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50 Years of Aviation (1967)

Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation

Sound | 1967

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  •  NARRATOR: Flight, the dream of man for centuries. In Greek and Roman mythology, there were the waxed wings of Icarus and the winged feet of Mercury. And the Arabian Nights were filled with the magic of the flying carpet. During the Renaissance, da Vinci gave the dream tangible form. 
  •  But not until the late 19th century did man sincerely tried to build a flying machine. Their efforts, comical as they appear, were as serious as the most sophisticated wind tunnel or flight tests of today. 
  •  Yes, centuries of dreaming, study, speculation, and experimentation preceded the first successful powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17th, 1903. Man's dream of flight materialized when the Wright Brothers' small craft stayed aloft for 12 seconds and traveled 120 feet. This great event in aviation went almost unnoticed at the time.  
  •  During the early days of powered flight, the number of men dedicated to the flying machine could almost be counted on your fingers. Many of these early pioneers were taught to fly by the Wright Brothers.  
  •  Not until the so-called "War to End All Wars" that the airplane gain wide recognition. At first, the small, frail, wood and cloth machines flew over the mud-filled trenches as observers. But as always, necessity was quick to realize other uses. Measures and counter measures brought accelerated development of new designs, more powerful engines, and weapons modified to operate more effectively in this new war environment, the air. 
  •  Men, like Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and his American "Hat in the Ring" squadron, and the French Lafayette Escadrille, faced men like von Richthofen and his German flying circus. Blazing through the sky at a little over 60 miles per hour, the first battles for air supremacy were fought. 
  •  Over 20,000 aerial conflicts took place in World War I. This new invention, born in an obscure bicycle shop, now baptized by man's most common failure, spawned a whole new industry. Wood-framed factory sprang up, like Lewis and Vought making trainers like this VE-7.  
  •  The VE-7 had the first really good aircraft engine, the 170 horsepower, water-cooled Hispano-Suiza. It was the first aircraft engine with solid block construction, already quite an improvement over the Wright Brothers' 16 horsepower engine. Top speed of the Vought VE-7 was 116 miles per hour, quite an airplane.  
  •  The great aviation prophet, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell said, "This Vought machine has all the air qualities "of a single seeker chase machines, "and will outmaneuver the French SPAD, the Newport, and the English S.E.5." That was saying something, wasn't it? The war ended, the doughboys came home, and so did the goggled and silk-scarved aviators. 
  •  The doughboys put their guns away, but the many military-trained surplus aviators, filled with the adventure of flying, kept their goggles and scarves. And with as little as 50 dollars purchased their own Jenny's from the stocks of surplus military aircraft. Barnstorming across the country, they thrilled and chilled thousands with their death-defying, daredevil flying circuses. By 1918, aviation had captured the interest of most everyone.  
  •  The first regular airmail service was established between New York City and Washington DC. And by 1921, service stretched all the way from New York City to San Francisco. The first instrument flight was made, when Jimmy Doolittle, using a carpenter's level on his instrument panel, and a plumb bob hanging between his feet, pulled a hood over the cockpit and took off. Crude as it was, it led to the development of the artificial horizon and directional gyro stabilization equipment of today. 
  •  In 1921, the potency of the airplane was proven, when army bombers sank the battleship Ostfriesland with only eight bombs. This was conclusive evidence that the Navy had made a sound decision two years before, the decision to equip its battleships with spotting planes and to develop an aircraft carrier capability. Ten months later, routine catapulting from a battleship began, when a Vought VE-7 was launched from the USS Maryland.  
  •  On October 17, 1922, the Navy had its first aircraft carrier, the converted Collier Jupiter, later known as the USS Langley. The first airplane to take off from its flight deck was a Vought VE-7. Takeoffs and landings became routine after this. The 150 Vought VE-7s and VE-9s the Navy purchased played an important role in early naval aviation. 
  •  The Navy selected the Vought UO-1 as its first scout, an observation plane, for fleet service. They were loaded aboard the Navy's first carrier, the USS Langley, and shipped via the Panama Canal to the Pacific Fleet. 220 horsepower at a top speed of 130 miles per hour, it wasn't radar, but it gave the big battle wagons vision beyond the horizon for the first time. 
