The National Museum of the United States Air Force
 

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is an imposing and impressive facility.  It is located in a publicly accessible area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  I visited it for the first time on July 6, 2008 after wanting to make the trip for many years.  It was worth the wait, it was worth the trip, and I plan to visit it again.

The museum is divided into six sections.  The sections are:

  • The Early Years Gallery
  • The Air Power Gallery
  • The National Aviation Hall of Fame
  • The Modern Flight Gallery
  • The Cold War Gallery
  • The Missile and Space Gallery
In addition to these galleries there are two more that are accessible by bus.  They are:
  • The Presidential Hangar - Containing several aircraft that were used as "Air Force One" at different times
  • The "X" Hangar - Which houses many experimental aircraft.
To visit these two galleries a visitor must sign up for the trip and provided a photo ID.  The bus taking visitors to the hangars crosses the active duty section of Wright-Patterson AFB and visitors are restricted to the display hangars.

All of the galleries are in Air Force hangars and they are each HUGE!  I hav eno idea how many aircraft are on display but suffice it to say that there is plenty to see.  The photographs below do not do the facility justice but they are the best that I have to offer.  I said that it was impressive, but in reality that term does not even come close.

Several areas of the museum have quite subdued lighting.  I intentionally chose to limit the use of the flash on my camera to retain the feeling of the galleries.

The Memorial Park

Beside the main museum area there is a large memorial garden.  This garden honors US and Allied personnel who died in the line of duty.  It is a very large area with many imposing granite and marble monuments dedicated to specific units that served in combat.  I was glad that we arrived early enough that there were not many visitors.  It was quiet and somber and provided a fitting perspective for the area.  I felt honored to be able to visit it.

The photos below are just a small portion of the monuments in the park.  There were literally hundreds of them and I only got photos of some.  I realize that this isn't fair but these are all I got.  It does not mean that I have any less respect for the others.


Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Memorial Park
   

THE "X" HANGAR

The "X" Hangar contains dozens of experimental and unusual aircraft.  I think I could have spent all day there alone!  The centerpiece, at least in my mind, was the only remaining XB-70 Valkyrie.  This is one of the most magnificent and imposing aircraft ever built in my opinion.  Enjoy the photos!


Inert GBU-12 Bombs

Bell FGAM-63 "Rascal"

Bell FGAM-63 "Rascal"

Bell X-24B

Lockheed YF-12A

Lockheed YF-12A

Lockheed YF-12A

Lockheed YF-12A

Grumman F-29A

Grumman F-29A

Lockheed P-80R Shooting Star

Lockheed P-80R Shooting Star

North American F-107A

North American F-107A

Chance-Vought XC-142A

Chance-Vought XC-142A

Bell X-5

Bell X-5

Ryan X-13 Vertijet

Ryan X-13 Vertijet

Republic XF-84H

Republic XF-84H

Bell P-59B Airacomet

Bell P-59B Airacomet

Douglas X-3 Stiletto

Douglas X-3 Stiletto

Lockheed NT-33A

Lockheed NT-33A

Hawker-Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel

Hawker-Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel

Lockheed-Bowing-General Dynamic F-22 Raptor

Lockheed-Bowing-General Dynamic F-22 Raptor

Piper PA-48 Enforcer

Piper PA-48 Enforcer

North American Aviation X-15

North American Aviation X-15

North American Aviation X-15

X-15 Wing Surface

X-15 Wing Chord at Outer Tip

X-15 Wing Chord at Root

X-15 Rear End

X-15 Engine Exhaust

Martin X-24A

Martin X-24A

Bell X-1B

Convair XF-92A

No Idea!
 
The next group of photos is the North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie supersonic bomber prototype.  This is the only remaining copy of the aircraft that is left anywhere in the world.  It is such a massive aircraft that there was no place in the hangar where I could get an overall photo of the plane, it stretched from the hangar doors to the rear wall.  Some of the photos have a paragraph describing what the photo means.

This gives some indication of the height of the Valkyrie.  I wasn't down on my knees or anything, just standing normally.  It is easy to see that the bottom of the fuselage of the bomber is well above the top of the cockpit of the latest and greatest whizz-bang toy, the F-22 Raptor.
I took this photograph standing under the intakes of the XB-70.  I'm 6' tall and I did not have to stoop down or crouch or anything else, the bottom of the intake was over my head!
No, I didn't mess the photographs up and get a picture of some MK-82 bombs mixed in.  Click the image to the left and then look at the top of it.  Look closely and you can see the bottoms of four of the six engine nacelles!  This is a HUGE airplane!
A few more random shots of the XB-70 and we move on to the Presidential Hangar to see some old Air Force One aircraft.


Looking forward from under right wing

Intake from the left side

Intake straight on

Crew credits on the intake

Left main landing gear

Honeycomb structure detail

Honeycomb structure detail
 
 


 

THE PRESIDENTIAL HANGAR

The Presidential Hangar adjoins the "X" Hangar and contains some early aircraft that have been used as Presidential Air Force One aircraft.  Visitors are free to walk through the aircraft although all of the areas except for the walkways are covered with plastic sheets to keep people out.  My photos of the cockpits and other areas are somewhat dark because of this, my flash reflected off the plastic.

 


General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery

General Shots Through The Gallery
 
 


 


C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

C-54C "Sacred Cow" - Franklin D. Roosevelt
 
 


 


VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman

VC-118 "Independence" - Harry S. Truman
   
 


 


VC-121E "Columbine III" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

VC-121E "Columbine III" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

VC-121E "Columbine III" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

VC-121E "Columbine III" - Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
 


 


VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson

VC-137C "SAM 26000" - Kennedy / Johnson
The VC-137C (Boeing 707) "SAM 26000" shown above was the aircraft that carried the body of John F. Kennedy from Dallas, TX to Washington, DC following his assassination.  It is also the aircraft upon which Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States.  SAM stands for "Special Air Mission".
 


