One way that the Udvar-Hazy museum makes good use of space in their mammoth hangar is to have catwalks that take you around above some of the collection, while suspending others at the catwalk level and above, giving you essentially three levels of aircraft all in one big open space. And as you can see with this US Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat, you can get right up close with a few of them.
This particular F6F3 was sent out to Hawaii near war's end for attachment to the USS Hornet, but was damaged in a gear-up landing when it got there. After repairs, it was used a bit for training and following the war's end it was then converted to a pilotless drone and flown during the atomic bomb testing at Bikini. But the government says that it was only "a little radioactive" at the conclusion of the tests, and it's almost certainly safe now.
Like the P-61 in the previous post, this was a low-time aircraft. It last flew in March of 1947 and only had 430 flying hours before it was placed in storage.
Shown here beneath the wing of the Enola Gay is a Japanese fighter that was created to battle the Hellcat and other US fighters like the Corsair. This is the Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden, or "George", as it was once known to American pilots.
An incredibly capable fighter at the time, it was too little, too late to help stave off Japan's crushing defeat. Only three of them survive today, and this is one of them. One of the others is at the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio, and I have a picture of that one in this post. Guess I need to get up to Windsor Locks, CT to see the third one now.
Here's a slick Boeing PT-13D Stearman trainer, once used by the Tuskegee Airmen.
I could really go for one of these, and the day that I find a cheap one in excellent condition, the Cessna gets traded. Then Brigid has to teach me to fly this when she gets a free afternoon.
Here's another Stearman.
The museum has three, including a floatplane variant.
Here's a nifty German Junkers Ju52, in all of it's three-engined, corrugated body glory.
Another neat German plane that came along at war's end--a Dornier 335.
A last-minute creation, it was fast--474mph. But the war ended with just ten built, and this is the last one.
More P-47, with the B-29 Enola Gay behind it.
And here's a super-sexy Hawker Hurricane, workhorse of the Battle of Britain, also with the Enola Gay behind it.
Amazing to think that the Canadian Government was selling these as surplus in the late 1960's for $50.00 each. Farmers were buying them and dragging them off just to get the engines, piping and wires, then burning or chopping the wooden framework.
More to come later. Gotta fly!