This eFLYER was developed in HTML for viewing with Microsoft Internet Explorer while connected to the Internet: View Online.
To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add to your address book or list of approved senders.
Barnstormers Logo

ISSUE 127 - July 2010
Over 8,000 Total Ads Listed
1,000+ NEW Ads Per Week

  Home     Browse All Classifieds     eFLYERs     Events     Testimonials     Post Ad     Search Ads  
BARNSTORMERS eFLYER... a collective effort of the aviation community.
YOUR photos, videos, comments, reports, stories, and more...
Click to Subscribe
PIMA - (Phenomenally Interesting Museum of Aircraft) - Part II

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Roslin, Ontario, Canada

Last week we took a look inside one of the main 'hangars' housing an assortment of aircraft and aviation history. This week we step outside onto the desert floor and into the Arizona sun to wonder around the outdoor exhibits and other hangars.

The sleek and deadly Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat twin engine fighter, left. The Douglas B-23, though originally designed as a bomber, none of the 38 ever saw combat and, post-war, they served as airliners and VIP aircraft, right.

Outside are dozens of airplanes from jets to vintage civilian airliners, to presidential aircraft and Russian fighter jets from the Cold War era. When you walk outside it's like taking a walk back in time to an age when airplanes were designed on a drawing board by an engineer using pen and paper, ruler and protractor. Airplanes such as the Douglas B-23, Grumman Tigercat, Bristol Beaufighter and the Northrop Raider, to name but a few. They are from a time when pilots flew airplanes, not computers.

Cold War combatants, the MiG 17, left, and the MiG 21, right.

Walking through the desert sand amongst what were once enemy aircraft such as the MiG 15 (and MiG 15 UTI), the MiG 17, and the MiG 21, you get a sense of what it may have been like facing these aircraft as a fighter pilot, not knowing much about them, seeing and fighting them for the first time in the skies over enemy territory in your F-86 Sabre or F-100 Super-Sabre.

The massive looking B-36J Peacemaker with its six pusher-prop and 4 jet engines, and slightly swept back wing, that give the airplane its formidable look.

Among all the aircraft situated throughout the museum grounds, one that stands out for an assortment of reasons including its size and its design, is the B-36J Peacemaker bomber. With its height, uniquely ribbed and shaped glass cockpit & nose, and slightly swept back wings with six pusher props and four jet engines, it's an ominous sight. It even seems to dwarf the mighty B-52, of which there are 3 at the museum. However, the B-36J certainly captures and deserves the viewers attention and imagination.

The NB-52A Stratofortress, converted with an underwing attachment for carrying and launching the X-15, left. Painted X-15s along one side of the NB-52As fuselage, right.

Of the three B-52 aircraft at the museum one of the most interesting is the NB-52A Stratofortress. One of the oldest B-52s ever built, this is one of two B-52 aircraft modified to carry the X-15 rocket-powered aircraft. Under the right wing is the pylon that carried the X-15 and along the right side of the fuselage you can see numerous small painted X-15 aircraft assumingly representing the number of times the NB-52 carried and/or launched the X-15.

The British designed and built AEW Mk III Fairey Gannet with it's unusual two-4-bladed counter-rotating propellers and the huge under-belly radar dome, left. The big Douglas EA-1F Skyraider, first built in 1945, flew as late as 1979, right.

Though a vast number of the over 300 aircraft at the museum are U.S. designed and built, there are a number of foreign built aircraft as well. One of the most unusual of these aircraft is the British designed and built Fairey Gannet. A large single engine aircraft with two-4 bladed, counter rotating propellers. The airplane was designed as an early warning aircraft and used for fleet defence. Slung under the belly of the airplane is the large radar dome giving it roughly 200 miles of coverage from the aircraft.

The V-1 rocket, launched against England in 1944 killing more than 8,000 people.

In 1942 the Germans developed the first of its "wonder weapons," the Fieseler Fi103-A1 (V-1) Hoellunhund rocket, the world's first 'cruise missile.' Problems with the rocket delayed its use until 1944 when it was first fired on London. Close to 6000 of these V-1's landed on England with the loss of over 8,000 people. The museums example was capture by the First Canadian Army during the summer of 1944 in France. It was shipped to Canada for study and then stored for years until it was sold to a private museum, eventually finding its way to the Pima Air & Space Museum in 2005.

The last of the military tri-motor aircraft, the Northrop Raide
was not the most attractive of aircraft ever built.

Probably the ugliest airplane in the museums collection is the Northrop YC-25A Raider transport aircraft. This large, bulky 3 engine aircraft was designed to fly from short, rough fields. However, before the airplane went into production, the role it was intended for was being done by helicopters and other aircraft. The last of the military tri-motor aircraft was relegated to a non-flying training role with the military and were eventually sold off, many finding homes in Latin America as airliners. The museums example is one of only two still known to exist out of the 23 that were built.

The first of the Super Guppy aircraft, this hulking great
airplane was big... everywhere.. from nose to tail.

