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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 | 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).
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Northrop P-61C Black Widow:

    The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, a feat made possible by the use of on-board radar. The prototype first flew in 1942. P-61 combat operations began just after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Black Widows flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic. Operations in the Pacific began at about the same time. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater and had destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 German V-1 buzz bombs.

    The Museum’s Black Widow, a P-61C-1-NO, was delivered to the Army Air Forces in July 1945. It participated in cold-weather tests, high-altitude drop tests, and in the National Thunderstorm Project, for which the top turret was removed to make room for thunderstorm monitoring equipment.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Northrop Aircraft Inc.

    Date:
    1943

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 450 x 1500cm, 10637kg, 2000cm (14ft 9 3/16in. x 49ft 2 9/16in., 23450.3lb., 65ft 7 3/8in.)

    Long Description:
    The P-61 Black Widow was the first United States aircraft designed from the start to find and destroy other aircraft at night and in bad weather. It served in combat for only the final year of World War II but flew in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific, and China-Burma-India theaters. Black Widow crews destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 robot V-1 buzz bombs.

    Jack Northrop's big fighter was born during the dark days of the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz in 1940. British successes against German daylight bombers forced the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) to shift to night bombing. By the time Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfires could launch, climb out, and then try to intercept these raids, the bombers crews had usually dropped their loads and turned for home. An aircraft was needed to patrol the skies over England for up to seven hours during the night, and then follow radar vectors to attack German aircraft before they reached their target. U.S. Army Air Corps officers noted this requirement and decided that America must have a night fighter if and when it entered the war.

    The Army awarded a contract to Northrop on January 30, 1941. The resulting design featured twin tail booms and rudders for stability when the aircraft closed in behind an intruder. It was a large aircraft with a big fuel load and two powerful engines. Armament evolved into four 20 mm cannons mounted in the belly firing forward and a powered, remote-controlled turret on top of the center fuselage equipped with four .50 cal. machine guns. The three-man crew consisted of the pilot, a gunner seated behind him, and a radar observer/gunner at the rear behind the gun turret. Only the pilot could fire the cannons but any of the three could operate the machine guns.

    Simultaneously, work was proceeding, at a laboratory run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to develop the airborne radar set. The Army tested an early design in a Douglas B-18 in 1941. The much-improved SCR-520 set was ready by early 1942. Meanwhile, Army enthusiasm for the XP-61 produced another contract on March 10, 1941, for 13 service-test YP-61s. Even before these airplanes flew, Northrop received orders for 410 production machines! Northrop test pilot Vance Breeze flew the aircraft on May 26, 1942. Although the Black Widow was nearly as large as a medium bomber, it was a true fighter. The only prohibited flight maneuvers were outside loops, sustained inverted flight, and deliberate spins.

    As Northrop advanced the design toward production, supply problems arose and modifications became necessary. The 4-gun top turret was the same type fitted to the top forward position on the Boeing B-29 Superfortress (see NASM collection) and that bomber had production priority over the P-61. As a result, several hundred P-61s did not have this turret. Those that did experienced buffeting when the turret was traversed from side to side and a fix took time. By October 1943, the first P-61s were coming off the line. Training started immediately, and the first night fighters arrived in the European Theater by March 1944. Combat operations began just after D-Day (June 6) and the Black Widows quickly departed from their original role as defensive interceptors and became aggressors. They flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic and making travel difficult for the enemy by day and at night.

    P-61s arrived in the Pacific Theater at about the same time as the European Black Widows. For years, the Japanese had operated lone bombers over Allied targets at night and now U. S. fighters could locate and attack them. However, on June 30, 1944, a Mitsubishi BETTY (see NASM collection) became the first P-61 kill in the Pacific. Soon, Black Widows controlled the night skies. On the night of August 14-15, a P-61 named "Lady in the Dark" by her crew encountered an intruding Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) OSCAR (see NASM collection) and eventually forced it into the sea without firing a shot. Although the war was officially over, no one was sure that all of the Japanese had heard the message and stopped fighting. The American night fighters flew again the next night and "Lady in the Dark" again found a target. It was a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) TOJO and the fighters maneuvered wildly as they attempted to gain an advantage. The P-61 crew lost and reacquired the Ki-44 several times then finally lost it for good and returned to base. The next day ground troops found the wrecked TOJO. In the darkness, Lady in the Dark's crew had forced the Japanese pilot to fly into the ground, again without firing a shot.

    With the war over, the Army cancelled further production. Northrop had built 706 aircraft including 36 with a highly modified center fuselage. These F-15As (later redesignated RF-61C) mounted a number of cameras in the nose and proved able reconnaissance platforms. Many of these airplanes participated in the first good aerial photographic survey of the Pacific islands. A few, plus some special purpose P-61s, stayed in active service until 1950.

    NASM's Black Widow is a P-61C-1-NO, U.S. Army Air Forces serial number 43-8330. Northrop delivered it to the Army on July 28, 1945. By October 18, this P-61 was flying at Ladd Field, Alaska, in cold weather tests and it remained there until March 30, 1946. This airplane later moved to Pinecastle Air Force Base, Florida, for participation in the National Thunderstorm Project. The project's goal was to learn more about thunderstorms and to use this knowledge to better protect civil and military airplanes that operated near them. The U. S. Weather Bureau and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) undertook the study with cooperation from the Army Air Forces and Navy. With its radar and particular flight characteristics, the P-61 was capable of finding the most turbulent regions of a storm, penetrating them, and returning crew and instruments intact for detailed study.

    Pinecastle personnel removed the guns and turret from 43-8330 in July 1946 to make room for new equipment. In September, the aircraft moved to Clinton County Army Air Base, Ohio, where it remained until January 1948. The Air Force then assigned the aircraft to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. After declaring the airplane surplus in 1950, the Air Force stored it at Park Ridge, Illinois, on October 3 along with important aircraft destined for the National Air Museum.

