Reading Airshow 2010

June 23, 2010 - 3 Comments

by Jim Barnes

Another June, another Reading! For any readers who don’t know, Reading Airshow is the largest gathering of WWII reenactors and enthusiasts on the east coast, with the possible exception of  the Gap. There is no other gathering of this many WWII aircraft in one place, of which I am aware. The 193rd Rifle Division has been for some time the only RKKA unit which attends this show, although we frequently invite some other units to join us in our camp. This year we had the  assistance of the 25th Ukrainian Mounted Rifle Regiment and a comrade from the 3rd Rifles. (Thanks comrades!)

This year, John Niemiec coordinated the event for us (Good job, John!) and when I arrived at the site on Thursday afternoon, he already had his tent set up and was ready to assist others. Only about half of our complement were able to get off work and make it for Friday’s show, so we had a fairly small camp, but the others began rolling in by the middle of the night and we had completely enclosed our perimeter by the time the public started coming in on Saturday. Much thanks to the Momots and Kernans for providing us with a sizable medical impression.

Weather-wise, Reading always seems to provide some kind of challenge, but this year was, comparatively speaking, not that bad. Friday was hot and we experienced rain overnight, but Saturday was breezy and John and I wore our Naval Infantry impressions all day, pea coats and all, and were not that uncomfortable.

There is usually a bit of complaining among the reenactors about the way we are treated at the airshow, and I think that more times than not, the criticism is justified. There is a general feeling that reenactors are regarded as second-class citizens by the volunteers who staff the show. However, this year our group seemed to escape with few issues.  In fact some of the guys even got some of the gate guards to be reasonable at times.  I have not heard much from other groups to see how they faired. If anyone has anecdotes or info about this issue, please comment.

While most of the usual groups and displays were back this year, many of them improved, there were a couple of new additions which I particularly liked. One was a rationing board office set up in the home front section which was nicely detailed. The second was the first appearance of the 8th Shidan, an imperial Japanese Army unit. These guys were set up just across the tarmac from us and we got to interact with them a good bit. They are a fairly new unit, but they are doing a good job and have a tremendous attitude toward the hobby. We even got to crush them in an August 1945 skirmish scenario. Needless to say, this has been a severely lacking impression for any WWII living history show. Good show, gentlemen!

Sunday morning  arrived innoculously enough and we had a normal Sunday, church-time crowd. However, by lunch, the weather began to turn on us. As it became stormy looking and we experienced some sprinkles, word trickled in of storm,  heavy rain and even killer tornadoes to the west of us. Eventually, the wind picked up and we were notified to take down our tent flys or at least secure them so they wouldn’t fall on anyone.  As the stiuation deteriorated and the rain started in earnest, we ended up packing the displays in early. Safety should always take first priority and that is the assumption we worked on. We were finally hit with a major downpour which soaked anyone who was outside.  Oddly enough, once that small front passed through, the weather cleared and we were stuck with our packed up gear for the last couple of hours until the gates opened. Reading weather had to take one good shot at us before we left!

Despite this, we had a good weekend. The crowds were good and we had a good unit turnout and a good camp. As always, it was great to enjoy the comradeship of our fellow reenactors, whether in our group or others. We have a good group of folks and everyone pitches in to assist to get the job done. Thanks to all. Urahhhh!

Despite the drawbacks, I always enjoy this event and plan to continue to attend. Afterall, the vendor shopping is worth the trip alone!

Comments (3)

Misha

June 25th, 2010 at 9:57 pm    


Spaciba tovarish. Nice write up once again. I thought we combined our medical impressions into a rather nice display. Enjoyed working side by side with Doc! True we weren’t as advanced as some of the allied field hospitals but I believe we saw quite a bit more action and were certainly more mobile (and with real world experience in the medical field).

It was nice to finally get one up on the Fritzes this year and our battle against the Japs was a real winner. How amazing more people don’t know of this aspect of the war. For the early war history buffs, let us not forget the clashes with the Imperial Army in 38-39, who were crushed by General Georgi Zhukov, at Lake Khasan and Khalkhin Gol. A big Uhrahh!! to the 8th Shindan Japanese Imperial Army unit for a job well done. These are great guys to work with and a credit to reenacting. Let us remind people that these are reenactors and military historians so lighten up on your prejudices.

Glad the guys at the gate hung up their SS runes this year, The event as a whole, I felt, was more reenactor friendly. Nice when word gets around…isn’t it?! I’m looking forward to next year as is my uncle who is a 26th YD vet of WWII. He is looking forward to meeting up with the 26th YD historians and reenactors and I think will share some of his stories. I particularly like the one of Metz.

Sure would like to see that YAK-9 at Reading one year soon. Maybe an IL-2 if anyone has one flying. I’d like to see some fascist armor get busted up.

Signing off,
The Red Med!

Bill Millman

April 1st, 2011 at 7:27 pm    


Can someone point me in the right direction? I heard that they need reenactors for the Reading Airshow and I would like to be one of the reenactors.

Thanks!

Jim Barnes

April 1st, 2011 at 8:48 pm    


Bill,

You have to be a member of a group that is registered with the airshow to participate in the show itself. I don’t know if you can get registered at this late date. However, anyone can attend in uniform if you pay the gate fee. That might be a way to meet up with a group that you would like to join. What sort of impression do you do, or want to do?

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