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Kostucha

Fortress Inspiration

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Hello Folks!

These amazing birds have been around since before WWII, and thousands flew hundreds of thousands of men (and women) along the years, causing from some incredible stories, memorable images, and superb video's. Here is a thread where you can post up stories, pictures, video's, previous builds, and anything else that you think is pretty cool. Share those amazing stories, breath taking pictures, stunning video's of Fortresses from then and now (all I ask is that you follow in accordance with ARC's copyright policy).

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My grandfather was a waist gunner on a 17 throughout the war. My mom tells me their ship completed all their missions and he was finally able to come home. He never liked to talk about it much apparently (understandable) but every now and then would share stories with her and my uncle. Apparently once they were so badly shotup they had to land in a field and the farmers who lived there apparently stood guard over the plane with rifles while the crew got some shuteye. She also has a bunch of photos he took of various aircraft in flight and several others who were severely damaged and possibly going down. To this day we still don't know, or at least I've never been told, what unit he was with or what plane he was on. Most likely he was on one of insignificance but really there were no insignificant 17s in the war.

A few years ago I took a ride on the Yankee Air Museum's 17 and checked that off of the things to do before I die list. It was definitely a powerful moment standing back in the waist gunners compartment during the flight and one I will never forget.

I'm trying to get my mother and uncle to gather everything they have so that I can make another attempt at finding out some info. I'd love to build his bird but don't think I ever will.

Flew 50 some odd missions in the war and was claimed by cancer before his 55th birthday and before I was born.

Roy Baine

RIP

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A couple of really interesting videos I've enjoyed on YouTube:

(Poem and Footage not meant for kids)

That poem oddly enough, I remember stumbling on and reading when I was no more than 10. My father had a copy of it in his den up on the wall... well, almost 16 years later I stumbled on it while trying to find information and video's of the inside of the Sperry ball turret. Needless to say, it was a shock and a half to understand exactly what the poem was about... what could a 10 year old understand?

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My interest in the B-17 & the 8thAF come from growing up in East Anglia which was one big airfield during the war. Over the years ive been fortunate to meet many veterans including Jimmy Stewart back in '88. Of all the types used by the Mighty Eighth the B-17 has always been my favourite...I can still remember the combat box formation of 1/72 Forts i had hanging from my bedroom ceiling as a kid. A mixture of Airfix,Revell,Matchbox & Frog B-17E/F/G's with little friends escort. Hopefully i'll get this humble GB entry done on time to honor all those who flew the Fortress.

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Here's a couple of videos of 'Sally B' from the 1997 season.

The first is a bad landing bounce. The crew were going to a grass field the following week, and wanted to practice a grass strip landing. What they didn't realise is that the grass rises up from the perimeter track to the runway, and they touched down just on the start of the rise. You can see the main wheels disappear below ground level, just before the Fort is launched 30 feet back into the air!

Click the pictures for the videos.

The second video is a take off, a bit of the display and then a 'Short Landing', just as described inthe pilots training films, keeping the tail high to create lots of drag and to get plenty of weight on the main wheels to allow harder braking.

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At the end of that short landing, it looks like the tail is just "hanging there"... very impressive! Thanks for the video's.

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Here's a couple of videos of 'Sally B' from the 1997 season.

The first is a bad landing bounce. The crew were going to a grass field the following week, and wanted to practice a grass strip landing. What they didn't realise is that the grass rises up from the perimeter track to the runway, and they touched down just on the start of the rise. You can see the main wheels disappear below ground level, just before the Fort is launched 30 feet back into the air!

Click the pictures for the videos.

The second video is a take off, a bit of the display and then a 'Short Landing', just as described inthe pilots training films, keeping the tail high to create lots of drag and to get plenty of weight on the main wheels to allow harder braking.

Ok WOW the pucker factor of those pilots had to be intense. I'm sure the bounce wasn't planned and definitely became an oh Sh!t moment but the short landing was that necessary? Were they trying to demonstrate it or something? I can't see any owner of a flying 17 allowing their pilots to "demonstrate" landings like that. A little too much brake and the nose goes over and you've got a wrecked airframe.

Interesting to say the least but even I watching the videos was like "Oh no!"

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There's nothing dangerous about the short landing technique, and you are less likely to skid braking with the tail high. I think you'd struggle to get the Fort to nose over, even with harsh braking ( as the WW2 training film shows ). Even with full down elevator, I never managed it much more than the angle Sally B is at.

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awesome videos! The control shown on that short field roll out is amazing! Such a gentle tail drop.

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Watching "The War Lover" right now, some great '17 shots!

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Steve N has done a great job with an old classic... a 49 year old classic. The ole 1/72 Memphis Belle. Here's the link to it, with some pretty cool insight into what Steve did with it.

Cheers!

