National Museum of Naval Aviation — Part 4

Before we get started, a bit of information. I’ll be posting my own photos but — whenever possible — the text will include a link to the Museum’s own description for the plane in question. Also whenever possible, I’ll include an additional link (usually, from Wikipedia).

It’s just as expedient — if so inclined — going to the Museum’s own website and browsing their collection. This post is mostly for me since I went to the trouble of taking and processing the photos. 

For them not interested in reading, you can go directly to the SmugMug Gallery HERE. All the planes are identified and a link provided to the Museum’s listing. 

For a slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window. There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds OR you can manually control the transition by clicking on the < and > symbols to the left or right of the photo. Note: hitting the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the  < and > keys to navigate the photos as this will pause the slideshow. Full screen gives you a better experience (in my opinion).

If you rather, you can continue from where we left off in Part 3 by scrolling through the rest of the post. For them interested, the links to Part 1 and Part 2.


First off, the F4U-4 Corsair . . . 

From the description at the Museum’s website:

“One of the most recognizable airplanes in history owing to its unique inverted gull wing design, the F4U remained in continual production from 1942 until 1952, with more than 12,500 examples of the aircraft delivered. One of the Navy and Marine Corps’ finest fighters, Corsairs shot down 2,140 Japanese aircraft during World War II and in the Korean War a Marine pilot became the first to down a MiG-15 jet while flying a propeller-driven aircraft.”

As mentioned in previous posts, the gull-wing design came about as a result of having to keep the nose of the plane high off the ground due to the large propeller. Rather than extending the landing struts, the decision was made to drop the wings. Here’s the Wikipedia entry for the Vought F4U Corsair.

Next up, the FF-1 . . . “Fifi” to her friends.

Here’s one interesting bit from the Museum’s write-up . . . 

“It was just two months after the stock market crash in October 1929 that six men led by Leroy Randle Grumman, a former naval aviator, formed the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation…”

Click HERE to learn more about the Grumman FF.

The next plane, the F3F-2 was the last biplane fighter delivered to any American military air arm, in this case, the Navy. 

It was retired before it could see service in World War II, and was first replaced by the Brewster F2A Buffalo

You can read the Wikipedia entry for the Grumman F3F HERE.

The Brewster Buffalo turned out to be a disappointment and was quickly replaced by the F4F-3 Wildcat.

From the Museum’s entry:

“First flown in February 1939, the rugged and heavily armed F4F Wildcat became the Navy/Marine Corps premier fighter until late 1942. This F4F-3 is displayed in the markings in which it was originally painted when it flew from the carrier Wasp (CV-7) during the Neutrality Patrols protecting U.S. shipping in the western Atlantic Ocean in the months before the United States formally entered World War II.”

The Wildcat was ordered by both the French and British but France fell before they could be delivered. The planes went, instead, to Britain. 

The Wikipedia entry for the Grumman F4F Wildcat has this entry:

“In the European theater, the Wildcat scored its first combat victory on Christmas Day 1940, when a land-based Martlet destroyed a Junkers Ju 88 bomber over the Scapa Flow naval base. This was the first combat victory by a US-built fighter in British service in World War II. The type also pioneered combat operations from the smaller escort carriers.”

Notice the plane hanging above the Wildcat . . . 

It’s the GB-2 Traveller.

From the Museum’s entry:

“…the Navy purchased a total of 342 GB-2s powered by the R-985-50 engine of 450 horsepower. Named “Traveller,” the GB-2 served as both a liaison aircraft and as a transport to take ferry pilots to aircraft factories around the U.S. for pick up and delivery of new aircraft to the fleet.”

The Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing was well-liked by pilots and . . . 

In March 2003, Plane & Pilot magazine named the Staggerwing one of its Top Ten All-Time Favorite aircraft.[3]

In the April 2007 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine, it was reported that the Staggerwing was voted by nearly 3000 AOPA members as the Most Beautiful Airplane. “Members said it’s the perfect balance between ‘muscular strength and delicate grace,’ and rated it highly for its ‘classic lines and symmetry.'”

The November 2012 issue of Aviation History magazine ranked the Staggerwing fifth in their top 12 list of the Worlds Most Beautiful Airplanes. Stating that “Some might think ‘the Stag’ ungainly, backward wings and all, yet it has become the prime example of vintage beauty.” and “…the aftward upper wing led to the big, steeply raked windscreen that is also a key element of what some have called an art deco classic.”

Here’s the museum’s placard . . . 

Next up, we have the N3N “Yellow Peril” in two configurations; Floatplane and Conventional Landing Gear.

From the Museum’s description:

“Called “Yellow Peril” because of its color scheme and principal use by inexperienced flight students, the Naval Aircraft Factory’s N3N primary trainer was extremely rugged and easy to maintain. The N3N operated in both wheeled and float configurations, introducing hundreds of students to Naval Aviation, even after World War II.”

You can read the Wikipedia entry HERE.

Next up is a pretty famous aircraft, the SB2U Vindicator. Not so much for its exploits but rather as it’s the only one of its kind left. 

From the museum’s description:

“Adequate for the time, 58 SB2U-2s were ordered in 1938, and 58 SB2U-3s in 1940. The SB2U-3s went to the Marine Corps where, already obsolete, they suffered very heavy losses at the Battle of Midway. The aircraft displayed is an SB2U-2 recovered from Lake Michigan, the only known example of the aircraft in existence.”


Next up, the P-40B Tomahawk sporting recognizable colors.

