On Tuesday morning, I went out to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force for a special event station being put on from the amateur radio station on board their B-17 “City of Savannah.” The special event station is likely the final reunion of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Historical Society; we were told it is likely the final because of the shrinking numbers of World War II veterans able to attend. They were also going to have a service to commemorate the “City of Savannah.”
Having gone off duty yesterday morning at 0600, I wasn’t up to a full day of operating, but I did go over to the museum and help the assembled crew get things set up. Before operating we had to get the antenna hooked up, power turned on to the aircraft, control head for the HF radio hooked up, etc. When you climb into the “City of Savannah” it never fails to impress you just how much bravery the crews of World War II bombers exhibited; the aircraft’s skin is paper thin and no protection against the bullets and flak fired at them. It truly gives you respect for the crews that flew these aircraft. I’m always honored to take part in these operations to help remember the men who flew aircraft such as these into combat.
I left just before noon and unfortunately the station wasn’t on the air yet. Although band conditions seemed good and we were hearing other stations, an unusual problem had popped up – it seemed that there were voltage issues with the power going to the HF radio. Whenever it was keyed up the display dimmed badly and it seemed there wasn’t very much power out. The “City of Savannah” has two power systems and respective supplies, one 24 volt system that powers the bomber’s systems and a 12 volt system that powers the amateur radio gear and some of the other modern additions. As I left, they were getting ready to check the power coming out of the 12 volt system.
Eventually, they switched over to a backup power supply and got on the air. With the backup supply, the radio display didn’t dim and the RF output was where it should have been. The radio and electrical volunteers will be tackling the 12v power supply issue and hopefully it will be fixed soon.