From a B-1 to an F-105 and a bunch…

From a B-1 to an F-105 and a bunch of fascinating aircraft in-between, have a look around this excellent air museum….

south-dakota-air-museum-11-of-35

1 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

south-dakota-air-museum-12-of-35

2 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Welcome

The B-1B Lancer was the second go at an aircraft with this general design. The first, the B-1A, was a high-altitude bomber capable of Mach 2.2; only four were built. One is at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver, which I’ve also toured.

south-dakota-air-museum-21-of-35

3 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Still in the sky

The B-variant, which still flies today, has a top speed of Mach 1.25. It has a subsonic cruising speed of Mach 0.96, or about 700 mph.

south-dakota-air-museum-10-of-35

4 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Cockpit

Inside the museum, you can see a mockup of a B-1B cockpit. 

south-dakota-air-museum-15-of-35

5 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Texas Raider

This particular B-1B was stationed in Texas for most of its life. That earned it the nickname, “Texas Raider.”

south-dakota-air-museum-13-of-35

6 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Superfortress

Taking a step back a few decades, this is the museum’s beautifully restored and maintained B-29, the “Legal Eagle II.”

south-dakota-air-museum-28-of-35

7 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Legal Eagle II

The “Legal Eagle II” was built in 1945 and stationed in the Pacific for three years. It was then converted into a KB-29M airborne tanker before being used for target practice in California. It was rescued by the museum in the mid-’80s.

south-dakota-air-museum-14-of-35

8 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Airborne command

The Boeing EC-135 functions as an airborne command center in case of nuclear attack. This particular aircraft was a tanker before it was converted to command duties.

south-dakota-air-museum-16-of-35

9 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Local B-52

This big B-52 that was stationed at Ellsworth was the first such aircraft to land at the base.

south-dakota-air-museum-17-of-35

10 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Engines and racks

This model is the D variant, which has longer range and the ability to carry a greater amount of conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) weapons.

south-dakota-air-museum-19-of-35

11 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Colors

The D variant was widely used in Vietnam, where they were commonly painted like this.

south-dakota-air-museum-40-of-35

12 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Mover

As big as it is, the B-52 isn’t slow. A cruise speed of just over 500 mph is about as fast as most modern commercial airliners. 

south-dakota-air-museum-20-of-35

13 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Tailgunner

Models before the G variant still had a tail gunner compartment, which lacked an ejection seat. G and H variants moved the tail gunner station forward with the rest of the crew. The gun was fired remotely.

south-dakota-air-museum-41-of-35

14 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Crew

B-52s of this era had a crew of six.

south-dakota-air-museum-18-of-35

15 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Skymaster

The Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport was built in the ’40s and used by the military for 30 years. This example was ordered by the Air Force, but it was given to the Navy, which flew it until 1970. 

south-dakota-air-museum-22-of-35

16 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Missiles

On the right is the surface-to-air Nike Ajax missile. On the left is a Minuteman II ICBM, of hundreds rested in silos throughout the upper Midwest and Great Plains. 

On this trip, I toured two Minuteman Launch Control Centers.

south-dakota-air-museum-24-of-35

17 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

VIP 25

This isn’t just any B-25. It’s a VB-25J and the personal transport of General Dwight Eisenhower during WWII. The weapons were removed to make room for more seating, bunks, and a table. Bulletproof fuel tanks were added, along with additional navigations and communication gear. 

south-dakota-air-museum-27-of-35

18 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Who do Voodoo?

The next entry in the Century Series fighter jets, the F-101 Voodoo, was designed as a long-range bomber escort. But it ended up serving as a nuclear weapon-capable fighter-bomber and a high-speed interceptor.

south-dakota-air-museum-26-of-35

19 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Delta wing

The F-102 Delta Dagger was an early Cold War interceptor and the Air Force’s first delta-wing fighter.

south-dakota-air-museum-35-of-35

20 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Well traveled

This example, despite only being in service for less than 10 years, was stationed everywhere from New York to Hawaii. At one point, it was flown by Gus Grissom.

south-dakota-air-museum-33-of-35

21 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Big Chief

The F-105B Thunderchief was a Mach 2-capable fighter-bomber. It first flew in 1955 and was used extensively in the Vietnam War. It could carry a greater bomb load than some of the legendary bombers of WWII including the B-17.

south-dakota-air-museum-30-of-35

22 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Aardvark

The, well, interesting looking F-111 Aardvark swing-wing aircraft filled a variety of roles throughout its 30 years of service.

south-dakota-air-museum-31-of-35

23 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

PA Corsair

The A-7 Corsair II was a light attack aircraft in service from the late ’60s to the early ’90s. This example was stationed in Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

south-dakota-air-museum-32-of-35

24 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Thunderstreak

The swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak was a significant development over the straight-winged F-84 Thunderjet which first flew shortly after WWII.

south-dakota-air-museum-34-of-35

25 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Oval intake

In addition to the swept wings and numerous other changes, the fuselage was stretched vertically to fit a larger, more powerful engine. One result of the design was an oval air intake.

south-dakota-air-museum-36-of-35

26 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Sabre

The hugely successful F-86 Sabre. Nearly 10,000 were built.

south-dakota-air-museum-23-of-35

27 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Super Sabre

The wide-mouthed F-100 Super Sabre was the first Air Force plane capable of going supersonic in level flight.

south-dakota-air-museum-37-of-35

28 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A full-service C-47

This C-47 was built in 1944. It flew for the Air Force, the Navy and the Department of Agriculture. 

south-dakota-air-museum-38-of-35

29 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A mean green machine

This is an A-26, which for a time was also known as a B-26. It’s a light bomber and ground-attack aircraft. In the nose are eight 50-caliber machine guns. Additional machine guns could be mounted in pods on the wings and on dorsal/ventral turrets.

south-dakota-air-museum-39-of-35

30 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Big winged Canberra

The B-57 Canberra was designed by British Electric, but built by Martin in the US under license. It features a wing with a relatively large chord. This the EB variant would pretend to be an enemy aircraft when training ground and aircraft crews.

south-dakota-air-museum-43-of-35

31 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Huey

One of the few helicopters at the museum, this UH-1F, aka a Huey, saw service as an air rescue vehicle during the Vietnam War.

south-dakota-air-museum-44-of-35

32 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Star trainer

south-dakota-air-museum-25-of-35

33 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Resting Titan

south-dakota-air-museum-29-of-35

34 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Cold fuel

The Titan I was notoriously difficult to maintain and slow to launch, largely due to its use of cryogenic liquid oxygen. After only three years they were replaced by the Titan II, which used more easily-storable propellants.

south-dakota-air-museum-42-of-35

35 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

B-1 and more

Live Updates for COVID-19 CASES