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July 2022
Bill Klaers Outlines Upcoming Events
Bill Klaers, President and CEO of the National Museum of World War II Aviation, outlined plans for upcoming events including the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show at Colorado Springs Airport, slated for September 24-25.

"We've got a great show" with pilots being lined up "to fly just about all of the bombers and the fighters that the museum has," Klaers said June 25 at the WestPac Restorations hangar on the museum campus as he introduced a presentation on the Normandy invasion of World War II.

He said our rare World War II P-38 Lightning fighter, "White 33," with chief pilot Charles Hainline at the controls, will fly side-by-side in a Heritage Flight with a United States Air Force Lockheed F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter piloted by Maj. Kristin "Beo" Wolfe, Commander of the Lightning II Demonstration, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Two United States Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft will also be participating under the Navy Legacy Flight program, Klaers said. The planes are with the Growler Legacy Team at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

One of the museum's two Grumman F7F-3N Tigercats will fly with the Growlers. It will be piloted by Steve Hinton, president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California, and Valle-Grande, Arizona, and owner of Fighter Rebuilders in Chino.

The Tigercats will fly together in the show's flight of fighter aircraft, Klaers said, calling this occasion "extremely rare."

He also said the museum has been working with Sports Corp (Colorado Springs Sports Corporation) to take the air show from every other year to annually. The show "does a lot of good for the community. It brings a lot of people in and it's a lot of good will, plus it showcases the museum and other things that we're doing." In addition to the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show, Sports Corp hosts such annual events as the Labor Day Lift Off of hot air balloons, Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit, and the Rocky Mountain State Games.
Klaers also noted several other upcoming events.

On July 30, at the WestPac hangar, docent and U.S. Marine Corps aviation veteran Arnie Easterly will give a talk titled "The Battle of Okinawa: The Kamikaze Threat." Immediately following the presentation, weather permitting, pilot Charles Hainline will perform a demonstration flight of the museum's rare Brewster F3A-1 Corsair, the only one of its type known to exist.

August 27 will see another presentation at WestPac, this time about Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of Japan. Klaers himself is slated to fly one of the museum’s two F7F-3N Tigercats immediately afterwards.

In October, on a date still to be determined, there will be a special presentation on the Battle of the Atlantic given by museum curator and historian Gene Pfeffer. There may also possibly an event to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the museum!

Finally, in November, you can look forward to learning about Buzz Wagner, the first USAAF ace of WWII.

Klaers said plans call for breaking ground in October on the second half of the Kaija Raven Shook Aeronautical Pavilion, which will significantly be adding another 40,000 square feet of space to the museum. "We've already got enough airplanes to fill it up!" he said.

He said the museum has received a grant from the Colorado Division of Aeronautics "to pay for half of our education program," noting that the museum has put three to four thousand students through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. "It's not only educational but it teaches students what World War II was about," he said.

Klaers additionally recognized sponsors that help keep our airplanes flying. Aircraft Spruce, Blazing Aviation, Champion Aerospace and Concorde Battery are "big partners," he said, providing the materiel "to keep these airplanes flying." The PBY Catalina, for instance, uses Concorde batteries. "We put two batteries in it this year. They were $7,000 apiece, $14,000." Their product is in just about everything we have."

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle
Airpower Was Key To The Normandy Invasion
Airpower paved the way for the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in World War II, said museum historian and curator Colonel Gene Pfeffer (USAF-ret.). The June 6th, 1944, invasion "was probably the biggest thing undertaken by man ever, in the history of the world," he said during a presentation at the WestPac Restorations hangar on the National Museum of World War II Aviation’s campus at the Colorado Springs Airport.

In the vast amphibious and airborne operation, which opened the road to Germany and contributed to the Allied victory on May 8th, 1945, the United States and its allies employed 6,000 vessels to land nine divisions. The force built to three million Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen over the next 90 days, additionally supported by 12,000 aircraft as they landed on a wide front that initially stretched 75 miles.

