IT WAS AN OVERCAST DAY
Last weekend the EAAs B-17G ALUMINUM OVERCAST stopped by Lancaster, PA for one of the many stops they do on the national tour schedule. Although rides are availble I didn't do to the truely overcast and light rain. Just does not make for stellar photography.
The name Aluminum Overcast was given when a pilot of a P-51 Mustang flew under it and remarked that he just flew under an aluminum overcast. Name stuck. Although the B-17, in all vareants was one of the most iconic US bombers of World War II, this one did not see the front. Contract built at the Burbank facility of Lockheed in May of 1945. 12,731 Boeing "Flying Fortresses" were built many by Lockheed and Douglas under contract.
Below is the trailer of a great classic movie staring Clark Gable and Spener Tracy in a powerhouse movie of testing the Boeing B-17. Find the full movie on Youtube.
WWII Statistics Army Aircorps.
"Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign locations.
But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.
In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England .. In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe .
Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas..
On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded. Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned. More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands. Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.
US manpower made up the deficit. The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.
The losses were huge---but so were production totals. From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China and Russia. In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined. And more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.
However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month. And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.
Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.
The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s. The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.
A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type. Many had fewer than five hours. Some had one hour.
With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat. The attitude was, "They all have a stick and a throttle. Go fly "em." When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.
The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target.
A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to England to die." He was not alone.
Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft. Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade: of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941.
All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school..
In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat. The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours.
Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.
Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively-- a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than 2.
The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons.. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.
The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion. Only ten percent had overseas experience. Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.
The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone. But they made it work.
Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators.
The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War. And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone. Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments
Cadet To Colonel:
It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders. That was the record of John D Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941. He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 2 in P-40s. He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.
As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.
By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training. At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.
At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.
Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.
The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.
Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq .
But within living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless."
As the story goes:
"Once upon a time there were three bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a wood. One of them was a little, small, wee bear; one was a middle-sized bear, and the other was a great, huge bear."
Ok, not the same but let us look here and now and Goldilocks is searching for an RV; to venture into the woods. How far into the woods depends largely on the size of the RV and the capibilities. For instance to go deep into the woods, or desert, you need a 4x4 and not to high so as to clear overhangs. Another is to tow something to get you into the woods while the RV is left at a base camp. For years this is what I did
Without a doubt, this was the best! A Class A will alow you to have all the comforts of home and yet still it can be driven and parked as any other car. I should note here however, I traveled by myself except my two cats traveled with me. Addmittedly two on board and you might need an attorney!
Above left is my first "RV". Had a sleeping platform and storage, plus carried the bike inside. Worked OK; but after awhile I was longing for more creature comforts. I bought the Pleasure Way in 2007 and put the bike on the trailer.
In the early days as a child we camped all over the West. Those were the days! Often touring in a 1957 Chevy Nomad - new at the time. Father had a big and heavy canvas tent. Sometimes we would just go hunting and shooting trips,; mostly to Bear Mountain in Tehachapi about two hours East of Los Angles. Sleep under thes stars and wake to the aroma of Italian sausage and scrambled egges grilling over a wood fire. Thanks Dad, those were the best of days!
Days at Avila Beach, CA Golden Hills of Colorado Camping and riding around Silverton, CO
Like Goldilocks, you have to sample all the possibilities of RVs out there. And boy are there a bunch!
Recently was at what is billed as the largest RV show in the Country; it may be too. Over 1,500 on display. From the small to the "estate" on wheels.
Like Goldilocks, you need to sample all the possibilities out there. Some may be too small, many are too big; and then there is the one that is just right. Back then it ws the Class B. Great advantage of the "B" is you can drive and park anywhere a car can. With a Class A you are pretty much stuck to driving the interstate and parking at Walmart.
My solution since 2016 was to buy a Toyota 4 Runner and turn it into an RV. Video below:
This worked great for me. It allowed access into areas where a 4x4 can go..
Now two years later and feeling the effects of aging; once again looking at perhaps buying an RV. This time, should I do it, would be a Class C with slide outs. Still tow the motorcycle. Of course one must weigh the reality of RV ownership. In the case of the above, with a purchase price somewhere north of $115,000.00 you can buy many a night in 5 Star hotels!
Have fun and do your research, Rv's range from Tear Drop trailers and the small "Adventure " trailers to multi-million dollar Class As.
The photo below: I must ask: What were they thinking? ! I guess you can close the doors.
The other fantasy is to go "Full Time". Dump the cost of owning a home:
At some point - Roof
RVs will give you the freedom to roam. It will also cost you in depreciation.
Goldilocks has some thinkin' to do. Stay home and venture out once in awhile, or buy an RV.
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