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'They saved us': WWII vets learn how NASA Langley helped build better warplanes

'They saved us': WWII vets learn how NASA Langley helped build better warplanes

In September 1944 as World War II raged, Hampton Roads witnessed an astonishing sight: a big B-24 heavy bomber ditching in the James River. The ditching was deliberate, choreographed by Hampton-based aeronautical engineers and the military to demonstrate what was then already well-known to aircrews: A ditched B-24 was a deathtrap. "The losses of B-24s were astounding due to ditching, both in Europe and the Pacific," said Joseph Chambers, retired aeronautical engineer and author of several history books on aviation. "The story is, crews that came through Langley Air Force Base on their way to Europe on B-24s would stop off in Hampton and buy all the 2-by-4s they could to...

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