Flight in the Depression Timeline

The Ranger made several notable long-range flights, including a nonstop formation flight from San Francisco to Honolulu..
Warren M. Bodie Collection

The 1930s were a tough time for many people in the United States. The Great Depression had hit, and jobs were scarce. But even in those difficult times, some people found ways to pursue their dreams. One of those dreams was flight.

For some, flying was simply a way to escape the hard realities of life on the ground. For others, it was a way to make a living. Either way, those who took to the skies during the Depression era helped to shape the future of air travel.


Here is a timeline of some of the most important events in aviation during the Great Depression:

January 10-11, 1934 Six Consolidated P2Y-1 flying boats make a nonstop formation flight f­rom San Francisco to Honolulu.

January 18, 1934 Qantas is established as an airline in Australia.

February 18-19, 1934 Eddie Rickenbacker and Jack Frye set a passenger transport record in the DC-1, flying from Los Angeles to New York in 13 hours and 2 minutes, to protest President Franklin Roosevelt's cancellation of airmail contracts.

February 19, 1934 President Franklin Roosevelt cancels airline airmail contracts; the U.S. Army Air Corps will fly the mail.

February 28-April 25, 1934 Laura Ingalls completes a solo tour of South America in a Lockheed Air Express.

April 11, 1934 Commander Renato Donati flies a Caproni 113 to a world altitude record of 47,352 feet.

April 16, 1934 Northwest Airways becomes Northwest Orient Airlines.

April 17, 1934 Eastern Air Transport becomes Eastern Airlines.

April 17, 1934 The de Havilland D.H.89 Dragon Rapide makes its first flight.

April 17, 1934 The Fairey Swordfish, the immortal "Stringbag," prototype makes its first flight.

May 8-23, 1934 Jean Batten beats Amy Johnson's England-Australia solo record by flying the same distance in 14 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes.

May 13, 1934 Jack Frye sets a coast-to-coast record of 11 hours, 31 minutes in a DC-1.

May 13, 1934 American Airways becomes American Airlines.

June 1, 1934 The Air Corps ceases to deliver airmail.

June 5, 1934 William G. Swan, piloting a glider powered by 12 rockets, attains an altitude of 200 feet in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

June 18, 1934 Engineers begin designing the Boeing Model 299X, which will eventually become the B-17 Flying Fortress.

July 9, 1934 "Sleeper service" is inaugurated on Curtiss Wright Condors on the Chicago-New York route.

July 19, 1934 Curtiss Sparrowhawks, without landing gear, fly from the USS Macon on scouting expeditions.

July 19-August 20, 1934 Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Arnold leads ten Martin B-10s from Bolling Field to Fairbanks, Alaska, on a photographic survey.

July 28, 1934 Major W. E. Kepner and Captains A. W. Stevens and O. A. Anderson reach 60,613 feet in a balloon; the balloon collapses, and the men bail out.

September 1, 1934 Roscoe Turner flies from coast-to-coast in the record time of ten hours, two minutes.

September 9, 1934 The American Rocket Society flies a liquid-fueled rocket to just under 1,400 feet at Staten Island, New York.

September 12, 1934 The Gloster Gladiator prototype flies for the first time. It will be the last biplane fighter of the RAF.

October 7, 1934 The Tupelov SB-1, an advanced bomber superior to the Martin B-10, flies for the first time.

October 20-24, 1934 The great England to Australia race for the MacRobertson prize begins. The winner is the de Havilland D.H. 88 Comet Grosvenor House.

October 22-November 4, 1934 Charles Kingsford Smith and Patrick Gordon Taylor make the first flight from Australia to the United States in a Lockheed Altair.

October 23, 1934 Francesco Agello sets a world speed record of 440.68 miles per hour in a Macchi Castoldi MC.72 seaplane. His record still stands for floatplanes.

November 8, 1934 Eddie Rickenbacker sets a new coast-to-coast record for commercial aircraft in a DC-1. Flying time is 12 hours, 3 minutes, and 50 seconds.

­December 5, 1934 The Italo-Ethiopian War begins.


1934-1935 Flight Timeline

December 31, 1934 Helen Richey becomes the first woman to pilot an airliner on a regularly­ scheduled flight. She flies a Ford Tri-Motor from Washington, D.C., to Detroit.

December 31, 1934 Zantford "Granny" Granville is killed in the crash of a Gee Bee Sportster.


