WW2 Airplane + Harley + Tattoos
I had always wanted to do a shoot with some of my favorite things. Growing up around vintage airplanes is a unique opportunity for folks my age and younger. These airplanes had/have a ton of character and were truly magnificent, the looks and sound is totally a thrilling experience.
A Specific Airplane
For me, the B-25 mid range bomber has always been a favorite. This can likely be traced to growing up seeing one regularly.
The B-25 called “Heavenly Body”. Some family friends owned and restored it to perfect flying condition and brought it to airshows and the like. I can remember being around this particular airplane from a very young age, it’s one of my earliest memories.
As a Photographer
Ever since becoming a photographer, I always wanted to do a shoot with a B-25. I like these airplanes so much, that it’s part of my tattoo sleeve in progress. (Shown here)
As luck would have it, there so happens to be one stored where I live, within a few miles of my house. (Pretty cool considering how rare these airplanes are today) But there’s also challenges… how to light something as large as an airplane in the way that I wanted would be a huge challenge. While it could be done, it would require many crew members, probably scaffoldings and all kinds of things we don’t readily have at our disposal.
An A-Ha Moment
I saw a post that a very talented photographer Felix Hernandez had made about tricking our eyes in the same way that Hollywood has done for years with movies. He used small toys to compose a photograph and make it seem real. This was a great way to accomplish shooting something as large as an airplane. So I knew the task in front of me… I needed a model of the airplane, to be more detailed than a toy. I needed a girl (to tie it in with my regular work) and while I’m at it throw in my Harley. I would need a way to create some fog for my vision and the model certainly gives me the ability to do so much easier than with the real airplane.
The B-25 Bomber and Some History
The B-25 airplanes were significant early in the US’s involvement in WW2. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, The US needed desperately to retaliate against Japan for attacking the US unprovoked and bringing our country into the World War.
From a technology standpoint, this was a tall order because fuel and range was a problem. These propellor driven bombers didn’t have the fuel range to get to mainland Japan from any US base.
To overcome this difficult task, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle had a daring plan to strike the heart of Japan and hit them with a surprising and very deeply personal blow and hit Tokyo.
Lt. Doolittle had a vision of taking these mid-range bombers off of an aircraft carrier. Obviously this was something that had not been done before, and was actually by all rights impossible. They were too large, weighed too much and needed a much more runway for takeoff that wha the short deck of a ship could provide. Not to be defeated, they persisted, and after months of practice, taking off short marked runways and gutting anything that wasn’t absolutely essential from the bombers, including ammo in an effort to reduce weight, they had finally done it after months of training. They set out for the mission, loaded the aircraft carrier USS Hornet* with the B-25’s (lifting them onto the carrier deck by crane), and set out for Japan.
The part that always hits me about this story is that the brave pilots knew it was a one-way mission and they did it anyway, knowing there was no way to land back on a carrier. The mission was to bomb Tokyo, and then head for China and fly until the planes ran out of fuel and ditch them in friendly territory. But there was a snag, a Japanese spy plane had spotted the aircraft carrier several hours early before they could reach the planned launch location. They were forced to take off early or risk Japan being prepared and sending fighters into the air to defend against the strike.
Overall the mission was a success, they bombed Tokyo, and while it didn’t necessarily do significant damage to Japan, it was a huge moral victory for the US, after the brutal attack that was endured at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese on the ground were perplexed, knowing there was not enough fuel range, HOW did these bombers get HERE? Could this be real?
The morale boost that was provided for the United States was essential. It was a message that our country was strong and we wouldn’t stand by while being attacked like that. It helped kick start our troops and their confidence. Mission Accomplished.
Read more about this historic event here.
Me as a child with my Grandpa and the Pilot (Steve Crowe Jr.)
** It’s ok to make fun of my kid mullet.
Here’s a little BTS video of the process through to the final pic. Give me a follow on Instagram for more content in the future, and read more about these wonderful airplanes below.