Fort Worth Aviaiton Museum Airpark Tour
This is a walking tour of the Fort Worth Aviaiton Musuem's "Petting Zoo."
The U.S. Navy began a program in the mid-1970s to develop a multirole aircraft to replace aging A-4 Skyhawks, the A-7 Corsairs, and F-4 Phantoms. General Dynamics proposed the YF-16 and Northrop the YF-17. The Navy didn’t care for the F-16 and asked McDonnell Douglas and Northrop to develop a new aircraft from the YF-17. In 1977 the Secretary of the Navy announced that the F-18 would be named “Hornet”. Northrop partnered with McDonnell Douglas and agreed to split component manufacturing with McDonnell Douglas conducting final assembly. In 1980, the aircraft began to be referred to as the F/A-18A combining the attack and fighter missions. The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. It is highly maneuverable, owing to its good thrust to weight ratio, digital fly-by-wire control system, and leading edge extensions (LEX). The LEX allow the Hornet to remain controllable at high angles of attack. Canted vertical stabilizers are another distinguishing design element. Following successful flight tests, the aircraft joined fleet units in the early 1980s.
The OV-10A is a twin-turboprop short takeoff and landing aircraft conceived by the U.S. Marine Corps and developed under a U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps tri-service program for a Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA). The North American Rockwell aircraft first flew on July 16, 1965. The first production OV-10A was ordered in 1966, and its initial flight took place in August 1967. The Bronco’s US military missions included observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, gunfire spotting, utility and limited ground attack. The USAF acquired the Bronco primarily as a forward air control (FAC) aircraft. Adding to its versatility is a rear fuselage compartment with a capacity of 3,200 pounds of cargo or five combat-equipped troops or two litter patients and a medical attendant. Another unique unit operating OV-10s was the US Navy’s Light Attack Squadron FOUR, VAL-4, “Black Ponies.” The unit was unusual in that it was ground-based. They provided fixed-wing close air support for River Patrol Boats in the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam. On July 6, 1968, the Marines first OV-10s arrived at Marble Mountain, Vietnam, and flew its first mission that day. The first Air Force OV-10s also arrived shortly thereafter. The nearly 300 aircraft were all produced at Air Force Plant Number 85 at Port Columbus Airport in Ohio. The last one was built in 1976. The Air Force retired their last OV-10 in 1991, but the Marines continued to operate theirs until July 1994. Foreign governments and other US Government agencies – Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire (CDF) – continued to operate OV-1
The Cessna Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas, built and sold a twin-engine civilian aircraft known as the Skymaster. The aircraft was unique in that it had one engine in front of the cabin, like most Cessnas, and one engine behind the cabin. The Cessna 336 first flew in 1961. In 1965, the Cessna 337 Cessna Super Skymaster was introduced. It was very similar to the 336 but had more powerful engines and retractable landing gear. The military evaluated this aircraft as a replacement to the 1940s-era Cessna L-19/0-1 Bird Dog. The aircraft began service with the US military in 1967. The aircraft were very effective as Forward Air Controllers (FACs). 178 were lost in Vietnam. Over 500 were constructed and the last was retired in 2010. The aircraft was nicknamed “Oscar Deuce” or “The Duck.”
This is one of the most prominent trainer aircraft used by the US Air Force. The T-37 is a twin-engine primary trainer used for teaching the fundamentals of jet aircraft operation and for flying on instruments, in formation and at night. Affectionately known as the “Tweety Bird,” it was the first U.S. Air Force jet designed from conception as a trainer. Its flying characteristics helped student pilots prepare to transition to the larger, faster T-38 Talon later in the pilot training program. Side-by-side seating in the T-37 made it easy for the instructor to observe and communicate with the student. The prototype first flew in 1954, and the T-37A entered USAF service in 1957. In 1959 the T-37B entered service with more powerful engines, a redesigned instrument panel, and improved radio communications and navigational equipment. In time, all A-models were modified to B-models standards. The T-37C, with provisions for armament and extra fuel, was built for export. Both T-37Bs and -Cs serve the air forces of several Allied nations. In all, nearly 1,300 T-37As, -Bs and -Cs were built before production ended in the late 1970s. In addition, nearly 600 A-37s — attack modifications of the T-37 — were built. The T-37 served as the U.S. Air Force’s primary pilot training vehicle for over 52 years after its first flight. After completing Primary in the Tweet, students moved on to other advanced trainers. The last T-37 was removed from service in July 2009 and replaced by the T-6 Texan II.
