Help me find old military hardware on playgrounds
January 21, 2005 7:05 PM   Subscribe

When I was a kid, my playground (Van Dyke Park in Northern, VA) had a decomissioned military jet (T-133) in the was a lot like the picture on this guy's site. Did anyone else have any old military hardware as part of the playground? Any pictures? I'm interested in researching this further....
posted by extrabox to Grab Bag (33 answers total)
There was one in my childhood park in Colorado. It's since been replaced -- too bad. I have pictures somewhere, but I'll have to dig them up.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:14 PM on January 21, 2005

There was one in Wheaton Regional Park, in suburban Maryland, back in the 1970s. There were stairs into the cockpit and a sliding board, I think, coming out the other side. I want to say it was a Phantom but I could be wrong about that. I thought it had crashed there -- I worried about the pilot.
posted by coelecanth at 7:18 PM on January 21, 2005

There's a WWII vintage tank (I think it's smaller than a Sherman, but I'm no expert) in a park where I grew up in Redwood City, California. It's still there.

There was a jet in a park along 19th Ave (I think) in San Francisco, but they found the surrounding soil to be full of toxins of some sort years back and it has since been removed.
posted by Daddio at 7:21 PM on January 21, 2005

A while ago I went to a park near a friend's place to kick the footy and the had these large weapons in the park for kids to play on. I thought they had way too many hard pointy bits for play equipment but they fascinated me to the point where I got beaned in the head quite badly by a flying ball. I shoulda been paying more attention. The park is in Coburg.

Incidentally, the first aircraft I ever saw break the sound barrier was a Sabre.
posted by bdave at 7:44 PM on January 21, 2005

grr... 'they had' not 'the had'. Moron.

Also: The Park is called Robinson Reserve and it's on the corner of Berry Street and McPherson Streets in Coburg, Victoria. Australia.

If you were doing research, that is.
posted by bdave at 7:53 PM on January 21, 2005

We had one similar to the pic on the guy's site you mentioned above. It was in the Freeport Community Park in Freeport, PA, about 45 mins NE of Pittsburgh. Ours, however, had been elevated, and hollowed out. You climbed up a ladder in the back, crawled along the tunnel through the middle, and then slid down the slide out of the front end. I can't confirm if it's still there or not...
posted by clpage at 7:55 PM on January 21, 2005

I also seem to recall cannons in some gardens near the city (Melbourne).

Fascinating AksMe, Extrabox.
posted by bdave at 7:56 PM on January 21, 2005

In my grandparents' hometown (Ottumwa, IA) there was some sort of anti-aircraft gun (?) in the playground. You could turn wheels to adjust the angle of the barrel.
posted by subgenius at 7:57 PM on January 21, 2005

There is a nifty small jet, propped up and mostly filled with concrete (including a bench in the original cockpit... just insert child for instant jet engine and machine gun sound effects) in Oak Meadow Park, not terribly far from where I grew up in Los Gatos, CA.

Apparently, it's a T-33A Trainer Jet, which was the two seat offspring of the F-80 Shooting Star (what a cool name), a USAF jet with a fascinating history. (Which I knew nothing about until your question prompted me to look it up. How did people function before the internet?) Extrabox, looks like a slightly different version of your T-133.

The relic has been in the park since 1974, which means it entertained a lot of kids before I was born, and even more since I outgrew it.
posted by zeypher at 8:14 PM on January 21, 2005

coelecanth, I remember that plane too, but for some reason I recall it as being in Cabin John Park. It was a long time ago, but it stands out in my mind because a friend of mine broke her nose on that plane. She was running while looking over her shoulder and she turned just in time to run smack into the plane.

The plane I recall was exactly as you described and I picture it as white with silver and red. I remember wondering how the pilot landed the plane there with all the trees.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

[I just peeked at your user page, and now your name sounds vaguely familiar]
posted by terrapin at 8:26 PM on January 21, 2005

Kenney Field in Kenmore, NY, outside of Buffalo, has a combat jet - a Grumman F9F-6 Cougar (link has a picture of it in the park). I remember playing at there when I was a kid.
posted by Melinika at 8:50 PM on January 21, 2005

There was a tank at a park I played in when I was a kid. I don't remember which state it was in, but I suspect it was Texas, probably in Weatherford.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:05 PM on January 21, 2005

Whoa. Well, I had Van Dyke park in FX VA (way too many late nights there hopped up on coffee) but I don't remember no plane. Really?
posted by leecifer at 9:31 PM on January 21, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, these are all excellent! Thanks everybody!

Terrapin, I don't know if there was one in Wheaton Park, but I definitely remember the plane in Cabin John park. Someone has told me that the Cabin John plane was an F86 Sabre Jet, which makes sense in terms of the fact that I remember you could climb through the fuselage, and probably out onto the slide coelecanth remembers.

Zeypher, a little known fact about the T33 is that George W. apparently spent 5 weeks training on it in 1970 according to this site. I guess after he finished, it ended up in our playground.

Bdave, thanks for those photos! Large automatic weapons are the perfect playground equipment!

I'm interested in expanding on something I wrote that was a reflection and reminescence on this type of hardware and how there was once a time it could be seen as playground equipment for kids (and it was super fun). But now, kids and military equipment are more often seen in iconic war photos like this. So thanks again to all who are responding!

