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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay":

    Boeing's B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B-29 found its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a variety of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.

    On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, The Great Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on both missions.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Boeing Aircraft Co.
    Martin Co., Omaha, Nebr.

    Date:
    1945

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 900 x 3020cm, 32580kg, 4300cm (29ft 6 5/16in. x 99ft 1in., 71825.9lb., 141ft 15/16in.)

    Materials:
    Polished overall aluminum finish

    Physical Description:
    Four-engine heavy bomber with semi-monoqoque fuselage and high-aspect ratio wings. Polished aluminum finish overall, standard late-World War II Army Air Forces insignia on wings and aft fuselage and serial number on vertical fin; 509th Composite Group markings painted in black; "Enola Gay" in black, block letters on lower left nose.

    Long Description:
    Boeing's B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated, propeller-driven, bomber to fly during World War II, and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Boeing installed very advanced armament, propulsion, and avionics systems into the Superfortress. During the war in the Pacific Theater, the B-29 delivered the first nuclear weapons used in combat. On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., in command of the Superfortress Enola Gay, dropped a highly enriched uranium, explosion-type, "gun-fired," atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Major Charles W. Sweeney piloted the B-29 Bockscar and dropped a highly enriched plutonium, implosion-type atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. On August 14, 1945, the Japanese accepted Allied terms for unconditional surrender.

    In the late 1930s, U. S. Army Air Corps leaders recognized the need for very long-range bombers that exceeded the performance of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Several years of preliminary studies paralleled a continuous fight against those who saw limited utility in developing such an expensive and unproven aircraft but the Air Corps issued a requirement for the new bomber in February 1940. It described an airplane that could carry a maximum bomb load of 909 kg (2,000 lb) at a speed of 644 kph (400 mph) a distance of at least 8,050 km (5,000 miles). Boeing, Consolidated, Douglas, and Lockheed responded with design proposals. The Army was impressed with the Boeing design and issued a contract for two flyable prototypes in September 1940. In April 1941, the Army issued another contract for 250 aircraft plus spare parts equivalent to another 25 bombers, eight months before Pearl Harbor and nearly a year-and-a-half before the first Superfortress would fly.

    Among the design's innovations was a long, narrow, high-aspect ratio wing equipped with large Fowler-type flaps. This wing design allowed the B-29 to fly very fast at high altitudes but maintained comfortable handling characteristics during takeoff and landing. More revolutionary was the size and sophistication of the pressurized sections of the fuselage: the flight deck forward of the wing, the gunner's compartment aft of the wing, and the tail gunner's station. For the crew, flying at extreme altitudes became much more comfortable as pressure and temperature could be regulated. To protect the Superfortress, Boeing designed a remote-controlled, defensive weapons system. Engineers placed five gun turrets on the fuselage: a turret above and behind the cockpit that housed two .50 caliber machine guns (four guns in later versions), and another turret aft near the vertical tail equipped with two machine guns; plus two more turrets beneath the fuselage, each equipped with two .50 caliber guns. One of these turrets fired from behind the nose gear and the other hung further back near the tail. Another two .50 caliber machine guns and a 20-mm cannon (in early versions of the B-29) were fitted in the tail beneath the rudder. Gunners operated these turrets by remote control--a true innovation. They aimed the guns using computerized sights, and each gunner could take control of two or more turrets to concentrate firepower on a single target.

    Boeing also equipped the B-29 with advanced radar equipment and avionics. Depending on the type of mission, a B-29 carried the AN/APQ-13 or AN/APQ-7 Eagle radar system to aid bombing and navigation. These systems were accurate enough to permit bombing through cloud layers that completely obscured the target. The B-29B was equipped with the AN/APG-15B airborne radar gun sighting system mounted in the tail, insuring accurate defense against enemy fighters attacking at night. B-29s also routinely carried as many as twenty different types of radios and navigation devices.

    The first XB-29 took off at Boeing Field in Seattle on September 21, 1942. By the end of the year the second aircraft was ready for flight. Fourteen service-test YB-29s followed as production began to accelerate. Building this advanced bomber required massive logistics. Boeing built new B-29 plants at Renton, Washington, and Wichita, Kansas, while Bell built a new plant at Marietta, Georgia, and Martin built one in Omaha, Nebraska. Both Curtiss-Wright and the Dodge automobile company vastly expanded their manufacturing capacity to build the bomber's powerful and complex Curtiss-Wright R-3350 turbo supercharged engines. The program required thousands of sub-contractors but with extraordinary effort, it all came together, despite major teething problems. By April 1944, the first operational B-29s of the newly formed 20th Air Force began to touch down on dusty airfields in India. By May, 130 B-29s were operational. In June, 1944, less than two years after the initial flight of the XB-29, the U. S. Army Air Forces (AAF) flew its first B-29 combat mission against targets in Bangkok, Thailand. This mission (longest of the war to date) called for 100 B-29s but only 80 reached the target area. The AAF lost no aircraft to enemy action but bombing results were mediocre. The first bombing mission against the Japanese main islands since Lt. Col. "Jimmy" Doolittle's raid against Tokyo in April 1942, occurred on June 15, again with poor results. This was also the first mission launched from airbases in China.

    With the fall of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam in the Mariana Islands chain in August 1944, the AAF acquired airbases that lay several hundred miles closer to mainland Japan. Late in 1944, the AAF moved the XXI Bomber Command, flying B-29s, to the Marianas and the unit began bombing Japan in December. However, they employed high-altitude, precision, bombing tactics that yielded poor results. The high altitude winds were so strong that bombing computers could not compensate and the weather was so poor that rarely was visual target acquisition possible at high altitudes. In March 1945, Major General Curtis E. LeMay ordered the group to abandon these tactics and strike instead at night, from low altitude, using incendiary bombs. These firebombing raids, carried out by hundreds of B-29s, devastated much of Japan's industrial and economic infrastructure. Yet Japan fought on. Late in 1944, AAF leaders selected the Martin assembly line to produce a squadron of B-29s codenamed SILVERPLATE. Martin modified these Superfortresses by removing all gun turrets except for the tail position, removing armor plate, installing Curtiss electric propellers, and modifying the bomb bay to accommodate either the "Fat Man" or "Little Boy" versions of the atomic bomb. The AAF assigned 15 Silverplate ships to the 509th Composite Group commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets. As the Group Commander, Tibbets had no specific aircraft assigned to him as did the mission pilots. He was entitled to fly any aircraft at any time. He named the B-29 that he flew on 6 August Enola Gay after his mother. In the early morning hours, just prior to the August 6th mission, Tibbets had a young Army Air Forces maintenance man, Private Nelson Miller, paint the name just under the pilot's window.