    But 43-8830 was not done flying. NACA asked the Smithsonian to lend them the aircraft for use in another special program. The committee wanted to investigate how aerodynamic shapes behaved when dropped from high altitude. The Black Widow arrived at the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, on February 14, 1951. NACA returned the aircraft and delivered it to the Smithsonian at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, on August 10, 1954. When the engines shut down for the last time, this P-61 had accumulated only 530 total flight hours. Smithsonian personnel trucked it to the Paul Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland. In 2006, the aircraft was preserved and assembled at the Udvar-Hazy Center. The three different paint schemes from its past service life have been revealed by carefully removing individual layers of paint.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden (Violet Lightning) Kai (Modified) "GEORGE":

    GEORGE is the unlikely Allied nickname for the best Japanese naval fighter produced in quantity during World War II. The official Japanese name and designation was Kawanishi N1K2 Shiden (Violet Lightning). This outstanding land-based fighter sprang directly from a floatplane fighter design, the N1K1 REX (see NASM collection).

    Many countries used floatplanes for scouting and reconnaissance duties, and to hunt submarines and surface ships, but only Japan built and fielded fighters on floats. The Japanese Imperial Navy intended to use these specialized aircraft to gain air superiority above a beachhead to support amphibious landing operations where carrier or land-based fighters were unavailable. The Kawanishi N1K1 (Allied codename REX) was the only airplane designed specifically for this purpose to fly during World War II.

    In September 1940, the Japanese Navy issued a specification for floatplane fighters capable of supporting offensive naval operations. A team of engineers including Toshihara Baba, Shizuo Kikuhara, Hiroyuki Inoue, and Elizaburo Adachi had readied the first prototype by May 1942, and it flew on May 6. Tests showed that the speed of new airplane was only slightly less than the Mitsubishi A6M Zero (see NASM collection) and the amphibious fighter was almost as maneuverable as its land-based cousin. This was remarkable performance for an aircraft that could not retract or jettison its huge landing gear.

    Long before the first Kyofu flew, Kawanishi engineers believed that the basic design would also make an excellent land-based fighter. The conversion appeared to entail simply replacing the main and wingtip floats with a conventional landing gear. The company decided to develop this variant as a private venture. As the project unfolded, the engineers decided to replace the 14-cylinder engine with a new 18-cylinder model expected to produce about 2,000 horsepower. The new engine required a larger propeller and this component, in turn, required abnormally long landing gear struts to prevent the blade tips from contacting the ground. Kawanishi flew the first N1K1-J land-based fighter on December 27, 1942. The new engine failed to deliver the expected power and the landing gear functioned poorly. The airplane also fell short of projected speed (649 kph - 403 mph) by 74 kph (46 mph) and could manage only 575 kph (357 mph). This was faster than the Mitsubishi A6M Zero ZEKE, however, and the Japanese Navy badly needed an effective counter to new American naval fighter aircraft such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair (see NASM collection). The Japanese Navy ordered Kawanishi to abandon two other fighter projects and start building Shidens.

    By the end of 1943, Kawanishi delivered about 70 of the new fighters and the Navy used these airplanes for pilot familiarization and training. Expecting Allied amphibious landings in the Philippines, the Navy sent the first Shiden unit to Cebu in time to challenge Allied air power supporting the invasion of that island in October 1944. Engine, landing gear, logistics, and maintenance problems plagued the Shiden units but Allied pilots realized they faced a superb new Japanese fighter.

    With N1K1-J production underway and Shidens flying combat missions, Kawanishi set about refining the design. They lowered the wings from mid-fuselage and the extra ground clearance permitted the engineers to install a shorter, more conventional and less-troublesome landing gear, simplified the fuselage structure, and redesigned the empennage. Only the wings and armament remained from the initial design. The engine continued to give trouble, but the Navy was impressed with these improvements and ordered the new version into production as the N1K2-J Shiden Kai (modified). In air-to-air combat, experienced Japanese pilots flying Shiden Kais could more than hold their own against most American pilots flying F6F Hellcats. In February 1945, a brave pilot, Warrant Officer Muto, single-handedly engaged 12 Hellcats and shot down four of them before the remainder disengaged. Flying intercept missions against Boeing B-29 Superfortresses above the home islands, the Shiden Kai was less successful because of inadequate climb speed and power loss at high altitudes.

    Kawanishi developed several other variants and planned more when the war ended. About 1,500 of the various models were produced. In battle over Formosa (Taiwan), the Philippines, Okinawa, and the home islands, Shiden pilots acquitted themselves well but this excellent airplane was another good design that appeared too late and in too few numbers to reverse Japan's fortunes in the air war.

    NASM's Shiden Kai is one of three remaining today. The other two are displayed at the U. S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. American intelligence units collected four GEORGE fighters from various Japanese airfields and delivered them to Yokosuka Naval Shipyard for shipment to the United States. The NASM GEORGE came from Omura or Oppama Naval Air Station, Japan, and the fighter arrived stateside aboard the escort carrier "USS Barnes." It was probably evaluated at the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia, and then moved to Willow Grove Naval Air Station. The GEORGE remained outdoors on display and steadily deteriorated along with a group of German and Japanese airplanes until 1983 when the Smithsonian Institution acquired it. The airplane was stored at the Paul Garber Facility until NASM loaned it to the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona, for restoration in December 1991 and the project was completed in November 1994. The restored Shiden Kai wears the colors and markings of the 343rd Kokutai, a unit stationed at Omura Naval Air Station in 1945.

    Transferred from the United States Navy.

