..
 

Castle Air Museum, CA

 
 

"Pride in the past, faith in the future"

 
..

Text:

Andreas Herzog

Pictures:

Andreas Herzog

Google Maps Position
..

In August 1996 my family and I visit the west coast states of USA, starting in California, moving to Nevada and from there on to Arizona and back to California again. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Phoenix and Sacramento where fix planed on our route.
Among these amazing cities we enjoyed it to visit several of these great national parks and of course place like Death Valley, Lake Mono, Giant sequoias and the world’s famous Grand Canyon.

Beside of all this great places, the west coast is also a paradise for aviation enthusiasts like me. So, I start to plan to visit some of the air bases as well as some museums. But the problem was that there were so many of them! Finally I choose to visit the air and space museum in San Diego and, if we got time, also Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, California.

From my opinion I just can recommend it to anyone as you will see later on in this article.

..

 

Bomber

Douglas B-18 Bolo a Bomber with the wing of an DC-2 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Douglas B-18 Bolo  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Douglas B-23 Dragon (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Douglas B-23 Dragon (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)  
..

..

..

North American B-25J Mitchell  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) North American B-25J Mitchell  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) North American B-25J Mitchell  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Douglas A-26B Invader  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Boeing B-29A Superfortress The aircraft on display at Castle Air Museum is made of parts of three B-29s recovered from the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake: B-29-75-BW 44-70064 ; B-29A-35-BN 44-61535  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
 
  Boeing WB-50D Superfortress  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) North American B-45A Tornado 47-0008 first operational jet bomber of the USAF. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)  
..

..

..

North American B-45A Tornado 47-0008. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Convair RB-36H Peacemaker 51-13730. The B-36 was the world's first bomber with an unrefueled intercontinental range. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

Convair RB-36H Peacemaker 51-13730. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Boeing B-47E Stratojet, 52-0166 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Boeing B-47E Stratojet, 52-0166 (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader)
 
  Boeing B-47E Stratojet,  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Martin EB-57E Canberra 55-4253 in the markings of 17  DSES (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Insigna of the SAC Strategic Air Command. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) AGM-28 Hound Dog 62-0003 under the wing of the B-52D (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

Boeing B-52D Stratofortress 56-0612 The B-52D served on active duty from 1957 until 1982 The BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow was also used in the Vietnam War. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) General Dynamics FB-111A 69-6507  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)

XM605 was built in 1963, and was delivered to the RAF 9th Squadron on 30, December 1963. On 16th February 1968, XM605 was assigned to the RAF's 44th Squadron at Waddington, Lincolnshire, England. XM605 flew its last sortie on Thursday, 20th of August 1981.

  ..

..

..

Avro Vulcan B.2 XM605  from the RAF (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)   Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-74 N414H, not part of the Museum. The tinn-goose was first flown on 4th September 1929. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)

History

From 1941 till 1995 Castle AFB was an important Air Base to the US Air Force, close to the City of Atwater in California.Since 1995 when they closed the Air Base, Castle Airport provides now its services to the civil aviation.The former Air Base contents a 3’600 m. runway (13/31) and enough space and facilities for its new users.

On 8th of July 1941 the Army Air Forces start to build a new airfield, close to the village of Merced, California, named Air Corps Basic Flying School, Merced. Three months later the airfield was operational and ready to use. The name of the airfield will change in the upcoming years several times, so happened in April 1942, now it was called: Merced Army Flying School and again renamed in May 1943 to Merced Army Airfield. In autumn of 1942 two new hangars where build by the Air Force.

During WW II the Air Force used the airfield for basic- and advanced training of the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). In July 1945, after WW II, the Air Force began with extensive building construction, such as new tarmac space and a new extended, concrete runway for the next generation of aircraft’s.In January 1946 the Base was renamed again to Castle Field, in honour of General Frederick Walker Castle (born 1908) how died on Christmas eve 1944 when he was shot down in his B-17 “Flying Fortress” over Belgian Airspace, close to the city of Lüttich.

Since March 1946, Castle Field was now under the administration of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). The final renaming to Castle Air Force Base, took place in January 1948.Castle Air Force Base was the first Base to receive in June and July 1955 the new Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” that served with the 93rd Bomb Wing to replace the older B-47 “Stratojet”.

The next few years some Boeing KC-135 “Stratotanker” joined the B-52’s at Castle AFB to support there missions.In 1991 the Base was for the first time threatened to be closed. Compare to other Air Bases in the United States, Castle AFB didn’t have enough space in caseof a serious conflict with Warsaw pact for the sortie of its mighty B-52 nuclear bombers. Lucky, the Base still kept alive. In July 1992 the Air Combat Command (ACC) took over the administration and responsibility for the Air Base.

Regarding to budget cuts in Washington D.C. and the not anymore existing treats from the “East”, final decision was made to close the Base by the end of 1995.The remaining B-52 units where flown to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, or been withdrawn from service and ended somewhere in one of these “Bone yards” and finally been scraped.

