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January 2022
Klaers Sees Ground-breaking this Year
for Second Half of Pavilion  
Speaking to volunteers at the National Museum of WWII Aviation’s December 12th Christmas party, museum President and CEO Bill Klaers said he hopes to break ground this year on the $7.5 million second half of the Kaija Raven Shook Aeronautical Pavilion and Aviation Hall. He also said negotiations to display a B-17 bomber in the new structure are continuing, and that a P-51 Mustang fighter will be here this summer for a ride program. We can’t wait to see both of those happen!

Klaers also announced that an extension on the museum's 25-year lease has been completed, "which means we now have 33 years left." Negotiations are underway to continue to a 50-year lease, which will extend the current lease by an additional 17 years, which is important because local sources of funding want to see longevity.

Significant funding is involved in the effort. "It's 48 million dollars to build the second half of this Pavilion and the Aviation Hall," on which "we hope to break ground sometime" in 2022 on the second half of the pavilion and would like to be able to start the AHP when the Pavilion is completed. This schedule will be totally dependent upon the fundraising. "The [new] hangar is already full of aircraft and exhibits once it is complete," and "we do have other airplanes" that are likely to take up residence at the museum.

Plans to proceed with incorporation of an airframe and powerplant school in Hangars 2A and 3 are on track, while the separate effort of preparations for the 2022 Pikes Peak Regional Air Show, scheduled for September 24th and 25th, are underway. With events impacted the past two years due to Covid restrictions, a huge public response and participation is anticipated – and looked forward to!

The air show will feature participation by all 28 of the museum's aircraft, either as flying or static displays, and will also spotlight both an Air Force Heritage Flight, with an F-35 Lightning II confirmed, and (hopefully!) a Navy Legacy Flight with an F/A-18 Hornet (in the works, we’re awaiting scheduling confirmation). These flights are always tremendously popular with the aviation crowds, and we expect to see many cameras pointed towards the skies!

Those volunteers helping to prepare the aircraft and museum for the airshow make up "the next generation that's going to carry this museum on, as far as flying and maintaining the aircraft," Klaers noted. "And that's one of the big things" that garnered the museum the honor of its 2019 designation as “The National Museum of World War II Aviation " for the United States of America. It was because we're a flying museum and not a wax museum."

Meanwhile, "we're looking at what we have to do" to take the museum to the next level, which is to be open seven days a week during the peak tourist season. That means, among other things, bringing on more volunteers, especially docents.

Docent Don Johnson, speaking for board member Mark Earle, who was unable to attend the party, said 50 docents are now onboard but "we're going to need a lot more" looking towards a seven-days-a-week schedule. Phil Heacock, who brought the docent program to where it is today, will be leaving the museum at the end of the year. "He will be truly missed," Johnson said. He also said there will be training for all docents to allow a standardized message to be presented to the public.

When Klaers gave his talk on December 12th, the number of paid visitors to the museum in 2021 was more than 36,000; it hit 43,754 by the end of the year with events included That number could be up more than 30 percent by the end of 2022, which is tremendous news for both the future of the museum and for Colorado Springs as a city rich with cultural and historical interest.

Author & Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Johnny Drury Chosen as Volunteer of the Year
It is with great pleasure that we announce Johnny Drury has been named the National Museum of World War II Aviation’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year! He was also Volunteer of the First Quarter of 2021.

Bill Klaers, museum president and CEO, said Johnny does it all, including working at the front desk, leading tours as a docent, and helping to set things up for various museum events. Johnny, who has been a volunteer at the museum since 2018, is "probably here as much as I am," Klaers said in announcing the choice at the museum's Christmas party in the Kaija Raven Shook Pavilion on December 12th.

"There's not another person in this place who's more deserving [of the honor] than John," said Debi Klaers. "We love you...and congratulations as Volunteer of the Year!"

"It's really a lot of fun coming to work here every day," Johnny said in response. He said this is especially true because his father worked on planes like our P-38 and P-47 during World War II. And, he said, "I learn something every day when I come in ... but most of all, I have fun."

Johnny is a retired United States Air Force Colonel and Vietnam combat veteran, having piloted OV-10s as a Forward Air Controller.

Author & Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Life of Volunteer Jim 'Stoney' Burke Celebrated at Museum
The life of volunteer Jim "Stoney" Burke was celebrated at the museum's Kaija Raven Shook Pavilion on December 28th by about 100 friends and guests. "Long before the National Museum of World War II Aviation, Vietnam veteran 'Stoney' Burke had started collecting parts of a Vultee BT-13 World War II trainer plane in hopes of building it someday," the Colorado Springs Gazette said in a tribute that day.

"He scoured the country looking for parts and pieces and, when found, they occupied many places in his home, from the attic on down. When he discovered the museum, he not only found the place he thought could bring his beloved BT-13 to life, but he found his home away from home. He was a volunteer for the last seven years. Burke recently passed away.... His collection of pieces was front and center at the memorial service."

