Getting Ready for the Invasion

One of the most iconic subjects on warbirds today are the black and white invasion stripes. For those of you that don’t know these stripes were painted on the wings of every plane that flew during the Normandy invasion or, D-Day. The idea was that the men on the ground would be able to tell friendly planes from foe by seeing these stripes. It would help keep our pilots safe as they made their ground attacks on enemy installations so that the boys of the invasion fleet could keep pushing back through the fifty miles of beach that they needed to secure.

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This past year at Oshkosh the Texas Flying Legends did a great salute to our veterans with a panel of vets and a recreation of the D-Day invasion with their C-53, which just came out of paint, and a paint crew putting on the invasion stripes. Using mops, buckets and brushes they used a water based crayola paint that washed right off but looks real and made these stripes across the plane. Up close you can see that the stripes aren’t perfect with bristles and imperfections in the paint but from far away you can’t tell. The reality is this is how it was done. It was an all hands on deck project the night before the invasion that made this all possible and everyone at every rank was involved at the England bases to get it done.

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Today of course we see these lines all over the place. On different Mustangs, C-47’s and P-47 Thunderbolts. They can be seen on a variety of different aircraft as they have become a very symbolic part of WWII. It was these three planes though that were among the biggest players during the invasion.

The P-47 Thunderbolt on the ground

I honestly couldn’t wait to talk about this plane. I just had so much fun photographing them. I mean it’s not everyday that five P-47’s are in one location at one time with a chance to get each one in a frame. Now the fifth one in this case is part of Yanks Air Museum and it was on the other side of the field so it wasn’t in the lineup Saturday or Sunday morning. But the other four were. Now obviously this one frame doesn’t have all four in it but it does have three. Now two of the P-47’s are privately owned while the other two are part of museums. The green with a red cowling Razorback is part of Planes of Fame while the silver bubble canopy is part of Tennessee Museum of Aviation.

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I do love line shots. You have to really watch the background as well as how much is included in the line to really set the tone in the image. In this case at the end of the row was an A-2 Skyraider which didn’t quite work with the P-47’s. Using the D4 and 24-70 AF-S and just enjoying going down the line shooting, it was truly a simple click. Of course lucking out and having pretty clear skies helped too.

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Now this particular Razorback was one of my favorites as it actually was restored here in the stats, won Grand Champion at Oshkosh in 1982 and was flown to Ducksford to be part of their collection. It was recently purchased and is now privately owned. This particular Razorback is painted in the scheme of Lt Severino B Calderon part of the 84th Fighter Squadron P-47D 42-74742 – ‘Snafu.’

The Mighty Jug

The P-47 Thunderbolt, more affectionately known as the Jug by those who piloted it, was one of the heaviest, largest and toughest fighter aircraft that relied on a single radial engine. The Jug was built with heavy armor and a massive offensive capability. With four .50 Caliber machine guns in each wings and able to haul up 2,500 lbs of bombs which is over half of what a B-17 can carry. Although the P-47 was not used in long range bombing attacks, it was used for short range ground attacks. It was widely used for long range escort for the flying fortresses. It was made famous by the 56th Fighter Group, part of the Eighth Air Force, which had a number of top aces, as they flew missions further and further into Europe. When looking at this plane it’s almost like watching a flying tank.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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