SmugMug Appreciation Sunday — No. 054

In brief, these posts serve to introduce new readers — and reintroduce regular readers — to photos from the early days of this blog and, occasionally, to photos from days before this blog came into existence.

Today’s stroll on memory lane is another quick one . . .

The original post for these photos is HERE, and the photos are from THIS Gallery.

These photos are from ten years ago, so some of the items might not currently be on display.

I’m referring to photos from the National Air & Space Museum, A. K. A. the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Note: I just found out that all the links in the Smithsonian catalog changed. That means that — in the original posts and the previous Sunday posts about the museum — any link referencing the museum’s database will return a dead link error (error 404). I’m not going back through the original or recent Sunday posts to update the links. One, because it’s a lot of work, and two, because no one mentioned it. If you’re looking for the Smithsonian’s entry for a plane, just search under the name.

The Junkers Ju 52 was primarily a European airliner (one of the most successful European airliners ever made), but also served briefly as a bomber.  Its main job was to carry people around.  Sometimes it carried people to places where they could kill others or be killed themselves.

This next plane does not have a military history that I could find.  It was a Depression-era-designed glider kit sold for $385, or $750 ready-to-fly (1938 price).  It is a Bowlus BA-100 Baby Albatross.

Since the last plane probably was not responsible for killing anyone but some of their pilots, I give you a legendary deliverer of death.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”

I was glad to see this plane here, and all in one piece.  Last I had seen her, she was in pieces, part of a politically-correct display at the Air & Space Museum at the National Mall.

The Enola Gay carried Little Boy to the skies over Hiroshima, and set it free . . . ushering us into an era of unprecedented potential in human-caused destruction; The Atomic Age.

I don’t remember when I first saw these next planes . . . probably a war movie, back at a time when I was watching TV an inordinate number of hours.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

The P-38 Lightning is my favorite of the WW II era planes, and possibly of all planes, save perhaps the SR-71.  Maybe it’s a tie.

Northrop P-61C Black Widow

Even the name is ominous. The P-61 Black Widow was designed for night interception of opposing aircraft and was the first to use radar.

On the night of 14 August 1945, a P-61B of the 548th Night Fight Squadron named “Lady in the Dark” was unofficially credited with the last Allied air victory before VJ Day.

Sometimes the translations of Japanese names vary depending on the source, but as far as I can tell, the name Gekko means “Moonlight”.  

Fitting for a plane that was a night fighter.  Not so apt for its later, more desperate, missions . . . the kamikaze missions.

Next is the only “push-pull” plane I’ve ever seen or heard of (I presume there are others, but I can’t be bothered to check).

Dornier Do 335 Pfeil

French ace Pierre Clostermann claimed the first Allied combat encounter with a Pfeil in April 1945. In his book The Big Show (pages 273-274), he describes leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron RAF over northern Germany when he intercepted a lone Do 335 flying at maximum speed at treetop level. Detecting the British aircraft, the German pilot reversed course to evade. Despite the Tempest’s considerable low altitude speed, the RAF fighters were not able to catch up or even get into firing position.

This aircraft was captured by Allied forces at the plant on 22 April 1945. The aircraft was test flown from a grass runway at Oberwiesenfeld, near Munich, to Cherbourg, France, while escorted by two P-51s. The Do 335 easily out-distanced the escorting Mustangs and arrived at Cherbourg 45 minutes before the P-51s.

Ever heard of an underwater seaplane? A smiling one, at that?

For them who won’t bother checking out the original post, here’s a bit more about that plane (like the Pfiel, another “sole survivor” from the era). Warning: lots of words ahead!

In December 1941, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, proposed constructing a large fleet of submarine aircraft carriers (designated STo or sen-toku — special submarine) whose purpose was to mount aerial attacks against American coastal cities. The submarines would surface to launch their aircraft by catapult, submerge to avoid detection, then surface again to retrieve the aircrews who would ditch their planes nearby. By June 1942, the plan was to build a fleet of eighteen such subs. This was later cut to nine, then five, and finally just three.

To equip the submarine aircraft carriers, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service requested that Aichi design a folding attack aircraft with a range of 1,500 km (810 nmi) and a speed of 555 km/h (300 km). Aichi was already manufacturing, under license, the D4Y1 Suisei (Judy), a relatively small single-engined carrier dive bomber with exceptionally clean lines and high performance. Detailed engineering studies commenced in an effort to modify the Susei for use aboard the I-400 submarines. The difficulties in doing so were eventually judged insurmountable, and a completely new design was initiated.

As fitting a seaplane that would spend time underwater, it has a definite shark-like appearance. Side note . . . Seiran is translated as “Mountain Haze” in the Wiki, but the Smithsonian has it as “Clear Sky Storm”. Perhaps both are correct, but if a Japanese reader can confirm either or both, it would be much appreciated.  Arigato, with a bar atop the “oh”.

Aichi’s final design, designated AM-24 by Aichi and given the military designation M6A1, was a two-seat, low-winged monoplane powered by a 1,050 kW (1,410 hp) Aichi AE1P Atsuta 30 engine.

The system became operational in March of 1945.  On July 1945, a small flotilla consisting of two STo submarines each carrying three Seirans, and two AM-type submarines, left Japan for the American base at Ulithi Atoll, where forces were massing in preparation for attacks on the Japanese Home Islands.

On 16 August, the flagship I-401 received a radio message from headquarters, informing them of Japan’s surrender and ordering them to return to Japan. All six Seirans on board the two submarines, having been disguised for the operation as American planes in violation of the laws of war, were catapulted into the sea with their wings and stabilizers folded (for the I-401) or pushed overboard (for the I-400, the other STo sub) to prevent capture.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine.

It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons. In its fighter-bomber ground-attack role, it could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds; over half the weight the B-17 bomber could carry on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range).

Here’s a monochrome version of the plane with the Enola Gay forming a backdrop.

The US built more P-47 than any other fighter plane.

The original post contains more information about more planes, and I’ll leave that to them who are interested.

I will end with what I said was my favorite plane (maybe tied with the Lightning) ever.

The SR-71<<link . . . if you’re a fan, you might want to click on that link.

There are seven eight posts documenting my visit to the museum, and I’ll cover one each week until done.

Note: the transition is set to 4sec (gives time to read the captions), but — if you move the cursor anywhere within the photo — you’ll see a pause button on the lower left, and, once paused, you can use the left and right arrows on both sides of the photo to navigate the slideshow. It will make it easier to read the captions.

I highly suggest watching these slideshows in full-screen mode, but that’s just me.

You’ll exit the slideshow and find yourself in SmugMug if you click anywhere in the photo instead of the pause button. You can then scroll through the photos or interact in other ways.

Slideshow of the Air and Space Museum Part 4 Gallery — (45 photos)

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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