00:Home

10:Aircrafts

20:Carriers

30:Bases

40:Maps

50:R.O.E.

60:Crews

70:More

80:Story

90:Missions

Back to
Rockets
2017-11-20

  Article  

 
     
     
 

FFAR  -  Fast Folding Aerial Rockets  -  The no so Mighty Mouse  starring in :

THE BATTLE OF PALMDALE

 
     

1st Article

 

"Battle of Palmdale": Sound, Fury and 1 Lost Plane
reproduced from :
http://www.thexhunters.com/xpeditions/f6f-5k_accident.html 

 

On the morning of 16 August 1956, Navy personnel at Point Mugu prepared an F6F-5K for its final mission. The aircraft had been painted overall high-visibility red. Red and yellow camera pods were mounted on the wingtips. Radio remote control systems were checked, and the Hellcat took off at 11:34 a.m., climbing out over the Pacific Ocean. As ground controllers attempted to maneuver the drone toward the target area, it became apparent that it was not responding to radio commands. They had a runaway.

Ahead of the unguided drone lay thousands of square miles of ocean into which it could crash. Instead, the old Hellcat made a graceful climbing turn to the southeast, toward the city of Los Angeles. With the threat of a runaway aircraft approaching a major metropolitan area, the Navy called for help.

Five miles north of NAS Point Mugu, two F-89D Scorpion twin-jet interceptors of the 437th Fighter Interceptor Squadron were scrambled from Oxnard Air Force Base. The crews were ordered to shoot down the rogue drone before it could cause any harm. Armed with wingtip-mounted rocket pods and no cannon, the Scorpion was typical of the Cold War approach to countering the "Red Menace." Each pod contained 52 Mighty Mouse 2.75-inch rockets. Salvo-launched, the Mighty Mouse did not have to have precision guidance. Large numbers of rockets would be fired into approaching Soviet bomber formations to overwhelm them with sheer numbers. Today, they would be used against a different kind of red menace.

At Oxnard AFB, 1Lt. Hans Einstein and his radar observer, 1Lt. C. D. Murray, leapt into their sleek F-89D. Simultaneously, 1Lt. Richard Hurliman and 1Lt. Walter Hale climbed into a second aircraft. The interceptors roared south after their target. The hunt was on

Einstein and Hurliman caught up with the Hellcat at 30,000 feet, northeast of Los Angeles. It turned southwest, crossing over the city, then headed northwest. As the Hellcat circled lazily over Santa Paula, the interceptor crews waited impatiently. As soon as it passed over an unpopulated area, they would fire their rockets.

The interceptor crews discussed their options. There were two methods of attack using the fire control system, from a wings level attitude or while in a turn. Since the drone was almost continuously turning, they selected the second mode of attack. In repeated attempts, the rockets failed to fire during these maneuvers. This was later traced to a design fault.

The drone turned northeast, passing Fillmore and Frazier Park. It appeared to be heading toward the sparsely populated western end of the Antelope Valley. Suddenly, it turned southeast toward Los Angeles again. Time seemed to be running out. Einstein and Hurliman decided to abandon the automatic modes, and fire manually. Although the aircraft had been delivered with gun sights, they had been removed a month earlier. After all, why would a pilot need a gun sight to fire unguided rockets with an automatic fire control system ?

The interceptors made their first attack run as the Hellcat crossed the mountains near Castaic. Murray and Hale set their intervalometers to "ripple fire" the rockets in three salvos. The first crew lined up their target and fired, missing their target completely. The second interceptor unleashed a salvo that passed just below the drone. Rockets blazed through the sky and then plunged earthward to spark brush fires seven miles north of Castaic. They decimated 150 acres above the old Ridge Route near Bouquet Canyon.

A second salvo from the two jets also missed the drone, raining rockets near the town of Newhall. One bounced across the ground, leaving a string of fires in its wake between the Oak of the Golden Dream Park and the Placerita Canyon oilfield. The fires ignited several oil sumps and burned 100 acres of brush. For a while the blazes raged out of control, threatening the nearby Bermite Powder Company explosives plant. The rockets also ignited a fire in the vicinity of Soledad Canyon, west of Mt. Gleason, burning over 350 acres of heavy brush.

Meanwhile, the errant drone meandered north toward Palmdale. The Scorpion crews readjusted their intervalometers and each fired a final salvo, expending their remaining rockets. Again, the obsolete, unpiloted, unguided, unarmed, propeller-driven drone evaded the state-of-the-art jet interceptors. In all, the jet crews fired 208 rockets without scoring a single hit.

