Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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  Knoxville, TN   MCAS Cherry Point, NC   Saint Louis, MO   CFB Trenton, ONT   Thunder Over Michigan, Bellevue, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   NAS Patuxent River, MD
Thunder over Michigan Warbird Photo Review
Warbirds at the Willow Run, MI Airshow 2016 - August 20-21, 2016 (Photos taken 8-20-2016.)
 

 The three main headline acts which were being promoting since the beginning of the year not show up at this year's Thunder Over Michigan.  These were the MI-24 Hind, MI-2 Hoplite, and M-21 from the Cold War Air Museum in Lancaster, TX.  No reason for their absence was ever given by the narrator team.  I asked one of them about it during a break in the show, and he confessed ignorance.

Saturday's weather was typical for this show.  The morning was nice and sunny with clouds moving in as the day progressed; and then there was a gray sky by the time the F-22 flew.  With the spectators facing west, the best time for photos was when the sun was out for the morning WWII re-enactment.  This was also the most exciting part of the show,  with the sound of the Detroit built Packard Merlins from the P-51s filling the sky. 

For the record, Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, MI built 54,714 Rolls-Royce V-1650 engines during WWII.  One of the airshow narrators that was at Thunder and at several others shows I have attended has been mistakenly misinforming the spectators on this number.  He gives a range of 14,000-18,000.  He needs to do his homework and become more professional when announcing this type of information. 

The re-enactor narrator also supplies mis-information each year during the WWII morning event.  He implies that the Ford truck plant in Cologne, Germany was not bombed during WWII because Henry Ford visited President Roosevelt at the White House.  There he made a deal to not have his plant bombed in exchange for building armaments.  Henry Ford would never have gone to the White House to see President Roosevelt, because he was a hard-core Republican, and was not fond of Democrats, to say the least.  Further investigation shows the Ford Cologne plant was targeted several times during the war by the USAAF,

From:  https://jasonweixelbaum.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/debunking-conspiracy-ford-werke-and-the-allied-bombing-campaign-of-cologne/ is the following.

"According to the Cologne Bombing Report found in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey files, the first attempt by the U.S. Air Force to bomb Ford-Werke was on October 2, 1944. It was attacked by a B-17 bomber wing, No.111, part of the 8th Air Force. The bomb tonnage listed for this attack were 60.0 tons of incendiary bombs, and 215.0 tons of high explosives.19 The report notes that on October 18th, 1944, the plant was attacked again by two B-17 bomber wings, No. 68 and 70, also from the 8th Air Force. The first bomber carried 100.0 tons of incendiary bombs and 99.5 tons of high explosives, the second carried 101.5 and 100.25, respectively.20 The target listed for attack in all three of these bombing runs listed specifically, “Ford Motors.”"

Further reading will indicate that while the Ford plant was attacked, bad weather and smoke from previous attack prevented accurate bombing of the facility.

 The situation is a lot more complex than the simplistic version given in a sound bite and innuendo by the re-enactor narrator.  By doing so he is misleading the spectators.

Thunder over Michigan needs to make sure its narrators are giving out historically correct information to the spectators that attend its events.  Otherwise, the visitors to the show will go home misformed.  For many of them, the airshow is the only place they learn about WWII history.  It needs to be correct!


A White M3A1 scout car and the two halftracks were three of the American vehicles that were in the morning re-enactment.  The halftracks were produced by Autocar, Diamond-T, and White.  I did not have an opportunity to determine the actual manufacturers of the vehicles at the show.  This is the first time that a White M3A1 has been in a re-enactment at Thunder.


Another first at the show was this Ford built M4A3 Sherman tank.  It went unacknowledged by the airshow and re-enactment narrating team.  This was one of 1,690 Sherman tanks built at Ford's Highland Park, MI plant, just 32 miles away from the airshow site.  It is a shame that the narration team did not give this WWII Detroit area product its due respect.  No doubt there were many former and current Ford employees at the show who would have appreciated being informed of this.