Mark.

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1943 was a big year for those interested in the B-17. These four books all have that copyright year and are 1st editions. "Queens Die Proudly" has an inscription and signature by Col. Kurtz written Dec. 17, 1944.

1943B-17books.jpg

This 1944 issue of Boeing News has a very good article about "5 Grand" with quite a few photos.

BoeingNews001.jpg

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I built this one several years ago for a reunion of the 351st BG. The aircraft was named "Ten Horsepower" but no one knows if the name was applied before it was lost on its fifth mission. I currently live in Illinois so thought it appropriate to honor Lt. Truemper. I used Revell cowls and scrounged the markings from various decal sheets. I haven't decided what to build yet but it will be an aircraft from the 3rd Air Division.

Citation002.jpg

r.jpg

r-1.jpg

THside.jpg

THtop.jpg

h.jpg

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Wow!!! Not only one heck of a story, but amazing build to honour that aircraft.

Superb work. Thank you.

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My love for the Fort... Pt. I

When I was a young kid, knee high to a grasshopper, but enthusiastic beyond all measure about WWII aircraft, I remember playing with the other kids in my cul-de-sac late one Friday afternoon. We were playing outside in a classic game of Canadian Ball Hockey (for my American and International Friends, that means that we played much like the Phillie Flyers... lots of grit, swearing, and breaking of things, one side the dirty and unthinkable Montreal Canadians, my team, the amazingly tough, and unstoppable Toronto Maple Leafs). I was playing in net - as I would find myself doing for many years. As a shot was barreling at my noggin at the speed of light with a faint whistle of death following behind it, I found myself staring into the distance. Something had caught my eye.

Soon after the "Thud" and impact that left me a little dazed, I looked up again, and saw the strangest shape in the sky. As my house was (joyfully) under the approach path to the airport... only due to my families new arrival to this magical country some years ago and being put in the "immigrants corner" of the real estate market... I was familiar with the sounds of the Cessna's, Dash-8's and Beech 1900's flying over, and could recognize them right away... ha, those funny Goose looking 1900's. But the shape of these wings was as strange as it was oddly familiar. These were the times when "Aces over Europe" was fresh on the market, and blasting Luftwaffe aircraft was all the craze... and from reading the books and watching "Wings of the Luftwaffe" on Discovery Channel, the shape was soon recognized as an He 111. The ole Heinkel with the Rolls Royce engines... Why is he writing about a Heinkel when this is a Fortress GB you may ask... well, as with any good infomercial on at 3 AM, I will say "But wait! There's more!"

In my excitement, confusion (and disappointment that I was just scored on in "triple over time, of game 7 for the Stanley Cup"), I found myself fixed on watching this Heinkel flying past. No one else on the street knew what I was talking about... and frankly, given the speed and pitch of my voice (read: much like the Chipmunks), I don't think anyone possibly could understand with all that excitement. There was a rumbling though that was approaching fast behind me... low and behold, there was something reflecting the orange of the afternoon sky in this quaint little prairie city. Big, 4 engines, and just beautiful. I think I was unable to speak from the shock of seeing this magnificant bird coming at me - which if you know me, would have been the first time in my life I wasn't talking away.

The "Sentimental Journey" was on her way into Lethbridge for a landing at the airport I would find myself working at a few years later. Oh boy-oh boy! I ran into the house about as fast as that meteor was travelling that just hit my head (causing the "Toronto Maple Leafs" to lose another Stanley cup mind you). As I rounded the corner in the house to the kitchen I slipped and went flying into the wall due to my mothers impecable job of waxing the wooden floors. It didn't matter! To the telephone and I dialed the 7 digits to the bat phone, that huge, grey brick of a communication device my father had that we called back then a "Cellular Telephone"... that amazing new piece of technology that would allow me to make connect with my parents who were out gallantly collecting food supplies for our humble little home.

Okay... it's ringing! We have reception! Thankfully my father must have had ESP and knew the importance of this phone call, and found the small postage stamp sized piece of ground where there was reception to connect to him in this most important of times, for you see, I have NEVER seen a WWII aircraft such as these two up close and personal before.

First ring... calm down young Mark I thought - though I was a ripe ole age of 11.

Second ring... why aren't you picking up! I've been calling you for what seems to be forever!

Third ring... WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!!!

At the 4th ring I started to tear up and cry... life is so unfair! Oh woe is me!

Finally! "Ello?" (in my fathers well known and thick Polish accent)

"Dad!"

"Vy are you calling dis phone? Is expensive you know!"

"I know I know!"

"Is evry-ting okay?"

"Yes!"

"Is no emergency?"

"No!"

"Vy you call den?" - At this point I know I've broken the cardinal rule of this "Cellular Telephone"... no unwarrented calls. But this WAS important. Surely my father - a man of aviation and flight himself would understand!

