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OT: B-17 "All American"


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#1 Don Capps

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 03:30

One of the more memorable pictures of a B-17 is that of the B-17F which was rammed by a German fighter while on a mission and still managed to limp home.

This evening, in my role as Colonel Capps Defender of Freedom, I attended a dinner hosted by a local military affairs committee as a representative of the Army.

One of the members of this committee was Elgin Condon, the ball turret gunner on that aircraft, the "All American." Needless to say, having seen that picture since I was a kid I was bowled over! I had a nice talk with Mr. Condon, who is now 81 years old. It was a real treat!

B-17F - 5 - BO, 41-24406
Asgd 414 Bomb Sqdn/ 92 Bomb Grp, Polebrook

Rammed on 2 January 1943.

Repaired (!) and later asgd 353 Bomb Sqdn/ 301 Bomb Grp Scapped in June 1945

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#2 mmoore97

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 03:47

These "birds" were the absolute of hand-craftsmanship just as are the modern-day F1 machines. That's probably why I have such respect for mechanics and the drivers/pilots of these wonders, both past and present (and airborne or ground-based)! :eek:

It made me do a quick web search of the airborne works of art. There seems to be a bit of contradiction, as many searches of the "All-American" say that this was a B-24 and not a B-17. That doesn't matter too much, as both were real beauties.

Here's a nice pic of the "All-American" as a B-24 skinned wonder:

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Here's a link with some info on the "All-American":

http://www.flightonl...com/collins.htm

Keep 'em flying high and proud forever!!! :up:

Mark Moore
Fan of mechanical beauties!!

#3 mmoore97

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 04:26

Found some more pics of the B-24 Liberator "All-American" this one appears to have been restored and not scrapped.

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Mark Moore

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 09:49

Thanks for the pics Mark - good to know a B24 is still flying. My late father flew in Libs in the Far East in mid to late 1945 - although British, he was in RCAF 358 squadron (courtesy of CATS - he trained in Vancouver), flying special duties over Malaya, Cambodia and Vietnam. Does anyone know where I can find any pictures of a 358 Squadron RCAF Lib?

#5 Gerr

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 14:59

Vitesse2,
Here is a link....the only one in Canada as far as I know....
http://www.aviation....l_alphabet.html

#6 Gary Davies

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 15:43

Vitesse, you'll find an RCAF Lib here:
http://www.airforce....er/liberatr.jpg

... alas not 358 Sqn

Vanwall

#7 Don Capps

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 16:03

There seems to be a bit of contradiction, as many searches of the "All-American" say that this was a B-24 and not a B-17.


No contradiction: 41-24406 was the "All American" and definitely a B-17.

Keep in mind that nicknames were often duplicated and in no way shape or form regulated except for a few well-used "soldier" words that were no-no's. To my knowledge there was never a "catalogue" of aircraft nicknames until well after the war -- and it is quite incomplete, even of the 8th AF which is one of the best documented air forces in history. There are several other aircraft besides the B-24 which is still flying which carried the nickname "All American" during WW2.

Also, depending on the internet for this sort information is scarcely the way to go. Just like much of the info on motor sports history, it is still in books or the primary sources and often what is on the 'net is riddled with errors or omissions. It is a means of obtaining information which is getting better and does have its uses, but the vast amount of knowledge in some areas is still on paper. Also, just like books which go out of print, web sites come and go. We are perhaps many decades away until there is some permanence to 'net-based information.

Oh, my brother has flown on the B-24 "All American" and loved every moment. He was hoping to actually take the controls, but said he had visions of having it drop out of the sky on him. He and I both started flying when we were about 16 -- we lived about three blocks from an airport. He did sit in the jump seat and said it was as hard as it looked. He is probably more up on these sorts of things than I am, he being the 'heavies' pilot in the family -- I was strictly puddle-jumpers and rotary-winged stuff. When I called him last night, he was almost dumbfounded -- he once tried to make a model of 41-24406 and just quite never got it the way he wanted.

A friend of mine is an aviation historian (he is a former USMC CH-53 driver) and specializes in the 8AF, during our conversation last night he gave me all the info I put on the posting and then referred me to a book we both have to confirm. He is going to try to contact Cpl Condon if he gets the chance.

