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

L-19A “Bird Dog”
#51-12107
#N3302T

On display in Cell #2

Click for more aircraft information

 

1951: Constructed as a 305A. CESSNA 305A 22421

1951: Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Air Force with s/n 51-12107

June 23, 1972: Certificate of airworthiness for NR3302T issued.

October 1, 1991: To unknown owner with c/r N3302T.

October 1, 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.

April 4, 1994: Acquired by the State of Michigan through transfer of Surplus Personal Property
Donated to Yankee Air Force in Belleville, MI. This was the first aircraft the Museum acquired in 1994

April 12, 1995: Civil registration N3302T reserved

April 15, 1998: To Yankee Air Force Inc, Belleville, MI with c/r N3302T.    To Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (Formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, MI.
View the Location Dossier.  Aircraft was retrieved from Department of Energy, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Was checked for radioactivity and some parts were removed.  

Estimated value was $20 – $22,000. Restored value is estimated to be $55-66,000.

T-33A
# 53-9848

 On display in Cell #1

Click for more aircraft information

Serial Number: 53-5948
Construction Numbert: 9424
CivilRegistration: N62519
Model:T-33A
History: Was previously on display at Southwest Michigan College, Dowagiac, Mi from1973-1992

Manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank CA and delivered to the US Air Force on September 27, 1955

September 1955: To 157th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (Air National Guard), Congaree AP SC (deployment to Shaw AFB SC)
October 1961: To 122nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (Air National Guard), New Orleans, AP LA
January 1963: To159th Fighter Group (Air National Guard), New Orleans AP
May1971: To 127th Tactical reconnaissance Group (Air National Guard), Selfridge ANGB MI.
June 1972: To 191st Fighter-Interceptor Group (Air National Guard), Selfridge ANGB (deployment to Wright-Patterson AFB OH)
March 1973: Dropped from inventory by transfer to Museum
September 12, 1996: Federal Surplus to Yankee Air Force. Acquisition Value $147,810. Fair Market Value$34, 440
September 1997: Released from Southwestern MI College where it was used in the Aircraft Training Program. Aircraft was disassembled and brought to the Museum on a flat-bed trailer.

 

 

 

KR-2

#N20JD

On display in Cell #2

Click for more aircraft information

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

On display in Cell #2

Click for more aircraft information
The 1988 Osprey II Fixed Wing Single Engine Aircraft  S/N 545A
Donated by Leroy D. Newmarch of Waterford, MI.  Dated 12/9/2008
To be used for education purposes.
 
The Osprey II is an experimental, amphibious plane built from scratch,
not a kit, by Newmarch. Plans for it were purchased from a CA firm and it was built with a Franklin four-cylinder engine, spruce,
and fiberglass over a 10-year period. 
The two-seater is a pusher, meaning its prop, which is mounted high to keep it our of the water spray, is located in the back and pushes the aircraft forward.  It cruises at 120 mph, with a maximum speed of 140 mph.
 
In 2006, Newmarch was the oldest flying pilot at Oakland International Airport.
This plane had about 200 hours in the air.
Empty Weight: 1000#
Max Weight for Take-off 1600#

Barracuda

#N29ML

On display in Cell #1

Click for more aircraft information
This is a complex, high-performance home-built airplane constructed completely of wood.
The Barracuda was designed by Geoff Siers, an English fighter pilot and later a plane designer who moved to the US in 1964.  He built it in the mid 1970’s and was awarded “Most Outstanding New Design”award at the EAA International Fly-in in 1976.
 
Wing Span: 24’9″
Empty Weight 1500#
Gross Weight 2300#
Engine 250 hp
Max Speed 210 mph
Cruise Speed 200 mph
 
 
Acquired from the Yankee Air Force in Belleville MI in 1998

T-33A
# 52-9843

 

 Located in front of the Museum

Click for more aircraft information
 

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

Military Serial #: 52-9843 USAF

Construction Number: 580-8149

Last Civil Registration: N58417

Latest Owner / Location: Wurtsmith Air Museum, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport
(formerly Wurtsmith AFB), Oscoda, Michigan

Manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank CA and delivered to US Air Force on 20 April 1954

April 1954: To 2465th Air Reserve Training Center (US Air Force Reserves), Minneapolis-St. Paul MAP MN (deployment to Ellsworth AFB SD)
June 1955: To 2584th Air Reserve Flying Center (AFRES), Memphis MAP TN
October 1957: To 808th Air Base Group (Tactical Air Command). Bergstrom AFB TX
February 1958: To 27th Air Base Group (TAC), Bergstrom AFB TX
October 1958: To 4130th Air Base Group (Strategic Air Command), Bergstrom AFB TX
March 1959: To 809th Combat Support Group (SAC), McDill AFB Florida
April 1959: To 820th Combat Combat Support Group (SAC), Plattsburg AFB NY
September 1959: To 42nd COmbat Support Group (SAC), Loring AFB, ME
August 1961: To 820th Combat Support Group (SAC), Plattsburg AFB, NY
July 1962: To 380th Bombardment (Medium) Wing (SAC), Plattsburg AFB

SE5a WWI bi-plane
(3/4 scale)

On display in Cell #2

Click for more aircraft information

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

Baker Special
SN 001
N3203

On display in Cell #1

Click for more aircraft information
Formula 1 Racing Aircraft built to PRPA and NAA Racing Specs
Builder, owner and pilot: Marion Baker
August 24, 1970: First test flight – 45 minutes

August 18, 1970: Top speed in test flight was 250 mph

December 1, 1975: Qualified for Reno Air Races at 233.26 MPH

2004: Acquired from EAA Aviation Center, Oshkosh, WI 

Link Trainer

On display in Cell #1

Click for more aircraft information
The image above is not of the Link Trainer the Museum has on site.
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.
July 2003: Donated by Robert L. Doerr or St. Clair Shores, MI.

Robert’s father purchased the trainer at a Government auction WWII.  It was damaged, in storage and in need of repair.

In 2006 – 2007, it was refurbished by Roy Dietz and Dan Wheaton

Displayed in memory of Roy Dietz.  Roy lived in Oscoda Villages and had a pristine workshop in his garage. 

It was there that many hours were spent working on the Link Trainer, with the assistance of Bob Sanderson.

 

Two other planes on display:

Sperry Messanger – a WWI “Courier Plane” 1/2 scale Built by Al Willhite

Piper L4 – By Dominic B. Raona

 

 

 

 

 

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

Contact Us