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Tour a B-17 and other aircraft at the Palm Springs Air Museum

From WWII fighters and bombers to the jet age, the Palm Springs Air Museum offers a unique look inside and around some incredible aircraft.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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Palm Springs Air Museum

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. 

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Falcon

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

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Ready to launch

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

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Ready to fly

This C-47 is available for rides.

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TP-40N

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

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A not B

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

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Big and fast

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

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Armament

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. 

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Thunder in the desert

The big, fast F-105D Thunderchief.

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MiG-21

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

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Seaplane near no sea

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

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Anti-sub

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

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Spitfire

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

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Desert Tomcat

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?

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New hangar

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

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Supersonic

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

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Starfighter

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

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Dutch

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

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Phantom II

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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86 + 84

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

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Prowler

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. 

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Delta wing

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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Trainer jet

The innards of a T-33.

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Dive bomber

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

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Hellcat

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

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B-25

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

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"Medium bomber"

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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"W"

The F4U Corsair and its instantly recognizable wings.

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Tigercat

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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Bearcat

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.

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Texan

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

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P-51

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

This photo is from my Instagram.

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Cobra

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

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C-47

Parked back inside, it seems bigger, somehow.

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Rather roomy

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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Ground attack

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

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Miss Angela

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

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Below the bomb bay

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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Nose

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

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Up into the cockpit

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

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Top turret

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

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Bomb bay

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

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Electronics office

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.

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View over the top

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

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Radio radio

The view back towards the cockpit.

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Waist gunner

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

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Ball turret

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

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Tail gunner

Vitally important, but what a place to be. 

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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.

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