Point Mugu AQM-34K/M wreck

On 17 September 2004, Craig Kaston attended the Pt. Mugu Open House, and found a derelict Firebee named 'Orange Crush'. Craig was told it was a training article for air and sea recovery. As you can see, it went through some hard times! 'Orange Crush' has since been moved and is no longer in this area at Mugu. Craig also remembered seeing this very Firebee in the 90's under DC-130 570461 at a Point Mugu open house.

A older slide showed 'Orange Crush' in a more original condition. It was all orange originally, and the tail was marked as 'TV-2' (Test Vehicle 2). Judging from the rear fuselage details (sheet metal covered flashers, two small inlets, louvers), TV-2 was an AQM-34K originally. Later in its life other leftover parts had been grafted on giving it a mis-mashed look. It appears that the complete forward fuselage of an AQM-34M (Model 147SD) was used, identifiable through its unique film reel bulges. The camera window configuration appears to be correct for an AQM-34M, however the radome is not correct for this model. Later, Craig concluded that the nacelle once belonged to an AQM-34L. It shows bare metal seams and panel joins, and this typical sanding was only performed on the eight L models used in the 'North Warning' system tests performed in Alaska in May-July 1989.

Because of the composite airframe, the paint scheme of the Firebee combines the standard Air Force light grey on the front fuselage with some kind of high-visibility orange on the center and rear fuselage. Both sides of the fuselage feature the 'Orange Crush' nickname, and on the rear right fuselage the name 'Earth Seeking Missile' is seen, or 'E S M' if you view it from a distance. If you look closely, you will also see eyes painted on the sides of the film reel bulges!

In the background of one-but-last shot is a pallet with interesting stencilling. This may or may not be the identity of some parts of 'Orange Crush'. The serial number fits nicely in a known AQM-34L serial block (70-1057/1185), and the tie-up with the factory sequence number SD-8 agrees with one other known tie-up, being 70-1149 / SD-42 (or M-42L).

780__ AQM-34M
GREY BIRD SD-8
S/N 70-1115

In 2008, Craig identified 'Orange Crush' as 67-21639, based on a photo.



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