Chino Airshow 2011 Preview

This year marks the Centennial of Naval Aviation in the United States, so the organizers of the Chino airshow chose this as the theme of the 2011 show.

The Planes of Fame Air Museum at Chino houses one of the best collections of naval warbirds in the world, including World War Two aircraft like this TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, in front of an SBD Dauntless dive bomber and an F4U Corsair fighter.

The show is expected to feature flights by all of these aircraft, as well as other stalwarts of the same period like an F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat.

One of the great things about Chino is the chance to see rare aircraft, such as an F3F "Flying Barrel", the US Navy's last biplane fighter, a J2F Duck amphibious biplane, a PV-1 Ventura naval patrol aircraft and a PBJ, the navy version of the B-25 Mitchell bomber.

There will be plenty of air force planes, too, including fighters like the P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, and a rare P-63 Kingcobra, as well as bombers like the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell.

Another excellent feature of this show is the chance to see foreign aircraft like the British Spitfire and Firefly fighters, a Russian Yak-3 fighter, a replica German Fw 190, a replica Japanese "Val" dive bomber and the world's only authentic Zero fighter which still flies.

There will also be later aircraft like the A-1 Skyraider, F-86 Sabre, MiG-15 "Fagot" and the rarely seen A-26 Invader.   To cap it all off we'll have some modern firepower, in the form of an F-15E Strike Eagle.

The TBM Avenger torpedo bomber was introduced just in time to fight at the Battle of Midway, but it was a very inauspicious beginning - only one of the six aircraft sent to attack the Japanese fleet survived.

That one survivor only just managed to get back to Midway Island, with one gunner killed and the other gunner and pilot both injured.

The plane was riddled with 70 bullet holes, and its hydraulic system, elevator wires were destroyed.   Since the compass was also shot up, the pilot only found Midway because of the huge pall of black smoke caused by the Japanese attack.

In spite of this terrible beginning, the Avenger quickly became very successful.   Famous crewman included future President Bush (senior) and actor Paul Newman, and during the war the plane also served with the British Fleet Air Arm, as well as the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

This SBD Dauntless, one of only three still flying, flew 30 combat missions with the Royal New Zealand Air Force against Japanese forces.

Although replaced later in the war by the SB2C Helldiver, the Dauntless sank more Japanese shipping than any other aircraft.

Dauntlesses reached the Japanese fleet at Midway shortly after the unsuccessful attack by the Avengers, but because the Japanese fighters had been drawn away, the Dauntlesses were able to attack without too much interference, destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers as well as two cruisers.

Unusually for a strike aircraft, it had a better than 1:1 kill ratio against Japanese fighter aircraft, because of the two 50 caliber machine guns you can see on its nose, as well as defensive machine guns usually fitted in the rear cockpit.

The F4U Corsair was an American naval fighter which achieved an 11:1 kill ratio against Japanese aircraft, and it's another plane which also served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

It was the first single-engined American fighter able to sustain speeds of more than 400 mph, but pilots initially had serious problems landing the plane on aircraft carriers, mostly because the length of the nose in front of the pilot obscured the landing deck on approach.

The visibility problem was solved by the British, who raised the pilot's seat by 7 inches, added the curved "Malcom Hood" canopy which was later fitted to American F4Us like this one, and flew a curved approach to the aircraft carrier, which allowed the pilot to keep the deck in sight until the last moment.

See highlights of the Chino airshow in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.