Military Aviation Museum

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US Air Force hangar and main building at the Military Aviation Museum

Coordinates: 36°40′44″N 76°01′41″W / 36.6788°N 76.0281°W / 36.6788; -76.0281

Military Aviation Museum
Established 2005
Location Virginia Beach Airport, Virginia Beach, Virginia
1341 Princess Anne Road
Type Aviation museum
Collection size Over 60 vintage airplanes
Director Mike Potter [1]

The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is home to one of the world's largest collections of warbirds in flying condition. It includes examples from Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, from both World War I and World War II, although the complete collection ranges from the 1910s to the early 1950s.

Its mission is to "preserve, restore and fly these historic aircraft and to allow a new generation to experience and learn from what [their forbears] might have endured ... in the skies so very far from home." [2]

Unlike most other collections, which are displayed in a static museum environment, almost all of the historic aircraft at the Museum have been restored to flying condition. In twice-yearly major airshows (one in the spring for WWII planes, and one in the fall for WWI), as well as other special events, the aircraft fly again for the public to view and experience.

The collection also includes a large reference library, along with artifacts and materials to illustrate the historic context of the aircraft in the collection. [3]


The Museum was founded by Gerald "Jerry" Yagen in 2005, and the museum's hangars were opened to the public in 2008. He had been collecting and restoring warbirds since the mid-1990s, starting with the Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk, so the creation of a museum to share the collection with the public was the logical next step. [4]

Difficultes in 2013[edit]

In June 2013 it was reported that the museum and its collection of planes was to be sold off, due to some financial difficulties which Mr. Yagen's business was then experiencing; he was selling his vocational schools business, and no longer had the resources to finance the Museum.[5]

An article in the The Virginian-Pilot reported that Mr. Yagen had said "I'm subsidizing it heavily every year and my business no longer allows me to do that financially, and therefore I don't have a solution for it".[6]

However, the announced sale of the museum and aircraft was premature; it was announced only a week later that "the museum won't close soon, some of the facility's planes ... may have to go to keep the operation aloft" and "'we are still open for business and business is normal'".[7]

Several aircraft were indeed sold at that point (see below), but both Mr. Yagen's businesses, and the Museum, are now operating normally.[8] Since the sales in 2013, additional aircraft (including a projected replacement de Havilland Dragon Rapide) have been acquired.


The Museum is housed at its own small private grass airfield, the Virginia Beach Airport, in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The complex includes two display hangars (one on each side of the main museum building) in one group of buildings, and in another group, a replica WWI-era wooden hangar, a maintenance hangar (entirely new, but an exact replica of a 1937 Works Progress Administration design), a restored authentic pre-WW II Luftwaffe metal hangar, and a set of three identical storage hangars painted to resemble British WWII hangars. [9] [10] [11]

Restored original Luftwaffe hangar

The Luftwaffe hangar was built in 1934 at Cottbus Air Base; after the base was closed during the re-unification of Germany, the Museum obtained the hangar in 2004. It was dismantled and shipped to Virginia Beach and has been re-erected at the Museum where it now houses the Museum's Luftwaffe aircraft. [12] [13] [14]

Also underway is a control tower, a re-erection of a genuine ex-8th AAF World War II tower from RAF Goxhill. A two-story brick and concrete structure, built to Air Ministry drawing 518/40, it was completely disassembled, labeled and shipped to Virginia. It will be re-erected at the Museum's airfield where it will be used as an operational tower. In the UK, some similar towers are now historically protected; when rebuilt, this will be the only such original control tower in the US. [15] [16]

The complex also includes a large orange and white checked water tower, which is visible from a considerable distance and provides a useful landmark for both ground and air travelers.

Restorations and Reproductions[edit]

Some of the aircraft obtained in an un-restored state are handled at the Museum's related repair facility, the Fighter Factory (below); others are restored elsewhere, by contractors with specialized capabilities, including:

The Museum is also connected to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which is currently building a small fleet of various WWI replicas, as an exercise for the students, to add to the Museum's collection. The current batch includes a Morane Saulnier, a Nieuport 11, a Nieuport 17, a Nieuport 24, a Sopwith Pup, a Sopwith Camel, a Sopwith 1½ Strutter, and a Fokker D.VIII.[17]

The Fighter Factory[edit]

Fighter Factory facility in the maintenance hangar at the Military Aviation Museum

Associated with the Museum is an aircraft restoration and maintenance organization, called The Fighter Factory, started in 1996 to restore the collection's first aircraft (the P-40E). [18]

It was originally located at Norfolk Airport, and later moved to premises at the Suffolk Municipal Airport in Suffolk, Virginia. It currently operates two facilities: the one in Suffolk, and a new facility (in the purpose-built hangar) at the Museum. [19] [20]

Visitors to the Museum can take a guided tour of the Fighter Factory hangar at the Museum, and view the team of maintenance technicians performing tasks such as regular maintenance and minor restoration work on the aircraft of the collection.

