Sunday, June 9, 2019

Old Warbirds

Yesterday Don and I made the trek to Redding, PA to the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's 29th anniversary WWII weekend.  Between wheels on the highway at 0530 and the obligatory BBQ on return there wasn't any time to put up any posts.

My first thought was "how could I have never heard of this before".  After all, I lived in Maryland 29 years ago and would have gone to this in a flash.  If you're in the Mid Atlantic area then you should put this on your calendar for next year, because it was awesome.

I'll do a quick summary here and then hide the rest (including almost all the pics) under the jump.  There are really four things that make this stand out from your typical regional air show:

  1. There were not only a bunch of old warbirds, but there were a bunch of rare old warbirds.  They had a B-29, a PBY Catalina, a Japanese Val dive bomber, a Japanese Kate torpedo bomber, and one of the only 2 or 3 flying Zero fighters in the world.  All of the planes flew - there were no Hanger Queens here.  
  2. Land forces were well represented as well, with tanks, half tracks, and more Jeeps than you could count.  I'd never seen a German StuG III before, and got to not only see it but talk to its owner about where he got it and how he restored it.  I'd guess that there was perhaps $10M just in restored army equipment on display, not counting the planes (some of which, like the B-29 and the Zero are basically priceless).  There were reenactments of an American assault on a French village held by the Germans, and a Flame Thrower demonstration.
  3. The place was swarming with re-enactors, who loved to answer questions about what they were doing.  It was sort of like a World War II themed Renaissance Faire, except at a Ren Faire pretty much everything is made up.  Here the emphasis was detail-correct.  I learned a bunch of stuff I'd never known before.  There were a bunch of female re-enactors (pics below the jump)
  4. A bunch of the visitors dressed in period clothes.  We saw a bunch women dressed as Rosie the Riveter although I doubt that real factory workers went to work with cherry red lipstick.
I'll hide the rest of this post under the jump because of all the pictures, but here's one as a teaser:

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019

The PzKpfw IV was one of only 4 or 5 tanks on offer.  Click to embiggen.

There are a lot more pictures and descriptions after the jump.

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019

One question I asked several reenactors who were portraying Germans was "How'd you end up as a Wehrmacht reenactor?"  This guy, as it turns out, was German.  I thought his boot was fascinating, having never seen an actual hobnailed boot before.  A group of German soldiers marched by singing a Wehrmacht marching song, and the tramp of their hobnailed boots really did make that distinctive sound on the pavement.

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019

As mentioned the StuG III was cool.  Germany built over 10,000 of these during the war, and despite the Allies' best efforts there were a bunch after the war (although most were in very bad shape).  The owner bought this in the Czech Republic.  Replacement parts being unavailable, there was a lot of custom machining needed to get it to this condition.  He also owned a German Half Track, which he used in the reenactment of an American assault on a French village.  I asked him how he ended up with the krauts.  His brother is a Civil War reenactor, but he wasn't interested in that period of history.  His brother told him that he had heard of a group that was doing the Großdeutschland division, and that was all it took.

The Japanese Kate torpedo bomber flew in the air show.

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019
It flew with the Val Dive bomber.  The guys here didn't own the plane - as one of them joked, "We're props."  But their uniforms were impressively detailed.

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019

Pride of place with the Japanese planes was the Zero fighter.  There are a few of these, spread over the world but this one was in the film Tora Tora Tora and the Black Sheep Squadron TV show.

Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019

This was another paid reenactor (most seemed to do this as a hobby) like the guys with the Val.  She seemed to be having a lot of fun, though.

Don took this photo
This guy did it as a hobby.  He explained a lot about the Pathfinders, which he was dressed as.  They suffered 80% casualties, which is why so many paratroopers missed their jump zones.
Photo credit: Borepatch, 2019
The girls in this Jeep were having a ball.  You'd think that red lipstick was a critical munition ...

Don took this photo, too
There was a vendor there, Warbird Pinups.  They had calendars like this.  A couple of the models were there signing the calendars (and ending by kissing the picture leaving a great big red lipstick smooch mark).  I know that some of you will like this, so click through to order the calendar.

Copyright (c) Warbird Pinups
It was a long day, but well worth it.  I expect that a bunch of you would have a blast at this as well, so mark your calendars for next year.


Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Rosie is real still alive here in Tulsa. Worked at the old Douglas plant by the airport. Spirit owns it now.