 


VC-140B Jetstar - Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan

VC-140B Jetstar - Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan

VC-140B Jetstar - Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan
 


THE EARLY YEARS AND AIR POWER GALLERIES

The Early Years and Air Power galleries focused on WWI and WWII aircraft.  Since these aircraft were physically smaller than more modern aircraft, there were many, many airplanes in the galleries.  I might have gotten photos of about half of them!


Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

"High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee

Messerschmitt ME-163 "Komet"

Messerschmitt ME-163 "Komet"

Messerschmitt ME-163 "Komet"

Messerschmitt ME-163 "Komet"

Bell P-39Q "Airacobra"

Bell P-39Q "Airacobra"

Bell P-39Q "Airacobra"

Boeing B-29 Stratofortress "Bockscar"

Little Boy atomic bomb replica

Fat Man atomic bomb replica

Northrop P-61C Black Widow

Focke-Wulf FW-190

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Messershmitt ME-262 Schwalbe

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Consolidated PBY Catalina

Consolidated PBY Catalina

de Haviland Mosquito

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

North American Aviation A-36A Apache

North American Aviation A-36A Apache

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc

Bell P-63E King Cobra

Bell P-63E King Cobra

Boeing P-26A "Peashooter"

Boeing P-26A "Peashooter"

Fokker Dr. I Dreidecker (Triplane)

Fokker Dr. I Dreidecker (Triplane)

Spad XIII

Hawker Hurricane

Northrop P-61C Black Widow

Northrop P-61C Black Widow

Messershmitt BF-109

Messershmitt BF-109

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Unknown (looks like a Spitfire but has US markings)

Douglas C-7 Dakota and Glider Above

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

North American P-51D Mustang

A View Down The Gallery
   

THE MODERN FLIGHT GALLERY

I'm not sure who decides what goes in each gallery, probably some Navy guy or something.  I guess that compared to the previous "Early Years" and "Air Power" galleries that this one would be considered "Modern Flight" but to me there are a number of aircraft that don't fit the profile of "Modern" aircraft.  Likewise, in the "Cold War" gallery still to come there are a number of airplanes that belong here in the "Modern Flight" gallery.  I suppose it doesn't really matter as long as we can view them but some of them just seem out of place to me.  Anyway, here we go .....


North American F-86A Saber

North American F-86A Saber

North American F-86A Saber

General Dynamics F-111

General Dynamics F-111

Douglas B-26C Marauder

Douglas B-26C Marauder

Douglas B-26C Marauder

Republic Aviation F-105D Thunderchief

Republic Aviation F-105D Thunderchief

Republic Aviation F-105D Thunderchief

Republic Aviation F-105D Thunderchief

Republic F-105G Thunderchief "Wild Weasel"

Republic F-105G Thunderchief "Wild Weasel"

Republic F-105G Thunderchief "Wild Weasel"

Republic F-105G Thunderchief "Wild Weasel"

Lockheed F-94A Starfire

Lockheed F-94A Starfire

Vought A-7 Corsair

North American F-100F Super Saber

North American F-5E Tiger II

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis

Vought A-7 Corsair

North American F-100F Super Saber

Douglas RB-66B Destroyer

Douglas RB-66B Destroyer

Douglas RB-66B Destroyer

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Bomb Bay

McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas RF-101C Voodoo

McDonnell-Douglas RF-101C Voodoo

Lockheed-Martin-Boeing F-22 Raptor

Douglas AD-1 Skyraider

North American F-82B Twin Mustang

North American F-82B Twin Mustang

North American F-82B Twin Mustang

North American F-82B Twin Mustang

Douglas A-1D Skyraider ("Sandy")

North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco

Uh, well, I'm not real sure!
 

THE COLD WAR GALLERY

The Cold War gallery contains examples of aircraft from the "Cold War".  To me this was the era from after Korea to the fall of the Communist regime.  As with the Modern Flight Gallery above I don't particularly agree with the placement of some aircraft in this gallery, but they didn't ask my opinion when they put them there.

This gallery was quite dark as can be seen in the photos.  To me it deserves to be dark because those were dark and uncertain times.  Those of us who lived through them understand what it was like during some of the years when we didn't know whether the world would still exist when we woke up the following morning.  I intentionally did not use the flash on my camera very much so I could preserve that aura.  Personally I like the result.


The Cold War Gallery

The Cold War Gallery

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Lockheed U-2

Panavia Tornado GR-1

Panavia Tornado GR-1

General Dynamics RF-111 Raven

Lockheed SR-71

Lockheed SR-71

Lockheed SR-71

Lockheed SR-71

Mk. 41 Thermonuclear Bomb

Boeing B-47 Stratojet

Boeing B-47 Stratojet

Boeing B-47 Stratojet

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

North American F-86D Saber

North American F-86D Saber

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

McDonnell-Douglas RF-4C Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas RF-4C Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas RF-4C Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas F-4G Phantom II

McDonnell-Douglas F-4G Phantom II

North American F-86 Cutaway

North American F-86 Cutaway

North American F-86 Cutaway

B-1B Lancer

B-1B Lancer

Boeing X-45A

Boeing X-45A

Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit

Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit

Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit

Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit

McDonnell F-101B Voodoo

McDonnell F-101B Voodoo

Boeing B-50D

Boeing B-50D

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19

Republic RF-84K

Republic RF-84K

Lockheed AC-130 Spectre

Convair B-58 Hustler

Convair B-58 Hustler

Convair B-58 Hustler

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger

Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Unknown

Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II

Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II

Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose Art
   


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