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F-111E Aardvark USAF S/N 68-009 "Balls-9" Restoration Project
April, 2017

Balls 9 is finished and recently dedicated.

The restoration of the General Dynamics F-111E "Aardvark" was dedicated on April 29, 2017 during the annual Hops and Props event at the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. The Fort Worth Aviation Museum (FWAM), formerly the Veterans Memorial Air Park, is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of aviation in Fort Worth, the North Texas region, and around the world. It includes museum exhibits and an air park of 24 airplanes.

. .

May 08, 2008


The Connecticut Museum that was supposed to receive this aircraft ceased operations several years ago. We heard about this aircraft sitting in a yard three years ago. The aircraft was made available to us last year. After raising the funds to cover the back rent and transportation fees we moved the aircraft here.

Our goal is to return her back to the scheme she wore at Upper Heyford. We are still in need of raising $3,000 to finish purchasing paint and sheet metal items to repair many of the panels that were destroyed during the demilitarization of the aircraft. It is very ironic to us that our of 533 'Varks that were built in Fort Worth there is not one on display anywhere in the DFW metroplex. It seems fitting to us to return "Balls 009" to her original UH Paint Scheme and have her on display in her hometown.

We greatly appreciate your efforts to allow us to post our progress on your website.


Jim Bloomberg
Director, Aviation Operations
OV-10 Bronco Associations/
Veterans Memorial Air Park of Fort Worth

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison).

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison).

May 07, 2008


As many of you already know the OV-10 Bronco Association and Veterans Memorial Air Park have been aggressively working for the last four years to Save-An-F-111 (F-111E Serial Number 68-009) from the Scrap Man's torch. Yesterday we completed Phase 2 of our plan and brought this Cold War Vet home to its birth place in Fort Worth, Texas. Our efforts landed us a front page article in the Living Section of the Fort Worth Star Telegram (See Below).

In June we will start our engineering and reassembly effort. We are by no means out of the woods yet. We are still needing to raise $3,000.00 to purchase supplies and structural items to return this Veteran back to her Cold War appearance. We are accepting charitable donations in any amount. They can be sent to the below listed address:

OV-10 Bronco Association
Project Save-A-Vark
Attn: Mr. Tom Kemp
505 NW 38th Street, Suite 33S
Fort Worth, Texas 76133

Today is a Great Day for Aardvark Fans and Aviation Historians everywhere. We look forward to having you visit our 'Vark.


Jim Bloomberg
Director, Aviation Operations

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison).

May 06, 2008 Submitted by Jim Bloomberg.

By OBA Staff

The OV-10 Bronco Association and the Veteran's Memorial Air Park are proud to announce that one of the showpieces of the growing Air Park has arrived... a swing-wing F-111E Aardvark all-weather fighter-bomber (nicknamed "Balls 9" after the USAF serial number of 68-009).

The 'Vark was built by General Dynamics in Ft. Worth and has 5,430 flight hours, all with the 77th TFS in England, and includes combat time in Desert Storm. As anyone who has seen an F-111 fly knows, this truly awesome aircraft was the epitome of the advanced Cold War era low-level attack bomber. Though the VMAP's F-111E is far from ready to display, she will certainly be a real highlight of the park.

As you may know, aircraft restoration, even for static display, is quite expensive to do properly (and there's no other way that we'd consider doing it!). Even though she's home, your donations are very much needed to continue the restoration process (an estimated $3,000 is needed for the restoration, on top of the $12,000 it cost to bring her home to the VMAP). We are looking forward to getting the 'Vark fully restored to the graceful state she's intended to be in!

Here are some pictures that one of our members Don Pyaett took of F-111E 68-009 arriving at the Veterans Memorial Air Park at Fort Worth, Texas.

Submitted by Jim Bloomberg. Submitted by Jim Bloomberg.
Submitted by Jim Bloomberg. Submitted by Jim Bloomberg.
Jim Bloomberg.

It is our desire to return this jet to her Upper Heyford legacy. To do this we are still trying to raise $3,000 to accomplish this goal. Please visit our website at www.OV-10Bronco.Net to learn how your tax-deductible donations can help. Also, we would be honored to hear from folks who have stories about this aircraft.


Jim Bloomberg

The OV-10 Bronco Association, which operates the memorial air park near Meacham Airport takes delivery of a  F-111E Aardvark produced by General Dynamics in Fort Worth about 1970, Monday May 5, 2008. When it is re-assembled it will be the only F-111 on display in Texas. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison). May 6, 2008
Aging war bird returns to birthplace
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- Arriving in pieces on two flatbed tractor-trailers, it did not look like much of a museum piece.

