A Cold War oddity–in Fredericksburg

From John Hennessy:  While going through some photo files yesterday at the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, I came across this aerial view of Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, apparently taken in the 1960s.

Look at the top of the image. There’s a jet fighter sitting along Kenmore Avenue, on the site of what is today the tennis courts. It was an obsolete F-9H fighter, phased out in 1959. This specimen came from Dahlgren–hauled with wings folded on the back of a truck–donated as a “World War II” memorial, even though the plane didn’t fly until six years after the war. Kids were free to climb on it at will.

But what happened to it?

4 thoughts on “A Cold War oddity–in Fredericksburg

  1. This pic brought a sudden memory of a Cold War-era jet, most of which was intact on the exterior, that in the mid-late 1980’s lay upside down in a scrapyard just off Lafayette Blvd., on the side of the yard nearest Lafayette. Can’t recall the specific appearance of the scrapyard jet, though. Noel H.

  2. If the Bureau number is known, the answer to your question might be easily traced down. The Navy is rather deliberate about tracking those kind of things.

    Hundreds of aircraft like this were loaned out by the Armed Forces (in a few cases to replace Civil War cannon donated to the scrap drives of WWII, but usually those were artillery or tanks instead) in the 1950s. Over the years, the military took back quite a few when the communities failed (lacking the resources) to maintain the aircraft. Several years of kids hanging off the wings will do some damage!

    Perhaps the saddest story is that of the Memphis Belle. A true artifact of the war which was for all intents stripped by trophy seekers. She is now at the AF Museum undergoing restoration.

  3. Wow. What an incredible find. I’ve heard stories of the jet at Lafayette Boulevard, but didn’t know of this one at Kenmore Park. Like Noel, I’ve heard that many of the jets were donated to communities to replace cannon memorials that were scrapped during the effort; if that’s the case for this guy, it’d be interesting to find out which cannon left us.

    Excellent blog–love reading it. Reminds me of one of my favorite classes in college, “Public Memory”. We studied memorialization and interpretation both here in Fredericksburg and around the country.

  4. Growing up near the City of Fairfax during the same era, we had a similar jet to climb all over in Van Dyck Park, on Old Lee Highway. It might have been a T-33, an trainer, and it sat there until around the late 1970s, and then one day it was gone. The interior was pretty well stripped out. I remember a bunch of switches, buttons and lights, with all the wiring snipped away inside the cockpit.
    I wish I had taken some pictures of it.
    A different era for sure.

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