This eFLYER was developed in HTML for viewing with Microsoft Internet Explorer while connected to the Internet: View Online.
To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add to your address book or list of approved senders.
Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 303 - December 2013
Over 9,000 Total Ads Listed
1,000+ NEW Ads Per Week
  Home     Browse All Classifieds     eFLYERs     Events     Testimonials     Post Ad     Search Ads  
BARNSTORMERS eFLYER... a collective effort of the aviation community.
YOUR photos, videos, comments, reports, stories, and more...
Find Us On
Click to Subscribe Follow Us On
Castle Air Museum - Part I

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada

One of the strangest looking aircraft in the museum, the B-36 Peacemaker.

This former Air Force Base in Atwater, California, was named after General F.W. Castle who was leading an air division of B-17 bombers over Liege, France during World War II. His aircraft lost an engine en route to the target and fell from the formation and was attacked by German fighters. The aircraft was badly damaged and all the crew, with the exception of the pilot and General Castle, managed to bail out. As the aircraft was over allied troops on the ground, Castle refused to jettison his bomb load. The aircraft exploded and General Castle, and his pilot, were killed. The based was honoured with his name in January of 1948.

B-29 right?  Wrong!  The aircraft on the left is a WB-50D Superfortress, an improved version of the B-29 with extensive design changes.  The B-47 Stratojet (right), the first swept wing jet bomber and, in the 1950's, flew as the mainstay of Strategic Air Command.

Through its history, Castle AFB was home to aircraft such as the B-29, B-36, B-47, B-52 and air-to-air refueling aircraft the KC-97 and KC-135 and was home to the 93rd Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command. In 1995, the 93rd was inactivated and the base was closed. The Caste Air Museum was started by some folks dedicated to preserving the history of USAF aircraft roughly 10 years after the United States Air Force's Heritage Program had been formed. Today, the museum houses a vast array of USAF aircraft as well as a number of Allied aircraft.

Big! Black! Beautiful! The SR-71 Blackbird designed by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson in the 1960s. The aircraft fuselage is made of titanium and reaches temperatures of 500F during supersonic flight and "stretches" 6".

One of the first aircraft you'll see when you arrive at the museum is the famous SR-71 Blackbird. Still considered as one of Kelly Johnson's most advanced aircraft, the SR-71, despite the dust and dirt covering the aircraft, still has a look of the future to it!

For the most part, the B-17 flew in the European Theatre of war, operating from bases in England. However, the aircraft was also utilized by the RCAF as a heavy transport delivering mail to and from Canada, flying some 22,000,000+ pounds in 26,400 hours of flying time.

After entering the actual museum grounds, the assortment of aircraft you'll see is amazing. From the single engine Vultee Valiant to the massive B-36 Peacemaker bomber, the variety of aircraft within the museum grounds is astounding to say the least. One of the first aircraft you might come across is the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Virgin's Delight." Though the B-17 was flown by the RAF as well as the RCAF, most B-17's flew with the US Air Force performing daylight bombing in the European, Pacific and Far East theatres of war.

Designed as a replacement for the B-24 Liberator and the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-29 was a true "heavy bomber," weighing in at a wartime weight of more than 105,000lbs. (post war, 140,000lbs).

Another famous Boeing aircraft is the B-29A Super Fortress "heavy bomber." There were close to 4,000 B-29s manufactured in four different plants by three different companies, Boeing, Martin and Bell. This B-29A, "Razi 'n Hell," was restored using parts from 3 different B-29s, including its namesake. The B-29 flew mostly in the Pacific Theatre against Japanese targets, including the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The B-29 also flew during the Korean War however, it was eventually relegated to night bombing with the appearance of the MiG 15.

The museums B-24 ended its flying life in South America but was recovered from La Paz, Bolivia and transported by surface to the museum and then restored to its present day configuration.

