That Most Beautiful Ugly Plane & Its MakerTuesday, September 04, 2012
|Captain McInns and A-6 Intruder at Whidbey Island NAS|
Facebook has become a domain for famous obituary subject “ambulance chasers”. It seems that one hand is hovering and seeking info on the last gasp of the celebrity while the other is ready to post, “She died and this is my favourite Youtube video clip on her. Then the many “friends” will contribute with “likes”.
If anything to me this represents how so many people are all connected to a conventional media in which most of the dying celebrities are Americans. Nobody would post “Reginald Hill died – no more Andy and Peter. What shall we do now?”
Catholic hell would be stuck on a desert island and being forced to read, ad infinitum, aggregated posts of famous deaths.
Since I am no different I will post here the obituary of a famous death. And being as original (or not) as most of this is the obituary of an American.
I am not sure if my paid hard copy subscription to the NY Times will save me from a possible lawsuit for copyright infringement, but here it is:
|Lawrence Mead, Jr. Photo by Olin Mills|
August 30, 2012
Lawrence Mead Jr., Aerospace Engineer, Dies at 94
By DENNIS HEVESI
Lawrence Mead Jr., the aerospace engineer who led the design team for the A-6 Intruder, the bulky twin-engine jet that served as the Navy’s primary attack bomber for more than three decades, died on Aug. 23 in New Haven. He was 94. His son Lawrence Mead III confirmed his death.
Mr. Mead, a senior vice president of the Grumman Aerospace Corporation (now Northrop Grumman), was named design chief for the A-6 Intruder in the late 1950s. Five years after its introduction in 1960, the A-6 was flying bombing missions off aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
“Not sleek, never beautiful, the A-6 would soon prove itself to be a masterpiece of aeronautical engineering,” Grumman World, a company publication, wrote in 1992 when the last A-6 was delivered to the Navy. Equipped with a pioneering digital navigation system, it “became the Navy’s workhorse bomber and the Marines’ primary ground support aircraft in Vietnam.”
Weighing approximately 25,000 pounds, with a wingspan of about 50 feet, the A-6 was capable of cruising at about 500 miles an hour while carrying up to 18,000 pounds of bombs. “That was a tremendous amount,” said Joshua Stoff, curator of the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, N.Y. “That’s why it was very successful in the Vietnam War.”
In part because of a wing-to-wing aluminum alloy beam, the bulky jet could bear that weight and its rugged fuselage while still being able to take considerable enemy fire. And with the attack-navigation system incorporated by Mr. Mead and his team, ground troops could be covered through cloudy skies and even at night. The midwing jet detected and attacked enemy vehicles traveling at night along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, North Vietnam’s supply line to the south.
Over the A-6’s 32-year history, Grumman built more than 700 of the planes. They flew combat sorties over Grenada and Lebanon in 1983 and during the first Persian Gulf war — “a remarkably long and successful service life,” Mr. Stoff said.
“When we won the contract,” Mr. Mead told Plane News in 1980, “we thought that it would be successful if we could sell 100 Intruders.”
|An A-6 at the Pensacola NAS|
The A-6 was just one of Mr. Mead’s accomplishments. He was a member of the Grumman team that designed the Apollo lunar module that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. He was also one of the chief designers of the F-14 Tomcat, the fighter featured in the hit movie “Top Gun.” Lawrence Myers Mead Jr. was born in Plainfield, N.J., on May 11, 1918, to Lawrence and Eleanor Machado Mead, but spent much of his childhood in China, where his parents were missionaries. After returning to the United States, Mr. Mead graduated from Princeton in 1940 with a degree in engineering. He earned a master’s degree there in 1941. Soon after, he was hired by Grumman, which at the height of World War II had more than 25,000 workers at its complex in Bethpage, on Long Island. Mr. Mead worked on the design teams for Navy fighters like the Hellcat and the Bearcat.
Besides his son Lawrence, he is survived by two other sons, Kirtland and Bradford; two sisters, Elizabeth Bolton and Margaret McCutchen; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His wife of 59 years, the former Janet Chase, died in 2001.
Mr. Mead never piloted a plane, though he sometimes sat in the navigator’s seat. In recent years he conducted tours at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, aboard the World War II aircraft carrier Intrepid on the Hudson River in Manhattan — making sure, of course, to highlight the features of the A-6 Intruder.
Captain Shork's Intruder
My conflict with war games
The last Intruders
The beauty of ugliness
Thr Prowler - the beauty of ugliness