Warner Robins, GA – This post is a continuation of photos that I took on a recent trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB; the first three posts concentrated on new additions to the museum, some of their World War II and Korean War displays, and some of their Vietnam era displays. This post features some of the museum’s Cold Warriors, aircraft that served during the long Cold War period. Some of the aircraft served so long that they could have, such as the B-52 featured in this post, fit easily into this post, the Vietnam post, or an upcoming post on more modern era aircraft at the museum; instead of including them in multiple posts, I’ve just included them where I think they’re most appropriate.
The TM-61A Matador was the United States’ first surface to surface cruise missile to go into operation. Capable of carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead, it operated much like Germany’s V-1 but was radio controlled to allow guidance during flight and flew on a jet engine after a rocket powered takeoff. The museum’s TM-61A (52-1891) was delivered in May 1954 and served with the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing and 69th Tactical Missile Squadron at Hahn AB, Germany. Retired from service in June 1959 and returned to the U.S. in 1965, it was acquired by the museum in 1983. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (ALC) was responsible for TM-61 service and support.
The MGM-13A Mace is a follow on to the TM-61A Matador above. It used a turbojet for powered flight after a rocket assisted launch. Unlike the Matador, however, the Mace was not remote controlled, it had a terrain matching radar guidance system. This example, 58-1465, was delivered in February 1960 and was assigned to the Lowery Technical Training Center at Lowery AFB, CO until it was retired in 1962. It went on display in a Warner Robins park in 1967 and was acquired by the museum in 1984. Like many of the aircraft on display at the Museum of Aviation, the Warner Robins ALC was responsible for MGM-13 service and suppport.
The B-52 Stratofortress is a long serving, long range United States Air Force Bomber. The type has been serving for over 60 years (since 1952) and is expected to continue serving the country until the 2040s! During the B-52’s career, it has seen service in a number of wars including the long Cold War with the Soviet Union as both a conventional bomber and a strategic nuclear bomber; in its strategic nuclear role, it could easily be seen as a symbol of the Cold War. The museum’s example, B-52D 55-0085, served with 99th Bomb Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam, flying bombing missions over Vietnam in 1968 and 1972-1973 and with the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB, TX before being retired in 1983 and flown to the museum for display. B-52s were not serviced by the Robins ALC, but the type has a connection to Georgia and Robins AFB; before flying the KC-135 the 19th Air Refueling Group based at Robins AFB (now the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB, AR) was the 19th Bomb Wing and was equipped with B-52s from 1961-1983.
The B-66 Destroyer was a US Air Force derivative of the US Navy’s A3D Skywarrior (for a photo of a Navy version, see my post of aircraft from the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point in Charleston). While the B-66 was the Air Force’s last tactical bomber, other versions of it served in reconnaissance roles; the museum’s example is a WB-66D (55-0392), which was an electronic weather reconnaissance aircraft. It served with the 363rd Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw AFB from 1957 to 1965 and was acquired by the museum in 1985. The Robins ALC was responsible for service and support for the B-66 and its various versions.
The C-97 Stratorfreighter was a cargo version of the B-29 Superfortress. In 1950, the KC-97 version was introduced with the “flying boom” refueling probe. After the KC-135 was introduced in 1956, most KC-97s were replaced by the KC-135 but some were converted into KC-97Ls for the Air National Guard, like the museum’s example, 52-0298. A jet engine was added to make the aircraft more compatible with the jet aircraft it was tasked to support. 53-0298 was delivered in January 1956 and was retired from service in 1977. It was acquired by the museum in 1986. The KC-97’s connection to Georgia and Robins AFB is that some were assigned to the 19th Bomb Wing at Robins AFB during the 1950s and 1960s to support the Wing’s B-52 bombers.
The EC-121 was a radar version of the C-121 Constellation and the predecessor of aircraft like today’s E-3 Sentry and E-2 Hawkeye Early Warning Aircraft. Although painted in US Air Force markings, the museum’s aircraft is actually an US Navy EC-121K (141297). 141297 was retired from Navy service in 1979 and acquired by the museum in 1987. The Robins ALC was responsible for service on the EC-121’s electronic systems and propellers.