January 11-12, 1935 Amelia Earhart flies her Lockheed Vega from Hawaii to California, becoming the first person to fly that route, in 18 hours, 15 minutes.

January 29, 1935 Harry Richman, an English singer ("I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise"), sets a world altitude record of 18,642 feet for Class C-2 in a Sikor­sky S-39 amphibian.

February 12, 1935 The USS Macon crashes into the sea; two die (the wreckage is discovered and visited by submersibles in 1991).

February 24, 1935 The Heinkel He 111, a prototype, flies in Germany.

March 1, 1935 GHQ Air Force is formed with Brigadier General Frank Andrews commanding. This is the first concrete step toward an independent air force.

March 9, 1935 Germany announces the formation of the Luftwaffe.

March 28, 1935 The Consolidated XP3Y-1 Catalina prototype flies.

April 12, 1935 The Bristol Type 142 Britain First flies.

April 16-23, 1935 Pan Am flies a Clipper from Oakland to Hawaii. This marks the start of Pacific route building.

May 8, 1935 Amelia Earhart becomes the first person to fly nonstop from Mexico City, Mexico, to Newark, New Jersey, in 14 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds.

May 9, 1935 The Navy dispatches 46 Consolidated P2Y flying boats to Midway Island on a secret mission.

May 18, 1935 The worst air disaster to date occurs over Moscow when a hotshot fighter pilot shows off and flies into the ANT-20 Maxim Gorkii, the largest aircraft in the world. Fifty-six people die.

May 28, 1935 The Messerschmitt Bf 109 flies for the first time. It will become the most produced fighter in Germany, with more than 33,000 built.

July 11, 1935 Laura Ingalls establishes an east-west transcontinental speed record for women, flying from Floyd Bennett Field, New York, to Burbank, California in 18 hours, 19 minutes, 30 seconds.

July 23, 1935 The first report on what becomes known as radar is made to the Air Defense Research Committee.

July 28, 1935 The Boeing B-17 prototype (actually Model 299X) makes its first flight.

August 8, 1935 The Morane-Saulnier MS.405 flies for the first time.

August 15, 1935 Wiley Post and Will Rogers are killed in a plane crash at Point Barrow, Alaska.

September 1935 Harold Neumann wins the Thompson Trophy in a Howard DGA-6 Special, Mister Mulligan.

September 12, 1935 Laura Ingalls sets a west-east transcontinental record for women: 13 hours, 34 minutes, 5 seconds.

September 13, 1935 Howard Hughes sets a landplane speed record of 352.38 miles per hour in a plane designed to his specifications.

September 15, 1935 Alexander de Seversky sets an amphibian speed record: 230.413 miles per hour.

September 17, 1935 The infamous Junkers Ju 87 Stuka flies for the first time.

October 30, 1935 The Boeing B-17 prototype crashes and burns at Wright Field while taking off with its innovative control lock in the locked position.

November 6, 1935 The Hawker Hurricane prototype flies.

­November 11, 1935 Albert Stevens and Orvil Anderson set a balloon altitude record of 72,395 feet in the Explorer II.


1935-1936 Flight Timeline

November 13, 1935 New Zealand pilot Jean Batten completes a record flight from Lym­pne, England, to Natal, Brazil, in 2 days, 13 hours, and 15 minutes.

November 22, 1935 Pan Am inaugurates transpacific airmail service in the China Clipper. A round-trip flight takes 122 hours, 42 minutes.


November 29, 1935 A propeller deicer is announced by the Bureau of Air Commerce.

December 17, 1935 The Douglas Sleeper Transport, DC-3 prototype, flies.

January 13-14, 1936 Howard Hughes, flying a Northrop Gamma, sets a west-east nonstop transcontinental record of 9 hours, 26 minutes, 10 seconds.

February 9, 1936 It is announced that 40,000 people are at work on $35 million worth of WPA aviation projects.

February 10, 1936 Rocket research begins at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT). The project will eventually lead to Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO).

February 17, 1936 Aviation pioneer and inventor Hiram Maxim dies at age 66.

February 19, 1936 Billy Mitchell dies in New York at age 58.

March 4, 1936 The LZ 129 Hindenburg, the world's largest airship, flies for the first time.

March 5, 1936 The Supermarine Spitfire prototype flies for the first time.

March 10, 1936 The Fairey Battle, a total failure of a light bomber, makes its first flight.

March 17, 1936 The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, which will become one of the RAF's three main bombers in the early days of World War II (the others: Wellington, Hampden), flies for the first time.

