The Biggest Fails in License Plate History

While vintage plates have grown popular, these older iterations show where officials got it wrong

Complementing the New York City skyline, from right: a McDonnell F3H Demon, Vought F-8 Crusader, Grumman A-6 Intruder, and Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat.

Defend the <i>Intrepid</i>

It survived two wars, but now it faces another grave threat: the environment of New York City.

Even in the nose section of a Martin B-26B Marauder, an airman could take a drag. The nose gunner of the B-26 Fightin' Cock, based in the U.K. with the 9th Air Force, smokes during a mission.

Aboard World War II Airplanes, It Was Strictly Smoking Allowed

Marlboro Country reached all the way up to 40,000 feet.

A Corsair goes down off the USS Sicily in 1949. What happened next?

Did this Pilot Survive?

An old photo raises a nagging question.

As many as 35 Corsairs still fly today, and 11 of them made it to the 2019 Thunder Over Michigan warbird show. Getting them all in one shot took the considerable talents of photographer Scott Slocum and photo ship pilot Bernie Vasquez. The Corsair legend is that it was too mean for the Navy so they gave it to the Marines. Here's the real story.

How the Navy Tamed the “Killer Corsair”

A little piece of aluminum solved the WW2 fighter’s vicious behavior problem.

With no DC-3 wings to be found, maintenance crews repaired the damaged aircraft with a DC-2 wing, five feet shorter than the original. The cobbled-together airplane, said engineer Sol Soldinski, became almost as famous as the Wright Flyer and the Spirit of St. Louis.

These Frankenplanes Are Built From Parts of Other Planes

Some monster aircraft were not born. They were bolted together from whatever lay at hand.

The B-29 bomber’s Plexiglas nose was the obvious inspiration for the space freighter Millennium Falcon. Special effects artists replaced the blue screen with stars only in post-production; on set, the actors had to imagine them.

The Real Aerial Battles That Inspired Star Wars

Born one year before the end of World War II, George Lucas turned a boyhood fascination into a space epic.

Sailors aboard the USS Missouri watch as dignitaries correct an error on the Japanese copy of the Instrument of Surrender. Many of the sailors had spent days cleaning and readying the ship for the pageant that 75 cameramen recorded for history.

Final Mission: Staging Japan’s Surrender

General Douglas MacArthur was a war hero—and an old soldier who knew how to put on a show.

On August 29, 1945, photographer John Swope, aboard a U.S. Navy landing craft, snapped a photo of men in a Japanese prison camp the Navy had come to liberate. The POWs told him that the constant humiliation and fear of physical abuse was more oppressive than the punishment itself. After describing the brutality of some guards, prisoners made a point of introducing Swope to the guards who were kind to them.

POWs on The Day They Learned the War Was Won

Who were the airmen in John Swope’s famous photograph of the Omori prison camp?

A Mosquito from the RAF’s 105 Squadron, used on several low-altitude daylight bombing operations during 1943.

When the RAF Buzzed Over Germany to Drown Out Nazi Broadcasts

The thundering mission that stifled the Germans during World War II

Hermann Göring’s speech in the Air Ministry building was delayed for 63 minutes by an air raid. When he resumed, the UPI reported, his speech “was uninterrupted by applause.”

World War II’s Strangest Bombing Mission

The RAF knew how to cut the power on propaganda.

This photo of a dashing Flight Lieutenant Neville Bowker inspired the nose art that has become inescapably linked with the Flying Tigers.

How the Curtiss P-40 Got That Wicked Shark Grin

The Tomahawk was not the first airplane to wear its trademark nose art.

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