Tag Archives: warbirds

2022 Selfridge ANGB Open House

Selfridge ANGB hosted their open house airshow on July 9-10, 2022. Like many airshows across the country, this one was previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the show did not feature a military jet team, the action in the sky was filled with warbirds, two parachute teams and was headlined by the USAF F-22 Raptor Demo.

Misty Blues

The all women’s parachute team, Misty Blues, opened the show each day with the flags of the United States and Canada followed by a large streamer promoting the team’s colors. Afterwards, the ladies walked the crowd line signing autographs and posing for photos with members of the audience.

JN-4 Jenny

The flying portion of the show each opened with the Friends of Jenny LLC‘s JN-4 Jenny. The Jenny is perhaps the most iconic American built aircraft of the early days of flight. It was one of the nation’s first aircraft designed to teach people how to fly, the aircraft synonymous with “barnstorming”, flew the airmail and eventually created what is commercial aviation.

This Jenny is only one of seven known to be left flying in the world today. The Jenny underwent a restoration beginning in 2012 and she took her first flight in many years on October 2, 2013. Many of the components needed to be refabricated, which was done using copies of the original Curtiss blueprints. She is painted to replicate the original Jenny “38262” which was in flying with the Army Air Service and was the first aircraft to fly the US Air Mail from Washington DC to New York City on May 15, 1918.

A-1 Skyraider

Warbird Heritage Foundation brought their AD-1 Skyraider. The AD-1 was designed as a single place to replace the dive bombers (Dauntless and Helldivers) and torpedo planes (Avengers) on the decks of the Navy’s carriers in World War II. The aircraft did not see service until 1946. Although too late to see service during WWII, Skyraiders were the light and medium attack aircraft of the fleet until the mid-1960s, seeing service in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

This particular aircraft is BuNo 09257 and built in 1947. It served with the fleet until 1956 when it was stricken from the inventory. It was purchased in 1982 as surplus and returned to flying condition in 1989. It was acquired by the Warbird Heritage Foundation in 2008.

So, if it is a NAVY plane, why does it wear a USAF livery? The answer is simple, when the Navy retired the planes, the USAF needed an aircraft that could loiter in a combat zone a long time, carry a large amount of ordinance and serve as an escort for the combat rescue helicopters. They remained in service with the USAF until the early 1970s.

Greg Colyer – Ace Maker Airshow

Greg Colyer started the jet warbird portion of the airshow with the “Ace Maker” T-33 Shooting Star. The T-33 was the nation’s first jet trainer. It saw service with the USAF, Navy and multiple allied nations into the 1970s. Many of the current versions flying, including “Ace Maker” are license built Canadair variants which had a more powerful engine.

Greg earned his pilot’s license while serving with the US Army. After leaving the Army he continued to fly and worked as an Air Traffic Controller. He continued to fly and performed an occasional airshow. Life changed in 2007 when he took his first flight in a T-33. Every since he wanted to own and perform in a T-33. His dream came true when he purchased the original “Ace Maker” and began performing at airshows across the United States. He now owns three T-33s and is working on developing a 2-ship T-33 team with “Scratch” Mitchell, a former RCAF CF-18 Hornet demo pilot.

AT-6 Texan – Tuskegee Airmen Tribute – Lt. Col. Jefferson

The Tuskegee Airmen Museum flew a tribute to Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a native of Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from pilot training in 1944 and did his combat training at Selfridge Field. He went on to serve with the 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron “Red Tails” in Ramitelli, Italy. He was shot down on his 18th mission and was a prisoner of war for eight months in Poland. Mr. Jefferson continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves until 1969 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He passed away on June 22, 2022.

P-51D Mustang “Swamp Fox” – RT Dixon

RT Dixon performed an aerobatic display in his beautiful P-51D Mustang “Swamp Fox”. In addition to the aerobatic display, he did a formation pass with the AT-6 Texan as part of the tribute to Lt. Col. Jefferson. The P-51 was another aircraft the Tuskegee Airmen flew during WWII.

Swamp Fox was delivered to the USAAF on May 7, 1945, serial number 44-74202. She was too late to see service during WWII and served stateside in various roles and units until September, 1957 when she was removed from the inventory as surplus. She began a restoration in 2007 in Chino, California and flew again in 2012. The markings are those of Lt. Will Foard, 364th Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, based out of Leiston, England. Mr. Foard was able to see his restored “Swamp Fox” in December, 2012 and took flight in her with Robert Dixon Sr. piloting.

F-100 Super Sabre – Dean Cutshall

Early Vietnam era flight was represented by Dean Cutshall performing in his F-100F Super Sabre. The “Hun” as the Super Sabre was nicknamed, was America’s first aircraft capable of sustained super sonic flight. Dean’s version was built in 1958 as 56-3948, and is a two-seat variant. She flew in various roles for the USAF until 1973 when she was transferred to the Turkish Air Force. In Turkey, she saw combat in the invasion of Cyprus and was eventually retired to the desert in Turkey where she sat idle for 10 years. She was sold by the Turks and eventually brought back to the United States who intended to restore it. The owner failed to have the work done and eventually sold it to Dean. He and his crew ( Paul Swick and Jim “Prez” Prezbindowski) restored it including a new engine and numerous internal and external updates. She was returned to her USAF livery, although wearing civil registration N2011V. The Hun now resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana and is one of only several known flying examples left in the world. Of those known, Mr. Cutshall’s is the only one that flies regularly.

A-4 Skyhawk

The Warbird Heritage Foundation‘s second aircraft participating in the show was their A-4B Skyhawk. The Skyhawk replaced the AD-1 Skyraider on the decks of the Navy’s carrier fleet as the primary light bomber. The A-4 was extremely popular amongst the pilots and served in a number of roles for the Navy, Marines and numerous allied air arms. The aircraft’s agility and high subsonic speed made it an ideal aircraft to serve in other roles such as the Navy’s advanced trainer, adversarial aircraft (the aerial co-star of the original Top Gun film) and the mount of the Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team from 1974 to 1986.

This particular Skyhawk is an early “B” model, built in 1958 and served with the US Navy until stricken from the records in February, 1970. The airframe’s history seems to be hazy from 1970-1980, but it appears she was serving as a technical trainer during that period. She was rescued from that role in 1987 and restoration to flight was initiated. She flew briefly in 1989 and then went on display at the EAA Oshkosh Museum. Warbird Heritage Foundation acquired the aircraft in 2007 and again restored her to flight status. Her first flight took place in 2009 and is now seen regularly at airshows across the Midwest region of the United States.

US Army Golden Knights

US Customs & Border Patrol Demo

The aerial branch of the SE Michigan branch of the US Customs & Border Patrol is stationed at Selfridge. They performed a demonstration of a rope extraction.

