Like everything else around us, the jet planes have had a humble beginning too. The very first jet planes every flown experimentally, its future uncertain and its uses unknown. The first ever jet plane ever made was actually in appropriately named because it wasn't really a jet plane, but was, a certain move to wards an unbelievable history which can be as exhilarating the speed these jets fly at.
The first jet engine was put to use and the principles of the same were actually seen in action when the Coanda 1910, named after its inventor Henri Coanda and also flown by him it is worth a note that the engine of this aircraft was piston type, unlike that of the modern jet engine which uses a turbine to run its compressor. Nevertheless, the true turbine driven engine was equipped on the jet plane designed by Heinkel He 178 (Germany).
The Gloster E.28/39 was flown by the British to announce their arrival on the flying circuit, soon to be followed by the Americans using their newly developed Bell XP-59, which had incorporated the Whittle Engine, developed by the General Electric and was flown on September 12, 1942.
However, from purely an operational point of view, The Messerschmitt Me 262, was the fastest flying jet aircraft around the time of the World War-II, while the only that could get faster was The Messerschmitt Me 163. In the Year 1944, mass production of the jet aircraft had started, which was about the same time The British had developed their advanced Gloster Meteor, which was heavily used to defend itself during the war and was a proud member of the squadron being prepared for the war.
The Modern jets however, fly in Mach, each mach amounts to about 75 to 80% of the speed of the sound. That is incredibly fast and powerful. So powerful and fast that the pilots who mount these beasts have to take special training and get used to experiencing extreme G-Forces while in flight The fastest jet plane ever made is the now non-operational, SR-1 Black Bird.
Somewhere in between the primary jet plane model and the super fast jetliner's present today, the need for the private business and leisure-jets was found. The commercialism of the jets has taken on to another league entirely. The numerous uses of these smaller jets has made them so useful that they are today, seen as necessities rather than a luxury.
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No one can talk about the airplanes history without including the people who are behind the invention of the airplanes. This invention took a lot of years of research as well as hard work and this mostly from two brothers by the names of Orville and Wilbur Wright. In 1878 it is believed that the father of these two brothers came home from work with a rubber band powered helicopter and these young brothers immediately started the studying of this helicopter and thereafter started building replicas.
The brother came to notice that all the aircrafts were lacking controls and in the year 1899 they came up with system that they used to warp the wings of a biplane and this meant that the aircraft could be controlled and rolled left or right as was required.
After this the brothers went ahead to design a gasoline engine that was powerful enough to be able to propel any aircraft and the brothers also went ahead to invent the first ever propellers and this culminated into a powered aircraft. At this time however the brothers faced competition from a person named Samuel Langley who was the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution who had also developed his own aircraft and he was helped with investment funding.
The testing of his aircraft however failed the initial tests and this was enough to put him out of the competition. Some of the last developments of the airplane included the usage of spring steel in order to make new sets of shafts. The first ever airplane was referred to as The Flyer, which was unveiled on 17 December 1903 as it, was taken for a 12 second sustained flight, which covered about 120 feet.
The next few hours after this the Wright brothers made numerous flights and the longest of them all covered 852 feet. There are several types of airplanes in today's market and this will include commercial transport planes, general aviation planes, sea planes, special purpose planes as well as military planes.
Commercial transport planes are large and this means they are capable of carrying passengers as well as cargo. They are also referred to as airliners and are less powerful than four engine jets and this is because most airliners only travel 500 to 600 miles per hour while four engine jets faster. An example of a four engine jet is the Boeing 747 and unlike most airliners it is capable of accommodating up to 1000 passengers.
This airliner is also capable of carrying 6 kitchens, 12 wash rooms as well as more than 178000 liters of fuel. The Boeing 747 became the largest jet in the world in 1969. Boeing 747 can travel to up to 6495 miles or 10475 kilometers without stopping and this is farther than the distance between Tokyo and New York. There are also three engine jets as well as two engine jets.
The three engine jets do not travel as far as the four engine jets and they also need less runway although they are also capable of carrying as many passengers as the four engine jets. Two engine jets are the most popular today and this is because of their look, their low operating costs as well as few engine failures.
The British fighter was the Spitfire, produced by Submarine in June of 1936. After its test flight by ‘Mutt’ Summers in 1936, Submarine built a second factory to accommodate the expected demand.
By the time Britain officially went to war in 1939, about 2,160 Spitfires were already ordered. The Spitfire I was marginally faster and much more maneuverable than that of its principal opponent, the Luftwaffes Messerschmitt Bf 109E, although the Bf 109E could out climb and out dive the British fighter and its cannons had a longer effective range than the Spitfire.
The Spitfire was marginally faster than the Luftwaffes Messerschmitt Bf 109E and maneuvered better although the BF 109E could rise and dive faster. About 40 different variants of the Spitfire were produced; including fighter and bomber variants as well as mission- and combat area specific variations. The last Spitfire was produced in 1947.
The P-51 Mustang is the most famous of the American “big three” from WWII, the other two are the P47 and the P38. Ironically, the RAF provided the design specifications and requirements that makes it one of the most distinctive fighters of WWII. The cockpit is made to reduce drag, the wings are rounded at the edges, and a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine combined for one of the most agile and graceful fighters of the war.