    Enola Gay is a model B-29-45-MO, serial number 44-86292. The AAF accepted this aircraft on June 14, 1945, from the Martin plant at Omaha (Located at what is today Offut AFB near Bellevue), Nebraska. After the war, Army Air Forces crews flew the airplane during the Operation Crossroads atomic test program in the Pacific, although it dropped no nuclear devices during these tests, and then delivered it to Davis-Monthan Army Airfield, Arizona, for storage. Later, the U. S. Air Force flew the bomber to Park Ridge, Illinois, then transferred it to the Smithsonian Institution on July 4, 1949. Although in Smithsonian custody, the aircraft remained stored at Pyote Air Force Base, Texas, between January 1952 and December 1953. The airplane's last flight ended on December 2 when the Enola Gay touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The bomber remained at Andrews in outdoor storage until August 1960. By then, concerned about the bomber deteriorating outdoors, the Smithsonian sent collections staff to disassemble the Superfortress and move it indoors to the Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland.

    The staff at Garber began working to preserve and restore Enola Gay in December 1984. This was the largest restoration project ever undertaken at the National Air and Space Museum and the specialists anticipated the work would require from seven to nine years to complete. The project actually lasted nearly two decades and, when completed, had taken approximately 300,000 work-hours to complete. The B-29 is now displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat:

    The Grumman F6F Hellcat was originally conceived as an advanced version of the U.S. Navy's then current front-line fighter, the F4F Wildcat (see NASM collection). The Wildcat's intended replacement, the Vought F4U Corsair (see NASM collection), first flown in 1940, was showing great promise, but development was slowed by problems, including the crash of the prototype.

    The National Air and Space Museum's F6F-3 Hellcat, BuNo. 41834, was built at Grumman's Bethpage, New York, factory in February 1944 under contract NOA-(S)846. It was delivered to the Navy on February 7, and arrived in San Diego, California, on the 18th. It was assigned to Fighter Squadron 15 (VF-15) on USS Hornet (CV12) bound for Hawaii. On arrival, it was assigned to VF-3 where it sustained damage in a wheels-up landing at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. After repair, it was assigned to VF-83 where it was used in a training role until February 21, 1945. After numerous transfers 41834 was converted to an F6F-3K target drone with the installation of sophisticated radio-control equipment. It was painted red with a pink tail that carried the number 14. Its mission was to be used in Operation Crossroads - the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. It flew on June 24, 1946, with a pilot, on a practice flight and was launched, unmanned, soon after the first bomb test. Instrumentation on board and photographic plates taped to the control stick obtained data on radioactivity. Three more manned flights preceded the final unmanned flight on July 25, 1946, which evaluated the first underwater explosion. Records indicate that exposure of this aircraft to the radioactive cloud was minimal and residual radiation is negligible.

    F6F-3K 41834 was transferred to NAS Norfolk and logged its last flight on March 25, 1947, with a total of 430.2 flying hours. It was assigned to the National Air Museum on November 3, 1948, and remained at Norfolk until October 4, 1960, when it was moved by barge to Washington and placed in storage. In 1976 this Hellcat was loaned to the USS Yorktown Museum at Charleston, South Carolina. A superficial restoration was performed at the museum, but because of the harsh environment and its poor condition the Hellcat was returned to NASM on March 16, 1982. In 1983, it was sent to Grumman Aerospace where a team of volunteers completely restored the aircraft. In 1985, it was shipped back to the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, and put in storage. NASM's F6F-3 Hellcat is scheduled to be displayed in the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in 2004.

    Transferred from the United States Navy.

    Manufacturer:
    Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation

    Date:
    1943

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 338 x 1021cm, 4092kg, 1304cm (11ft 1 1/16in. x 33ft 5 15/16in., 9021.2lb., 42ft 9 3/8in.)

    Physical Description:
    Heavy armor plate, reinforced empennage, R-2800-10W engine, spring tabs on the ailerons (increased maneuverability), could carry rockets as well as bombs.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt:

    Thunderbolt pilots flew into battle with the roar of a 2,000-horsepower radial engine and the flash of eight .50 caliber machine guns. This combination of a robust, reliable engine and heavy armament made the P-47 a feared ground-attack aircraft. U.S. Army Air Forces commanders considered it one of the three premier American fighters, along with the P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning. The United States built more P-47s than any other fighter airplane.

    This P-47D-30-RA was delivered to Godman Field, Kentucky, in 1944. It served as an aerial gunnery trainer before being transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum and then the Smithsonian. Republic Aviation restored the airplane and displayed it to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first P-47 flight.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Republic Aviation Corporation

    Date:
    1944

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 14ft 1 5/16in. x 40ft 5/16in., 10751.8lb., 36ft 1 1/16in. (430 x 1220cm, 4877kg, 1100cm)

    Materials:
    All-metal, low-wing, monoplane of semi-monocoque construction

    Physical Description:
    2000-horsepower radial engine, eight .50 caliber machine guns, tail-wheel type landing gear. Yellow and black checkered nose with AAF insignia on wings.
  • Kingfisher
  • Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet
  • Frankfort TG-1A (Cinema)
  • Loening OA-1A San Francisco
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Lockheed P-38J-10-LO Lightning

    In the P-38 Lockheed engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and his team of designers created one of the most successful twin-engine fighters ever flown by any nation. From 1942 to 1945, U. S. Army Air Forces pilots flew P-38s over Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific, and from the frozen Aleutian Islands to the sun-baked deserts of North Africa. Lightning pilots in the Pacific theater downed more Japanese aircraft than pilots flying any other Allied warplane.

    Maj. Richard I. Bong, America's leading fighter ace, flew this P-38J-10-LO on April 16, 1945, at Wright Field, Ohio, to evaluate an experimental method of interconnecting the movement of the throttle and propeller control levers. However, his right engine exploded in flight before he could conduct the experiment.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Lockheed Aircraft Company

    Date:
    1943

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 390 x 1170cm, 6345kg, 1580cm (12ft 9 9/16in. x 38ft 4 5/8in., 13988.2lb., 51ft 10 1/16in.)

    Materials:
    All-metal

    Physical Description:
    Twin-tail boom and twin-engine fighter; tricycle landing gear.

