Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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 2013 Airshows
Titusville (Tico), FL   NAS Key West, FL   Chino, CA   Indy 500 Fly-Over   Reading, PA WWII Weekend   CWH Show, Hamilton, ONT   Dayton, OH   Muncie, IN   Topeka, KS   Purdue University, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Belleville, MI   Hillsdale, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   Glendale Airport, Kokomo, IN   Rome, GA   Peachtree City, GA   Houston, TX   Urbana, OH B-25 Gathering   B-25 Doolittle Memorial Fly-over at Dayton, OH

23rd Annual World War II Weekend Warbird Photo Review
Warbirds at Reading Airport, Reading, PA - June 7-9, 2013 - Photos taken Saturday June 8. 

  I have lost count on how many times I have been to WWII Weekend at Reading, PA since I started attending about ten years ago. I go back because of the total experience and I know what I am going to see and when and where I am going to see it.  For the most part it is the same each year.  But this is the strength and draw of the event.  From the warbird enthusiast's prospective there are going to be WWII era aircraft only. While this limits the promoters of the event it also forces them to focus on quality WWII warbirds.  For 2013 the focus was on B-29, B-17, (4)B-25s, TBM, F4U, (3)P-51s, SBD, SB2C, C-45, C-46, C-47, C-54 along with a good solid collection of liaisons, trainers and WWII re-enactors, which is a line-up any airshow would be excited to have.  Going to WWII Weekend while it may seem the same from year to year has the feel of your most well fitting gloves or those beat up slippers you put on when you get home from work, as they make you feel comfortable.  Just like WWII Weekend. 


Its 8:55 in the morning as I am setting up my chair along the crowd line as the B-29 taxies out for its first ride trip of the day.  The P-51 was just returning from its first ride when I took this photo by locking onto the B-29 and waiting for the Mustang to fly though the frame.  At WWII Weekend the flying had already started before the gates opened at 8:30 as the Mustang left just before opening.


9:10 on Saturday morning as "Fifi" rotates for the first of four trips she will make during the day before the airshow even starts.  While there are many things to look at and listen to at WWII Weekend, if someone just sat in his chair on the crowd line he would have a mini airshow of warbirds taking off and landing at regular intervals during the day.  This is what sets the MAAM event apart from other more traditional airshows.  Some shows are warbird ride unfriendly and do not allow them, while the MAAM at WWII Weekend has taken the opposite tack and encouraged the practice, which has accelerated over the past couple of years.  Many warbirds have rides programs to try and help offset the high costs of operation with these great aircraft, so this event that 10 years ago only had B-17" Yankee Lady" giving rides has now expanded into the 10 warbirds listed below.  For the spectator there is something taking off, landing, or overhead on a regular basis.

To the best of my knowledge here are the number of rides given.  On some of the smaller aircraft I lost track.

Warbird Number of rides   (+ means I lost count and the aircraft did more than I was able to keep track of.)
B-29 4
P-51 7
T-6 3++
PT-17 2+
B-25 5
SBD 3+
B-17 7
PT-19 2 +
C-45 2
SB2C 2


This SNJ was taxiing out with its ride during the B-29's engine run-ups.

Airfield orientation for photographers:  Facing southwest and the sun with Runway 31 as the normal airshow runway.  Good photos can be obtained by shooting aircraft on approach as there is a mountain in the background.

Non Airshow Displays:
Main Hangar Area


The main hangar that during the day holds lots displays and vendors and hosts a dance at night.


A long time ago these two members of the Band of Brothers fought their away across Europe.  I wonder if they even thought during the midst of all of that they would be celebrities at events like this.


A WWII veteran telling his story.

P-61


The P-61 has its own display and merchandise tent.


No doubt there has been a lot of internal work done since 2011 that I could not see.  What was new were the external fuel tanks.

Flea Market - The flea market is exclusively WWII merchandise.  There are 30-40 vendors selling just about anything related to WWII.


Note the lady with the period baby carriage.  The young 101st Airborne re-enactor is a lot closer to the age of the WWII soldier than the older person behind him.  Four years vs. forty.  I may be wrong but the subdued patch is incorrect for WWII as it was introduced in Vietnam era when someone in the Army finally figured out the bright shoulder patches and rank insignia made great aiming points.


This is the first time I remember seeing WWII era bikes on sale.


There were maybe 10 vendors that specialized in WWII period clothes for the female re-enactor. 


This is the food island by the vendor area.  One of two at the event.


