A B-24 Liberator, Up Close and Personal: German Photographs of a Downed B-24 in Holland – II

This page presents the 15 pictures of Tell Me More in Luftgaukommando Report KU 1679.

By scrolling down the post from top to bottom, you’ll first see images of the two pages in the KU Report listing the captions of the photos. 

This is followed by verbatim transcriptions of the entire block of text on those two pages.  Each German-language caption is followed by its English-language equivalent, in italics

Then, scrolling down through all the pictures you’ll see that each photo has its pertinent caption – in both German and English – beneath it.  The English-language translations are presented in italics. 

Importantly, the images and their captions are not presented in the same numerical order as in the KU Report.  Instead, I’ve arranged them to appear as if you were walking along and moving through the plane, from front to rear.  I’ve also added some comments below the German-English paired translations. 

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KU Report Photo Caption Pages

Bild 1     Ansicht der Maschine von Vorn.
Picture 1     View of the machine from the front.

Bild 2     Ansicht der Maschine von hinten.  Man beachte das weggeknickte Fahrwerk.
Picture 2     View of the machine from behind. Note the bent landing gear.

Bild 3     Rumpfende mit Leiwerk und Staffelkenner.
Picture 3     Fuselage tail with body work and [squadron signal light].

Bild 4     Rumpfvorderteil:
a) Staurohr
b) Blister für Navigator beidseitig
c) Abtriftmesser
d) mit den Bewegungen der Waffen gekoppelte Panzerblickscheibe
e) Panzerplatten aussenbords, links und rechts
Picture 4     Fuselage front:
a) Pitot tube
b) Blisters for navigator on both sides
c) Drift [meter?]
d) Armored sighting window, coupled with the movement of the weapons
e) External armor plate, left and right

Bild 5     Linker Flügel mit Triebwerken.
Picture 5     Left wing with engines.

Bild 6     Blick über Waffenstand Rumpfoberseite, Antennenanordnung nach dem Leitwerk:
a) Rückspiegel für Schützen auf Rumpfoberseite
b) Revi N 6 A
Picture 6     View of the weapon stand [dorsal turret] top of the fuselage, antenna arrangement according to the control unit:
a) Rear-view mirror for gunner on fuselage top
b) Revi N 6A

Bild 7     Blick auf Führerstand:
a), b), c), d), Panzerglasscheiben
e) Panzerplatte
Picture 7     View of pilot’s seat:
a), b), c), d), armored glass panes
e) Armor plate

Bild 8     Ausgefahrener Notsporn
Picture 8     Extended emergency skid

Bild 9     Bugturm mit Panzerglasscheibe und Antrieb.
Picture 9     Nose spire [sic] with armored glass pane and drive.

Bild 10     Plexiglasverkleidung des Bugturmes mit aufgemalter
a) Sprung des Plexiglasses wurde durch beidseitige Lochung der Plexiglashälften und durch Einziehen eines Drahtes zickzackförmig verbunden.
Picture 10     Plexiglass covering of the nose spire [sic] with painted [markings]
a) Crack of the plexiglass was zigzagged by bilateral perforation of the plexiglass halves and by pulling in a wire.

Bild 11     Blick in rückwärtigen Kabinenabschnitt mit MK-Kugel und Rumpfseitenständen.
Picture 11     View in the rear cabin section with machine-gun bullets and trunk sides.

Bild 12     Unterbringung der Munitionskästen für Heckstand an der rechten Bordwand hinter dem rechten Fenster.  Darüber Seenotsender mit Zubehöirbehälter.
a) Ausstiegklappe für Besatzung als auch Agenten und Sabotagebehältern.
Picture 12     Accommodation of the ammunition boxes for the rear deck on the right side of the vehicle
behind the right window.  Above that, distress transmitter with accessory container.
a) The exit flap for crew as well as agents and sabotage containers.

Bild 13     Blick auf ferngesteuerte FT-Geräte
a) BC – 966 – A
b) Stromversorgungsgerät für TR 5043
c) Modulator Unit BC – 456 – E
d) Radio Transmitter Unit BC – 433 – G
e) TR 5043
Picture 13     View of remote controlled FT devices
a) BC – 966 – A
b) Power device for TR 5043
c) Modulator unit BC – 456 – E
d) Radio transmitter unit BC – 433 – G
e) TR 5043

Bild 14     Die schwenkbaren Rumpfseitenwaffen mit Kreiskornvisier ohne Rücklaufbremse.
Picture 14     The swivel[ing] fuselage side weapons with a circular horn sight without a return brake.

Bild 15     Hydraulicbrett an der rechten Bordwand vor Heckstand.
Picture 15     Hydraulic board on the right side of the vehicle in front of the tail.

Bild 16     Servomotor für Seiten- und Höhenruder der Kurssteurerg A 5. Sitz des Gerätes in Flugrichtung hinter der Trennwand des Heckraumes.
Picture 16     Servomotor for side and height control of the steering wheel A 5.  Seat of the device in the direction of flight behind the partition of the rear compartment.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Bild 1     Ansicht der Maschine von Vorn.

Picture 1     View of the machine from the front.

Comments: Note that none of the props appear to have been feathered, and the lower blades of two starboard props appear to be bent.  The landing gear has been lowered. 

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Bild 7     Blick auf Führerstand:
a), b), c), d), Panzerglasscheiben
e) Panzerplatte

Picture 7     View of pilot’s seat:
a), b), c), d), armored glass panes
e) Armor plate

Comments: The skin of the forward fuselage is crumpled.  Armored glass and pilot’s compartment exterior side armor – of obvious of interest to the photographer – are clearly visible.

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Bild 5     Linker Flügel mit Triebwerken.

Picture 5     Left wing with engines.

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Bild 4     Rumpfvorderteil:
a) Staurohr
b) Blister für Navigator beidseitig
c) Abtriftmesser
d) mit den Bewegungen der Waffen gekoppelte Panzerblickscheibe
e) Panzerplatten aussenbords, links und rechts

Picture 4     Fuselage front:
a) Pitot tube
b) Blisters for navigator on both sides
c) Drift [meter?]
d) Armored sighting window, coupled with the movement of the weapons
e) External armor plate, left and right

Comments: Note the attention to co-pilot’s exterior side armor, and crumpled skin of the front fuselage. 

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Bild 6     Blick über Waffenstand Rumpfoberseite, Antennenanordnung nach dem Leitwerk:
a) Rückspiegel für Schützen auf Rumpfoberseite
b) Revi N 6 A

Picture 6     View of the weapon stand [dorsal turret] top of the fuselage, antenna arrangement according to the control unit:
a) Rear-view mirror for gunner on fuselage top
b) Revi N 6A

Comments:  An excellent view of the top of the rear fuselage.  Note the furrows created by the impact of the starboard landing gear tire and fuselage bottom.  These extend only a very short distance behind the aircraft into the adjoining field, implying a very abrupt stop.  

The dorsal turret is probably the Martin A-3C version as opposed to A-3D, the latter of which commenced with Block H-25 Liberators.  Ironically, the German technical analyst referred to the turret gunsight as a “Revi N 6 A”.  (Revi?!) 

More intriguingly – at least, as described in the caption – are two circular rear-view mirrors mounted within opposite sides of the turret, each located between the .50 caliber machine gun and turret bubble.  The starboard inner turret mirror is also visible in photograph number 7.   

Notice that the cover of the starboard emergency life raft compartment has been detached from the fuselage.

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TO RELEASE & INFLATE LIFE RAFTS
PULL RELEASE HANDLE HARD

PULL RELEASE HANDLE AS FAR AS
POSSIBLE WHICH RELEASES DOORS

PULL INSIDE RELEASE HANDLE…

Comments: This is an 800 dpi scan from the previous photo, showing instructions concerning release of the B-24’s life-rafts.

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Bild 10     Plexiglasverkleidung des Bugturmes mit aufgemalter
a) Sprung des Plexiglasses wurde durch beidseitige Lochung der Plexiglashälften und durch Einziehen eines Drahtes zickzackförmig verbunden.

Picture 10     Plexiglass covering of the nose spire [sic] with painted [markings]
a) Crack of the plexiglass was zigzagged by bilateral perforation of the plexiglass halves and by pulling in a wire.

Comments: Here’s a different way of looking at things: The photographer stood atop the front fuselage of Tell Me More, and pointing his camera down, photographed the top of the “dome” of the Emerson A-15 nose turret.  Immediately apparent are numbers denoting the rotational azimuth of the turret – in gradations of 15 degrees relative to the fuselage center line – engraved or etched into the plexiglass.  The overwhelming majority of photographs of the Emerson A-15 turret, where the turret is seen from the side, naturally don’t show this feature. 

(Did the turret dome of the CAC / Motor Products tail turret have a similar azimuth scale?)

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Bild 9     Bugturm mit Panzerglasscheibe und Antrieb.

Picture 9     Nose spire [sic] with armored glass pane and drive.

Comments: Another view of the A-15 turret.  Immediately apparent are the pane of armored glass and elevation drives for the guns.  There’s a small mystery here:  How was the turret dome shattered?  Flak?  Fighters?  During the plane’s landing?

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Comments: An excellent side view of an Emerson A-15 turret, albeit not from the KU Report.  Instead, from Air Force Photo 53584AC / A12599.  This picture illustrates an interesting aspect of the general design of the A-15, as opposed to the structure of dorsal aircraft turrets:  The guns are located well below the gunner’s head and torso.

Caption: “ENGLAND – S/Sgt. Edward J. Mickey, a B-24 nose turret gunner, of Kingston, Pa., has 30 missions to his credit and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters. (53584AC / A12599)”

Here’s an interesting video (at the website of Hugh Fenlon) of an Emerson A-15 in operation, albeit not (!) in a B-24.

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Bild 11     Blick in rückwärtigen Kabinenabschnitt mit MK-Kugel und Rumpfseitenständen.

Picture 11     View in the rear cabin section with machine-gun bullets and [trunk] sides

Comments:  Fuselage interior, looking forward.  This image provides an excellent view of the waist gun opening covers in their stowed positions, and, the location of oxygen bottles.  The wind blast deflector for the port gun can be seen just ahead of the open waist window.  These are the original “open” style B-24 waist gun positions that are neither staggered nor enclosed.  According to Alan Blue’s book, that modification only commenced with Block H-20 Liberators. 

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Bild 13     Blick auf ferngesteuerte FT-Geräte
a) BC – 966 – A
b) Stromversorgungsgerät für TR 5043
c) Modulator Unit BC – 456 – E
d) Radio Transmitter Unit BC – 433 – G
e) TR 5043

Picture 13     View of remote controlled FT devices
a) BC – 966 – A
b) Power device for TR 5043
c) Modulator unit BC – 456 – E
d) Radio transmitter unit BC – 433 – G
e) TR 504

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Bild 14     Die schwenkbaren Rumpfseitenwaffen mit Kreiskornvisier ohne Rücklaufbremse.

Picture 14     The swivel[ing] fuselage side weapons with a circular horn sight without a return brake.

Comments:  The simple circular ring-and-bead gunsight mounted atop the waist machine guns.

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Bild 12     Unterbringung der Munitionskästen für Heckstand an der rechten Bordwand hinter dem rechten Fenster.  Darüber Seenotsender mit Zubehöirbehälter.
a) Ausstiegklappe für Besatzung als auch Agenten und Sabotagebehältern.

Picture 12     Accommodation of the ammunition boxes for the rear deck on the right side of the vehicle behind the right window.  Above that, distress transmitter with accessory container.
a) The exit flap for crew as well as agents and sabotage containers.

Comments:  Tail turret ammunition storage box, and ventral entry / escape hatch in open (stowed) position. 

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Bild 15     Hydraulicbrett an der rechten Bordwand vor Heckstand.

Picture 15     Hydraulic board on the right side of the vehicle in front of the tail.

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Bild 16     Servomotor für Seiten- und Höhenruder der Kurssteurerg A 5. Sitz des Gerätes in Flugrichtung hinter der Trennwand des Heckraumes.

Picture 16     Servomotor for side and height control of the steering wheel A 5.  Seat of the device in the direction of flight behind the partition of the rear compartment.

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Bild 8     Ausgefahrener Notsporn

Picture 8     Extended emergency skid

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Bild 2     Ansicht der Maschine von hinten.  Man beachte das weggeknickte Fahrwerk.

Picture 2     View of the machine from behind. Note the bent landing gear.

Bild 3     Rumpfende mit Leiwerk und Staffelkenner.

Picture 3     Fuselage tail with body work and [squadron signal light].

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There ends the tail – literally (ahem! – pardon the pun!), and figuratively – of Tell Me More.  The photos tell the story of a single B-24 Liberator – of very, very many – that was lost in the air war against Germany in the Second World War. 

Certainly every man in the plane’s crew certainly had his own, much more human story, as well:  Of attempted evasion, eventual capture, and ultimately liberation and freedom.  I have no way of knowing if in the decades since 1945 those stories were recorded and preserved – especially as suggested by the inscription on the tombstone of Lt. Robert Willson – but it would be nice to think they have been. 

So, let this collection of photos stand as a symbol of a past that should not be forgotten.