April 1936 A rocket engine is flight tested in a modified Heinkel He 112.

April 1936 Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun moves into a new center at Peenemünde, Germany.

April 1936 The Fieseler Storch, a true short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft, flies for the first time.

April 4, 1936 The Yorktown, the first American aircraft carrier designed for that task, is launched.

April 15, 1936 Hans Pabst von Ohain begins work on his jet engine at Heinkel.

May 5, 1936 Italian forces conquer Ethiopia.

May 6-14, 1936 The Hindenburg flies from Friedrich­shafen, Germany, to Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 61 hours, 50 minutes. The return flight takes 49 hours, 3 minutes.

May 12, 1936 The Messerschmitt Bf 110 prototype flies.

May 19, 1936 The Consolidated XPBY-1 prototype flies for the first time.

May 22, 1936 The Herrick Vertiplane, a combination aircraft/autogiro, is tested.

June 6, 1936 The first production of 100 octane gasoline is initiated.

June 7, 1936 Ira Eaker completes the first transcontinental blind flight.

June 15, 1936 The Vickers Wellington, which uses Barnes Wallis' geodetic construction, flies for the first time.

June 15, 1936 The Westland Lysander makes its first flight.

June 25, 1936 The bomber version of the Bristol 142, the Blenheim, flies for the first time.

June 26, 1936 The Focke-Wulf Fw 61 twin-rotor helicopter makes its first flight.

July 18, 1936 The first battle of the Spanish Civil War takes place.

July 20, 1936 German Ju 52/3m transports airlift Nationalist troops from Spanish Morocco to Spain. It is the first large-scale airlift in the world.

July 23, 1936 The Short Canopus, the first of the four-engine Empire flying boats, makes its first flight.

­August 7, 1936 The first six Heinkel He 51 fighters arrive in Spain in packing crates marked "furniture."


1936-1937 Flight Timeline

The Lockheed XC-35 was a very successful aircraft that was also the first with a pressurized cabin.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

Aug­ust 14, 1936 French pilot M. Detre flies a Potez 50 to 48,698 feet, a new record.

August 22, 1936 Charles Ward Hall, founder of Hall Aluminum Aircraft, is killed in the crash of an aircraft of his own design, the "Monoped."


September 3, 1936 Michel Detroyat wins the Thompson Trophy for France in his Caudron C-460 at 264.26 miles per hour.

September 4, 1936 Louise Thaden wins the Bendix Trophy race in a Beech Model C17-R Staggerwing at 165.6 miles per hour.

September 4, 1936 Ben O. Howard and his wife, Maxine, are seriously injured in the crash of their racer, Mr. Mulligan.

September 4-5, 1936 Beryl Markham makes the first east-west solo transatlantic crossing by a female pilot.

September 28, 1936 Britain regains the altitude record with a flight to 49,967 feet in a Bristol Type 138A.

October 13, 1936 Soviet I-15 fighters, the first of 1,400 Soviet aircraft, arrive in Spain.

October 15, 1936 The Nakajima Ki-27 prototype flies.

October 21, 1936 Pan Am begins weekly passenger service from San Francisco to Manila.

October 29-30, 1936 Jimmy Mollison, in a Bellanca, sets a west-east solo record of 13 hours, 17 minutes, for a transatlantic flight.

December 9, 1936 Juan de la Cierva is killed in the crash of a KLM airliner.

December 21, 1936 The prototype Junkers Ju 88, the most versatile of the German bombers, makes its first flight.

December 27, 1936 The ANT-42 prototype, the first modern Soviet four-engine bomber, flies for the first time.

January 13, 1937 Martin Johnson, a famous flying explorer, dies in the crash of a Western Air Express plane near Los Angeles.

January 16, 1937 The Lioré et Oliver LéO 451 flies.

January 28-29, 1937 Twelve Consolidated PBY-1 flying boats fly from San Diego to Honolulu in 21 hours, 43 minutes, a record.

January 30, 1937 The Hall XPTBH-2 twin-float torpedo plane is delivered to the Navy.

February 9, 1937 The first British dive-bomber, the Blackburn Skua, flies for the first time.

February 19, 1937 Howard Hughes sets a transcontinental record in his H-1 racer: 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds at an average speed of 327.5 miles per hour.

March 1, 1937 The first operational YB-17 is delivered to General Headquarters Air Force, in Langley Field, Virginia.

