While it might not be on everyone's radar, for many one of the most fun ways you can spend an afternoon is by visiting a museum and learning a little bit about the world or history. Idaho is generally the place to go when you want to find outdoor activities, though sometimes it's nice to have balance. On days where the weather is not tenable or you've had your fill of nature, head indoors and try something new. Idaho has a bunch of museums, and some of the best can be found in the Treasure Valley, just outside of Boise (Or inside Boise). If history interests you, one of the coolest places you can visit is the Warhawk Air Museum which can be found off of Airport Road and in the Nampa Municipal Airport complex. As the name and location might suggest, the Warhawk Air Museum is all about different aircraft through history, namely those that were involved in military conflicts and different wars. Today, we are going to be talking a little bit about this museum, as well as getting into some of the special aircraft it has on display. Even if you never get around to visiting the museum, you can still learn some cool new things.
The Warhawk Air Museum has a number of exhibits that focus on the largest conflicts of the last hundred years (Naturally, everything before the last hundred years did not involve planes or helicopters). The main events are World War 1, World War 2, and the Cold War, that last covering quite a large swath of history, considering it is a conflict that went on for almost fifty years. For World War 1, you can see one of the most famous planes of the time, the Fokker DR-1, though what the museum has is just a replica. You can learn about pretty much every major point of World War 2 and the United State, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to what was going on at home while the soldiers were fighting in Europe, Africa, and Italy. As for the Cold War, the most important moments were the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and how helicopters became such an important part of aviation. Then, you can just learn a whole lot about all of the different planes the museum has in its collection. They have a pretty large collection of accurate replicas and original aircraft. Of course, maybe the best way to learn more about the museum before you visit is to take their virtual tour on their website, which shows you a lot of what you view in person. You should still visit, as an image on your computer or phone will not do the museum justice, but you can get an idea of what you are signing up for.
Now, let us talk about some of the planes with more specificity. Perhaps the museum’s pride and joy is their P-51C Mustang, which they have tons of pictures on their website of the plane flying around and getting use in the modern day. It is hard to say which aircraft in World War 2 might have been the most famous, as there are a ton of hero aircraft to choose from (B-17 or B-29 bombers, the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, and the German Junkers Ju 87 or “Stuka”—Known for its siren sound when performing dive bombing runs—were all incredibly famous), but the P-51 is very well known and was a major driving force behind the victory of the allied nations. It was introduced late in the war and saw a lot of action as a ground attack aircraft. If you have seen any old war movies about World War 2, you might have seen P-51s attacking German conveys.
Following the Second World War, propeller propelled aircraft were largely phased out for wartime use in favor of jet aircraft that could, in simple terms, fly much faster. One of the first fighter aircraft (Also used as a bomber) used by the United States which saw use in the Korean War was the F-86 Sabre Jet. Maybe its most novel feature (Beyond having a cutting-edge jet engine) of the F-86 is its swept wing airframe. The Russian variant of MiG at the time was using a similar configuration, which gave it an advantage over United States aircraft in certain situations, and so the United States attempted to counter it by adopting the practice itself. It did not see a very long run, becoming outdated in the 1950s, but it served an important role and was an excellent plane.
As for helicopters, the museum has one of the coolest and most well-known helicopters of all time, the Bell Huey. The Huey the museum has is a UH-1C, which was designed as a gunship to attack ground targets and support infantry on the ground, which separates it from the other Huey variants you might have seen or heard of, which were principally made to transport troops from place to place. Before the Vietnam War, helicopters were in a strange place. They were used from time to time for military purposes, but the airplane and ground vehicles were definitely prioritized over anything else. With the extensive and impenetrable jungles of Vietnam, tanks and other ground vehicles were largely useless, and large airfield for airplanes were often impractical. Therefore, helicopters were needed to get soldiers to the places they were needed and were more effective for being on the scene during a fight to spot and attack enemy positions. The enemy could not hide from helicopters as easily as they could from higher flying planes, and the helicopter did not get mired in mud and thick trees like a tank or other ground vehicles. The Huey was the best solution to a problem that kept United States soldiers from going where they needed to go with the support they needed, though the problem was never fully resolved.