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Flight Paths
July 30  |  Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Boeing engineer revolutionized hydroplanes with Slo-Mo-Shun IV Summer in Seattle means Seafair. While the Flying Heritage Collection’s planes take part in the Boeing Seafair Air Show, there used to be aviation ties to the hydroplane races too. In the late 1940s and 1950s, two main factions developed in the hydro world. The teams from Detroit, drawing on their experience with building automobiles, created boats that were all about muscle and power. The men of the Seattle teams, many of whom had "day jobs" at Boeing, used...

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July 16  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Tank's hatch offered soldiers escape The escape hatch located in the belly of the Sherman tank has long been a point of conjecture and a favorite and a favorite plot device for Hollywood movie-makers. As you can see, there is such a thing. This photo was shot of the FHC’s Sherman. Some say it was there for the crew to switch drivers with some degree of safety. Others say it was there in case the tank overturned or somehow, the hatches were blocked or damaged. Others note that fires in Shermans grew fiercer when...

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July 9  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
Which plane is which? In the skies over Korea, the American F-86 Sabre and the Soviet-built MiG-15 looked quite similar. It was very difficult to tell one smoky silver speck from another. A few seconds of indecision could prove deadly. Even up close, the two planes still look quite similar — intake up front, swept wings, and little bubble canopy. One of the most distinctive features of the planes was their tails. An F-86 has horizontal stabilizers that are attached to the rear of the fuselage. The...

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June 18  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
WWII history takes to the skies Two of the fighters scheduled to take to the skies at the Flying Heritage Collection’s free Fly Day on June 20 made history as America’s top ace-makers during World War II. The U.S. Army’s North American P-51 Mustang flew in Europe and the Pacific. Flyers of the legendary P-51 are credited with shooting down some 4,950 enemy fighters. A total of 275 Mustang pilots became aces — shooting down five or more enemy planes in combat. The only fighter to surpass...

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June 5  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
The FHC’s Spitfire Mk. Vc has what is called a "universal wing." The wing design is less complex than earlier models and thus was able to be build quicker. One interesting aspect of the new wing was it allowed squadrons to pick the types of weaponry they would like to fly with on a particular mission. The universal wing could carry eight .303 machine guns, four 20 mm cannons, or a mixture of the two. The FHC’s Spitfire is currently set up with two cannons and...

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May 21  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Germany's 88-millimeter cannon terrorized Allied pilots One of Germany’s most respected weapons was the 88-millimeter cannon. This powerful gun was much-feared by Allied flyers, tankers and infantry men. In the air, fighter pilots were instructed to change course every seven to ten seconds to keep an 88 shell from exploding nearby. Bomber pilots, stuck in big formations, had no way to move away from the 88’s 22-pound shells spraying jagged metal through the skies. On the ground, one wrong move and tankers could fall into the...

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May 13  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Tough planes were designed to take a beating The FHC is fielding some of its biggest bruisers for Paine Field Aviation Day this Saturday, May 16. Flying in the Pacific Theater was the F6F Hellcat. Flyers joked that Grumman made the plane from discarded steel girders from New York’s recently-dismantled Second Avenue elevated railway. In Western Europe, the P-47 Thunderbolt roamed the skies, looking for trouble. There are accounts of a P-47 striking a church steeple and coming home. Another plane even flew into a German...

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April 30  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Pilots use a clever trick to keep damaged planes in the air Aircraft with variable pitch propellers can "feather" their props if needed. The term comes from rowing, when you can turn the blade of your oar so that it cuts through the water with the least resistance. The propeller is similar; a pilot can rotate the blades of the dead prop so that they are parallel to the airflow. This allows single engine planes to glide farther and multi-engine aircraft, like this battered B-24 Liberator, to continue to soldier on even after being...

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April 23  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
'Kommandogerät:' the complicated box that was revolutionary for flying Mechanics are currently doing an annual inspection on the FHC’s rare German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5. As the panels and parts come off, it gives one a chance to see a fleeting glimpse of a critical and revolutionary part of the plane. On the right side, behind the plane’s BMW 801 engine is the "Kommandogerät" (command device). This complicated box, covered with wires, tubes, and fasteners, is an electro-mechanical computer that sets the fighter’s fuel...

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April 16  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Three inches of glass separated WWII pilots and machine gun fire How much glass does it take to stop a speeding .50-caliber bullet? Judging from the Messerschmitt Me 163 B Komet, I’d say a little more than three inches — eighty millimeters to be exact. The Komet was built as a bomber destroyer. And plunging into formations of American B-17s and B-24s meant having a whole arsenal of Browning machine guns pointed right at you. As a German pilot worked to quickly do his job, feisty bomber crews showed their displeasure by peppering the...

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April 2  |  Corey Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Propellers make an overseas voyage for regular inspection The propeller on the Spitfire just got back from an overseas trip. All the propellers in the collection need to be periodically removed and sent to a prop shop for inspections and sometimes overhaul. The Spitfire's prop gets removed, packed in a crate, and sent to England. Don't worry, the prop is now back and has a clean bill of health. FHC mechanics currently are fitting it to the aircraft for this year's Free Fly Days!



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March 26  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Yellow circle on seat kept crew breathing easy Some have joked that the yellow circle on the pilot’s seat of the Avro Lancaster gave German pilots something to aim for — seemingly very sporting of the English, but not true. The paint had a practical purpose. The odd-colored orb contained pigment sensitive to poison gas. When a crewman saw a shade other than bright yellow, there was big trouble. And this warning was not only for gas that might potentially be used by the Germans. The UK was fully prepared to employ its...

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March 12  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Planes were eyes in the sky for battleship's guns As the crew of the M.Y. Octopus explored the wreck of the long-lost Musashi, their submersible passed over the catapults used to launch the battleship’s squadron of scout planes. Aircraft were critically important to the functionality of the vessel during naval engagements because Musashi’s massive 46 cm (18.1 in) guns could fire such long distances. The crew of the battlewagon could hurl salvos up to 26 miles. However, they couldn’t see targets that far away.

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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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