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The Battle of Palmdale – 1956

During the days of the Cold War, there was an air battle over the skies of Southern California which very few people remember or have even heard of.  It was the Battle of Palmdale.

Back in 1956, the Navy was using remotely controlled F6F Hellcats as targets (yes, it still sickens me even though I know it was for the good of the Navy and of the Nation).  They’d fly them out of Pt. Mugu and over the ocean where someone would shoot them down as part of training.  This was normal and we do the same sort of thing today with F-4 Phantoms out of Holloman and Tyndall Air Force Bases.

Sadly for the Navy, things went wrong and the unmanned Hellcat turned towards Los Angeles after failing to respond to commands.  The Navy turned to the Air Force who launched two F-89 Scorpions to bring the plane down.

Head on over to the U.S. Naval Institute Blog to read all about what happened next, how much destruction was caused, and what finally became of the Hellcat.  Here’s a couple of hints – the F-89s were over populated areas, oil production facilities, and near an explosives manufacturing plant with only small, unguided rockets as their weaponry.  At least nobody was killed and I have an alibi!

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3 comments to The Battle of Palmdale – 1956

  • Glenn Cassel AMH1(AW) USN Retired

    And all of those fine F-106s that were in service with the Montana Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing were turned into targets. The last F-106s in service wore the Charlie Russell skull as he used on his paintings.
    This was before Sidewinder and Sparrow.
    BTW, the moving wall is in Palmdale at the Airpark/Memorial thing near Plant 42 at the Airport. Sunday would be good. What about it? 316-260-XXXX. It’s Vonage, don’t sweat it. I get off at 1530 tomorrow. I plan on it anyway. I think my brother-in-law in Palmdale would want to go. He was an ABF3 in the sixties on a CVS.

    • Sad about the 106s, too. Yeah, I remember many years ago seeing a couple of F-106s make a couple of passes at an airshow. They were the last ones in the California ANG.

      I’m afraid I’m going to have to regretfully decline Sunday – I’ve got a few things still to do around here and I’m seriously watching the money right now, so the gas is unfortunately out of the budget. But we will get together soon :)

  • I want to say they were at Fresno Air Terminal. I think I saw it on the Channel 47 news in late 85/early 86.

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