March 5, 1937 Allegheny Airlines is formed (it will later become USAir).

March 17, 1937 Amelia Earhart blows a tire when she tries to take off from Hawaii for her proposed world flight. She has to reschedule.

April 12, 1937 Frank Whittle tests his gas-turbine engine.

April 26, 1937 Germany bombs Guernica, Spain.

April 30, 1937 The Nationalist battleship España is reportedly sunk by the Republican air force.

May 6, 1937 The Hindenburg explodes at Lakehurst, New Jersey, while attempting to land.

May 7, 1937 The Lockheed XC-35, the first pressure cabin plane, flies.

May 8, 1937 Lieutenant Colonel Pezzi flies a Caproni 161 biplane to 51,362 feet for a new altitude record.

May 29, 1937 Louise Thaden sets a female national speed record in a Beech Staggerwing: 100 kilometers at 197.958 miles per hour.

­June 11, 1937 Reginald J. Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire, dies at age 42.


1937-1938 Flight Timeline

June 18-20, 1937 A Soviet crew flies the ANT-25 from Moscow over the North Pole t­o the United States.

June 30, 1937 A Bristol Type 138A recaptures the altitude record with a flight to 53,937 feet.


July 1, 1937 Varney Air Transport becomes Continental Airlines.

July 2, 1937 Amelia Earhart disappears on her round-the-world flight.

July 7, 1937 Japan begins a full-scale invasion of China.

July 12-14, 1937 The ANT-25 (with a different Soviet crew) flies from Moscow over the North Pole to San Jacinto, California, a distance of 6,900 miles.

July 15, 1937 The Blohm und Voss Bv 138, a three-engine flying boat, makes its first flight. It will become a workhorse during World War II.

July 26, 1937 Jacqueline Cochran, flying a Staggerwing Beech, sets a national speed record for women: 100 kilometers at 203.895 miles per hour.

July 27, 1937 The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor makes its first flight.

July 29, 1937 The Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra makes its first flight.

August 11, 1937 The Boulton Paul Defiant, a two-seat fighter with power-operated turret, makes its first flight.

August 24, 1937 A Junkers Ju 52/3m flies from Kabul to China.

October 16, 1937 The Short Sunderland prototype flies for the first time.

November 1, 1937 The first Civil Air Regulations go into effect.

November, 11, 1937 The Boeing XB-15 makes its first flight. It is the first of the very large modern bombers in the United States.

November 13, 1937 Jean Batten completes a record 5-day, 18-hour, and 15-minute crossing from Darwin, Australia, to Lympne, England.

December 3, 1937 Alexander de Seversky flies from New York to Havana in 5 hours, 2 minutes, 51 seconds, setting a record.

December 24, 1937 The Macchi C.200 Saetta prototype flies for the first time. It will be the first monoplane fighter with canopy and retractable gear in the Italian Air Force.

December 29, 1937 Service between New Zealand and the United States is inaugurated by Pan Am using a Sikorsky S-42 Clipper.

1938 The U.S. Army buys seven Kellet Y6-1B Autogiros for liaison use.

January 9, 1938 The Aichi D3A "Val" dive-bomber makes its first flight.

January 11, 1938 The Pan Am Sikorsky S-42B Samoan Clipper is destroyed in a mysterious fire, which claims the life of Edwin C. Musick and six crew members.

January 29, 1938 Designer Gerard (Gerry) Vultee and his wife are killed in a plane crash.

February 6, 1938 A composite flying boat arrangement is tested with the separation of the upper seaplane Mercury from the lower "parent" flying boat Maia.

February 10, 1938 A Hawker Hurricane flies cross-country (with a big tailwind) at an average of 408 miles per hour.

February 17, 1938 Six B-17s leave on a goodwill flight to South America.

April 22, 1938 Captain Eddie Rickenbacker buys Eastern Airlines for $3.5 million.

April 28, 1938 The Brewster Buffalo undergoes full-scale wind-tunnel tests at Langley Field, Virginia, in drag-cleanup efforts that improve speed by 31 miles per hour.

June 9, 1938 British Purchasing Commission buys hundreds of Lockheed Hudsons and North American Harvards, waking up U.S. industry.

­June 23, 1938 The Civil Aeronautics Authority is created by the Civil Aeronautics Act.


1938-1939 Flight Timeline

July 10-14, 1938 Howard Hughes makes a record round-the-world flight, in 3 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes.

