34 of 34: Mail Plane in Snow. In their very young conception, airplanes were often referred to as "crates." Early airmail delivery was a daunting task, indeed. Flying these "crates" pilots were seen as the "unsung heroes of early aviation." With such hazardous flying conditions the pilots encountered (clearly depicted by Mail Plane in Snow)...high winds, dense fog, heavy snow storms/blizzards, it is not difficult to understand that between 1919 and 1926, 31 of the first 40 pilots hired by the Post Office were killed flying the mail. And, oh-so-cold in those open cockpits!!! Interesting to note that Charles Lindbergh was also among the early airmail pilots...further contributing to his amazing and courageous accomplishments.
33 of 34: Early-1930's Biplane (Curtiss P-6E). The P-6 Hawk was a "between wars" design and the best know of all peace-time US Army pursuit fighters. The P-6 had 13 distinct sub-types including 8 different models. The most notable model was found in the P-6E Hawk which served between 1932 and 1937, but was never used in combat. It was the last of the fabric covered biplanes used by the military. This airplane reached speeds of 200 mph and carried twin .303 caliber machine guns. The P-6E was flown in many colorful paint schemes depending upon the squadron, the most famous being the "Snow Owl" markings (shown here) of the 17th Pursuit Squadron. Cuts in military spending, due to the Great Depression, allowed for only 46 P-6E's to be built...numerous accidents claimed at least 27 of those 46 delivered. To this day, only one P-6E survives and it is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio.
32 of 34: Mid-1930's Biplane (Grumman F2F; early Navy Fighter). The Grumman F2F was an aircraft design seemingly caught between two eras of aviation. It featured an open-air cockpit and staggered, uneven biplane wings. It had a single-engine and was also fitted with retractable landing gear. The F2F served as the standard fighter for the U.S. Navy between 1936 and 1940. It was designed for both aircraft carrier and land-based operations. The aircraft also featured watertight construction, since being a Navy plane, it needed to be able to survive a possible crash in the ocean. By September 1940, the F2F had been completely replaced in fighter squadrons and was then relegated to training and utility duties.
31 of 34: L.A. Mailplane to Chicago. Delivery of mail by air first began in 1918. During the late 1920's and early 1930's skilled and courageous pilots were signing up to join mail delivery companies. By the spring of 1929, there were as many as 47 airmail lines. Flying the mail was "risky" business with darkness and weather causing most of the difficulties. This painting depicts a Curtiss Robin, a model introduced in 1928, shown as it passes over the Grand Canyon. The Curtiss Robin was famously involved in a story from aviation history as being the plane flown by Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan who left New York in 1938 headed for California and ended up landing in Ireland some 28 hours later. Henry Ford, the automaker, was also an early benefactor from the rise in popularity of air mail delivery. Ford's design, the Trimotor, began cargo delivery in 1923. Some planes in the late 1930's could pick up loads of mail using a "skyhook" feature -- planes did not need to land, but rather "scooped" up outgoing mail using a grappling hook affixed to the airplane's tail.
engine rated at 1490 hp at take off and 1720 hp at "War Emergency" setting. It had a maximum speed of 442 mph, a range of 1,710 miles and a ceiling of 42,500 feet...it was one of the finest and most feared fighting planes of WWII. This painting shows a pair of P-51's diving to attack three German Hienkel bombers that are en route to bomb England during the Battle of Britain.
30 of 34: North American P-51 "Mustangs". An exhilarating depiction of the P-51's in action can be seen in a movie that debuted in 1987 called Empire of the Sun, directed by Steven Spielberg. One famous scene shows the main character, a young boy of perhaps 10 to 12 years, jubilantly running across a rooftop as several P-51's conducting an airstrike fly low past his vantage point. The young lad loudly shouts "P-51! Cadillac of the sky!!!!" The P-51 had its first flight in May, 1941 and was, indeed, in a class by itself: powered by an Allison V-1710-39 engine capable of maintaining 1,150 hp. A later version of this aircraft, the P-51D, was powered by a liquid-cooled, 12-cylinder, Packard-built, Rolls-Royce Merlin
29 of 34: German Triplane and British SE-5.
noses. Berthold was repeated wounded during many of his battles, but would not allow himself to fully recuperate...instead, he insisted in being "operational" and had his aircraft's controls remodeled allowing for his lingering disabilities. From all his injuries, his right arm became withered and useless causing many to refer to him as "The Crippled Ace."
