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 1942 Ford GPW 352nd » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:26 am

Have you had a chance to visit any 8th USAAF fighter group airfields in the area? Not sure as to how far you are from Duxford, but it sure would make for a great photo shoot with your jeep at the Flying Legends air show. :D Hopefully for 2021, things will be under better control with the pandemic and they will resume the Duxford show.


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

Post by armyairforce » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:43 am

1942 Ford GPW 352nd wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:26 am
Have you had a chance to visit any 8th USAAF fighter group airfields in the area?......
I've been to a few, but living 250~300 miles away means visits to Cambridge and East Anglia are infrequent. As for Flying Legends at Duxford, the show is no more. There was an announcement this year about it and the Fighter Collection are no longer holding the show at Duxford. There's talk of a new location, but I don't know if anything has been confirmed, particularly as covid is likely to go on through most of 2021.

A message from Nick Grey

Dear Friends of Flying Legends,
I look at this and the years gone by with immense gratitude for all the wonderful moments we have lived with you our faithful and fanatical community. It is with a heavy heart that we confirm 2019 was the final Flying Legends with our friends at IWM Duxford. We truly hope that our team will find an alternative location to welcome this iconic event and that we will have the privilege of seeing you all again. Thank you for your support and kindness.

Yours sincerely Nick


I'm a more frequent visitor to Breighton Aerodrome, near Selby in Yorkshire. The Real Aeroplane Company and other resident aircraft form probably the largest collection of vintage aircraft outside of Duxford or the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by illini » Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:02 pm

Just stumbled across this thread. Welcome and thanks for your posts/pictures. I saw the post about Debach and thought I might have gotten your jeep in my picture below...but I went in 2016. A year too late :D

DSC014732.JPG
1952 M38A1 SOLD :(

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

Post by armyairforce » Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:07 pm

You did miss me. I haven't been to Debach since my 2015 visit. I was in Suffolk in 2019, but didn't get to Debach on that visit. I did go to Eye, Thorpe Abbotts, Horham and Fersfield.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by armyairforce » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:01 am

The other reason to visit the Norfolk/Suffok area was to visit the 100th Bomb Group museum at Thorpe Abbotts. I wanted to recreate some war time pictures of the original "Station Photo" Jeep with my version. Back in 2007, I'd done the same thing with my other Jeep, recreating the picture from the control tower.

During the late stages of the rebuild of my GPW, the 100th Bomb Group magazine dropped through the door. I quickly realised that the colour picture of the Jeep on the cover was the original "Station Photo" Jeep, pictured near the photo lab.

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With the museum chairman as our guide, we set off across the airfield, using the remains of the old runways to get across to the former technical site; now heavily overgrown.

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

Post by armyairforce » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:02 am

This was just one of the pictures I wanted to reproduce. There were two others. Today, the photo lab site is severely overgrown and only accessible on foot. This posed a slight problem for the photo recreation. We parked up near building 17 on the map below and walked along the overgrown road to the photo lab site.

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The overhanging tree in the original pictures is still there and along with a site plan and the remains of the buildings in the undergrowth, we pin-pointed the location of the wartime picture. Pictures were taken at that location before heading back to the control tower to finish the reproduction.

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

Post by armyairforce » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:04 am

The Jeep was parked up on the remains of the perimeter track in front of the tower and I posed for the other part of the picture. The two pictures were then edited together to recreate the reproduction. Without being able to drive to the site, this was the closest I could get to matching the picture.

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We took a few more pictures in front of the tower and had a look around the museum before leaving the museum, heading for the original main gate on the Southern boundary of the airfield for the next picture recreations.

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

Post by armyairforce » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:07 am

At the main gate site, we re-created the two wartime photos. We didn't quite get the angles and camera height right, but were still pleased with the results. ( originals reproduced with permission of www.100thbg.com )

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

Post by sjalbert » Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:11 am

I love the history and look forward to each of your posts.
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Re: A B-17 Fortress, Two Jeeps and a Dodge - My Ongoing MV Journey

Post by 1942 Ford GPW 352nd » Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:15 am

I love seeing the past/current photos. Is the base used at all today? Could it be used to host an airshow? So much history there that if you listen carefully, you could probably hear the sound of hundreds of P&W 2800's. :wink:

Also wondering if a few episodes of the future Hanks/Spielberg "Masters of the Air" will be shot at the field in 2021. Not sure if it is feasible, but could a b-17 fly in or out of the field?

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

Post by armyairforce » Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:29 am

The runways at Thorpe Abbotts were dug up in the 1980's. Most of the 351st perimeter track and the 349th Squadron perimeter tracks remain. Only two short stretches of runway remain, a couple of hundred feet each. The rest of the site has returned to farm land. A few buildings remain in the woodlands that were the technical and accommodation sites and most of the roadways around these sites remain, though mostly overgrown. A parchmark 'spectacle' hard standing can be seen in the foreground of the image below where the original concrete was removed. Runway outlines and other dispersals come and go depending on the seasons and crops.

