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Flight Paths
March 5  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
A simple system keeps a tank crew safe What’s that bump in the barrel of an Abrams tank 120 mm gun? It’s a bore evacuator. Some people call it a fume extractor. It works to pull harmful fumes from the gun barrel after firing, keeping the poisonous gasses from entering the crew cabin when the breech is opened to load the next shot. It’s a simple system actually. In that split second when the shell passes through the barrel, gasses are stuffed into the cavity through holes at massively high pressure.

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February 20  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Try this on for size: an 8-ton German halftrack If you are like me, you have been building models of tanks and planes for longer than you’d like to admit.  A tiny model is one thing, but the real thing is sometimes startlingly huge.  The first time I climbed up on the wing of an Avenger torpedo plane, I thought; "If I slip and fall off, I might die."  Nothing is more stunning in real life than the German Sd. Kfz. 7.  It was an 8-ton halftrack that quickly ballooned to over 22,000 pounds...

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February 12  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Take a look inside a German WWII tank In order to work on the Jagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer," mechanics have pulled off the tank destroyer’s armored roof. They are in the process of pulling the vehicle's drive unit at the front of the cab. This "convertible" look offers us a rare peek into the interior of the vehicle. Four crewman worked in this cramped little compartment. The vehicle's driver, gunner and loader sat in a line down the left side. The right side was dominated by the big 75 mm gun.

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January 29  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
WWII cannons could use a brake What is that odd-shaped thing on the end of the barrel of the FHC’s 17-pounder (and many other WWII cannons)? It’s not a flash suppressor, it’s a muzzle brake. These slots, vents, hole, or baffles redirect propellant gasses sideways, allowing for a simpler, less hefty recoil system in the gun. The brake also helps keep the weapon accurately pointed at the target, should a second round be needed to finish the job. You’ll notice that most modern tank cannons no...

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January 23  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Spacious American cockpits puzzled foreign pilots during WWII While the size of the average man stayed about the same, the size of the average fighter plane, and its cockpit, increased during World War II. This image shows the spacious working space in the Flying Heritage Collection’s P-47 Thunderbolt. It’s not surprising that the interior of America’s biggest single engine fighter of the war would have the largest cockpit too. It was so commodious, in fact, that it caused pilots of all nations to take notice. Pilots who...

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January 15  |  By Cory Graff
Massive V-12 engine kept Soviet tanks going By pulling off the armored access panels at the back of the FHC’s T-34/85 tank, mechanics have revealed the vehicle’s burly transmission and the aft part of its diesel engine. The Kharkiv model V-2 engine was designed at the Kharkiv Locomotive Factory in the Ukraine.  The monster V-12 (you can see its circular cooling fan behind the transmission) produces about 500 horsepower.  Versions of the engine were not only used in the massively successful...

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January 1  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Why do some plane engines look so weird? What are all those ridges on the cylinder heads of some airplane (and motorcycle) engines? Air-cooled engines, without a radiator or coolant, use the atmosphere all around them to transfer heat. It doesn’t take a brilliant designer to know that, the more surface area you can offer, the more heat you can push out into the world.  However, plane engines have to be very compact, so builders have to be smart about getting their additional square footage. The result: an odd-looking...

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December 25  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
WWII Russian planes use air over electronics Many Russian WWII aircraft ditched electric or hydraulic systems and replaced them with … air. Pneumatics — to operate the flaps, push down landing gear, or start the engine — have a lot of advantages. First of all, air-based systems in combat planes don’t burn. Or at least they don’t burn any different than all this other lazy, non-working air that surrounds us every day! It’s also a relatively light system compared to hydraulics. Pneumatics...

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December 18  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Plane panels pose perplexing puzzle Working on a plane is sometimes a bit of a puzzle. Here we see the confusing mass of cowling panels from the FHC’s B-25J Mitchell. Putting them back in the proper places does, in fact, sometimes give the mechanics pause. However, there are a lot of hints. First, laying them out properly when you pull them off the aircraft helps immensely. The exhaust stacks, of course, point aft, giving a big hint to orientation. Paint on the panels lets you know if they go on the top or...

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December 11  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
Shturmovik's rudder pedal helped pilots maintain control The simple rudder pedals on the FHC’s Iluyshin Il-2M3 Shturmovik have one little, useful addition. Unlike most combat aircraft in the collection, the Il-2’s pedals have leather straps that slip over the top of a pilot’s feet. The straps would help a flyer stay in control through violent maneuvers, but considering the Shturmovik is not the fastest or most deft of aircraft, there may be another solution. A more grim reason for the addition of straps to the pedals of...

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November 6  |  By Cory Graff
Bullet repairs tell the story of this Tomahawk A bullet punched through the oil tank is what most likely brought down the FHC’s Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk in 1942. But that certainly wasn’t the only lead thrown at this veteran fighter during its combat career. Like a CSI investigator, if one looks closely, evidence of violence becomes visible. Nearly perfect round patches dotting the fuselage and ugly rectangular areas on the...

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October 29  |  Cory Graff
A little device with a big role on planes The R-2800 engines seen in the Flying Heritage Collection's Hellcat and P-47 have a particularly noticeable device perched on the top of their nose case. The complex little component is a propeller governor.



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October 16  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
Old warbirds need a lot of time in the shop Owning an old warbird is not all about showing it off at flying events and, as Maverick said, "Buzzing the tower." There’s lots of mechanical work too.



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October 9  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
The howitzer: a big new weapon in museum's arsenal Move over, 88 mm cannon, there is a new big gun in the Flying Heritage Collection.



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October 2  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
Flying Heritage Collection welcomes Scud missile carrier One of the artifacts the Flying Heritage Collection recently obtained is a Scud ballistic missile carrier called a TEL (Tractor, Erector and Launcher).

About 100 TELs were built from a self-propelled gun design that dates back to World War II. Designated the ISU-152, the machine carried a 152.4 mm howitzer, used to fight tanks or support infantry.



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September 25  |  By Cory Graff
Swapping out the Messerschmitt Bf 109's engine It’s time to overhaul the engine in the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3.

In this image, the Daimler-Benz DB 601 Aa has been stripped down in preparation for its removal from the airframe. There is a tall tale floating around out there that the German mechanics could swap engines in just 15 to 30 minutes.



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September 18  |  By Cory Graff
The Sherman took a whole nation to construct The Flying Heritage Collection's Sherman was assembled into a single fighting machine at Pressed Steel Car Company, a former locomotive and rail car building factory outside of Chicago. But, looking at the multitude of foundry symbols cast into various parts of the tank, you can tell, quickly, that making these machines was a job that was taken on by the whole nation.



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September 11  |  By Cory Graff
The arrival of the Hellcat Until the arrival of the Grumman Hellcat, the Mitsubishi Zero was the undisputed king of the Pacific skies. But the little, nimble Japanese fighter was unceremoniously and brutally shoved off its pedestal with the arrival of a real bully.



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