July 11-August 10, 1938 Intense air fighting takes place between the Soviets and Japanese in Manchuria.


July 17-18, 1­938 Douglas "Wrong-Way" Corrigan flies from New York to Ireland in 28 hours, 13 minutes in a 9-year-old Curtiss Robin.

July 21-22, 1938 Mercury, the upper component of the Short-Mayo composite, makes the first commercial crossing of the North Atlantic by a heavier-than-air craft.

July 28, 1938 Pan American's Hawaiian Clipper disappears.

August 10-11, 1938 The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 prototype is flown nonstop from Berlin to New York.

August 22, 1938 The Civil Aeronautics Authority becomes effective.

August 23, 1938 Frank Hawks and a passenger are burned to death in the crash of the Gwinn Aircar.

August 29, 1938 Alexander de Seversky sets an east-west speed record of 10 hours, 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

September 3, 1938 Jacqueline Cochran wins the Bendix Trophy race in a Seversky AP-7 at ten hours, three minutes.

September 5, 1938 Roscoe Turner wins the Thompson Trophy at 283.41 miles per hour.

September 14, 1938 The Graf Zeppelin II, the last Zeppelin to be built, flies for the first time.

September 21, 1938 Chief of Air Corps Major General Oscar Westover crashes to his death in a Northrop A-17A.

>September 29, 1938 The Munich Agreement guts Czechoslovakia.

October 2, 1938 The Dewoitine D.520, the best French fighter of World War II, flies for the first time.

October 6, 1938 The Short Mercury sets a long-distance record for seaplanes: 5,007 miles.

October 11, 1938 Harald Penrose makes the first flight of a Westland Whirlwind, the only twin-engine single-seat fighter to serve with the RAF in World War II.

October 14, 1938 The Curtiss XP-40 prototype flies for the first time.

October 22, 1938 Lieutenant Colonel Mario Pezzi regains the world altitude record for Italy, attaining 56,046 feet in a Caproni 161-bis biplane; this remains the world record for piston-engine aircraft.

October 26, 1938 The first Douglas Model 7B is flown. The aircraft will be developed into the A-20 Havoc series.

November 5-7, 1938 The RAF establishes a new distance record, using a Vickers Wellesley single-engine long-distance monoplane to fly from Egypt to Australia (7,157 miles), in 48 hours.

December 10, 1938 James Wyld develops a regeneratively cooled liquid-rocket motor, which becomes the basis for the JATO system.

December 16, 1938 The NACA high-speed motion picture camera is developed.

December 31, 1938 The Boeing 307, the first pressurized airliner, flies for the first time.

December 31, 1938 The Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) is reorganized into the Civil Aeronautics Board.

1939 The NACA continues development of laminar flow airfoil.

1939 The NACA combined-loads testing machine is developed.

January 27, 1939 The Lockheed XP-38 Lightning flies for the first time.

February 1939 The NACA begins reevaluating jet propulsion for aircraft.

April 1, 1939 The Mitsubishi A6M Zero prototype flies for the first time.

­April 20, 1939 The first free-flight tunnel is placed into operation at Langley Field, Virginia.


1939-1940 Flight Timeline

The XB-24 quickly became a hit after it was first introduced.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

April 26, 1939 Fritz Wendel pilots a Messerschmitt Me 109R (209 VI) to set a world s­peed record of 469.22 miles per hour.

May 9, 1939 Dale White and Chauncey Spencer seek to include African Americans in air-training programs.


May 27, 1939 The Petlyakov Pe-2 bomber flies for the first time.

June 20, 1939 A Heinkel He 176 is the first aircraft to fly with a liquid-propellant rocket.

June 28, 1939 Boeing 314 Clippers begin transatlantic service.

July 6, 1939 The first scheduled airmail service takes place with a rotary-wing aircraft, a Kellett KD-1B, in Eastern Airlines markings, between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The aircraft was flown by Captain John Miller.

July 7, 1939 Curtiss wins an order for 210 P-36As.

August 27, 1939 The Heinkel He 178, the world's first jet aircraft, flies for the first time.

September 1939 Igor Sikorsky flies the first successful helicopter.

September 1, 1939 Germany invades Poland; World War II begins.

December 29, 1939 The Consolidated XB-24 Liberator makes its first flight.

December 30, 1939 The Ilyushin Il-2 prototype flies for the first time.

January 13, 1940 The Yak 1 prototype makes its first flight.

