AQM-34L USAF Museum

The Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB has a AQM-34L. According to the museum's site, this AQM-34L has serial number 69-6082 and manufacturer's number L-174. It was nicknamed 'M.R. Ling', refering to Lt. Col. Edwin G. Emerling, who was involved with early RPV missions. It was damaged by a North Vietnamese SAM and landed in the sea off North Vietnam. After recovery by a Navy ship, it was declared beyond economical repair due to salt water damage.

During restoration, some missing parts were replaced. I find it quite difficult to point out these replacement parts. The radome looks pristine and could be one of the parts. The left front fuselage appears to be repainted, with newly painted markings. But I don't think this part itself was replaced, I believe this is one integral glass fiber part. The right front fuselage shows a lot of wear (scratching), revealing the black glass fiber and aluminum parts underneath. Initially I thought the white wing tips are too long for an AQM-34L, but I learned later that long-span wings were used on L's from 1972 on. The Firebee shows 31 mission markings, plus one rather curious additional and larger mission marking behind the wing. The dark red heart represents a US Purple Heart medal for its 'wounding' during the last mission, and the shark represents the water landing. Also of note is the yellow 'zap' on the rear left fuselage. Interestingly it appears to be repeated on the wing center section, visible through the exhaust opening. Lastly, let me add that I enjoy seeing a largely unrestored example much, much more than a lifeless restored example!

Mark Nankivil visited the museum in December 2003, and made the following walkaround photo series.

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