Fire Scout

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The MQ-8B Fire Scout‘s design is based on the Schweizer Aircraft 330 helicopter. It’s also based on the RQ-8B VTUAV System which the U.S. Navy is currently testing and evaluating. Production of the Fire Scout began in 2000, though the MQ-8B was not used extensively until May of 2002.

The U.S. Navy and Army each have their own version: the MQ-8B Navy Fire Scout and the Army MQ-8B Fire Scout, respectively. The Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter, or Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle System (“VTUAV”).

The Scout can operate from a naval aircraft carrier or any other naval ship that can accommodate rotary-engine aircraft. The unmanned helicopter can also land in and takeoff from locations that are not suitable for fixed-wing aircraft. This makes the Fire Scout particularly valuable in combat locations where runways are not immediately available. The Navy also uses the MQ-8B Fire Scout as advanced support to pinpoint targets.

The MQ-8B Army Fire Scout is also used to pinpoint targets in advance of artillery or ground troops, but additionally the helicopter can be used to relay communications and logistics for the Army’s Future Force. The unmanned Fire Scout can also work with, and for, ground personnel at their discretion and command.

Moreover, the MQ-8B is useful for surveillance and reconnaissance missions deep in enemy territory. Its onboard laser rangefinder and designator are used in conjunction with an infrared or electro-optical sensor to locate and identify enemy targets. On command, the MQ-8B Fire Scout can fire weapons at confirmed targets and relay battle damage to operational commanders.

Technical and performance data of the MQ-8B Fire Scout includes:

Maximum speed: 125+ Knots
Ceiling: 20,000′
Length (folded): 22.87′
Rotor Diameter: 27.5′
Height: 9.42′
Maximum weight: 3,150′
Flight time with baseline payload: 8+ Hours
Flight time with 500 lb payload: 5+ Hours
Engine(s): Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20W
Crew: Unmanned
Primary contractor: Northrop Grumman

Gulfstream 3

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Grumman Aerospace developed the C-20D Gulfstream III primarily as a business jet, though the airplane has also fulfilled many other roles, including those on behalf of the United States military and NASA. The C-20D Gulfstream III’s all-weather capability, combined with its speed and extensive range have made it very popular for businesses and government agencies that have mission-critical requirements.

The C-20D Gulfstream III prototype completed its first flight on February 12, 1979. Four years later, the final version entered production. Depending on how the interior compartments are arranged, the C-20D Gulfstream III can carry up to eight passengers.

In 2003, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center needed an aerial research platform for testing and research, one that was capable of performing subsonic flight. They found their solution in a modified C-20A Gulfstream III which was supplied to them by the United States Air Force. All Gulfstream III aircraft sold to the military received the C-20A designation. Those used for transporting important government officials or special air missions were designated C-20B. The C-20B versions of the Gulfstream III came standard with high-tech communications equipment.

In case of nuclear war or other national catastrophe, the military keeps a fleet of Gulfstream III aircraft on hand, designated as C-20C Gulfstream IIIs. The United States Army and Navy versions of the Gulfstream III transport are the C-20D and C-20E. The C-20B Gulfstream III has been used extensively by American forces during both wars in Iraq and the Middle East.

Maximum speed: Mach 0.85
Cruise speed: 459 knots
Range: 3,767 nm
Ceiling: 45,000
Length: 88 ft 4
Wingspan: 77 ft 10
Height: 24 ft 6
Maximum weight: 69,700
Empty weight: 38,000 lb
Engine(s): Two SPEY-MK511-8 Turbofan engines with 11,400 pounds of thrust each
Rate of climb: 4,049′ per minute
Crew: Three, including pilot, first officer, and crew chief.
Passengers: Up to 12

Though Gulfstream no longer manufactures the C-20 Gulfstream III or any of its variations, the Grumman continues to produce mid-size business jets, some of which are based on the technology developed for the Gulfstream III. Many of the original C-20 Gulfstream III jets remain in service both in the corporate and military sectors.

F4F Wildcat

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The F4F Wildcat was originally designed as a biplane in 1935, but was soon modified as a single-wing fighter with a supercharged Pratt & Whitney radial engine. The Wildcat was the only U.S. Navy fighter to serve for the entire duration of World War II.

The F4F’s primary opponent was the Japanese Zero, a superior airplane that flew faster and with greater maneuverability, though was less rugged than the Wildcat. What made the difference for the Allies was the skill and training of the Wildcat pilots. Their victory to loss ratio of 7:1 made a tremendous difference in the Pacific theater and the airplane is credited with helping to keep the Allies in the war during the dark days of 1942.

Various versions of the F4F became a mainstay of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. In April of 1941, Grumman completed production of the F4F-4, a manually operated folded wing version of the Wildcat. This made the aircraft even more valuable as a carrier-based fighter because in its folded wing state it took up less room, which meant additional planes could fit on board, as many as 50% more. The price paid was a heavier plane with slightly less speed than previous versions of the F4F. The Wildcat often worked side by side with another carrier fighter, the TBF Avenger.

General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division took over production of the F4F in April of 1942. The reason for this was that Grumman had their hands full with producing the F6F and couldn’t keep up with the wartime production needs of the existing Wildcat. Eastern Aircraft made slight modifications to the Wildcat’s design, including removing two of the guns and the Wildcat was reborn as the FM-1.

The total number of all versions of Wildcats manufactured was 7,722.

Maximum speed: 320 mph
Range: 830 mi
Ceiling: 34,000 ft
Length: 28 ft 9 in
Wingspan: 38 ft
Height: 11 ft 4 in
Maximum weight: 7,975 lb
Empty weight: 5,895 lb
Engine(s): 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86
Rate of climb: 1,950 ft/min
Crew: One
Armament: Two 100 lb bombs, six 0.5 in. machine guns
Contractor: Grumman

If you are a current or former military pilot and would like to submit an article about your experience or a story about the Grumman FAF Wildcat or any other military aircraft then please contact us because we would like to hear from you so we can share your stories with others.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum

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Located in Garden City on New York’s Long Island, the Cradle of Aviation Museum is a great treat for the whole family. Lovers of aviation and aeronautics do well to schedule a trip to this great museum the next time they are in the area. The museum is designed to commemorate Long Island’s long involvement in aviation through the ages and families will find that it is filled with fun and interactive exhibits that appeal to both young and old.

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