The National Museum of the United States Air Force (formerly the United States Air Force Museum) is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum draws about 1 million visitors each year, making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.
|National Museum of the United States Air Force|
|Location||Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, |
|Type||Military Aviation Museum|
|Visitors||About 1,000,000 |
|Curator||Krista Strider, Deputy Director/Senior Curator|
|Public transit access||Greater Dayton RTA Route 11|
The museum dates to 1923, when the Engineering Division at Dayton's McCook Field first collected technical artifacts for preservation. In 1927, it moved to then-Wright Field in a laboratory building. In 1932, the collection was named the Army Aeronautical Museum and placed in a WPA building from 1935 until World War II. In 1948, the collection remained private as the Air Force Technical Museum. In 1954, the Air Force Museum became public and was housed in its first permanent facility, Building 89 of the former Patterson Field in Fairborn, which had been an engine overhaul hangar. Many of its aircraft were parked outside and exposed to the weather.
Through the 1960s, Eugene Kettering, son of Charles F. Kettering, led the project to build a permanent structure to house the collections and became the first chairman of the board of the Air Force Museum Foundation. When he died in 1969, his widow Virginia took over the project. Her "determination, logic and meticulous attention" kept it on track, and the current facility opened in 1971. Not including its annex on Wright Field proper, the museum has more than tripled in square footage since 1971, with the addition of a second hangar in 1988, a third in 2003, and a fourth in 2016.
The museum announced a new name for the facility in October 2004. The former name, United States Air Force Museum, changed to National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The museum's collection contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance, and various memorabilia and artifacts from the history and development of aviation. Among them is one of four surviving Convair B-36 Peacemakers, the only surviving North American XB-70 Valkyrie and Bockscar—the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.
In 2010, the museum launched its 360-degree Virtual Tour, allowing most aircraft and exhibits to be viewed online.
In 2016, the museum opened its 224,000 square foot fourth building, bringing its size to 1,120,000 sqft. The addition was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation at a cost of $40.8 million. The building houses more than 70 aircraft, missiles, and space vehicles in four new galleries - Presidential, Research and Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Learning Nodes.
In 2018, the Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle was placed on permanent public display in the WWII Gallery. The famed B-17F Memphis Belle and its crew became iconic symbols of the heavy bomber crews and support personnel who helped defeat Nazi Germany in WWII.
The museum has several Presidential aircraft, including those used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The centerpiece of the presidential aircraft collection is SAM 26000, a modified Boeing 707 known as a VC-137C, used regularly by presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. This aircraft took President and Mrs. Kennedy to Dallas on 22 November 1963—the day of the President's assassination. Vice President Johnson was sworn in as president aboard it shortly after the assassination, and the aircraft then carried Kennedy's body back to Washington. It became the backup presidential aircraft after Nixon's first term. It was temporarily removed from display on 5 December 2009, repainted and returned to display on President's Day in 2010.
All presidential aircraft are now displayed in the Presidential Gallery, in the new fourth building.
A large section of the museum is dedicated to pioneers of flight, especially the Wright Brothers, who conducted some of their experiments at nearby Huffman Prairie. A replica of the Wrights' 1909 Military Flyer is on display, as well as other Wright brothers artifacts. The building also hosts the National Aviation Hall of Fame, which includes several educational exhibits.
The museum has many pieces of U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Air Force clothing and uniforms. At any time, more than 50 World War II-vintage A-2 leather flying jackets are on display, many of which belonged to famous figures in Air Force history. Others are painted to depict the air planes and missions flown by their former owners. The displays include the jacket worn by Brigadier General James Stewart, P-38 ace Major Richard I. Bong's sheepskin B-3 jacket and boots, an A-2 jacket worn by one of the few USAAF pilots to leave the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and President Ronald Reagan's USAAF peacoat.
The museum completed the construction of a third hangar and hall of missiles in 2004. It now houses post-Cold War era planes such as the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber (test aircraft), the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth ground attack aircraft and others. A fourth hangar was completed in 2016, to house the museum's space collection, presidential planes, and an enlarged educational outreach area. Previously these collections were housed in an annex facility on Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (the former Wright Field). Because the annex was physically located on the base itself, museum guests were required to go through additional security checks before taking museum buses to the hanger.
