Hear that? It's the B-17G Flying Fortress!
The Collings Foundation B-17G is marked as the historic Nine-O-Nine, but is not the original (which was scrapped). The B-17G was the latest and greatest Flying Fortress variant. Crew of 10, with 13 .50 cal machine guns.
The Nine-O-Nine completed 140 missions without an abort or loss of a single crew.
I'd say that was a charmed aircraft!
A lot of the 'old timers' can tell a B-17 from miles away just by the sound of the engines. When the old warbirds visit, it's something special.
The sight and sounds of a flying B-17 is just so incredible nostalgic.
People familiar with this old plane would stop what they are doing, and go outside to look for it when they hear those 4 Wright supercharged Radial engines!
This of course, happened to me too - like a moth to a light!
This is the Collings Foundations' B-25J. The B-25 Mitchell is most famously known for its' role in Doolittles' Tokyo Raid.
16 B-25s took off from the carrier USS Hornet, on a pretty much one way bombing trip to Japan.
What's amazing is that they pulled it off, and successfully raised morale in the US, which was severely lacking after the bloody nose that was Pearl Harbor.
The B-25 was used alot in low level attacks. Instrumental in choking the flow of supplies by sinking Japanese supply vessels using straffing and 'skip' bombing techniques.
Later model B-25s were even more heavily armed - with up to 18 .50cal machine guns (on the solid nose J models).
The Collings Foundation also operates the only flying B-24J Liberator.
The Collings B-24 can be distinguished from the CAF B-24 by the nose turret machine guns. The B-24 can fly faster, further, carry a bigger bomb load, than the B-17... but most aircrews liked the B-17 more (at least that's the way it's portrayed by the media).
The consolidated B-24 LIberator holds the record for the most produced U.S. military aircraft. Quite ironic then, that there are so few surviving examples left.
The only other plane that is even rarer (that there exist a flying example of) is the CAF's B-29.
The B-24 achieved higher speed and range due in part to its lighter construction.
Many crews were very loyal to their B-24, and loved them.
From its overall looks, it's easy to tell the B-24 is the more modern design.
No tail dragger here...
I know, it's not a WWII bomber... but it was making it's landing approach, and it looked so nice I had to include it!
The Flying Fortress bristles with defensive armament.
The Chin turret, and ball turret can be seen here.
The Nine O Nine claimed some German fighters with its guns.
There are about 12 operational B-17s in existance. I quite like this view of it.
With machine guns pointing everywhere, it's like attacking a porcupine!
Moffett Field's airship hanger can be seen in the background.
That huge structure in the back is of course, Moffett Field's airship hanger. Though there are no more Blimps to house...
But the Mythbusters (on discovery channel) do get to use it once in a while to test out their experiments!
The pilot or co-pilot was awesome - They would wave to the gathered onlookers when they were landing!
There's a nicer shot of the Tondelayo's nose art later on...
What? It's historical!
Usually, you can't see the landing because of a high fence and Light rail train wall, and other obstructions. I stood on top of the roof of my old Land Cruiser to get this shot!
The long slender wings of the B-24 can be seen here.
Here's an attractive angle for the B-24 that I like.
Very majestic and even aristocratic in this pose.
Funny I should describe it like that - its just an airplane...
Ah, but an airplane that brings an emotional response to many.
You can book a ride on the Collings Foundation bombers. Around $425 for a 40min experience. Do it on their website well in advance though. If you wait till you see them in the air, it's too late! Soon, soon... I'll treat myself to a ride!
The following were taken the year before at the same location...
A year before, I went on base and got to crawl around the old warbirds.
Thought I'd include them here, since no collection of these great planes would be complete without a few closeups.
There are tons of static shots of these wonderful planes out there, so I wouldn't bore you with the standard stuff. At least, I think I wouldn't bore you with what I chose...
This shows the number of bombing missions and vessels sunk by the Tondelayo. Among other things.
Nose section of the B-25
The solid nose version of the B-25J carried 8 machine guns in the nose alone. Probably the spiritual predessesor to the A-10!
For those who didn't guess, it's the tail end of a B-24.
Tail gunner station from the inside of the B-24.
Ball turret station of the B-24. You couldn't pay me enough to crawl in that thing!
The cockpit area of the B-24. Who choose the interior paint scheme?
The business end of the Liberator. Though these planes only carried a few token bombs.
Here's a rare moment where the plane wasn't being mobbed by people. At least, they are not in the frame!
I believe they were gassing her up.
Here's the inside of the B-25.
Looking towards the nose section of the aircraft (not tail!). Thanks to H.A."Jack" Frost for the correction!
Can't have been too comfortable back there.
Closeup of the B-25's Wright 'Cyclone' radial engine.
Here's the B-17's turbosupercharged powerplant.
The Memphis Belle was of course, the more famous B-17. There's a great movie by the same name which faithfully reproduces the B-17 sounds in glorious Dolby Digital 5.1!
The waist guns and ball turret guns can be seen here.
There was an English poem I remember reading in High school. It was titled "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner." It was a short poem, but it stuck with me all these years. I remember discussions that in a belly landing situation, he was pretty much toast as he couldn't get out. It has been explained to me (via several different emails) that in order for the gunner to get out, the ball turret must be rotated to a certain position before the hatch can open into the fuselage area. If the plane's hydraulics were damaged such that the landing gear wouldn't go down, it usually also meant that they couldn't rotate the ball. No wonder it was not a popular position for aircrews...
More of my artsy shots. I tried to key in on a feature of the plane that would uniquely identify it. How's it working so far?
You'd have to be really good to figure it's a B-17 from this shot!
Here, you can make me out in the reflection of the propeller hub. I'm wearing a hat!
This is the insides of the B-17.
This may be familiar to you if you flew a B-17 many years ago.
For not being publicized at all, there was a steady stream of people out to see the old planes.
Which boy hasn't imagine themself as a gunner in a bomber, desperately fighting off swarms of enemy fighters!