Airplane Rides[edit]

The museum also offers guest to have the chance to go up in one of their airplanes. Currently you can book an airplane ride in the Waco YMF-5 or the museum's Stearman N2S-3. Both of the aircraft are open cockpit biplanes.

Post-WWII aircraft in the collection[edit]

  • Beechcraft T-34A Mentor - A primary trainer derived from the highly successful Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza, the type is still in use today, although the contemporary version (the T-34C Turbo-Mentor) is powered by a turboprop. The Museum's instance, serial number G-778, was produced in 1956, and apparently passed out of military service in 1966. Over the years it has been upgraded to the T-34B configuration, with a new engine; it was acquired by the Museum in August 2000.[21][22]
  • Douglas AD-4 Skyraider - Produced too late to take part in WWII, the versatile Skyraider (many different variations were produced, in a host of roles) was the primary United States Navy and Marine Corps strike aircraft in the Korean War, and flew many sorties in Viet Nam as well. The Museum's aircraft (BuNo. 123827) was built in 1949, and saw three tours in Korea with several different squadrons. After spending 10 years as a static display in Atlanta, in 1966 it was purchased and restored to flying condition; the Museum acquired it in 2000.[23][24]
  • North American T-28D Trojan - Originally designed as a single-engined propellor trainer, intended to replace the aging T-6 Texan, it served in this role around the world. Some had six underwing hardpoints added, for use in counter-insurgency roles, and served in locations such as Viet Nam, Laos, Algeria, and the Belgian Congo. The Museum's, serial number 49-1634, was built in 1949, and rebuilt into a D model, with the underwing hardpoints, in 1951. Transferred to the Zaire Air Force in 1971, it saw service with them until 1997, and came to the Museum in August 2000.[25][26]
  • Lavochkin La-9 Fritz - An early post-WWII improvement on the earlier La-7, it replaced the La-7's wooden structure with all-metal construction; it was inferior to the roughly contemporaneous Yak-3, and production was ended after less than two years. The museum's example, c/n 828, is the only known flyable survivor (of 6 airframes worldwide). It apparently saw service in Korea with the Chinese Air Force, and was retired to a display role; starting in 1986, a decade of discussions eventually bore fruit and brought it to the West. After another decade of restoration, it finally flew again in 2010.[29][30]
  • Yakovlev Yak-55 - The Yak-55 is a single-seat dedicated aerobatic aircraft, first produced in 1981 to match the performance of the latest Western aerobatic planes. The Museum's was purchased in February 2001 from the factory, where it had been built in 1990; the plane had been kept at the factory, for use in their flying club and by employees.[31]


  • Fiat G.46-3B - The first all metal trainer in the Italian Air Force. It was developed shortly after the Second World War by Giuseppe Gabrielli. It was delivered to the Italian Air Force in 1950 and released in July 1961. It was later exported into the United States on June 15, 1972. The plane was purchased in the Spring of 2015.[32]

World War II aircraft in the collection[edit]

