BEFORE AND AFTER PAGE 4
When initially setting up these pages I worked through the B-24 units in numerical order, so since page 3 ended at the 'Js' in 44BG, this page picks up there and moves on.
BA4 #11 42-94952 SHACK RAT of 44BG 506BS. The 'headless' female is an indication that the artwork was applied in the US before departure for the ETO. On arrival, aircraft were sent to BAD 2 at Warton for theatre modifications such as the blown navigator's window and pilot side armour, the latter covering the girl's head.
BA4 #13a 8 BALL on 5 October 1943 after running off the raised taxiway at Ward's Strip, Port Moresby. It was repaired, but combined with the fact that it had never received the nose turret modification, it was considered non-combat and was returned to the US, arriving on 17 December 1943. Presumably used as a trainer, it was scrapped at Searcy Field, Stillwater just before the end of the war. In 2000 a piece of the aircraft with part of the nose art was dug up and placed in the local museum.
BA4 #14a 42-72954 on 19 April 1944: Took off on a mission to bomb troops at Daraga. Damaged by flak over Legaspi that damaged the hydraulic system but was able to returned and crash landed without flaps or undercarriage at Hollandia, crashing into a pile of 55 gallon fuel drums, that were luckily empty. In the crash, the nose turret completely dislocated from the fuselage, and both propellers torn from the engines #1 and #2. Carl Thien writes in Pacific Island Odyssey: "One day, returning from a ride in an A-20, I was passing a fuel dump near the airport when a B-24 returning from a bombing run, was unable to reach the Sentani Strip and crashed into hundreds of empty fuel drums. A few other nearby soldiers went into the dump to do what we could to help the downed flyers. Some of the empty drums were exploding, and others were starting to burn, but we could see the flyers trying to get out of the plane. We managed to bring three of them to the edge of the dump before a regular crash crew arrived and got the rest out. Several had been wounded before the crash, and couple more were badly hurt when when the plane grounded. The B-24 was still repairable after it was dragged out of the area and back to the airstrip, and we saw it the next week being worked on. We heard that most of the crew survived even though being severely wounded." I very much doubt that this was considered repairable, and it was certainly recorded as written off on this date!
BA4 #16a The tail of 44-49627 in a Philippine graveyard in 1945. Steve Boos writes: The picture [at] BA4#16a, number on the tail is 627, well that is my father, Celestine H. Boos. He served in the army in the Pacific as a medical technician and drove an ambulance. I have this picture in my father's collection. My father was discharged in December 1945. I found this pic while doing research on a pilot from the 90th bomb group, 321st squad. 1st Lt. Leonard Ford, Leonard and I live in Phillipsburg, Ks.
BA4 #17 42-72774 BIG CHIEF, 90BG This aircraft was flown by a full-blood Wyandotte Indian: Chief Leaford Bearskin Wyandotte Nation Chief Leaford Bearskin, 91, an American war hero and leader, died Nov. 9, 2012. Funeral arrangements include a visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul Thomas Funeral Home, Miami, Okla.; and funeral service at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Bearskin Gymnasium, Wyandotte, Okla. The Wyandotte Nation, based in Oklahoma, with ties to Wyandotte County, Kan., has released this statement about Chief Bearskin: Born in Wyandotte, Okla., in 1921 to parents John and Myrtle Bearskin, Leaford Bearskin began his active and historic life on the territory of the Wyandotte Nation. A proud leader, he first and foremost wanted to be known as a Wyandotte Indian. Living the proud life of a young Wyandotte, Bearskin developed into a leader at an early age with his 12 brothers and sister. Chief Bearskin is survived by his wife, Barbara, son, Ron and daughter, Nancy. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1939, Leaford Bearskin set out on a career in the Army Air Corps, as it was called in those days. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, he was a sergeant serving in Alaska. Not long thereafter he was enrolled in pilot training and looking forward to his "wings." As with many young men of the time, he had hoped to be assigned to a P-38 fighter squadron. In that he was disappointed. Instead, he went to the 90th Bombardment Group where he would soon be flying a B-24, one of the great heavy bombers of World War II. The 90th soon became known as the "Jolly Rogers" Group and was destined to gain fame in the skies above New Guinea. In the absence of fighter cover on one mission he volunteered to fly top cover and was forever respected by his fellow pilots. Engaged in dangerous air missions he was proudest to never have lost a crew member. Capt. Bearskin flew a plane called "Big Chief" on 46 combat missions before he and his war party returned to the United States. The young Wyandotte was made squadron commander and his service to his country did not end when peace came. In 1948, he flew 29 missions during the Berlin Airlift. Later, while a deputy commander of a fighter base in Georgia, he participated in the first flight of jet fighters across the Pacific. Later still, he served as a squadron commander during the Korean War. For his service to his