1948 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events
1948 Aviation Records
- Speed: (USA), 957-mph, Charles Yeager, Bell X-1, 3/26/1948
- Distance: (USA), 11,235-miles, Thomas D. Davies, Lockheed P2V-1 Neptune, 10/1/1946
- Altitude: (USA), 64,000-feet, Charles Yeager, Bell X-1, 5/26/1948
- Weight: (USA), 400,000-lbs, Hughes Aircraft Company, H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose”
- Engine Power: (USSR), 6,041-lbs thrust, Klimov, VK-1
- 1948 — Publication of Nevil Shute's novel “No Highway” set in the world of research into air safety.
- 5048 — The United States Air Force has 20,800 aircraft, about half of them combat aircraft, down from 68,400 aircraft at the end of World War II in 1945. U.S. Air Force personnel strength stands at 387,000.
- 1948 — The United States' inventory of atomic bombs reaches 50 weapons during the year. Each requires two days to assemble for use, and by mid-1948 the United States has only two bomb assembly teams.
- 1948 — Faced with deep disagreement within the United States Armed Forces over their appropriate roles in national defense, United States Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal orders Chief of Staff of the United States Army General Omar N. Bradley, Chief of Naval Operations Louis E. Denfield, and Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Carl A. Spaatz to meet at Key West, Florida, in March and at Newport, Rhode Island, in August to determine “who will do what with what.” A proposal that the U.S. Air Force take responsibility for strategic air warfare and that the United States Navy “conduct … air operations necessary for the accomplishments of objectives in a naval campaign” and participate in an overall air campaign “as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff” fails when the Air Force insists on clear and exclusive control of the strategic role and the Navy refuses to agree.
- 1948 (Summer) — American intelligence analysts forecast that in 1957 the Soviet Union will have 15,000 combat aircraft.
- January 17 — BOAC begins to replace its Boeing 314 flying boats with the Lockheed “Constellation” on the Baltimore, Maryland-to-Bermuda route.
- January 29 — An Airline Transport Carriers Douglas C-47B-40-DK “Skytrain” under contract to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service crashes in the Diablo Mountains west of Coalinga, California, killing all 32 people on board. Among the dead are 28 Mexican migrant farm workers being deported to Mexico, leading singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie to write the protest song “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos).”
- January 30 — British South American Airways Avro “Tudor IV (Star Tiger)” (G-AHNP) en route from Santa Maria in the Azores to Bermuda disappears without trace with the loss of all 31 people on board. At last contact, the plane was estimated to be just under two hours away from Bermuda.
- January 30 — Orville Wright, co-inventor of the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft, dies in Dayton, Ohio at the age of 76.
- February — Aerocar International begins design and development of a flying automobile designed by Moulton Taylor.
- February 16 — A U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee study forecasts that by 1957 the Soviet Union will have the atomic bomb and a long-range strategic air force and will be able to inflict substantial damage on the United States with the use of atomic, chemical, and biological weapons.
- March — The Israeli Air Force is formed along with the new state of Israel.
- March — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee forecasts that the Soviet Union will test its first atomic bomb sometime between 1950 and 1953 and by 1953 will have from 20 to 50 atomic bombs, depending on when it tests its first one.
- March 10 — Fighter Squadron 5 (VF-5) becomes the first United States Navy aircraft carrier squadron to be equipped with jet aircraft.
- March 12 — Northwest Airlines Flight 4422, a chartered Douglas C-54G-1-DO, crashes into Mount Sanford in the Territory of Alaska, killing all 30 people on board.
- March 19 — The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) extends its Hong Kong service to Japan.
- March 23 — Group Captain John Cunningham sets a new world altitude record of 59,446 ft (18,119 m) in a de Havilland “Vampire”.
- March 24 — A Boulton Paul P.108 “Balliol” becomes the first aircraft to fly with a single turboprop engine (an Armstrong Siddeley “Mamba”).
- March 28 — United States Air Force B-29 “Superfortresses” undergo aerial refueling tests, demonstrating the viability of this technique to extend the range of strategic bombers.