But the homecoming of an F-111 Aardvark, built in Fort Worth a generation ago at General Dynamics, now Lockheed Martin, was cause for celebration at the Veterans Memorial Air Park.

"There is no example of the F-111 in the Metroplex," said Jim Hodgson, president of the OV-10 Bronco Association, which has spearheaded the creation of the air park. "This airplane to a lot of the retired guys from the plant is the most important project they worked on."

The F-111, an E model delivered to the Air Force in 1969, is nicknamed "Balls 9," from its manufacturing number of 68-0009. The Aardvark was a controversial, and costly, airplane in the 1960s and eventually became known as "McNamara's folly," a nod to the defense secretary at the time.

Here's some more to know about the F-111's return to Fort Worth:
566 - The number of F-111s produced at the General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth. It was retired by the Air Force in 1996.
2 - The number of F-111s on display in Texas. One is in Tyler at the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum. The other is at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.
5,430 - The number of flight hours "Balls 9" recorded, all of them with the 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron based in England. Some of those flights were over Kuwait and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War.
$12,000 - The amount of money it took to bring the plane to Fort Worth. The OV-10 Bronco Association raised half the money from F-111 supporters, and the other half came from the B-36 Peacemaker Museum group.
$3,000 - The amount needed to restore the plane. "There is a lot of talent with the retirees from the B-36 group, and when they get done, I guarantee you that you will not be able to tell the difference," said Jim Bloomberg, a leader in the OV-10 group.
13 - The air park now has a "baker's dozen" aircraft next door to its hangar at Meacham Airport, including an F-4 Phantom, F-14 Tomcat, OV-10 Bronco and A-4 Skyhawk. The organization parked a TF-102 Delta Dagger, produced in Fort Worth in 1958, at the site just a week ago.

Source: Star-Telegram research, OV-10 Bronco Association
CHRIS VAUGHN, 817-390-7547

March 7, 2010
UH 009 (Balls 9) Restoration. Submitted by Jim Bloomberg. UH 009 (Balls 9) Restoration. Submitted by Jim Bloomberg. "David and Duane,

I wanted to take a moment and update both of you and your great web sites on the restoration of Balls 9.

In October of 2008, we were successful in being able to reattach the wings and horizontal stabilizers to the aircraft.

In January of 2009, we attached all of the leading and trailing edge articles to the aircraft's wing assemblies and panelled the entire top of the fuselage.

In March of 2009, we attached the tail to the aircraft and prepared the aircraft for movement to our new facility at 3300 Ross Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas. With the move to our new location. We had to put the restoration of Balls 9 on hold.

In February of 2010, we have renewed our efforts to restore Balls 9. With help from the Lockheed-Martin Retiree Group, the B-36 Peacemaker Museum, Associated Aircraft Services, and a few vets that flew and maintained Balls 9 at UH. We have successfully replaced all of the tires on the aircraft and are fabricating several panels that were destroyed during the salvage and demiling process at AMARC in 2001.

Through the generosity of Chris Woodul (F-111 Capsule and Ejection Seat Restoration Guru) we have located and installed a new radome and are returning the cockpit to museum class order. We are still in need of after burner sections, a pitot tube, numerous fasteners for panels, and few hard to fabricate engine bay panels.

I have attached a few pictures of the aircraft on the restoration pad at our new facility. DUANE, since you live here in the DFW-Area. We would be honored to have you stop by to visit our facility and check out the jet.

We appreciate everything that the both of you are doing to spread the word about our restoration efforts.


Jim Bloomberg

March 13, 2010 Veterans Memorial Air Park, 3300 Ross Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas. Some of the Veterans who volunteer their time to restore the aircraft; Wendel, Chip and Rick.
My wife, Connie, and I went to visit the new facility of the Veterans Memorial Air Park at its new location at 3300 Ross Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas, and to check out the restoraton of the F-111 tail number UH 68-009 (Balls 9). We met the Director of Events, Dawn Golas, who showed us around the admin building where the staff meets in the Ready Room, and the other areas that are currently being finished out by the same volunteers that are restoring the aircraft. It was great to meet the Veterans who volunteer their time to work on this and the other projects underway at the Veterans Memorial Air Park! The recent move to their new, larger facility was time-consuming and was a lot of work, and in my opinion, well worth the effort. This is going to be a great place to have reunions and events!

Submitted by Duane Park. Submitted by Duane Park.

They opened the cockpit of "Balls 9" to let my wife, Connie, and I have a look inside. Until recently, no one had seen the inside of the cockpit as it had been sealed shut all this time. This, too, will be restored!

Dawn Golas shared the vision of the Veterans Memorial Air Park and some the things planned for the new site, such as lighting for the planes at night for tours during evening hours. Also, there are plans to establish a program called "Adopt An Aircraft" so that you can donate funds toward your favorite restoration project!