The Mustang also had a large fuel capacity and, with external tanks, could escort bombers to their target and back. The Mustang was the fastest plane in the air at the time and its agility and ability to maintain those speeds allowed the pilot to retreat from the battle.
Although it can’t accelerate as quickly as other planes, the pilot can dive steeply and reach into the 500 knots range, about 200 Knots faster than most other planes. They also maintain such speeds well. Below 150 knots, however, the best Mustang pilot would be chewed up by true ‘stallfighter.’ The Mustang became the standard for future planes.
The Focke-Wulf 190 was widely regarded as one of WWII best fighters. It evolved from the designs of the BF 109 and German officials predicted it would never work as well but time proved them wrong. It entered operation in 1941 and “immediately outclassed the Spitfire V, which appeared sluggish and outdated by comparison.”
Charlie Brown (a 21-year old) was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called “Ye Olde Pub” and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters while on a mission to bomb a factory in Bremen, Germany. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton. After flying over an enemy airfield, Charlie Brown stated that his heart sank.
A pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he “had never seen a plane in such a bad state.” The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed, and there were holes everywhere.
Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane. Brown stated that he noticed Stigler’s plane flying alongside him: It seemed amazing that the heavily damaged B-17 remained in the air.
But it did, and Brown hoped to keep it flying until he reached the shores of England 250 miles away. Still partially dazed, Lt. Brown began a slow climb with only one engine at full power. With three seriously injured aboard, he rejected bailing out or a crash landing. The alternative was a thin chance of reaching the UK. While nursing the battered bomber toward England, Brown looked out the right window and saw a BF-109 flying on his wing. Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees.
Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to and slightly over the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe. When Franz landed he told the commanding officer that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.
More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. Franz had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions. They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion in 1989, together with five people who are alive now—-all because Franz never fired his guns that day. After the war, Brown remained in the Air Force, serving in many capacities until he retired in 1972 as a Lieutenant Colonel and settled in Miami as head of a combustion research company. But the episode of the German who refused to attack a beaten foe haunted him.
He was determined to find the enemy pilot who spared him and his crew. He wrote numerous letters of inquiry to German military sources, with little success. Finally, a notice in a newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots elicited a response from Franz Stigler, a German fighter ace credited with destroying over two dozen Allied planes.
He, it turned out, was the angel of mercy in the skies over Germany on that fateful day just before Christmas 1943. It had taken 46 years, but in 1989 Brown found the mysterious man in the ME-109. Careful questioning of Stigler about details of the incident removed any doubt. Stigler, now 80 years old, had emigrated to Canada and was living near Vancouver, British Columbia. After an exchange of letters, Brown flew there for a reunion.
The two men have visited each other frequently since that time and have appeared jointly before Canadian and American military audiences. The most recent appearance was at the annual Air Force Ball in Miami in September (1995), where the former foes were honored. In his first letter to Brown, Stigler had written: “All these years, I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?”
She made it, just barely. But why did the German not destroy his virtually defenseless enemy? “I didn’t have the heart to finish off those brave men,” Stigler later said. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do it. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute.” Franz Stigler passed away on March 22, 2008.
Flying in a British bomber during World War Two was one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable. Some 55,000 aircrew died in raids over Europe between 1939 and 1945, the highest loss rate of any major branch of the British armed forces. Yet there is no official campaign medal commemorating the sacrifices of these men.
Their contribution to the war effort has been partly overshadowed by the controversy over the saturation bombing of German cities in 1944 and '45, in which tens of thousands of German civilians were killed. During the war, this was not a debate that concerned most members of Bomber Command. They were preoccupied with obeying their orders, and with surviving. Early in the war bomber pilots were taught terrible lessons about their vulnerability.
Missions over Europe were flown by day, and German fighters found the lumbering British aircraft easy targets.In late 1939, 21 out of 36 bombers on one sortie failed to return. Many of the planes were flying so low that when they were hit there was no time to bale out.
Daylight raids were abandoned. From then on, British bombers would fly mainly at night.Navigation in the dark was intensely difficult, particularly if there was cloud cover over the ground. At first, crews had to rely on dead reckoning - estimating position by speed, flying time and compass. Unpredictable winds could disrupt the finest calculations.
France was undoubtedly the leader in the earliest days of aviation. It had the first designers and was the first to form independent companies dedicated to building aircraft. The earliest company of this type was probably Gabriel Voisin and Ernest Archdeacon's Syndicat d'Aviation, which they formed in 1905. The company produced two biplane gliders, one for Archdeacon and one for Louis Blériot, mounted on floats and resembling a box kite in appearance. Blériot joined Voisin and formed the Blériot-Voisin Company later in 1905.
The company built a floatplane, a glider, and a powered machine. But their craft couldn't fly, and the two parted in 1906, with Voisin buying Blériot's shares. In November 1906, Gabriel Voisin and his brother Charles formed Voisin Fréres, the first commercial aircraft company.
The Voisin company built gliders and airplanes and produced about 20 airplanes before World War I began in 1914. At about the same time, Blériot began his own company and built a series of popular aircraft, including his famous Blériot XI, which he used in his record-setting crossing of the English Channel in 1909, and the Bleriot XII, which shone at the Reims International Air Meet.