Team Selfridge Demo

Selfridge Air National Guard Base is the second largest joint Reserves bases in the United States. The primary occupant is the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, with aircraft assets including the KC-135 Stratotanker, A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog) and C-130 Hercules. Additionally, the United States Coast Guard uses the facility for MH-65 Dolphin helicopter operations as Air Station Detroit. Other operators include components of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force Reserve, and Army Air National Guard, operating CH-47 Chinooks.

Czech-Mate Team

Michael Terfehr of 45 North Aviation leading the way in the T-33, Ron Staley in the blue L-39 and Scott Gusakov in the “Tumbling Goose” L-39.

The team formed in 2019 and primarily performs in the Midwest, with the aircraft being based in Michigan. All members of the team belong to the Classic Jet Aircraft Association and the Red Star Pilots Association. The L-39 Albatross is the worlds most numerically popular jet warbird at this time.

USAF C-17 Globemaster III Demo (East Coast)

The USAF C-17 East Coast Demo Team brought the huge Globemaster III to Selfridge. The team is based at Joint Base Charleston South Carolina. Although a large cargo aircraft, the pilots state that it handles like a fighter aircraft and is quite agile.

The C-17 began operations in 1993 with the USAF and is the primary medium cargo and troop transport. The aircraft is designed to to use short runways and allows for a large payload. The storage area can be configured to handle a number of different types of cargo, including seats, palletized cargo, and tracked vehicles.

RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demo

Our Canadian allies were represented by the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team. Captain Jesse “Modem” Haggart-Smith is the team’s demonstration pilot. Modem earned his wings in 2016 and has over 600 hours in the Hornet. The CF-18 is Canada’s primary fighter aircraft and the RCAF routinely deploys internationally to support allied nations and perform security duties requested by the United Nations.

Sadly, the CF-18 was only able to perform on Saturday. While the team brought two aircraft (standard for the airshow industry), both were subject to maintenance issues on Sunday.

USCG MH-65C Dolphin Demo

Selfridge is home to USCG Air Station Detroit. The MH-65 Dolphin is the assigned duties such as search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions. Air Station Detroit has a large area of operations that include southern portion of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. In total, the area covers 1,100 miles of shoreline from Saginaw Bay, MI to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

USAF F-22 Raptor Demo

The feature performance of the 2022 show was the USAF F-22 Raptor. Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson provided a high energy demonstration of America’s premier air-superiority fighter.

Around The Field

Selfridge had a nice static display, but still small compared to prior years.

VAQ-131 Lancers EG-18G Growler

The static display highlight for me had to be the pair of Growlers from VAQ-131. The unit is stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. Seeing their CAG aircraft was great!

2022 World War II Weekend – Reading, PA

Mid-Atlantic Air Museum hosted the 31st annual World War II Weekend on June 3-5, 2022. Saturday’s crowd was believed to be a record, and enthusiasm was high with a large number of aircraft, WWII vehicles and reenactors.

Weather was near flawless with temperatures in the high 70s all weekend with no rain which traditionally plagues at least one day of the event. The weekend was not without challenges. Several aircraft were down for a portion or the entirety of the event due to mechanical issues. The CAF Corsair also struck a bird during Friday’s show, causing it to miss Saturday’s flight.

L-Birds

L-Bird is slang for the various liaison aircraft that served in nearly every major battle of the war. Liaison aircraft are light aircraft used for local observation and spotting for artillery units. The L-Birds were used from WWII through Vietnam. During Vietnam, the mission was eventually taken over by helicopters.

Trainers

Trainers were represented by several examples of all levels of the WWII trainers – Basic, Primary and Advanced.

“Jersey Jerk” T-6/SNJ Texan Formation Team

Pacific Theatre Bombers

Bombers from the Pacific Theatre of Operations were represented by the SBD Dauntless, Val Diver Bomber and Kate torpedo bomber.

SBD-5 Dauntless

The Dauntless was the US Navy’s dive bomber. The airframe served from the initial days of the war to the end. Although it was slow and considered obsolete, the aircraft and its crew used it with major success. The Dauntless is credited with sinking over 300,000 tons of enemy shipping, which includes five aircraft carries. Four of those were during the Battle of Midway.

This particular Dauntless is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. The aircraft has been with the CAF for a number of years, and was restored to its present condition during a multi-year restoration from 1991 – 1999. The paint scheme is accurate to the time period around the Battle of the Marianas (“The Marianas Turkey Shoot).

B5N2 “Kate”

Alan Armstrong owns this reproduction “Kate”, the Japanese Navy’s torpedo bomber. The aircraft is also part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. The airframe was purposely built for use in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! and has also been used in numerous other movies and television shows.

The aircraft is currently configured in the markings of the Group Leader from the Second Carrier Division of the Carrier Hiryu. The aircraft participated on the Pearl Harbor attack, with the specific target of the on the Battleship, U.S.S. California.

D3A “Val”

The Val was the Japanese equivalent to the SBD Dauntless at the outbreak of WWII. This specific aircraft is also a reproduction and was purposely built for for use in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! The aircraft is owned by Ken Laird.

Medium Bombers

The medium bombers were represented this year by two B-25 Mitchells. The Delaware Aviation Museum brought their highly polished “Panchito” while Tom Duffy brought the natural aluminum finished “Take-Off Time” Both Mitchells are later “J” models with the bombardier nose.

“Take-Off Time”

“Panchito”

Panchito is one of the aircraft selling rides during the weekend, making it one of the busiest aircraft on the ramp.

Jerry Wells Aerobatic Demo

Perhaps the act that surprised me the most was Jerry Wells’ aerobatic demonstration in the BU-133 “Jungmeister.” Although an older design, the aircraft was in immaculate condition and was incredibly nimble. I was very entertained and surprised at the aggressiveness of the demo. I look forward to the next time I am able to see Mr. Wells perform.

Heavy Bombers

Heavy bombers in attendance included the Yankee Air Museum‘s B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”, Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 Super Fortress “FiFi” and B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil”.

“FiFi”

“FiFi” is the B-29 Superfortress belonging to the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron. After the war, she was originally used as a missile target on the China Lake range. Thankfully she was not damaged and rescued by the CAF around 1970. She flew for a number of years as the lone airworthy B-29. In 2006 she was grounded due to engine maintenance. Original engines were problematic and spare parts in short supply. The decision was made to retrofit custom built engines to allow FiFi to return to the skies. After four years, she flew again in 2010.

“Yankee Lady”

Yankee Lady is a B-17G Flying Fortress built by Vega as USAAF serial number 44-85829. She was built too late to be used during the war and was placed into storage. She was eventually transferred to the United States Coast Guard, where she served until 1958. In 1959 she was sold for scrap mental, but was saved when purchased and used as an aerial firefighter in 1966. In 1969 Like several other aircraft in attendance, she was used in the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!

