Wednesday, June 3, 2009

P-51 Mustang #4

The B-24 was loaded with 5 bombs and was going to be starting its run at around 3,000 feet each time. The Twin Beech was stationed to port of the Liberator and we, in the P-51, were to starboard. As soon as turned onto approach for the drop zone I quickly realised that this was to give the camera plane the luxury of having the sun behind them, shining onto the Mustang and the Liberator and giving the perfect lighting set up. Alas, that meant I was shooting into the sun, hence the need to process the above somewhat to bring back some detail!

Adding in a few practice runs, combined with three single-bomb missions plus one double, we must have spent close to an hour running this segment of the flight, sometimes flying just above or below the flight level held by the B-24 but basically staying in formation.

Accuracy? They were doing pretty well on the north/south line-up, according to the spotters on the ground and in the air at least, but continually striking the ground some 200 to 300 yards to the right of the target. Still, that's not bad for bomb sight technology that's over 60 years old.

All too soon it was time to head back, land, and allow the ground crew to prep the planes for the second mission of the day, one that was now destined to be more like a night raid than a day time one given that it was 6:30 pm already.

All-in-all, a fun day and one I will remember for life. My only disappointment was that at no time do we really push the P-51 to do anything other than fly somewhat meekly around, sticking in the shadow of the B-24. This was a bit like getting a ride in a Ferrari 288 GTO and finding that the driver was limited to doing no more than 50 mph and using only 3,000 rpm. Understandable, but a shame nonetheless.

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