    Long Description:
    From 1942 to 1945, the thunder of P-38 Lightnings was heard around the world. U. S. Army pilots flew the P-38 over Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific; from the frozen Aleutian Islands to the sun-baked deserts of North Africa. Measured by success in combat, Lockheed engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and a team of designers created the most successful twin-engine fighter ever flown by any nation. In the Pacific Theater, Lightning pilots downed more Japanese aircraft than pilots flying any other Army Air Forces warplane.

    Johnson and his team conceived this twin-engine, single-pilot fighter airplane in 1936 and the Army Air Corps authorized the firm to build it in June 1937. Lockheed finished constructing the prototype XP-38 and delivered it to the Air Corps on New Year's Day, 1939. Air Corps test pilot and P-38 project officer, Lt. Benjamin S. Kelsey, first flew the aircraft on January 27. Losing this prototype in a crash at Mitchel Field, New York, with Kelsey at the controls, did not deter the Air Corps from ordering 13 YP-38s for service testing on April 27. Kelsey survived the crash and remained an important part of the Lightning program. Before the airplane could be declared ready for combat, Lockheed had to block the effects of high-speed aerodynamic compressibility and tail buffeting, and solve other problems discovered during the service tests.

    The most vexing difficulty was the loss of control in a dive caused by aerodynamic compressibility. During late spring 1941, Air Corps Major Signa A. Gilke encountered serious trouble while diving his Lightning at high-speed from an altitude of 9,120 m (30,000 ft). When he reached an indicated airspeed of about 515 kph (320 mph), the airplane's tail began to shake violently and the nose dropped until the dive was almost vertical. Signa recovered and landed safely and the tail buffet problem was soon resolved after Lockheed installed new fillets to improve airflow where the cockpit gondola joined the wing center section. Seventeen months passed before engineers began to determine what caused the Lightning's nose to drop. They tested a scale model P-38 in the Ames Laboratory wind tunnel operated by the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and found that shock waves formed when airflow over the wing leading edges reached transonic speeds. The nose drop and loss of control was never fully remedied but Lockheed installed dive recovery flaps under each wing in 1944. These devices slowed the P-38 enough to allow the pilot to maintain control when diving at high-speed.

    Just as the development of the North American P-51 Mustang, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and the Vought F4U Corsair (see NASM collection for these aircraft) pushed the limits of aircraft performance into unexplored territory, so too did P-38 development. The type of aircraft envisioned by the Lockheed design team and Air Corps strategists in 1937 did not appear until June 1944. This protracted shakedown period mirrors the tribulations suffered by Vought in sorting out the many technical problems that kept F4U Corsairs off U. S. Navy carrier decks until the end of 1944.

    Lockheed's efforts to trouble-shoot various problems with the design also delayed high-rate, mass production. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the company had delivered only 69 Lightnings to the Army. Production steadily increased and at its peak in 1944, 22 sub-contractors built various Lightning components and shipped them to Burbank, California, for final assembly. Consolidated-Vultee (Convair) subcontracted to build the wing center section and the firm later became prime manufacturer for 2,000 P-38Ls but that company's Nashville plant completed only 113 examples of this Lightning model before war's end. Lockheed and Convair finished 10,038 P-38 aircraft including 500 photo-reconnaissance models. They built more L models, 3,923, than any other version.

    To ease control and improve stability, particularly at low speeds, Lockheed equipped all Lightnings, except a batch ordered by Britain, with propellers that counter-rotated. The propeller to the pilot's left turned counter-clockwise and the propeller to his right turned clockwise, so that one propeller countered the torque and airflow effects generated by the other. The airplane also performed well at high speeds and the definitive P-38L model could make better than 676 kph (420 mph) between 7,600 and 9,120 m (25,000 and 30,000 ft). The design was versatile enough to carry various combinations of bombs, air-to-ground rockets, and external fuel tanks. The multi-engine configuration reduced the Lightning loss-rate to anti-aircraft gunfire during ground attack missions. Single-engine airplanes equipped with power plants cooled by pressurized liquid, such as the North American P-51 Mustang (see NASM collection), were particularly vulnerable. Even a small nick in one coolant line could cause the engine to seize in a matter of minutes.

    The first P-38s to reach the Pacific combat theater arrived on April 4, 1942, when a version of the Lightning that carried reconnaissance cameras (designated the F-4), joined the 8th Photographic Squadron based in Australia. This unit launched the first P-38 combat missions over New Guinea and New Britain during April. By May 29, the first 25 P-38s had arrived in Anchorage, Alaska. On August 9, pilots of the 343rd Fighter Group, Eleventh Air Force, flying the P-38E, shot down a pair of Japanese flying boats.

    Back in the United States, Army Air Forces leaders tried to control a rumor that Lightnings killed their own pilots. On August 10, 1942, Col. Arthur I. Ennis, Chief of U. S. Army Air Forces Public Relations in Washington, told a fellow officer "… Here's what the 4th Fighter [training] Command is up against… common rumor out there that the whole West Coast was filled with headless bodies of men who jumped out of P-38s and had their heads cut off by the propellers." Novice Lightning pilots unfamiliar with the correct bailout procedures actually had more to fear from the twin-boom tail, if an emergency dictated taking to the parachute but properly executed, Lightning bailouts were as safe as parachuting from any other high-performance fighter of the day. Misinformation and wild speculation about many new aircraft was rampant during the early War period.

    Along with U. S. Navy Grumman F4F Wildcats (see NASM collection) and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks (see NASM collection), Lightnings were the first American fighter airplanes capable of consistently defeating Japanese fighter aircraft. On November 18, men of the 339th Fighter Squadron became the first Lightning pilots to attack Japanese fighters. Flying from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, they claimed three during a mission to escort Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers (see NASM collection).

    On April 18, 1943, fourteen P-38 pilots from the 70th and the 339th Fighter Squadrons, 347th Fighter Group, accomplished one of the most important Lightning missions of the war. American ULTRA cryptanalysts had decoded Japanese messages that revealed the timetable for a visit to the front by the commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. This charismatic leader had crafted the plan to attack Pearl Harbor and Allied strategists believed his loss would severely cripple Japanese morale. The P-38 pilots flew 700 km (435 miles) at heights from 3-15 m (10-50 feet) above the ocean to avoid detection. Over the coast of Bougainville, they intercepted a formation of two Mitsubishi G4M BETTY bombers (see NASM collection) carrying the Admiral and his staff, and six Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters (see NASM collection) providing escort. The Lightning pilots downed both bombers but lost Lt. Ray Hine to a Zero.