    Manufacturer:
    Kawanishi Kokuki K. K.

    Date:
    1942

    Country of Origin:
    Japan

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 400 x 930cm, 2675kg, 1200cm (13ft 1 1/2in. x 30ft 6 1/8in., 5897.3lb., 39ft 4 7/16in.)

    Materials:
    All-metal monocoque construction

    Physical Description:
    Single-engine, low-wing monoplane, conventional layout with tailwheel landing gear.
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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.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Aichi M6A1 Seiran (Clear Sky Storm):

    Aichi chief engineer, Toshio Ozaki, designed the M6A1 Seiran to fulfill the requirement for a bomber that could operate exclusively from a submarine. Japanese war planners devised the idea as a means for striking directly at the United States mainland and other important strategic targets, like the Panama Canal, that lay thousands of kilometers from Japan. To support Seiran operations, the Japanese developed a fleet of submarine aircraft carriers to bring the aircraft within striking distance. No Seiran ever saw combat, but the Seiran/submarine weapons system represents an ingenious blend of aviation and marine technology.

    This M6A1 was the last airframe built (serial number 28) and the only surviving example of the Seiran in the world. Imperial Japanese Navy Lt. Kazuo Akatsuka ferried this Seiran from Fukuyama to Yokosuka where he surrendered it to an American occupation contingent.

    Transferred from the United States Navy.

    Manufacturer:
    Aichi Aircraft Company (Aichi Kokuki KK)

    Date:
    1945

    Country of Origin:
    Japan

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 460 x 1160cm, 3310kg, 1230cm (15ft 1 1/8in. x 38ft 11/16in., 7297.2lb., 40ft 4 1/4in.)

    Physical Description:
    Wings rotated back, folded back to lie flat against the fuselage. 2/3 of each side of the horizontal stabilizer also folded down, likewise the tip of the vertical stabilizer.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Hei (Mod. C) Type 2 Toryu (Dragon Killer) NICK:

    The Kawasaki Ki-45 required more time to develop and place in service than almost any other Japanese warplane of World War II. Chief project engineer Takeo Doi began work on the design in January 1938, but the first production aircraft did not fly in combat until the fall of 1942. When it finally entered service, the Ki-45 soon became popular with flight crews, who used it mainly for attacking ground targets and ships, including U.S. Navy PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats. The Toryu (Dragon Killer) was also the only Japanese army night fighter to see action during the war.

    This Ki-45 Kai Hei night fighter version (one of 477) is the last known surviving "Nick" of the 1,700 built by Kawasaki.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Kawanishi Kokuki K. K.

    Date:
    1942

    Country of Origin:
    Japan

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 9ft 6 3/16in., 8335.6lb., 49ft 2 9/16in. x 34ft 9 5/16in. (290cm, 3781kg, 1500 x 1060cm)

    Physical Description:Twin engine, two seat, night fighter with semi-monocoque fuselage and wings.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Kugisho MXY7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) 22:

    Near the end of World War II, Vice Admiral Onishi Takijino recommended that the Japanese navy form special groups of men and aircraft to attack the American warships gathering to conduct amphibious landings in the Philippines. The Japanese used the word Tokko-tai (Special Attack) to describe these units. To the Allies, they became known as the kamikaze. By war's end, some 5,000 pilots died making Tokko attacks.

    The Ohka (Cherry Blossom) was designed to allow a pilot with minimal training to drop from a Japanese "Betty" bomber at high altitude and guide his aircraft with its warhead at high speed into an Allied warship. While several rocket-powered Ohka 11s still exist, this Ohka 22 is the only surviving "Campini" jet-powered version of the aircraft. It was captured in Japan in 1945. Unlike the Ohka 11, the Ohka 22 never became operational.

    Transferred from the United States Navy, R. Adm. A. M. Pride.

    Manufacturer:
    Kugisho (First Naval Air Technical Bureau)
    Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho

    Date:
    1945

    Country of Origin:
    Japan

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 120 x 690cm, 545kg, 410cm (3ft 11 1/4in. x 22ft 7 5/8in., 1201.5lb., 13ft 5 7/16in.)

    Materials:
    All-metal monocoque construction

    Physical Description:
    Single-seat, all-metal monocoque construction and conventional layout with low wing and twin vertical fins and rudders, powered by "Campini" jet engine.
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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.
  • Kingfisher
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko (Moonlight) IRVING:

    Originally designed as a three-seat, daylight escort fighter plane by the Nakajima Aeroplane Company, Ltd., and flown in 1941, the IRVING was modified as a night fighter in May of 1943 and shot down two American B-17 bombers to prove its capability. The Gekko (meaning moonlight) was redesigned to hold only two crewmen so that an upward firing gun could be mounted where the observer once sat. Nearly five hundred J1N1 aircraft, including prototypes, escort, reconnaissance, and night fighters were built during World War II. A sizeable number were also used as Kamikaze aircraft in the Pacific. The few that survived the war were scrapped by the Allies.

    This J1N1 is the last remaining in the world. It was transported from Japan to the U.S. where it was flight tested by the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1946. The Gekko then flew to storage at Park Ridge, IL, and was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. The restoration of this aircraft, completed in 1983, took more than four years and 17,000 man-hours to accomplish.

    Transferred from the United States Air Force.

    Manufacturer:
    Nakajima Hikoki K. K.