Since 1996 Castle Airport (ICAO-Code: KMER) is now home to many Private- and Business Aircrafts and some small commuter airlines. Not to underestimate these agriculture-spraying aircrafts in this region of California, well known for his fruit and vegetable plantations. But I mast say to my surprise, when I visit Castle Air Museum in August 1996, I could see from a far distance some C-141 “Starlifter” standing on the Tarmac at castle Airport and frequently landing or taking off in the heat of the Californian Sun.

..

 

Fighter

..

..

..

Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star 45-8490 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Republic F-84E Thunderjet withot any markings (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Republic F-84F Thunder Streak (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Republic F-84F Thunder Streak in a faded camouflage (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

North American F-86H Sabre 53-1230 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) North American F-86H Sabre 53-1230 in different markings  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader North American F-86H Sabre a second one (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Northrop F-89J Scorpion (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

McDonnell F-101B Voodoo (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Lockheed F-104 Starfighter 57-1314  (Displayed as F-104B 57-1312) (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

Convar F-102 Delta Dagger in the markings of 196 FIS 163 FIG (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Grumman F11F-1 Tiger (US Navy) in the markings of the Blue Angels (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Avro-Canada CF-100 Canuck 100504  in the markings of the 414 Black Knight EW Squadron(Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Avro-Canada CF-100 Canuck 100504  in the markings of the 414 Black Knight EW Squadron (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader)
..

..

..

Republic F-105D Thunderchief  in the markings of  453 TFS 455 TFW (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Republic F-105B Thunderchief  57-5837 repainded after 1987 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Republic F-105B Thunderchief  57-5837 the same plane taken in August 1987 (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Mc Donnell Douglas F-4C Phantomm II in the markings of 196 FIS 163 FIG (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

 

Transport

..

..

..

Curtiss C-46D Commando 44-77575 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) The same Plane in August 1987 (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader)
..

..

..

Beech C-45G Expeditor 51-11897  (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Beech C-45G Expeditor maybe the same plane  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader Douglas C-47A Skytrain (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Douglas C-47A Skytrain (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
..

..

..

Douglas C-47A Skytrain (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter 53-0354 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Fairchild C-123K Provider 55-4512 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
  ..

..

..

Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker 55-3139 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker  55-3139 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)    
..

 

Prototypes

    ..

..

..

Northrop YA-9A (Today at March Field Air Museum) (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)      
..

 

Utility

..

..

..

Rockwell Commander (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) DeHavilland-Canada U-6A Beaver  54-1707 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) DeHavilland-Canada U-6A Beaver  54-1707 1987 without markings.  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader
..

..

..

Grumman HU-16B Albatross (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Kawasaki KAQ-1 Drone plane(Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
   
  Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader)   Oshkosh Firetruck (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)  
..

 

Helicopter

     
  Kaman HH-43B Huskie (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader Piasecki HH-21C Shawnee (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)      
..

 

Training

 
  Vultee BT-13 Valiant 42-89678 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Vultee BT-13 Valiant 42-89678 in a wrong color sheme (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Beech T-34A Mentor 50-0735 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) North American T-39A Saberliner  61-0664 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)  
 
  Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star   Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader Northrop T-38A Talon (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)  
..

 

Inside the Museum

Castle Air Museum

On 20th of June 1982 the Castle Air Museum opened his doors to the public. At the present time you will find approximately 50 Aircrafts on display, mainly outside such as a B-24 Liberator, RB-36 Peacemaker, F-100C Super Sabre, and SR-71 “Blackbird”.
I was very much surprised in which good conditions these aircrafts are, considering the intensive sunshine and the salty air blowing from the pacific coast.

Following airplanes still undergoing restorations and will be soon on display to the public:

  • Piper L-4 Grasshopper (Piper J-3C-65 Cup)

  • Stinson L-5 (Stinson 105 Voyager)

  • Bell H-13 Sioux (Bell Modell 47)

  • Ryan PT-22 Recruit (Ryan ST – Sport Trainer)

  • Ryan PT-23

  • Schweizer TG-3 (Schweizer SGS 1-26)

  • Cessna AT-17/UC-78 Bobcat (Cessna T-50)

Finally there is nothing else to say, except:      

“Go and see Castle Airport and his fine Air Museum”

..

..

..

Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) An M-117 general-purpose bomb (343 kg), used  on the B-52 up today.   (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) An ASQ-153 Pave Spike is an electro-optical laser designator pod used to direct laser-guided bombs to target used only on the F-4 Phantom II (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Cockptsection of an B-57 or B-48 (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)

Left:
 Tail-turret of an B-24 Leberator with two 12,7mm guns (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)

Right:  
Traniee-Station inside an T-41of the USAF. (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
 
..

 

Castle Air Force Base in 1996

..

..

..

Lockheed C-141B Stratofreigher (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Boeing B-52H Stratofortress  (Photo courtesy Michael E. Fader) Lockheed C-141B Stratofreigher (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog) Lockheed C-141B Stratofreigher (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)
    ..

..

..

Lockheed C-141B Stratofreigher (Photo courtesy Andy Herzog)      
..

- Last update: 22. May 2013 Written: 6. December 2010 - -
- Corrections, additions and remarks please send to the Web master Michael E. Fader -
- If information from this site is used as source material please credit www.wings-aviation.ch  -
- If this page does not have a navigational frame on the left, click HERE to see the rest of the website. -