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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 2:00 pm 
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Location: Chrishall Grange ~ England
Rain clouds pass across a leaden grey sky. The only sound is that of the wind. From the windows in the Watch Tower I look and listen for some sign of the B-17's that once called this airfield home.

It is August 18th but I'm 64 years and one day late.

On August 17th 1943, the 91st Bomb Group based at Bassingbourn, took part in one of the greatest air battles of all time, the Schweinfurt - Regensburg Mission.

Assigned to be lead Group in the in the force of 230 bombers sent to wreck the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt, the 91st BG dispatched 24 B-17 Flying Fortresses that day. 10 were lost in combat, 9 others returned with damage.

Of the crews flying those airplanes, 37 men lost their lives while a further 54 spent the rest of WW2 as prisoners of war.

Today the watch tower sits within Bassingbourn Barracks, home to the British Army Training Regiment. They lease the building to the Bassingbourn Tower Museum and this weekend happens to be their "Open Day".

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The exterior of the building is in need of some care and attention but there are ( apparently ) no government funds available at the present time .....

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The interior is a very difference story. It is a time capsule from the past. I wish I could convey the care and attention to detail that has been taken in displaying artifacts, uniforms and pictures. Photography was "difficult" because the museum is rather cramped for space.

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I have to say that some of the facts and figures about this base are startling. Here's just one. 600 wounded men actually made it back to this airfield in their aircraft, but died here on the field from their injuries having made it "home". As one of the museums volunteers said, we are privileged to walk upon hallowed ground today in honour of their memory.

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Blue Skies .....

Peter

Consolidated by US state ~ see if there's a heavy bomber tour stop coming to an airport near you ...... http://www.bomberflight.info

Warbirdapps on facebook ~ every day a new image from my personal journey thru the world of warbirds ..... https://www.facebook.com/Warbirdapps


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 Post subject: mission
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:49 pm 
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Location: Aspen, CO
Thanks for the photos and reminders. Brave men, mostly very young men and a lot of them died so long ago. I met some of the survivors at an airshow perhaps 10 years ago at Longmont, Colorado and listened to their stories. We know some of the fatality figures, your post reminded us of the wounded, and damaged planes. A bomber has guns, it can shoot back; but it can't run or hide from a fighter that has a 100 or even 200 mph speed advantage and probably carries cannon, and if they get through the fighters to the target there is the flak. If they were fortunate enough to make out of the target area, some of the fighters would have had time to land, refuel, and attack any stragglers. There is a video that disusses this and the following mission to the same area. They did not yet have long range P-51 escort. I asked if they had any other fighter escort and they said yes, they had Spifires and P-47s, which had to turn back in France at their range limit, and after that they had more German fighters than they had ever seen. Some of the 109s would fire at fairly long range, perhaps 500 yards and pull off. But some were coming head on or diving from above all the way through. You could navigate on the return flight by the fires from the planes burning on the ground.

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Bill Greenwood
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:59 pm 
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This photo is of a Captain Fisher and crew at the end of their 25th mission coming home to Bassingbourn. Just about says it all.
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To those who never got to cut the grass at the end of their tour.

Scott


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