The museum has a large format theater that shows, for a fee, aviation- and space-oriented films interspersed primarily with other documentaries.
The museum owns other USAF aircraft, including former U.S. Army Air Service, USAAC or USAAF aircraft, that are on loan to other aerospace museums in the United States and overseas, as well as those on permanent static display at various U.S. Air Force installations and tenant activities worldwide, and at Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard installations across the United States. The museum those aircraft, missiles and associated artifacts loaned to communities or civic organizations for display at civilian airports (many of them former USAAF and/or USAF bases), public parks and memorials, the facilities of military-affiliated organizations (e.g., VFW, American Legion, etc.), or in other similar venues. Most of these loaned aircraft duplicate aircraft exhibited by the museum. These other aircraft remain the property of the Department of the Air Force and are typically identified at these locations as being "On Loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force." The museum's staff has very high standards for the restoration and quality of care of loaned assets and has, in the past, revoked these loans when it was deemed that these other museums did not have the resources to properly care for an artifact. This happened in the case of the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Memphis Belle.
In 2013, the Air Force Museum Theater upgraded its theater from IMAX to digital 3D. This upgrade included a new stage, theater seats and a new theater screen to support a broader range of programming—including educational presentations, live broadcasts and expanded documentary choices. The renovations include a 7.1 surround-sound system, audio devices for the hearing or visually impaired, and personal closed captioning systems.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is in the midst of a multi-phase, long-term expansion plan. The Air Force Museum Foundation recently supported a major capital construction program that expanded the museum to the current 1 million square feet of exhibit space with the addition of the fourth building that now houses the Space Gallery, Presidential Aircraft Gallery and Global Reach Gallery. This new fourth building opened to the public on 8 June 2016. With the addition of new space, more than 70 aircraft that were in storage have been put back on display, such as the XB-70 Valkyrie. The Presidential Aircraft collection is also back on site, having been moved to an outside location for some time.
The new building's construction was entirely funded via private donations from several different sources.
The museum is divided into galleries that cover broad historic trends in military aviation. These are further broken down into exhibits that detail specific historical periods and display aircraft in historical context.
The Air Force Museum Foundation is a private, non-profit organization that supports the mission and goals of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
|Aerial photo of the museum in its previous location|
Bockscar, sometimes called Bock's Car, is the name of the United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped a Fat Man nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II in the second – and last – nuclear attack in history. One of 15 Silverplate B-29s used by the 509th, Bockscar was built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Bellevue, Nebraska, at what is now Offutt Air Force Base, and delivered to the United States Army Air Forces on 19 March 1945. It was assigned to the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah in April.
Bockscar was used in 13 training and practice missions from Tinian, and three combat missions in which it dropped pumpkin bombs on industrial targets in Japan. On 9 August 1945, Bockscar, piloted by the 393d Bombardment Squadron's commander, Major Charles W. Sweeney, dropped a Fat Man nuclear bomb with a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT over the city of Nagasaki. About 44% of the city was destroyed; 35,000 people were killed and 60,000 injured.
After the war, Bockscar returned to the United States in November 1945. In September 1946, it was given to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The aircraft was flown to the Museum on 26 September 1961, and its original markings were restored (nose art was added after the mission). Bockscar is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, next to a replica of a Fat Man.Boeing B-50 Superfortress
The Boeing B-50 Superfortress is an American strategic bomber. A post–World War II revision of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, it was fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, stronger structure, a taller tail fin, and other improvements. It was the last piston-engined bomber built by Boeing for the United States Air Force, and was further refined into Boeing's final such design, the B-54. Not as well known as its direct predecessor, the B-50 was in USAF service for nearly 20 years.
