Last of Their Kind
Airplanes without equal at the National Air and Space Museum.
- By Patricia Trenner
- Air & Space magazine, August 2012
Nipping at the landing gear of the world’s first jet-powered airliner—the de Havilland D.H.106 Comet—the “Dash 80” was Boeing’s first big gamble. The company designed it as a refueling tanker for the Air Force with a sideline as a passenger aircraft. The Air Force ordered the KC-135 tanker version, and in 1955 Pan American was the first to order the airliner. Ultimately Boeing built just over 1,000 707s, including the smaller 720 version, and 800 KC-135s. First flight: July 15, 1954. Donated by Boeing in 1972; single prototype.
Kyushu J7W1 Shinden
Curators note similarities between the J7W1 Magnificent Lightning, an experimental fighter developed in Japan during World War II, and the Curtiss XP-55 Ascender, a U.S. experiment. Each had a canard, a rear-mounted engine, and pusher propeller. Although the Shinden (not shown) was more advanced, both had stability problems, and neither saw production. First flight: August 3, 1945. Shipped to the U.S. with some 145 Japanese aircraft in 1945 for evaluation; transferred from the U.S. Air Force to the National Air Museum in 1949. Sole survivor; in storage, disassembled.