- April — Two specially modified Gloster “Meteors” begin carrier trials aboard HMS Implacable.
- April — Pacific Ocean Airlines discontinues operations.
- April 3 — Alitalia launches its first postwar service from Italy (Rome-Ciampino) to the United Kingdom (London's Northolt Aerodrome).
- April 5 — A Soviet Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 fighter harassing aircraft flying into West Berlin during the Berlin Blockade collides with a British European Airways Vickers VC.1B “Viking” airliner as it is levelling off to land at RAF Gatow in West Berlin. Both aircraft crash, killing the fighter pilot and all 14 people aboard the airliner and leading to a diplomatic standoff between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom and United States.
- April 15 — The Pan American World Airways Lockheed L-1049C-55-81 “Super Constellation (Clipper Empress of the Skies) ”, operating as Flight 1-10, crashes short of the runway at Shannon Airport in Shannon, Ireland, killing 30 of the 31 people on board and leaving the lone survivor injured.
- April 17 — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff inform the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that the United States must establish a stockpile of atomic weapons if the United States Armed Forces are to sustain an immediate air offensive against the Soviet Union in the event of war.
- April 21 — The Vickers 610 “Viking 1B” (G-AIVE), operating as British European Airways Flight S200P, crashes into Irish Law Mountain in North Ayrshire, Scotland. Although the left engine and wing break off and the rest of the aircraft breaks into three pieces and bursts into flames, there are no fatalities; 13 of the 20 people aboard suffer injuries.
- April 26 — During a dive, a North American YP-86 flown by George Welch becomes the first American fighter aircraft to exceed Mach 1.
- April 28 — The U.S. Navy launches two P2V-3C “Neptune” aircraft, a version of the P2V configured for carrier launch carrying a nuclear weapon, from the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) off the coast of Virginia. The first carrier launches of any type of P2V, they establish the U.S. Navy's first, interim carrier-based nuclear strike capability pending the acquisition of aircraft designed from the outset to be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon from a carrier.
- April 28-29 — Leonardo Bonzi and Maner Lualdi set a light plane distance record of 4,170 km (2,590 mi) flying from Campoformido (Italy) to Massawa (Eritrea) in an Ambrosini S.1001.
- May 15 — Tel Aviv is attacked by the Egyptian Air Force. The Israeli Air Force retaliates by striking Arab troops near Samakh.
- May 28 — The Royal Netherlands Navy commissions its first fleet aircraft carrier, HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81), which formerly had served in the British Royal Navy as HMS Venerable. She replaces the first Dutch carrier, the escort carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (QH1).
- June — The United States Air Force changes its designation for its fighter aircraft from P (for “pursuit”) to F (for “fighter”) and its designation for its ground-attack aircraft from A (for “attack”) to B (for “bomber”).
- June 1 — British European Airways (BEA) commences the first helicopter air mail service in the United Kingdom.
- June 1 — The U.S. Navy's Naval Air Transport Service and the U.S. Air Force Air Transport Command's Air Transport Service merge to form the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) under the direction of the U.S. Air Force. The merger places some U.S. Navy and all U.S. Air Force strategic airlift resources under MATS.
- June 4 — Philippine Airlines begins the first transpacific sleeper service, using Douglas DC-6 airliners between San Francisco, California, and Manila in the Philippine Islands.
- June 8 — Air-India commences a regular Bombay-London service by Lockheed “Constellation”.
- June 17 — The Douglas DC-6 “Mainliner Utah” (NC37506), operating as United Airlines Flight 624, crashes near Aristes, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.
- June 26 — The Berlin Airlift begins, with USAF, Royal Air Force, and British civil transport aircraft carrying supplies into West Berlin.
- June 28 — Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Basil Arkel sets a new helicopter speed record of 124 mph (200 km/h) in a Fairey “Gyrodyne”.
- July — The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff request that the United States establish an inventory of 150 atomic bombs for use against 100 urban targets in the event of war with the Soviet Union.
- July 1 — With the transfer of its assets to the new Military Air Transportation Service completed, the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Transport Service is disestablished.