  • Bell P-63 Kingcobra (static display) - A further development of the Airacobra, the Kingcobra was not used extensively by the US other than for a gunnery target as RP-63E "Pinball" aircraft, but the Russians flew them extensively. The Museum's P-63A-10-BE (s/n 42-70609) is one of a group which were engaged against Japanese forces at the end of WWII in Far Eastern Russian territory; several were found there after 60 years of open storage. Although the Museum has located the rare Allison engine for this aircraft, no restoration is currently planned, as it has significant internal corrosion and would need to be completely rebuilt.[33]
US Navy hangar, location of the Catalina, along with other US Navy planes
  • PBY-5A Catalina - Entering production in 1936 as a long-range naval patrol aircraft, the PBY went on to a lengthy career in a host of roles; some still fly today for use in aerial firefighting. The Museum's PBY-5, Bureau Number 48294, was built in 1943, and served in a variety of locations around the Atlantic during WWII and with the Coast Guard after the war. Leaving government service in 1956, it then had a long and colorful civilian career, including stints as a fuel tanker in Alaska, and was eventually seized by the US Government for drug smuggling. It was purchased by the Museum in England in 2001.[34][35]
  • Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk - One of America's first WWII fighter aircraft, the P-40 was immortalized by its use by the Flying Tigers in China. This particular aircraft, serial number 41-35918, was built in 1941 and sent to the UK as a Lend-Lease item; it was passed along to the Russians in April, 1942, and lost in action while protecting Murmansk. It stayed on the tundra where it had landed for almost 50 years, and was recovered in 1992; acquired by the Museum's founder in 1996, it finally flew again in 2003.[36][37][38]
  • Douglas A-26B Invader (under restoration) - An unusual attack bomber of the early 1940s, it was a single-pilot aircraft (sharing this characteristic with the de Havilland Mosquito). The Museum's was built in 1945, but not much is known about the military history of this plane. After being stored in Texas for a number of years, it was purchased in 1996, and trucked to the Fighter Factory for total restoration.[39]
  • Fairchild PT-19A-FA - The PT-19 primary trainer was a result of the Air Force's decision to start pilot training in a monoplane, rather than the then-usual (and more stable and forgiving) biplanes. With its higher wing loading, and also a higher stall speed, it was not such a big step from the planes new pilots would move on to. The steel-tube fuselage was covered in a mixture of fabric and plywood, but problems with the wooden sections led the Air Force to specify all-metal wings for later trainers. The Museum's, serial number 42-83643 (T43-7230), was ordered in 1942, built in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1943, and delivered to the Air Force on February 23, 1944. It had a very short military life, being listed as "disposed as surplus" on September 7, 1944. Little is known of its life after that; it was purchased from a company in Texas in November, 2013.
  • Grumman FM-2 Wildcat - The mainstay fighter of the U.S. Navy during the critical early battles of WWII, especially Guadalcanal, the Wildcat was not as fast or maneuverable as its opponents, but its ruggedness more than made up for that. The Museum's example, an FM-2 variant built under license by GM (based on Grumman's XF4F-8 prototype), was produced in 1944. It saw service in the Philippines, and in July, 1945 was transferred to a small training field in Pungo (not the same location as the Virginia Beach Airport, though); it entered private hands in 1952, and came to the Museum in 2010. It is thought to be the most original F4F in existence.[40][41][42]
  • Grumman TBM-3E Avenger - The heaviest single-engine aircraft of WWII, the Avenger was a replacement for the hapless Devastator. They first saw action at Midway; without success on that occasion, later in the war Avengers became very effective, once adequate training, tactics and fighter protection were applied, including sinking the Japanese super-battleships Musashi and Yamato. GM's Eastern Aircraft Division became a second source for the Avenger, eventually building over 7,500, around three-quarters of the total production of this type; the Museum's, BuNo. 53454, came from this source in 1945. Although sent to the Philippines, it does not appear to have seen active service; before being surplused in 1956, it accumulated only 1,227 hours. It then saw duty as a fire "bomber" in Idaho; restoration commenced in 1998, and it was acquired by the Museum in 2001.[43][44][45]
  • Naval Aircraft Factory N3N - The N3N open-cockpit tandem primary trainer was the last biplane in US military service; this example is BuNo. 2892, aircraft registration N120BH, built in 1941, and sold off to civilian use in October, 1943. Having not flown since the 1950s, it was acquired by the Museum in 2007, part of a group of N3N's found in a barn, and restoration was completed in 2011.[46][47][48][49]
  • B-25J Mitchell - The only U.S. aircraft to be named after a person (Gen. "Billy" Mitchell), the B-25 is perhaps best known for delivering the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April, 1942. They were used by many Allied air forces, in every theater, and were in service for four decades. The Museum's, B-25J-25/27-NC serial number 44-30129 "Wild Cargo", was built in late 1944; surplused in 1958, it passed through several hands (once for as little as $500), before ending its flying in 1963 after a dual engine and landing gear failure. Bought by the Museum in 1997, after a complete restoration it finally flew again in November, 2005.[50][51]
