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Sikorsky SH-60B Antisubmarine Warfare ASW Helicopter


The newest addition to Pacific Aviation Museum’s collection is a Navy SH-60B Seahawk helicopter. The Sikorsky Seahawk is a navalized version of the Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk. The Army began using the Blackhawk in 1979. The Navy quickly saw the Blackhawk as a good foundation for replacing its SH-2 Sea Sprite, which was protecting individual ships such as frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, which often have to operate outside of the fleet’s protection umbrella. In effect, the Sea Sprite was a self-contained antisubmarine warfare (ASW) system. The 1960s-vintage Sea Sprite was too small and underpowered to support the Navy’s new LAMPS II avionics system. The Blackhawk was the ideal size for the new system, and most of its development cost had already occurred. The Navy called its Sea Sprite replacement the SH-60B, where the “S” stands for antisubmarine warfare. The Navy began using the Seahawk in 1984.

Although the AH-6B Seahawk is primarily an antisubmarine warfare aircraft, it has...

Where Would the Enterprise Have Moored?


The Pacific Fleet’s three aircraft carriers were fortunately out of port on December 7, 1941. The Saratoga was en route from Bremerton, Washington to San Diego, where she would embark her air wing. The Enterprise and the Lexington were on missions to deliver aircraft to Wake and Midway, respectively. The Lexington had just left on November 5th. The Enterprise had left on November 28 and been scheduled to return on the 6th, but heavy seas delayed her arrival until late in the day on December 7.If the carriers had been in port during the attack, where would they have berthed? Although ships did not always berth at the same location, Commander Lawrence R. Schmeider reported that the biggest ships had “normal” mooring points. For all three carriers, we know these normal mooring points from photographs, and for the Enterprise, we have additional information directly from Schmeider and at least one other source. 

 

As Figure 1 and Figure 2 show, the Lexington and Saratoga...

U.S. Scout/Observation Floatplanes in World War II


OS2U Kingfisher Floatplane

Missions

In World War II, aircraft carriers were not the only ships to launch and recover aircraft. Cruisers and battleships each carried a few small floatplanes. Most were Curtis SOC Seagulls or Vought OS2U Kingfishers. Curtis SO3C Seamews and SC Seahawks also saw some use in the war.

Battleships usually carried four. They used them primarily for observation—watching the fall of shells during surface actions to help direct gunfire.[ii] This gave most of these aircraft an “O” in their official designations. Observation was critical in World War II, especially in the early years before radar was perfected because battleships often had to fire on targets far beyond visual range.

The “S” in their designations meant “scouting.” Cruisers used their floatplanes primarily to locate enemy surface ships and submarines. Battleship and cruiser flotillas often had to sail without aircraft carriers. When they did, cruiser floatplanes were their only eyes....

P-40 Warhawks and Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers


Arriving Tiger

This summer, FedEx will deliver a big package to Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor—a World War II P-40E Warhawk. FedEx inherited the P-40 when it purchased Flying Tiger Airlines. As you might expect, the aircraft is painted in the colors of the Flying Tigers. This new arrival will give docents at Pacific Aviation Museum the opportunity to talk about the famous Flying Tigers and the often-overlooked China-Burma-India (CBI) theater.

In preparation for the P-40E’s arrival, this blog gives some background on the Flying Tigers and our new aircraft in particular. At the end of this blog, there are some larger-size pictures of P-40s, the Flying Tigers, and Claire Chennault.

Blood for the Tigers

Pearl Harbor was just the beginning. Just hours after striking Hawaii, Japan decimated MacArthur’s air forces in the Philippines and the British air forces in Malaya. Later that same day, Japan bombed Guam, Wake Island, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and several...

“MiG Alley” Korean Conflict exhibit coming soon


See Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor restoration crew at work on our F-86 & MiG-15 as we prepare our "MiG Alley" Korean Conflict exhibit. New display opens June 25, 2010 in Hangar 79. You can see it on the Aviator's Tour.

PBY Catalinas at Pearl Harbor


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, their main targets were battleships and aircraft carriers. However, they were worried about the big PBY Catalina flying boats, which had the range to find the Japanese fleet and track it for hundreds of miles.

