Monday, April 30, 2012

Duxford and...George Carlin?



Commander Kelly with B-17, Duxford (photo: Jim Hooper)

The American Conservative Tour of London continues at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford), near Cambridge.  Cambridge is an easy 45 minute train ride from London and Duxford is a short cab or bus ride from the train station.  I was fortunate to be able to visit last week with some friends.

Duxford has nine enormous hangars filled with aviation history.  You can walk though an experimental Concorde that could cruise at Mach 2 or twice the speed of sound.  You will see biplanes and monoplanes form the earliest days of flight.  There is a hangar devoted to the Battle of Britain, when Britain stood alone against Hitler's Reich.  You will find Hangars devoted to naval aviation, World War II land combat and much more.  The nearby airfield has historic planes and helicopters landing and taking off on a regular basis.
Close air support A-10 and P-47 (Photo: Jim Hooper)

American Hangar, Duxford
My personal favorite part of Duxford is the American Hangar.  It contains a truly awesome display of American military might.  It was built in 1997 with generous grants from The Saudi government, Ford Motor company, Boeing, and others.  The late Charlton Heston helps provide voice over narration at some of the exhibits and the NRA is also a sponsor.
The American hangar features almost every major American warplane that you can think of.  You will find the massive B-52 -- first launched in 1955 and still in service today.  You will see the fastest plane ever -- the SR 71 spy plane.  The ungainly A-10 Warthog, championed by Boyd (see earlier post, Colonel John Boyd, 1/6/12) and so effective at destroying the Iraqi Republican guard during the first Gulf war, is here on display.  The famous  P-51 long range fighter is here.  It was the initial deployment of this plane, that could escort bombers from Britain to Berlin and back that sealed the doom of Nazi Germany according to air marshall Goering.  "When I saw Mustangs over Berlin. I knew the war was lost," he said.  You will see bombers with the distinctive D-day black and white stripes that were painted on all allied aircraft to avoid friendly fire just prior to June 6, 1944.

A visit to Duxford is a chance see some marvellous aircraft and to learn more about aviation history.  Here you will learn about the Allied bombing offensive in the Second world war.  Duxford airbase was used by the US 8th Army Air corps from April, 1943 until the conclusion of the war.  The bombing campaign in Europe claimed the lives of about 700,000 people, the bombing in Japan it accounted for 500,000 people with most of these casualties civilians.  Meanwhile, allied bomber crews lost over 100,000 crewmen over Germany and the KIA rate for heavy bomber crews was a staggering 71%.   The bombing offensive did not break the will to resist of the Germans or the Japanese, but it did divert precious Axis resources away from the fight against the allies.
Albert Speer, Hitler's Armaments Minister, laid out the best case for the allied bombing offensive when he said in 1959, "The real importance of the air war consisted in the fact that it opened a second front long before the invasion in Europe . . . Defence against air attacks required the production of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, the stockpiling of tremendous quantities of ammunition all over the country, and holding in readiness hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who in addition had to stay in position by their guns, often totally inactive, for months at a time . . . No one has yet seen that this was the greatest lost battle on the German side."  (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bomber_Command)

Nor can one fail to recall the 40,000+ casualties that Britain suffered during the Blitz, the attacks on Rotterdam and other Allied cities and the 30,000+ casualties that resulted from the Nazi's hail of V1 and V2 rockets.  You will find Anderson shelters and V1 rockets and launchers at Duxford.

Seeing these aircraft in Duxford compels us to remember some of those brave and diverse individuals who served their countries in Allied military aviation in World War II.  Consider just a few of those fortunate enough to survive the war...

President George H.W. Bush (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bush_Sr.) was a US naval aviator who flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific theatre in a Grumman TBM Avenger.  He won the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).  Bush was shot down on September 2, 1944 and was incredibly fortunate to be picked up by a passing American submarine.  His story is well told in James Bradley's 2001 Flyboys (http:/www.amzn.com/0316105848).



Jimmy Stewart 1908 - 1997
Jimmy Stewart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Stewart) was drafted by the US army in 1940 and became the first major American movie actor to serve in the war.  He piloted over 20 combat missions in a B-24, bombing Axis targets.  He won two DFC's and the Croix de Guerre.  He later rose to the rank of Brigadier general in the USAF and even flew over a mission over Vietnam in a B-52 (also on display at Duxford) while in the reserves.  He starred in the Glenn Miller Story among many others.
Leo McKern (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_McKern) , who played Horace Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey, served in a RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) ground crew during the war.