    In Europe, the first Americans to down a Luftwaffe aircraft were Lt. Elza E. Shahan flying a 27th Fighter Squadron P-38E, and Lt. J. K. Shaffer flying a Curtiss P-40 (see NASM collection) in the 33rd Fighter Squadron. The two flyers shared the destruction of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 Condor maritime strike aircraft over Iceland on August 14, 1942. Later that month, the 1st fighter group accepted Lightnings and began combat operations from bases in England but this unit soon moved to fight in North Africa. More than a year passed before the P-38 reappeared over Western Europe. While the Lightning was absent, U. S. Army Air Forces strategists had relearned a painful lesson: unescorted bombers cannot operate successfully in the face of determined opposition from enemy fighters. When P-38s returned to England, the primary mission had become long-range bomber escort at ranges of about 805 kms (500 miles) and at altitudes above 6,080 m (20,000 ft).

    On October 15, 1943, P-38H pilots in the 55th Fighter Group flew their first combat mission over Europe at a time when the need for long-range escorts was acute. Just the day before, German fighter pilots had destroyed 60 of 291 Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses (see NASM collection) during a mission to bomb five ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany. No air force could sustain a loss-rate of nearly 20 percent for more than a few missions but these targets lay well beyond the range of available escort fighters (Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, see NASM collection). American war planners hoped the long-range capabilities of the P-38 Lightning could halt this deadly trend, but the very high and very cold environment peculiar to the European air war caused severe power plant and cockpit heating difficulties for the Lightning pilots. The long-range escort problem was not completely solved until the North American P-51 Mustang (see NASM collection) began to arrive in large numbers early in 1944.

    Poor cockpit heating in the H and J model Lightnings made flying and fighting at altitudes that frequently approached 12,320 m (40,000 ft) nearly impossible. This was a fundamental design flaw that Kelly Johnson and his team never anticipated when they designed the airplane six years earlier. In his seminal work on the Allison V-1710 engine, Daniel Whitney analyzed in detail other factors that made the P-38 a disappointing airplane in combat over Western Europe.

    • Many new and inexperienced pilots arrived in England during December 1943, along with the new J model P-38 Lightning.

    • J model rated at 1,600 horsepower vs. 1,425 for earlier H model Lightnings. This power setting required better maintenance between flights. It appears this work was not done in many cases.

    • During stateside training, Lightning pilots were taught to fly at high rpm settings and low engine manifold pressure during cruise flight. This was very hard on the engines, and not in keeping with technical directives issued by Allison and Lockheed.

    • The quality of fuel in England may have been poor, TEL (tetraethyl lead) fuel additive appeared to condense inside engine induction manifolds, causing detonation (destructive explosion of fuel mixture rather than controlled burning).

    • Improved turbo supercharger intercoolers appeared on the J model P-38. These devices greatly reduced manifold temperatures but this encouraged TEL condensation in manifolds during cruise flight and increased spark plug fouling.

    Using water injection to minimize detonation might have reduced these engine problems. Both the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the North American P-51 Mustang (see NASM collection) were fitted with water injection systems but not the P-38. Lightning pilots continued to fly, despite these handicaps.

    During November 1942, two all-Lightning fighter groups, the 1st and the 14th, began operating in North Africa. In the Mediterranean Theater, P-38 pilots flew more sorties than Allied pilots flying any other type of fighter. They claimed 608 enemy a/c destroyed in the air, 123 probably destroyed and 343 damaged, against the loss of 131 Lightnings.

    In the war against Japan, the P-38 truly excelled. Combat rarely occurred above 6,080 m (20,000 ft) and the engine and cockpit comfort problems common in Europe never plagued pilots in the Pacific Theater. The Lightning's excellent range was used to full advantage above the vast expanses of water. In early 1945, Lightning pilots of the 12th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group, flew a mission that lasted 10 ½ hours and covered more than 3,220 km (2,000 miles). In August, P-38 pilots established the world's long-distance record for a World War II combat fighter when they flew from the Philippines to the Netherlands East Indies, a distance of 3,703 km (2,300 miles). During early 1944, Lightning pilots in the 475th Fighter Group began the 'race of aces.' By March, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Lynch had scored 21 victories before he fell to antiaircraft gunfire while strafing enemy ships. Major Thomas B. McGuire downed 38 Japanese aircraft before he was killed when his P-38 crashed at low altitude in early January 1945. Major Richard I. Bong became America's highest scoring fighter ace (40 victories) but died in the crash of a Lockheed P-80 (see NASM collection) on August 6, 1945.

    Museum records show that Lockheed assigned the construction number 422-2273 to the National Air and Space Museum's P-38. The Army Air Forces accepted this Lightning as a P-38J-l0-LO on November 6, 1943, and the service identified the airplane with the serial number 42-67762. Recent investigations conducted by a team of specialists at the Paul E. Garber Facility, and Herb Brownstein, a volunteer in the Aeronautics Division at the National Air and Space Museum, have revealed many hitherto unknown aspects to the history of this aircraft.

    Brownstein examined NASM files and documents at the National Archives. He discovered that a few days after the Army Air Forces (AAF) accepted this airplane, the Engineering Division at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, granted Lockheed permission to convert this P-38 into a two-seat trainer. The firm added a seat behind the pilot to accommodate an instructor who would train civilian pilots in instrument flying techniques. Once trained, these test pilots evaluated new Lightnings fresh off the assembly line.

    In a teletype sent by the Engineering Division on March 2, 1944, Brownstein also discovered that this P-38 was released to Colonel Benjamin S. Kelsey from March 3 to April 10, 1944, to conduct special tests. This action was confirmed the following day in a cable from the War Department. This same pilot, then a Lieutenant, flew the XP-38 across the United States in 1939 and survived the crash that destroyed this Lightning at Mitchel Field, New York. In early 1944, Kelsey was assigned to the Eighth Air Force in England and he apparently traveled to the Lockheed factory at Burbank to pick up the P-38. Further information about these tests and Kelsey's involvement remain an intriguing question.

    One of Brownstein's most important discoveries was a small file rich with information about the NASM Lightning. This file contained a cryptic reference to a "Major Bong" who flew the NASM P-38 on April 16, 1945, at Wright Field. Bong had planned to fly for an hour to evaluate an experimental method of interconnecting the movement of the throttle and propeller control levers. His flight ended after twenty-minutes when "the right engine blew up before I had a chance [to conduct the test]." The curator at the Richard I. Bong Heritage Center confirmed that America's highest scoring ace made this flight in the NASM P-38 Lightning.

