Tuesday, October 14, 2014

America's Next Top Pilot?

I've been picking up some great oddball stuff from Don's as he tries to liquidate a large collection he's helping sell off for a friend.  My love of oddball sets is pretty well documented on this blog and finding a set of 1990 Top Pilot Warbirds was quite a boon.

Ever since Topps put out it's Air Supremacy insert set in Allen and Ginter this year, I've decided to take my oddball collection in a more militaria - political route.  More on that in the future.

I saw this set sitting on a stack of random pages in his shop and decided to pick it up.  Once I saw that the set had a P-38 Lightning in it I was sold.

The Top Pilot series was issued in multiple sets over many years.  The total set has 246 cards spread out into many different sub-sets.  I'm not sure how these were sold or distributed, but  each subset has a theme and checklist card.  Cards 18 - 48 are the Warbird series and contain a ton of great World War II fighters, bombers, and recon planes, both from the Allies and the Axis.  You can check out the whole checklist here.

Even as a guy who loves the old WWII planes a few of these are pretty new to me.  Maybe it's because a lot of the planes look so similar or that they tended to get overshadowed by more popular planes like the B 17 or that there were just so damn many.  The A20 Havoc and it's successor the A26 Invader fall into the category.

I really love these cards.  Not just for the great photography used, but the information and write up on the back.

The B 17 is one of those iconic planes.  It's been featured in movies and is always an airshow favorite. I remember putting together a model of a B-17 and just being in awe of the firepower when I was a kid. According to the interwebs there are still about 11 planes airworthy.

The B-24 Liberator is another plane that kind of plays second fiddle to the more popular B-17 even though more were produced and used during WWII and other than it's split tail could be confused with the B-17.

The B-25 Mitchell is another iconic aircraft.  Probably best know as the bomber that bombed Japan after Pearl Harbor on the Doolittle Raid.  There are suppose to be over 100 Mitchells still airworthy and one made it's way up to Alaska for the big air show they have up here ever couple of years, Arctic Thunder.  I also got to see it on the tarmac in Ketchikan when I was flying down for work this summer.  Very cool to see one in person.

The Marauder is another one of those planes that fell through the crack for me.

The B-29 is another iconic plane.  With it's sleek and shiny design it's hard to miss, plus it's huge.  Of course the planes are better know for being the model that dropped the first two atomic bombs on Japan.  From what I could find only one plane is still air worthy.

I remember reading an article on the Buffalo, can't remember where though.  I think the gist of the story was how politicians can gum up the works.  The Buffalo beat out the Wildcat, the next card, as the first mono-wing plane to be used by the US navy, but supposedly that was because the Brewster Aeronaut Corp greased some hands, if you know what I mean.

The only reason I know anything about the Corsair is that I use to watch reruns of the Black Sheep Squadron when I was a kid.  That and the plane has a unique bent wing design.

Oh be still my heart!! My favorite fighter plane of all time.  The fork tailed devil.  I really liked modeling, that is building models, when I was a kid.  I'm sure if I had time and less hobbies I probably would still really enjoy it, but one of the first kits I ever got was for a P-38.  This plane was awesome.  Four .50 cal machine guns and a 20mm cannon in the nose, she could also pack 2 bombs or drop tanks and ten rockets.  It was a force to be reckoned with.  Plus the 39 had all sorts of variations, much like today's Topps Baseball cards.  There's a cool P-38 Association that has all sorts of great photos and facts and a list of surviving aircraft.

Don't know much about this guy here either.

The P-40 just has really cool lines.  I always thought it looked like the sports car of fighter planes.

Ah the iconic Mustang. Second on my list of all time favorite fighter planes.  Still an incredibly popular plane at air shows and there are over 200 still registered with the FAA.

The Black Widow wins as the bomber with the coolest design.

The Flying Boat, the PBY-5 Catalina is just one of those great oddballs.  Also Jimmy Buffett owns and flies one, or at least he use to. Yikes I take that back Buffett has a Albatross and a Goose.

Next up we have a series of British fighter/bombers.  I'm not up on my British planes, but I'm glad to see them included in the set.

Of course the one British fighter I know is this guy, the Spitfire.

I was also pleased to see that the set included enemy aircraft, although none of the larger bombers.

And of course if you're going to have enemy warbirds you should include a Japanese Zero.

And there you go.  Wow that's a lot of cards. I hope you enjoyed the show.  I've been contemplating going after the other sets, but to be honest I think I found the best one.

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