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Bernard Bedeur
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A visit to the castle air museum

June 22, 2020 · in Uncategorized · 27 Comments

After being holed up since mid March and only leaving the house to go to work or go shopping , Father’s Day ( USA June 21 ) Presented an opportunity to get out and do something personal for the one day that I can set the agenda.

It was to be close to 40 degrees Celsius that day but we went for it to visit the Castle air museum in Atwater California.

Castle Air force base was created in 1941 to train pilots on how to fly and learn bombing practices which it did untill 1995 when the base realignment act closed it for good.

The museum is adjacent to it and has an outstanding collection of mostly US planes.

Bombers, transports, tankers , fighters , trainers are all well represented.

The collection is housed outdoors which is a bit sad as the planes take a serious beating under the harsh California weather.

It’s an all private and volunteer effort. The museum has received many aircraft for preservation or on loan.

There are plans to raise money to create covered spaces. That in itself looks daunting in a way to house the entire collection but here are a few photos of some of what I think are rare aircraft that should probably receive priority to this important preservation effort.

That said I have not modeled in over 5 weeks as I am lucky enough to be having work while a lot of persons do not. As an ex-military person I take the guidelines for personal and societal safety Seriously. So far.. knock on wood.

Enjoy and stay safe with the courage to do so.

Feel free to ask for detail pictures for your modelling endeavours. September 12 2020 is open cockpit day. I will be there !

16 additional images. Click to enlarge.

27 responses

  1. Some pretty impressive "iron" in that display. They still look pretty decent for being outside. Thanks for sharing, Bernard.

  2. Hi Gary. Thank you for appreciating the documentation of these craft.
    California has some great air museums. This one probably top it all as it is “ old style” and let’s you wander around freely.
    After many a year seeing the museum from HWY5 I finally got to be there !
    Best in modeling

  3. Hey Bernard, thanks for posting.
    You do not see a F-89 Scorpion very often as well as the B-18 Bolo - never actually seen a B-18 in person. The CF-101 was one of my first jet I built.
    Nice photos.

    • Hi George.
      Thank you for your comment.
      We are , us modellers part of a great community of creative persons not engaging in art purely. Yet the skills required and learning teach us that we can ! imodeler is my only “social media venue” I love the mutual support we give one another.
      See you in Canada sometime at an air show !

  4. What a great place to spend a day out! Thanks for sharing - stay safe!

    • Hi Eric . In having a good time like i did yesterday With family I realise we can go for a long time w.o. Having fun ! That in itself is no good !
      Freedom and the freedom to move is important . May we all get back to that safely.
      Thank you for your comment.

  5. Thanks for these really, really cool photos. Special
    For the look of serious matt coloration, the C-47 is IT.

  6. Hi Bob. Yes the C-46 is very weathered. ( I had the number wrong, sorry. ( Since changed ) Impossible to make it Look that on a model with paints !
    There was a lot of pin up nose art as well on these planes.
    I hope that does not get targeted like other Censure that seems to be happening these days.
    Thanks for commenting

  7. Very interesting photo report. Thanks Bernard.

    I guess picture 7 is a Delta Dart, not Dagger...

    In France, we stayed with delta wings ?

    • Hi Stephane. You are so right it is the F-106 Delta Dart in the Photo. They also have a Delta Dagger F-102 at the museum.
      I was not aware of the developmental changes of this type that went on or how long they served. part of the fun In this hobby is learning new things.
      Thank you for catching this and Bon Maquetisme.

  8. This is an amazing collection of planes, Bernard!
    Despite the challenging California weather conditions, they look great, which means those volunteers do a meticulous job.
    Practically all of the above planes are "exotic" for "us" here in Greece, so you took us for a walk around those machines; can even "smell" that exquisite aviation "perfume" a plane gives under the boiling sun.
    A great inspiration for modelling too.
    Thank you very much for this journey!

    • Hi Spiros. I loved The day yesterday At the Castle air museum and thought to share the fun of it in what these machines look like up close after many years seeing it Only in magazines Detailing this in models is another story altogether ! Where does one start ?
      It’s the only aviation museum open at this time in our area. And Getting out Was a great little adventure too.
      Thank you for appreciating.

  9. Thanks for sharing us your great day out on fathers day, Bernard.
    Reading about your visit and watching those beautiful birds makes me happy as well.

    • Hi John.Thank you for liking these photos. Many country’s appreciate their aeronautical legacy. The Netherlands has a fantastic legacy in this as well, both in designIn planes as in deploying a wide variety of types at home and Overseas. These museums, wherever they are, give opportunity to tell amazing stories of patriotic and world wide unity Through dedication of purpose, militarily and Humanitarian.

      See you in Holland at one of your country’s collections some day !

      All the best in your Models. Your Fokker Model looks great and tells an important story.

  10. Howdy,

    Love Castle Air Base. The reason my family moved In 1962 from Wichita, Kansas to Merced, California was so my dad could work for Boeing. He was an Electronics inspector On B-52’s.
    Got to take him back to the museum the year he died.

