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Douglas SBD Dauntless Scout / Dive Bomber

Source: Naval Aviation Museum.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor
Ray Panko (Ray@Panko.com)

Key Points

  • Half the aircraft on U.S. carriers were Dauntlesses in the first year of the war
  • On scouting missions, 18 SBDs flew in pairs, searching a 90-degree pie slice of the ocean. If they found the enemy, they would radio a report and, if feasible, attack with 500-lb. bombs.
  • On bombing missions, a squadron of Dauntlesses conducted high-precision/high-risk dive-bombing attacks, plunging almost vertically and releasing bombs at low levels. In the critical first year of the war, SBDs sank or helped sink six carriers, one battleship, three cruisers, one submarine, and 14 transports. This was nearly 30 percent of the total tonnage of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s prewar fleet.
  • In air combat, SBDs had a kill ratio of 3.2 to 1. During the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, pilot Lt. John Leppla got four kills and his gunner, John Liska, three. The next day,...

The Mystery of Huey 411

Bob Broaddus folded his lanky frame into the UH-1H Huey and stuck his head up into the equivalent of the aircraft’s rafters. He began to poke around, occasionally consulting a dog-eared logbook. Then he jumped down and quietly said, “Here she is — Huey 411. The numbers match.”

And just like that, a mystery was solved.

Sometimes, mysteries aren’t where you expect to find them. This is the case with Pacific Aviation Museum’s Huey helicopter. The weather beaten aircraft had been sitting in Hangar 79 for years, a modest monument to the massive evolution in battlefield rotorcraft during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t until I started to research the aircraft’s history that we discovered she wasn’t what we thought she was.

The serial number was bogus. Not only that, the same serial was painted on at least one other Huey, which is currently on display at Barbers Point. The folks there confirmed that their Huey actually matched the serial number. Since both helicopters were passed on...

Boeing Stearman Kaydet Primary Trainer

Why do we call it the Bush Stearman and why is it yellow?

"Boeing Stearman N67193" by Juergen Lehle — Own work (See also AlbSpotter Flugzeugbilder Aircraft Photos). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boeing_Stearman_N67193.jpg#/media/File:Boeing_Stearman_N67193.jpg


  • Key Points
  • The Stearman “Kaydet”
  • Flying the Stearman
  • The George H.W. Bush Connection
  • U.S. versus Japanese Flight Training
  • Yellow Camouflage?
  • Characteristics
  • Appendix; Additional Information
  • References

Key Points

  • Used in World War II Primary Training stage, in which pilot candidates first took to the air.
  • Built by the Stearman Division of the Boeing Company.
  • Usually called the Kaydet or simply “the Stearman,” it was the N2S to the Navy, the PT-13 or PT-17 to the Army, and the Kaydet to British Commonwealth forces. To Stearman, it was the Model 75.
  • Simple (e.g., no flaps, etc.), to avoid...

Bell OH-58 Kiowa

Big Eyes and Sharp Teeth

“Wingman.” Photo taken by Spc. Brady Pritchett. Won the U.S. Army Aviation Photo of the Year award in 2014. Source: U.S. Army Aviation Facebook page.

General Information


Scout/Observation Helicopter


Bell Helicopter

Date Deployed


Number Built



If you were a pilot in the air cav and you were killed, you were probably a scout pilot. That’s the way it was. Sometimes, it was a slick pilot. Very rarely a cobra pilot. Usually a scout pilot.

Mills and Anderson, p. 240.

The Kiowa was a small and agile scout/observation helicopter. Introduced in 1969, OH-58As joined divisional reconnaissance squadrons in Vietnam. In visual reconnaissance, a Kiowa flew at tree level or lower, looking for the enemy. If it found them — often by taking fire — the...

Superchargers and Turbochargers

Key Points

  • Engine volume, high-octane fuel, and forced induction drove World War II engine performance growth
  • Forced Induction
    • As an aircraft flies higher, the air grows thinner and the engine loses power
    • Forced induction pushes more air into the cylinders, allowing the plane to fly higher
    • Forced induction pressure was actually higher than sea-level air pressure
      • This increased power at all altitudes
    • All fighters and bombers in World War II used forced induction
  • There are two types of forced-induction devices
    • Superchargers are powered mechanically by the engine
      • This technology was proven by WWII
      • Draws power from the engine, reducing the net gain
    • Turbochargers are driven by the engine exhaust
      • Power is largely “free”
      • But pushed the state of the art in materials science in WWII, limiting availability
      • ...