  •  Three years later, a major breakthrough came in aviation, a 400 horsepower, radial, air-cooled engine called "the Wasp." It was 300 pounds lighter than a water-cooled engine with the same horsepower. This weight savings translated to flight, meant a faster rate of climb, a higher ceiling, shorter turning radius, and lower landing speed, all with equal top speed.  
  •  About the same time another breakthrough came, when wood went to steel as the material used for propellers. The Vought O2U Corsair was the first airplane designed around the new 400 horsepower Wasp engine. Vought took full advantage of this new engine and designed the O2U with all tubular metal fuselage, even the engine mounts.  
  •  The O2U's top speed was 151 miles per hour, and it could climb to 22,178 feet without a supercharger. That doesn't seem like much today, but it established four World Records in 1927. 
  •  Eight months later, Lieutenant C.F. Schilt of the Marines, while under fire, flew one of these O2U Corsairs in and out of a small town in Nicaragua to evacuate the wounded. For this, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. 
  •  Aviation burst with growing pains in the late '20s. Lindy made a nonstop flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. 
  •  Spats proved that in-flight refueling was practical by staying in the air seven days. And commercial aviation was just emerging from the cow pasture airports and barnstorming economics.  
  •  The National Air Races was an annual rite at the beginning of the '30s. The rich odor of gasoline exhaust and hot oil mingled with the fragrance of hot dogs and popcorn, a carnival of the air. For a small admission, you could watch the racers whiz overhead and around the pylons or watch thundering formations of the best planes the Army and Navy had to offer. 
  •  One of the best the Navy had to offer was the Vought SU-2 Corsair developed from the O2U series. It was designed around the 600-horsepower hornet engine and had a top speed of a little over 170 miles per hour. The Navy was so impressed by this airplane, they spent 3 million dollars for their first order to get 122 of them. 
  •  Perhaps that doesn't sound like much today, but with a nation in the grips of a depression, it represented a major contract. As new airplanes were being designed, old ones were being modified, improved, and sometimes damaged. In spite of hardships in the '30s, there were surprising gains in aviation technology.  
  •  The variable pitch propeller was developed, engines continued to improve, and engineers and aircraft manufacturers produced more dependable products, like this Vought SVU1. This was Vought's first all-metal design. It had 700 horsepower, engine cowling, with adjustable flaps and pressure baffles, and a speed breaking 200 miles per hour. 
  •  Yes, airplanes were improving rapidly now. By 1937, long distance flight records were being broken almost as frequently as they were being made. 
  •  In June 1937, Amelia Earhart, the first lady of aviation, took off from Miami, Florida on a round-the-world flight. Her last message was received on July 3rd. History had claimed one of the last of the barnstorming breed. 
  •  At the time Amelia Earhart became a tragedy of aviation, tensions were mounting throughout the world, and convulsing toward a major global conflict. American aviation since its beginning had lived from crisis to crisis. This had forced the industry into a constant emphasis on research, experiment, and development. Costly as those were, they were a dynamic factor in a dynamic air age even before the war came.  
  •  In 1937, radical departures were being made an aircraft design. Vought was building a monoplane with retractable landing gear, folding wings, and capable of carrying a 1,000 pound bomb. It had an 825-horsepower engine and a speed near 250 miles per hour. They called it "The Vindicator." 
  •  Little did they know, how well it would live up to its name. A year later, the fleet got new eyes for its battleships and cruisers, and again picked Vought to supply them. It was the last plane of this type the Navy used. They named it "The Kingfisher."  
  •  It was slow, but rugged and dependable. As the first Kingfishers were being delivered to the fleet, a new Vought airplane rolled out into the Connecticut sunlight, the F4U Corsair. It had a strange gull-like shape that was built around a fantastic 2,000 horsepower engine. The design was so sound, it could break 400 miles per hour with a 4,000-pound bomb load.  
  •  After racing over a speed course, Admiral John Towers, head of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, told witnesses, "you have just seen a demonstration "of the fastest and most powerful fighter "in America today." The significance of this new airplane and the contribution it would make in the years to follow could not have been imagined by even the most optimistic of those who watched it fly that first day. On December 7th, 1941, approximately 100 Japanese carrier-based planes supported by submarines destroyed 18 US vessels, including eight battleships. Casualties were over 3,000, killed or wounded. This one swift strike devastated the Navy's principal base in the Pacific and eliminated a major portion of its heavy surface power. If it had not already been shown in combat before the war, all doubts as to the potency of naval air power were removed by this infamous, yet skillfully executed attack.  