Submitted by Duane Park. Submitted by Duane Park. Submitted by Duane Park.

The current plans are to have a "soft" opening of the Veterans Memorial Air Park at its new location in July of this year, and I will find out more information to keep our UH community posted.

Duane Park

From the 1976 NATO Open Day Program. Submitted by James Burrell, 20th MMS, bomb crew 12, Sep 1975 - Sep 1977. ct-f111-11[1].jpg

The Connecticut Air and Space Center is in the process of converting a portion of a closing Army facility in Stratford, CT to an aviation museum. The history of the present Army site goes back to 1929 when Igor I. Sikorsky built the first "Clipper" Flying Boats there, initiated the first US flight of a helicopter (VS-300) followed by pre-production of the first helicopters (YR-4); continues thru WWII where Chance Vought designed and built the famous F4U Corsair's - used extensively by the Marines in the Pacific and goes on to the design and production of the first small US gas turbine engines by Lycoming/AVCO/Allied Signal (the primary engine for the MA1 Abrams battle tank and the UH-1 helicopter). All production ended at the plant in October 1998 when it's closure was directed under BRAC. The Army is now in the process of disposing of the plant and turning it over to the Town of Stratford we will be receiving approx. 7-8 acres and 6 buildings. We are presently using one of these buildings for storage and hope to be in the main building by the end of August 2001. Like all dealings with DOD, the State and Town it is slow, laborious and riddled with unforeseen potholes. The positive side of the equation is that the US Army, State of Connecticut, Town of Stratford and Sikorsky Aircraft folks are solidly behind the project and committed to make it happen.

The mission of The Connecticut Air and Space Center is to exhibit, display and archive aviation as it applies primarily to Stratford and the State of Connecticut. The F-111 falls into this category perfectly, with many of its components, including engines, manufactured in CT. When the first F-111s became available for either museum donation or scrapping in February of this year, we traveled to AMARC in Tucson and screened the aircraft. There were four museum's looking for the F-111 out of the 50 or so aircraft that were declared available. The majority of the birds fell into the worst category of "Hangar Queens" that you ever saw. "Balls-9" was actually the best of what was available and we were lucky enough to have it allocated to us.

ct-f111-13[1].jpg The engines and avionics are gone, numerous panels were missing and the cockpit instrumentation had been gutted. We were lucky enough to find the majority of the missing panels and some of the cockpit instrumentation. We were able to tow our lady off the reservation - the other museums were not as lucky, cranes and flatbeds were the order of the day. I have attached some photos of "Balls-9" just before it left AMARC.


When "Balls-9" was towed off of AMARC, we still weren't quite sure how we were going to display or restore this lady. We put requests up on the FB-111, F-111 and RAF Upper Heyford sites looking for ideas and availability of information and memorabilia. The response has been overwhelming. We have received responses from as far away as Incirlick, Aviano and Australia and as close as New England all looking to participate in one way or another. One of the gentlemen we encountered says there is enough of the F-111 retirement community available in New England that he can cobble together a large enough crew to restore the lady to pristine. As the old saying goes, it's time for the museum to get the hell out of the way and let the experts go to work.

Based on these responses, the museum has decided to exhibit "Balls-9" in its last active role. The display will be centered on the beginnings and history of the F-111 and particularly the 79thFS, the 20FW and life at Upper Heyford as it pertains to the F-111 mission. This decision was based solely on documented history being available for F-111E, S/N 68-009 and by no means was/is meant to downplay the contributions of other models or variants and the numerous organizations, bases and folks who flew and maintained the "Vark".

As we put this project together and read the responses received it became very evident that certain pieces of information and physical items were necessary for a first-class display and exhibit.

The following is what could be called a shopping list:

  • We are in need of patches from the 79th, 20th, 3AF, USAFE, NATO, and information/articles/patches from events/sorties/competitions that the 79th and particularly "Balls-9" participated in.
  • Early F-111/FB-111 history/articles/stories and P&W engine history/articles/stories
  • Cockpit instrumentation, canopy covers and avionics.
  • A pair of Afterburners.
  • A complete set of Tech Orders for the F-111E; Flight Manuals; Maintenance Check Lists; Cockpit Photos, IPBs etc.
  • Sortie information, i.e. did "Balls-9" participate in the Libya Raids or Desert Shield/Storm?
  • Were the sorties cover operations or was ordnance dropped?
  • Uniforms of flight crews and maintenance personnel - personal information and logbooks would really enhance the display.
  • Photos of the inside of Job Control, the Command Post, maintenance folks or flight crews that maintained or crewed "Balls-9"?
  • Daily experiences, individual stories and/or reflections that would help us personalize the exhibit.
  • The whereabouts and names of any "Balls-9" crew chief(s) or flight crews.
  • Docents folks who are in the Stratford/New England area who would be willing to spend some volunteer time at the museum - when the exhibit is up and running - explaining to visitors what day-to-day life in the F-111 community and particularly the 79th/20th and Upper Heyford was like.
  • An individual or individuals in the Tucson, AZ area who might be willing to provide volunteer "expert" advice to the contractor who will be disassembling "Balls-9" in the September/October time frame. We have a group of F-111 folks who have volunteered to put together info for the contractor but as we all know, an on-site expert would be invaluable and possibly prevent further damage to the lady.
  • And of course any folks who would like to volunteer time helping to restore "Balls-9" to a museum showpiece.