Borepatch said...

Chris, I hadn't known she was still around.

The Queen Of The World lived in Tulsa for 13 years before we met.

Beans said...

That last photo? Nice... Jug...

Old NFO said...

That is a good show! I'm surprised you didn't know about it.

ASM826 said...

The fact that you capitalized "Flame Thrower" tells me something about how you felt about the demonstration.

OldAFSarge said...

Very nice. I'll have to mark my calendar for next year!

Ed Bonderenka said...

Rosie was a concept.
But, here in Ypsi we feel she was a local.
according to Wiki:
Rosie the Riveter became most closely associated with another real woman, Rose Will Monroe, who was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky[21][22][23] in 1920 and moved to Michigan during World War II. She worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan, building B-24 bombers for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Monroe was asked to star in a promotional film about the war effort at home. The song "Rosie the Riveter" was popular at the time,[2] and Monroe happened to best fit the description of the worker depicted in the song.[24] "Rosie" went on to become perhaps the most widely recognized icon of that era. The films and posters she appeared in were used to encourage women to go to work in support of the war effort. At the age of 50, Monroe realized her dream of flying when she obtained a pilot's license. In 1978, she crashed in her small propeller plane when the engine failed during takeoff. The accident resulted in the loss of one kidney and the sight in her left eye, and ended her flying career. She died from kidney failure on May 31, 1997, in Clarksville, Indiana where she was a resident, at the age of 77.[14]

Borepatch said...

Beans, heh.

OldNFO, I blame you. You never told me. ;-)

ASM826, I'll put up video. It wasn't reenactors, it was active duty Marines. It seems there's a unit that does this sort of thing.

OldAFSarge, it would be fun to meet up. Maybe a blog meet?

Ed, thanks. I hadn't known that.

Tom Murin said...

I ran into a couple of guys last night at a local brewery that had just gotten back from the show. They said it was awesome. They had some nice photos of the low level p-51D runs. I need to hit this show next year.

Unknown said...

The Camarillo, CA squadron of the Confederate Airforce had an A6M. I don't know what happened to it.
Planes of Fame at Chino, CA has an A6M with the original Sakae engine. I think it was 2016 when that aircraft was disassembled and shipped to Japan for display for a year. The Sakae was reversed engineered P&W 2800. They got the the Pratt because we sold DC-3s to them before the war. Some people claim that the Zero has it's roots in the Chance-Vought V-143 because the prototype of that aircraft was sold to the Japs. I don't know enough about that.

There is a group back east, not Kermit, that is working on getting their Zero to airworthy status. I forget the name of that group.

I don't know of any non-U.S. groups with a Zero. Although I seem to recall that the Japanese has a Zero for static display only. Planes of Fame would know more about that.

Speaking of re-enactors, I help em out when I can. I got my teenage nephews involved. They dug a pit and manned a machine gun nest for three days. The funniest thing I'd ever seen was a tall blonde German walking along with a shorter Japanese man. The German man was wore the period correct IJA uniform while the Japanese man wore a WWII German uniform. They thought it was good fun. And it was.

Air museums and airshows are great. Thanks for sharing.


Sherm said...

The air museum in Chino, CA has (had?) a Zero. The day we were there, years ago, it was flying with an SBD Dauntless and an F4F Wildcat. They flew in-line and started a 180 turn at the same time. No one said anything but that simple visual of the Zero headed the other way long before the others told me all I needed to know about why the Zero was so successful early in WWII.

I'm still impressed and it's been at least 25 years.

Jeffery in Alabama said...

Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

Jake Smith said...

That same Kate torpedo bomber was at the Westover AFB Air Show last summer in Chicopee MA. One of the fun parts of the show was a flyby of the Kate with a Grumman F4U Corsair, another warbird exhibit, on its tail. Sort of a real-life reenactment, as it were. But I seem to recall that I was told, or read, that the Kate was a reconstruction based on a USAAF trainer for the airframe; that no original Kates exist anywhere in the world today.

Ken said...

Original Kate, Val, and Zero? That's really impressive. I remember back in 1987, in my brief reporter days (hometown weekly in Barberton, OH) the CAF put in an appearance at the Air National Guard base near Akron.

They brought an SNJ (navalized T-6 Texan) and a Vultee BT-13 redone as a "Kate." They were candid about it -- talked about how hard it was to come by the real thing back then. The SNJ was just flat gorgeous.