Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wright-Patterson Museum visit, Pt. 3.

Lest I forget, there are big planes at the museum, too. Unfortunately my camera wasn't up to the task of getting indoor shots of the really big ones like the B-52 and the B-36, both of which are indoors now. And even smaller big ones like the B-17 were hard to capture entirely just because of the amount of stuff around it, but I did get these shots of the B-17G.

Nice, huh? I want one.
And then there is this B-29, one of the two that ended World war Two. Bockscar here dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, a move made necessary because the first bomb, dropped three days prior by a B-29 named Enola Gay, wasn't convincing enough to Japan. (That aircraft in in the Smithsonian Annex at Dulles Airport in Virginia).
There is another, upgraded B-29, known as the B-50, in the Korean Air War wing of the museum. And that's what I like about this place--they often have two of any particular type on display, not just one.

Now the last time I was at this museum, I was a teenager there with my parents and Ronald Reagan was in his first term. The museum was much smaller then, but one plane in particular I remember very well was this B-24 bomber, the "Strawberry Bitch". I will always remember this aircraft as I was able to see the interior of it for a few brief moments after going stray from my folks and I got a real good glimpse into what it had to be like to fly in such an aircraft.
Back then, this bomber was in a different location in the museum, and the rail around it was higher. It was just high enough actually to serve as the perfect step to enable one to clamber in through this open waist-gun position. All one needed was a dash of nerve, and even back then, I had plenty. A quick look to make sure that no one was around, and I was in.

So there I was--inside an actual Word War Two bomber. I made my way forward through the bomb bay via a narrow catwalk, and up to the cockpit. I could see down a couple of steps to the glass nose but figured that I should probably avoid that lest I be seen. I sat in the pilot's seat briefly, then moved to the rear again. I tried out the top turret gunner's position, then went all the way back to the tail gunner's seat, noticing how flimsy the aircraft was--it was just thin sheet metal, and even my attempts to get into the incredibly cramped tail gunner seat were making the whole plane shake. I could just imagine a whole crew climbing around in here--the whole plane must have visibly shaken.Finally I figured that I'd best get out while the getting was good as I'd noticed a few people that I thought might have noticed me. So I exited, stage waist gun window, tearing a button off my shirt as I did so. (I wonder if it's still in there?)

I got clean away with my little self-guided tour, but when I pressed my luck a few minutes later and tried to find a way inside the B-17 nearby, I was quickly snarfed up by several plainclothes security types who'd obviously been watching me and waiting for a repeat performance. Fortunately none of them were here last Friday. Even though it was almost thirty years since I pulled that stunt, I still half-expected to see my picture posted somewhere by the door with a big red circle around it and a line through it.

But I'm much better now. And it's good to see that my old four-engined friend is looking even better then when we last met.


  1. Great story and photos. I live near the CAF hanger in Arizona where Sentimental Jouney is based. I've climbed through her several times. I've always wanted to go in the restricted areas.

  2. Ah yes, the restricted areas... Catnip for the cat...LOL Great pics as usual! Thanks Murph!

  3. The B-17 is my favorite craft from WWII. Thanks again!