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Basic design for the Boeing-Stearman Kaydet was born in 1934 as the Stearman Model 6 Cloudboy trainer evolved into the Model 70, winning a U.S. Army primary trainer contest. However, first production was of the Model 73, ordered by the Navy designation NS-1. Model 75, the familiar Kaydet, followed, being ordered by both the Navy and Army as the N2S and PT series, respectively.
After the war, the Kaydet was used as a crop duster (one author referred to the Kaydet as the cornerstone of the American crop dusting industry). It was and still is often used in wing-walking shows as well.
The N3N Yellow Peril is less maneuverable than the N2S Stearman. It is 200 pounds heavier than the Stearman and slightly faster because it has 15 more horsepower and better streamlining. While dogfighting, the N3N pilots learned that if they made a steep dive followed by a zoom-climb, they could get an upper hand over the N2S pilots. The technique was carried over and used against the more maneuverable Japanese airplanes during World War II. The N3N could dive faster than the N2S and survive a great G load. If the N2S pilots got on the tail of the N3N, the N3N pilot would do a half roll (split-s) and dive out of range.
The Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of World War II. Although the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster and more nimble Mitsubishi Zero, its ruggedness and tactics resulted in an air combat victory-to-loss ratio of 6:9:1 for the entire war.
Because of the Wildcat's heavy armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, its frame could survive far more damage that its lightweight, unarmored Japanese rival. Many U.S. Navy fighter pilots were saved by the Wildcat's ZB homing device, which allowed them to find their carriers in poor visibility, provided they could get within the 30-mile range of the homing beacon.
The Texan takes off in 900 feet and lands in 700 feet. It was not really an air-to-air combat aircraft, although there is one report of a Wirraway (an Australian variant) having shot down a Japanese Zero.
There are many cases of combat veterans coming home, hopping into a T-6 and killing themselves. Depending on who you talk to, it was either an easy or difficult aircraft to fly. It presented a challenge to cadet pilots and as a result, was a good trainer.
In Korea the T-6 was used for Forward Air Control and to spray insects. The latter mission gave it the nickname "Mosquitoes."
In civilian life, the AT-6 is a favorite in movies. They have been altered to resemble Soviet Yak fighters, British fighters and Japanese Zeros in the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora."
The Texan was one of the most flexible planes ever designed. Because of both its combat readiness and use as a heavy trainer, it could perform a variety of tasks. Almost every country in the world has used the T-6 (even U.S. enemies). There were 15,649 Texans and Harvards built, and numerous types based on its design.
Twenty-one different tail and rudder configurations and 12 different aileron profiles were tested with the Dauntless in order to find a satisfactory combination.
The aircraft did not have folding wings and therefore was built as small as possible. When viewed from above, the plane had a particularly broad but short wing, which was helpful in air-to-air combat. It was very rugged and could take a lot of punishment from both overloading and enemy action.
The SBD was slow, but it was very stable in a dive and maneuverable enough to shoot down enemy fighter planes. On a dive bombing mission, the pilot would generally attack at about 70 degrees, the lower flap depressed 42 degrees and the upper rose to 37.5 degrees. Bombs were released at 1,500-2,000 feet, giving the Dauntless enough remaining room to pull out of the dive.
Whenever possible, SBDs worked in teams. The targets were usually enemy ships and it was difficult to place a bomb on target if the attacks were individually made. The planes would try to coordinate the attack so the ship could be caught going in one direction or another.
On a traditional bombing mission, the planes would fly in two divisions of six each, three and three. (Attacking in threes gave more machine gun fire power.)
The Fairchild PT-23 Cornell is one of the most ambitious restoration projects taken on by the Air Zoo. Staff and volunteers invested thousands of hours and more than eight years to restore it.
The PT-23 is based on the PT-19. It was intended to fill a number of training roles-basic civilian training, government primary pilot training and basic instrument training.
The design of the PT-23 allowed a wide track landing gear, which would help prevent ground looping so often seen in the Stearman Kaydet and N3N Yellow Peril. With the "duramold" process for molding plywood and early plastic, flight surfaces of the plane were smooth and had a seamless appearance. Some mechanics have been known to say, "Rebuilding a Fairchild center wing section is a post-graduate course in aircraft woodwork." Extensive work was done to design the trainer to behave predictably and hold up to novice pilots' abuse.
