What is the story about this B-17

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by dirkpitt289, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    #1 dirkpitt289, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
    When I was a kid I was heavily into modeling. Most of my school projects included some kind of model in a diorama. One that I built was a B-24 Liberator. I basically copied the box art. It was a picture of the crew dismantling the plane and painting it white with red and black poke-a-dots. The story attached to it was that because of the weather conditions over Europe there were a bunch of mid-air collisions and to avoid this they stated to paint the planes for better visibility. I got an A++. I ROCK. LOL

    Anyway I'm much older now and last year I stumbled across this photo and posted it on another site and it sparked a decent discussion but for the life of me can't remember. As an adult and knowing what I know about aircraft and WWII the reason for the paint scheme dosen't make sense.

    Does anyone know the real story behind these aircraft or have any other photos? I think this would make a great model.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Target tug?

    .
     
  3. Geedee

    Geedee Well-Known Member

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    Looks like war weary B-17, painted as an 'assembly ship', used for all the planes from the various bomb groups to formate on prior to setting off on their mission. Once formed up and on their way, the assembly ship would drop out of formation and land.

    A very usefull plane to have when forming up mass bombing formations of hundreds of ships', as they did tend to stand out.... a bit !

    You will also find some very 'interesting' paint schemes used on tired B24's as well.
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Geedee has it. Every group had their own assembly bird. With all those bombers climbing over England for a raid, it was easy to think one group was yours when it wasn't. Especially later in the war when there were 1000 plane raids. Think of 1000 airplanes climbing off bases in a space the size of New Jersey. And that's not even including the fighters. Jeez, it must've been a mess.

    Anyway, the bombers all had their own, specially painted bird they formed up on. One B24 group went so far as to edge the fuselage and wings with neon lights! Must've looked like a flying pimp!

    Fighters were simpler. Smaller, faster, they took off faster (every 15 seconds or less) and generally took up less sky. Assembly was less complicated. Either they circled or the leader started a slow climb and everyone caught up. Depended on the mission and the fuel load.
     
  5. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    There has to be more information somewhere on these planes.
     
  6. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    I have a related question. Since these "assembly ships" were an obvious target, did they go on the mission, or land once the groups were assembled?
     
  7. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That certainly is an Assembly Plane as described by Gary.

    That particular plane was a B-17F, SN: 42-3441 called "Spotted Cow" and belonged to 384th Bomb Group. She flew 61 combat missions as "Patches II" before being used as an Assy. Aircraft.

    Here is a website with more pictures of the aircraft:

    384th BG: B-17F-60-DL, 42-3441

    and

    B-17F 42-3441
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #8 stona, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
    The assembly ships were known as "Judas goats". They did not continue on missions but returned to base once their job was done.
    There is a black humour in the name as Judas goats were originally trained animals that lead the rest of a herd to slaughter.
    Steve
    I just noticed the polka dots are referred to as "sky blue". A friend researched this very aircraft for a model and his dots were the same blue as the national markings.
     
  9. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Thanks DerAdlerIstGelandet

    I had a feeling someone here would know the answer. Now maybe someone can find other photos of these type of aircraft.
     
  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #10 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
    Try searching the net, that is all we can do for you anyhow...

    In fact I just did a 2 minute search of the internet and found this:

    http://b-17-flying-fortress.actifforum.com/8th-air-force-mighty-eight-f21/assembly-ships-t461.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:First_Sergeant_B-24D_Assembly_Ship_or_Judas_Goat.jpg
     
  11. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Fun.... I forgot about these types of ac..
    I image the crew for these aircraft were rotated?

    it would seem odd for the crew to to be attached to the plane.
     
  12. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Might not even have a full crew. Just pilot, copilot and Flight Engineer. No need for the rest. Up and down, not a mission. Just a relatively quick hop.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure they would not carry a full crew. Their armament was removed so no need for gunners for a start.I have no idea how the crew would have been selected, a good question!
    Steve
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    According to B-17 and B-24 crews, the climb up to 15,000 was a hairy ordeal filled with collisions and near misses. Once they broke out of the overcast, they had to find thier assembly ship out of a couple dozen others. The assembly ships would circle in thier designated area firing flares until the group formed on the lead ship or they reached thier time limit. This whole process took about 2 hours.

    I've read that the assembly process accounted for about 20% of thier operational losses...

    There's a good book about the B-24 Liberator Ops, titled "B-24 Liberator Units of the 8th" by Robert F. Dorr that covers the B-24's operations, including the Assembly ships with photos and a bit of history of thier carreers before being relegated to A/S duty.

    As far as them going on missions, actually, some did accompany the formations over. They were referred to as "eager beavers" and even Jimmy Stewert took an assembly ship over France on D-Day. Pretty sure that was with the 700thBS, 445thBG.
     
  15. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    I found a website where someone used a computer to show what these birds looked like in color. Its AMAZING!

    Spotted Cow was one of the nicknames for PatchesII. She flew 61 missions before becoming an Assembly Ship
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    9100 FR*U "Birmingham Blitzkrieg" was actually a B-17E. This plane was flown by the 379th Bomb Group as an assembly ship and target tug. It was originally used by the 97th Bomb Group during some of the first Eighth Air Force bombing missions in 1942.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Lucky Gordon
    [​IMG]

    Ball of Fire
    [​IMG]

    You Can't Miss It
    [​IMG]

    I don't know about you guys but I'm stoked to make one of thses my next project.
     
  16. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    I found the actual ship that my B-24 was modled after. It was called the "Spotted Ass Ape"

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Whoa, who ever knew there were hippies during WW2.
     
  18. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    We used to have a few models of them at the CAF museum in Camarillo.

    Having served in East Anglia in the 1980s, I can only imagine how harrowing in was to form up 1000 planes, or more over that area. Small and almost always overcast, it must have been harrowing just to get up and get formed up.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    A light hearted word of caution. A friend converted the 1/48 Academy kit into "Spotted cow" 675 x 6mm circular masks to make the polka dots...yikes!
    His build thread is here.
    AeroScale :: Academy B17F Spotted Cow
     
  20. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    #20 wheelsup_cavu, Jul 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
    Dirkpitt some of those look like the skins JaRink did for IL-2 Sturmovik 1946 ?


    Wheels
     
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