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References

The B-24 Liberator

Birdsall, Steve, B-24 Liberator in Action (Aircraft No. 21), (Illustrated by Don Greer), Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., Carrollton, Tx., 1975

Blue, Allan G., The B-24 Liberator – A Pictorial History, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, N.Y., 1975

Davis, Larry  B-24 Liberator in Action (Aircraft No. 80), (Illustrated by Perry Manley), Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., Carrollton, Tx., 1987

Joe Baugher’s list of B-24 serial numbers, at
http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_bombers/b24_16.html

B-24H 41-28754

American Air Museum, at
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/804

8th Air Force Historical Society, at
http://www.8thafhs.com/get_one_acgroup.php?acgroup_id=53

Robert Edwin Willson Commemorative page, at
http://findagrave.com/ for Robert Edwin Willson

Luftgaukommando Report KU 1680

United States National Archives – Collection of Foreign Record Seized – Record Group 242: “Records of Luftgaukommandos: German Reports of Downed Allied Fighters and Other Aircraft – KU Reports”

Report KU 1680 at NARA: (In) Records Group 242, Entry 1022, Shelf Location 190 / 14 / 9-12 / 1-5, Box 231

Demonstration of Emerson A-15 Turret

Hugh Fenlon’s website, at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_eQx_7J2Gk

Modelling the B-24H Liberator

US-Aircraft.com History-Modelling-Forum
http://usaircraft.proboards.com/thread/1570

IPMS USA
http://www.ipmsusa.org/reviews2/aircraft/details/eduard_48/eduard_48_b24j-stuff.htm

Captive Technology: German Photographs of Electronic Equipment in a Downed Special Operations Squadron B-24 Liberator – III

This page presents the other pictures in Luftgaukommando Report 1054, in a format akin to the prior blog post.

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DESCRIPTION OF AIRCRAFT 42-63792, AND PHOTO CAPTIONS

Feindgerät-Untersuchungsstelle 5
RLM GL C-Rü                                                                                                O.U. den 23.4.44
Feldpostnummer: L 50825 FW, Lgp. Brüssel.

Untersuchungsbericht Nr. 5/2021:

Am. 2.3.44 um 23.30 Uhr wurde in Fienvillers (8 km s.w. Doullens) eine Liberator durch Flak abgeschossen.  Von der Besatzung wurden 2 Mann gefangen genommen.

Das Flugzeug war als Sabotagematerialträger eingesetzt und sehr stark zerstört.

Die Typenbezeichnung des Flugzeuges lautete: B 24 D, Ser. 42-63792.  Bemerkenswert an diesem Flugzeug war die FT-Ausrüstung.  Es befanden sich beiderseits des Rumpfbuges die im Bild 1 u. 2 dargestellten Antennen.  Ferner befanden such nachfolgende FT-Geräte an Bord, die grösstenteils bereits durch Kurier nach dem RLM GL C-Rü gesandt wurden:

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    T-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Anzeigegerät mit Braun’scher Röhre, vermutlich Suchgerät (Bild 12, 13, 14, 15 u. 16). –
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. Nr. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. Nr. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. Nr. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. Nr. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. Nr. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Trotzdem bei diesem Flugzeug verschiedene neue Geräte dabiei waren, waren sämtliche FT-Geräte von der Funkmeisterei des Fl.H. Rosiéres weggenommen worden.  Die FT-Geräte mussten erst dort abgeholt und zur Entnahme der Stecker und Kabel wieder in das Flugzeug eingesetzt werden. –

Ferner wurden mehrere Agenten-Empfänger des Musters Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R.1.) festgestellt.

Als Anlage zum Bericht werden 18 Fotos übersandt.

Erläutering zu den Bildern:

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges
Bild 3:           Gerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.  Rechte oben im Bild ist die Kabeleinführung der im Bild 1 u. 2 gezeigten Antennen ersichtlich.
Bild 4:          Kabeleinführung in grösserem Masstab.
Bild 5, 6, 7:  zeigt den Lageert der Geräte RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 11:         RT-3 / APN-1
Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.
Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Engelhard
Stabsing. Und
Sondering. GL

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Enemy equipment investigation center 5                                             KU 1154
Ministry of the Air Force GL C-Rue                  Local Quarters, 23 April 1944
Field postal No L 50825 FW
Air District Post Office Brussels

Investigation Report No 5 / 2021

On 2 March 1944 at 2330 a Liberator had been shot down by anti-aircraft over Fienvillers (8 km southwest of Doullens).  Two members of the crew had been captured.  The plane was equipped as sabotage material-carrier and therefore very seriously damaged.

The type markings of the plane were as follows: B 24 D, Serial No. 42-63792.  This plane was equipped with remarkable radio equipment.  There were aerials on both sides of the front of the fuselage as pictures 1 and 2 show.  Further, there was the following radio equipment on board, the greatest part of which has been sent by messenger to the Ministry of the Air Dorces GL C-Rue.

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    RT-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Indicator-set with Bruan’scher tube, probably search-equipment (see picture 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16)
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. No. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. No. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. No. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. No. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. No. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Though this plane was equipped with different kinds of new radio equipment, all radio equipment had been taken out by the radio office of the Air-base Rosieres.  The radio equipment had to be obtained from that office, and for the purpose of the removal of the plugs and cables had to be installed again into the plane.  Also, several agent receivers of the type “Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R. 1)” were found.

Enclosed in this report 18 photographs.

Photo explanation.

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.
3:     Equipment with Bruan’scher tube.  In the right upper corner of the picture the cable installation of the antenna (shown in picture 1 and 2) can be seen.
4:     Cable installation on larger scale.
5, 6, 7:     shows the location of the equipment RT-7 / APN-1
8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1
11:            RT-3 / APN-1
12, 13, 14, 15, and 16     Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.
17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Enclosures:

Instructions for the
“Miniature Communications Receiver”
and 18 photographs.

Signed: Engelhard
Staff-Engineer and Special Engineer

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PHOTOS: APN-1 Radar Altimeter and M.C.R.-1 Miniature Communications Receiver

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Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1

Pictures 8, 9, 10:   RT-7 / APN-1

Bild 11:         RT-3 / APN-1

Picture 11:            RT-3 / APN-1

Comments:  Here are several views of the APN-1 radar altimeter.  The case has been damaged and the front cable sockets removed, but the interior of the unit – chassis and attached components – is completely intact. 

A video description of the APN-1, created by the infoagemuseum (Wall, New Jersey – in Monmouth County) and narrated by Mr. Ray Chase, describes the operation of the unit.  A beautiful set of illustrations of a (quite intact!) APN-1 is available at the website of Aces, Contrails and Unsung Heroes, while the schematic diagram of the APN-1 can be found at this link to the Waverley Amateur Radio Society

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Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Pictures 17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Comments for Photos 17 and 18: One aspect of the crew’s intended mission is evidenced by the subject of these images:  A Miniature Communications Receiver – 1 (“M.C.R.-1”).  The M.C.R.-1, a portable, tube-based miniature receiver unit, was designed for use by S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) Agents, Special Forces, and Resistance Groups.    

An M.C.R.-1 unit with its associated components is seen lying on a table.  Three power packs (one of which is connected to the unit by a short cable) are present, while on the right are three “Frequency Plug-In” coil packs, each of a different frequency range (2.5 MHz – 4.5 MHz, 4.5 MHz – 8 MHz, and 8 MHz – 15 MHz), which extend the receiver’s length. 

A thorough description of the M.C.R.-1 (with very nice color photographs) is available at the CryptoMuseum website.  The operating manual for the receiver – in which it’s dubbed a “Midget Communications Receiver” – can be found here, while the schematic diagram of the unit (via the Waverley Amateur Radio Society) can be found here

The Luftgaukommando Report includes a small and fascinating bonus:  It contains a very actual – quite original – very genuine – surviving remnant of the McDonald crew’s last mission: a placard of operating instructions for an M.C.R.-1. 

A superb set of images of an M.C.R.-1 and its associated components (including interior views of both the receiver and its power supply) as well as instructions covering its installation and use, is available at Jan Poortman’s PA3ESY Vintage Radio Collection website

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References

Harrington Museum – Carpetbagger Planes (compiled by Roy Tebbutt)

Harrington Museum  (Aircraft of the 801st / 492nd Bomb Groups, and 406th NLS, compiled by Roy Tebbutt)
http://www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Carpetbagger-planes.pdf

Harrington Museum (List of Allied Aircraft lost on Special Duty Operations, compiled by Roy Tebbutt)
http://www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Aircraft-lost-on-Allied-Forces-Special-Duty-Operations.pdf

Frank G. McDonald Crew

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Crew History)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/McDonald/McDonald%20Crew.html

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Crew Orders)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/SO%20Singles/SO75-Sta102-431216.pdf

USAAF Special Operations – 801 BG – 492 BG Carpetbaggers (McDonald Mission Reports)
http://www.801492.org/Air%20Crew/McDonald/McDonald%20Crew%20MRs.zip

Escape & Evasion Report 669 (Lt. Frederick C. Kelly)

NARA Escape & Evasion Report search portal:
https://catalog.archives.gov/id/305270

NARA Escape & Evasion Report search portal (Escape & Evasion Report 669, for Frederick C. Kelly):
https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5555339

WW II Escape and Evasion Information Exchange (Directory of MIS-X Report Numbers for members of US Army Air Forces, and, US Army Ground Forces) – An extraordinarily comprehensive website! 
http://www.conscript-heroes.com/Art38-MIS-X.html

BC-929A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (general description):
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/indicator-radar-interrogator-bc-929-anapn-2-rebecca-mk-iia

AeroAntique.com (general description):
https://aeroantique.com/collections/other-instruments/products/receiver-indicator-rebecca-id-169a-apn12-bc-929-a?variant=28901668295

QSL.net (“Connecting Hams Around the World”) (brief description):
http://www.qsl.net/pe1ngz/airforce/airforce-raf/raf-eureka-rebecca.html

Wikipedia Entry for Rebecca Radar Interrogator:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca/Eureka_transponding_radar

Walt Gromov’s Radio Museum – Communications in WW I and WW II:
“Graphic Survey of Radio and Radar Equipment Used by the Army Air Forces – Radio Navigation Equipment – 1 July 1945” (BC-929 and APN-1 illustrated in document)
http://www.rkk-museum.ru/documents/archives/images/52b-45-04.pdf

Braun’scher Tube

The Inventors.org
http://theinventors.org/library/inventors/blkarlbraun.htm

APN-1 Radar Altimeter

Aces, Contrails, & Unsung Heroes (Photos and description)
http://www.usaaf.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=1035

Waverley Amateur Radio Society
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/apn1.htm

Waverley Amateur Radio Society (APN-1 schematic diagram)
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/k-files/apn1.gif

HyperWar (Use of the APN-1)
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ref/RADTWOA/RADTWOA-6.html

Inforagemuseum (Video about APN-1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9nsNCibnC8

VMARS (Vintage and Military Amateur Radio Society) Manuals (APN-1 Manual
“Handbook Maintenance Instructions for Radio Set AN / APN-2  –  AN APN-2Y  –  AN / APN-2B (1945 09 25) (Technical Order 12P-5 – 2APN-2)”
http://www.vmarsmanuals.co.uk/archive/4016_APN-2_Maintenance_Manual.pdf

Miniature Communications Receiver M.C.R.-1

Crypto Museum (Description of M.C.R.-1)
http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/mcr1/

Crypto Museum (Detailed instruction manual for M.C.R.-1)
http://www.cryptomuseum.com/spy/mcr1/files/mcr1_manual.pdf

Imperial War Museum (Photographs of M.C.R.-1)
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30005792

Waverley Amateur Radio Society (M.C.R.-1 schematic diagram)
http://vk2bv.org/archive/museum/k-files/mcr1.gif

Jan Poortman’s Vintage Radio Website (illustrations of M.C.R.-1)
https://www.pa3esy.nl/military/gb/army/mcr-1/html/mcr1_set.html

Books

Freeman, Roger, The Mighty Eighth – A History of the U.S. 8th Army Air Force, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, N.Y., 1970 (Special Operations Group – Carpetbagger history summarized on p. 263)

Captive Technology: German Photographs of Electronic Equipment in a Downed Special Operations Squadron B-24 Liberator – II

This – and the next – page present the 19 pictures in Luftgaukommando Report 1054, for B-24D 42-63792.  The format is identical to that followed in the blog post covering the Luftgaukommando Report for B-24H Liberator Tell Me More:

By scrolling “down” the post from top to bottom, you’ll see images of the two pages in the Report listing the captions of the photos. 

This is followed by a verbatim transcription of the block of the German text in those two pages.  The German text is followed by its English-language translation (in italics) which I transcribed from the MACR.

Then, moving “down” through all the pictures…

Each photo has its caption – in both German and English – below it.  The English-language translations are presented in italics. 

The images and their captions aren’t presented in the same numerical order as in the KU Report.  They’re arranged as if you were moving along the plane (or, er, uh…in this case, what’s left of the plane…) from front to rear.  I’ve also added comments below some captions.

____________________ 

DESCRIPTION OF AIRCRAFT 42-63792, AND PHOTO CAPTIONS

Feindgerät-Untersuchungsstelle 5
RLM GL C-Rü                                                                                                O.U. den 23.4.44
Feldpostnummer: L 50825 FW, Lgp. Brüssel.

Untersuchungsbericht Nr. 5/2021:

Am. 2.3.44 um 23.30 Uhr wurde in Fienvillers (8 km s.w. Doullens) eine Liberator durch Flak abgeschossen.  Von der Besatzung wurden 2 Mann gefangen genommen.

Das Flugzeug war als Sabotagematerialträger eingesetzt und sehr stark zerstört.

Die Typenbezeichnung des Flugzeuges lautete: B 24 D, Ser. 42-63792.  Bemerkenswert an diesem Flugzeug war die FT-Ausrüstung.  Es befanden sich beiderseits des Rumpfbuges die im Bild 1 u. 2 dargestellten Antennen.  Ferner befanden such nachfolgende FT-Geräte an Bord, die grösstenteils bereits durch Kurier nach dem RLM GL C-Rü gesandt wurden:

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    T-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Anzeigegerät mit Braun’scher Röhre, vermutlich Suchgerät (Bild 12, 13, 14, 15 u. 16). –
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. Nr. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. Nr. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. Nr. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. Nr. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. Nr. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Trotzdem bei diesem Flugzeug verschiedene neue Geräte dabiei waren, waren sämtliche FT-Geräte von der Funkmeisterei des Fl.H. Rosiéres weggenommen worden.  Die FT-Geräte mussten erst dort abgeholt und zur Entnahme der Stecker und Kabel wieder in das Flugzeug eingesetzt werden. –

Ferner wurden mehrere Agenten-Empfänger des Musters Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R.1.) festgestellt.

