Fly the Evergreen Skies
By Dwip August 19, 2015, 1:50 am Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

As it turns out, and really who knew, Oregon has a pretty world class air and space museum, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, all of an hour north of Corvallis. Ever since I got back to Oregon in 2011, I’d really wanted to check the place out, because planes are super cool.

Which is why I finally got around to it a month before leaving for the Army. I’d say I was procrastinating, but it’s not like I wasn’t going elsewhere.

Anyway, I finally got around to going, and I’m going to show you a small part. Yes, small. I took over 350 pictures. There’s a lot there.

Also, warning. There’s like 70 images in this post. I said I cut down, but still.

For people from the future, this was written in March 2016 and backdated to when I actually went to the museum.

This is the main attraction, the Spruce Goose of Howard Hughes fame. It’s famous for being the largest flying boat ever built. I’ve been in some pretty big aircraft (hi, C-5 Galaxy), and this thing is just as mammoth as any of them. As you’ll see, it absolutely dwarfs the gargantuan hanger that makes up this half of the museum.

See those airplanes scattered around like toys under the wing? Yeah, get used to that, because you’re going to see a lot of it.

Also, as you can see by the tiny people and the platform, you can go inside. I did. There are no pictures. It wasn’t as exciting as you’d hope.

This is a Douglas DC-3, a 1930s airliner perhaps more famous as the ubiquitous C-47 Skytrain of World War 2. Besides bringing sexy back to the 1930s, Wikipedia tells me there are still quite a few flying daily service. That’s pretty neat.

It’s not often you look at a bunch of rivets and say “That’s got style”, but…that’s got some style.

That’s a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress there, with a Yakolev Yak-50 above.

The B-17 and P-51 are, of course, the most famous bomber and fighter of World War II respectively, the team responsible for bombing the hell out of Germany. This B-17, we are told, also had a role opposite James Bond in Thunderball:

Although the Yak-50 looks like it’s a World War II fighter, it turns out it’s actually an acrobatics plane from the 70s. Looks pretty awesome though. Say what you will about the Soviets, that’s a great paint scheme.

This is the radio compartment of the B-17, looking through the bomb bay into the cockpit.

And, look. This is pretty cramped. I’m 5’11”, and I can’t stand upright in this thing. That doorway there is pretty cramped for me, and I’m a thin guy. Forget trying to squeeze in there in the heavy flying gear they used to wear.

Also: those are control cables in each top corner.

These are the waist guns of same B-17. Again, it’s super cramped in here. I was watching Memphis Belle later, and I had to laugh at how much they enlarged the sets for the movie. Not that I blame them – I could barely fit my camera in here, you know?

And this is the tail gunner’s station. So very cramped. And that hard wooden bicycle seat looks highly uncomfortable for a day of flying through flak and fighters in the freezing cold.

Of note, the museum actually has old retired guys running tours of this thing. I probably knew about as much as they told me, but it’s still really cool to hear these guys talk.

I’m not actually sure if this is a real Focke-Wulf Fw 190 or a replica, but either way, it’s cool to be looking at one of the best German fighters of World War II.

Yeah, that spiral on the prop is pretty sweet. Say what you will about the Nazis, they certainly had an eye for looking cool.

Why am I always saying that about evil dictatorships? Democracy, we’ve got to get it together here.

This is a replica of a Messerschmitt Me 262, the best of the handful of jet fighters that saw action in World War II.

I’ve showed you pictures of a real Me 262 before, but this is an overall better picture, so here we are.

I showed you all of that so that I could show you this picture of all those airplanes being utterly dwarfed by the Spruce Goose. The Yak-50 looks positively Lilliputian.

…yes, I really wanted to use Lilliputian in a sentence.

Continuing on our tour of the many, many aircraft of World War II, here’s a Supermarine Spitfire, the classic British fighter of the war.

