Monday, June 23, 2014

A Visit to the Air Force Museum

I can't believe it has been close to three years since I've been the Air Force Museum.  I try to make it more often than that.  They don't change much though but I always see something different every time I go there.
 The Air Force Museum is as much the story of powered flight as it is the story of the US Air Force.  I think they try to have an example of every aircraft the Air Force (or it's earlier iterations has ever flown).  Of course it all starts with the Wright Flyer in 1903.  Orville and Wilbur Wright owned a bicycle shop in Dayton and started their dreams there.  They would be the first people to fly in a heavier than air aircraft.  Their first flight was shorter than the longest airplane.  The Army wouldn't show interest in aviation until 1909, by then many of the bugs have been worked out.
 The most famous of the early Army planes was the Curtiss Jenny.  It served as a training aircraft and after the war, surplus Jennies were used by barnstormers and what not to bring aviation to the general public.
 This is the Nieuport 28.  This was the first aircraft used by the American pilots entering World War I.  It was a French built aircraft.  This was a reproduction aircraft and represents the markings of the first American squadron.
 This is a Spad VII which was another aircraft used by American pilots.  This plane is in the markings of the 1st Pursuit Squadron out of Selfridge Air Force Base.
 This is a De Havilland DH-4 which was also used by American pilots during the war.  It was a British designed plane but built by three companies in the US.  Almost 5,000 of these were produced.
 This is an example of an Auto-Giro.  It could fly like a plane but land like a helicopter.
 Another angle of the DH-4.
 The Boeing P-26 Peashooter was one of the first monoplanes used by the US Air services.
 The Hawker Hurricane was not nearly as glamorous as its more famous cousin the Spitfire but many considered it the workhorse of the Royal Air Force.
 The Seversky P-35 was the forerunner to the P-47 Thunderbolt.  It saw service early in World War II but was hopelessly out of date at that time and quickly retired.  This is the last surviving example of the aircraft.
 The A6M Japanese Zero is probably one of the more famous of the Japanese Warplanes.  It could climb faster and was more maneuvable than it's early American adversaries.  As the war progressed, the American planes became better and faster.
 The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is definately one of the more famous American aircraft.  It was used throughout the war but made most famous by the Flying Tigers.
 The P-63 Kingcobra was produced by Bell Aircraft.  It was not particularly well liked by the Americans but the Soviets loved their Lend Lease planes.
 This is a group of wine glass used by the surviving Doolittle Flyers.  Each year, they do a toast to the ones that have passed away in the past year and then flip their glasses over.  When the last two are left, they will do their final toast and then flip their own glasses over.  Out of the 80 airmen who participated in this raid, as of this post there are four left.
 The P-39 Airacobra.  It was the predecessor to the Kingcobra and was basically an airplane built around a big gun.  It wasn't terribly effective in the air to air role but devastating in ground attack.  Once again, the Soviets loved these more than the Americans.
 I forget what kind of plane this was.
 The B-24 Liberator was the less famous cousing to the B-17 but was the workhorse bomber of the war.  Around 10,000 of these were produced locally at the Willow Run plant...I'm not sure if this is one of those.
 A Spitfire wearing American markings.
 A Mosquito wearing American markings.  This was one of the fast planes in the war by virtue of the fact that it's airframe was made of plywood.  It was a fairly effective light bomber but even more effective recon plane.
 The P-38 Lightning was another fairly fast aircraft.  It was also one of the first to use drop tanks.  This gave it a pretty unprecedented range.  It would have been a fantastic plane but issues with its supercharger limited it to the Pacific.  It was still effective as a ground attack plane in Europe, so much so that the Germans nicknamed it the Fork Tailed Devil.
 The B-26 Marauder was a pretty effective medium bomber once they worked out the growth issues.  It had a high take off and landing speed and killed a few pilots during it's development and introduction to the Army Air Force.  It even had the nickname of Widowmaker.
 The P-47 Thunderbolt was both a highly effective fighter and fighter bomber.  It could take a bunch fo punishment.
 The most famous aircraft of World War II is the B-17 Flying Fortress.  It was capable of bringing the war to German soil.
 The C-47 is the military version of the DC-3, a design so effective that it is still used in places around the world.  This is almost 80 years after its first flight.
 The V-2 buzz bomb of the Germans.