The 10:30-11:00 AM battle re-enactment included low passes by three Mustangs and the Yankee Air Museum's B-25.  One of the main reasons for my visiting the show each year is the early morning air-supported ground battle.  This year, it was the most exciting part of the show.  Spectators arriving after 11 AM missed the best part of the show!


The B-25 put on a good show.


The Mustangs flew the inside racetrack pattern with the B-25 flying the opposite direction on the outside racetrack with horizontal separation between the two.  This twin racetrack pattern has been used for several years at Thunder and is one of the show's best features.


As the Ford built M4A3 Sherman tank moved up it is escorted by infantry.  Tanks without infantry support were easy targets for enemy infantry troops with Panzerfoust, or even for opposing soldiers attaching magnetic mines to the side of tanks.  Many tanks during WWII were given field modifications to prevent the attachment of magnetic mines.  Among them were attaching logs to the sides of the tank.

In the background, the Yankee Air Museum's B-17 is landing after giving a ride to paying customers.  Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of the aircraft, because the airshow fell back into its bad habit of not showcasing the B-17 in the show.  With the drop-out of three of the show's featured warbirds, there was time in the schedule for the B-17 to make several passes along with the Mustangs, which only flew in the morning.  Once again the Yankee Air Museum has become so focused on making money with its B-17 ride program, it forgot that the B-17 was listed as a participating aircraft in the preshow advertising.  Also, getting into the airshow is not cheap by any mean!  This is the most expensive show to visit, with $40 gate tickets and $20 parking.  Premium seating is considerably more.  Would it have taken that much out of the B-17's ride schedule to give the crowd three or four passes with the Mustangs as escort?


The Oldsmobile built 75mm cannon still can fire blanks.


After several years of tugging the warbirds out to the taxiways for starting, this year Thunder left the aircraft on the ramp where the crowd could watch and hear the aircraft start up and taxi out.  I stood and listened to the distinctive radial engine sound of the Wright R-2600 run for about five minutes until it taxied out.


This was something new and a little different.  A home grown heritage flight with warbirds.  In this case the aircraft were Brad Deckert's General Motors built TBM Avenger and the Collings Foundation's TA-4J Skyhawk.


After the heritage flight the Skyhawk put on a very nice demo.


Randy Ball and his M-17PF was up next.


The show slowed down with a considerable amount of dead time, as Randy Ball formed up with the Breitling Team.  This would have been an excellent time to have flown the B-17, P-51s and both TBMs. show to try and put some Thunder back into Thunder over Michigan. 


This was also new and different.  The narrator for the Michigan State Police helicopter stated that they were supposed to do a demo.  By chance, this trooper and the helicopter had to go to the other side of the field to "investigate"  a "suspicious" person.  Then the suspicious person gets in a pickup truck and flees with the trooper in hot pursuit.  With no taxiway in front of the crowd, the chase came onto the grass right in front of us.


It wasn't until I looked at my photos that I realized the suspicious person was not alone.  It was at this point that the husband of the woman in front of me had to tell her that this was an act, and not the real thing.  I wonder how many others were fooled.


The person bails; and in the end is apprehended by the trooper.


The whole scenario was to show how the new multi-million dollar State Police helicopter assisted in apprehending bad guys. 


This was the first appearance at Thunder for the F-18 Super Hornet Demo.


The afternoon re-enactment featured good guys and bad guys in Humvees engaging on the ground.  Air support and re-enforcements for the good guys were provided by the Sky Soldiers.  The re-enactor running across the field was giving instructions to those on the ground as to what they were supposed to be doing.
 


This Cobra has either been repainted or it is new to the Sky Soldier inventory.  It looks like it is trying to simulate a rocket launch.


Dean Cutshall provided several passes where he turned on the afterburner which gives its own distinct sound.


The show finished with the F-22 Raptor and then the Heritage Flight.

 Knoxville, TN   MCAS Cherry Point, NC   Saint Louis, MO   CFB Trenton, ONT   Thunder Over Michigan, Bellevue, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   NAS Patuxent River, MD

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows    2017 Airshows 
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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