Gotta admit, between the Fw 190 and the Spitfire, I really want to play some Their Finest Hour now. Late 80s and early 90s flight sims were amazing.

And here we have a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, originator of the whole shark mouth motif, sporting the colors of the Flying Tigers of China fame.

Did I ever mention I read a whole lot of books about WW2 when I was a kid? And that things like this are super exciting to me?

Now you know. And knowing’s half the battle.


This is a Vought F4U Corsair, one of the main carrier-based fighters from the war in the Pacific and all around badass airplane. This one was actually built by Goodyear, because one of the great things about World War II is that people you’d never think as manufacturing planes showed up to manufacture some planes. Goodyear actually manufactured quite a lot of planes, as it turns out.

I didn’t really check who made the tires.

And here’s the front end, showing off the distinctive gull wings of the Corsair. Please read that in a nature documentary voice. Also, did I mention I find this stuff super cool? Because I do.

This is a North American FJ-3 Fury, the naval version of the F-86 Sabre that won the air war in Korea in the 50s. Yes, I’m pretty sure you could fit that entire aircraft inside the wing of the Spruce Goose.

Which is kind of ridiculous, really.

And the business end of the Fury. Early jet intakes are fun like this. Also, if anything EVER needed that shark mouth thing, it’s this.

Hey, remember our old friend the DC-3? There it is peeking under the tail of the Spruce Goose. Which, in case you’ve forgotten, is very large.

Next on our tour of 1950s jet fighters looking small next to the Spruce Goose is this Republic F-84 Thunderstreak, which is probably also a comic book character, because hey it’s the 50s. It will later go on to have a recon model called the Thunderflash, which also is almost certainly a comic book character.

Mainly, I just want to note that unpainted aluminum and yellow is a cool paint scheme.

It would be a whole lot easier to stop calling every single airplane super cool if they weren’t, you know, super cool. Just saying.

That said, this cockpit is not super cool. This cockpit is super cramped and super complicated and makes me not ever want to be a pilot ever. I’d be completely terrified of bumping something and accidentally blowing myself up.

Moving outside past literally 20 aircraft or more I didn’t show you, this is a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, the olive drab brother of that sexy, sexy DC-3 inside. Unlike some other museum aircraft, this one earned those black and white invasion stripes fair and square. Remember that bit from Band of Brothers where they all jump out in the dark over Normandy and everything’s all FUBAR? Yeah, that’s this guy.

This little guy, on the other hand, is a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot, which has the distinction of being the jet fighter that gave us a very rude awakening over the skies of Korea before we ironed out the (many, many) kinks in the F-86 Sabre.

This is actually a Chinese-made MiG-15UTI trainer. I cannot for the life of me figure out which air force it belongs to. These things matter to me.

Out back of the main building is this little tank hill full of ex-Soviet armored vehicles. Why are they here, I have no idea, but based on various other things, I’m guessing somebody at the museum got a really good deal on a bunch of East German stuff.

This guy is a T-34-85, the upgunned version of the best Soviet tank of World War II and one of the best tanks of all time.

Not a plane, though.

This, as it turns out, is a former East German PzSH-IV armored car. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was – it kind of looks like a BRDM-2 but isn’t. I’ve probably seen the Wikipedia pages for most Warsaw Pact armored vehicles at this point.

So, an unrelated story here – I had a set of NATO aircraft and armored vehicle identification cards as a kid. I spent a lot of time with them.

I’m not sure why that might be relevant.

This is the inside. It’s just a touch bit corroded and smelled funky in the heat. I ducked back out quickly before I caught too much cancer.

This is a T-55, a Soviet tank that came out in, as it turns out, 1947. They made lots and lots of them, and wouldn’t you know it, East Germany had a bunch.

I’m going somewhere with that.

Blocking of our view of the T-34 in the background is a PT-76, a Soviet tank whose chief claim to fame is being amphibious. And being operated by East Germany, of course.

