Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Flak-Bait

Flak-Bait, or rather parts of her, in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hamgar
Back in March of '14 I ran this Friday Flyby featuring the B-26 Marauder. Not long afterward I had an email from the Smithsonian.

Yes, that Smithsonian.

No, I couldn't find the email. Yes, I did look.

This nice lady wanted to know where I had found that painting of Flak Bait which I used to open the post. Back in those days I wasn't as meticulous as to where I got photos from, so I had to do some checking. As I recalled, the art came from a model kit of the B-26 produced by Hasegawa. A Google search said, "Yup, that's where it came from..."

I told the lady where I got it and suggested they contact Hasegawa. I was sure that Hasegawa would appreciate the free advertising. She thanked me and that was that.

Or so I thought.

I received this rather nice print in the mail on Friday.

I note that this version has the artist's name on it as well, T. Hoshino. Very nice work Hoshino-san! And thanks to Hasegawa for allowing the Smithsonian to use the image.
Coincidence?

I'd like to think not, though I was a Smithsonian member until March (I'm still up in the air about renewing), so it could be that. There was no note with the print.

I thought it was awesome.

Of course, the Smithsonian itself is awesome.

I love that place.

And as you can see from the opening photo (and the next two) I did get down to the Smithsonian (Udvar-Hazy out at Dulles) to see Flak-Bait after I wrote that post.



Those last two photos are from my most recent visit. When the museum gets the old girl back in one piece and out on display, I guarantee I'll get back down there and report back to all of you. (All y'all, right Beans?)

Here's a page on what the Smithsonian is up to regarding Flak-Bait. Fascinating stuff, superb museum.

I'll be back in a day or two with the story of The WSO's and my trip to the Foo Fighter's concert on Saturday last. Needless to say, we survived. And yes, we had a blast.

Sarge, out.



58 comments:

  1. Smokes! 207 missions! That was one tough and lucky bird there. Awaiting the AAR on the concert Sarge.

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    1. Soon. Things are in disarray at Chez Sarge for the moment, hope to get sorted out soon.

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  2. The last time I was at Air and Space, U-H center didn’t exist yet. Also, only bits and pieces of Enola Gay were on display, because of some controversy or another (Meanwhile, Bockscar was sitting on display at Wright-Patterson, with nobody seeming to care at all...)

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    1. I'm guessing that prior to opening up Udvar-Hazy there wasn't really anywhere they could put the Enola Gay on display when fully assembled. Now there's plexiglas along the walkway in front of the Enola Gay as apparently some idiot from Nippon attempted to throw red paint or some such nonsense on the aircraft a while back.

      As to Bockscar being out there with no one apparently being bothered, well, maybe people know more about Hiroshima (as it was first) but not so much about Nagasaki. Maybe folks are just dumb. Your guess is as good as mine.

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    2. That and the fact that there are rather large Security Police on duty, Bockscar being on an active air base.

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    3. Yup, dudes with badges and guns tend to calm the more frenetic visitors.

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    4. I put my two cents into people being dumb.

      Was in one history class and a guy couldn't understand why we didn't nuke Tokyo. My answer, which surprised the teacher, was that Tokyo was pretty much burnt out, and the rest of it had the guys who could force a surrender, so that was just a stupid question. (Since we'd just gone over the firebombings.) Teacher was unappreciative of my vast cognitive ability. And, if I remember, I got my ass beat for being a smartass. Gee, college wasn't much different than high school.

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    5. Dumbassery abounds at all levels in the education system.

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    6. And now some Medieval Studies people are trying to Social Justice the Medieval Period.

      https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2018/07/doofus-of-day-1018_24.html

      Gee, wouldn't know why this is really pissing me off. Grrrrrrr.

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    7. Yup, saw that. More proof of my previous comment, provided proof is actually needed.

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    8. I would bang my head against the wall but my wife would make me fix the hole...