  • North American P-51D Mustang - The premier American ground-based fighter of WWII; this example, serial number 44-72483 was built in 1945, and sent to the UK to join the Eighth Air Force. In 1947 it went to the Swedish Air Force, and then through several others until entering private ownership in 1972, being acquired by the Museum in 2004.[52][53][54]
  • North American P-64 - The North American NA-68 was developed as a simple, single-seat, low-wing, single-engine fighter for export, based on a very successful earlier trainer. A group ordered by Thailand in 1940 was seized by the US Government, renamed the P-64, and used as an advanced fighter trainer. This example is a replica, built from an SNJ-4, and finished in 2001; after a complex history including a spell at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and a forced landing due to a failed engine, it was acquired by the Museum in 2014.[55]
  • North American SNJ-2 - A early variant of the basic North American NA-16 advanced trainer, first flown in 1935.[56]
  • North American AT-6 Texan - A later version of the North American NA-16, the Texan was used as a trainer during the war. The toal production of Texans were 15,495. The museum's was made in 1958 and departed the military record in 1963.[57]
  • Piper NE-1 Glimpy - It was designed in World War II to be dropped from a blimp to take photos and to do other tasks. [57]
  • Stinson L-5 Sentinel - This small high-wing utility aircraft, capable of short unimproved airstrip operations, was the second most common light observation aircraft of the war, after the Piper L-4 Cub. Capable of taking off in as little as 50 feet when using full flaps, they could operate out of almost any small field.[58]
  • Vought FG-1D Corsair - A F4U-1D (Corsair Mk IV) produced by Goodyear in May 1945, the museum's Corsair, BuNo. 92508, apparently spent much of its military career in storage; it is one the lowest time Corsairs known. After 13 years with the military, it passed into private ownership, coming to the Museum in 1999.[59][60][61]
  • CASA 352L (Junkers Ju 52) - The Ju 52 was Germany's main transport plane for over a decade, in service from 1932 to 1945. Principally used as for personnel and cargo transport in both civilian and military roles, a few saw service as bombers, most notably at Guernica. The Museum's is a post-war example built by CASA under license at their plant in Getafe, Spain, under their type designation CASA 352L. Once thought to be serial number 67 (built in May 1950), matching data plates in the cabin and on the outside of the fuselage revealed it to actually be serial number 77, built in January 1949. Assigned identification number T2B 176 by Spanish Air Force, they surplused it in November, 1976, when it was sold to the legendary Confederate Air Force. Grounded for 8 years in 1990 by engine problems, it was converted to P&W Wasp engines, and acquired by the Museum in 2010.[62][63][64]
Mosquito KA114 taxiing after landing during an airshow at the Museum
  • de Havilland Mosquito - Initially rejected for service by the Royal Air Force, the Mosquito became one of the fastest, most versatile and effective allied aircraft of the war. Combining a plywood monocoque fuselage and twin Rolls-Royce Merlin engines afforded it a superlative power-to-weight ratio that enabled it to fly higher and faster than any German fighters, thus allowing even unarmed variants to operate with a very complete level of safety despite their clear theoretical vulnerability. Originally conceived-of as a fast medium bomber for the RAF, the Mosquito's speed (on entering production in 1941, it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world) and payload capability allowed it to take on a multitude of different roles - alternatively, those of fighter, fighter-bomber, unarmed medium bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. The Museum's example, a Canadian-built FB Mk 26, serial number KA114, was constructed in early 1945, never left Canada and was surplussed in April 1948. The farmer who bought it took it to his farm in Alberta, where it sat outside in a field until August 1978. After passing unrestored through another warbird collection, restoration (including building of new fuselage and wings, as the existing ones were too deteriorated) began in January 2005 in New Zealand, continuing through until 2012. Its first post-restoration flight was on September 27 of that year.[65][66][67][68]
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIB - The mainstay of the RAF's Fighter Command during the crucial Battle of Britain, during which Hurricanes shot down more enemy aircraft than all others combined. This example (serial # 5667, construction # 56022) was built in Canada in 1943, never left Canada during the war, and was surplused in October, 1946. It was recovered from a farm in Saskatchewan in 1965; after a long restoration, it finally flew again in May, 1994, and came to the museum in 2001, in almost completely original condition.[69][70][71]
  • Supermarine Mk IXE Spitfire - The iconic Spitfire, widely considered one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built,[72] was the only Allied front-line fighter whose service tour lasted throughout the entire war (albeit considerably upgraded by the end). The Museum's, serial number MJ730, was produced in December, 1943, and went on to serve in North Africa, Italy, Corsica, Greece, and Yugoslavia. Post-war it wound up in Israel, where it eventually became a dilapidated playground attraction in an Israeli kibbutz, from where it was rescued in 1978. Restoration was finally completed in 1988, and the Museum acquired it in 1999.[73][74][75]
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 - Back by popular demand, the Museum has added another Fw 190 after selling a previous A-8 in 2013. In December 2014, the Museum acquired this plane as a Flugwerks Kit with a serial number of 990005.[76]