From the Museum’s description:

“Never included in Naval Aviation’s inventory, the P-40B Tomahawk is displayed to honor those Naval Aviators who joined Colonel Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers. Entering combat in December 1941, the AVG quickly gained fame flying against overwhelming odds. As America entered the war, and U.S. units moved into China, the AVG was summarily disbanded on 4 July 1942. In its short life, however, the AVG shot down 299 enemy aircraft and destroyed another 153 on the ground.” 

From the Museum’s description:

“Though initially planned for three groups, the AVG actually fielded only one before America placed a freeze on the release of active duty personnel. Among the Naval Aviators who resigned their commissions to fly with the AVG were David Lee “Tex” Hill, Chuck Older, Dick Rossi, and Gregory Boyington, to name a few. In fact, the majority of the pilots in the AVG were Naval Aviators. “Tex” Hill became one of the top aces in the AVG, Older was a double ace with both the AVG and Army Air Forces 23d Pursuit Group, and Boyington returned to the Marines to become a four-time ace and command the famous “Black Sheep” of Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 214. Another former Naval Aviator who served in the AVG, James H. Howard, eventually became an Army Air Forces pilot and received the Medal of Honor for actions over Europe in 1944.”

From Wikipedia’s entry for the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk:

“The P-40’s lack of a two-speed supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. However, between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and China. It also had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska, and Italy. The P-40’s performance at high altitudes was not as important in those theaters, where it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort, and fighter-bomber. Although it gained a postwar reputation as a mediocre design, suitable only for close air support, more recent research including scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons indicates that this was not the case: the P-40 performed surprisingly well as an air superiority fighter, at times suffering severe losses, but also inflicting a very heavy toll on enemy aircraft. Based on war-time victory claims, over 200 Allied fighter pilots from 7 different nations (England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, the United States, and the Soviet Union) became aces flying the P-40, with at least 20 double aces mostly in the North Africa, CBI, Pacific and Russian Front theaters. The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter.”

Before we go on, another view of “Fifi” . . . 

Onwards to one of the most famous and successful aircraft in history . . . the RR-5 Tri-Motor

“… the famed Ford Tri-Motor was used by more than 100 airlines worldwide, and many operated for more than a half century. Nine Tri-Motors, in five different models, were operated by the Navy and Marine Corps between 1927 and 1935. Designated RR-2 through 5 by the Navy, the first example was ordered in March 1927.

Derived from designs by William B. Stout, the famous Ford Tri-Motor came into being following Henry Ford’s purchase of the Stout Aircraft Company. Designated the 4-AT, the design followed an earlier, unsuccessful aircraft, the 3-AT, which engineers Harold Hicks and Tom Towle reworked to produce the iconic aircraft. The resulting Tri-Motor went from the drawing boards to flight in just over four months, its first flight in June 1926.”

The Navy was primarily interested in the plane for cargo and transport duties.

“While very useful to the Navy and Marine Corps, the Tri-Motor is best known for its contribution to the growth of U.S. commercial aviation. It, and the Curtiss-Wright Condor, made commercial airlines practical and profitable a decade before the advent of Douglas’ DC series or the Boeing 247.”

That certainly looks much more comfortable than today’s cramped passenger cabins, I tell you what. 

From the Ford Trimotor Wikipedia entry:

“In the late 1920s, the Ford Aircraft Division was reputedly the “largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the World.”

Before proceeding, here’s a shot of the Flying Tigers iconic emblem.

Next up, the N2Y . . . 

From the write-up:

“Six specially-equipped Consolidated Model 14 Husky Junior two-seat trainers were purchased by the Navy in 1930, and assigned to the rigid airships Los Angeles (ZR-3) and Akron (ZRS-4). Rigged with skyhooks, the trainers were used to familiarize pilots with in-flight launching and recovery from the huge airships’ “trapeze” gear, preparing them for operational employment flying Curtiss’ F9C Sparrowhawk fighter. After Los Angeles was retired in 1932, and Akron crashed in 1933, The N2Ys were assigned to Macon (ZRS-5).”

The idea of hooking up to the underside of a blimp is pretty ingenious . . . and a bit crazy. Click to read about Parasite Aircrafts

It looks like someone didn’t heed the “NO STEP” warning . . . 

This next aircraft is a replica of the VE-7 Bluebird . . . 

“Built by the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation, this aircraft is a replica of the VE-7 “Bluebird,” so named because of its colorful paint scheme. The Bluebird was not only the first VE-7 produced by Lewis and Vought Corporation, precursor to the company that built the famed F4U Corsair, it was the first airplane ever built by the company.”

From the Wikipedia entry:

“The Vought VE-7 “Bluebird” was an early biplane of the United States. First flying in 1917, it was designed as a two-seat trainer for the United States Army, then adopted by the United States Navy as its very first fighter aircraft. In 1922, a VE-7 became the first plane to take off from an American aircraft carrier.”

Some might remember the Curtis NC-4 from the previous post. This next photo is a shot from behind and to the side of the big tri-motor.

I’m not sure why I don’t have a decent photo of the F6C-1 Hawk . . . 

I have a front shot . . . 

I have the placard . . . 

And, I have another front view . . . 

Anyway, from the write-up:

“An exceptional Golden Age fighter and part of Curtiss’ famous Hawk-series, the F6C Hawk served a critical role in developing the tactic of dive-bombing, being one of the earliest aircraft with an airframe strong enough to make the steep dives necessary for accurate strikes. During World War II, dive-bombing attacks such as those developed in the ’20s and ’30s were key to destroying the carrier force of the Imperial Japanese Navy.”

Here’s the Wikipedia entry for the Curtiss F6C Hawk.

These posts take a fair amount of time because of the links so I’ll stop here and I’ll try to get the next post up fairly soon. 

Thanks for reading.

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