This plane flew combat in Vietnam and was aboard the “America” when 333 earned the only Marine Mig kill. McDonnell Douglas QF-4S BuPer 153821, now known as “Shamrock 201” First flown in May 1958, the Phantom originally was developed for U.S. Navy fleet defense and entered service in 1961. The USAF evaluated it (as the F-110A Spectre) for close air support, interdiction and counter-air operations, and in 1962, approved a USAF version. The USAF’s Phantom II, designated F-4C, made its first flight on May 27, 1963. Production deliveries began in November 1963. In its air-to-ground role, the F-4 can carry twice the normal bomb load of a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress. USAF F-4s also flew reconnaissance and “Wild Weasel” anti-aircraft missile suppression missions. Phantom II production ended in 1979 after over 5,000 had been built — more than 2,800 for the USAF, about 1,200 for the Navy and Marine Corps, and the rest for friendly foreign nations.
This aircraft has a distinguished history, with Air Force squadrons in the 23rd and 36th Tactical Fighter Wings and the Virginia Air National Guard. It also appears this aircraft survived the Ho Chi Minh Trail flying from Korat Royal Thailand Air Force Base in Southeast Asia. In 1951, Republic Aviation began a project to develop a supersonic tactical fighter-bomber to replace the F-84. The result was the F-105 Thunderchief, later affectionately nicknamed the “Thud.” The prototype YF-105A first flew on October 22, 1955, but the first F-105D did not fly until June 9, 1959. F-105s were produced in the single-seat B and D models, and also in two-seat F and G models. Some of the 143 F-models were modified to become electronic warfare aircraft with radar jamming and homing equipment and the missile to shoot back at SAM missile radar sites. A version with more advanced electronics became the F-105G. These latter 105s became known as “Wild Weasels” after the animal that would chase a predator into its own den. A total of 833 Thunderchiefs of all types were built, including 610 F-105Ds. The F-105 could carry over 12,000 pounds of ordnance, a heavier bomb load than a World War II B-17. Interestingly, the B-17 was only 10 feet shorter than the F-105. The F-105 could carry up to 8,000 pounds or ordnance internally in the bomb bay. The F-105s were used extensively in the Vietnam War. They cumulatively flew over 20,000 missions against North Vietnam with half the aircraft being lost. The last F-105D was withdrawn from USAF service on July 12, 1980.
This A-7B Corsair II, Bu No. 154479, was built in Grand Prairie, Texas by Chance Vought in 1968. The Vought A-7 Corsair II was developed in the early 1960s as a carrier-capable subsonic light attack aircraft intended to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The A-7 airframe was based on the successful Vought F-8 Crusader. It was one of the first combat aircraft to feature a heads-up display (HUD), an inertial navigation system (INS), and a turbofan engine. Vought Aircraft of Dallas received a contract for the first batch A-7s in 1964. The aircraft was named “Corsair II” after Vought’s famous F4U Corsair of World War II. The World War II-era fighter was actually aircraft to have the name — the first was the O2U Corsair biplane from the 1920s. The A-7 made its first flight in September 1965 with the Navy receiving its first operational aircraft in 1966. Navy Attack Squadron ONE FOUR SEVEN, VA-147, “Argonauts” was the first to operate the A-7 in 1967. By the end of the year, the aircraft was flying over Vietnam. The 35,000 Vought employees in Dallas turned out one aircraft a day for several years. The aircraft was also adopted by the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard to replace the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, North American F-100 Super Sabre, and Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Almost 1,600 aircraft were built in 15 different models. The last US A-7 was retired in 1989.
