National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — Cold War and Beyond

We did the Cold War hangar even quicker than we did Korea and Vietnam. We had a long drive home ahead of us and still wanted to visit the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop downtown (which, it turned out, was closed).

Mark 41 Thermonuclear Bomb — Designed to be carried by B-47, B-52 and B-70 aircraft, it was to be released at high-altitude, using parachutes to retard its fall, thereby permitting the releasing plane to escape from the target area safely.


Convair B-36J Peacemaker — Intercontinental strategic bomber


Lockheed F-94C Starfire (left) — Rocket-firing interceptor

Avro CF-100 Mk IV Canuck (right) — Canadian-built fighter.

Grumman OA-12 Duck (right, above, the yellow one) — Used during WWII and afterwards for rescue missions.


Sikorsky MH-53M Pave Low IV — Used for long-range, low-level missions to insert, extract, and resupply special operations forces. This particular helicopter was assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron. Its last flight was a combat mission in Iraq on March 28, 2008


Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk (background) — The world’s first operational stealth aircraft. This was the second one built and was used for testing.


Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird — long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft. During its career, this aircraft accumulated 2,981 flying hours and flew 942 total sorties (more than any other SR-71), including 257 operational missions, from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Palmdale, Calif., Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and RAF (Base), Mildenhall, England.


Convair F-102A Delta Dagger (center) — The world’s first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor. This particular plane served the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in Iceland. On occasion, it encountered Soviet aircraft flying reconnaissance missions over the arctic

Martin RB-57D (right) — a strategic reconnaissance aircraft that could fly high enough to avoid interception.


North American F-86H (left, foreground) — fighter-bomber with its skin removed to show structure

Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter (left, background) — tanker for mid-air refueling


Martin CGM-13B Mace — Tactical surface-launched missile designed to destroy ground targets.


Boeing WB-50D Superfortress (left) — The last propeller-drive bomber

Cessna LC-126A (above, center) — Used for Arctic rescue.



North American F-86D Sabre — Rocket-firing interceptor


Northrop B-2 Spirit — Long-range stealth bomber


Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor — The world’s first stealthy air dominance fighter.


General Atomics YMQ-9 Reaper — Long-range remotely piloted aircraft used for locating and destroying time-critical and highly mobile targets.


Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavor — Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land astronauts on the moon and the only Apollo mission with an all-Air Force crew. Col. David R. Scott, Lt. Col. James B. Irwin and Maj. Alfred M. Worden flew this command module to the moon in 1971.


Douglas SM-75/PGM-17A Thor (left) — Intermediate range ballistic missile

Martin Marietta SM-68B/LGM-25C Titan II (center) — Intercontinental ballistic missile.


There were other exhibits outside the museum, but the wind chill was below zero, so we only glanced briefly at a few of them.

Replica of the 8th Air Force Control Tower used in England during WWII,


Lockheed C-141C Starlifter “Hanoi Taxi” — jet troop and cargo carrier. This particular plane airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973. The Hanoi Taxi flew two missions into Hanoi, carrying out 78 POWs and two civilian returnees to the Philippines, and four missions from the Philippines to the United States, carrying 76 ex-POWs.


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