If you played enough Battlefield: Vietnam, you’ll of course recognize both the T-55 and PT-76. Alas there is no BTR-60.

Back to planes, but still on the BFV kick – this is a Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II, which you should recognize from that game. And from the many, many close air support missions it flew over Vietnam, obviously.

This is a Convair F-106 Delta Dart supersonic interceptor, back when actually intercepting bombers was a real thing in the 60s.

Also, it looks really cool from the front.

As we all know from Top Gun, this is the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, specifically the 1990s F-14D model. A bit too young for the movie, but a little safer for Goose.

Wait. Wait. I…I have something for this.

And here we have a bit of Naval aviation humor citing the superiority of the F-14 over the F/A-18 Hornet. The irony here is that VF-31, whose Tomcat this is, is now VFA-31, a Super Hornet squadron.

And the front end. For such a huge airplane (you can’t tell, but this thing is enormous compared to the 1950s fighters we’ve previously been looking at), it’s surprisingly nimble-looking from this angle.

Of roughly the same era, here we have a MiG-29 Fulcrum, prominent Soviet air superiority fighter of the 1980s, and one of the coolest looking ones.

Also, as someone who actually remembers the Soviet Union, part of me is always a little astonished when I see their gear sitting around in museums. Like, remember when it was all hella super secret? Yeah.

Here’s a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk painted up as John McCain’s aircraft from Vietnam. Who, incidentally, will have a pretty exciting 1967 in one of those a few months before getting shot down in another one.

Yeah, I took a lot of front view pictures this time around. Sue me.

This is decidedly not a large airplane, by the by.

This crazy looking thing is a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat. During World War II, they did anti-submarine patrols all over the place, were ubiquitous in the Pacific, and famously found the Japanese fleet before the battle at Midway that turned the whole war around.

It’s also sort of gracefully ugly. A plane with character.

Truly, a face to be loved.

So, back when I was a kid I used to have a VHS box of this series called Wings. Among others, they had a really good episode on the Republic F-105 Thunderchief: ie, that thing sitting right there.

This episode. God I love YouTube:

The point here is that ever since watching that, I’ve always really liked the F-105. And here one is! Yay!

Big fan of the camouflage they used in Vietnam, too. If I’m not mistaken, the SAM markings below the cockpit make this an F-105G Wild Weasal, whose main job was taking out SAM sites. Before that, F-105s had a fairly exciting career dropping bombs on North Vietnam.

And dramatic-looking tail shots.

This is the front end of a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a plane that’s big enough I couldn’t take a good picture of the side. You’ll notice how much bigger it is than the guy and the sweet cars in the background.

My point here is that somewhere there’s probably a sweet diagram of how much bigger fighter aircraft got between, say, 1945 and 1975. Having toured the evidence extensively, I assure you that the difference is quite a lot.

Speaking of the sweet cars, that’s a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with a 1991 Chevy Corvette behind. They both belonged to Captain Michael King Smith, whose family owns the museum and whose name is all over everything there. He also died in a car accident in 1995, which I think explains and is explained by a lot of these things.

This is a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk recon drone. Note that there’s a lot of stuff in this hanger – drones, planes, satellites, a few missiles and rockets of various sorts, the odd lunar lander, and a bunch of helicopters. More on those in time.

It wouldn’t be a complete assortment of rockets and such without a V-2, the granddaddy of pretty much every other rocket in the modern world.

The yellow thing to the left is a Loon flying bomb, the US copy of the more infamous V-1 flying bomb.

Getting back on track with the “somebody got a good deal on stuff from East Germany” thing, I don’t know why there’s a random fragment of Berlin Wall in here, but that’s what this appears to be.

This is all the stuff from a Titan II launch center. It’s pretty spiffy – there’s an interactive movie that plays and lights up various parts of the system as they walk you through a launch.

And here we are looking up the side of a Titan II of the sort they used to dump things in space. Very tall and dramatic and stuff.