    Date:
    1942

    Country of Origin:
    Japan

    Dimensions:
    Overall: 15ft 1 1/8in. x 41ft 11 15/16in., 10670.3lb., 55ft 9 5/16in. (460 x 1280cm, 4840kg, 1700cm)

    Materials:
    All-metal, monocoque construction airplane

    Physical Description:
    Twin-engine, conventional layout with tailwheel-type landing gear.
    Armament: (2) 20 mm fixed upward firing cannon
    Engines: (2) Nakajima Sakae 21 (NK1F, Ha35- 21) 14- cylinder air-cooled radial 1,130 horsepower (metric)
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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.
  • Wright Model A Reproduction
  • Dornier Pfeil or Arado Blitz (i forget)
  • Focke-Wulf Fw-190
  • Stinson L-5 Sentinel
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Boeing 367-80 Jet Transport:

    On July 15, 1954, a graceful, swept-winged aircraft, bedecked in brown and yellow paint and powered by four revolutionary new engines first took to the sky above Seattle. Built by the Boeing Aircraft Company, the 367-80, better known as the Dash 80, would come to revolutionize commercial air transportation when its developed version entered service as the famous Boeing 707, America's first jet airliner.

    In the early 1950s, Boeing had begun to study the possibility of creating a jet-powered military transport and tanker to complement the new generation of Boeing jet bombers entering service with the U.S. Air Force. When the Air Force showed no interest, Boeing invested $16 million of its own capital to build a prototype jet transport in a daring gamble that the airlines and the Air Force would buy it once the aircraft had flown and proven itself. As Boeing had done with the B-17, it risked the company on one roll of the dice and won.

    Boeing engineers had initially based the jet transport on studies of improved designs of the Model 367, better known to the public as the C-97 piston-engined transport and aerial tanker. By the time Boeing progressed to the 80th iteration, the design bore no resemblance to the C-97 but, for security reasons, Boeing decided to let the jet project be known as the 367-80.

    Work proceeded quickly after the formal start of the project on May 20, 1952. The 367-80 mated a large cabin based on the dimensions of the C-97 with the 35-degree swept-wing design based on the wings of the B-47 and B-52 but considerably stiffer and incorporating a pronounced dihedral. The wings were mounted low on the fuselage and incorporated high-speed and low-speed ailerons as well as a sophisticated flap and spoiler system. Four Pratt & Whitney JT3 turbojet engines, each producing 10,000 pounds of thrust, were mounted on struts beneath the wings.

    Upon the Dash 80's first flight on July 15, 1954, (the 34th anniversary of the founding of the Boeing Company) Boeing clearly had a winner. Flying 100 miles per hour faster than the de Havilland Comet and significantly larger, the new Boeing had a maximum range of more than 3,500 miles. As hoped, the Air Force bought 29 examples of the design as a tanker/transport after they convinced Boeing to widen the design by 12 inches. Satisfied, the Air Force designated it the KC-135A. A total of 732 KC-135s were built.

    Quickly Boeing turned its attention to selling the airline industry on this new jet transport. Clearly the industry was impressed with the capabilities of the prototype 707 but never more so than at the Gold Cup hydroplane races held on Lake Washington in Seattle, in August 1955. During the festivities surrounding this event, Boeing had gathered many airline representatives to enjoy the competition and witness a fly past of the new Dash 80. To the audience's intense delight and Boeing's profound shock, test pilot Alvin "Tex" Johnston barrel-rolled the Dash 80 over the lake in full view of thousands of astonished spectators. Johnston vividly displayed the superior strength and performance of this new jet, readily convincing the airline industry to buy this new airliner.

    In searching for a market, Boeing found a ready customer in Pan American Airway's president Juan Trippe. Trippe had been spending much of his time searching for a suitable jet airliner to enable his pioneering company to maintain its leadership in international air travel. Working with Boeing, Trippe overcame Boeing's resistance to widening the Dash-80 design, now known as the 707, to seat six passengers in each seat row rather than five. Trippe did so by placing an order with Boeing for 20 707s but also ordering 25 of Douglas's competing DC-8, which had yet to fly but could accommodate six-abreast seating. At Pan Am's insistence, the 707 was made four inches wider than the Dash 80 so that it could carry 160 passengers six-abreast. The wider fuselage developed for the 707 became the standard design for all of Boeing's subsequent narrow-body airliners.

    Although the British de Havilland D.H. 106 Comet and the Soviet Tupolev Tu-104 entered service earlier, the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 were bigger, faster, had greater range, and were more profitable to fly. In October 1958 Pan American ushered the jet age into the United States when it opened international service with the Boeing 707 in October 1958. National Airlines inaugurated domestic jet service two months later using a 707-120 borrowed from Pan Am. American Airlines flew the first domestic 707 jet service with its own aircraft in January 1959. American set a new speed mark when it opened the first regularly-scheduled transcontinental jet service in 1959. Subsequent nonstop flights between New York and San Francisco took only 5 hours - 3 hours less than by the piston-engine DC-7. The one-way fare, including a $10 surcharge for jet service, was $115.50, or $231 round trip. The flight was almost 40 percent faster and almost 25 percent cheaper than flying by piston-engine airliners. The consequent surge of traffic demand was substantial.

    The 707 was originally designed for transcontinental or one-stop transatlantic range. But modified with extra fuel tanks and more efficient turbofan engines, the 707-300 Intercontinental series aircraft could fly nonstop across the Atlantic with full payload under any conditions. Boeing built 855 707s, of which 725 were bought by airlines worldwide.

    Having launched the Boeing Company into the commercial jet age, the Dash 80 soldiered on as a highly successful experimental aircraft. Until its retirement in 1972, the Dash 80 tested numerous advanced systems, many of which were incorporated into later generations of jet transports. At one point, the Dash 80 carried three different engine types in its four nacelles. Serving as a test bed for the new 727, the Dash 80 was briefly equipped with a fifth engine mounted on the rear fuselage. Engineers also modified the wing in planform and contour to study the effects of different airfoil shapes. Numerous flap configurations were also fitted including a highly sophisticated system of "blown" flaps which redirected engine exhaust over the flaps to increase lift at low speeds. Fin height and horizontal stabilizer width was later increased and at one point, a special multiple wheel low pressure landing gear was fitted to test the feasibility of operating future heavy military transports from unprepared landing fields.