Another of the big bombers is the Consolidated-Vultee B-24M Liberator, an ungainly looking four engine brute of an aircraft. The B-24 was used in all theatres of war flying with several allied countries including the US with one of the most famous raids of World War II bombing oilfields in Ploesti, Romania. They also flew with the RAF as a maritime patrol aircraft and with the RCAF protecting convoys crossing the Atlantic from the threat of U-boats between Newfoundland and Iceland. More than 18,000 B-24's were built however there are few surviving aircraft today, with only one Liberator currently airworthy, flying with the Collings Foundation.

Originally designed with four Pratt & Whitney radial engines, later designs were fitted with two turbojet engines, one each side, to allow the aircraft to operate with a full load from shorter runways.

Moving along you'll come across one of the odder looking aircraft in the museum's inventory, the Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter/tanker. Though originally designed as a bomber, Boeing created a civilian version known as the Stratocruiser which flew with several airlines including BOAC, Pan Am, United and Northwest Airlines. The tanker version was fitted for air-to-air refueling using a flying-boom which was slung under the tail and could off-load as much as 15,000 gallons of fuel. The museum aircraft was originally built as KC-97G but modified to the "L" model with the fitting of two jet engines.

The Douglas B-23 Dragon, left, was used during World War II as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft. The Douglas B-18 Bolo, right, was initially used as a bomber but were also converted to an anti-submarine patrol aircraft.

There are more than just four engine bombers in the museum park. An assortment of two engine aircraft from the same era grace the museum's inventory including the Douglas B-23 Dragon, which was considered obsolete at the start of the war and was relegated to anti-submarine patrols and transport. Another of the museum's two engine aircraft is the Boeing B-18 Bolo which was developed from the Boeing DC-2, a successful commercial airline aircraft. The aircraft also flew with the RCAF as the Digby Mk I in an anti-submarine role.

Though designed and built during the latter part of World War II, the Invader also served during the Korean War flying some 60,000 sorties and is known as the aircraft type that dropped the first and last bombs over Korea.

The venerable A-26B Invader is another but somewhat more famous two engine aircraft. The A-26 entered service during the latter part of the war in 1944 and was built in two versions, the A-26B and the A-26C, with the A-26B outfitted with six .50 cal machine guns in the nose and the A-26C with only two machine guns but with a glass nose for use by the navigator/bombardier. The Invador saw service during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. Though many A-26's still fly in civilian roles, it flew its last military combat mission in 1969, having served for 25 years!

Ever wondered about the humps in the paint scheme on the Curtis Commando (left)? Each "hump" in the paint represents flight over the Himalayan Mountains during World War II because, doing so, was referred to as "Flying the Hump." The C-47 Skytrain (right) was also known as The Gooney Bird and the Dakota however, in the civilian world, the aircraft flew as the DC-3.

Other propeller driven aircraft of the same era include the Curtis C-46 Commando, Douglas C-47A Skytrain, Lockheed Lodestar, North American B-25J Mitchell, North American AT-6 Texan and the Vultee BT-13 Valiant. The history of these aircraft round out a remarkable amount of service with multiple countries over many, many years. Aircraft such as the C-47 (also known as the DC-3, Gooney Bird and Dakota) and the C-46, still fly today as cargo and passenger service aircraft such as with Buffalo Airways of the famed TV show, "Ice Pilots."

One of the most versatile workhorse aircraft ever built, the de Havilland of Canada DHC-2 Beaver flew with both the US Army and Air Force as the U-6A.

There are also some fantastic post-war propeller driven aircraft you'll see as you walk the grounds. One of the most iconic of those aircraft is the de Havilland of Canada DHC-2 (UA-6) Beaver. Originally designed as a "utility" bush aircraft, the Beaver also found a niche in military service and could operate on wheels, skis and floats. This multi-purposed aircraft was given the nickname of the "flying jeep" by the US military for its ability to carry just about anything that would fit inside or on to the aircraft. The Beaver was the first foreign-built aircraft the US military purchased since the end of World War II, purchasing some 980 aircraft from de Havilland Canada.

The C-119 was a workhorse of an airplane used as transport as well
as a conversion to gunship during the Vietnam War.

The Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar" is a rear-loading transport aircraft which saw action during the Korean War operating from bases in Japan. C-119's were also used during construction of the "DEW line," (Distant Early Warning Line), a system of radar air defence stations in Canada's high arctic as well as Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Greenland and Iceland during the Cold War to detect Soviet bombers. The Boxcar was also used as a midair retrieval aircraft, snagging imagery packages from the Corona satellites and as gun ships during the Vietnam War. The C-119 flew with a number of air forces including the United States, Italy, India, Belgium and Canada.

The Grumman Albatross is one of several historic Grumman amphibious aircraft
including the Grumman Duck, Widgeon, Goose and Mallard.

If you ever had to bail out of or ditch your aircraft in the ocean, or any body of water, an aircraft you'd love to see coming to your rescue would be the Grumman HU-16B Albatross. This was the aircraft that replaced the wartime PBY Catalina as the main air-sea rescue aircraft beginning in 1947. The museums example, 9307, originally served with the RCAF, one of 10 Albatross' that flew in Canada with the Air Force for 10 years. She once flew, non-stop, from the west coast of Canada (Comox, B.C.) to the east coast of Canada (Greenwood, N.S.) setting the unofficial Canadian endurance record for the aircraft flying 16 hours and 32 minutes.

The B-36 Peacemaker had a gross weight of more than 385,000lbs and a top speed
of more than 400mph. Pretty impressive for an aircraft of its size and design.

One of the strangest looking aircraft in the museum's fleet is the massive Convair RB-36H Peacemaker bomber/recon aircraft. The aircraft was designed during World War II as a long range bomber capable of flying from the continental US to bombing targets within Germany and home again, roughly 7500 mile round trip. When it first flew in 1946, it was the largest bomber every built. The Peacemaker flew as an airborne nuclear deterrence in the 1950's and was capable of carrying the massive 21 ton, 24 1/2' long Mk 17 atomic bomb. The bomber version carried a crew of 16 and the recon version a crew of 22.

The military version of the Cessna 310 was referred to as the "Blue Canoe," or officially as the Cessna U-3A Administrator, left. The Fairchild C-123K Provider, right, was a deadly aircraft when flying in the Vietnam War as part of Operation Ranch Hand, used to spray the Agent Orange defoliator, clearing the Viet Cong supply trails in the thick jungle.

Rounding out the list of non-jet aircraft are the Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster, used as a forward observation aircraft; the Convair HC-131A Samaritan, used in both military and civilian roles (airline service), first entering service with the military in 1950; the Douglas R5D-4 Skymaster, known in the civilian world as the DC-4; the Beech Aircraft Company YT-34 Mentor; Cessna U-3A "Blue Canoe" Administrator and the Fairchild C-123K Provider, both used in very different roles. Better known as the Cessna 310, the "Blue Canoe" flew as an executive transport, liaison duties and for hauling light cargo from base to base. The Provider had a slightly blacker history flying in Vietnam laying Agent Orange defoliant in an effort to expose the Viet Congs supply trails through the jungles. The museums example also served with Tactical Air Command, Air Defense Command and Air Force Logistics Command and ended its service life with the US Air Force Reserve in 1980.

The big B-36, left, was a very long aircraft, at over 162', so the crew moved through her by means of a creeper trolley in a long, narrow tube inside the fuselage. Shown here is the massive 21 ton, 24.6' long Mk 17 atomic bomb, right.

This week we reviewed the list of non-jet aircraft in the inventory of the Castle Air Museum. Next week we'll delve into the long list of assorted jet aircraft that call the museum home, from a Royal Canadian Air Force CF-100 Canuck to the historic B-52 Stratofortress.

The Kaman HH-43B Huskie, though not the prettiest of helicopters,
was used effectively as both a fire fighting and rescue helicopter.
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

Return to eFLYER

Visit - post an ad to be viewed by nearly 1,000,000 visitors per month.
Over 16 years bringing more online buyers and sellers together than any other aviation marketplace.
Don't just advertise. Get RESULTS with Check out the Testimonials
Copyright © 2007-2013 All rights reserved.