(On preview to leecipher...maybe before your time? It was there early to mid 70's, donated by a local Kiwanis club, and taken away...why? I don't know)
posted by extrabox at 9:47 PM on January 21, 2005

terrapin, it could definitely have been Cabin John! We were in Kensington at the time and I was very small and I guess I thought every park was "Wheaton Regional". The colors sound just right. The thing that really sticks with me was the empty sockets in the cockpit, where the gauges had been. I'm so pleased that the other details sync up; I can't remember ever speaking about it to anyone outside my family. In one of those two parks I also can now also remember a small-scale, functional railroad that went through the woods.

We've met. I'll drop you a line.
posted by coelecanth at 9:48 PM on January 21, 2005

There was one of these in the yard of a wind tunnel next to where I grew up. We used to play on it, and I remember little Stevie, my buddy, fell off it and got the wind knocked out of him.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:06 PM on January 21, 2005

Definitely Cabin John, I remember it well, too.
posted by contessa at 10:19 PM on January 21, 2005

When I was living on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, one of the parks had top section (the bridge and so forth) of what I guess was a battleship, or maybe a submarine since that's what they make there. It was partially sunk into the ground and you could clearly climb all over it, although there weren't really any moving parts to mess with. I wish I could find you pictures of the actual one, but this is very close.

It was about 20 feet high I would guess, but you could only climb about 10 or 15 feet up. I wish I could remember more details, but I was getting too old to be really interested in playing on it myself, but my kid brother loved that thing.
posted by nelleish at 10:21 PM on January 21, 2005

Wheaton Regional was a pretty freaking cool park in its own right, though -- with or without decommissioned military hardware in it.
posted by contessa at 10:21 PM on January 21, 2005

Near Christmas, Florida in my youth there was an army tank in the playground park. The hatches were welded shut so nobody could go inside, but the tank was great for climbing upon. No pictures to share, sorry.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:52 PM on January 21, 2005

There's a WWII tank in a park in Normal, Illinois.

Here in Lawrence, Kansas, there's a missile in a park near a local hamburger joint. It even has the stereotypical checkerboard around the top, and as far as I know, it's real.
posted by interrobang at 11:48 PM on January 21, 2005

In Kirkuk, Iraq, there were two rusted, non-functional quad 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns sitting in the field across from a safehouse I inhabited. On the other side of the field was a school. The neighborhood kids would play on them after school got out. The barrels were mostly bent, but you could still sit in the seat and spin the thing around. Sort of like a merry-go-round, I suppose. Eventually these weapons were dragged away and destroyed.
posted by cactus at 3:53 AM on January 22, 2005

Roanoke, VA's Wasena Park had a decommissioned rocket of some kind, though I'm not sure what type. It's now been moved to the Roanoke Transportation Museum I believe.
posted by trey at 4:38 AM on January 22, 2005

I wouldn't exactly call it a playground per se, but when we were kids, my parents used to take my brother and I to West Point all the time. Their public areas are filled with cannons and artillery from Revolutionary War era through WWII. My parents would watch a concert in the band shell while my bro and I would scamper all over the cannons and through the artillery. It was awesome. We used to play Star Wars for hours. Alot of the stuff still had moveable you could spin the targeting wheels and things so playing on that stuff was a ten year old's wet dream. Man, those were the days.
posted by spicynuts at 6:59 AM on January 22, 2005

Naval Air Station at Point Mugu in Camarillo (I think) CA has some kind of surplus rocket/torpedo thing in the playground for children of people stationed there, which seems very strange to me. But I didn't grow up there. I don't think decommisioned military equipment would have been a big hit in Yonkers.
posted by TimeFactor at 8:12 AM on January 22, 2005

Zwicks Park in little Belleville, Ontario has (or had, at least, but I assume it's still there) an F-86 Sabre flown by the Golden Hawks demonstration team, but it's mounted on a 20-foot concrete pole and angled as if in flight, so I figure it's more of a monument than anything.
posted by mendel at 8:36 AM on January 22, 2005

A park near my childhood home in West Lafayette, Indiana had one of the Sabres, crawl-through fuselage and all.

It would be interesting to dig up the history of this program.
posted by mwhybark at 10:00 AM on January 22, 2005

Again, it's not a playground, but at Sandy Hook in Sea Bright, NJ, (a large barrier-beach national parkland), I grew up crawling in and around defunct gun turrets and ammo storage bunkers, most dating from WWI and II. There's a similar installation at Napatree Point in Watch Hill, Rhode Island -- also fun to play around in.
posted by Miko at 10:07 AM on January 22, 2005

The town of Holbrook, on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne, has a submarine. More
posted by nonemoreblack at 6:44 PM on January 22, 2005

Larsen Park in San Francisco used to have an F8U Crusader plane. Kids used to love to climb all around it. Lots of people have fond memories of it. Unfortunately, they took it away - the workers told me that it was a hazard because of lead-based paint, but I never knew if that was actually true or not.
posted by jasper411 at 8:03 PM on January 22, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks again to everyone for the links and info. Amazing. You made my first 'ask me' quite rewarding and wonderful!
posted by extrabox at 9:03 PM on January 22, 2005

There was--and is still, I see--an F-86D across the street from the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park in 1970--the Parthenon was not on a hill but in a bit of a dip and then there was that jet plane across the road from it. Not quite the way you would picture it.
posted by y2karl at 6:03 AM on January 23, 2005

Whooo! jasper411 - as a kid, I used to play on that fighter jet on 19th Ave in San Francisco all the time! Ah, fond memories. I'm sorry that disappeared. (I also heard the rumor that it was due to lead paint - though I haven't seen any newspaper articles or anything to corroborate.)
posted by lpqboy at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2005

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