Two grandkids and I recently made the quick trip to the small Camarillo Airport to check out the World War II airplanes on display. All of us climbed up the ladder and through the B-24, which was the largest plane, but only Erica and James toured the smaller B-17. We also got to see a shiny Mustang fighter plane take off.
I was very moved to be able to see up close a B-24 like my dad flew in New Guinea. On the inside, the plane seems fragile, especially when walking the central plank about 6 inches wide through the bomb bay which is the way to get to the cockpit from the rear of the plane. And the shape of the B-24 does not seem aerodynamic. Like grandson James said, “How does this plane get up in the air?”
My Aunt Joey told me the B-24’s nickname was the “flying boxcar,” and I can surely see why. Its shape is wide and boxy to hold as many bombs as possible, with a plane weight of 36,000 pounds that could carry up to 30,000 pounds of bombs.
The B-17 was a much tighter fit inside the plane with narrower spaces to navigate from front to back. On the plus side, the shape was much sleeker than the B-24. The other plane on display, the Mustang, reminded James of a go cart, I think because it was so small – not like the large jet fighters of today. And while James was commenting, Erica was busy snapping intriguing photos that I think could have been published in an art magazine.
After seeing the 3 warbirds, I am in awe of the bravery it must have taken for each and every crew member to to climb into those planes and fly off on bombing or attack missions. I guess they must have been bouyed up by the common goal of helping our country prevail over the evil forces trying to take over our world at that time.
To see if the WW II planes will be coming soon to an airport near you, go to: http://www.CollingsFoundation.org