The afternoon calm was shattered as Mighty Mouse rockets fell on downtown Palmdale. Edna Carlson was at home with her six-year-old son William when a chunk of shrapnel burst through her front window, bounced off the ceiling, pierced a wall, and finally came to rest in a pantry cupboard. Another fragment passed through J. R. Hingle's garage and home, nearly hitting Mrs. Lilly Willingham as she sat on the couch. A Leona Valley teenager, Larry Kempton, was driving west on Palmdale Boulevard with his mother in the passenger seat when a rocket exploded on the street in front of him. Fragments blew out his left front tire, and put numerous holes in the radiator, hood, windshield, and even the firewall. Miraculously, no one was injured by any of the falling rockets. Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams later recovered 13 duds in the vicinity of Palmdale. It took 500 firefighters two days to bring the brushfires under control.

Oblivious to the destruction in its wake, the drone passed over the town. Its engine sputtered and died as the fuel supply dwindled. The red Hellcat descended in a loose spiral toward an unpopulated patch of desert eight miles east of Palmdale Airport. Just before impact, the drone sliced through a set of three Southern California Edison power lines along an unpaved section of Avenue P. The camera pod on the airplane's right wingtip dug into the sand and the Hellcat cartwheeled and disintegrated. There was no fire.

     

2nd Article

 

"Battle of Palmdale": Sound, Fury and 1 Lost Plane
Fighter jets chasing an errant drone fired 200 missiles, missing the aircraft but causing a string of brush fires.
September 11, 2005 | Cecilia Rasmussen | Times Staff Writer

 

In the midst of the Cold War, when Nike missile sites dotted the Southland, a bright red runaway Navy drone airplane veered off course and headed for Los Angeles, triggering a dangerous sequence of events known as the "Battle of Palmdale."

It's not a battle that the military could say it won back on Aug. 16, 1956.

The Navy summoned two fighter jets to shoot down the pilotless drone, a Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat, minutes after it went out of control after being launched from Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

As the wayward Hellcat headed toward Los Angeles, twin Scorpion interceptors fired more than 200 missiles at it, missing their target each time. Instead the missiles -- each pod containing 52 Mighty Mouse 2.75-inch rockets -- damaged property and set off a string of brush fires across northern Los Angeles County. The Hellcat drone finally crash-landed harmlessly in the Mojave Desert.

Angry and frightened residents complained. Los Angeles County Supervisor Roger W. Jessup promised a detailed investigation and introduced a resolution urging the "utmost care" by Navy officials in sending the "robot planes skyward."

The Navy may have lost radio control with the Hellcat either because the ground transmitter failed or the aircraft receiver broke down, according to experts.

More than four decades later, Peter Merlin, 41, an archivist and historian in the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center history office at Edwards Air Force Base, was documenting more than 400 military and civilian crash sites in the base's vicinity when he stumbled across this little-remembered aviation incident.

"I thought I knew every aviation mishap since 1935, but I was wrong," said Merlin, who, with a partner, is driven to conduct the detective-like work of pinpointing aviation crash sites.

"Finding plane crash sites has been a passion of mine for decades," Merlin said. The Hellcat voyage and wreck are "forgotten history, filled with drama, humor, and it's not morbid."

Merlin and fellow wreck finder Tony Moore, 46, a graphic designer, founded the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team in 1992.

The search for old crash sites is part obsession and part tribute to their heroes, including Lt. Col. Fitz Fulton, who flew a record 235 types of aircraft for the Air Force and NASA, and Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe, a Michigan test pilot who died in training flights over the California desert.

The two wreck sleuths explore military crash sites untouched for decades, such as the spot where Capt. Glenn W. Edwards' Northrop experimental YB-49 "flying wing" crashed in 1948, killing him. Edwards Air Force Base was named in his honor.

In 1997, the duo marked out an area where they thought the Hellcat drone had crashed, eight miles east of Palmdale. They used military crash records, old photographs and details from the Los Angeles Times, including a front-page headline that screamed: "208 Rockets Fired at Runaway Plane: Missiles Spray Southland Area in Effort to Halt Wild Drone."

Following power lines, the men found spliced repair marks to the wires, which the drone snagged before hitting the ground. "Almost immediately we spotted aircraft debris," Merlin said. Metal plates with inspection stamps and serial numbers, aircraft rudder trim and fragments from camera pods were among the treasures that had lain undisturbed more than four decades.

"That August morning in 1956," Merlin said, "Navy personnel prepared the F6F-K5 for its mission. The aircraft had been painted red to make it easy to see. Red and yellow camera pods were mounted on the wingtips."

According to Times news clips, the event unfolded over several tense hours:

The Hellcat took off from Point Mugu at 11:34 a.m. and headed out over the Pacific. As a target for missile tests, it had miles of ocean for a crash zone. But when it failed to respond to ground controls and instead headed toward Los Angeles, the Navy called for help.

