Trip to New York and Washington DC, visiting the former aircraft carrier Intrepid, the Udvar-Hazy Center and the Museum in DC
Visit to New York
In May 2017, I was going to visit New York for business. Maurits had not been in New York before, and asked if he could join. We added three days to trip. We would arrive in New York on Sunday afternoon, 21 May 2017, and fly back the week later on Sunday. From Monday until Wednesday I would be in the office, while Maurits was going to tour New York City. From Thurday until Sunday we would rent a car at Newark airport. On Thursday we would first fly the Hudson River tour out of Caldwell airport, and then continue to Washington DC. In Washington DC we would visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at its two locations; the Udvar-Hazy Center located near Dulles airport on Friday, and the Museum in DC on Saturday. On Sunday morning we would drive back to Newark.
The weather was not that good during our stay in New York, and also on Thursday it was raining, so we could not fly the Hudson River tour. Instead on Thursday morning we visited the in 1974 decommissioned Aircraft Carrier Intrepid, now the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Since 2012 the Space Shuttle Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid. I had also seen the Enterprise on the back of the Shuttle Carrier 747 aircraft in July 1983, when is was flying a demonstration flight low along the Dutch Coast. A vitrine also showed the Space Shuttle in popular culture, such as in the James Bond movie "Moonraker" with Roger Moore, who just had passed away that week on Tuesday.
After the visit, we went back to our hotel to collect our luggage before going to Newark airport. There we picked-up our rental car, and we drove to Herndon, west of Washington DC, and not far from the Steven F.Udvar-Hazy Center.
Maurits at the Intrepid
Model of the Intrepid 1943 configuration
Space shuttle prototype Enterprise
Space shuttle in popular culture
Intrepid flight deck
Delaware Memorial Bridge
Smithsonian Air and Space museum; Steven F.Udvar-Hazy Center
On Friday we visited the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Air and Space museum just south of Dulles airport. The museum is three times the size of the DC museum. For the general public the highlights include the SR-71 Blackbird, Space Shuttle Discovery and the B-29 Enola Gay. To my personal highlights I would add the German Arado Ar234, Dornier Do335 and Heinkel He219, and the American Lockheed P38 Lightning, the Curtiss P40 Warhawk, the Republic P47 Thunderbolt and, of course, the North American P51 Mustang. A favorite is the Junkers Ju52, essentially a Civil Aircraft stemming from the early 1930s (A few years back I received a round trip flight on the Junkers Ju52 as a birthday gift from my wife Veleda. We bought two more tickets, and we made a nice trip with the Ju52 out of Friedrichshafen).
The Arado Ar 234 was the world's first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. The Ar 234s that reached Luftwaffe units provided excellent service.
The Dornier Do335 "Pfeil" was a heavy fighter. The Pfeil's performance was much better than other twin-engine designs due to its unique "push-pull" layout and the much lower aerodynamic drag of the in-line alignment of the two engines.
René with the Arado Ar234 Blitz
Dornier Do335 Pfeil
The Focke-Wulf 190 entered service in 1941 and flew throughout World War 2 on all fronts. It was the only German single-seat fighter powered by a radial engine and the only fighter of the war with electrically operated landing gear and flaps.
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the first and only rocket-powered fighter aircraft to see operational service.
Focke-Wulf Fw190 Würger
Messerschmitt Me163 Komet
The He 219 has been described as the best night fighter operated in World War II by the Luftwaffe. It may have been the best night fighter of the war. Only the American Northrop P-61 "Black Widow" shares the He 219's unique status of being designed for night operation. The He 219 was fast, maneuverable, and carried devastating firepower. Advanced features included cannons mounted to fire at an oblique angle, the first steerable nosewheel on an operational German aircraft, and the world's first ejection seats on an operational aircraft. The Lichtenstein SN-2 advanced VHF-band intercept radar was also used on the Ju 88G and Bf 110G night fighters.
Killing the Luftwaffe in World War 2
American author Jay Stout wrote about the USAAF against Germany in World War II. Excerpts;
The RAF's leadership did not have a plan for destroying the Luftwaffe. Bomber Command did not put together an effective or coherent campaign to target the industries that supported the Luftwaffe. The night operations, especially early in the war, were simply too inaccurate to deliver the sorts of effects that were required. Consequently, the decision was taken to simply strike Germany's cities in order to terrorize, kill, and "dehouse" the population. The air war could have gone on forever.
Germany declaring war on the United States on December 11, 1941, against the world's greatest industrial power, regardless of the fact that it was an ocean away, was a grave error. The Americans had the strategy, will, equipment, and, most importantly, the people to do the job. It took them fewer than three years. On July 2, 1942, the Eight Air Force had three combat aircraft in England. When Germany surrendered in May 1945, the USAAF was operating more than 17,000 aircraft in Europe and the Mediterranean.
The Lockheed P38 Lightning is an American twin-engined fighter aircraft. The P38 was the only American fighter aircraft in high-volume production throughout American involvement in the war.
Whether known as the Warhawk, Tomahowk, or Kittyhawk, the Curtiss P40 proved to be a sucessful versatile fighter during the first half of World War II. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during the war, and remained in frontline service until the end of the war. The P40 was inferior to Luftwaffe fighters in high-altitude combar and it ware rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. However, the P40 played a critical rolw with Allied forces in North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and China.
The Lockheed P38 Lightning
Curtiss P40 Warhawk
Republic P47 Thunderbolt pilots flew into battle with the roar of a 2,000-horsepower radial engine and the flash of eight .50 caliber machine guns. This combination of a robust, reliable engine and heavy armament made the P47 a feared ground-attack aircraft. The United States built more P47s than any other fighter airplane.
