Of 27 aircraft on display at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum (SDASM), these eight flew during WWII:
- Douglas A-26 Invader: Medium bomber used against tactical land targets, shipping, etc., in WWII and the Korean War. SDASM’s A-26 is a WWII and Korean War era airframe, modified for service in the 1960’s under the ON MARK program. These aircraft served in combat with the USAF in Vietnam and covertly with the CIA during the 1960’s. SDASM’s A-26 may have participated in the infamous Bay of Pigs operation.
- North American B-25 Mitchell: WWII Medium bomber used against tactical land targets, shipping, etc. SDASM’s B-25 is a special transport variant that served as the personal transport of GEN Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff.
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress: Strategic bomber used against Japan in WWII. Special “Silverplate” mod was made for the atom bombs. SDASM’s B-29 is a standard model, representing the 28th BW as it deployed to England in support of the Berlin Airlift in 1948. B-29’s also flew numerous combat missions in the Korean War.
- Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor: Military version of the famous Beech-18. Primary WWII mission was liaison transport. A glass-nosed version (AT-11) was used as a bombing & navigation trainer.
- Douglas C-47 Skytrain (British “Dakota”): Nicknamed the Gooney Bird, the C-47 is the military transport version of the 1930’s advanced, DC-3 airliner. C-47’s served as strategic transports and were the USAAF’s primary combat delivery system for paratroopers and aerial resupply missions during WWII. C-47’s continued to serve in Korea & Vietnam, to include gunship, reconnaissance and electronic warfare variants.
- Douglas C-54 Skymaster: WWII global transport used by the US Army Air Force, US Navy & the allies. Also USAF’s primary transport in the Berlin Airlift and Korean War. SDASM’s C-54 participated in the Berlin Airlift, flown by US Navy transport squadron VR-6.
- Stinson L-5 Sentinel (indoor exhibit): Light, two-seat aircraft used as a target spotter for artillery. Additional missions included liaison transport, Spec Ops infil/exfil and CASEVAC flying ambulance. Nicknamed “Bamboo Bombers” in the CBI during WWII. These aircraft were stationed at RCAAF, c.1946.
The South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame has inducted six veterans into the South Dakota Combat Aircrew Memorial. Each gets their name on a Hall of Fame board in a museum display at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum gallery located just outside Ellsworth's main entrance. The six honorees were:
Wesley Kline, whose record includes 400 command missions while serving in Vietnam; he is also credited with more than 10,000 flying hours in 74 different aircraft, including hellicopters and gliders.
Don Eibert, who safely landed a single-engine aircraft that had flamed out 10-miles from its runway; he is one of the few pilots to ever cross the Pacific Ocean while piloting a C-2 Greyhound.
Laverne Tech, whose accomplishments range from flying C-123 and C-130 aircraft all over Europe to culminating as an aircraft coImnander in B-52s at Ellsworth.
Gerald Teachout, who flew in World War II, Korea and Vietnam before flying KC-135 tankers at Ellsworth. He is credited with 1,264 combat hours in various military aircraft.
Chuck Childs, whose record includes piloting B-17s in Europe with 37 combat missions and returning again to Europe after World War II to fly cargo aircraft during the Berlin Airlift. He later flew in the Korean War and at the end of his career had qualified in 21 different military and civilian airplanes.
John Welch, who flew 35 combat missions with the 8th Air Force in Europe during World War II, flew B-36s and B-52s from Ellsworth later in his career. After serving as a forward air control commander in Vietnam, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he began research and development on the B-1B Lancer.
by Rapid City Journal