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Kostucha

Fortress Inspiration

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Well written! Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of my first encounter with a real B-17, although I was much older. I was 18 and on a road trip with a good friend before I left for Air Force basic training. This was summer, 1972. We stopped at the SAC museum at Offutt AFB. Like you, I hesitated to touch the great ship at first but finally reached out and touched a wing leading edge.

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That was great mark! sounded very similar to my experiences when i was a kid. And just out of curiosity, how old are you? you sound about my age (31). The way you describe watching memphis belle and comparing the movie scenes is what I did! I still watch that movie on a regular basis. Even though a lot of people cry about how in accurate it is, I still love it, even if only for the fact that it helps to keep history alive. My kids love that movie, and can speak the lines and tell you the characters, and the names of the other B-17's in the movie.

I got into WWII planes from watching movies with my dad when I was little, tora tora tora, midway, battle of britain etc. And Not too far from my dad's house was geneseo NY, home to the national warplane museum (at that time). I dont remember when he took me and my brothers but they had ( again, at that time) a PBY, P-40, and not one, but 2 B-17's! I fell in love with all those planes but especially the B-17's. The 2 B-17's were Fuddy duddy (now in california) and kathleen (I believe she's in seattle now as "boeing bee"). I remember going to the airshows there and how many planes they had each year. All types, P-40's corsairs, jap planes (CAF tora group I think), 3-5 B-17's, a liberator, and a lancaster! It was just awesome! All this is I think what ultimately got me into modeling.

Anyway, things got bad there. Bomber bob Richardson, who man who owned Kathleen died and his family went against his wishes and plane was sent elsewhere. The museum left town and the airshow stopped for a good long while. But it started again in 2004 I believe, and I havent missed a show since 2005 ( I was overseas in 04). Now, after my dad taking me and my brothers, I take my 2 boys, and all of us go. A good family tradition.

By the way, the B-17 Kathleen was one of the forts in memphis belle. AND, as I said, I still go to geneseo every year for the airshow, geneseo is the home of the the movie memphis belle.

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I think this was my favorite built-for-a-reunion model. M-Mike was the 95th BG lead ship on the March 4th, 1944, first 8th AF mission to Berlin. Only aircraft from the 95th and 100th bomb groups attacked Berlin that day making the 95th “first over Berlinâ€.

I’d had my display set up for about 30 minutes and was talking with some veterans about my collection and the model, when one man said, “You do know he’s here, don’t you?â€

“Who?â€

“Al Brown, the pilot.â€

That was quite a surprise. As you can see, I got his signature on a litho the group was selling but I never thought to ask anyone to take a photo of him, me and the model.

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Just watching WWII Lost Films: The Air War.... there is some stuff I've seen before and other clips are new... But combined with what is being shown, music, and the personal narratives from first hand accounts leaves me saying "my God..."

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I had heard of the B-17, but my first real "Fortress Experience" was when my uncle gave me the venerable Monogram 1/48 B-17G for Christmas in 1975 (it was a brand-new state-of-the-art kit at the time.) I was 11, and it was my first attempt at a "serious" build. I endeavored to get the colors right..just like the instructions. But the only paint I had access to was a rack of Testor's square-bottle gloss colors at the local grocery store. I mixed something similar to "zinc chromate green" for the interior (that sounded like such an exotic color.) I would have preferred to do the olive drab "Chow Hound," but since I didn't have access to flat OD, and figured gloss would look awful, I went with the silver option, painted with a Testor's spray-bomb. I didn't glue the fuselage together, but used Scotch Tape, so I could spit it open and show off the interior.

Even then, my first step in the build was to try and track down some research material. So I made a trip to the local library, and found a copy of a book called "Air War Against Hitler's Germany." Over the next few years that book spent most of its time either at my house or my best freinds' (a pair of brothers who lived across the street and were also WWII aircraft modelers.) I grew up in a little town of about 500 people, and the town librarian was (and still is) a sort of honorary grandmother to me. I had always joked with her that if the book ever went out of circulation I wanted it. Then about five years ago a package turned up in the mail. It was obviously a book, and had the librarian's return address. I tore open the wrapping, and sure enough there it was, complete with the original library card (with my name on it at least a dozen times.)

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My first encounter with a real B-17 came in the summer of 1977. My dad took me and a couple of friends to an airshow at Selfridge AFB, featuring the Confederate Air Force's heavy bombers, including the B-17 "Texas Raiders." My friend Larry snapped this pic of me and his brother Garry (I'm the one with the dorky glasses, but thankfully NOT the one in the plaid polyester pants!)

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Since then, I've seen probably two dozen forts at various airshows and museums, including eight flying together at Thunder Over Michigan in 2005. I've been privaleged to fly in two: "Fuddy Duddy" and "Aluminum Overcast." My previous job was working at a local news/talk radio station, and whenever the EAA was in the area selling B-17 rides they would invite members of the local media to take a flight. No one else was interested in riding around in the drafty old relics, so I got stuck with the job.