    Working in Building 10 at the Paul E. Garber Facility, Rob Mawhinney, Dave Wilson, Wil Lee, Bob Weihrauch, Jim Purton, and Heather Hutton spent several months during the spring and summer of 2001 carefully disassembling, inspecting, and cleaning the NASM Lightning. They found every hardware modification consistent with a model J-25 airplane, not the model J-10 painted in the data block beneath the artifact's left nose. This fact dovetails perfectly with knowledge uncovered by Brownstein. On April 10, the Engineering Division again cabled Lockheed asking the company to prepare 42-67762 for transfer to Wright Field "in standard configuration." The standard P-38 configuration at that time was the P-38J-25. The work took several weeks and the fighter does not appear on Wright Field records until May 15, 1944. On June 9, the Flight Test Section at Wright Field released the fighter for flight trials aimed at collecting pilot comments on how the airplane handled.

    Wright Field's Aeromedical Laboratory was the next organization involved with this P-38. That unit installed a kit on July 26 that probably measured the force required to move the control wheel left and right to actuate the power-boosted ailerons installed in all Lightnings beginning with version J-25. From August 12-16, the Power Plant Laboratory carried out tests to measure the hydraulic pump temperatures on this Lightning. Then beginning September 16 and lasting about ten days, the Bombing Branch, Armament Laboratory, tested type R-3 fragmentation bomb racks. The work appears to have ended early in December. On June 20, 1945, the AAF Aircraft Distribution Office asked that the Air Technical Service Command transfer the Lightning from Wright Field to Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, a temporary holding area for Air Force museum aircraft. The P-38 arrived at the Oklahoma City Air Depot on June 27, 1945, and mechanics prepared the fighter for flyable storage.

    Airplane Flight Reports for this Lightning also describe the following activities and movements:

    6-21-45 Wright Field, Ohio, 5.15 hours of flying.
    6-22-45Wright Field, Ohio, .35 minutes of flying by Lt. Col. Wendel [?] J. Kelley and P. Shannon.
    6-25-45Altus, Oklahoma, .55 hours flown, pilot P. Shannon.
    6-27-45Altus, Oklahoma, #2 engine changed, 1.05 hours flown by Air Corps F/O Ralph F. Coady.
    10-5-45 OCATSC-GCAAF (Garden City Army Air Field, Garden City, Kansas), guns removed and ballast added.
    10-8-45Adams Field, Little Rock, Arkansas.
    10-9-45Nashville, Tennessee,
    5-28-46Freeman Field, Indiana, maintenance check by Air Corps Capt. H. M. Chadhowere [sp]?
    7-24-46Freeman Field, Indiana, 1 hour local flight by 1st Lt. Charles C. Heckel.
    7-31-46 Freeman Field, Indiana, 4120th AAF Base Unit, ferry flight to Orchard Place [Illinois] by 1st Lt. Charles C. Heckel.

    On August 5, 1946, the AAF moved the aircraft to another storage site at the former Consolidated B-24 bomber assembly plant at Park Ridge, Illinois. A short time later, the AAF transferred custody of the Lightning and more than sixty other World War II-era airplanes to the Smithsonian National Air Museum. During the early 1950s, the Air Force moved these airplanes from Park Ridge to the Smithsonian storage site at Suitland, Maryland.

    • • •

    Quoting from Wikipedia | Lockheed P-38 Lightning:

    The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Named "fork-tailed devil" by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" by the Japanese, the P-38 was used in a number of roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground-attack, photo reconnaissance missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

    The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war. The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, the exhaust muffled by the turbo-superchargers. It was extremely forgiving, and could be mishandled in many ways, but the rate of roll was too slow for it to excel as a dogfighter. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.

    Variants: Lightning in maturity: P-38J

    The P-38J was introduced in August 1943. The turbo-supercharger intercooler system on previous variants had been housed in the leading edges of the wings and had proven vulnerable to combat damage and could burst if the wrong series of controls were mistakenly activated. In the P-38J model, the streamlined engine nacelles of previous Lightnings were changed to fit the intercooler radiator between the oil coolers, forming a "chin" that visually distinguished the J model from its predecessors. While the P-38J used the same V-1710-89/91 engines as the H model, the new core-type intercooler more efficiently lowered intake manifold temperatures and permitted a substantial increase in rated power. The leading edge of the outer wing was fitted with 55 gal (208 l) fuel tanks, filling the space formerly occupied by intercooler tunnels, but these were omitted on early P-38J blocks due to limited availability.

    The final 210 J models, designated P-38J-25-LO, alleviated the compressibility problem through the addition of a set of electrically-actuated dive recovery flaps just outboard of the engines on the bottom centerline of the wings. With these improvements, a USAAF pilot reported a dive speed of almost 600 mph (970 km/h), although the indicated air speed was later corrected for compressibility error, and the actual dive speed was lower. Lockheed manufactured over 200 retrofit modification kits to be installed on P-38J-10-LO and J-20-LO already in Europe, but the USAAF C-54 carrying them was shot down by an RAF pilot who mistook the Douglas transport for a German Focke-Wulf Condor. Unfortunately the loss of the kits came during Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier's four-month morale-boosting tour of P-38 bases. Flying a new Lightning named "Snafuperman" modified to full P-38J-25-LO specs at Lockheed's modification center near Belfast, LeVier captured the pilots' full attention by routinely performing maneuvers during March 1944 that common Eighth Air Force wisdom held to be suicidal. It proved too little too late because the decision had already been made to re-equip with Mustangs.

    The P-38J-25-LO production block also introduced hydraulically-boosted ailerons, one of the first times such a system was fitted to a fighter. This significantly improved the Lightning's rate of roll and reduced control forces for the pilot. This production block and the following P-38L model are considered the definitive Lightnings, and Lockheed ramped up production, working with subcontractors across the country to produce hundreds of Lightnings each month.

    Noted P-38 pilots

    Richard Bong and Thomas McGuire

    The American ace of aces and his closest competitor both flew Lightnings as they tallied 40 and 38 victories respectively. Majors Richard I. "Dick" Bong and Thomas J. "Tommy" McGuire of the USAAF competed for the top position. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor.

    McGuire was killed in air combat in January 1945 over the Philippines, after racking up 38 confirmed kills, making him the second-ranking American ace. Bong was rotated back to the United States as America's ace of aces, after making 40 kills, becoming a test pilot. He was killed on 6 August 1945, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, when his P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter flamed out on takeoff.