This plane was most recently used for ground training in Memphis and was seen there during 1975. Although it wore Blue Angels colors, it never served as one of the Blue Angels aircraft. The Douglas A-4 was developed as a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the propeller-driven AD or A-1 Skyraider. Once designed, the aircraft weighed only half of the Navy’s specification and it’s small wing did not have to be folded for carrier stowage. The small Skyhawk soon received nicknames like “Scooter”, “Kiddiecar”, “Bantam Bomber”, and “Tinker Toy Bomber.” Each of these was a misnomer for this powerful aircraft. The A-4 pioneered the concept of “buddy” air-to-air refueling allowing the aircraft to supply others of the same type, eliminating the need of dedicated tanker aircraft. The A-4 could also make an emergency landing on two drop tanks which put the aircraft out of service for a few hours. The first prototype first flew in 1954 and deliveries began in 1956. The aircraft had a long life and remained in production until 1979, with 2,960 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers. The A-4 was chosen for the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The A-4 was used extensively in the Vietnam War. The two-seat trainer version, the TA-4J, replaced the TF-9J Cougar until it was replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. They were retired from front line squadrons in 1978. The Marines began retiring them in the mid-1980s and were complete by 1994. The US Navy retired their last aircraft in 2003.
The two-place Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star was designed for training pilots already qualified to fly propeller-driven aircraft to fly jets. It was developed from the single-seat F-80 fighter by lengthening the fuselage about three feet Here are some photos from our restoration work on the T-33A in February: The two-place Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star was designed for training pilots already qualified to fly propeller-driven aircraft to fly jets. It was developed from the single-seat F-80 fighter by lengthening the fuselage about three feet to accommodate a second cockpit. Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight in 1948. More than 6,500 T-33s were built. In addition to its use as a trainer, the T-33 has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing, and in some countries even as a combat aircraft. The RT-33A, a reconnaissance version made primarily for use by foreign countries, had a camera installed in the nose and additional equipment in the rear cockpit. The T-33 is one of the world’s best-known aircraft, having served with the air forces of more than 20 different nations over several decades.
This Northrop F-5E Tiger II served in the US Navy as an “Aggressor” adversary aircraft. Its two-tone brown and tan desert “Tiger Stripe” camouflage with a red star on the tail and number 13 painted on the nose simulates Russian type markings. The F-5 is a supersonic fighter combining low cost, ease of maintenance, and great versatility. More than 2,000 F-5 aircraft have been procured by the USAF for use by allied nations. The F-5, which resembles the USAF Northrop T-38 trainer, is suitable for various types of ground-support and aerial intercept missions, including those which would have to be conducted from sod fields in combat areas. The F-5 first flew on July 30, 1959, and deliveries to the Tactical Air Command for instructing foreign pilots began in April 1964. Pilots from Iran and South Korea were the first to be trained in the F-5, followed by pilots from Norway, Greece, Taiwan, Spain, and other Free World nations that have adopted the F-5. A two place combat trainer version, the F-5B, first flew in February 1964. In 1966-1967, a USAF squadron of F-5s flew combat missions in Southeast Asia for operational evaluation purposes. The F-5E Tiger II was a greatly improved version of the earlier F-5A Freedom Fighter. Redesigned as a highly maneuverable, lightweight, and inexpensive air superiority fighter, the E model featured an air-to-air fire control radar system and a lead computing gunsight. More powerful J85 engines required the fuselage to be both widened and lengthened. The forward wing root was redesigned to give the “Tiger II” wing its characteristic triple delta shape. The first flight of the F-5E was on Aug. 11, 1972. The first USAF unit to receive the aircraft was the 425th TFS at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, responsible for training foreign pilots in the F-5 aircraft. The most well-known use of the “Tiger II” was as an aggressor aircraft at the USAF Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The aggressor pilots of the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron were trained in Soviet tactics and used the simulate MiG-21s for training USAF pilots in aerial combat skills. Eventually, aggressor squadrons were formed at RAF Alconbury, England, and Clark Air Base, Philippines, for training USAF pilots stationed overseas along with pilots of friendly foreign nations.
