April 2020 on Facebook

It's hard to believe it's the end of the month already.  It has been over one month since I was last in my office, the archives, at work.  While working from home has been different and has allowed me to get many things done, it certainly has been challenging in other ways.  We'll see what May has in store.

For those of you who do not have Facebook, I want to make it so that you can see the content that I have posted over there (without having to visit if you don't want to).  As such, below are the posts that were presented on Facebook.  I've omitted the memes and the links to website articles (also shared posts) and just kept the posts that had unique content.

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2 April, The A-12 Oxcart

On the road to the SR-71 Blackbird came a predecessor (plus a prototype). The A-12, literally meaning Archangel 12 was the aircraft initially selected to replace the U-2 in the Oxcart program. About a dozen of these aircraft were produced, but much like the meaning suggests, it was the twelfth Archangel design. Eleven predecessors to this final design were produced by Lockheed between 1958 and 1962. Just prior to the A-12's retirement in 1968, the YF-12, M-21, and SR-71 were at least already planned. Archangel-12 was not declassified until 1995.

6 April, Rockwell X-30 NASP

In the 1980's, Rockwell International was tasked with creating a Single-Stage-to-Orbit (SSTO) platform that would be used for future development in the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) program. The X-30 was the demonstrator for this program. The goal of the program would allow passenger travel from Washington D.C. to Tokyo in about two hours. The hypersonic nature of the X-30 proved promising enough that it survived the project's cancellation in 1993, persisting in the form of the X-43. Subsequent developments on the project have furthered development of high-speed missiles in the form of the FALCON program and the X-51 Waverider - both currently in testing.

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7 April, The Sinking of the Yamato

On this day in 1945, the last remaining flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was sunk in the East China Sea. The Yamato had been dispatched to participate in Operation Ten-Go - a suicide assault on American forces operating on Okinawa. The American's had intercepted radio communication and were thus fully aware of the IJN's intent. The Japanese task force was caught by American torpedo bombers without any air cover. By the end of the day, only 3 Japanese destroyers remained and the last remaining breath of life in the IJN was extinguished, and was a decisive American victory.

9 April, The Northrop YA-9

Second Best.  The A-X program was the USAF's response to shortcomings in it's ability to provide close-air-support during the Vietnam War. The aging A-1 Skyraider could not defend itself against then-modern jet aircraft and technology. The A-X program sought to correct that by introducing a jet powered, heavily armored replacement for the A-1. The YA-9 was the prototype that failed to meet the requirement. First flying in 1972, the YA-9 was the entry submitted by the Northrop Corporation. However, in the face of the entry from Fairchild Aircraft, it was a pale comparison. The superior A-10A would go on to enter service in 1977, while the YA-9 would be permanently grounded at air museums at Edwards AFB and March Field.

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10 April, The M31 Honest John Rocket

We've had plenty of aircraft, but lets look at some missile tech! The M31 Honest John was the first nuclear-ready rocket fielded by the United States. Model XM31, the prototype, was first tested in 1951, and the M31 production variant went into service three years later. The Honest John was a jack of all trades rocket system. It was capable of being armed with nuclear, high-explosive incendiaries, cluster bombs, and even Sarin nerve-gas bomblets. While the U.S. removed them from their arsenal by the mid-to-late 1960s, other nations kept these in their arsenals well into the 1990s.

13 April, The Fieseler Fi-103R Reichenberg

Desperation. By late 1944, the Third Reich was faced with mounting losses against the Allies. Within the German arsenals were the Retaliation weapons (V-weapons), but facilities to launch them was rapidly dwindling due to the Combined Bomber Offensive. As a last ditch effort to maintain their ability to strike deep into Allied territory, the Germans began to launch manned versions of the V-1 called the Fi-103R. While it was possible for the pilot to bail out before impact, this generally was not the case. These weapons were the basis as well for the Japanese Ohka bombs in the Pacific Theater.

14 April, Atomic Annie & USAREUR

That's definitely some propaganda with firepower. USAREUR was the primary operator of the M65 Atomic Cannon from about 1953 through 1962. These guns were fielded across Germany as a means of deterrence against the Soviet bloc. A few guns were also deployed to Okinawa and South Korea. However, of the 20-some guns produced, most found themselves stationed facing the iron curtain. Only eight of these monsters remains today.

Photo credit to: usarmygermany.com

15 April, The YF-17 Cobra

The Lightweight Fighter Program (LWF) in the early 1970s is most notorious for giving us the F-16. However, if not for this program we may also not have the F/A-18 family of naval fighter jets either. Northrop submitted the YF-17, codenamed Cobra, to the LWF in 1974. The YF-17 was much smaller than the F/A-18 by comparison. The Navy was impressed enough with the design that it selected the YF-17 to replace it's A-7 Crusaders and F-111 Aardvarks. McDonnell Douglas provided RDE support to fulfill the requirements of the Navy, thus the Hornet was born.

