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Intrepid museum 1Lockheed A-12 Oxcart, Mach Three Spyplane, Built in 1967 Deck of the USS Intrepid, West 46th Street, New York, NY

A week before Easter, on a cold blustery Friday afternoon this writer was privileged to play host to the newest member of the AAD team, Rauli Mard, when he visited New York City. Rauli was in town scheduled to paint what he called iPhone portraits at Flat 128 (15 Christopher Street) the next day, but that left Friday open for sightseeing. We quickly decided as it wasn't raining and that meant a trip to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum was in the cards.

Situated at Pier 86 located at West 46th Street and the Hudson River, the Essex Class carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) is a rather unique museum for New York City. The Navy left to its own devices would just exhibit aircraft and materials used by the vessel while in service from 1943 to 1974. Fortunately those with more imagination are in charge, and numerous aircraft well outside the Navy's mission to use are the real stars of the open air museum.

Intrepid museum 2Noted Artist Rauli Mard Inspects the Fastest Plane ever built Lockheed A-12, Designed by Clarence Kelly Johnson (1910-1990)

Foremost is the A-12 Oxcart, a twin engine Mach three spy plane, perhaps better known to the public by the later version the SR-71, other stars include the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Concorde, USAF jets like the the F-16 and even a few exotic MiG fighter jets built by the Russians. One does not have to be a connoisseur of museum jets to understand air and space museums are big business, as for years the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was the most popular museum in the world. While at one time these were high priced weapons of war, these extraordinary designs have a certain defined lifespan before they get retired and sent off to the AMARG “Boneyard” (309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG)) of surplus military planes the United States has in Arizona.

There thousands of aircraft sit in the dry heat of Arizona awaiting their fate as spare parts, reconditioning or as is the case these days, simply being chopped up and as people say, being recycled into razor blades. The jets we see on display at the Intrepid escaped the latter fate. They are as follows:

Intrepid museum 3General Dynamics F-16 Viper, Built in 1978

F-16 Fighting Falcon, better known to pilots as the Viper, was largely designed by Colonel John Boyd (1927-1997) after an earlier project he worked on the F-15 Eagle (then known as “Blue Bird”) was co-opted by the Pentagon brass. Boyd was an outspoken member of what became known as the fighter mafia, a group of disgruntled air force fighter pilots who rejected the designs often foisted upon them by people they perceived as desk bound bureaucrats of the Pentagon. An example of that was the F-4 Phantom being armed with missiles alone when it faced off against the versatile MiG 21 in the skies over North Vietnam. The question was what to use after the missiles were gone, Throw rocks?

This Hamlet moment occurred while the MiG came in for the kill, guns blazing. The Phantom had guns retrofitted, but Air Force pilots felt it was an overweight twin engine plane ill suited for air to air combat, known as dog fighting. As Boyd saw the Pentagon bloat out the otherwise outstanding Blue Bird, he came up with Red Bird, an extremely lightweight fighter jet, designed for daytime operations that had the maneuverability of Blue Bird, but devoid of excess weight, outfitted properly, with his discipline and technique the lightweight Red Bird could beat the Pentagon’s Blue Bird in under 40 seconds. A legend was born, as over 4,500 of these jets were built, and almost half remain in service.

Intrepid museum 4Grumman A-6E Intruder, Built in 1963

A-6 Intruder, built by Grumman Aerospace of Bethpage, NY. A rugged twin engine bomber designed by Lawrence Mead Jr (who later designed the F-14 Tomcat), it began service in the 1960’s and remains in limited use today with the Navy and Marine Corps as the electronic warfare weapon of choice.

Intrepid museum 5Grumman E-1B Tracer, Built in 1958, first Carrier born AWACS

Radar dome built atop the C-1 Trader (Original Department of Navy name: S2F, called the Stoof), the E-1 was called by servicemen the "Stoof with a Roof." While meant to be a transitional aircraft to be replaced by the superior E-2, The E-1, during the early years of the Vietnam War, saw extensive service, it provided combat air patrol fighters with target vectors, and controlling air strikes over North Vietnam. With an early warning radius of 250–300 miles, the E-1B served as an AWACS for strike aircraft, of enemy MiG's activity. In service from 1958 to 1974.

Intrepid museum 6McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, Built in 1960 Twin engined fighter Bomber

F-4 Phantom, rugged and not exactly beautiful this McDonnell Douglas jet was one of the fastest in the world upon its introduction. Often derided by the Air force jockeys as another overweight jet, its stout build and reliability won them over for its durability in conflict.

Two jet engines means one can get knocked out and the bird can still fly home to the nest.
In Vietnam, at an old friend's forward base Duc Pho was often under enemy attack, the US Army air traffic controllers would radio call out for close air support help. The hoped for answer was a return squawk, on the radio: "Lima Lima, inbound, two minutes out, feet wet.” That meant help was on the way. "Lima Lima" was radio talk for low level. "Feet wet" meant coming in from the South China Sea. The Phantom would drops its payload (usually napalm) on the Viet Cong guerillas, and once delivered in a dramatic move to escape potentially hostile ground fire the Phantom would light up both afterburners as it pulled straight into the sky. Designed in the late 1950’s, the Phantom still serves in the air forces of Turkey and Japan.

