Exhibits

 

The Wurtsmith Air Museum has thousands of items on
display, waiting for you to learn about.


Here are just a few:

WWI Uniform with its history documented
Local WWI pilot’s flight manual & dog tags
Norden Bomb Sight
Submarine models & history
Tuskegee Airmen Training in Oscoda
The movie “Fighter Squadron” was filmed on base
Letters & artifacts from the Korean War
Coast Guard & Merchant Marine articles
Viet Nam uniforms, medals, patches and a local 4-Star General display
Women in the Military
Information about the KC-135 crash at Wurtsmith in 1988
Kalitta Air history
Ric Mixter “Bombs Away” DVD including his flight on the
“Old Crow Express”, the last B-52 to leave WAFB

 

NEW FOR 2019 

An expanded Wurtsmith Room full of historical information/pictures/articles and more

 

 

 

 

Exhibit Spotlight

 

Norden Bombsight

 

 

 

Did you know …..

…. the Norden bombsight was highly classified. Although its existence and accuracy were heavily publicized to help boost morale, its details were a closely guarded secret. Since it was one of this country’s most important military secrets, no photographs or release of specifications or performance data to the public were allowed.

…. during the Norden bombsight’s long history, the U.S. government purchased more than 50,000 bombsights. By 1944, the typical unit cost was about $7,500. However, the cost of the entire program came to more than $1 billion

…. the Norden bombsight was used to aim the atomic bomb from the Enola Gay above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945

…. The Norden bombsight’s last combat use was in 1967, when it was used for dropping acoustic sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Southeast Asia.

 

Exhibit Info
The Norden bombsight consisted of two primary parts, the gyroscopic stabilization platform on the left side, and the mechanical calculator and sighting head on the right side. They were essentially separate instruments, connecting through the sighting prism. The sighting eyepiece was located in the middle, between the two, in a less than convenient location that required some dexterity to use.
Before use, the Norden’s stabilization platform had to be righted, as it slowly drifted over time and no longer kept the sight pointed vertically. Righting was accomplished through a time consuming process of comparing the platform’s attitude to small spirit levels seen through a glass window on the front of the stabilizer. In practice, this could take as long as eight and a half minutes. This problem was made worse by the fact that the platform’s range of motion was limited, and could be tumbled even by strong turbulence, requiring it to be reset again. This problem seriously upset the usefulness of the Norden, and led the RAF to reject it once they received examples in 1942. Some versions included a system that quickly righted the platform, but this “Automatic Gyro Leveling Device” proved to be a maintenance problem, and was removed from later examples.
Once the stabilizer was righted, the bombardier would then dial in the initial setup for altitude, speed, and direction. The prism would then be “clutched out” of the computer, allowing it to be moved rapidly to search for the target on the ground. Later Nordens were equipped with a reflector sight to aid in this step. Once the target was located the computer was clutched in and started moving the prism to follow the target. The bombardier would begin making adjustments to the aim. As all of the controls were located on the right, and had to be operated while sighting through the telescope, another problem with the Norden is that the bombardier could only adjust either the vertical or horizontal aim at a given time, his other arm was normally busy holding himself up above the telescope.
On top of the device, to the right of the sight, were two final controls. The first was the setting for “trail”, which was pre-set at the start of the mission for the type of bombs being used. The second was the “index window” which displayed the aim point in numerical form. The bombsight calculated the current aim point internally and displayed this as a sliding pointer on the index. The current sighting point, where the prism was aimed, was also displayed against the same scale. In operation, the sight would be set far in advance of the aim point, and as the bomber approached the target the sighting point indicator would slowly slide toward the aim point. When the two met, the bombs were automatically released. The aircraft was moving over 110 metres per second (350 ft/s), so even minor interruptions in timing could dramatically affect aim.
Early examples, and most used by the Navy, had an output that directly drove a Pilot Direction Indicator meter in the cockpit. This eliminated the need to manually signal the pilot, as well as eliminating the possibility of error.
In U.S. Army Air Forces use, the Norden bombsight was attached to its autopilot base, which was in turn connected with the aircraft’s autopilot. The Honeywell C-1 autopilot could be used as an autopilot by the flight crew during the journey to the target area through a control panel in the cockpit, but was more commonly used under direct command of the bombardier. The Norden’s box-like autopilot unit sat behind and below the sight and attached to it at a single rotating pivot. After control of the aircraft was passed to the bombardier during the bomb run, he would first rotate the entire Norden so the vertical line in the sight passed through the target. From that point on, the autopilot would attempt to guide the bomber so it followed the course of the bombsight, and pointed the heading to zero out the drift rate, fed to it through a coupling. As the aircraft turned onto the correct angle, a belt and pulley system rotated the sight back to match the changing heading. The autopilot was another reason for the Norden’s accuracy, as it ensured the aircraft quickly followed the correct course and kept it on that course much more accurately than the pilots could.
Later in the war, the Norden was combined with other systems to widen the conditions for successful bombing. Notable among these was the radar  system called the H2X (Mickey), which were used directly with the Norden bombsight. The radar proved most accurate in coastal regions, as the water surface and the coastline produced a distinctive radar echo.
Since the Norden was considered a critical wartime instrument, bombardiers were required to take an oath during their training stating that they would defend its secret with their own life if necessary. In case the bomber plane should make an emergency landing on enemy territory, the bombardier would have to shoot the important parts of the Norden with a gun to disable it. As this method still would leave a nearly intact apparatus to the enemy, a thermite grenade was installed; the heat of the chemical reaction would melt the Norden into a lump of metal. The Douglas TBDDevastator torpedo bomber was originally equipped with flotation bags in the wings to aid the aircrew’s escape after ditching, but they were removed once the Pacific War began; this ensured that the aircraft would sink, taking the Norden with it.
After each completed mission, bomber crews left the aircraft with a bag which they deposited in a safe (“the Bomb Vault”). This secure facility (“the AFCE and Bombsight Shop”) was typically in one of the base’s Nissen hut (Quonset hut) support buildings. The Bombsight Shop was manned by enlisted men who were members of a Supply Depot Service Group (“Sub Depot”) attached to each USAAF bombardment group. These shops not only guarded the bombsights but performed critical maintenance on the Norden and related control equipment. This was probably the most technically skilled ground-echelon job, and certainly the most secret, of all the work performed by Sub Depot personnel. The non-commissioned officer in charge and his staff had to have a high aptitude for understanding and working with mechanical devices.
As the end of World War II neared, the bombsight was gradually downgraded in its secrecy; however, it was not until 1944 that the first public display of the instrument occurred.
 