"Think of the totality of that," Pfeffer said to an audience of about 350 during the June 25 presentation. "It's akin to packing up Denver, taking it to the East Coast, putting it on boats, shipping it across the Atlantic, staging out of England, and then landing in France while they're shooting at you. That's kind of what the invasion was."

Pfeffer traced events leading up to the invasion.

In 1939 and 1941, Germany overran most of Western Europe. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In 1942, American and British forces liberated North Africa. In 1943, they invaded Sicily and Italy and got the upper hand in the Battle of the Atlantic, in which Germany was trying to starve Britain out of the war. In 1943 and 1944, England became a kind of stationary aircraft carrier, and then 1944 the Soviet Union turned the German offensive in the east.

So, Pfeffer asked, why Normandy? And why 1944?
Calais was closer to England than Normandy, but the ground behind the Calais beaches wasn't suitable for rapid movement and expanding operations, he said. Calais was also where the Germans expected the invasion to take place. They weren't expecting Normandy, but it was still within the 100-mile limit that Spitfires could effectively fight from British bases which was a factor in the requirement to have air supremacy over the landing beaches.

The choice of 1944 was, in part, a question of leadership and national will, Pfeffer said. The U.S. was overeager. Some wanted to go in 1943, but forces were lacking and there was little battle experience against the Germans. The Soviets were impatient because they had been carrying the fight, while the British knew how tough the Germans could be and had terrible memories of the trench warfare of World War I. All that had to be worked out.

Another consideration in choosing 1944 was the Battle of the Atlantic. German submarines had to be defeated so all the troops and materiel needed for the invasion could be sent in relative safety from the U.S. to Britain. The Battle of the Atlantic was won in 1943.

One more consideration was that time was needed to build up the airpower, troops and logistics to make the invasion possible.

Many other steps were taken in advance of the invasion. Planning for a landing in Europe began as early as July of 1941, well before the U.S. entered the war, Pfeffer said. Detailed planning began in 1943.

The effort to gain air supremacy started in 1943 with the bombing of German airfields, aircraft production facilities, maintenance facilities, railroads, and transportation hubs. Heavy losses were sustained in attacks on aircraft and ball bearing plants in Schweinfurt and Regensburg in August and October of 1943.

“The urgency of the need plus new technology," Pfeffer said, led to two developments -- drop tanks on P-47 fighters, which allowed them to escort bombers into western Germany, and arrival of the long-range P-51 fighter. Great numbers of such planes appeared in England in late 1943 and early 1944 and began to take on the German Luftwaffe.

Operation Argument, an American and British offensive against German airpower, ran for a full week in February 1944, and turned the tide against the Luftwaffe. Bombers were sent against industrial targets, which planners knew the Germans would have to defend, Pfeffer said.
"They knew the Germans would come up and fight," he said. "And with the new P-51s escorting, they were knocking down German fighters...such that air supremacy over northern France was achieved by May of 1944."

In addition to success in the Battle of the Atlantic, air supremacy was another big requirement for planners of the invasion.

Extensive aerial reconnaissance was conducted over Normandy and Calais, the latter to aid in the deception that it would be the site of the invasion. "In 1944," Pfeffer said, "northwest France was the most photographed place in the world.

"Some American pilots flew British Spitfires on such missions. One was Robert J. Dixon who later, as a general in 1973, became commander of the U.S. Air Force's Tactical Air Command. On February 14, 1945, he was shot down and became a prisoner of war until released by American forces in May of 1945.

When the invasion began on June 6th, 1944, the U.S. 8th and 9th Air Forces sent masses of bombers and fighters across the English Channel. The 8th sent three air divisions of B-17s and B-24s, and squadrons of P-47s and P-51s to cover them. The 9th deployed P-38s, P-47s and B-26s.

"The complexity of this is mind-boggling," Pfeffer said. "It was months and months and months in the making...the deconfliction -- you can't have two squadrons going to the same place at the same time -- the complexity of this operation was terrific."

