Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Commemorative Air Force B-29 "Fifi" and other warbirds Tucson, Arizona February 20, 2015

                      Bomb bay of the B-29, could carry 20,000 pounds of bombs or one atomic weapon

History: The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), formerly known as the Confederate Air Force, began in Texas in 1958 with the goal of restoring and showing historical aircraft at airshows throughout the United States and Canada, Since then the CAF has restored over 150 aircraft and they have branches in other states. One of the bigger ones is at Mesa, Arizona, where 30 aircraft are based. During the summer the CAF takes some of their more popular restored aircraft on tour.

From the 19th to the 22nd of  February the CAF, displayed four World War II warbirds at the Tucson International Airport. The planes which came included the only flying B-29 "FIFI", B-25 "Maid in the Shade", C-45 "Bucket of Bolts," and a C-47. I was especially interested in seeing the inside of "FIFI" because Pima Air and Space does not open their aircraft up to visitors and I had never seen inside a B-29. Quintin and I  toured the aircraft on Friday. It costs $10 total which helps with maintenance and flying the planes. CAF volunteers told me it costs between $5000 to $8000 to fly the B-29 and $3,000 to $5,000 to fly the C-47. As a result every little bit helps to keep these planes in the air. The CAF also makes money off of plane rides. Prices vary on the B-29 from about $600 at the left and right blister (back of plane) to $1700 at the Bombardier's section at the very front of the aircraft. The C-45 is a little more affordable at $75 for a half hour. People will pay these prices because the B-29 and B-25 were very important in World War II. The B-29 fire-bombed Japanese cities and dropped the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The B-25 became famous for the Doolittle raid on Japan. In April 1942 sixteen B-25s led by Jimmy Doolittle  took off from the USS Hornet. Their mission was to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each plane bombed their target but 15 crashed in China and one diverted to Russia. This attack raised the spirits of America.  It is good to know that groups such as the CAF work hard to keep this history alive. Some information from "B-25 Maid in the Shade Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona Aviation Museum"

                  Inside the cockpit of the B-29, the Bombardier's seat at the extreme front of the airplane with the location of the Norden Bombsite

                       Flight Engineer's controls; he maintained airspeed and kept the engines running.

                                     Close up of the Bombardier's section; Norden Bombsite provided calculations for the dropping of bombs.

                              Front of "FIFI"

                     C-45 with Qunitin in front

                        Inside the C-47; after World War II it became the Executive Aircraft for Hoover Vacuum Cleaner.

                               Quintin at one of the window

                         The front of the C-47;  this one saw action during World War II in Italy and Eastern Europe.

                         Quintin hugging one of the propellers on "FIFI"

                 Side of the B-29 looking at the left two engines

                 B-25 "Maid in the Shade" flying in

                 Front of B-25

      Inside the B-25; unlike the B-29 this was not pressurized.

                     Looking back inside the plane the right and left gunner's station

                                      Cockpit of the B-25

                              Me in front of the B-29

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