AQM-34K Strategic Air and Space Museum

The Strategic Air and Space Museum (formerly SAC Museum) in Omaha (Nebraska) has an AQM-34K repainted as AQM-34L 'Tom Cat' that flew 68 missions, and failed to return on 25 September 1974. 100SRW personel presented the replica to the museum on 17 March 1976. It used to be displayed outdoors (see this Airpower Callihan CC photo), but it is now displayed indoors, suspended at eye level from the main walkway on the second floor, and directly above the open area of the snack bar. The identity of this Firebee is not known.

Late 2005 a light was shed on the question what version this Firebee actually is. Craig Kaston noted that it was recorded as an AQM-34K during a 1976 visit by Stephen Miller, possibly copied from the display placard. And indeed all details agree with the Western Museum of Flight AQM-34K. Compared to an AQM-34L, the camera windows are placed more forward, there are small cooling air intakes on right side of the rear fuselage, and there is a louvered panel under the rear fuselage. The flasher units (seen here on the WMOF example) are covered with sheet metal (look closely here). It therefore is almost sure that this is an AQM-34K instead of an AQM-34L, possibly with some small parts of other versions (tailplane endplates for example).

The painting by 100SRW personel is not very accurate unfortunately. A comparison with a photo of the real Tom Cat shows that the original had a very different mouth (not really a shark mouth, but one with large square teeth), much larger eyes, three instead of two rows of mission markings, a much narrower SAC band (sash) around the rear fuselage, and lastly no number on the tail. The Firebee appears to be painted in aircraft grey, possibly FS 16473.

Andy Hill visited the museum in June 2003, and kindly provided the following photos.

Mark Nankivil visited the museum in July 2005, and made the following walkaround photo series. The display appears to be completely identical to that of 2003.

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