The A-26 was the follow-on design to the A-20 and entered combat in late 1944. The type had early developmental difficulties, and it took 28 months to go from first flight to combat operations. After being re-designated as B-26 in 1948, it was the only attack airplane available when war broke out in Korea. Crews flew their first mission against North Korea on June 29, 1950, when they bombed an airfield at Pyongyang. Air Force B- 26s were credited with the destruction of 38,500 vehicles, 3,700 railway cars, 406 locomotives, and seven enemy aircraft on the ground in Korea.
On September 14, 1951, while flying a night intruder mission, Capt. John S. Walmsley, Jr., attacked a North Korean supply train, but after his guns jammed he used his search light to light the way for his wingmen to finish destroying the train. Captain Walmsley was shot down, died, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On July 27, 1953, 24 minutes before the cease-fire was signed, a B-26 crew from the 3d Bomb Wing dropped the last bombs of the Korean War.
Some holdover RB-26s were part of the initial cadre of aircraft sent to Vietnam as part of Operation Farm Gate. In the early 1960s, On-Mark Engineering converted approximately 40 aircraft into the B-26K Counter Invader for counterinsurgency missions in Vietnam. "For all practical purposes the war plane came into being at the end of 1914, with the adoption of the machine gun. In the early stages of the war reconnaissance planes, used for observation of enemy troop movements and of artillery fire, used to come into close confrontation with each other.
There was an aircraft that used to fly across our skies that was affectionately called the Phantom II or the Navy F-4 Fighter. It was a very powerful aircraft that seemed to prove the theory that you could make a rock fly if you put big enough engines on it.
It was a MIG Killer in Vietnam and used extensively in every theater of the world. It had two huge engines that delivered 25,000 lbs of thrust and when the afterburners were lit up, it would rock the ground for miles away. The early versions like the F-4C could be seen for miles as they had a huge smoke trail, this was later modified in the F-4D and F-4E versions.
There were also versions used for air recon missions that had photo cameras on the bottom. The F-4G was called the Wild Weasel and had the capability of taking out enemy air defenses, which proved to be very valuable during the attacks against the North Vietnamese air defense system. The Phantom had two seats and that pilot was in the front seat, and directly behind him was the weapons officer otherwise called the WISO.
These aircraft have been featured in many movies such Top Gun or Hamburger Hill to mention just a few. The aircraft is now retired from active service, last flown by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves, and now can usually be seen as static aircraft all over the US. The testament to the glory days of a true fighter, and though it was hated by maintenance personnel it carries a special place in the hearts of those of us who worked on it.
The B-17 was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets.
The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's night time area bombing in Operation Point blank, to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated, to a lesser extent, in the War in the Pacific, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping.
The Soviet Air Force began operating the Tupolev TU-95 also Bear in the mid 1950's. The Russian Air Force is still operating the venerable Bear and it's projected to continue service until the middle of the current century. The Bear was originally developed as a long range, high altitude, bomber. It fulfilled a role similar to the B-52 Stratofortress of the United States Air Force.
Over the years its been modified to perform a variety of missions to include maritime patrol, cruise missile launch platform, Airborne Early Warning as well as a civilian airliner variant. The TU-95 was a main stay of the cold war. It performed a number of missions for the Russian Military and became a common sight to U.S. and NATO air crews that were sent to intercept it.
The maritime variant performed a number of useful missions for the Soviet Naval Forces including surveillance, tracking, and targeting for various soviet military assets. TU -95s routinely departed from the Kola Peninsula, flew across the Atlantic, down the eastern seaboard of the United States, and landed in Cuba.
The Tu-95 is the fastest propeller driven aircraft, and some say one of the loudest aircraft in the world. It's powered by four Kuznetsov turbo prop engines rated at 10,000 SHP (shaft horsepower) each. Each engine drives contra-rotating propellers that have an 18ft diameter.
The engines are mounted on wings that are swept back 35 degrees. The fuselage is cylindrical, has a rounded nose and tapers towards the rear. The TU-95 has a large bomb bay and is able to carry 20 tons of ordinance. The Bear also has two 23mm tail guns, which provide defense against fighters attacking from the aircraft's rear Crew requirements vary depending on the mission. A generic crew consists of two pilots, one tail gunner, and up to four sensor operators.
The Bear has a maximum takeoff weight of 414,500 pounds, a maximum speed of 575 mph, a range on 9,400 miles, and a service ceiling of 39,000 ft. The TU-95 continues to test the readiness of US and NATO air crews by probing national boundaries. A role that began half a century ago and will continue for many years to come. The TU-95 has been a symbol of Soviet Aviation since the 1950's. Numerous upgrades have kept it a vital piece of Russian military strategy today and well into the next century.
The Spitfire and Bf 109E were well-matched in speed and agility, and both were somewhat faster than the Hurricane. The slightly larger Hurricane was regarded as less "twitchy" and provided a more stable gun platform, as Luftwaffe bombers would later find out to their cost. The RAF's preferred tactic was if possible to deploy the Hurricane's concentrated fire power against formations of less-agile bombers, and to pit the Spitfires against the fighter escorts waiting to pounce from higher altitude.
The Spitfires one-piece sliding moulded canopy gave the best visibility, the pilot having a better chance of spotting an enemy over the Bf 109E and its heavy framed hinged hood.
