This will be a long post. I hope you don’t get bored.
When I knew I was going to be in El Paso, TX for 2 weekends I began to plan what I was going to do. I quickly found out about Hueco Tanks (my last post) and the War Eagles Air Museum.
The Museum abuts the Doña Ana County Airport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. I headed north from El Paso to I-10 Texas Exit 8 then travelled about 8 miles west to the airport. You don’t stumble onto this museum, you have to want to find it. It is also the type of place, that although out of the way, is well worth the visit.
This is a world class museum! There are museums with a greater representation of hardware, but the condition of the displays and the quality of them probably makes this the best I’ve seen. Their website is http://www.war-eagles-air-museum.com. On their website they have a downloadable .PDF version of their newsletter. I recommend this to any who are interested. Also on their website are photos of many of their exhibits. Of 36 aircraft shown only about 8 are not in flying condition. Most, if not all of the automobiles & trucks are driveable.
I got there around 10:30 am. The first question I always ask is about their photo policy. The fellow at the counter told me it was unrestricted, then asked if any of these would be published professionally. “Unlikely” I told him, but I said they would go on my website. He said OK. So there you have it, NO PRINTS ARE FOR SALE from this post!
That shouldn’t be a problem anyway, I’ve yet to sell a single photo from this website in the 18 months its been around. I did have one person inquire about purchasing a print. Because the photo showed their deceased father I sent it to them for free.
Admission to the museum was $5.00 and it was money well spent. They had a very nice gift shop and couple of planes outside on display. The rest were in their hangar. As you drive up the first thing you see is the back of their hangar & some military displays. I also shot photos of their Hawk Missile battery.
Once inside the hangar this is the first thing you see is a Curtiss P-40E Warhawk in colors typical of Claire Chennault’s 1941-42 Flying Tigers. For any of you Mouseketeers out there, Jimmy Dodd had a bit part in the 1942 film Flying Tigers.
By the time I made this second shot a museum employee, Chuck, stopped by. We started talking and he led me under the ropes to this display for a first hand look. He also led me under the ropes for a few other displays including the ’37 Chevy near the end of this post.
The tail art has its own interesting story. He said almost all Japanese visitors to the museum pose next to the tail art for snapshots.
This particular Warhawk was originally British. It saw combat in North Africa before being transferred to the Asian & Pacific theaters.
One interesting thing about this particular airplane is it has two tie down rings, one under each wing. The other was two patches riveted onto the right wing & where the wing meets the fuselage. Perhaps the patches covered combat injuries.
Chuck was not with me during my entire visit. When he wasn’t with me I stayed outside the ropes and shot what those angles allowed me.
Next to the Warhawk is a fully restored 1937 Buick in Army colors.
Nearby is a F4U-4 Corsair in U.S. Marine Blue.
Nestled among the aircraft is another automobile, this one a 1939 Packard Super 8 Roadster.
Driving this or the Auburn Boat-tail shown later would be the ultimate cruise.
Also in this same area is a North American TF-51D-25-NT Mustang two seat trainer. Talk about ultimate cruising. This museum has a few airplanes that would be great to fly in, especially if you can afford the fuel!
Off in the corner is this deHavilland DH-82A Tiger Moth. This was Britain’s basic training aircraft from 1932 to the end of the War. Thousands were in service throughout the empire, and many fighter pilots first took to the air in one of these.
Near the deHavilland is this 1918 Oldsmobile Touring Car. This is a front shot and a close up of the hood ornament.
Outside are two planes on the tarmac. The first is this F-84F Thunderjet in camouflage. I commented to Chuck that the paint looked very fresh and not oxidized. He told me they use a marine grade latex house paint. He said it works as well or better than the $100 gallon paint intended for aircraft stored outside.
