The B-24 Liberator, a World War II bomber featured in the book and movie Unbroken, was one of the workhorse bombers of that era. Louis Zamperini, the subject of the story, was a bombardier on the B-24. His airplane, named Green Hornet, went down in the Pacific. Zamperini survived the crash, became a Japanese POW and went on to make a huge impact on many people with his story of courage and faith.
Although those hostilities ended 70 years ago and most of the airplanes flown during the war were scrapped, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) still owns and operates one of only two of the remaining B-24s in the world. Their B-24, Diamond Lil, is the world’s oldest continuously flying airplane from WWII. The CAF maintains the airplane in flying condition in order to tell the story of people like Louis Zamperini and the thousands of others who fought so valiantly for the freedom we enjoy in this country today.
Diamond Lil, soon to be based at the CAF’s new National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport, travels around the country bringing both the sight and sound of World War II aviation to the general public.
About the CAF’s B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil
Diamond Lil, built in 1941, was the 25th B-24 produced by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. It is the oldest remaining B-24. Out of the over 18,000 produced, this airplane is one of only two still flying today. The CAF purchased this B-24A in 1967 and she has performed majestically before thousands of people for over 40 years. Originally configured as Diamond Lil, a transport aircraft, with markings of the 98th Bomb Group, she underwent a major restoration in 2006 with the intent of returning her back to the original bomber configuration and renamed Ol’ 927. In the winter of 2011-2012 the Squadron voted to return the name Diamond Lil to the aircraft with newly updated nose art. The airplane is maintained and operated by the volunteers of the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29/B-24 Squadron currently based at the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The B-24 and many other rare World War II military aircraft will soon be part of the collection housed at the Commemorative Air Force National Airbase at Dallas Executive Airport.
Visit the CAF B29-B24 Squadron for more information www.cafb29b24.org/.
About Karnig Thomasian, 20th Air Force, 40th Bomber Command, 45 Bomb Squadron
Karnig Thomasian volunteered for the Army Air Corp in 1942 at the age of 18. Three years later, while serving as a left gunner/electrical specialist on a B-29 Superfortress, he bailed out of a burning airplane and landed in a rice paddy where he was immediately captured by the Japanese. He spent 6 months as a POW in a Japanese prison camp. His book, Then There Were Six, is the true story of that fateful mission over Rangoon, Burma where only 1 of 11 B-29s returned to its home base.
Seventy-four years ago today, the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver took flight for the first time. A carrier-based dive and torpedo bomber, the Helldiver was designed to replace the Douglas SBD Dauntless. SB2Cs were large aircraft due to the requirement of an internal bomb bay; Helldivers were built to carry a 2,000 pound bomb internally, or two smaller 1,600 pound weapons, or a torpedo. SB2Cs first went to War with VB-17 on the USS Bunker Hill in November 1943 and the Navy used the platform in every major surface action as an integral part of its carrier air groups until the end of the war. The bane of Navy pilots because of reliability problems and difficult handling characteristics, the Helldiver picked up the derogatory nickname The Beast and "Son of a Bitch, 2nd Class" (after its designation).
She experienced engine failure in 1982 and suffered extensive damage while making an emergency landing. Many said "The Beast would never fly again". However, the members of the West Texas Wing did not accept this proposition. After thousands of volunteer volunteer hours and a project cost in excess of $200 thousand, The Beast did fly again in September 1988. The current colors and markings are those of the carrier U.S.S. Franklin CV-13. The Beast is currently based at the Houston Squadron in, Texas.
Here is one of Anthony Svihlik's photos of our SB2C Helldiver from the Commemorative Air Force's West Texas Wing at the 2012 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show. For more aviation and air show memories fly over to our full website at www.aviation-enthusiasts.com.
Only on December 20-22 the CAF High Sky Wing will be offering flights in the C-45 Expeditor out of Midland International Airport in Midland-Odessa, Texas. Flights will start at 6:30 p.m. and will run every 30 minutes until 9:30 p.m. Passengers must be at least 5 years old. The following seats are available per flight: one Co-pilot seat ($145); four cabin seats ($75 each). If you are interested in booking the entire airplane, the cost is $395 per flight. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served to all passengers.
For more information about the High Sky Wing visit www.highskywing.org
The CAF Dixie Wing's P-51D Red Nose has a new pilot. On Dec. 12, Dallas based CAF Col Mark Todd, checked out in the Commemorative Air Force's first airplane the P-51 Mustang Red Nose. Mark grew up flying an L-5 off out of his dad's grass strip. He went on to fly for the airlines after college. In 2013 Mark Joined TORA! TORA! TORA! flying the Kate replica for the performing team. Mark received the FAST formation lead card this past summer and right after checked out in the CAF Dixie Wing’s SBD Dauntless. Mark has a total of 11,000 flight hours, 600 of which flying warbirds.
The P-51D Mustang Red Nose was the airplane that launched the Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force). The founding members of the CAF including Lloyd P. Nolen himself acquired it. This airplane is not only historically significant, but it is thoroughly engrained in the CAF's heritage as well. The CAF General Staff assigned the P-51 Red Nose to the Dixie Wing in November 2002.The CAF requirements to fly the P-51 are: 1000 Hrs. PIC, 500 Hrs. single engine of which 200 Hrs in T-6 or similar type tail wheel. Two independent check rides from the aft cockpit are also required.
EAA has announced December-January webinars that can be enjoyed from home. EAA Webinars are free to all aviation enthusiasts, but pre-registration is recommended since space is limited to the first 1,000 registrants.
December 17 - 7 p.m. CST
Chapter Chat: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Chapters
Presenter: Pat Webb
January 7 - 8 p.m. CST
Diagnosing a Rough Engine
FAA AMT & Wings Credit
Presenter: Mike Busch
Click HERE for more information.