The standard PT-23 instrument panel contained a typical array of instruments for its day: airspeed indicator, compass, clock, engine gage unit, tachometer, turn and bank indicator, and rate of climb indicator. The Air Zoo's PT-23, however, also has an artificial horizon (front only), transponder, loran (navigation radio and instrument), transceiver, circuit break panel and a battery box.
The PT-22 Recruit did not show many of the advances in aviation obvious to its contemporaries, other than having an all-metal body and being a monoplane. It had fixed landing gear, was an open cockpit aircraft, and it had exterior bracing of both strut and wire types.
To "militarize" the aircraft for the U.S., the wings were swept four degrees to make the plane stall and spin faster. A Kinner 160 hp engine was installed; the wheel span was widened and spats were removed; the fuselage was widened and lengthened; a new rudder was added; and other structural changes were made. These changes made the aircraft more challenging to fly for cadets. One article about the plane called it a "flying brick."
The Corsair was considered by many Japanese pilots to be the best American combat aircraft at any altitude. It was used both as a fighter and a fighter-bomber.
Although the Hellcat had a victory ratio of 19:1 and the Corsair had a ratio of 11:1, some would argue that the Corsair was the better fighter. Whatever the case may be, both planes acted as a one-two punch in the hands of Navy and Marine pilots to knock out the Japanese Navy and Army Air forces.
The Corsair turned out to be so good that it was called upon to do battle in French Indochina, Korea and various other sites of conflict after the end of World War II. It was one of the longest produced and used fighters in history. The last production F4U Corsair came off the assembly line in 1953 and the last combat planes were phased out of the French Flotilla in 1964.
After much research and debate, it appears that the F4U Corsair was the first U.S. single engine fighter to exceed 400 mph-and it did it in its maiden flights!
The N2T-1 Tutor was one of the first plastic airplanes. Using the Aeromold process, wood veneer parts were molded together, bonded with plastic and baked. The surface then had a plastic paint applied. This process actually provided support for the rings, stringers, I-beam spar and ribs. It was inexpensive and faster than other construction processes.
The Valiant was considerably more complex than the primary trainers that were in use at the time. All metal construction, except for the control surfaces (fabric), made it to the first heavy aircraft that the cadets were introduced to.
The Valiant is a stable, predictable trainer, and it was the most used basic trainer of World War II. It was easy to land if trimmed properly, though it was inadvisable to apply excessive bottom rudder while applying back stick pressure in the final-this was tantamount to instant death.
It had a reputation for spinning, but if the pilot was trained properly, it was no problem. You could easily put it into and spin and recover it without difficulty with full opposite rudder.
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain could endure a great deal of battle damage and like its civilian counterpart, the DC-3, it could fly on one engine. It could withstand mid-air collisions and ground loops. It could even land on its belly with minimal damage because the tires, when fully retracted, still extended beneath the cowl. Though not designed for them, the plane could survive terrifying dives, snap rolls and tail spins.
The CG-4A Hadrian (Americans called it the Flying Jeep) was constructed of a fabric-covered wood wing and a fabric-covered tubular fuselage frame.
The objective of these airborne combatants were to secure strategic enemy positions and prevent counter attacks once the main thrust gained a foothold. In the Burma action, gliders brought in the earth-moving equipment and set up a landing strip in the jungle in one night with C-47s bringing in troops and supplies before the Japanese even knew they were there!
The Hellcat was considerably faster than the Mitsubishi Zero in level flight and on average at all altitudes. The F6F could match or slightly exceed the Zeke's rate of climb at above 10,000 feet and was superior in most categories at higher altitudes. It had twice the power and weight, and could out-dive the Zeke. However, the Zero had better turning, especially below 230 mph, but the Hellcat could match it above that.
The Hellcat did more than fight other aircraft. It played a very important roll as a ground attack aircraft as well. In both strafing runs and dive bombing, the cats performed admirably.
The F6F Hellcat shot down 4,947 enemy aircraft out of 6,477 downed by the Navy in the South Pacific. This is equal to 76 percent of all naval air victories in that theater.
Although it was in combat for only two years, the Hellcat accounted for 5,155 destroyed Japanese planes with the loss of only 170 cats.