Mapping a Sailor’s Service

Mr. Kagel Smith, looking through his mother’s attic, stumbled upon an old suitcase filled with the photographs and documents of a Mr. Lyman Hoskins. His mother’s ex-husband, it was clear that Mr. Hoskins had served in WWII, but Mr. Smith couldn’t piece together the story. He donated the collection to Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor in December 2013. After sorting, organizing, and supplementing the documentation and photographs with independent research, we were able to construct the history of Lyman William Hoskins Jr.’s service in the U. S. Navy during WWII.  

Hoskins enlisted in the Navy in June 1941 and served until 1946. Through his military records, pieces of personal correspondence, Hoskins’ personal flight logs, and a slew of photographs it became clear that he served as a Naval Aviator. Most notably he served as part of a B-24 crew as a NFO (Non-Flight Officer) stationed in the Pacific. His postings took him to Hawaii and Australia, where his photographs...


Boeing/Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight

Source: U.S. Navy 070313-M-3968C-012 / USMC Combat Assault PhroG


Key Points

  • The United States Marine Corps realized that beach assaults in the atomic age would be suicide. It needed to move large numbers of Marines far inland very rapidly, to sites without runways.
  • For mass troop delivery, the Marines needed something larger and faster than the Army’s Hueys. In the meantime, they used the piston-engined CH-34 Seahorse.
  • The Boeing/Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight arrived in 1965. In Vietnam, it could carry a squad of 12 or 13 Marines, compared to the Huey’s five or six. It also cruised at 155 mph — 25 mph faster than the Huey.
  • The initial CH-46A version was unreliable. The CH-46D model was better, but it suffered several initial crashes. The flaw was fixed, and the CH-46D became an excellent assault helicopter. After the war, many Phrogs, as the Marines called them, were upgraded to the CH-46E standard. Ours was one of...

Video: Inside “Swamp Ghost”

High above recently captured Rabaul, New Britain, and piloting a fully loaded B-17E Flying Fortress, Capt. Frederick “Fred” C. Eaton, Jr. had just spotted his target – a 10,000-ton enemy freighter. As he lined up to unleash his payload, the bomb bay doors malfunctioned. The crew worked feverishly to open the doors as he circled for a second attempt. Japanese anti-aircraft batteries zeroed in on the lone bomber’s altitude and unleashed a hellish barrage, damaging the wings. Lining up the target once more, he went in. This time, the doors opened and the bombs fell toward their target. As if on cue, Japanese fighters swooped in, guns blazing. Eaton and his crew were in a fight for their lives.

The aerial battle raged, bullets and cannon shells riddling the Flying Fortress as it ran for cover. In the skirmish, tail gunner John Hall claimed an enemy aircraft while waist gunners William Schwartz and Russell Crawford added two more claims to the tally. In the aftermath, Eaton...

The Ford Island Dispensary

This is the third in a series of posts about buildings on Ford Island, NAS Pearl Harbor. Early in the attack, the Ford Island dispensary was damaged by a high-level Japanese bomb that exploded in its central courtyard. However, it continued to operate, treating the wounded until they could be evacuated to hospitals.

Figure 1: Dispensary Courtyard Damage

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. Photo 80-G-32599. Dated December 7, 1941.

During the months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy engaged in a vast building program in Hawaii. This included the Fleet Air Base Dispensary on Ford Island designated Building 76. It was created to perform lighter medical care. The dispensary was new but fully operational by the day of the attack. Its design was unusual; it was built around an open-air courtyard with a concrete floor. This gave it a feeling of openness, although its overall design said “generic government...

Hangar 37:  Gateway to the Museum

This is the second article about the Ford Island Seaplane Base, which was the first Japanese target on Dec. 7, 1941. The first article gave an overview of the base and Ford Island. In this article, we will look at Hangar 37 and its role during the Japanese attack.

Key Points

  • Hangar 37 is the entry point for guests arriving at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
  • At the time of the attack, it was home to the VJ-1 utility squadron, which had nine Grumman J2F “Ducks” and nine Sikorsky JRS-1s.
  • During the attack, VJ-1 squadron members mounted machine guns in the back seats of their J2Fs and returned fire.
  • After the base’s main radio was knocked out, Hangar 37’s radio operated as the base’s radio during the attack.
  • Five JRS-1s flew out to find the Japanese fleet. They were unarmed except for a few Marines with Springfield rifles in the passenger compartment. The five pilots and one Marine received the Silver Star for their courageous efforts.
  • The JRS-1...

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