Sunday, November 9, 2014

Early Post for Veterans Day

I know its not the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month yet but I'm gonna be busy right about then and I happened to spot this while coming home from church this morning:

Not too many things that could be.   It wasn't alone either.   This fellow was parked a few yards away.

A little friend showed up just after we got there.

I took the tour a few years ago but It was worth going again.  

Seemed like it was a mite easier squeezin' through the bomb bay the first time.  Maybe I'd better go back and read that Treadclimber post again.

These old planes have always fascinated me.  I work my way through them thinking about all the men that flew in them and the kinds of things they went through.

Gregory Freeman's "The Forgotten 500" isn't really about fighting in the old planes.  Its about the rescue of several hundred of our airmen from Yugoslavia during the war but they got there by being shot down so it does have a few accounts of what that could be like.     Fun stuff like flying along with gasoline sloshing around the floor from shot up fuel tanks or flying straight into a mountain on an overcast day.    I think about that when I hear some actor or sports figure say that his job is more stressful or more dangerous or more anything than being in the military.

 You couldn't get me to slide into a ball turret and dangle down there under the plane waiting for somebody in a Messerschmitt  to shoot at us.  (Seriously,  I'm too fat and I don't bend so good anymore.  I don't think I'd fit).   We sent a whole lot of men up there and they did just that.  A lot of them just kids.

I've known a few of those kids over the years.  One fellow was in The Great Escape (the actual escape, not the movie) and another volunteered for B 29s after flying B 17s in Europe.   Met a new one today.  Leo did 24 missions in B 24s.   He stood on the runway and looked at the planes but didn't go inside.   I kind of suspect that a fellow's best memories of one of these would be climbing out of them so I didn't ask.  I just thanked him for serving and took a picture for him of him and his son in front of the B 24.

You hear "Wright Cyclone" and you don't usually think "Studebaker" but they built their share of them too along with the trucks that kept Stalin's Armies rolling and the Weasels that did everything but climb trees and fly.  Odds are good that the Merlin in that P 51 was built by Packard.  Ford built a whole bunch of the B 24s.  Everybody that could build something built something to help win that war.

All in all a nice little surprise to show up right before Veteran's Day.



Jesse in DC said...

I remember the first time I actually touched a B17. You feel how thin the skin is, how little there was between those guys and eternity...Holy cow, brave is not the word, to get up day after day and climb in those planes, and fly them off to do battle. Heroes is not a big enough word.

Lantry said...

You said it better than I did!

Brigid said...

Dad only told some brief stories about his time over in England during WWII (he went into the service as an area police officer). He'd get tears in his eyes 50 some years later talking about losing friends that limped home from German skies, all shot up, only to crash at their home base.

I never flew anything that cool, though I've got some serious "round dial" time. That would be amazing, but I'm not brave enough to do it under the circumstances they did. Thanks for sharing.

Rickvid in Seattle said...

Couple years ago a B-17 and P-40 paid a visit to Boeing Field here in Seattle. Got the B-17 tour, watched them both take off and fly around. A former P-40 pilot got one hell of a thrill ride in that little hotshot. Dman, that guy was sooooo happy when he climbed out of the back seat - specially built trainer aircraft. Sadly, the very next day the B-17 crashed on take off, in Kansas I think. The pilot did one hell of a job putting it down beside the runway. Everyone got out but the plane was a total loss.