Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Udvar-Hazy (Part 3)

The Smithsonian was blessed with a number of captured enemy aircraft after World War Two was over. Those of interest to the US Military were brought back here for study, and a good number eventually were sent to the Smithsonian. (Insert tear here for those that were just scrapped.)
Notable in the Smithsonian collection is this German jet-powered Arado Ar-234 "Blitz" bomber.
Nine of these were captured in Norway at war's end. Four were shipped back here for study at Wright-Patterson Air Base. This is the only one existing today.

Next to the Arado is a Dornier Do 335 fighter, believed to have been the fastest prop-driven fighter built. The Germans claimed to have had it up to 474mph in level flight.
It had two engines, one in the front and one in the rear. The one in the rear apparently had cooling issues. The spindly landing gear was another problem. It sure was tall though.
48 were built by war's end. Two were brought back here for study, and this, like the Arado, is the only survivor.

And here's one that I'd give my left foot to least one of them. It's a Focke-Wulf FW-190, and these were supposed to be some sweet flyers indeed. It could reportedly whip any Allied fighter until the Spitfire MkIX came along in late 1942. It was also the only German fighter to use a radial engine.
I tried to get OldAFSarge to pull a fire alarm so we could sneak it out the emergency exit but his wife and daughter walked up before we could pull it off.

Hey, it's a shiny new Curtiss Helldiver!
This was not here last time I was looking around.
Oh, was. It was in the restoration shop in pieces. Looks like it's done now, and done darn nice.

So what't in the restoration shop now?
It's a B-26 Marauder jigsaw puzzle!
It's Flak Bait!
During World War Two, this bomber flew over two hundred missions over occupied Europe, collecting over a thousand bullet and shrapnel holes in the process.
For the ongest time, it's cockpit section alone was displayed at the main Air and Space Museum in DC. Every time I saw it sitting there without it's wings or fuselage, I was always reminded of that "moose scene" from the movie Arthur. ("Where's the rest of this B-26?" "You must have hated this B-26.")

Also on display is this Grumman F8F "Bearcat", made into a racer by aviation legend Darryl Greenameyer.
Yeah, it was fast, but--ugh! Chopped wings! Can't decide if I hate Greenameyer more for wrecking Kee Bird or doing this to an F8F.

Another classic Grumman aircraft here is this amphibious Grumman Goose. Just pure cool. This one also spent a long time disassembled and on partial display in the main museum. Glad to see it all in one piece and here now.
And here's an aft view of the Goose, with a Beech Bonanza in front of it. A split-tailed Bonanza is high on my list of planes to replace the Cessna with. This one, the fourth one ever built, flew from Hawaii to New Jersey in 1949, a record-setting flight at the time.

And back in the corner is a particular favorite of mine--a Lockheed Super Constellation.
Such a sleek plane. Kinda like a flying greyhound. Rumor has it that Old NFO flew on this plane one...of course rumor also has it that he flew on the USS Macon. (At least that's what OldAFSarge said.)
Note the cute little Cessna 152 "Aerobat" in front if it. I really should have looked harder for one of those. +6/-3G's... Really!
The Super-Connie's big, but they made her fit in here. And she's wearing the colors of the West Virginia Air Guard's 167th Airlift Wing, the same outfit that flies flew those C-5 Galaxies from my home field in Martinsburg.
Ah, that triple tail. And they've got three more of these out at Pima!

Gotta go for now, but come back later--we haven't even touched on the jets yet!


  1. Family history says my first flight was on a Connie at the age of three. Sadly, I do not remember the flight, and there are no photos. My second flight was en route to Great Lakes for Boot Camp.

    Although the engines are not the same, the museum's cutaway of the four row radial engine shows what the mechanics and the flight engineers had to deal with.

    A number of years ago I was talking with a really old Lufthansa pilot, (at the time he would have been younger than I am today) and he said that flying in the days of reciprocating engines meant refueling at every chance you got, especially before long over water flights.

    Thanks for the post, the museum is well worth the trip.

    John in Philly

  2. Anonymous8:38 AM

    It would be entertaining to see a time-lapse photo sequence of just how they shoehorn in a new addition to those hangers. It must be a bit of a headache, especially if the ideal place for the plane ends up requiring shifting everything else to get there...simple enough really, except one doesn't want to ding anything...

  3. Those Constellations have to be in the top 5 most beautiful airliners ever built. Maybe even top 2. Everything now is just a tube with wings and a tail - but the Connie is all beautiful lines and aesthetics beyond her job of toting passengers around.

  4. What you didn't mention is the spiral staircase we had to climb up in order to get that awesome photo (next to last) of most of that Connie.

    One of my favorites at the museum, Scott makes an excellent point as to the Connie's sheer beauty.

    The Fw-190 is a brute of a fighter, I would not want to go up against one at medium to lower altitudes. Not in a Mustang, not in a Spit. Nice visibility from the cockpit for a Luftwaffe bird.

  5. What's the thing sticking out the top of the canopy of the Arado?

    1. Believe it or not, that's a periscope so the pilot can see who is behind him and aim the guns, since the cockpit has absolutely no rearward visibility.

  6. Oh, I bet THAT worked well!

  7. I am so happy to see that they are starting on Flak Bait. I am in my 50s,and have seen that nose on display as long as I can remember. It would be nice to see it just re assembled, not "restored", so you can see every dent ,ding, and bullet hole.

  8. Thanks for posting all these.

    That place is DEFINITELY on my bucket list!

  9. Can't decide if I hate Greenameyer more for wrecking Kee Bird or doing this to an F8F.

    Kee Bird. Definitely Kee Bird. F8Fs are commonplace compared to flyable B-29s.

  10. Yeah, I can't believe they'd try and take off without the little APU being bolted down!

  11. IIRC, the reports on flying the DO-335 said the REAR engine ran cooler than the front one. Speed and handling was evaluated to be better than any available Allied fighter in the ETO.

    Piloted by one of their "Experten", it would have been a nasty surprise.

    I think this aircraft was reconditioned by the factory for the Smithsonian. Some of that work was done by original DO-335 maintenance crews.

    There is at least 6 u-tube videos on the DO 335.