The Quest for Excellence: U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (Part 3) Warbird Wednesday Episode #141

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are taking you back on the road to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. This week, we are speaking with Wei Fug Lee, who is an instructor at that school, as well as an Air Force civilian engineer. He explains that part of his job is about creating test scenarios in flight control systems, to then take into the classroom to teach upcoming pilots when and if they are in a specific situation. They also showed us around the hangar, sharing more information about some amazing aircraft and how they are incorporated into their teaching! 

North American F-82 Twin Mustang

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting the last night fighter, the North American F-82 Twin Mustang, which was originally designed as a long-range escort fighter for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress in WWII. This aircraft was introduced in 1946, after the war had ended. With fast speeds of about 460 mph, this aircraft was dominantly used in Strategic Air Command. They were also heavily used in the Korean War; the first three aerial victories over North Korea were made by American F-82s. They were 272 models built, retiring in 1953.

Bristol Beaufighter – Warbird Wednesday Episode #136

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting another night fighter, the Bristol Beaufighter. This multi-role aircraft was introduced in 1940 as a heavy fighter, having the ability to carry a torpedo, six machine guns and four cannons! The Beaufighter saw immediate success, leading to 5,928 models built and having 59 total squadrons. This effective aircraft was retired in 1960, leaving some models in museums and others still in various bodies of water throughout the world. 

Boulton Paul Defiant – Warbird Wednesday Episode #133

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting our third night fighter, the British built Boulton Paul Defiant. With its first flight in 1937, the Defiant was best at approaching and attacking other aircrafts from underneath. Their success during the night was obvious, as they would be able to sneak up without the enemies knowledge, leading to 1,064 models being built. They eventually were replaced, as there were numerous deaths and accidents. They went on to be used in gunnery training, target towing, electronic countermeasures and sea-air rescue, being completely retired in 1945.

 

Messerschmitt Bf 110 – Warbird Wednesday Episode #132

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we’re visiting another night fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 110, developed in Nazi Germany during WWII. Introduced in 1937, this fighter quickly became popular because it was heavier, had quicker speeds reaching up to 295 mph and could carry a large amount of weaponry. Later in WWII, it was developed into a radar-equipped night fighter, becoming the main night-fighting aircraft of Luftwaffe. After 6,170 models were built, the Bf 110 was retired in 1945.

 

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit – Warbird Wednesday Episode #129

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting an intriguing heavy strategic bomber, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber. The B-2 is a flying wing design with only a crew of two. Designed during the Cold War, this subsonic bomber was built to deploy conventional and thermonuclear weapons, including eighty 500-pound guided bombs or sixteen 2,400-pound nuclear bombs. Due to the cost of maintaining and flying the Stealth Bomber, there were only 21 aircrafts built and they are not used as often.

General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark – Warbird Wednesday Episode #128

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting another strategic bomber aircraft, the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark. The F-111 was produced in the 1960s, pioneering several technologies, including variable swept wings, afterburning turbofan engines and automated terrain-following radar. It was able to carry several bombs, as well as one nuclear weapon. In fact, it dropped 80% of the bombs in the Gulf War. Its name Aardvark was given due to its similarities to the animal, like the long nose and ground-hugging capabilities. The F-111 was retired in 1996.

Rockwell B-1B Lancer – Warbird Wednesday Episode #127

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are paying a visit to one of the three strategic bombers serving in the US Air Force, the Rockwell B-1B Lancer. This supersonic bomber features a variable-sweep wing, the ability to fly low near terrain and can reach up to Mach 1.25. This aircraft was a result of the SLAB (Subsonic Low Altitude Bomber) Program in the 1960s, seeking to replace the B-58 Hustler. The B-1B was first flown in 1974 and is projected to be flown until 2036.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress – Warbird Wednesday #126

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting an aircraft that is still in use today, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. This subsonic, jet-powered strategic/nuclear bomber was first produced in 1952 and was just approved to continue to fly until 2050. Some key features that make this aircraft stand out are its ability to carry 70,000 pounds of ordinance, its combat range of 8,800 miles without aerial refueling at a maximum speed of 650 miles per hour. The B-52 proved lethal to group troops and targets as well with conventional bombs & cruise missiles in both the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

Convair B-58 Hustler – Warbird Wednesday Episode #125

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are visiting the first operational bomber that was capable of Mach 2 flight, the Convair B-58 Hustler. This American aircraft entered service in 1960 carrying one nuclear bomb, it was later upgraded to carry 5 nuclear weapons. As a strategic bomber, it was designed to fly at high altitudes but Soviet air defenses made it necessary to fly lower, making it hard to maneuver and very costly on fuel. It was later retired due to this need for frequent aerial refueling, its high maintenance costs and loss rate due to numerous accidents.

 

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