1946 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events
1946 Aviation Records
- Speed: (Nazi Germany), 623.85-mph, Heini Dittmar, Messerschmitt Me.163-A, 10/2/1941
- Distance: (USA), 11,235-miles, Thomas D. Davies, Lockheed P2V-1 Neptune, 10/1/1946
- Altitude: (Italy), 56,046-feet, Mario Pezzi, Caproni 161bis, 10/22/1938
- Weight: (USA), 310,000-lbs, Convair, XB-36
- Engine Power: (USA), 6,000-lbs thrust, Reaction Motors Inc., XLR 11-RM-5
1946 Aviation Events
- 1946 — The American Section of the International League of Aviators resurrects the National Trophy, a Harmon Trophy awarded from 1926 to 1938 to the outstanding aviator of the year in each of the 21 member countries of the now-defunct League. It will be awarded until 1949 amid much controversy, with the awards going largely unrecognized.
- 1946 — The Electric Boat Company purchases Canadair from the Government of Canada, an important step toward the 1952 founding of General Dynamics Corporation.
- January 1 — A British South American Airways Avro “Lancastrian” becomes the first commercial flight to depart from London Heathrow Airport.
- January 6 — Pennsylvania Central Airlines Flight 105, a Douglas DC-3-393, crashes while landing at Birmingham Municipal Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, killing three and injuring five of the 19 people on board.
- January 8 — The U.S. Joint War Plans Committee reports that by July 1946, as a result of post-World War II demobilization, the United States Army Air Forces will have only five heavy bomber groups in Europe, with only a 65-percent readiness level, and a reserve force of five heavy bomber groups in the United States, with only a 20-percent readiness level. It also reports that the United States Navy will have 13 aircraft carriers at a high state of readiness by that time. It finds that in the event of war with the Soviet Union, the only effective American response will be the delivery of atomic bombs by aircraft of the U.S. Army Air Forces and the United States Navy, and recommends atomic strikes by Army Air Forces B-29 “Superfortress” bombers based in England; Foggia, Italy; Agra, India; and Chengdu, Republic of China, on 17 Soviet cities to target administrative and research and development centers and aircraft and munitions factories, with an expectation of a B-29 loss rate of 35 percent. It recommends an inventory of 196 atomic bombs in order to carry out this campaign.
- January 10 — A Sikorsky R-5 sets an unofficial helicopter altitude record of 6,400 m (20,997 ft) at Stratford, Connecticut.
- January 12 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff note that the use of atomic bombs alone will be insufficient to defeat the Soviet Union in the event of a war, and that substantial conventional air, ground, and naval forces will remain necessary.
- January 18 — The most decorated United States Navy ship of World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), arrives at Bayonne, New Jersey, completing the second of her two round-trip voyages between the New York City area and Southampton, England, to bring American military personnel Back to the United States as part of “Operation Magic Carpet”. She never puts to sea again.
- January 26 — United States Army Air Forces Colonel William Councill sets a new U.S. transcontinental speed record of 4 hours 13 minutes in a Lockheed P-80 “Shooting Star”.
- February 6 — Transcontinental and Western Airways, the future Trans World Airlines, makes its first international flight from New York City to Paris, France.
- February 11 — After lengthy negotiations, American and British government representatives reach the Bermuda Agreement, the first bilateral agreement regulating international commercial air transport. Agreement also is reached for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to coordinate and fix international air fares.
- March 8 — The Bell 47 receives the world's first type certificate awarded to a civil helicopter.
- March 10 — The Australian National Airways Douglas DC-3 (VH-AET) crashes into Frederick Henry Bay off Seven-Mile Beach south of Cambridge Aerodrome just after takeoff from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, killing all 25 people on board. At the time it is the second-deadliest aviation accident and deadliest civil aviation accident in Australian history.
- March 14 — The Royal Canadian Navy commissions its first aircraft carrier, HMCS Warrior (CVL 20), which the United Kingdom has transferred to Canada. She will serve until replaced by HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21) in 1948.
- March 21 — A major reorganization of the United States Army Air Forces creates the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, and the Tactical Air Command.
- March 23 — The Royal Netherlands Navy commissions its first aircraft carrier, the escort carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (QH1). Formerly the British carrier HMS Nairana, she will serve until replaced in 1948 by the fleet carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81).
- March 31 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff assess that a U.S. atomic arsenal and bombers capable of delivering it promptly could deter the Soviet Union from launching a war.
- April 5 — Brewster Aeronautical Corporation is dissolved by its shareholders.
- May — Pacific Ocean Airlines initiates air passenger service between the continental United States and Hawaii.
- May 31 — London Heathrow Airport is officially opened.
- June — The United States possesses nine atomic bombs, two of them earmarked for use in tests.
- June — The United States estimates that the Soviet Air Force has 14,000 combat aircraft and that the Soviet Navy has 2,000 aircraft.
