View Full Version : Living History... Detailing a B-24 and B-25 World War II Bombers

Michael Stoops
May 23rd, 2017, 09:21 AM
For the fourth time in recent years, Meguiar's has been honored to sponsor and participate in a very unique detailing project. Joe Fernandez, of the World Famous Superior Shine, first brought to our attention this B-24J Bomber from WWII, named Witchcraft. When we were first introduced to this plane, it was the only air worthy B-24J in existence, even though some 18,000 had been built during WWII. The crew that assembles each year does so voluntarily - nobody gets paid to be here, nobody has their trip expenses covered or reimbursed. They all do it out of sheer love and passion for their craft, and the opportunity to work on a piece of history. And this year, we added a second plane to the mix, a B-25 known as Tondelayo. Hey, why buff out one plane when you can do two, right?

Personally, I've had the honor of working alongside Joe and the various crews assembled over the years, each time we've worked on Witchcraft. A couple of years ago I had the great privilege of actually flying in this glorious aircraft, from John Wayne Airport near Newport Beach, up the coast to above Long Beach Harbor and the Queen Mary, and back south to John Wayne. A thrill I will never forget!

We owe a big "Thank You!" to Joe for putting this project together once again, and certainly to all the guys in the crew who donated their time to assist. We would also like to thank the other sponsors of this event, without whose assistance this could not happen: Rupes, Autogeek, and ACE Clearwater. The biggest thank you, of course, goes out to all the brave men and women who served so selflessly during this great conflict, and all who have served this nation throughout its great history.

The posts that follow are in Joe's own words, and he relates a bit of the story of how this project came to be a few years back, a bit of the history of the aircraft in question, and the guys who worked together to make it all possible.

Michael Stoops
May 23rd, 2017, 09:22 AM
I've been blessed with a career I greatly adore. I've detailed some of the world's greatest classics and exotics and historically significant items such as Ronald Reagans Presidential limousine, aircraft used as Air Force One and the Ferdinand Magellan Presidential railcar U.S.#1.

Since 2013 I had had the pleasure of leading a team annually to care for a very rare bird. Witchcraft is a Consolidated B-24J Liberator.
This aircraft belongs to the Collings Foundation. The Collings Foundation is a non-profit, Educational Foundation (501c-3), founded in 1979. The purpose of the Foundation is to organize and support "living history" events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. Their collection contains classic vehicles, armored tanks, and vintage aircraft.

Witchcraft, along with two other WWII aircraft, flies as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, visiting over 120 cities nationwide annually. When she comes into Southern California we detail her.

I first discovered Witchcraft one afternoon while I was detailing a car in Arcadia, Ca. While working, I distinctly heard the sound of radial engines overhead. I quickly looked up and was very surprised to see a B-24 in the air. To my knowledge at that time, there were no airworthy B-24s.

That night I searched the internet for information about her. I soon discovered her name was Witchcraft.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b-24_overhead.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118491/title/b-24-overhead/cat/3443)

I followed the Collings Foundation of FaceBook,www.facebook.com/collings.foundation (http://www.facebook.com/collings.foundation). I learned that they had left my area but would be back the following year. Routinely I'd log onto their Facebook page to follow Witchcraft on her journey across America.

On one occasion this photo was posted. I noticed that her finish had seen better days and was in need of some love.


It had been nearly a year since I've seen Witchcraft fly overhead. The crew were in Arizona and knew they would be back in my area soon. I contacted the Witchcraft crew through Facebook and arranged to meet them in a few weeks.

We met when they had arrived at an airport near me. I verified that she indeed was in need of a major finish reconditioning. I knew she could be saved.


After I received the thumbs up from the Witchcraft crew and the Collings Foundation I started to make calls to my friends in the detailing industry.

The following two weeks I had received commitments from AutoGeek, Meguiars, a client of mine Gary Johnson of ACE Clearwater, and 14 other detailers to help with the project. We restored her finish back to new.


The finish holds up for about a year before it needs polishing again. Since 2013 we have done Witchcraft annually. This year, 2017, word spread quickly throughout the detailing community that she was coming into town and that I'd lead another crew to restore her finish. I was inundated with calls, texts, emails and private messages from detailers requesting to be part of this years team. 36 detailers from across the United States signed up this year. With a team big 36 man team I figured we could not only detail Withcraft but we could do her little sister, the B-25 Mitchell "Tondelayo" as well. Tondelayo's finish was also in need of a great deal of care.


As in every year past, AutoGeek has stepped up with support. Meguiars has also helped every year since 2013. My client, ACE Clearwater, was in again and the Lyon Air Museum would again provide us a location to perform the service. This year we had Rupes come in as we primarily used Rupes Bigfoot 21 polishers. TEAM SHINE was born!!


We performed the project on my 49th birthday, May 11th. It was one of my greatest birthdays ever!

We got started at about 8 am by unpackaging supplies. Our product of choice for peak performance was Meguiars #20 Polymer Sealant with Meguiars DFC6 Foam Cutting Discs. We would follow the polishing process with Meguiars D156 Synthitic Spray Wax.


http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/A42.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118453/title/a42/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/A31.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118452/title/a31/cat/3443)

Michael Stoops
May 23rd, 2017, 09:23 AM
Using five 6000 watt generators, four scaffolding, five scissor lifts, armed with 32 Rupes Bigfoots, four Meguiars MT300s, I assigned each volunteer an area to polish.

