Modern aircraft are at the forefront of cutting edge technology and science, defying the laws of physics on a daily basis through a myriad of computer-controlled interventions. But once their service lives are over, military aircraft in particular can go from being multi-million dollar front-line hardware to mere scrap value. For example, these Royal Air Force F4 Phantoms were tasked to NATO right up until the moment they were stripped of their useful fittings and towed onto the dump at RAF Wattisham. The pictures that follow detail yesterday’s technology lingering on in today’s world.
Appearing the overhang a sheer cliff, this forlorn U.S. Air Force Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star was forced down on 23 December 1957. Here it is today, at the “National Weapons Museum” in Gjirokastra, Albania.
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The wreck above is a Nakajima Ki-49 Hellen abandoned after a US air raid on Madang during World War Two. The base was rendered completely unserviceable and several aircraft were left there when a replacement airfield was built. The original site is far bigger than Madang’s current airfield. A restoration effort was considered but the price estamate was too high – it must have been one serious bombing mission…
The tails pictured above belong to a redundant group of English Electric Lightnings. These particular aircraft were retained at RAF Cranfield after the type’s retirement, put to work as trials aircraft during the early service life of their successor, the Tornado F3. Once their duties were finished, these old Lightning’s were towed to a corner of the airfield to await their fates – preservation or scrapping.
Destroyed military hardware is evident all over Iraq today – some of it left over from Operation Desert Storm almost 20 years ago, and some from the current conflict, like the old Mig 21 above. This aircraft can be found at Al Asad air base in western Iraq. Behind it is a Mig 25, a development of the Mig 21 but nevertheless in an equally sorry condition.
Derelict RSAF T-28A Trojan, one of four acquired in the 1950s, at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah.
It’s amazing what people can stumble across in the long grass!
Old planes even come in handy as theme park rides, like this ageing Dakota.