B-24 Liberator Plant at Willow Bay

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Dan R, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. ravindave_3600

    ravindave_3600 Friend of Leo's

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    My high school Sunday School teacher was one of those WASPs - Women's Air Service Pilots. Elderly, whitehaired, friendly, quiet, helpful...and certified to fly bombers!

    Salute to you, Miss Ruth!
     
  2. JMac52

    JMac52 Tele-Meister

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    My father was a B-17 pilot. Lots of stories which he only told much later in life. But after he completed his 25 missions in Europe he ended up ferrying B-24s out of Willow Run, including one of the very last ones, before he was discharged.
     
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  3. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    One of my uncles was a B-24 waist-gunner in the Pacific Theater. He said the best sight in the world was when the Japanese fighters would turn tail as soon as the P-38's escorting the B-24's took off after them. Walked around a bit sideways and hunched after the war as he was carrying some Japanese flak shrapnel in his shoulder. Sweetest guy in the world. Couldn't kill a fly. Lived to fish, cook, eat, and laugh. But/thus he never doubted they had to do what they had to do....

    One of my mom's cousins was a bombardier in a B-17. Lost over Germany.

    Another uncle was a C-47 pilot flying "The Hump" over the Himalayas, dropping supplies to commandos in Burma. Got shot down...a very dramatic barely-survived story for another thread.

    Gawd, the courage they all had!

    To me, this is one of the best songs about it all. And a very powerful video. I've posted it before, but I think it always bears re-seeing.


    "Hopefully, for you...."
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
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  4. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    You sure he wasn't flying the C-46 Commando? They were pressurized and I've seen a lot of photos of them flying that run. I can't recall whether, or not, the unpressurized C-47 could make it on that route.
     
  5. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    That mighta been it. Though the C-46 was less nimble than the C-47, and his group's mission, of skimming through the valleys as much as possible to drop supplies to mostly Australian commandos, probably needed the more maneuverable C-47. I'll check to see if I can find out which plane it was. They got shot down on one such mission, which is a harrowing but long story for another time. As soon as he could, he retired to Arizona from N.J. so he didn't have to see much greenery. He wanted as few reminders of Burma as possible. Tough dude! Did repo work on the side and had some guns pulled on him. "You get tougher or you get nicer, depending on what you think the guy with gun needs to calm down or be scared down. Later on, you wonder how you didn't [ ] yourself."
     
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  6. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    That makes sense.
     
  7. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

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    My uncle was a Spitfire pilot. My aunt was a Nartsi youth pinup girl. War is messed up.
     
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  8. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    She was a looker .
     
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  9. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Holic

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    I trained in a SAC base (Blytheville AFB), a place where they flew the B-52s up to the pole for Operation Chrome Dome. The B-52 is another one of those planes where the wing tips flexed. When you were on the flight line and one of them taxied by, the outrigger landing gear could swing up to head level as they took a curve, too. An interesting feature of the B-52 was its dual stearable centerline landing gear that allowed her to land crosswind with the nose pointed upwind and then straighten out on the rollout. Before they chopped her up to be a low-level, nap of-the-earth bomber, old "Buff" was a beautiful plane, too. And the funny thing is that the existing B-52s are older than any of their crew members. One more fun fact: The B-52 barely rotated when it took of loaded because the wings were set at a positive angle of attack. The first thing we'd see from other other side of the hangars was that tall tail coming up!

    Bob
     
  10. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Afflicted

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    The Hump was initially flown using borrowed DC-3s. The C-46's came later.

    Fuel for the Doolittle raid was flown over the hump in '42. C-47s were used throughout the war but the C-46's joined in mid '43. They had a higher ceiling and were a tad faster.

    Several other types were used, including B-24s (different designation as a transport...I can't remember what it was) and C-54s. The whole operation was very sketchy and poorly supported. Congress had Eddie Rickenbacker fly an oversight investigation (using a B-24) and he dumped all over the operation from head to toe. Poor facilities, poor maint., insane conditions for pilots and crew...etc., etc.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  11. Bassman8

    Bassman8 Tele-Meister

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    I always loved the scene in "Strategic Air Command" where weary B-36 Commander (James Stewart) is taken into a hanger to get advance look at a brand spanking new B-47 which of course looked absolutely stunning. Easily my favorite postwar jet.
     