Sir Kenneth Adam
While strolling through the Battle of Britain hangar at Duxford it is interesting to reflect upon the wonderful life of Ken Adam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Adam) who was one of only two German nationals to serve in the RAF during the Battle of Britain.  He piloted a Hawker Typhoon on tank-busting missions.  He was Jewish and would have been shot as a traitor if he had gone down over Nazi-occupied Europe.  Ken Adam would survive the war and become the principle set designer for 2001: A Space Odyssey and the early Bond films.  Sir Kenneth Adam is now 91 years old.


Joseph Heller, the author of Catch 22, served as a bombardier on a B-25 in 60 combat missions while based in Corsica. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Heller).
Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl), author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many other books, was one of "the few" who served in the RAF during World War II.  He crashed in a Gloster Gladiator in Africa and was nearly killed.  He became an ace while later flying a Hawker Hurricane in the Greek campaign.  He wrote memorably about his RAF experiences in Going Solo (http:/www.amzn.com/0142413836).  He later served in British intelligence alongside Ian Flemming.

Visiting Duxford is a marvellous antidote to the prevailing view of war that popular culture seems to accept today and is best exemplified by George Carlin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Carlin)... who famously claimed that we Americans love war.



If you loathe the USA and believe that American military power is primarily deployed in "bombing brown people" then a visit to Duxford may open your eyes a bit.  Note carefully the Orwellian elements in the late Carlin's routine.  For Carlin "critical thinking" means a willingness to swallow unfounded conspiracy theories.  "Thinking for yourself" means hewing closely to the Marxist / Freudian / Chomsky party line.  "Americans love war!"

You may object that Carlin is simply a comedian.  Yet many on the radical left, in the Occupy Wall Street movement and, of course, the fence-sitting libertarian Paul-bots ("both parties just the same, elections are illusions," etc.) accept Carlin's routines as holy writ.  Carlin was labeled "an unproductive airman" and discharged less than honourably from the USAF in 1957.  The last presidential candidate that Carlin actually voted for and supported was George McGovern in 1972.  Yes, that was the same George McGovern who flew 35 missions as a B-24 bomber pilot in World War II -- See Stephen Ambrose's Wild Blue, 2001. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Wild-Blue-Germany-1944-45/dp/0743203399/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335774040&sr=8-1).


Tuskeegee Airmen
How does the "bombing brown people" analysis really work in describing America's historical armed conflicts?  Not too well when one considers the matter.  The American Revolutionary war which, shockingly, claimed the highest percentage total American casualties, was against the "white" English aided by their native American and Hessian mercenaries.  The War of 1812 was a "white on white" war.  The US Civil war, the most costly American war, was largely a "white on white" war that led to a "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln said, for black American slaves.   The Spanish-American war, a favorite of the anti-war crowd (see earlier post, Remember the Maine, but forget The War Lovers,  2/20/12) began with one "white" nation, the Spanish, probably blowing up a US naval vessel filled with mostly "white" crewmen.  Black buffalo soldiers distinguished themselves alongside Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan hill in Cuba.  World War I against the Kaiser's Germany was a terrible tragedy, but not a race war.  America's direct involvement in World War II started with "yellow people," in Carlin's parlance, bombing Americans at Pearl harbor.  The "white" American Air Corps then went on to devastate "white" Germans and Italians in Europe, thereby helping to finish off the most anti-semitic, racist and barbarous regime in world history.  The famous "black" Tuskeegee airmen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskeegee_airmen) flew escorts for the allied bomber offensive.  The "red" Navajo tribesmen became the "code talkers" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_talker) who helped keep US communications secure in the war.   In the Korean war, a brutal "red" man, Stalin, instigated some "yellow" men to attack other "yellow" men and the United Nations ("rainbow") intervened.  In the gulf war which triggered Carlin's rant a "brown" dictator invaded a "brown" nation (Kuwait) and the United Nations ("rainbow") again intervened.  In Libya just last year a "brown" man killed off another "brown" man ending another fearful dictatorship (see earlier post, Yankee fan kills Gaddafi with his own Golden Gun, 1/15/12).



Carlin was able to exercise his freedom of speech defaming his country and make a pretty good living doing it because of the sacrifices of those who served in the allied armed forces.  The counterculture is now mainstream, in case you hadn't noticed.

Commander Kelly agrees with Freud that sometimes, "a cigar is just a cigar!"  Moreover, Sometimes a fuselage is just a fuselage!

"SCISSORS BEAT PAPER," Amen!

Please Pre-order your copy of America Invades here...www.amzn.com/1940598427


Glenn Miller's American Patrol


Glenn Miller 1904 - December 15, 1944 MIA







Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades, is now available here...www.americainvades.com
and on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427






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