When I was a kid I watched the Memphis Belle documentary countless times, and during the scenes when you would see a Fortress gracefully roll over and dive out of formation, I always wondered "why don't they just jump out?" When I actually got a chance to ride in one as an adult, I realized just how hard it is to move around inside while in flight. I can imagine that in a heavy heated suit with a flak vest, while the plane is being buffeted by flak and hammered by fighters, it would be almost impossible to get out.

During my first media flight, they had a couple of veterans along for interviews. I was interviewing one, and asked what his most memorable experience wartime experience was. He was a radioman, and told me his most vivid memory was looking out his window during a mission on Christmas Day 1944 and seeing his best friend's plane explode with no survivors.

My hat's off to all those who served and continue to serve our nation.

Continued (I can't add all the pics I want to a single post)....

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Steve N - Thanks for sharing your story and photos, do post more photos when time permits. I think my school library had that entire American Heritage Junior Library series. I remember that book. A book I checked out multiple times was The American Heritage Picture History of World War II. It had several pages of color side-view aircraft illustrations with two pages devoted entirely to the B-17.

Here's some books from my youth. The Profile Publication was my first B-17 book. I have many of the individual profiles. They could also be purchased in bound hard-cover editions with perhaps thirty profiles per volume. I handled those hard-cover editions many times in the book store but never did buy any of them. My second book was the Famous Aircraft series on the B-17. The third was Ed Jablonski's "Flying Fortress". I remember buying it like it was just last week when actually it was about 45 years ago. I now have another copy, purchased on eBay, to have one with a good dust jacket but this is the first.

I also remember walking into the book store one summer afternoon and there on a shelf at eye level was Roger Freeman's "The Mighty Eighth". I think I got a little light-headed for a moment. :woot.gif: I carried that book to high school almost every day and it obviously shows. I want to buy another copy in better condition of this one as well. I emailed Mr. Freeman years ago to tell him how much the book meant to me. He sent a very nice reply.

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My first remembered encounter with a real Fortress. These are digital photos of paper photos.

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Silverstone early 1980s.

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Sally B, before being painted drab, and well before her Memphis Belle role.

Race meetings back then were like mini airshows - and racing cars :thumbsup:

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That would be taken in 1982, wearing the paint job for the "We'll Meet Again" TV series. Prior to this scheme, the aircraft carried the blue stripe on the tail like 'Setimental Journey'. The olive drab and yellow tail happened in 1984, followed by the 'Memphis Belle' scheme in 1989.

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Well I was just blown away. FINALLY got a hold of my grandfather's pictures and the info was there all along. Not sure what crew he was with still but at least I have a proper direction to go in now. Not sure how my family missed this all these years.

S/Sgt Roy H Baine

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Based on these pictures you can see he was with the 483rd BG 817sqn. Apparently these were drawings he had done and sent home?

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(I'm not quite sure if this means he was the radio operator or if it's juts a picture of the RO that he drew and signed. I was always told he was a waist gunner but now Idk)

I believe this is a shot of the officers on his crew.

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Looks like the full crew. He would be the tall one in the back row on the left.

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(note the NMF G model so late in the war.

The enlisted of the crew...

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(could that plane be anymore beautiful?)

No name on the nose but obviously they had done some missions by this point.

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Various other pictures....

apparently the gear wouldn't go down.

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Holy Shi...

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This is the only picture with a tail number visible. Obviously not his plane.

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This picture completely blows me away. You can see one parachute opening and I swear right behind the port wing between the two engines you can see the silhouette of another body falling. It's no wonder he didn't share any stories of his time during the war with his family.

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I'm guessing that last picture has been printed the wrong way as the star is on the right wing. Note also that the star and circle is oversized compared to the bars.

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I'm guessing that last picture has been printed the wrong way as the star is on the right wing. Note also that the star and circle is oversized compared to the bars.

I noticed that as well along with how bright and perfect the SnB are in the contrails picture. Could this be something they did after the fact or what? Being on the wrong side of the wing seems like just an exposure issue having the picture reversed but it just seems weird in both cases.

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Steve N - Thanks for sharing your story and photos, do post more photos when time permits.

Err..I thought I posted a bunch more pics, but they seem to have disappeared!

Here they are..again!

My first flight in a B-17: Fuddy Duddy in 2004...

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These were the two vets they brought along for interviews. Both were looking pretty chipper for being octogenarians!

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This was his first flight in a B-17 since 1945. Think he was enjoying himself?

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More to come!

SN

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Here's a trip on Aluminum Overcast in 2007.

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Lined up to bomb downtown Grand Rapids, MI.

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No flak or fighters on this "mission" (although one reporter lost his lunch..guess that makes him a casualty.) The end of the trip was a bit exciting, as a main tire blew out on landing. We all had to sit at the end of the runway in 90+ heat for a half hour while they rounded up a repair crew with a spare, and a van for us passengers.

