AQM-34N Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville (Oregon) has an AQM-34N. Stewart Bailey, curator of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum reported early October 2010:

"It has been in storage for the last decade or more at the New England Air Museum, in Windsor Locks, CT. The NEAM decided they didnít need it anymore and turned it back to the Air Force Museum. The AFM then offered it to us. The data plate shows her to be serial number 67-21596. The restoration department has been working on the AQM-34N and replacing some torn metal on the wing, and some damage to the fuselage. I took a number of photos of the N while in the shop."

The airframe has some interesting details. The camera windows are closed, and instead have four circular holes. Possibly it was a special mission aircraft? The wing tip section appears 'inverted' compared to the root section; the USAF Museum example shows it too (see this photo), but it's probably a wing tip skid like the Lockheed U-2 has. The nose compartment is quite interesting. Craig Kaston commented: "It looks like it was modified to carry a non-photographic payload. The equipment pan/plate is quite odd, no part number, no protectant (primer) finish; I wonder if this drone ended its service being used for engineering fit check just as the SRE at the Western Museum of Flight was. The orange shields around the bay might be either fiberglass heat shields or insulators to prevent arcing at high altitude." The wingtip of one of the horizontal tail planes appears to have had a fairing attached to it. Interestingly, there is 'something' fitted to the tip of the left horizontal tail (right for the viewer) of this AQM-34N as shown on the Ray Vitkus page.

The photos show confusing identity details. The wing box has 'N 51' painted on, whereas the tail features 'H 51' which is also found on the data plate as 'Model 147H-51' and pencilled on the equipment bay hatch. Generally the USAF used the suffix of the type designator (N in case of AQM-34N) plus the Teledyne-Ryan sequence number, in this case N-51. Note that the wing box could not have come from the 51st built Model 147N, since that version has a completely different wing. No Vietnam mission markings are apparent, but we can't see the complete airframe. Joe Baugher's 1967 USAF serial list shows that serial number 67-21596 fits nicely in the serial block 67-21501/21700 of Ryan BQM-34A Firebee drones.

Paul Carter visited the museum in 2011 and shot the following photos (more can be seen on Paul's Flickr page). The Firebee has been repainted in black overall, with the identity H-51 on the tail, and a stencil on the parachute cone. Note the prominent position overhead the Blackbird!

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