Advances in aviation since the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight in 1903 have had a significant impact on our country’s military power. Issued in 1997, the Classic American Aircraft pane features 20 planes representing the first 50 years of powered flight in America, many of which were instrumental in times of conflict.
Grumman’s F4F was the Navy’s first line of defense in early World War II. It out-fought the faster, more agile Japanese Zero at the Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. The Wildcat’s rugged service continued throughout the war.
An early 1930s breakthrough, this sleek monoplane took over the job of bomber from big, slow biplanes. The Martin B-10 carried a one-ton cargo, opened the eyes of strategists, and pointed the way to the hardy B-17 and B-24.
The bent-winged F4U achieved one of World War II’s highest victory ratios. Impressive in ground support, the Vought Corsair also served effectively in Korea. The plane was retired in the 1970s with a long and distinguished international record.
The Boeing B-17 is an American legend. In World War II, it carried the air war to Germany, bombing heavily defended targets while dodging flak and enemy fighters. Able to withstand severe damage, the ‘Fort’ commanded great respect.
Beautiful, agile, powerful, the North American P-51 is rated by many as the best fighter of WWII. The Mustang escorted bombers over Europe and the Pacific, sweeping the skies, and winning the hearts of its pilots.
These classic machines paved the way for countless advances in aviation technology, keeping American armed forces on the cutting edge. What kinds of aircraft would you like to see on a future stamp?