BZ's Chino's Planes of Fame

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The Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, CA was an excellent opportunity to get my fill of WWII vintage warbirds. Many different types of fighters and bombers were flying for the show including: P-51s, P-40s, P-38s, F4Us, Zeros, Val, Spitfire, Hellcat, Wildcat, Firefly, Bearcat, Fury, B-25s, and a B-17. As a bonus, there was a WWII ground reenactment (complete with tanks and halftracks) which provided the icing on the cake!

The light was great for photography, but the heat at times was unbearable! It's only May, but Chino was well over 100 degrees F that day (someone said 110F). Using my camera was like putting a hot plate to my face! Even thinking about it makes me thirsty now. Good thing I escaped getting heat stroke.

Used a Nikon D200 and D50 w/ a 70-300mm VR lens, and 18-55mm lens. Prop planes shot in shutter priority exposure mode (mostly between 1/160 and 1/320sec), with continuous autofocus. The jet shots were around 1/1000sec.

Updated 7/18/08: Added addtional information in the captions for the Corsairs from emails I received. - Bernard Zee


The very rare TBm-3E Avenger torpedo bomber was a highlight at Chino. The first President Bush was an Avenger pilot.


The plane did not fly at the show, though there was high hopes it would be readied in time.


The main draw of the show for me were the F4U Corsairs.


The distinctive inverted gull wings were designed in part to give clearance to its huge 13ft propeller. Got a note from Bill Abbott which added: "The Corsair's inverted gull wing not only allowed the prop to clear the deck with short, strong, landing gear legs (compare to Hellcat, same engine...) but it also put the low-mounted wing at a 90 degree angle when it joined the basicaly circular fuselage. This gives the lowest drag, and even though the early Corsairs had partially fabric-covered wings, they were faster than the Hellcats."


I grew up glued to the tube watching the Black sheep squadron TV show. Nevermind that they kept reusing the same flying footage over and over... it was a great show!


These Corsairs were coincidentally, the ones used in that show. No CGI or models used...that's what helped make the show so realistic and enjoyable.


A pair of P-38 Lightings were also there. The P-38 was unusual in that it was a 2 engined fighter design which was very successful. Most every other 2 engined fighter of WWII did badly as an air to air dogfighter - the P-38 stood heads and shoulders above the others in that regard.


The P-47 Thunderbolt (or Jug) was another aircraft that I hadn't seen in a long time. Big and tough, it could dish out and take punishment in equal measures.


The glamour set of warbirds has to be the P-51 Mustang.


I think this has got to be one of the prettiest examples of the Mustang!


I believe the Planes of Fame Museum has the only Flying A6M Zero with the authentic japanese engine.


A P-40 Warhawk with the shark mouth markings reminiscent of the American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers". Thanks to Bill Abbott, who pointed out that the various P-40 units were painted in a similar fashion (with the eyes and teeth). The AVG's Flying Tigers would have had Chinese national markings on them - which these planes did not have.


The Grumman F8F Bearcat was introduced too late in WWII to see combat. It's a great aircraft with excellent climb and maneuver capabilities.


The F6F Hellcat was the most successful aircraft in naval history - destroying over 5000 enemy planes while in US service. A kill ratio of 19:1!


Cockpit armor, bullet resistant windshields, armor for the engine oil tank and cooler, along with self sealing fuel tanks made the Hellcat a tough opponent. Of course a 2000hp Pratt & Whitney engine, along with six(6) .50 caliber machine guns also helps!


The Wildcat was the predecessor to the Hellcat. The Wildcats were outclassed in performance by the Mitsubishi Zeros, but its ability to absorb damage helped the Americans hang in there until better aircraft made it out to the front lines. This version is a FM-2 produced by GM (based off of Grumman's XF4F-8). Thanks to Bill Shinneman for the correction.


"Intensive Care" Stinson L-5; used in both WWII and Korea. Thanks to Mark (homquist) for the correction!


O1-E Bird Dog observation aircraft. Thanks to Gary Comfort for the correction.


Aichi D3A 'Val' dive bomber replica (based on a modified BT-13 Valiant). This particular plane was used in the filming of the movie Tora Tora Tora!. Thanks to Used Kintaro Rokurota for that information.