  12. Bassman8

    Bassman8 Tele-Meister

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    C-47's flew the hump, as did other planes but the C-46 did the lion's share of work.
     
  13. lewis

    lewis Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a co-worker whose father recently passed away. The father was a belly gunner in a B-24.
     
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  14. lewis

    lewis Poster Extraordinaire

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    A friend of a friend is retired AF. He's flown everything including the B-36. He said flying the B-36 was like "driving a Mack truck through mud."
     
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  15. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    My uncle was a waist gunner on a B-17in European theater and he said the belly gunners were the guys that had the biggest balls. They were the one that were often killed, especially if the landing gear wouldn't come down.
     
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  16. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, that was a much safer job on the 24. The ball could be retracted into the fuselage, and it wasn't a tail-dragger.
     
  17. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Holic

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    The B-24 had two transport versions, the C-87 general transport and the C-109 fuel transport. The Commemorative Air Force's B-24 serial 40-2366 "Diamond Lil" flies as a C-87. It was built as a B-24A, in the first 300 serial numbers, but was damaged early in the war upon landing during a training mission. She was taken back to San Diego and modified into a transport and was used to bring ferry pilots back from the U.K. after they shuttled bombers there. Along with B-24J 44-44052 "Witchcraft," she one of only two B-24s flying.

    Bob
     
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  18. ClashCityTele

    ClashCityTele Tele-Holic

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    I recent read The Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose about a B-24 squadron in Italy. Excellent book.
    I was fascinated by the stories of captured B-24s flown by the Luftwaffe into American bomber streams, to plot their course and warn the flak batteries up ahead. Now, I know they were the enemy, but that must have also taken some balls.
    My uncle flew Douglas Bostons (A-20 Havoc) with the RAF in Italy. His plane was hit & he was the only survivor.
     
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  19. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Meister

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    I think Lindbergh’s claims for fixing the B-24 assembly line were self-serving nonsense. He did some flight testing there, but the production line design was a product of William Sorenson and his engineering staff, using their experience from designing auto assembly lines- something Lindbergh had no experience with.

    Should you find yourself in Ypsilanti, Michigan, there’s a restaurant called The Bomber with WWII-era photos of the Willow Run plant, scores of aircraft models hanging from the ceiling, and a breakfast menu that can induce cardiac arrest.
     
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  20. harlycarly

    harlycarly Tele-Afflicted

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    My father in law was a gentle, reserved, slightly nerdy guy. He stayed in prime physical shape until he died at age 84 in 2009. Truth be told, he was somewhat clumsy at certain things but could write, print and do freehand drafting with gorgeous precision, despite having massive hands. He flew B-24s in WWII as part of something called Operation Carpetbagger through the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) a predecessor of the CIA. They gutted them out, painted them flat black so searchlights couldn't spot them as easily ,kept a machine gun at the rear, and conducted strategic operations during WWII. They were basically unarmed, although he did tell me he was issued a .45, in case of emergency. I later realized that meant if there were a chance he were going to be captured, they didn't want the top secret operations exposed. Google Operation Carpetbagger sometime. I think you'll be fascinated with what these guys did. I always joked about my father in law not being able to light the gas grill, but he piloted these monstrous aircraft, without radar, just above the tree lie using maps, mountaintops, fjords, and a compass to get them safely back to their base in England. They moved spies behind enemy lines, delivered food, weapons, and medical supplies to the resistance, even dumped millions in counterfeit German money in an effort to wreck the economy. He told me they'd occasionally drop crated motorcycles for use by the French Resistance in guerrilla operations against the Nazis. I(I'm thinking a 250 Triumph, a Zundapp or BMW, or a Welbike which was a folding 2 stroker, would come in real handy in hit and run scenarios.) A high point for myself and my son was getting to go aboard a B-24 with him several years before he passed, and having him share some of his recollections as if they were just last week.

    These men that flew these things had nerves of steel, and there were even a few "famous" B-24 guys such as film director Robert Altman, Senator and Presidential candidate George Mc Govern, and actor Jimmy Stewart who really reminded me of my father in law.
     
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