    Charles Lindbergh

    The famed aviator Charles Lindbergh toured the South Pacific as a civilian contractor for United Aircraft Corporation, comparing and evaluating performance of single- and twin-engined fighters for Vought. He worked to improve range and load limits of the F4U Corsair, flying both routine and combat strafing missions in Corsairs alongside Marine pilots. In Hollandia, he attached himself to the 475th FG flying P-38s so that he could investigate the twin-engine fighter. Though new to the machine, he was instrumental in extending the range of the P-38 through improved throttle settings, or engine-leaning techniques, notably by reducing engine speed to 1,600 rpm, setting the carburetors for auto-lean and flying at 185 mph (298 km/h) indicated airspeed which reduced fuel consumption to 70 gal/h, about 2.6 mpg. This combination of settings had been considered dangerous; it was thought it would upset the fuel mixture and cause an explosion. Everywhere Lindbergh went in the South Pacific, he was accorded the normal preferential treatment of a visiting colonel, though he had resigned his Air Corps Reserve colonel's commission three years before. While with the 475th, he held training classes and took part in a number of Army Air Corps combat missions. On 28 July 1944, Lindbergh shot down a Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" flown expertly by the veteran commander of 73rd Independent Flying Chutai, Imperial Japanese Army Captain Saburo Shimada. In an extended, twisting dogfight in which many of the participants ran out of ammunition, Shimada turned his aircraft directly toward Lindbergh who was just approaching the combat area. Lindbergh fired in a defensive reaction brought on by Shimada's apparent head-on ramming attack. Hit by cannon and machine gun fire, the "Sonia's" propeller visibly slowed, but Shimada held his course. Lindbergh pulled up at the last moment to avoid collision as the damaged "Sonia" went into a steep dive, hit the ocean and sank. Lindbergh's wingman, ace Joseph E. "Fishkiller" Miller, Jr., had also scored hits on the "Sonia" after it had begun its fatal dive, but Miller was certain the kill credit was Lindbergh's. The unofficial kill was not entered in the 475th's war record. On 12 August 1944 Lindbergh left Hollandia to return to the United States.

    Charles MacDonald

    The seventh-ranking American ace, Charles H. MacDonald, flew a Lightning against the Japanese, scoring 27 kills in his famous aircraft, the Putt Putt Maru.

    Robin Olds

    Main article: Robin Olds

    Robin Olds was the last P-38 ace in the Eighth Air Force and the last in the ETO. Flying a P-38J, he downed five German fighters on two separate missions over France and Germany. He subsequently transitioned to P-51s to make seven more kills. After World War II, he flew F-4 Phantom IIs in Vietnam, ending his career as brigadier general with 16 kills.

    Clay Tice

    A P-38 piloted by Clay Tice was the first American aircraft to land in Japan after VJ-Day, when he and his wingman set down on Nitagahara because his wingman was low on fuel.

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Noted aviation pioneer and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry vanished in a F-5B-1-LO, 42-68223, c/n 2734, of Groupe de Chasse II/33, out of Borgo-Porreta, Bastia, Corsica, a reconnaissance variant of the P-38, while on a flight over the Mediterranean, from Corsica to mainland France, on 31 July 1944. His health, both physical and mental (he was said to be intermittently subject to depression), had been deteriorating and there had been talk of taking him off flight status. There have been suggestions (although no proof to date) that this was a suicide rather than an aircraft failure or combat loss. In 2000, a French scuba diver found the wreckage of a Lightning in the Mediterranean off the coast of Marseille, and it was confirmed in April 2004 as Saint-Exupéry's F-5B. No evidence of air combat was found. In March 2008, a former Luftwaffe pilot, Horst Rippert from Jagdgruppe 200, claimed to have shot down Saint-Exupéry.

    Adrian Warburton

    The RAF's legendary photo-recon "ace", Wing Commander Adrian Warburton DSO DFC, was the pilot of a Lockheed P-38 borrowed from the USAAF that took off on 12 April 1944 to photograph targets in Germany. W/C Warburton failed to arrive at the rendezvous point and was never seen again. In 2003, his remains were recovered in Germany from his wrecked USAAF P-38 Lightning.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC

    Hawker Chief Designer Sydney Camm's Hurricane ranks with the most important aircraft designs in military aviation history. Designed in the late 1930s, when monoplanes were considered unstable and too radical to be successful, the Hurricane was the first British monoplane fighter and the first British fighter to exceed 483 kilometers (300 miles) per hour in level flight. Hurricane pilots fought the Luftwaffe and helped win the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940.

    This Mark IIC was built at the Langley factory, near what is now Heathrow Airport, early in 1944. It served as a training aircraft during the World War II in the Royal Air Force's 41 OTU.

    Donated by the Royal Air Force Museum

    Manufacturer:
    Hawker Aircraft Ltd.

    Date:
    1944

    Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom

    Dimensions:
    Wingspan: 12.2 m (40 ft)
    Length: 9.8 m (32 ft 3 in)
    Height: 4 m (13 ft)
    Weight, empty: 2,624 kg (5,785 lb)
    Weight, gross: 3,951 kg (8,710 lb)
    Top speed:538 km/h (334 mph)
    Engine:Rolls-Royce Merlin XX, liquid-cooled in-line V, 1,300 hp
    Armament:four 20 mm Hispano cannons
    Ordnance:two 250-lb or two 500-lb bombs or eight 3-in rockets

    Materials:

    Fuselage: Steel tube with aircraft spruce forms and fabric, aluminum cowling
    Wings: Stressed Skin Aluminum
    Horizontal Stablizer: Stress Skin aluminum
    Rudder: fabric covered aluminum
    Control Surfaces: fabric covered aluminum

    Physical Description:
    Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC single seat, low wing monoplane ground attack fighter; enclosed cockpit; steel tube fuselage with aircraft spruce forms and fabric, aluminum cowling, stressed skin aluminum wings and horizontal stablizer, fabric covered aluminum rudder and control surfaces; grey green camoflage top surface paint scheme with dove grey underside; red and blue national roundel on upper wing surface and red, white, and blue roundel lower wing surface; red, white, blue, and yellow roundel fuselage sides; red, white and blue tail flash; Rolls-Royce Merlin XX, liquid cooled V-12, 1,280 horsepower engine; Armament, 4: 20mm Hispano cannons.

