Arsenal of Democracy Aircraft

Arsenal of Democracy Aircraft: Learn What Aircraft to Spot in the 75th World War ll Victory Commemoration Flyover

By Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Arsenal of DemocracyOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover

The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II with over 60 aircraft taking to the skies over Washington, D.C. on Friday, September 25, 2020. The formations will represent major battles and host over 20 types of vintage military aircraft. In this exhibit, you are invited to explore a few of the planes with spotter cards!

Stinson L-5 SentinelOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Liaison and Patrol Aircraft

Liaison aircraft in World War ll were mainly used in missions regarding observation and information gathering and transport of personnel. Three liaison and patrol aircraft will be showcased in the flyover: the L-5 Sentinel, the L-4 Grasshopper, and the PBY Catalina.

The Stinson L-5 Sentinel in this image is an example of a World War ll liaison aircraft and is located at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

L-5 Sentinel (2)Original Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Stinson L-5 Sentinel

Versatile, durable, and an important aircraft of World War II, the L-5 flew a wide variety of missions: photo reconnaissance, resupply, evacuation of wounded, message courier, VIP transport, and artillery spotting. Its design was roughly derived from the pre-war Stinson Model 105 Voyager. The Army Air Corps purchased six Voyagers from Vultee Aircraft (which had acquired Stinson) in 1941 for testing. Refitted with the Lycoming O-435-1 engine, the aircraft was designated the Model 75. While it had features and components of the Voyager series, it was fundamentally a new design.

Piper L-4 Grasshopper SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Piper L-4 Grasshopper

Consolidated PBY-5A SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Consolidated PBY Catalina

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was the U.S. Navy's most successful patrol flying boat of the war, but naval aviators also used the PBY to attack ships at night, and to search for and rescue people stranded at sea. Many aviation experts considered the PBY Catalina obsolete when the war started but combat proved the critics wrong. The 'Cat' had two noteworthy attributes that made the airplane prized by American aviators and the flight crews of other Allied nations: great range and excellent durability. By VJ Day, August 15, 1945, Consolidated and its licensees had built 3,282 PBYs, more than any flying boat or seaplane ever built.

Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 KaydetSmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Trainer Aircraft

Trainer Aircraft were used to, you guessed it, train pilots! Six trainer aircraft will be showcased in the flyover, including the PT-17 Kaydet, the PT-19 Cornell, the T-6 Texan and its variants, the Navy SNJ and the British Harvard, and the DH.82a Tiger Moth.

This Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet, the U.S. Navy version of the PT-17, is an example of a trainer aircraft and a part of the collection at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Fairchild PT-19 Cornell SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Fairchild PT-19 Cornell

During World War II, the Fairchild PT-19 introduced thousands of new pilots to the magic of flight. It was one of the most widely produced U. S. training aircraft. Along with the venerable Boeing-Stearman PT-13/-17 series (also in National Air and Space's collection), the PT-19 was a critical part of the primary flight training program run by the U.S. Army Air Forces, U.S. Navy, and a number of Allied nations.

De Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

De Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth

North American T-6 Texan SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

North American T-6 Texan

During World War ll, the SNJ-4 became the advanced trainer for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Royal Air Force among many other air forces. The Army then designated it the AT-6 Texan (Advanced Trainer No. 6), and the Navy designated it the SNJ with the S standing for "Scout" which translates to advanced trainer, while the Royal Air Force designated it the Harvard. Ultimately more than 40 countries acquired this remarkable aircraft over a production run that started in 1935 and did not end until the 1950s, including modifications. Because not all the records are available it is not possible to state precisely how many were built but it is very close to 15,000.

Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet

Supermarine Spitfire HF. Mk. VIIc (1938) by Supermarine Aviation Works (Vickers) Ltd.Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Fighter Aircraft

World War ll witnessed a complex evolution of air fighting. Fighter aircraft played an essential role in the battles and progression of the war. Various fighter aircraft will be showcased in the flyover, including: the Supermarine Spitfire, the Fairey Firefly, the Hawker Hurricane, the P-39 Airacobra, the P-40 Warhawk, the F4U Corsair, the FM-2 Wildcat, the P-51 Mustang, and the F-8F-1 Bearcat.

The Supermarine Spitfire HF. Mk. VIIc in this image is one example of a fighter aircraft and is part of the collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Supermarine Spitfire Spotter (2)Original Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Supermarine Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire is a legend in British air history. With the Hawker Hurricane, it successfully defended England against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and throughout the war it saw service on every major front. Performance and handling were superb. In all, 20,351 Spitfires were built.

Fairey Firefly MK.V SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Fairey Firefly Mk.V

Hawker Hurricane SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Hawker Hurricane

Designed in the late 1930s, when monoplanes were considered unstable and too radical to be successful, the Hurricane was the first British monoplane fighter and the first British fighter to exceed 483 kilometers (300 miles) per hour in level flight. Hurricane pilots fought the Luftwaffe and helped win the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940.

