The historic importance of the Sikorsky JRS-1—a weathered blue-gray airplane now on display at our Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia—is not because of the type of airplane it is. Its importance lies in one of the places the JRS-1 has been and survived: Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, Dunkirk, will premiere in theaters this upcoming Friday, July 21. And although you may know it stars actors such as Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, and Cillian Murphy, you may not know that the National Air and Space Museum houses examples of two of the main airplanes featured in the film. We have a Royal Air Force (RAF) Supermarine Spitfire and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 of the Luftwaffe, although the Museum’s aircraft are slightly younger than those that participated in Operation Dynamo.
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Curator Laurence Burke took a step back and explored the long and complicated history that led up to the Japanese attack.
Burke, to an audience outside the Museum’s Sea-Air Operations gallery, said the story of Pearl Harbor often focuses on the events of December 7, 1941, but not what happened before the day that President Roosevelt called, “a date which will live in infamy.”
To understand Pearl Harbor, Burke took the audience back to 1853-1854 when U.S. Naval Captain Matthew C. Perry sailed to Japan and negotiated the opening of Japanese ports for trade. After more than 200 years of self-imposed isolation, Japan wanted to engage with the rest of the world.
Today is Veterans Day, a day in which we honor our veterans, past and present, for their service and sacrifice. One aspect of the Museum’s mission is to commemorate the past. Today, especially, we are doing that by telling the stories of our veterans. We have created a space—Stories of Service—where you can share your experiences as a veteran, or on behalf of the veteran in your life
Earlier this year, our collections staff at the Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, moved the Nakajima Kikka from beneath the wing of the Sikorsky JRS flying boat in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar and out onto the floor beneath the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay. Moving the Kikka provides an opportunity to bring visitors closer to the last known example of a World War II Japanese jet aircraft and the only Japanese jet to takeoff under its own power—it also opened up space in the Hangar so that our team could install netting to deter birds.
The Museum is proud to have the Ilyushin Il-2 in its collections, as one of the few large artifacts in the Museum's possession associated with the Soviet Air Force in World War II. Once on exhibition, the plane will close a large void in the Museum’s presentation. But before the Shturmovik can enter the workshop, we have to learn as much as possible about the aircraft and its history.
At the Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility, a unique aircraft is waiting for restoration: the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2. Barely known in the West, the Il-2 Shturmovik played an essential role in defeating the Nazi...