Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre – Aviation History

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre has one of the best aviation and space travel collections in the world and is a must see place for any aviation buff. The museum is located in Chantilly, Virginia right next to Dulles International Airport. It is an extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and has all the big aircraft that could not possibly be displayed on The Mall in D.C.

Westland Lysander Smithsonian
The Lysander is part of a vast collection of Aviation History

Who is Steven Ferencz Udvar-Házy? He is a successful businessman who donated $66 million to the Smithsonian to build the museum facility that bears his name.

helicopters Steven F Udvar-Hazy
Early helicopters

Space Shuttle Discovery is a major draw card at the museum, but you can also see a number of significant civilian and commercial aircraft including a Concorde, the supersonic airliner and the Boeing 367-80 (known as the Dash 80) which was the prototype Boeing 707. In 1955 test pilot “Tex” Johnson famously barrel rolled the Dash 80 over Lake Washington in Seattle on a demonstration flight!

NASA Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Dash 80 Steven F Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian
Dash 80

For most people (including me) the main attraction though is the vast collection of military aircraft from World War One and World War Two. These include the famous Boeing B-29 bomber Enola Gay and some very rare Axis aircraft from Germany and Japan. The collection includes many rare aircraft and is impressive to say the least!

Caudron G.4 from WW1 Steven F Udvar-Hazy Virginia Smithsonian
Caudron G.4 from WW1
Nieuport 28 & Spad XVI Steven F Udvar Hazy
Halberstadt CL.IV, Spad XVI & Nieuport 28 from WW1
Boeing FB-5 a 1920's fighter
Boeing FB-5 a 1920’s fighter
Vought F4U Corsair
Vought F4U Corsair
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
B-29 Enola Gay
“Enola Gay” 2013

For me the Axis aircraft are a favourite that can not be missed. The German section alone includes some of the rarest aircraft from World War Two. These include the worlds first operational jet reconnaissance bomber the Arado Ar-234 (over 200 were built, but this is the only surviving airframe) and the Heinkel He-219 Uhu (Owl) which was the first operational aircraft to be fitted with ejection seats and was possibly the best night fighter of the war but only saw limited service before war’s end (it is partially restored but on display and is possibly one of only 2 surviving airframes). Also on display is the only surviving Dornier Do-335 Pfiel (Arrow) a mighty heavy fighter with an unusual twin-engine design in a push-pull arrangement which gave an impressive performance of 765 km/h or 474 mph (faster than a De Havilland Mosquito)!

Arado Ar-234
Arado Ar-234 – first operational jet bomber
Arado Ar-234
Arado Ar-234 – fast and nimble
Arado Ar-234
Arado Ar-234 – a shock to the Allies
Heinkel He-219 Uhu night fighter steven f udvar hazy virginia smithsonian
Heinkel He-219 Uhu
Dornier Do-335 Pfiel Smithsonian
Dornier Do-335 Pfiel
Dornier Do-335 Pfiel Steven F Udvar-Hazy Centre USA
The Dornier Do-335 Pfiel was one big and powerful fighter
Focke-Wulf Fw-190 Smithsonian Steven F Udvar Hazy
Focke-Wulf Fw-190
Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet (rocket powered interceptor)
Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet (rocket powered interceptor)

The Japanese aircraft on display if not as well-known, are equally as rare as their German counterparts. The sole surviving Aichi M6A1 Seiran (Clear Sky Storm) a float plane bomber designed to be transported by special aircraft carrying submarines, then put together at sea and launched from the water to strike allied targets is a major centrepiece of the Japanese collection. A Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Hei Type 2 Toryu (Dragon Killer) codenamed “Nick” is also the last survivor of the only type of night fighter to see service with the Japanese army in World War Two (the airframe is displayed minus the wings). Another significant Japanese night fighter is the fully restored Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko (Moonlight) codename “Irving” which is also the last surviving airframe. This is very lucky considering many were used in desperate Kamikaze attacks towards the end of the war.

Japanese aircraft collection Steven F Udvar Hazy Centre Virginia USA
Japanese Collection
Seiran and Nick Japanese ww2 fighters
Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Hei Type 2 Toryu “Nick” & Aichi M6A1 Seiran
Aichi M6A1 Seiran Nick Japan
The Nick and Seiran from high above
Seiran Japanese WW2
Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko
Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko
Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko
Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko
Ohka Model 22 Kamikaze jet
Ohka Model 22 Kamikaze jet
Kawanishi N1K "George" one of the best Japanese fighters of WW2
Kawanishi N1K “George” one of the best Japanese fighters of WW2

The Cold War through to modern-day combat aircraft are not forgotten. There are a number of jet fighters from the 1950’s to the present including a large collection of Vietnam War era aircraft.

Vietnam era:  F-4 Phantom II, F-105 Thunderchief & MiG-21 Fishbed
Vietnam era: F-4 Phantom II, F-105 Thunderchief & MiG-21 Fishbed
Old Vietnam War foes: Rockwell F-105 Thunderchief and an SA-2 SAM
Old Vietnam War foes: Rockwell F-105 Thunderchief and an SA-2 SAM
F-100 Super Sabre
SR-71 2
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Top view of the SR-71
Lockheed Martin X-35B JSF

Be warned though, this is not a place you just pop into while waiting for a flight at Dulles. You need a full day to truly take everything in (well I do anyway). This is one of the top aviation museums in the USA and the world so take your time and enjoy a walk through aviation history.

Northrop N-9M flying wing
Northrop N-9M flying wing

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