"Balls-9" is now parked at a company in Tucson, AZ that will disassemble the lady, appropriately pack and crate her and then transport her, over land, for hopefully, her final mission - as a history of the F-111 and the 79th/20th and UH personnel. We anticipate that all of the preliminaries will be completed by the end of October and "Balls-9" will arrive at Stratford in November. Upon arrival, the restoration process will start and we hope to have the restoration completed and the exhibit(s) finished by July 2002. Of course, this date assumes that no additional potholes will arise - that thought might fall under wishful thinking.

When the lady arrives, photos will be published on the Museum's web site along with progress reports being provided to the F-111 and Upper Heyford Websites.

All items that are donated or loaned will be duly acknowledged both on our Website and as part of the display.

For folks that do not wish to part with any of their memorabilia, we would appreciate being able to borrow it for reproduction or copying and then returning the item(s).

Of course, any input as to ideas for the display/exhibit, the source of memorabilia, or the names of folks who might be of additional help would be appreciated.

Let us end by saying THANKS to all of the folks who answered our request and for the information/material that has already been provided. We hope we can continue this relationship and we know that future inputs will be of immense help with the exhibit of this grand lady.

If any of you are ever in the Stratford, CT area, please do not hesitate to drop in to see us.

Again, Thanks

For the Connecticut Air and Space Center

Dick Evans, CMSgt, USAF (Ret).

Kaman HH-43B, USAF S/N 62-4535 Restoration Project
by Steve Mock, MSgt, (Ret), Airborne Rescue Specialist DET 2, 40thARRWg, Aug 1969 - May 1973.

As an Aircrew member assigned to Detachment 2, 40th Air Rescue and Recovery Wing from August 1969 - May 1973 I have many fine memories. I was lucky enough to be among the 2% of Air Force personnel actually assigned to fly. These are the most memorable years of my USAF career. I discovered this WEB SITE back in April 2002 and to my dismay, DET 2 was not listed. Duane Park gladly provided space for the DET 2 Web Page and the odyssey began. Not only have I located 40 former Detachment members, but we've established an organization called "PEDRO'S POSSE" allowing us to renew old friendships. It was during this hunt for former members that I discovered one of our HH-43 Husky Helicopters was stored not far from RAF Upper Heyford. It had been given to the Midland Air Museum in (1981?) for restoration.

This story starts much earlier when the USAF as a post Viet-Nam cost cutting measure, deactivated most Local Base Rescue Detachments in 1972 and 1973. One Detachment at Utapao, Thailand survived until 1975. In May 1973, DET2 40th ARRW RAF Upper Heyford was deactivated and its aircraft were flown to RAF Alconbury for dismantling and storage.

Photo from Johan Ragay Collection. Sometime during 1975, H-43 62-4535 was transferred to RAF Woodbridge for long term storage.
Since the turn of the century, things have started to look up for the "Ole Girl". She has been moved inside, out of the elements and treated with a bit more respect.
Photo submitted by Steve Mock. Here's another photo of 62-4535 in the Restoration Hanger. Submitted by Steve Mock.
As can be seen in the following series of photos taken in September 2002 (all by Mr. Fred Grace), the "Ole Girl" is getting a Tummy Tuck and a Face Lift.

Photo by Mr. Fred Grace. 62-4535 with engine and Tail Booms removed.

Photo by Mr. Fred Grace. Left side primered for repainting. Photo by Mr. Fred Grace. Interior repainted with restoration continuing.
Photo by Mr. Fred Grace. Cockpit instrument panel dismanteled for cleaning and restoration. On 30 September 2002 I drove from my home in Libby, Montana to Laclede, Idaho in search of a left Copilot's Windshield for the restoration. I am happy to report that a spare windshield was located and I was able to provide the Museum with this information. As to exactly when the "Beauty Queen" will make her debut, well that is still unknown, but I will keep everyone informed.

Steve Mock

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This page was last updated on 19 May 2017.