- June 8 — A celebration of the Allied victory in World War II is held in London. It includes a flypast of 300 British aircraft over the city that stretches for 60 miles (97 km), led by a Hawker “Hurricane” that had fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
- June 15 — The United States Navy's newly formed Navy Flight Exhibition Team, better known as the “Blue Angels”, gives its first public performance at Jacksonville-Craig Field at Jacksonville, Florida.
- June 21 — A U.S. Army Air Forces Lockheed P-80 “Shooting Star” carries the first air mail flown by a turbojet-powered aircraft
- July 1 — A U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 “Superfortress” drops an atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the central Pacific in a nuclear test.
- July 1 — The U.S. Navy establishes Experimental Squadron 3 (VX-3). Equipped with Piasecki HRP-1 “Rescuer” helicopters, it probably is the world's first official all-helicopter squadron.
- July 1 — With post-World War II demobilization well underway, the U.S. Navy's force of aircraft carriers has dropped to 23 of all types with more decommissioning's planned, while its aircraft force has declined from 41,000 to 24,000 within the past year and continues to decline rapidly.
- July 4 — The aircraft carriers USS Antietam (CV-36) and USS Boxer (CV-21) are among ten U.S. Navy ships participating in the celebration at Manila of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines.
- July 11 — A fire begins in the baggage compartment of the Transcontinental and Western Airways Lockheed L-049 “Constellation - Star of Lisbon” during a training flight with no passengers on board designated Flight 513. The fire spreads and the plane crashes near Reading, Pennsylvania, killing five of the six people on board. As a result of the accident, all “Constellations” are grounded from July 12 to August 23 for the installation of cargo fire detection equipment.
- July 21 — A McDonnell XFD-1 “Phantom” executes the first intentional and controlled landing by a purely jet-powered aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42).
- July 26 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff report that the Soviet Union has 4,000 combat aircraft based in Germany at a high state of readiness and able to strike virtually without warning.
- July 26 — Trans-Pacific Airlines (the future Aloha Airlines) begins non-scheduled inter-island service in Hawaii
- August — The United Kingdom loans the aircraft carrier HMS Colossus to France, which commissions her as Arromanches. Arromanches becomes the French Navy's first non-experimental fleet aircraft carrier. France will purchase the ship outright in 1951.
- August — The first peacetime deployment of American naval air power in the Mediterranean Sea in history begins with the arrival there of the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42).
- August 1 — British European Airways is established as state-owned corporation.
- August 5 — The U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee predicts that after 1950 the Soviet Union will be able to strike the United States with guided missiles and strategic bombers armed with atomic weapons, seize territory in Alaska and Canada from which to launch air attacks against the United States, and employ airborne forces to attack vital targets. It recommends that the United States develop air warning, air defense, and antiaircraft artillery systems with which to counter such operations.
- August 15 — The U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee submits “Plan Gridle” for the defense of Turkey against the Soviet Union, which finds that the Turkish Air Force of fewer than 700 aircraft could offer only token resistance against a Soviet offensive and would have to be reinforced by ten American fighter groups, followed by the establishment of U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber bases in Turkey.
- August 23 — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Staff assesses that by 1948 the Soviet Union will be able to deploy 2,000 bombers against sea lines of communication in the Mediterranean Sea.
- September — Frank N. Piasecki's P.V. Engineering Forum is renamed Piasecki Helicopter Corporation.
- September — “Operation Magic Carpet”, which returns millions of American military personnel to the United States after World War II, concludes. Sixty-three U.S. aircraft carriers have taken part as temporary personnel transports.
- September 1 — Using Douglas DC-4 aircraft, Northwest Airlines initiates service between Seattle, Washington, and Anchorage, Territory of Alaska, as the first leg of its proposed United States-Japan North Pacific route.
- September 7 — A Royal Air Force Gloster “Meteor” flown by Group Captain E. M. Donaldson establishes a new world absolute air speed record of 615.65 mph (990.79 km/h) off the coast of West Sussex, England. The same day, a U.S. Army Air Forces Republic P-84 “Thunderjet” narrowly misses the world record, setting an United States speed record of 611 mph (983 km/hr).
- September 16 — The Italian airline Alitalia is formed.
- September 19 — The Portuguese airline Transportes Aéreos Portgueses (TAP) is formed.
- September 24 — The Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific is founded.
- September 27 — Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. is killed when the de Havilland DH.108 breaks up in mid-air.
- September 29 — The United States Navy Lockheed P2V “Neptune (Truculent Turtle)”, piloted by Commander Thomas D. Davies and aided by four JATO rockets, departs Perth, Australia, bound nonstop for Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C. On take-off, it weighs 85,575 lbs (38,817 kg), the heaviest twin-engine aircraft ever to take off up to that time. Although bad weather forces the plane to land short of Washington in Columbus, Ohio, after 55 hours 17 minutes continuously in the air, the flight nonetheless sets a new nonstop, unrefueled world distance record of 11,235.6 nautical miles (20,807 km) which stands for 16 years until broken by a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52H “Stratofortress” in 1962.