Als Anlage zum Bericht werden 18 Fotos übersandt.

Erläutering zu den Bildern:

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges
Bild 3:           Gerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.  Rechte oben im Bild ist die Kabeleinführung der im Bild 1 u. 2 gezeigten Antennen ersichtlich.
Bild 4:          Kabeleinführung in grösserem Masstab.
Bild 5, 6, 7:  zeigt den Lageert der Geräte RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 8, 9, 10: RT-7 / APN-1
Bild 11:         RT-3 / APN-1
Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.
Bild 17, 18:   zeigt den Agenten-Kleinempfänger.

Engelhard
Stabsing. Und
Sondering. GL

____________________

Enemy equipment investigation center 5                                             KU 1154
Ministry of the Air Force GL C-Rue                  Local Quarters, 23 April 1944
Field postal No L 50825 FW
Air District Post Office Brussels

Investigation Report No 5 / 2021

On 2 March 1944 at 2330 a Liberator had been shot down by anti-aircraft over Fienvillers (8 km southwest of Doullens).  Two members of the crew had been captured.  The plane was equipped as sabotage material-carrier and therefore very seriously damaged.

The type markings of the plane were as follows: B 24 D, Serial No. 42-63792.  This plane was equipped with remarkable radio equipment.  There were aerials on both sides of the front of the fuselage as pictures 1 and 2 show.  Further, there was the following radio equipment on board, the greatest part of which has been sent by messenger to the Ministry of the Air Dorces GL C-Rue.

1.     RT-3 / APN-1
27 Volt
D.C. N.X.S. – 2424
1341 C.R.V.

2.    RT-7 / APN-1
110 DB / 25
N.X. – 23763
1237 C.R.V.

3.    Indicator-set with Bruan’scher tube, probably search-equipment (see picture 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16)
4.    BC-433-C, Ser. No. 14506
5.    BC-966-A, Ser. No. 45327
6.    BC-454-A, Ser. No. 140
7.    BC-455-B, Ser. No. 20162
8.    BC-445-B, Ser. No. 52370
9.    BC-929-A

Though this plane was equipped with different kinds of new radio equipment, all radio equipment had been taken out by the radio office of the Air-base Rosieres.  The radio equipment had to be obtained from that office, and for the purpose of the removal of the plugs and cables had to be installed again into the plane.  Also, several agent receivers of the type “Miniature Communications Receiver (M.C.R. 1)” were found.

Enclosed in this report 18 photographs.

Photo explanation.

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.
3:     Equipment with Bruan’scher tube.  In the right upper corner of the picture the cable installation of the antenna (shown in picture 1 and 2) can be seen.
4:     Cable installation on larger scale.
5, 6, 7:     shows the location of the equipment RT-7 / APN-1
8, 9, 10:   RT-7 /APN-1
11:            RT-3 / APN-1
12, 13, 14, 15, and 16     Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.
17 and 18:     Shows the Miniature-Communications-Receiver.

Enclosures:

Instructions for the
“Miniature Communications Receiver”
and 18 photographs.

Signed: Engelhard
Staff-Engineer and Special Engineer

____________________

Photos: Crash Site, APN-1 Antenna, and BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator Unit

____________________

These three un-numbered images show the scope and scene of the plane’s crash.  Most of the airframe and wings have been destroyed (the tail and left wing broke off during the crash) but ironically, several components of the plane’s special electronic equipment, situated in the central fuselage and nose, survived relatively or completely intact.  These have been extracted from the fuselage and placed in front of the wreckage. 

____________________

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.

Bild 1 u. 2:     Antennen an beiden Seiten des Rumpfbuges

Picture 1 and 2:     Antenna on both sides of the front of the fuselage.

Bild 3:           Gerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.  Rechte oben im Bild ist die Kabeleinführung der im Bild 1 u. 2 gezeigten Antennen ersichtlich.

Picture  3:     Equipment with Bruan’scher tube.  In the right upper corner of the picture the cable installation of the antenna (shown in picture 1 and 2) can be seen.

Bild 4:          Kabeleinführung in grösserem Masstab.

Picture 4:     Cable installation on larger scale.

Comments for Photos 1, 2, 3, and 4: Close-ups of nose-mounted external receiving antenna associated with the APN-1 radar altimeter, and, the interior electrical connection of an APN-1 antenna within the fuselage.  Notably, the nose-mounted BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator unit and its attached cables (in photo 3) are completely intact. 

____________________

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Bild 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Suchgerät mit Braun’scher Röhre.

Pictures 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16: Search equipment with Braun’scher tube.

Comments for photos 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16:  These are external and internal views of the BC-929-A Rebecca Radar Interrogator.  The phrase “Braun’scher Röhre” (Braun’scher tube) is German for “cathode ray tube”, the first such device having been invented by a Dr. Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. 

The remaining photographs are presented on the next blog post…

A B-24 Liberator, Up Close and Personal: German Photographs of a Downed B-24 in Holland – I

In September of 2016, this blog commenced with a post about Luftgaukommando Reports – documents created by the Germans to record information about aircraft and aircrews of the United States and British Commonwealth air forces shot down over German-occupied Europe and Germany itself, during the Second World War.  Also known as KU (Kampflugzeug Unterlagen – “Downed Allied Aircraft”) Reports, these documents are part of Records Group 242 (Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675-1983) in the United States National Archives. 

By nature, Luftgaukommando Reports comprise records compiled by the Germans, and not uncommonly, include documents (personal and otherwise) and other items, such as V-Mail and hand-written correspondence, carried or worn (dog tags) by air crewmen. 

That “first” post (a multitude of keystrokes ago…!) focused on Luftgaukommando Report J 2525, which covers “Chicago’s Own”, a P-51D Mustang (44-41010) of the 353rd Fighter Squadron of the 354th Fighter Group, which was piloted by Captain Gordon T. McEachron, and served to introduce and describe general aspects of Luftgaukommando Reports. 

What makes Luftgaukommando Report J 2525 noteworthy is the presence of several excellent photographs of the downed and mostly intact – albeit no longer quite flyable! – Mustang. 

Report J2525 is one of the very few Luftgaukommando Reports containing photographs.  Sometimes, like the pictures of Chicago’s Own, such images suggest the features, components, and design aspects of American warplanes that particularly drew the attention of German investigators and technical analysts.

In a large sense, perhaps an apt word for such images is “evocative”.  It’s one thing to read “about” the loss of an American military plane in a book, article, or Missing Air Crew Report.  It’s quite another to actually see and hold an image of what that aircraft looked like, to those who actually flew within it over seven decades ago. 

____________________

This post presents another series of German photographs of a downed American warplane:  An entirely intact yet rather broken 8th Air Force B-24 Liberator – ironically nicknamed “Tell Me More” – which was examined by the Germans after force-landing in Holland on April 29, 1944.  The 15 images presented here, in Luftgaukommando Report KU 1679, represent the second highest total quantity of images found in any of the Luftgaukommando Reports (whether J, KU, or ME Reports) I’ve thus far examined.  (The largest quantity of photographs in a Luftgaukommando Report– 19 – hopefully the subject of a future post!)

“Tell Me More”, a B-24H 41-28754 of the 787th Bomb Squadron, 466th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, squadron code 6L * N, was piloted by 1 Lt. Carl E. Hitchcock, and was lost during the Group’s mission to Berlin on April 29, 1944.  Its loss is covered in MACR 4447.  The 466th lost one other Liberator that day (41-29399, “T9 * D”, of the 784th Bomb Squadron, covered in KU 1681) while the 8th Air Force lost 61 other B-17s and B-24s; the 15th Air Force 4 B-24s. 

In human costs, approximately six hundred and seventy men.

According to tables of B-24 Liberator serial numbers in Allan Blue’s The B-24 Liberator (pp. 195 and 202), Tell Me More was a B-24H-1DT, and – going by serial numbers alone, rather than calendar date of manufacture and delivery – was the very first ”H” version of all 3,100 B-24H Liberators manufactured. 

The crew list from the MACR is shown below:

____________________

Neither the MACR nor the KU Report contain information describing the actual cause of the aircraft’s loss.  The KU Report simply states that the plane, “made an emergency landing 6 km east of Apeldoorn”, also vaguely mentioning “Liberator Shot Down”.  Regardless, as can be seen from the list in the MACR and KU Report, the entire crew of 10 was eventually captured.  

Fortunately, all survived the war. 

They were:

PilotHitchcock, Carl Edward, 1 Lt., 0-664597
Mrs. Mary Hitchcock (mother), North Bradley St., McKinney, Tx.
Born 1/17/15, Tx.; Died 9/23/95
Buried Sunset Memorial Park, San Antonio, Tx. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag 7A (Moosburg)
Captured by 6/22/44

Co-PilotYoung, Lloyd G., 2 Lt., 0-680791
Mrs. Mary Young (mother), Park View Ave., Knoxville, Tn.
Born 9/25/18, Smith County, Tn.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured May 3, 1944, at Vorort v Tiel, by Officer Heitzwebel

NavigatorWillson, Robert Edwin, 2 Lt., 0-698245
Mrs. Frances (Gardner) Willson (wife), 3026 Lebanon, El Paso, Tx.
Born 9/9/20, Sherman, Tx.; Died 2/3/08
Buried Dallas – Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas, Tx.
On tombstone – “Ex-POW – It is well with my soul.”  (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW – Camp Unknown
Captured by 6/22/44

Robert Willson’s tombstone, photographed by FindAGrave contributor William Nance, is shown below:

BombardierBochicchio, Vito Joseph, 2 Lt., 0-682047
Mrs. Margaret Bochicchio (mother), West 21st St., New York, N.Y.
Born 1/1/17, New York, N.Y.; Died 3/23/10
Buried Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, N.Y. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured May 3, 1944, at Vorort v Tiel, by Officer Heitzwebel

Flight Engineer DiManno, Carmine Gerard, T/Sgt., 31276739
Mrs. Mary Dimanno (mother), 19 Orchard St., Hartford, Ct.
Born 7/7/23; Died 5/29/77
Buried East Cemetery, Manchester, Ct. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Probably Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Radio OperatorMcCue, Thomas J. (“Thomas Francis”?), S/Sgt., 12188732
Mrs. Lee V. McCue (mother), 476 Dean St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Ball Turret)Browne, Charles Graham, S/Sgt., 19116027
Mrs. Agnes G. Browne (mother), East South Mariposa St., Glendale, Ca.
Born 12/21/19, Twin Falls, Id.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Right Waist)Smith, David Leon, S/Sgt., 18213749
Mrs. Mary Smith (mother), General Delivery, New Franklin, Mo.
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth)
Captured by January 5, 1945

Gunner (Left Waist)Lugosi, Alex Paul, S/Sgt., 36631214
Mrs. Anna Lugosi (mother), 12632 Wallace St., Chicago, Il.
Born 11/11/21, Chicago, Il.
POW – Camp Unknown (numerical indicator is “0”)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

Gunner (Tail)Dorrian, Thomas George, S/Sgt., 12121740
Mr. James Dorrian (father), 2541 99th St., East Elmhurst, Long Island, N.Y.
Born New York, N.Y.
POW Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan)
Captured April 29, 1944, near Apeldoorn

____________________

The crew list and other documents in the KU Report imply that the crew split up after landing – the enlisted men in one group, and the four officers in two pairs – in an attempt to evade capture.  This is suggested by their dates of capture, which are listed in the KU Report as follows:

Captured on April 29, at Apeldoorn:

T/Sgt. Carmine G. DiManno (flight engineer)
S/Sgt. Thomas J. McCue (Radio Operator)
S/Sgt. Charles G. Browne (Ball Turret Gunner)
S/Sgt. Alex P. Lugosi (Left Waist Gunner)
S/Sgt. Thomas G. Dorrian (Tail Gunner)

Captured May 3, at “Vorort v Tiel”, by an “Officer Heitzwebel”:

2 Lt. Lloyd G. Young (Co-Pilot)
2 Lt. Vito J. Bochicchio (Bombardier)

Captured by June 22, at an unspecified location:

1 Lt. Carl E. Hitchcock (Pilot)
2 Lt. Robert E. Willson (Navigator)

Managed to evade until early January, 1945; location of capture unspecified:

S/Sgt. David L. Smith (Right Waist Gunner)

____________________

The specific location of the aircraft’s landing is presented as follows:

1) The American Air Museum website lists the plane as having crash-landed at Apeldoorn.

http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/804

2) The Eighth Air Force Historical Society lists the plane as having landed at Wilp-Achterhoek, in Gelderland.

3) The KU Report gives two locations for the plane’s loss:

a) 6 kilometers east of Apeldoorn
b) 4 kilometers south of Touge

Touge is east-northeast, and Wilp-Achterhoek directly east, of the geographic center of Apeldoorn.  Based on this information, I’ve created three Google maps at successively larger scales, “zooming in” on the location which seems (seems!) to be the best composite of the above-reported locations.  This is denoted by the north-south oriented red ovals superimposed on the map, just southwest of Wilp-Achterhoek, and repeated on the Google Earth view of the same locale. 

These maps and the aerial photograph are presented below:

Here is an image of Tell Me More from the American Air Museum website, showing the relatively intact and rather bent B-24 resting on its forward fuselage, on a vacant field.  The American Air Museum website includes two other images of the plane, one showing what seems to have been a very hastily applied individual aircraft letter – “N” – on the lower port fin. 

____________________

But, what about the images in the KU Report?  To be told more of Tell Me More, refer to the next post…

Captive Technology: German Photographs of Electronic Equipment in a Downed Special Operations Squadron B-24 Liberator – I

The three prior blog posts concerning photographs in Luftgaukommando Reports (that for P-51D Mustang 44-14040 (“Chicago’s Own”) in Report J 2525, and the two posts for B-24H Liberator 41-28754 (“Tell Me More”) in Report KU 1680) share a fortunate similarity:  The aviators aboard that Mustang and Liberator all survived the loss of their planes.  Taken prisoner, they all returned to the United States after the war’s end. 