We’ll be talking about Titans more in future installments.

This is a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King and a replica Apollo command module. That one was actually in Apollo 13. The Sea King did about 40 years of work for the Navy doing all sorts of things – this one is a search and rescue model.

For some reason I was completely unaware that the Soviets put two unmanned rovers on the Moon in the 1970s as part of the Lunokhod program. This is a replica of one of them.

This is a small ring section from a Saturn V rocket. This is the one that put man on the Moon. The main thing about it is how dramatically larger it is than anything else – about three times the size of that Titan II we saw earlier, six times that of the V-2. Thing’s massive.

But not the most massive thing. This is an Aerojet M-1 engine. It never actually made it to production, but it’s way bigger than the Saturn V’s engine – that cone is taller than I am by a fair bit.

Moving back to planes again, here we have a MiG-21 Fishbed, a Soviet jet fighter of the mid-1950s that was so good, it became the most produced jet in history and is still going strong around the world.

This one is painted up as a Constant Peg aircraft, part of the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron of the USAF who flew various purloined Soviet aircraft against US pilots during the late 70s and 80s. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.

Getting back to the East German stuff again (the MiG-21 up there is Polish), this is a MiG-23 Flogger, which served as a Soviet fighter during the 1960s through the breakup of the Soviet Union. Apparently a huge pain in the ass to fly, but swing wing fighters are cool.

And a closeup of the nose.

This cute little guy is a Grumman OV-1 Mohawk observation plane. They got used a lot during Vietnam to look for stuff on the Ho Chi Minh trail thanks to the sophisticated sensors they carried.

I’m excited about this thing, not only because it’s so ugly it’s cute, but because I used to have a friend who flew in them during the war. He had some pretty interesting stories to tell.

Closeup of the nose. Again, it’s so ugly it’s sort of adorable.

Also of note about the Mohawk is that it’s one of the very few fixed wing aircraft the Army got to fly – come to find out the Air Force is incredibly guarded about letting the Army have anything that flies, including the Mohawk.

And now for the stealthy part of today’s excursion. You can tell it’s stealth, because everything’s painted black. And maybe also because of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird parked there, with a Lockheed GTD-21 drone parked next to it and a Ryan AQM-34N Firebee drone, all of which were used for reconnaissance, some more famously than others. While the first two are purpose-built stealth aircraft, the Firebee is actually far more famous as a target drone. I usually see them painted orange.

This is a test mockup of a North American X-15 rocket plane, which among other things went Mach 6+ and took people right up to the edge of space in the early 60s.

Just for kicks, here’s the cockpit of the SR-71.

And one of the engines.

This, of course, is a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, probably the most famous jet fighter of the 1960s, flown by three services and tons of other countries, etc, etc. It’s one of my favorite aircraft.

…yeah, there was a Wings episode on this one, too, why do you ask?

Switching gears entirely, this is a Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw, one of those early 1950s helicopters that tried so very very hard to make piston engines work before turbines showed up and changed everything.

Speaking of trying to make it work, that thing in the front is a Hiller Rotorcycle. Yes, the idea is to put a guy in that tiny little seat there, who controls the contraption by means of that lever there.

I am assured by our engineers that there are no possible downsides to this plan in the least.

This yellow banana thing here, however, is a Sikorsky HO3S, which among other interesting tidbits was flying around by the end of World War II, which is much earlier than I had remembered helicopters really being a prominent thing, let alone in bright yellow.

This thing sure is the future of the 1940s, by the by.

Last but not least on our tour is this CH-37 Mojave heavy transport helicopter. And it earns that heavy designation. Sucker’s like two stories tall. At one point it was the largest helicopter in the world.

Again, I was completely unaware that we had huge, piston engined helicopters flying about in the 1950s. This is why we go to museums, kids. To learn cool new stuff.

Enormous CH-37 wishes you safe travels in your long and arduous journey home from this blog entry. Fly safe, everybody.

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