Visit to Cuatro Vientos, Madrid - Museo del Aire
"Museo de Aeronáutica y Astronáutica"

Photos © Ruud Leeuw


The "Museo del Aire" museum at Cuatros Vientos airfield in Madrid houses an impressive (mainly military) collection of aircraft. This airfield was Spain’s first military airfield and opened as long ago as 1911. Over 100 (!) aircraft are currently on display, however the impressive collection also comprises photos and paintings, squadron badges, engines, airfield equipment, weapons, and other memorabilia: too much to take in during a single visit !

Famous aircraft on show include a Vilanova-Bleriot XI built in 1911, a Breguet XIX (Jesus del Gran Poder) used on the flights to Asia and America in 1928-29, and the famous G-ACYR Dragon Rapide, which flew General Franco from the Canary Islands to Tetuan during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

The photos here will reflect my interest (vintage transports) in aviation. It took a while to find out how to get here (I was surprised to find little useful hints on the Internet) and so I hope to provide not only an inventory report, but also some useful information for future visitors.

Immediately upon entering the museum, I was confronted with one of my favourite aircraft, the Stratocruiser ! Or Stratotanker would be more to the point here, variant of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.
Boeing KC-97L TK.1-03 (c/n 16971) is preserved in the squadron markings of Escuadrón 123 (123-03) and it served to refuel the F-4 Phantoms of Ala 12: the badge near the cockpit is indicative for this task.
Note the jet pod under the wing, these were added to increase performance on take off.


The refuelling boom on this Boeing KC-97L is clearly visible. The former USAF serial for this plane was 53-0189.
The Spanish Air Force operated 3 of these KC-97L's, how the other 2 ended up can be seen on Stratocruisers at San Cugat And yet another C-97 existed as a restaurant / discotheque at Sotillo de la Adrada (about 75km west of Madrid) during the late-1970s / early-1980s. More...

Michel Lozares provided me with the following info in Feb.2006:
The date of decomission in the Ejercito del Aire of the KC-97s:
TK.1-02 ( USAF s/n 53-0225) on 9 September 1975
TK.1-01 ( USAF s/n 53-0172) on 23 September 1976
TK.1-03 ( USAF s/n 53-0189) on 23 September 1976
The museum´s three Stratotankers arrived at the museum on 19August1986.

Michel Lozares wrote the following in Feb.2006:
"We have in our collection a KC-97GL, s/n 53-189, that served in the Spanish AF. I have his USAF history (by AFHRA):

  • Manufactured by Boeing Aircraft, Seattle,WA and delivered to the USAF on 31 Mar 1955.
      Mar 1955 To 42nd Bombardment (Heavy) Wing (Strategic Air Command), Loring AFB,ME (deployments to Thule AB Greenland)
    • Feb 1958 To 19th Air Refueling (Medium) Squadron (SAC), Homestead AFB,FL
    • Apr 1960 To Otis AFB,MA
    • Jul 1962 To 4038th Strategic Wing (SAC), Otis AFB
    • Jun 1963 To 499th Air Refueling Wing (SAC), Otis AFB
    • Dec 1965 To Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, Davis-Monthan AFB,AZ
    • Jun 1971 To Hayes Aircraft, Birmingham,AL (to KC-97L)
    • Oct 1971 To 136th Air Refueling Group (Air National Guard), Dallas IAP,TX
    • May 1973 Dropped from inventory by transfer to Military Assistance Program
    I would appreciate any info about this plane or pictures for a future monographic for our Museum. Could anyone to help me please??"

In reply to this, Jon Pearson wrote me in Mar.2006: "I was a boomer on this particular airplane when it was stationed at Otis AFB as part of the 19th AREFS. I also was part of the crew that delivered it to the boneyard!
I closed down both the 11th ARS at Dover AFB,DE.(1965) and the 19th ARS at Otis (in 1966).
I probably made a total of 5 or 6 trips to the boneyard... At the time I was at Otis, the Massachusetts ANG had the KC-97L models and I was able to con my way on one for a flight! Awesome, but not as much so as a KC-135...
When they closed down the 11th ARS Medium (KC-97s) they formed the 11th ARS Heavy (KC-135s) and transferred all our records, unit awards and our on-time take-off record to the new squadron.
Hope that gives you a little more information about this bird."

