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M5Clive

Wild Blue Yonder!

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During the past year, I have been quietly putting plans into place to launch a brand new, living history group dedicated to the memory of the United States Army Air Force during WWII. This will be a low-key, limited numbers group with the aim of being able to recreate a ground-crew and/or air-crew scenario on an Eighth or Ninth Air Force airfield in England during WWII.

 

width=640 height=853http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/WildBlueYonder012.jpg[/img]

 

 

 

 

This section of Operation Bolero will be a good visual platform to show the type of things we get involved in and to show that undertaken correctly, those who participate in Living History can add an extra dimension to our hobbie and movement, often in quite a powerful and well respected manner. I think the results will speak for themselves given time. In the meantime have a look at some pics from the past couple of years along with some veterans pictures, which is very much an instrumental part of what Wild Blue Yonder is all about :-)

 

 

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Ok, so not strictly European Theatre of Operations but worthy of inclusion none the less.

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/Uniforms007.jpg[/img]

 

Three Flight-crew members of a North American B-25 Mitchell discuss the practice mission of the day on a temperorary airstrip somewhere in the Mediterranian Theatre. (aka Duxford :roll:)

 

width=600 height=800http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/Uniforms005.jpg[/img]

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/Uniforms001.jpg[/img]

 

 

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Great work Clive.

 

 

.............do you have anymore details??

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This is myself, daughter Elly and 95th Flight Engineer and Top Turrett gunner T/Sgt Dick Saucier. Dick was in the 412th Squadron of the 95th Bombardment Group and flew aboard B-17 G's from Horham Airfield, in Suffolk. This picture was taken during a return to his former wartime airfield in 2005.

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/063.jpg[/img]

 

This shot shows Dick in 1944 at Horham and wearing a fantastic A2 leather flying jacket with the 95th BG Group painted patch sewn onto the chest. You can also just see a rack of bombs painted onto the opposite side of the jacket front - A familiar sight on many flyers jackets in the Eighth Air Force,

but this seemed a particularly favourite trend in the 95th.

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/HMVFPictures017.jpg[/img]

 

 

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Wild Blue Yonder is not intended to be a die-hard living history group where you spend every weekend throughout the show season living in a male only environment, in fox-holes if appropriate and being required to committ 110% to The Group! This kind of set-up, which may happily suit some, certainly does not suit me or my family and has been the demise of all too many Groups in the past.

 

The idea behind this Group is that it needs to consist of a bit of everything. Its no good everyone wanting to be the pilot of the Memphis Belle, because as Ed Abbott said so well on the Operation Bolero website - it took 2500 men to keep 25 aircraft in the sky!

 

Not only that, but have you seen how much original aircrew kit costs these days?? Its much cheaper to portray the ground crew mechanic, when all you need is a grubby pair of HBT overalls, a pair of service boots and an adjustable spanner in your top pocket!

 

Its not my idea to grown the Group to such an extent that it becomes unmanageable or gets overrun by internal politics of its members. We are planning to have a certain element of our Group at Operation Bolero, but having said that, I'm going to be far too busy as event organiser to spend all afternoon parading around for the cameras :-D

 

Will post some more pics over the next few days and give more details of how people can become involved if they are seriously interested.

 

cds

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Exactly what i'm lookin' for

 

seriously interested

 

on the hardstanding with me pockets full of spanners 'n' sparkplugs

 

A groundcrew volunteer please... pretty please

 

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Clive,

 

Who's the guy in the middle of the trio?

 

He might like of know one of my mugshots from a Duxford show last year is on the cover of the latest edition of Armourer mag. He looks the biz... in fact you all did.

 

Can try to do some more pix this year if you're going again. Actually I thought you guys were a section of FAAA as they were there in force, but obviously I was wrong... whoops! Sent Lee a batch of photos last year, so not sure if they got thru to you.

 

Cover shot at http://www.armourer.co.uk/

 

Phil

 

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The guy in the middle is the same guy pictured by the B-25 nose art, with his hand on the aircraft. He is Bob Stedman from the Southampton area. He has just the right looks in the uniforms he wears and is infact a soft spoken, quiet and reserved chap!

 

Last year was the 5th year that I had exhibited at Duxford Flying Legends either with WWII Military Vehicles or in kit. Ironically, Lee Bowden and First Allied Airborne were exhibiting at Legends for the first time last year, but you would think they had been attending for decades to hear them ;-)

 

Joking apart, Lee's group always supports our 101st Airborne 'Gathering of Eagles' event in Aldbourne, so I do get on well with Lee and his group. Wild Blue Yonder however is specifically aimed at portraying the USAAF - I know many LHGroups include elements of the USAAF but are not solely targeted at such.

 

Of course there is enough room on the show circuit for everyone and our inflated ego's :whistle:

 

cds

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The previous B-25 crew pictures were taken at Duxford Flying Legends 2005. Last year (2006) we spent some time chilling-out on and around the French operated B-17 'Pink Lady.' Here's a shot of Andy Burley on the flight deck checking-in with the Tower before pre-flighting the engines!

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/IMG_0135.jpg[/img]

 

Climbing back onto the flightdeck from the nose. The B-17 is amazingly crampted and in flying clothing,

it is very cumbersome to move around the aircraft. One can only imagine how difficult it was to move around the aircraft in operational conditions, wearing all the high altitude clothing, oxygen and comms systems, flak jackets & helmets and not forgetting that the temperature was 50 degree's below zero :-o

 

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Pink Lady's Wright Cyclones with Hamilton Standard propellors

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/IMG_0154.jpg[/img]

 

 

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Guest matt

Hi Clive,

 

Do you know if "Pink Lady" will be at Legends this year?

