Western Trips

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Aircraft of the Castle Air Museum / A Must See

Visiting the Castle Air Museum is an amazing and unique experience for young and old. Located at 5050 Santa Fe DrAtwater, California, the aircraft collection on exhibit is large and outstanding. Atwater, CA is located about thirty-one miles southeast of Modesto on CA Hwy 99 and about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco as well as about 10 miles north of Merced. 

The collection numbers nearly seventy restored aircraft exhibited on the museum's twenty acres. The museum site was obtained after the closure of Castle Air Force Base.In addition to the outdoor displays there is also an indoor museum which houses an amazing collection of wartime memorabilia including aircraft engines, military uniforms, historic photos, and personal military artifacts from the twentieth century. 

Castle Air Museum is operated by a non-profit foundation and relies on volunteers. The museum schedules events throughout the year. To see what events are currently scheduled and for museum hours, see the museum website at...http://www.castleairmuseum.org/calendar/

b-52d bomber
Nose of the B-52D

A Terrific Historic Aircraft Collection

We have traveled to several excellent air museums in the western U.S. and we can attest that this is one of the finest air museums you'll have an opportunity to experience. The collection includes historic World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Conflict aircraft.

Just to name a few of the aircraft on display at the Castle Air Museum, you'll be able to view the B-50D Superfortress...the B-52D Stratofortress...the B-25J Mitchell...the B-29A Superfortress...the B-17 Flying Fortress and the F-15 Eagle.

Highlighted below are just a few of the aircraft on exhibit at the Castle Air Museum...

b 52 stratofortress
The eight engine B-52
The B-52D Stratofortress

The B-52 was a long range sub-sonic jet powered bomber built by Boeing. This aircraft is the longest serving front line military aircraft in aviation history. The plane used four double engine pods and four twin wheel landing trucks. The B-52 could also be refueled during flight therefore making it a truly world wide range aircraft. This is a very large aircraft and requires a very long runway to operate since the engines were produced without reverse thrusters.  B-52D's would typically fly in formation much too high to be seen or heard. Each aircraft was capable of dropping over one hundred 500 lb bombs. Today, the B-52 is also used as a cruise missile carrier.

It has been said that the B-52 was the most feared aircraft by the enemy during the Vietnam War. The aircraft shown here at the Castle Air Museum is a B-52D which was the backbone of the Arc Light Fleet bombing runs during the Vietnam War. These models ere specially modified for the conventional weapons used during that conflict.

b-50 superfortress
The B-50D Superfortress 

The B-50D Superfortress was a Boeing bomber built post World War Two and was essentially a redesign of the historic B-29. The B-50 had stronger aluminum and more powerful engines than the B-29. The aircraft flew faster and was able to carry a heavier payload.

Out of all the B-50's manufactured, the B-50D was the largest variant. It is estimated that 222 B-50D's were built out of a total production number of 370. The first B-50's were ordered by the War Dept prior to the end of the war and were delivered in 1947. Production ended in 1953.

The more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines gave the B-50 a top speed of just under 400 MPH. The B-50 Superfortress was able to be refueled during flight and therefore was capable of reaching the Soviet Union.

The B-50 was among the last piston-powered bombers built during an era that would be dominated by jet aircraft. Both the B-50 and B-29 were replaced by the B-47 jet bomber.

b-17 bomber
The B-17G Flying Fortress

The B-17 was developed during the 1930's as a heavy bomber. The first prototype flew in July 1935. The four engine Flying Fortress is often referred to as the best known bomber of World War Two. The B-17 served in every zone of the war but is well remembered for it's bombing of industrial targets over Germany.

The B-17, during the course of the war, was determined to have insufficient defenses. As a result, in 1943 the aircraft was modified to include a turret on the plane's nose equipped with two machine guns. Machine guns were also added to the plane's sides. The B-17 had a cruising speed of 170 MPH and a range of about 1,850 miles. Maximum speed for this plane was 300 MPH. 

The last B-17G left the factory on July 29, 1945. A total of 12,726 B-17's were produced.

See these additional Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Pacific Coast Air Museum's First Responder

See the Helicopters of the USS Midway

Visiting the Castle Air Museum

As mentioned above, the Castle Air Museum located in Atwater, California is an outstanding air museum with one of the best collections of twentieth century military aircraft in the U.S. All types and sizes of military aircraft are on display. The variety of aircraft is unbelievable.

Anyone interested in historic military aircraft will want to visit this one of a kind air museum. If you enjoy history and airplanes, Castle Air Museum is where to go. It's a hidden gem in central California and well worth your time.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)