The ground was wet and the walkways muddy on Saturday morning from all of the rain on Friday.  But it did not slow down the people looking for good deals.


WWII Weekend is not only fun but educational.  I always thought I had a good idea where Hell was located but was unsure of the distance.  Now I have a heading and a distance.

Military Encampment - This is the largest of any I have seen and another important part of the event.








I don't remember seeing this group here before.




No job is done until the paper work is done.  This re-enactor is is showing how a report was made on a typewriter. 


This group was new this year.  My understanding is that the Nationalist Chinese Soldiers are students in the US.  Note that they are wearing sandals.  In talking with another Chinese re-enactor that had boots he stated that boots or sandals depended on the commanding general.

The Airshow before the Airshow:  This had been going on ever since before the gates opened as ten of the warbirds were giving rides and taking off and landing on a continuing basis.  When I was done touring the rest of the displays and came back to my seat I took some photos of the activity.  In the first 13 minutes after I returned there were two landings and four take-offs.


11:18 


11:23


11:24.  The PT-19 launched right after the Helldiver from mid field.


11:28


11:30


11:31
 

The Airshow


The show does a the traditional warbird style that starts with the liaisons and ends with fighters and bombers.  Here the Interstate L-6 from the CAF Avenger Squadron typifies the liaison fly-by.


This Bishop Stampe owned by Richard Smith of Andover, NJ was one of several trainers that were on aerial parade.


As was this Ryan PT-22.


1:31.  Going out with another group of riders.


"Valiant Echoes" flown by veteran pilot Michael Kennedy is the only BT-13 aerobatic routine in the country.


Seven T-6s gave us several different formation passes.


Kevin Russo did his normal outstanding T-6 aerobatic routine.


Naval aircraft were up next.








Something that was added about five years ago was the re-creation of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.


This is the first time in many years I have seen C-46 "Tinker Belle" taxi out for an airshow performance.  It was great to see and hear her back in action.


Here the C-46 lines up for her photo pass while the "Yankee Warrior" air crew and L-3 pilot get ready for their part of the show.


Very nice photo pass!


 CAF C-45.


C-46 "Tinker Belle" makes her landing.


Yankee Air Force C-47.


3:33 PM as "Yankee Lady" lands.  This was as about as close as we got on Saturday to a B-17 performance in the show due to the show being 20 minutes behind and the B-17 doing a paid ride tour which interfered with the B-17 then being ready to fly in the show.  The B-17 was supposed to launch with the B-25s which were next up but it could not unload its passengers and and get ready to fly the show in time.  I was listening to all of this on the aviation scanner and also when air boss cancelled out the B-17 because he was running behind, which he blamed on having to launch and recover the all ride aircraft during the show.  Then the narrator got on the microphone and told all of us the B-17 would not perform because ten persons had paid $425 a head for rides on the B-17 and that had to be done.  What he seems to have forgotten is that the thousands of us out there in the crowd paid $20-25 apiece to get in and apparently we didn't count.  While we support the warbird ride program and commend WWII Weekend for supporting the warbird ride programs they can not interfere with the flying of the warbirds in the show.  That's one of the main reasons the spectators come out to the event.  Hopefully WWII Weekend can get this resolved in the future.


B-25s fire up for their portion of the show.


 In order to maximize spectator satisfaction with the exception warbirds that give rides and operate all day from the hot ramp, the rest of the warbirds that fly in the show are kept in the display area and then tugged out for the airshow flights. They are then tugged back in afterwards.  This keeps the marshalling team hopping but they always have the aircraft out on the hot ramp ready to go to fly at the proper time. Here the C-46 is being tugged back in.  Note the location of the C-54 at the right edge of the photo as a reference point.


Now the C-46 has moved past the C-54 and is almost back to her display location.  This is a really big aircraft to be moving around a small area with with spectators about.  But the ground crew uses what we call the "Flying Rope" to move people out of the way for the plane to pass.  Always a great job by the marshalling team to make the show happen safely and on time.


Here she comes!!!  "Fifi" on the takeoff roll!  For this series of shots I shifted my position to the west to try and get a different prospective of her takeoff.


WWII Weekend does a real good job of tying to make sure the that the field is sanitized of anything non WWII.  Most if not all other airshows have the ubiquitous golf carts driving around on various missions. Not here.  But they have overlooked these vehicles that are in the area where the narrator, sound crew, air boss and FAA monitor reside.  There is no reason these people can't park their cars out with the rest of the workers and sanitize this area of modern vehicles.  The narrator, air boss and FAA monitor all work from the bed of a military truck as shown below to add to the reality but then lose it with their cars in the area.