In 1985, she was purchased by the Yankee Air Force (as the Yankee Air Museum was known by at the time) and was immediately placed into the hangar for restoration. She returned to the skies in 1995 and is painted represent an aircraft in the markings of a B-17G assigned to the 8th Air Force, 381st Bomb Group flying out of Ridgewell, England.

“Diamond Lil”

“Diamond Lil” is the B-24 Liberator belonging to the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron. She is likely the oldest surviving B-24 as her serial number is the 25th of 18,482 B-24s built. She was originally assigned to the Royal Air Force as a trainer, but a landing accident changed her fate. She was subsequently used as a B-24 trainer, B-24 development and a cargo variant (C-87) hauling parts between B-24 factories.

Diamond Lil became a member of the CAF in 1967 and was originally painted in the in the colors of the 98th BG, of the Ploesti oil field raid. In 2006 she was repainted and renamed. Then in 2012 it was decided to return her to her original name “Diamond Lil”. She subsequently suffered from a nose gear failure that required a year’s worth of restoration work. Like the B-29, she is one of two flying examples of the B-24 currently.

Fighters

The WWII fighters were well represented with five different examples flying.

P-39 Airacobra

Certainly one of the highlights was the appearance of the Military Air Museum‘s P-39 Airacobra. There are only a handful of these aircraft flying, so to see one is a rare treat. The aircraft is a P-39F, and was originally serving in Australia when it crashed on May 1, 1942 during a training exercise.

The aircraft was recovered in 1972 and subsequently restored. Although marked in USAAF markings, the aircraft is also marked as a P-39Q that was supplied to the Soviets.

P-63 King Cobra

The King Cobra is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. Although the P-63 looks similar to the P-39, it is actually a totally new design. It was redesigned to address some of the shortcomings of the P-39.

The airframe was sold as surplus in 1946 and flown by several civilians until 1975. After a legal battle, restoration began on the deteriorated airframe around 1980 by the CAF Missouri Wing. However, a flood damaged the hangar and numerous parts. The restoration was abandoned by the Missouri Wing and subsequently acquired by CAF Airbase Georgia in 1996. Full restoration was restarted in 1999 and the first flight was conducted in February, 2017. CAF decided to mark the aircraft in an accurate livery once completed. The aircraft now wears markings during its time with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) – the forerunner of today’s NASA.

The weekend highlight was the two Bell machines flying in formation.

P-40M Warhawk

” The Jacky C” is a P-40 owned by the American Airpower Museum.

P-51D Mustang

“Red Nose” is the nickname of this airframe and as is the aircraft that started the Commemorative Air Force. She now flies out of CAF Airbase Georgia. She began service in 1945 with the USAAF and served until 1947. She went into storage until 1951 when she was sold to the Canadian Air Force, where she served until 1957. She was then sold to the founders of the CAF in 1957.

A restoration was initiated in 1993 and she was transferred to Airbase Georgia in 2002. Red Nose represents the aircraft of Capt. David Howe, who flew with the 334th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF.

FG-1/F4U Corsair

Two Corsairs were present at the event. One from the CAF Airbase Georgia (checker pattern) and the other I believed to be owned by Tom Duffy. The checkered Corsair struck a bird on Saturday, so photo opportunities were limited.

Formation

The USAAF fighters formed up for a rare formation flight of four USAAF fighters.

Military Reenactment

One of the yearly highlights is the large battle reenactments. This year was based on the ETO.

Around the Field

There is so much to see and experience at the event. Aircraft, reenactor camps, WWII era themed entertainment.

P-61 Black Widow

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum continues to restore their very rare P-61C Black Widow.

A special shout out goes out to the crew of “Beach City Baby”. She is a C-53 Skytrooper owned by Vintage Wings, Inc. My son and I met the crew at breakfast of our hotel, including the owner, Jason Capra. Each of these fellas were very fun, polite and gracious with their time to talk to my son.

I had the opportunity to watch them interact with other people on the show grounds. Their interactions with others were similar to ours. I can honestly say these guys are a class act all around.

Reenactor, Joseph Turi poses in front of his favorite aircraft, the P-40 Warhawk.

The CAF West Texas Wing brought the rare SB2C Helldiver. She was unable to participate in the flying portion of the show due to some mechanical issues. We were able to get a close up look when she was moved to the static display area.

The History In An Image: “Dottie Mae”

“Dotttie Mae” has a story to her with a touch of history to go along with it. She is a P-47D Thunderbolt (P47D-28-RA), serial number 42-29150, and manufactured in 1944 at the Republic factory in Evansville, Indiana. She was assigned to the USAAF’s 9th Air Force on December 16, 1944, and served with the 405th Fighter Group, 511th Fighter Squadron.

Lt. Lawrence Kuhl had 17 combat missions in his log book when he was assigned a new P-47 airframe. To honor his wife, he named the plane “Dottie Mae” and had the Roberto Vargas pin up calendar artwork piece titled “Santa’s Little Helper” painted on the side.

After flying in 90 combat missions, Dottie’s flying career came to an end on May 8, 1945 when she crashed into a lake near Ebensee, Austria. Sadly, the incident was not related to combat, but instead as a celebration. The pilot that day, Lt. Henry Mohr, was flying low over a recently liberated concentration camp to boost the morale of the prisoners. However, he came down too low and the propeller blades clipped the water causing the aircraft to crash into the lake. The airframe sank, but luckily Lt. Mohr survived the incident and exited the aircraft. Dottie remained at the bottom of the lake for over 60 years. With the crash, Dottie Mae made history as the last USAAF aircraft lost “in action” in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) during World War II.

In the summer of 2005, Dottie was raised from the lake in Austria, and in 2010 she brought to Idaho for restoration by Vintage Airframes, LLC. Surprisingly, she was reported to be in good shape considering she was in water for over six decades. Some of her original paint still remained including her name and nose art. The aircraft flipped over when she sank. The depth of the water, combined with the silt that collected over her underside surfaces preserved the aircraft nicely. The preservation is similar to the US Navy aircraft that sank in the Great Lakes during WWII.

The team at Vintage Airframes used original wartime design documents to make repairs and components. The owner spared no expense in restoring the aircraft to a “factory new” condition and the results are easily apparent. The preference was to use original parts if possible, then using new old stock or fabrication as a last resort. Dottie returned to the sky on her first post-restoration flight on June 23, 2017.

The aircraft is now owned by the “Allied Fighters” organization, which is based at the Chino, California airport. An excellent area for warbirds considering Planes of Fame Museum and Yank’s Air Museum are also located at the airport.

The return to flight is not the only bright spot in the story. When the restored Dottie was unveiled, three of her former crew were there to see her. Pilots Larry Kuhl (the one that named her) and Ralph Vanderkove were in the audience as well as one of her armorer’s, Leonard Hitchman.

After the war ended, many of the P-47s were scrapped rather than flown back or transported back to the United States. Of the approximately 15,000 P-47s built, Dottie is the only known combat veteran of either the 8th or 9th Air Force ETO area of operations with a combat history.