Here you can see the difference from the faded paint versus the restored color of the freshly polished and waxed finish.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b101.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118455/title/b101/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b22.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118457/title/b22/cat/3443)

The weather was perfect. Must have been in the mid-70s.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b13.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118454/title/b13/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b111.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118456/title/b111/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b31.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118458/title/b31/cat/3443)

The excitement of the location was electric! We were yards away from airliners taking off and landing. Witchcraft was grounded for the day because we were working on her but, the B-17, B-25, and P-51 would start up and take off on an occasion throughout the day. The entire time we were working the aircraft are open to visitors. Children to WWII veterans came out to see and to ride on the aircraft.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b42.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118459/title/b42/cat/3443)

https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/medium/b61.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118461/title/b61/cat/3443)

Here Tim Jones is polishing the engine nacelle that covers a 1200 horsepower Pratt and Whitney 14 cylinder radial engine.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b51.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118460/title/b51/cat/3443)

By mid-day, you could clear see the chalkiness is just about gone and the proper "satin sheen" is back.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b71.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118462/title/b71/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/b91.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118464/title/b91/cat/3443)

Here a before and after photo showing the faded oxidized paint compared to the freshly polished and waxed finish.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/before_after3.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118466/title/before-after3/cat/3443)

With only about two and a half hours left in our work day, I started to move guys over to the B-25 as they completed areas of the B-24.

The finish on the B-25 needed the same process we performed on the B-24. The results were spectacular!

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c8.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118473/title/c8/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c13.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118467/title/c13/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c21.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118468/title/c21/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c7.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118472/title/c7/cat/3443)

The 36 man crew on the B-24 was just about right. She's a big warbird and it takes lots man hours to clean her up. The B-25 is smaller. Once everyone was on the B-25 we were literally working elbow to elbow.

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c61.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118471/title/c61/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/c51.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118470/title/c51/cat/3443)

Michael Stoops
May 23rd, 2017, 09:24 AM
We had a special visitor come by that afternoon, Barry Meguiar!

We showed him that we aren't just Car Crazy but we are PLANE CRAZY too! LOL!!

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/barry_visit.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118465/title/barry-visit/cat/3443)

I had an awesome crew this year. Every single one of them put their head down and worked hard. We had to push hard to get both warbirds done by that evening. We took only one break. Nobody complained. It was a pleasure to work with such a team!

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/18485731_10154342110216364_220811585967557090_n_1495439865_64583.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118496/title/18485731-10154342110216364-220811585967557090-n-1495439865-64583/cat/3443)

That night Britt Dietts, of Warbird Photos, came out and took some amazing night shots of the birds with engines runned up!! I'm glad we finished them in time. A half polished airplane would be embarressing.

B-24J Liberator

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/last_wc1.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118475/title/last-wc1/cat/3443)

B-25 Mitchell

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/last_ton_1.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118474/title/last-ton-1/cat/3443)

She's beautiful again!!

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B246.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118487/title/oc-b246/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B243.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118484/title/oc-b243/cat/3443)

This is tough work, these detailers come out on their own dime to do this. Why?

These warbirds represent a time in our history when Americans came together to win a war. She is a symbol of FREEDOM. All sacrificed much. Some sacrificed everything. This needs to be remembered. The story needs to always be told.

https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/medium/10959681_10204920671368081_548883029913456586_n.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118489/title/10959681-10204920671368081-548883029913456586-n/cat/3443)

The following day after we completed the project, a number of veterans, all of whom flew on B-24s during the war, came out and visited Witchcraft. Here is a short video and story about the event.

World War II fly-boys return to skies in original bomber ? Orange County Register (http://www.ocregister.com/2017/05/13/world-war-ii-fly-boys-return-to-skies-in-original-bomber/)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B242.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118483/title/oc-b242/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B241.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118482/title/oc-b241/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B245.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118486/title/oc-b245/cat/3443)

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/OC_B244.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118485/title/oc-b244/cat/3443)

This is why we do it. This is what it is all about!

The entire event was beyond what my words could explain. I am so grateful to be part of such a project. Much appreciation to AutoGeek, Meguiars, Rupes, Lyon Air Museum, ACE Clearwater and to the 36 NUTS that dropped everything and joined me to polish up two precious artifacts of American history.

To top it off..... I was presented one of two custom Rupes Bigfoot done in Witchcraft livery!!!

http://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/data/3443/witchcraft_rupes.jpg (https://www.autogeekonline.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/118477/title/witchcraft-rupes/cat/3443)

Please takea moment and watch this short trailer about a soon to be released documentry about this Consolidated B-24J liberator, "Witchcraft"

<iframe class="restrain" title="YouTube video player" width="640" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fMhb53pv0wk?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" id="yui-gen49" style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);"></iframe>

The Guz
May 23rd, 2017, 10:42 AM
Very cool. Great job by the team.

May 23rd, 2017, 04:13 PM
Beyond words, Michael....

A great honor for sure. Great to see the heroes of the generation there to visit!

Superior Shine
May 23rd, 2017, 05:09 PM
Thanks for sharing Mike. I can't tell you how much I appreciate Meguiars coming in and supporting these events.

It's always a pleasure to work side by side with you and Nick.

May 23rd, 2017, 08:01 PM
Amazing project. :doublethumbsup2

Hats off to The Team which completed the transformation of those beautiful historic aircraft.

P.S.: Is Airbus A380 the next project ? Interior/exterior detail, perhaps. Emirates Airlines has it in 615-seat configuration.

Superior Shine
May 1st, 2018, 08:38 AM
Every Spring the Collings Foundation fly their aircraft into Southern California as part of their Wings of Freedom tour. We use this opportunity to clean and wax their aircraft. We will be doing it again Tuesday, May 8th at Brackett Airfield in La Verne, California.
I have about 10 volunteers so far but I can use a few more hands to help me do this.
I will provide all the equipment and products. You will have an awesome time, get a team t-shirt, free lunch and possibly a chance to ride in one of the aircraft. A ride in the aircraft isn't promised. Sometimes we're able to and sometimes we're not. Please contact me if you're interested in being part of the team.