Intrepid museum 7Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Built in 1974 Long Range Interceptor with the Hughes Phoenix Missile System

Best known for its starring role in the mid 1980’s film “Top Gun,” the Grumman built F-14 Tomcat was the premiere fleet interceptor designed to intercept Soviet Bombers with long ranged Hughes Phoenix missiles well before the enemy cruise missiles could lock on to a carrier task force. It is a role than some note is lacking since its retirement. Towards the end of its fleet life its complex electrical system required maintenance of some fifty hours per air hour flown. To keep its part off the market eighty percent of the 600 plus Tomcats were scrapped following retirement in 2006.

Intrepid museum 8Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17, Built in 1952 First Generation Russian Fighter Jet Based upon Designs captured from the Germans in World War Two

MiG-17, Russian interceptor design based upon captured German technology, it was highly effective if given the right pilot. Some 11,000 examples were built.

Intrepid museum 9Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-21 Fishbed, Built in 1959 Single Engine supersonic Russian Fighter

MiG-21 appeared in 1954 and it was the first really successful supersonic fighter jet made by the Soviets. Cheap and extremely maneuverable, it proved to be a truly formidable opponent for American jets tasked with bombing missions over Vietnam. Some 11,400 examples were made including a few that made the transition to NATO when former Warsaw Pact nations joined the alliance after the Berlin Wall fell.

Intrepid museum 10Dassault Entard IVM, Built in 1962, French Carrier fighter Jet

Dassault Entarde entered service in 1958, it served the French Navy until 1991. A simple maneuverable supersonic jet it was highly popular with pilots.

Intrepid museum 11Israeli Kfir C-2, Built in 1976, French Mirage V Airframe, American J-79 Engine and Israeli Avionics

In the mid 1960’s the Israeli’s primarily used French aircraft. After the Six Day War politics made that no longer a possibility and an order of Dassault Mirage Vs that had been embargoed, but crates containing the airframe made their way to Israel where they were reassembled with American J-79 engines and Israelis avionics.

Intrepid museum 12British Aerospace AV-8C Harrier, Built in 1969 Vertical Take off and Landing Ground support
Unheralded Ace of the Falklands conflict 1982

Harrier Jump jets were extraordinarily innovative British designed vertical takeoff and landing jets that could hover like a hummingbird. They were used by the RAF, the United States Marine Corps and later the Royal Navy. A later version remains in service with the United States Marine Corps.

Intrepid museum 13Bell AH-1J Sea Cobra, Built in 1971

Designed as a Gunship for the U.S. Army for use during the Vietnam War, the Cobra shared the proven transmission, rotor system, and the turbine engine of the UH-1 “Huey.” The U.S. Marine Corps liked the AH-1G, but it preferred a twin-engine version for improved safety in over-water operations. The Sea Cobra remains in service to this day.

Intrepid museum 14Bell UH-1 "Iroquois" Huey, Built in 1959
First Turbine engine Helicopter

UH-1 (originally HU-1 hence Huey) was the first turbine engine helicopter in mass production and it is featured in almost every movie on the Vietnam War. Produced in huge numbers, occasionally they took high casualties, such as in 1971 in a little known battle of the Vietnam War called Lam Song 719. That was a skirmish where the United States supported a South Vietnam pursuit of the North Vietnam into Laos that turned out to be a trap, one for the Americans as well as the doomed South Vietnamese. We lost 168 choppers in that February 1971 battle and had to send Jeeps up highway Route 1 to pick up downed pilots as we had run out of Hueys.

Intrepid museum 15Concord Engines serve as Finnish Blow Dryer Rauli does the Big apple
Pier 86 W 46th St and 12th Ave, New York, NY 10036
(212) 245-0072

Upon leaving the Intrepid Museum, we headed south to Brooklyn where Rauli was staying, sights this writer took for granted were the subject of utter fascination to the visiting Fin. It pulled my mind back to previous outings along the water front, most recently on the historic schooner, the Mary E which sailed around the tip of Manhattan last spring in an outing that hosted the Slovak United Nations delegation. The following photos resulted from that trip. New York from the water really is unlike any other city in the world.

Intrepid museum 16Bertholdi's Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, Built in 1886 Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) Interior Steel Skeleton by Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923)

Intrepid museum 17Hudson River Sloop clearwater, Built in the late 1960's

Intrepid museum 18Brooklyn Waterfront as seen offshore of the South Street Seaport

Intrepid museum 19Brooklyn Bridge, Built 1869-1884 Designed by John Augustus Roebling (1806-1869), Completed by Washington Roebling (1837-1926)

Intrepid museum 20Manhattan Bridge, Built 1901-1912,
Designed by Othniel Foster Nichols One World Trade Center, completed in 2013
Designed by David Childs and Daniel Libeskind

Intrepid museum 21United Nations Headquarters, Built in 1952
Designed by Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012)

Intrepid museum 22Neon Pepsi Sign, Designed by Artkraft Strauss,
Built in 1936 Artkraft Strauss created the Neon Lights of Times Square

About the Author

Robert Alexander Boyle

Robert Alexander Boyle

 Alexander Boyle is a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, CT where he majored in History. Prior to graduation he co-authored the seminal book Acid Rain in 1983. Alex has worked for the Metropo...