The Boeing 314 Flying Boat

 Introduction

The Boeing 314 Flying Boat also known as the Boeing Clipper was built by Boeing Airplane Company from 1938-1941. It was used by two airlines and later the United States Navy (USN) for long range flights across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

There were only 12 built,  these going to Pan American Airways. Pan Am sold three Clippers to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The nine Flying Boats at Pan Am were later transferred to United States Navy (USN).

The Boeing 314 was a marvelous aircraft of its day but had a short life span as it was retired in 1946.

Continue reading “The Boeing 314 Flying Boat”

North American A-36 Apache

Introduction

North American Aircraft produced a relatively unknown ground attack and dive bomber called the Invader or A-36 during World War II. This was a brother to the North American P-51 Mustang however it had rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wing.

It served from 1942-1944 in North Africa, Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theaters.

North American built 500 of the A-36 Apache which were used by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) which were retired in 1945.

Continue reading “North American A-36 Apache”

The de Havilland Mosquito, Night Fighter

Introduction

The de Havilland Mosquito was an all wooden framed  twin engined aircraft built primarily in England  during World War II.  It’s  roles were varied.  It was used as a Light Bomber, Fighter-bomber, Night Fighter, Maritime Strike Aircraft and Photo Recon Aircraft.

It was also adapted through various variants for day time low to Medium altitude tactical Bomber, and Pathfinder.  The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) used the Mosquito as a high speed flying between England and neutral countries, sometimes through enemy airspace, with high value cargoes.

They could carry one passenger, seated in the “bomb bay”.  I wouldn’t t think this would offer much of a view. unless the bomb bay doors were opened, then the thrill of a lifetime for a few minutes.

In 1941, the first of many Mosquito variants were produced.  The Mosquito was the fastest operational aircraft in the world at that time.   It’s first role was an unarmed high-speed photo-recon aircraft.  The first Mosquito bomber entered  Royal Air Force (RAF) in November of 1941.

The Mosquito saw service from mid 1942-to Mid-1943 in missions against factories, railways and other strategic targets in Germany.  In June of 1943, they were formed into a unit called the Light Night Strike Force as pathfinders for the “Heavies” such as Lancasters.

The Mosquito could deliver a 4,000 “block buster bomb” to a designed target.  Their role as a night fighter started in in 1942, as they intercepted Luftwaffe raids over England.   The very versatile Mosquito was also used as a “strike aircraft” in preparation for “D-Day” also known as Operation Overlord in 1944.

The Mosquito flew with the RAF, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Army Air Force.  There were 7,731 (all models and variants) produced from 1940-1950.

Continue reading “The de Havilland Mosquito, Night Fighter”

The P-61 Black Widow by Northrop

 INTRODUCTION

Northrop aircraft designed the first operational night fighter called the P-61 Black Widow.  It was an all metal, twin-engine, twin-tailed aircraft developed during World War II with a crew of 3. It had four forward firing 20mm Hispano M2  cannons mounted in the lower fuselage and four 50 cal M2 Browning machine guns in a remote dorsal gun turret.

The crew consisted of pilot, gunner and an radar operator.  Although not produced in large numbers, the Black Widows were an effective night fighter used by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in the European Theater, Pacific Theater, the China-Burma Theater and the Mediterranean Theater.

On 14 August 1945, a P-61 (Lady in the Dark) scored the last victory of World War II (VJ Day).  When World War II ended the P-61 now designated F-61 served as a all-weather, day/night intercepter for the now called United States Air Force (USAF) until 1950.

Continue reading “The P-61 Black Widow by Northrop”

The Douglas A-20 Havoc

 Introduction

The Douglas A-20 Havoc was World War II light bomber attack and recon aircraft. Its users, besides the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), were Soviet Air Forces, Soviet Naval Aviation and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) which called the A-20, Boston.

It was also used by air forces of Australia, South Africa, France and the Netherlands.  Brazil  obtained the Havoc and after the War.  There 7,478 Havocs built for all users .

Design and Development

Donald Douglas, in March of 1937, led a design team that included Ed Heinmann and Jack Northrop that designed a new light bomber that was to be powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp-Junior radial engines rated at 450 hp each.

However another design model very similar being used in the Spanish Civil War indicated the proposed aircraft  Model 7A as Douglas named it, was extremely underpowered and could carry very little if any ordnance.

Donald Douglas, in response to a USAAF request for a attack aircraft, placed Ed Heinmann as head of the design team replaced the R-985 with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines and now called Model DB-7B for the USAAF proposal.  Competition for this bid was strong, with North American NA-40, Stearman X-100 and Martin 167F.  Although the DB-7B was very maneuverable and fast, the USAAF did not place any orders with Douglas.

