Jay I. Kislak World War II in the Air will examine how the wartime revolution in technology and tactics redefined the promise and peril of military aviation, as well as explore the dramatic changes to flight and America's role in world affairs.
The exhibition will feature fighter aircraft such as the North American P-51D Mustang, the Eastern Aircraft (Grumman) FM-1 Wildcat, and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G, as well as smaller artifacts that tell the stories of workers from all walks of life that helped the United States and its Allies achieve victory.
Learn about all the ways we're transforming the Museum.
Jay I. Kislak World War II in the Air is made possible by the generous support of:
Kislak Family Foundation / Jay I. Kislak
Daniels Fund in Honor of Bill Daniels
In Memory of Harold E. Hodel
Stuart and Paula Fred
The Delman Family
Mary E. Jenkins
Foster and Coco Stanback
In Honor of Jim Todd
Paul R. Wood
Lt. Clifford Allen of Chicago, Illinois, stands in front of a C-47 preparing to drop the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. The 555th was the only African American parachute unit and was not ready in time to deploy to Europe. Instead, as incendiary Japanese balloon bombs were launched towards the U.S. in mid-1945 in hopes of starting large fires in the Pacific Northwest, the 555th was assigned to jump on fires to extinguish them as part of “Operation Fire Fly.” The unit made 15 such jumps. Note the 150-foot rope for descending from tall trees; the plastic helmet and catcher's mask were protection against branches and brambles.
A riveter works on a wing panel of a Vultee A-31 Vengance dive bomber at Vultee’s Nashville, Tennessee, plant in February 1943.
Lt. Hiawatha Mohawk, one of the few Native American fighter pilots of World War II, flew with the 319th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group. Here, he straps into his Republic P-47 for a mission in Italy supporting ground troops of the Fifth Army. Mohawk had two aerial victories during the war and went on to a long career flying fast jets in the Air Force.
When military leaders agreed and approved the creation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), about 25,000 American women applied to be an auxiliary part of the home-front army. A fraction of the applicants — 1,820 in total —were accepted into the program, and 1,074 graduated. The WASP flew 60 million miles in all types of military aircraft, including fighters and B-17 and B-29 bombers, and paved the way for today’s fully vested female military pilots. These women ferried aircraft, cargo and personnel; tested aircraft; and towed targets throughout the 48 states, filling in gaps left by male pilots who had been sent to war.
Here, Lt. Robert Williams, a maintenance officer, briefs Lorena Daily, a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) before she departs with a Beechcraft C-45 assigned to the Royal Air Force (probably for multiengine training). Daily had learned to fly from famed barnstormer “Tex” Rankin. She joined the WASP in 1943 and ferried a range of aircraft across the U.S., including the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
An intelligence officer briefs pilots for “Operation Strangle” in spring 1944. They were to attack key supply lines keeping German forces operating in Italy.