The Germans were caught off guard on June 6th. Some of the proof came from photos taken by night-flying F-3 reconnaissance planes (modified A-20 medium bombers) of the 155th Night Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. "They took pictures of roads and behind the beaches,” Pfeffer said. “And what did they see? Nothing. The Germans weren't moving. That means they were caught by complete surprise."

The museum features a display of the 155th, and displays of B-17 and B-24 pilots who flew preparatory air strikes for the invasion.
The Allied air attack was massive. Pfeffer said that "278 medium bombers attacked targets around Utah Beach; 659 B-17s/B-24s attacked shore defenses at Omaha Beach; 1,070 8th Air Force bombers hit transportation targets behind the beaches; 33 fighter squadrons provided escort and high cover [and] 15 squadrons (5 of P-38s) covered the armada of ships."

Once ashore, engineers worked quickly to build airfields; the first opened on June 6th, the day of the invasion. "The Saint-Pierre-du-Mont Airfield was initially built on June 7th and 8th, 1944," Pfeffer said.

On June 8th, Major General Elwood "Pete" Quesada, commander of the 9th Tactical Air Command, landed on a 2,000-foot strip cut into the terrain just above Utah Beach, according to Air Force magazine.

A month after the invasion, on July 4th, 1944, Quesada took General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied invasion force, on a flying tour of the front, the magazine said. It said Eisenhower was "[w]edged into a makeshift observer's seat behind" Quesada in a P-51. "I flew him around the area [of St. Lo, France], getting low enough so he could see how rough the country was." Three other P-51s flew escort.

Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle, commander of the 8th Air Force, wanted to see the invasion for himself. "The scene below was the most impressive and unforgettable I could have possibly imagined," he wrote later of his view from a P-38 on June 6th, 1944. "In the largest amphibious assault force ever assembled, more than 176,000 troops and 5,000 ships participated in the invasion. What was most personally satisfying was that the hundreds of ships and barges could unload thousands of troops without worrying about enemy aircraft. We had achieved what we had planned and hoped for: complete air supremacy over the beaches."

Just after D-Day, Eisenhower toured the beaches with his son John, who had just graduated from West Point. John remarked that all the vessels unloading men and materiel looked vulnerable to air attack. Eisenhower responded, “If I didn’t have air supremacy, I wouldn’t be here.”

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle
Letter To The Editor
We love getting your feedback! In response to last month's article, "Colorado Springs from Above: The View from a B-25", we received this great message:
"Years ago, a friend and I had an opportunity to fly from Lincoln, Nebraska, to the "old" airport in Davenport, Iowa, on a B-17 maintained by the Collings Foundation, with their B-24 as a flying partner.

"They would be taking part in a large airshow. Heading east, we were given permission to buzz the runway at Offutt AFB in Omaha. Many of the airmen were running out to see what was happening.
"As we continued east, just after crossing the Missouri River, one of the engines developed an oil leak and the propeller was feathered. I recall one of the crew telling us there would be no extra charge for the experience of being able to fly in a B-17 with only three of the four engines functional.

"We were given freedom to roam the aircraft, being continually warned to not use the overhead flight control cables for assistance in being able to stand. The noise from the cables was a constant screeching in addition to the roar of the engines. One of the pilots was an exact ringer for the actor Richard Widmark, which added to the experience. An old Rand McNally road map was being used as the direction finder as they were basically following I-80.
"Upon landing, we were directed to an unpaved parking spot with the dirt and dust churned up adding to the realism of what things must have frequently been like so many years prior. Deplaning, we were given a great reception, as we were assumed to be part of the crew and pressured for interviews.

