Two different things today, one is an ‘old school’ airplane that showed up at a small field near Dallas yesterday…

It’s got the correct paint scheme, and it’s a converted D-18. These were used extensively in SEA by Air America. If it looks funny, it’s because the original D-18 was a tail dragger. Some of them were converted to tricycle gear in the early 60s by Volpar, and others were ‘built’ as H-18s with the Volpar mod done at the factory. I sent the pic along to a friend who flew for AA in Nam, and will be interested to see his comments…

Another friend reminded me about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the fact that was the first operational use of the P-3A Orions by VP-8 and VP-44. J.P. was a year or so away from transitioning out of the P-2V7s but he flew missions on the Russians with VP-49 out of Key West.

Metallurg Anosov and destroyer USS Barry (DD-933

VP-44 over MV Metallurg Anosov and destroyer USS Barry (DD-933)

Exactly three months after delivery of the first P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, US Navy aircrews from Patrol Squadron 8 found themselves deployed to Bermuda—and stepping into the brightest of world spotlights.

On 23 October 1962, four aircrews from VP-8 and four aircrews from Patrol Squadron 44 (VP-44) began enforcing President John F. Kennedy’s blockade of Cuba to prevent Soviet missiles from reaching Cuba. The P-3 crews patrolled the Atlantic sea lanes to locate and track Soviet cargo ships carrying intermediate range ballistic missiles or missile launch support equipment.

By the time the Cuban Missile Crisis ended a few days later, a VP-44 crew achieved international recognition of sorts when their aircraft was photographed flying close surveillance over the Russian freighter Anasov on its return to the Soviet Union. Anasov was the only Russian vessel that refused to uncover the large oblong objects lashed to its deck. The Orion crew was able to verify that the objects were indeed crated missiles, and the ship was allowed to proceed.

And the rest of the story, HERE, as to how close we came to a nuclear war. J.P. was involved in tracking the subs and dropping PDCs on them to get them to surface.

And the P-3s are still flying 56 years later… Won’t match the C-130 or the B-52 for longevity, but that’s not bad for an airplane that spent most of its career flying over salt water and fighting corrosion.

h/t J.P and JD



TBT… — 13 Comments

  1. Thank you for your contribution to the nation’s defense (always #1). And thank you for this post. Very interesting, Old NFO.

  2. I guess I’m not the only one that thought Sky King flew a Beechcraft Bonanza or a D18, instead of a Cessna T50 Bobcat.
    But I believe the D18 was used in “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, “flown” by Jim Bacchus and Mickey Rooney (really Frank Tallman).

  3. Been on the USS Barry when she was a museum ship at the Washington Navy Yard. Alas, she has since been scrapped.

  4. I have vague memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had just turned 10 that summer. We had a stockpile of food and water in the house; I remember some being in the kitchen breakfast area. Things had gone so far that my dad had been recalled to his National Guard unit awaiting possible deployment. At that time the unit flew RF-84Fs. Thing is I don’t remember being scared; I think I knew we were the good side and would win.

  5. I think the D-18 had a wooden spar that was the foundation for the wings. That spar started to rot on a D-18 I’m familiar with and couldn’t pass its annual/100hr.
    The owner loved the airplane and wanted to repair it, but costs were prohibitive.
    He ended up parting it out.

  6. LL/WSF- You’re welcome and back at ya!

    Ed- Yep!

    Stretch- Toured her too, and sad that she’s gone.

    Bill- I was 10 too. My cousin got called up, and they made it to Florida before they turned around.

    GB- I ‘thought’ it was metal and the issue was corrosion, at least on the H-18s.

  7. I was in VF-84 (Jolly Rogers) F8U-2N onbd the USS Independence (CVA-62). We had just returned from a Med cruise and were turned around to spend 56 days cruising around the island. Kind of antsy not knowing what was going on, the only news we received was from a radio that had a short wave band that picked up the BBC. A detachment of us with six aircraft went TAD to Gitmo for the last part of the blockade, we loaded 5″ Zunis on the side rails, ate c-rats, washed down with cold Hatuey and watched the joint Navy/Marine ground defense force man the perimeter. Not a bad deployment, nice to get off the boat.

  8. We were doing duck and cover at school.
    Someone (OK, it was me.) had his father’s “Blast Effects Chart.” We knew how far we were from the Pentagon (Ground Zero). Recess consisted of figuring out how big a blast we could survive. Second grade. SUCK IT SNOWFLAKES!

  9. ND- That had to be ‘interesting’… To put it mildly…

    Stretch- LOL… How about NON survivable…

  10. You’re right.
    What the hell is goin’ on with my memory?
    I remember the spar WAS the problem. Why did I think it was wood?

  11. Hey Old NFO;

    Cool airplane and that was an interesting time back then. But I wasn’t even around then, and the P3 is a very interesting airplane.