North American’s F-86 Sabre served in many roles with the USAF in Korea and elsewhere during the early years of the Cold War. This is an RF-86F, a reconnaissance version that flew covert missions over the USSR, China, and North Korea. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Bell’s UH-1 “Huey” was flown by both the US Army and USAF during Vietnam. Although this one is a UH-1P, it has been painted and equipped to resemble the UH-1F flown by Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Jim Fleming. Hanging above the Huey is a Cessna O-2A Skymaster. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Boeing’s B-52 first flew in 1952, and the USAF still flies versions of the plane, which will be in service until 2045. This is a B-52D, used extensively over the skies of Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s. 31 B-52s were shot down during the Vietnam War. This airframe was hit by a surface-to-air missile in 1972, although it was repaired and flew more missions over North Vietnam. (Jonathan Gitlin)
The Korean War marked the beginning of the jet age for the USAF. This is Republic F-84 Thunderjet, painted up to resemble the plane flown by the commander of the 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing. (Jonathan Gitlin)
The workhorse of the US Army Air Corp’s Eighth Air Force in World War II was the B-17. This one is a B-17G called Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby and it flew 24 combat missions during the war, ending its service after making an emergency landing in Sweden. The Eighth Air Force suffered very heavy casualties during WWII—more than 26,000 personnel lost their lives. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Many will rightly consider Bockscar—a Boeing B-29—to be a sinister aircraft. It belonged to the 509th Composite Group and dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9th 1945. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Thankfully for all of us, the Cold War never went hot. But children growing up today are unlikely to appreciate just what it was like to know that the end of the world was a distinct possibility. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Brigadier General Robin Olds was one of America’s top fighter aces. He served in WWII and Vietnam, shooting down 16 planes in air-to-air combat. This is his McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II, nicknamed “Scat XXVII.” (Jonathan Gitlin)
This photo ought to really illustrate the musuem’s scale. Yes, that’s a Boeing B-1B Lancer in the background. And a Northrop B-2 Spirit. The plane in the foreground is a Lockheed U-2A. (Jonathan Gitlin)
The Convair B-36 Peacemaker, popularly known as Magnesium Overcast (because it made extensive use of the metal). It was massive, but frankly a bit crap. Engine fires were numerous. (Jonathan Gitlin)
Americans have honored those lost in war in some shape or another since just after the Civil War. Memorial Day as we know it—a federal holiday on the last Monday in May—is more recent, dating back to 1968. But the sentiment is the same—remembering those who paid the ultimate price in defense of their country. Since a recent trip happened to take us by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, we’ve decided to celebrate it here at Ars by bringing you this gallery of some fine-looking warbirds.
The museum can be found at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It’s truly vast—even giants of the air like the B-36 and B-52 can seem small underneath the roof of one of its hangars. It also has some rather significant planes in its collection, notably Bockscar, one of the two B-29s that dropped atom bombs on Japan in World War II (the Enola Gay lives at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy collection in Dulles, VA).
The collections under those massive hangers are organized chronologically, from the beginning of flight through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, through to today. Sadly, we weren’t able to check out one of the museum’s most fascinating aircraft, the remaining North American XB-70 Valkyrie; the new hanger for research and experimental aircraft (and old Air Force Ones) doesn’t open until next week.
Listing image by Jonathan Gitlin
Via: ars technica