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The Art of War

The history of World War II is written not just in words, but also in images. That includes artwork that was painted in the far-flung outposts of the war, using materials borrowed, scrounged and occasionally liberated, painted on the walls and ceilings of temporary structures, built just for the duration. The comforting images painted in these outposts reminded soldiers and sailors of their home life, of their dreams, and of the mission at hand.

These artworks offer a valuable insight to the conflict, as well as being examples of popular folk art of the era. Very few still exist, with most being lost to time and the elements.

The six murals recently hung in Hangar 79 at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor were painted during World War II, and decorated the Navy theater at Midway atoll. The theater was built by the 123rd Naval Construction Battalion — the unit famous as the can-do “Seabees” — and the insignia of the 123rd NCB were three horses racing neck and neck, a symbol...

Repair In the Air

It's a photograph of a day like any other in Hawaii, a half-century ago. A wood and wire Army bomber rumbles through the azure sky, criss-crossing the pellucid air above Oahu on an obscure military mission. But wait a minute — take a closer look. What's that guy doing hanging on the landing gear?

June 23, 1927, and newspapers were filled with hot-dog pilots possessing whatever the stuff is that later would be called "right." Pictures of Lucky Lindy whooping it up in Paris; a half dozen attempts being planned to fly non-stop to Hawaii from the Mainland; Commander Richard E. Byrd touring the world after soaring over the North Pole. In Nicaragua, US Marines in biplanes were flying bombing missions against Sandinista rebels.

Things have changed since those barnstorming days of wind humming in the wires and silk scarves snapping in the slipstream. The air is no longer a frontier, but it was once.

The plane is a twin-engine Martin bomber, the NBS-1, made out of wood and steel...

Pearl Harbor: Thunderfish in the Sky

Japan’s Type 91 Modification 2 Torpedo Fins

Key Points

  • The Japanese had to modify their Type 91 Modification 2 aerial torpedoes for the Pearl Harbor attack.
  • They needed to limit the initial plunge so that the torpedoes would not strike the bottom mud.
  • The big stabilizing fins at the rear of the tail cone were an older modification unrelated to this problem.
  • The enabling innovation was small wooden fins near the front of the tail cone
  • These were gyroscopically driven ailerons. They ensured that the torpedo dropped without roll.
  • This allowed the torpedo’s horizontal rudders to be used to pitch the nose up immediately on impact with the water. This would not be possible if the torpedo were rolled when it hit the water.
  • This reduced the initial plunge.
  • It allowed the aircraft to drop their torpedoes from an altitude of 66 feet (20 m) and at a speed of 185 mph (160 kt, 300 km/h).
  • The...

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...

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