Exhibitions - National Mall Building
Second floor - Gallery 203
You don't enter this gallery; you come aboard. The shrill whistle of a bosun's call sounds as you cross onto the quarterdeck of the mythical aircraft carrier USS Smithsonian
. Inside is a scaled-down re-creation of a hangar deck bay. The surrounding structures and equipment are from actual aircraft carriers. You can poke around in a ready room, a combined living room and briefing area, or go upstairs and visit the navigation bridge and PriFly, the ship's air traffic control center. From these two rooms you can watch "cat shots" and "traps" (takeoffs and landings) filmed on a U.S. Navy carrier. Balconies overlook the four carrier aircraft in the hangar bay: a Boeing F4B-4 biplane, Grumman F4F Wildcat, Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless, and Douglas A-4C Skyhawk. Also here are exhibits on carrier warfare in World War II and on modern carrier aviation.