The Supermarine Spitfire in unusual S.E. Asian colors. Hank Kramer added that: "The mailed fist motif, YB-A code and kill markings show it to be painted in the markings of RAF Squadron Leader "Ginger" Lacey, perhaps the top-scoring pilot in the Battle of Britain, who ended the war with a total of 28 kills and commanded No 17 Squadron of Spitfire Mark XIVs at Seletar, Singapore in the fall of 1945." Thanks for the info Hank!


There's no red in the emblem to avoid any possible confusion with the enemy!
Correction: This is a Spitfire Mk XIV with a 2,000hp Rolls Royce Griffon III engine. (I thought I fixed it some time ago, but the file somehow reverted to an older version. Thanks to all those who kept correcting me on it!)


There was a P-39 Airacobra on display in the museum building.


This is the other Zero that flew at the airshow. This one with a Pratt & Whitney engine.


Trying for the essence of the P-40...


Time for some flying!


A pair of P-51s were giving rides prior to the show. I'm so jealous...




Margi Stivers doing the Wingwalking show.




A B-25 warming up on the flightline. Nice racy noseart!


Bomb bay doors open, reenacting the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo.


A beautiful Grumman F8F Bearcat at takeoff.


The Grumman 'cat' series went from the Wildcat to the Tomcat. If they kept at it, would it have been Housecat or Alleycat? :-)


A pair of Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes passing in formation.


The Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber taxiing to takeoff. First saw major action at the Battle of the Coral Sea, sinking the Japanese carrier Shoho. Most famous for its role at the battle of Midway, where it sank all four of the Japanese carriers there (the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu).


It's a Grumman F3F Flying Barrel. A name I'm sure, which strikes fear and awe in the enemy!


A FM-2 Wildcat taxiing by.


Two P-40s taking off in formation.


I was happy to see the P-38 Lightning flying too, since I havn't seen them in action in a long time.


I liked this shot since it showed the Corsair waiting in the foreground as the Lightning takes off behind it.


I believe those are the Santa Ana mountains in the background.
Update: The locals inform me that those are more likely the Chino Hills. I will defer to them!


An early model P-51A takes off.
Correction to the correction. It really is a P-51A, and not a A-36 Apache. Just to be sure, I looked up Miss Virginia, and it is listed as a P-51A.


The Dauntless dive bomber in a classic pose.


Lighting was pretty good, but the heat was starting to be very noticeable!


The great thing about the Chino airshow, is that they make multiple passes. So there's ample opportunity to get the shot right - no excuses!


The Japanese Aichi D3A Val makes an appearance. Used with good success at the beginning of WWII, they were hopelessly outclassed by the end of the war.


A nice pass by the Wildcat. The type was used till the end of the war serving on small escort carriers, where its short take off and landing allowed it to operate where its bigger brother could not.


Side by side, the Hellcat is a considerably larger and more substantial aircraft compared to the Wildcat.


Many people consider the Corsair the finest naval aircraft of WWII. I just like the TV show!


The P40 warhawk is perhaps best known for its use by the Flying Tigers, prior to the official entry of the United States into WWII. Though not as fast or maneuverable as the Zero, superior tactics allowed the P40 to hold its own in a fight.


The design philosophy of the Zero was to be light, fast and maneuverable. Dangerous in the hands of a good pilot till the very end of the war, its weakness was the lack of armor and self sealing tanks. Basically, it didn't take too much to bring it down.


Viewed directly from the side, the P-38 looks very odd. Only when it's tilted does it looks 'right'.


A major problem for Japan was replacing pilots lost. The selection and training process for pilots could not keep up with the attrition rates. Moreover, experienced pilots were not brought back as instructors to teach lessons learnt on how to deal with the enemy. By the end of the war, most everyone flying were basically inexperienced in combat - being straight out of flight school. Training on the job (for the Japanese fighter pilot) tended to be very fatal...


Little wonder then, that the Kamikaze concept took hold and become the primary offensive method of using planes against the U.S. invasion fleet at the close of the war.


The F4U Corsair is a beautiful and impressive piece of history. I was thrilled to see so many at one place.


The P-38 was used in both the European and Pacific theater, and was in continuous production throughout the war - from Pearl Harbor to VJ day.


During the intermission, the California History Group put on a WWII reenactment, complete with guns a blazing, halftracks, and tanks!


