Monday, September 17, 2012

A quick trip to the Air Force Museum

I was in Ohio over the weekend for a wedding, and I had the opportunity to make a very quick trip to the Museum of the United States Air Force. I was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB during my enlistment, so I've been there many times, but walking among the aircraft always re-ignites my passion for aviation and my enthusiasm for the hobby. As I told a couple of my friends, I found myself walking the hangers and thinking, "Wow, I really need to build a model of that. And of that. And that one, too." Retirement can't come too soon!

It's one of the best museums of ANY kind that I've visited. The staff has done a wonderful job of combining static displays of aircraft with hundreds of smaller displays that put the aircraft within their historical context and bring the human element into the picture. It truly is a remarkable museum by any standard. Most of you have probably been to the museum as well, so I won't bore you with any kind of review of the museum, but I will share a few random thoughts that I noted while there.

The B-18 Bolo is displayed on six-feet tall pedestals, so you get a clear view up into the bomb bay. I was struck at how small the bomb bay is. That's a lot of airplane for a relatively small bomb load! Maybe I'll get that Special Hobby kit after all!

Coolest 50s era jet...the B-58 Hustler. That plane to me epitomizes the design aesthetic of the day, and my Italeri kit is now begging to be built.

Most impressive plane...the B-36 Peacemaker. I've loved that plane since I saw the classic movie Strategic Air Command! But where would I put the Monogram kit (if I had one)?

With the announcement of the Kinetic F-102, I took special interest in the F-102 Delta Dagger on display. The model should be most impressive if the racks for the Genies can be assembled extended.

Most sentimental aircraft for me...the UH-1P Huey. When I was in AFJROTC in Florida, the 56th TTW flew one of their two UH-1Ps to our little airport every year to give the cadets orientation flights. It's very likely that I flew in the very helicopter displayed in the museum.

You don't get to see a MiG-29 every day, so I was struck at how small the plane is. The Soviets may have modeled it after the F-15, but it's tiny in comparison.

Most impressive restoration...The Martin MB-2, completely scratchbuilt from Martin drawings.

Most beautiful plane in a 1930s kind of way...the Caproni CA.36. It's odd to see a foreign-made aircraft in an American museum, but the Italians sure know a thing or two about design, whether it's airplanes or cars.

I could write all day about the museum, but I thought I'd just share those few nuggets. If you find yourself in a modeling slump, invest $500 in an overnight trip to Dayton and visit the museum. In the meantime, if you're not a Friend of the museum, consider doing so. (Their magazine is really nice.)

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