- July 4 — A Scandinavian Airlines Douglas DC-6 and an Avro “York C.1” of No. 99 Squadron, Royal Air Force, collide over Northwood in London in the United Kingdom. Both aircraft crash, killing all seven people aboard the York and all 32 people on board the DC-6. Among the dead is High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya Sir Edward Gent, who had been a passenger aboard the “York”.
- July 6 — The U.S. Navy forms its first two carrier-based airborne early warning squadrons, Airborne Early Warning Squadron 1 (VAW-1) and Airborne Early Warning Squadron 2 (VAW-2).
- July 13 — A Bristol Type 170 “Freighter” makes the first flight of Silver City Airways' air car-ferry service between Lympne, England, and Le Touquet, France.
- July 14 — De Havilland “Vampire F.3s” of No. 54 Squadron RAF become the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The six aircraft, commanded by Wing Commander D. S. Wilson-MacDonald, DSO, DFC, go via Stornoway, Iceland, and Labrador to Montreal on the first leg of a goodwill tour of Canada and the United States, where they give several formation aerobatic displays.
- July 16 — “Catalina” seaplane “Miss Macao” (VR-HDT), operated by a Cathay Pacific subsidiary, with 23 passengers and 3 crew on board flying from Macau to Hong Kong is hijacked mid-way over the Pearl River Delta by a group of 4 hijackers attempting to rob the passengers on board. The pilot is attacked and the aircraft loses control during the ensuing struggle in the cockpit. The subsequent crash kills all on board except one passenger, who was later identified to be the lead hijacker. This is the first known case of airliner hijack.
- July 21 — A U.S. Air Force Boeing F-13 “Superfortress” photographic reconnaissance aircraft on a low-level atmospheric research flight accidentally ditches in Nevada's Lake Mead and sinks. The entire crew of five escapes safely in life rafts.
- August 28 — The U.S. Navy Martin JRM-2 “Mars” flying boat “Caroline Mars” arrives in Chicago, Illinois, after a record-breaking nonstop flight of 4,748 miles (7,646 km) from Honolulu, Hawaii, in 24 hours 12 minutes with 42 people and a payload of 42,000 pounds (6,350 kg) on board.
- August 29 — Northwest Airlines Flight 421, a Martin 2-0-2, loses part of its left wing in a thunderstorm and crashes between Fountain City, Wisconsin, and Winona, Minnesota, killing all 37 people on board.
- September 2 — The Australian National Airways Douglas DC-3 “Lutana” crashed into the North West Slopes of Australia's Great Dividing Range near Nundle, New South Wales, killing all 13 people on board.
- September 5 — On a 390-mile (628-km) flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, to Cleveland, Ohio, the U.S. Navy Martin JRM-2 “Mars” flying boat “Caroline Mars” sets a new cargo record of 62,262 lb (28,242 kg), the heaviest payload any aircraft had ever carried.
- September 6 — A de Havilland DH.108 breaks the sound barrier, the first British aircraft to do so.
- September 15 — Flying a North American F-86A “Sabre” fighter, U.S. Air Force Major Richard L. Johnson sets a world speed record of 670.981 mph (1,079.6 km/hr).
- September 16 — President Harry S. Truman endorses National Council Report 30 (NSC-30), reserving to the President of the United States the power to order the use of atomic bombs by the United States Armed Forces.
- October 2 — The pilots of the Det Norske Luftfartsselskap flying boat “Bukken Bruse”, a Short “Sandringham” with 43 people on board, lose control of the aircraft while attempting to land at Hommelvika in Malvik, Norway; the aircraft crashes and rapidly fills with water. Nineteen people die; the British philosopher Bertrand Russell is among the survivors and is hospitalized.
- October 6 — A U.S. Air Force B-29-100-BW “Superfortress” bomber on a flight to test the secret “Sunseeker” infrared homing device later used on the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air missile crashes in Waycross, Georgia, shortly after takeoff from Robins Air Force Base, killing nine of the 13 men on board. The four survivors parachute to safety.
- October 20 — The KLM Lockheed L-049-46-25 “Constellation Nijmegen” crashes in high ground on approach to Glasgow Prestwick Airport, in Prestwick, Scotland, killing all 40 people on board. Among the dead is the German noble Prince Alfred of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg.
