Tuesday, December 02, 2014

More Udvar-Hazy

This heavily-modified North American P-51C has quite a history. It was first owned by Hollywood stunt pilot legend and racer Paul Mantz, who used it to win the Bendix air races in 1946 and 1947 before setting a transcontinental speed record with it. Mantz then sold it to Charles Blair, who used it to set more speed records on flights from New York to London and from Norway across the North Pole to Alaska.
And here on the other side is a stock Grumman F6F Hellcat.
This one was actually used to gather data in the early atomic bomb tests...but they say that it's not really radioactive any more.
Not far away is this Grumman G-22 aerobatic plane, once flown by Al Williams, air show pilot for Gulf Oil. He last flew it on it's final flight into Washington National Airport for donation to the Smithsonian in 1948.
Turning around, you look down on one of the most famous aircraft in military history, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, one of the two aircraft that ended World War Two.
She's huge, but this building is so big that she fits in here just fine. Here's the tail-gunner position below her rudder.
And beneath her huge wings we see this Republic P-47 on one side:
And a Japanese Kawanishi N1K2 Shiden Kai "George" behind that.
On the other side of Enola Gay, there's this beautiful Lockheed P-38J, shown in it's "preserved, not restored" condition to reflect the way that she looked when she came out of storage.
Behind that is a classic Hawker Hurricane that Old AFSarge and I both drooled over for a while.
Old Sarge put it best: "The Spitfires got all the credit, but the Hurricanes did all the work."
It kills me knowing that there are runways right outside. Pity that there's no door open to them or me and this Hurricane might have to skate out. Hell, ANY of these fighters would be a joy to fly, even for just a few minutes.

And speaking of aviation gems that just beg to be flown, This ultra-rare P-61 "Black Widow", still wearing her old NACA colors, has a special spot in the collection...and in my heart.
Just a baby when she ended her flying career and came here; she only had 531 hours on her engines. That's not nearly enough and I'll be starting a petition to convince the museum to let me take her up for a few more hops.
The twin-engined Japanese plane in front of the P-61 in this last picture is a Nakajima J1N1 "Irving" night-fighter, the only one still existing.

There will be more later. Stay tuned. And special thanks goes out to OldAFSarge's incredibly tolerant wife and daughter for gamely putting up with us all morning as OldAFSarge and I ran around like two hungry fat kids in a candy store.

12 comments:

  1. Hey Murphy.
    Udvar Hazy was a good trip for me and my son a couple of years ago. Wouldn't mind going back....Will have to plan a day trip. Glad to see you enjoying it.

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  2. Re: "two hungry fat kids in a candy store"...

    Heh. Perfect description.

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  3. I like aviation museums. The Pensacola Air Museum has a T-28 hanging from the roof that I flew in 1977 with VT-6. Strangely, there's another T-28 that features in my log book at the Pima Air Museum. I guess most of them got burnt as training hulks for the crash and rescue guys.

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    1. Someday I will see Pensacola...

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  4. In the UK at the Tank Museum they have the last Churchill Tank with only a few miles on it. It was deliverd to Bovington driven round the test track then into the Museum where it still is unused.

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  5. P-47? What was that plane's nickname?

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    1. I see what you did there!

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  6. I believe that P-38 was flown by Richard Bong. I mean, the actual plane, not the type.

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    1. Bong did fly this particular plane once for testing at Wright Pat. Sadly, the one(s) that he flew in combat went to the scrapper with the rest of them.

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  7. Ray, if it's the same one that was there ten years ago, it had a plaque claiming Bong had flown it. They've got Bob Hoover's Shrike Commander as well.

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  8. ML: they didn't even go to a scrapper. After the war's end, they dug pits with 'dozers, pushed those planes in, ran the 'dozers over them to flatten/destroy them, and finished by filling in the hole.

    I've seen photos of this being done. Makes one want to cry, 'cause it's too late to chop a few heads off to stop it.

    Apparently, there were agreements by the .gov with the manufacturers of the metal and the finished war equipment that it would not be returned to CONUS for sale or recycling. There may have also been restrictions on giving it away to other countries. Big bombers and transports were the only planes that came back, mostly because they could be used to transport personnel. Then they got "quarantined" in the desert, just in case of future need, but mostly to keep them out of circulation.

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    1. You're right. I just found reference to some of them being crushed flat and buried under the new runways at what became O'Hare International. I may have to take tomorrow off work, I'm so traumatized.

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