Thursday, March 11, 2010

Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, GA

I recently finally got to visit the Museum of Aviation on Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. I have passed a billboard for the museum approximately 500 times and never made the time to go. Well, that was a mistake, because it is awesome. It is easily the largest air museum I've ever been to and definitely had a great deal of aircraft I had never seen before. So here we go. The place is so huge and full of stuff that I am going to split the pics into 3 or more posts.

For me, this B1-B Lancer was maybe the most impressive. I guess I hadn't realized it seeing the B1 on TV or the Internet, but it is HUGE. To imagine it going 700 miles per hour and carrying 50,000 pounds of bombs on a low level penetration raid is simply terrifying. There were several bigger planes at the museum, but no others that were bigger than I imagined them to be.

From the big to the small, here is the Bensen X-25A. Never mind that missile, it was not attached. One problem with the museum is that there are so many planes that it is difficult to get clean photos. Anyway, the X-25A was designed to be carried in the cockpit of larger aircraft so that if they were shot down, they could just unfold the little helicopter and fly away. Well, apparently they really did smoke a lot of weed in the 60's, 'cause that idea is crazy. Not only does it ignore the question in that comes to my mind upon considering the design. If your awesome fighter, helicopter, bomber or whatever got shot down, what chance would you have in a cheap bar stool with a lawnmower attached to it? And if you were say, bombing Siberia in a B-52, just how far would you be able to get on this thing? Well, maybe someone is paying attention, because the production was never funded.

Here we have a F-16A wearing the paint scheme of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's flight demonstration squadron. They have been using the F-16 since 1982 and have since moved on to the F-16C and D.

Another favorite of mine, the MiG 15. One of the first really useful jets, and one of the first to apply captured German "swept wing" technology. I was only sad that it wasn't in the "Super Commie" all red paint scheme. Oh well.

This is a Martin TM-61A Matador. It is the first operational Cruise missile in the United States inventory. Sharp tacks amongst you out there may notice its similarity to the German V-1 Buzzbomb of WWII. Unsurprisingly, this is not coincidental as we took every good idea Germany ever had in the fifties. Except those awesome beer girl dresses. Where were our priorities?

First fielded in 1953, the Matador was a leap in technology. At first the Matador was piloted via radio link with a ground station and as the system used line of sight transmission, limited the Matador's range to around 250 miles. Later a system called Shanicle (Short Range Navigation Vehicle) was adapted to the missile to give it a more modern guidance system. The Shanicle used microwave emitters to guide the Matador and extended its range to 620 miles.

It was armed with a Mark 5 Nuclear Bomb with a 40 kiloton warhead and intended for use as a tactical theater weapon. It accuracy was not great and it would have likely been fired at large targets like army bases, airfields, marshaling points, supply bases and so forth. The last Matadors were removed from active service in 1962, with a total of 1200 missiles produced. The last active squadrons were based at Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, Tainan, Taiwan, and in several locations in South Korea.

Another plane that I have read a lot about, the F-111 Aardvark. Sadly, these planes are soon to be only seen in museums and boneyards, because the Air Force stopped flying them in 1998, including the EF-111A Raven, which was a dedicated electronic warfare jet. Electronic warfare is certainly not as exciting to read about as fighters and bombers, but is absolutely essential and in my opinion, we have a gap in the inventory without it. The Royal Australian Air Force still flies the F-111, but they are due to be replaced with the F/A-18 Super Hornet very soon.

Also, this particular F-111 has what every plane needs: nose art of a sexy lady.

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