#8 Paul Medici

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 16:21

After shopping for a suit one Saturday afternoon (1994-5?) we drove by Palwaukee Airport, which is located north of Chicago. I noticed two very familiar shapes above the airport fence and made a quick u-turn. It was the "ALL AMERICAN" B-24, on one leg of her tour of the US. I believe they were celebrating her 50th aniversary and restoration by the Collings Foundation.
After crawling around inside for awhile I asked when she was taking off. I was told about an hour so we went to lunch at the airport restaurant. I wasn't going to miss that.
After lunch we waited while the crew boarded and then a few nuts like me stood behind the ship as they started the four engines. WOW!
Later, Becky noticed that I had spots all over my shirt. Engine oil! That's how close we were, ...... and it wasn't over yet. After taking off the ship turned back in our direction and flew over us at an amazingly low altitude. The ground shook; even Becky was impressed.
What a time to be without a camera! I did buy a few patches they were selling to commemorate the event. Like to post one here but no website yet. Any volunteers, send me your e-mail address.

PJM

#9 Gerr

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 20:34

Scroll down to the third,fourth and fifth pic on this link....
http://www.ixpres.co...17/fuselag2.htm
That'd be a B-17....no contradiction.

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 20:54

Gerr, Vanwall: thanks a lot!

Vanwall: there was also a substantial Aussie contingent in 358 (mainly navigators I think) - would you know of any Aussie web sites that might be able to help me trace info on this?

#11 Gerr

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 21:07

Vitesse2.....my memory just jogged....RCAF squadrons are 400 to 499.....358 is RAF(riddled with Canadians,no doubt during WWII).
To illustrate http://www.rquirk.com/358.html
Click on 358 Squadron on this link for pics of far east Libs.
http://www.acseac.co...dron_Photos.htm

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 21:50

Gerr: thanks again. I have already been in contact with Robert Quirk, but the other site was news to me. The position of 358 and 359 Squadrons seems rather anomolous - as I understand it they were theoretically under Canadian command although they were numbered as RAF. 358 was formed out of a flight from the famous 159 SD Squadron which flew Lysanders and Dakotas into France and elsewhere.

#13 FEV

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 22:06

I am a 100% rookie on this kind ok subjects but it reminds me of a movie called "Memphis Belle". It was the name of a US bomber aircraft based in England during WWII and who had the same adventure as "All American". I really know nothing about fighter planes so excuse me for asking this, but was it the same type of plane (and could it be the exact same plane renamed for the movie) ? These machines were incredible and the guys in it must have been incredibly couragous. What a life !

#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 22:13

Memphis Belle - good movie! It was indeed a B-17, but the plane used for the movie later crashed at an air show here in the UK - round about 1995 I think.

#15 Gerr

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Posted 05 October 2001 - 23:54

Vitesse2.....here is a potential Aussie 358 link...
http://www.nlc.net.a...RAF Jessore.htm
good luck,
Gerr

#16 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 22:00

Can't seem to get that link to work, I'm afraid - it loads for a while, then stops.

#17 Gerr

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Posted 06 October 2001 - 23:03

Vitesse2...sorry..write to this Email for Aussie 358 info..........johnjtracey@bun.com.........John J.Tracey of "Rogues Retreat",358 Squadron,B-24 EW287......
Once again,good luck,
Gerr

#18 Criceto

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 00:39

Don't worry Vitesse, the "star" of Memphis Belle is safe and intact, albeit a little sick.

She's the "Sally-B", Britain's only airworthy Fortress. She's been plagued by oil starvation problems for the last couple of seasons, including a spell when she was stranded on the Channel Islands in need of a new engine.

Thanks to a vast public subscription network, Sally will hopefully be back in the air before too long. She still carries the "Memphis Belle" artwork on one side of her nose, and can be inspected at Imperial War Museum airfield, Duxford, Cambridgeshire.


I wonder if you were thinking of the crash which occurred during the actual filming of the movie? A French-registered B-17 was forced into a pancake landing after massive engine failure, and was a total loss. On investigation, the fuel system was found to have traces of modelling plaster in it. The resulting enquiry turned up the truth that the art department from the film company had been making mockups of B-17 components for props, and had taken plaster mouldings from the internal components of the airworthy aircraft. The resulting shards of plaster clogged the fuel lines and brought down the plane.