Dorie now makes many regular appearances at airshows on the West Coast. The casual person may identify the aircraft as a P-47, but few people know her place in history. She is a beautiful aircraft and it has been fun seeing her in her glory.

The USAF Heritage Flight (P-38, P-47 and A-10) flies over Dottie Mae
Dottie Mae, a P-47D, leads the Planes of Fame P-47G, an earlier version known as a “razor back” because of the solid spine behind the canopy
Dottie Mae leads the USAF F-16 Viper Demo Team during the Heritage Flight portion of a flight demonstration in 2019
Dottie Mae looking as beautiful as the day she was painted onto the P-47

2022 Space Coast International Airshow

The 2022 Space Coast International Airshow was held on May 21-22 at the Space Coast Regional Airport. The show had several highlights including the F-22 Raptor demo and the EA-18 Growler demo. The airshow announced that the static display was the largest in the show’s history. Most of the static aircraft were from the Valiant Air Command’s museum. Static highlights for me included the F-14 Tomcat, Canberra and F-4 Phantom II.

SOCOM PARA-COMMANDOS

The show openers were the SOCOM Para-Commandos, a joint unit comprised of active duty Army Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Air Force Combat Controllers and Marine Raiders.

John Black Aerobatics

Local performer, John Black, flies his Super Decathlon in an aerobatic routine. John retired from the US Air Force as a Lt. Colonel and flew F-15 Eagles for the Florida Air National Guard.

Valiant Air Command Warbirds

Three of Valiant Air Command‘s warbirds participated in the show. B-25 Mitchell “Killer Bee”, N2S Stearman, and C-47 Skytrain “Tico Belle”

Marchetti S.211

Doug Matthews piloted his Marchetti S.211 for his final public displays. This was my first time seeing this little trainer jet. Looks like a fun ride!

Army Aviation Heritage Foundation “The Sky Soldiers”

The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation brought three of their Vietnam veteran aircraft to perform. Two UH-1 Hueys and the AH-1 Cobra. Besides performing, rides were also available for purchase. These aircraft can be heard from a long distance and perhaps no other sound is as distinctive as those from these two types of helicopters.

A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)

Two A-10s from the 76th Fighter Squadron “Vanguards” participated. The 76th is stationed at Moody AFB in Georgia and is part of the 476th Fighter Group. The unit has its origins with the original “Flying Tigers” and the “FT” tail code along with the shark mouth on the nose are a tribute to that legacy. Saturday’s performance featured both jets in flight, while Sunday only one of the jets flew while the other was in the static display area.

USN EA-18 Growler Legacy Demo Team

One of the newer demo teams on the airshow circuit is the EA-18 Growler team. Traditionally the display is a 2-ship performance. However for the entire weekend, the second jet was down due to a mechanical issue. Saturday’s display was flown by Flt. Lt. Tom “Fogo De Chao” Budd (an exchange pilot from the RAAF) and Lt. Brandon “Fat Amy” Baker. Sunday’s performance was flown by Lt. Eddie “Ham” Desch and Lt. Kelsey “DIP” Daucher (a graduate of Florida Institute of Tech, located in nearby Melbourne, FL).

Legacy Flight

Stuart Milson piloted Cavanaugh Flight Museum‘s AD-5W (EA-1E) Skyraider. This Legacy Flight was special since the formation included two electronic warfare aircraft. The museum’s Skyraider was delivered to the Navy in 1955 and served in VAW-12 “Bats” until 1960. The airframe was then transferred to VAW-11 until it was retired from service in 1963. The airframe is painted in the scheme it wore while serving in VAW-12. In addition to the Skyraider, Stuart Milson performs the heritage flight in numerous Navy warbirds including the Corsair, Hellcat and Bearcat.

Buck Roetman – Wild Horse Aviation

Buck Roetman founded Wild Horse Aviation in 2006 and is a modified Pitts S2S aircraft. The routine is a high-energy performance that thrills up high and down low to the surface. Buck has flown for over 35 years and has over 13,500 hours of experience. He began performing at airshows in 1998. In addition to flying, he also serves as an Aerobatic Competency Examiner for the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS).

USAF F-22 Raptor Demo

Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson shredded the skies in the F-22 Raptor. With the area’s high humidity, the jet made plenty of vapor clouds. The Raptor demo is simply amazing since the jet is so powerful and utilizes thrust vectoring. Even though I have seen this demo many times now, it continues to amaze me with the level of control and power available at any given second.

Heritage Flight

Stuart Milson also performed the Heritage Flight in P-51D Mustang “Brat III” from Cavanaugh Flight Museum. The museum’s P-51 was manufactured in 1944 and shipped to England. It was assigned to the 9th Air Force, 370th Fighter Group, 401st Fighter Squadron, and was flown by Lt. Hjalmar Johnsen.

2021 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow

The 2021 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow took place on August 6-8 at the historic Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The theme for the event was a gathering of B-25 Mitchells, with the headlining performance of the USAF Thunderbirds. This was also a year for firsts for the show.

Many airshows cancelled due to Covid-19. However, the crew at Thunder Over Michigan elected to try a 2-show per day, drive-in style format show to be socially responsible yet provide an airshow to the airplane fanatics that craved the rumble of round engines and jet noise. The show morphed into one of the largest in the country when the US Navy’s Blue Angels announced that they would also appear at the show. Thunder Over Michigan was one of only several shows that would host both US jet teams at the same show. The lineup of warbird aircraft, military demos and the TWO jet teams made this one of the best airshows I have ever attended.

Jim Tobul – F4U Corsair “Korean War Hero” Aerobatics

The F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero” (BuNo. 97143/N713JT) owned by Jim Tobul has a combat history aboard two aircraft carriers and two squadrons. The aircraft flew with VF-884 aboard the USS Boxer, and then later with VF-653 aboard the USS Valley Forge. In total the aircraft flew 200 sorties during the Korean War. In 1960, the aircraft was sold to and used by the Honduran Air Force until approximately 1970. In 1981, the Tobul family purchased the aircraft and began a 10-year restoration of the aircraft.

German Luftwaffe A400M Atlas Demo

Thunder Over Michigan has had a fantastic relationship with the German Luftwaffe over the past several years, hosting several different types of aircraft. The A400M demo at Thunder Over Michigan was the first in North America for the type. The Atlas is roughly the equivalent to the USAF C-17 Globemaster III. Although the Atlas is a turboprop, it has very good performance and handling for an aircraft of its size. Very impressive demo!

B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” and the Little Friends

The Yankee Air Museum’s flagship aircraft, “Yankee Lady” performed in the show making several passes with P-51 Mustangs. Arguably, the B-17 and P-51 are the two most iconic aircraft associated with the USAAF 8th Air Force and the Americans participation in the ETO.

USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team

The most impressive single-ship demonstration of the event in my opinion was the USAF F-35 demo. Major Kristen “Beo” Wolfe absolutely shredded the skies in the F-35A Lightning II, the USAF’s newest “lightweight” strike-fighter. The F-35 Demo Team comes from the 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill AFB, Utah. The skies were challenging, but the crowd was rewarded with amazing photo opportunities of this amazing aircraft and pilot. The aircraft and demo profile bring everything airshow fans want…lots of jet noise, vapes and burner!

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team

Maj. Hayden “Gator” Fullam piloted the USAF A-10 Warthog Demo. The team is based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. The aircraft continues to be the premier close air support aircraft in the world. Although I have seen this demo many times, it is still one of my favorites! HOOOGGG!!

USAF Heritage Flight

The USAF Heritage Flight was 3-ship performance, consisting of a P-51D Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine”, and the A-10 and F-35 demo teams.

US Navy Blue Angels

As I said in the intro, this was a solid airshow. With the announcement that the Blues would be in attendance as well propelled this show into the stratosphere. This was the 75th Anniversary of the team, as well as, the team’s first year in the F/A-18 Super Hornets. The team was the morning headliner, and for Sunday’s performance, the team wore yellow flightsuits. Yellow flightsuits are now seen very often and are reserved for special occasions.

Gathering of B-25 Mitchells

The warbird headlining act was the gathering of B-25 Mitchells. In attendance were 14 of the medium bombers. On static display was another, “Sandbar Mitchell”, which is currently being restored. There were several others scheduled to attend, but mechanical issues, Covid-19 travel restrictions or weather prevented the aircraft from attended. Regardless, this was a very impressive collection of B-25s.

The only one I was unable to photograph in the air was “Georgia Mae.” She did not participate in Sunday’s performance.

“Champaign Gal”

Champaign Aviation Museum’s B-25 is “J” model with USAAF serial number 44-28866, and wears civilian registration of N744CG. The airframe was used by the Air Force until 1957. It was retired to the boneyard, and then sold for use as an aerial firefighter until the late 1980s. She was acquired by the museum in 2008, and regularly takes her to airshows around the Midwest.

“Devil Dog”

Devil Dog is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is the lone aircraft of the “Devil Dog” Squadron. The Devil Dog represents a PBJ-1J in the markings of VMB 612 squadron. The airframe is a B-25J-30-NC and has the serial number is 44-86758. Civilian registration is N9643C.

“Georgie’s Gal”

Liberty Aviation Museum’s B-25 is also a “J” model, with USAAF serial number 44-86777, and wears civilian registration N345BG. She continued with USAF service until 1958. After that she was bought and sold several times and used for various task including executive transport and cargo. Liberty Aviation Museum acquired the aircraft in 2011 and underwent an extensive restoration.

“Killer B”

Tom Reilly owns Killer B, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-86697, and wears civilian registration N62163. The aircraft was basically surplus upon completion at the factory. She was shipped for storage and then eventually transferred to the RCAF. After RCAF duties, she was owned by serval civilians and subsequently used by several Latin American air forces. Reilly restored the aircraft and made the first flight as Killer B in 1995. The aircraft is now home in Titusville, Florida.

“Lady Luck”

C&P Aviation services brought Lady Luck, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number45-8884, and wears civilian registration N5833B. She served with the USAF until 1958, wherein she was sold to numerous civilian owners, including the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. She was acquired by C&P in 1993, and the aircraft is located in Minnesota.

“Maid in the Shade”

Commemorative Air Force owns “Maid in the Shade” a “J” model, with USAAF serial number43-35972, and wears civilian registration N125AZ. She is part of the Air Base Arizona squadron. The airframe has combat history in the Mediterranean Theatre of operations based in Corsica. She ended service with the USAF in 1950. After that she was used as an aerial sprayer. She was obtained by the CAF in 1981.

“Miss Mitchell”

Commemorative Air Force owns “Miss Mitchell” a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-29869, and wears civilian registration N27493. She is part of the Minnesota Wing of the CAF. The aircraft pays tribute to the original aircraft that served with the 310th Bomb Group, 380th Bomb Squadron during 1944-45 in the Mediterranean. The current nose art was painted by the same artist that painted the original “Miss Mitchell” nose art on the original aircraft in 1944.

“Rosie’s Reply”

Yankee Air Museum owns Rosie’s Reply. Unlike most other Mitchells in attendance, she is an early “D” model, with USAAF serial number43-3634, and wears civilian registration N3774. Like “Maid in the Shade”, Rosie has combat history in the Mediterranean, having flown at least eight combat missions. The airframe was initially meant for the RAF, but was forced into USAAF service temporarily. She did return to North America in 1944 and was transferred to the RCAF for use as a training aircraft. She left RCAF service in 1968 and was eventually purchased by Glen Lamont and flown as “Gallant Warrior”. In 1988 she was acquired by the Yankee Air Museum and renamed “Yankee Warrior.” In early 2021, she was repainted into the current scheme, and is representative of the original look during her combat service in the MTO.

“Semper Fi”

Commemorative Air Force owns “Semper Fi”, a  PBJ-1J (the only known flying example). The PBJ is the Navy variant of the B-25 and is manufactured as a B-25J-30-NC. Her serial number is 44-30988 and wears civilian registration N5865V. Semper Fi is part of the Southern California Wing of the CAF. Semper Fi was produced too late in the war to see service, was eventually sold as surplus in 1947. CAF acquired her after numerous civilian owners in 1988 and began a lengthy restoration that was completed in 2016.

“Show Me”

Commemorative Air Force owns “Show Me”, a a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-31385, and wears civilian registration N345TH. She is part of the Missouri Wing of the CAF. The airframe served as a trainer with the USAF until 1959. She was subsequently sold as surplus. After several private owners, she was purchased by the CAF in 1982.

“Take-Off Time”

Tom Duffy owns Take-Off Time, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-30832, and wears civilian registration N3155G. The aircraft is frequently seen at many Mid West. Little other details appear to be available about the aircraft.

“Wild Cargo”

The Military Air Museum owns Wild Cargo, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-30129, and wears civilian registration N7947C. The airframe served with the USAF as a trainer until 1958. It was subsequently sold as surplus. After a handful of other owners, the Military Air Museum acquired the airframe in 1997 and was restored to flight status in 2005. In addition to the B-25, the Military Air Museum has a large number of flyable WWI and WWII aircraft. It is well worth the trip to Virginia Beach, VA to check this collection out!

“Yankee Doodle” aka “Axis Nightmare”

The Tri-State Warbird Museum owns “Yankee Doodle”, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number45-8898, and wears civilian registration N898BW. The airframe was produced too late in the war to see service. She was immediately placed into storage. Eventually, she served as a trainer with the USAF until 1959. After being purchased as surplus, the aircraft was only flown for a handful of years before sitting derelict. She was recovered in 1983 and began flight again after a restoration in 1985. Tri-State Warbird Museum acquired the aircraft in 2004 and was flown in the markings of the RAF with nose art of “Axis Nightmare.” The aircraft is now a “star”, having been one of the two B-25s used to Hulu remake of the film “Catch-22.” It currently wears the nose art of “Yankee Doodle.” It is uncertain if the current scheme will remain or if the museum will revert it back to “Axis Nightmare.”