"One hitch developed however -- we missed the transportation opportunity for the journey into Davenport. While pondering how this was going to be resolved, I spotted a local police car (and as I recall, it was the chief), and inquired about taxis, etc. He responded with a "Hop in", and we were delivered in style to the local motel restaurant bar where we met my wife for the ride back to Lincoln.
"I was 50 some years old at the time and was amazed, trying to imagine what it was like for young men barely out of their teens to have been on these missions, being shot at and flying what today would be thought of as somewhat primitive aircraft. Unforgettable."

Dan DeMuth
Lincoln, Nebraska

Thanks for your story Dan; glad we could bring back those memories for you!
Battle of Britain Pitted German Luftwaffe
Against British Royal Air Force
The Battle of Britain began 82 years ago, on July 10th, 1940, pitting the German Luftwaffe against the Royal Air Force (RAF) for control of the air over England.

After the fall of France on June 25, 1940, Hitler fully expected Britain to negotiate a peace. When that didn’t happen, he was intent on a quick military victory so that he could turn his attention to the invasion of the Soviet Union.

As a pre-condition of an invasion of Britain, the Luftwaffe had to gain air supremacy over southern England. Although outnumbered, the RAF had advantages:

- It was fighting over its own territory.

- It had two modern fighters in the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire.

- It also had the first integrated air defense system based on radar.

The Luftwaffe was handicapped by faulty intelligence, poor logistics, its lack of heavy bombers and the short flying time of its fighters.

The battle raged until late October when Luftwaffe losses became unacceptable, after which Germany called off its invasion and switched to bombing British cities, primarily at night.

In August 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to the airmen of the RAF when he said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." About 3,000 airmen were credited with flying in defense of Britain, which had a population of 45 million.
Nine of the airmen held U.S. citizenship:

* Flying Officer D.D. Brown from Pennsylvania flew with a Canadian fighter squadron. He later transferred to the RAF Eagle Squadrons of American pilots that became operational after the Battle of Britain.

* Flight Lieutenant Carl Davis was born in South Africa to American parents. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements during the battle; he was shot down and killed in September 1940 while flying a Hurricane.

* Pilot Officer Art Donahue was from Minnesota. He flew with 64 Squadron and was wounded during the battle. He was declared missing in action in 1942.

* Billy Fiske was an Olympic athlete and investment banker. He suffered severe burns while flying a Spitfire with 601 Squadron in combat and died of his wounds.

* Pilot Officer John Haviland from New York flew Hurricanes with 151 Squadron. He served throughout the war with the RAF.

* Pilot Officer “Shorty” Keough flew with 610 Squadron. He was only 4’10” tall and sat on cushions in his aircraft so he could see well. Keough went missing in 1941.

* Pilot Officer "Zeke" Leckrone was from Illinois. He first joined 616 Squadron flying Hurricanes, and later transferred to 71 Eagle Squadron. He was killed in 1941 in an aircraft accident.

* Pilot Officer “Andy” Mamedoff grew up in Connecticut. He flew Spitfires with 609 Squadron before transferring to the newly formed Eagle Squadrons. He was killed in a weather-related accident in 1941.

* Pilot Officer “Red” Tobin from Utah flew Spitfires with 609 Squadron and was later transferred to the Eagle Squadrons. He was killed in combat in 1941.

Story Credit: Gene Pfeffer
Aeroplanes and Automobiles
July 4, 2022, saw the museum host the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Vintage Motor Car Club of America for our special event, “Aeroplanes & Automobiles”, where visitors were treated to twenty vintage vehicles side-by-side on the tarmac with select aircraft from the museum’s collection. Here’s a few photos courtesy of the Colorado Aviation Photography group!
1942 Independence Day Raid was
Eighth Air Force's First Mission
The first American air strike against German targets in Europe in World War II took place on July 4, 1942. Flying six twin-engine Douglas A-20 Boston light bombers borrowed from the British Royal Air Force and joined by six other planes of the same type flown by RAF crews of 226 Squadron, airmen of the U.S. Eighth Air Force's 15th Bomb Squadron attacked four Luftwaffe airfields in the Netherlands.