Along with the C-74 Globemaster, which it evolved from, the C-124 Globemaster II is the namesake of the US Air Force’s current mobility workhorse, the C-17 Globmaster III. Much like today’s C-17, the C-124 was a versatile aircraft capable of transporting cargo, rolling stock, and passengers and provided airlift and resupply throughout the world for the US Air Force. The Museum of Aviation’s example, C-124C 51-0089 was delivered in February 1952 and served with west coast units until it was retired in 1971. The C-124 has multiple connections with Georgia. First, and specific to Robins AFB, the Robins AFB ALC was responsible for the C-124, as it is for the current C-17. Second, the 165th Tactical Airlift Group (now the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, GA) was the last unit to retire their C-124s in 1974.
The F-102 Delta Dagger was the first supersonic all weather interceptor and the US Air Force’s first operational delta wing aircraft. Designed to defend the country against Soviet bombers, over 1000 were built and it helped form the core of the US Air Force air defense system in the late 1950s. The museum’s example, F-102A 56-1151, was delivered in May 1957 and served with the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Langley AFB, VA the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Andrews AFB, MD, and the 4756th Air Defense Group at Tyndall AFB, FL. It became an instructional airframe in 1970 before going on static display at Lackland AFB, TX in 1972. It remained on static display at Lackland until it was acquired by the museum in 2009. The Robins AFB ALC was responsible for avionics, fire control systems, and countermeasures systems on the F-102 as well as the missiles it used.
If you think the F-106 Delta Dart looks similar to the F-102 Delta Dagger, you’re right – it does. The F-106 is an improvement on and development of the F-102 with structural and design changes in addition to a more powerful engine. The museums example, F-106A 59-0123, was delivered in September 1960 and served with the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at McChord AFB, WA and the 48th Fighter Intercepter Squadron at Langley AFB, VA. It was retired in 1982 and acquired by the museum in 1992. The Robins AFB ALC supported the F-106’s communications, fire control, and missile systems.
The F-111 Aardvark was a swing wing strike aircraft that served from 1967 to 1998 (in EF-111 form). It was the product of an attempted joint aircraft program to provide the US Air Force with a strike fighter and the US Navy with an interceptor. The Navy ended up abandoning the program, but the Air Force continued on with the program as a long range low level strike aircraft. F-111s saw combat in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, over Libya in the 1980s, and in the Middle East in the 1990s. For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the F-111 and the way it looks; while it’s a long aircraft it has a very small frontal profile. The museum’s example, F-111E 68-0055, was delivered in November 1970 and served with the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon AFB, NM and the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford in Great Britain. Retired in 1993, it was flown to Robins AFB and was put on display at the museum in 1995. The Robins AFB ALC was responsible for avionics, communications, navigation, and targeting systems on the F-111.
The photos below were taken on a previous trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, but the aircraft fit so well into the Cold War theme of this post that since I didn’t take any photos of them on this trip, I couldn’t leave them out of the post. Both the U-2 and SR-71 are symbols of the Cold War and the Museum of Aviation has an example of each displayed along with an example of a modern reconnaissance aircraft, the RQ-4A Global Hawk. The U-2 “Dragon Lady” was introduced in 1957 and serves to this day in a variety of reconnaissance/intelligence roles. The museum’s example is an U-2D 56-6682; its history is unknown, but it was assigned to NASA at Moffet Field, CA before its retirement where it was used to break 16 altitude and time to climb records on 18 April 1989. It was retired and flown to the museum later in the year. The Robins AFB ALC is responsible for supportin the U-2. The SR-71 was a long range, high altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft used by the US Air Force; it was designed to fly higher than and faster than anti aircraft missile systems. During its career, the SR-71 was the undisputed fastest and highest flying aircraft. The museum’s example, SR-71A 61-7958 was delivered in 1965; like the museum’s U-2 little is known about its service record but it is known to have operated out of Kadena AFB, Japan and set a speed record in 1976. It was retired from service in and flown to Robins AFB for display at the museum on 23 February 1990.