 
Looks like the FAA monitor was a red head this year.  Note the WWII truck she and air boss are on.


Time is 4:09.


Looks like about 60 degrees of bank as "Fifi" gets turned around for her first pass.  The narrator seemed to be a little confused right now in that he stated the the passengers were getting their money's worth on their ride, as he seemed to be unaware their were no passengers on board and this was going to be a a B-29 demo.  As this was the first time "Fifi" has done this at Reading or maybe on the entire east coast he can be excused for his oversight.  He seemed to get with the program right afterwards as maybe the air boss clued him in on what was going to happen.  Unless someone was at Willow Run in 2012, like I was, they would not beware of the great show the B-29 was going to perform for them.  I may have been the only one out there that knew what was going to happen.


Time is 4:11.  Two minutes from rotation for the B-29 to get turned around and back to airshow center.

 
Down and Dirty.


Trading a little altitude for air speed for a high speed banked pass as she comes in over our right shoulder.


This demo shows the maneuverability of the B-29.


After the B-29 I was really curious as to whether the Mustangs might be anti-climatic.  After launch they quickly formed up into a a flight of three and gave us several nice passes.  They worked out really well.


End of the show was the P-51 fighter break.

After the Show:
Actually some of my favorite time is after the flying show as most spectators have left and things are quiet among the re-enactor tents and the aircraft displays.  Also if the sun is out one gets early evening sunlight for the photos.


 I am not exactly sure when "Georgie's Girl" arrived as she was not in the B-25 lineup for Saturday.  Here she as been moved into position with the other B-25s.


Looking NE with B-25 "Briefing Time" on the left.  Once the crowd leaves more of the detail of the camps is evident.


A view looking east of the western encampment.  B-25 "Georgie's Girl" is on the right or the south side while a couple of off duty "soldiers" play a game of catch.


The C-54 is always located in this position every year.  The members of the Berlin Airlift Group work very hard each year to keep this venerable transport flying and out in front of the public.


The relative size of the TBM becomes apparent in the afternoon sunlight.  The rockets I believe have been added since 2011 when I was here last.


The vendors have been removed out of the main hangar and the bandstand is set up and the band getting ready.  Many spectators already set up their seats to listen to the band and watch the dancers.


What is different about the re-enactors at WWII Weekend and others that I have seen at other airshows is that they present a complete, as possible, depiction of WWII military life.  It is more than just walking around with M-1 rifles.  The old axiom that an army moves on its stomach is depicted in this photo at Reading.  Here the oldest buck private of the 1st Division goes through the chow line at the mess tent and is being served by the cook who is a Tech Sgt.  Several units that come to WWII have their own mess tents which serve the soldiers 3 squares a day.  It is little details like this that set WWII Weekend apart from other events and brings me back on a regular basis.  I am not sure what sort of mess units the new army has with its Meals Ready to Eat and probably new high technology kitchens but for those of us that were in the military at least up through the Vietnam era this all looks familiar.  The shipping crates that the serving line is set up on are marked "Ration A, Spice Pack, Kitchen, 40lb".  Everything that gets used is authentic looking.


This C-47 can always be counted on to be located at this very exact point among the airborne troop encampments behind it.


The mundane is what makes the realism at Reading as I found these mess kit cleaning barrels behind another mess tent.  I am not sure if the modern army with Meals Ready to Eat and other prepackaged food even has mess kits any more to clean.  But many of us will recognize these trash cans and heaters as part of the army of past years.


I remember us have three rather than two trash cans and heaters.  The idea was after cleaning the debris off the mess kit into a trash container to dip the mess kit and utensils into the boiling water of the trash cans which should have gotten cleaner as you moved to the next one with in theory the last one being very clean water to supposedly sanitize the mess kit.  The key and operative word here is "supposedly".  If you were one of the last ones through the line your mess kit might not be all that clean when done.  You would find out after your next meal!




Some of the trainers put away in the late afternoon.

Titusville (Tico), FL   NAS Key West, FL   Chino, CA   Indy 500 Fly-Over   Reading, PA WWII Weekend   CWH Show, Hamilton, ONT   Dayton, OH   Muncie, IN   Topeka, KS   Purdue University, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Belleville, MI   Hillsdale, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   Glendale Airport, Kokomo, IN   Rome, GA   Peachtree City, GA   Houston, TX   Urbana, OH B-25 Gathering   B-25 Doolittle Memorial Fly-over at Dayton, OH
 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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