American and British reporters gave the mission a lot of attention, but the low-level, daylight raid was not a success. German anti-aircraft gunners -- apparently warned of the approaching attackers by a ship off the coast -- mounted a vicious opposition. It prevented all but two of the Eighth Air Force planes from dropping their bombs on assigned targets, with two of the Eighth’s aircraft shot down along with one of the RAF’s.

If there was any good news, it was the performance of one American pilot flying with the element that attacked De Kooy airfield. As Capt. Charles C. Kegelman charged across the base on the deck at 275 mph, flak scored a direct hit on his right engine, setting it on fire and shearing off the propeller. The A-20 staggered and lost lift, striking the ground with the right wingtip and rear fuselage.

"We were flying so low over the target when I felt us take a hit and then saw a propeller go sailing by. My first thought was, I hope that isn't ours! Then I felt us hit the ground and the bottom oil-canning under my feet," said one of Kegelman's crewmen, R.L. Golay.

But the A-20 bounced back into the air and Kegelman was able to keep it flying. He jettisoned his bombs and headed for the coast, mulling whether to put the plane down on sand dunes when he heard his rear gunner, over the interphone, say, "Give 'em hell, Captain."

Seeing a nearby flak tower swing its weapons toward him, Kegelman fired at it with his nose guns, apparently silencing it.

The engine fire was extinguished on the wave-top flight home to England over the North Sea, and Kegelman made a good landing back at RAF Swanton Morley in Norfolk, taxiing to the control tower before shutting down. The experienced crews of 226 Squadron agreed the flak was the worst they had ever seen.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, later to become Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, praised Kegelman for "superior airmanship and extraordinary gallantry." And Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, of the famous raid against Japan only months before, recommended Kegelman for the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. A week after the raid, Kegelman was awarded the DSC and promoted to Major by Maj. Gen. Carl A. “Tooey” Spaatz, chief of the U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe.
But Spaatz and Brig. Gen. Ira Eaker, who was organizing the Eighth Air Force in England, had protested the whole idea of such a raid to Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, commander of the Army Air Forces. They told him it would be premature, given the fledgling state of the Eighth.

But President Franklin Roosevelt loved the idea of striking a first blow at the Germans on Independence Day. General Arnold, back at the Pentagon after an inspection tour to England with Eisenhower in May, had written a letter to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill saying, "We will be fighting with you on July 4th."

Arnold wanted to justify the massive buildup of the Eighth, hoped to duplicate the winning publicity of the Doolittle raid in April, and wanted to match the headlines of the Navy's big victory at Midway in early June.

Arnold had assumed a group of heavy B-17s would do the July 4 job, but with the Japanese attack on Midway, that group had been diverted from England to the U.S. West Coast. The delay made it impossible for them to fly missions in Europe until August. In fact, the Eighth Air Force's first heavy bomber mission against targets in occupied Europe was flown on August 17, 1942.

So, on July 4, the 15th Bomb Squadron -- which had been rushed to England early in 1942 with its light A-20s that were designed to support ground troops -- was the only unit in the Eighth ready for the mission.

"Someone must have confused the 4th of July with April Fool's Day," Eaker remarked. And Spaatz, following his award of the DSC to Kegelman and Distinguished Flying Crosses to Kegelman's crewmen, sarcastically wrote in his diary, "The cameramen and the newspapermen finally got what they wanted -- and everybody [apparently including Arnold] seemed contented.”

Arnold didn’t mention the raid in his diary -- tacit agreement that Spaatz and Eaker were right.
Spaatz and Eaker had accompanied Eisenhower to RAF Swanton Morley in Norfolk, England, two days before the raid, a reflection of its importance to the top brass. One of the American pilots, Bill Odell, said the generals "shook hands with all of us. Not only were we surprised, but a little embarrassed by them coming to make such a big deal out of what aircrews of [the British] 226 Squadron considered to be just another mission not unlike many others to their credit. It seemed a little ironic that they had been pressed into taking part in an American Independence Day celebration commemorating the severance of ties between our two countries."