 The P-51 Mustang.  There's not much more I can say about this plane.
 The Me-262 has the distinction of being the world's first operational combat jet.  It was a pretty good design but was plagued by two faults.  One, Hilter insisted on using it as a ground attack fighter instead of air to air.  When it did tangle with our bombers, it pretty much chewed them up.  The other fault was that German metals were not that good, so its engines have short life expectancies.  In order to lengthen those, German pilots would slowly throttle the plane up and this made the fairly vulnerable in take off.
 Bock's Car was the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.  This was the second atomic bomb used in the war and was the Plutonium design.  I can only hope that we will say it was the last time that atomic weapons were used in anger.
 The PBY Catalina was mostly used by the Navy but it found use in the Air Force as a search and rescue plane.
 The P-61 Black Widow had a radar array and was used as a night fighter.  It was very effective in that role.
 The F-101 Voodoo built by McDonnell Douglas.  It was used in many roles during the Vietnam War.
 The Huey Helicopter is probably the icon of the Vietnam War.
 The Jolly Green Giant helicopter.
 The MiG-17 fighter.  It was used by the North Vietnamese Pilots.
 The MiG-21 was a more advanced MiG that was used by North Vietnam.  There are rumors that some were piloted by Russians.
 The F-4 Phantom II.  This plane had the distinction of being used by the Navy, Air Force and Marines.  This particular one is marked to look like the plane flown by Robin Olds.  If I recall, he was the only Air Force ace of the Vietnam War.
 This is probably one of my favorite airplanes, the B-52 Stratofortress.  The first version of it flew in the early 1950's.  The last one went off the assembly line in the early 1960's.  They are still being used today.  It is said that they may still be used into the 2050's.    There are stories of children flying the same plane that their dad's flew.  I'm not sure if that has extended another generation.
 The F-84 Sabrejet.  This was the plane that symbolized the Korean War.
 The P-80 Shooting Star.  This was the first operational jet used by the United States.
 Development of the B-36 Peacemaker started prior to World War II.  It was thought that we might need a bomber that was capable of reaching Germany from the United States without refuelling.  The plane never saw service during World War II but served as our nuclear deterrent in the early days of the Cold War.
 The Strategic Air Command was the part of the Air Force that managed the Heavy Bombers and Missiles of the US Air Force during the Cold War.  It also maintained our air interceptors.  The command was dissolved shortly after the end of the Cold War.
 A front view of the F-84.
 The F-82 Twin Mustang.
 The F-104 Shooting Star.  This plane was very fast and was used by many of our allies.
 The B-58 Hustler.  It also was fast and the pod underneath would carry different weapons packages.  This plane served in the late 50's and Early 60's.
 The three versions of the Minuteman missile.  The one on the right is the Minuteman III which is our current nuclear missile.  It is capable of carrying 3 warheads.
 This was a scenario that seemed all too real as I was growing up, the depiction of a pair of missile operators in their silo.
 The B-47 Stratojet.  This was the predecessor to the B-52 and saw service in the early 50's.
 The F-102 Delta Dagger.  This was a plane that was used primarily as an interceptor.
 The F-106 Delta Dart.  This was the successor to the F-102.  This particular plane has an interesting story.  The pilot was flying it and he ran into trouble as the plane entered a flat spin.  After the pilot ejected, the plane was able to right itself and land safely.
 The F-15 Eagle, one of my favorite modern Air Force planes.
 The Tornado.  This plane was a joint venture between Great Britain, Germany and Italy.  It saw heavy use during Desert Storm.
 The F-117 Stealth Fighter.
 The Air Force Museum was trying really hard to get one of the three space shuttles but lost out.  Instead, they got one of the training modules.  This may actually be cooler because you can go in it.
 The A-10 Thunderbolt.
 The MiG-29.
 The B-1 Lancer Bomber.  This plane had a pretty troubled development but has become a very effective aircraft.
 The SR-71.  This was the fastest plane and could fly over Mach 3.5.  Note:  There are research aircraft that fly faster but those are typically rocket powered and have to be launched by a carrier aircraft.
 The F-22 Lightning II.
 The C-141 Starlifter.
 This is AC-130 Spectre Gunship.  While I enjoy taking plane pictures outside, I will be glad once they find a home inside.  It seems that the weather is taking its toll on them.
 A normal C-130 Hercules.
 The C-17 Globemaster III.  This is our current cargo aircraft.
This is the EC-135 which served as a flying command platform during the Cold War.

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