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“Up-Close Aircraft Day” Focus on Vietnam War Attack Fighter

March Field

March Field Air Museum Announces September 8 “Up-Close Aircraft Day”

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – March Field Air Museum is proud to announce the ninth installment of “Up-Close Aircraft Days” on Saturday, September 8, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. As part of this new interpretive program, a different aircraft is featured each month with the next focused on the supersonic F-105D Thunderchief. On the second Saturday of each month throughout the year, Museum guests will have the opportunity for a close-up look – sometimes climbing stairs to get a close-up view into the cargo bay or cockpit, other times even climbing aboard.

For the upcoming “Up-Close Aircraft Day” focused on the F-105D Thunderchief, guests will see an aircraft that played significant roles in the Vietnam War, and set records for the payloads that a single-engine aircraft could carry. On this day, visitors to March Field Air Museum will get an up-close view of the Museum’s Thunderchief, peering into the cockpit at close range

When the F-105 Thunderchief entered service in the late 1950s, it was the largest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history, weighing approximately 50,000 pounds. It could exceed the speed of sound at sea level, and reach Mach 2 at high altitudes while carrying up to 14,000 lbs. of bombs and missiles. Armed with missiles and a rotary cannon, the Thunderchief’s design was tailored to high-speed, low-altitude penetration carrying a single nuclear weapon internally.

The U.S. Air Force gradually changed the F-105’s mission from nuclear interdiction to conventional bombing. Upgrades in the early 1960s increased the aircraft’s capacity from four to 16 conventional 750 lb. bombs, and added the equipment to launch air-to-ground missiles. In June 1961, an F-105D delivered 15,430 lbs. of conventional bombs during a USAF test—at the time a record for a single-engine aircraft, with a payload three times heavier than American four-engine heavy bombers of World War II such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, though aerial refueling was required for long missions.

In spite of a troubled early service life, the F-105 became the dominant attack aircraft early in the Vietnam War and flew over 20,000 sorties. The Thunderchief could carry more than twice the bomb load farther and faster than the F-100 Super Sabre, which was used mostly in South Vietnam. The F-105 Thunderchief was later replaced as a strike aircraft over North Vietnam by both the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and the swing-wing General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark. The March Field Air Museum’s F-105D Thunderchief, serial number 62-4383, served with the Pacific Air Force, Tactical Air Command and the Air Force Reserve before being retired in January 1984.

The Museum’s website features extensive information on each aircraft in its collection of more than 80 total, for those wishing to learn more.  Knowledgeable museum docents, dressed in period uniforms whenever possible, will be on hand to assist visitors, provide information and answer questions. The March Field Air Museum website will list upcoming “Up-Close Aircraft Days” and the featured aircraft each month; for more information, visit

“This new ‘Up-Close Aircraft Days’ program allows March Field Air Museum to showcase the incredible aviation heritage of the U.S. Air Force and military, and especially Riverside’s own March Field,” said Executive Director Paul Hammond. “Today known as March Air Reserve Base, this architectural gem of a military installation in 2018 is commemorating its presence in our community for 100 years. March Field is the West Coast’s oldest continuously operated military airfield, and a birthplace of the modern Air Force that our nation relies upon today.”

Each “Up-Close Aircraft Days” opportunity will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the scheduled date (Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and is included with regular Museum admission: $10 for guests ages 12 years and older; $5 for children ages 5 to 11 years; and free for ages 4 and younger. In case of inclement weather, other aircraft may be substituted. March Field Air Museum is a top-rated TripAdvisor attraction located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. For more information about the Museum, please call 951-902-5949 or visit

About March Field’s Centennial

March Field (today’s March Air Reserve Base, located immediately adjacent to the March Field Air Museum) is the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating military airfield. Established in 1918 as the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, it began life as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Following several sleepy years in the 1920s, March Field was expanded in the 1930s as the world again prepared for war. As March Field passed the quarter-century mark, it was busily protecting West Coast skies and training U.S. Army Air Forces personnel for deployment to all Combat Theaters during WWII. Following the war—as the Cold War began—and then continuing for nearly 50 years, March Air Force Base became the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command 15th Air Force headquarters and home to a massive nuclear deterrent force.

In 1993, as March Field celebrated its 75th anniversary, it was selected for realignment and subsequently re-designated March Air Reserve Base. Today March Field is home to the Air Force Reserve Command‘s 4th Air Force Headquarters and the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, the largest air mobility wing of the 4th Air Force. In addition to multiple units of the Air Force Reserve Command, March ARB is also home to units from the U.S. Air Force, Army ReserveNavy ReserveMarine Corps ReserveCalifornia Air National Guard, California Army National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. As it begins its second century as a military airfield, March Air Reserve Base is expanding to encompass new missions in service to, and in protection of, our great nation.

About March Field Air Museum

The March Field Air Museum is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to promoting an understanding of humanity’s reach for the skies and March Field’s pivotal role in the development of flight. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and rated the #1 Attraction in Riverside by TripAdvisor, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. Over 80 aircraft are on display, ranging from a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer (which launched powered flight worldwide), to the world’s fastest manned air-breathing aircraft (the SR-71 Blackbird) and a modern-day MQ-1 Predator (remotely piloted aircraft), to early examples of military aircraft, to some of America’s most iconic military planes including World War II bombers. For more information about the museum, visit or call (951) 902-5949.

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