17 April, The XM70E2 115 MM Rocket Launcher

The XM70E2 115 MM Rocket Launcher was produced in late 1950s through the early 1960s. Using that term "produced" lightly, only 7 known specimens were ever reportedly produced. Unlike other rocket launchers, the XM70 worked using a closed breach design with rounds being rotated out - similar to that of a revolver. It was developed for the USMC, who had eventual intentions of purchasing a self-propelled mount for it. The project was terminated in 1963, likely to funnel more resources into proven applications ahead of Vietnam. The only known remaining specimen is Serial #7 at Rock Island Arsenal.

18 April, The Rockwell-MBB X-31

The X-31 was a joint project between the Rockwell Corporation and the soon-defunct remnant of Messerschmitt. The project was designed to help further research in the study of thrust vectoring. The goal was to test the limits of control and stability in various situations, including the removal of it's vertical fin. Post-stall maneuvers, a common staple in the current generation of aircraft, were also researched using this aircraft. It's British relative, the EAP, went on to serve as the basis for the Eurofighter Typhoon. The X-31 was never intended for combat use, and both testbeds are now on display.

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20 April, GAU-8 Avenger & The A-X Program

When the YA-9 and YA-10 were in competition within the AX program, they were not fitted with the 30 mm gun that we know of today. Instead, they were fitted with a 20 mm placeholder. The AX program had a requirement of being able to carry the cannon. Thus, both the GAU-8 Avenger and the AX Program were developed alongside each other. The first A-10's shipped without a gun as early as 1975, but had to await the delivery of the gun in 1977 before it entered service.

22 April, Project Babylon

Project Babylon was Saddam Hussein's pet project to develop a super gun for the Iraqi military. Dr. Richard Bull, the man who had worked on Project HARP in the U.S., urged Hussein to develop a large-caliber long-range gun to establish Iraq's presence in space through high-altitude launches. Hussein obliged him, and Project Babylon was born. Both a 350 mm and a 1 m gun were planned. Bull began his work in 1988, but was assassinated in 1990 before it could be completed. With the only expert on the project gone, the project collapsed.

23 April, The Sinking of U-183

While less discussed, there were some skirmishes involving German U-Boats in the Pacific Theater during World War II. On this day in 1945, the USS Besugo was operating in the South China Sea, when she intercepted U-183. In one of the few instances of Axis submarine encounters in the Pacific, Besugo successfully sank the German sub, leaving only one of the crew of 48 alive. U-183 had sunk three British liners in the Pacific during it's tenure, and no U.S. losses to that specific U-Boat were ever reported from either the Atlantic AOR or the Pacific. (Pictured, USS Besugo ca. 1949)

24 April, The Convair NB-36 Nuclear Powered Bomber

As early as 1946, the U.S. military was examining new applications for nuclear power. Chief among those were submarines, warships, and even aircraft. Project NEPA was initiated by the USAAF in 1946 to research the feasibility of equipping a bomber aircraft with a nuclear powered powerplant. Convair offered up their B-36 Peacemaker to be modified to meet the need in 1951. The NB-36 demonstrator first flew in 1955 and was an all-nuclear powered aircraft. President Kennedy cancelled the project in 1961 indicating that the prospect was too far off. The one NB-36 remains the only aircraft to fly with a nuclear powered powerplant.

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25 April, Elbe Day

West meets east. On this day in 1945, the Allied forces from the Western Front met with the Soviet forces approaching from the East. The meeting at the Elbe River meant that the Axis powers had been effectively split into two. Germany was already in her death throes and would continue into the final days of April. Unfortunately, due to tensions surrounding the subsequent Cold War, no formal holiday was ever assigned.

27 April, The Collapse of Yugoslavia

On this day in 1992, the former Yugoslavia had completed it's collapse in name after SFR Yugoslavia was effectively disbanded by a series of revolutionary conflicts in the Balkans. The series of events erupted following the death of Josip Tito in 1980. Tito's rule had effectively squashed most unrest in the nation and even kept Soviet influence out of the country. However, upon his death, various religious and ethnical sects began to seek power and claim independence. By 1992, war had begun to rip through modern day Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. Aftershocks are still being observed today.

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28 April, The Retirement of the A-6

On this day in 1993, after just over 30 years of service, the A-6 Intruder began its four year path to retirement when the USMC initiated its deactivation. The Intruder platform was served multiple updates over the years, including the more recently retired EA-6 Prowler variant. The A-6, however, was a relic from the Vietnam era, and with the onset of more diverse and flexible aircraft (such as the F/A-18 Hornet), the A-6's were slated for retirement. The EA-6 was retired in 2019 in favor of the EA-18 Growler.

29 April, The Cambodian Campaign

On this day in 1970, U.S. Forces along with the South Vietnamese Army commenced operations in eastern Cambodia. Taking advantage of the ongoing civil war in Cambodia, the Allies were tasked with the objective of eliminating Viet Cong and VPA forces staged throughout the nation. In addition, strikes on supply lines associated with the Ho Chi Minh Trail were prioritized. The Cambodian Campaign arced into July, with generally favorable results for the Allies.

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Author: The Kid

A junior Military Historian. In 2018 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. I'm also a professional student, specializing in Cold War era military history and American aviation history. I have composed several publications over the last four years, and continue to publish writings and photos to various journals, publishers, and blogs - including this one.

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