I was at the other end of the airfield when they started, and didn't make it there until the very end. boo. Still, I was able to get some shots of them between the heads of the people in front of me!


This one shows small unit action between the US and Germans, with tank support earlier on.


Correction again: The nurses are wearing the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (Germany Red Cross) uniform correct for that period.
This from SS-Rottenfuhrer Fritz Geisregen, one of the 12th SS renactors who was at the show.


Of course, the U.S. side won. Yay!!


It was an unexpected treat to the Sherman tank in action. I have seen them in museums many times, but not operational and rolling around! It was sooo cool!!


These guys were awesome. Decked out in period clothes, you'd swear there was a time machine in operation. Beyond that, they were being roasted in the 100+ degree heat, yet they were out there! You will notice someone trying to cool off pouring water on their head.


There was even an operational Hetzer running out there!


I really kick myself for not getting there earlier, as I delayed at the other side of the airfield watching the returning planes. For me, the WWII reenactment turned out to be the highpoint of the Chino airshow. I guess there's always next time!


I really liked this shot. Lots going on in the background.


Hey, he doesn't look hurt!


The Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer was a light tank destroyer used by Germany starting in 1944. Unlike the other German tanks of its time, the Hetzer was much less complicated and thus easier to mass produce. Sporting a 75mm Pak 39 L/48 cannon, it could defeat most allied armor at long ranges. On the down side, it had cramped quarters and poor gun loading ergonomics. The limited gun traverse also meant that the whole tank sometimes needed to turn in order to engage a crossing target.


Here's the M4 Sherman tank in action! What an unexpected treat!!
According to Robert G. Beaver (driver of the tank!): "The vehicle is marked in 761st armored markings in tribute to the first black tanker outfit in the ETO. The tank is named Agnes II in honor of Floyd Dade who died about 2 years ago, an active California and 761st veteran. Planes of Fame strives to keep history alive and remember those that never got the attention and praise they deserved."


The causal observer might think the tank is going forward, but it's actually backing up... Did I mention it was hot AND dusty? :-)


They had a German Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack running about as well. I could watch them drive around all day!


The Sd.Kfz.251/17 Ausf.D had a 20mm (Flak 38) cannon which could engage aircraft as well as ground targets.


The tracks are kicking up a lot of dust as the vehicle makes a turn. My camera was burning my face each time I used it... Hot, Hot, HOT!


The standard U.S. halftrack of WWII was the M2.


Not quite standard WWII German military garb, but I'm not complaining! :-)


OK, he's moving forward in this one.


A nice looking Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go replica based on a M3 Stuart chassis (Thanks to Michael Shirley for the correction). I heard that the Japanese reenactors were shouting Banzai, raising their arms in the air, each time the Zeroes or Val flew by. Quite funny!


Another view of the German half track. The magazine for the 20mm cannon can be seen protruding from the side. (someone informed me that they were referred to as 3/4 tracks, instead of 1/2 tracks).


While M2 halftracks used to be plentiful, this is the first one I recall seeing in action (outside of movies and TV shows, that is)!


I think they shot blanks from the Sherman cannon. I only heard it, as I was too far away at that time to see! All the vehicles there were beautifully restored. (Turns out the Sherman used propane gas to simulate the bang, while the other vehicles used black powder charge).


Those 2 dots in the upper right part of the picture were a pair of Corsairs. You could see where my priorities were at this point... :-)


The Hetzer and two German halftracks can be seen in this static shot.


A brightly painted AT-6 Texan on static display.


I can just hear the TV theme song now...


The P-51D has the distinctive bubble cockpit.


The D-Day Doll is a C-53 Skytrooper that is popular at the airshow circuit. (A C-53 is a paratroop variant of the C-47. I was getting a lot of email stating it's a C-47...)


A F-86 and Mig-15 flying in nice formation in a photopass.


This is one of four flying F4Us at the show that day.


As far back as the Black Sheep Squadron show, I noticed some of the planes had 3 bladed props, while others had 4. True to the show, some had 3, and others 4 here as well!


One thing I don't recall seeing at the show, was the planes folding up their wings (as seen here). There was of course, no need to since they were based on land and not on an aircraft carrier!


The F-86 is of course, Korean war vintage.


P-51s were also used in the Korean war, but more in the ground support role. By that time though, their designation was changed to F-51.


