Five more PB4Y-2 air tankers

PB4Y-2 air tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 121, N2871G, at Hemet, California, September 15, 1979. Photo by JD Davis. Anyone know the story of the polka dots?

In our continuing series of looking back at photos of historic air tankers, today we are featuring five PB4Y-2 Privateers: Tankers 30, 50, 121, 123, and 124.  The photos of the aircraft seen here were furnished by the Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base except for the ones credited to JD Davis. Thanks JD!

PB4Y-2 Air Tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 50, N7237C, at Lancaster, California, August 25, 1972.
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 30, N3739G, at Lancaster, California November 1980. Photo by JD Davis.
PB4Y-2, Tanker 30, N3739G
A PB4Y-2, Tanker 30, N3739G, at Hemet, California, July 17, 1980. Photo by JD Davis.
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 123, N7620C, at San Bernardino, California July 25, 1999. Photo by JD Davis.
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 124, N2672G?, at Hemet, California, August, 1980. Photo by JD Davis.
PB4Y-2 air tanker
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker 50, N7237C, at Lancaster, California, August 25, 1972.
PB4Y-2 Air Tanker
A PB4Y-2 Air Tanker at Reno, Nevada, 1976.

9 thoughts on “Five more PB4Y-2 air tankers”

  1. Polka Dot patterns like that were painted on Liberators in Europe during WWII. They were used as sort of “pace cars” setting up giant formations of bombers. The lead plane of the lead flight would form on the Polka Dot, then more flights would join on the lead flight, etc. until the entire raid was formed. The Polka Dots were usually unarmed, and returned to base after form up.

    N2871G could be a small tribute to the WWII, and added visibility obviously can’t hurt over a fire.

  2. I seem to remember hearing that the polka dots were added to Tanker 121 after hours by some smokejumpers “helping”.
    The paint scheme was sometimes referred to as “Wonder Bread” after that.

    1. You are correct. Mike Lynn was flying it at the time and it was extracurricular activity. Nothing else to do in Silver City NM after hours!

  3. As others noted, the polka dots were done by smoke jumpers, and the aircraft was referred to for years as “the flying wonderbread.”

  4. The spots were painted by the some of the ground crew. When the pilot saw it he was not happy at all, but eventually he came around to the idea. They called the airplane “Wonder Bread”.

  5. You need to talk with Bob West or Mike Lynn they can tell you the story about Gene Powers of when he found out and what he did, it was rather funny.

    Scott…..

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