However the French Purchasing Commission  who were in the country looking for American armament of various types, were attracted to the DB-7B.    The “Munich Crisis” was in progress and the French wanted new weapons to counter the German aggression and they  ordered 270 DB-7s.

Although DB-7 aircraft were not the fastest or as long-ranged as some other aircraft in this class (light bomber), it was rugged and dependable with good speed and maneuverability.

One of Britain’s RAF test pilots, said “The Boston has no vices, very easy to take off and land…The aeroplane represents a definite advantage in the design of flying controls, extremely pleasant to fly and maneuver.  Former Boston pilots found it their favorite aircraft of the war dut the ability to toss it around like a fighter.  The Boston bomber/night fighter was found to be extremely adaptable and found a role in every combat theater of the ar, and excelled as a true ‘ pilots aeroplane’.”

The DB-7 series ended on 20 September 1944 with a total of 7,098 had been built by Douglas and another 380 by Boeing.  The Douglas ability to mas produce aircraft, when the Havoc production was over, the Santa Monica, California plant was quickly re-designed and refurbished and immediately started producing the A-20 Havoc series for the USAAF.

The plant itself was only 700 feet long but by looping back this made the assembly a mile long.  Manhours were reduced 50% for some areas of operation and production efficiency was increased.

Operational History

France

The French had ordered 270 DB-7s (Douglas Bomber 7) variant as they wanted to modify the aircraft with their machine guns and instruments.  They started out with the Pratt and Whitney R-1830–SC3-G radial engine,  rated at 1,000 hp.  Later tt was changed to the Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S3C-G radial engine rated at 1,100 hp.  The fuselage was narrower and deeper.

The DB-7s were shipped to Casablanca in North Africa for asembly and sent to France.  When the germans attacked France in May of 1940,the 64 available of the DB-7s were used against the Germans.

After the fall of France, the remaining DB-7s went to North africa but fell under the control of the Vichy French.  They were used against the Allied invasion of French North Africa.  After French (Vichy) forces sided with the Allies, the remaining French DB-7s were used as trainers.

Great Britian (RAF)

The RAF bought the undeliverable DB-7s as France had fallen to the Germans.  The Bostons as the RAF renamed them saw action in the Mediterranean and North Africa.  During and after the “Battle of Britain” the Boston II were used as night fighters with 8 /30 cal machine guns in the wings..

Some were used as “Turinlite aircraft where the aircraft had been fitted with a powerful searchlight in the nose of the aircraft.  The Boston would be directed by a radar operator on the ground in the proximity of an enemy on a bombing or escort run at night.  The pilot of the Boston would turn on the searchlite on the enemy aircraft and the Boston’s escorting RAF aircraft would attack the blinded enemy.  This practice discontinued in early 1943.

United States Army Air Force

In the 1930s, the United States Army Air Corp (USAAC) was reluctant to pursue any purchases of the A-20.  When they saw the improved versions and variants sold to the French and RAF, they became more interested.  The USAAC was interested in two versions, the A-20 for high altitude bombing and the A-20A for medium and low level bombing.

Over all USAAC ordered over 1,000 A-20s of different models with about 600 going to the USSR in the lease-lend deal..  The USAAC received 356 A-20s that wereorginally bought by France but could no longer be delivered because the German take over of France.

Pacific 

In 1942 the first operational unit that saw combat was the 89th Bombardment Squadron that served in New Guinea.    It was found that Japanese air defenses in the South Pacific were not nearly as deadly as the German air defences in Europe.

There wasn’t any need for a Bombardier in the aircraft and extra machine guns were mounted on the nose  giving them devastating fire power at low altitude.  The low level attack would wipe out ground targets  like aircraft and hangers, and supply dumps.  On the ocean the forward gun power was so devastating against the bombs could be literally skipped against supply ships an destroyers.

Europe and Mediteranean 

In July of 1942, the first USAAF “Boston” squardonron manned RAF A-20s in the first combat by American forces in theat type of aircraft.  They saw service in North Africa, Italy and Corsica France.

It was found the the German air defenses were, especially flak, caused high loses at low altitude, thus medium level bombing was adopted.  In 1944 the Havoc begin recon sorties until the end of the war, as more advanced fighter bombers took over their manin chore.

Where you can see the Douglas A-20 Havoc

#41-19393 Wings Museum Balcombe, England

#43-21709  Lewis Air Legends San Antonio,

#43-22200 National Museum if the United State air Force Dayton, Ohio

#4321627 Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona

Tech Specs for the A-20 Havoc

Wingspan: 61 ft 4 in

Length: 47 ft 8 in

Height: 17 ft 7 in

Weight: 16,693 lbs (empty) 24,127 lbs (MGTOW)

Max Speed: 317 mph

Ceiling: 23,700 ft

Range: 945mi (combat)

Engine: 2/Wright R-2600-23  Twin Cyclone radial rated 1,600 HP

Crew: 3

 

THANKS,  FOR READING! I HOPE THIS WAS INFORMATIVE!