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Been there, done that! Strut is a bit flat as well, what's up with that? Sure gonna make your landings...solid :whistle:

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@Bigasshammm

Great photos, many thanks for sharing!

I'm researching the 15th AF B-17 groups, and I'm always excited to see any such material.

If you maybe have some more photos or other info about your grandfather, please let us see them too.

Best regards!

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@Bigasshammm

Great photos, many thanks for sharing!

I'm researching the 15th AF B-17 groups, and I'm always excited to see any such material.

If you maybe have some more photos or other info about your grandfather, please let us see them too.

Best regards!

Not many more pictures to share. The majority of the other pictures just show various bits of Rome apparently while on leave and some aerial shots of the countrysides/targets.

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Kris, got your text message a few mins ago, didnt want to text as it's late. That's good news, take a look here when you get more info on the crew. Unfortunalely this site diesnt have a lot on it though. Best I can find at the moment.

http://www.483rd.com/

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I'm guessing that last picture has been printed the wrong way as the star is on the right wing. Note also that the star and circle is oversized compared to the bars.

Speaking of that, the 5th picture form the top is backwards too, look at he crew entrance hatch hang'n down, and the pitot tube is on the wrong side.

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Been there, done that! Strut is a bit flat as well, what's up with that? Sure gonna make your landings...solid

We were strapped down in the waist section for landing. Suddenly after touchdown the plane started shuddering, and the Crew Chief said it felt like a tailwheel shimmy. Then just after we turned off the active, the pilot abruptly shut down all four engines. I was baffled, as we were about a half-mile from the ramp. Then the plane filled with the smell of burnt rubber, and it was pretty obvious what had happened. Unfortunately, the Fort was too close to the runway, so they had to fire her up and taxi forward a hundred feet or so on the flat so the runway could be reopened to commercial traffic. I'm not sure about the flat strut. Your the wrench-man Karl..can they be "deflated" to facilitate jacking? They bussed us back to the FBO so I couldn't observe the process.

SN

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Well, the axle is going to be the same distance from the ground regardless of the strut height and since they are jacking the axle rather than the wing, that isn't it. I suspect somebody wasn't taking care of business ;) ... I never had to change a flat one, but we did replace a couple that were worn down to cord. It's strange that that one blew, it looks like it was in good shape. Perhaps they hit something on the runway. Bummer, that's expensive. Tail tires were a pain because you can't get a jack under the tail (due to clearance) that has enough lift because of the strut extending. There isn't a jack point on the tail strut, so you have to jack the fuselage. You have to deflate the strut and strap the scissors together. A Micky Mouse way to do things and always made me a little nervous. I suspect they had a better way during the war. Of course they had a big wrecker with a boom lift and probably just lifted the whole tail by its hoist point. Ya know, that would make an interesting diorama... Now where can I get info on the big wrecker! :D

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My grandfather was a B-17 pilot who started out in Operations in Sept. 42 and flew 25 missions before being shot down and made a POW in April, 44. I am currently working on a book about him and his service. He spent a year in Stalag I before being liberated, and kept diaries the whole time.

When he returned to the US, he founded the 381st Bomb Group Memorial Association, is in Chaplain Brown's book, and a number of other publications.

He died in 2006. Don't have any pictures here at work or I'd post some. We have 40 cub. ft. of files, photos, and other things that he amassed, not counting all of the books and literature.

I named my son after him. He's 7 months old.

I'm doing a Visible B-17 but not as part of the build - 2 step kids and a 7 month old keep me busy, so it's just kind of a fun project. I built models and painted Warhammer minis as a kid and into college, but stopped for a few years. Going to try to do this up right with photo etch, etc.

Edited by 381st Guy

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I'm hoping we get a few pictures of your build - one heck of a lot of inspiration for someone to build the famed bomber, and I tip my hat not only to your grandfather - but to you as well for keeping the memory alive and the knowledge, actions, stories, and work your grandfather did. Good on you.

Keep us up to speed with how things are going, and don't hesitate to post up some pictures, whether you're taking part in the GB or not - I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say it would be more than welcome.

Cheers,

Mark.

Edited by Kostucha

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I'm hoping we get a few pictures of your build - one heck of a lot of inspiration for someone to build the famed bomber, and I tip my hat not only to your grandfather - but to you as well for keeping the memory alive and the knowledge, actions, stories, and work your grandfather did. Good on you.

Keep us up to speed with how things are going, and don't hesitate to post up some pictures, whether you're taking part in the GB or not - I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say it would be more than welcome.

Cheers,

Mark.

Thanks! I think the book will be interesting. I have been submitting proposals, etc., and have some sample chapters done.

His stuff is an incredible resource - we even have a picture of the flak burst hitting his plane in formation on the last mission he flew.

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Here he is, 4th from left over Schweinfurt, 4/13/44.

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Here he is co-piloting a plane.

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