Segments in this Video

Japanese Zero Fighter Plane (01:26)


The Smithsonian Institution is comprised of 19 museums and galleries and hosts 30 million visitors each year. The National Air and Space Museum houses the infamous fighter plane.

Agility of Japanese Zero (01:42)

At the Houston Airshow, Warren Peach flies one of the last operational zeros in a reenactment of aerial combat.

Pilots Train in Bushido (02:04)

Aviation historian Osamu Tagaya attributes the success of Japanese pilots was to Bushido training, ordered by the Emperor. (Archival footage) Tetsutaka Sugawara demonstrates Samurai style sword fighting.

Zero's Fatal Flaw (02:13)

See a simulated bombing run at the Houston Airshow and archival footage of Pearl Harbor. Japanese pilots lost air supremacy when it was discovered the Zeros lacked defense against .50 caliber bullets.

Hero Pigeon: Cher Ami (02:06)

On display, the preserved homing pigeon was used by Major Charles Whittlesey to rescue the surrounded 1st battalion from friendly fire in WWI. See archival footage.

Homing Pigeon Care & Training (01:23)

Drew Lesofski talks about care and breeding of the unique bird. Homing pigeons are trained to fly long distances.

Homing Pigeon's Internal Compass (01:54)

Neuroscientists test the theory that pigeons get their sense of direction from the Earth's magnetic field.

Cher Ami Awarded Croix de guerre (01:26)

Wounded, Cher Ami flew home through difficult conditions for over an hour, to return home. His message led to the rescue of the 1st Battalion. Like other birds, he was motivated by the desire to mate.

Saturn V Five-Engine Cluster (01:34)

The Air and Space Museum houses the liquid fueled rocket that took the first humans to the moon. See archival footage. President Obama believes men will orbit Mars by the mid-2030s.

1928 Hoopskirt Rocket (01:41)

At the turn of 20th century, space travel was fantasized in Georges Méliès "A Trip to the Moon." Inspired by "War of the Worlds," Robert Goddard designed the first rocket powered by liquid fuel.

Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) (03:17)

Former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz explains why conventional rockets are not practical for flights to Mars. He plans to demonstrate his plasma engine by tethering it to the International Space Station.

First Generation Harley-Davidson (01:22)

Learn about the early, 5 horsepower, model of Harley-Davidson.

Harley-Davidson Trademark Sound (02:02)

Smithsonian curator Paul Johnston is tested for physiological responses to various motorcycles. Harley became a classic after serving in WWII and was part of the USA industrial boom.

Harley's Mystique & "Bad Boy" Image (03:02)

"Easy Rider" popularized Harley-Davidson as the bike for renegades. Violent gang members, and a staged photograph in Life's 1947 July 4th issue, contributed to its tough-guy image.

Price of Freedom Exhibition (01:51)

Learn about the rifled musket, which replaced the canon as the deadliest weapon of the Civil War. Learn about the use of the bone-shattering rifle in the Battle of Antietam.

Civil War Era Prosthetics (01:23)

See a Civil War era surgical field kit. The massive amount of Civil War amputees created a demand for prosthetics, spurring the industry.

Evolution of Prosthetics (03:27)

Dr. Lee discusses devastation of and need for prosthetics. Hear about Sheila Advento's recovery after a double hand transplant from Dr. Lee. He credits advancement in prosthetics to war injury.

Star Spangled Banner Exhibit & Anthem (01:32)

The Smithsonian's showcased artifact is highly revered. Rosanne Barr was despised and hated for her rendition of the national anthem, unlike performer D.C. Washington.

Auditions With D.C. Washington (02:20)

Selected from aspiring singers, Noreeda Street is coached for an upcoming performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. Starting in a high key can be disastrous.

Original "Star-Spangled Banner" Flag (01:10)

Witnessing bombardment of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key was motivated to write the poem, which became our Nation's Anthem. Noreeda Street finds inspiration in the flag's history.

Game Day Jitters (01:50)

Noreeda Street performs "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Howard University.

Credits: Inside the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC: Museum Secrets (Series 3) (00:35)

Credits: Inside the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC: Museum Secrets (Series 3)

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Inside the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC: Museum Secrets (Series 3)

Part of the Series : Museum Secrets (Series 3)
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In this episode of "Museum Secrets," visit the Smithsonian Institute and learn about WWII Japanese Zero fighter planes, why Japanese squadrons ruled the skies, and how they were defeated. Meet military and civilian amputees who have been made whole by transplantation and learn about a homing pigeon who saved American lives in WWI. Witness the successful test of a rocket that could take humans to Mars, then reconstruct the bad-boy image of the Harley Davidson. And finally, meet aspiring vocalists who hope to perform the national anthem before a football game to discover why the Star Spangled Banner is so hard to sing. A BBC Production. A part of the series Museum Secrets (Series 3).

Length: 43 minutes

Item#: BVL57626

ISBN: 978-0-81609-521-6

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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