    Brian Riedel

    • Hi Brian. You bet. The B-52’s of Merced air base saved my mom and my lives. We watched practice landings of B-52 ‘s On October 17 1989 During the afternoon after a camping trip at Yosemite NP. Without that delay In our travels back to SF we would have ended up on the Cypress freeway When the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck Northern California... and probably flat as a pancake ! A clear message that you can always trust someone over 30 many times over !

      Thank you for liking this coverage of This wonderful place.



  11. Nice to see these photos, That Bolo must really be rare. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Robert .
      I was surprised to learn that the Douglas Bolo is part of the D.C.-2, 3 and C-47 legacy. I think it’s the Oldest plane in this collection of Aircraft.
      It Being from The 1930 ies it is approching it’s centenary. A very important milestone as time goes!
      May we remember the past. It jiggles like jello on a plate !

  12. Thanks for all the great pix, Bernard. I must mention that my club, the Central Valley Modelers, holds its annual "Make & Take" at the Castle Air Museums "Open Cockpit Day", where we encourage youngsters to join the modeling fraternity. We have a pop-up tent setup right under the wing of the B-24J, located right near the front gate, so we are pretty much one of the first thing that visitors see. We have been doing this for many years, and it has been a lot of fun for participating club members.
    Castle has been holding open-cockpit days twice a year, on Memorial Day weekend, and the Labor Day weekend (but this may have changed to one annual event).
    I encourage everyone to make it to one of the open-cockpit days at the Castle Air Museum, because there is a lot to see. Some of the recent acquisitions include a rare B-58 Hustler (56-666), and a huge EC-121 Super Constellation. The is also SR-71A 960, as well as a presidential DC-9 on display. But, you really must go see all of the exhibits for yourself, because there are simply too many to list here.

    Thanks again, Bernard.

    • Hi Marvin. I did not know this !

      I will look for your modelers tent in September !

      I may have a work commitment but the way things are these days anything is open for being flexible within short notice.

      We can not have hard points in life or we will fall apart ! I have been wanting to visit this museum for many years and I look forward to become a regular Visitor.

      I am also looking forward to meeting you . Thank you for the outreach to kids in this craft. They need hands on things to do.

      Thank you and to the imodeler for connecting this community

  13. I was stationed at Castle Air Force Base 1984-88. Loved this museum. I worked for a Transportation squadron and was out by the B-52's and KC-135 tankers daily. I was able to talk to many prior B-17 pilots and crew members during the B-17's 50th anniversary in 1985. Was able to even sit in the Flying Fortress pilot seat several times. Heard incredible stories that a few crew members never told their families. I was also able to go on a KC-135 Stratotanker mission to re-fuel f-4 Phantoms from Fresno National Guard way out over the Pacific, after only being there a short time. I was not even supposed to leave base as I had just been stationed there. What an incredible flight that was! I sat in the jump-seat between the pilot and co-pilot! Also found it almost impossible to stand up fully in a B-52. I'm 5'8' and I could not stand up straight. Very tight area. Laying down on cat walk was only way to stretch out. I actually saw a "green" navigator crawl out on one, sick as a dog! I saw the B-47 arrive. The whole base shut down to see it land. It tipped up on one wing so far when coming in to land that it tore off several feet of the right wing I believe. We all thought it was going to crash. It was made flyable and flew in from China Lake Range. That was in 1984-or 85 I think.

    The museum was always interesting to visit. Great memories!

    • Hi Jeff. Amazing stories. There are so many of them by our fliers and pilots.

      My first flight was when I was 6 weeks old ! I Have strong memories of seeing the sunrise in the cockpit over the equator or Flying over the Ituri forest with my dad in a Cessna . I love planes. My house is on the flight path to the Napa airport. The Travis airbase traffic comes over frequently. Gigantic airplanes and the people that make it all possible.

      Castle airbase is named after general Frederick Castle that died at the controls of his B-17 over Liege Belgium ( which is my Native country ) on Christmas Eve 1944 . Rather than dropping bombs to lighten the load from his damaged plane over the city he got his crew To bail out and flew on until the plane exploded mid air a few moments later. Makes you choke over this sacrifice. 60.000 Americans died in the air over Europe in WW2 and that many Brits. Let alone all the others.

      Thank you for liking the little photo reportage.

      Stay well and safe.

  14. Great pics BB, never heard of a Douglas B-23, so you've inspire me to do some research about this A/C. Nice looking Bolo as well, I've seen the one on display at the USAF Museum several times. I swear I saw it flying over El Paso, Texas, in the 70's on it's way to Dayton. Quite a story behind it's restoration. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi tom.
      That surprised me as well. This B-23 seems extremely rare and quite a beautiful aircraft. It looks well preserved as well. There is a wrecked one in a National Forest in Idaho I read since that is a hiking destination. Maybe some day that could be a fun adventure. I’ll ask my knees for permission !
      Thank you for appreciating.
      Stay well and yours.

  15. Interesting collection Bernard, thanks for posting !

  16. Hi Allan. Thank you for your comment.
    I think sometimes about the Herzog film “ where the green ants dream “
    It has an Australian DHC Caribou That plays a major part of the story.
    I knew one just like that of the former Zaïre Air Force.
    Be well down there.

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