Patterico's Pontifications


WWII and Pan Am’s Pacific Clipper

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 9:04 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Pan Am’s Pacific Clipper flew 31,500 miles in the first month after Pearl Harbor in a race to get home:

From a New York Times movie review:

“A World War II adventure that follows a crew of 11 as they attempt to fly a revolutionary aircraft back to American soil before it is captured by Axis forces. Pearl Harbor has just been bombed, and halfway across the world a new Boeing B-314 has just dropped off a group of passengers in New Zealand. Realizing just how dangerous it could be for enemy forces to come into possession of the United States’ most technologically advanced aircraft, a hastily assembled crew is assigned the task of traveling to New Zealand and piloting the plane to safety …”

The movie’s release has apparently been delayed until 2011.



10 Responses to “WWII and Pan Am’s Pacific Clipper”

  1. one of my favorite war movies was memphis belle a couple years back. if they could do something on that level, i would be a happy camper.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  2. I have not seen a B 314 and wonder if any are on display. I have seen several other flying boats and they are huge. I used to fly on a small one to Catalina. It was a Grumman but I forget the names in the series.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  3. Here is a very nice web site on the clipper and what happened to them. None are in existence but there are efforts under way to try to recover one of the two that were sunk. Only 12 were built.

    Martin made a big flying boat, too. The Mars was bigger than the Boeing but did not have the luxury reputation.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  4. Only a Hollywood script writer would claim that a Pan Am Clipper–whether the Boeing or the Martin version was “America’s most technologically advanced aircraft” at the time of Pearl Harbor. But then ignorance of history and Hollywood screen writers go together like ham and eggs.

    Mike Myers (3c9845)

  5. So what plane was the most technologically advanced at that time? I know late in the war the Nazis had some jets. I guess we could delve into the relative merits of Jap Zeros and ME-109s, etc.
    Unsure of the timeline for B-17s and B-29s, etc.
    I recall a splendid Navy Bearcat housed at the New Haven airport in the mid-sixties and flown by a Yale professor who managed to die while crashing it.

    aoibhneas (6e9f23)

  6. The B-17 was already in active service at the outset of WW II. In fact a flight of them arrived at Pearl Harbor during the attack on Dec. 7. Their guns had been removed for the flight.

    The B-29 first flew in Sept. of 1942 and entered service in 1944.

    The F-4 Corsair had already flown before Pearl Harbor, and that was a pretty hot airplane for the time. (They continued to be produced until 1953)

    The P-38 Lightning was already in production before Pearl Harbor.

    gahrie (9d1bb3)

  7. There wasn’t a lot of what we consider technology involved in aircraft, particularly military aircraft, at the time of Pearl Harbor.
    There were no pressurized aircraft – the B-29 was the first in the U.S. fleet, and the Lockheed Constellation was the first commercial airliner that was pressurized and didn’t enter service until 1943, where it was promptly “drafted” for the duration. Very few aircraft had auto-pilots. Navigation was done by radio-beacon, the Sun, and star-sights at night (look at a C-47 and you’ll see a small blister just behind the location of the pilots on the top of the fuselage that doesn’t generally appear on the civilian DC-3 – this is where the navigator took his “shots” with his sextant).

    AD - RtR/OS! (a87d65)

  8. Pearl Harbor was closer to Kitty Hawk than we are today to the first moon landing. Most of the technology was in the engines (which makes sense since by the end of the war prop planes were quickly obsolete).

    The technology may have not been great compared to today but they were durable. Which is why DC-3s lasted as long as they have and are still flying today.

    MU789 (00e597)

  9. The KISS principle still rules engineering.

    AD - RtR/OS! (a87d65)

  10. Which is why DC-3s lasted as long as they have and are still flying today

    Had a flight in one in Costa Rica in ’87.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

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