Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Whole NineYards

Teri and I visited the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Burnet on a recent cold and dreary day. The group is dedicated to preserving and restoring WWII aircraft to flying condition. While their main headquarters is in Midland, Texas, the "Highland Lakes Squadron" maintains this small museum on the grounds of the Burnet airport.

One of the museum displays is a .50 caliber machine gun from the nose turret of a B-24 bomber. Since allied fighters didn't have the long range of bombers, the big bombers were on their own while over their targets. Their only defense was their machine guns, mounted in various places on the aircraft.
.50 Caliber Machine Gun Turret
The gunner entered the turret through a back door and couldn't leave the turret until a crew member unlocked and opened the door.  The gunner was mostly outside of the aircraft, in the -30 degree temperatures! They wore electrically heated suits and oxygen masks to survive.
Machine Gun Turret Entry Door
I had to give the turret a try, and I barely fit into the seat. I'm not sure that they could have gotten the door closed with me in there.  The docent noted that the average size of a man in the mid-40's was about 5'-6" and 135 pounds. I don't come anywhere close to either of those numbers!
Mark in Turret. Tight fit!
The ammunition belt for each machine gun was 27 feet long. If the gunner shot the entire belt at an enemy aircraft, he gave them "The Whole Nine Yards".  So now you know where that saying came from!
Ammunition Belt - Nine Yards Long!
They had a few operable airplanes at the museum. One was a T-6 "Texan" trainer.  You can buy a 20 minute ride in this baby for just $200.
T-6 Texan
Their largest plane was this Douglas C-47, which is the military version of the DC-3.  This was a cargo workhorse for the military, and is still used to this day as a cargo and passenger plane in various parts of the world.
Douglas C-47
The CAF uses this plane for parachute drops and also rents out rides for $150 per person, with a 4 person minimum.  They've christened this plane "Bluebonnet Belle" and decorated her with this nose art.
Bluebonnet Belle
We enjoy finding these little museums in the various places that we visit.


1 comment:

  1. I've heard the whole 9 yards, but now I know where that saying came from. We, too, like those little museums... they are often just a wealth of information.