“Georgia Mae”

Wiley Sanders from Alabama owns Georgia Mae, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-86785, and wears civilian registration N5262V. Like several others in attendance, this airframe was produced too late in the war to see service and was immediately placed into storage. It was eventually used by the USAF as a trainer and sold as surplus in 1958. The current owner purchased it in 1983 and completed restoration in 1985. Little else is known about the aircraft.

US Navy EA-18G Growler Demo Team

The USN Growler team made their first Michigan appearance. The EA-18G Growler is the Navy’s electronic warfare and countermeasures aircraft. The Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, with modifications to the aircraft for the specifics of electronics warfare. The most notable difference from the Super Hornet is the addition of the electronic pods on the wingtips instead of the usual missile rails.

The team does not perform a full aerobatic demonstration of the aircraft, but does provide several nice high-performance passes and climbs.

“Mad Max” P-51 Mustang Aerobatics

Lou Horschel performed an aerobatic routine in his TP-51D Mustang. The airframe is USAAF serial number 45-11559 and wears civilian registration of N51MX.

US Navy Legacy Flight

The Legacy flight returned to the Michigan skies in the form of the EA-18 Growler along with Jim Tobul’s F4U-4 Corsair. The formation was done fantastically.

USAF Thunderbirds

The featured jet team for the afternoon performance was the USAF Thunderbirds. The ceiling for Sunday’s performance was not ideal, but the team still pulled off a fantastic show and capped a memorable airshow.

Closing

The 2021 show certainly set the bar high for future Thunder Over Michigan airshows. Whether this is a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined. Regardless, the event was a huge success, and it was wonderful to see all of the aircraft in the sky above Michigan. I wish to thank Yankee Air Museum’s Executive Director, Kevin Walsh, for his continued support of my airshow photography.

2021 World War II Weekend – Reading, PA

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum hosted their annual “World War II Weekend on June 4-6, 2021. This is likely the largest event of its kind in the entire United States. In addition to the remarkable airshow, the museum hosts numerous reenactors that set up camps for the weekend as well as hundreds of WWII era antique military vehicles. Every theatre of operations is represented in some fashion, as well as many of the Allied and Axis units. It really is a case of visual sensory overload with so many things to see.

The aircraft lineup is impressive, with some aircraft visiting each year while others rotate. This year had several aircraft that I had not seen in person, so it was a real treat. Weather across the United States prevented several aircraft from attending and maintenance issues claimed several other airframes (a usual problem for most airshows).

This was my first airshow of 2021, so I was very pleased that Mother Nature cooperated by providing beautiful skies and pleasant temperatures. My last experience here was quite the opposite, and the mud on the airfield is legendary for making a mess of everything.

Enough of the warm-up, here are the photos!

Navy Bombers & Torpedo Aircraft

TBM-3E Avenger – “Doris Mae”

Commemorative Air Force Capital Wing flew their TBM-3E Avenger “Doris Mae”. She flies with civil registry N40402.

SBD-5 Dauntless

Commemorative Air Force Air Base Georgia brought their SBD-5 Dauntless.

Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft

Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft were represented by replicas of the B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber and D3A “Val” dive bomber. Both aircraft are movie prop conversions of American aircraft to simulate the Japanese aircraft. The Kate was the Japanese equivalent of the TBF/TBM Avenger, while the Val is similar to the SBD Dauntless.

Commemorative Air Force Air Base Georgia owns the Kate. DUring Saturday’s flight, the right main landing gear would not properly retract. Thankfully, the issue was only a visual problem and did not result in any further problems.

USAAF Medium Bombers

B-25 Mitchell “Rosie’s Reply”

The Yankee Air Museum brought several of their aircraft including their recently repainted B-25D, now named “Rosie’s Reply”. The aircraft was repainted in early 2021 to represent its combat service in Italy in 1944. The nose art is not authentic, but the other markings are accurate to the airframe. Prior to the repainting, the aircraft was polished aluminum and flown as “Yankee Warrior”.

B-25 Mitchell “Take-Off Time”

Tom Duffy/Claire Aviation brought their B-25N. I do not have much other information about this B-25, but it was a pleasant surprise to see her. I had not seen this one out in several years.

B-25 Mitchell “Panchito”

Delaware Aviation Museum brought their beautiful Mitchell named “Panchito”. The aircraft was very active throughout the day with numerous passenger flights. However, on a flight in the early afternoon, it performed an emergency landing with one engine feathered. Thankfully, no injuries were reported. The aircraft remained for several weeks while waiting for an engine replacement.

Fighters

P-51 Mustangs

“Tiger’s Revenge”is a 2018 restoration into a TP-51 configuration. I believe it to be owned by Ron Lauder and flown out of New York. This was my first time seeing this aircraft and it is very sharp looking.

Tom Duffy/Claire Aviation’s spectacular Mustang “Kwitcherbitchin”. This is another Mustang that I had not seen up until this show. This is a really sharp looking aircraft!

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P-63 King Cobra “Miss Betty” – NX191H /42-68941

Commemorative Air Force Air Base Georgia also brought their rare P-63 King Cobra. The aircraft was originally a test bed aircraft, and the markings are authentic to the aircraft.

F4U Corsairs

Commemorative Air Force Air Base Georgia brought their FG-1D Corsair, BuNo 92468 (N9964Z). It is one of the original Commemorative Air Force aircraft, and is painted to in the colors of VMF-312 representing 1st Lt. MO Chance.

Charlie Lynch piloting Mark Murphy’s FG-1 Corsair NX83JC “God Speed” in tribute to John Glenn.

A6M2 Model 21 Zero – NX8280K

Mark Murphy piloted his A6M2

Fighter Formations

Transports

C-46 Commando “The Tinker Belle”

Warriors and Warbirds Museum brought the large C-46.

C-47D Skytrain “Hairless Joe” – N8704/44-76716

Yankee Air Museum also brought their C-47 Skytrain “Hairless Joe”. The museum recently repainted the aircraft in the livery of Captain Richard Cole. If the name sounds familiar, it should be. Cole was the co-pilot of aircraft #1 of the famous Doolittle Raid of B-25s of April, 1942. Afterwards, Cole was reassigned to stay and fly the “hump” over Burma. Cole was recruited by the 1st Air Commando and participated in the invasion of Burma. “Hairless Joe” was the name of his aircraft.