Author & Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Gliders Helped Turn the Tide in the Battle of the Bulge
During Germany's Ardennes Offensive in World War II, a single American glider landed near American troops of the 101st Airborne Division; those soldiers were surrounded by superior German forces at the critical Belgian road-junction town of Bastogne.

The glider carried desperately needed medics and medical supplies. That one mission, of December 26, 1944, was successful, leading to two other missions; a 10-glider mission later the same day, and a 50-glider mission on December 27th.

The combined 61 gliders, towed from fields in France behind Douglas C-47 Skytrain tugs ferried in from England, carried a total of 76 tons of gasoline, artillery shells and medical supplies. These glider missions were critical to enabling the gallant defenders of Bastogne to resist until personnel and supplies could flow in from the relief forces of Gen. George Patton’s Third U.S. Army, coming from the south. But the cost to the men flying the defenseless gliders and C-47s was high.

The Allies had been surprised by the Ardennes Offensive, with Germany taking advantage of forecast bad weather to launch its massive attack on December 16, 1944. The bad weather grounded Allied ground support and resupply aircraft, spurring German hopes of reaching the objective of the big Allied logistical port of Antwerp, Belgium.

Bastogne was vital to German planners, but the beleaguered American soldiers refused to yield. On December 22, 101st Airborne Division’s acting commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, answered the German 47th Panzer Corps commander General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz’s demand to surrender with one word which has become famous: "Nuts!"
The next day, December 23rd, the skies began to clear and the full force of Allied airpower was brought to bear on German forces in the offensive, and on Germany itself. C-47s, as pictured here towing a glider, were an integral part of the response, with two-hundred and fifty-three aircraft dropping 334 tons of ammunition, rations and supplies to the Bastogne defenders. But the load would sustain the troops for only about a day, and the re-supply missions continued.

The first glider mission, with that one glider, had been planned for Christmas Day, December 25th, but was delayed to the 26th by weather. The ground troops desperately needed ammunition and gasoline, but the need for medical help was even greater because most of an American medical company had been captured on December 19th.

The Waco CG-4A glider on that first mission was flown by 2nd Lt. Charlton W. Corwin Jr., pilot, and Flight Officer Benjamin F. Constantino, co-pilot. Towed by a C-47, they departed from Orleans, France. The glider released from the C-47 over Verdun, France, and landed there to pick up five doctors and four medical technicians who volunteered for the mission, along with their supplies.

A C-47 then towed the loaded glider from Verdun to Bastogne. With the last seven minutes of flight being over German armored units, they were escorted by P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Corwin released his Waco from the C-47 at 300 feet; at that low of an altitude, it was difficult to see exactly where the landing zone was, but Corwin and Constantino wound up landing safely in the gathering dusk at 1730. All personnel and supplies aboard were immediately taken to a field hospital.

This single-glider mission was deemed very successful and became the template for other missions.
Carrying 3,000 gallons of gasoline -- 300 gallons per glider -- the ten-glider mission was next. Although departure was planned for 1000, preparation time required for crew briefings, loading and positioning of the C-47s and gliders took five hours. Departure finally occurred at 1510, with gliders trailing their C-47s.

The gliders all came down in or near the Bastogne landing zone after sunset and before moonrise. This may have helped them because, although some were damaged by flak and small arms fire, none were hit by incendiary rounds and there were no casualties.

"The tracers were just like squirting a hose at you," said one glider pilot, Flight Officer Warren de Beauclaire.

Another glider pilot in the ten-glider group, 2nd Lt. Joseph A. Purcell, said, "I picked a spot between two shells holes and that's where I shoved [the nose down] and that's where we rolled to a stop."

Glider pilot Capt. Wallace F. Hammargren, also in the group of ten, said, "The situation around Bastogne had been so confused we weren't sure that we were in the right place or that the area was still in friendly hands. In the dusk, it was impossible to tell whether these guys were Americans or Germans. We kept our fingers on our gun triggers and waited. Soon an American Major asked what I was carrying, and I replied, 'Gasoline -- and the other gliders, all gasoline too.' 'Thank God,' he said. 'We're down to our last drop.'"

The ten gliders delivered gas for tanks, “and late that afternoon Patton's boys came through and ... we glider pilots were to get back out for another mission ... seven trucks were loaded with German prisoners, and they put two glider pilots on each truck ...".

All ten C-47s made it back to Orleans, although there were numerous bullet and flak holes. One C-47 took 70 hits.

The following day, December 27th, de Beauclaire said, "we watched the next load of [50] gliders come in and it was horrible" because they were taking so much enemy fire. The mission had been planned for December 26th, the same day as the first two, but was delayed by weather. Difficulties in quickly locating and transferring a pilot and a co-pilot for each glider led to the decision to fly without co-pilots. There was also concern that the situation at Bastogne was precarious, and that glider pilots might not be coming back to fly additional missions.
In any case, 50 C-47s and their Waco tows had begun taking off took from Chateaudun, France, about 250 miles from Bastogne, at 1025. The gliders, carrying a total of 76 tons of gasoline and artillery shells, arrived at Bastogne at about 1225. The cargo was for the 101st Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, and Patton's 4th Armored Division, which was running out ammunition.

