Amazing Pictures From The WWII Warbird Factory in Los Angeles

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The lengthy ammunition belts make it evident that the student pilots will be engaged in a live-fire exercise. The guns installed in trainers were not for combat but to expedite pilot training in the more lethal fighter aircraft of the day.
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Even in the days before digital photographic manipulation, people working in the darkroom could create fanciful spoof images.
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A wind-tunnel technician attaches a torpedo to a B-25 scale model. The bottom turret was eliminated by mid-war and skip bombing became a common weapon against shipping because torpedoes were expensive and in short supply.
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The large tires on the B-25 made it possible to operate from unpaved surfaces but placed a weight penalty on the design. The entire sub-assembly includes brakes and the sturdy landing gear.
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Barrage balloons constantly flew over the airfield. They were intended to defend the airfield and factory by complicating a low level aerial approach. Some had explosive charges that would detonate on contact.
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NA-73X had a bad day on November 20, 1940, when test pilot Paul Balfour experienced an engine failure and was forced to put down in a nearby farm field. The term “bought the farm” derives from the lawsuit that would often follow such a crash. The farmer would claim $10,000 in damages and this amount would typically pay off his mortgage. Nonfatal airplane wrecks were a constant sight during the war.
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Edgar Schmued (left) and a colleague examine a model of the Mustang in the wind tunnel.
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The radial engines have cooling fins like the small engine on a rotary lawn mower or gasoline-powered chain saw. The broad diameter is necessary for cooling but increases drag.
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Celebrities invited to inspect the Navion included motion picture actor Clark Gable (left) and the most famous of the bomber generals—Curtis LeMay (the ubiquitous cigar happens to be in his hand). Many celebrities from nearby Hollywood visited NAA Inglewood over the years.

All photos provided by North American Aviation Inc.

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