Here's an exciting angle for the pair of 'stangs!


I was quite happy with this shot too. No cropping on this - both planes pretty much filled the frame! Almost looks like I had a 500mm lens there!


This is what 300mm lens normally gets...


The B-17 makes several passes too.


There was also a B-25 up at the same time.


There's some exciting reflections on the plane in this shot.


This is a gorgeous Mustang. So shiny, bright, and sleek!


Another P-51 takes to the sky,


..followed by a P-38.


Shooting at slower speed in bright sunlight (to get a nice prop blur) means using a much smaller aperture than I normally do. I was horrified to find dust spots so prominent on the images. Have no fear, I can clean it up if I had to (for enlargement print orders, that is!).


The jug takes to the sky.


The B-17 and B-25 flying in an unusual formation.


The British Fairey Firefly was a carrier plane that entered the war late. Roles included fighter, anti-shipping, and anti-submarine warfare.


Another angle on the P-38.


The most glamorous plane from the British side has to be the Supermarine Spitfire. This is the Mk XIV model.


Kimberly Kaye in a classic pose.


Some of the top U.S. aces flew P-38s. A bit of a tricky plane to handle though.


The P-47 was a very tough and reliable plane. Built like a tank, and armed to the teeth - it was the favorite of many pilots.


The Strega is a heavily modified P-51 which competes in the air races.


The Hawker Sea Fury was the last propeller driven fighter serving the Royal Navy, and one of the fastest single piston engined aircraft ever built. This guy flew close!


Since I haven't mentioned it in a while, it's still hot there. If anything, it was getting hotter! My camera felt like a burning skillet to my face, and I was so thirsty and getting overheated. A $4 cup of lemonade tided me over for another hour and a half. Next time, I'm bringing frozen bottles of water strapped to my body!!


The pictures don't convey that heat at all - it looks like a perfectly pleasant day out! Here, the Corsairs are getting ready for the 4 ship act.


I used to love drawing these planes as a kid. Maybe because there was no video games back then, I have to use my imagination... Oh no, I'm dating myself!


There we go! 4 Corsairs in the air at the same time!!


Harry Harber sent me the following regarding his Corsair experiences:

"I loved the Corsair. All my prop time in the Navy and reserve was in the -4 and FG-1D. You could trim it up to fly a carrier pass at 80 knots (stall with power on was 66), and the exta long, retractable tail hook guaranteed grabbing a wire on the boat without a high angle of attack. It was an excellent dive bomber; it used the wheels as dive brakes , and several times I have put 5 out of 8 practice bombs into a 50 foot circle.

Visibility approaching the carrier was excellent. The long nose would blank out a narrow runway in front of you after you landed and let the tail drop. Also, you had to "s" turn when taxiing. Otherwise it was a fantastic airplane. I think it stayed in production longer than any other Navy fighter."



The following bits of history on the Corsairs are also from Harry Harber:

"The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was the first design to achieve the 400 mph requirement set up by the US Navy in 1939.

The bent wing cofiguration permited the use of a 13.5 foot diameter propeller and short, strong landing gear legs.

The early Corsairs had many problems which caused the Navy to ban it from carrier work. Air-oil oleo struts in the landing gear legs caused the plane to peg-leg bounce on landings; a short tail wheel leg put the plane in an excessive, stall prone angle of attack on landings; left wing was quick to drop in stalls; quick application of power at low speeds required excessive amounts of right rudder to prevent rolling left. It was considered too hot and dangerous for Navy pilots. The F6F Grumman Hellcat was considered to be a pilot's airplane in that it had none of these bad habits. We called it the "Housecat"."


Harry goes on to add:

"The landing gear legs were modified to eliminate the peg-leg bounce; the tail wheel leg was lengthened; a triangular strip of wood was attached to left wing to modify left wing drop in a stall. Landings in Corsairs on land were 'wheelies' to minimize stalls and to facilitate vision. The Beechcraft twin model 18, and the Douglas DC-3 also used wheelie landings. Three point landings were to be avoided."

