Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lexington on Fire

During and after WWII, it was not unusual for many surplus, obsolete aircraft to find themselves useful only as training aids for air base firefighters. After all, if you're going to train to fight aircraft fires, what better way than with a real aircraft?

Our two photos, taken on January 26, 1945, show the sad end of a Lockheed B-34 Lexington. They are Army Air Corps images which are back-stamped "OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH, Base Photography Section, Geiger Field, Wash."

Geiger Field, which has become the present-day Spokane International Airport, was a training base used by the Second Air Force, and many new B-17s were delivered there from the nearby Boeing plants, so it is reasonable to presume that the barrels mounted on the B-34's wing represented the four engines of the bigger bombers.

The B-34 Lexington was originally designed by Lockheed as their Model 37 for the RAF, which dubbed them the Ventura (a name which was carried over to the Navy's PV-1 version, which we will see in this coming Friday's post). Unfortunately, most of the tail number of this old Lexington, except for the last "58" or "88", is obscured.

One final note: if you know what the acronym "S.A.S.C" in the photo caption refers to, please comment below.


  1. This is not a B-34 Lexington. It is however a Lockheed Hudson, probably an Army A-29.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I'm curious to find out what you're basing the ID on. From what I could tell in research, the Lexington and the Hudson are almost identical airframes, with the Hudson having fuselage windows and the Lexington omitting all but the forward one. What swayed me to the Lexington determination was that this version appeared to have longer bomb bay doors, as shown in the post-fire photo. I reserve the right to be completely wrong, though!

    1. Sorry for the delay......you can tell the difference right away by looking at the bomb-bay doors. The Hudson had the style shown and the B-34 Lexington had a 4 door system (actually 2 doors hinged times 2). Completely different.

  3. John J. McKenna mcke1orio@verizon.netMay 5, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    SASC Spokane Air Service Command

    John J. McKenna Lancaster, CA