Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today at KBDR

Three classic warbirds operated by the Collings Foundation have alighted at KBDR for a couple of days.

The B-17G is finished in the paint scheme of Nine-O-Nine, an aircraft that had a notable combat record with the 8th Air Force. The actual airplane in the picture has a pretty interesting history as well. It was delivered from Douglas Aircraft's Long Beach plant too late for WW II action, but it participated in nuclear weapons effects research, and served as a fire-fighting aircraft in the west.

The P-51C is named Betty Jane. It has a "razorback" canopy in contrast to the bubble canopy characteristic of the more familiar D-model. The P-51C was the first model driven by the Packard V-1650 "Merlin" engine to be produced in large numbers. This aircraft was built as a single-seater but was configured as a two seat "trainer" when restored.
Witchcraft was a B-24H that compiled an impressive combat record for the 8th Air Force. The B-24J in the photo was delivered by Consolidated Aircraft in 1944 to the USAAF, and subsequently served the RAF and the Indian Air Force. After its restoration it wore other paint schemes but has recently been refinished to honor Witchcraft.

I have an attachment to the Liberator. My wife's cousin, who went West about 3 and 1/2 years ago, was a B-24 pilot in the Pacific theater. He was reluctant to talk about his experiences but this photo survives, of a young Lt. Tom Riti (standing, top left, with his crew), pilot of the B-24J Ruff Knights, 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group (Heavy), 7th Air Force.

The three aircraft will be here until tomorrow afternoon, then they go to KOXC and on to KGON. Ground tours and rides are available - check the Collings Foundation web site for details.

No comments: