It was strong, lethal, rugged, and heavy, but the P-47 got the job done and it brought it’s pilots home safe. The P-47 Thunderbolt was Republic’s answer to the need for a single-engine fighter early in WWII. This massive plane weighed 10,000lbs when emptied, had armor plating, eight 50 caliber machine guns, and self-sealing fuel tanks. Like most planes when it came off of the assembly line there were issues but as more were, pilots found ways to improve upon them and they became well-liked by those that flew and maintained it. Several years ago I was very glad to be able to go down to Planes of Fame where five P-47’s attended. It was quite the show one which I can’t wait to see happen again.
There are some days in history that are harder to remember than others, mainly because those days mark something awful but nevertheless they are an important day. Seventy-five years ago the allied powers dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan. Six days later, Japan surrendered and WWII was officially over. While the ink wasn’t dry until September, and fighting occurred on islands in the Pacific far longer than September, officially it was over. The use of atomic weapons changed the face of the globe forever and while the cost was justified at the time, the idea being that more would die in an invasion than using the bomb, it is still hard to fathom that mankind was capable of such a thing. WWII saw a massive change in technology in a very short amount of time, not much different than the world we live in today. With these technological advancements comes the responsibility to use them wisely.
I probably won’t get to see this year but for the last year, I had the privilege of the B-25 Maid in the Shade come up to visit as part of the Three Forks Flyin. Big bombers are a rare sight in Montana these days but back during WWII, they were quite common as Montana had a couple of training bases.
Today marks a very important anniversary, the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which were the allied invasion of Europe in 1944. This invasion gave the allies a foothold in France that allowed them to push back against German-occupied Europe. Beach heads, Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah were the designated landing spots and were heavily fortified by the Germans. Omaha Beach was the deadliest with the high cliffs and heavy fortifications. The original plan for the allies was to link up the beaches by the end of the first day but due to heavy resistance, it wasn’t until 8 days later that they were secure. Many brave men from multiple nations helped secure this victory without which the war would’ve been much different.
The C-47 or C-53 based on its use were used to drop paratroopers behind enemy lines and push the Germans out of the beach areas and nearby towns and villages. It was the largest airborne drop in history. The planes were marked with the black and white stripes so that they wouldn’t be shot by friendly ground fire.
This was one powerful plane! The F8F Bearcat was Grumman’s answer to the climb to rate ratio that at the time was deficient. After the Battle of Midway, Grumman pilots in the field were demanding aircraft with better performance. At the time, Grumman was introducing the F6F Hellcat, which was a large step up from the F4F Wildcat but still didn’t meet the demands the pilots were looking for. This was 1942, with the release of the Hellcat in 1943. Grumman used the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine for the Hellcat, which was the most powerful American made engine at that time with 2,000 horsepower. Thus it also was used for the Bearcat.
Modifications to the fuselage length, wingspan, vertical stabilizer, amount of fuselage behind the pilot’s head, canopy, landing gear, prop, and many other factors helped bring the weight down to 7,650lbs when empty. The result of all these modifications was a max speed of over 400mph and a rate of climb of 4,465 ft/min. However; due to the length of time to design, test, and produce the Bearcat, it never saw combat in WWII. The Bearcat had operational status with Fighter Squadron (VF) 19 on this day seventy-five years ago but the Cat never was able to make its mark. That being said, the Bearcat was believed to be one of Grumman’s best planes as it has been used for years as a racing plane, breaking speed records for piston-powered aircraft and even was the plane of choice for the Blue Angels at one point.
There’s nothing quite like the morning glow of sunrise on a freshly polished airplane. It’s a strange combination of the natural world and the mechanical. Even if the plane is backlit it will still pop. Of course, a small trick to help make the silhouetted side come out is to use the shadow slider in ACR.
Today is a very important day and I hope that it gets recognized this year with everything else that is going on. Today marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Victory Europe when Germany surrounded in 1945 bringing to an end the ground war of WWII. WWII wasn’t officially over until Japan surrendered in August of 1945 but for many a large part of the destruction was over. Many brave soldiers lost their lives in this bloody conflict and many more civilians lost their lives needlessly.
Five years ago, a massive tribute was held over the national mall when 52 WWII planes flew over the State Capitol in honor of this tremendous day. Over seven hundred veterans and thirty thousand people showed up to view this once in a lifetime event.
When you’re a photographer you get to be a part of many great moments that most people don’t even know about. I’ve been fortunate in my young career as a photographer to have been a part of some of these moments. Of all the ones I have been a part of, none have been more impactful on me then this one. Seeing a B-29 fly is pretty amazing in todays world but seeing one fly over the National Mall is epic.
Every aviation enthusiast has probably seen the great photos of the lineups of airplanes parked along the ramp at an airport. There are a couple of things needed in order to make this a truly great photo. All the planes have to be lined up so the spacing is even, the foreground has to be clean, the background has to be clean, the first plane has to be interesting and most of all you need to have lots of planes in the lineup! Again this was one of the great things about the Planes of Fame Airshow and while it is a bummer that it was canceled, you can always prepare for next year.
The amazing ground crew and the event itself solves a number of the above problems. The other photo elements have to be solved by yourself. Background, foreground, and an interesting subject up front are easy enough to solve. However, what you see above is typical, a long rope keeping people away from the planes. This is where Photoshop comes in handy. Content-Aware Fill and Clone Stamp tool are your friends because you can easily deal with this clutter. By doing so you create a more visually pleasing and less busy photo. It may take some time but it’s worth it.
In past years this would be the week where I would be cleaning up and finishing the photographs that I took at the Planes of Fame Airshow. Unfortunately due to recent events, the Airshow was canceled this past weekend. While this was a major bummer for the aviation and especially warbird enthusiast, like previous events and other photographers, there are plenty of images in the files that can still be worked on.
One of the biggest issues when working with airplanes is the amount of dust that gets kicked up and inevitably lands on the camera sensor. This leads to those lovely little black dust spots on the photography which have to be removed. As you can see form a previous Planes of Fame Airshow, I’ve had to deal with that in the past. Adobe Camera Raw makes it really easy to deal with that with the spot remover tool. You can highlight a spot, change the size of the spot, the location where it pulls from, and even apply those settings onto other photographs that have the same issue. It’s a handy quick way to fix that troublesome issue.
Today is the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. 16 B-25 bombers took off from the carrier USS Hornet on this day to bomb Japan in the first strike after Pearl Harbor. While the mission had minimal strategic value, the moral effect of the mission was everlasting.
April 18th is a big day in aviation. It represents the resolve that we as a nation were willing to carry out in a time when it was needed the most. The eighty men that made the trek to Japan did something that had never been done before and thanks to hard-working volunteers it will never be forgotten.