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This month let's look at a group of men and women who were (and still are) responsible for any success that the weather reconnaissance crews enjoy.  The dedicated, hard working folks from maintenance!  Without their all-day, all-night work, none of the aircraft would be ready for the next mission.  We salute the dedicated crew chiefs, assigned to a specific aircraft, who felt we didn't take proper care of "their" airplane when we flew, but they had "her" ready to go again next time "she" was scheduled.  (Airplanes, like ships, always seem to be female). We salute the specialists from nav, hydraulics, Met/ARE, and the others shops who came running when called.  We salute all the wrench-turners and  metal benders every where!  Thanks for making it happen.  As the folks from Hee Haw said so well:  "SA-LUTE!"
Once again this month I'm asking for help for a few of our readers out there.  A scale model builder is looking for help in accuarately recreating a paint scheme for a model of  RB-29 tail number 45-21717. The Air Force Weather History Office provided a photo of 717 from early 1949 sporting a proposed color scheme for all AWS aircraft.  As far as we can tell, this is the only RB-29 ever painted in this manner.  If anyone has other photos of 717 (color would be greatly appreciated) please write to the Webmaster

Another individual E-mailed looking for help locating a patch (or even a picture of the patch) worn by the 514th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long Range) Weather at Guam.  We think it may be the same as the artwork on the left side of Typhoon GoonCan anyone verify this theory?  And if so, what were the colors on the patch?  Once again, if you can help, please write the Webmaster.
Lastly, please remember that the photos used in this gallery update are all official U.S. Government property and can not be sold, copyrighted, or used for commercial purpose.   Any display of these pictures should credit them as "Official Air Force photograph, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office". 

Official Air Force photograph, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office
This photo is from the Jan-Mar 1952 history of the 53rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather at Kindley Field, Bermuda.  Lt Col Stanley Hand (53 SRS/CC) congratulates MSgt J. T. Dyess and his ground crew on a 614 flying hour engine; (l-r) kneeling, A1C Ray Charleston, A2C Richard Pryor, standing: SSgt Douglas Norris, A2C Donald Russel, A2C Edwin Sischo, SSgt John Reda, MSgt Dyess, Lt Col Hand, Capt Russell Ver Nooy, Asst. Maint. Officer and MSgt Nicola Albano, Line Chief. 

For perspective, the following information came from Robert A. Mann¹, a respected maintainer at the 514th and 54th at Guam from 1949-51.   Bob recalls:  "The Tech Order said to change an engine when it reached 600 hours.  In actuality the average engine lasted only about 400 hours.  One major exception was the 54th's 44-86267.  When the 19th Bomb Group left Andersen for Okinawa on June 27th, 1950, to start flying combat missions (in Korea), in the dark of night (the 19th BG) stole all four engines off of 267.  It was October before four new engines arrived on Guam and 267 started flying again.  To make a long story short, the 54th got over 600 hours on ALL FOUR!!!.  Unless you were there you cannot appreciate the combination of luck and good maintenance that brought that about.  There was a big write-up in the Air Force Times."

1.  For those who don't know about  Bob Mann, he authored a self published book about the 514th and 54th from 1948-1954 called The Fireballs.  He recently released The B-29 Superfortress, which is a detailed compilation of all B-29 tails with known nose artwork, information from the Aircraft Record Cards and Combat reports, as well as details of some of the more common variants -- like the 105, or so, WB-29s.

Official Air Force photographs, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office

In the close up above, you see two unidentifed engine troops working hard to get the number 3 engine on  RB-29 4521717 ready for her next flight.  Aircraft 717 was assigned to Fairfield-Suisun AAF, CA (now Travis AFB) under the 308th Reconnaissance Group (Weather).  This RB-29 was painted with a proposed paint scheme during early 1949.  It was an embellishment of the “standard” AWS regulation markings. So far as is known, 717 was the only aircraft painted in these markings.  This is the aircraft that one of our readers is attempting to model.  If you know the correct colors it had, or even have a color photo in the attic, please contact the Webmaster.

Official Air Force photograph, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office
This photo of the ground crew of RB-29 45-21838 “Typhoon Goon” was taken just before the aircraft was returned to the US for conversion to a WB-29. Bob Mann identified the man kneeling on the left as Red Hilbert and next to him is Al Barringer.  Standing on the extreme right is Ron Green.  If you recognize anyone else, please send us a note.

We are also trying to confirm that the artwork on the "Goon" is the official (or unofficial) emblem of the 514th.  Can anyone help with this question and identify the colors on the logo? 

Official Air Force photograph, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office
From the Jan to Jun 1957 History input from the 54th WRS: 1 Lt Roger L. Bentson, A2C Douglas E. Poe and A2C Kenneth N. Craft examine the APN-82 (radio navigation) antenna installation on one of the squadron WB-50D aircraft.

Official Air Force photograph, courtesy of Air Force Weather History Office
Of course, one of the keys to keeping the aircraft in the air is regular major inspections between trips back to the depot. Here, WB-29 T/N 4461974 “Ramp Vamp”, is in maintenance at Kindley AFB, Bermuda during 1953.  Because the tear-down included removing the wing flaps entirely for inspection and corrosion control, I'm guessing that this represents the 1,000 hour inspection as opposed to the 500 hour version.

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