Jim Rotramel has been interested in military aviation for his entire life. It was probably inspired by his father’s work as a USAF (and later airline) airplane mechanic, but whatever the reason, he caught the bug early.
After gaining his BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Wichita State University, Jim went on to a twenty-year career in the Air Force that included ten years and more than 1,000 hours as a WSO in F-111Ds at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and F-111Fs at RAF Lakenheath, where he also became the chief route planner for both wings.
An avid photographer, many of the photos he took during this time have been published. Today, most of his photography is of aircraft and ordnance details…and of his grandkids.
After retiring from the Air Force, Jim went to work at NAS Patuxent River, where he helped develop the first automated weapon-planning program for the Navy’s F/A-18A-D Hornet. As an outgrowth of this work, he re-wrote the weapon loading chapters for the H-60, P-3, S-3, AV-8 and F-14. He ultimately worked for the Chief Engineer of the F/A-18 program.
A photograph of the underside of an A-1 SPAD in 1977 kindled Jim’s interest in aircraft ordnance. Naively thinking he could do a quick summary of USAF weapons in about three weeks, he quickly found out how wrong he was! Many years later, he’s become something of an expert on the history of U.S. aircraft ordnance and has done numerous technical drawings of many types of ordnance. Scale model kit manufacturers have used many of his drawings to improve the accuracy of their products.
After he retired in 2016, Jim devoted a lot of time writing about this subject and has authored a book about the 1986 Libya Raid, Operation Eldorado Canyon in addition to contributing his expertise to the works of others.
Jim has been an advisor to Detail & Scale for many years, principally in the area of aircraft ordnance, and he has also contributed many photographs that have appeared in Detail & Scale publications.
Jim is the father of three grown children, and grandfather to eight.