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 "Blue 4" (to be restored) - Designed as a fighter, and one of the two most successful in this role for the Luftwaffe (along with the Messerschmitt Bf 109), the radial engine-powered Fw 190 served in a wide variety of roles. Its design philosophy was to produce an aircraft that was rugged and easy to fly, yet high-performing - a goal which it met very successfully. The Museum's example, "Blue 4", serial number 732183, built in July–August 1944, was lost on February 9, 1945, defending against an Allied raid in Norway. It was recently recovered from where it had crashed.[77]
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190-D9 - The Fw 190D was a later variant, with a liquid-cooled Jumo 213 V-12 (mounted inverted, as was the common German practice for that engine layout); it was intended to have better performance at higher altitude, where the Fw 190A was somewhat lacking. The Museum's, serial number 210079, is a recent replica from a German company, Flugwerk, built under sub-contract by Aerostar SA of Bacau, Romania; it was purchased by the Museum in 2012.[78]
  • Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun - A four-seat, single-engine sports and touring aircraft; of all-metal construction, it utilized many of then same design features as the famous Bf 109 fighter (next entry). The museum's was built in 1945. It was purchased in August in 2004 from Albany, New York.[79][80][81]
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 - The iconic German fighter of the war, it was one of the first truly modern fighters of that era, with such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Museum's was assembled from five wrecks which were recovered from Russia over a period of three years before 2011; a substantial portion of the plane was part of a Bf-109 built in 1939 as an E-3 variant, serial number 2023, and later converted to a E-7 with a long-range tank, which was shot down near Murmansk in May, 1942. It was restored to a G-4 variant. It is painted for Klaus Quaet-Faslem from JG 3.[82][83]
  • Messerschmitt Me 208 - An improved and enlarged version of the Bf 108 (above) first flown in 1943-44, with a retractable tricycle landing gear, also produced post-war in France as the Nord Noralpha. The Museum's was built in 1946 under license from the Messerschmitt Aircraft Company as a Nord 1101. The Nord 1101s were used as communications aircraft through the 1970s. The museum acquired the aircraft in August 2004. It is painted as "Yellow 14" from JG 53 "Ace of Spades".[84][85][86]
  • Messerschmitt Me 262 - The world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, and one of the most advanced aviation designs in operational use during World War II, the Me 262 also saw use in a variety of other roles, including light bomber and reconnaissance. Luckily for the Allies, only a small number were deployed, as no Allied aircraft could match it, and the Allies were reduced to attacking it on the ground, and while landing and taking off. The Museum's is a recently built replica, produced by the Me 262 Project, Me 262 A/B-1c serial number 501243. It was completed in 2011, and is powered by General Electric CJ610 engines (the civilian variant of the General Electric J85).[87][88]
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 - Designed for high-altitude combat, it went into production in December 1940. It was never a success, as combat over the Eastern Front was generally at lower altitudes, where it was at a disadvantage to its adversaries; the last ones were withdrawn from service before the end of the war. The Museum's aircraft was the first MiG-3 to fly in 60 years, in a public display at the Moscow Air Show, after which it was brought to the Museum.[89][90]
  • Polikarpov Po-2 Mule - Designed as a trainer, it also served in many other roles, including ground attack, observation, and crop-dusting. It was almost impossible to shoot down when using tactics which made good use of its low stall speed and a tight turning radius. The Museum's example, discovered in a forest outside Vladivostok and restored in Russian, is one of few remaining examples of the most-produced military aircraft in history; over 40,000 were produced during its long production run, 1928-1953.[91][92]
  • Polikarpov I-153 - A derivative of the Polikarpov I-15, with retractable undercarriage, it was created to retain the maneuverability of a biplane, but with improved performance. The Museum's example was built in 1938, serial number 6316; it was found in a swamp outside of Murmansk, and was restored in Russia in 1998; the Museum acquired it in December, 2002.[93][94]
  • Polikarpov I-16 Rata - Mainstay fighter of Loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, it afforded the Republic a limited period of aerial superiority early-on, until the arrival of the German Condor Legion and early variants of the ME 109 turned the tables in favor of Franco's fascists. When it appeared in the mid-1930s, this aircraft was revolutionary - it was the world's first low-wing cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to have attained operational status. Faster than its ungainly looks suggest, it was still operational in large numbers with Soviet frontline forces at the start of World War II, where many were caught and destroyed on the ground during the war's first days. The Museum's was built in late 1939, and assigned identity number White #28; it was recovered in the early 1990s from a crash site in Karelia near the Finnish border.[95][96]
  • Yakovlev Yak-3M - It was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war, and its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance; robust and easy to maintain, both pilots and ground crew liked it. The one in the Museum is actually a replica, using an Allison engine, built in 1991 at the Yakovlev factory using original parts and dies.[97][98]