More from Harry's note:

"The early Corsairs built by Chance Vought were the F4U-2 and -3 and had round cowlings and a 3 bladed Hamilton Standard prop. Then Goodyear was contracted to build Corsairs and these were the FG-1D. They were similar to the F4U-3 and had a round cowl with a three bladed prop. The Chance Vought F4U-4 had a round cowl with a chin scoop and a 4 bladed prop. The Chance Vought F4U-5 had a round cowl with two cheek scoops and a 4 bladed prop. The F4U-7was sold to the French Navy and I am not sure as to its configuration. The last Corsair built for the US Navy was the AU-7 attack version. It had a round cowl with a 4 bladed prop."


Also from Harry:

"Most of the planes you see on TV and air shows are the FG-1D, the F4U-4 and the -5..

All used the Pratt and Whitney 18 cylinder R-2800 engine that developed over 2000 horsepower. The FG-1D and F4U-4 used 54 inches Hg and 2700 rpm at takeoff; had a two stage, two speed geared supercharger that would deliver takeoff horsepower at 25,000 feet. The -5 Corsair had a special supercharger, longer nose, and would develop takeoff horsepower at 33,000 feet."


Lastly, Harry adds:

"The -4 Corsair introduced a redesigned cockpit that had the pilot sitting on his parachute which was on the floor with his legs out in front of him and behind the rudders. This gave him an added "g" advantage in turns before the advent of the anti-G suits. This arrangement continued in the -5 and subsequent.

The introduction of ejection seats then dominated cockpit design after the Corsairs."


CDC (algeron@zoominternet.net) pointed out that this Corsair was painted as Ira "Ike" Kepford's plane.

With 16 confirmed kills, Kepford was the top Navy ace at the time he transfered back to the States. In his five months of combat duty, Ira Kepford earned two Navy Crosses, the Gold Star, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal, Unit Commendation to VF-17, and the American Defense Service Medal.

Details of Kepford's exploits can be found on: http://www.acepilots.com/usn_aces2.html




Sorry if I'm overdoing it. I haven't seen them fly in many years, and I certainly don't have any good shots of them from before!


Another 4 ship shot.


Like the Mustang, the Corsair was used in both WWII and the Korean war.


Also like the Mustang, its role in the Korean war was primarily ground support.


Can't seem to get enough of the unique inverted gull wing plane!


What's that high up in the sky?


Why, it's the Sea Fury doing some aerobatics!


It was close, fast, and graceful!


Smoke trail from the wingtips showed the wind turbulence and vortices.


Beautiful photo passes.


Then there was the gaggle of warbirds...


This is where they get everything up in the sky at the same time. Honestly, I preferred the takeoffs compared to the flybys. Here, you can see a pair of P-51s with the B-17 in the background. That's pretty unique!


Yet another chance to practice my big zoom, slow shutter, panning technique. Even with image stabilization, it's hard to get the plane nice and sharp at 1/250sec.


Here's a pair of P-51s on takeoff passing a 3 F4Us in the background. Too cool!

The Wildcat gets to the air fairly quickly after a short roll.


The Hellcat takes considerably longer to get airborne.


Here's the Bearcat with a pair of Corsairs in the background on its takeoff roll.


Here's twenty something warbirds in the air at the same time! Honestly, it sounds better than it looks... Someone in the air probably can get a much better angle than the poor saps which are stuck on the ground.


I did get a slightly different perspective on the B-17 during the flyover.


They landed after a couple of passes. The Corsairs here again, since it's a favorite subject of mine. They showed a pair of F-16s, but only one flew at the show.


Another Corsair.


It was almost a relief to shoot jets, where I can crank up the shutter speed! The Viper West Coast demo team is from Hill AFB in Utah.


Naturally, my 2nd (and last) battery for the D200 ran out of juice about this time. Had to revert to the D50 camera for the rest of the shots.


Still managed some great shots like this one. You can see some vapor and the afterburner trail. Would have been nice to run it at 5fps (for more shots), but I'm happy with what I got!


Surprised there was any vapor action at all - it being such a dry hot day. Did I mention hot? I'm sure I did...


The heritage flight included a F-16, P-38, and P-51. There was another heritage flight originally scheduled to include a F-18 and demo, but the F-18 unfortunately had to cancel. Drat!


Of course, have to slow the shutter speed down for the prop planes during the heritage flight.


Break!


And land.


Which pretty much concludes the show! Now, to go find some cool water somewhere!


Police, toys, and sunglasses. To the Chino airshow organizers and volunteers, Thanks a bunch! Hope to catch you again soon!

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