ISSUE NUMBER 15

HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL

AUGUST 2012

HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL ISSUE NUMBER 15

PUBLISHED BY GEORGE GRASSE

PHOTO TOUR OF THE B-24 LIBERATOR FLYING MUSEUM

THE COLLINGS FOUNDATION

The Collings Foundation maintains four aircraft in flyable condition for one-hour flights: B-17 "Flying Fortress", B-24 "Liberator", B-25 "Mitchell", and P-51 "Mustang".  Details on costs and schedules are on their website listed at the end of this article.  The day of this flight saw three aircraft fly into the Shenandoah Valley Airport at Weyers Cave, Virginia.  The following photo was taken from the cover of the Collings Foundation Newsletter 2011-2012.

 

The following images were taken by George and Scott Grasse

 

Photo #1a: On this particular day, three of their flight aircraft arrived at the Shenandoah Valley Airport, Weyers Cave, Virginia, in early October.  Our flight was to be the B-24 "Liberator" 252534 named "Witchcraft". 

 

Photo #1b: Shortly after the B-24 landed, the B-17 "Flying Fortress" came in and parked.  While the B-24 was readied for flight, both bombers were open for viewing.  Access was allowed from front to rear except for the cockpits.  The bombers look spacious from the outside but are somewhat cramped inside especially the bombardiers nose section and the tail gunner position.  Bomb bay doors were open and viewers had to travel on the catwalk moving past inert 500 lb bombs.

 

Photo #1c: The P-51 "Mustang" was viewed from the left wing walk but not accessed.

 

Photo #2: In flight photo shortly after takeoff.  The B-24 is heading south or up the Shenandoah valley. Blue Ridge Mountains on the left.

 

Photo #3: This photo shows the area directly behind the cockpit typically reserved for the top turret gunner and flight engineer.  The of us as passengers sat here: one in the lower left (that was my set) facing to the rear, one in the seat right center, and one opposite my seat.  The was one flight crew member who checked on all of the passengers and stayed mostly with us.  So, there were the two pilots, three passengers, and one flight attendant in this forward section of the aircraft.  There wee six other passengers mainly in the area of the waist guns and sitting on the floor.  We were all strapped in for engine run-up, taxing, and take-off. (Photo by Scott)

 

Photo #4: From my seated position shown in Photo #3 above, I took two steps towards the rear of the aircraft, passed through a bulkhead, and dropped down to the bombardier/front turret deck.  This photo shows the area directly ahead of me before entering that space on hands and knees.  The red tape marks the immediate vicinity of the nose landing gear which, in this view, is down and locked (the aircraft is parked on the airfield).  The design of the nose wheel allowed for it to spring open at the slightest pressure on the gear.  The area is flagged so a curious passenger doesn't touch the unit while in flight.  Access to the front turret and bombardier's position is the crawl space to the right just past the fire extinguisher. (Photo by Scott)

The photo on the right shows the in-flight position of the landing gear.

 

Photo #5: The B-24 is running now at about 4000 feet.  The first interesting site on my tour was this close-up of the bombardiers' position which is directly below the front gun turret (note open doors to the turret above).

 

Photo #6: This is a close-up of the bombardier's position and the Norden bomb sight area. viewing window, and instruments.

 

Photo #7:  Here is a close up of the bomb sight as it might appear ready for use.  Note the fall colors racing below the Plexiglas windows.

 

Photo #8: Looking to the rear, this is one side of the bomb bay.  Plenty more room for those big babies.  Eight were stowed on each side; let's see that's 8 500 lb bombs per side timed 2 equal 16 for a total load of 18,000 lbs.  Pretty serious stuff for 1944.  The actual walk way is to the left.

 

Photo #9:The next station having moved through the bomb bay is the central waist gun position.  The windows were offset to keep the gunners separated and out of each other was during the harrowing experience of aerial combat.  My son, Scott, handles the starboard waist .50 caliber.

 

Photo #10:  This is a view from the port waist gun position looking at the tail gunner's position.

 

Photo #11: The ball turret.

 

Photo #12: Heading back up the fuselage past the waist gun positions and looking back at the port waist gun position and its .50 caliber ammunition box.  Note the marking for approximate rounds remaining.  The structure left and below supports the ball turret.

 

Photo #13: The eastern Shenandoah Valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.  Beautiful day for flying.  Ground temperature was 75 degrees F at about 6:00 pm when we took off.  The B-24 is heading south or "down" the valley and will shortly bank to the left and head north or "up" the valley.  "Up" - north - "Down" - south?  That's because the Shenandoah River (which has two main forks, flows north.

 

Photo #14: In-flight photo from the starboard waist gun position G

 

Photo #15: The B-24 is making a gradual turn after finishing its northern loop and will be landing soon.  The countryside is substantially more populated than during American Civil War times.  The Allegheny Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain Chain, are in the distance. 

 

Photo #16: The B-24 "Witchcraft" with George and Scott, very happy passengers.

 

 

MY SON AND I TOOK THESE PHOTOS IN OCTOBER 2011

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REFERENCE

The Collings Foundation, phone 800-568-8924, website: http://www.collingsfoundation.org/menu.htm

 

 

 

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