Inter-War aircraft in the collection[edit]

  • P-26D Peashooter - Designed in 1931, it was the first US all-metal production fighter aircraft, the first "pursuit" monoplane used by the Army Air Corps, and the first to use flaps to reduce landing speeds; it was also the last to use fixed landing gear and an open cockpit. Small numbers were still in active service with U.S. forces in the Philippines at the outset of World War II. The Museum's P-26 (s/n 32-06) is a replica (one of 5 currently in existence, along with 2 originals), built in Bolton, Massachusetts, and completed in 2006; it was acquired by the Museum in 2009. It is not a precise replica, including several minor changes for safety and performance, such as a slightly different wing airfoil shape; hence the 'D' type designation.[99][100][101][102]
  • Stearman N2S-3 - The Boeing-Stearman Model 75 (Stearman was acquired by Boeing in 1934) was a biplane primary trainer built in large numbers in the 1930s and 1940, and used extensively by the US Army and Navy, among others. After the war, many were used as crop dusters and in other roles. The Museum's was acquired when the founder, Mr. Yagen, was looking for a training aircraft to learn how to handle tail wheel airplanes (the usual configuration for WWII-period aircraft); it was purchased over the phone in the winter of 1997, one of the Museum's first acquisitions. This particular aircraft had recently been restored to its original condition.[103][104]
  • Waco YMF-5 - A civilian tandem open cockpit trainer from the early 1930s. The museum's example is a replica, built in 1989, after they were returned to production in March 1986, by WACO Classic Aircraft.[105]
  • de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth - Entering production in 1932 as a primary trainer for the RAF, it retained that role until 1952. This particular example was built by Morris Motors in Cowley in 1940, and left RAF service in 1952. The museum acquired the plane in 2004.[106][107][108]
  • de Haviland Dragon Rapide (under restoration) - It was designed in 1933 as a short haul airliner. After the loss of the previous Rapide, a replacement was found and delivered to the museum in late 2013. The museum's is currently being restored at the Fighter Factory.
  • Bücker Bü 133C Jungmeister - Introduced in 1935 for sports and training purposes, it dominated the aerobatic scene for years. The Museum's was built under license in Switzerland in 1940 for the Swiss Air Force, serial number 38; sold off in 1968, it eventually came to the Museum via The Fighter Collection of Duxford in 2006.[109][110]
  • Focke-Wulf Fw-44J - A biplane, two-seat trainer and sport-flying aircraft, it first flew in 1932, although it remained in use as a primary trainer until the end of WWII. With excellent airworthiness, so many FW-44s were ordered in the 1930s that a new factory had to be built to produce them. It is likely that virtually every German pilot of the period flew this plane at some point. The MAM's example of the FW-44 (WkNr. 183) is of the final model of the series, the FW-44J; it was built in Bremen in 1937, and was originally exported to Argentina.[111][112][113]
  • Fokker C.I - A two-seater reconnaissance biplane, it was an enlarged derivative of the Fokker D.VII fighter; designed at the very end of WWI, the C.I was too late to see service in WWI, but it continued in service in a variety of roles until the mid-1930s. The Museum's is a replica, built in Tulsa.[114][115]
  • Polikarpov I-15bis - One of the most outstanding biplanes ever used in combat, the I-15 was one of the primary Soviet biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s. This fixed suspension plane was still in use in a ground-attack role at the start of World War II; the I-15bis is a variant with a more powerful engine. The I-15 is best known for its service with the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. The Museum's example is believed to be the only example remaining; it was found wrecked in Northern Russia, and fully restored and flying again by July, 2001.[116][117]

