Last night, I watched a bit of Top Ten Bombers on the Military Channel (formerly Discovery: Wings, RIP).
One of the honorees, and rightly so, was the Avro Lancaster. While it was a little surprising that they didn’t mention the "Upkeep" bombs of the famous "Dam busters" raids, that wasn’t the bit that found me sputtering blog-post-titles at the television.
No, the thing that got my hackles in a bunch, to rudely mix metaphors, was the fact that they showed the wrong airplane, twice, trying to pass off a B-24, and then, even more inexcusably, a B-25 as Lancasters.
For those among you who are perhaps less than intimately acquainted with the details of fly-y trivia, here are some photographs taken at AirVenture, in Oshkosh, WI, last summer:
First, the Lancaster, one of just two in flying condition, this one based at the excellent Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON:
Next, the Commemorative Air Force’s B-24, "Diamond Lil" (this is technically an LB-30, as it was originally slated for the British RAF, but I’m not sure even I care about that):
And, finally, Larry Kelley’s beautiful B-25, "Panchito". (I met Larry at my first AirVenture in 1989, when his UC-78 "Bamboo Bomber", unlike ours, didn’t quite get ready in time for the show):
Now the B-24, at least, is a twin-tailed, 4-engine bomber of similar size to the "Lanc", but the B-25 is much smaller, with only two engines. The Lancaster is a taildragger, like all of the best airplanes, and is a low wing, while the other two are tricycle-gear, shoulder wing aircraft.
Do these airplanes really look so much alike?
Airplane mistakes are to be expected, even savoured, in fictional films. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, there wasn’t a single "movie of the week" that didn’t feature an airliner that magically switched identities a few times in flight, nearly always becoming a B-52 for the shot of landing gear retracting after takeoff.
But this was a documentary. They should have just gotten it right.
Oh, and my taxes are too high, my back hurts, and I’m hungry.