McChord Air Museum
The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205, McChord AFB, Washington 98438
The winner of the USAF’s A-X fly off evaluation, the Fairchild- Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II was developed as a result of the Air Forces problems of providing ground support in the Vietnam. The Thunderbolt is essentially a “airplane built around a gun”, that is reference to it’s tank-busting “Avenger” Gatling gun which can fire foot long 30mm shells at a rate of 4000 rounds per minute. Along with the 30mm Gatling gun the A-10 could carry a wide variety of weapons under its wings, which gives the A-10 more flexibility than any other attack aircraft in the USAF inventory.
The Douglas B-18 Bolo was a military adaptation of the DC-2 commercial airliner to the long-range bombing role. Although totally obsolescent by the end of 1941, it was numerically the most important long-range bomber in service with the USAAC at the time of America’s entry into World War 2.
As product of pre-World War Two technology, the Douglas B-23 Dragon was the Army Air Corps first bomber with a manned tail gun emplacement, featuring a .50-caliber gun that was larger than the .30-caliber guns standard in pre war Air Corps design.
The C-124 evolved from the earlier Douglas C-74. To facilitate cargo handling, the C-124, or “Old Shakey” as it was affectionately known, featured “clamshell” loading doors and hydraulic ramps in the nose and an elevator under the aft fuselage and two overhead cranes (each with a capacity of 16,000 pounds) which could traverse the entire length of the 77 foot long cargo compartment. It was capable of handling such bulky cargo as tanks, field guns, bulldozers, and trucks. It could also be converted into a transport capable of carrying 200 fully equipped soldiers in its double-decked cabin or 127 litter patients and their attendants.
President John F. Kennedy’s first official act after his inauguration was to order the development of an all-jet transport for the nation’s military forces, the result of the act was the C-141A StarLifter. Designed by the Lockheed-Georgia Company, the C-141A was the first pure jet designed for cargo, flew its maiden flight on December 17, 1963.
In the late 1940s, the US government along with the USAF, began a massive effort to develop an effective defense of US airspace to counter a growing Soviet threat. In support of this, the USAF chose the Convair “1954 Interceptor” project as their primary aircraft for this role, and the Northrop F-89 Scorpion as an interim. After many delays in the F-89 development program, the Air Force looked at two aircraft as alternatives to the Scorpion, a modified Lockheed TF-80C which evolved into the F-94 Starfire, and highly modified all-weather interceptor version of the F-86A Sabre, the F-95A (F-86D).