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    9. I don’t remember any outsized security presence in the museum, but then again, it was the 1990s. For instance, they only had two hangar-building-things back then, and now there are FOUR of them. Why haven’t I been back since then? It’s in the same state!!

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    10. I need to get there some day.

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  3. In the painting it doesn't look like there there is any anti-ice covering on the leading edge of the wing.

    On a side note...How much time should one plan on spending at the Smithsonian if they wanted to at least "see" all the aviation museums?

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    1. A VERY long time. Lived there for 3 years visited it way more times than I could count and still didn't see everything I wanted to see. And that was before U-H opened.

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    2. Rob, tough question.

      If your use of the word "see" means a walk through with some pauses to read more, then you would spend a day to skim the A&S Museum in downtown DC, and roughly the same time for UH.
      If you want to stop and read the exhibits in some detail, and go to one or two of the movies, juvat's answer is much closer to the reality.

      As a comparison, my wife and I walked through Wright Patterson a couple of years ago, stopped often to read, took tons of photos and spent two full days (or two and a half, my wife and I are remembering differently) there. We did "see" it all, and I think a real enthusiast would spend much more time.

      My suggestion would be to overestimate your time needed, and if you run out of things to see at the A&S Museum, there are lots of more things to see in the area.

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    3. At Udvar-Hazy I noticed things in my photos that I had not noticed while there. Sensory overload, it's a real thing for me in an aviation museum.

      I've been to the museum on the Mall three times, I still find things I missed. U-H twice, my compatriots were in a hurry, I was not, I know I missed many things.

      No matter how much time you set aside, you'll miss something. Enjoy what you can, don't worry about seeing it all.

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  4. Before U-H the restoration facility was in SW DC in what appeared to be largely surplus buildings. They did have guided tours on a limited basis. My next door neighbor was a docent for those tours and invited me to accompany him one Sunday. We got there at the crack of dawn and were the only people there. He took me through the entire facility, just the two of us, and I had the time of my life. Tom claimed he was "refreshing his memory" about the exhibits, but. in reality, he was fulfilling this "little boy's dream." If you love aviation and the history of flight you could spend days in either Air&Space or U-H. By the way, we all owe Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins a debt of gratitude. He was the Director of the National Air and Space Museum and was in charge of the construction. He brought the project in under budget and ahead of schedule.

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    1. Good man that Mike Collins. In more ways than one!

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  5. My ex-father-in-law flew in over 20 missions as a tail gunner in one of those. He did not talk much about his experience. I know he saw several friends get torn apart on missions and he said when they landed they were each handed a bottle of booze. He survived without injury...but he was an alcoholic most of his life. It is difficult to imagine what those young men went through.

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    1. Damn!

      I can't begin to imagine what those guys went through. Amazing bravery.

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  6. The missions the medium bombers accomplished were just incredible. And the unsung heroes were the ground crews that kept them running. I wonder how many engines Flak Bait went through. Speaking of ground support, here is today's sorta related bit history and inspiration---

    North Platte feeds soldiers. Again.

    https://outline.com/wKwTr7

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    1. Good on North Platte. Good people there.

      Allergies, my allergies are acting up.

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  7. Interesting chain of events. And it is nice that NA&SM and UH personnel are willing to ask questions of 'civilians' and receive answers. Been to a few museums where their info was not correct at all, as in easily researched to prove how wrong they were. And the academics got a tad snooty at a mere mortal knowing something about their field.

    I hear it happens all the time regarding gun displays.

    Thanks for helping the museum out, and Thanks to the museum for sending you that print.

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    1. Yeah, I thought that was pretty awesome.

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  8. The only other military Wilson I know of flew the Marauder.
    Thusly,
    http://davesdailys.blogspot.com/2009/08/memories-of-war-ill-bring-her-in.html

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    1. Great Story, Dave. Your cousin seems like he was a hell of a man!

      Rest in Peace, Warrior!

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    2. Dave - sounds like your cousin was a fine young man. I shall remember him.