Ken Hinks wrote this in Oct.2007:
"Thank you for posting the photos of KC-97G 53-189. I worked on that aircraft as a mechanic at Otis AFB from September 1964 until December 1965, while in the USAF 19th Air Refueling Squadron.
I never managed to get photos of the airplanes in our squadron. SAC was very strict on security and wouldn't allow cameras on the flight line...
I really enjoyed working on the KC-97, it was a real Cadillac of airplanes!"
In a seperate message Ken added:
"Sent your KC-97 site to a friend of mine, as he flew that airplane at Otis AFB in the 1960s. He says the 19th Air Refueling Squadron (19 AREFS) operated the airplane from 1960 to 1965. He added that the 4038th Stratigic Wing, '62, and 499th Air Refueling Wing, '63, are incorrect as assignments...
However, it could be that on paper the airplane was assigned to those Wings. But the 19 AREFS was the actual operator from '60 until '65."

Alejandro Nedstrom sent me a photo taken in Aug.2010, which was added onto Photos by Friends and Guests (27).

Click on the image for a larger study--
History, even German history, is very much present here. The Germans and the Italians joined Franco's "Nationalists" in the Spanish Civil War against the Republicans (aided by France and Russia); Americans joined the fight for Spanish democracy too.

Another good page to learn of the Spanish Civil War, 1936 - 1939, can be read here
The good side did not win: Franco's fascist rule ended upon his death in 1975 after 35 years of dictatorship.

(c) R.Leeuw

Quite a bit of restoration to do on this P-3A Orion, serial 22-26. While the Spanish Air Force has this Orion type-designated as P-3-7, the US Navy's designation would be P-3A (it's BuNo 150516 and this makes it airframe c/n 5042). After being delivered to the US Navy and operating for various Patrol Squadrons (VP-46, VP-28, VP-6, VP-4, VP-31, VP30, VP-62, VP-66, VP-99, VP92, VP-93) it was transferred to the Spanish Air Force in 1980
Most types which have served in the Spanish armed forces are represented in this museum, with some highlights being the Boeing KC-97L Stratotanker, Douglas DC-4 Skymaster, Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and also this Lockheed P-3A Orion P.3-07 (22-26).

The Spanish aviation industry is represented here with the CASA 212 serial TR12A-3, code 403-01 (c/n B-1-1)
The C.212 was a versatile light transport plane, over 400 airframes were produced (they were also produced by IPTN in Indonesia). Even the US Air Force operated these "Aviocars" ! In the Spanish Air Force it replaced the Douglas DC-3s and Junckers Ju-52/3m aircraft (CASA 352L).
The C.212 was developed in Spain during the late-1960s and the prototype first flew on 26 Mar71. Production of the Series 100 began the following year, powered by two Garrett TPE331-5 turboprops. The series -300 was first flown in Sep84. The series -400 was launched on the Paris Air Show in 1997.
The photo shows that aircraft are parked in a rather cramped style, making photography difficult sometimes. Also, the stewards patrol the area to guard against people walking on the grass among airplanes.

Another Spanish-produced transport: the Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) C.207A Azor. Some 22 were operated by the Spanish Air Force.
Click on the image for a larger photo--

The tail shows serial T.7-6 and the fuselage code 405-15. The Spanish AF serials consist of a prefix (the aircraft's designation, e.g. T-7), followed by a type sequence number. Codes comprise the unit number and an individual number. T.7-6 is c/n 6.
This twin-engined commercial transport aircraft was developed for transporting 30-40 passengers (medium range and domestic use in Spain). It was modeled after the CASA C.202 "Alcotán". The "Azor" was developed as a low altitude plane and made entirely out of metal.
In 1951, the Spanish government ordered CASA to complete the construction of two prototypes in Getafe. The prototype first flew on 28Sep55. A total of 22 airframes were manufactured- aside from both prototypes, two series of ten aircrafts each. Equipped with powerful Bristol "Hercules" engine, the aerodynamically pleasing C.207 "Azor" could achieve a speed of 350 km/h. However, its performance fell short of the Douglas DC-4 with its top speed of 450 km/h. There is a good description of development and survivors on Paul Middleton's website, OldProps.

(c) R.Leeuw

A Consolidated Catalina marked as DR-1 (code 74-21) and a Douglas DC-3 T-3-36 (721-9) are preserved here, in very good condition.
The PBY-5A "Cat" formerly carried tailnumber EC-693 and has construction number 1960. The Douglas C-47 has c/n 20600; the first of 67 C-47s were supplied by the US in 1954-55, by end-1976 the last few were withdrawn from service.