    After a long and distinguished career, the Boeing 367-80 was finally retired and donated to the Smithsonian in 1972. At present, the aircraft is installated at the National Air and Space Museum's new facility at Washington Dulles International Airport.

    Gift of the Boeing Company

    Manufacturer:
    Boeing Aircraft Co.

    Date:
    1954

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Height 19' 2": Length 73' 10": Wing Span 129' 8": Weight 33,279 lbs.

    Physical Description:
    Prototype Boeing 707; yellow and brown.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | De Havilland-Canada DHC-1A Chipmunk, Pennzoil Special

    De Havilland originally designed the Chipmunk after World War II as a primary trainer to replace the venerable Tiger Moth. Among the tens of thousands of pilots who trained in or flew the Chipmunk for pleasure was veteran aerobatic and movie pilot Art Scholl. He flew his Pennzoil Special at air shows throughout the 1970s and early '80s, thrilling audiences with his skill and showmanship and proving that the design was a top-notch aerobatic aircraft.

    Art Scholl purchased the DHC-1A in 1968. He modified it to a single-seat airplane with a shorter wingspan and larger vertical fin and rudder, and made other changes to improve its performance. Scholl was a three-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, an air racer, and a movie and television stunt pilot. At air shows, he often flew with his dog Aileron on his shoulder or taxied with him standing on the wing.

    Gift of the Estate of Arthur E. Scholl

    Manufacturer:
    De Havilland Canada Ltd.

    Pilot:
    Art Scholl

    Date:
    1946

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Wingspan: 9.4 m (31 ft)
    Length: 7.9 m (26 ft)
    Height: 2.1 m (7 ft 1 in)
    Weight, empty: 717 kg (1,583 lb)
    Weight, gross: 906 kg (2,000 lb)
    Top speed: 265 km/h (165 mph)
    Engine: Lycoming GO-435, 260 hp

    Materials:
    Overall: Aluminum Monocoque

    Physical Description:
    Single-engine monoplane. Lycoming GO-435, 260 hp engine.

    Long Description:
    The de Havilland Chipmunk was originally designed as a post World War II primary trainer, a replacement for the venerable de Havilland Tiger Moth training biplane used by the air forces of the British Commonwealth throughout World War II. Among the tens of thousands of pilots who trained in or flew the Chipmunk for pleasure was veteran aerobatic and movie pilot Art Scholl. He flew his Pennzoil Special at airshows around the country throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, thrilling audiences with skill and showmanship, and proving that the design itself was a top-notch aerobatic aircraft.

    The Chipmunk was designed, initially built and flown by de Havilland Canada subsidiary, hence the very Canadian "woods country" sounding name of Chipmunk that complemented their other aircraft the Beaver, Otter, and Caribou. The prototype first flew on May 22, 1946 in Toronto. DeHavilland of Canada produced 158 Chipmunks and de Havilland in England produced 740 airplanes for training at various Royal Air Force and University Air Squadrons during the late 1940s and into the 1950s. In 1952, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh took his initial flight training in a Chipmunk. It was also used in other roles, such as light communications flights in Germany and for internal security duties on the island of Cyprus.

    The Chipmunk was an all-metal, low wing, tandem two-place, single engine airplane with a conventional tail wheel landing gear. It had fabric-covered control surfaces and a clear plastic canopy covering the pilot and passenger/student positions. The production versions of the airplane were powered by a 145 hp in-line de Havilland Gipsy Major "8" engine.

    Art Scholl purchased two Canadian-built Chipmunks from the surplus market after they became available in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He purchased the two-place DHC-1A, N114V, first and it now resides in the Experimental Aircraft Association's museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In 1968, Scholl bought another DHC-1A and began extensive modifications that resulted in almost a completely new aircraft. He covered over one cockpit to reconfigure the aircraft into a single-place aircraft and installed a (fuel injected) 260 hp Lycoming GO-435 flat-opposed 6-cylinder engine. He removed 20 inches from each wingtip and changed the airfoil section of the tip area. The reduction in span led to the need to lengthen the ailerons inboard to retain control effectiveness. This in turn reduced the flaps to where they became somewhat ineffective, and, since the flaps really were not required for the normal show and aerobatic routines, he removed them as a weight saving measure. These modifications improved the low speed tip stall characteristics and improved roll performance during aerobatic maneuvers.

    The vertical fin and rudder acquired a 25% increase in area and an increased rudder throw to manage the effects of increased engine torque and for better directional control during slow-speed aerobatic routines. The standard fixed landing gear was replaced with a retractable gear from a Bellanca airplane. The landing gear was subsequently damaged during a belly landing and resulted in a permanent wheel toe-in that was never repaired. This caused a tire drag during takeoffs and landings that led to the need for tire replacement after about 10 takeoffs and landings. Other idiosyncrasies were the pitot static tube being fashioned from a golf club shaft and a 3-inch extension added to the cockpit control stick to ease the control loads during the more severe aerobatic routines. Scholl also installed rear-view mirrors on both sides of the cowling just forward of the windscreen. He placed an RAF placard on the instrument panel as a memorial to some Vulcan bomber crew members who were his personal friends. He installed three smoke generators with red, white, and blue smoke for his show routines that included the Lomcevak tumbling/tailslide maneuver.

