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Aircraft

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Thu, October 22 2015

Fear and Concealment: Military Aircraft Disguises and Transformations

The Museum’s annual Air & Scare event is taking place this Saturday at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. In the spirit of disguises, costumes, and just plain scary stuff, I thought I would share some examples from the history of military aviation where things were not as they seemed.

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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Shark Nose Art
Wed, September 23 2015

“Knight of Death” Airplane Insignia

You can’t read anything about French World War I pilot Charles Nungesser that doesn’t include descriptors such as flamboyant, audacious, undisciplined, rakish, and insubordinate.

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“Knight of Death” Insignia
Wed, September 2 2015

Pioneer Carries Message Across the Stars

The National Air and Space Museum's full-scale mockup of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft was recently moved to its new location in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall as a part of a major renovation to the gallery.

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Pioneer 10 replica
Sun, August 2 2015

The New Air Show in Town: Aerobatic Flight!

The Aerobatic Flight exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, has a new addition—a film entitled, naturally, Aerobatic Flight! All the excitement of multiple airshows is packed into this lively film through clips of current pilots on the airshow scene and footage of legendary pilots from the dawn of the airshow.

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In Plane View: Extra 260
Thu, July 16 2015

Phrog Farewell

On August 1, the National Air and Space Museum will join with the United States Marine Corps and the National Museum of the Marine Corps to bid adieu to one of the most important American military aircraft of the past 50 years, the Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight, or “Phrog,” as it is almost universally known among Marines.

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CH-46 Lands Supplies
Tue, June 30 2015

Lippisch DM 1 Reconsidered - Part 4

In this four-part series, curators Russ Lee and Evelyn Crellin take an in-depth look at the Lippisch DM 1, an experimental German glider. At the conclusion of Part 3, the glider was tested in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Full-Scale Wind Tunnel. In this final post, Russ and Evelyn connect those early tests with the world's first delta wing aircraft.  We have found no written confirmation that Convair incorporated the NACA data from the DM 1 directly into their groundbreaking work to design and build the first jet-propelled delta wing aircraft.

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Visitors Study the Lippisch DM 1
Thu, June 25 2015

The NACA/NASA Full Scale Wind Tunnel

The Scene: A new wind tunnel, the NACA Full Scale Tunnel at the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, Hampton, Virginia The Time: May 27, 1931 The Action: A Navy Vought O3U-1 “Corsair II” –the whole airplane—is mounted in the wind tunnel.

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Technician Checks Fan Motor in Full Scale Wind Tunnel
Tue, June 23 2015

Lippisch DM 1 Reconsidered - Part 3

In this four-part series, curators Russ Lee and Evelyn Crellin take an in-depth look at the Lippisch DM 1, an experimental German glider. At the conclusion of Part 2, U.S. Army General George S. Patton ordered the students to resume construction of the glider at the Prien Airport. A number of American visitors arrived to witness the construction of the DM 1, including the famous American pioneer of aerodynamics Walter Stuart Diehl.

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Lippisch DM 1
Thu, June 18 2015

Bell X-1 in 3D

In April, the  Smithsonian X 3D team pointed their lasers and scanners at the Bell X-1, the same iconic aircraft that shot Capt. Charles 'Chuck' Yeager across the pristine skies of the Mojave Desert to a record-breaking speed. On October 14, 1947,  in the Bell X-1, Yeager became the first pilot to fly faster than sound. Now, we can all get as close to the Bell X-1 as Yeager himself with the recently released 3D model of the exterior of the aircraft. In honor of the new 3D model and that resounding flight, we've compiled five facts to help you begin your exploration of the aircraft and that key moment in history. We also reached out to Smithsonian X 3D team to find out exactly how one goes about capturing a 3D model. But first, our five facts: 1. To conserve fuel, the X-1 was flown up to 7,620 meters (25,000 ft) attached to the bomb bay of a modified Boeing B-29 bomber and then dropped.  

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Chuck Yeager in Bell X-1
Tue, June 16 2015

Lippisch DM 1 Reconsidered - Part 2

In this four-part series, curators Russ Lee and Evelyn Crellin take an in-depth look at the Lippisch DM 1, an experimental German glider. At the conclusion of Part 1, construction of the glider had begun in August 1944 by students of the Flugtechnische Fachgruppe (FFG). Construction of the experimental glider was derailed dramatically on September 11 and 12, 1944, when Allied bombers struck Darmstadt, including the building that housed the FFG D 33 project.

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Inside the Lippisch DM 1

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