After its primary service with SAC ended, B-50 airframes were modified into aerial tankers for Tactical Air Command (KB-50) and as weather reconnaissance aircraft (WB-50) for the Air Weather Service. Both the tanker and hurricane hunter versions were retired in March 1965 due to metal fatigue and corrosion found in the wreckage of KB-50J, 48-065, which crashed on 14 October 1964.Boeing YQM-94
The Boeing YQM-94 B-Gull (also called Compass Cope B) was a developmental aerial reconnaissance drone developed by Boeing. It could take off and land from a runway like a manned aircraft, and operate at high altitudes for up to 24 hours to perform aerial surveillance, communications relay, or atmospheric sampling.Charles D. Metcalf
Charles David Metcalf (born 1933) served in the United States Air Force for 36 years, retiring as a Major General. He went on to serve as the Director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force from 1996 to 2010. He is a well known civic leader in the Dayton, Ohio area.Cornfield Bomber
The "Cornfield Bomber" was the nickname given to a Convair F-106 Delta Dart, operated by the 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the United States Air Force. In 1970, during a training exercise, it made an unpiloted landing in a farmer's field in Montana, suffering only minor damage, after the pilot had ejected from the aircraft. The aircraft, recovered and repaired, was returned to service, and is currently on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.Curtiss O-52 Owl
The Curtiss O-52 "Owl" was an observation aircraft used by the United States Army Air Corps before and during World War II.Douglas O-38
The Douglas O-38 was an observation airplane used by the United States Army Air Corps.
Between 1931 and 1934, Douglas built 156 O-38s for the Air Corps, eight of which were O-38Fs. Some were still in service at the time of the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941.
The O-38 is a modernized derivative of the O-25, itself a re-engined variant of the earlier Douglas O-2.Douglas O-46
The United States Douglas O-46 was an observation aircraft used by the United States Army Air Corps and the Philippine Army Air Corps.Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster
The Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster is an American 1940s jet-powered prototype bomber. The XB-43 was a development of the XB-42, replacing the piston engines of the XB-42 with two General Electric J35 engines of 4,000 lbf (17.8 kN) thrust each. Despite being the first American jet bomber to fly, it suffered stability issues and the design did not enter production.Hanoi Taxi
Hanoi Taxi is a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter strategic airlift aircraft (serial number 66-0177) that was in service with the United States Air Force and became famous for bringing back the first returned prisoners of war in Operation Homecoming. This aircraft, which was delivered to the Air Force in 1967, was the last C-141 to be withdrawn from service after a career of almost 40 years, as the last of the fleet was retired in 2006 as sufficient C-17 Globemaster III aircraft became available in the regular Air Force to allow C-141s still serving with Air Force Reserve units to be replaced by the C-5 Galaxy aircraft being seconded from the regular Air Force. The Hanoi Taxi is currently housed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, near Dayton, Ohio.John Silver (pigeon)
John Silver was a war pigeon active with the United States Army in World War I. He served with distinction during World War I. He was knocked out of the air twice by cannon flak, but he got back up both times and completed his mission. He lost an eye and a leg, so he was given an eye patch and a wooden leg, hence the name "Long John Silver". He is also wearing the medal he was awarded.. As of 2010 the animal is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.List of NASA aircraft
This is a list of NASA aircraft. Throughout its history NASA has used several different types of aircraft on a permanent, semi-permanent, or short-term basis. These aircraft are usually surplus, but in a few cases are newly built, military aircraft.Lockheed AC-130
The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily armed, long-endurance ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules transport fixed-wing aircraft. It carries a wide array of anti-ground oriented weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems. Unlike other military fixed-wing aircraft, the AC-130 relies on visual targeting. Because its large profile and low operating altitudes (around 7,000 ft) make it an easy target, it usually flies close air support missions at night.The airframe is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, while Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support. Developed during the Vietnam War as "Project Gunship II", the AC-130 replaced the Douglas AC-47 Spooky, or "Gunship I". The sole operator is the United States Air Force, which uses the AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II variants for close air support, air interdiction, and force protection, with the AC-130J Ghostrider in development. Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities. AC-130Us are based at Hurlburt Field, Florida, while AC-130Ws are based at Cannon AFB, New Mexico; gunships can be deployed worldwide. The squadrons are part of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), a component of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).The AC-130 has an unpressurized cabin, with the weaponry mounted to fire from the port side of the fuselage. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn, flying in a large circle around the target, therefore being able to fire at it for far longer than in a conventional strafing attack. The AC-130H Spectre was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one L60 Bofors 40 mm cannon, and one 105 mm M102 howitzer; after 1994, the 20 mm cannons were removed. The upgraded AC-130U Spooky has a single 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer cannon in place of the Spectre's two 20 mm cannons, an improved fire control system, and increased ammunition capacity. The new AC-130J was based on the MC-130J Commando II special operations tanker. The AC-130W Stinger II is a modified C-130H with upgrades including a precision strike package.Memphis Belle (aircraft)
Memphis Belle is a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress used during the Second World War that inspired the making of two motion pictures: a 1944 documentary film, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and a 1990 Hollywood feature film, Memphis Belle. The aircraft was one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. In 2005, restoration began on the aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio where, from May 2018, it is on display.National Aviation Heritage Area
The National Aviation Heritage Area is a federally designated National Heritage Area consolidating more than fifteen aviation-related sites in the Dayton, Ohio area into a cooperative marketing and administrative framework. The National Heritage Area is centered on the activities of the Wright Brothers and their workshop at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, itself composed of several sites.Major features of the Heritage Area include the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Grimes Field, and the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, as well as the Wright Cycle Company, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, Hawthorn Hill and Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial units of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Other cooperating organizations include the aviation archives of Wright State University, Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, the Greene County Historical Society and local visitor centers.The National Aviation Heritage Area was authorized in 2004 and is administered by the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.North American F-107
The North American F-107 is North American Aviation's entry in a United States Air Force tactical fighter-bomber design competition of the 1950s. The F-107 was based on the F-100 Super Sabre, but included many innovations and radical design features, notably the over-fuselage air intakes. The competition was eventually won by the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, and most of the F-107 prototypes ended their lives as test aircraft. One is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force and a second at Pima Air and Space Museum.Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby
Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby , originally Shoo Shoo Baby, is a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in World War II, preserved and on public display. A B-17G-35-BO, serial number 42-32076, and manufactured by Boeing, it was named by her crew for a song of the same name made popular by The Andrews Sisters, the favorite song of its crew chief T/Sgt. Hank Cordes. Photographs of the bomber indicate that a third "Shoo" was added to the name at some point in May 1944 when the original aircraft commander completed his tour of duty and was replaced by another pilot.
The nose art on the airframe was one of some 130 pieces painted by line mechanic Tony Starcer for "The Ragged Irregulars", this one based on Alberto Vargas' "Hawaii" Esquire pin up art.The Swoose
The Swoose is a B-17D-BO Flying Fortress, USAAF Ser. No. 40-3097, that saw extensive use in the Southwest Pacific theatre of World War II and survived to become the oldest B-17 still intact. It is the only early "shark fin" B-17 known to exist, and the only surviving B-17 to have seen action in the 1941–42 Philippines Campaign, operating on the first day of the United States entry into the war.VC-137C SAM 26000
SAM 26000 was the first of two Boeing VC-137C United States Air Force aircraft specifically configured and maintained for use by the President of the United States. It used the callsign Air Force One when the President was on board, SAM 26000 otherwise.
A VC-137C with Air Force serial number 62-6000, SAM 26000 was a customized Boeing 707. It entered service in 1962 during the administration of John F. Kennedy and was replaced in Presidential service in 1972 but kept as a backup. The aircraft was finally retired in 1998 and is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.
The aircraft was built at Boeing's Renton plant at a cost of $8 million. Raymond Loewy, working with President Kennedy, designed the blue and white color scheme featuring the presidential seal that is still used today. The plane served as the primary means of transportation for three presidents: Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon during his first term. In 1972, during the Nixon administration, the plane was replaced by another 707, SAM 27000, although SAM 26000 was kept as a back-up plane until 1998.