    Scholl designed most of these modifications himself, drawing upon his Ph.D. and his 18 years as a university professor in aeronautics. He held all pilot ratings, and was a licensed aircraft and powerplant (A&P) mechanic and an authorized FAA Inspector. He was also a three-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, an air racer (placing several times at the National Air Races at Reno), an airshow pilot, and a fixed base operator with a school of international aerobatics. In 1959, Scholl began working for legendary Hollywood pilots Frank Tallman and Paul Mantz at Tallmantz Aviation and then later formed his own movie production company, producing and performing aerial photography and stunts for many movies and television shows. At airshows, Scholl often flew with his dog Aileron, who rode the wing as Scholl taxied on the runway or sat on his shoulder in the aircraft.

    Art Scholl was killed in 1985 while filming in a Pitts Special for the movie Top Gun. Art Scholl's estate donated the Pennzoil Special, N13Y, serial number 23, and his staff delivered it to the Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland on August 18, 1987. It is currently on display at the Museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.
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    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Monocoupe 110 Special "Little Butch"

    Air show pilot and aerobatic champion W. W. "Woody" Edmondson thrilled audiences with his Monocoupe 110 Special throughout the 1940s. Edmondson, who named the airplane Little Butch for its bulldog-like appearance, placed second to "Bevo" Howard and his Bücker Jungmeister in the 1946 and '47 American Aerobatic Championships, but he won the first International Aerobatic Championship in 1948.

    The Monocoupe 110 Special was a clipped-wing version of the 110, part of a line that began with Don Luscombe's Mono 22 and continued with the 70, 90, and 110 models. The sport coupes of the 1930s, these fast and maneuverable aircraft were ideal for racers Phoebe Omlie and Johnny Livingston. Ken Hyde of Warrenton, Virginia, restored Little Butch prior to its donation to the Smithsonian.

    Gift of John J. McCulloch

    Manufacturer:
    Monocoupe Airplane Co.

    Date:
    1941

    Country of Origin:
    United States of America

    Dimensions:
    Wingspan: 6.9 m (23 ft.)
    Length: 6.2 m (20 ft. 4 in.)
    Height: 2.1 m (6 ft. 11 in.)
    Weight, empty: 449 kg (991 lbs.)
    Weight, gross: 730 kg (1,611 lbs.)
    Top speed: 313 km/h (195 mph)
    Engine: Warner 185, 200 hp

    Materials:
    Fuselage: steel tube with fabric cover

    Physical Description:
    High-wing, 2-seat, 1940's monoplane. Warner Super Scarab 185, 200hp engine. Red with white trim. Clipped wings

    Long Description:
    Woody Edmondson, airshow pilot and aerobatic champion, thrilled airshow crowds with his Monocoupe 110 Special Little Butch throughout the late 1940s. The Monocoupe 110 Special was a special design built for racing and aerobatics from the basic Monocoupe of the 20s and 30s, the airborne sport coupe of the era.

    The original Monocoupe design came from Luscombe's desire to build an enclosed two-place aircraft for business or person use, something lighter and more comfortable than open-cockpit biplanes. Luscombe was somewhat influenced by the Belgian Delmonty-Poncelet Limousine, a high-wing monoplane with a side-by-side enclosed cabin and the reverse curve rear fuselage lines that were to become one of the signature identifier features of the Monocoupes. Luscombe founded Central States Aero Company and hired Clayton Folkerts, a young self-taught designer. In 1928, the Mono 22 was the first light aircraft awarded an Aircraft Type Certificate (number 22) and in 1930 it was fitted with a Velie M-5 engine to become the Model 70. Central States Aero Company became Mono Aircraft, Inc., of Moline, Illinois, a subsidiary of the Velie Motors Company, and the Model 113 and the Model 90 followed.

    The Model 110 was basically a Model 90 with a 110 hp Warner Scarab radial engine. The Model 110 Special, a clipped-wing version of the 110, grew out of racing pilot Johnny Livingston's desire to have a faster aircraft for the National Air Races. In 1931 his 110 was streamlined with fairings and wheel pants, and in 1932 Livingston asked Monocoupe to shorten the wingspan from the standard 32 feet to 20 feet, reduce the size and shape of the tail, and install a larger 145 hp Warner Scarab engine. The factory shortened the wingspan to just over 23 feet, retaining sufficient wing area to sustain safe flight during high-speed pylon turns. The changes improved the speed from 150 mph to 220 mph. Over several years, a total of ten Specials emerged, seven were built or modified by the factory, and three were modified by homebuilders.

    The Monocoupe 110 Special Little Butch, N36Y, was built at the factory in Melbourne, Florida, and test flown on February 3, 1941, by then-Monocoupe president Clare Bunch (Don Luscombe had left the company in 1933). The original base color of the airplane was Monocoupe Blue with an ivory trim. W. J. Coddington bought the aircraft on March 5, 1941, but severely damaged the airplane in a landing accident and returned it to the factory for repairs and resale. Guy Gully of Farrell, Pennsylvania, bought the aircraft on November 16, 1941, but had an accident and sold it to J. D. Reed of Houston, Texas, on August 3, 1943. Reed sold it on March 16, 1944 to W.W. "Woody" Edmondson of Lynchburg, Virginia, who named it Little Butch because of its bulldog-like appearance. Edmondson initially used the airplane for transportation between airports in Virginia and North Carolina where he operated government-sponsored pilot flight training programs during the war. In 1946 he re-entered the airshow circuit and installed a Warner 185 hp Super Scarab. This engine had a pressure carburetor for inverted flying and had a Koppers Aeromatic controllable pitch propeller. He often flew two or three air shows a day all scheduled close to Lynchburg so that he could fly, in his business suit, from one to another.

    One day Edmondson severely tested the structural integrity of the airplane by making a high-speed inverted pass and pulling up into a series of vertical rolls. This maneuver always subjected the aircraft to severe negative "g" loading conditions for which the airplane was not originally designed. It went into a series of uncontrollable snap rolls and ended up inverted at about 2,000 feet. Edmondson recovered control but then noticed that the right wing struts had an elbow bend of several inches in them. He reinforced the struts by nesting the next size struts within the existing size streamlined tubing.

