The World War 2 Obscure Trivia Thread


OK, the Flying Prostitute is the B-26 Marauder, so named because it was fast and lacked any visible means of support (a reference to its small wing area).

On the Sasha one, the irritating thought that’s tickling my brain is that it was an aircraft that was generally unpopular, possibly of foreign origin, that had a variety of unkind nicknames, but that for some reason was loved by some Russian crews, hence my guesses of Po-2 or P-39. Am I at least vaguely on the right track?

Also, how about the Wimpy and the Son of a Bitch, Second Class?


The B-26 Marauder, aka The Flying Prostitute, The Whore of Baltimore, and The Widowmaker.

With “Sasha” you’re on the right track with it being Russian. Since its a tough one (and perhaps apocryphal), I’ll give it away. Its based on an anecdotal story I read years ago about Russia’s top scorer in the P-39: Alexander Pokryshkin. His first “kill” was a Sukhoi Su-2 light bomber, sometimes nicknamed “Sasha.” The bombers were top secret at the time, and Pokryshkin realized after shooting one down that it was Soviet bird. He kept the rest of his regiment from downing the others in formation. (Only problem is I can’t find confirmation of what I read regarding the nickname.)

The “Wimpy” what the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bomber, while the “Son of a Bitch, 2nd Class” was the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver.

Two Americans (Duchess of the Sky and Dumbo) and a Russian (Varnished Coffin) left.


Close, but no cigar.



I’ve got two of these because I gave up and googled them. I’m still stuck on the Duchess of the Sky. Catalina maybe?

How about Forked Tailed Devil and Whispering Death?


The Vickers Wellington, then.


“Duchess of the Sky” is not the Catalina.

So you found Dumbo and Varnished Coffin?

The “Forked Tailed Devil” is the P-38 Lightning, while the Whispering Death was the Beaufighter (due to the sound of the sleeve-valve engines).

Not to be confused with the "Whistling Death (aka: the Ensign Eliminator, the Hose Nose).


If Google is to be believed, the Varnished Coffin is the Lagg-3 and Dumbo is a kind of catch-all codeword for what I guess today would be called search and rescue aircraft.


Yep. LaGG-3 was the “Varnished Coffin” on account to its wooden parts and lack of quality.

Dumbo is a SAR callsign, frequently associated with the PBY Catalina. Look at her from the front, and it should make sense.


Fresh news

New plane wreck discovered off Rhodes in Greece. A German WW2 JU-52 military transport plane lies completely intact (except front engine and glass cockpit) at max depth of 75m. Aegean Tec found the plane using GPS and have seen it using a video feed but had not physically been down to the seabed. The cockpit controls are complete including all the dials, throttles and control columns. Machine guns are still in the fuselage. All of the fuselage doors are still closed and the windows are too small to squeeze through so the exact cargo is still unknown. The plane could have been carrying paratroopers when the plane crashed or maybe it was just the pilot, navigator and rear gunner aboard. Aegean Tec are running guided dives to the plane as well as offering the full range of PADI tech courses. The full story about the JU-52 including more pictures will be published in Scuba Diver magazine in a couple of months time.



Did we ever figure out what the Duchess of the Sky was?

Also, for a particular aircraft in a particular theater of WW2, a critical function performed by the ground crew was to check to see if the aircraft smelt of cheese. Name the aircraft and the theater.


In all her glory.


Spitfires in the Mediterranean Theater. Aircraft operating in that theater were frequently fitted with air filters, due to all the dust, grit, and sand of the Sahara. Unlike some, the Spitfire had two different filter options: the Vokes and the Aboukir. I can’t remember which one was the culprit, but a filter in need of change was noted of smelling “cheesy.”

(I’ll admit, I’m just bs-ing at this point.)


The Timber Terror strikes again.

The Mosquito, as I’m sure we all know, was made largely of plywood, which is thin layers of wood glued together. In an age before modern epoxy resin was invented, the binding agent was casein which was extracted from milk. In Europe this was absolutely fine but when the aircraft was taken to the Far East, the heat and humidity could cause the casein to break down, with somewhat alarming consequences for the air crew. Because the casein was derived from a milk protein, the aircraft would supposedly emit a cheesy smell if the casein was starting to break down, so for safety reasons it was vital that a crew under no circumstances tried to take off in a cheesy smelling Mosquito.


In my defense, I did guess a British plane powered by Merlin engines that a German aviator was allegedly jealous of.

What mythical bird provided the name for a much disliked fighter?


Blackburn Roc?


That’s the bird.

Q: Who created the device that helped to solve the engine cut-out issues the Rolls-Royce Merlin experienced during some maneuvers?


An engineer called Beatrice Shilling


Traditionally, ships are considered female. Which warship was, by order of a ranking officer, to only ever be referred to as “he” not “she?”


I thought all German capital ships were a “he” not a “she”. Bismark certainly was.


Maybe, but I specifically remember an admiral (Donitz perhaps) saying during a speech that Bismarck was a “he.”