“I had to land faster than normal because my glider was at least 500 pounds heavier than we usually were," said Flight Officer Claude A. "Chuck" Berry, who was one of the first to land. "I hit the ground hard and couldn’t stop" on the icy ground. "I kept sliding pretty fast. I touched the brakes, but they didn’t help. I guided the glider on the skids with the tail in the air. I hit two fence posts trying to stop. The first post knocked off the right landing gear and the second post knocked off the left landing gear. [I] finally came to a stop, and as soon as I got out, the artillery men ... started unloading the Waco. I had made it."

But, Berry said, "The gliders behind us were getting hit right and left” by heavy small arms fire and flak.

One source says three of the 50 glider pilots were killed and 13 were taken prisoner. Another says that 13 of the 50 C-47s were shot down, one crashed, and two were damaged beyond repair. It says 15 more C-47s were damaged but eventually flew again. One tally says 18 C-47 crewmembers lost their lives, 12 were wounded or injured, and 21 became prisoners.

A captain who witnessed the event was quoted as saying later that, "No 'show' I have ever seen, or will ever see, compares to this spectacle, and this included the armada of Normandy on D-Day. Nothing compares to seeing those fellows marching headlong through that intense flak."

Two hours after the gliders of this third and final mission landed, the aircrews who had made it watched as 129 C-47s carrying ammunition and gasoline flew the last bundle-drop mission to Bastogne. The mission was successful; no one was killed, there were no injuries, and no aircraft were lost at the hands of the enemy.

On the way back to England, however, weather diverted the C-47s to airfields in France, showing how every advantage was taken of good weather.

Author Credit: Rich Tuttle
Camouflage? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Camouflage!
Our P-47D-40-RA S/N 45-49385, shown here, sports the distinctive black and white checkerboard cowling of the 78th Fighter Group out of Duxford, England circa April 1943 to December 1944. Why a checkerboard and shiny aluminum skin instead of camouflage? Having already achieved air superiority and thus not needing camo, units were free to get creative! Of course, these markings also helped pilots, aircrew, and ground personnel to distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft; sometimes you needed more than a silhouette!

Among their accomplishments, the “Duxford Eagles” in their P-47’s supported the Normandy Invasion in June 1944, received the Distinctive Unit Citation for their support of Operation MARKET GARDEN in September 1944, and provided ground support during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 - January 1945 while transitioning to the P-51 Mustang.

Come see our checkerboard Thunderbolt, and the rest of our amazing collection, during your visit to the museum!
Author & Photo Credit: George White
Did You Know ...
In the early days of World War II in the Pacific theater, the canopy and telescopic sight of the SBD Dauntless dive bomber would fog over, making it more difficult for pilots to hit their targets.

Harold Buell, who flew SBDs and SB2Cs, described how the problem showed itself during the May 4, 1942, attack on Japanese ships at Tulagi by planes from the carriers USS Yorktown and USS Lexington:

"Approaching the target, the pilots looked down on what appeared to be a sizeable Japanese fleet," he wrote in his book, "Dauntless Helldivers." Lt. Cdr. William O. Burch, commanding officer of Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5), flying from Yorktown, "led his group in from nineteen thousand feet, moved to an angle of seventy degrees at about ten thousand feet, and made drops at twenty-five hundred feet. The AA [anti-aircraft] guns put up a heavy, inaccurate fire and no planes were hit. When he returned home, Burch reported four bomb hits.”

"An old problem recurred during the dives," Buell continued. "The SBD telescope sights and windshields fogged over, starting at about seven thousand feet, causing many pilots to lose sight of targets and release high. This was not the first time that fog-up had developed during a dive and some way had to be found to stop the condition. Someone suggested a lower approach altitude -- fifteen thousand feet or so -- to see if a temperature difference would help. Approaches at about twelve thousand to fourteen thousand feet were used for later strikes, and no fogging occurred. A few weeks later, new sights and coating of windshields ended the problem completely. By that time, we never went higher than about fifteen thousand feet unless forced to by AA or the presence of fighters. One could go to fifteen thousand feet safely without oxygen, which was an advantage. When leading, sixteen thousand feet was the maximum altitude I ever used."

The accompanying photo shows the telescope sight, top center, in the museum’s SBD.

Author & Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Special Thanks

After many years of dedicated service to the museum, and especially to this newsletter, Jim Stewart has passed on the reins. Thank you for all that you've done Jim; the new editor has you on speed-dial for all types of emergencies ... trust me. Signed, the New Editor
This Month's Newsletter Contributors

Gene Pfeffer
Historian & Curator
Rich Tuttle

Rich Tuttle
Docent, Newsletter Writer, Social Media Writer, Photographer

George White
Newsletter Editor, Social Media Writer, Photographer

Bill Klaers
President & CEO