Real world exigencies being what they are, we had pondered passing on this week’s edition, except…

…except that there are some great write-ups out there for the reading, such as:

Southern Air Pirate’s write-up on the history of Navy’s EW effort (Part 1 and Part 2)

Meanwhile, over at Tailhook’s blog, a very excellent post is up on an obscure but no less vital effort undertaken by VO-67 flying highly modified P2V Neptunes in an interdiction effort directed against the Ho Chi Minh Trail

And over at Tailspin’s Tales is a story of one of our favorite jets (and a Flightdeck Friday subject in the near future):

And finally, the F-35 isn’t the first Navy fighter with internal weapons bays for bombs – how about the XF4U?  Check it out over at Tommy Thomason’s place.



  1. sid

    George Spangenberg mentions somewhere in his oral history that Douglas offered an AEW version of the A-3…When I have some time will hunt the quote down and paste it in.

  2. Steeljawscribe

    *That* is something I’d love to see….
    – SJS

  3. sid

    Realized that i read about the Douglas AEW proposal in a book about A-3s. Will provide cite in a couple of days.

    What Spangenberg had to say, re: E-2…


    Maybe we can do the E-2 and we’ll be through with that year. That started as a W2F. It was the only competition that I was involved in that I thought was dishonest. The winner didn’t win. Vought won the competition. It was a replacement of course for the WF-2. Bigger radar, whatnot. Vought came up with the idea of the retarded wave antenna which allowed a thinner radome, much thinner than the WF-2. The Vought arrangement had the radome light enough that they could locate it at the tail of the airplane so it looked strange. But all the wind tunnel tests were excellent. The performance was excellent. The weight, cost, flying qualities, everything. They won the competition. The original Grumman entry was a conventional radome with the dish rotating within it. In those days we wrote a memorandum winding up a competition, signed by our Assistant Chief to the Chief and via all the other Assistant Chiefs. There had been agreement. “Okay, Vought won, we’re going to go ahead”, and that’s what the memo said.

    I went on vacation and while I was in Hartford with my family, I picked up the paper and lo and behold the Navy announced Grumman was the winner. I came back after the vacation to find out what had happened? Why? And it turned out that the head of the production division said Grumman is running out of fighters, the F9Fs were through. They were too far away from the A2F to be satisfied with its production. So he said Grumman needs the work and they ought to get it. The total Navy buy at the time was something that was programmed at seventy airplanes. Well, from my standpoint I didn’t see that the Grumman production problem was going to be solved by the E-2 by any means, what they were looking for then was hundreds of airplanes.

    RAUSA: Are you saying you favored the Vought proposal?

    SPANGENBERG: Oh, yes. Everybody did. It was the winner of the competition. Hands down I thought.

    RAUSA: So that was a political thing.

    SPANGENBERG: That became industrial statesmanship as it were. I was very, very upset because I thought we had a system that worked and it worked because we were honest and this I thought was dishonest. I pointed out to my boss, Mr. Frisbie, who apparently had gone along with this thing because the Chief, or the Assistant Chief or somebody said to. I think Adm. Schoech was the one that backed down. He was our Assistant Chief at the time.

    RAUSA: Had you not gone on vacation could you have made a difference?

    SPANGENBERG: I think I would. I would have raised hell. When I got back I got told to go pick up my memo. I said, “You’ve got a signed and approved memo that’s in the system and here you’re giving the contract to another guy.” So I got told to go pick the memo up and I refused. I wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

    RAUSA: You had already submitted it.

    SPANGENBERG: Yeah. Schoech had signed it. So it had gone through the system and had been approved. Finally they got one of the further down the line guys at that time, Charlie Butt, who later became Head of the Proposals Branch. Charlie got told to go pick up the memos and destroy them. So Charlie went and picked them up but he didn’t destroy them all.

    RAUSA: But the decision was made above Schoech then. He was told to approve that.

    SPANGENBERG: Well, the Assistant Chief for Production went to the Chief of the Bureau, whoever that was at the time, and convinced Schoech that industrial statesmanship should win the game.

    RAUSA: So it was a Navy decision.

    SPANGENBERG: Yeah. It was done within the Navy but I thought it was dishonest because I said the least you can do is to say to Vought you won the competition and we’ll pay you for your efforts or something like that. But for other reasons — this was what we’d done on the PBB years before when again Vought had won the competition and they decided they needed another producer in the seaplane field but they announced that Vought was the winner, paid him for his proposal work, turned the work over to Boeing and then Boeing submitted another proposal that we eventually bought. And I thought they should do the same thing.

    RAUSA: But they didn’t.

    SPANGENBERG: They didn’t.

    RAUSA: The Vought guys must have been furious.

    SPANGENBERG: I wouldn’t debrief them. I wouldn’t tell them why they lost and the word got around.

    RAUSA: But you knew those people well.

    SPANGENBERG: Sure. They knew they had won. The retarded wave antennae gave them such an aerodynamic advantage and no one else had it.

    RAUSA: And what this translates to was a thinner dome —

    SPANGENBERG: Eventually that technology went into the E-2. But that technology was in the Vought proposal, it was not in the Grumman proposal so Grumman redid their proposal eventually and picked up the Vought technology.

    RAUSA: In other words Grumman had more friends in the bureau than Vought.

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