by Greg Mayer
My west coast correspondent sends the following picture of the “Bad Kitty” (who looks a little bit like Jerry Coyne the Cat).
The plane is a Grumman F7F Tigercat, one of a series of “cat” named fighters made by Grumman; the most well known is probably the F14 Tomcat, made famous by the movie Top Gun. The plane is at the Historic Flight Foundation, an air museum at Paine Field in Mukilteo, Washington. Although designed to be a carrier-based fighter plane, they did not get much use, and this particular plane wound up being used by an Oregon forestry service.
Upon first seeing the picture, and not knowing the type of plane it was, I inquired if it was British, given the Union Jack on the wall behind. In reply, my correspondent sent along some pictures of a Spitfire at the museum.
This plane was from one of the Czech squadrons formed within the Royal Air Force and flown by Czech pilots-in-exile during World War II. The red, white, and blue roundel on the plane’s tail is a Czech Air Force insignia of today; I’m not sure if it was used during WW II.
Update. Reader Graham provides below a link to the very interesting history of this particular plane– besides a Czech squadron in the RAF, this plane, built in 1945, was at different times in the Czechslovak, Israeli, and Burmese air forces, and finally was restored in England before coming to the museum in the US.