"There's a B-17! A B-17!!! It's landing at the airport!" Forget the Heinkel I thought - we were Polish afterall, how could I sell this amazing show by saying "I want to go see a Heinkel!" So, the B-17 was my only hope of getting myself out there to see it.

"VAT?! VER?! VEN?!"

"YES! Flying in! Now!"

And suddenly my father was very excited too! "I'll be 'ome in tventy minutes!"

20 minutes I thought! That's like... an HOUR! But sure enough, around the corner into the cul-de-sac my fathers faded yellow, 1980 Buick Park Avenue came screaming. The kids still playing hockey dove to the curb for their lives! Dust was flying from places not even known to exist on that old boat of a car. The door swung open, my mother and the groceries came flying out with a tuck and roll, the car still doing 30 and my father yelling "Stupit Boy! Get in!" And in one fluid motion my butt was in the passenger seat, seat belt done up, door slamming shut, and we were flying out of that cul-de-sac so fast that we left faded yellow paint chips floating down to the ground and in need of new rear tires from all the skid marks left behind.

We made it to the air port in record time, only perhaps due to us being such devoted Roman Catholics and Moses himself being a fan of aviation as he was surely up in heaven and parting lanes of traffic for us much the same as he parted the red seas many moons ago. And alas! There we were! At the airport... and what stood before my father and I, but the "Sentimental Journey"... Oh, and the Heinkel 111 as well.

Out of the car we both lept. I felt so happy! My father felt so young, and we ran up giggling and laughing like 2 11 year old boys who just got a free pass into a toy store. But wait! This can't be! Closed?! CLOSED!!! What do you mean you're closed until tomorrow so the crew can set everything up for a public display tomorrow? That's unfair to us!!! Surely we're not just "public"... do you know how many traffic laws we broke getting out here?

Pt. II coming soon.

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...After a night of little sleep and watching Memphis Belle a few times over, reading up on my facts, and hating all those at the airport who wouldn't let us in, my father and I were eating breakfast at 6AM... only 2 more hours until they would let us in. Who where they anyway to deny us the simple pleasures in life?

Finally the time came... 7AM. A slower drive than the afternoon before, a stop at the local Tim Hortons, a quick pick up at the local 7-11 to pick up a few rolls of camera film to snap countless photo's of this beautiful aircraft, and we were there! We beat the line! Surely soon there would be hundreds of thousands of people from this small city of 60,000 (at the time) showing up for this incredible event. Oh, my dad and I were talking about all the things we saw, looking through the chain link fence at the beautifully polished finish of this aircraft... and the Heinkel...

Soon we were allowed to pass through the pearly white gates and onto the apron of hopes and dreams. I had my "Ghosts" Calendar with a picture of the "Journey" as I wanted all the autographs of the crew to hang up in a picture frame on my wall at home (which also happened to have all the pictures of the aircraft from years gone by cut out and pinned up as well). WOW! And I mean WOW! There she was! And BIG!

We started by walking around, almost afraid as we may have not been worthy to stand in the presence of such a creation. Reflections of sun, sky, and our smiles from ear to ear bouncing back at us from her smooth and perfect skin. Rivets popping out, panel lines showing themselves, bug smears ignored... we looked at all the details. The .50's, the turrets, inside the Cheyenne turrets plexiglass and sneaking a peak into the tail turret. The bomb bay was open but the ladders weren't set up yet for us to go inside - it didn't matter.

Looking up from the trailing edge and seeing the top of those huge wings, all the details from fuel caps to hot air vents. And finally... I did it... I touched her. Her aluminum skin (just below the port side waist gun position) was cool, and yet, startling. This was not just another piece of aircraft skin - I just touched a B-17G Flying Fortress! Coming around I knew never to walk through prop arcs, but still, I got close to the No. 1 engine, and my dad lifted me up and I tapped the same place where Luke, the Co-Pilot in Memphis Belle tapped just before they were going to take off in the movie.

We looked into the nose through the plexiglass. Could it be! It was indeed - I was looking into what could have been considered heaven for an 11 year old who had yet to get the chance to see something like that so closely. Everything was there! The Norden bomb sight, the .50's. The Chin turret was HUGE! The plexiglass nose itself was an impressive size! So much bigger than any picture ever would lead one to believe!

One of the ground crew walked up with a smile and set the ladder up for us, opened up the nose hatch, and with a flash of lighting I was in! HOLY GOOGALY MOOGALY! My father was soon behind me, his ripe old age showing itself as it took him a whole half second longer to get in than it took me! Hurry Up Dad! And all you could hear from us was "ooohhhhhh" and "ahhhhhhhh" as we looked around with unsurpassed excitement and curiosity. And yet - there was disappointment - the cockpit and nose were closed off. But that's okay! We'll continue on!

