Five World War II aircraft on display this week in Connecticut

By DAVID OWENS | The Hartford Courant | Published: October 1, 2019

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Two World War II fighter planes and three bombers will be at Bradley International Airport through Thursday.

The historic aircraft, owned by the Collings Foundation of Stow, Mass., will be open for tours through Thursday at Tac Air, 85-205 Combs Gate Drive, just off Route 75 in Windsor Locks. Flights aboard the aircraft are also available.

The aircraft are a B-17G Flying Fortress heavy bomber, a B-24J Liberator heavy bomber, a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, a P-51 Mustang fighter and a P-40 Warhawk fighter.

The airplanes will be open noon to 4 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to noon Thursday. The cost is $15. Flights are available. For details check the Collings Foundation website, www.collingsfoundation.org.

The B-17 an B-24 were the backbone of the Allied bomber campaign against Nazi occupied Europe. Army Air Forces crews flew the bombers from bases in England and Italy. The bombers also were used the Pacific theater.

The two-engine B-25 was a land-based bomber, but became well-known when Army pilots flew the bombers off the pitching deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet to attack targets in and around Tokyo in 1942, months after the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the U.S. into World War II. The raid, led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle, was was a morale booster for a beleaguered U.S. and was later made famous in the book and movie “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy as Doolittle.

The P-40 was made famous by the Flying Tigers, American fighter pilots who fought for the Chinese against the Japanese. The airplane continued in service later into World War II.

Lt. Eugene Bradley, for whom Bradley airport is named, was flying a P-40 when he crashed on the airport grounds and was killed during a training mission in 1941.

The P-51 Mustang was the premier Army fighter of World War II and had the range to escort bombers deep into Europe for attacks on German cities and industrial centers. The Collings Foundation P-51 is painted to represent a West Virginia Air National Guard aircraft. The West Virginia Air Guard was the last Air Force squadron to fly P-51s and retired its Mustangs in January 1957.

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