The Hellcat was circling the Santa Paula area when, at Oxnard Air Force Base, now Camarillo Airport, 1st Lts. Hans Einstein and C.D. Murray jumped into one of the Scorpion twin-jet fighters, while 1st Lts. Richard Hurliman and Walter Hale climbed into the second jet.

The drone soon crossed above Fillmore and Frazier Park, heading toward the Antelope Valley. Then, as it turned back toward Los Angeles, passing over Castaic, the Scorpion crews fired the first salvos, but missed.

Below, the orange bursts of shrapnel sparked brush fires near Castaic and Bouquet Canyon. More rockets rained over Newhall. One rocket landed and bounced, igniting fires near the oil fields in Placerita Canyon.

Blazes raged perilously close to now-defunct Bermite Powder Co., which produced munitions and rocket fuel, south of Soledad Canyon Road.

When the drone headed for Palmdale, the Scorpion crews fired their remaining rockets. They didn't score one hit on the drone, but their unguided and fairly inaccurate rockets startled part of Palmdale.

Edna Carlson was at home there with her 6-year-old son when shrapnel exploded through her front window, bounced off the ceiling, pierced a wall and landed in a cupboard.

More fragments passed through the home and garage of J. R. Hingle, barely missing a visitor sitting on his couch.

Larry Kempton was driving west on Palmdale Boulevard with his mother, Bernice, when a rocket hit the street in front of the car. Fragments splintered the windshield, blew out a tire and put holes in the radiator. Neither person was injured.

Mrs. H. E. Boyes watched a rocket spin across Placerita Canyon's oil fields. She loaded her 17-year-old daughter, Betty; her boxer dog, Bob; and her bulldog, Susie, into the family station wagon, and drove to safety.

The Hellcat ultimately ran out of fuel and sliced through power lines before its right wingtip dug into the sand. It cartwheeled and splintered into pieces east of Palmdale Airport.

The F6F Hellcats were first used in 1943 as manned aircraft. Known as the scourge of the Pacific, they were faster and had more firepower than the Japanese Zeros. After the war, a drone version, the F6F-5K, was used to fly through radioactive clouds from such nuclear weapons tests as Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll in 1946.

Some drones were used as flying bombs during the Korean War, while others were repainted bright red and yellow for high visibility and used for target practice by the Navy.

"So many people say we're wasting our time looking for these crashes, because the Air Force cleaned it up," Merlin said.

Specializing in recovering experimental aircraft (X-planes) artifacts, he and Moore have visited more than 100 air crash sites and posted many of their finds on their website: www.thexhunters.com.

 
___________
 
 

 

 

-

-


00:Home

30:Bases

40:Maps

50:R.O.E.

60:Crews

70:More

80:Story

11:Weapons

13:Targets












-

 

Articles

 

-


 
 

 
FFAR  -  Fast Folding Aerial Rockets  -  The no so Mighty Mouse  starring in :

THE BATTLE OF PALMDALE

A story which did happen ... outside Atlantic Air Combat
 

 
Back to : Aircraft weapons: aerial rockets  =  =  =
 =  =  =

1st Article

     

2nd Article

 

"Battle of Palmdale": Sound, Fury and 1 Lost Plane
Fighter jets chasing an errant drone fired 200 missiles, missing the aircraft but causing a string of brush fires.
September 11, 2005 | Cecilia Rasmussen | Times Staff Writer

 

In the midst of the Cold War, when Nike missile sites dotted the Southland, a bright red runaway Navy drone airplane veered off course and headed for Los Angeles, triggering a dangerous sequence of events known as the "Battle of Palmdale."

It's not a battle that the military could say it won back on Aug. 16, 1956.

The Navy summoned two fighter jets to shoot down the pilotless drone, a Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat, minutes after it went out of control after being launched from Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

As the wayward Hellcat headed toward Los Angeles, twin Scorpion interceptors fired more than 200 missiles at it, missing their target each time. Instead the missiles -- each pod containing 52 Mighty Mouse 2.75-inch rockets -- damaged property and set off a string of brush fires across northern Los Angeles County. The Hellcat drone finally crash-landed harmlessly in the Mojave Desert.

Angry and frightened residents complained. Los Angeles County Supervisor Roger W. Jessup promised a detailed investigation and introduced a resolution urging the "utmost care" by Navy officials in sending the "robot planes skyward."

The Navy may have lost radio control with the Hellcat either because the ground transmitter failed or the aircraft receiver broke down, according to experts.

More than four decades later, Peter Merlin, 41, an archivist and historian in the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center history office at Edwards Air Force Base, was documenting more than 400 military and civilian crash sites in the base's vicinity when he stumbled across this little-remembered aviation incident.

