Dayton on Thursday seemed much hotter to me than Wednesday, or maybe it was just that the walk from my spot in the visitor's parking lot was much further away than the one in the staff lot that I'd mistakenly parked in the day before. I gather from what the volunteers said that I was lucky; the parking tickets at the Air Force Museum will run you $80 and you get to face a Federal magistrate, a pleasure I could do quite well without, thanks. Anyway, I stashed Cowzilla and my sunglasses in a coin locker and set out to see the rest of the Museum. I first went through the WW2 section, where I saw the B-17 I missed Wednesday, and then the WW1 section. That one I largely walked through; don't really care much about the really early days of aviation, but I was interested in the early model Curtiss Hawks and some of the other planes from the late 1920s and early '30s. Like the P-26 Peashooter:
There was also a B-18 Bolo in there that had originally been built for the Argentinian Navy and had been donated as a gift to the museum by a technical school in Argentina, and an interesting film about rebuilding an OA-10 that had been lying around in the tundra for about fifty years. Oh, yes: a cool exhibit about a black guy who enlisted in the Foreign Legion and wound up flying for the French, who considered him a national hero.
I wish the newer sections of the museum dealing with the Korean and Vietnam wats and the Cold War in general had been that interesting, but for the most part they were just static airplane displays. Not that some of those weren't impressive in their own right, mind you:
This shot of a B-52D done up in the camo used during Operation Linebacker II captures the mood I felt when seeing the bomber perfectly. All you can really see is the shadow - which is the way it should be.
One of the other exceptions to the static display rule was the Wild Weasel section. This discussion of the technology and heroism of the F-100, F-105 and F-4 pilots and "bears" who went out to kill SAM complexes with moronic (politically-dictated) rules of engagement, crude radar detectors and anti-radar missiles that initially had only half the range of the SA-2 "Guidelines" trying to kill them struck a chord in me - we had to study those air defenses when I went through Goodfellow as a Russian linguist, and I had grown up reading tales of air combat in Vietnam such as Jack Broughton's Thud Ridge and Going Downtown, so I knew very well what it meant for the first Wild Weasel pilots to be finishing their training in Route Pack Six.
So it's a little embarrassing that I didn't get the acronym (YGBSM)on the patch shown below:
Plane shown is an F-105WW.
Other interesting things were a walk-through B-29 fuselage, the sign from the control tower at Itazuke Field in Japan (complete with the lyrics of "Itazuke Tower", LOL) where a lot of ground-attack F-51's were based, the very extensive Berlin Airlift exhibit in the corridor leading to the Cold War exhibits, and a sizable chunk of the Berlin Wall right across from one of the B-2 Spirit stealth bombers.
Disappointing as the remaining two-thirds of the museum might have been, it was still worth seeing, Bob Hope exhibit and all. Hard to believe sometimes that Bob is dead; he was a real institution for the military, entertaining the grandsons of men who had seen him in the 1940s when he was a big movie star out on the USO tours.