Flight journal of
Walter C. Reames

Exhibit Info

Walter Cleveland Reams was born in 1888 in Big Springs Ohio
and later moved to Greenbush Michigan.

While serving as a cadet with the 27th
Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas,

He was killed in an airplane accident on March 8 1921 and was buried in Harrisville Michigan,
approximately 20 miles north of Oscoda Michigan.

Walter’s relatives have graciously donated his Flight journal, which
provides an insight to flight training in the 1920s, to the Museum.

 

WWI Draft registration card


 

 

 

U.S. Navy 45/70 Line Throwing Gun

Exhibit Info

This “line throwing gun” is over 130 years old.
It was manufactured at the Springfield Armory in 1885
and has seen duty on numerous ships during its 92 years of service.

This firearm is on loan, courtesy of:

Charles Goslee
Oscoda, Michigan

“Wurtsmith Magic” Quilt

Exhibit Info

The “Wurtsmith Magic” quilt was hand sewn by the Officers Wives Club in the
1980s and originally was displayed in the Base library.
Each member worked to create individual blocks which were then sewn together in the basement of the commander’s house. We believe all services and organizations on base at that time, are represented.

 


The quilt is on display inside the main door to the museum.

 


The term ‘Wurtsmith Magic’ was a motivational term used in the mid-1980’s on base. 

 

 

This photograph appeared in the March 1987 edition of The Warbler.
The caption reads,
“While visiting the Base Library on her tour of Wurtsmith,
Mrs. Chain stopped to see the “Wurtsmith Magic” quilt”.

 

Above are (L to R) Kay Lewis (wife of Captain James Lewis), Mrs. Chain,
Nancy Davitte & Conie Sauter (wife of  Captain Albert Sauter)

 

The WARBLER was an unofficial publication of the Wurtsmith Officers’ Wives Club, Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan 48753.
It was printed monthly except Jan., July, and Aug. by Northeastern Printers, Inc. Tawas City, Michigan 48764-0447

The Welcome Hotel
Oscoda, Mi

 

Did you know …..

…. The Tuskegee Airmen enjoyed the Welcome Hotel in 1943

Exhibit Info
The Welcome Hotel had its role in reducing segregationist policies during WWII (at least for a while) when black airmen trained at Oscoda Army Air Field  in 1943.  One of the Tuskegee Airmen, Walter Palmer, was stationed in Oscoda in the fall of 1943, when local attitudes towards the black airmen had become more accepting.  Palmer was able to install his wife (they had been married that summer) in a room in the Welcome Hotel.  He thought that the town was a “vacation paradise,” even in November. Situated on the east bank of the AuSable River, the Hotel made full use of its proximity to the river, and the hotel staff did not have to worry about what would be served for dinner.  Palmer recalled that the fishing poles were always suspended over the river from the back porch and when we ordered a fish dinner we never knew what we would get on our plate; it was that fresh!  It was prepared beautifully and always tasted delicious.  Several of the officers and their wives lived in the hotel and ate in the hotel dining room.
An African-American enlisted man assigned to OAAF, Elvin E. Thomas, had a similar experience involving the Welcome Hotel.  During his stay at Oscoda, he and his wife rented a room in the hotel for $10 a week, and his wife was promptly hired as a waitress.  Thomas credited the hotel owners,  Gordon and Charlotte Welcome, with providing the black airmen a comfortable environment free from the policies of segregation.  Thomas later recalled how the black airmen could come into the hotel and order drinks at the bar.  The freedom to enter the hotel which catered to white people and not be told to leave or to sit in a reserved area a “new experience for many of the men” who trained in Oscoda.
Excerpt from an article written by David Vaughn about the Tuskegee Airmen training at Oscoda

AIRCRAFT ON DISPLAY

UH-1
Bell Huey

Helicopter is in hanger 1

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is currently being researched but here is what we know.
Airframe Family: Bell 204/205/208/208/212/214/412/553 / UH-1 Iroquois
Latest Model: UH-1H Iroquois
Last Military Serial: 66-16048 US
Construction Number: 5742
Last Civil Registration: N13YA
Latest Owner or Location: Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, Michigan
Dates
 
Event
   
Constructed as an UH-1H.
25 January 1996
 
To unknown owner with c/r N13YA.
Circa 1966
 
Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Army with s/n 66-16048.
   