 

Cheers,

 

Matt.

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As far as I know, there are still insurance issues with the aircraft. I haven't read anything on the aviation forums to say if this has been sorted.

 

Steve

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Guest matt

Thanks Steve,that's a shame as she is one of the few B-17's to have seen action with the Eighth,she was originally with the 511th BS-351st BG at Polebrook and later during the exchange of radar equipped aircraft she went to the 305th at Chelveston for the "Casey Jones" project.

 

A 351st B-17 crashed less than three miles from my home on June 8th 1945 killing all twenty on board and it's likely that the pilots of that a/c would have flown the French B-17 at some point.

 

Matt.

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Clive,

If interested, PM me the details and I'll send you (or someone else in the group) a CD of the pix taken at Legends last year.

Phil

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This was a sequence of photographs I took last year when Wild Blue Yonder was called upon by Channel 5 to undertaken some filming work for a programme they were shooting in Cambridge.

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/IMG_0190.jpg[/img]

 

I provided the Class A uniforms and then sourced the bodies including older

brother Neil (On left) and Suzanne On right - funnily enough!

 

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The Eagle pub near to Kings College was a regular haunt for many Allied flyers during WWII and many used candles, zippo lighters and lipstick to inscribe their names onto the ceiling. These shots show us replicating a scene of 65 years ago and in-fact really look quite atmospheric - Especially the pint glasses with a handle!

 

width=640 height=480http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/IMG_0222.jpg[/img]

 

 

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Thanks for the info Phil. Yes would very much like a CD of your shots. I'm not sure I saw you - We were beneath the B-17 for quite a while on the grass before the flying started. Will PM my details to you. If you PM your details Bodge Jeep, i'll give you a call and chat a bit about the Group.

 

Cds

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Clive,

 

Who's the guy in the middle of the trio?

 

He might like of know one of my mugshots from a Duxford show last year is on the cover of the latest edition of Armourer mag. He looks the biz... in fact you all did.

 

Can try to do some more pix this year if you're going again. Actually I thought you guys were a section of FAAA as they were there in force, but obviously I was wrong... whoops! Sent Lee a batch of photos last year, so not sure if they got thru to you.

 

Cover shot at http://www.armourer.co.uk/

 

Phil

 

 

 

Good snap

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Alright Jack, if you think I look bloody good in a dress, what do you think of what i've got strapped to my backside in this shot then :-o

 

IMG_0190-1.jpg

 

When you do things to the best of your ability and have an eye for authenticity and accuracy opportunities present themselves out of the blue. On the last open day of 2006 at Hardwick Field, Maurice Hammond, the owner of the P-51 Janie, said to me "With all that gear on, you better get yourself in the hot seat for a pose!" How could I refuse? If I had realised that this opportunity was going to present itself, I would have taken my leather flying helmet, as the 50 mission officer 'crusher' cap doesn't really suit the hot-seat of the P-51 like it would a B-17 - but what the hell!

 

IMG_0193.jpg

 

 

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Nope! Sorry Clive - much better in a dress........and where the hell are your sun glasses :whistle:

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Christ Jack - No bleeding pleasing some people :-o

 

You know that my pet-hate of all too-many LHGroup participants is the Tom Cruise shades! Ask yourself a question - How many WWII photographs do you see of GI's wearing sun glasses, yet when re-enactors pose for the camera, they always seem to have them on. No doubt I will now be inundated with WWII photo's showing servicemen in sunglasses but just this once i'm prepared to make an exception

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

 

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This is the early WWII summer-pattern Suffolk County Council drainage ditch digger!

 

 

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Clive - you really do worry me.

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Enough of this frivolity, back to what Wild Blue Yonder is all about. Take a look at these excellent shots, taken by an unknown

photographer of The Thunder of Michigan event in 2005, which Wild Blue Yonder sent there own contingent to.

 

width=640 height=427http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/JUGS.jpg[/img]

 

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B-17 G Fuddy Duddy - Painted to represent a 447th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force aircraft that flew operations from

Rattlesden airfield in Suffolk, East Anglia - This airfield is now owned and farmed by

one of our active Suffolk Area Military Vehicle Trust members Roger Watts.

 

width=640 height=427http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/LINEUPFORTS2.jpg[/img]

 

width=640 height=427http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/LINEUPFORTS.jpg[/img]

 

What a fantastic sight - It's just mesmerising...........

 

width=640 height=460http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/YankeeLadyAndNineONineMA11491225-00.jpg[/img]

This photo has a particular relevence to it. In March 1999 I was lucky enough to take a 45 minute flight in B-17 G 'Nine-O-Nine' shown in the foreground, from Titusville Municipal Airport, just North of Cape Canaveral, Florida and in August 2005, brother Neil and Simon Morris (Both members of HMVF and Wild Blue Yonder) took a flight in the Aluminium B-17 G Yankee Lady in the background from

Willow Run, Michigan during the Thunder over Michigan airshow.

 

 

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There's nobody to play with up here, and generally a lack of USAAF airplanes too!

 

I manage a few pics, but there's really a shortage of suitable backgrounds in the North East.

 

Steve

 

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