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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 304 - December 2013
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Castle Air Museum - Part II

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

One of the artifacts you'll find at the indoor museum
is this beautiful Thunderbirds flying helmet.

Last week was propeller week with our visit to the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California. This week we'll have a look at some of the unique and wonderful jet aircraft at the museum.

The British designed and built Avro Vulcan
gained much notoriety during the Falklands War.

Depending on the route you take around the air park, the first jet aircraft you might come across is the Avro Vulcan, considered by many to be the most beautiful jet aircraft bomber ever built. The Vulcan was a strategic nuclear bomber designed, built and used by Great Britain and carried a crew of five. The Vulcan initially flew in 1952 and was the first bomber aircraft with the delta wing which made it a very agile aircraft, especially for a bomber. In 1982, the Vulcan made its place in history during the Falklands War flying from the Ascension Islands to Port Stanley Airport and return, some 7700miles non-stop.

The CF-100 Avro Canuck, left, was a subsonic all-weather fighter/interceptor designed and built in Canada. The B-45 Tornado, right, was designed near the end of World War II and first flew in 1947.

The North American B-45 Tornado was designed during the latter part of World War II and first flew in 1947. The Tornado was outfitted with long-range wing tip tanks and had a refueling probe and was the first multi-jet engine aircraft in the world to be refueled in mid-air. Not too far away is an allied jet aircraft, the CF-100 Avro Canuck, affectionately known as the "Clunk." The Canuck was designed and built by Avro Canada, in Canada, for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was a twin engine, all-weather fighter interceptor/fighter and had a surface ceiling of 54,000' with a top speed of 650mph, though it could reach the speed of sound in a dive.

The Sabreliner, left, flew in an assortment of roles during its time with the military. Boeing's eight engine B-52 Stratofortress, right, could stay aloft for hours, including setting a one time world record long distance flight of 12,500 miles!

The North American CT-39 Sabreliner served with an assortment of different military branches including the US Navy, Marines and the US Coast Guard. The aircraft was also FAA certified and several retired military version Sabreliners went on to fly in the civilian world. Not far from the Sabreliner is one of the most versatile bombers in US military history, the venerable strategic bomber Boeing B-52D Stratofortress. The B-52 had a range of almost 8,000 miles although, in 1962 a single B-52 broke 11 distance and speed records when it flew to Spain from Japan, a non-stop flight of 12,500 miles, without refueling.

The F-86 Sabre, left, was well matched against the MiG 15 in dogfights over North Korean. The T-33 Shooting Star, right, was developed from the F-80 Shooting Star.

Moving along you come to a row of iconic US jet aircraft including the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, the North American F-86 Sabre, Northrop F-89 Scorpion and the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. The F-86 Sabre was America's first swept wing fighter and flew against the MiG 15 in dogfights during the Korean War. Over 7,800 Sabres were built in the US, Italy and Japan. Canada and Australia added another 1800+ aircraft to that total and was considered the most widely produced western built fighter jet with almost 10,000 built around the world. The T-33 Shooting Star was developed from the P-80 Shooting Star which first flew in January of 1944 with the T-33 first flying in March of 1948. Lockheed produced almost 5,700 T-33 while Canadair, which built the Canadian version of the T-33 called the Silver Star, built 656 of the aircraft.

The six-engine B-47 Stratojet, left, was a long range strategic bomber.
The KC-135 Stratotanker, right, replaced the propeller driven KC-97.

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was a six-engine, long range strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speeds and high altitudes. It entered service in 1951 with SAC (Strategic Air Command) as a nuclear bomber though it was also adapted for an assortment of other missions including weather recon, photo recon and electronic intel and flew with the air force until 1969. Sitting not far away is the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker, the KC-135A Stratotanker which replaced the KC-97 Stratotanker. Though originally required for refueling the strategic bombers, the KC-135 was used extensively during the Vietnam War, as well as other US conflicts, for refueling tactical fighters as well as bombers. The aircraft, though it entered service with the USAF in 1957, is expected to continue flying until as late as 2040.

The F-4 Phantom flew in an assortment of roles
but one of the most loved was that of the USAF Thunderbirds.

Walking around the museum park you will also come across one of the most loved, and maybe one of the dirtiest, jet aircraft in the F-4 Phantom. The F-4 was a two-seat tandem, twin-engine long-range, all-weather supersonic interceptor/fighter/bomber. Originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the US Navy, the Phantom also flew with the US Air Force and US Marine Corp. The museum's example is painted in the US Thunderbirds configuration and was used by the team from 1969 until 1974.

The RA-3B Skywarrior served with the USAF as the B-66 Destroyer.

The RA-3B Skywarrior entered service in the 1950s serving until 1991 and was one of the longest serving carrier based aircraft in history. It was also the heaviest operational carrier aircraft and served a number of different roles including strategic bomber, air recon platform, high capacity aerial refueler and an electronic warfare platform. It also flew with the USAF as a tactical bomber, electronic warfare and recon bomber until the early 70s as the B-66 Destroyer.

Supersonic.... the F-104 Starfighter, left, was fast and loud and could fly at speeds in excess of Mach 2.0. The F-105 Thunderchief, right, was a supersonic fighter-bomber that flew at speeds in excess of Mach 2.0.

Some of the earlier supersonic jet aircraft in the collection include the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, Convair F-106A Delta Dart, the Republic F105-B Thunderchief, F-104 Starfighter and the F-100 Supersabre. Speeds of these aircraft ranged from Mach 1.25 with the Delta Dagger and up to Mach 2.3 with the Delta Dart. Not far away are the more modern McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, the Douglas A-4L Skyraider, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and the Vought RF-8G Crusader. The F-14 became one of the most recognizable jet fighters through the movie "Top Gun."

The British designed Canberra was built under license for the US by the Martin Company. The F-111, right, was well known for the extremely long afterburner flame that shot out from the tailpipes of the airplane.

The Martin B-57 Canberra was the American version of the English Electric Canberra, built under license by the Martin Company and became the first US jet bomber to drop bombs in combat. The Canberra was retired in 1983 marking the end of the tactical bomber, though two aircraft remain flight worthy and are utilized by NASA as high altitude research aircraft and for testing communications. In contrast to the B-57 is the supersonic General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark which could fly at speeds in excess of Mach 2.5, flying with the USAF and the RAAF. Though the Aardvark was retired from the USAF in the 1990's, the Royal Australian Air Force continued to fly them until 2010.

Inside the indoor museum you can find an assortment of memorabilia such as movie posters, left, and metal signs depicting posters from the early days of flying and World War I, right.

When you're done touring the air park portion of the museum, head to the indoor museum where you'll find an assortment of engines, artwork, flying helmets and so much more. You'll even find a Norden Bomb Sight but, if you want to know more about that, then you'll have to visit the museum. Before you leave browse the gift shop and find yourself a unique souvenir from the museum to take home to your castle!

The F-104 is somewhat dwarfed by the F-105 Thunderchief, left.
The somewhat ungainlyRF-8G Crusader US Navy Carrier aircraft, right.


The B-29 Superfortress, left, and the WB-50 Superfortress, right.


The North American B-25 Mitchell was a very versatile aircraft,
used by several countries, during World War II.


"Once a Thunderbird, Always a Thunderbird."


Arc Light - B-52 Stratofortress mission


By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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