To what extent should we re-invent history?
There is, for example, No. 60163 Tornado, the Peppercorn A1 steam locomotive that never was, until The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust made it happen:
Mean, moody and magnificent, but better-maintained and always in the just-shopped-condition that real working engines rarely were —and 60149 Amandis (as right)
no way is in bad shape compared to many, particularly once one left the main lines.
Anyway, what’s a proper steam railway without the grit, smuts and grime that normally went with travel in those days?
A similar case can be argued for the reconstructed B-17G Flying Fortress that, until the last few hours, was offering circuit-and-bump tourist flights, masquerading as Liberty Belle.
There was no manner in which such an experience could convey the actuality of the original operations of B-17s. At best, the sheer sound and distant sight is the best that could be on offer. Seeing a solo B-17 (or any war-time bomber) was rare enough — and ominous — where were the rest?
Malcolm has no pleasure in the news item showing, yesterday, the wreck of that aircraft burning in an Oswego field. Fortunately, only one of the seven on board suffered even a minor injury.
Worthy … but a trifle meretricious?
This Liberty Belle was a stitch-up.
The basic air-frame (serial number 44-85734) never saw WW2 deployment, but went through the hands of Pratt and Whitney as a post-war test-bed for T34 turbo-prop engines. Later, in the ownership of an east-coast air museum, it was written off, split in two, in a hurricane. An enthusiast bought the wreck to cannibalize it and 44-85813 to produce this facsimile.
The difference with 60163 Tornado is that one was created from the original authentic plans. Nor is this the place (Malcolm doesn’t have the expertise, but see elsewhere) to debate the difference — it’s mainly the deployment of the guns — between B-17F and B-17G variants.
The original Liberty Belle was a B-17F, serial 42-30096, part of the 385th Bombardment Group, 549th Bomber Squadron, flying out of RAF Great Ashfield. It was lost in an on-board fire and crashed at Penlan Hall, Wakes Colne, near Colchester, on 30 November 1943, with four aircrew killed.
Not everything is as Virgin Atlantic might intend
As a marker of “authenticity”, is it fair to compare the nose-art of the original, above right, with this reconstruction (below)?