Tag Archives: World War II

Enjoy a guided walkaround tour of the iconic B-17 Flying Fortress bomber

Up close and personal with the Boeing B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” owned by the EAA.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC).

Even though it also participated in the War in the Pacific, attacking Japanese airfields and shipping early in WWII, it was used primarily in Europe, against German industrial and military targets. Serving with the Eighth Air Force, in UK, and Fifteenth Air Force, in Italy, the aircraft was used a strategic, high-flying, long-range bomber capable to sustain heavy battle damage.

Throughout the conflict, little less than one half of the 1.5M tons of bombs dropped by US aircraft on Germany and occupied territories were dropped by B-17s.

Between 1935 and May 1945, 12,732 B-17s were produced. Of these aircraft, 4,735 were lost during combat missions. Less than 100 B-17 airframes have survived since then, less than 15 are airworthy, none of them is a combat veteran. Among the Flying Fortress bombers that can still take to the air, there’s EAA’s B-17G-VE, serial number 44-85740, nicknamed “Aluminum Overcast.”

As explained by the EAA website, “Aluminum Overcast” carries the colors of the 398th Bomb Group of World War II, which flew hundreds of missions over Nazi-held territory during the war: in particular, it commemorates B-17G #42-102516 which was shot down on its 34th combat mission over Le Manior, France, on Aug. 13, 1944.

Filmed by our reader and friend Erik Johnston, the following walkaround video provides the unique opportunity to see the pilot Ken Morris sharing his extensive knowledge of this iconic airplane.


 

Did you know that the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit was inspired by the WWII B-29 Superfortress bomber?

The cockpit of Star Wars iconic, futuristic  spacecraft is based on the style coined by the WWII B-29.

Did you know that the Star Wars saga most famous spacecraft featured a cockpit clearly inspired to a World War II heavy bomber?

Well, the iconic greenhouse-style window of the Millennium Falcon was designed with the style of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a strategic bomber flying 30 years before Han Solo and Chewbacca first appeared driving the iconic spacecraft into the hyperspace, in mind.

hyperspace

As already explained here when we first published a quite unique walkaround video of the last flying Superfortress, the Boeing B-29 was a four-engine heavy bomber operational during WWII designed for high-altitude strategic bomber role that become particularly famous for carrying out the devastating atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

After the war, the advanced B-29s carried out several tasks including in-flight refueling, antisubmarine patrol, weather reconnaissance and rescue duty. The B-29 saw military service again in Korea between 1950 and 1953, battling new adversaries: jet fighters and electronic weapons. The last B-29 was retired from active service in September 1960.

The Superfortress featured pressurized cabin with the peculiar windows layout, tricycle dual wheeled landing gears, and a quite-advanced-for-the-time, remote, electronic fire-control system that controlled four machine gun turrets that complemented a manned, semi-automatic, rear gun turret.

Indeed, you most probably remember that gun turrets also equip George Lucas’s spacecraft and are used by both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker to fight Imperial TIE fighters as the Millennium Falcon escapes Death Star in Episode IV.

Anyway, the connections between WWII aircraft and Star Wars go well beyond the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit or manned gun turrets: it’s not a secret George Lucas draw inspiration from WWII newsreel and movies. Among them, 633 Squadron (1964) and The Dam Busters (1955) film about one of the Royal Air Force’s most famous raid in WWII against the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams, pivotal to Hitler’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, inspired the famous Death Star attack featured in “A New Hope.”

Image credit: Wiki (top), Lucas Films

This epic video shows RAF pilot recreating Battle of Britain moves in a vintage Spitfire

Ever wondered what it was like to fly in a Spitfire during the Battle of Britain? This  video will give you an idea.

The video below will bring you aboard a vintage Spitfire recreating classic Battle of Britain moves over the English Channel, in order to give an idea of how intense flying against Luftwaffe fighters in 1940 really was.

The display footage was filmed on Sep. 10, at the Guernsey Air Display in RAF BBMF (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) Mk V Spitfire AB910. The legendary fighter was flown by Wg. Cdr. Justin Helliwell, flying along with another iconic aircraft, the Hurricane Mk II PZ865 piloted by Sqn. Ldr. Dunc Mason.

The Channel Island displays at Guernsey and Jersey were part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and both air shows have been very special given the Island’s occupation during WWII.

Enjoy a video walk around of the only flying Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber

Everything you need to know about the legendary B-29 is in this video.

The Boeing B-29 was a four-engine heavy bomber operational during WWII designed for high-altitude strategic bomber role that become particularly famous for carrying out the devastating atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

After the war, the advanced B-29s carried out several tasks including in-flight refueling, antisubmarine patrol, weather reconnaissance and rescue duty. The B-29 saw military service again in Korea between 1950 and 1953, battling new adversaries: jet fighters and electronic weapons. The last B-29 was retired from active service in September 1960.

The Superfortress featured pressurized cabin, tricycle dual wheeled landing gears, and a quite-advanced-for-the-time, remote, electronic fire-control system that controlled four machine gun turrets that complemented a manned, semi-automatic, rear gun turret.

“FIFI” is the nickname of a surviving B-29 out of about 4,000 produced by Boeing, the only one currently flying. The aircraft is owned by the Commemorative Air Force, currently based at Addison, Texas that rescued it in the early 1970s.

Since then, the aircraft has taken part in airshows, documentaries, demo flights and movies.

In the video below, filmed by our reader and friend Erik Johnston, you can join the aircraft commander Allen Benzing in a guided tour outside and inside “FIFI.”

The Legenday F4U Corsair as you have never seen it before

You may like warbirds or not, but this video is awesome.

The Vought F4U Corsair is probably one of the most famous American fighter planes ever.

More than 12,500 examples of this aircraft were manufactured by Vought beginning in 1940, with final delivery of 1953, in what is known as the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in U.S. history.

The Corsair, designed to operate from the flight deck of U.S. aircraft carriers, saw service during the WWII, during which it initially mainly operated from land bases in the hands of U.S. Marine pilots because of issues with carrier landings: once these were solved, the F4U became the most capable carrier-based fighter-bomber of the conflict.

The Corsair flew also during the Korean War.

As mentioned before, it is one of the most famous warbirds ever: even my son knows this plane very well as its fame was boosted amoung younger generations by its participation in the Disney movie “Planes” that features a Corsair named “Skipper” among the leading characters.

The following video shows a civilian registered F4U-1 (NX83782), the oldest airworthy Corsair in the world, during the 2012 Planes of Fame Air Show fly by.