A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Mon Oct 12, 2020 4:37 pm

After putting the word out amongst our local MV group, I found a nice cheap spare roof canvas for £20.00, which would be painted in black and white checkers. This meant that I didn't have to paint the original canvas. Having seen some wartime follow me Jeeps that weren't fully painted in checkered markings, having a green vehicle and two roof canvasses, allowed me to swap the look of the Jeep, depending on the type of event I was attending.

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In August '08, the signal box was made and fitted to the back of the roof bows while the "Follow Me" sign was made the following Spring. The signal box could be connected to the trailer socket so that the arrows and stop/go signs would light up. Four machine screws held the frame onto the roof bows so it could easily be removed. Two of the holes needed in the bows were the existing holes for the wooden sides.

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A spotlight was added, based on another wartime photo. The Jeep in that picture had what looked like a GMC headlight mounted on the back, pointing down. I'm guessing this allowed the Jeep to illuminate the perimeter track ahead of the following bomber, particularly useful in the dark early mornings when assembling the aircraft for a mission. The risk of air attack was low, so the light makes sense to illuminate the perimeter track. I can't think of any other use for it. The wooden side panels were also then painted checkered to increase visibility and increase the follow me look.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:49 am

I've just discovered that Google Chrome is now blocking "Mixed Content" on websites, so if you are browsing with Chrome and the pictures in this thread aren't showing, it's Chrome's fault for blocking my http hosted pictures. I've swapped my browser to Firefox and all is well again. Odd, because on my mobile, Chrome and the pictures are still working ( for now ).

With that little problem sorted, back to the vehicle's story. The last of the external changes were to add a red warning flag, as all flightline vehicles in the 8th Air Force appeared to have them.

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Internally, I fitted a dummy BC-348 receiver, used for storing spares, plus it houses a 24v to 12v voltage converter for charging my phone etc. I also added a warning sign on the inside of the screen frame.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:48 am

I've lost the thread pictures using Google on my Android mobile today. Shame they didn't do what Firefox did and just add a warning in the address bar about some insecure content.

On a few occasions, I've got to use the Jeep as a "Follow Me" vehicle, or being an airfield vehicle has enabled me to get live side for some great photoshoots as seen below. The first time was at Breighton aerodrome in Yorkshire, home of the Real Aeroplane Company collection of vintage aircraft. At the 2009 Summer Fly-In, Maurice Hammond brought his fleet of warbirds from their home base at Hardwick - a former 8th Air Force B-24 Liberator base. Breighton was a former RAF heavy bomber base where they operated the Wellington, Halifax and Lancaster. I met the two P-51's on the perimeter track for some photos. That 11 feet diameter Mustang prop looks very big through the oval canvas rear window.

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Later in 2009, I had the Jeep on display at RAF Leeming for their family day and managed a static photoshoot with the Battle of Britain Memorial flight Lancaster.

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Last edited by armyairforce on Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:51 am

The following year I was attending the Rougham airshow with the Jeep, planning to park up with the other military vehicles in attendance. When the show organisers saw the Follow Me Jeep, I was invited "live side" and it ended up a working weekend, leading warbirds from the runway to the parking area. This included probably the most famous Spitfire in the world, the MkIX MH434, formerly owned by the Late Ray Hanna.

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In 2014, during the Canadian Lancasters UK tour, they paid a visit to the former RAF Middleton-St-George, now Teesside Airport. I was there again along with a few others, making up a static display of vehicles for the public in attendance. A few vehicles were brought onto the airport apron, mine included, so I managed another Lancaster photoshoot. I've got some nice pictures of my Jeep and the Lanc, but this picture was taken by a friend of mine who I'd brought along for the day. None of my pictures had me in them!

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by Chuck W. » Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:54 am

I have not been able to see any of your photos in any of your posts.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:17 pm

Chuck W. wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:54 am
I have not been able to see any of your photos in any of your posts.
If you are using Chrome, it blocks http content in pages. This has just started on my laptop this week and on my Android mobile a day later. Firefox works ok. I'm in the middle of switching to a new host that is https.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by Ez8 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:25 pm

Very cool! Thanks for sharing!
I love when people do "non-standard" jeeps because I don't have the balls to do it myself! :D
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by Fushigi Ojisan » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:55 pm

How does the "Follow Me" job work?