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    3. Juvat - concur, RIP LT Wilson.

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  9. Hey Old AFSarge;

    I want to go check out U-H again. I have been to the Pensacola Naval Museum several times, and I see something new and they let you TOUCH the airplanes :)

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    1. The Naval Museum in Pensacola had a real nice exhibit on Coast Guard aviation when I was there.

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    2. MrG - I've been to both, yes, the museum at Pensacola lets you get up close and personal with the aircraft. But if you can't fly 'em, doesn't really matter.

      Being the father and father-in-law to two people in Naval Aviation, the museum ib Pesacola is a personal favorite above all others. Daughter got her wings of gold there, I know because I pinned them on.

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    3. Rob - I need to get back down there. My last visit was in '08.

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    4. They have a JRM now, you know, down Pensacola way.

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    5. JRM MARS are quite large, you know.

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    6. Well, I am overdue for a return trip to P-Cola.

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  10. Cool, I don't often get mail from the Smisthonian and when I do, I don't get a fine print such as yours. Great to see a good deed rewarded.

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    1. It was pretty cool. I'm still all a tingle over it.

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  11. Very cool of them. And they read your blog! I was interested, but underwhelmed by The Air and Space Museum, especially compared to the one in San Diego and the Navy one down in P'Cola. I keep saying I need to get out to U-Hazy, but never find the time.

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    1. Yeah, the A&S Museum on the Mall, while very nice, just can't compare to the Sandy Eggo and Pensacola museums.

      And yes, you need to get out to Udvar-Hazy. It can be a pain to get there from DC but I thought it worth the trip. Twice and plan on going again.

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  12. Recommended: Carl H. Moore, Flying the B-26 Marauder Over Europe: Memoir of a World War II Navigator
    Bill the Shoe

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    1. Thanks! I'll have to check that out.

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  13. I thought the nose section of "Flak Bait" was hanging inside the Smithsonian. At least it was in the pictures in the NASM book I bought from them years ago.

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    1. It was, now that they are going to re-assemble the bird all of the parts are at Udvar-Hazy.

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    2. Cool...nice to see they're doing a full restoration.

      First time I went to the San Diego air museum and saw the Apollo IX Command Module I almost had tears....

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    3. The Apollo 11 Command Module is at Udvar-Hazy in the restoration area. Now that one gave me goose bumps. I have a picture of it somewhere...

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  14. I got hooked on the Flak Bait story when I read the hard-cover book of that same name when in JR HS in the 50s. Has some great pics a well. A little known fact is that another Marauder--"Mild and Bitter"--actually eventually flew more msns than Flak Bait but didn't get the PR because those were flown later and Mild & Bitter was the exact opposite of Flak Bait--almost no battle damage, hence no dramatic story line. (the book does have pics of Mild and Bitter as well, I should add.)

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    1. Mild and Bitter seems to have gotten the same treatment as Outhouse Mouse. Outhouse Mouse flew the most missions over Germany, but no one has ever heard of her.

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    2. I would like to see a US Navy JM-1P, one of the handful the Navy had as high speed photo recce ships. Tricolor Marauders, must have looked much nicer than the JM target tug Marauders that the Navy had pull target drogues.

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    3. I knew of the Mild and Bitter story.

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    4. Also knew about Outhouse Mouse, 139 missions right?

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    5. The JM-1P must have been fairly rare, the only pictures I could find were of a model of the bird.

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    6. I think there was like a half dozen of them, like the 8 P-38 photo planes the Navy had in the Med. 139 sounds right to me, for the Mouse.

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    7. Yup, pretty rare. I also did not know that the USN used the P-38 for photo recce in the Med either.

      Live and learn!

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    8. Well, there were only 8 of them. i suspect that they were just borrowed F-5 Photo Lightnings, and were returned to the USAAF after the fighting calmed down in the Med. The US Navy Spitfires of VOS-7 were also Rara Aves.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)