World War I Aircraft in the Collection[edit]

Replica World War I hangar at the Museum

(Some may be replicas, but are not listed as such due to incomplete information.)

  • Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" - The JN-4 was originally a training aircraft for the U.S. Army; after WWI thousands of surplus JN-4's were sold off at low prices, and it was a mainstay of post-War civil aviation. The Museum's Jenny (s/n 34135) is an original, built by the St. Louis Aircraft Company (of St. Louis, naturally), completed on 8 May 1918, and delivered to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Some time later, it passed into civilian hands, and then went through numerous owners (including being in storage from 1935-1957, prior to a restoration), finally being acquired by the Museum in 2013.[118][119]

Pre-World War I Aircraft in the Collection[edit]

  • Blériot XI - Replica[152][153] The Bleriot was the first airplane to cross the English Channel (in 1909) and was the most numerous of French observation/reconnaissance aircraft in service at the beginning of the First World War. It also had its first flight September 15, 2016.


  • Hispano-Suiza 8C - A Spanish-designed engine commonly referred-to as "the Rolls-Royce Merlin of the First World War" out of respect for its technological advancement, superior performance and overall importance, it so greatly exceeded (by a factor of ten times) French testing standards of the period that they had no choice but to allow its adoption. The "Hisso" powered almost every high-performance allied fighter plane of the First World War - including all French Spads. Certain variants (including one that equipped the Spad VII) allowed weapons as large and powerful as 37mm cannon to be fired through their propeller hubs, thus side-stepping any need to synchronize their firing with the propeller's movement. The engine itself consisted of an ultra-lightweight aluminum monobloque with steel-sleeved cylinders, enabling it the strongest power-to-weight ratio of any engine built during the First World War.
  • Laister-Kauffman TG-4A - A tandem 2-seat sailplane produced in the U.S. during WWII for training cargo glider pilots; it was a conventional sailplane design with a steel tube fuselage and wooden wings and tail, skinned all over in fabric.[154]
  • Grunau Baby II - An advanced glider widely used in the 1930s to train pilots for what was to become the Luftwaffe (German military aviation being prohibited at that point by the Treaty of Versailles). The Museums' (werknummer 030340) was built in 1942, and acquired by the Museum in the spring of 2014; it is under restoration by a group of volunteers.[155]
  • Fieseler Fi 103 V-1 - An unmanned flying bomb, the first jet-powered aircraft in history to be used as an offensive weapon. The Museum's was found in a tunnel in Poland after German reunification in 1989; it is fully functional, and is the only one known which retains its radio homing device.[156]
  • Thompson Mk V Refueller - Created specifically as specialized vehicles for refueling aircraft, this example was built in 1938 by Thompson Brothers Ltd of Bilston, Staffordshire, England and was actually used at the famous RAF North Weald airfield during the Battle of Britain.[157][158]
  • Hucks starter - The first mechanical aid to starting aircraft engines, they were based on Ford Model Ts, and later on Model TT trucks. This one is based on a 1918 Model TT, using a period-correct Muncie auxiliary transmission.[159][160]
  • Packard Merlin engine - American-produced copy of the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin, the engine that equipped almost every high-performance allied (liquid-cooled-engined) fighter, bomber and fighter-bomber of the war. Packard-built Merlins powered the North American P-51 Mustang.
  • Flak 37 88mm gun - Without a doubt the most deadly and effective combined anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapon of World War II. Employed in the anti-tank role for the first time by Erwin Rommel during his thrust across France in May of '40, it became a primary means through which he was able to hold numerically-superior allied tank forces in-check through years of fighting in North Africa. Able to throw a shell to a ceiling in excess of 30,000 feet, it also accounted for the bulk of accurate flak encountered by allied bomber forces during their raids into Germany in '43 and '44.
  • Routemaster 1962 British double-decker bus[161][162]
  • Messerschmitt KR200 three-wheel microcar[163]
  • Blohm & Voss "Mistletoe" - One of the last efforts of the Germans to regain air control. It was designed in the winter of 1944/45. It arrived at the museum in April 2015 [164]
  • Fliegende Panzerfaust - Designed to be towed by a Messerschmidt Bf109, it was designed to ram into enemy aircraft. It arrived at the museum in April 2015.[165]
  • BMW TLJ-2 - Only a prototype, but during the second war BMW developed designs that included jet engines developed by BMW. It arrived at the museum in April 2015.[166]

Deaccessioned planes[edit]

When the Museum's founder ran into financial difficulties in the summer of 2013, a number of the planes at the Museum were deaccessioned:

