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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 2:44 pm 
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It was 75 years ago last week, on May 8, 1945, that Henry Mohr committed what, at the time, seemed like the senseless waste of a perfectly good aircraft by flying the P-47 Dottie Mae into the Traunsee lake in Austria while trying to beat up an about-to-be-liberated prison camp and ending up briefly as an inmate there. As it turned out, Mohr was unwittingly preserving a valuable artifact for the enjoyment of future generations, as the aircraft was recovered in 2005 and has been flying since 2017.

One thing I like about Prepar3d is not only what airplanes I can fly, but where I can fly them. I like to fly historic aircraft from the bases where they flew originally. So I decided to re-create Mohr’s visit to the Traunsee, except I would bring the plane back!

The Traunsee was easy enough to locate on Google maps. Actually, I was in a nasty car accident a few miles from there a couple of years ago. The prison camp, at the south end of the lake, is the site of a memorial and also easy to find. So I had my main waypoint. But what was my base? I learned on the internet that May 8, the date of Dottie Mae’s last flight, is the same day that the 405th Fighter Wing moved from Kitzingen to Straubing, two bases in southern Germany. Somebody more steeped in the Dottie Mae saga than I am probably knows which base it used that day, but I couldn’t find this information. It was even possible that the Traunsee beat-up, which I’ve read involved some 20 aircraft and so was no idle frolic, was a detour while the P-47s were being ferried from one base to the other. That notion would let me explore two new airports, so I went with it.

Kitzingen still exists and is a usable airport in Prepar3d (ICAO code ETIN), as is Straubing (EDMS). So now I had my flight plan, which involved a 181 nautical mile flight southeast from the old base to the lake, then a 79-mile leg northeast to the new base.

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Now I needed an aircraft. I have not yet purchased an add-on P-47 for Prepar3d. I fly a freeware P-47 that was originally a payware product for Flight Simulator 2004, that has been converted to work with more modern sims by A.F. Scrub. It’s a bit basic graphically, but it has reasonable flight dynamics and the cockpit is okay. Nobody is creating paint schemes for it any more, so I got out Photoshop and made a Dottie skin. Once the basic elements of one aircraft’s paint scheme have been drawn, it’s often efficient to do several others from the same unit as well, so I did half a dozen different 405th Fighter Group skins also.

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Here’s Dottie ready to go at Kitzingen. This had been a Luftwaffe training base earlier in the war, and according to wiki, the Germans blew up the runways and buildings before the Allies could capture it. The 405th occupied it for barely a week, from April 30 to May 8, 1945, before moving still further east to Straubing. The Americans, though, kept it in use as an Air Force and then Army airfield until 2007. After 2007 it became a small commercial airport, with a runway about half the length of the original. That is how it is depicted in P3D, whose airport database is about 15 years old, unless you update it with aftermarket scenery.

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Climbing out of Kitzingen. The weather, synced to real-time data by Active Sky, started out pretty good.

As noted, I read that the May 8 Traunsee flyover was of some 20 planes, so it must have been a group-level show. For company, I invited along a couple of other aircraft whose paint schemes I’ve recreated from the 511th’s two companion squadrons in the group.

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At this point in the war the 509th used generous amounts of red trim, the 510th blue trim, and the 511th yellow trim. A lot of them had splashy nose art as well. It must have been quite something to be at the 405th Group’s base at the time, and see this flying circus in action. For this trip, my chosen subjects were C9-E “Look! No Hands” from the 510th and 2Z-E “Eight Nifties” from the 511th.

I don’t know why Dottie had red stripes on the tail rather than her squadron’s yellow. I assume she was passed between units at some point.

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The weather grew worse as we progressed. Here we are beating up the Traunsee, by now with poor visibility and periodic light rain.

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The Traunsee is a spectacular mountain lake even with Prepar3d’s rather dated terrain visuals. I will definitely return in better weather.

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We had to do some scud running on the way back, as the ceiling lowered further. In this cockpit shot you can see some of the ways in which the old Alpha Sim P-47 is showing its age. Designed for lower resolution screens, the canopy framing is not made out of enough polygons to look like smooth curves, and the surfaces are not well textured. I could find better gauges to improve the looks of the instrument panel.