country, Bearskin received numerous honors and citations including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Medal for Humane Action. He retired from the military in 1960 but continued in government service and worked on various missile systems at Vandenburg Air Force Base. Eventually he really did retire and headed home to Oklahoma. Not content just to ride his horses and to catch an occasional fish, Bearskin took an active interest in his tribe. Since September 1983, Bearskin has been chief of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. He worked hard for his people and brought to fruition a number of innovative and imaginative projects for the advancement of his tribe. He was key in the establishment of the 7th Street Casino in Kansas City, Kan., and many of the monuments throughout Wyandotte County, Kan. Today he is recognized as one of the historic leaders of Native Americans throughout the country. A recipient of numerous awards Bearskin received the Indian Achievement Award presented by The Center for the History of the American Indian in Chicago and was honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Under Chief Bearskin’s leadership, vast improvements in healthcare, education, social services, employment, emergency services, culture and heritage, have been possible. “His influence has not only been felt by our Nation, but throughout the state of Oklahoma and across the United States. He was a loyal and fierce advocate of tribal sovereignty and rights for not only the Wyandotte Nation, but for all tribes across this great nation,” presiding Chief of the Wyandotte Nation Billy Friend said. “The citizens of the Wyandotte Nation are deeply saddened by the passing of our great leader. He was a member of the greatest generation and one of the best of that generation. He served the nation and the Wyandotte Nation and helped bring our tribe to where we are today,” Chief Friend said of his friend and mentor. At his retirement honors held this past spring, Chief Bearskin said, “I have seen many countries but I will say it again, and again, and again, we have the best country in the world.” Chief Bearskin went on to honor his wife Barbara at the event , and said, “She has been with me all of these years. She has been by my side wherever I’ve been and I want to tell you she has been one of my greatest supporters. I have another message for Barbara Bearskin. I met you a long time ago in California, I loved you then, but if it’s possible I love you more today.” Chief Bearskin ended his remarks that day by saying,“I want to say thank you, thank you a thousand times. I am the proudest Indian in the whole country.” And with that the great warrior, leader and Chief of the Wyandotte Nation left the stage.
BA4 #17a BIG CHIEF after crashing on take-off from Nadzab on 20 April 1944: I was a waist gunner on Cromwell’s crew 321st. We were assigned “Big Chief” (after Leaford Bearskin) on a mission from Nadzab to Hollandia. As we were about to reach lift-off, the left tire blew, causing the left gear to break and the plane to lurch to the left. The # 1 propeller snapped and came flying toward the rear of the aircraft and imbedded itself into the left rudder. With 8 1,000 lb. bombs on board, every crew member and many ground crew men got as far away as they could with utmost haste [David Saporta]
BA4 #18a All that remained of BOMBS TO NIP ON after the 16 November 1942 crash at Iron Range. The tenth aircraft to depart from the narrow tree-lined dirt runway, the pilot was blinded by dust, drifted off the centre line, struck B-24s parked along the runway and cartwheeled into the trees and exploded. Miraculously one man, the supernumery squadron intelligence officer who had been standing on the catwalk, staggered out of the inferno.
BA4 #20e CONNELL'S SPECIAL returned to the US in November 1944 and was converted as a TB-24D B-29 gunnery trainer at the Harlingen (Texas) gunnery school - still carrying the ex-RAAF Hudson tailwheel instead of the standard tail bumper. By August 1945 it had been re-designated as an RB-24 and by October it was at Altus, Oklahoma awaiting the scrapper. Not many B-24s accepted by the AAF in June 1942 were still around at the end of 1945, let alone one which had had such severe damage.
BA4 #24a Replacement aircraft after the original JOLTIN’ JANIE was transferred to the 43BG. Bill Martin again named JJ II after his wife. Bill wrote that in midsummer of 43 a crew from another squadron attempted to skip bomb a freighter in Wewak Harbor and unfortunately they did not see the Jap cruiser against the shoreline which promply shot the plane to pieces. With two engines out the crew managed to nurse JJ II back to Dobodura where they landed with no hydraulics and therefore no brakes. After rolling down the 5000 ft runway the plane CR over a 50ft cliff into the river.
BA4 #25a The wreckage of LITTLE EVA near Durriejellpa Waterhole near Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of North Australia as photographed by a low flying B-52 in the 1960s. on 2 December 1942 the crew became lost when returning to Iron Range after a mission and most bailed out at fuel exhaustion. At least one remained aboard and another's parachute caught in the tail. The rest wandered the country, two being found in poor condition after 12 days. Seven died one by one, and only one lived long enough to be returned to the 90th after an amazing 5 months.