Archive for the 'Aircraft' Category

Oct 8

The Retro Bomb

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 12:01 AM

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Author’s note: The term “retro bomb” is used throughout this article in preference to the alternate “retrorocket” which to the modern reader might cause confusion. The later term was often used at the time this weapon was in service, as a retrorocket as we know it today had yet to exist. On 24 February 1944, Patrol Squadron VP-63 scored their first victory against a German U-boat, marking almost two years of development and use of their unique weapon, the retro bomb. Two of their PBY Catalina aircraft drove U-761 to the surface and forced its abandonment off Gibraltar. Weeks after… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 3

Operation Sea Orbit

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 12:01 AM

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At the end of a six month cruise to the Mediterranean, the aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the cruiser, USS Long Beach (CGN-9) and the destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), the first three nuclear powered ships of the U.S. Navy made a five month sojourn around the world. The tour demonstrated the power and ability of these ships, without taking on fuel or provisions the ships could still be battle ready when they returned to home port. As the force sailed around the world, a firepower show was performed for dignitaries of the various countries. To accommodate the dignitaries, a viewing… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 25

We All Scream For Ice Cream: World War II and America’s Sweet Tooth

Thursday, July 25, 2019 12:01 AM

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It’s late July, and in Maryland and most of the United States, this month provides one certainty: it is hot. There are plenty of ways to combat the heat, from taking a swim to just staying indoors in the relative protection of air conditioning, but there’s one form of cooling off that never gets old for me, and that’s having an ice cream. Something about that first taste always transports me – if I don’t get a brain freeze – to other sunny afternoons and happy days, and I can never eat an ice cream on a hot day without… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 10

That Time the Navy Learned the Way to Beat a Zero is to Catch a Zero

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 7:41 AM

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Japanese Zero crashed in marsh.

During the Cold War air-to-air warfare was alive and well. The Soviets had a huge air force, and their fighters were a viable threat to NATO aircraft. As a result, American fighter crews trained extensively in matters pertaining to shooting down other airplanes. Among the air-to-air training programs was a super-secret one called “Constant Peg.” In the late ’70s the U.S. Air Force came into possession of a few Soviet aircraft (MiG 21s and 23s) that Israel captured from Syria. Over the years that inventory grew to more than a dozen airplanes acquired from places like Pakistan and China. The… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 18

Aviator and Antarctic Adventurer: Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 12:01 AM

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While doing research for my last blog topic, the Trans-Atlantic Flight of the NC-4, I stumbled across a name that I’ve seen many times during the Naval Institute’s photo digitization project: Richard E. Byrd. Byrd was one of the men who was consulted for the flight plan of the NC-4, and his name titles a series of Antarctic expeditions I personally scanned and researched for our new digital photo archive. It wasn’t until seeing his name appear connected to the NC-4, however, that the realization I knew so little about this renowned adventurer himself hit me. Just who was Richard… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 2

This Day in Naval History: June 2 – FIRST Aircraft Escort Carrier

Sunday, June 2, 2019 12:01 AM

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Aerial port broadside view of USS Long Island (CVE-1) underway.

On June 2, 1941, the USS Long Island (AVG-1) was commissioned as the first Auxiliary Aircraft Escort Carrier. The design led to more experimentation, turning merchant ships into aircraft carriers. By the end of World War II, there were more escort carriers than aircraft carriers. You are probably wondering what is an escort carrier? Don’t you mean an aircraft carrier? Wasn’t the first carrier called the Langley? Yes, the aircraft carrier came before the escort carrier. During World War II, there was a shortage of aircraft transport vessels. As a result, the escort carrier was created out of merchant ships… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 21

The Transatlantic Flight of the NC-4

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 12:01 AM

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While outside we enter the second-half of May and quickly descend into June, as I work away inside the archive, my mind inevitably wanders to the subject that seems to be on everyone’s mind this time of year: Summer travel plans. Even for those no longer bound to the timetable of the educational system, Summer is still synonymous with vacation and travel, myself included. But with my occupation, even my thoughts on travel end up turning in a historical direction. One hundred years ago, in 1919, our main mode of long-distance transportation today was still a scary, new technology that… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 8

The Eagles Return

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 12:01 AM

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On 8 May 1919, the waterfront of Halifax harbor was lined with spectators awaiting the arrival of three U.S. Navy seaplanes from Long Island on the first leg of their much-heralded attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Reports of their progress were received during the afternoon as they moved along the south shore of Nova Scotia and finally, at 7:40 pm, two of the aircraft, NC-3 and NC-1, landed safely in the harbor. These were Navy Curtiss or NC (Nancy) flying boats, designed as self-deploying anti-submarine aircraft and intended for combat duties. But when NC Seaplane Division One was commissioned… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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