Book PBY-5A by Michel Lozares

Michel Lozares Sánchez (Asociacion de Amigos del Museo del Aire) wrote a book in 2007 on the PBY-5A Catalina in Spanish service.
While written in Spanish it offers a huge amount of photos and is a recommended addition to anyone interested in aviation history.

Click on the photos for a larger image --

A DeHavilland C-7A Caribou, its tailnumber is T.9-25, code 37-05; it also carries "25" on the nose. This airframe is c/n 53.

The Caribou was an excellent workhorse in many air forces.
The first of 12 were delivered in Jan68 to the Spanish Air Force and equipped Escuadrón 372 of Ala 37 (first based at Los Llanos, later at Villanubla).
More on: Spanish Air Force Caribous
The production line closed in 1973. The Spanish Caribous were withdrawn from service by June 1991.

Elsewhere on the Cuatro Vientos air base a number of Caribous are stored; Roger Soupart went there in Oct.2008 and sent me some photos.

Click on the photo for a larger image--
This DC-4 is hard to photograph, parked in a very cramped place with wings and tails of other aircraft getting in the way for a good photograph.

This Douglas C-54 (c/n 10366) troop transport is former USAF 42-72261 (later civilian registered N88934) and carries identity T.4-10, "Grupo 91" is seen displayed on the nose. On the aft fuselage it has code 911-10.
The first C-54s were transferred from the USAF in 1959, others were purchased from other sources. By the end-1970s the last DC-4s were withdrawn from use.

(c) R.Leeuw

This is not a Junckers Ju-52 but a license-built CASA 352L, registration T.2B-211 and coded 911-16. Its construction number is 102
The Ju-52 was also produced in France (400), Spain (170, by CASA) and Hungary; this was after World War 2.

History of the Ju-52/3m and CASA 352L.

Click on the photos for a larger image--

This CASA 352L has registration T.2B-254, coded 721-14 (c/n 145). Note the curtains.
It has "Lufthansa" titles on the forward fuselage.
(c) R.Leeuw

The Junkers Ju-52 was the mainstay of the Lufthansa before and during WW2, for a large variety of tasks but mainly as a trooptransport and paradropper. Compared to the DC-3 (against C-47 versions it may vary) it fell short on capacity for passengers (17 against 21-32), speed (290 km/h against 333 km/h) and range (1500 km against 3400 km). But it was just as durable. Some 4835 were produced, but only 50 survived WW2 in airworthy condition. The Swiss Air Force kept 3 active until the 1980s.
The Ju-52 was on-third larger than the similar looking Ford Tri-motor.

CASA built 170 examples of the CASA 352 version of the Junkers JU.52/3m and the type was designated T.2B in Spanish military service.
--Click on the photos for a larger image--

Grumman HU-16A Albatross has serial AD-1B-8 and shows its former US Navy serial 51-5304 (construction number G-187).
It served the Spanish in the Search and Rescue role and was based in Son San Joan Airbase (Mallorca).
The SAR Albatrosses replaced the Dornier Do.24T-3 flying boats, one of which is shown below.

Another Search and Rescue aircraft is this impressive flying boat: Dornier Do.24T3 HD5-2 (code 58-2, c/n 5341), it is huge and has been fitted with 3 engines.
(c) R.Leeuw

The Dornier Do.24 flying boat was produced during the early 1930s, initially for the Netherlands, to replace their obsolete Wals flying boats. The Dutch planned to build 50 flying boats under license for service in the East Indies.
The Do.24 had many of the characteristics of the earlier Dornier flying boats, such as a broad-beamed, shallow hull, semi-cantilever high wing with sponsons. With the onset of World War II, the Germans occupying Holland took over the building of the Do.24 and pressed it into service in the role of air-sea rescue/transport flying boat in the Black Sea and Mediterranean campaigns. It was a rugged and sturdy aircraft, which equipped 15 Luftwaffe Seenotstafflen throughout the War. It later saw service with Sweden and Spain, too.

More modern, but still equipped with radial engines, is this Canadair CL-215.
It has registration UD.13-1 and code 43-01 (c/n 1010).