Also outside is this Tupolev Tu-2, a WWII vintage bomber. If I understood Chuck correctly this airplane was built from parts of 4 or more originals. The Russians sold a lot of these to the Red Chinese, probably in the late 40s or the 50s. In the 80s or 90s they were scrapped out. China is apparently a good place to find obsolete Russian built planes. I assume this one was brought over in pieces then assembled. It is not in flying condition. Nonetheless, it was quite a treat to see this and the MiG 15s. The museum has a MiG 21, but I seem to have missed that.
Next to the display above is this Piper J-3 Cub. I believe it was made by Taylorcraft under license from Piper.
Further into the museum is a North American P-51D Mustang fighter. A small moveable stair allows you to look into the cockpit from behind the wing.
The weapons array in the wing is also shown. The access panel is kept open. Inside are these M2 .50 Cal. machine guns mounted to fit inside the wing. A few of my readers should find this of great interest.
Also of interest are the instructions. There are bore sighting instructions, loading instructions, then some special instructions about oiling and heating the guns.
The outboard gun and the center guns have a maximum storage of 270 rounds. The inboard gun has a maximum storage of 400 rounds. The ammo belt shows some .50 BMG rounds in it, hopefully not live and just for show. When you think about it, 940 rounds of .50 BMG in each wing is a lot of weight, but this airplane could handle it.
The M2, designed late in WWI has been in continual use by various U.S. military branches since the 1920s. The B-17 carried 10 of them. A realistic portrayal of the gun, at least to me, can be seen in the movie Memphis Belle from 1990. I believe the M2 has been in continual service longer than any other weapon in the U.S. inventory.
Suspended from the ceiling is this Hughes OH-6A Cayuse light observation helicopter. It seems to recreate a Vietnam era war scenario.
Nearby is this WWII German spotter plane. It is a Fieseler Fi.I56K Storch.
Moving along further into the museum is this MiG UTi Midget. A moveable stair is available to allow you to look into the cockpit. I’ve been to a lot of airplane museums in the western U.S. Very few have Russian aircraft on display. This museum has 4 and 3 are shown in different places in this post.
The next one is a Hawker Sea Fury Mk. X painted in Australian colors. This plane may have been in the Iraqi air force at one time, but I’m not sure. The Sea Fury was a British plane developed for the Royal Navy. It is one of the fastest production propeller driven (piston engine, not jet) airplanes ever built and first saw service in 1945. Today these airplanes are still flown at the Reno, NV air races.
Next is a North American F-86 Sabre Mk. VI. The museum says this was built by Canadair under license. It is in the colors of South Africa which may explain why it exhorts you to “BUY MORE KRUGGERRANDS”.
Next to the F-86 is a display of 5 aircraft seats. The first one is from an F-86. 40 or more years ago a good friend of mine owned a seat from an F-86. He took it with him as he moved from one apartment to the next. I sat in it a number of times. It wasn’t very comfortable. This lack of comfort probably helped the pilot concentrate on his task at hand.
The next exhibits were a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger, a torpedo bomber developed for the U.S. Navy and Marines. The Avenger first saw action in the Battle of Midway, June, 1942. Modified Avengers remained in service until the 1960s.
After that is a Lockheed P-38L-50LO Lightning. The Lightning was positioned in such a way that it was very hard to photograph. Shown here is the engine display. This is the first Lightning I think I’ve seen.
Then there is a North American T-28B Trojan trainer. The Trojan was operational from 1949 through the mid 1980s. The engine cowling is open on this example.
After this is the MiG 15 Fagot. Fagot is the code name NATO gave this jet fighter.
Way in the back of the hanger is a Northrop T-38B Talon trainer and this Boeing/Stearman PT-17 biplane trainer. I was unable to get close to the DC-3C shown behind the T-38. I show the nose of a DC-3 in my Feb., 2011 post from the Lyon Air Museum at John Wayne/Santa Ana Airport in Orange County, CA.