- October 21 — United States Naval Reserve Naval Cadet Jesse L. Brown receives his Naval Aviator Badge, becoming the first African-American naval aviator.
- November 30 — The U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee reports that as of August 1, 1948, the Soviet Air Force has 500,000 men and 15,000 aircraft and could deploy an additional 5,000 combat aircraft by six months after the beginning of a war. It forecasts that the Soviet Union will have a growing number of atomic bombs after 1950 with 20 to 50 available by 1956 or 1957, and that by 1957 the Soviet Air Force will be capable of attacking the continental United States and Canada.
- December — Mordechai Hod smuggles a Supermarine “Spitfire” into Israel by flying it all the way from Czechoslovakia.
- December 1 — The United States Air Force creates the Continental Air Command and subordinates the Air Defense Command and the Tactical Air Command to it.
- December 16 — The Royal Australian Navy commissions its first aircraft carrier, HMAS Sydney (R17).
- December 17 — The “1903 Wright Flyer” goes on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
- December 28 — The Douglas DC-3 (NC16002) disappears on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami, Florida, with the loss of all 32 people on board.
strong>1948 First Flights
- January 8 — Lavochkin La-174, prototype of the La-15.
- February 4 — Douglas “Skyrocket”.
- February 22 — LWD “Junak”.
- March 5 — Curtiss XP-87 “Blackhawk”, the last Curtiss-designed aircraft.
- March 9 — Gloster E.1/44.
- March 22 — Lockheed TF-80C, prototype of the Lockheed T-33 “Shooting Star”.
- March 23 — Douglas XF3D-1, prototype of the Douglas F3D “Skyknight”.
- May 7 — Tupolev Tu-78.
- May 13 — Percival “Prince”.
- June 12 — Avro “Athena”.
- June 23 — Arsenal VG-70.
- July 3 — Douglas XAJ-1.
- July 8 — Ilyushin Il-28.
- July 16 — Vickers “Viscount”.
- August 16 — Northrop XF-89, prototype of the F-89 “Scorpion”.
- August 23 — XF-85 “Goblin”.
- September 1 — Saab J-29, Sweden's first jet.
- September 18 — Convair XF-92, the world's first delta-winged airplane.
- September 29 — Vought XF7U-1, prototype of the F7U “Cutlass”, the first American tailless production fighter.
- October 20 — McDonnell XF-88 “Voodoo”.
- October 26 — Gloster “Meteor T.7”.
- December 2 — Beechcraft Model 45, prototype of the Beechcraft T-34 “Mentor”.
- December 16 — Northrop X-4 “Bantam”.
- December 29 — Supermarine Type 510.
1948 Aircraft Entering Service
- 1948 — North American P-82 “Twin Mustang”, last United States Army Air Forces piston-engine fighter to enter service, with the 27th Fighter Group.
- March 10 — North American FJ-1 “Fury”, the United States Navy's first operational jet aircraft, with Fighter Squadron 1 (VF-1) aboard USS Boxer (CV-21).
- May 5 — McDonnell FH “Phantom” with U.S. Navy Fighter Squadron 17 (VF-17) aboard USS Saipan (CVL-48).
- June 1 — Convair CV-240 “Convairliner” with American Airlines.
- June 2 — Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” with the United States Air Force's 7th Bombardment Wing (Heavy).
- November — North American B-45 “Tornado” with the U.S. Air Force's 47th Bombardment Wing.
1948 Aircraft Retiring from Service
- 1948 — Curtiss “Hawk 75A” by the Finnish Air Force.
- September 14 — Brewster F2A “Buffalo” by the Finnish Air Force.
- August 8 — Svetlana Savitskaya, cosmonaut.
- January 30 — Air Marshal Arthur Coningham, Royal Air Force lost in the dissapearance of “Star Tiger”.
- March 7 — Air Vice Marshal Oliver Swann, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force.
- June 1 — Air Marshal John Frederick Andrews Higgins, Royal Air Force.
- Wikipedia, 1948 in aviation
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