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  • Air Force Armament Museum

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    Located at Eglin AFB, the AF Armament Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia associated with Air Force Armament and its platforms of delivery. The history of aerial warfare is depicted, from WWI to the present day. We visited the facility in January 2011.

     af arm mus10 An overall view of the main display floor. That's a P-51 Mustang in the lower left. 

    Overhead is a JB-2 pulse-jet propelled bomb, developed during WWII. In the summer of 1944, about 2,500 pounds of salvaged German V-1 parts were shipped from England to the United States for analysis. The U.S. Army Air Force planned to copy the pilotless flying bomb design and use the weapon against Germany, so engineers at Wright-Patterson Field studied the V-1 components carefully. Within three weeks the plans were copied and the first American-built V-1 was finished, designated the JB-2.

    Below is an early Link flight trainer. This C-3 model was built in 1942. Interestingly, the majority of Edwin Link's sales when he first deveoped the simultor in the late 1920's was to amusement parks. After numerous crashes flying the US Mail, the Air Corps began using the trainers in 1934.

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    af arm mus05   The Ryan Firebee was one of the first jet-propelled drones, and one of the most widely-used target drones ever built. The original Firebees were built in the early 1950's; this substantially improved "second generation" Firebee went into production in 1960.
     This is a replica of the Mk-III "Fat Man"atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on 9 August 1945. 'Fat Man' weighed 10,000 lbs, was 10 feet 8 inches long and had the explosive equivalent of 20,000 tons of high explosives. "Fat Man" was detonated at an altitude of about 1,800 feet (550 m) and was dropped from a B-29 bomber Bockscar, piloted by Major Charles Sweeney of the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy.  af arm mus03
    af arm mus11   One can trace the development of air-to-air missiles at the museum. For example, here are a Falcon AIM-26B, a Sidewinder and a Falcon GAR-1D.
     On the right is a Tomahawk GLCM cruise missile, developed by the United States Air Force in the last decade of the Cold War. A cruise missile is capable of complicated aerial maneuvres, and can fly a range of predetermined flight plans. Also, it flies at much lower altitudes than a ballistic missile, typically with a terrain-hugging flight plan. It carried a nuclear warhead. First operational in 1983, GLCM's were withdrawn from service by 1991 following the ratification of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) Treaty in 1988.  af arm mus12
     af arm mus16  One entire room is devoted to a display of hundreds of rifles, automatic weapons and aircraft-mounted guns and cannons.
     A small area is set aside as a tribute to Prisoners-of-War during the various wars of the past 100 years. af arm mus07 
     af arm mus17  "Mother of All Bombs" - Developed in 2003, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) weapon is a 21,000 pounds total weight GPS-guided munition. The MOAB rests in a cradle on an airdrop platform inside a C-130 aircraft. Due to the size of the ordnance, the item is extracted from either an MC-130 Talon II or “Slick” C-130 Hercules by way of a parachute. A drogue parachute extracts the weapon, cradle and platform—and the weapon is quickly released to maintain maximum forward momentum. The grid fins then open and begin guiding the weapon to its target.
     The Mace was a tactical surface-launched missile designed to destroy ground targets. It could be launched from either a mobile trailer or a bomb-proof shelter; a booster rocket launched the Mace, and a jet engine propelled it to the target. First deployed in Europe and the Pacific Theater in 1961, they served until the early 1970's.  af arm mus21
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    Outdoors one can study dozens of static displays of a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from WWII bombers to the sleek SR-71 Blackbird.

    This is an AC-130 Specter gunship, converted in 1967 from the very first C-130 ever built back in 1954. Gunships served admirably in Vietnam as ground-attack aircraft, and even had the distinction of shooting down an enemy helicopter. This shows the two gatlin guns mounted in the front port side.

     The Russian MiG-21 is a single-engined jet fighter aircraft capable of supersonic flight. A total of 10,645 aircraft were built from 1959 to 1985. Many were sold outside the USSR and are still flying today. af arm mus19 
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    The Lockheed T-33 trainer made its first flight on 22 March 1948 with US production taking place from 1948 to 1959. It was was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 by lengthening the fuselage by slightly over three feet and adding a second seat, instrumentation and flight controls.

    I include this picture because while I was in ROTC in the mid-1960's this was the first jet-aircraft in which I got to fly.

    The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the USAF from 1954 to 1971. The Air National Guard flew the Hun until 1979. It was a major player in in Vietnam. That long tube extending from the starboard wing is a refueling probe, added some years after production.

    In the late 70's, while stationed at the 104 TFG (MA ANG) in Westfield, I had the thrill of going along in the rear seat of an F-100F on a routine 1 1/2 hour training mission over upstate New York. We flew low-level through the Adirondack Mountains playing hide-and-seek with some other F-100's and upon arrival over Fort Drum, we did some low-angle strafing and high-angle dive bombing. On the return to base, the pilot handed over the stick and had me do a roll or two. "Not bad," he said, "you only lost 3,000' of altitude!" And in case you're wondering, I did hang on to my cookies!

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