Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air - We Are The Mighty
WATCH

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air

The B-29 Superfortress was arguably the most advanced bomber to fly in World War II. While two of them, the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car, are the only planes to ever use an atomic bomb in anger, much of a B-29 pilot’s work was not glamorous at all.


It was downright tedious in some ways. So tedious in fact, the pilot of the Enola Gay had a tape measure and a tire-pressure gauge to check the spacing on various components and to make sure the plane’s tires were pumped up.

Yeah, the aircraft commander had to do that grunt work!

 

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Photo by US Army Air Forces Birdsall, Stephen via Wikimedia Commons

The B-29 was a complex aircraft — an inevitable consequence of its advanced technology. In fact, a training film for B-29 pilots focuses less on the airborne part of the flying and more on the ground checks needed and the pre-flight checklist.

Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that the B-29A that was the mainstay of the World War II bombing campaign against Japan featured four remote-controlled turrets, each with two .50-caliber machine guns. The tail turret had the two .50-caliber machine guns, but also a 20mm cannon.

As raunchy comic Andrew Dice Clay would put it, “There’s a Sunday surprise!”

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Fifi, one of only two flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. (Photo by Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons)

The B-29 could also carry up to 20,000 pounds of bombs, and it had a top speed of 357 miles per hour. The famed Mitsubishi A6M Zero, by comparison, had a top speed of 322 miles per hour. A total of 3,970 B-29s were produced, and each had an 11-man crew.

The training film below about flying the B-29 shows all the work that went into preparing to take off.

Articles

Watch this amazing stunt pilot fly a helicopter upside-down

Chuck Aaron is a 63-year-old stunt helicopter pilot whose major trick is the ability to upend his bird.


Completely upside-down.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
You know, inverted. (Paramount)

According to a profile of the man in Popular Mechanics, a helicopter’s rotator blades would bend toward its skids when flying upside down. The blades would cut off the tail and the vehicle would return to Earth. Very quickly. And uncontrollably.

So how does Aaron do it?

He had assembled his own U.S. Army attack helicopter from spare parts when Red Bull came calling. They wanted to know if it were possible to configure a helo to fly upside down. His gut feeling was an instinct to stay alive and he gave them a firm no. But as he thought about it, he began to come up with modifications that just might work for that purpose.

It helps that Red Bull covered the tab. Aaron doesn’t discuss the exact modifications he made, but you can see the results speak for themselves.

Articles

This is how the Patriot Guard escorted a fallen Marine home

What started out as a way to support the families of fallen military and law enforcement personnel reached a new high in honoring the fallen.


According to Tribunist.org, the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists, learned that Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner, a Marine who died of combat-related injuries in August, 2015, would be shipped to his mother in Georgia via FedEx. Turner served 17 years in the Marine Corps and made seven combat deployments during the War on Terror.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Patriot Guard Riders. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Turner’s mother was unable to make it to California, so the Marine Corps made the funeral arrangements. However, the plan to ship Staff Sergeant Turner’s remains to Georgia would hit a snag.

Instead, the Patriot Guard Riders stepped in to caravan Turner’s remains to Georgia. The group, which started as a way to provide a barrier between a group protesting military funerals and grieving families, has since expanded to fill out the ranks for homeless veterans who died and welcomes home troops returning from overseas.

“We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services, and he had been cremated and we didn’t want him to go home in a Fed Ex box,” David Noble, the Vice President of Members for the group, told Tribunist.org. Riders from nine states took part in the cross-country trek.

Below, see the video of Patriot Guard members handing over Staff Sgt. Turner’s remains.

Articles

That time Egypt pulled a perfect ‘MacGyver’ move to defend its ships from air attack

When Egypt bought the two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that France declined to sell to Russia, one thing that didn’t come with those vessels was the armament.