The first 2 CL-215s were ordered by Spain's Ministry of Agriculture and were delivered with civilian markings (EC-BXM and EC-BXN) in March 1971.
An evaluation by the Ejército de Aire resulted in an order for another 8. In 1989 the Ministry of Agriculture approved a project for the full renewal of the state-owned fire bomber fleet. This fleet was composed by Canadair CL-215 aircraft, of which Spain has purchased a total of twenty between 1971 and 1987. Several accidents reduced its number to thirteen (by 1990). Task of this fleet is to perform fire suppression missions for the whole country (more than 500,000 km2 of which 50% are classified as wildlands). Read more... wrote:" I've enjoyed some correspondence with Michel Lozares Sanchez regarding the B-25J displayed at the Museo del Aire at Madrid, Spain. There were a number of questions about the B-25 displayed there.
The displayed airplane is actually TB-25N 44-29121, once carrying the civil registration of N86427. The B-25 ended up with John Hawke's Visionaire Intl. Co. in 1978 for use in the filming of the dubious-at-best Hanover Street as Brenda's Boys. It was later used in Yanks and Cuba. During that filming, it apparently was making a low pass at Malaga,Spain, hit an obstruction and made an emergency landing. It was subsequently abandoned, obtained by the museum for display. It was restored for static display and marked as B-25D 41-30338, though this does not seem to be the case based on current photos of the airplane.
The original B-25, callsign 74-17, was another B-25 which served in the Spanish Airforce and landed in Nador (North Africa) on August 4th 1944. It was military license no. 41-30338. It was interned in the Morocco Air Armory; some years later (in 1948) it was decided to put into flying condition and between 1950-1953 served in the airforce. Unfortunately without spare parts, it was scrapped in 1956."
History of c/n 108-32396

Cockpit section, T.4-5 C-54D (c/n 10824), ex Spanish Air Force.
It was delivered to the USAAF on 13Jul45 and was transferred to the Spanish Air Force in 1959, initailly serialled "90-9", later "901-5" and operating for Gruppo EM as "911-05". It reached the end of its service life in 1976
The Ejército del Aire received 6 C-54D's (designated T.4) from the USAF in 1959 and a further 11 were purchased through other sources (models including C-54, C-54A, C-54B, C-54G, C-54E and R5D-3). The last were withdrawn from active service in 1976 or 1977.
Click on image to enlarge--

This is the Spanish version of the famous Heinkel He.111H-16. It was first built with German JUMO 211-F engines and then, since 1953, with British Roll Royce engines. CASA obtained the rights to manufacture 200 He.111H-16's as CASA 2111's with British Rolls Royce Merlin engines. They played a major part in the Ifni-Sahara events of 1957-58. This particular aircraft belonged to 46th Wing of Gando (Canary Islands). Final flight was made 27Feb74, while it was delivered to this museum.
These details were taken from the information board in the museum. The CASA 2111 operated (in the reconnaissance role) until the mid-1970s. They were replaced by TR.12A Aviocars.

Heinkel He.111E-1 "Pedro". Assigned to the Conder Legion in Spain in 1937, this German aircraft was so fast it could operate without fighter escort. A total number of 7.500 airframes were manufactured in Germany, France, Romania and Spain.
This particular aircraft is the oldest surviving example and was operational until 1956. The museum received it in 1967.
The Condor Legion's nickname was "Pedro".

Click on these images for a larger view--
CASA 207C T-7B "AZOR" T.7-17 (code 405-17, c/n 17) seems like a good Spanish transport to end this walk around; below are images of other aircraft to complete the inventory as displayed outside. To really appreciate all the information available here, I think a 2nd and 3rd visit would be appropriate.

Here are the military jets and various other planes, mostly outside and one of many others displayed inside

How to get there ("3" is the museum):
Scramble website has directions (click on the map for a link to their website):

I was told to ask for a badge that would allow me to take photos, but apparently there was no need for one for me.
There is no access from the airport to the museum and, as the map shows, one has to find the gate to the museum quite different from the access to the airport. The museum is surrounded by a confusing number of roads.
My travelguide offered the following adress: Carretera de Extremadura (km 10.5). Tel. 9 1509 1690.
As I had no car I had to find my way by public transport. Madrid has an excellent subway system but the stop 'Cuatro Vientos" falls considerably short of the museum. The bus is the answer. So I took the subway to Estación Principe Pio (Norte) and the bus to Cuatro Vientos (any service to Alcorcòn or Móstoles), asked the driver for "Museo del Aire" (euro 1,20); after only 10 mins we were dropped on the highway: the driver pointed to the large watertower and we crossed the highway by roadbridge; there is a military gate, but people for the museum can continue without fuss. The return is no problem either, busses pass here frequently.
From the highway the museum cannot be seen, but the watertower is a good landmark.
The entrance was free (I later read that this was only on Wednesdays). There was a small cafetaria for coffee and soft drinks, but no restaurant.
Opening hours would be Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 - 14:00. Certain holidays will close this museum, too.
The official website seems only available in Spanish:
This website offers the lay out of the museum
Here are 2 files in Acrobat Reader: info and map from a brochure I received upon my visit (06Oct04).