The Grumman A-6 Intruder

Introduction

The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an all-weather medium attack aircraft used by the United States Marine Corp (USMC) and United States Navy (USN). The Intruder was a replacement for the piston driven Douglas A-1 Skyraideer.

When the A-6 was scheduled for replacement, the strike mission was taken over by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The first A-6 flight was on 19 April 1960. The USN retired the last active Intruder on 28 February 1997. Grumman Aircraft built 693 A-6 Intruders.

Continue reading “The Grumman A-6 Intruder”

The Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger

 INTRODUCTION

The Grumman TBF or TBM Avenger is a torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy (USN) in the early forties. It became one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II.

First of all is it a TBF or a TBM? That depends on who built it? Grumman Aircraft Company initially produced the TBF. Grumman was unable to produce as many as the USN needed because of limited factory production and priorities. The government ask General Motors to help out, thus the TBM. “M” designed for General Motors The TBF and the TBM are the same only the last letter determined where and by whom it was manufactured

The TBF will identify the aircraft in this essay. The TBF had its combat debut in the “Battle of Midway” where 5 out 0f 6 were lost, but greatly improved with both in aircraft improvements and pilot skills

Future President George H.W. Bush as pilot in TBF

President-to-be George Bush Sr. flew a TBM in the South Pacific and was shot down near the Japanese held island of Chichi Jima as his final act before going into the ocean was to bomb the radio facilities on the island. He was rescued by the American submarine Finback. 

Hollywood Actor Paul Newman was a rear gunner on an TBF and was on the USS Hollandia which was about 500 miles from the Japanese city of Hiroshima when the first Atomic Bomb from the Enola Gay was dropped.

There were 9,839 TBFs produced during the War. and used by USN, Royal Navy Royal Canadian Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force

Continue reading “The Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger”

Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Introduction

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider is a single seat attack fighter that was called the AD at one time. It served in the military from the saw service in 1946 and was formerly retired in 1985. It saw service in the United States Navy (USN), United States Air Force (USAF), the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.

It remained in the United States service until the 1970s until replaced by the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Continue reading “Douglas A-1 Skyraider”

PBY Catalina Flying Boat

The Consolidated PBY Flying Boat

Introduction

The PBY American flying boat built by Consolidated Aircraft company was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. The PBY nickname was the Catalina and the PBY was used by all branches of the United States armed forces.

During the Second World War, the Catalina was used for anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, air-sea rescue missions and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and was not retired by the military users until 1979 by the Brazilian Air Force .

The United States Navy (USN) was the biggest user of the flying boat and the first. Thus, the USN designation system determined the name. “PB”was for Patrol Bomber, the third letter assigned by USN to the manufacturer of the aircraft was “Y”. In this case it was Consolidated Aircraft .

Since there were other manufacturers assigned to build the Catalina, different “names” such Canadian Vickers were PBV, Boeing Canada PB2B (Boeing in the U. S was already building Catalina with the code PBB).

The traditional names for the Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft were normally names of towns/cities in England. When the RAF purchased PBY’s, they broke tradition and named their aircraft Catalina, after Catalina Island in California which the USN adopted in 1942.

The PBY was originally designed to be a Patrol Bomber that would attack enemy supply ships. However, it soon became apparent that they were an ideal air-sea rescue for downed airmen.

In addition, they could be used as a recon aircraft as they could fly for many hours without the need for refueling. The Catalina first flight was on 28 March 1935. The primary users were USN, USAAF (United States Army Air Force),and RAF. The total production by Consolidated Aircraft, Canadian Manufacturers and Soviet Manufacture was 3,305 aircraft.

Continue reading “PBY Catalina Flying Boat”

Douglas TBD Devastator

 

TBD over Japanese Held Wake Island 1942

Introduction

The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American built torpedo bomber of the United States Navy (USN).  When it first flew in 1934  it was the Navy’s’ most advanced aircraft.  By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was outdated.

The Devastator did perform well in early battles.  The “Battle of Midway” was a total disaster for the TBD.  There were 41 TBD Devastators along with SBD Dauntless dive bombers with F4F Wildcat fighter support from the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown sent to attack the 4 Japanese aircraft carriers and their support ships.

The outdated TBD’s were sitting ducks as the Japanese Zeros pounced on the from upon high and the ships from the Japanese task force made mincemeat of the Devastators with their anti-aircraft guns.

There were 41 TBDs sent out to attack the enemy carriers only 6 returned to their home ships.  Thirty-five aircraft and crews were lost.  The remaining Devastators in the USN inventory were taken out of service after the battle and replaced with the Grumman TBF Avengers.

Continue reading “Douglas TBD Devastator”