    Long Description:
    Hawker Chief Designer Sydney Camm's Hurricane fighter ranks with the most important aircraft designs in military aviation history. Hurricanes proved vital to win the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940, when the Nazi Blitzkrieg seemed unstoppable. These airplanes also performed other roles flying on nearly every front until the end of the war. The Hurricane was the first British monoplane fighter aircraft, and the first British fighter to exceed 483 kph (300 mph) in level flight. That it was designed and built at all was a major undertaking that literally flew in the face of conventional aeronautical wisdom in the mid-1930s. At that time, the biplane was omnipresent and monoplanes were considered unstable and too radical to be successful fighter aircraft.

    In 1925, Camm was appointed Chief Designer of the H. G. Hawker Engineering Company, the forerunner of Hawker Aircraft Ltd. During that same year, Camm designed a monoplane fighter and although it was not built, he realized that biplane fighters could not be designed to go faster than monoplanes. Two wings simply generated more drag than a single wing. It was time for a radical advance in fighter technology. In 1933, under Camm's direction, the Hawker design team began work on a new monoplane fighter and informal design proposals were made to the Air Ministry in August 1935. Camm and his team proposed a single-wing adaptation of the highly successful Hawker Fury biplane. They selected a liquid-cooled, 660 horsepower Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine to power the new aircraft. It was called the Fury Monoplane. Soon a new powerplant, forerunner of the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin, was proposed for this airplane.

    Camm revised the design, based on this new engine, and introduced a wide track, hand-operated, retractable landing gear, a retracting tail wheel, and an enclosed cockpit. These features reduced drag even further and made the aircraft faster. More modifications and refinements followed and on September 4, 1934, Camm submitted a new, revised design known as the Interceptor Monoplane. A mock-up was begun later that year. Official approval for a prototype was given in February 1935 and the military serial number K5083 was assigned to this revolutionary airplane.

    The Interceptor Monoplane was a blend of the old and new. It was a monoplane with retractable landing gear but the internal airframe structure reverted to the formula Hawker had proven on all his biplanes: tubular metal cross braced sections covered with fabric. While the prototype was under construction, another new specification was issued, causing a design change from a four-machine gun armament system to a scheme that used eight, license-built, American .303 caliber, Browning weapons. A Rolls Royce Merlin, twelve-cylinder, 990 horsepower engine driving a two-blade, fixed-pitch wooden propeller, supplied power. Despite early engine difficulties, the new aircraft proved to have excellent potential. It flew for the first time on November 6, 1935.

    Flight trials began immediately but engine troubles continued to plague the aircraft and the Merlin engine was continuously upgraded to increase performance and reliability. Camm had started out with the Merlin C series engine, then tried the F series, known as the Merlin I, and then the Merlin II. The Merlin III, developing 1,030 horsepower, became the most satisfactory engine variant and it powered most of the early production aircraft.

    As prototype evaluation continued, Hawker received an unprecedented contract order for 600 aircraft on June 3, 1936. This was one of the largest production orders ever placed for a single military aircraft design during peacetime. On the 27th, the name Hurricane was officially adopted. Hawker was expecting production orders so the company had already began to tool their production lines to build the airplane. They made 40 within three months and a short time later, the Royal Air Force (RAF) accepted their first Hurricane. In December 1937, ten weeks after the first flight of a production Hurricane I on October 12, 1937, the first RAF squadron to convert to the new fighter, No. 111 at Northolt, traded in their Gloster Gauntlets biplanes for the new monoplanes. Hawker never paused in flight-testing improvements to the fighter and in 1939, the company began using the variable-pitch, three-bladed propeller. This technology significantly increased the Hurricane's climb performance and service ceiling.

    This relentless pace of production, the introduction to service, and continued flight-testing was driven initially by the threat of war posed by Nazi Germany. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, the Hurricane joined the fight. Hurricane pilots drew first blood for the RAF during air battles fought over France. Flying a Hurricane, Pilot Officer P. W. O. Mould of No. 1 Squadron, RAF, destroyed a Dornier Do17 (German twin-engine bomber) on October 30, 1939. Soon several Hurricane squadrons were heavily engaged with German aircraft but the Luftwaffe (German air force) outnumbered the smaller force of British fighters and inflicted heavy casualties.

    The Hurricane's most important role in World War II came a few months later during the Battle of Britain, fought between July and October 1940. On the eve of this great battle for England's survival as a free country, the British could muster only 26 Hurricane I squadrons. In addition to Hurricanes, there were 19 Supermarine Spitfire squadrons and 10 other fighter squadrons equipped with Defiants and Blenheims. Once the battle began, these latter two aircraft quickly proved utterly inferior to the Messerschmitt Bf 109. All together, RAF Fighter Command had about 720 serviceable Hurricanes, Spitfires, and other combat airplanes. Against them stood a force of about 2,000 Luftwaffe aircraft, flush with sweeping victories over every air force in Europe that had opposed them.

    For Hitler's Luftwaffe, the primary goal of the great contest about to unfold was to engage and destroy all RAF fighter aircraft in the air or on the ground. Once this was accomplished, Hitler could launch Operation Sealion, the amphibious invasion of Great Britain, unopposed by the RAF. The Luftwaffe would then revert to its earlier role as the air component of Blitzkrieg, or Lightning War. German fighters, in conjunction with level bombers such as the Heinkel 111, and the Junkers Ju 87 dive bomber, would work in direct support of the German Army's tank and infantry forces by attacking British troops, tanks, and fortifications.

    The battle for air superiority over England saw RAF Fighter Command devise a strategy for singling out the German bombers. They assigned Hurricane squadrons to concentrate on the bombers while the faster Spitfires engaged the escorting fighters. This tactic was determined by the differences in performance between the Spitfire and the Hurricane. The primary German fighter airplane, the Messerschmitt Bf109, outclassed the Hawker fighter in speed and armament; the difference was small enough that many times the outcome depended upon individual pilot skills. The Hurricane did enjoy several advantages over the Bf 109. It could out-turn the German fighter at all operational altitudes, it could sustain more damage and return to base, and when battle damage was so severe that a crash-landing became unavoidable, the Hurricane usually fell on friendly territory. The Hurricane's sturdy tubular construction allowed many machines to survive combat and return quickly to the fight.

    The Battle of Britain ended in early November when Göring ordered the Luftwaffe to switch to bombing cities, ports, and factories at night. The sea borne invasion was called off and Hitler turned his attention east to plan the invasion of Russia. It had been a near thing for Britain. The RAF nearly ran out of pilots and serviceable aircraft. Mechanics patched together every Hurricane and Spitfire that could stagger back into the air but losses were terrific. Between July 10 and October 31, the Germans lost 1,733 aircraft to the RAF. The Royal Air Force lost 915 airplanes and 415 pilots. Hurricane production figures reveal the airplane's critical importance to the RAF. Every week of the battle, Hurricane losses exceeded that of any other fighter type, yet the Air Ministry consistently ordered more Hurricanes built than any other type of fighters (Spitfires, Blenheims, and Defiants).