Do the organizers just tell you where to lead the planes? Do the pilots know to watch for and follow you?

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:34 am

At past events, I've met the aircraft at the edge of the runway. I'm guessing ATC tell them over the radio to follow the vehicle. I've then led them down the airfield to where they park up and hand over to a man on the ground to wave the aircraft to its final parking position. So I just drove along the display line until I found the ground handler, turned towards him until he took over waving the aircraft in.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:22 pm

( I've just switched my websites to a secure host. My future pictures are now https and should show in Google Chrome and other browsers that don't support http any more. I hope to be able to change the links in my previous posts before too long ).

By mid 2010, I found out my friend had decided to sell his Dodge and I was a bit gutted that this would break up our joint display. That's how life goes I guess. We'd managed a number of displays together which looked great. It was fun while it lasted, but that looked like it was the end of the road for the big 100th Bomb Group flying control display.

Here's a shot from 2009 at a local aircraft museum where they were holding their annual "Jeeps & Jets" show.
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In mid August 2010, I was at the Rougham airshow and spent the evenings chatting with some other USAAF re-enactors I'd met through a forum. They passed comment on how sad it would be to have the Dodge sold and probably return to an ordinary olive drab WC51 cargo truck again, like all the other Dodges. I agreed, but thought nothing more about it during the show.

Some of the guys at Rougham, beside the restored tower. Rougham was home to the 94th Bombardment Group, flying B-17's.
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However, another seed had been planted in my mind, except this was a very fast growing variety. I'd towed my Jeep down to Rougham, as it was a couple of hundred miles from home. The four hour return journey gave me plenty of time to think.

My daughter was born late in 2009 and in early 2010, it quickly became apparent that even with the Jeep trailer, there wasn't room for me, my wife, a child, child seat, high chair, push chair, camping gear and all the other support equipment you need to operate a child. If only I had something bigger than a Jeep that would allow fitting of a child seat and have space for all the other stuff too?
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by sjalbert » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:49 am

Thanks for switching the posting of your photo's. I appreciate the story and your efforts.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:27 am

Thanks. A change of host and domain location is always a concern as I'm always convinced it will all go wrong! However, all went smoothly.


So I left the story contemplating where I was going to fit the child and all her stuff in the Jeep on my trip home from Rougham and that seed, germinating away in the back of my mind.

Part way home, I phoned my wife with the idea of buying the Dodge, explaining that we'd be able to fix a child seat in, still have room for all the camping gear so we could go to shows together and that at the end of the day, it was an investment that was more likely to appreciate than depreciate. Her words will live with me for many years..........

"Yeh, that makes sense".

Soon after getting home, a deal was done and the Dodge was to become my second military vehicle. It was collected from Kendal in early September 2010, for the three and a half hour winding country lane trip home. Fortunately I'd gone over a couple of weeks before and had a test drive ( in the pouring rain as only Cumbria can provide ), so I'd had a bit of practice on the gearbox. The week prior to collection, I'd been driving my normal car around double de-clutching the gear changes, to get that rhythm embedded in my brain.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by Ez8 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:18 am

armyairforce wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:27 am
Her words will live with me for many years..........

"Yeh, that makes sense".
Sometimes a regular guy can do a regular thing like marry someone good.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:25 am

I guess I just hit lucky first time!

By the time of my purchase, my friend and I had already started converting the Dodge from a canvas back to a wooden rear body, to more closely resemble the airfield conversions done to flying control vehicles. The wooden side panels were usually closed for display, but left open for visibility when driving. There were also doors for the back which were removed when driving. The inside of the truck was standard with the bench seats in the back. All the display items were still being placed on a loose table in the back of the truck.

The body of the Dodge wouldn't be staying like that for long as I had big plans for both the body externally and for a complete refit inside. I wanted a more permanent display in the back to minimise set up time once arriving at a show.

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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:16 am

Fairly quickly after getting the Dodge, I started fitting out the Dodge. I made a table, built into the rear left side of the truck, which was the beginnings of the radio set up. Much more would be added to this over the next few years.

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For the rest of 2010, it was too cold to do any work outside on the truck, so I focused on internal details. I had two BC-348 aircraft receivers, both of which were non-working, but I needed to make or find some parts to make them look complete externally. One was missing handles, had a non-standard tuning knob and had a meter that didn't belong. It was also missing its mounting points on the bottom of the case.

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