|Many aviation authorities have
compiled lists of what they consider to be the most famous,
significant or classic aircraft. A good place to start are
the Milestones of Flight, which are famous aircraft on display in
the Smithsonian Museum in Washington , D.C.
Here's another good list. In 1997, the United
States Postal Service issued a miniature sheet of 20 postage
stamps honoring classic U.S. aircraft. It is shown below.
It was obviously influenced by politics as the Enola Gay, the B-29
that dropped the first a-bomb is not included. Big omission.
We have one or more models that portray all the aircraft except
the Curtis D biplane. Links are provided below and at the
start of each brief description at bottom of page.
Curtiss Model D The Curtiss D was suited to exhibition
flying because of its maneuverability and easy disassembly and
reassembly for shipment between exhibition locations. First manufactured
in 1909, it was dubbed the “Headless Pusher” because of its lack of
a forward elevator surface. No Model available.
North American F-86 Sabre During the Korean conflict, North American
F-86 Sabres destroyed almost 800 Soviet-built MiG-15s, while losing
fewer than 80 of their own. The Sabre soon became the definitive fighter
for many air forces of the world.
North American P-51 Mustang was considered one of
the best fighters of World War II. Unlike other fighters, it was
conceived during the war and built on the basis of combat experience.
Wright Flyer Model B A slightly modified version of the Wright Model B
Flyer was the first model produced in quantity by the Wright Brothers.
It is representative of planes purchased by the Army in 1911 and used
for training pilots and in aerial experiments. A Model B was used for
the first military trials of a bombsight and bomb-dropping device.
Piper Cub: First built in 1937, it became one of
America’s most popular low-price light planes.
Lockheed Vega During 1931, the first year of the Lockheed Vega’s
production, Ruth Nichols piloted a Vega to women’s records in
altitude, speed and distance. That same year, Wiley Post and Harold Gatty, also flying a Vega, set a new record for flying around the world
(just over 8 1/2 days). Later, Post would accomplish the feat alone in
the same plane. The Vega also was a favorite of flying legend Amelia
Northrop Alpha The sleek, single-engine
passengers in an enclosed cabin, along with 465 lbs. of mail, although
the pilot flew in an open cockpit. The Alpha was used mainly for flying
experimental routes, and was retired from service in the mid-1930s.
Martin B-10. Produced in 1935, was the
first modern-day all-metal single-wing bomber to be produced in quantity,
and featured innovations such as internal bomb storage, retractable
landing gear, a rotating gun turret and enclosed cockpits. The B-10 was 50
percent faster than its contemporary biplane bombers and as fast as most
Chance Vought Corsair F4U: Beginning in the 1940s, the Chance Vought Corsair F4U
was one of the Navy’s most popular and effective aircraft
Boeing B-47 Stratojet:
multi-engine aircraft to utilize swept-wing design and engines suspended
from the wings in pods. Provided basic design for all modern jet
Granville Gee Bee: Legendary pilot and scientist James “Jimmy”
Doolittle won the coveted 100-mile Thompson Trophy Race in 1932 flying a
Gee Bee Super-Sportster at an average speed of more than 252 m.p.h. The
stubby, bumblebee-like craft named after its manufacturer, Granville
Brothers, was powerful, fast and dangerous due to its giant engine,
short wings, rearward cockpit and teardrop shape.
Beech Staggerwing: Model C17L Staggerwing earned its name
from the placement of its lower wing ahead of the upper wing. First flew in 1932, and became popular for luxury, private
and business transport.
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: One of the
most famous airplanes ever built. A prototype first flew in 1935, but mass
production didn’t begin until the 1940s. The Flying Fortress served in
every WW II combat zone, but is best known for daylight strategic bombing
of German industrial targets.
Stearman PT-13 biplane was built in 1939 by Stearman Aircraft, a division of Boeing, as a primary trainer for the
Army. Saw many years of service
Lockheed Constellation was first used in the early 1940s as a
military transport plane. Later versions were used as commercial cargo and
passenger carriers, executive transports and airborne early warning radar
ships. Orville Wright, at 72, piloted a C-69 “Connie” during his last
P-38 Lightning: Designed in 1937, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was
the only American fighter in continuous production before, during and
after World War II. The long-range Lightning served in every theater of
the war and was credited with shooting down the most enemy aircraft.
Boeing P-26 was the U.S. Army Air Corps’ first all-metal single-wing
fighter and the last with an open cockpit, fixed landing gear and
wire-braced wings. First flown in 1932, the P-26 was the Air Corps’
primary fighter in the mid-1930s.
Ford Tri-Motor The Ford Tri-Motor was extremely popular at the
time of its design in the late 1920s. Although noisy and drafty, the
Tri-Motor was relatively comfortable. Its sturdy all-metal body and
three engines gave it a reputation for reliability.
Douglas DC-3 was designed as a sleeper to carry 21
passengers (and later 28 or more) overnight from New York to Los
Angeles. With a full load, it was the first transport airplane that
could fly passengers without mail and still make a profit. Its
streamlined, versatile design and strong wing construction made it an
exceptional aircraft. At least 400 are still flying today.
Boeing 314 Clipper: The Boeing 314 Clipper is considered the greatest
of all civil flying boats. Forty passengers could be carried in cruise
ship comfort, and the aircraft was renowned for its reliability in
serving both Pacific and North Atlantic routes.
Jenny The Curtiss JN-4 Jenny was America’s most famous
training plane of World War I. Thousands of pilots earned their wings
aboard the Jenny.
Grumman F4F Wildcat The Grumman F4F Wildcat fought at Wake Island in the
early days of World War II and established its reputation as a rugged,
dependable fighter during the carrier battles of Coral Sea and Midway in
1942. Its heavy armament and solid construction enabled it to win air
combats against overwhelming odds, and bring its pilots home safely.