- October 3 — Carrying mostly wives and children of United States Army personnel serving in Germany, the American Overseas Airlines Douglas DC-4 “Flagship New England” crashes into a mountainside shortly after taking off from Stephenville in the Dominion of Newfoundland bound for Shannon Airport in Ireland, killing all 39 people on board. It is the worst U.S. civil airline accident in history at the time.
- October 15 — Hermann Gôring commits suicide by poisoning himself in his jail cell at Nuremberg, Germany, the day before his scheduled hanging for war crimes. A World War I ace with 22 victories and one of the leaders of the German Nazi movement and government, he had served as Supreme Commander of the German Luftwaffe from 1935 to 1945.
- November 6 — An American intelligence report predicts that by 1956 the Soviet Union will have a strategic air force and as many as 150 atomic bombs, while the United States will have 350 to 400 atomic bombs. It assesses that the Soviet Union would withhold its atomic weapons during a war in order to deter an American nuclear attack on Soviet targets.
- November 23 — An Avro “Lancastrian” powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engines and two Rolls-Royce Nene turbojets turns off its Merlins and, operating using only the Nenes, becomes the first commercial aircraft to fly solely on jet power, making the trip from London to Paris in just 41 minutes.
- December 20 — The U.S. Joint Warfare Planning Committee reports that air forces in Italy consist of 112 British Royal Air Force fighters and 198 obsolete operational aircraft of the ill-trained Italian Air Force, which has low morale, and that in an invasion of Italy by the Soviet Union and its allies these forces would face 642 Yugoslav Air Force combat aircraft.
- December 25 — Three passenger planes, all flying in from Chongqing, China, crash due to fog in separate incidents in Shanghai, China, killing at least 62 of the combined 68 passengers and 9 crew members aboard. Two of the planes belong to China National Aviation Corporation and one to Central Air Transport.
- December 30 — A United States Navy PBM “Mariner” supporting “Operation Highjump” crashes at Thurston Island, Antarctica, during a blizzard, killing three of the nine people on board. The six survivors are rescued 13 days later by aircraft from the U.S. Navy seaplane tender USS Pine Island (AV-12).
- December 31 — The U.S. Navy's inventory of combat aircraft stands at 1,461, a 64 percent decline from the force it had available at the end of World War II on 15 August 1945. It has 10,000 naval aviators.
1946 First Flights
- January 19 — Bell X-1 (unpowered).
- February 4 — Republic XF-12 “Rainbow”.
- February 28 — Republic XP-84 (45-54975), prototype of the F-84 “Thunderjet”.
- March 10 — Avro “Tudor 2” (G-AGSU).
- March 31 — Percival “Prentice”.
- April 17 — Avro “Tudor 7”.
- April 24 — Mikoyan-Gurevich I-300, the Soviet Union's first jet.
- April 24 — Yakovlev Yak-15 (three hours after the I-300).
- May 17 — Douglas XB-43, first US jet bomber (44-61508).
- May 19 — Miles “Marathon”.
- May 22 — de Havilland Canada DHC-1 “Chipmunk”.
- June 6 — Aérocenter NC.3020 “Belphégor”.
- June 7 — Short “Sturgeon” prototype (RK787).
- June 25 — Northrop XB-35 (42-13603), prototype of the Northrop YB-35 flying-wing bomber.
- July 7 — Hughes XF-11.
- July 8 — Convair Model 110.
- July 27 — Supermarine “Attacker” prototype (TS409).
- August 8 — Convair XB-36 (42-13570), prototype of the Convair B-36 “Peacemaker”.
- August 16 — Northrop XP-89, prototype of the F-89 “Scorpion”.
- September 11 — Lavochkin La-150.
- September 11 — North American XFJ-1, prototype of the FJ-1 “Fury”, the first jet aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy.
- September 20 — Martin P4M “Mercator”.
- October 2 — Vought XF6U-1, prototype of the F6U-1 “Pirate”.
- November — Ryan XF2R-1 “Dark Shark”.
- November 9 — Lockheed R6O “Constitution”, later R6V “Constitution”.
- November 11 — SNCASO SO-6000 “Triton”, France's first jet.
- November 11 — Avions Fairey “Belfair” (OO-TIA).
- November 13 — Sukhoi Su-9.
- November 16 — Saab 90 “Scandia” prototype SE-BCA.
- November 27 — North American XFJ-1, prototype of the FJ-1 “Fury”, by George Welch.
- December 2 — Beech T-34 “Mentor”.
- December 9 — Bell X-1 (first powered flight).
- December 12 — Westland “Wyvern” (TS371).
1946 Aircraft Entering Service
- September 1 — Vickers “Viking” with British European Airways (G-AHOP).
- September 30 — Short S.26 with BOAC Golden Hind (G-AFCI).
1946 Aircraft Retired from Service
- 1946 — Vought OS2U “Kingfisher” by the United States Navy.
- Wikipedia, 1946 in aviation
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