Sunday, May 12, 2013

Udvar-Hazy Pt. 2

So I've got a bit more free time right this second so here' more Udvar-Hazy museum pics.

We'll start with "Hey, what's this?"

If you smugly identify it as a World War Two German V-1 "Buzz Bomb", you'd be...wrong. (And right, but still technically wrong.) This one is a post-war American version known as a Loon, shown here in US. Navy markings. Yep--we cribbed the whole thing from the Germans, but then we got most of our early space program from them too, courtesy of our ability to snag most of their rocket scientists at war's end before the Russians could. So it's hardly a coincidence that our late 1940's/early 1950's rockets looked a lot like early 1940's German rockets.

And here's another German innovation that, Frankly, I could do without flying. It's the Me163 Komet rocket plane.

This little thing was a rocket-powered glider. It would take off under rocket power, climb like lightning to altitude to engage Allied bombers, then, glide back home. It's rocket motor could get it to 40,000 feet in tree and a half minutes, but it only carried enough fuel for eight minutes of flight, at which point it transitioned back into a rock with stubby wings. It landed violently on a belly skid, as the wheels dropped off after launch. Soetimes it would flip over, or remnants of it's highly-volatile fuel in it's tank would blow up on impact. Add to this it's propensity for sometimes exploding during engine start, and you can see why it wasn't very popular with German pilots.

Here's a nifty little bird also flown by guys with big brass ones. It's a 1951 Cessna O-1A "Bird Dog" used for Forward Air Control (FAC) operations in Vietnam.

These started out as general-purpose light aircraft in Korea but really came into their own in Vietnam. The guy flying this flew low and slow over the jungle and looked for the enemy, who usualy shot at him when he found them. If he survived that, he'd direct the jet fighters to come down and paste the bad guys by diving back down and marking their positions with smoke rockets. These little planes weren't even remotely bullet-resistant and the enemy came to learn quickly that the bombers couldn't strike without this guy directing them, so shooting down this low, slow ex-civilian trainer became kind of a priority for them.

It's got a Continental O-470 210hp engine under it's cowl, making it brassier than my Cessna by a fair bit. I want one of these.

And on the larger end of the spectrum, home-field pride makes me highlight this particular Lockheed C-121C flew with Military Airlift Command and various Guard units for 21 year, making numerous ocean crossings back when that was a big deal for a prop plane. It served at one time with the 167th Airlift Wing at my airport, Shepherd Field in Martinsburg, WV, and that's whose colors she's wearing now.

Sa-loot the Super-Connie!

Here's a World War Two sweetie: A Northrop P-61C "Black Widow" night fighter.

This one came along right at war's end and was used briefly for weather research and aerodynamic testing, and quickly surplussed out. When it was turned over to the Smithsonian at Andrews AFB in Maryland in 1954, it only had 530 total flying hours on it's engines. It then sat in storage until 2006, when it was added to the collection here. I'm thinking that this plane should fly more, and I'm probably just the guy to do it, if anyone from the Smithsonian's reading this.

Well, my company's awake now, so I've got to run. More later!


  1. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Great pictures

  2. Holy flying bat-puckey, they've got a P-61!!!! I didn't think there were any more in existence these days!!!

    One of the things that really pissed me off about the movie "The Great Raid" was that it followed (surprisingly enough) really close to the book "Ghost Soldiers", highlighting the very early Army Rangers' raid to free Allied POW's from the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan in the Philippines. The problem I have with the movie is that, in order to cross several hundred yards of dried up rice paddy IN BROAD EFFIN' DAYLIGHT (so that they would be in place for a night-time attack), the Rangers requested a diversionary flight over the camp to get all the guards looking up. The Army Air Forces complied by sending over a P-61, which was normally used for night interceptions and very rarely used during the day at that point. The movie used a C-47. Seriously? C'mon! You couldn't even CGI a Black Widow in there?!?

  3. Yep, that bird is now fully correct in paint. The first time '"I" saw it there, it still had the NACA logos on it. Story is, a former pilot wanted to get married at UH, told them if they would put a P-61 on display for his wedding, he'd donate $500K to them. Presto!!! :-)

  4. If they loan you the bird and you need a gunner for the remote turret....

  5. Hi Murphy;

    I had taken my son to that place this past summer and it was a great trip. 15 minutes from dulles on shuttle. Spent the day exploring the place and checking out the Discovery. Very worth the trip. I enjoyed looking at the origional "Dash 80" or the forst 707...kinda and the concorde was there and a bunch of other stuff.