The Emil's main armament was two MG-17 (Maschinengewehr 17) 7.92 x 57 mm machine guns on the engine decking and two Oerlikon / Mauser MG FF 20 x 72RB mm auto-cannons in the wings. Although the explosive cannon shells had more destructive power, the FF's low muzzle velocity and limited ammunition carried meant the cannon was not markedly superior to the Hurricane and Spitfire's eight proven Browning .303 (7.7 x 56R mm) machine guns.
Whilst the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world's oldest air force of any significant size to become independent of army or navy control. It was founded on 1 April 1918, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.
After the war, the service was cut drastically and its inter-war years were relatively quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire.
The RAF underwent rapid expansion prior to and during the Second World War. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan of December 1939, the air forces of British Commonwealth countries trained and formed "Article XV squadrons" for service with RAF formations. Many individual personnel from these countries, and exiles from occupied Europe also served with RAF squadrons.
The most famous fighter aircraft used in the Battle of Britain were the British Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E (Emil). Although nowadays the glamorous Spitfire is often thought of as the main British fighter, in fact the Hurricanes were at first more numerous (by a factor of about 5:3) and (especially in the early part of the battle), were responsible for most of the German losses.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both the other competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations.
Although Boeing lost the contract due to the prototype's crash, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress went on to enter full-scale production and was considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft, eventually evolving through numerous design advancements, from B-17A to G.
The original design of the Me 210 was born in late 1937 to overcome to some shortcomings of the Bf 110. In autumn 1938 RLM awarded a contract to Arado and Messerschmitt simultaneously for the development of a Bf 110 replacement. The resulting Messerschmitt design consisted in a mere improvement of the basic design with more powerful powerplants and heavier armament.
Arado’s answer to the requirements was the Ar 240 but confidence in the original Bf 110 long-range fighter and bomber-destroyer concept led at the beginning of 1938 to Messerschmitt being asked to design an eventual successor. The result was the Messerschmitt Me 210 which first flew on 5 September 1939, powered by two 1,050 hp (783 kW) Daimler-Benz DB 601A engines.
It proved to be extremely unsatisfactory, being difficult to handle and suffering from extreme instability. After the first flight test of the Me 210 V1 the plane had to be heavily modified for its flying capabilities were barely poor. It had problems with longitudinal and lateral stability, and these were not suitable for a firing platform such as a combat aircraft.
The design was improved by deleting the original twin vertical surfaces, similar to those of Bf 110, and fitting a large traditional vertical stabilizer and rudder with the aircraft flying on 23 September. A slight improvement was apparent, but in spite of a number of modifications carried out on the two prototypes they continued to display poor handling characteristics, being prone to stalling and spinning.
In view of these problems it is difficult to understand why production was allowed to begin, but by mid-1940 a first batch of airframes was in final assembly. The Black Spitfire is a black-painted Spitfire which belonged to Israeli pilot and former president Ezer Weizman. It is on exhibit in the Israeli Air Force Museum in Hatserim and is used for ceremonial flying displays.
Kermit Weeks, keeps a restored Mk XVI at his Fantasy of Flight museum in Florida. The "Asas de Um Sonho" Museum, located in São Carlos, Brazil, owns the only airworthy Spitfire in South America, a Mk IXc donated to the museum by Rolls Royce and painted in the colors and markings of RAF ace Johnnie Johnson.
One of the newest Spitfires to fly in Canadian skies is Michael Potter's Supermarine Mk XVI Spitfire SL721/N721WK/C-GVZB, refinished in the markings of No. 421 Squadron RCAF and is now registered in Gatineau, Quebec as part of the Vintage Wings of Canada Collection. A Seafire 47, the final aircraft in the long and distinguished line of aircraft, is airworthy with Jim Smith in the U.S. after being restored by Ezell Aviation. The Shuttleworth Collection maintains and displays an airworthy Mk Vc, AR501. One Spitfire Mk IX is on display at the "Vigna di Valle Museum" (Italian Air Force Museum) Bracciano, Rome, Italy.
Foo Fighters was the name used for numerous unexplained phenomena in WW II, as well as being used in a derogatory sense. Some pilots over Europe called them "Kraut balls". In the Pacific Theater, it was how some pilots referred to the Japanese fliers who were infamous for their erratic flying. Foo fighters is the name given by the scientists and historians to the general body of spherical, circular, disc-like, or wedged shaped "bogies", sometimes seeming to glow, shine, or reflect a high degree of illumination seen mostly by World War II pilots or flight crews.
They usually paralleled or followed aircraft and were seen by aviators on all sides of the action, being reported by American, British, German and Japanese crews. No Foo Fighter was known or reported to have made or attempted any sort of contact, interaction or attack.
They were known, however, for their high rate of speed and agility, being much faster than any known aircraft at the time as well as being extremely manoeuvrable, often exhibiting highly unconventional abilities such as instantaneous acceleration and deceleration, rapid climbing and descent and hovering in place.
In today's world a Foo Fighter would be called a UFO, an Unidentified Flying Object, of which, by all accounts, Foo Fighters were. Some descriptions such as "glowing balls of light" or "spherical fire" do not fit the conventional image of UFOs, but the disc and wedge shaped objects do --- as does the unconventional manoeuvrability. Both those aspects, disc or wedge shape and unconventional manoeuvrability, have been attributed to many UFO or Flying Saucer accounts, but most especially so to one of the most high profile ones, the so-called Roswell UFO.
