National Museum of the USAF – Presidential Gallery..part I
When my family was here in December we went to the museum for a few hours in the afternoon. There was too much information to take in in all of the three hours we were there, but everyone managed to view a little bit of every room.
Before that, however, we went to view a special part of the museum. It’s called the Presidential and Research & Development Gallery. I’d not heard about it before my SIL-J asked me if I had access to the base. Turns out that this site is on base and is only accessible by a shuttle from the museum or if you a proper ID. Luckily I did. =)
And it was a GREAT find! We only had enough time to visit the Presidential Gallery so that’s what you’ll be viewing now. There will be random facts strewn in between the photos that were provided by the information boards that sit in front of the aircrafts.
Douglas C-54C Skymaster aka “Sacred Cow”
On 26 July 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 which officially established the United States Air Force as a separate service under the National Military Establishment.
It was because of the war-time security that the aircraft was restricited area. Those not allowed on or near began calling it “Sacred Cow”. The White House Press Corps overheard and started using the name in their writings. Despite the White House Press Office’s discouraging of its use, it became the common name used for the aircraft. However, it never became official. This is a view from one of the windows.
The aircraft has extensive interior modifications that made it the first purpose-built US Presidential aircraft. There is an elevator behind the passenger cabin to lift the President in his wheelchair in and out of the aircraft.
The Act set out requirements for the Air Force that “It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except otherwise assigned and, inaccordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war.”
Avro Canada VZ-9AV aka Avrocar
This was originally a Canadian effort to develop a supersonic, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter-bomber in the early 1950’s. Because of it’s circular shape, it gave the appearance of a “flying saucer” out of science fiction movies of the period. In 1952, the Canadian government dropped the project when it became too expensive.
So in 1958, the US Army and AF took over.
- US Army – wanted to use it as a subsonic, all-terrain troop transport and reconnissance craft.
- US Air Force – wanted a VTOL aircraft that could hover below enemy radar then zoom up to the supersonic speed.
After several flight tests, the Avrocar could only reach a maximum speed of 35 mph. And in December 1961, the project was cancelled.
Bendix AN/TPS-1B Search Radar
Aircraft Weighing Facility
Prior to its use for displaying Presidential Airplanes, this hanger was an aircraft maintenance facility with an aircraft weighing capability. If you can imagine, this is the bottom half of where the plane would sit. This is Mom-C.
Lockheed VC-121E Super Constellation aka Columbine III
This aircraft was developed by McDonnel Aircraft Corporation. It was going to be a “parasite” fighter to protect B-36 Bombers that could fly beyond the range of conventional escort fighters. It was envisioned as a surprise fighter to combat enemy fighter attackers. When enemy attackers were driven away, it would hook back up with the “parent” B-36.
It had no landing gear but a steel skid under fuselage and small runners on wingtips for emergency landings. Flight testing started in 1948 and ended late 1949 when aerial refueling showed greater