Great Planes Season 1
Great Planes Season 1
First Air Date: October 29, 2008
|First Aired on||:||2008|
1x10 F-104 Starfighter (February 19, 2009)
Lockheed's F-104 Starfighter first appeared in the mid-50s. Its appearance is beguiling. It looks like an unusually long, shiny silver bullet to which someone has attached two small stubby wings and a delicate empennage. It looks fast -- and it was. It was intended to be a replacement for the fleet of aging F-86s and F-84s and in fact it was an improvement in many respects over the older airplanes, especially in speed. It was a relatively unsophisticated lightweight airplane and the USAF wasn't very enthusiastic about it. It had little range, its stubby wings couldn't carry any ordinance, and it lacked the radar that would have made it operable in poor weather. But NATO too was looking for a standard interceptor for Europe, an environment for which the Starfighter wasn't well suited.
1x09 Republic F84 (February 05, 2009)
The early models of the F-84 looked rather neat, like a tube or a cigar humidor, with an opening in the nose and another in the tail, as if the jet engine had been supplied and the airplane built around it. It had nothing particularly new but was a summation of what at the time was known about jets and about aeronautical engineering. At the outbreak of war in Korea, the USAF found itself with three different airplanes. The F-86 was obviously the fighter of the group. The F-84 went through several models and was adapted for the ground attack role. It carried a good deal of ordinance and could be fitted with a nuclear bomb. In addition to the usual six .50 caliber machine guns favored by the USAF at the time, it could carry a number of 5-inch rockets, useful against tanks. The low speed and lack of maneuverability were no handicap in attacking ground targets.
1x08 PBY Catalina (January 29, 2009)
The wings were of taut canvas covered with dope. The wings were thick to provide lift and carried thousands of gallons of fuel, providing long range and flying time, exactly the requirement for a reconnaissance aircraft. Range could be increased to 4,000 miles by cutting one engine. The metal fuselage had to be unusually strong because every marine take off and landing bounces the ship around and stresses all the joints. The result was a sleek hull that was an airplane on top and a boat on the bottom. The initial Navy order was for 60, in 1936, and they were called PB-Ys -- "PB" for patrol boat, "Y" for Consolidated. When war broke out the British bought them and called them the Catalina. The name stuck. They were used in every theater of the war and in every imaginable role. One even managed to launch torpedoes at the Japanese fleet during the Battle of Midway.
1x07 F/A 18 Hornet (January 21, 2009)
1x06 F-16 Fighting Falcon (January 04, 2009)
1x05 F-15 Eagle (November 26, 2008)
1x04 North American B-25 Mitchell (November 19, 2008)
The B-25, nicknamed "the sweetheart of the forces," was one of the stars of World War II. Known for its adaptability, this bomber was flown by the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines.
1x03 P51 Mustang (November 12, 2008)
1x02 P-40 Warhawk (November 05, 2008)
1x01 Douglas Skyraider (October 29, 2008)
The Douglas Skyraider was a propeller-driven bomber and ground attack weapons system, unglamorous but almost perfectly suited to its various roles. In the closing years of World War II it was realized that fighter airplanes had become so advanced, so speedy, that the great weight of the rear gunner, his turret, and his equipment in torpedo and dive bombers were redundant. Douglas was given a contract to construct a single-engined, single seat bomber and attack airplane for use aboard Navy carriers, and they came up with a winner. It was a big airplane with a radial engine, and it could carry a huge load of ordinance -- a better bomb load than a B-17, or a nuclear weapon. First flown in 1945, it was finally retired after service in Korea and Vietnam, sometime in the 1960s.