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Pose with a Nuclear Missile at USAF Museum’s Cold War Exhibit

Written by on Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Today’s portion of the virtual tour through the National Museum of the United States Air Force brings us to the Cold War exhibit, the largest and arguably the most impressive portion of the museum. The rise of the US and the Soviet Union as the two world superpowers resulted in an unparalleled military arms race. The world had witnessed the terrible destructive power of the atomic bomb in Japan, and the fact that the US and Russia both possessed the bomb caused tension to escalate to nearly unbearable levels.

This pushed the US to create new and powerful aircraft to counter the potential threats of the Soviet Union. Serving as a constant and powerful reminder of the extreme tension between these two nations, the Mark 41 Thermonuclear Bomb is the first thing visitors see upon entering the Cold War exhibit. It sits next to the B-36J Peacemaker, an intercontinental bomber capable of delivering a nuclear payload. Across from each of these is the lean SM-62 Snark, one of the world’s first ICMBs.

The hangar also includes the newer version of the incredibly successful B-29, the B-50 Stratofortress. The B-50 was faster, stronger, and more advanced than its Vietnam War ancestor. The aircraft was so reliable that several B-50s were reoutfitted into tankers to provide aerial refueling. The Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter, a cargo aircraft, buy antibiotics portugal also traces its origins back to the B-29.

The Cold War also forced a dramatic shift in aerial technology. The USAF was making leaps and bounds in advancements with reconnaissance and stealth, enabling a new breed of aircraft unlike anything else before it. The Lockheed U-2A, for example, served as an extremely high altitude reconnaissance aircraft that could make observations from as high as 70,000 feet. Not only did this make the U-2 difficult to detect, but it was also virtually impossible to shoot down.

The SR-71 Blackbird used a similar strategy to avoid enemy fire. The SR-71’s frame utilized radar-deflecting technology, and the aircraft traveled at such incredibly high speeds that no weapon could reliably hit it. Perhaps the most famous example of stealth technology is the iconic B-2 Spirit. Its unique frame rendered it nearly invisible to radar, and it could deliver conventional or nuclear bombs deep behind enemy lines.

This new wave of stealth-focused aircraft represents a paradigm shift. Since the Cold War, stealth and anti-stealth technology have become the focal point of the USAF, and it is paramount in the development and utilization of the modern F-35 multipurpose fighter.

The importance of the Cold War cannot possibly be overstated. Not only was it vital because it secured America’s position as the world superpower, but it also served as the starting point for almost all modern military aircraft.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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