01 July, 2016

Profile 121: F-8E Crusader as flown by Steve Russ, VF-53

F8 Crusader time!  Man, I've wanted to draw one of these sharks since I was 9 years old and struggling to glue the wings on.  

Hold that thought.

For some reason, people enjoy asking questions about what I do here.

Here's a sample:  "Are you really into Military?"

Sure!  But, I'm not a wanna-be for that matter.  The simple fact is that military moments are the crux of human history.  Remove them and we're left with a perforated storyline that simply doesn't add up to much.  But when taken in-whole, the picture of the human condition becomes much, much clearer.

So, to me, "Military" is fascinating.

Gawd, I love me my electronics but building plastic models is an awesome way to learn
History, Skill, Craftsmanship, Patience, Pride...
And I think this is the one that I attempted to build as a kid.
Source: Old Model Kits
Though I wholly agree with the Give Peace a Chance ideal, it's also the equivalent of listening to kindergarteners talk about what they'd do with a hundred dollars—"I'd buy all the candy in the world!"  We jaded adults know the truth—"Kid, you wouldn't get much and afterwards you'd puke your guts out."

In other words, right now, a world without war is simply unrealistic and until the moment when such is eliminated, our goal should be to do it better.   For me, writing about the human-side in addition to the war-side is is my contribution to this endeavor; it's awfully hard to make an enemy out of people we know'n like.  And, when confronted with those people who are inherently unlikeable (i.e. Nazis, ISIS, Khmer Rouge...) it's all the more enjoyable when they get blown up.

Steve Russ, in a condition he describes as, "Younger Me."
Source:  Steve Russ

Therefore, I interview old guys and draw their airplanes and hope for the best. 

Ok, back to the airplane.

Have another look at the Crusader above.  This particular example is one attached to the USS Bon Homme Richard (pronounced Bon Ahhm Rish-ard) circa 1968.  Her some-time pilot was, in his own words, only remarkable in that he was the youngest pilot on the ship.  

Over the next posts, I'll try to describe what it was like to fly this incredible aircraft known as "The Last of the Gunfighters."   As a war story, I'll share the pilot's perspective on using the machine as a tactical bomber (kind of like putting a luggage rack on the back of a 911 Turbo).   And you'll see some mighty-awesome fresh photographs of a day-in-the-life as well.

But as a human story, well, as my kids say, "It's complicated."

And that means this is a very human story. 

"Launch aircraft!"


No.  Don't launch...at least not quite yet.

You might think this is Steve readying to catapult off the carrier but in fact he's signaling that the F-8 was
No-Go and not mission-ready.
Source:  Michael Mihalevich, Photographer's Mate, 2nd Class and working for the U.S. Navy