    In 1946 and 1947 at the Miami Air Manuevers, Edmondson placed second in the aerobatics competition to Bevo Howard in his Bucker Jungmeister, which is also in the NASM collection, but he won in 1948 when the first International Aerobatics Championships were held. Sponsored by Gulf Oil Corporation, he continued to use N36Y on the air-show circuit throughout the east and midwest until 1951. Edmondson sold the airplane to Johnny Foyle, an air show pilot of South Boston, Virginia, on August 22, 1960, who twice flipped the airplane over on landings. Foyle was killed in another airplane accident and John McCulloch, an Eastern Airlines captain from Naples, Florida, bought N36Y on June 18, 1965. McCulloch shipped it to Florida to be rebuilt by Monocoupe specialist C.V. Stewart and then test-flew the rebuilt airplane on March 8, 1966.

    McCulloch flew Little Butch throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s from his home in Virginia to airshows all across the eastern half of the U.S, and he frequently flew at the Flying Circus summer air shows in Bealeton, Virginia. McCulloch claims that he is the only owner who never put the airplane on its back. Wishing to preserve this historic and rare airplane, he asked Ken Hyde of Warrenton, Virginia, to restore the aircraft to Edmondson's red and white paint scheme. The airplane flew again in October 1974 and it was then lent to the Shannon Air Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia. McCulloch donated Little Butch to NASM on December 29, 1981.

    • • •

    Quoting from Wikipedia | Monocoupe 110 Special

    The Monocoupe 110 Special was a United States sporting and racing aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s.

    The Monocoupe 110 was developed from the Monocoupe 90 using the higher-powered 110 h.p. Warner Scarab radial engine housed in a cowling with bulges to accommodate the larger power unit.

    The Monocoupe 110 Special variant of 1931 was built to meet the needs of racing pilots. The wingspan was shortened from the standard 32 ft to 23 ft, a 125 h.p. Warner Scarab was installed and fairings and wheel spats added. Maximum speed increased from 150 mph to 220 mph. Seven of the Specials were built by Monocoupe and three further aircraft were modified to a similar standard by homebuilders.

    The last Model 110 Special to be completed in 1941 was N36Y "Little Butch", which re-entered the airshow circuit in 1946, powered by a 185 h.p. Warner Super Scarab engine. The aircraft flew displays until 1981 and was then donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
  • See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

    Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Concorde, Fox Alpha, Air France

    The first supersonic airliner to enter service, the Concorde flew thousands of passengers across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound for over 25 years. Designed and built by Aérospatiale of France and the British Aviation Corporation, the graceful Concorde was a stunning technological achievement that could not overcome serious economic problems.

    In 1976 Air France and British Airways jointly inaugurated Concorde service to destinations around the globe. Carrying up to 100 passengers in great comfort, the Concorde catered to first class passengers for whom speed was critical. It could cross the Atlantic in fewer than four hours - half the time of a conventional jet airliner. However its high operating costs resulted in very high fares that limited the number of passengers who could afford to fly it. These problems and a shrinking market eventually forced the reduction of service until all Concordes were retired in 2003.

    In 1989, Air France signed a letter of agreement to donate a Concorde to the National Air and Space Museum upon the aircraft's retirement. On June 12, 2003, Air France honored that agreement, donating Concorde F-BVFA to the Museum upon the completion of its last flight. This aircraft was the first Air France Concorde to open service to Rio de Janeiro, Washington, D.C., and New York and had flown 17,824 hours.

    Gift of Air France.

    Country of Origin
    United Kingdom and France

    Date
    1969

    Manufacturer:
    Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale
    British Aircraft Corporation

    Dimensions:
    Wingspan: 25.56 m (83 ft 10 in)
    Length: 61.66 m (202 ft 3 in)
    Height: 11.3 m (37 ft 1 in)
    Weight, empty: 79,265 kg (174,750 lb)
    Weight, gross: 181,435 kg (400,000 lb)
    Top speed: 2,179 km/h (1350 mph)
    Engine: Four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk 602, 17,259 kg (38,050 lb) thrust each
    Manufacturer: Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale, Paris, France, and British Aircraft Corporation, London, United Kingdom

    Physical Description:
    Aircaft Serial Number: 205. Including four (4) engines, bearing respectively the serial number: CBE066, CBE062, CBE086 and CBE085.
    Also included, aircraft plaque: "AIR FRANCE Lorsque viendra le jour d'exposer Concorde dans un musee, la Smithsonian Institution a dores et deja choisi, pour le Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace de Washington, un appariel portant le couleurs d'Air France."

    Long Description:
    It began with a dream - a dream of a new age in air travel where the boundaries of time and distance were to have been shattered forever. The dream of supersonic passenger air travel was first conceived in the 1950s was developed in the 1960s and came to fruition in the mid 1970s. For 27 years, the graceful Anglo-French Concorde carried world travelers across the Atlantic Ocean in great comfort at twice the speed of sound. While the dream was real, it was so only for the world's privileged elites. It was not a machine for the average citizen. High development costs and high operating costs prevented the Concorde from achieving the dream of practical supersonic flight for the public. But for a while, the Concorde looked promising - it looked like the future.

    In the 1950s air travel was revolutionized with the advent of jet propulsion. First the de Havilland Comet and later, the Boeing 707, greatly increased the speed of travel from 350 to over 600 mile per hour. Airlines and customers flocked to the new jet airliners as travel times were cut dramatically and the seat-mile costs to the airlines dropped. The conclusion drawn by engineers, managers, and politicians seemed clear: the faster the better.

