Monday, 18 August 2008

From the Horses Mouth

With all my paintings I like to speak with somebody who has flown the aircraft being depicted to ensure that things are as accurate as possible. For the P-47 piece I am lucky enough to be in contact with Russ Kyler. Russ flew with the 56th Fighter Group, from August 1944 through to the end of the war, with 10 aircraft kills to his credit. (Russ's P-47M is featured in the decal options for the excellent Tamiya 1/48th model kit).

In response to my questions Russ come back with the following information.

For a mission, each squadron lined up on the runway, four across & either three deep or four deep, depending on whether we were launching a 12 ship or 16 ship squadron. Flight leader & his wingman took off on the left side of the runway & #3 & #4 used the right side of the runway. #1 & #2 would get airborne ASAP while #3 & #4 would stay on the runway until they were well past the point of "lift-off" of #1 & #2, thus avoiding any prop-wash. This type of take-off was continued until all squadron a/c were airborne. We would hold our position until the flight taking off were passing behind the nose of our a/c & then we would start our roll. We could get 12 or 16 a/c airborne in about two minutes. The second squadron lined up on a different runway & as soon as the last element cleared the intersection, they would begin their take-off. The third squadron was lining up on the first runway & as soon as #2 squadron
cleared the intersection, they would begin their take-offs. The total time for all three squadrons to get airborne was usually 6 to 8 minutes. I've seen as many as eight a/c rolling on the runway at the same time.

Pairs were rolling at (approx) 8 to 10 second intervals and I'd guess at about 200 feet apart on the runway.

With 108 gal tanks the lead a/c would use max power & get airborne ASAP using the same technique as above.

On take-off (04/22) 2800 RPM & 72 in Hg about 2/3 rds of the runway & 2nd elements used about 3/4 ths of the total runway.
(the Easterly runway was a different story as we needed every foot of runway we could get).

The normal position for the wingman on take-off, was to keep his wing tip even with the star on the fuselage of the lead a/c and just far enough out to clear the wingtips if an over-run occurred as per an aborted take-off. Normally, the flight leader took the left side of the runway with #2 on his right wing; #3 (Element leader) took the right side of the runway just about opposite of #2 & #4 positioned himself on the left wing of #3. Clearance was never over a couple of feet & I've had my wing man "overlap" as much as two feet of wing & hold it for the take-off & forming up with the rest of the squadron. (That's a tight formation)

This information was great news from my perspective as it allowed a return to the original concept, with the aircraft a lot closer together, which increases the drama, and to my mind improves the composition.

It did mean things needed to be reworked a little however.

The revised composition, with line drawings well underway.

A closer look at the nearly completed line drawing of the main aircraft subject.

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