Bell P-39 Airacobra SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Bell P-39 Airacobra

Robert J. Woods, chief engineer at the Bell Aircraft Corporation, designed the P-39 around one primary component--the 37mm cannon. Considerable trial and error was required to avoid sacrificing the important airframe and engine requirements, such as speed and maneuverability, to the cannon's weight, size, and recoil characteristics. The final scheme mounted the engine amidships behind the pilot and cannon. A long drive shaft connected the engine and propeller gearbox. The cannon was located between the pilot and the propeller so that the gun could fire through the propeller hub. Woods envisioned the large space under the cannon as a place to store the retractable nosewheel and the Airacobra became the first Air Corps single-engine airplane with a tricycle landing gear.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Whether it was the Tomahawk, Warhawk, or Kittyhawk, the Curtiss P-40 was a successful and versatile fighter aircraft during the first half of World War II. P-40s were first-line Army Air Corps fighters at the start of the war but they soon gave way to more advanced designs such as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. The P-40 is not ranked among the best overall fighters of the war, but it was a rugged, effective design available in large numbers early in the war when America and her allies urgently required them. The P-40 remained in production from 1939 to the end of 1944 and a total of 13, 737 were built.

Vought F4U Corsair SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Vought F4U Corsair

The F4U had a great impact on the Pacific air war. Pilots could use the Corsair's speed and firepower to engage the more maneuverable Japanese airplanes only when the advantage favored the Americans. Unprotected by armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, no Japanese fighter or bomber could withstand for more than a few seconds the concentrated volley from the six .50 caliber machine guns carried by a Corsair.

Grumman F4F Wildcat SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Grumman F4F Wildcat

Leroy Grumman's F4F Wildcat was not the fastest or most advanced fighter aircraft of World War II, but during the dark months after Pearl Harbor, Wildcat pilots stood firm, held the line, and stopped the Imperial Japanese military air forces when they seemed invincible. After war erupted in the Pacific, the Grumman F4F Wildcat was the primary fighter aircraft operated by the United States Navy and the Marine Corps. By 1942 every American Navy fighter squadron flew the F4F. Wildcat pilots encountered Japanese pilots flying the Mitsubishi A6M Zero more than any other enemy aircraft. The Zero could outmaneuver the F4F, but the Wildcat's heavy armament and solid construction gave it an advantage when flown by skilled pilots.

North American P-51 Mustang SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

North American P-51 Mustang

Many people consider the P-51 Mustang the best fighter of World War II. Its combination of speed, range, maneuverability, and firepower gave it great versatility. Its use in all major theaters of the war included long-range high-altitude escort, strafing, and photo reconnaissance. Originally developed by North American for the British, the Mustang was later ordered in large quantities by the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Grumman F8F Bearcat SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Grumman F8F Bearcat

Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder "Flak-Bait"Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Bomber Aircraft

Bomber Aircraft were used for a variety of missions. One of the most well-known World War ll bomber aircraft is a Martin B-26 Marauder nicknamed, "Flak-Bait." Flak-Bait flew over 200 missions, more than any other U.S. aircraft in the war, and is a part of the collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Six bomber aircraft will be showcased in the flyover, including: the DH.98 Mosquito, the TBM Avenger, the A-26 Invader, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-25 Mitchell, and the B-29 Superfortress.

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito

Mosquitoes excelled at day and night bombing from high or very low altitudes, long-range reconnaissance, air-to-air combat in daylight and darkness, and finding and striking distant targets at sea. No less than forty-two distinct versions of the D. H. 98 entered service. At extreme speeds, Mosquitoes carried heavy loads great distances because of two key design features: a lightweight, streamlined, wooden airframe propelled by powerful, reliable engines. There has never been a more successful, combat-proven warplane made of wood.

Grumman TBM Avenger SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Grumman TBM Avenger

Douglas A-26 Invader SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Douglas A-26 Invader

North American B-25 Mitchell SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

North American B-25 Mitchell

The B-25 Mitchell drew heavily on the NA-40, an earlier North American design. The general layout and engine type remained unchanged, but designers tweaked the B-25 by lowering the wing and revising the cockpit to side-by-side seating. The origin of the distinctive twin vertical fin and rudder layout on the B-25 remains obscure but may simply have been a designer's whim. Whatever the original intent, it made the Mitchell rock solid and controllable if an engine quit. This occurred frequently in combat. Depending on weight, the airplane could maintain altitude or even climb on a single engine, but asymmetrical drag caused the B-25 to yaw into the dead motor. Two fins and rudders increased the pilot's ability to maintain control. Duplicate fins and rudders also added redundancy to a critical flight control (particularly in multi-engine aircraft) should enemy fire disable or destroy either vertical tail unit.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

By William VandivertLIFE Photo Collection

Transport Aircraft

Transport aircraft were often sent on missions regarding moving cargo, equipment, and soldiers. Three types of transport aircraft will be showcased in the flyover: the C-45 Expeditor, the C-47 Skytrain, and the C-46 Commando.

Curtis C-46 Commando SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Curtis C-46 Commando

Douglas C-47 Skytrain SpotterOriginal Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

Affectionately known as the "Gooney Bird," the C-47 was the primary military transport of the Allies during World War ll. More than 10,000 were built, with most serving with the Army Air Forces as the C-47 Skytrain, the U.S. Navy as the R4D, and the Royal Air Force as the Dakota. The C-47 was sturdy, reliable, and rugged and was capable of carrying 6,000 pounds of cargo over long distances. It was the backbone of the Allied military airlift and served with distinction in every theater of the war. Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower thought it one of the most significant military assets responsible for the Allies' victory over the Axis, yet it was merely a slightly modified airliner.

Credits: Story

Credit: More information on a few of these aircraft can be found at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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