Heavy Bombers

B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” N3193G/44-85829

Yankee Air Museum brought their flagship aircraft, their B-17G “Yankee Lady”. The aircraft is painted to represent an aircraft serving in the 8th Air Force, 381st Bomb Group located at Ridgewell, England.

B-29 Super Fortress “FiFi” – N529B

Commemorative Air Force brought their marque aircraft the famous B-29 “FiFi”. For many years, it was the lone flying B-29 in the world. While no longer the only flying example, it is remarkable to see one of the most iconic aircraft of WWII up close and personal, as well as in the air flying.

Around the field

Mid-Atlantic Air Museums current project is restoring the ultra-rare P-61 Black Widow to flyable condition.

Antique Military Vehicle Parade

Trainers and L-Birds

The show featured a wide variety of WWII trainers and Liaison (L-Bird) aircraft.

2016 TBM Avenger Gathering

The 2016 TBM Avenger Gathering was held on April 16 at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru, Illinois. The event was organized by Brad Deckert, a local Avenger owner.

The gathering was developed to bring the various Avenger owners/operators together to discuss maintenance, safety and other matters involved with owning an Avenger. Practice flying was also planned, including flight demonstrations and formation flying.

The gathering of Avengers also brings together a significant group of historical warbirds in one spot. Fighters and bombers have had numerous events, but no event has really featured or celebrated the TBM Avenger quite like this.

The Featured Aircraft: TBM Avengers

Brad Deckert TBM-3 – N81865

Tri-State Warbird Museum TBM-3 S – N420GP

Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing TBM-3 – N5264

Mark and Allen Yeagie (TBM, LLC) TBM-3E – N293E

Tom Buck’s TBM-3 – N683G

Charlie Cartledge TBM-3 – N436GM

Michael Kopp – TBM-3 “Ida Red” – N9584Z

Charlie Lynch TBM-3 “She’s the Boss” – N3967A

Simmons Aviation Services TBM-3 – N85650

Avenger Formation Flying

Several of the TBMs formed up and made several nice formation passes to open the event. Several TBMs were airborne and made solo passes. What a sound to hear all of those Curtiss-Wright R-2600-20 radial engines!

Other Warbirds in Attendance

P-51 Mustangs

Two P-51D Mustangs were in attendance. Each Mustang did several solo passes and the two aircraft formed up for a formation break to landing.

Anthony Buechler P-51D Mustang “Petie 2nd” – N5427V

Wings of the North P-51D Mustang “Sierra Sue II” – N1751D

A-1 Skyraider “Naked Fanny” – NX959AD

East Iowa Airshows brought their A-1 Skyraider to display and participate in the flying portion of the show. The Skyraider was designed to replace the Avenger on the American aircraft carriers. However, the aircraft was too late to see service in World War II. However, the type did see significant service in both Korea and Vietnam.

Naked Fanny is painted to represent the USAF version of the “Spad”.

T-6/SNJ Texans

Several Texans were on hand and flew solo and formation demonstrations. Several operators also offered rides. The Texan is widely known as “the pilot maker” and an argument can be made that it is the most important trainer aircraft developed to date. It has been said that the Texan is difficult to fly, it requires the pilot’s attention at all times. Once mastered, a pilot was able to handle any of the “heavy iron” in the piston fighter community.

Other Trainers

Many other trainers were on hand as well such as a T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentor, a PT-19 and several Stearmans (PT-17)

The Acrobats!

Several different types of acrobatic aircraft were also on hand including several Sukhoi SU-26s, a Christian Eagle, several YAK-52s and highly modified Stearman formerly of the Red Baron Pizza Squadron.

Jet Trainers

T-33 Shooting Stars

Two beautifully restored T-33 Shooting Stars were on hand. Mig-Alley Airshows brought their Canadair CT-133 Shooting Star. The aircraft has an authentic RCAF camo scheme. The second T-33 is operated by Whirpool Inc and is also a CT-133. The aircraft is painted in the livery of the Texas Air National Guard. Both are beautiful aircraft.

L-39 Albatross

Also on hand was a L-39 Albatross

General Aviation

Fly-in events are always special because you never really know what will show up. This event was no different, with several surprise arrivals.

Around the field…

Final thoughts…

This event was nothing short of spectacular. The atmosphere and excitement surrounding the display were amazing. If I had to sum up why the event was special in one image, it would be this one:

The intimacy was what was special to me. The ability to see history up close and to be able to hear the machines tingle and pop while running or cooling down is just something you do not get at a museum…or most normal airshows. The diverse blend of people and aircraft was also such a fresh feeling. I am thankful that I decided to get up early and head over to Peru. I’ll definitely be back to support this event if it continues.

I’ll say it again…Fantastic EVENT!

2018 TBM Avenger Reunion

The third annual TBM Avenger Reunion took place on May 19, 2018 at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru, Illinois. The event is hosted and organized by TBM owner, Brad Deckert. What started out in 2016 as an Avenger fly-in and workshop has morphed into a first class warbird airshow that retains a fly-in style vibe.

On the surface, it seems as though the name would suggest strictly TBM Avengers, but that is not the case. The show includes numerous other aircraft from World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars. The ramp area is wide open allowing spectators to get up close and personal with the aircraft. The aircraft owners and support crew are usually right alongside to answer questions about the aircraft or the type’s history.

All throughout the day, aircraft of all types arrive for the fly-in or to participate in the flying portion of the show. While not looking skyward, reasonably priced vendors are available for meals and souvenirs. Fixed wing aircraft and helicopter rides are available onsite as well.

Housekeeping: The Avenger is a Grumman plane, and is known as a “TBF.” Why is this a “TBM” Reunion?

The Avenger was originally designed and manufactured by Grumman. Grumman built Avengers were designated the TBF. When the successor fighter to the F4F Wildcat was designed by Grumman, the F6F Hellcat, the Navy immediately placed an order for them. Since Grumman could not produce both the Avenger and Hellcat simultaneously, General Motors Eastern Division began production of the Avengers. These GM-built Avengers were designated “TBM”. General Motors went on to produce 7,546 Avengers, with the most prominent version being the TBM-3E variant.

All of the aircraft that participated in the reunion were TBM built aircraft, and I believe all of the flying Avengers world wide are also currently TBM versions. Hence the logical connection to call the event a TBM Reunion/Gathering.

The Main Event: Eleven Avengers!

Brad Deckert has devoted his passion and resources into his TBM. Brad started the annual “gathering” (now known as the “reunion”)as a way for the Avenger community to come together. The owners can swap information and knowledge with each other, and the airshow allows them to show off their aircraft. The show is also a fantastic tribute to all of the local veterans.

Any event that gathers eleven of the same type of warbird aircraft is going to be impressive! The event brought together TBMs that are frequently seen on the airshow circuit and several that are more uncommon at public events.

I have done my best to list the owner’s name and somehow identify each individual participating TBM. If I have something wrong, please send me a note and I will correct it!

