Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

National Air and Space Museum

April 2006 Visit

In 2004 we visited the new Udvar-Hazy museum.  In April 2006, on our way to Toledo for the NAMES show, we stopped there again to see what changes had take place.  Pictures of the first visit can be seen at

PICT0083.JPG (96913 bytes)  The Westland Lysander was the first British airplane stationed in France during World War Two but was soon found to be vulnerable because of its relatively slow speed. Withdrawn from frontline service, this two-seat, high-winged monoplane would soon become famous for its nocturnal flights into occupied Europe, dropping supplies and agents behind enemy lines.

PICT0084.JPG (71781 bytes)  The P-40 fighter/bomber was the last of the famous "Hawk" line produced by Curtiss Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s, and it shared certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk. It was the third-most numerous US fighter of World War II.  An early prototype version of the P-40 was the first American fighter capable of speeds greater than 300 mph. Design work on the aircraft began in 1937, but numerous experimental versions were tested and refined before the first production version of the P-40, the Model 81, appeared in May 1940.  By September of that year, over 200 had been delivered to the Army Air Corps. 185 more were delivered to the United Kingdom in the fall of 1940, where they were designated the Tomahawk Mk I.

PICT0085.JPG (64823 bytes)  The all-metal, single-wing P-26, popularly known as the "Peashooter," was an entirely new design for Boeing, and its structure drew heavily on the Monomail. The Peashooter's wings were braced with wire, rather than with the rigid struts used on other airplanes, so the airplane was lighter and had less drag. Its initial high landing speeds were reduced by the addition of wing flaps in the production models.

PICT0086.JPG (43090 bytes) PICT0090.JPG (56985 bytes) PICT0095.JPG (40590 bytes)  PICT0093.JPG (50047 bytes)    The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is a test vehicle designed to operate in the atmosphere; it is not equipped for space flight. Enterprise was rolled out at Rockwell International's assembly facility in Palmdale, California in 1976. In 1977, it entered service at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, for a nine-month-long approach and landing test program. The vehicle was flown atop the Boeing 747 Shuttle carrier aircraft and also released for piloted free-flights and landings to check out all systems and performance characteristics. This test program was a necessary prelude to the first orbital flight by the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981.

PICT0087.JPG (59130 bytes) PICT0088.JPG (89700 bytes)

When Germany began launching the Fieseler Fi-103 V-1 at England from sites in France in 1944, the U.S.Army had been interested in starting a missile program. An unexploded Fi-103 was shipped to America for study. In September 1944 the Republic company was awarded the contract to build duplicates of the Fi-103, with the Ford Motor Co making the engine which was a copy of the Argus 014 Pulsejet, now known as the PJ-31-1. In exactly two months the first operational JB-2's (Jet Bomb Model 2) came off the assembly line. After intensive testing the USAAF ordered 75,000 "Loons", how ever by the time the Second World War had ended there was no need for such a weapon in the numbers ordered (as there would be no invasion of Japan), so the contract was terminated after only 1200 JB-2's were built. The JB-2 was the first U.S. guided missile and it was intended to be launched from the ground, aircraft and ships , tests continued up to 1947 with the US Navy launching the JB-2 from submarines.

PICT0091.JPG (63099 bytes) PICT0092.JPG (49214 bytes) 

The father of modern rocket propulsion is the American, Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard. Along with Konstantin Eduordovich Tsiolkovsky of Russia and Hermann Oberth of Germany, Goddard envisioned the exploration of space. A physicist of great insight, Goddard also had an unique genius for invention.

By 1926, Goddard had constructed and tested successfully the first rocket using liquid fuel. Indeed, the flight of Goddard's rocket on March 16,1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts, was a feat as epochal in history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Yet, it was one of Goddard's "firsts" in the now booming significance of rocket propulsion in the fields of military missilery and the scientific exploration of space.

  PICT0096.JPG (63795 bytes)  PICT0097.JPG (86747 bytes)  PICT0098.JPG (86181 bytes)  The rover is constrained to a weight of 11.5 kilograms (25.4 lb.). Another 6 kilograms (13.3 pounds) is allocated to lander-mounted rover telecommunications equipment, structural support of the rover and its deployment mechanisms. The rover has a normal height of 280 millimeters (10.9 inches), with ground clearance of 130 mm (5 inches). Its stowage space in the lander allows only 200 mm (7.8 inches) forcing it to squat to a height of 180 mm (7 inches) when stowed. The rover is 630 mm (24.5 inches) long by 480 mm (18.7 inches) wide.

PICT0099.JPG (78533 bytes)  PICT0100.JPG (88175 bytes)  Ritchey Mirror Grinding Machine

George Willis Ritchey built this mirror grinding machine at the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, in the late 1890s. Under the direction of Yerkes director George Ellery Hale the machine was used to grind a 60-inch mirror. The grinding machine was moved to Pasadena in 1904 to complete work on the mirror when Hale established his Mount Wilson Solar Observatory. At some point the machine was transferred to the California Institute of Technology. The Institute then sold the machine to the Lick Observatory of the University of California in 1949. The machine was used for making numerous mirrors over the next four decades and was extensively modified over that period. It was donated to NASM by the Lick Observatory in 1993 and shipped in March of that year. The machine as well as the electric drive motor (NASM 7947; Cat No. 19930093002) are currently stored at the Garber facility.

PICT0101.JPG (61786 bytes)  PICT0102.JPG (53869 bytes)  The Navy-led program had a series of high-profile launch mishaps, but ultimately put up Vanguard 1, in March 1958. It was the second U.S. satellite in orbit, following Explorer 1 by a month.

PICT0103.JPG (71563 bytes)  Compare the size of this satellite to the Vanguard above

  PICT0104.JPG (66959 bytes)  One of the space shuttle main engines

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Fritz X was first used in combat in 1943.

The Italian battleship Roma was blown apart after fires started by Fritz X bombs detonated her magazines. The British battleship HMS Warspite at the Salerno landings was hit by three bombs but survived to be repaired and bombard the Atlantic Wall defences in June 1944. Bombs hit the American cruisers USS Philadelphia and Savannah. It sank the British light cruiser HMS Spartan.

The control system was susceptible to electronic countermeasures - either straightforward jamming which blocked the control signals from the bomber or spoofing in which the bomb was given a signal that sent the control surfaces to an extreme position, eg hard left or full down, sending the bomb out of control into a stall or spiralling dive. By the time of the Normandy landings the combination of allied fighters which kept the bombers at bay and ship mounted jammers meant the bombs had no significant effect on the invasion fleet.

PICT0111.JPG (59631 bytes)  PICT0109.JPG (48448 bytes)  The Poseidon C3 was a two-stage solid propellant missile with a length of 34.1 ft. 74 in. diameter with a range of approximately 2500 nm, weight of approximately 65,000 lb. The ES (forward of the SS) is 72 in. in diameter which separates from the booster. It is equipped with the missile all inertial guidance system, a solid-propellant gas generator PBCS and RVs. This provides maneuvering of the ES and ejection of reentry vehicles into ballistics trajectories to individual targets, MIRVs. Both rocket motors have fiberglass cases, with single movable nozzles. The second stage motor had six thrust termination ports (thrusting forward) which are activated at ES separation. Multiple individual-targeted small reentry vehicles (Mk 3) were developed as the POSEIDON payload.

Information about the different aircraft is taken from a variety of web sources. 


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