The end of the line has come for another UK military type. The Sea King HC4 has come to the end of the line for the Royal Navy. The Navy operated many Sea Kings in the anti-submarine role and for search and rescue before the Commando role was taken on. The Wessex fleet was aging and Westland had already come up with an assault version for the export market. Distinguished by its lack of radome and sponsons, the RN decided to use them as the replacement for the Wessex. I have seen them on many occasions. Living near Portsmouth as a kid, they frequently flew by. I also saw them at Navy Days. However, I have far fewer shots of them than I expected. They were not big airshow regulars.
The Junglie name had come from operations before their time and will, I suspect continue with their replacement in service, the Merlins that have been transferred from the RAF. With over 30 years of service, I guess they have done their job well.
Even people how aren’t particularly into aviation have a reasonable chance of having heard of the Douglas DC-3, also known as the C-47 and the Dakota. Not only was it a hugely important aircraft in WWI but it also continued to provide the post war commercial services and, even today, to fill a niche in air transportation. Far less attention is given to one of its counterparts in the war, the Curtiss C-46 Commando. The C-46 never stuck in the public conscience in the same way and its use post war was a lot more limited.
However, they didn’t all disappear and one fine example still flies at a lot of air shows. I got to see it at Pungo in Virginia a few years back at an ISAP event. The symposium was being held in Virginia Beach and we spent a couple of days at Pungo. One was the day before their annual air show. We got to look around the collection and see the aircraft in action. The C-46 put on a few great low passes and I was at one end of the field and got a great view head on.
On the day of the show, the weather was not cooperating and the train came down heavily at various times throughout the day. The C-46 did fly in the gaps provided by the not so awful weather. They were not conditions conducive to good photos but I still got some of it. However, the practice day proved to be the better day for seeing this fine machine in the air.
I took a couple of trips to Pungo in Virginia recently to the Warbirds Museum. The first visit was part of the ISAP field trip while the second trip was for the airshow on the day after the ISAP symposium had wrapped up. The field trip was on the Friday when they were preparing for the show. The sun was out but the wind was gusting pretty high so none of the aircraft were flying.
The Sunday was a lot worse. The rain was pretty constant and the cloud base was low. There was still some wind although it was a little lower. However, any chance of a display was gone. The only aircraft that performed on both days was the C-46 Commando. It showed up on the Friday to check out whether the wind was within limits. it did a low pass and determined that it wasn’t landing and off it went. Fortunately, I was in the right place for the first pass, even if a slightly longer lens would have been helpful.
On the Sunday it appeared again out of the murk. It did one pass (slightly higher than Friday) and then came in to land. I was further down the field this time and with a longer lens so was better placed for the landing. Conditions were not good since it was raining a lot but I still got a few shots.
The Commando is not a common aircraft so I was glad to get to shoot it, even if the circumstances were not ideal. It was a shame to miss some of the more unusual flying items but there you go. Make the best of what you get!