  •  The first few months of the war were black with military reverses, but the turning point came on the 4th of June 1942, when US Navy reconnaissance planes spotted a large Japanese naval force, 600 miles from Midway Island. Strike aircraft were launched by both the US and Japanese navies. The US carrier aircraft gave the Japanese a one-two punch. The effectiveness of carrier-based aircraft during a naval engagement was no longer a matter of conjecture. The Battle of Midway was a great victory for US carrier-based aircraft, the back of the Japanese Navy was broken. It lost four carriers, two cruisers, and three destroyers. After several dark months, the US had reestablished naval superiority. Two months later, the US offensive was carried to Guadalcanal. For six months after the invasion, the Japanese were bombing almost every night without opposition. Then for the first time, the Corsair was brought into action. The Corsair stopped the night raids almost immediately and was quick to establish air superiority.  
  •  The Japanese Zero that had previously outperformed all US fighters was no match for the whistling death, as the Japanese called them. From here, the Corsair went on to become one of the great aircraft in military aviation. Operating from island bases and carriers, it flew over 64,000 combat sorties. It was the only airplane to receive an official citation during World War II. 2,140 Japanese planes went down facing the Corsair guns. While the Allies were pushing the war to an end, at the home front, the aircraft industry was developing new aircraft. This unusual aircraft would have startled even the most sophisticated aeronautical engineer today. Don't you know the police switchboards would light up if this went flying around nowadays? This flying pancake, as it was called, was built in 1942 by Vought. The end of a war, and the birth of a new age, the Atomic Age, and with it, the Jet Age. Emphasis was now on the jet. One of the Navy's first jets was a single-engine experimental called "the Pirate."  
  •  Only a few of these were built, but have provided a springboard into more advanced designs, such as this swept-wing, twin-engine Cutlass, a real departure from the conventional. Designed from the outset to use a new idea called "the afterburner." Looking more like a rocket ship than an airplane, it could shoot up to 45,000 feet, and almost break the sound barrier. The jet age was just getting a good start when the insatiable appetite of the aggressor lashed out with teeth of Steel, Korea. A byproduct of the Cold War became a hot testing ground between freedom and oppression. It began June 25th, 1950 at the 38th parallel, and ended July 28th 1953 at the 38th parallel. Korea was the baptism of fire for the jet. High altitude, sometimes, supersonic dogfights raged through the air corridor called "MiG Alley." Speed, the asset of the jet and aerial combat, was its detriment as a ground support weapon. So the old warhorse, the Corsair, thought obsolete in the jet age, was again called back to do the job its propeller-less cousins were unable to do, get in close to the ground troops and stay on the target longer. At the close of the Korean War, when the swept-wing Cutlass was on the downhill side of the production line, a new design emerged from the drawing board of the Vought engineers, the F8U crusader. It was a farsighted design that carried naval aviation from the subsonic to the supersonic age.  
  •  It first flew in March 1955 and was the beginning of a long series of Crusaders. It was the first airplane to set a Thompson trophy speed record above the 1,000 mile per hour mark. Major John Glenn set a transcontinental speed record in a photographic version, flying supersonic from Los Angeles to New York City. Following this, the Crusader won the 1957 Collier Trophy and a certificate of merit from the Navy. A number of successive models of the Crusader have been produced, incorporating advanced radar and weapons, and attaining speeds near Mach 2. The Crusader was delivered to the fleet in 1957 and is still the Navy's fastest single-engine fighter. Today, off the shores of Vietnam, it operates around the clock on a day-to-day routine where stamina is pitted against oriental perseverance. Jet aircraft, being a bird of an entirely different feather than its prop-powered cousins, flew differently and performed differently. As a result, pilots needed to be trained differently.  
  •  Temco came up with what was needed, the Temco TT1 Pinto. The Pinto was the Navy's first primary jet trainer. It had all the handling characteristics of its big brothers at a fraction of the cost. The advent of advanced aircraft like the Crusader and Pinto brought not only astronomical technological problems, but also astronomical efforts in research. The use of computers and development of sophisticated electronics became commonplace. As a result, aircraft and electronic companies joined together, pooling their resources for the challenge ahead. Today, at LTV Aerospace, it is fully understood, from the skilled executive to the skilled aircraft assembler, that a second-best airplane is no better than a second-best poker hand. LTV Aerospace, combining the resources, and carrying forward the heritage of several companies, developed one of the most unusual and versatile airplanes in the world today, the tri-service XC-142 transport.  