The loss of the aircraft covered in this blog post – B-24D Liberator 42-63792 of the 36th Bomb Squadron, 328th (later 801st) Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, covered in Missing Air Crew Report 3666, resulted in a different outcome:  One crew member evaded capture, but one aviator was killed in the loss of the aircraft, and the remainder spent the rest of the war as POWs.

In historical and archival terms, the Luftgaukommando Report (KU 1054) covering the loss of this bomber so far has the distinction of having the largest number of photographic images I’ve found in any KU Report I’ve examined.

This is probably attributable to the nature of the electronic equipment found in the plane, which comprised three notable items: 1) A BC-929-A “Rebecca” Radar Interrogator, 2) An APN-1 Radar Altimeter, and 3) A M.C.R.-1 Miniature Communications Receiver.

____________________

This nicknameless Liberator, piloted by 1 Lt. Frank G. McDonald, squadron letter “U”, was lost at 23:30 on the evening of March 2 – 3, 1944, during an operation dubbed “Musician 5”.  The Crew’s Mission Report for March 3, 1944 describes the plane’s load as 3 packages and 13 containers (both of unspecified contents), and 10 leaflets (containers of leaflets?). 

Roy Tebbutt’s extraordinarily comprehensive document “Aircraft lost on Allied Force’s Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour” states that the plane was shot down by flak mounted on railway cars.  The crash location in his compilation is stated as “Hem-Hardinval, Fienvillers (Somme)”, France, which is consistent with the location given in the KU Report as “five kilometers southwest of Doullens”.

Co-pilot Lt. Frederick C. Kelly’s Escape & Evasion Casualty Questionnaire (one page of which is included in the MACR; the transcribed account is given below), states that the propeller on the #1 engine was damaged, the #2 engine was on fire, the #3 engine was struck by flak and inoperative, the tail turret would not work because of damage to the hydraulic system.  And unsurprisingly, the fuselage was peppered with flak holes.

Here is a page from the KU Report describing the plane’s wreckage.  Note that the investigator identified the plane as a “Boeing Fortress II”.  (!)

____________________

Here is the crew list in the MACR:

More information about the crew – all of whom were still in the aircraft when it crashed – is given below:

Pilot
McDonald, Frank Green, 1 Lt., 0-675932

Mrs. Mary Thornton (mother), 1975 Sabine Pass, Beaumont, Tx. (or) 2823 South Adams St., Fort Worth, Tx.
Born 7/15/17; Died 1/15/99
Buried Hopewell Cemetery, Bowie, Tx. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) – (North Compound 1)

Co-PilotKelly, Frederick Clyde, 2 Lt., 0-681112
Mrs. Frederick C. Kelly (wife), 26 Bellevue Road, Arlington, Ma.
Mrs. Elnora E. Watson (mother), Main Street, Taftsville, Vt.
Born 7/14/23
Evaded – Returned to England approximately June 1, 1944

NavigatorKendall, Thomas H, 2 Lt., 0-690665
Mr. Philip R. Kendall (father), Williamsburg, Oh.
POW Stalag 7A (Moosburg)

BombardierShevlin, Edward Francis, 2 Lt., 0-679669
Mrs. Mary R. Shevlin (wife), 908 Presidio, Forth Worth, Tx.
Born 8/12/19, Cortland, N.Y.; Died 3/7/11
Buried Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Titusville, Fl. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
(Edward Shevlin’s tombstone – illustrated in his biography at FindAGrave – gives his wartime rank as S/Sgt.  This is almost certainly in error.)
POW Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) – (North Compound 1)

Flight Engineer Gellerman, Norman Raymond, T/Sgt., 37309882, 5 missions, AM, PH, KIA – Sole Fatality
Mrs. Virginia L. Gellerman (wife), 1415 Palace St., St. Paul, Mn.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Louis and Winnifred Gertrude (McHugh) Gellerman (parents)
Brothers and sister: Vincent Clay, John Paul, Francis J., Louis Ernest, Roger Leonard, and Kathleen Mary
Born 12/20/17, Ramsey County, Minnesota
Normandy American Cemetery, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France – Plot A, Row 13, Grave 32 (https://www.findagrave.com/)

Radio OperatorRoss, Warren Lewis, T/Sgt., 16092986
Mrs. Carrie E. Ross (mother), 216 West Ann St., Ann Arbor, Mi.
POW Stalag Luft 6 (Heydekrug)

Gunner (Right Waist)Goswick, Leroy Ellsowrth, S/Sgt., 13090050
Mrs. Amy Goswick (mother), 19 South 2nd St., Youngwood, Pa.
Born 7/28/22, Youngwood, Pa.; Died 1/12/17, Greensburg, Pa. (https://www.findagrave.com/)
Buried Youngwood Cemetery, Youngwood, Pa.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)

Gunner (Tail)DeCoste, Edward Henry, S/Sgt., 11087792
Mr. Alcid Decoste (father), 36 Adams St., Newtonville, Ma.
POW Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)

____________________

Though the MACR gives no details, translated German documents indicate that Lieutenant Shevlin was captured on March 3 in Rosieres, and was hospitalized at Luftwaffe Hospital 8 /31 at Amiens with a broken leg and a wound to his lower left arm.  Sergeant Goswick appears to have been captured by May 11.  The German crew roster in the MACR (translated from the German KU Report) also lists the capture of Lieutenants McDonald and Kendall, and Sergeant De Coste, but does not specify the dates and places of their capture.  The surnames of Lieutenant Kelly, and Sergeants Ross and Jennings appear in the translated crew roster with no further information.  The 801st/492nd BG website specifically states that some of the POWs had been betrayed to the Germans by collaborators.

What about Lieutenant Kelly?  As mentioned above, he was the proverbial “one that got away”. 

A transcript of the typewritten account he composed for his Escape & Evasion Report (E&E Report 699) appears below.  (Notably, what follows isn’t a verbatim transcript.  I’ve included those few sentences and phrases which were “struck out” of the original document, as struck-through text.) 

____________________

LIEUTENANT FREDERICK C. KELLY’S ACCOUNT OF ESCAPE AND EVASION

We were shot down by flak.  The plane crashed and a couple of us were thrown out.  We walked several miles and slept the rest of the night in a gully, where we also stayed the next day.  That night some Frenchmen who had seen us brought us bread.  We continued walking, and lay up in a shed on the edge of town, and spent the next day there.  In the evening a girl who had come upon us gave us food.  At nightfall we continued on our journey southwards, found a barn from which no dogs scared us away, and rested part of the night in a barn.

The third morning we approached an old man.  He said that the women of the village would take care of us.  We were led down the main street of the village, still dressed in our flying clothes, and taken in out of sight.  We were then given civilian clothes and taken to a house from which our journey was arranged.

However, when I got down in the S of France something went wrong with my helpers’ connections, of the people who were helping me.  I was given a railroad ticket to another town and continued the journey to Spain on my own.  After the train ride I walked out of the town and spent the night in bushes by a river.  The next morning I made the mistake of walking to the NE.  I spent the night outside a village and approached help the next morning and was told to take a bus to a town where I could find directions for getting to Spain.  The bus, however, went only as far as the town at which I left the railroad.  So I continued walking S and was taken in by a peasant who agreed to shelter me if I would leave my identity papers with him for the night.  It seemed that the farther S in France I went the more suspicious the people were

I walked to the town to which I had been directed, was fed by a peasant, and went on to a town farther to the S.  On the way a French gendarme checked my identity papers and asked me where I was going.  When I told him he asked me why I was going there.  “To work”, I explained, my identity card said that I was a blacksmith.  The gendarme laughed and let me go.  I spent an uncomfortably cold night in a shed outside of town and was colder than hell

I walked all the next day and spent that night in a sheep-fold.  The next day I continued walking.  About 1000 the next morning a women took me in and fed me.  She explained that it was dangerous to be found in the area along the Spanish border, that it was a in the Zone Interdite along the Spanish border, which I already knew from P/W lectures.  This woman kindly arranged got a guide to take me over the mountains.

Additional Comments

Airmen should have explained to them the difference between regular French gendarmes and the Vichy police – they wear different caps, for instance.  Men should be especially careful in the south of France where the people are not as friendly as in the north; they will feed you but are less likely to shelter you.

If you are not being moved it is a good idea to set a definite date by which your helpers must take some action; if they do not move you or do not give you a good reason for their failure to move you, you had better go on your own.

Statement of information covering the period from 2 March to 21 April 1944

Appendix B

Traveling by train from AMIENS to Paris in middle April informant saw that the railway yards at ALBET had been thoroughly blown up by bombing, with box cars strewn around and locomotives overturned.  AMIENS railway yards had also been hit but had not suffered so much damage.

In March or early April there was some kind of maneuvers around CONTY (Somme).  Infantry and tanks were involved (hearsay).

Informant saw a submarine in the river at BORDEAUX in middle April.

Informant was told, that DAX was a military headquarters of some sort.  Between BORDEAUX and DAX he saw a lot of German soldiers, most of whom seemed to be young.  There seems to be a large hospital at DAX; informant saw many German nurses.

There are a number of airfields between DAX and PONTONX  (Pontoux sur l’Adour)

Appendix D

I used the Horlocks tablets, milk tube, halazone tablets, matches, adhesive tape, chewing gum, water bottle, and compass.  The water bottle leaked.  There should be a check to see that the kits are new and in good condition.

I carried a yellow purse, the contents of which I gave to helpers. 

I carried eight passport-size photographs, one of which I used on my identity card.

I had been lectured on evasion and escape.  The lectures were of value only in so far as they concerned the use of the escape kits.  I don’t believe that I had ever heard of evaders.  At CCRC on November I believe I heard only a lecture on enemy interrogation, which was excellent.

Suggestions:  Carry every escape aid that you can.  Keep optimistic.

Lieutenant Kelly arrived in Spain on April 21, reached Gibraltar on May 29, and departed for England May 31. 

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Akin to the blog post concerning B-24H Tell Me More, I’ve used Google (what else…no-one escapes Google!)* to generate maps – at successively larger scales – of the plane’s crash site, with the “concluding” image being an aerial view of the crash site as it appears in now, 2017.  The most probable general location of the crash site is denoted by a red oval superimposed on the maps and photo. 

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The next two blog posts cover the 19 photographs contained in the Luftgaukommando Report for 42-63792.  Click ahead…!

* Yet…. 

Japanese Technology at War: The Interrogation Transcript of a Japanese Naval Aviation Mechanic in 1944

The central focus of literature about military aviation has traditionally revolved around the men – the aviators – who fly and fight within combat aircraft. 

Accounts concerning a less acclaimed but still vital aspect of aerial warfare – the maintenance and repair of military planes – are far fewer in number.  But, regardless of the conflict, country, or military force, the maintenance, modification, and repair of military aircraft has been an essential aspect of combat flying since the inception of military aviation. 

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This post covers one such example.  It’s an interrogation transcript of a Japanese Petty Officer First Class who served in the 751st Naval Air Unit (3rd Maintenance Unit, to be specific) at Vunakanau, Rabaul, from September of 1943 through February of 1944.  He was captured by an American destroyer after the two naval transports on which he was successively a passenger – the Kokai Maru, and Nagaura Maru – were sunk in late February of 1944.  His interrogation transcript presents an interesting and detailed account of his service as a mechanic on G4M Betty bombers, his activities including adjustment of propellers and engine electrical wiring, with his specific duty being servicing carburetors. 

His position as an engine mechanic in the 751st, coupled with having been stationed at Vunakanau (he was present during a 5th Air Force strafing attack against that airdrome in October of 1943), his observations of Japanese military aircraft, and aspects of his military service such as his observations of Allied POWs, open an unusual window upon the history of the Pacific Air War.     

Unfortunately, the man’s name is not given, but the document does provide a few clues about his background.  Born on May 5, 1920, in Toyohashi (Aichi Prefecture, on Honshu), he completed six years of primary school and two years of higher primary school (equivalent of American 8th grade)?, and worked as an assistant at a silk cocoon and silk thread processing farm. 

Were he alive today, he would be 97 years old. 

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The Report was discovered at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, where – listed as Interrogation Report No. 357 – it’s one of the 783 ATIS (Allied Translator and Interpreter Services) Interrogation Reports of Japanese Prisoners of War, which date from September of 1942 through September of 1945.

Importantly…  A list of titles of the specific titles of all ATIS Interrogation Reports can be found at the website of Japan’s National Diet Library.  This is an invaluable resource, for along with the Report Number, it lists the identity of the military unit to which the captured POW belonged, and even in some cases the name of the POW. 

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Given that the interrogating officer placed special emphasis on radar carried by G4M bombers, this post includes some of the very few images available of the components and features of the Type 3 Ku-6 radar system.  (Now, where does one find the instruction manual for the Ku-6?!) 

I’ve transcribed the Interrogation Report, which is available for you here, in PDF format

Paralleling the original physical document, the PDF includes four representative sketches drawn by the POW, showing characteristics of the Kyushu Shiden, the modified tail gun position of the G4M bomber, and the configurations of the nose and tail antenna installations of the Ku-6 radar.  Note that the POW illustrated the nose radar antenna as projecting “whisker-like” – perpendicular – from the fuselage.  However, the images below show the Ku-6 nose antenna as a single mast extending forward from the bomber’s nose, with smaller antenna extending to both sides of the main mast.

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Here are images of the first two sheets of the Interrogation Report, complete with NARA’s declassification sticker at the top.  The first image illustrates the supplementary handwritten notes, and stamps, and signature on the original document.

Excerpts from the text of the document follow below…

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Designation and Markings of the 751st Naval Air Group

4. UNIT OR FORCE

751 Naval Air Unit     PW believed 751 Naval Air Unit would have been disbanded by now because of severe losses.  When unit arrived at RABAUL, Sep 43, it had about 40 airplanes.  Owing to ALLIED raids, Unit had only 20/25 airplanes in Jan 44, and by Feb 44 only 15 were left.  On 19 Feb 44, he heard all remaining airplanes were sent on a special suicide mission against ALLIED Naval forces then attacking either TINIAN or TRUK.  PW doubted that any survived.