Lawrence Safir sent me the following update (Mar.2006):
First of all, your website with access details to the Museo del Aire are exactly right (including free Wednesday access !) and I enjoyed a few hours there last week.
The KC-97 remains as mentioned and the P-3C does not appear to have been worked on since previously pictured, still minus engines, nose-cone, etc.
There seem to be some new display hangars. Previously 1,2 and 3 were listed (on website). I didn't make a specific note, but apart from a workshop, not open to the public, believe 4 and 5 are the latest, both crammed with aircraft. '4' includes mainly helicopters and Cierva autogyros, while '5' includes a mix of WW2 fighters, 1950s jets and two Rapides, well-known G-ACYR in Olley Air Service Limited titling - as used to transport Franco from the Canaries to Tetuan in 1936 - but also fully restored (camouflaged) '40-1'.
Also, facing the outside display lines is another recent hangar (not accessible) from which the noses of Iberia's DC-9 EC-BYE and B-727 EC-CFG protrude. Both are listed as scrapped at Barajas late .02, with only noses preserved and shipped to MdAire, where DC-9 was previously noted in hangar 2. What else is inside the (new) hangar ?
The C-54 nose is still in an original display hangar (2?), alongside another B-727 nose marked on the Museum sign as an Iberia simulator.
Last but not least, a Transavia Airtruk (VH-TRQ) crop duster is outside! Hard to appreciate a Spanish military significance but welcome nonetheless!
Looking through your pix (and recent KC-97 additions) only 'obvious' missing Cuatro Vientos items would be:
  • full cockpit view of hangar nose section C-54 T.4-5 (European W&R3 quotes c/n.10824 ex 42-72719)
  • G-ACYR DH.89A Dragon Rapide re-painted in original Olley Air Service Ltd. colours + titles (c/n.6261)
  • "40-1" DH.89A Dragon Rapide in camouflage scheme, without titles (c/n ????)
    Click here | Click here | Click here
    Not listed by 3rd European Wrecks and Relics as at Cuatro Vientos (presumably they came from elsewhere), both Rapides were previously present, but since moved over from hangar 1.
    The excellent 1999 (Spanish) guide book "Guia del Museo Del Aire" has a photo of G-ACYR in an earlier 'sand' colour with 2 thin red central stripes and registration; it is now overall 'silver dope' with blue stripe outlines to the roof top and bottom side fuselage, reg. now in blue (and a plate under the nose to commemorate the aircraft's use to transport General Franco from Tonda, Canary Islands to Tetuan in (then) Spanish Morocco in 1936). The plate quotes 19th July but the sign board says 18th !
    The other Rapide, previously noted under restoration, is now complete, in a camouflage scheme, painted as '40-1". Although this serial was a known pre-WW2 Rapide, it is unclear whether or not this is the original aircraft. Air Britain's recent book suggests c/n.6275 as 'possibly 40-1".
    Thanks Lawrence!
    [Sadly, Lawrence Safir passed away, as can be read in Air Britain's Aviation World, issuewinter 2009.
    He responded to several aviation matters I struggled with and his name appears in the credits for several matters on my website. For Air-Britain he was a Specialist and offered help on many issues, esspecially on the DC-3.
    Found an obituary on the internet:
    "Lawrence Safir, long time international film exec who served as vice president on the executive committee and on the board of the International Film & Television Alliance (formerly AFMA) passed away after a long illness. He was 62."]

    Arjen Burghart wrote me in June 2006: "I recently visited the museum and as a result of this visit I found the link below. The website is in Spanish; it reports the DH89 coded 40-1 as EC-AKO with c/n 6345."
    Thanks Arjen!

    Log report Oct. 2009 by 'Phil' as published on forum in Acrobat Reader (.pdf) format

    "Spanish and Portugese Aviation", by John M. Andrade (Midland Counties Publications, 1977)
    "DC-4" by John and Maureen Woods (Airline Publications, 1980)

    Useful links:
    Preserved Junkers Ju-52.
    Spanish Military Aviation by Hans Rolink
    World Air Forces - Spain
    Surviving F-86 Super Sabres
    Photos by Wouter

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    Last updated 24.3.2006