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Christmas Gift Guide

Palm Springs Air Museum

Falcon

Ready to launch

Ready to fly

TP-40N

A not B

Big and fast

Armament

Thunder in the desert

MiG-21

Seaplane near no sea

Anti-sub

Spitfire

Desert Tomcat

New hangar

Supersonic

Starfighter

Dutch

Phantom II

86 + 84

Prowler

Delta wing

Trainer jet

Dive bomber

Hellcat

B-25

"Medium bomber"

"W"

Tigercat

Bearcat

Texan

P-51

Cobra

C-47

Rather roomy

Ground attack

Miss Angela

Below the bomb bay

Nose

Up into the cockpit

Top turret

Bomb bay

Electronics office

View over the top

Radio radio

Waist gunner

Ball turret

Tail gunner

Located next to the airport, the Palm Springs Air Museum is easy to find. Like most things in the area, parking is abundant, but don't expect much shade. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Before you even enter the museum you're greeted by several iconic planes, such as this F-16

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This F/A-18 is poised as if taking off from an aircraft carrier. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This C-47 is available for rides.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Looking resplendent with its toothy painted grin, this P-40 is actually a two-seater training variant. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A Douglas A-26 Invader, also known as a B-26, not to be confused with the slightly older and slightly larger Martin B-26

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The speedy A-26 was in service well into the 1960s. And it was with the Air National Guard until the early 70s.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Depending on the mission, the A-26 might have up to 20 50-cal machine guns. Internally it could hold up to 4,000 pounds (1814kg) of bombs with some more on the wings, if required. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The big, fast F-105D Thunderchief.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Over 60 countries flew the MiG-21, and some still do, over 60 years after its first flight. This was an early "A" variant.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

An odd sight in the middle of the desert, but it's always good to see a PBY Catalina

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Not many submarines out here either, but this is a fine-looking C-1 Trader. Behind is a Lockheed Ventura.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A MkXIV Spitfire, rather far from home but looking brand new.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I heard there's going to be a "Top Gun" sequel. With all the F-14s retired, what will they use to replace its real star?

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You're able to get up close and peer into several mid-century jet aircraft, like this F-100 Super Sabre

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The F-100 was the Air Force's first plane able to go supersonic in level flight. 

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One of my favorites, an F-104 Starfighter. Impossibly thin, with tiny wings. 

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This F-104 was built in Amsterdam, and served its operational life with the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

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The F-4 had a loooong service life. With the US, it served for 56 years. It's still in service in some air forces around the world. 

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An F-86 and F-84 flanking a super rare M422 "Mighty Mite" by AMC.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

EA-6B Prowler is based on the A-6 Intruder, but features a longer airframe to allow for the four-man cockpit (note the aft canopy "skylight"). Both canopies have a layer of gold to protect the crew from the electronic warfare's EM emissions. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

It was hard to get a good angle of this F-102 Delta Dagger's delta wing, but this shot's pretty cool.

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The innards of a T-33.

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A beautiful blue SBD Dauntless. You can see holes of the slightly extended dive brakes under the wings.  

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This is actually an F6F-5N night fighter variant. It was in service until 1959 in California. 

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This particular B-25 entered service in 1945 and was retired in 1959.

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Like so many other WWII aircraft, pictures don't give a good indication of size. This is classified as a medium bomber, but size-wise it's not much bigger than a city bus. Well, a city bus with huge wings anyway. 

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The F4U Corsair and its instantly recognizable wings.

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It didn't see combat in WWII, but the F7F did see action in Korea. This one served with the Marines as a night fighter and night fighter trainer until 1956.

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The third of the museum's cat trifecta, the F8F Bearcat. This examples was one of two built for civilian use, specifically the head of product support at Grumman.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

An AT-6G. This one was rebuilt several times in its life, originally starting as a T-6C.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ready to fly... almost. Next year this P-51 should be ready for public rides. 

This photo is from my Instagram.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

An AH-1, which used many of the same components as the Huey... which you can see an example of peeking out right behind.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Parked back inside, it seems bigger, somehow.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You can see one of the reasons why the DC-3 and C-47 were so popular: There's lots of usable space here. 

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The P-47 was heavy, but packed quite a punch: Eight 50-cal machine guns plus bombs or rockets.

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The museum's pride and joy, the B-17G "Miss Angela."

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A look up and inside the B-17s bomb bay. The B-17G could carry up to 8,000 pounds (3,629kg) of bombs.

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After squeezing through the hatch, you've got a great look at the bombardier station. 

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You can watch a 360-degree video of this view right here.

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I can only imagine the view of the sky from here. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

It's a narrow walk, more of a shuffle really, to the rest of the aircraft.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There's a surprising amount of space here, though I imagine it'd seem a lot more cramped with the crew on board in all their gear.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

With the "skylight" removed, and you're tall enough, you can pop up and take a gander down the wings. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The view back towards the cockpit.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Only some models had plexiglass windows here. Imagine the cold. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

In this view forward you can see the top of the bull turret.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Vitally important, but what a place to be. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

After one last look at the lovely aircraft, I headed home. 

For the full story behind this tour, check out Climb into the cockpit of an F-104 Starfighter with me.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
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