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a swing-wing tactical bomber built in Fort Worth. It was retired in 1996 from active service with the United States Air Force. The Royal Australian Air Force continued to operated the aircraft until 2011.
Perhaps the most widely recognized Navy fighter thanks to its starring role in Top Gun, the F-14 Tomcat served as an advanced interceptor and air superiority fighter, capable of attacking six enemy aircraft simultaneously at a range of over 100 miles with the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. It was a failed attempt at standardization that resulted in the design of perhaps the most famous fighter of the modern era. When a Navy version of the U.S. Air Force F-111 failed to meet exacting requirements for a carrier-based fighter, the Navy initiated a design competition for a new air superiority aircraft. The result was a design marvel featuring a unique variable-sweep wing—the F-14 Tomcat. Equipped with a weapon control system that enabled the aircraft’s crew to track 24 hostile targets at a range of 195 miles and attack six simultaneously with AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, deliveries to the Navy began in June 1972 with the deployment of operational carrier squadrons in 1975. The F-14 made a brief appearance over Vietnam, flying protective patrols for helicopters effecting the final evacuation of American personnel and foreign nationals from Saigon with no opposition from enemy fighters. The Middle East was destined to become the scene of the Tomcat’s combat initiation during encounters with Libyan fighters during the 1980s. Upgraded F-14A (plus) and F-14Ds came into service in the late1980s and early 1990s, boasting enhanced avionics and more powerful F110-GE-400 turbofans. The aircraft also proved an outstanding air-to-ground platform employing a capability present from the initial design work, but rarely employed. At peak employment, thirty Navy squadrons operated F-14s. Tomcats flew combat missions during the Gulf War and in missions over Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 until the F-14’s retirement in 2006.
The CH-53 Sea Stallion is the common name for the Sikorsky S-65 family of heavy-lift transport helicopters. These were originally developed for use by the Marine Corps as they sought a replacement for the piston-powered helicopters in 1960. In March 1962, the US Navy’s Bureau of Naval Weapons, acting on behalf of the Marines, issued a request for a Heavy Helicopter Experimental or HHX. The specifications dictated a load capability of 8,000 pounds with an operational radius of 100 nautical miles at a speed of 170 mph. The goal was for an aircraft for assault transport, aircraft recovery, personnel transport, and medical evacuation roles. Sikorsky won the contract in July 1962. The first YCH-53A prototype flew on 14 October 1964 production CH-53s began in 1966. The first CH-53A arrived in Vietnam in January 1967. A total of 141 CH-53As were built, including two prototypes. The Navy used a version of the helicopter along with the Air Force who ordered the HH-53B in September 1966. The Air Force called theirs “Jolly Green Giants.” The Marines order a more powerful version – the CH-53D – in 1969. Two of these served as Presidential, VIP transports. Versions of the CH-53 were also acquired by Germany, Iran, Israel, and Mexico. Although similar in appearances, a CH-53E Super Stallion with a third engine was introduced in 1980. In 2007, the Marines began replacing some CH-53s with MV-22B Ospreys. The plans are to replace the CH-46Es and CH-53Ds, but not their CH-53Es. A new and improved CH-53 is in the works – the CH-53K — for Navy and Marine Corps capabilities.
Welcome to the Petting Zoo!
Welcome remarks and a brief history of aviaiton in North Texas by museum Executive Director, Jim Hodgson.