The oddest aircraft in the outdoor exhibit is probably the rotund 377 Super Guppy, an aircraft used to carry huge cargo such as the Saturn rocket used in the Apollo program. This behemoth of an airplane, created using the fuselage sections from a Pan Am Airways airliner aircraft and the forward fuselage, engines and wings from a U.S. Air Force experimental turbo-prop YC-97J aircraft, flew until 1991 when it was replaced by a newer version of the aircraft.

The big four engine KC-97G Stratofreighter, left
and the long-range heavy lift C-124 Globemaster II, right.

The U.S. Air Force has utilized many different transport aircraft throughout its history and several are represented at the museum. As you walk around and underneath these aircraft your taken by their size and their seemingly, almost non-aerodynamic designs. Airplanes such as the KC-97G Stratotfreighter, C-124 Globemaster, C-133 Cargomaster, and the............... have massive fuselages allowing them to perform the task of transport and cargo carrier, but they are far from being efficient at flight despite performing their designated jobs effectively.

The Lockheed Constellation used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, left.
The Electronic Warfare version of the "Connie" used by the USAF, right.

There are also three Lockheed Constellation aircraft dotting the outdoor exhibit. One 'Connie,' as they were affectionately known, was used by the Air Force as a VIP aircraft for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower from December 1950 - 1952. This C-121A (Constellation) was named "Columbine 1" and was one of three Columbines to be delivered to the U. S. Air Force in February of 1949.

The nose of the TWA Constellation, the airline that the "Connie" was originally designed for, left. You can see the two huge electronic warfare pods, top and bottom of the fuselage, used by this EC-121T version of the Constellation, right.

The Constellation was originally designed for TWA (Trans World Airlines) but impressed the military so much that they were snapped up by the Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war they were returned to airline service around the world. The museums 3 different 'Connies' include one from TWA, another designated the EC-121T (Electronic Warfare version) and the previously mentioned VIP C-121A "Columbine 1."

The B-29 Superfortress, "Sentimental Journey," proudly displayed in Hangar 4.

Inside another newly built 'hangar' is a B-29 Superfortress named "Sentimental Journey." This beautifully restored aircraft sits on pillars so patrons can walk underneath, allowing for a superb view of the underside of the airplane and up inside the bomb-bay doors. When you look up, through the doors, you can see a cylindrical tube running through the aircraft. This was a pressurized passageway that allowed crew members to traverse the length of the airplane without the need of oxygen bottles and masks. With the aircraft being pressurized, and heated, it also meant flight crews no longer needed to wear the bulky flying gear in order to keep warm.

The mid-engine Bell P-63 King Cobra with a laminar flow wing similar to that of the P-51s, left. The Nakajima Ki-43-IIb Hayabusa (Peregrine Falco) fighter aircraft of the Japanese Navy, right.

Other historic aircraft in Hangar 4 include an F4U Corsair, a TBM Avenger, C-46 Cargo aircraft, the recovered fuselage of a Grumman Wildca (retrieved from the bottom of Lake Michigan) and the Bell P-63E King Cobra, one of the most unusual fighter aircraft produced. The engine of the P-63 is housed in the fuselage behind the pilot with the propeller shaft running through the lower part of the cockpit, under the pilot's seat, and up to the nose and propeller of the airplane. Just behind the B-29 is a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43-IIb Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon), known by the Allied code name "Oscar." Rounding out the collection are a Corsair, a Curtis C-46D and the fuselage of a Grumman Wildcat rescued from the depths of Lake Michigan.

The only stainless steel, all welded & no rivets aircraft built, the Budd RB-1 Conestoga, left. A nose view of the big B-36J Peacemaker, right.

These are but a few of the hundreds of historic airplanes, covering more than 100 years of aviation, found at Pima. You can spend a day at the museum and not really have the opportunity to see everything but don't go expecting to walk around for a few hours because it's just not enough time to truly appreciate what's there. If you have the opportunity to visit Tucson, Arizona, then the Pima Air & Space Museum is well worth the trip however much time you dedicate to its aircraft and the history thereof. Learn about the designers and engineers behind some of the airplanes and how they came to be. From barnstormer to jet fighter, take a walk with the ghosts of the pilots who once flew these famous, strange, beautiful and extraordinary aircraft. Pima - a place where winged history takes flight.

For more information about the Pima Air & Space Museum:

The huge Convair B-58A Hustler was the world's first supersonic bomber and the first to reach speeds of Mach 2, left. The first all-jet bomber ever produced, the Boeing B-47 (EB-47E) Stratojet, right.

Sitting quietly between hangars, this beautifully created bench is home to one of the most famous aviation poems ever written, High Flight, by RCAF Spitfire pilot, John Gillespie Magee Jr. See the next photo which should allow you to read High Flight.

Bench top - High Flight poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr.
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

Return to eFLYER

Visit - post an ad to be viewed by over 700,000 visitors per month.
Over 14 years bringing more online buyers and sellers together than any other aviation marketplace.
Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved.
UNSUBSCRIBE INSTRUCTIONS: If you no longer wish to receive this eFLYER, unsubscribe here or mail a written request to the attention of: eFLYER Editor BARNSTORMERS, INC. 312 West Fourth Street, Carson City, NV 89703. NOTE: If you registered for one or more hangar accounts on, you must opt out of all of them so the eFLYER mailings will be fully discontinued.