To unknown owner with c/r N13YA.
Sale reported to a new owner in Belleville, MI.
   
To Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (Formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, MI.
View the Location Dossier
1 August 2011
 
Civil registration, N13YA, cancelled.

T-33

# 9848

 Aircraft is in hanger #1

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is currently being researched

KR-2

#N20JD

Aircraft is in hanger 2

Aircraft Info

KR-2 Aircraft
S/N N2)JD

1980 “Homebuilt”
Reymaster Engine 2100, 70 MPH

Donated by Builder, Owner & Pilot
John A. Debliek
Midland, Michigan

October  11, 2007

Osprey

#N16LN

Aircraft is in hanger 2

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is currently being researched

Barracuda

#N29ML

Aircraft is in hanger 2

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is currently being researched

L-19A
Bird Dog

Aircraft is in hanger 2

Aircraft Info

History of this aircraft is still being researched but here is we do know –

This was the first aircraft the Museum acquired in 1994.

Dates
 
Event
1951
 
Constructed as a 305A.
CESSNA 305A 22421
Circa 1951
 
Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Air Force with s/n 51-12107.
23 June 1972
 
Certificate of airworthiness for NR3302T issued.
23 June 1972
 
Certificate of airworthiness for NR3302T (305A, 22421) issued.
   
To Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (Formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, MI.
View the Location Dossier
By 1 October 1991
 
To unknown owner with c/r N3302T.
1 October 1991
 
Involved in an incident.
Summarized NTSB narrative from report number LAX92T#A01: There were no fatalities.
For a complete description of the event read the NTSB Report.
12 April 1995
 
Civil registration N3302T reserved.
15 April 1998
 
To Yankee Air Force Inc, Belleville, MI with c/r N3302T.
Serial #: 51-12107
Construction #: 22421
Civil Registration:
N3302T
Model(s):
L-19A Bird Dog
O-1A Bird Dog
Name: None
Status: Stored
Last info: 2015
  History:
Yankee Air Force Inc, Belleville, MI, April 1995-2015.
– Registered as N3302T.
– Stored.

T-33
# 9843

 

 Located in front of the Museum

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is still being researched but here is what we know –

 

Airframe Family: Lockheed L-80/P-80/T-33/TO/TV Shooting Star / T2V Sea Star / CT-133 Silver Star / F-94 Starfire
Latest Model: T-33A
Last Military Serial: 52-9843 USAF
Construction Number: 580-8149
Last Civil Registration: N58417
Latest Owner or Location: Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, Michigan
   
Constructed as a T-33A.
Circa 1952
 
Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Air Force with s/n 52-9843.
   
To Detroit Education Board, Detroit, MI with c/r N58417.
   
Based at Benjamin Oliver Davis Junior Aerospace Technical High School, Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport (DET), Detroit, MI.
10 August 1977
 
Civil registration, N58417, cancelled.
   
To Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, MI.
30 August 2012
 
Civil registration, N58417, cancelled.

8 May 2017

 

Photographer: Robert Oakes
Notes: 52-9843 at the Wordsmith air museum. Plans are in work to get her cleaned up and restored for outdoor display. She has both cockpits virtually intact.

 

SOURCE: https://www.aerialvisuals.ca/AirframeDossier.php?Serial=16158

SE5a WWI bi-plane
(3/4 scale)

Aircraft is in hanger 2

Aircraft Info

S.E.5.A

S/N N1031G
1979 “Homebuilt”
C.Taylor

N. Tonawanda, NY

ORIGIN: Royal Aircraft Factory
United Kingdon 1917

Donated by:
Stan Aldridge
Lake Orion, MI 2015

future aircraft listing

Aircraft is in hanger 1

Aircraft Info
History of this aircraft is currently being researched

Link Trainer

Aircraft is in hanger 1

Aircraft Info
The image above is not of the Link Trainer the Museum has on site.
The history of this trainer is currently being researched

The term Link Trainer, also known as the “Blue box” and “Pilot Trainer” is commonly used to refer to a series of flight simulators produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by the Link Aviation Devices, Inc, founded and headed by Ed Link, based on technology he pioneered in 1929 at his family’s business in Binghamton, New York. During World War II, they were used as a key pilot training aid by almost every combatant nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During your visit, be sure to stop by the gift shop and pick up
a customized dog tag (available in 2 finishes) for only $5.00.

Made on our vintage 1940s Graphotype

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