Here an object of unknown nature broke up over the barren ranch land near Roswell, New Mexico, late one night in July 1947. Although the Roswell Incident was originally reported in the local paper within a few days of the crash by the local paper as being a flying saucer or a flying disc, the main body of the object was reported by some eyewitnesses as being wedge or delta shaped.
W.C. Holden, an archaeologist, reportedly stumbled across the downed craft early in the morning following the crash. He was one of the first to see it and described it as "as looking like a crashed airplane without wings with a flat fuselage" with some reports implying the fuselage had a definite delta or wedge shape to it.
It must be stated in contrast, however, that another archaeologist, known as Cactus Jack Campbell, while he did not have the reputation of Holden--- but who had nevertheless seen the aerial apparitions called Foo Fighters during World War II first hand himself --- reported being "out there when the spaceship came down" and seeing a "round object but not real big". What became known as Foo Fighters were reported by the British as early as September 1941, with regular sightings by all sides continuing, except for a several month lull in 1943, throughout the war.
On the U.S. side, although sightings occurred periodically before the deployment of P-61 Black Widows in Europe, it was the P-61 nightfighter pilots that were among the first American military men to regularly report seeing Foo Fighters, saying "unknown objects" followed or paralleled their planes and glowed in the dark. It is said the night fighters shot at them a few times, but the fire was never returned.
It is also thought it was the pilots of the Black Widows that finally gave the UFOs the nickname that stuck: "Foo-Fighters", a term picked up from the then popular Smokey Stover comic strip. Interestingly enough, with all the sightings and reports and all the gun cameras and high altitude photographs, no truly good pictures of Foo Fighters from the period have surfaced.
A widely circulated photo showing what is alleged to be both a wedge-shaped and spherical-shaped Foo Fighter together with two Japanese planes is perhaps the most often depicted when citing Foo Fighters. The photo, from the 1975 photo-history by the Italians, G. De Turris & S. Fusco, "Obiettivo sugli UFO", has both its supporters and detractors. If the picture was taken by Japanese photographers, which it surely must have been, it would seem, except for a quest for truth, they would have no vested interest in continuing or falsely perpetrating a myth.
Not all aerial objects otherwise left unidentified in World War II were Foo Fighters or unexplained phenomenons such as Green Fireballs. Nor were they necessarily small in size either. Some were downright gigantic. The most infamous was an object seen by literally thousands of people along the coast of California barely three months into the war.
The UFO over Los Angeles is mostly forgotten now, but during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942 the whole city and surrounding communities were in an uproar as thousands of rounds of anti aircraft shells were expended to pull down whatever it was out of the sky that night.
The slow moving object, said to be as big or bigger than a Zeppelin, was caught in the glare of the searchlights from Santa Monica to Long Beach and seemed impervious to the constant barrage of shells. It eventually disappeared out over the Pacific after cruising along the coast and cutting inland for a while. The huge object was never clearly explained and was basically hushed up without response from the authorities.
An airship or dirigible is a lighter than air (buoyant) aircraft that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers. Unlike other aerodynamic aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft (air planes) and helicopters, which produce lift by moving a wing or air foil through the air, aero static aircraft, such as airships and hot air balloons, stay aloft by filling a large cavity, such as a balloon, with a lighter than air gas. The main types of airship are Non-rigid airships (or blimps), semi-rigid airships and rigid airships. Blimps are small airships without internal skeletons.
Semi-rigid airships are slightly larger and have some form of internal support such as a fixed keel. Rigid airships with a full skeleton, such as the massive Zeppelin transoceanic models, are now a thing of the past. Airships were the first aircraft to make controlled, powered flight. They were widely used before the 1940s. Their use decreased over time as their capabilities were surpassed by those of air planes.
Their decline furthered with a series of high-profile accidents, including the 1937 burning of the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg near Lakehurst, New Jersey. Airships are still used today in certain niche applications, such as advertising and as a camera platform for sporting events.
The Wright brothers, Orville (August 15, 1871 January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 May 30, 1912), were two Americans who are generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.
In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made mechanical fixed wing flight possible.
The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of "three axis-control", which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard on fixed wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer "the flying problem", rather than developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did.
Their careful wind tunnel tests produced better aeronautical data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers more effective than any before. Their U.S. patent claims the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulates a flying machine's surfaces. British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in June 1919.
They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador to Clifden, Ireland, which became the second aircraft (and the first landplane) to fly across the Atlantic. (Two weeks earlier, the first trans-Atlantic flight had been made by the NC-4, a United States Navy flying boat, commanded by Lt. Commander Albert Cushing Read, who flew from Rockaway Beach, Long Island, to Plymouth, England with a crew of five, over 23 days, with six stops along the way.
The V-2 rocket (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2) was the first ballistic missile and first man-made object to achieve sub-orbital spaceflight, the progenitor of all modern rockets including the Saturn V moon rocket. Over 3,000 V-2s were launched as military rockets by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets in World War II. As many as 20,000 slave labourers died constructing V-2s compared to the 7,000 military personnel and civilians that died from the V-2's use in combat.