Near the front of the museum I had passed up this WACO EGC-8 Cabin Biplane. It is very brightly painted and decaled. I couldn’t pass up a photo of the wheel pod. The company operated from 1919 to 1947. They were originally Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio, but changed their name to WACO, the acronym of the original name. The ‘A’ is not long so it is pronounced “wah-co” not “way-co”. The company built mostly biplanes for commercial and military uses.
The museum has vintage automobiles dispersed among the aircraft. It also has an automobile section. The cars range in age from 1908 to 1984. I shot photos of the ones that interested me.
In order these are a 1908 Oldsmobile (replica) in red, a 1908 Overland touring car in blue, a 1929 Ford Model A in orange, a 1930 Ford Model A Roadster in maroon, a 1932 Chevy in brown with a black roof, & a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster in pastel yellow. Then there are a couple of Ford pick-up trucks. The red one seems to be a late 40’s model. The turquoise is from the early to mid 50’s. Both colors are typical of the time frame.
Back in the mid 60s before I graduated high school a few of my classmates drove Ford Model As. They were members of an antique car club and I even went to one meeting. In those days a Model A could be had for a few hundreds of dollars. I do remember one of the guys complaining a hood ornament was going to cost him $30!
By the mid 70s the Roadsters were bringing a few thousand. I’m sure they are tens of thousands today.
Once, in 1966, I passed on a 1912 Oldsmobile for $600. It was not a show car and had no day to day purpose on a city street let alone a highway. In 1974, I was at an antique car swap meet. There was a Chevy there about the same age as the one below. It was presentable, but in need of restoration. It was $2,400 that day. I had the money, but didn’t buy it. Mistakes? Who knows?
Then there is a 1963 Morgan Plus 4 in British Racing Green. Morgan Motor Company is a small automobile manufacturer founded in 1910 with headquarters in Malvern, England. They still make cars, still assemble them by hand, and employ about 160 people. The waiting time for a Morgan is 1-2 years.
The Plus 4 was introduced in 1950. In the late 1960s I saw a few Morgans, always in Hollywood, Westwood or West LA. Because their production is limited the company had a problem with early U.S. auto safety standards. The standards required 3 vehicles to be crash tested, quite an investment for so small a company.
Most Morgans I’ve seen have a large leather belt across the hood just behind the front wheels. This one doesn’t, but I’ve seen a few photos of Morgans without the belt so I can’t tell you if this is a deficiency or not.
The Morgan has always been a beautiful car with a classic design. I was so taken with this one that I ignored the red MG-TD next to it.
The great automobile displays, however, I’ve saved for last.
The first one is an immaculate 1935 Auburn Model 851 Boat-tail Roadster. All you need is serious money to own one of these. 4 photos of this one are here.
Then there is the 1937 Chevrolet.
There is (or was I have been told) a rusted out skeleton of a 1937 Chevy in Bodie, California. Bodie is a State Park and a ghost town in the Eastern Sierra Nevada about 400 miles north of Los Angeles. Some photographers in California call that car the most photographed car in America.
I saw it last in 1998. My nephew Keith and I were there one overcast afternoon. The overcast gave me no shadows and a perfect diffuse light. I shot some ultra wides of the front of the vehicle. It is one of the best photos I have ever made. I don’t have a copy of it on this computer, but it shows in the middle background of this shot from 1992.
A copy of the good photo will wait for another post. Anyway, much to my surprise here was this 37 Chevy in virtual mint condition. Chuck also let me shoot a flash photo from the backseat looking to the front.
The last photo of this post is at first blush a strange one. But the museum prominently features memorabilia from WWII. Kilroy appeared then. Here he is above the door as you leave the hangar.
All the photos from this post are with the Canon EOS-5D Mark II & the 24-105mm f/4 lens. A few are with flash. Focal lengths vary and the ISO is at my usual 640.
One of my next posts will feature the Three Rivers Petroglyph site north of Tularosa, New Mexico. There will also be another Misc. post or two.