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MASDC, AMARC and AMARG, Better Known as the “Boneyard”

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Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona is home to the United States military’s storage and regeneration center for warplanes. I was privileged to have the opportunity to visit the facility on multiple occasions during the 1980s, 1990s, and the early 2000s and have seen many relics and historic aircraft that don’t exist today.

Many aircraft are scrapped and melted down into metal ingots to be used again in the construction of aircraft. Others donate parts to keep newer aircraft in the air, or are regenerated themselves for continued U.S. military use. Still others are sold and/or sent to different countries to continue their service in the hands of non-U.S. pilots.

Here is a short scrapbook of photos that stretches across those three decades, you can hover over each photo to see what the aircraft type is.

104th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle 85-0125 with Special Unit Member Names and US Flag Nose Art

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The 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, based at Westfield Barnes Regional Airport, recently applied amazing art work to both sides of the nose area of wing jet F-15C Eagle 85-0125. The art work consists of all members’ names, to form a US Flag. Additionally, past members who are Gold Star names, are in gold. Also, this jet scored an Iraqi MiG-29 kill during the Gulf war in 1991.

I was fortunate to be able to get some photos of the jet on 25 February 2021. Seeing it up close and in person was an honor, and really showed the creativity and challenges overcome with the creation of the art, and working around the various parts of the airframe. Here’s a link to the Wing’s official story with more details:

104th Fighter Wing Flagship F-15 receives symbolic graphics > 104th Fighter Wing > Article Display (af.mil)

Very special thanks to all the 104th Fighter Wing members, and to Colonel Tom “Sling” Bladen – 104th FW Commander, who escorted me to capture these photos.

Our L-Bird Review

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Prior to World War II, the US Army, Navy and Marines utilized various light aircraft to act as observation craft for spotting long-range cannon fire, photography and general communications duties. These aircraft were usually identified with the letter “O-”  for “Observation”. During the war, the O changed to “L-“, for “Liaison”, but their prior duties remained and were expanded into fledgling forward air control (FAC) duties as well… armed with radios and light weapons. 

After World War II ended, the “L-birds” continued to be useful; their duties were more of a tactical recon platform (photographic, communications relay and intercept, and light attack/Forward Air Control) as well as small transports. The fabric-covered light aircraft of World War II were replaced with more modern metal-covered airframes, and engine size increased too, into the Vietnam War era. Observation aircraft like the O-1 Bird Dog, OV-1 Mohawk and O-2 Skymaster utilized the “O-” suffix in their types, and the new “U-” for Utility aircraft were recoded… especially after 1962 when a uniform ID system was adopted throughout the US military branches.

Throughout the history of this class of aircraft, many were militarized versions of a civilian light aircraft. For instance, the L-5 Sentinel was a militarized Stinson Voyager, and the LC-126 was a militarized Cessna 195 executive transport.  The Piper L-4 was a copy of the J-3 Cub too.

Here are a series of photos of L-birds (and O- birds and U- birds too). You can hover over a photo for a quick ID of the maker and type.

Multi-Engined Piston Powered Warbirds Scrapbook

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Here’s a look at a group of multi-engined, piston powered warbirds. Their duties include serving transports, bombers, observation, liaison, fighters and trainers. You can click on each photo to enlarge it, and hover over each photo to see their basic type designators too. 

Next week, we’re going to delve into the world of liaison aircraft much deeper, so stay tuned!