World War II was a singular happening in the world’s history and, although it is fading in history’s stream, its men and machines live on in film and pixels.
Captains Obie O’Brien and Bud Anderson listen to Don Bochkay describe his latest aerial encounter. All three were aces and belonged to the 363rd FS, 357th FG. During WW II, the public relations machine worked overtime putting photos like this in papers across the U.S. to aid in bond drives. Today they are invaluable historical documents. O’Brien finished the War with seven victories, Anderson 16.25 and Bochkay 13.83.
Legendary by Any Standard.
By any standard, the Mustang was one of the greatest aircraft of its era. The British were so impressed by it that in 1940, they became the first to order the new fighter from North American Aviation. The Americans then caught on quickly, and the AAF ordered nearly 15,000. In fact, the air forces of 24 other nations operated the Mustang at one time or another. The airplane made its in-service debut in early 1942 with the RAF and didn’t bow out until 1984 when the Fuerza Aerea Dominicana (the Dominican AF) finally retired its P-51Ds.
Lightning at Rest.
On January 17, 1944 time stopped for this 49 FS, 14 FG P-38. That morning, Lt. Harry Greenup took off from Triola, Italy on an escort mission to France. A few hours later, an engine in flames, he crash-landed in the Mediterranean off of southern France. He was rescued by Germans and the War was over for Harry. Today, an unbent propeller blade acts as the headstone for a gallant airplane.
Over 10,000 P-38s were built, but at any given time there are never more than three to five of them airworthy and currently being flown. They are amongst the rarest, most iconic warbirds flying. During the 1960s and 1970s, seeing an airborne Lightning was a rare sight indeed. This example was restored by Jack Ericksen and is based in Tillamook, Oregon.
The Planes of Fame Museum’s A6M Zero is not only a rare survivor of a dying breed, but is also still flying with its original engine.
Fearful of reprisals from renegade officers who might ignore their Emperor’s command to cease hostilities, immediately after the surrender, Allied commanders sent out orders to disarm the population and to completely eliminate any potential weapons of war. Here, a flamethrower-equipped Marine M-4 Sherman tank finishes off a bulldozed pile of Japanese Navy floatplanes at Sansebo Naval Base in November 1945.
Hans Dittes Bf 109G-10 chases the Old Flying Machine Company’s P-51D Mustang across a fall English countryside backdrop. Pilots for the sortie were Brian Smith in the Mustang, and the late Mark Hanna in the Messerschmitt.
Hitler’s Buddy Takes the Heat.
Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor and commander of the Luftwaffe, a few days after V-E Day. He was later sentenced to hang but committed suicide by cyanide ingestion the night he was to be executed.
May 1944, South Pacific.
Armorers of Marine Air Group 14 (MAG-14) are reinstalling this weathered F4U-1’s six .50-caliber guns that were so devastating to the lightly armored Japanese aircraft types they encountered in combat. MAG-14 was then detached to Green Island, midway along the Solomon Islands chain. Serving initially as an emergency field for aircraft raiding the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, Green Island became a major staging area as the island- hopping campaign moved west.
Hose-Nose Ace Maker.
Preceding the «Death Rattlers» was the USMC’s VMF-124, the first Marine group to receive Corsairs for combat. First Lt. Ken Walsh, the first Marine Ace, flew a Corsair that was painted similar to this restored F4U-1.
The Pride of Bethpage.
This early -5 model Hellcat carries the markings of Cdr. David McCampbell, who splashed 34 enemy aircraft and received the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, three DFCs and an Air Medal.
20 Down and Counting.
Cdr. David McCampbell was the first Navy pilot to score 20 victories. Here, his Hellcat has 21 Japanese flags after his mission over the Philippines on October 21, 1944, during which he claimed a Dinah reconnaissance plane and a Nate fighter. His epic nine-kill mission came three days later.
The Big Moment.
The wings and fuselage are totally completed on the assembly line before being mated together on the final step of production. It’s likely this airplane was test-flown within 48 hours of this photo being taken.
Lee Proudfoot slides the Old Flying Machine Company’s P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie into line with Tim Ellison’s camera aircraft, just north of Duxford Airfield, England, where it is based. The Mustang regularly attends airshows across the UK and Europe, paying tribute to the 361st FG «Yellowjackets,» who flew from England during WW II.
Kitty With Teeth.
Rudy Frasca flies his Kittyhawk Mk la AK899 (original serial number) from Frasca field in Urbana, Illinois.
Seldom a warbird is seen today that has actually seen combat. Such an airplane is Boeing-built B-17G-35-BO, serial number 42-32076, named Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby after a popular song. It flew 24 missions before being damaged and crash-landing in Sweden. It was restored in the late 1990s by the USAF and flown only five times before being transferred to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. It is probably the most complete Flying Fortress in existence. It even has its original chemical toilet on board.
A Busy Crewman.
The bombardier on a B-17 was not only responsible for delivering the bombs on target but also for fending off frontal attacks from fighters.
High and Alone.
The 91st BG B-17Fs on their way to targets in Germany. Twenty-year-old 2nd Lt. Robert Slane pulled into position on the left wing of the high-element leader in his B-17E to begin a mission that would come to be known as «Black Sunday.»
Doolittle Raiders in the cockpit of B-25 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force: Travis Hoover in the pilot’s seat, and Tom Griffin in the right seat. This portrait was made in 1999. This B-25 was retroactively restored to the model used by the Raiders by North American, and was flown to the Museum by Travis Hoover in the early 1960s.
Last Two Standing.
The last two surviving Raiders will open the rare bottle of cognac and drink from the silver goblets in a salute to their fellow Raiders who have gone before them.
By any standards, the P-47 was a massive airplane that actually dwarfed its R-2800 P&W engine. The scoop inside the cowling, barely visible below the engine ducts air to the turbo charger in the aft fuselage behind the wing, giving the airplane good high-altitude performance.
Leader of the Pack.
Col. Hubert «Hub» Zemke, the 56th FG’s CO, came up with the idea of the «Zemke fan»—a tactic in which they flew a bomber formation that often got the Luftwaffe to come up and fight.
Francis Gabreski scored 28 victories flying the P-47 as part of Hub Zemke’s famous 56th Fighter Group, the Wolf Pack. He later scored 6.5 victories over MiGs in Korea.
The P-47D owned by the Kalamazoo Air Zoo is painted as Hub Zemke’s aircraft.
The Hardworking Hurricane.
Always overshadowed by the Spitfire, the Hurricane was nonetheless a major player in the Battle of Britain. The Fighter Collection’s Hurricane Mk XII RCAF 5711 is based at Duxford, England. Stuart Goldspink is the pilot.
The Mighty Merlin.
The Merlin’s rear-mounted supercharger had two gears so it could be shifted into high blower at altitude, which gave it a decided advantage at altitude. Additionally, it was intercooled—coolant was circulated around the incoming air—which increased power. The Merlin, however, was very maintenance-intensive. Among other aircraft, the Merlin powered the Hurricane, Spitfire and the Mustang.
Jon Davies flies the British Aerospace Heritage Mosquito T.lll over Cambridgeshire in 1996. Underscoring the fragile nature of aviation history, the aircraft was lost later that same year.
The Maurauder had an unearned reputation for being difficult to fly, yet it had the highest mission survival rate of any bomber. Kermit Weeks’ B-26 Marauder is the sole flying example in the world.
An 88mm shell exploded between the right engine and the fuselage of Flossie’s Fury on August 20, 1944, over Toulon, France. Of the eight crewmen aboard the B-26 Martin Marauder, miraculously, two survived.