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Monday, June 5, 2023

Look to the Past

Granted, Aerospace Perceptions has been a little short on the “space” aspect of late. But with the East Coast yielding a punishing schedule of airshows in striking distance from AP headquarters, it’s a case of enjoying the feast before the annual famine sets in after the summer.

Sometimes, though, heading to what seems like it might be nothing more than a specialized airshow turns out to be a lot more – something much bigger than a simple rendezvous of aircraft. That was the case with the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend, held the last several days at Reading Pennsylvania’s regional airport, also frequently referred to as General Carl A. Spaatz Field.

This year is the 32nd such event, and it is far from just an airshow.

The facility hosted dozens upon dozens of rare or unusual 1940s military vehicles representing all combatants of “The Great War.” They traveled through and around sprawling installations and encampments which supported combat reenactments, with hundreds of people in the garb and uniforms of eight decades ago. It was all here. And attendance in the neighborhood of 100,000 people reflects the excitement of crowds anxious to actually see elements history instead of just reading about them or viewing depictions in films and video.

This overwhelming event’s official title may put an emphasis on aviation but, in reality, about the only things that were missing were battleships and submarines. For anyone with an appreciation of this hugely important era of history, the annual World War II Weekend is a “must see.” 

Click on photos for larger images. All photos: Frank Moriarty/Aerospace Perceptions

Rising above the Reading runway, the B-29 christened FIFI claws her way into the skies.

The C-47 Skytrain was an essential aerial workhorse in World War II and for dozens of years beyond.

More than eight decades after its introduction, the legendary North American Aviation P-51 Mustang fighter is always one of the most popular planes at any airshow.

A majestic pass by the B-29 Superfortress high over the General Carl A. Spaatz Field.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was primarily used as a naval dive bomber – at trajectory angles of as much as 80 degrees.

The B-25 entered service in 1941, a crucial medium bomber that served in every theater of World War II.

A major current project of the event host Mid-Atlantic Air Museum is the restoration of this extremely rare Black Widow, the first American fighter designed specifically for night operations.

This Navy SBD (nickname: Slow, But Deadly) and the B-25 bomber Panchito await takeoff clearance as the B-29 FIFI comes in for its landing. FIFI is one of only two massive B-29s still flying.

Beyond the historic aircraft on hand in Reading, this is just one tiny glimpse of the total immersion in the 1940s global conflict so accurately reflected at the World War II Weekend. From Jeeps to combat vehicles to military construction equipment – it’s all here, and much, much more.