Sunday, July 7, 2024


Date: June 29, 2024 (1943)
Location: Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin (Port Moresby, New Guinea)
Mission: Training and Photo Reconnaissance 
Aircraft: Restored B-25 Medium Bomber (Berlin Express)
Owner: Experimental Aircraft Association (The celebrated EAA)
Photos: Click on them to enlarge.

For my May 1st birthday, my wife Dorothy asked if the unique opportunity to fly in a restored Mitchell Bomber, a lovely North American B-25, interested me. Well, YES! After checking flight schedules, we chose Saturday June 29, 2024 when the aircraft would be under 100 miles from home.  

Isolated on the east side of Madison, WI's Truax Airport is The Wisconsin Aviation Center. Small aircraft use this facility. It sports a restaurant, small gift shop and offices. It you want to learn to fly, apparently this is the place to start.

Inside dozens of people awaited briefings to fly in the EAA's 1929 Ford Tri-Motor and Berlin Express. Crews and handlers were all cheerful and helpful volunteers who love airplanes and flying.


My boarding pass memento with complimentary ear plugs. There are stories of past passengers not wanting the earplugs until in flight. The two engines are prodigiously loud making erratic popping sounds about which we were advised to not worry about. I removed one earplug a few times for seconds only to hear the true sound of the thunderous engines. Each time I reflected on war movies when bomber crews easily exchange quips, orders, etc. There is no way.  

My boarding access point.

Our pilot (left) is an Eastern Airlines pilot who volunteered to fly Berlin Express for fun. Observing both pilots was instructional and fun. Gee, I wish I could learn to fly.

Helpful Tip: Be in the first flight of the day. Reason: Getting the aircraft ready and engines running smoothly adds a lot of extra time inside.

Yours truly sitting forward of amidships on a modern platform fitted with three passenger seats. Below us is the bomb bay.

One must climb over the wing support beam within the fuselage to get here. Being limber is a must. Passengers offered helpful hands to steady us when we walked and crawled about.

Looking aft. Passengers with limited mobility easily sit here. The man dressed in a khaki shirt with headphones was our crew chief. He directed us to handholds such as the yellow bar in the upper left and acted as a traffic controller as passengers moved about the airplane.

Starboard side machine gun.

Machine gun ammunition belt and ammo box.

Radio Set.

Dog tags and uniform coat.

In order to reach the nose, I crawled through an estimated 6'x24"x24" tunnel.  Above me were unseen pilots on a platform. To access the nose you crawl on the stomach or back. If the latter, a long yellow bar above could be used as a handhold to pull forward.

The view was remarkably good. We circled Madison clockwise for about twenty minutes. It was a little windy forward. When leaving, my hat blew off in the tunnel. 

My next stop was the rear of the airplane. This necessitated passing through the entire length of the aircraft climbing over the wing support and other whatsits to arrive at....

Another tunnel. Ahead is a bicycle ish seat for the rear gunner. Note green panels installed so tourists will not hurt themselves. These were not present during the war.

Rear machine guns.

Vertical tail and rudder.

I watched the rudder move a few times. Each time the rudder moved slightly during our gradually banked turns. 

Aft machine gun position.

----------          ----------          ----------          ----------          ----------


This was a terrific once in a lifetime experience. Thank you for looking in.
Have you had a similar experience?


Tri-Motor Link:

----------          ----------          ----------          ----------          ----------

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Torpedo and Dive Bomber Missions


Truk Lagoon continues under assault by the USN, first by Avenger Torpedo Planes followed by celebrated Dauntless Dive Bombers. So strap in and let's go.

Japanese shipping swings on their anchors pointing bows.... 

Into the East wind. Captains have ordered their ships underway to escape through the North Gap. A D6 needing 2-6 was thrown for each of four merchantmen and four warships. All got underway except one Sub Chaser. The latter succeeded next turn.

As Grumman TBD Avenger Torpedo Planes arrived at Altitude 2 from the East.
These are actually Raiden I-94 1/285 Devastators. We use what we have.

Using these activation cards. Japanese Zeros are unavailable due to the Fighter Sweep Mission you perhaps read by now. They are repairing, rearming and refueling at this time. Only anti-aircraft batteries ashore and afloat will defend Truk Lagoon.