Experimental rocket powered aircraft were developed by the Germans as early as World War II, and about 29 were manufactured and deployed. The first fixed wing aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight was a rocket plane- the Bell X-1. The later North American X-15 was another important rocket plane that broke many speed and altitude records and laid much of the groundwork for later aircraft and spacecraft design.
Rocket aircraft are not in common usage today, although rocket-assisted take offs are used for some military aircraft. Space Ship One is the most famous current rocket aircraft, being the test bed for developing a commercial sub-orbital passenger service; another rocket plane is the XCOR EZ-Rocket; and there is of course the Space Shuttle.
On the 14th of June the Vickers-Vimy Rolls-Royce biplane, piloted by John Alcock and with Arthur Whitten Brown as observer-navigator, left St. John's, Newfoundland, and arrived at Clifden, Ireland, in sixteen hours twelve minutes, having made the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
Hawker and Grieve meanwhile had made the same gallant attempt in a single-engined Sopwith machine; and had come down in mid-ocean, after flying fourteen and a half hours, owing to the failure of their water circulation. Their rescue by slow Danish Mary completed a fascinating tale of heroic adventure.
The British dirigible R34, with Major G. H. Scott in command, left East Fortune, Scotland, on the 2d of July, and arrived at Mineola, New York, on the sixth. The R34 made the return voyage in seventy-five hours. In November, 1919, Captain Sir Ross Smith set off from England in a biplane to win a prize of ten thousand pounds offered by the Australian Commonwealth to the first Australian aviator to fly from England to Australia in thirty days.
Over France, Italy, Greece, over the Holy Land, perhaps over the Garden of Eden, whence the winged cherubim drove Adam and Eve, over Persia, India, Siam, the Dutch East Indies to Port Darwin in northern Australia; and then south eastward across Australia itself to Sydney, the biplane flew without mishap. The time from Hounslow, England, to Port Darwin was twenty-seven days, twenty hours, and twenty minutes. Early in 1920 the Boer airman Captain Van Ryneveld made the flight from Cairo to the Cape.
In the Battle of Britain in the late summer of 1940, during the Second World War, the RAF defended the skies over Britain against the German Luftwaffe, helping foil Hitler's plans for an invasion of the British Isles, and prompting Prime Minister Winston Churchill to say in the House of Commons on August 20, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command.
While RAF bombing attacks against Germany began almost immediately upon the outbreak of war, from 1942 onwards, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became increasingly devastating as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available. Controversially, the RAF adopted a policy of night-time area bombing that saw raids on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden.
Other units, however, developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the "Dambusters" raid by No. 617 Squadron. Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company, usually referred to simply as Shorts and is now based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1908, Shorts was the first true aviation company in the world, and was a manufacturer of flying boats during the 1920s and 1930s and throughout the Second World War.
In the immediate post-war period they received orders for several military and experimental aircraft; from the 1960s Shorts turned primarily to the production of cargo aircraft. In 1989 the company was bought by Bombardier.
Within Bombardier Aerospace, Shorts designs and manufactures nacelle systems, fuselages and flight controls. Shorts is the largest manufacturing concern in Northern Ireland. Today the company's products include aircraft components and engine nacelles for its parent company Bombardier Aerospace, and for Boeing, Rolls-Royce Deutschland, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.
There are approximately 44 Spitfires and a few Seafires airworthy worldwide, although many air museums have static examples. For example, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has paired a static Spitfire with a static Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Stuka dive bomber. The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire maintains and operates five Spitfires (of various marks) for flying display and ceremonial purposes.
A Spitfire XIVe, MV293 owned by The Fighter Collection at Duxford is marked as MV268, JE-J, flown by Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson OC 127 Wing, Germany May 1945. There are regularly more than a dozen Spitfires on site at Duxford. Whilst some of these are under restoration in a private hangar many flying and static examples can be seen in hangars one to 5. The Temora Aviation Museum in Temora, New South Wales, Australia, has two airworthy Spitfires: a Mk VIII and a Mk XVI, which are flown regularly during the museum's flying weekends.
A Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk XVIE is on display in the Polish Aviation Museum. The Hellenic Air Force Museum own and displays a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc. Kennet Aviation, a British company specializing in ex-military aircraft has a Seafire XVII and a number of Seafire projects at its home airfield at North Weald Airfield. The Spitfire was a single-seat fighter plane manufactured by Supermarine, and designed by R.J. Mitchell.
Mitchell continued to make modifications to the plane until his death in 1937. The Spitfire made its combat debut came on October 16, 1939. It was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and gained immortal fame during the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain.
The Spitfire and Mitchell are often credited with winning the Battle of Britain. A favourite of its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the all of World War II, in all theatres of the war, and in many different variants. There were 24 marks and many sub-variants for each mark. In fact, between 1938 and 1948, more than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers. There was also a naval version of the Spitfire, called the Seafire.
These planes were specially adapted for operation from naval aircraft carriers. There were over 2,000 of these planes built. Along with the RAF, Spitfires served with most of the Allied air forces in World War II, including the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), South African Air Force (SAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The RAAF, the Royal Indian Air Force and the RAF also used Spitfires against Japanese forces in the Pacific theatre.