World War II
  • B-17 - The workhorse heavy bomber for the US in WWII, the B-17 nearly did not make it into service after the first prototype crashed, in an incident that led to the creation of aviation checklists. The military had been impressed with what they had seen of the plane, thought, and used a legal loophole to buy 13, the success of which led eventually to a huge fleet; over 12,000 were built, and B-17s dropped more bombs than any other Allied aircraft in WWII. The Museum's, serial number 44-8543, was built in 1944 by the Vega Aircraft Corporation in Burbank; it apparently never went overseas, apparently being used for testing and training. Originally it was equipped as a 'pathfinder', with the top secret BTO (Bombing Through Overcast) radar in place of the usual belly ball turret. After a long career with the government, it was sold in 1959, and was used in a number of commercial roles. Eventually, a collector purchased it in 1979, and restored it to its military configuration; it was acquired by the Museum in 2010.[167][168][169][170]
  • North American SNJ-4 - A later version of the North American NA-16, the model NA-88, was designated SNJ-4 for the US Navy. The Museum's SNJ-4 was delivered to the Navy in January 1943, and had a somewhat unusual life: it was assigned to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands for operational use. It was surplused in 1946, and then went to the South African Air Force, who used it until 1995; in 1996 it returned to the US.[171][172][173]
  • Ryan PT-22 - A military version of the Ryan ST, it served the Army Air Corps as a primary trainer, the first monoplane in this role (all prior primary trainers having been biplanes).[174]
  • Fieseler Fi-156 Storch - A liaison and utility aircraft with famed STOL capability. The Museum's example was produced at the Morane-Saulnier plant in Puteaux, France, where Storch production was moved so the Fiesler works could concentrate on Fw 190 production. Apparently started during the German occupation, but completed post-war in 1947, on order for the French military (under the name Morane-Saulnier MS-500 Criquet), with dual serial numbers 2631 (German) and 751 (French), it was surplused from them in 1966, and acquired by the Museum in 2001.[175][176][177]
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8/M - This particular example was a recent replica from a German company, Flugwerk, serial number 550476, built under sub-contracted by Aerostar SA of Bacau, Romania. It was purchased by the Museum in 2005, but so heavily modified (cooling, oil system) to make its Dongan HS7 engine run reliably that it has been renamed a "Fw 190 A-8/M", from its original "Fw 190 A-8/N" designation; it finally arrived at the Museum in March, 2011. [178][179][180][181]
  • de Havilland DH 89 Dragon Rapide - A British short-haul biplane passenger airliner from the 1930s, it became perhaps the most successful British-built short-haul commercial passenger aircraft of the 1930s. This particular Rapide was built in 1944 for the RAF; it was sold as surplus in 1947. It has been restored as a copy of the one ordered by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1935, in the colors of the Royal Guards.[182][183][184][185]
  • Hawker Fury - The penultimate British biplane fighter aircraft, with an all-metal structure; a monoplane variant went on to become the famous Hurricane. In service with the RAF in the late 1930s, it was the RAF's first operational fighter aircraft to be able to exceed 200 mph (322 km/h) in level flight. It was known for its maneuverability, which gave it superb aerobatic performance; it was also fast in the climb, making it an excellent interceptor. The Museum's, the only air-worthy example in the world, is technically a replica, completed in 1982, although it used both original and fabricated parts, including a rare original Kestrel engine, found in a car museum in New Zealand. Rebuilt in 2000 after a minor crash in 1996, it was acquired by the Museum in 2009.[186][187][188]
World War I

Departed loan aircraft[edit]

The Museum occasionally has aircraft which have been loaned to it; this section lists those which have since departed the Museum.

  • Aichi D3A "Val" - The primary dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Vals took part in almost all signification actions of the war; although they were semi-obsolete, with their fixed spat undercarriages, the Val still sank more Allied ships than any other Axis aeroplane. The Museum's is a replica (very few Vals survived the war), based on a Vultee BT-13A airframe, constructed as one of a batch of 9 for the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!.[198]
  • Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a - Notably, the first fighter airplane of the First World War built to be repaired - instead of destroyed - when damaged. The SE-5a was produced in large numbers and was considered by its pilots to be one of the war's best overall fighter planes - easy to handle on take-off and landing, with a very high speed, good maneuverability and fair firepower - one vickers machinegun firing through the propeller arc and a second (lewis) mounted above the top wing.[199]

See also[edit]


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*"Warbirds Over The Beach 2015"; Official Program Guide, May 15–17, 2015; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2014"; Official Program Guide, May 16–18, 2014; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2013"; Official Program Guide, May 17–19, 2013; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2012"; Official Program Guide, May 18–20, 2012; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2011"; Official Program Guide, May 20–22, 2011; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Biplanes and Triplanes"; Official Program Guide, September 21–23, 2012; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia

External links[edit]