Jan 022015
 

At its peak strength in 1944, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) employed 450,000 Americans in Britain. Most people think of the bomber crews or fighter pilots, but the majority of USAAF’s men (and some women) were engaged with non-combat tasks, all of which were necessary to keep the planes flying.

The American Air Museum website records the stories of the men and women of the who served their country from the UK during World War II. It also records the memories of the British people who befriended them. You can browse, edit and upload your own photographs and memories to the site.

Here is a short video about it.

The American Air Museum is located at IWM Duxford, part of Imperial War Museums, near Cambridge, United Kingdom. The building is home to the best collection of American military aircraft on public display outside of the United States.

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Dec 292014
 

It’s hard to imagine what the young bomber crews’ experienced as they flew their B-17s and B-24s through flak and battled enemy fighters.  Add to that watching their sister ships in the formations get it and blow up or fall from the sky. The tension and stress must have been enormous, but this short clip gives you a little idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhmFFtjB2qY

I don’t know if this movie will ever be made, but the trailer is great.

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Dec 192014
 

B-17s served in every World War II combat zone. The aircraft is best known for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets. The B-17 flew mostly out of England, equipping 26 of the 40 bombardment groups of the 8th Air Force.

After the end of World War II in August of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Corp found itself with thousands of surplus, and now obsolete, B-17 bombers. The B-17 was quickly phased out of use as a bomber and the Army Air Forces retired most of its fleet.

Production of the B-17 ended in May 1945 and totaled 12,731 aircraft. Most of those still in service at the end of the war were sent to military aircraft bone-yards for temporary storage, sale, or scrapping and smelting into aluminum ingots.

Flight crews ferried the bombers back across the Atlantic and Pacific to the United States. Some remained in use in second-line roles such as VIP transports, air-sea rescue and photo-reconnaissance. However, most B-17s ended their service, not in combat, but in the smelter at locations such as Kingman Army Air Field in Arizona and Walnut Ridge Army Air Field in Arkansas.

Kingman Army Air Field, Arizona 1946

Kingman Army Air Field, Arizona 1946

Walnut Ridge Air Field, Arkansas 1945

Walnut Ridge Air Field, Arkansas 1945

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Dec 182014
 

Today, Helen Prietz Eike Smith turned 93! Helen was the wife of George Eike, co-pilot of the B-17 Susan Ruth.

My father, first pilot Howard Snyder, went through transitional training with George at Pyote, Texas and operational crew training at Dalhart, Texas before being assigned to the 306th Bomb Group stationed at Thurleigh, England.

Helen and my mother, Ruth along with her and Howard’s baby daughter, Susan Ruth, lived off  base at Pyote and Dalhart and the two married couples became good friends. Tragically, George was one of five crewmen of the B-17 Susan Ruth who never made it back home…all the details are in my book, SHOT DOWN.

Happy Birthday Helen and God’s Blessings!

Helen & George Eike

Helen & George Eike

 

George Eike

George Eike

 

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Dec 172014
 

For WW II aviation buffs, this is something to see. If you weren’t able to make it to England last July for the Flying Legends Air Show at The Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire to see it in-person, watching this 2:30 minute video might send chills up your spine.

 

Just click on this link – 2014 Flying Legends

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