February 24, 1940 The Hawker Typhoon prototype makes its first flight. It will become the premier British ground-attack airplane.

March 12, 1940 Finland surrenders to the Soviet Union.

March 21, 1940 Pan Am takes delivery of the first pressurized Boeing 307 Stratoliner.

March 26, 1940 Commercial airlines complete a full year without a fatal accident or serious injury.

March 30, 1940 The LAGG-1 fighter flies for the first time.

April 5, 1940 The MiG-1 prototype makes its first flight.

April 9, 1940 Germany begins its invasion of Scandinavia.

May 10, 1940 The German invasion of Belgium and Holland begins.

May 13, 1940 The Sikorsky VS-300 makes its first free flight.

May 28, 1940 Evacuation at Dunkirk, France, begins.

May 29, 1940 The Chance Vought XF4U-1 makes its first flight.

June 1940 Heini Dittmar test-flies a rocket-powered DFS-194.

June 8, 1940 The carrier HMS Glorious is sunk by the Scharnhorst, a German battleship.

June 10, 1940 Italy declares war on Great Britain and France.

June 15-25, 1940 France surrenders.

August 17, 1940 Pilot Officer William M. L. Fiske becomes the first American to die in the service of the RAF.

August 24-25, 1940 Germany bombs London.

August 28, 1940 The Caproni-Campini N.1, an Italian jet, flies for the first time.

September 7, 1940 Luftwaffe night attacks on England begin.

September 7, 1940 The Blohm und Voss Bv 222 Wiking six-engine flying boat makes its first flight.

October 8, 1940 Form­­ation of the Eagle Squadron with American pilots is announced.

October 26, 1940 The North American Mustang prototype makes its first flight.

November 11, 1940 The Italian Air Force makes its first and only attack on England.

­November 11, 1940 England scores a great victory at Taranto, Italy, with the Fairey Swordfish.


1940-1942 Flight Timeline

November 25, 1940 The de Havilland D.H.98 Mosquito prototype makes its first ­flight.

November 25, 1940 The Martin B-26 Marauder flies for the first time.


December 18, 1940 The Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver flies.

January 1941 The Kawanishi Navy H8K Seiku, one of the top flying boats of WW II, makes its first flight.

January 9, 1941 The Avro Lancaster prototype flies for the first time.

February 25, 1941 The Me 321 Gigant glider makes its first flight.

March 11, 1941 The Lend-Lease Act is authorized.

April 2, 1941 The Heinkel He 280 jet fighter makes its first flight.

April 18, 1941 The Me 262 makes its first flight under piston engine power.

April 23, 1941 Greece surrenders; German conquest of Balkans is complete.

May 6, 1941 The XP-47B prototype flies for the first time.

May 10-11, 1941 Rudolf Hess flies to England in a Messerschmitt Bf 110.

May 13-14, 1941 Twenty-one B-17s fly from Hamilton Army Air Field in Marin County, California, to Hawaii in the first mass deployment of U.S. Army bomber aircraft to the Pacific.

May 15, 1941 Britain's first jet, the Gloster E.28/39, flies for the first time.

May 20, 1941 Germans invade Crete in the largest Luftwaffe airborne assault of the war.

May 26, 1941 An RAF Catalina aircraft spots the Bismarck; it is attacked by Fairey Swordfish aircraft.

June 20, 1941 The U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) is formed; H. H. Arnold is Chief.

June 22, 1941 Germany invades the Soviet Union and destroys the Soviet Air Force on the ground.

August 1, 1941 The Soviet Union uses "parasite" dive-bombers for an attack on Romanian oil fields.

August 3, 1941 The first "Hurricat," a Sea Hurricane catafighter, scores a victory against a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor.

August 7-8, 1941 The Soviet Union raids Berlin.

August 13, 1941 The Messerschmitt Me 163 prototype flies for the first time.

August 27, 1941 An RAF Hudson captures the U-570 in the North Atlantic.

September 20, 1941 A de Havilland Mosquito makes its first combat sortie over France.

September 23, 1941 First Lieutenant Hans-Ulrich Rudel sinks the Soviet battleship Marat.

October 2, 1941 The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet rocket fighter reaches 624 miles per hour.

November 12, 1941 The British carrier Ark Royal is attacked by a German sub.

December 7, 1941 The Japanese Navy attacks Pearl Harbor. It's the first large-scale operation involving only carrier-based aircraft.

December 10, 1941 Land-based Japanese bombers sink the British battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse.