"I thought I knew every aviation mishap since 1935, but I was wrong," said Merlin, who, with a partner, is driven to conduct the detective-like work of pinpointing aviation crash sites.

"Finding plane crash sites has been a passion of mine for decades," Merlin said. The Hellcat voyage and wreck are "forgotten history, filled with drama, humor, and it's not morbid."

Merlin and fellow wreck finder Tony Moore, 46, a graphic designer, founded the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team in 1992.

The search for old crash sites is part obsession and part tribute to their heroes, including Lt. Col. Fitz Fulton, who flew a record 235 types of aircraft for the Air Force and NASA, and Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe, a Michigan test pilot who died in training flights over the California desert.

The two wreck sleuths explore military crash sites untouched for decades, such as the spot where Capt. Glenn W. Edwards' Northrop experimental YB-49 "flying wing" crashed in 1948, killing him. Edwards Air Force Base was named in his honor.

In 1997, the duo marked out an area where they thought the Hellcat drone had crashed, eight miles east of Palmdale. They used military crash records, old photographs and details from the Los Angeles Times, including a front-page headline that screamed: "208 Rockets Fired at Runaway Plane: Missiles Spray Southland Area in Effort to Halt Wild Drone."

Following power lines, the men found spliced repair marks to the wires, which the drone snagged before hitting the ground. "Almost immediately we spotted aircraft debris," Merlin said. Metal plates with inspection stamps and serial numbers, aircraft rudder trim and fragments from camera pods were among the treasures that had lain undisturbed more than four decades.

"That August morning in 1956," Merlin said, "Navy personnel prepared the F6F-K5 for its mission. The aircraft had been painted red to make it easy to see. Red and yellow camera pods were mounted on the wingtips."

According to Times news clips, the event unfolded over several tense hours:

The Hellcat took off from Point Mugu at 11:34 a.m. and headed out over the Pacific. As a target for missile tests, it had miles of ocean for a crash zone. But when it failed to respond to ground controls and instead headed toward Los Angeles, the Navy called for help.

The Hellcat was circling the Santa Paula area when, at Oxnard Air Force Base, now Camarillo Airport, 1st Lts. Hans Einstein and C.D. Murray jumped into one of the Scorpion twin-jet fighters, while 1st Lts. Richard Hurliman and Walter Hale climbed into the second jet.

The drone soon crossed above Fillmore and Frazier Park, heading toward the Antelope Valley. Then, as it turned back toward Los Angeles, passing over Castaic, the Scorpion crews fired the first salvos, but missed.

Below, the orange bursts of shrapnel sparked brush fires near Castaic and Bouquet Canyon. More rockets rained over Newhall. One rocket landed and bounced, igniting fires near the oil fields in Placerita Canyon.

Blazes raged perilously close to now-defunct Bermite Powder Co., which produced munitions and rocket fuel, south of Soledad Canyon Road.

When the drone headed for Palmdale, the Scorpion crews fired their remaining rockets. They didn't score one hit on the drone, but their unguided and fairly inaccurate rockets startled part of Palmdale.

Edna Carlson was at home there with her 6-year-old son when shrapnel exploded through her front window, bounced off the ceiling, pierced a wall and landed in a cupboard.

More fragments passed through the home and garage of J. R. Hingle, barely missing a visitor sitting on his couch.

Larry Kempton was driving west on Palmdale Boulevard with his mother, Bernice, when a rocket hit the street in front of the car. Fragments splintered the windshield, blew out a tire and put holes in the radiator. Neither person was injured.

Mrs. H. E. Boyes watched a rocket spin across Placerita Canyon's oil fields. She loaded her 17-year-old daughter, Betty; her boxer dog, Bob; and her bulldog, Susie, into the family station wagon, and drove to safety.

The Hellcat ultimately ran out of fuel and sliced through power lines before its right wingtip dug into the sand. It cartwheeled and splintered into pieces east of Palmdale Airport.

The F6F Hellcats were first used in 1943 as manned aircraft. Known as the scourge of the Pacific, they were faster and had more firepower than the Japanese Zeros. After the war, a drone version, the F6F-5K, was used to fly through radioactive clouds from such nuclear weapons tests as Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll in 1946.

Some drones were used as flying bombs during the Korean War, while others were repainted bright red and yellow for high visibility and used for target practice by the Navy.

"So many people say we're wasting our time looking for these crashes, because the Air Force cleaned it up," Merlin said.

Specializing in recovering experimental aircraft (X-planes) artifacts, he and Moore have visited more than 100 air crash sites and posted many of their finds on their website: www.thexhunters.com.

___________