After a number of other A-20 missions from England, Kegelman, a native of Oklahoma, was ordered to Tunisia to help support Operation Torch in North Africa. At the time, his squadron of A-20s and a P-38 fighter squadron were the only American air force units in Africa. In 1943 he came back to the U.S. to help train new pilots before, in September 1944, being sent at his own request to the South Pacific.

In an interview in New Guinea in 1944, Kegelman, now a colonel and commander of the 13th Air Force’s 42nd Bombardment Group, said, "This is rough country. Rough to live in, and rough to fly in. I've never known an area to be as unforgiving of errors on the part of plane crews. In England and Africa we worried about interception and flak, but not about getting to the target or getting back from it. We had accurate and up-to-the-minute weather information. If an engine quit over England, it was a rare instance when you couldn't limp into a near-by emergency field; if you 'ditched' in the Channel, an Air Sea Rescue Boat was on its way before you had your life jacket inflated; the worst you could expect was a safe but dreary captivity if you had to bail out over the continent.”

"That isn't true out here," he continued. "There are no emergency strips or open fields to skid an ailing plane into. If you ditch in the Pacific, unless you have planes from your squadron along with you, you can look forward to hunger and thirst and possible eventual death in an open raft while planes search thousands of square miles of open water for you. If you bail out in sight of enemy gunners, you'll never live to touch the ground, and if you land in enemy territory, you face almost certain death if you are caught."

On March 10, 1945, while leading a B-25 bombing mission over Japanese-held Mindanao in the Philippines, his wingman lost control and the two planes collided and fell into the jungle.

On July 9, 1949, Vance Air Force Base's auxiliary airfield at Great Salt Plains Lake, Oklahoma, was named in honor of Col. Charles C. Kegelman.

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle
Special Event, Saturday, July 30
The Battle of Okinawa: The Kamikaze Threat
The Japanese “Divine Wind” or Kamikaze was the largest threat to the Allied invasion force
As the tide of war turned on Imperial Japan, and the need for a large base from which to launch a potential, final assault on the Japanese home islands arose, the possession of Okinawa was deemed critical by U.S. leadership.

The invasion of Okinawa, which started on April 1, 1945, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific theater of World War II. The U.S. 10th Army, a force of over 183,000, faced off against a Japanese defense force of 116,000 Japanese and Okinawan defenders. A U.S. naval armada of 261 ships started the assault, along with over 3,000 military aircraft of all types. Within days of the initial assault, it became evident that the largest threat to the Allied invasion force was to be the Japanese “Divine Wind” or Kamikaze.
Museum docent and U.S. Marine Corps aviation veteran Arnie Easterly will describe the origins and tactical deployment of this desperate but extremely effective suicide program launched against the Allied armada. Also discussed will be the U.S. responses to the Kamikaze, including the use of the Marines’ Vought F4U Corsair.
The presentation will be followed by a flight demonstration of the museum’s Brewster F3A Corsair, weather permitting.
8:00 am Doors Open
9:30 am Presentation
10:00 am Corsair Walk-Around, Start-Up and Presentation Flight
The Battle of Okinawa presentation and Corsair flight are included with standard museum entry! The purchase of advance on-line tickets at is highly encouraged to avoid long lines. Ticket prices are:
Adult $15
Child (4-12) $11
Senior and Military $13
WWII Veterans Are Always FREE
Parking is always FREE
Museum members, please call 719-637-7559 to make your reservations.
Congratulations Rich Tuttle!
Rich Tuttle
Congrats to our very own writer and photographer Rich Tuttle for being chosen museum Volunteer of the Quarter for April - June 2022!

Scan the stories above and you'll Rich's name attached to most of them; he also contributes the majority of social media stories that appear on the museum's Facebook page every single day. Suffice it to say that without him you wouldn't have much to read in the newsletter!

Thank you for all that you do, Rich!

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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