The melodious Wright Cyclone motors of a stock B-17 confirm their ability to power this classic bomber. But the airframe proved capable of adapting other engines for other purposes.
The tiny town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, with a population just under 300, is home to a museum that features historic mementoes of the early days of airmail.
Jerry Vultee’s all-metal single-engine V-1 of 1933 foretold the future, but federal restrictions killed its chance as an airliner and just 27 were built.
It took people to design, build, and fly the airplanes that are featured in Of Wings & Things. Columnist Frederick A. Johnsen takes a brief look at six of those aviation personalities – some you may know, others you may not.
The Army Air Services wanted a ground attack aircraft with heavy firepower and protected by armor plating to ensure its survival in low-altitude battlefield warfare. The GAX (Ground Attack Experimental) didn’t win any beauty contests, with its truncated nose and oversized rudder. Nor did it win friends in the flying community, as the weight of the armor and armament taxed the ability of two Liberty engines to propel it.
At the time of its rollout, the B-19 was called the largest aircraft in the world. The XB-19’s wingspan of 212 feet was more than twice that of a B-17. With a range listed as greater than 5,000 miles and a ferry range of more than 7,000 miles, the XB-19 could use auxiliary bomb bay gas tanks to bring its fuel capacity to 11,000 gallons, which a Douglas publicist likened to the volume carried by a standard railroad tank car of the day.
The Consolidated Fleetster series provided an elegant take on the needs of feeder airlines in the early 1930s. But the fortunes of Consolidated Aircraft lay elsewhere.
The Boeing 221 Monomail showed elegantly simple lines and modern technologies that set the stage for the company’s growth in the design of large aircraft, including the iconic B-17.
The Douglas A-20 Havoc attack bomber represents an advanced pre-war design that proved effective in combat in World War II. Modifications kept the A-20 viable to the end of the war.
The launch from the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley, on Nov. 18, 1922, signaled the beginning of practical aircraft carrier operations.