A Day at the Museum of the United States Air Force

As my summer staycation continues, I enjoyed a day at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

The first glimpse of the displays is, fittingly, a Wright Flyer

The first glimpse of the displays is, fittingly, a Wright Flyer

At over three hours from home, this was a longer day trip than I normally do.  But with my specific interests, its pretty much paradise.  After the jump, I’ll share the most photo intensive post you’re ever likely to see at this site!

I absolutely love the size of this collection!  There are so many classic and interesting aircraft.  Many have interesting histories in addition to just their type.

Fokker DR.1 attacking an observation balloon. The Fokker, like many aircraft from the WWI exhibit is a replica. The balloon is actually a WWII barrage balloon, but it was built to the same spec as a WWI balloon, and modified appropriately for the display.

Fokker DR.1 attacking an observation balloon. The Fokker, like many aircraft from the WWI exhibit is a replica. The balloon is actually a WWII barrage balloon, but it was built to the same spec as a WWI balloon, and modified appropriately for the display.

I love this display!

I love this display!

A Martin MB-2. This is the type Billy Mitchell used in his battleship bombing demonstration of 1921.

A Martin MB-2. This is the type Billy Mitchell used in his battleship bombing demonstration of 1921.

Boeing P-26 Peashooter. This was the first all metal monoplane in US service. It was revolutionary in the early 1930s. This is a replica.

Boeing P-26 Peashooter. This was the first all metal monoplane in US service. It was revolutionary in the early 1930s. This is a replica.

Martin B-10. The next logical step after the P-26; enclosed crew compartments and retractable landing gear. It was faster than any fighter when it came out. This is the real thing.

Martin B-10. The next logical step after the P-26; enclosed crew compartments and retractable landing gear. It was faster than any fighter when it came out. This is the real thing.

Curtiss P-36A. I love this exhibit! That's Phil Rasmussen getting in the cockpit. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Lt. Rasmussen flew into combat in his pajamas; meticulously recreated here! Even better, one of his planes two machine guns had been removed for maintenance. With only one .30 cal he scored a kill, and made it back to base in a badly damaged fighter. This is a real P-36A.

Curtiss P-36A. I love this exhibit! That’s Phil Rasmussen getting in the cockpit. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Lt. Rasmussen flew into combat in his pajamas; meticulously recreated here!
Even better, one of his plane’s two machine guns had immediately jammed. With only one .50 cal he scored a kill, and made it back to base in a badly damaged fighter. This is a real P-36A, the only one left as far as I know.

Beautiful restoration of an A6M2 Zero.

Beautiful restoration of an A6M2 Zero.

Anything that purty deserves a second look!

Anything that purty deserves a second look!

Seversky P-35. In the markings of a P-35A flown by Boyd Wagner, the first ace of any branch of the US military. Although actually scored his kills in P-40 and P-39.

Seversky P-35. In the markings of a P-35A flown by Boyd Wagner, the first ace of any branch of the US military. Although he actually scored his kills in P-40 and P-39.

A Hurricane Mk IIa in the markings of No. 71 Squadron, RAF. That is, and Eagle squadron, all American volunteers. Including Bill Dunn, the first American Ace of WWII.

A Hurricane Mk IIa in the markings of No. 71 Squadron, RAF. That is, an Eagle squadron, all American volunteers. Including Bill Dunn, the first American Ace of WWII.

A Macchi MC.200 captured from the Italian Air Force in North Africa.

A Macchi MC.200 captured from the Italian Air Force in North Africa.

An A-24 Banshee. This is the Army version of the Navy's SBD Dauntless. The tail has an Army serial number, but lists the type as SBD-3A. The propeller is painted to Navy specs. I suspect this plane has seen multiple users!

An A-24 Banshee. This is the Army version of the Navy’s SBD Dauntless (no tail hook and a pneumatic tail wheel). The tail has an Army serial number, but lists the type as SBD-3A. The propeller is painted to Navy specs. I suspect this plane has seen multiple users!

I love a mystery!

I love a mystery!

Beautiful of a restoration of a B-25C Mitchell, to look like one of the B-25Bs from the Doolittle Raid.

Beautiful restoration of a B-25C Mitchell, to look like one of the B-25Bs from the Doolittle Raid.

The Doolittle planes were stripped of all excess weight for their long range mission. Some crews put black painted broom sticks in the tail to look like it had tail guns!

The Doolittle planes were stripped of all excess weight for their long range mission. Some crews put black painted broom sticks in the tail to look like it had tail guns!

This is a great display of an American Mosquito getting invasion stripes applied with a broom! When I model this, I always make the stripes look perfect. Even though I know they really weren't always that way, it looks bad on the model if they look this sloppy!

This is a great display of an American Mosquito getting invasion stripes applied with a broom! When I model this, I always make the stripes look perfect. Even though I know they really weren’t always that way, it looks bad on the model if they look this sloppy!

This is a really early B-24D Liberator, and an actual veteran of the North Africa campaign.

This is a really early B-24D Liberator, and an actual veteran of the North Africa campaign.

The Spitfire Mk Vc always looks good. Why shouldn't it look great in American markings?!

The Spitfire Mk Vc always looks good. Why shouldn’t it look great in American markings?!

This is the real thing in every sense.

This is the real thing in every sense.

The plane is authentic, although I think the top greys look too dark. Restorers, like modelers, make guesses on these things.

The Me 262A-1a is authentic, although I think the top greys look too dark. Restorers, like modelers, make guesses on these things.

Nice display of an A-20G Havoc in the South Pacific.

Nice display of an A-20G Havoc in the South Pacific.

This is a real treat. A nice restoration of a P-47D Thunderbolt in the markings of Neel Kearby, the top Thunderbolt ace in the Pacific with 22 kills. And then...

This is a real treat. A nice restoration of a P-47D Thunderbolt in the markings of Neel Kearby, the top Thunderbolt ace in the Pacific with 22 kills.
And then…

That faded rudder is the original. Col. Kearby was killed in this plane over New Guinea, the rudder was recovered in the 1990s.

That faded vertical stabilizer is the original. Col. Kearby was killed in this plane over New Guinea, the vertical stabilizer was recovered in the 1990s.

Oh and they have jets and stuff too...

Oh and they have jets and stuff too…

I love the number of other aircraft displayed under the wings of the B-36 Peacemaker. The ten engine bomber was said to have

I love the number of other aircraft displayed under the wings of the B-36 Peacemaker. The ten engine bomber was said to have “six turning and four burning” for the six piston engines and four jets. Oh that P-82 Twin Mustang is important too. Its the “Betty Jo”, which set a speed/distance record in 1947. Its fun to see airplanes here that I’ve specifically read about.

Obviously the WWI and WWII exhibits filled most of my day, but there is so much to see from the whole of military aviation.  I actually spent about two hours in the Cold War and Modern hangers.  I missed the Presidential and Experimental hanger this trip, but they’re building a new facility for that, so I’ll have something to get back for. Its always a lot of walking and exploring; as the airplanes get newer, they also get bigger, and so do the display areas.

Vacation wraps up with an airshow tomorrow, this has been fun!

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About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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8 Responses to A Day at the Museum of the United States Air Force

  1. Pingback: Another Day at The Museum of the United States Air Force | Plane Dave

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    How I missed the bus for this guided tour I wouldn’t know Dave.

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on My Forgotten Hobby and commented:
    How I missed the bus for this guided tour I wouldn’t know…

  4. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I visited the museum in the summer of 76.

  5. Pierre Lagacé says:

    In 1976 I took more than 100 Kodachrome 35 mm slides.

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