Borate Bombers at Fox Field, California

by: Hildreth Tom

Friday 21st of November 2003 08:53:10 PM

Crew of Douglas C-54 N3054V/162 (DC-4)fire up the 2000 CID Pratt & Whitney engines prior to a late afternoon firefighting mission.

Lifting off the 7200 ft. runway at Fox Field, N82FA is a 58-year old Douglas product originally built for the Army Air Force as C-54G 45-0506.

DC-4 N460WA lifts off at Fox Field around 1100 hrs. Built originally at Santa Monica as Army Air Force C-54E 44-9133, this Skymaster is currently operated by ARDCO, Inc.

Operated by Neptune Aviation Services, Inc., N4235N/10 rotates during its takeoff roll at Fox Field. In its previousl life #10 was a US Navy SP-2H Neptune antisubmarine patrol aircraft, Bu Aer 144681. It was operated by several patrol squadrons during its Navy service, including VP-21,VP-56 and VP-67.

The Navy's Neptune antisub patrol aircraft fleet was produced in a wide range of variants. Presently bearing the civil registration N96278, fleet #05 was originally produced as a P2V-5. The Navy received 348 of the dash -5s, the first of which flew in December 29, 1950. The huge bulk of the Wright 3350 cubic-in. piston engines is apparent in this view, accentuated somewhat by telephoto compression.

N24GT/15 is a Rockwell 690 turboprop. Lettered "Fresno Air Attack", it is employed in some capacity in the business of fire fighting.

The DC-7 came along late in the era of the piston engine airliner. Much longer and more powerful than predecessor DC-4s seen at Fox Field, N401US seen in this photo originally flew for United Airlines as N6331C. Today, modified with a belly pod to carry fire retardant, it is operated by Butler Aircraft Co.

N3054V/162 taxies in following an afternoon drop to join N82FA/161 at the borate loading station on the ramp at Fox Field.

A telephoto shot of one of the fires taken from the desert near Edwards AFB, a distance of roughly 70 miles. This fire is believed located west of Cajon near I-15. The smoke and heat are billowing skyward to great heights, possibly even causing the cirrus formation that is splaying out above it at higher altitude.

Neptune #140 photographed in a climbing turn as it heads toward the fires to the west. The aircraft was originally built as Lockheed P2V-7 140443, and is operated today by Hawkins and Powers Aviation, Inc.

Neptune N140HP taxies in at Fox Field in the late afternoon. In addition to the big Wright R-3350 piston engines, the -7 version was produced with booster jet engines, which can be seen hanging below the wing outboard of the props. (In this view the white intake doors are closed, indicating the jet turbines are not running). These powerplants are regularly used during fire fighting missions during takeoff.

Bright colors mark the firefighting fleet, and Neptune N4692A/48 is no exception. This was originally P2V-7 148357, which was operated by Navy squadrons VP-66, VP-68 and VP-92.

The Navy's replacement for the P-2 Neptune was the turboprop P-3 Orion. While many of these are still in Navy service, in recent years a number of them, like N922AU seen here, have become members of the firefighting fleet.

The big Douglas DC-7 on its takeoff roll on the 7200 ft. runway at Fox Field.

Originally developed for the "Counter-Insurgency" role in Vietnam, the North American OV-10 Bronco can be found in the firefighting fleet today. In this case, N402DF was seen in the markings of the California Department of Forestry.

Orion #22 on its takeoff roll. Developed from America's only large turboprop airliner, the Lockheed l-188 Electra, the model 186 Orion has served numerous countries decades as a successful anti-submarine aircraft.

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