up, an almost surreal shot of a Bell P-63A Kingcobra with the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background.

Project 914 Archives (Mike Butry collection)

And here's a real-mighty-fine view of three USSR-bound P-63Cs with the American, Bridal Veil, and Canadian 'Horseshoe' Falls.

Project 914 Archives (Mike Butry collection)

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rare Bird

Here's sumthin' super-groovy... Curtiss chief test pilot Lloyd Child takes the first of just twenty-three P-40Ds to be built for a spin in Western New York skies...

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)

The P-40D was such a major departure from all previous variants of the P-40 that a new model number, 87, was assigned by Curtiss. Although two subsequent variants of the P-40 (the P-40L and early P-40Ns) would leave the factory with only four guns installed, the P-40D was the only Model 87 to have an actual four-gun wing... one of very few commonalities it shared with most of its predecessors.

Here's another shot of a P-40D, possibly the same ship shown above. Clearly visible here is the short carburetor intake on top of the nose, peculiar to the P-40D and some early P-40Es.

Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)

More on the P-40D HERE...

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

What the Fleet?

This cyber-rag is all about things with wings in the Buffalo and Western New York area. (if you don't believe me, just look up at the top of the page and read the blog description) Owing to Buffalo and WNY's close proximity to the home of hockey and really good donuts, (otherwise known as the Great White North or, in certain circles, Canada) you will, every once in a blue moon, find subject matter here that deals with our neighbors to the North. After all, they are 'in the area'... and they have airplanes up there, too.

We're not gonna give you a history lesson as to the origins of Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario, except to say that they were closely tied to Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. We're simply going to post a spiffy snapshot showing one of their nifty products. We're not sure exactly which one it is... your blogmeister thinks that it looks like a Fleet 11, but that model was apparently not introduced until 1934, which conflicts with the info that accompanied this photo. Speaking of which...

The original image was found HERE, and the photo is said to have been taken near the Niagara River at Chippawa, Ontario in 1931.

Niagara Falls Public Library (Francis J. Petrie collection)

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Metro, a Gray Bird, and Some Outtakes

While your blogmeister was at the Buffalo Airport this past Sunday saying 'hi' to a vintage visitor, he also spied a couple of other birds... both of more recent vintage... and one which, after a check of the N-number, proved to be as interesting as it looked...

First, the Metro... this is a Fairchild Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III operated by Ameriflight. Nothing exciting, as it's just a civvie. But it's a pretty neat lookin' civvie.

This gray bird looked pretty interesting to me, and I was thinking that, despite its civil registration, it had to be military. Upon checking the N-number (N8107F) my suspicion was confirmed. This bird is a Hawker Beechcraft B300 operated by the US Army as part of the PM ARES program. More info on that HERE.

And now a couple'a outtakes from the B-17 shots. I arrived early, and they were gassin' up the Fort when I caught this scene through the fence...

And roughly an hour and a half later, here's the Fort holding at 'last chance' before turning onto the runway with its first load of passengers for the day... one'a these days I'm gonna buy me a ride.

All photos: S.Donacik/BuffaloWingz

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Memphis Belle in Buffalo

Your blogmeister headed out to Prior Aviation at KBUF this past Sunday morning specifically to see one particular airplane... unfortunately, the bird shown in these photos is not that particular airplane. The bird he really wanted to see, the Liberty Foundation's P-40, was apparently a no-show... but a B-17 with the name 'Memphis Belle' on its nose is better than nuthin' at all.

Now, before ya'll pile onto your blogmeister's back... he knows that a B-17 is nothing to scoff at. It's just that he's seen this particular Fort a bazillion times before, and has never seen the Liberty Foundation's P-40 up close and personal. So, being a P-40 nut, he was eager to have a second chance to get acquainted with this Hawk after having missed it the previous weekend at the Geneseo airshow, where it was also a no-show. You could say he was somewhat bummed... but, you play the hand dealt to you... so back to the B-17...

Yeah, yeah... we know... it's not the REAL 'Memphis Belle'. The real 'Belle' is undergoing a bit of dustin' and cleanin' at the Air Force Museum. But this-here Fort is still pretty groovy, even if it isn't a P-40. She's owned and operated by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, which was formed by the late David Tallichet, and normally based at Geneseo, NY... home of the Historical Aircraft Group. She is currently being leased to the Liberty Foundation, and they're touring with the aircraft in lieu of their own B-17 which was destroyed in an unfortunate incident last year.

About the name of this B-17... although we at BuffaloWingz refer to it as the 'Memphis Belle', it is actually named 'The Movie Memphis Belle'. There's a whole long, tangled story about the name and we shall not go into it here, primarily because we don' have all the dope on that story. But we will say that it's a fitting name, because this Fort 'starred' as the 'Memphis Belle' in the 1990 film of the same name. We could also say more on that score, but shall refrain... lest we break a record for the longest blog post in history.

Anyhoo, here's a few snaps taken by your blogmeister this past Sunday morning... enjoy...

All photos: S.Donacik/BuffaloWingz

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Friday, July 20, 2012

One Small Step

Here's a BuffaloWingz extra... today is the anniversary of the first Moon landing and your blogmeister's Dad was one of thousands who worked to make it happen.

Although he was a well-spoken man, he was also a photographer...

...and you know what they say about photos and words...

This one's for you, Dad...

All photos: NASA - Project Apollo Archive

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The Second Millionaires Unit

In 1916, just months before the USA entered World War One, a buncha fellas from Yale University volunteered to form what was to become known as 'The Yale Unit', or 'The Millionaires Unit'... although not all of its members came from wealthy families. Officially designated by the US Navy as 'Aerial Coast Patrol Unit #1', this outfit's intended purpose was to help combat the U-boat threat. More on that particular outfit HERE.

In December 1916, a second 'Yale Unit' was formed,  designated 'Aerial Coast Patrol Unit #2'... and later, a third such unit came into being, although it apparently never reached full fruition. The second 'Yale Unit' is the focus of today's post, however, as its members underwent initial flight training in Buffalo, NY, flying the Curtiss 'F Boat'.

The following two photos come from the San Diego Air & Space Museum's archives, and were taken by Harold Kantner in Buffalo during 1917. Three men in the first photo are identified as James Sanford 'Shorty' Otis, E.D. (Edward) DeCernea and Jay Schieffelin  although it's not clear who is who...

More often than not, we like to write as little as possible here at BuffaloWingz... mostly due to utter laziness, but also because, on occasion, we come across something online which fits the bill nicely and/or is much more comprehensive than anything we can put together here in a half hour or so. The latter is the case in this instance.

Reproduced below, for convenience, are the relevant pages from a publication which can be found HERE.

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