December 18, 1941 Buzz Wagner becomes the first U.S. ace of the war when he shoots down his fifth Japanese plane over the Philippines.

December 18, 1941 Reaction Motors, Inc., is formed to produce rocket engines. The company will ultimately produce engines used on the Bell X-1 and the North American X-15.

January 14, 1942 The Sikorsky XR-4 prototype, the first military helicopter, makes its first flight.

March 19, 1942 GALCIT Rocket Research Project becomes the Aerojet Corporation.

March 20, 1942 The first of three Mitsubishi J2M Raiden prototypes (code name Jack), makes its first flight.

­April 2-9, 1942 The British suffer a naval disaster at the hands of Japanese airpower off the coast of Ceylon, off India.


1942 Flight Timeline

April 18, 1942 Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle leads the first U.S. raid on Tokyo.

April 19, 194­2 The Macchi MC.205, the best Italian fighter of the war, makes its first flight.


April 22, 1942 The Himalayan "Hump" route is established.

May 7-8, 1942 The Battle of Coral Sea is the first sea battle in history in which no ship saw another. The combat (between Japanese and U.S. and Australian forces) was done entirely by the air forces. The battle sets the stage for the rest of the war.

May 26, 1942 The Northrop XP-61 Black Widow night-fighter makes its first flight.

May 30-31, 1942 The first RAF "thousand-bomber" raid occurs in Cologne.

May 31, 1942 Mosquitos are used operationally for the first time.

June 3-4, 1942 The Battle of Midway takes place.

June 12, 1942 The HALPRO Force makes a strike against Ploesti, Romania.

June 13, 1942 The first attempt to launch a German V-2 is unsuccessful.

June 26, 1942 The Grumman XF6 Hellcat makes its first flight.

July 18, 1942 The Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter debuts.

August 17, 1942 USAAF bombers make the first raid on Europe, attacking railway yards in Rouen, France.

September 1942 A Japanese sub-based "Glen" drops four small bombs on Oregon.

September 2, 1942 The Hawker Tempest prototype makes its first flight.

October 1, 1942 The Bell XP-59, the first U.S. jet, makes its first flight.

October 3, 1942 The first successful A-4 (later becomes the V-2) rocket is launched at Peenemünde, Germany.

November 15, 1942 The Heinkel He 219, the best German night-fighter of the war, makes its first flight.

November 19, 1942 The Battle of Stalingrad begins.

January 9, 1943 The Lockheed C-69 Constellation makes its first flight.

January 27, 1943 USAAF bombers attack Germany.

January 30, 1943 De Havilland Mosquitos make the first daylight raid on Berlin.

February 13, 1943 The Chance Vought F4U-1 "Bent Wing Bird" goes into action.

March 2-4, 1943 Airpower wins the Battle of Bismarck Sea against the Japanese.

March 5, 1943 The Gloster Meteor prototype makes its first flight.

April 18, 1943 German troop transports are massacred off Cape Bon; 52 are shot down.

April 18, 1943 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is shot down and killed by P-38s.

May 16-17, 1943 The famous "Dam Busters" raid takes place.

June 15, 1943 The Arado Ar.234 Blitz, the world's first jet bomber, makes its first flight.

July 18, 1943 The U.S. Navy Airship K-74 is shot down by a German submarine. It's the only one lost in war to hostile action.

August 1, 1943 Junior Lieutenant Lydia Litvak, a female Soviet ace, is killed in action; she had 12 victories.

August 1, 1943 B-24s attack Ploesti, Romania; more than 50 of the 177 attacking aircraft are lost.

August 17, 1943 The Schweinfurt/Regensburg raids take place.

August 17, 1943 The RAF raids Peenemünde, Germany, killing 600 scientists.

August 17, 1943 A remote-control glide bomb, the Henschel Hs 293 A-1, is used for the first time.

August 31, 1943 The Grumman F6F Hellcat is used operationally for the first time.

September 9, 1943 The Italian battleship Roma is sunk by a German Fritz X guided missile.

September 12, 1943 Benito Mussolini is rescued by a Fieseler Storch aircraft.

September 20, 1943 The de Havilland Vampire makes its first flight.

October 14, 1943 A follow-up attack takes place on Schweinfurt, Germany; 60 planes are lost.

October 26, 1943 The Dornier Do 335 prototype flies for the first time.

­December 13, 1943 The first long-range fighter escort flights take place.