The Blackhawk Squadron's distinctive and extremely versatile fighter planes were extensively modified Grumman XF5F Skyrockets.
The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket was a prototype of a twin-engine shipboard fighter-interceptor developed by the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. The Skyrocket was built for the United States Navy, but when they passed up on them, the Blackhawk Squadron used them instead. The Blackhawks flew these warplanes to almost every corner of the world and in every type of combat mission, from 1941 until 1948.
- The Grumman Skyrockets did not appear in Blackhawk until Military Comics #2. In a postscript to that issue's story, Blackhawk breaks the Fourth Wall and directly addresses the readers, to display blueprints of the next issue's warplanes. He mentions "Vladim", who is Blackhawk Squadron's resident aircraft designer, but who never actually appears.
- Starting in Military Comics #3, and until Military Comics #14, the standard-model XF5Fs were replaced, with a single-rudder variant. Also during that time, the propeller engines were sometimes radial, and sometimes in-line engines. One of these aircraft was destroyed in a mid-air collision, in Military Comics #4, six were crashed on a street in Tokyo, in Military Comics #12, and two more of them were shot down in Military Comics #14.
- Other modifications and experiments continued throughout the Second World War, including:
- As seen in Military Comics #35 and Modern Comics #44, and several other times, the Blackhawk Skyrockets can be fitted with pontoon landing gear.
- As seen in Military Comics #28, only, one of the Blackhawk Skyrockets was fitted with a tailgun turret.
- Starting in Military Comics #30, at least one of the Blackhawk Skyrockets was fitted with heavy antiship automatic cannons. These were not seen again after issue #33.
- During World War II, at least twelve of these warplanes were lost to enemy action, (plus nine of the single-rudder version described above), for a wartime total of twenty-one.
- After the war these losses continued.
- In 1947, one more Skyrocket was destroyed in a crash, another was abandoned and destroyed along with a villain's lair, and a third was smacked apart by a giant condor's wing.
- In 1948, a villain in a jet fighter, armed with a Neutron Ray, was easily able to shoot down one Grumman, even flown by Blackhawk himself. Four more Skyrockets were abandoned aboard that villain's aircraft carrier, which was then sunk. Two more XF5Fs were lost, in two separate incidents, to antiaircraft cannonfire. One Skyrocket hit an invisible airborne obstacle, two others were abandoned in mid-air, and one was demolished in a collision attack. Overall, a total of thirty-five of these fighter-bombers were lost during the 1941 to 1948 period. That's an average of five lost Skyrockets per pilot.
- In 1947, the Blackhawks began encountering enemies who were equipped with jet fighters, and some of these encounters did not go well. In 1948 one villain had a jet fighter available, but was unable to get it airborne in time to fight the Blackhawks. Another enemy managed to get a squadron of curvy-winged jets into combat against the team, and took down one Grumman, although it took a suicidal crash to do so. In late 1948 the Grummans fought one last squadron of jet fighters, and did indeed defeat them, but by this time it was clear that the 1941-model XF5F Skyrockets were obsolete.
- In early 1949, the Blackhawk Squadron traded off their Grumman Skyrockets for some North American F-86 Sabre jets, as first seen in Modern Comics #81 (Jan 1949), which went on sale before Blackhawk #23 (Feb 1949).
- This is never mentioned but has to be true: the Blackhawk Skyrockets contain powerful amplifiers and loudspeakers. This is apparent because the oppressors and their victims alike are able to hear the hearty theme song of the Blackhawks as they approach the scene of action.
- Appearances of Grumman XF5F Skyrocket
- Vehicle Gallery: Grumman XF5F Skyrocket
- Catalogued images related to Grumman XF5F Skyrocket
Links and References
- Military Comics #16, Military Comics #28, Military Comics #30, Military Comics #31, Military Comics #33, Military Comics #37, Military Comics #41, Military Comics #42, Modern Comics #44, and three in Modern Comics #45
- Modern Comics #61
- Blackhawk #15
- Blackhawk #16
- Modern Comics #69
- both in Blackhawk #18
- Blackhawk #20 4th story & Modern Comics #76
- Modern Comics #78
- Modern Comics #62,
- Modern Comics #69
- Blackhawk #21 2nd story
- Modern Comics #78
- Modern Comics #80
- Modern Comics #64 page 12 panel 5