Change in Tail Markings of 751 Naval Air Unit

At KANOYA – Apr 42  Tail marking was K-300 series in white numbers on dark green background.  Thought the K stood for KANOYA.

At KAVIENG – Aug 42  Unit name was changed from KANOYA Naval Air Unit to 751 Naval Air Unit and marking was changed simply to the 300 series, the K being dropped.  Numbers were painted in white.

At TINIAN – Jun 43  The marking was changed to read Z2 followed by 300 series in white.

At RABAUL – til Nov 43  The marking was changed back to simply the 300 series painted in
white, Z2 being dropped.

At RABAUL – from Dec 43 on  The marking was altered to 51 followed by 300 series.  Thought 51 possibly referred to the last two digits of 751.  Thought tail marking was changed on Units’ arrival at each new base.

Unit Losses  (See Sec 7, “Modification of BETTY Tail Turret”)

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Information about Kawashini N1K2 Shiden Fighter Plane;
Possible Reference to Mitsubishi Ki.67 Type 4 Hiryu Bomber

7.  SHIPS AND AIRPLANES

Super Fighter     (KYOKUCHI SEN) (#1) (See Appendix “A”).  PW had not seen it but another maintenance man who arrived at RABAUL from JAPAN (Feb 44) told him about this airplane and drew him a sketch.  PW thought KYOKUCHI SEN was only a factory name and that Navy might already have given airplane another name.

Following are particulars he heard:

Type     Fighter pursuit ship (TSUI GEKI KI) said to be much faster than the ZEKE or the P-38 and thought it was the Navy equivalent of the Army TOJO because he recognized similarities when shown a photo of the TOJO.

Construction     Slightly larger in all dimensions than the ZEKE and silhouette from side was “fatter”.  Cockpit was set well back (about middle of fuselage).

Engine     KASEI, of about 1300 HP.

Performance     Could climb very fast and maintain a steady climb at an angle of about 40o.  It required as much runway to take off as did the ZEKE.  Not capable of more than four or five hours’ continuous flight.

Armament     13 mm MGs and 20mm machine cannon.

Propellers     Either 3 or 4 blade.

Manufacturer     Possibly KAWANISHI.  It was originally produced as a float airplane fighter and when tested showed excellent speed, manoeuvrability and climb.  Better results were obtained in tests with undercarriage changed to ordinary ground landing gear.  It was then decided to make slight modifications and produce it as a regular Navy pursuit ship.

General     When first produced in quantity and delivered to Naval Air Units in JAPAN it was used in training.  However, because of its frail construction it many times disintegrated in the air, so was temporarily banned from Service about end 43 or beginning of 44, but after it had been reinforced it was used again.

Y20     While at RABAUL PW heard of a new Naval Bomber called Y20 or Land Bomber (RIKU BAKU) which was a cross between Type 96 2EB NELL Mk 2 and Type 1 2EB BETTY.  It was said to be smaller and much faster than BETTY, carrying a crew of only three or four.  It could carry the same bomb load but fly a greater distance than BETTY and was equipped with 13mm MGs.  Heard it was made by MITSUBISHI and used by some Naval Air Units.

PW thought Y20 was the factory number, and had never heard of its official name.

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Modification of G4M Tail Turret

Modification of BETTY Tail Turret     About Jan 43 while 751 Naval Air Unit was at KAVIENG twenty BETTYs went on a bombing mission to GUADALCANAL, and only six returned.  Airmen who returned complained that revolving tail turret of BETTY was so sluggish and difficult to operate that they were unable to cope with ALLIED fighters, which concentrated their attack on their tail.

Unit therefore effected an immediate improvement by cutting away part of the tail turret to allow freer action of tail gun, although such modification made the airplane at least two or three knots slower.  They simply cut the section right off and did not add any supporting brackets, or covering shield.  The tail was left entirely open, allowing the gunners full traverse of the rear gun. (See Sketch 1 Appendix “B”).

While at TINIAN, Aug 43, about ten new BETTYs arrived for the Unit and they all had improved tail turrets allowing freer action of the rear gun.  The modifications had been effected at the factory in JAPAN, and observed from the top, the tail turret had a “V” shaped section cut away.  This type of turret was also entirely open.  (See Sketch 2, Appendix “B”).

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An American POW at Rabaul

(Probably 1 Lt. Bernard E. Sahl of VMF-223, shot down over Vunakanau in F4U-1 57464 on December 25, 1943; Severely burned; mentioned in Report by Lt. John M. Arbuckle; Held captive by 81st Naval Guard Unit; “executed” (euphemism…) while POW, probably mid-1944)

13.  MORALE AND PROPAGANDA

JAP Prisoners of War       PW had heard that at NOMONHAN, one complete SENDAI Unit, about 2,000 men, was captured by the RUSSIANS.  When the truce was made, those men were returned to JAPAN.  Unit CO committed suicide and it was arranged for the 2,000 men to be sent back to MANCHURIA, rather than to allow then to remain in JAPAN.

ALLIED PsW     On Air Objective Folder No. 92.2 SINGAPORE, PW located an ALLIED PW camp holding thousands of prisoners, as being immediately North of Empire Dock Area. (Target 12).  While on a six-hour leave (Apr 42), he had seen three large, two storey barracks, each capable of housing 500 to 600 men under JAP Army standards.  White PsW could be seen at the windows and one stood guard at the front of the barracks.  There was no fence or wall around camp.

Aug 42, while KATSURAGI MARU was docked at Target Area 11 for three days, PW saw white prisoners crossing by boat to BLAKANG MATI Island just off the Southern tip of SINGAPORE Island.  They did not seem to be working.  They wore light khaki clothing.

In Nov 43, a Fighter was shot down near a native village near VUNAKANAU airfield.  Pilot was brought by natives to HQ 751 Naval Air Unit.  As there was no interpreter present prisoner was sent to RABAUL.  PW heard that prisoner was a Capt.  He was about 5’7” tall and heavily built.  He wore no rank badges but on the sleeve of his flying suit was yellow or gold badge on a black or blue background.  The pilot was uninjured except for burns on the face.

He had seen ALLIED PsW working around RABAUL.  It was not customary to guard them since they could be quickly identified if they attempted to escape.

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Here’s an image of G4M1 Betty “367” which the POW – perhaps? – may actually have seen and maintained.  The aircraft belongs to the 751st Naval Air Group, and was photographed during the 345th Bomb Group’s strafing attack against Vunakanau on October 24, 1943.  The image is one of several pictures of 751st NAG G4M bombers appearing in Lawrence Hickey’s Warpath Across the Pacific.  Six of these aircraft carry three-digit tail numbers, the leading digit being a “3”.      

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The interrogation accorded much attention to the Type 3 Ku-6 radar carried in the G4M bomber.  The following three images, from the USAAF photo collection at Fold3.com, show a G4M2a bomber equipped with this device, as well as other notable aspects of the G4M2.  This aircraft – 763-12 – is the subject of a three-view illustration in William Green’s 1969 book Famous Bombers of the Second World War

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Photographed at Clark Field in 1945, aircraft number “12” of the 763rd Kokutai is shown under examination by members of the Air Technical Intelligence Division of the Army Air Force, with Sergeant H.W. Willis (from Beckley, West Virginia) prominently appearing in two of the images. 

The photo caption for this image (A-68394 AC / A30416) states that the aircraft had been strafed by P-51s but was not badly damaged.  Sergeant Willis is standing next to the port gun window.  The portly yet nicely streamlined shape of the fuselage is quite apparent, as are the dorsal and tail mounted Type 99 cannon mounted in those positions.  Also visible are the radar antennas mounted in the tip of the nose, and, alongside the rear fuselage.  The latter is entirely consistent in configuration with the description given by the POW.

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This image (68389 AC / A30413) shows Sergeant Willis examining the port Type 99 cannon.  (Is he handling an ammunition magazine?)  Notable details include what appears to be a flash suppressor at the cannon’s muzzle; the cylindrical notch at the rear of the waist position for stowage of the cannon (via the flash suppressor); the circular fuselage entry hatch upon and around which the Hinomaru has been painted; the mounting struts for the radar antenna.  Also, notice the rectangular data plate painted below the port stabilizer.

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The last of the three pictures (68390 AC / A 30414) of Sergeant Willis and Betty 763-12 shows fascinating aspects of the plane and its equipment.  Enlargement of the data plate shows the serial number to be “2134”.  Though very faint in the photo, someone has hastily scrawled the warning “BOOBY TRAPPED!  DO NOT (rest of the text is illegible, but the meaning is clear)…” below the horizontal stabilizer.  The cut-away modification to the tail gun position described and sketched by the POW is very obvious.  Finally, the life raft.  The photo caption states that Sergeant Willis is, “…examin[ing] the novel life raft with which the plane is equipped.  He is using the bellows which inflate the boat.  The raft is made of light rubberized material [and] is propelled with wooden paddles.”

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The Rising Decals company (Czech Republic), manufacturer of aftermarket decals and detail sets for Japanese aircraft of the Second World War, has produced an update kit for creating 763-12 based on Hasegawa’s 1/72 G4M2.  This image shows the components of the update set, further illustrating the configuration and mounting of the Type 3 Ku-6 antennas.

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This image, from the website of the National Air and Space Museum, shows a Type 3 Ku-6 (Model 4) radar set and associated connecting cables.

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Here are three views of the cathode ray tube utilized in the Ku-6 Radar, also from the National Air and Space Museum website. 

References

ATIS Interrogation Report 357, from Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2) Intelligence Library Project File, ATIS Interrogation Reports.  (NARA Records Group 165, Box 325, Entry 79, Shelf Location 390/33/27/5-6/7) 

Green, William, Famous Bombers of the Second World War, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, N.Y., 1960 (Mitsubishi G4M Type I, pp. 52-58)

Green, William, Famous Fighters of the Second World War, Hanover House, New York, N.Y., 1958 (Kawashini Shiden pp. 111-116)

Hickey, Lawrence H., Warpath Across the Pacific – The Illustrated History of the 345th Bombardment Group During World War II, International Research and Publishing Corporation, Boulder, Co., 1984 (751st Naval Air Group G4M bombers, pp. 78-79)

Thorpe, Donald W., Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings – World War II, Aero Publishers, Inc., Fallbrook, Ca., 1977

National Diet Library of Japan (English-language version), at http://iss.ndl.go.jp/?locale=en&ar=4e1f

Index to all ATIS Interrogation Reports, with English-Langauge descriptions, at National Diet Library of Japan (click hypertext)

The Age of Advertising: Reeves Sound Laboratories (1943-1944)

This advertisement is particularly eye-catching in its use of light and dark, which visually symbolizes its message:  An organization, operating regardless of day or night, producing vitally needed products for the military.  The company?  Reeves Sound Laboratories.

Located at 215 East 91st Street in Manhattan (unfortunately, there does not seem to be a Google street view of the address), the company, founded by Hazard E. Reeves, was a division of Reeves-Ely Laboratories, and conducted research into advanced gunfire control systems and computers, radar and tracking systems, guided missile controls, aircraft control instruments, flight trainers and aerodynamical computers, precision instruments, servo mechanisms, and, sound recording systems.  By 1956, the company merged into the Dynamics Corporation of America.

IT’S 4 A.M. IN TIMES SQUARE

AND OVER BERLIN – BOMBER CREWS ARE USING A PRODUCT MADE JUST OFF BROADWAY

Previously, the cutting of crystal oscillators had been an art known to only a few technicians.  But then these New Yorkers pitched in:  Debutantes, dancing teachers, actors, stenographers, artists, clerks, butcher boys, beauticians, models and others joined hands with housewives to show what they could do when a war industry came to Times Square.

Over a thousand workers (mostly women) came from the five boroughs and the suburbs.  Everyone started from scratch.  Management and workers were unskilled at the start.  They learned the job together under the guidance of the United States Army Signal Corps experts.  Production processes were studied and broken down into the simplest possible operations.  X-Ray equipment and other highly scientific apparatus were brought in to help.

In the first month, only a few crystal were produced.  Now a year later, these people are turning out many more crystals than was believed possible a year ago.

A production miracle?  Perhaps.  But maybe it’s because these people are Americans – because they’re New Yorkers…or because a large percentage of the employees have relatives doing the toughest job of all – in the Armed Service of their country.

These workers have done their work so well that they have been awarded the Army-Navy “E” which they accept with this pledge:

“I promise to wear this pin as a promise to every man in our Armed Services that, until this war is won, I will devote my full energies to the cause for which they are giving their lives.”

First to fly above Times Square, this pennant will give promise of even greater things in store for ’44.

For a fascinating glimpse into the Lab’s activities with a direct connection to the advertisement, watch the 1943 video Crystals Go To War, (at Jeff Quitney’s channel) – “narration by one of the research scientists of the U.S. Army Signal Corps” – produced for Reeves Sound Laboratories by Andre deLaVarre.  The film is also available at Archiv.org.

References

Industrial Research Laboratories of the United States – Including Consulting Research Laboratories (Bulletin of the National Research Council) Number 113; July, 1946.  Compiled by Callie Hull, with the assistance of Mary Timms and Lois Wilson.  

Hazard E. Reeves, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard_E._Reeves

Reeves Instrument Corporation, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reeves_Instrument_Corporation

The Missing Photos – II: Upon an Endless Sea – A B-24 Liberator Shot Down Over the Central Pacific, 1944 – An Addendum

The prior post – covering photographs of the loss of the 42nd Bomb Squadron B-24 Liberator Dogpatch Express – ended on an uncertain note. 

Both the Missing Air Crew Report and 42nd Bomb Squadron history present detailed accounts of the bomber’s loss.  However, both documents are ambiguous about the specific cause of the aircraft’s loss, let alone what ultimately befell the few survivors of the plane’s ditching.  Given that PBY rescue planes later reported neither survivors nor wreckage at the site of the Express’ ditching, the Squadron history suggested that any surviving crewmen may have been captured by the Japanese, or, they were killed by strafing Zeros. 

