I went to the annual "World War II Weekend" airshow in Reading, PA yesterday. What a blast! I had never been to this before even though it is held every year and I only live an hour away. It is a large show with lots of spectators, but it is very well organized with frequent shuttle buses from the remote parking areas. I took my 21 year old daughter and I was worried that she would be bored, but she really enjoyed it, too.
The aircraft there included a good variety. Several C-47s, three B-25s, two P-51 Mustangs, a Corsair, an SBD Dauntless, a Helldiver, an F4F Wildcat, a Mk XVIII Spitfire, a B-17, and the star of the show "Fifi" the world's only flying B-29. There were also a bunch of WWII trainers and a few static displays that you could crawl through if you were so inclined.
There were also hundreds of WWII reenactors with displays of weapons and equipment and vehicles. I saw three halftracks, dozens of jeeps, an M-8 armored car and a bunch of mortars machine guns and two 37mm AT guns. I finally learned what that strange projecting screen on the side of the 37mm's barrel is for: to keep the gunner from accidentally getting in the path of the gun's recoil. Most of the reenactors were American: infantry, paratroopers, Marines, medical, signal corps, there was even a coast artillery unit with a huge searchlight. There were smaller contingents of British and German reenactors, too. The Germans had a mocked up Stug III that I think was built for the Band of Brothers series.
And there was a huge WWII flea market with all manner of stuff. My daughter was eying the original panzerfaust with longing eyes, but alas, neither of us had the $4,000. USD To make it up to her I took her over to the place where you could fire (blanks) from a .30 cal Browning LMG, or M-1 Garand or an M2 .50 cal MG. I talked my daughter into firing the .30 cal and although she was nervous, she thought it was seriously cool. She's now the envy of all her friends (and her sister who didn't want to go). I briefly thought about firing the .50 cal, but on closer inspection I realized it was one of those modified propane-firing guns. I wanted the real thing so I elected to try the Garand. I actually have a Garand that I bought recently, but I have yet to fire it. I figured this would be a good review. I nice weapon! Later, I bought my daughter a set of snow goggles which she thought looked cool and I got a very nice US helmet and liner for a very nice price. I've been thinking about getting into WWII reeancting and I've been getting gear a bit at a time.
But the main attractions were the aircraft. The bombers were coming and going steadily as they were flying paying customers. In the afternoon they sent up the fighters to put on a show. The Corsair went up first, followed by the Spitfire and then then the two Mustangs. Wow! To have a Supermarine Spitfire roar by at 400MPH a hundred feet off the ground, right in front of you just takes the breath away! It was really an awe inspiring demonstration. And when the B-17 and B-29 rumbled off the runway I tried to imagine when hundreds of them filled the air. It must have been something to see (and hear!).
I was interested that most of the planes weren't all that loud. Even the bombers with four engines. I guess the owners keep them as perfectly tuned up as they can. Although the SBD was VERY noisy and the one B-25 was backfiring so frequently that my daughter asked if we should run before it blew up :) It DID sound kind of scary.
But we had a great time. I strongly urge anyone in the area to give this show a try.