    In Europe, enterprising designers in Great Britain and France were independently outlining their plans for a supersonic transport (SST). In November 1962, in a move reminiscent of the Entente Cordiale of 1904, the two nations agreed to pool their resources and share the risks in building this new aircraft. They also hoped to highlight Europe's growing economic unity as well as its aerospace expertise in a dramatic and risky bid to supplant the United States as the leader in commercial aviation. The aircraft's name reflected the shared hopes of each nation for success through cooperation - Concorde.

    Quickly the designers at the British Aircraft Corporation and Sud Aviation, later reorganized as Aerospatiale, settled on a slim, graceful form featuring an ogival delta wing that possessed excellent low speed and high speed handling characteristics. Power was to be provided by four massive Olympus turbojet engines built by Rolls-Royce and SNECMA. Realizing that this first generation SST would cater to the wealthier passenger, Concorde's designers created an aircraft that carried only 100 seats in tight four-across rows. They assumed that first class passengers would flock to the Concorde to save valuable time while economy class passengers would remain in larger, but slower subsonic airliners.

    Despite mounting costs that constantly threatened the program, construction continued with exactly 50 percent of each aircraft built in each country. The first Concorde was ready for flight in 1969. With famed French test pilot Andre Turcot at the controls, Concorde 001, which was assembled at Toulouse, took to the air on March 2, 1969. Although the Soviets had flown their version of the SST first, the Tupolev Tu-144 had been rushed into production and suffered from technological problems that could never be solved. Following the successful first flight a total of four prototype and preproduction Concordes were built and thoroughly tested and by 1976, the first of 16 production Concordes were ready for service. Twenty were built in all.

    But all was not rosy. During this time America sought to produce its own bigger and faster SST. After a contentious political debate, the federal government refused to back the project in 1971 citing environmental problems, particularly noise, the sonic boom, and engine emissions that were thought to harm the upper atmosphere. Anti SST political activity in the United States delayed the granting of landing rights, particularly into New York City, causing further delays.

    More ominously for Concorde, no airlines placed orders for this advanced SST. Despite initial enthusiasm, the airlines dropped their purchase options once they calculated the operating costs of the Concorde. Consequently only Air France and British Airways - the national airlines of their respective countries - flew the 16 production aircraft and only after purchasing them from their governments at virtually no cost.

    Nevertheless, in January 1976, Concorde service began and, by November, these graceful SSTs were flying to the United States. A technological masterpiece, each Concorde smoothly transitioned to supersonic flight with no discernable disturbance to the passenger. In service, the Concorde would cruise at twice the speed of sound between 55,000 and 60,000 feet - so high that passengers could actually see the curvature of the Earth. The Concorde was so fast that, despite the outside temperature of less than -56 degrees Celsius, the aircraft's aluminum skin would heat up to over 120 degrees Celsius while the Concorde actually expanded 8 inches in length with the interior of the window gradually growing quite warm to the touch. And all the while each passenger was carefully attended to while enjoying a magnificent meal and superb service. Transatlantic flight time was cut in half with the average flight taking less than four hours.

    For the next 27 years supersonic travel was the norm for the world's business and entertainment elite. But eventually the harsh reality of the economic marketplace forced Air France and British Airways to cut back their already limited service. Routes from London and Paris to Washington, Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, Miami, Singapore, and other locations were cut leaving only the transatlantic service to New York. And even on most of these flights, the Concorde flew half full with many of the passenger flying as guests of the airlines or as upgrades. With the average round trip ticket costing more than $12,000, few could afford to fly this magnificent aircraft. Operating costs escalated as parts became more difficult to acquire and, with an average of one ton of fuel consumed per seat, the already small market for the Concorde gradually grew smaller.

    Despite the excellence of the Concorde's design, its operators realized that its days were numbered because of its high costs. In 1989, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, the French government sent a copy of the Declaration of the Rights of Man to the U.S. Appropriately, this famous document was delivered on the Concorde and with it a promise from Air France to give one of these aircraft to the people of the United States through its eventual inclusion into the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

    Fourteen years later that promised was fulfilled. In April of 2003 Air France president Jean Cyril Spinetta informed the Museum in April that Concorde service would end on May 31st following the decision by the aircraft's manufacturer to stop supporting the fleet. As planned, on June 12 Air France delivered its most treasured Concorde, F-BVFA, to Washington Dulles International Airport on its last supersonic flight for the airline. This aircraft was the first production Concorde delivered to Air France, the first Concorde to open service between Paris and New York, Washington, and Rio de Janeiro and had amassed 17,824 hours in the air. Onboard were 60 passengers including Gilles de Robien, the French Minister for Capital Works, Transport, Housing, Tourism, and Marine Affairs, Mr. Spinetta, and several past Air France presidents as well as former Concorde pilots and crew members. In a dignified yet bittersweet ceremony Mr. Spinetta signed over Concorde "Fox Alpha" to the Museum for permanent safekeeping.

    The Concorde is now prominently displayed at the Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

    • • •

    Quoting from Wikipedia | Concorde:

    The Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport (SST). It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years.

    Among other destinations, Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from London Heathrow (British Airways) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (Air France) to New York JFK, profitably flying these routes at record speeds, in less than half the time of other airliners.

    With only 20 aircraft built, their development represented a substantial economic loss, in addition to which Air France and British Airways were subsidised by their governments to buy them. As a result of the type’s only crash on 25 July 2000 and other factors, its retirement flight was on 26 November 2003.

    Concorde's name reflects the development agreement between the United Kingdom and France. In the UK, any or all of the type—unusual for an aircraft—are known simply as "Concorde". The aircraft is regarded by many as an aviation icon.[4]

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: View of south hangar, including B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay", a glimpse of the Air France Concorde, and many others

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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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