Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California

Castle Air Force Base History

The Army Air Corps Basic Flying School in Merced, CA, opened in September 1941, one of the many such fields built around the country to meet the needs of the Army's Pilot Training Program. It was later known as Merced Army Airfield, and in 1946 it was renamed Castle Air Force Base in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle.

Over the years the base was home to a number of bombers, including the B-29, B-36, B-47 and B-52, and supporting aerial tankers such as the KC-135. The base was closed in 1995, and today is known as the Castle Airport Aviation and Development Center.

Castle Air Museum

A group of dedicated enthusiasts in the Atwater-Merced area formed the Castle Air Museum Foundation, Inc. which is now a non-profit organization. Its purpose is to build a facility in which faithfully restored historic aircraft could be exhibited for public enjoyment.

It opened in 1981, on a site adjacent to the former Castle Air Force Base. Most of the workers there are volunteers, and the small admission charge helps defray restoration and maintenance projects. Although most of the aircraft on display belong to the U.S. Air Force Museum, it does not provide any funds for maintenance and repair.

Highlights of Aircraft at the Castle Air Museum

Today, the collection includes 54 restored World War II, Korean War, and Cold War era aircraft.

  • B-29A "Raz'n Hell"
    B-29A Superfortress "Raz'n Hell"
    (photo by Planes Of The Past)
    Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator
  • North American B-25J Mitchell
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress
  • Convair RB-36H Peacemaker
  • North American B-45 Tornado
  • Boeing B-47 Stratojet
  • Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
  • Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
  • Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
  • North American F-86 Sabre
  • Northrup F-89 Scorpion
  • North American F-100 Super Sabre
  • McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
  • Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
  • Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
  • Republic F-105 Thunderchief
  • General Dynamics FB-111 Aardvark
  • McDonnell F-4E Phantom II
  • Grumman F-14D Tomcat
  • Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
  • C-47 Skytrain
  • Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
  • Lockheed C-46 Lodestar
  • Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker
  • and many others
Nose art painted on C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven"
C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven" on display at the Castle Air Museum
(photo by Planes Of The Past)

Visiting the Castle Air Museum

At the Museum you can actually get up close to the planes, and touch them! To make the experience even more personal, they even schedule “Open Cockpit” days during the Memorial Day weekend; other special events are scheduled during the year.

The Convair B-36 on display is one of only four remaining “Peacemakers”. While studying and photographing the B-36 during our visit, a volunteer drove up in a golf cart. He was a pilot on KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft, stationed at Castle AFB, and was a wealth of aeronautical history, and enthusiasm!

The outdoor plane galleries cover 11 acres, and indoor exhibits features photographs, uniforms, and other war memorabilia. It is open daily year-round (weather permitting), except for New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The airplanes are outside, so prepare in advance if the weather is rainy, cold, hot or windy.

Don’t miss this fine collection of American air power!

 

Aerial view of the Castle Air Museum
Aerial view

Boeing B-47E Stratojet S/N 52-0166
Boeing B-47E Stratojet S/N 52-0166
Convair RB36 Peacemaker S/N 51-13730
Convair RB36 Peacemaker S/N 51-13730
C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven" S/N 43-15977
C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven" S/N 43-15977

B-29A "Raz'n Hell" at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California
Composite aircraft built from three airframes:
B-29-75-BW 44-70064 ; B-29A-35-BN 44-61535 (the original Raz'n Hell); and B-29-50-BA 44-84084.
displayed as S/N 44-61535

B-29A "Raz'n Hell"
B-25J Mitchell "Lazy Daisy Mae" S/N 44-86891
B-25J Mitchell "Lazy Daisy Mae" S/N 44-86891

 

 

Boeing B-17G "Virgin's Delight" S/N 43-38635
Boeing B-17G "Virgin's Delight" S/N 43-38635
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-0612
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress S/N 56-0612
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker S/N 55-3139
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker S/N 55-3139
Boeing WB-50D "Flight of the Phoenix" S/N 49-0351
Boeing WB-50D "Flight of the Phoenix" S/N 49-0351
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak S/N 51-9433
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak S/N 51-9433
North American F-86H Sabre S/N 53-1230
North American F-86H Sabre S/N 53-1230
North American F-100 Super Sabre
S/N 53-1709 (displayed as F-100D -- 55-2789)
North American F-100 Super Sabre
Air Force Thunderbird No. 6 - McDonnell F-4E Phantom II - S/N 66-0289
Air Force Thunderbird No. 6 - McDonnell F-4E Phantom II - S/N 66-0289
Grumman HU-16B Albatross - S/N 51-7163
Grumman HU-16B Albatross - S/N 51-7163

 

Area Map

The map below shows the Castle Air Museum, physically located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater, CA 95301. Phone 209.723.2178.

For more information, we highly recommend a visit to the website of the Castle Air Museum


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