The North American Aviation P51 Mustang entered service in Europe in late 1943 as a long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber. The Mustangs were used by the USAAF's Eight Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany. The P51 "Excalibur III" on display flew on May 29, 1951 from Norway across the North Pole to Alaska in a record-setting 10.5 hours.
Republic P47 Thunderbolt
North American Aviation P51 Mustang
The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, a feat made possible by the use of on-board radar. The prototype first flew in 1942. P-61 combat operations began just after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Black Widows flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic. Operations in the Pacific began at about the same time. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater.
The Vought F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War 2 and the Korean War. From the first prototype delivered in 1940 to final delivery in 1953 to the French, 12,571 F4U Corsairs were manufactured. It was the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in US history.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was originally conceived as an advanced version of the US Navy's then current front-line fighter, the F4F Wildcat. The carrier-based fighter aircraft was the US Navy's dominant fighter in the second half of the Pacific War. 12,275 were built in just over two years.
Vought F4U Corsair
René with a Grumman F6F Hellcat
Affectionately known in Germany as Tante Ju, or "Auntie Ju," the Junkers Ju 52/3m was one of the most successful European airliners ever made. Designed for Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1932, the Ju 52/3m was a tri-motor version of the single-engine Ju-52. It could carry 17 passengers or 3 tons of freight and had excellent short-field performance.
The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, the world's fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird on display accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the US Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, the aircraft set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington DC, in just over 1 hour and 4 minutes.
Spanish built Junkers Ju52; CASA 352-L
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Discovery was the third Space Shuttle orbiter vehicle to fly in space. It entered service in 1984 and retired in 2011 from spaceflight as the oldest and most accomplished orbiter. Discovery flew on 39 Earth-orbital missions.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing which was flown primarily by the United States during World War II in the Pacific theater, and the Korean War. It was one of the largest aircraft operational during World War II and featured state of the art technology. On 6 August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, the Enola Gay became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. The bomb, code-named "Little Boy", was targeted at the city of Hiroshima, Japan.
Space Shuttle Discovery
Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay
On Saturday morning, 27 May 2017, we took the Metro Silver Line to Metro Center station in Washington DC. From Metro Center station we first walked to the White House, then to the World War 2 memorial, and to the Lincoln Memorial. It was Memorial Weekend. Memorial Day is a US holiday on the last Monday of May for remembering the people who died serving in the country's armed forces. At the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial there were many people gathered for the Memorial Weekend. We heard a lot of people dressed in bikers outfit speaking with a southern accent, and although I don't know, automatically we felt that we were mostly surrounded by Republicans. After visiting the Lincoln Memorial, we briefly visited Arlington Cemetery on the other side of the Potomac River. From there we took the Metro Blue Line to the Smithsonian station to visit the Air and Space museum.
Sights of Washington DC
It was very crowded at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, probably also because of the Memorial Weekend, but it may be crowded at other weekends as well. We had to wait for about 20 minutes in line to enter the museum. At the entrance from the Mall there is the Lunar Module 2 from the Apollo space program. Above it hangs the Spirit of St. Louis that was flown by Charles Lindbergh in May 1927 on the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.
The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) was a two-stage vehicle designed by Grumman to ferry two astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back. The Lunar Module on display (LM2) was built for a second unmanned Earth-orbit test flight. Because the test flight of LM1 was so successful, a second mission was deemed unnecessary. LM2 was used for ground testing prior to the first successful Moon-landing mission.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was the US Navy's main carrier-borne scout plane and dive bomber from mid-1940 through mid-1944. It played a major role throughout the Pacific. On June 4, 1942, during the Battle of Midway, SBDs destroyed four Japanese carriers, dramatically altering the course of the war.
Maurits with a Lunar Module
Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
The Grumman F4F Wildcat began service in the US Navy in 1940. The Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the US Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the war in 1941 and 1942. The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero could outmaneuver the F4F, but the Wildcat's heavy armament and solid construction gave it an advantage when flown by skilled pilots.
The Mitsubishi A6M Reiser (Zero) was a long-range fighter aircraft operated by the Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. When the Zero was introduced early in World War 2, it was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world. During the war the Zero became less effective against newer US fighters.
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat
Mitsubishi A6M Reisen (Zero Fighter)
Many people consider the North American 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.
The Messerschmitt Bf109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. The Bf109 first saw operational service in 1937 and was still in service at the end of World War II.
North American P-51 Mustang
Because it was so crowded, we only stayed in the museum for about an hour, and we did by far not see everything. We walked to the Capitol, but we did not get near because of a security ring around the Capitol. It would have been possible to visit the Capitol via a side way, but we overheard that it would be closed soon for the day. We walked back along the Mall to the Smithsonian Metro station, and we went back to the hotel.
The next morning we drove to Newark for our flight to Amsterdam later in the afternoon.
- The Arado Ar 234
The world's first operational jet bomber and reconnaissance aircraft
- Junkers 52 flight
Junkers 52 flight from Friedrichtshafen, 11 Aug 2013
Early history of sailplanes
- Dornier Museum
Dornier Museum at Friedrichshafen airport
- Erbrobungsstelle Rechlin
The Third Reich era's Luftwaffe main testing ground
- Trip report Peenemünde
Peenemünde, Rechlin-Lärz and Uelzen, 19 April 2011
- Trip report Munich
Deutsches Museum and Flugwerft Schleissheim, 16/17 July 2016
- The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The USAAF against Germany in World War II; author Jay A. Stout