Rode on a 100% badass WWII-era B24 Bomber today.
The thing was really, really cool – zero armor and very minimal safety precautions. We literally climbed in through the open bomb bay doors, sat on the floor next to the open windows (where the guns stick out of) and belted in for takeoff. The pilot made a point of saying “there’s no one back there to supervise you, so don’t step on anything red or you’ll fall out.”
Quite literally, there’s about 50 different ways to fall out of the plane. We were able to crawl (literally crawl) under the pilots and get into the front gunnery and bombadier’s turret, look through the scope and see the bomb crosshairs, etc. – one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in quite some time.
About the sound in the video: it’s about 100db in the back of the plane, so our little camera didn’t handle the rumble of the four V-14 supercharged/turbocharged engines too well. Sounds like fucking VICTORY though.
The thing that I found most striking about it was that the entire thing is built for one purpose – delivering bombs to the ground. The people actually in it were very much an afterthought, it seems – like “Oh, right, we might need to figure out a way to keep people from freezing while flying at 15,000 feet in the winter with no windows. We’ll just make them wear electric suits! And give them a solid metal shitter.” It was cool to see that the entire thing is operated 100% mechanically – only hydraulics and (literally) fly-by-wire. We were specifically told not to touch any wires, as they control the flaps on the plane. Pretty cool to see that in action.
For you Michigan-ers, this plane and many, many more like it were built at Ford’s Willow Run plant. Apparently, there were more than 18,000 made, and the one we flew in is the ONLY one still flying.