Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

By Chris Sherland

Modeler's Digest trip to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

This October I had the chance to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, something I have wanted to do since I was a young boy.

On a business trip to Baltimore my wife relented to a sidetrack to DC and a day at the "Smithy." While it's quite clear that I could fill volumes with photos of what the air and space museum has to offer, I put together a quick peek into the highlights (as I saw them) of our visit.

The real appeal of the Air and Space Museum for me is it's uniqueness. Every display is one-of-a-kind...not rows of Mustangs, but showcases like THE X15. In that light this article is by no means a walk-through, but more a short peek...

The A6M5...

on display is fantastically restored and hangs in the WWII Gallery. It is dramatically hung at eye-level and arms reach from the balcony. Below and behind is the Smith's MK VII (thanks Vasko!!) Spitfire.

A fantastic gunsight display...

is tucked away in the "Aircraft Carrier" display hall. There are a few WWII reflector sights that are set up to peer through, complete with a single-engined fighter model hung in the cross hairs. This display has to be seen to be fully appreciated, reflector technology is explained and detailed quite well.

The Bf109G6...

is tucked deep into the corner of the WWII display hall, and with the balcony right above you can stare down into the cockpit. This plane is restored with accurate colors which is rare for a German bird of this we all know...WWII Luftwaffe colors are far easier to flub than catching that hail mary pass for the High School season win! The museum's Macci 202 Folgore is hanging above and in front of the 109, and the Daimler's unique inverted mounting is evident in both. An easy start up for a conversation with the wife about shared technology during WWII. She at least "looked" interested to me.

The Pratt and Whitney R-2800...

powered the P-47, F4U, B-26, F6F, F7F, and many others during WWII and beyond. The first 2000hp radial engine made in the USA, the R-2800 on display is a late model and looks like you could fill it with oil and start it up.

The X15...

well, what can you's THE X-15! I spent a long time with this one. Just being this close to aviation history is something not to be missed if you get the chance. I have a few nice high-res pics of this bird! If anyone is building this and needs a few extra references please let me know.

What aviation museum would be allowed to open it's doors without a Mustang? A beautiful D model sits under the Folgore, and right in front of a fantastic (and huge!!) original mural by Keith Ferris of a box of Boeings being intercepted by 109s and 190s at high altitude.

Dolittle's Curtiss Floatplane Racer...

won him the Schneider Cup in 1925 beating the nearest competitor by over 80MPH. Boy would I love to see a 1/32 scale kit of this ship!

As mentioned above, one could fill web pages all day long with pictures from this visit. But maybe leaving just enough of a taste will inspire you to pack up the kids and go see it for yourself.

If you've never been, make it a goal to get there. It's well worth the trip.

© Chris Sherland 2000

Related Content

This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011; Last modified on Saturday, May 14 2016