I know I don't know as much as I'd like about the Air Force's Medal of Honor winners, but am working towards that goal. Had an interesting observation on that threat vector whilst on vacation. Post to follow.
My infinitely patient wife humored me by accompanying me to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton Ohio. All I had to do in return was build a display box for the Memorial Flag presented to her family at the funeral of her Uncle. Proud to do it.
|Worried a lot less about my first Check Ride than I did over this box. Glad it turned out ok though.|
The following morning we hit the museum as it opened. That was really nice as there was about a 3 hour window where there was virtually no one in the place. Pictures were much easier to take. The school buses with children showed up around noon, which was fine, we were deeper in the museum and quickly running out of steam, space on the SD card and sensory overload.
We made a chronological error on beginning. Upon entry, the museum is to your right and the WWI and prior section is to the right again, but upon making the initial right, my eye was caught by the sight of an intact B-29. Like a moth to a flame, I grabbed Mrs Juvat's arm and off we go (It is the AF Museum!).
We enter the exhibit from the rear of the bomber and as we start to walk around it, I see this
|P-61C Black Widow|
The museum has partnered with a software company who has built an application that will allow you to virtually climb into the cockpit of many of the aircraft and scan around. The app (IOS and Android) is cockpit360. It's pretty cool and, since they don't allow you to climb into, or on, most of the exhibits (Murph!), it allows you to experience that view.
The view scrolls around and pans up and down as you wish.
|Cockpit View P-61C. Bock's Car is just off the nose. A Catalina is at right 1 o'clock.|
I got the Fat Man silhouette and even made an assumption on why one was a different color than the rest, but didn't understand the 4 black silhouettes. Asked one of the docents walking around the place. Nice gentleman, and knowledgeable, said they represented "pumpkin" bomb missions. Evidently, they had dropped 4 conventionally armed bombs with the same shape as the actual nuke. This was done to validate aerodynamics as well as other procedures. He also provided quite a bit of insight into the drama that went on during their return to base. Suffice it to say, landing with less than 5 minutes fuel, and stomping on one brake to turn the aircraft to avoid running off the end of the runway is high drama. BTW Yontan airfield was about a mile from where we lived off base at Kadena.
Didn't know any of that.
Proceeded a bit further into the WWII wing. Saw an A-20, a PBY with mission markings indicating 42 saves, a C-46 and then an FW-190. I thought that was pretty cool and I could get relatively close to it. I'm walking around taking pictures of it and see a supplemental exhibit.
This was one of the first attempts at a Air to Air guided Missile. Carried on the FW-190 and launched from behind the target, it was guided by the launching aircraft via a 4 mile long wire. This would obviously minimize it's effectiveness against a maneuvering aircraft, but could be used against a bomber. The missile was fused with both a timed fuse and an acoustic proximity fuse (tuned to the pitch of the bomber's propellers). Fortunately, it did not reach production prior to the war's end.
Didn't know that either.
Walked further around Bock's Car (we've already been in the museum an hour), and found a wall mounted exhibit. I knew WWII was called a World War because there were many nations involved on both sides. However, I did not know that both Mexico and Brazil actually declared war on the Axis Powers and provided combat troops to include pilots. Pilots from the Mexican Air Force actually fought in the South Pacific while their counterparts from Brazil fought in the Italian theater. Who knew?
Mrs. Juvat tore one of her contacts and is actively avoiding looking at the camera.
About two hours into the visit, I'm about halfway down the first row of exhibits. I'm starting to wonder if I can't sweet talk my boss into a couple of extra days, you know, for research! I round the corner and see this little jewel.
|When Sarge starts sending back pay, I want this!|
Another hour and I've rounded the third corner and headed back to the finish line, (for this wing, there are 8 total). Mrs. Juvat is somewhere in the building, but I've lost visual. No worries, I've got the keys to the rental.
I see the B-25 Doolittle's Raiders exhibit up ahead. In college, I'd worked at an FBO at Lubbock International and pumped gas into aircraft. One of the owners had a partial ownership of a B-25 which I'd refueled a few times. (Yes, he'd promised to take me up, No, he never did.) So, I've been in B-25s before. Thought the exhibit was pretty cool, and by now, the School Bus crowd has caught up with me.
Did see something I found interesting though in this exhibit. The attack took place very early in the war and wasn't expected to be all that highly successful. The Norden Bombsight was one of our highly classified devices. I'd always wondered whether they would have carried that on board. Turns out they didn't, for a couple of reasons, primarily weight, but probability of compromise was also a consideration. I liked what they came up with as an alternative.
|Fairly young, but well behaved and asking good questions.|
|American Ingenuity at its finest!|
As I turned around to move on to the next exhibit, I glance at this and think, cool, SBD. Must be the other side of the Hornet's deck, then I look a LITTLE bit closer.
The ARMY on the bottom of the wing is a big indicator that this isn't an SBD. Turns out, it was a A-24 and the only modification from the Navy's version is the removal of the tail hook. Can't be a "hooker" in the USAAF!
Somewhere around here was one of my other Favorites.
It's now about 2:30 in the PM, the concrete floors have taken a toll on the knees, and we need a break. We walk out of the museum and head for the hotel. Tomorrow (or next Monday) is another day.