Tommy H. Thomason

About Tommy

In 1956, at age 12, I lived on NAS Sangley Point in the Philippine Islands. Always enamored with airplanes, I imprinted on the Cougars, Banshees, and Skyraiders then being deployed. Not able to be a Naval Aviator because I was nearsighted, I instead became an aeronautical engineer and general aviation pilot. Now retired, I write books and monographs on U.S. Navy aircraft.

If you are looking for Dr. Tommy Thomason, Director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism and a Professor at TCU’s Schieffer School of Journalism, instead of me, his current background and contact information can be found HERE.

Blogs

Hardcover Books
Softcover Books

U.S. Naval Air Superiority

click to view on Amazon

As World War II came to a close, piston-powered fighter aircraft were at their zenith, and Navy fighters, such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought Corsair, dominated the skies over the Pacific. As these fighter designs reached their peak, a new propulsion technology was being developed that held great promise. When introduced, the first jet aircraft were underpowered, and in many ways inferior to propeller-driven aircraft of the time. Naval Air Superiority examines the Navy's struggle to adapt the jet engine to its style of warfare as well as the development and evolution of carrier-borne fighters and their airframes and engines, from the closing days of World War II through Vietnam.

For the first time, U.S. Naval Air Superiority profiles the turbulent design and development stage of the Navy's carrier-based jet fighter program. From the successful designs, such as the Fury, Banshee, Crusader, and Phantom II, to the also-rans, like the Fireball, Pirate, and Cutlass, the Navy's needs are compared to its contractor's proposals and the limits of the evolving engine and aerodynamic technologies of the day. This book includes individual program summaries and aircraft-to-aircraft comparisons, as well as detailing changes and improvements made to aircraft carriers to enable higher speed and gross-weight jet operations.

Strike From The Sea

click to view on Amazon

Strike from the Sea: U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft from Skyraider to Super Hornet 1948-Present celebrates carrier-based air-to-ground attack aircraft that were introduced just before the Korean War, reached maturity during Vietnam, and are deployed today throughout the world. Well-known author and naval aviation authority Tommy Thomason not only explores such legendary Navy aircraft as the A4D Skyhawk, A3J Vigilante, and A-6 Intruder, but also the critical role of the aircraft carrier itself, for without these massive floating airfields, U.S. Navy attack aircraft would have no sea-borne bases from which to operate.

Armament from gravity bombs to today's GPS-guided smart weapons are covered in great detail, and this book also explains that while many different types of airplanes were required for flying attack missions in the past, only one aircraft family - the F/A-18 Hornet - is deployed to carry out these same missions in an even more complex and hostile combat environment today.

Scooter!

click to view on Amazon

Few modern military aircraft can claim the longevity and overall success enjoyed by the legendary Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Also known as the Bantam Bomber and Scooter, the small, subsonic A-4 first flew in the mid-1950s during an era of ever larger and much more complex supersonic jet fighters. The Skyhawk broke the mold, however, by becoming America's first simple, low-cost, and lightweight jet-powered attack aircraft. Still in use today in South America, the Skyhawk enjoyed a 25-year production run.

A-4s achieved combat fame in the Falklands Islands War and the Vietnam War where one even scored a kill against a faster Soviet-built MiG. Used by the air arms of seven foreign countries as well as the U.S. Navy's famed Blue Angels Flight Demonstration team, the A-4 Skyhawk remains a fascination for naval aviation enthusiasts nearly six decades after it first took to the sky.

F7U-1 Cutlass

click to view on Amazon

In 1946, the Navy embarked on the development of the Chance Vought F7U-1 Cutlass, a high-performance, carrier-based jet fighter that would be equal, if not superior, to any land-based fighter. It was tailless for compactness and weight reduction and incorporated afterburning jet engines for transonic speed performance and unparalleled rate of climb. This is a detailed account of how its bright promise went unrealized because the technology required to fulfill it was not yet mature. More than 200 pictures, many not previously published, and almost 70 illustrations, most created for this monograph by the author, augment the 44,000 words of text.

Grumman Navy F-111B

click to view on Amazon

In 1960, both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy were developing requirements for new fighters. The Air Force was planning to replace the F-105 with a long-range, low-level supersonic, all-weather Tactical Strike Fighter to be operated from unpaved runways of 3,000 feet or less in length and capable of transatlantic ferry without refueling. The Navy needed an all-weather, carrier-based Fleet Defense Fighter with a big radar and six long-range air-to-air missiles. In 1961, these similar "Fighter" requirements were merged by the Secretary of Defense into one program, TFX, to save development costs and operating costs.

Bell HSL

click to view on Amazon

The Bell Aircraft Company won a Navy design competition in June 1950 for a helicopter specifically for anti-submarine warfare using a dipping sonar. This design, its Model 61, was the only Bell helicopter using the tandem-rotor layout; it was powered by a 2400 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-50 engine and to be armed with homing torpedoes and air-to-surface missiles such as the Fairchild Petrel. Three XHSL-1s were ordered, the first of these flying on March 4, 1953, followed by a production contract for 78, including 18 destined for the Britain's Fleet Air Arm. None were destined to serve operationally.

Bell XFL-1

click to view on Amazon

The Bell XFL-1 Airabonita was selected by the US Navy for flight evaluation in competition with the twin-engine Grumman F5F and the single-engine Chance Vought F4U Corsair. It was similar to, and developed in parallel with, the US Army's land-based P-39 Airacobra, differing mainly in the use of a tail wheel undercarriage in place of the P-39's tricycle gear and the changes required for carrier-based. Unlike its competitors, the Airabonita was powered by a liquid-cooled engine. It first flew on May 13, 1940. Only one was built and flown, BuNo 1588. It proved to be no match for the Corsair.

Vought F8U-3 Crusader III

click to view on Amazon

The Vought F8U-3 Crusader III was a fighter developed by Chance Vought for the US Navy as a competitor to the McDonnell F4H for the fleet air defense mission. Although similar to the F8U-1 and F8U-2, it was virtually all-new with a more powerful engine. The F8U-3 proved to be superior to the F4H in every respect, except for one that proved to be the most significant to the admirals who had funding for only one new fighter, the presence of a second crewman to operate the radar.

design by Boxplot Studios