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It has a strange atmosphere there and ghost stories that go back to World War 2. Talk of the station ghost was banned by one of the CO's at the base due to the concern it was causing. Since the restoration of the control tower, there have been many strange occurences there.

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

Post by armyairforce » Sat Nov 21, 2020 6:23 am

Back to the Dodge

By 2015, the GPW running reliably and attending events along with the other two vehicles. However, in the five years since buying the Dodge, my baby daughter wasn't so much a baby any more. Her original baby seat had been outgrown and in the normal car, she was in a larger Isofix child seat. It was time to modify the interior of the Dodge to accomodate the new seat. While I was doing that, I wanted to build an observers chair for under the dome. With a bit of clever design, I figured I could combine two jobs.

The work was started in June 2015. The child seat uses the rear seat of the car to provide support for the backrest. It also relies on the car's seatbelt, unlike the baby seat which had its own belt. My plan was to make the observers chair based on a B-17 pilot's seat. This metal bucket seat and its mounting frame would also support the child seat and provide mounting points for the seat belt. The first step was to plan out the size of the B-17 seat to accommodate the child seat. A wooden template was made for the seat base.

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I planned to have the child seat bolted down on the left side of the truck so it didn't block too much of my rear view, but for the B-17 seat part to be removeable from its mounting frame so it could be installed on a centreline pedestal under the dome for the 1940's shows.

This is the base for the seat. The centre cross piece would be fastened to the bottom of the B-17 seat while the two side frames would suppor it and bolt to a framework on the floor. They would be removed after 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 » Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:44 am

On Monday July 13th 2015, I set off with a large sheet of steel to visit a friend with a sheet metal roller. I've not used a roller before, and while I'm sure I would have got to grips with it, it was easier to leave it to him.

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On the 14th, I decided to tackle the swaging in the backrest. Metalworking has never been my favourite pastime, far too noisy, dirty and heavy! I much prefer wood, plastics and resin, but metal it had to be in this case, so I prepared myself for noise and mess - and probably a few injuries! After having a think about a full length tool that would go right across the back of the seat, I decided against it due to the amount of force I would need to form along the whole piece in one go. Instead, I opted for a small tool around 4 inches long, that I could work my way across the metal with. A quick look in the scrap box found some 10mm square steel and some round bar to make the male tool. These were screwed down to a board to hold them in place for welding.

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Once the ends were tacked, I turned the tool over and welded all the way along the back of both joints, and then filled in the gap with additional weld. The female tool was simply a piece of aluminium channel, screwed to an offcut of railway sleeper. A piece of 1.2mm steel sheet scrap was placed over the channel, the tool held over the top and with the swing of a large hammer, bang, the first part of the swaging formed. I went back and forth until I got the result seen in the picture below. I was very pleased with the result. The only problem was the sheet moving around. Clamping a piece of steel the size of the chair back was beyond the abilities of any of my clamps, but I had an idea.

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

Post by armyairforce » Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:47 am

After the test, I cut down the aluminium channel and block of wood, so that they would fit inside the back of the curved sheet metal. To hold the seat back still during the swaging process, I opted for drilling small holes in the seat so that it could be screwed through the female tool to hold the alignment correctly.

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There weren't any more excuses not to get the big hammer out and make a start! The female tool/sleeper were placed on top of one wooden stool and another piece of sleeper placed on a second stool to support the U shaped steel clear of the floor. To reduce the noise and ringing, I covered the area of steel not being worked on with an old towel, and then placed the folded up Dodge canvas on top of that. This worked pretty well to deaden the sound.

The first swaging area on the sheet was then lined up and screwed down to the female tool, and battering began. To my surprise, it worked rather well, even around the curve at the edge of the seat back. I didn't want to go too far in this area in case it began to straighten the curve made on the rolling machine the day before.

I was on a roll and after the first was completed, the othes followed quickly. They still need a little tidying here and there with a small hammer, but looked pretty good for such a crude method. Once the swaging was complete, I welded the seat base to the centre post and diagonal braces.

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

Post by armyairforce » Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:14 am

The bottom rear of the backrest was the first part to be welded. From there, I started to work around the corner and along the sides to the front. When both sides were welded to the seat base, the front lip was welded in place.

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I marked the side cut out next, and roughly cut it with a 4.5 inch angle grinder. It was cut slightly oversize to allow a little trimming room to smooth out the curve. Measurements were taken from the first side and were then transferred to side two which was then cut. The excess sheet extending down the sides below the seat base were also trimmed, once again leaving them a little over sized until I was happy with the way it all looked. The curving top to the seat back hasn't been cut in the picture below, but I was very pleased with the way it was turning out.

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