Another plane that came down - sadly with the loss of the crew, was the De Havilland Mosquito RR299, "HT-E", which had been used in the filming of "633 Squadron", and was the world's only flying Mosquito. That accident was in the summer of 1996, and I think it was near Manchester.

The investigation for that one found that a carburettor float had been installed upside down.

The air show boys have a saying - "There are no laybys in the sky". It's all too easy for a tiny maintenance glitch to jeopardise the safety of the crews and the precious aircraft they care for.

#19 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 09:40

One of the most memorable air displays I attended was the 1993 Great Warbirds show at Wroughton in Wiltshire. Two B-17's took part in a co-ordinated display that day, "Sally B" and a French registered example.

On the general point of warbird display flying, this year has been a particular sad one with the loss of two aircraft and their pilots at the Biggin Hill air show ( a Bell P-63 Kingcobra and a De Havilland Vampire).

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#20 BertlF

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 15:57

Originally posted by Eric McLoughlin
One of the most memorable air displays I attended was the 1993 Great Warbirds show at Wroughton in Wiltshire. Two B-17's took part in a co-ordinated display that day, "Sally B" and a French registered example.

On the general point of warbird display flying, this year has been a particular sad one with the loss of two aircraft and their pilots at the Biggin Hill air show ( a Bell P-63 Kingcobra and a De Havilland Vampire).


I've been at Biggin Hill this year on sunday and saw the Bell P63 King Cobra crash just happen in front of the grandstand where I was seated. Very tragic loss....

However, flicking through my photographies from the a.m. event, I have a picture of a B17 with 'Memphis Belle' paintwork on right side of the nose. If, like Criceto says, she's currently at the Duxford Museum, how did she get to Biggin Hill ? Or was it another one, just with the Memphis Belle painwork applied.

Bert

#21 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 19:33

Bert

Sally B is kept in fully airworthy condition and can be seen at various air shows throughout the season. I saw her for the first time in 1976, the year after she arrived in Britain. She is a former French Institute Geographique survey aircraft. Originally, she retained a natural metal finish but in 1983 was repainted in the Olive Drab scheme used by the USAAF in 1942/43. I think this was more to do with protecting the airframe from the rigours of the British weather. The scheme was modified slightly in 1989 for the film "Memphis Belle" and has since been retained. I'm sure that's because "Memphis Belle" is probably the most famous B-17 ever. In fact, the original "Memphis Belle" is preserved in the US (in static display condition only). "Sally B" is actually a B-17G whereas "Memphis Belle" is a B-17F

#22 BertlF

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 20:50

Originally posted by Eric McLoughlin
Bert

Sally B is kept in fully airworthy condition and can be seen at various air shows throughout the season. I saw her for the first time in 1976, the year after she arrived in Britain. She is a former French Institute Geographique survey aircraft. Originally, she retained a natural metal finish but in 1983 was repainted in the Olive Drab scheme used by the USAAF in 1942/43. I think this was more to do with protecting the airframe from the rigours of the British weather. The scheme was modified slightly in 1989 for the film "Memphis Belle" and has since been retained. I'm sure that's because "Memphis Belle" is probably the most famous B-17 ever. In fact, the original "Memphis Belle" is preserved in the US (in static display condition only). "Sally B" is actually a B-17G whereas "Memphis Belle" is a B-17F


So, the 'Memphis Belle' shown at Biggin Hill is actually the original 'Sally B' flying again?

In the Biggin Hill catalogue is actually a picture of a B-17 named 'Sallly B' with the same tail number as the 'Memphis Belle shown at the display...

Bert

#23 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 21:00

All information about THE 'Memphis Belle' can be found at :
http://www.memphisbelle.com/

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#24 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 07 October 2001 - 21:33

Thanks for the "Memphis Belle" link Rainer. It was interesting to read the crew bios - and sad to see that so many had passed away. I first came across the original documentary "The Memphis Belle" in 1979 when BBC showed it as part of of a programme called "Bombers". The programme consisted of an edited version of the original 1942 film plus rare colour footage of RAF Lancaster operations. The point of the BBC programme was a) to showcase that colour footage existed of WW2 bomber operations in Europe and b) contrast RAF and USAAF tactics.

I also built the Hasegawa 1/72 scale model of the B-17F and made it as the "Memphis Belle" using Microscale decals.

It's funny how often aviation matters crop up for discussion on TNF.
I'm all for it - as long as the administrators don't mind!