  •  Thomas Edison once said, "The airplane will be only half-invented until it can take off and land without runways." The XC-142 made up for the other half of the airplane Mr. Edison was talking about. It can do anything a helicopter can do, and it can do anything an airplane can do, or anything in between. It can operate from land or carrier or fly like a conventional airplane at a speed of 430 miles per hour. It is the answer to many of the severe logistic problems of limited war. One year after first flight of the XC-142, another LTV Aerospace airplane made its first flight, the A-7 Corsair 2. It is a light attack bomber for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Corsair 2 is designed for pinpoint bombing in support of ground troops in limited wars, such as Vietnam. It can carry more than twice the bomb load of earlier light attack bombers. The first Corsair 2s have already been delivered to the Navy. This great new Corsair will soon be patrolling the perimeters of freedom. The Corsair 2, built with the same integrity as its predecessors, will carry on its proud heritage stretching back to 1917. Yes, LTV Aerospace, the Lewis and Vought aeronautics division, can look back with pride to its 50-year heritage and to those dedicated daring young men and their flying machines. And if through some miracle, the 50-year barrier of time could be removed, and they could see us today, they would say, "We're proud of you, too."  
  •  The airplane garners worldwide recognition during World War I 
  •  Major breakthroughs in aviation technology 
  •  Departures in aircraft design 
  •  The attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway 
  •  The birth of the jet and supersonic ages 
  •  Aircraft and electronics companies join in research 
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This documentary chronicles the history of aviation, paying particular attention to the contributions of Vought aircraft. Chance Vought and Birdseye Lewis began Lewis and Vought Corporation in 1917, which became Ling-Temco-Vought in 1962. It is currently known as Vought Aircraft Industries, with headquarters in Dallas. Early designs focused on army training planes like the VE-7. The partnership with the military continued after World War I, as Vought developed carrier-based aircraft and bombers such as the F4U Corsair and the SB2U Vindicator used in World War II and the Korean War. Vought was involved with significant aircraft design innovation during these years, implementing lighter, faster engines and metal based frames. In the 1950s, the company would innovate with jet fueled, supersonic aircraft, such as the F8 Crusader used in the Vietnam War. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.
educational film
industrial film
Vought Aircraft
LTV Aerospace Corporation
Lewis and Vought Corporation
Vought Aircraft Companies
Vought Aircraft Industries
Ling Temco Vought
fighter plane
propeller plane
prop plane
jet airplane
flying machine
flying machines
Kitty Hawk
Wright Brothers
Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright
Thomas Edison
Chance Vought
World War I
Red Baron
United States Navy
US Navy
Eddie Rickenbacker
Lafayette Escadrille
Manfred von Richthofen
dog fight
fighter pilot
aerial combat
Vought VE-7
stunt flight
air show
aircraft carrier
USS Maryland
seaplane catapult
USS Langley
Vought ve-9
naval aviation
military aviation
the wasp
wasp engine
Vought o2u corsair
Vought o2u
o2u corsair
o2u kingfisher
C.F. Schilt
Christian Frank Schilt
Charles Lindbergh
Sprit of St. Louis
National Air Races
air show
Vought su-2 corsair
Vought su-2
su-2 corsair
Great Depression
Vought sbu-1 corsair
Vought sbu-1
sbu-1 corsair
Amelia Earhart
World War II
The Vindicator
Vought sb2u vindicator
sb2u vindicator
Vought f4u corsair
vought f4u
f4u corsair
Pearl Harbor
Battle of Midway
flying pancake
flying flapjack Vought v-173
the pirate
Vought f6u pirate
Vought f6u
f6u pirate
Vought f7u cutlass
Vought f7u
Vought cutlass
f7u cutlass
Korean War
Korean conflict
Cold War
supersonic jet
Vought f8u crusader
Vought f8u
f8u crusader
Vought F-8 Crusader
Vought f-8
f-8 crusader
mach 2
sound barrier
Vietnam War
Temco TT Pinto
Temco Pinto
LTV Aerospace
LTV tri-service xc-142 transport
tri-service xc-142 transport
Vought a-7 corsair II
LTV a-7 corsair II
a-7 corsair
a-7 corsair II
Vought aeronautics
jer-fueled engine