South Wing Archives - NNAM

South Wing

Dawn of Naval Aviation

The Navy ordered its first airplane in 1911, just eight years after the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight.  From seaplanes that logged record-setting transoceanic flights to the development of combat aircraft and the floating airfields known as aircraft carriers, Naval Aviation’s first decades of service laid the foundation for its enduring role in


The name Charles Lindbergh is synonymous with flying across the Atlantic, but the NC-4 flying boat was the first to conquer that ocean in a multi-legged flight with stops in Canada, the Azores Islands and ultimately Portugal.  On loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since 1974, this is the actual aircraft, not

Naval Aviation in the Great War

This diorama captures various scenes from the Naval Aviation experience in the World War I era, from the sandy shores of Pensacola where wood and fabric seaplanes operated from tent hangars to a muddy airfield on the Western Front.  A civilian purchased the MF-Boat on display after it completed its Navy service and at one

Sopwith Camel

One of the most famous fighters of World War I, the British-made Camel got its nickname from the hump that housed the machine guns located forward of the cockpit.  Nineteen-year-old Lieutenant (junior grade) David Ingalls became the Navy’s first fighter ace, a status achieved by shooting down five or more enemy aircraft, while flying a


Nicknamed “Fifi” (a play on its FF-1 designation), the airplane was produced by Grumman, the same company that eventually developed the F-14 Tomcat of TOPGUN fame.  Its metal fuselage, enclosed cockpit canopy and retractable landing gear were innovative for the early 1930s.  Discovered in a junkyard in Nicaragua, the museum’s airplane is an export version


The F3F-series was the last biplane fighter in front-line service in Naval Aviation.  A Navy salvage vessel recovered the museum’s airplane from the Pacific Ocean in 1990, 50 years after its pilot ditched while attempting to land on board the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV 3).  The pilot was Marine First Lieutenant Robert Galer, who

BFC-2 Goshawk

The BFC-2 was an early example of a divebomber, the pilot descending at high speed and a steep angle to drop ordnance on a target.  To prevent the bomb from hitting the propeller when dropped, a bomb sling or cradle swung it out away from the fuselage.  The markings on the museum’s airplane are those

RR-5 Tri-Motor

Built by Ford Motor Company, the Tri-Motor was one of the nation’s early airliners.  Its corrugated metal construction inspired a popular nickname for the airplane—the “Tin Goose.”  Built in 1928, the airplane on display was a corporate airplane for a Missouri power company, supported firefighting in Montana and flew in air shows around the country

SB2U-2 Vindicator

The SB2U represented one of the major developments in aircraft design before World War II—the shift from biplanes to monoplanes.  Despite this advancement, it was a transitional design, most of its surfaces covered in fabric.  The airplane on display is the only example of the Vindicator in existence and was recovered from Lake Michigan, where

F4F-3 Wildcat

The Navy’s front-line fighter for the first part of World War II, the Wildcat flew in the landmark battles at Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal, with eight F4F pilots receiving the Medal of Honor.  A unique design feature of the airplane was the fact that the pilot had to retract the landing gear himself by