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Historic Wendover Airfield Museum

by | May 9, 2024 | 0 comments

The Historic Wendover Airfield Museum is in Wendover, UT, about two hours west of Salt Lake City, right on the border with Nevada. It is located on the grounds of the former World War II-era airfield used for training B-17 and B-24 bomber crews.

Historic Wendover Airfield exhibits

Historic Wendover Airfield exhibits

Wendover AFB was also where the 509th Composite Group was activated in December of 1944 to train the B-29 “Silverplate” Superfortress crews that would later carry out the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

Historic Wendover Airfield exhibits

Historic Wendover Airfield exhibits

Due to its remote location and dry climate the Historic Wendover Airfield is the most original and authentically preserved World War II Army Air Force base in the United States.

The museum’s visit usually starts at the Brinkman Officer’ Service Club, restored recently to its 1940s glory. It showcases numerous artifacts from its heyday as well as a 1:1 replica of the “Little Boy” bomb, the first nuclear weapon used in warfare.

Little Boy bomb replica inside the John T Brinkman service club

Little Boy bomb replica

The rest of the museum’s artifacts are viewable in the nearby Fixed Base Operator building, right next to the 60-foot-high historic control tower, giving adventurous visitors a great view of the airfield and its surroundings.

1942 control tower

1942 control tower

Several movies have been filmed at Wendover Airfield, including Independence Day (1996). One of the airfield’s hangars was used as a backdrop for Bill Pullman’s presidential speech before the final aerial assault on the alien’s spaceship.

Fairchild C-123K Provider cockpit

Fairchild C-123K Provider cockpit

Another famous movie filmed here was Con Air (1997), about a hijacked US Marshal Fairchild C-123 Provider transporting prisoners. One of the C-123 planes used for filming ground scenes at the fictional “Lerner Airfield” has been left behind at Wendover airport and can be toured inside. It still has the famous “Jailbird” logo painted on the side.

Fairchild C-123K Provider

Fairchild C-123K Provider

More recently, the Wendover Airfield also serves as a cinematic stage for the Brotherhood of Steel’s base camp in Amazon’s Fallout series. In one episode the character Maximus faces an interrogation aboard the same C-123 Con Air aircraft.

Fairchild C-123K Provider used in the movie Con Air.

Fairchild C-123K Provider used in the movie Con Air.



Approximately 90 of the original 668 WWII Arm Base buildings are still standing, some of which can be seen on a guided bus tour, including the Norden Bombsight Storage building, where the highly classified devices were stored in concrete vaults as well as an airfield fire station with some historic firefighting vehicles inside.

Norden bombsight storage vault

Norden bombsight storage vault

The fully restored B-29 hangar, purposely built for the Manhattan Project, contains the museum’s biggest artifact to date, a Douglas C-54E Skymaster, a military transport plane derived from the Douglas DC-4 civilian airliner. This aircraft served as an aerial firefighting tanker before its retirement and is now undergoing restoration to its original World War II cargo aircraft configuration. Five Skymasters were used for logistics support of the 509th Composite Group.

Douglas C-54T Skymaster inside a historic hangar.

Douglas C-54T Skymaster

Towards the end of the tour, visitors are taken to the atomic bomb loading pit, used to attach dummy nuclear weapons to B-29s at Wendover. Notable are the six holes around the pit for poles to hold a 4-foot-high tarp to keep prying eyes from viewing or taking photos of these highly classified operations.

Atomic bomb loading pit

Atomic bomb loading pit

During our visit, we saw several other private aircraft, including a Grumman HU-16E Albatross, North American F-86L Sabre Dog, Piper PA-18 Super Cub, and several Canadair CT-33 Silver Stars, one sporting the distinctive Blue Angels paint scheme.

Grumman HU-16E Albatross

Grumman HU-16E Albatross

If you get hungry while visiting the museum, stop by the Salt Flats Café located near the airfield, where all the walls are decorated with memorabilia from the nearby Bonneville Salt Flats speedway.

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For current museum information including the hours of operation, admission price and contact details visit the museum’s website at wendoverairfield.org.

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