28 of 34: Rudolf Berthold's famous "Winged Sword" Fokker DVII. During WWI, Germans refered to any of their fighter pilots with 10 or more victories as being an Uberkanone (big gun)...the French were the first to use the word "ace" which was then adopted by the British and Americans. Whatever term used, Berthold certainly qualified. He amassed some 44 victories. [By comparison, Germany's "ace," Baron Von Richthofen (The Red Baron) was credited with 80 victories and the best for the Americans, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, had 26 "kills."] Berthold's personal insignia, the "Winged Sword," decorated the side of his airplane. All the planes in Berthold's group, Jasta 15, had beautiful blue fuselages with bright red
27 of 34: Dawn Patrol.
26 of 34: British SE-5's engaged in dogfight.
25 of 34: British SE-5's engaged in dogfight.
24 of 34: Pair of Douglas A-20 "Havoc" Bombers returning to England from first American raid on German-occupied Europe during WWII. In 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corps ordered 6,000 of the A-20's to be manufactured; large numbers of these planes were provided to our allies at the time (Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Holland, South Africa and the Soviet Union) on a "Lend/Lease" basis. The Soviets actually received more A-20's than did the U.S. forces. The aircraft was manned by a crew of four: pilot, navigator, bombardier and gunner. The A-20 served the Allied forces throughout the war until gradually being replaced by the Douglas A-26 "Invader.
23 of 34: North American A36's (early P51's) were used as dive-bombers during WWII. This plane was powered by an Allison liquid-cooled piston V12 engine capable of up to 1,325 hp and featured a 3-blade propeller. The official name of this aircraft was the "Apache" although it was rarely used. The A36 was also called at times, the "Invader" and the "Mustang" (a name most often associated with the P51). The Germans gave the A36's a more flattering and fearsome accolade, calling them "screaming helldivers." A total of 500 of these dive-bombers served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theater from 1942 to 1944.
19 of 34: Grumman G-44 "Widgeon" - first flown in 1940, this twin-engined aircraft was part of Grumman's amphibious line; following the JF and J2F "Duck" (1934) and the G-21 "Goose" (1937). The G-44 was originally designed for civilian use and could accommodate 5 to 6 passengers, but as WWII broke out, this sturdy plane became useful as a small utility/anti-submarine patrol craft. Of the 167 G-44 aircraft produced during the war, The British Royal Navy received 15 of them -- affectionately referring to them as "Goslings."
22 of 34: Fairchild 24G (fitted with pontoons) was a favorite airplane of the "bush pilots" hopping in and out of Canadian lakes. As many as 100 of the 24G's were produced beginning in 1937. Well-known for their "sturdiness" due to their solid undercarriage, the 24G's could absorb considerable amounts of shock. This enabled them to land on either unimproved grassy airfields or, with the addition of pontoons, to land on water. The 24G's also had remarkable interior beauty which was furnished by the renowned American industrial designer, Raymond Loewy. The 24G's proved valuable during WWII as liason aircraft and by patrolling U.S. coastlines searching for enemy subs.
21 of 34: Loening C-2 "Air Yacht" flown by Thompson Air Lines between Cleveland and Detroit; Maiden flight, May 14, 1929 -- co-pilot, Amelia Earhart. The "Air Yacht" was an amphibious airliner/mailplane, some 36 planes were built in all. The pilot and co-pilot (often an additional passenger) sat in an open cockpit above the fuselage while four to six passengers enjoyed an enclosed cabin within the body of the aircraft. A large, single float extended forward from beneath the fuselage with additional stabilizing floats positioned against the undersides of the lower wing. Many versions of the "Air Yacht" concept were created for the military, the U.S. Marine Corp. considered using them as air ambulances.
20 of 34: Sikorsky S-38 was an Inter-Island Airways Aircraft No. 4 - "The Molokai" - first flew the Hawaiian Islands in 1931. The S-38 was another aircraft in the "flying boat" category. Its inventor, Igor Sikorsky, perhaps best known for his helicopters, designed some 17 aircraft models from 1924 to 1937. In all, 101 S-38's were built. They were often called "the Explorer's Air Yachts." The S-38 was a twin-engined, 8-seater -- the favorite aircraft of Pan Am, Inter-Island Airways, and other airlines who flew primarily over water. Charles Lindbergh, a Pan Am consultant at the time, described the S-38 as a "flying forest" due to its design that included an abundance of booms, struts and braces.