There, the matter seemed to rest. 

A search for additional information about the “Grey Geese” and Dogpatch Express yielded a new and rather unexpected account, which appears in the 1996 book 11th Bomb Group (H): The Grey Geese.  There, some fifty-three years after the Taroa bombing mission of December 21 1943, veteran Jesse Stay – whose account of the loss of Dogpatch Express appears in MACR 1423 – presented an account of the event that fully and sadly clarifies what happened to the plane and crew. 

Mr. Stay’s account – presumably written in the 1990s – is presented below. 

It turns out that the plane was initially struck by anti-aircraft fire in the cockpit (oddly, not mentioned in either the MACR or squadron history), to the extent that Lt. Smith was forced to fly, and ditch, the aircraft unassisted.  As for the survivors, the impression is given that they were strafed in the water by more than one Zero (again, not mentioned in the MACR or squadron history). 

Notably, Mr. Stay wrote that the pilot of the Express, 1 Lt. George W. Smith, was filling in for the crew’s regular pilot, Lt. Thompson, who was wounded over Wake on July 24, 1943.  This may explain an aspect of the photo of the Express’ crew, which appears both below, and in the prior blog post:  The fact that a member of the plane’s crew – probably having been wounded – is seated in a wheelchair. 

Could this man be Lt. Thompson? 

THE DOGPATCH EXPRESS AND THE BELLE OF TEXAS
By Jesse Stay

A mission out of Funafuti is worth remembering.  It was on Dec. 20, 1943.  We were bombing Maloelap Island in the Marshall group.  This was shortly after we had taken Tarawa and the Japanese were able to bomb Tarawa from Maloelap.  Our squadron was scheduled to bomb the target in three flights of three planes each.  I was leading the second flight.  We were to bomb from about 12 thousand feet at approximately noon.

My right wing man was scheduled to be Les Scholar but he became ill and was scratched from the mission.  With Les out of the formation, that left only two planes in my flight.  The pilot of the second plane, Lt. Charlie Pratte, flying the “Belle of Texas,” also got sick and began to throw up right after take-off.  He had a capable co-pilot, however, so they decided to continue the mission.

When we reached Maloelap, the first flight went over the target and dropped their bombs without too much difficulty.  We learned later that a 90 mm shell had come up through the open bomb bay doors, through another open door into the back of the airplane and out through the roof of the plane, directly over the heads of the two waist gunners and exploded harmlessly several hundred feet above the plane.

I then led my flight of two planes across the target and we dropped our bombs.  As we cleared the target, we were picked up by a dozen or so Zeros so we tried to close up with the first flight for our mutual protection.  Our tail gunner then told us that the “Dogpatch Express,” flown by Lt. Smith in the third flight, had been badly hit by anti-aircraft fire and was falling behind the formation.  The Zeros were on him like a pack of wolves.

I made a 360 turn with my flight and got in formation with the stricken airplane to try to give him some protection.  At the same time, the leader of the first flight, Lt. Warren Sands, made a turn in the other direction and brought his formation up on the other wing of the plane that had been hit.

Apparently an anti-aircraft shell had exploded inside the cockpit, killing the co-pilot and the top turret gunner.  There was blood all over the cockpit.  Two engines on the right side were out, one of which was on fire.  We fought Zeros and tried to encourage Lt. Smith at the same time.  His crewmen were throwing out all extra weight in the hopes that the plane could fly on the two left engines.  It was too much for the pilot to handle, however, and he finally ditched the plane about 90 miles south of Maloelap.

The plane sand in about 30 seconds.  It appeared to us that some of the crew were in the water so we dropped our life rafts as close as we could to the crash site.  The other flights had left by this time because of lack of fuel.  I stayed around for a few more minutes circling below the clouds at low level, until the Zeros left to return to Maloelap.  They were machine gunning the debris from the crash and any survivors.  We were trying to discourage this with the few guns we had on our two plans.  We were still under attack by the Zeros and there were times on this mission when I could see a hail of tracers coming between my airplane and the “Bell of Texas” on my wing.

Finally Charlie Pratte also had to leave and headed for Tarawa to re-fuel.  He had over 300 holes in his airplane but didn’t have one man wounded.  On one pass the Japanese machine guns had stitched holes the length of his fuselage and had blown up the oxygen tanks which had knocked down the two waist gunners in time for the machine gun bullets to pass through the fuselage where they had been standing.  I later found out that his hydraulic system was also shot out and he landed at the new strip at Tarawa with parachutes tied to the waist and tail guns and which the crewmen deployed as they touched down to slow the airplane because they had no brakes.  We had talked about this possibility before but the crew of the “Belle of Texas” received a commendation from General “Hap” Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Corps for making the first recorded parachute landing.  This technique is now used for many of our high speed aircraft and on the space shuttle to slow down on landing.

We called for Dumbo rescue but Smitty and the “Dogpatch Express” were never found.  There were no survivors.  Lt. Smith was flying on this mission with the crew of Lt. Thompson who had been wounded over Wake Island on July 24, 1943.

Lt. Pratte had his crew were lost on January 22, 1944 on a low level mine laying mission out of Guam over Chichi Jima.

I landed on Tarawa on the old, bomb pocked strip a little later and after taking on 1,000 gallons of fuel from give gallon cans, we took off for Funafuti, a small atoll about six hundred miles to the south.  We didn’t want to waste fuel climbing to the south, so we decided to stay below the clouds.  For this reason we couldn’t get a fix on the stars and by this time it was dark so that we couldn’t measure our wind drift from the waves below us.  We navigated by dead reckoning for what we estimated to be six hundred miles and then started a square search for our little island.  On our second right angle turn of our square search we saw some faint lights a few miles away and we were soon back on the ground after being gone for 19 hours with 17 hours in the air.  We didn’t have a single hole in our airplane when we examined it after landing.

Reference

May, Bob; Parker, Bud; Gudenschwager, Phil, 11th Bomb Group (H): The Grey Geese, Turner Publishing Company, Paducah, Ky., 1996.

The Missing Photos – II: Upon an Endless Sea – A B-24 Liberator Shot Down Over the Central Pacific, 1944

Previously, I presented photographs from two Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) covering the loss of two 416th Bomb Group A-20 Havoc attack-bombers over France in 1944.  That post concluded on an “upbeat” note:  The six aviators from both planes safely parachuted and survived the war as POWs, eventually returning to the United States.

The circumstances surrounding “this” post – covering the loss of an 11th Bomb Group (…”Gray Geese”…) B-24 Liberator in the Central Pacific Ocean in late 1943 are, sadly, very different.  Though at least some members of the plane’s crew initially survived the ditching of their plane in the Central Pacific, they were never seen again.   

In that sense, this Missing Air Crew Report and the two photographs within it epitomize – in a manner far more powerful than words – the nature of the Pacific air war, some seven decades ago.

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The aircraft in question, B-24D 41-24214 (Dogpatch Express) was one of a group of eight B-24s of the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force, which staged through Nanomea (the northwestern-most atoll in the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu) for a strike against Taroa Island (not to be confused with Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands!), in the Maloelap Atoll of the Marshall Islands, on December 21, 1943.

Here is a superb photo of Dogpatch Express’ nose art, from Pinterest (via Hawaii.gov):

Here’s another view of the plane (the crewmen are unidentified) appropriately from B-24 Best Web:

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What happened?

The MACR (# 1423) describes the sequence of events surrounding the loss of the bomber in very great detail, an aspect of MACRs covering 7th Air Force B-24 losses which seems to have been quite consistent.  

After the squadron’s bombing run on Taroa, Lt. Smith’s plane was observed to lag behind the other seven bombers, though the specific cause is not delineated in either the MACR or squadron history.  Five other B-24s turned back to provide protection for the Express, with one escorting pilot, Captain Jesse Stay (whose account is presented below) maintaining radio contact with Lt. Smith.  Having already lost his #4 engine, the Express’ #3 engine soon began emitting smoke, upon which 252nd Kokutai Zeros and Hamps (assigned to the defense of Taroa, as described at Pacific Wrecks) – which had been attacking the formation from the time it left the target – began to especially concentrate their fire upon Smith’s aircraft.

Heavily damaged, with its #4 engine out and #3 engine smoking, Lt. Smith lost altitude, and, eventually ditched. 

The Liberator broke in two immediately behind the flight deck, with part of the tail remaining afloat for several minutes.  Throughout, three Zeros, which had probably expended their ammunition, remained in the area to observe the scene. 

Taken together, the accounts of Captain Stay and Lt. Sands indicate that at least three – and possibly four – of the crew survived both the ditching and a strafing run by a solitary Zero.  Two life rafts were deployed, and “water marker” (dye marker?) at the scene was visible from a distance of 10 to 12 miles.

So, at least some of the crew – presumably gunners in the rear of the aircraft – remained alive after the crash. 

Later that day, upon the arrival of two PBYs at the location of the ditching (the time of their arrival is not listed and the naval squadron is unidentified) – nothing was found.  To quote the squadron history: “It was later found that upon arriving at the spot, no trace was found of the survivors, and it is presumed that they either were strafed by returning Jap airplanes or taken prisoner.”  

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The accounts of Captain Stay and Lt. Sands are presented below verbatim, along with a summary of the mission from the records of the 42nd Bomb Squadron:

Captain Stay’s Account

My flight, consisting of myself and Lt. Pratte in A/P #156 followed Capt. Storm’s flight of three airplanes over the target on Taroa Island.  We were followed by “C” flight in which Lt. Smith in A/P #214 was No. 2 man.  We made our run and turned off to the left, increasing our power and diving to catch up with Capt. Storm’s “A” flight.  We had been off of the target approximately 12-15 minutes when S/Sgt. Blackmore, my tail gunner called me to say that one A/P in “C” flight had become a straggler and was being attacked by several Zeros.  As he told me this Lt. Sands in A/P #073, who was flying #2 position in “A” flight pulled out of formation and started a turn back.  My flight of two ships turned with him and at the same time my Co-pilot informed Capt. Storm of the straggler.  Lt. Sands fell in on Lt. Smith’s right wing and I took up a position on his left wing with Lt. Pratte flying on my left wing.

Shortly after this Capt. Storm and his remaining wing man, Lt. Perry in A/P #007 fell into our formation.  At this time we noticed that the #4 engine on A/P #214 was feathered and he had many holes in the fuselage and emphennage of his A/P, and he was losing altitude fast.  Approximately 3 minutes after we joined him in formation his no. 3 engine caught fire giving off a heavy white smoke.

I spoke to Lt. Smith over V.H.F. and suggested that he feather no. 3 engine and try to put cut the fire with his Lux System.  Lt. Smith called back asking me to get Dumbo service for him and I acknowledged.  Shortly after Lt. Smith feathered #3 engine and the fire was apparently extinguished.  From the time that we had left the target we had been having a running fight with from 15 to 20 Zeros.  When Lt. Smith’s #3 engine began to smoke the Zeros began to press their attack and from 7 to 8 overhead passes were made at the formation before Lt. Smith landed his ship in the water.  The Zero pilots made excellent use of the sun and they seemed very experienced in this type of attack.

Lt. Smith had been losing altitude rapidly and when he was at about 3,000 ft. he started #3 engine again and it immediately began to smoke again.  We dropped down through a .4 cumulus cloud cover and our formation circled through a hole to 1000 ft. to watch his landing.  At this time there were still four Zeros in the air but they were apparently out of ammunition because they made no more passes.

Lt. Smith landed in the water at 13:45 L.W.T. at a position of 08 04 N and 172 33 E. The ship broke in two and the nose appeared to go down leaving the trailing edge of the wing and very little of the bomb bay afloat.  The whole ship was under water in approximately 3 minutes.  We observed at this time one life raft with one man lying prone across it.  The rest of the formation left for their base and Lt. Sands, Lt. Pratte and myself circled the scene for cover and to give what aid we could.  Three Zeros were still in the area but appeared to be only observing the crash.  Our top gunner was only able to fire a few shots at any of them.

Lt. Sands dove in low over the raft and dropped a life raft then we dove in and dropped a box of emergency rations.  Both the raft and the rations remained intact and afloat.  We called for Life Guard service on command voice on 6210 K.C. giving our distance of 90 miles and our course of 120° M from the target.

The Zeros left and we climbed above the clouds and Lt. Pulliam took a sun shot over the raft and confirmed our position.  At the same time my radio operator was calling first Tarawa, then Makin, then Apamama but receiving no answer from any of them he again called Tarawa and sent through a request for Dumbo Service.  Our three planes left the scene for Tarawa and after we had been on course for approximately 10 minutes the men in the back of my A/P reported seeing what they thought was a submarine wake behind us.  I turned around and headed back to the raft hoping to be able to assist the Submarine but on approaching the life raft we were able to see the water marker for from 10 to 12 miles from 1000 ft.

As we dove over the scene to fifty feet we saw that there were two rafts inflated and three men ware in one and possibly one on the other.  We set our liaison up to transmit on 6210 and called for Life Guard Service again.  We left the scene finally at 1434 L.W.T. and landed at Tarawa to refuel where we learned that two PBYs had been sent out 2 hours before.

Captain Jesse E. Stay

Lt. Sands’ Account

I was flying A/P # 073 in the Number 3 position of “A” Flight.  We had left the target about five minutes when the tail gunner called and said there was a B-24 smoking and losing altitude and was alone.  I told my crew that we were going to make a 90° turn so I could get a look at it.  When I observed the conditions under which Lt. Smith was placed I continued my turn and went back to get in formation with him.  We pulled in on his right wing as that was the side that about 10 Zekes were making overhead passes at the crippled plane.  We had been in formation with Lt. Smith about three or four minutes when the four other planes pulled into formation on his left wing.  We continued to escort him until he landed in the water at about 13:45 L.W.T.