See this link for the Fighter Sweep:

That 1/300 Cruel Seas Japanese Sub Chaser and medium fuel tank (lid from a can of spray paint) are not good targets for torpedoes.

The Avengers fly past ignoring the docked freighter; a target also too hard to hit.

The Avengers swing into a "Line Astern" formation. Only the leader is required to obey movement distances/rules. The rest swing into position conforming to him.

Anti-aircraft batteries begin throwing up lots of flak. Two hit Pickett. Green simulates loss of maneuverability while Yellow reduces speed. The two White pipe cleaners indicate enough damage requiring a return to his carrier.

Bragg and Knox reduce to Altitude 1 dropping torpedoes aimed at the Maru. Then....

Both turn for home. However, the fourth Avenger piloted by Zachery believes some insurance is needed to strike the cargo ship. The latter has been holding back in case the other torpedoes miss or are insufficient.

Historical Note: Early in the Pacific War, USA torpedoes failed to detonate with prodigious frequency. Here in 1944, that problem has been solved. Remember the scene in the newest Midway motion picture showing an American torpedo bouncing off a Japanese hull failing to detonate?

This is how things look closer in.

Zachery's torpedo will probably hit adding machine gun fire into the target too.
Litko Accessories manufactures the torpedoes.

The Maru luckily received a movement card to avoid the first two torpedoes.
Later Zachery did not miss and added pilot operated machine gun fire.

The Maru begins listing to starboard before plunging to the bottom of Truk lagoon.

Knox is subjected to furious anti-aircraft fire on the way home.

Somehow he avoids damage. Flak hits with 2D6 = 11-12 at Altitude 2 or higher. (10-12 at Altitude 1) All Avengers returned to their carrier including Pickett. They will pass underneath escorted Dauntless Dive Bombers and escorts as the story continues.


Four Dauntless Dive Bombers protected by two Hellcat Fighters cross into the Lagoon. These are painted in early war paint schemes and the Hellcats are actually Wildcats. Again, we use what we have. Aircraft are 1/285 GHQ models.

All head inland with the fighters now leading.

Spotting a cargo ship, the leader orders the Dauntlessness' to trail him.

Fatal explosions ruin the cargo ship. She will sink.

Leaving the burning ship behind three remaining Dauntlessness' fly off to engage different targets when a Zero appears out of nowhere and fires pursued by a Hellcat. The Dauntless somehow survived Zero fire. (Poor dice!)

And drops a bomb on a Sub Chaser which erupts in flames and later sinks.

The last two Dauntlessness' peel off to engage targets fleeing toward the North Gap.

The bomb dropped on the cargo ship barely missed.
However, the minesweeper was fatally struck.

What About Anti-Aircraft Fire and Fighter Combat?
AA fire D6s were abysmal. Sometimes dice don't obey, don't you know?
Swirling fighter plane maneuvers were too complicated to describe here.

Suffice to say Emoto's Zero was  damaged requiring a return to base.

Jr. Ace Seto critically damaged Lacey and then ran out of ammunition.

Lacey ditched and luckily was....

Rescued by a Catalina Flying Boat.
AA fire continued to be dreadful.


(A) Later at night, surviving Japanese aircraft will attack the USN Fleet offshore. The plan is to present this story soon for your interest.

(B) As a result of multiple torpedo plane tests, the following guidelines are offered.


1. Suggest: Two aircraft/target.

2. At first fly at Alt. 2.

3. Descend to Alt. 1 to launch torpedoes.

4. Torpedoes dropped within 20cm of a target will swim under the target missing it.

5. Put torpedo in front of aircraft. It moves next turn.

6. Try to drop the torpedo so it strikes the next turn.

7. Rise to at least Alt. 2 after dropping the torpedo.

8. AA hits Alt. 1 Torpedo aircraft on 2D6 = 10, 11 or 12.

9. AA hits Alt. 2 or higher Torpedo aircraft on 2D6 = 11 or 12.

10. If dropping torpedoes at a long range use 3x Aircraft.
          2 up front drop first. 1 in back course corrects and drops next turn, if needed.

11. If close enough use MG strafing into the target.

(C) Thank you for looking in. Your comments are welcome below at Remarks.

----------          ----------          ----------          ----------          ----------          ----------