    As the Battle of Britain ended, Hawker continued to modify and improve the Hurricane. At the same time, several Hurricane squadrons learned night fighter tactics and many Hurricanes were modified to fly and fight in darkness and bad weather. Others were fitted with tropical filters and sent overseas to the Mediterranean. Hawker also sold Hurricanes to Yugoslavia, Belgium, Iran, Rumania, Turkey, and Poland. Early in 1941, the Royal Yugoslavian Air Force replaced the Merlin engine with a Daimler Benz DB601A. After flight trials, Yugoslavian test pilot claimed the German engine was superior to the Merlin. Hurricanes also fought in Malta and the western desert of North Africa. The Hurricane even went to sea aboard CAM (Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen) ships. These hastily modified sea-borne interceptors were nicknamed 'Hurricats.'

    The Hawker design staff wanted to increase engine power without interrupting production, so they selected a new, more powerful version of the Merlin. The new Merlin XX engine was only slightly larger than earlier versions, yet it generated 1,280 horsepower and a maximum speed in the Hurricane of 550 kph (342 mph). This new version was called the Hurricane II and a prototype first flew on June 11, 1940. Armament was increased from eight guns (Mark IIA) to twelve guns (Mark IIB). The biggest weapons modification came with the Mark IIC Hurricane. A specification dating back to 1935 had called for a fighter armed with four 20mm cannons. After initial test results proved successful, Hawker began building the Mark IIC in 1941 equipped with a very potent battery of four 20 mm Oerlikon cannons, and more than 4,700 examples of this Hurricane were built.

    Several other variants of the Hurricane appeared including the Mark IID with two 40mm cannons mounted under the wings. Most of the Mark IID's were shipped to the Middle East, North Africa and Burma, and one squadron flew them in northern Europe. The Mark IV Hurricane showed little difference from the Mark II series, but it had improved armor and universal wing mounts for various ground attack roles. Several other versions of the Hurricane were created including Sea Hurricanes designed for convoy escort and equipped with arresting hooks. From 1936 until production ended in September 1944, Hawker, Gloster, Canadian Car and Foundry, and Fairey built 14,233 Hurricanes. One of the last Hurricanes built was purchased by the Hawker Company and named "The Last of the Many." It is maintained in flying condition to this day.

    The National Air and Space Museum owns a Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC bearing RAF serial number LF686. Hawker built this fighter at the Langley factory, near Slough, Buckinghamshire, just six miles from what is now called Heathrow airport, early in 1944. It was part of the last RAF Hurricane order for about 1,300 aircraft. On March 14, 1944, the RAF moved LF686 to No. 5 Maintenance Unit at RAF Kemble airfield for installation of operational equipment. The fighter was delivered to No. 41 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hawarden airfield in Cheshire on April 15, 1944. It served in this OTU until the RAF reclassified the aircraft a maintenance training airframe, number 5270M, on June 27, 1945, and transferred it to RAF Maintenance Command at Chilbolton, Hampshire, where it was used to train mechanics. At some point the original engine was probably removed. In July 1948, the RAF issued the Hurricane to No. 7 School for Recruit Training, RAF Bridgenorth. Another Merlin XX was installed and the fighter was placed outdoors, opposite the guardroom. Sometime later, the entire airplane was painted silver. In 1963, Bridgenorth closed its doors and LF686 moved to RAF Colherne for overhaul and storage.

    During the late 1960s, the Smithsonian arranged to trade a stock Hawker Typhoon to the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon in exchange for Hawker Hurricane LF686. An RAF transport hauled the fighter to the U. S. in 1969. Specialists at the Garber Facility began restoring the airplane in 1989 and finished the project eleven years later. The fighter is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

    • • •

    Quoting from Wikipedia | Hawker Hurricane:

    The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although largely overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire, the aircraft became renowned during the Battle of Britain, accounting for 60% of the RAF's air victories in the battle, and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War.

    The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as interceptor-fighters, fighter-bombers (also called "Hurribombers"), and ground support aircraft. Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications which enabled operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as "Hurricats". More than 14,000 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including about 1,200 converted to Sea Hurricanes and some 1,400 built in Canada by the Canada Car and Foundry).

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: South hangar panorama, including Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher seaplane, B-29 Enola Gay

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Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher:

The Kingfisher was the U.S. Navy's primary ship-based, scout and observation aircraft during World War II. Revolutionary spot welding techniques gave it a smooth, non-buckling fuselage structure. Deflector plate flaps that hung from the wing's trailing edge and spoiler-augmented ailerons functioned like extra flaps to allow slower landing speeds. Most OS2Us operated in the Pacific, where they rescued many downed airmen, including World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and the crew of his B-17 Flying Fortress.

In March 1942, this airplane was assigned to the battleship USS Indiana. It later underwent a six-month overhaul in California, returned to Pearl Harbor, and rejoined the Indiana in March 1944. Lt. j.g. Rollin M. Batten Jr. was awarded the Navy Cross for making a daring rescue in this airplane under heavy enemy fire on July 4, 1944.

Transferred from the United States Navy.

Manufacturer:
Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division

Date:
1937

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 15ft 1 1/8in. x 33ft 9 1/2in., 4122.6lb., 36ft 1 1/16in. (460 x 1030cm, 1870kg, 1100cm)

Materials:
Wings covered with fabric aft of the main spar

Physical Description:
Two-seat monoplane, deflector plate flaps hung from the trailing edge of the wing, ailerons drooped at low airspeeds to function like extra flaps, spoilers.

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay":

Boeing's B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B-29 found its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a variety of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.

On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, The Great Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on both missions.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Manufacturer:
Boeing Aircraft Co.
Martin Co., Omaha, Nebr.

Date:
1945

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 900 x 3020cm, 32580kg, 4300cm (29ft 6 5/16in. x 99ft 1in., 71825.9lb., 141ft 15/16in.)

Materials:
Polished overall aluminum finish

Physical Description:
Four-engine heavy bomber with semi-monoqoque fuselage and high-aspect ratio wings. Polished aluminum finish overall, standard late-World War II Army Air Forces insignia on wings and aft fuselage and serial number on vertical fin; 509th Composite Group markings painted in black; "Enola Gay" in black, block letters on lower left nose.

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