The plane appeared to break in two just back of the flight deck.  The entire plane with the exception of the tail surfaces sank almost immediately.  The tail surfaces floated for about four minutes.  One man was definitely seen to be laying across a partly inflated, overturned life-raft with possibly one other person in the water.  I ordered my crew to get a life raft ready to throw overboard which was done as we passed over at a minimum altitude.

One Zeke was seen to make a strafing attack at the spot where the plane sank.  The Zeke then left the area.  We circled for another ten minutes, and seeing no more Zekes, we departed for Tarawa.  My radio operator immediately sent out a position report of the crashed plane which was unanswered.

1 Lt. Warren H. Sands

42nd Bomb Squadron History

TAROA MISSION * 20 December 1943

Lt. Kerr in 143, Captain Storm in 155, Lt. Gall in 100, Lt. Perr (431st) in 007, Lt. Schmidt in 838m Lt. Stay in 960, Lt. Sands in 073, Lt. Smith in 214, and Lt. Pratte in 156, staged through Nonomea for a strike against Taroa on Maloelap Atoll.  Each airplane carried 6 x 500 GO bombs.  Interception began as the airplanes pulled away from an AA spattered bomb run, with 20 – 30 Zekes and Hamps rising to the attack.

AA began as the airplanes neared the island, in some cases not reported as occurring until the run had started, with a majority of the bombs landing in or near the target area.  Lt. Gall did not reach the target due to malfunction.  It was on this mission that Lt. Smith had two engines shot out either by AA or cannon fire, and found it necessary to make a water landing about 75 miles from Taroa.  Covered by other elements of the flight, he made what was described as “an excellent” water landing, from which at least four men were seen to leave the badly damaged airplane and crawl onto two rafts.  Captain Stay had, prior to the crash, radioed to both Dumbo and Lifeguard to come in, and this was later found to have reached both agencies through other intercepting mediums as well as the original call.  It was later found that upon arriving at the spot, no trace was found of the survivors, and it is presumed that they either were strafed by returning Jap airplanes or taken prisoner. 

Several Jap interceptors were knocked off on this mission, by Sergeant Kernyat of Sands crew, Sgt. Brannan of Lt. Kerr’s, Sgt. Roth, Sgt. Ball, and S/Sgt. Tanner of Captains Stay’s crew.  They were all confirmed…

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To give you a better understanding of the setting and location of this incident, the following series of maps and illustrations show the location of the Marshall Islands in general and Taroa in particular, the island’s appearance in 1943 (and 2017), as well as the location where Dogpatch Express was lost in relation to surrounding islands.

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Here is a map of the Marshall Islands (from Wikimedia Commons) illustrated on a global view of the earth, centered on Polynesia.

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The map below, from the Diercke International Atlas, shows Taroa Island (right center) and the other islands comprising the Maloelap Atoll. 

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This undated Air Force photograph shows the “Bombing of the Japanese Airfield on Taroa Islet [sic]…”  The image is from the WW II U.S. Air Force Photo Collection at Fold3.com.  (Image A42044 / 73717 AC)

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Here’s a Google Earth satellite view of Taroa, circa 2017.  The island’s miniscule size is evident by the distance scale (one thousand feet!) in the lower right corner of the image.  Note the changes in the island’s shape that have ensued since World War Two, and, the still-visible remnant of one of the two runways.

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This Google map shows the location of Taroa (via the red pointer), relative to surrounding islands.  Obvious (in reality, not-so-obvious) is the fact that the Maloelap Atoll and Taroa are “invisible” at the scale of this map. 

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This map, generated by entering latitude and longitude coordinates in Google Earth, shows the location where Dogpatch Express was ditched (denoted by the red pointer).  Akin to above, at this scale, Maloelap and Taroa do not appear.

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This map shows the location of Nanomea Island (red pointer once more) relative to the Marshalls.  Akin to the above map views, Nanomea is so small as to be “invisible”

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The plane was lost. 

Ten men were lost.

Who were they?

Typical for MACRs, Report 1423 gives the names of the plane’s crewmen, their crew positions, and, their serial numbers.  However, the Report does not contain any “contact” information; the names and residential address of next-of-kin.  If you were to go by the MACR alone, the men would be, in a sense, “anonymous”: names, ranks, serial numbers, and nothing more.    

However, there is one set of records in the National Archives that gives these men fuller identities. 

This information is present in Records Group 165, in the “Bureau of Public Relations Press Branch” releases covering military casualties (specifically Missing in Action, Killed in Action, Wounded in Action), which were issued throughout the war to the news media by the War Department.  

Within these press releases, casualties are listed by theater of war (Europe, Mediterranean, Pacific, etc.), with mens’ names listed alphabetically within each category.  The name of a casualty was usually (usually) released approximately one month subsequent to the calendar date on which he was killed, wounded, or missing.  The predictably of this time-frame is a very reliable way (at least, through the late spring of 1944) to identify the year and month when the press release listing a serviceman’s name, his next-of-kin, and emergency address, was released to the news media.   

(Maybe more about this in a future post?)

Given that Lt. Smith’s crew was lost in late December of 1943, it was assumed that their names could be found in Press releases issued in late January of 1944.  Research in RG 165 verified this:  The men’s names appeared in Casualty Lists issued on January 21, 22, and 24, and (one man) February 9, of 1944.

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The crew’s names are other relevant information are presented below, along with (in parenthesis) the calendar date of the relevant Press release.  

They were:

Pilot     Smith, George W.     1 Lt.          0-374301     (1/22/44)
Mrs. Ida R. Smith (mother), Prairieton, In.

Co-Pilot     Lowry, John E., Jr.     2 Lt.     0-800907     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Margaret E. Lowry, Jr. (wife), Spring St., Smyrna, Ga.

Navigator     Mortenson, Carl A.     2 Lt.     0-738872     (1/22/44)
Mr. Harry Walter Mortenson (brother), 1380 Riverside Drive, Lakewood, Oh.

Bombardier     Ortiz, Ralph P.     1 Lt.    0-663307     (1/22/44)
Mr. Daniel C. Ortiz (father), 603 Agua Fria, Santa Fe, N.M.

Flight Engineer    Sopko, Clarence T.     T/Sgt. 35308715     1/22/20     (1/22/44)
Mrs. Mary S. Sopko (mother), 2138 West 26th St., Cleveland, Oh.
Memorial Tombstone – at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery – Section M, Plot 6 (Photo by Douglas King)

Radio Operator     Gearon, Roy T.     T/Sgt.     20616199     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Catherine Ann Gearon (mother), 5464 Woodlawn, Chicago, Il.
Crew Picture and related  information from Patrick Maher (Second Cousin)  (See below.)

Gunner     Hudman, Jesse Harvey S/Sgt.     12146959     1918     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Florence L. Hudman (wife), 10 Marble Place, Ossining, N.Y.
Mrs. Carrie Hudman (mother), Gilbert Park, N.Y.
Memorial Tombstone – at Dale Cemetery, Ossining, N.Y. (photo by Jean Sutherland)
Notices about Sgt. Hudman appeared in the Citizen-Register, of Ossining, N.Y., on May 22 and 25, 1946, concerning a memorial service that was held in his behalf on May 19 of that year. 

Gunner     Paradise, Arnold J.     S/Sgt.     36264577     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Fern Paradise (mother), Garden Acres, Chippewa Falls, Wi.
WW II Memorial – June Havel (sister)

Gunner     Dell, Carl N.     S/Sgt.     13038323     4/19/20     (2/9/44)
Mr. William J. Dell (father), Route 1, Middle Road, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Memorial Tombstone at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by “Genealogy-Detective”)

Gunner     Nielsen, Earl Dewayne     S/Sgt.     39831608     7/29/21     (1/21/44)
Mrs. Vera P. Nielsen (mother), Cleveland, Id.
Memorial Tombstone at Cleveland Cemetery, Franklin County, Id. (Photo by Bill E. Doman)

All the crewmen are memorialized in the Courts of the Missing (Court 7), at the Honolulu Memorial, in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, at Honolulu, Hawaii.

Remarkably, there is a photograph of this crew… 

Mr. Patrick Maher, a second cousin of T/Sgt. Roy Gearon, has posted a picture of the crew at the Memorial Page for his relative at FindAGrave.com, with the message, “We are 2nd cousins Roy.  Know you were remembered then and still by your family with a proud military tradition. May you and your crew forever rest in peace at the bottom of the ocean.  Your last mission was accomplished Sir.  Sorry on behalf of your government for your case and many like it.  Your death date was December 21, 1943 not 1946.  Silver Star recipient.  Rest in Peace Sir.”  

Mr. Maher’s entry also includes a close-up image of the final moments of Dogpatch Express, identical to one of the photographs in the MACR below.

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The photos?

Unlike the images for the A-20s, these two photos are unattached to the documents in the MACR; they’re “loose” in the file.  Here they are:

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Here’s the “first” image.  This shows Dogpatch Express heading back – well, trying to head back – to Nanomea, showing Lt. Sand’s B-24 to the right and slightly above Lt. Smith’s aircraft.  This may be the point at which – as described by Capt. Stay – the squadron dropped to an altitude of 3,000 feet, upon which the Express’ #3 engine emitted smoke when it was restarted.

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This is a 2,400 dpi crop of the above photo.  The damage to Dogpatch Express is obvious.  The #4 engine has been feathered, and there’s a large hole in the starboard rudder.  Close examination shows that the ball turret has been rotated downwards and retracted into the fuselage, while in the dorsal turret – rotated to the rear – the guns have been elevated to 70-80 degrees.  The trail of smoke – thick smoke; dense smoke; white smoke – emitted from the #3 engine is plainly evident.

Given that the direction of flight from Taroa to Nanomea was approximately south-southeast, by looking “into” this image –  the viewer is looking west-southwest. 

Beyond and below the aircraft, and into the indefinite horizon, there are clouds, water, and, more clouds and more water. 

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This picture shows the scene of Dogpatch Express’  ditching. 

(Though this post doesn’t pertain to camouflage and markings, this image illustrates the Insignia Blue overpaint of the Insignia Red surround to the National Insignia, which had been a feature of the national insignia of American military aircraft between 28 June and 14 August 1943.)

Though intended as a historical record – for which it more than serves its purpose – this photograph – like the image above – is extremely evocative of the war over the Pacific:  Distance.  Water.  Emptiness. 

The point of the B-24’s impact – a trail of churned water perhaps several hundred feet long – is obvious.  However, compared with the expanse of sea encompassed by the image and receding into the distance, the site is miniscule.

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This is a 2,400 dpi crop of the above image.  Though the resolution is too low to identify details, four objects can be seen floating at the top of the “ditching trail”.  Captain Stay mentioned that the scene was visible up to 12 miles away, due to dye marker in the water.  Is the gray patch of water in the upper left of the ditching site the dye marker? 

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The survivors – whoever they were – were never seen again.

The 42nd Bomb Squadron mission summary suggests two possibilities for their fate:  They were strafed by Zero fighters during the interval between the departure of the other B-24s and the arrival of PBYs, or, they were captured by the Japanese, via naval vessels.

Given the location and circumstances under which the crew was lost, and, the passage of time, what ultimately happened to the few survivors will probably forever be unknown.  There is a slight – (very slight?) – possibility that IDPFs filed for the crew may include more definitive information about their fate, but even those documents, I suppose, will be ambiguous as well.

What is not supposition was – and will always be – their bravery, and the bravery of many men like them.   

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A Brief Digression on Names and Numbers

Did the Army Air Force (or post-1947, the Air Force) ever complete statistical studies comparing the chances of survival for WW II USAAF bomber aircrews lost over the Pacific, to those for aviators lost in the European / Mediterranean Theatres of War?  I don’t know!

I’ve attempted a brief comparison of that sort.  Or, at least half of a comparison…  This was based on an evaluation of statistics about 7th Air Force B-24 losses, with information derived from MACRs (my own review of those documents, extending over some years), and, miscellaneous references. 

MACRs and other sources for losses of 7th Air Force B-24s (75 aircraft covered by “wartime” MACRs, 6 aircraft covered by post-war “fill-in” MACRs, and 11 B-24 losses mentioned by books and other sources) cover a total of 92 aircraft.  (Doubtless there were other planes for which MACRs were never filed…)

Among those 92 B-24s, there was a total of 950 airmen, of whom there were 237 survivors and 713 fatalities.  The 237 survivors represent 24% of the 950 crewmen.  (There were no survivors from 51 planes, while entire crews survived among 5 of the 92 lost aircraft.)

In light of these statistics, and bearing in mind that these figures represent people, not simply “numbers” – I wonder if…it seems that…despite the greater aircraft losses incurred by the 8th and 15th Air Forces, as opposed to the 7th (and 13th, and 5th)…the chances of survival for an aircrew lost in the Pacific Theater of war were actually far lower than in Europe and the Mediterranean.

If so, I’d attribute this to the utterly different geography encompassed by and overflown in the Pacific, where combat missions by nature occurred over vast, near-featureless expanses of water; abruptly changing climatic conditions; the challenges inherent to locating downed airmen at sea, during both aerial and sea-borne searches; the lower chances of simple physical survival (aside from enemy activity) for those few aviators who may have been able to parachute onto land or sea; and last – but hardly insignificantly – the ethos of the Japanese regarding captured members of the Allied Air Forces.  (Thirteen 7th Air Force B-24 crewmen survived the war as POWs of the Japanese.*)

So, to conclude (if there is a conclusion) let these photos stand as a reminder of those who didn’t return, and the very few who did. 

– Michael G. Moskow

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Notes

For an essay on Taroa illustrated with stunningly beautiful contemporary photographs, visit The World War II Legacy of Taroa Island.

For a historical overview of Taroa, specifically focusing on the island during World War II and as a tourist destination (circa 1995), see the essay Dirk H.R. Spennemann (of the Institute of Land, Water and Society, at Charles Stuart University), at Taroa, Maloelap Atoll – A brief virtual tour through a Japanese airbase in the Marshall Islands.