18 of 34: Martin M-130 "The China Clipper" flying over the half-completed Golden Gate Bridge in 1936. These flying boats were designed in the mid-1930's to meet the need for trans-Pacific travel. Only three M-130's were built...the "China Clipper," the "Philippine Clipper," and the "Hawaii Clipper." These ostensibly rugged aircraft all met with eventual disaster...the "Hawaii Clipper" disappeared over the Pacific in 1938; the "Philippine Clipper" crashed into a mountainside trying to land in San Francisco in 1943 and the "China Clipper" wrecked at Port of Spain, Trinidad, during landing in 1945.
17 of 34: Waco Model "E" 5-seater was a cabin-biplane built from 1938-40; first of its type to attain 200 mph. During the company's long history, some 80 different models were produced including open cockpit biplanes, cabin biplanes and cabin "sesquiplanes" (know by Waco as "Custom Cabins"). Waco's first "cabin" airplane, the Waco 8, was built in 1924. Prior to WWII, the Waco Aircraft Company was one of the largest manufacturers of civilian aircraft in the U.S. When the war began, the U.S. Army Air Corps commandeered 15 Model E's for assignment. These planes were then designated UC-72 for military service.
7 of 34: Boeing Model 40, used by Boeing Air Transport on their San Francisco to Chicago route commencing July, 1927. Service began with a fleet numbering 24 planes. Initially used as a mailplane, the Model 40 became Boeing's first aircraft that was able to carry passengers (all "two" of them) who managed to squeeze themselves into a small cabin alongside the mail bags. They even had their own fold-down writing table - imagine...such luxury!
16 of 34: Waco CSO 3-seater, well-liked by pilots in the 1930's. Originally the Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio, the Waco Aircraft Company produced a wide range of civilian biplanes between 1919 to 1947. Waco's reliable little planes were very popular with flyers of all sorts: businessmen, airmail pilots and explorers - especially after 1930 when Waco models began offering relatively warm, closed-cabins which were an option to the refreshingly brisk, open cockpits. Between the wars there were more Wacos registered with the U.S. Civil Aircraft Registry than the aircraft of any other company.
15 of 34: Beech "Staggerwing" D-17S was powered by a Pratt & Whitney 450-hp engine. A biplane so named due to the atypical negative "stagger" of the wings (the lower wing being further forward than the upper wing). Only 18 models of the 17S were sold during its first year of production in 1933, but it's popularity steadily grew. The cabin could hold up to five passengers and was trimmed in leather and mohair making it quite luxurious. The Staggerwing's speed also made it a frequent entrant into the 1930's air races.
14 of 34: Stinson Reliant SR-9 "Gullwing" was a much used aircraft for private aviation during the 1930's. "Eddie" Stinson designed and produced the SR series of aircraft from 1933 until 1941. The SR series was comprised of models SR-1 through SR-10. The SR-9 had an "overwhelming presence" due to its larger wing design and placement - thus the "Gullwing" reference. It could seat four to five passengers in deluxe surroundings and set the standard for corporate executives and others who enjoyed its ease in handling and state of the art navigation and communication equipment.
13 of 34: Howard DGA-11 [DGA = Damned Good Airplane]. This model evolved from Howard's famous racing plane "Mr. Mulligan" that competed at the Cleveland International Air Races during the 1930's. Many had called this a very "exciting machine." The DGA-11, the ultimate in Howard's DGA series, sold for $17,865 in 1938 - quite expensive at the time - but it was still highly sought after by corporations, the wealthy and movie stars (actor, Wallace Beery, who was also a pilot, owned one). It was a very solid, high performance aircraft capable of seating four with "limousine-like" comfort and convenience.
12 of 34: Lincoln Ellsworth during his Antarctic expedition discovering the Sentinel Range in his Northrop "Gamma". In the mid-1930's, Ellsworth and his plane, the Polar Star, were instrumental in helping to map out Antarctica which could only be done from the air. Once, while resting on the ice, the Polar Star was almost lost. Ice beneath the plane, 15-foot thick, broke open and one of the plane's skis slipped into one of the cracks...hours of frantic rescue efforts finally pulled the craft to safety. Ellsworth is credited with naming the Ellsworth Mountains after his father, James Ellsworth. Other mountains which Ellsworth discovered he named Mount Faith, Mount Hope and Mount Charity.
11 of 34: Lockheed Sirius, first low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear. Designed by Jack Northrop in 1929, the Sirius was powered by a 680-hp Wright Cyclone engine. One model was built for Charles Lindbergh who, in 1931, retrofitted the plane with pontoons converting it into a floatplane. Charles and his wife, Anne, would make many trips in this plane to the Far East and to other parts of the world.