Looking through the bomb bay and radio room I was afraid to touch anything, much as before feeling I was almost unworthy to. The ball turret and assembly were a sight to behold as well - I couldn't grasp how large that turret was! The waist gun positions, with the pelxiglass covering over the ammo in the bin, leading up to the feed chute, and the .50's themselves. Hands firmly grasping the spade grips at the tail end of them, looking out and imagining those 190's and 109's coming in, blasting them out of the sky!

Walking back only to see the tail turret was blocked off from access as well, but that's okay, I got to sneak a view into there from the outside, I'm content with what I saw... out the rear hatch I went, running around to the front of the nose and up the ladder again! My father, God bless his aged knees and back was a whole second behind me with his camera this time... poor old dad... What did I miss the first time? Lets look at that again! And this! And wow! Look at those 500's lb bombs, they're almost as big as I am! The radio's in the radio room were something else! Too bad they didn't have cell phones like the big grey brick, that would make it easier I thought. OH! There are the handles for the manual landing gear mechanism.

The gigantic ball turret again, which must have gotten stuck so often because that's what happened to Rascal in the movie. The walk way which would have been covered with spent .50 shells like in the movie. Oh, my imagination was running rampant. Okay, back down to the ground, a pit stop on the way up into the bomb bay, looking at all the structure and mechanisms in there! Those bomb bay doors are HUGE!

Back into the nose... and this went on for some time. Until the little trailer with all the little pins and posters and key chains one could by. My father and I went to take a look at that... and starting from the top corner going down, I started to name each aircraft that was shown. "That's a P-38 Lightning. That's a Mustang, P-51D because it's got a bubble top. There's a Razorback P-47. There's the B-17..." and this went on. Unknown to me, the Pilot of the "Journey" was watching this. After going through them all and arguing with my dad over what the last pin was, (and I was right - it was a Lancaster, not a Halifax), the Pilot said "come with me, son"

He could have taken me to hell and back, or worse... the library... I didn't care - he was the Pilot of the B-17! A walking hero in my eyes. We went up the ladder, and he started doing something that just made me jump up and down with joy, nearly striking my head on the top of the cockpit. He was taking down the sign and ropes that lead up to the cockpit!!! Next thing I knew I was sitting in the Pilot seat, looking out the window, looking at the instrument panel, telling him what each instrument face would be telling him. Looking down, realizing how high up I was in this seat, back out the window, over the No. 1 and 2 engines, looking over at 3 and 4. Back at the top turret, down between the seats. Hands on the controls, touching the throttle controls (knowing not to move them), feet wishing they could reach the rudder pedals! I told him what the wing span, weight, height, length, endurance, payload, and operational altitudes were as if he didn't know. WOW! We spent almost 45 minutes up there! My dad, I think for the first time in his life was jealous beyond all belief!

We left that day long after everyone else was told to leave. On the drive home we stopped at Dairy Queen, got some icecream and sat and talked about everything we had seen that day. Everything we got to do. I was happily looking at the blank .50 cal round, my father not giving two hoots what anyone else at DQ thought of that. He was looking at his anyway. I put the signed picture of the B-17 I had with me up on the side of the table against the wall... and we had a plan - tomorrow we were going to go to the model shop and pick up a kit of the B-17 and build one! (Which we did!)

Fast forward to about 2003. I was posted in Calgary, and I got wind of the "Journey" being back in town. Suddenly I got sick... told my boss "Sir, I've got something wrong with me, I need to go home." Well, I did go home, but with a detour to the airport. There she was. Not nearly as big as I remembered her, but certainly just as beautiful. Walking around her much the same way I did before. Again, almost afraid to touch her at first. The excitement though, and the joy at seeing a B-17 again, just the same as before.

That, right there... is perhaps why the B-17, not just the "Sentimental Journey", but the B-17 on it's own, has meaning to me. I still watch Memphis Belle on a regular basis. I leaf through the pictures in the photo album many a time. That day was a day for my dad and I, and we still talk about it and laugh at how much like kids we were... well, how much I acted my age and he met me there.

I'll try and scan a couple photo's tonight and post them up.

Tomorrow, my son and I are going to the Western Canadian Air Museum here in Winnipeg - though there isn't a B-17 there... there are a lot of things to look at. Though this isn't his first time going to an air museum, I'm sure it'll be like the last few - he has a lot of fun looking and touching things. Gives dad an excuse to "jump past the yellow rope to save his son" who just 'happened to sneak under it by accident'

Thanks for reading this little blurb of mine.

Cheers,

Mark.

Edited by Kostucha

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Mark,

That was excellent! Well written, fun and you captured the excitement and emotions very well!

Thank you for sharing, I mean it.

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