* These POWs were:

ABEL, WILLIAM E.                   S/Sgt.                   36440823            Gunner (Tail)
CARTWRIGHT, THOMAS C.    2 Lt.                      0-831661             Pilot
EIFLER, HAROLD                    2 Lt.                      0-721673             Pilot
GARRETT, FRED F                 1 Lt.                      0-740163             Pilot
HRYSKANICH, PETER             2 Lt.                      0-806683             Co-Pilot
MARTIN, WILLIAM R., JR         2 Lt.                      0-2065804           Navigator
MINIERRE, LINCOLN S.           T/Sgt.                   11073217             Radio Operator
PHILLIPS, RUSSELL A.            Capt.                    0-726463             Pilot
SELLERS, CLYDE J.                Sgt.                       36871713            Gunner
SMITH, RICHARD M.                2 Lt.                      0-692346             Navigator
STODDARD, LOREN A.           Capt.                    0-428873             Pilot
WALKER, ARTHUR JAMES       Col.                      0-022462            Pilot
ZAMPERINI, LOUIS S.               1 Lt.                     0-663341             Bombardier

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References

(Books)

Bell, Dana, Air Force Colors Volume 2 – ETO & MTO 1942-45, Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, Tx., 1980.

Cleveland, W.M., Grey Geese Calling – Pacific Air War History of the 11th Bombardment Group (H) 1940-1945, 11th Bombardment Group Association Inc., Seffner, Fl., 1992.

Doll, Thomas E., Jackson, Berkley R., and Riley, William A., Navy Air Colors – United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aircraft Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 1 – 1911-1945, Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, Tx., 1983.

Forman, Wallace R., B-24 Nose Art Name Directory, Specialty Press Publishers and Wholesalers, North Branch, Mn., 1996.

Rust, Kenn C., Seventh Air Force Story …In World War II, Historical Aviation Album, Temple City, Ca., 1979.

(Web Sites)

11th Bombardment Group History, at http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/browse?type=subject&value=11th%20Bombardment%20Group%20(H)

At OAKTrust Digital Repository of Texas A&M University – Special Collections
http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/

In connection with / related to biography of T/Sgt. Paul Fredrick Adler
42nd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).  Monthly Squadron Histories and Documents, 20 May 1943 – 5 March 1944
http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/90568/3%20History-42dBS-1943-44-Missions.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (On pages 89 of 104 of PDF.)

Dogpatch Express nose-art (Pinterest), at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551268810615004024/

Dogpatch Express crew photo (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1

Dogpatch Express nose-art (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1-1.htm

Dogpatch Express nose-art (B-24 Best Web), at http://www.b24bestweb.com/dogpatchexpress-v1-2.htm

Marshall Islands (at Wikimedia Commons), at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Islands.

Nanomea Island (Wikipedia entry – listed as “Nanumea”), at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanumea

Taroa Island (at Pacific Wrecks Database), at http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/marshalls/taroa/index.html

Taroa Island (at Charles Stuart University), at http://marshall.csu.edu.au/Marshalls/html/japanese/Taroa/Taroa.html

The World War II Legacy of Taroa Island (at Nothing Unknown), at https://www.nothingunknown.com/content/2016/10/7/taroa-island

(United States National Archives)

Records Group 165 “War Department Special Staff Public Relations Division News Branch Press and Radio News Releases, 1921-1947” (arranged chronologically), at Stack Area 390, Row 40, Compartment 3, Shelf 6.

The Missing Photos – I: A Panorama of Havoc – Two A-20 Attack-Bombers Over France

In an earlier post – The Missing Photos: Photographic Images in Missing Air Crew Reports – I described the 58 Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) which include photographs. 

This post – covering two such MACRs – brings you an example of one of these images.  (One image for two MACRs?  I’ll explain…)

The MACRs in question are numbers “5033” and “5032”, covering two 416th Bomb Group A-20G Havoc light bombers.  Respectively, the Reports cover A-20G 43-10203 (5H * R), piloted by First Lieutenant Lucian J. Siracusa, and, 43-10206 (2A * F), piloted by First Lieutenant Allen W. Gullion, of the 668th and 669th Bomb Squadrons.  Both planes were lost during a mission to Amiens, France, on May 27, 1944. 

Fortunately, all six crewmen aboard the two planes parachuted safely, to spend the remainder of the war as POWs.

The circumstances under which the two planes were lost were identical.  Both Havocs were shot down by flak which struck their right engines – at an altitude between 11,300 and 11,500 feet – shortly after 1800 hours (local time), during the 416th’s bomb run. 

The witnesses to the planes’ loss – 1 Lt. Gustave Ebenstein, S/Sgt. Holley Perkins, and Sgt. S.P. Newell – the crew of A-20G 43-9907 of the 668th BS – were the same for both MACRs. 

The maps filed with the two MACRs show the last location of the Havocs as having been north of the Somme River. 

Specifically, Lt. Gullion’s aircraft was north-northeast of Amiens / west-northwest of Albert, as seen in the map from MACR 5032:

Lt. Siracusa’s plane was last seen between Amiens and Albert.  In his postwar Casualty Questionnaire (the only such document in either MACR), he mentions that his plane crashed “10 miles west of Amiens”.  The last position of his bomber is depicted in the map below, from MACR 5033:

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On the “contemporary” side of things, Google maps of this region are shown below.  The first map shows northern France, specifically the locations of Amiens and Albert…

…while the map below shows the area between Amiens and Albert in more detail.

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But, what about the airmen themselves?  They were:

A-20G 43-10203 (MACR 5033 / KU 809A)

Pilot: 1 Lt. Lucian J. Siracusa                    POW (camp location unknown)
Mrs. Philomena Siracusa (mother), 325 13th St., Palisades Park, N.J.

Gunner: S/Sgt. James N. Hume                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Edith R. Hume (mother), South Side Road, York Village, Me.

Gunner: S/Sgt. Floyd E. Brown                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Evelyn G. Brown (wife), 9 Linden Ave., Moundsville, W.V.

A-20G 43-10206 (MACR 5032 / KU 807A)

Pilot: 1 Lt. Allen W. Gullion, Jr.                POW at Stalag Luft III (Sagan)
Mrs. Allen W. Gullion (wife), 3333 Rittenhouse St., Northwest, Washington, D.C.
c/o Mrs. Thomas Moorman

Gunner: S/Sgt. Gerald L. Coffey             POW at Stalag Luft III (Sagan)
Mr. George L. Coffey (father), Route Number Two, Dardanelle, Ak.

Gunner: S/Sgt. Grady F. Cope                POW at Stalag Luft 4 (Gross-Tychow)
Mrs. Myrtle V. Cope (mother), Route Number Two, Gould, Ok.

The Germans filed Luftgaukommando Reports for both crews, which – at least as Luftgaukommando Reports go! – contain only nominal information about the planes and crewmen.  Report KU 807A indicates that the crew of 43-10206 was captured at Vignacourt, while Report KU 809A, for 43-10203, mentions that Siracusa and Hume were captured at Bertangles, and Brown at Amiens.  

The somme-aviation-39-45 website reveals that 43-10206 crashed 1 kilometer west of Vignacourt, at Boise de Parisiens.  The website includes a remarkable series of images of the recovery of the plane’s wreckage (in 2006) with added commentary, which is quoted below:

As described:

L’excavation de Vignacourt a eu lieu le samedi 28 octobre 2006.  Les prévisions météorologiques laissaient craindre des averses mais finalement le travail pourra s’effectuer convenablement.  L’agriculteur a eu la gentillesse de différer ses semis à l’emplacement du crash afin de nous permettre d’effectuer les recherches.
“Le Boston IV A20 G du 416ème Bomber Group de la 9ème Air Force des USA a ainsi été retrouvé.

“Les deux moteurs, de type radial WRIGHT R-2600, ont été retrouvés à un peu plus de 2 mètres de profondeur, ce qui laisse à penser que le bimoteur, s’il n’est pas arrivé en vol rasant, a tout de même heurté le sol avec un angle faible.  Ces moteurs ont tous deux été brûlés et l’un des deux est d’un volume moindre car il a certainement été atteint par un obus de la DCA [Défense Contre Avions].  Nous avons également retrouvé quelques cylindres, également brûlés, dont nous pourrons extraire quelques soupapes qui semblent en bon état.

“Eu égard à l’emplacement des deux moteurs dans la terre, cet avion arrivait probablement du Sud / Sud-Est (trajectoire courbe à partir d’Amiens s’orientant vers Vignacourt se trouvant au Nord-Ouest d’Amiens).

“D’autres pièces ont également été retrouvées : les deux moyeux d’hélice tripale, 3 pales plus ou moins endommagées et très corrodées, des douilles de 12,7 mm brûlées.

“Quasiment toutes les pièces ont été brûlées et sont corrodées à cause de l’incendie de l’appareil.

Translation?

“The excavation of Vignacourt took place on Saturday, October 28, 2006.  The weather forecasts threatened showers but eventually the work could be done properly.  The farmer was kind enough to postpone his seeding at the crash site to allow us to do research.

“Boston IV A-20G of the 416th Bomb Group of the 9th Air Force of the United States has been recovered.

“The two engines, Wright R-2600 radials, were found at a depth of a little more than 2 meters, which suggests that the twin-engined [aircraft], if it has not [landed] in flight, nevertheless struck the ground at a low angle.  These engines were both burned and one of the two is of lesser volume as it was certainly hit by an anti-aircraft defense shell.  We also found some cylinders, also burnt, from which we could extract some valves that seemed in good condition.

“In view of the location of the two engines in the ground, this aircraft probably came from the South / South-East (curved trajectory from Amiens to Vignacourt, northwest of Amiens).

“Other parts have also been found: the two three-bladed propeller hubs, 3 blades more or less damaged and very corroded, burned 12.7 mm shells.

“Almost all the parts had been burned and are corroded because of the fire.”

All well and good, and genuinely good:  All six men returned. 

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Other 9th Air Force A-20 losses that day, with relevant MACR and Luftgaukommando Report numbers, comprise the following:

409th Bomb Group

43-9694, 640th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Raymond L. Gregg (3 crew; no survivors) – MACR 5086; KU 1997
43-9446, 640th BS, piloted by Capt. Leland F. Norton (4 crew; 2 survivors) – MACR 5087; KU 1992

410th Bomb Group

43-9665, 646th BS, piloted by 1 Lt. Richard K. Robinson (3 crew; 2 survivors) – MACR 5046; KU 1993
43-10218, 647th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Warren A. Thompson (3 crew; all survived) – MACR 5037; KU 1996

416th Bomb Group

43-9983, “2A * J”, 669th BS, piloted by 2 Lt. Harry E. Hewes (3 crew; all survived) – MACR 5035; KU 1977

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But, what about the photos…? 

That’s where things become interesting. 

Both MACRs include a photograph of the two damaged planes falling below and behind the 416th’s formation.  A comparison of both pictures (not possible via Fold3) shows that the images are actually identical, having been printed from the same negative.  The only difference is that the photographic print in MACR 5032 – notably darker than that in MACR 5033 – was presumably developed (by the 416th BG photo lab?*) longer.  The notations at the bottom of the image in MACR 5033, such as focal length of 6 3/8”, probably argue for this being the “original” print.

But, what about the photos…? 

That’s where things remain interesting.

For a photograph taken under combat conditions – very likely by an automatic camera, at that – it’s actually a very good photo.  By sheer luck, the “focus” of interest – the two mortally damaged A-20s – are situated within the center of the image.  From the towns, forests, and farms on the earth below, to the 23 (ugh!) flak bursts in the upper left, to the four A-20s in flight, the resolution and clarity are excellent.  

Beyond this, the picture imparts an impression of depth (well, there was over 11,000 feet of “depth” beneath the planes), as if the viewer is not only looking at the four A-20s, but looking through and beyond them, as well. 

And ultimately, in this year of 2017, we are not only looking through space, but into the past.   

And with that discussion – oh, yes! – here are the pictures….

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The MACR for Lt. Siracusa’s bomber, first…

Here’s how the image looks in the actual MACR.  Both the photographic print and the original documents comprising the MACR are in excellent condition. 

Here’s the photograph itself, scanned at 1200 dpi.  Notice information at the bottom of the image covering date of mission, focal length of camera, and target. 

The image once more, scanned at 2400 dpi, and cropped.  The arrow is pointing to Lt. Siracusa’s plane.  The fire enveloping his starboard nacelle is striking, even from a distance.   

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And now, the MACR for Lt. Gullion’s plane…

As before, here’s the print as it appears in the MACR.

And, the image itself, at 1200 dpi.  Notice the obvious differences from the image in the previous MACR.  No information has been recorded on the print.  The photographic developing process brought out background details richly and deeply. 

Zooming in at 2400 dpi.  The arrow points to Lt. Gullion’s Havoc  This cropped view shows both their smoking (and burning!) starboard engines quite clearly, with the canopy and dorsal turret of Lt. Gullion’s plane being readily visible.

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I hope to bring you more MACR photos in the future.

– Michael G. Moskow

Acknowledgements and References

     Further information about the 416th Bomb Group can be found at the extraordinarily comprehensive 416th Bomb Group website, which covers the Group’s history and activities in a depth and breadth rarely found among most other websites covering Army Air Force Combat Groups.  (Examples: The 416th BG website includes detailed information about men wounded or injured.  Similarly, it includes combat mission loading lists.  Such details are unusual, and moreso, unusually valuable.)

416th Bomb Group Mission of 27 05 1944 to Amiens, at http://www.416th.com/missions/mission58.html

France-Crashes 1939-1945 website, (Daniel Carville), at http://francecrashes39-45.net/index.php

A-20G 43-10206 (at France-Crashes website), at http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=1848

Somme Aviation website, at http://www.somme-aviation-39-45.fr/index_.html

Recovery of wreckage of A-20G 43-10206, at http://www.somme-aviation-39-45.fr/pages-dossiers-decouverte/boston-iv-a20-g-vignacourt-27-mai-1944/boston-a-20g-vignacourt-27-mai-1944.html

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*Photo lab?  Hey, what’s a photo lab?