If World War I showed the nations of the world how the airplane could vault over ground emplacements to strike at an enemy, the combatants also came to appreciate the efficacy of using aircraft as ambulances to surmount obstacles and save precious time flying away from the fray. [Read more…]
It was rare — almost like lottery-winning rare — as three World War II Bell P-63 Kingcobras and one predecessor P-39 Airacobra landed at Wittman Field in late July for EAA AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
These aluminum ‘Cobras have become more furtive than their reptilian namesakes. To see one at an air show is a treat. To see four is, well, it’s Oshkosh.
The warbird ramp where the four ‘Cobras parked was awash in questions from visitors. So here’s a recap of the Oshkosh ‘Cobra convention, beginning with a brief background history on the P-39 and P-63. [Read more…]
It was not uncommon for mass-produced aircraft of the 20th Century to stick with one type of engine, albeit with model advances as the engines improved.
All production B-17s except the Model 299 prototype flew with some version of the Wright R1820 radial; B-24s were loyal to Pratt & Whitney R1830s.
The Douglas DC-3/C-47 series bucked that trend early, as commercial DC-3 variants tended to ride on Wright 1820s, while military C-47 versions were typically powered by Pratt 1830s. [Read more…]
The World War I Curtiss Jenny trainer evolved from less-than-optimal JN-1 and JN-2 models of 1915 to the definitive JN-4D that found its stride 100 years ago.
In the spirit of centennial commemorations, a look back at the Jenny is in order. [Read more…]
The World War II German air force — the Luftwaffe — was a force to be reckoned with.
It can be argued that the last six months of World War II in Europe saw a calculated battle of attrition in which the Allies pitted large numbers of good aircraft and well-trained crews against smaller numbers of advanced German fighters and the facilities that built them and made their fuel.
Aviator Nat Browne had a plan he figured would enable his single-engine Fokker Universal to fly from Seattle to Tokyo before anyone else could do it. [Read more…]
There comes a time in the life of every airplane when it cannot feasibly move under its own power.
Ways of towing aircraft have been varied and ingenious since the early days of aviation. [Read more…]
This is the inaugural relaunch of a grand tradition, the wonderful and eclectic “Of Wings & Things” column created in 1972 by aviation historian and renaissance man Peter M. Bowers.
For more than three decades, Pete blended a series of photographs with his encyclopedic knowledge of aviation to create an interesting story in each column. Sometimes vintage, sometimes current, sometimes military, and always intriguing, Pete’s column was a package I looked forward to receiving when I was editor of General Aviation News‘ predecessor, Western Flyer, in the late 1970s.
Most people remember the late Peter M. Bowers as the designer of experimental aircraft, an eminent aviation historian and the writer of “Of Wings & Things” in General Aviation News.
He is perhaps best remembered for the single-place FlyBaby, but did you know that he also created a two-place mid-wing design in the 1970s?
The airplane was known as the Bowers Model 4 or “Namu II” because it looked like an Orca of the same name at the Seattle Aquarium.
The airplane is currently owned by Don Norman of Oak Harbor, Wash.
This is a classic Of Wings & Things from the 1980s. GAN continues to run the late Mr. Bowers’ columns for the enjoyment of his readers.