10 of 34: Charles Lindbergh flying his Monocoupe D-145 during the late 1930's. Lindbergh originally purchased this aircraft from the Lambert Aircra Moft Corporation in 1934 for use as his own personal plane. Although following a cross-country flight with his wife, Anne, that same year, he used the plane very sparingly. Realizing its historical value, he held onto the plane until 1940 at which time he flew it to St. Louis and contributed it the Missouri History Museum. Monocoupes were side-by-side two-seat lightplanes. The first Monocoupe (Model 5) first flew in April 1927. Various models were in production until the late 1940's the last of which was the Monocoupe D-145.
9 of 34: American Pilgrim 10A turning for final approach to Chicago airfield. In 1931, American Airways Company introduced The Pilgrim 10A. It was among a wide assortment of planes operated by American and was specifically built according to American Airways' specifications to be used as a "transport aircraft." It was a 12-passenger plane and flew the first trans-continental route from New York to Los Angeles.
8 of 34: Travel Air 5000 taking off from Lambert Field in St. Louis, Missouri. While the pilot often sat in an open cockpit, passengers were able to enjoy the comforts of an enclosed cabin. The Model 5000 became famous for winnng "the Dole Race" in 1927 from Oakland, California, to Honolulu...at the time this was quite an accomplishment...a distance of 2400 miles. Lindbergh's famous flight to Paris (also in 1927), by comparison, was 3500 miles.
6 of 34: U.S. Mailplane (converted British D.H.4) in service from 1920-1930. In 1911, the U.S. conducted a one-week experiment on Long Island, NY, during which more than 35,000 pieces of mail were delivered. Seven years later the first scheduled routes were established. U.S. airmail service began on May 15, 1918 flying a route of 218 miles from Washington, D.C. to New York, although a stop was needed in Philadelphia for additional mail and a fresh plane.
5 of 34: Hermann Goring in his Albatros D.Va flying past his Spad-7 victim during WWI. The Albatros D.I first saw action on September 17, 1916 and immediately proved worthy in combat. The Albatros class soon became the backbone of the German air service and the Albatros fighters became the most prolifically produced aircraft of the war. The D.Va was introduced in June, 1917 and despite design modifications still encountered major problems with wing "flutter" and wing failure under stress. German engineers suggested that pilots were "not to dive too steeply" causing extra cautionary concerns in battle.
4 of 34: Siemens-Schuckert D-IV's surprised by a pair of British "Snipes" during WWI. This model saw action late in the war, having made its debut toward the latter part of August, 1918 (roughly three months prior to the War's end) and their production numbers were few. But by October, 1918 it was officially described as superior by far to all single-seaters in use. Its most notable features were its phenomenal rate of climb and extremely high service ceiling clearing 26,000 feet (by comparison: the Nieuport 28's service ceiling was around 17,000 feet and the Sopwith Camel's was roughly 21,000 feet).
3 of 34: German Albatros D-II attacked by a pair of Belgium Nieuport 17's during WWI. The D-II's were produced in response to pilot complaints about poor upward vision from the cockpit in the D-I. In August, 1916 an initial batch of 100 D-II's were ordered. All together, nearly 275 D-II's were employed by the German Air Service during the campaign. The Jasta 2 fighter squadron unit, commanded by the famous German ace Oswald Boelcke, was the first unit to achieve great success with the D-II. For a while it was the best performing aircraft on the Western Front and gave the Central Powers a clear advantage over the Allies.
2 of 34: British Sopwith "Camel" downing one of a pair of German Fokker D-VIII's. Flown during WWI, the "Camel" entered the fighting in 1917 and scored an amazing 1,294 "kills" of enemy aircraft...it was more successful than all of the other Allied fighter planes. Many of the war's greatest aces were "Camel" pilots, including Raymond Collishaw with 62 victories and D.R. MacLaren with 54. The success of this aircraft was surprising considering it was "tricky to fly" due to its small size and it was felt to be slow with a top speed of only 115 mph.
1 of 34: American flown Nieuport 28 with a German Albatros D-V on its tail, following the downing of a Pfalz D-III. The Nieuport 28 was the first aircraft ever flown by American pilots in combat. The U.S. purchased 297 of these planes from France to equip the very first American fighter squadrons, beginning in March 1918. A number of well-known WWI American pilots began their careers with the Nieuport 28, included Quentin Roosevelt (son of president Teddy Roosevelt) and Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, who was considered an "ace" with 26 victories.