Darrel Berry’s “Tennessee Ridge Runner II” – NL325GT

“CC” – NL293E

“96” – N5260V

Tim Savage’s North Atlantic Scheme – N4171A

Perhaps one of the most under represented contributions of WWII is the role of the escort carriers. These smaller carriers traveled with the convoys to protect them from air, surface and submarine threats.

The Avenger played a huge role in the large and small naval battles, including the incredibly important battle for the North Atlantic. Convoys of allied ships shuttled supplies and troops from North America to allied ports in England and continental Europe. These convoys were targeted by German U-Boat submarines and losses were running up quickly due to the wolf pack hunting style of the subs. If the convoys could not get supplies to Europe, the fate of the ETO may have been different. The escort carriers equipped with Avengers played a vital role in the success of the battle for the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic.

Tim Savage’s TBM is painted in the scheme worn by allied aircraft used in the North Atlantic region. The effectiveness of the paint scheme is easy to appreciate and see. Ultimately, the Avenger dropped more tonnage than any other naval aircraft, and sank numerous surface ships and is credited with 30 enemy submarines.

Brad & Jane Deckert’s “T83” – NL81865

The Deckert’s TBM saw combat in World War II during the Okinawa campaign with the Marines of VMTB-34, flying off the carrier USS Vella Gulf. She served with the Navy until 1956 and was subsequently used to fight forest fires in Canada. More information, including flights and appearances can be found on their website.

Charlie Cartledge’s “Delta 95” – NL436GM

Lake Erie Warbirds‘s TBM-3E rolled off the assembly line in Trenton, NJ in August, 1945. However, the aircraft never saw service during WWII. She was stricken from the Navy’s records in 1956 and subsequently used as a fire bomber until the 1960s. Her original flying career ended for awhile, being used for spare parts and as a wind machine for product testing. Thankfully, she was spared additional “abuse” and flying restoration began in 1985.

Tom Buck’s “George Bush” – NL683G

Tom Buck, a member of EAA Warbird Squadron 4, brought his TBM painted in the livery of President George HW Bush’s Avenger. Then Lt. Bush was flying for VT-51. On September 2, 1944, Lt. Bush’s Avenger was badly damaged while on a mission, and was forced to bailout near Chichi Jima. He was rescued and went on to received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Michael Kopp’s “Ida Red” – NL9584Z

Ida Red is another example of a North Atlantic paint scheme. Ida is a TBM-3E variant and was number 2701 off of the assembly line. After her US Navy service, she was sold and used on the west coast as a fire bomber. Around 1996 she was purchased by David Tinker and relocated to Michigan where she frequently participated in airshows around the Midwest. Ida had been absent from events for several years, and it was great to see this familiar air frame back in the air.

Commemorative Air Force – Missouri Wing’s “VT-87”- N5264V

Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing‘s TBM was received by the Navy in May, 1945. She later served as a trainer during the Korean War with VS-27. After she was declared surplus, she was used as a fire bomber until 1977. The Missouri Wing obtained the aircraft in 2000 from a private owner in Florida.

Heritage Flight Foundation’s “IBM” – N85650

The Heritage Flight Foundation operates out of Westerly, Rhode Island and operates a distinct model of the TBM compared to the others in attendance. Their Avenger has the tail configured for radar operations.

“What is that Turkey all about?”

The Avenger is affectionately known in the Navy as the “Turkey”! Like all nicknames, the true origin is never completely known. Here are the two that I have found:

  1. On carriers that operated both the F4F Wildcat and TBF Avenger, the performance difference between these two aircraft is quite significant. Some say the nickname comes from the size and maneuverability difference of the Avenger while landing. When the gear and flaps were down to land, an Avenger was much like a real life flying turkey, ungainly and awkward.
  2. The second explanation is much simpler. The Avenger is powered by a Curtiss-Wright R-2600, a very large 14-cylinder radial engine. A radial engine is cooled via airflow of the engine while in flight. However, when on the ground, the engine cowling has large flaps that can be extended to help vent some of the hot air. When open, these flaps look like a turkey’s tail feathers.

    Both origin stories seem accurate. I will leave it to you to decide which is correct!

Commemorative Air Force – Rocky Mountain Wing’s “309” – NL53503

Commemorative Air Force Rocky Mountain Wing brought their TBM-3E

MiG Alley Airshows – F-86 & MIG-17

Paul Keppler and Jeff Kaney displayed their aircraft and performed a short dogfight demo. Paul’s F-86 Sabre is painted in the livery of James Jabara, the first Korean War ace and first USAF ace.

Jeff Kaney’s MIG-17 is painted in an artic splinter type scheme and is quite distinctive.

Wings of the North’s F4U-4 Corsair

Wings of the North brought their beautiful F4U-4 down to the event and made several notable photo passes. Arguably, the Corsair is one of the most iconic American fighter aircraft of the WWII era, and is beloved in the warbird community. The display also included some aerobatic maneuvers. There is just something special about the sound of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine!

Tim Savage’s A-26 Invader “Silver Dragon” – NL99420

Tim Savage brought two of his aircraft to the event. Certainly the most colorful aircraft on the field, his beautiful A-26B Invader, “Silver Dragon”. This particular A-26 is configured with six .50 caliber machine guns in the nose for assault/strafing missions.

Although not as immediately recognized as the B-25, a similar mission aircraft, the Invader continued to serve the USAF in the Korean and Vietnam wars. The A-26 is starting to become more popular in the warbird collector community with greater numbers of flyable air frames returning to flight status.

Tim, and now his son Job, are well known in the warbird community and their passion for warbirds is contagious.

John O’Connors AU-1 Corsair – N965CV

John O’Connor surprised the crowd with several passes of his newly restored AU-1 Corsair (actually an F4U-7). The AU-1 variant of the Corsair was designed to serve as a low-level fighter-bomber, and had additional weapons hard-points added. A fully loaded AU-1 weighed approximately 20% more than an F4U-4 variant!

Sadly, the aircraft is now back in the repair shop after an accident on takeoff a few months after this event. Fingers are crossed to see her in the air again soon.

Michael Gillian’s FM-2 Wildcat – N909WJ

Mike Gillian’s FM-2 (a GM built version of the Grumman designed Wildcat) is an example of an aircraft that attends many smaller airshows and fly-in style gatherings. His aircraft is in beautiful condition and is a prime example of the early US Navy and Marine fighter aircraft of early WWII.

The Wildcat was considered inferior to the Japanese Zero at the start of the war. However, aerial tactics improved as did the skill of the Aviators and soon there after, the Wildcat could effectively fly and defeat the Zero. Grumman later improved the design and the mighty F6F Hellcat was born. The Wildcat held the line while American designers and manufacturers made fighters that could meet or exceed the performance of the Zero. The Wildcat is a a fairly rare breed these days, and it is a treat to see this Naval Aviation icon.

T-6 Texan & SNJs