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Mini Pilot Reports

Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Zero! Normally that’s a number signifying nothing, but to those who know history it indicates an able foe. A dainty, but lethal, dancer that cut a swath across the Pacific so bloody that for the first six months of World War Two it appeared as if nothing could stop it. The stories that filtered back […]
Curtis P-40 Warhawk: Warrior to the end

Curtis P-40 Warhawk: Warrior to the end

The P-40 Warhawk will never be enshrined in the Hall of Fame of Fantastic Fighters. It was too slow, couldnít turn tight enough, was hard to handle on the ground and, compared to some fighters, had nasty stall characteristics. Further, its hydraulic system was too complicated, its landing gear too rudimentary and its Allison V-12 […]

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P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

One thing we often forget is that war is always fought by kids and, in the case of WW II aviators, that meant they were also extremely inexperienced. When I flew my first fighter, which happened to be the Mustang, I was 29 years old and had nearly 2,500 hours of flight time in a […]
The Marvelous Gooney Bird: Douglas DC-3/C-47

The Marvelous Gooney Bird: Douglas DC-3/C-47

It could be argued that modern air transportation began in 1931 with the tragic death of Knute Rockne, the much-loved Notre Dame football coach. A national figure of legendary status, his death in a Fokker Tri-motor airliner touched off a national furor to upgrade airline transportation. The airlines responded immediately with frantic demands to the […]

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GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

Today it’s impossible to think of the golden age of air racing without an R-1 or R-2 Gee Bee roaring across the mind’s eye. To the aviation public, the Gee Bees air racing — and vice versa. And that’ s only right. When Granville engineer, Pete Miller, drafted the first lines for the “R” series of […]
Focke-Wulf FW-190D: The Luftwaffe’s Long Nosed “Butcher Bird”

Focke-Wulf FW-190D: The Luftwaffe’s Long Nosed “Butcher Bird”

When Grumman engineering pilots climbed out of a captured FW-190A in England after their first flight, they were astounded: it made their beloved Hellcat look like a plow horse. It was light, rolled like lightning and climbed like an artillery shell. It represented a whole new world of performance that was only just beginning to […]

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Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

by Budd Davisson Okay, so we’ll admit it: just about every successful fighter of WWII was sleeker and sexier than a Hellcat. However, when it comes to fighters, “beauty is in the doing” and the Hellcat could do it. In spades! In terms of what it contributed to victory, it was the uncontested King of […]
SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

by Budd Davisson When World War One broke out in 1914, the airplane was barely eleven years old and was nothing more than a plodding, noisy kite barely more dangerous than an observation balloon. As a weapon, it was difficult to take seriously. Four short years later it had been transformed into a multi-dimensional weapon […]

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Pitts Special: The soul of the man lives on

Pitts Special: The soul of the man lives on

by Budd Davisson Okay, let’s get one thing absolutely clear: the Pitts Special is NOT, repeat NOT, just an airplane. I know some people think that it is, but ask any long time Pitts driver and we’ll all tell you the same thing: there are airplanes and there are Pitts Specials and the two shouldn’t […]
Super Stearman: Bulging Biplane Biceps

Super Stearman: Bulging Biplane Biceps

What do you get when you take any airplane and more than double its horsepower? For one thing you get much bigger grins every time you move the throttle forward for takeoff. The 450 Stearman, the so-called “Super Stearman,” is a classic case in point. Originally born with a puny 220 hp, W-670 Continental radial […]
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