Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dayton, OH - Wright Patterson AFB Museum

We've spent two nights in Dayton. Sunday we went to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. If you ever find yourself in Dayton, go here! Dress warmly, apparently the airplanes like to be kept cool, but definitely go. It's a fabulous museum.
The outside of the museum.

Wright Patterson is a huge air force base. One of the hangars has several presidential airplanes and a bunch of R&D planes. Most of them are one offs and this is the only place they can be seen.
This is TACIT BLUE. It's one of the first experiments in stealth technology. It was built in 1982, and flew 135 times before being retired. It's a weird looking plane, it looks like it's made out of plywood.

The B-70 Valkyrie. The plane was designed to be bomber in the '50s. First flight was 1964, it flew 3 times the speed of sound and it is unbelievably big. Here is the nose.

The mid-section and engines.

The rear end of the plane. There are six huge engines on the plane. There were two of them built, one was destroyed in an accident on a photo flight in 1966, the remaining airplane (this one) was used for research until it was delivered to the Air Force Museum. The airplane was never produced as a bomber as intended. It was eventually abandoned in favor of ICBM missiles.

This is Jim standing by the nose gear.

I forget what this is, it was some sort of trainer cockpit riveted on to a Convair 580. It looks like one plane is being eaten by another.

A lifting body experimental plane.

This is the Air Force One 707 that brought JFK's body back to Washington after his assassination in Dallas.

Now we are back in the main part of the museum, which is huge. This is an early bomber, circa WWI. Some of the bombs were flung from the plane by hand.

The original use of bungee cords. They were wrapped around the landing gear to provide shock absorption.

Note the fuel tank performing its secondary function as a back rest.

The museum has set up several displays of airplanes and told stories about their use. This is a WW II-era trainer. The poor trainee has hit the brakes too hard and has driven the nose of the plane into the ground.

The German ME163 Komet, from WWII. It was a rocket powered airplane with 7.5 minutes of fuel. When it launched, the wheels were designed to come off so it had to be landed on a retractable belly skid. It would climb up through an American bomber formation and attempt to attack the bombers, and then when it ran out of fuel it would go back through the formation again. It had two cannons, and two opportunities to shoot at Allied planes. Think about this. Shot up into the air, run out of fuel, land on the belly. Does this sound like a plan or what? It was not extensively used during the war.

This is a tableau from Oahu, Hawaii, during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Second Lieutenant Phillip Rasmussen did indeed run out in his pajamas during the Japanese attack and get his plane airborne before it could be destroyed. He hooked up with 3 other planes and pursued the attackers.

Nose art from the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

More nose art.

In addition to the planes, the museum tells a lot of stories and presents a lot of history. We were there for 6 hours and could not begin to read it all. It's an enormous place, and well worth the time to see it.

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