According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” Russia had planned to install a mix of SA-N-8 missiles and AK-630 Gatling guns on the vessels if France has sold them to the Kremlin. But no such luck for Egypt, which had two valuable vessels that were unarmed – or, in the vernacular, sitting ducks.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
The Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Anwar el-Sadat, prior to being handed over to the Egyptian navy. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

And then, all of a sudden, they weren’t unarmed anymore. A video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense celebrating the Cleopatra 2017 exercise with the French navy shows that the Egyptians have channeled MacGyver — the famed improviser most famously played by Richard Dean Anderson — to fix the problem.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
A helicopter comes in for a landing on an Egyptian Mistral-class amphibious assault ship. An AN.TWQ-1 Avenger is secured to the fight deck in the background. (Youtube screenshot)

Scenes from the video show at least two AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air-defense vehicles — better known as the M1097 — tied down securely on the deck of one of the vessels, which have been named after Egyptian leaders Gamel Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The Humvee-based vehicles carry up to eight FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles and also have a M3P .50-caliber machine gun capable of firing up to 1200 rounds a minute.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
An Avenger missile system is capable of firing eight Stinger missiles at low-flying enemy airplanes and helicopters. (Photo: US Army Sgt. Anthony Hewitt)

The Mistral-class ships in service with the French navy are typically equipped with the Simbad point-defense system. Ironically, the missile used in the Simbad is a man-portable SAM also called Mistral. The vessels displace 16,800 tons, have a top speed of 18.8 knots and can hold up to 16 helicopters and 900 troops.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
The Simbad missile system that fires the Mistral man-portable SAM. (Wikimedia Commons)

You can see the Egyptian Ministry of Defense video below, showing the tied-down Avengers serving as air-defense assets for the Egyptian navy’s Mistrals.

WATCH

That time Colin Powell saved crash victims by tearing burning metal with his bare hands

In 1968, then-Maj. Colin Powell was a Ranger assigned to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Division. It was his second tour in Vietnam.


Just five years earlier, he was one of the American advisors to South Vietnam’s fledgling army. While on a foot patrol in Viet Cong-held areas in 1963, the 25-year-old Powell was wounded by a VC booby trap.

That ended his time in combat. Powell was reassigned to the 1st Army of the Republic of Vietnam division headquarters for the rest of that tour.

On his second tour in Vietnam, he was again behind a desk as the assistant Chief of Staff for the Americal Division (as the 23rd was known). Though a staff officer, when you’re a man of destiny like Colin Powell, the action comes to you.

Read more about Colin Powell’s efforts in Vietnam here.

WATCH

Keep it clean in the field or in the office with this personal hygiene kit!

Today we have a special on a special kind of personal hygiene.


Here at the Mighty Value Center, we provide only the best quality, top-of-the-line products developed from extensive research on the front lines and delivered right to your door!

Military scientists have spent decades pursuing the answer to the question: What do you do when you’re in “the suck” and nature insists on making a call?

Well the Mighty Value Center has taken the success of field tested practices and developed a product that can be utilized in the field, in the office, or even at home!

Veteran salesman J.P. Connolly brings you the Portable Toilet! Forget about walking all the way to the bathroom. … Never be caught with your pants down again!

Act now! Supplies are limited.

Articles

This video shows why the British Challenger tank holds the record for longest distance kill

The M1 Abrams series of main battle tank has gotten a lot of the press. Of course, it’s easy to see why people love the Abrams.


But the Abrams, the T-90, the Leopard… they’re not the only main battle tanks out there.

The United Kingdom has developed a series of outstanding main battle tanks. In fact, just as the British invented the tank in World War I, they also invented the main battle tank when they introduced the Centurion in the last days of World War II.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
A Challenger 1 tank during Desert Storm. (Wikimedia Commons)

In essence, today’s Challenger tank is the direct descendant of the Centurion. What makes it so awesome, though? One item is the Chobham armor. This armor, also used on the Abrams, made a name for itself when it deflected 125mm main gun rounds from Iraqi T-72s from less than 500 yards away.

The Challenger 1 has a 120mm gun, like the Abrams and the Leopard 2. But this version is very different.

The British put a rifled gun in, and it is capable of taking out enemy tanks from three miles away. The British tank also holds 64 rounds for its main gun, compared to 40 for the Abrams and 42 for the Leopard 2.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Britain’s Challenger 2 tank (Photo by U.K. Ministry of Defense)

The Challenger 1 had its origins in a design for the Iranian military, but the mullahs that took over in 1979 cancelled the contract. The tank entered service in 1983, and served with the British Army until 2001, when they were sold to Jordan and replaced by Challenger 2 tanks.