The PBY’s role in the attack began at 7 am, when a patrolling Catalina found a Japanese minisubmarine just off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Along with the destroyer Ward, the PBY dropped its depth bombs on the submarine. The PBY sent a coded message to its base at 7:15, but by the time this message was decoded and passed on to CINCPAC, the Japanese bombs had begun falling.

In fact, the Japanese attack began when a Val dive bomber dropped a 550 pound bomb on Ramp 4 at the south end of Ford Island. This bomb hit among Patrol Squadron 22’s twelve aircraft. In the blast and subsequent fire, seven VP-22 PBYs were destroyed and the remaining five were placed out of commission for several days. Other patrol squadrons did little...

Phoenixes, Dragons and Cranes…Oh, My!


At the start of the battle, the crew of an American ship killed the Deep Blue Dragon. Enraged, the Flying Dragon destroyed the ship that had killed her sister. But the crew of another American ship, plus survivors from the first, returned and slew the Flying Dragon. The Battle of Midway was over. Many people know the Japanese names of the aircraft carriers we faced in World War II, but few know the translations of these names. This is sad because, in the case of aircraft carriers, a lot is gained in translation. The Imperial Japanese Navy generally gave their flattops poetic names of flying creatures, including real birds such as cranes and the falcons and mythical birds such as phoenixes and dragons. The Romanized “ho” is a phoenix. Japan’s first carrier was the Hosho (Flying Phoenix). Another phoenix was the small Shokaku (Happy Phoenix), which was sunk at midway. Her sister ship was the Zuiho (Fortunate Phoenix). Later in the war, Japan built the carrier Taisho (Great Phoenix)....

Aircraft Carrier Ops


With every successful Navy is the integration of aircraft carriers and air superiority capabilities. The evolution of the aircraft carriers is equally as impressive with the switch from propeller to jet engines and the need for more specialized aircraft aboard. pictured below is the USS Essex CV-9 as it was configured in WWII and the Korean War.

USS Essex CV9

After the Wars end, the carrier was refitted to include an angled deck for increased flight capabilities and functionality. In addition, the front of the ship was fixed with a hurricane bow to increase stability and storm worthiness of the ship. Below is an image of the same ship pictured above after it was modernized to be an Anti-Submarine carrier.

Essex CVS9

With all the changes being made to the carriers themselves, there was also allot of change on the flight deck as well. Aviators refer to the rear of the ship as the "Business end" and the front of the ship as the "Pointy end". This terminology refers to how...

The F-4C Phantom II


Introduction

The MacDonnell F-4 Phantom II was the West’s premier Cold War fighter during the 1960s and most of the 1970s. This big Mach 2 fighter was flown by all three U.S. services, providing all-weather interception, air superiority, bomber escort, tactical bombing, deep interdiction, reconnaissance, and SAM suppression services. Vietnam was its first war; its final combat deployment came enforcing the Iraq no-fly zone in 1996. During its long production life, 5,195 were built—the most of any U.S. supersonic fighter. The F-4 was used by many other Western countries in combat, especially by the Israelis. The Phantom II was enormously fast, able to exceed Mach 2 in level flight. It also had a spectacular rate of climb. In its first two years, it set many speed, altitude, and climb records. One record was a flight from Los Angeles to New York in only two hours and forty-nine minutes. In Vietnam, the F-4 was used most heavily as a tactical bomber. It could carry an amazing...

Amelia Earhart’s crash on Ford Island, March 20, 1937


THE MOVIE CRASH

The movie Amelia graphically depicts Amelia Earhart’s crash on Ford Island in March, 1937. Ford Island is located in the heart of Pearl Harbor and is home to Pacific Aviation Museum. The crash ended her first attempt to fly around the world. The scene perfectly captured the suddenness, confusion, and terror of the crash. But what really happened?

Earhart's Crashed Plane on Runway of Luke Feild

 

THE REAL FORD ISLAND CRASH

Simply but sadly put, Amelia Earhart ground-looped her Lockheed Electra on take-off. To begin her departure, she had taxied her aircraft to the Northeast end of the island (the nearest end to the current bridge). After lining up with the runway, she revved the engines on the powerful Electra. The aircraft started veering to the right. Earhart adjusted he throttles to correct the drift, but she overcorrected. It had rained heavily the night before, and the field was slick. The plane spun left into a full ground loop. All of the...

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