The Golden Age of Modeling
This is about a model I want to build.
As my profile indicates, I am a college professor. This past semester I was chatting with one of my students, one Andrew Schaffner, himself a veteran of Afghanistan. He mentioned that his grandfather flew as tail gunner in a B-17, and had had some remarkable experiences, including flying the tail gunner position in the Memphis Belle on one occasion as he sought to complete his 36-mission quota. I popped off that it would be cool to get more information on his granddad’s plane to see if I could reproduce something like it. Honestly, I did not think it likely that much could come of that idea.
Within a few weeks Andrew’s father emailed me. The name of Andrew’s grandfather was provided (Dennis G. Schaffner), along with the bomb group and squadron, serial number, and tail letter for the B-17. Turns out Dennis Schaffner, a devout Catholic, was nicknamed “Lucky” because when he flew the plane came away unscathed, no crew members suffered casualties, and all went smoothly. Once some shrapnel struck Dennis in the chest—but was blocked by his crucifix (how ‘bout that for a story line in a movie?). The plane returned to the U.S. in June, 1945.
I did some research and was stunned by what I was able to find, and soon Andrew helped with more research. The skipper of the plane was one Cornelius R. Woolf, and the plane was nicknamed The Wolf Pack for him. Most importantly, we found these photos, which the Schaffner family had never seen…
…and this crown jewel, with Wolf Pack in a bomb run (tail letter “P”)…
What amazes me is that heretofore such knowledge would have been considered lost. Now, due to open internet databases and the use of digital images, even obscure, specific aircraft can be recalled and reproduced–down to very fine detail–using printable decals and other techniques.
I would add another detail. In my six months on iModeler I have noticed that many here are sons or grandsons of Greatest Generation warriors. They shied away from speaking of these things; we are proud to do so. What greater homage to pay that to tell our fathers’ stories with a build?
Truly, we live in the Golden Age of Modeling.
For more on Wolf Pack, see http://www.457thbombgroupassoc.org/2015/08/11/wolf-pack/