The Challenger 2 features a new rifled 120mm gun and 50 rounds, plus a new hull and engine.

Check out the video below to get a good look into the history of this British tank titan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTG8sS_2a6Y
Articles

This is how many of some of the most heroic WW2 planes are left

According to a 2014 report by USA Today, 413 World War II vets die each day on average. However, the men (and women) who served in uniform are not the only things vanishing with time.


Many of the planes flown in World War II are also departing one by one from the skies.

In one sense, it may not be surprising – after all, World War II has been over for 72 years. But here are the production totals of some of the most famous planes: There were 20,351 Spitfires produced in World War II. Prior to a crash at a French air show near Verdun in June, there were only 54 flying. That’s less than .3 percent of all the Spitfires ever built.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. The Spitfire served with the USAAF in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942-1944. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Of the over 15,000 US P-51 Mustangs built, less than 200 are still flyable – about one percent of the production run. Of 12,571 F4U Corsairs built, roughly 50 are airworthy. Of 3,970 B-29 Superfortresses built, only two are flying today.

Much of this is due to the ravages of time or accidents. The planes get older, the metal gets fatigued, or a pilot makes a mistake, or something unexpected happens, and there is a crash.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
Fifi, one of only two flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. (Photo by Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons)

Finding the spare parts to repair the planes also becomes harder – and more expensive – as time passes. A 2016 Air Force release noted that it took 17 years to get the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Doc” flyable. Kansas.com reported that over 350,000 volunteer hours were spent restoring that B-29.

Many of the planes built in World War II were either scrapped or sold off – practically given away – when the United States demobilized after that conflict.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
P-47 P-51 — Flying Legends 2012 — Duxford (Photo by Airwolfhound)

As David Campbell said in “The Longest Day” while sitting at the bar, “The thing that’s always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.” Below, you can see the crash of the Spitfire at the French air show – and one of the few flyable World War II planes proves how true that statement is beyond the veterans.

Articles

This is what happened when Japan gave the F-16 steroids

When Japan was looking to replace aging F-1 fighters (dedicated anti-ship aircraft), they were thinking about an indigenous design. The F-1, based on the T-2 trainer, had done well, but it was outdated.


According to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the Japanese eventually decided to go with a modified version of the F-16C/D, giving Lockheed Martin a piece of the action.

However, Japan didn’t go with a typical F-16. They decided to give it some upgrades, and as a result, their replacement for the F-1 would emerge larger than an F-16, particularly when it came to the wings – gaining two more hardpoints than the Viper.

This allowed it to carry up to four anti-ship missiles — enough to ruin a warship’s entire day.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
A Mitsubishi F-2A taxis during a 2009 exercise. Note the dumb bombs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It was also equipped from the get-go to carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 Sparrow and Japan’s AAM-4. MilitaryFactory.com notes that the F-2 was delayed by issues with the wings, and eventually sticker shock hit the program when the initial versions had a price tag of $100 million each.

In the 1990s, that was enough to truncate production at 98 total airframes, instead of the planned 140.

AirForce-Technology.com reported that F-2s deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for joint exercises in 2007. In 2011, 18 of the planes suffered damage, but most were returned to service. In 2013, the F-2s saw “action” when Russian planes flew near Japanese airspace.

Why the pilot of the Enola Gay needed a tire gauge and a tape measure to keep his plane in the air
A comparison of the F-2 (in light blue) and the F-16 (in orange). (Wikimedia Commons)

For its long development and its truncated production, the F-2 has proved to be very capable. It has a top speed of 1,553 miles per hour and it carries over 17,800 pounds of ordnance.

By comparison, an Air Force fact sheet notes that the F-16 has a top speed of 1,500 miles per hour, and MilitaryFactory.com credits it with the ability to carry up to 17,000 pounds of ordnance.

In essence, the F-2 paid a visit to BALCO, and got some good steroids, going a little faster and carrying a bit more than your normal F-16. Japan has also improved the plane’s radar.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These 5 vets discuss the ups and downs of the VA

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of veterans about the ups and downs of dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the important lessons they learned from transitioning out of the military.


And be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.