By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
To see different types of animals in your local area, you may take a trip to your city zoo. However, there are other “animals” people can browse at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force that made their mark on Air Force history. Can’t make the trip to the museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio? No worries! We have an exhibit full of Air Force “animals” for you to see right here. Can you think of any other animals serving or making an impact in the Air Force?
The “Camel” was flown during World War I. The British Sopwith Camel F.1 shot down more enemy aircraft than any other WWI fighter. It also was made popular as the aircraft Snoopy flew in the “Peanuts” comic.
One of the most active messenger pigeons in the Army, “John Silver” was wounded in battle. A bullet had torn his breast, bits of shrapnel ripped his tiny body, and his right leg was missing, but the message tube, intact, was hanging by the ligaments of the torn leg. “Stumpy John” is on display in the museum’s Early Years Gallery.
A bird dog tracks the scent of animals. Likewise, the O-1 Bird Dog was used for such tasks as artillery spotting, front-line communications, medical evacuation and pilot training.
The F-22 Raptor, named for the bird of prey known for its keen vision, is the world’s first stealthy air dominance fighter.
The majestic eagle has long been recognized as a symbol of the United States. The F-15 is a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its great acceleration and maneuverability.
Unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” the SR-71 is one of the most well-known Air Force aircraft. Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft.
Named for a predatory scorpion, the F-89 could locate, intercept and destroy enemy aircraft by day or night under all types of weather conditions.
Aardvarks are known as burrowing, nocturnal animals. The F-111 Aardvark had swept wings and could also fly at very low levels and hit targets in bad weather.
The Cessna UC-78 Bobcat was used as a light transport aircraft.
The De Havilland C-7 Caribou was used primarily for tactical airlift missions from short, unimproved airstrips in forward battle areas during the Southeast Asia War.
Moths might be seen as a nuisance, but the De Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth was quite popular. During World War II, most Royal Air Force pilots trained in Tiger Moths, including Americans who flew with the Eagle Squadrons before the U.S. entered the war. It is one of a number of models of light aircraft named for moths, in recognition of designer Geoffrey de Havilland’s interest in moths and butterflies.
Mustangs are known as free-ranging horses in the American West. The P-51 Mustang was among the best and most well-known fighters in history, serving in nearly every combat zone during WWII and later during in the Korean War.
The museum’s P-40 has a couple of animal references. Named the Warhawk, the aircraft has a shark mouth. In addition, the insignia painted on the side depicts a tiger – P-40s served with the famed Flying Tigers in China in 1942.
Much like an owl in flight, the Curtiss O-52 Owl was built for observation duties.
“Vittles” the dog flew 131 missions with his owner, 1st Lt. Russ Steber, during the Berlin Airlift. Gen. Curtis LeMay named the dog and ordered the parachute made for him. Vittles, a boxer, accumulated around 2,000 flying hours, but never had to use the parachute.
One of the P-47s in the museum’s World War II Gallery has a pink elephant painted near the propeller. The elephant was a reference to the Disney film “Dumbo,” which was in released in 1941.
Although named after an irritating insect, the British DH 98 Mosquito was quite famous and used extensively during World War II. In the museum’s exhibit, the “Mossie” is being painted with D-Day invasion stripes.
The Grumman OA-12 Duck was used by the U.S. Air Forces’ Air Rescue Service for overwater missions.
Falcons are some of the fastest moving creatures on Earth. In addition to its role as a fighter aircraft, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is used by the Air Force Thunderbirds during their air shows.
Named the Dragonfly, the Sikorsky H-5 gained its greatest fame during the Korean War when it was called upon repeatedly to rescue United Nations’ pilots shot down behind enemy lines and to evacuate wounded personnel from frontline areas.
Curtiss built a long series of fighter aircraft carrying the name “Hawk.” This one is the P-6E on display in the museum’s Early Years Gallery. This aircraft has another animal visible on the side – the great snow owl was the insignia of the 17th Aero Squadron.