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Throwing up a little spray, we land in the rain at our new home at Straubing. This, too, is an active commercial airport today, but unlike Kitzingen is properly represented as such in P3D, having been in civil use since the 1960s. What serves as its runway today was merely a taxiway when it was a Luftwaffe field during the war, the real runway being gone.

So that was a fun and educational little commemorative reenactment, and I learned a lot about a part of Austria and about 405th FG colors and markings doing the skins.

Interestingly, today, three of the nicest airworthy P-47s are marked in the colors of the three squadrons of the 405th, circa mid 1945. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Lewis’ “Balls Out” (509th), FHC’s “Tallahassee Lassie” (510th), and Dottie Mae (511th) together somehow? I thought so too. So, back home in New York, I did the skins for the other two and put a formation together.

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August

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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 6:57 pm 
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Fantastic post, August! Both of the airfields at Kitzingin and Straubing were former Luftwaffe air bases. The airfield at Kitzingin became "Advanced Landing Ground R-6" when the American forces began operations there in mid April 1945, and the airfield at Straubing became "Advanced Landing Ground R-68" when American operations began there at the end of April/beginning of May 1945.

According to Allied Fighters' history on "Dottie Mae", the tail band colors were applied based on which flight (A, B, C or D) the aircraft was assigned to, but it also says that this was not generally adhered to since the flights were arranged based on available aircraft/pilots. "Dottie Mae" initially had yellow tail bands in December '44, but these were changed to red in early 1945.

I had to take a virtual version of "Dottie Mae" up for a flight back on May 8th too. I used the Aeroplane Heaven P-47D-25 in Prepar3D, with a repaint by Todd Disrud depicting the aircraft as it looks today. This flight was taken from Chino, CA, where the aircraft is based today, using the ORBX Southern California scenery.

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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 10:11 am 
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That Aeroplane Heaven P-47 looks really nice, John. I can't quite justify the purchase given the other options available. At the moment, I have Dottie available to fly in 3 different sims. When I want the eye candy at the level you have above, I can fire up IL-2:Great Battles and load her up there. I did so this morning.

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I love everything about the Great Battles version from a looks and immersiveness standpoint. The only drawback is the limited maps available, set up more as battle arenas than fun places to fly point-to-point, so all I could really do was beat up a Belgian town or two and return to base.

I can also fly it in IL-2:1946, as extensively modded by the user community and especially the guys over at SAS1946.com, and holds up very well for a program of its age. The models, and most especially the exterior textures, are not up to current standards, but many of the virtual cockpits - apart from not being clickable - are as good as the best freeware and some payware P3D products. Available maps cover most regions where significant air combat has ever occurred, and so I re-flew the Traunsee mission again today, both in IL-2:1946 and Prepar3d. It's almost a toss-up which was more fun! For the IL-2 mission, I brought along "No Guts No Glory" and an anonymous third Jug as my wingmen.

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Here are two shots approaching the Traunsee, first in IL-2:1946 and then in P3D, as nearly the same moment as I could manage. You can see how much better the IL-2:1946 cockpit looks than the freebie P3D one. I just wish it had self-shading to increase the realism. The scenery in 1946 is not bad at all, but in P3D it's more varied, more densely populated, and I'm sure more accurate. Interestingly, 1946 did a much better job of modeling the turbulence as I went through the valley, and made me understand how easily someone could dip the bird into the drink.

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As you can partly see in the second shot, I did at least put some work into the panel.cfg of the P3D Jug last night, and now at least I have the right instruments in the right locations and more or less matching each other.

Once over the lake, the more advanced environment of P3D takes over with things like the cloud reflections and the boat traffic that really boost the realism.

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One thing that impressed me in flying all three sims this morning was how similarly the aircraft handled in each of them. Both the OEM programmers and the modders obviously work really hard on the flight dynamics. I found that the exact same flying techniques were needed in all three, and jumping from the P-47 in one sim to another felt a lot more similar than, say, jumping to a Corsair does in each sim. That's why I keep them all (and a couple others besides) loaded and ready to go. I can decide in the moment whether I want to fly to modern locales and deal with ATC and navaids like a modern warbird owner (P3D), have a cinematic experience and blow stuff up (IL-2:GB or DCS), or choose from over 1,500 aircraft types for limited elements of both experiences (1L-2:1946).

In conclusion, flight sims rock! Everyone is excited about how Grand Theft Auto V is now free on Epic Games, and I did indeed download it last night, but I'm in no hurry to start playing it!

August

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