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Douglas F-91B Skyshark - 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Wing, USAF, 1953

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 came just one month after the first flight of the Douglas A2D Skyshark. Even before the Fall of 1950, the USAF could see that it had aircraft to suit every combat role except for the crucial close air support role where it had nothing inbetween the shiny new jets that were short on range and the F-51D Mustangs of WW2 vintage that were short on payload. A USAF evaluation team quickly studied a minimum change version of the Douglas A-1 Skyraider that was by now the backbone of the United States Navy carrier-based attack squadrons having exceptional payload ability and a very long range - indeed, some combat sorties were up to 10-hours long. However, the USAF evaluation team expressed concern that combat reports of these long-range missions constantly referred to pilots literally being dragged out of their cockpits such was their fatigue. In conclusion, the USAF evaluation team considered the A-1 Skyraider to be a good interim machine but recommended a faster follow-on aircraft that still had the A-1's exceptional payload ability.

Whilst the USAF were aware of the development problems of the turbo-prop powered Douglas A2D Skyshark they considered that it was a better prospect than any clean sheet of paper project and urged the Department of Defense for more funding to fix the A2D's problems. This re-ignited the United States Navy's interest in it's own program and the resultant joint campaigning effort resulted in more funding for an ambitious accelerated program. With the USAF having withdrawn the A (attack) designation in 1947 the USAF version was confusingly designated F-91* and the prototype YF-91 (converted from the third A2D-1) first flew on July 31st, 1951. 

Development and testing moved ahead smoothly during the remainder of 1951 and early 1952 with an initial production batch of 12 F-91A's entering service in August 1952 with a joint-service test and evaluation squadron based near the Douglas facility at El Sugundo in California. The main production version was the F-91B which entered service in February 1953 with the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron temporarily detached to Itazuke Air Base in Japan before deploying to Suwon Air Base, South Korea to commence combat operations in March 1953. Operating in the night attack role the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron primarily flew bombing and strafing missions against enemy air fields but in May 1953 the 36th succesfully attacked the Kuwonga, Namsi and Taechon Dams.

USAF F-91D SKYSHARK.01

 

USAF F-91D SKYSHARK.02

 

USAF F-91D SKYSHARK.03

 

USAF F-91D SKYSHARK.04

 

USAF F-91D SKYSHARK.05

* There's no need to point out that there was a real F-91 (the Republic Thunderceptor) there's not many spare designations in the 'F' era before the Century Series.

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Incredible!!! I consider Ed Heinemann the most talent aircraft designers of all. His planes were all revolutionaries and beautiful as this monster. Congrats!!

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21 hours ago, Wilches said:

Incredible!!! I consider Ed Heinemann the most talent aircraft designers of all. His planes were all revolutionaries and beautiful as this monster. Congrats!!

and guess where he got his ideas...like most pre war a\c  from captured german secret projects...

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