Continuing with the events that occurred after Pearl Harbor. While the attack on Pearl was going on, the international dateline showed that on December 8th, the same time, Japanese forces were attacking Wake Island. Some of the radio transmissions caused confusion thinking that the first attacks on Pearl were actually going on at Wake. This helped cause delay in reaction time at Pearl. The battle for Wake was a necessary stepping stone for the Japanese in the Pacific. The Battle lasted from the 8th-23rd of December with the surrender of the island on the 23rd.
The attack began on the 8th with an aerial bombardment that destroyed 8 of the islands 12 fighter planes but failed to break the island. The Imperial Navy returned with a larger fleet but was pushed back due to a strong defensive from the marines on the island and the last four wildcats of VMF-211. The defense held destroying one destroyer and damaging a cruiser and three other destroyers. This proved that Wake would not go without a fight. The Japanese kept fighting and by the 21st the last of the wildcats were destroyed. On the 23rd the Japanese took the island and 1,616 men were captured and taken back to Japan. The island was later retaken but with the great loss of 96 Americans who were executed. The Wildcats were a pivotal aircraft from the start of the War and well into the final years.
One of the best parts of Reno is working with the static planes. Every year it’s basically a tradition to get a bunch of aircraft out early in the morning for a sunrise shoot. Why do we do this? Well quite simply it’s a ton of fun! It’s not always easy to get rare and unique aircraft in a place with a clean background, so while at the races we take advantage of it.
For instance last year we brought out a 3 Grumman “Cats,” a Wildcat, Bearcat, and Hellcat. It’s rare to get all the planes out together so we made it happen, just to recreate that history.
Then there is always the chance of meeting a rare racing plane that hasn’t been seen in years. This is Race 15, a P-51 Mustang that lives at the field and hasn’t come out to play in a number of years. We got it out at PRS and it was by far one of the best subjects we have ever had to work with. So you never quite know what will show up and life’s opportunities will bring you.
One of the responses I get a lot are compliments on my static aviation images. Which i deeply appreciate. Afterwards the inevitable question comes out, “how did you get those shots?” It’s a fair question. If you have ever spent time at an airport, which at this point in life about 80% of people in this country have been to an airport at least once, then you know that most airports aren’t that attractive. They are surrounded by homes, power lines, highways, cars, other buildings, you name it. So how then do these shots occur? Well it comes from planning, friends and coffee.
The planning part is pretty simple. You find a place you like, wait till there is an event going on there and then go. These days a lot of that information can be found out online. There are places where it’s easier to get those great scenic looking shots with planes. For instance Reno Stead Airport. For the places where you can’t do much about, well in comes Photoshop. The second part is harder. Making friends never is but with time and just talking it happens. Pilots are a lot like car guys in the respect that they both like to talk about their machines! You go up and start talking about their plane, ask questions and they open right up. The third part is, well, tough. You have to get up really early. I mean before the sun comes up, pull the plane out to position it and shoot. To my knowledge that is some of the best light and that is often when there is less people. Coffee helps afterwards. It may sound tough at first and it is, but the rewards are unbelievable. Best part, besides the images, you meet a lot of good people this way.