The Spitfire was one of only a few foreign aircraft to see service with the United States Army Air Forces. After World War II, the Spitfire remained in use with many air forces around the world. Some Spitfires remained in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft that was in continual production before, during and after the war. The Spitfire was retired by the RAF in 1952.
WWII Aircraft: Throughout WWII there were many advances in technology, and it is also the first war to have ever experience air war fare. Because of this, many different aircraft were built, but they all normally fall under three groups, Fighters, Attackers and Bombers. Of the 3 Groups it's a matter of opinion which one was the most important.
Fighter Aircraft: The Fighter aircraft was a major asset during the war, as they had to be produced to help defend against bombing attacks and fight off attack aircraft. These planes were simply designed to bring down other planes. One of the most iconic fighter aircraft of World War Two was the spitfire. This was used by the RAF and many of the allied countries during the war. Most people have heard of it through its use of helping defend Britain against German air attacks during the Blitz. The aircraft was used for numerous other reasons and is the only plane to have continual production before and after the war. No other basic attack craft like this throughout World War II could rival it for its speed.
The Attack Aircraft were used to attack ground forces. These forms of planes would either be fitted with standard machine guns or Anti Tank weapons. All sides had them, although one of the most infamous types was the Junkers Ju 87, although more widely known as Stuka aircraft. These were piloted by Germans and were primarily used to attack ground troops by dive bombing them with machine guns. Special design features within it gave it an automatic pull up system that enabled the plane to level itself out if the pilot passed out from the high velocity dive bombing attacks.
The final type of aircraft to feature in World War II was the bombers. These aircraft were capable of releasing bombs from great altitudes, making it possible to pass over cities and military targets and destroy them from the air. One of the more widely known ones is the Lancaster Bomber. This British design featured in the second part of the war in 1942. Its four engines meant it could carry heavier loads, so more bombs, and it was the main heavy bomber for the RAF. It was most commonly used for night bombings yet in excelled in precision day bombings as well. British design was a very important part of the making of the different types of aircraft during World War Two.
by Scott Lipe.
World War II was a definitive moment in history for aircraft. For both the military and commercial industry it was the heyday of aircraft production. Before the start of the war the U.S. Army Air Corps had only a few hundred air planes. By the end of the war it was the largest Air Force ever assembled with nearly 80,000 airplanes. Aircraft production and technology improved at dramatic rates as America set the world pace for military and civil aviation. More than 100 types of aircraft were used by the Army Air Force (AAF) during World War II.
During World War II military airplanes consisted of a single wing aluminum airframe, one to four engines and equipment for navigation, armament, communications and crew accommodations. Major advancements in propulsion or engine technology were made during the war and were major sources of competition between aircraft contractors. Throughout the war improvements were made to extend the range and increase speed and altitude limits for most aircraft. Engines achieved greater performance and efficiency. When originally developed, designations for planes were used much the same as they are today with few exceptions. For example F is the designator for a modern day fighter aircraft but in World War II, F meant a photographic plane used for reconnaissance.
During World War II these designators were used: A for attack. B for Bombardment, C for Cargo, L for Liaison, P for Pursuit and T for Training. This letter indicated the function of the plane. The following number indicated sequence within a type as in P-51. If there was a letter after the number it indicated an improved model type such as B-17E. During World War II the primary mission of attack aircraft was to support ground forces in battle and aircraft were designed with this in mind. The attack aircraft provided support and operated primarily at low altitudes.
Also considered a light bomber, the attack planes were known for their high speed, manoeuvrability and weapons. They carried both machine guns and bombs. The A-20, A-24 and A-26 were the attack aircraft most used by the AAF during the war. Bombers Many attackers are using different during the Second World War. The B-17, B-24, B 26 and B-29 were the workhorses of the fleet of AAF. Both B-25 and B 26 were two engines, all metal monoplanes. The B-25 Mitchell and B-26 "Marauder" medium bombers were used primarily at altitudes of 8,000 to 14,000 feet. His main support for land forces attacking fortified positions, depots, yards and other targets behind the battle lines.
He also completed more heavy bombers in the strategic raids. The B17 "Flying Fortress" was the first heavy bomber used during World War II. It is mainly used in Europe before 8 Air Force, but in much lower numbers in the Far East. B-24 Liberator was produced in a quantity greater than any other aircraft during the war. It is used mainly in the Far East against Japan and then the efforts in Europe and North Africa. Two-tail, four-engine is known for the bombing of the Ploesti oil fields in August 1943. USAAF accepted nearly 10,000 B-25 bombers during the Second World War. The "Mitchell" has been used primarily in the southwest Pacific and is best known for his role in the Doolittle raid. In April 1942, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, an attack in Tokyo after taking off from a carrier. Raid was a great morale boost to U.S. forces who were at that time, she was beaten regularly by the Japanese.
B-26 "Marauder" was used mainly in Europe but also saw action in the Mediterranean and Pacific. At the beginning of combat aircraft took heavy losses but was still one of the launchers of medium-range missiles used by the terrorist's most successful USAAF. At the end of the war, B-26 the lowest loss rate of all U.S. bombers used during the war. Staged from bases in India and China, B-29 "Superfortress" was used against the Japanese primarily for daylight bombing. In October 1943 moved 21 Bomber Command B-29 operations Mariana, who later gave their most famous mission. In August 1945, B-29 used to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dropping of atomic bombs ended the Second World War.
The C-47 Skytrain aircraft evolved from the DC-3. It could carry 25 paratroops or up to 10,000 pounds of cargo. Was the standard plug and transport trailer used by the U.S. Air Force during the war and was transferred to the forces of war. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said the C-47 was one of the four main aspects of the victory of the Allies during the Second World War. Fighters P-38 "Lightning" was a single-seat fighter / bomber used extensively in Europe and the Far East. Initially designed as a high-altitude interceptor, which was modified for use as a bomber and photo reconnaissance. America' Top Ace, Major Richard Bong scored most of his 40 victories flying P-38.
One of the big three U.S. soldiers of the war; P-47 was used by many Allied air forces, including the British French and Russian. He served in Europe, the Far East and the Mediterranean and became the first boxer to beat escort missions for B-17s. The "lightning" was known for their ability to survive severe battle damage. One of the main combatants of the war was the P-51 "Mustang". It had been a long-range fighter escort heavy bombers to be used for tasks up to 2000 km. The plane was at the top USAAF air-air fighter during the Second World War. Gilda Handler. Over 60 years ago when the U.S. faced a severe shortage of combat pilots to serve in World War II, a group of incredible women stepped up to help.
These "fly girls" flew light trainers, heavy four-engine bombers, transport aircraft and fighters - virtually every type of Air Force aircraft there was - on missions all around the United States to free up male pilots needed in the war overseas. They were the first women in history to fly American military aircraft and broke ground for female pilots who would later join the ranks of the U.S. Air Force. The Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program was one of the best kept secrets of World War II. WASPs are still unknown to most Americans today, but in the summer of 2009 they gained some hard-earned recognition when President Barack Obama signed into a law a bill that awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal. Getting the WASP program itself off the ground was a hard-won accomplishment against gender bias.
It took more than a decade due to initial resistance from people in the military. In 1930 the War Department considered the idea, but chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps had called the idea of women pilots "utterly unfeasible", because women were too "high strung". As America moved towards war, however, this view softened. In 1939 America's most famous female pilot, Jacqueline Cochran, wrote to then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to propose a women's corps of pilots. By 1942 a women's aviator program was finally launched. As many as 25,000 women volunteered for spots but recruiting requirements were even more stringent than they were for men - women had to already have earned a pilot's license.
Ultimately, only 1,830 volunteers were accepted into the program, of which 1,074 graduated. Recruits made their way from around the country, paying their own way, to a municipal airport in Houston, Texas and later to Avenger Field near Sweetwater where they underwent the same rigorous training as their male counterparts. After graduation the women pilots fanned out to military bases around the country. Their duties included ferrying personnel and supplies, delivering aircraft from one base to another, flight instruction, test flying all types of planes, and towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice - with live ammunition.
In some cases women flew aircraft that some men wouldn't fly, like the B-26 Marauder and the B-29 Superfortress, to demonstrate that these planes weren't as difficult to fly as believed. Overall, they logged 60 million miles in flight. Although they never saw combat, 38 WASPs made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in service to their country. Mary Elizabeth Trebing (shown in photo) of Louisville, Colorado was one of those killed when she encountered engine failure on a PT-19 training flight over northern Oklahoma only 18 months into the program. Gertrude Tompkins is the only WASP who has never been accounted for. She was last seen piloting a P-51D Mustang fighter from Los Angeles and is presumed lost at sea. The search for her plane is still ongoing.
The WASP program grew for two years after its launch until it was suddenly and unceremoniously terminated in December 1944 due to increasing political opposition and a greater availability of male pilots. It did so against the strong opposition of five-star General H. H. "Hap" Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces and one of the initiators of the program, who believed the WASPs were a vital element in the war effort. At the last WASP graduating class, just days before the program's demise, General Arnold honored the women with the following comments: "You... have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was doubt in anyone's mind that women could become skilled pilots, the WASPs dispelled that doubt.
I want to stress how valuable the whole WASP program has been for the country." In the end, America's first women pilots made their way home the way they had come, paying their own way. Even the 38 dead required a collection from colleagues and family alike before their bodies could be shipped home. Although WASPs had enjoyed the privileges of officers, Congress' refusal to militarize a women's program meant the aviatrices remained civil servants in the eyes of the military. They received neither veteran benefits nor recognition from the government for their service to the country.
And because the pilots who died were killed in military aircraft the record of their service was sealed up as Top Secret. For more than 30 years WASPs were the forgotten heroines of World War II. Then in 1976, when the Air Force announced it was training the "first women to fly for the military," surviving WASPs and their supporters came forward to fight for their rightful place in history. In November 1977, 32 years ago this month, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill granting veterans status to former WASPs. This summer President Barack Obama took the gesture even further by signing the bill awarding WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal. Congress commissions these medals as its "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.
After 65 long years, the service of this dedicated group of women is finally making headlines. WASPS played a special role in many Veterans Day celebrations around the country in 2009, and Americans are finally beginning to learn of their country's wartime debt to America's very first fly-girls. Sadly, with former WASPs now reaching into their 80s and 90s, only a fraction of them survive today to accept this long-deserved accolade. But at least their service is now forever recognized, honoured and immortalized.
WomenOf.com owes a special thanks to Gordon and Tracey Page for their assistance with this article.
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