Rescue of Roger Locher

PILOT DOWN–A MUST SEE…

Think You’ll enjoy viewing this video of Gen. Ritchie

What a contrast to the Benghazi Embassy attack! This is when our country’s leaders had honor, integrity and American lives meant something. My eyes welled with tears listening to this General speak so proudly of all the gallant men and the camaraderie they displayed for this one man rescue.

It made me proud to be an American… for a little while anyway!

Don’t miss this video – Even if you have never been close to military aviation or fighting our nation’s wars, don’t miss it.

Pilot Down

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Semper Fi,

Paul Lightfoot

HMCS (FMF) USN RET

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Ribbons

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MCL-LOGO

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Fleet Marine Corpsman

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The All America B-17 that Won

WOW – I’ve seen this in the past.. but still a shocker! America(ns are) is great !

Navigator – Harry C. Nuessle

Bombardier – Ralph Burbridge

Engineer – Joe C. James

Radio Operator – Paul A. Galloway

Ball Turret Gunner – Elton Conda

Waist Gunner – Michael Zuk

Tail Gunner – Sam T. Sarpolus

Ground Crew Chief – Hank Hyland

B-17 in 1943

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named “All American”, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew – miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.

When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

 

 

Fascinating WWII Aircraft Facts

Amazing WWII Aircraft Facts

 

No matter how one looks at it, these are incredible statistics.  Aside from the figures on aircraft, consider this statement from the article:  On average 6600 American service men died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day)

Most Americans who were not adults during WWII have no understanding of the magnitude of it.  This listing of some of the aircraft facts gives a bit of insight to it.
276,000 aircraft manufactured in the US.
43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.
14,000 lost in the continental U.S.
The US civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days per week and often also volunteering for other work.  WWII was the largest human effort in history.

Statistics from Flight Journal magazine.
THE COST of DOING  BUSINESS

—- The staggering cost of war.

THE PRICE OF VICTORY (cost of an aircraft in WWII dollars)

B-17       $204,370.     P-40       $44,892.

B-24       $215,516.     P-47       $85,578.

B-25       $142,194.     P-51       $51,572.

B-26       $192,426.     C-47       $88,574.

B-29       $605,360.     PT-17     $15,052.

P-38         $97,147.     AT-6       $22,952.

PLANES PER DAY  WORLDWIDE

Between Germany’s invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939, and the surrender of Japan on Sept. 2, 1945: 2,433 days.  From 1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a day.
How many is a 1,000  planes?  B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles.  1,000 B-17s carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel and required 10,000 airmen to fly and fight them.

THE NUMBERS GAME – consider the numbers below with the knowledge that between 1940 and 1945, America also produced a massive number of ships, tanks and munitions.
9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
7.9 million bombs dropped  overseas, 1943-1945.
2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.

 

WWII MOST-PRODUCED COMBAT AIRCRAFT

Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik                                  36,183

 

Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7, -9                               31,000+

 

Messerschmitt Me-109                                  30,480

 

Focke-Wulf Fw-190                                      29,001

 

Supermarine Spitfire/Seafire                        20,351

 

Convair B-24/PB4Y Liberator/Privateer       18,482

 

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt                          15,686

 

North American P-51 Mustang                     15,875

 

Junkers Ju-88                                              15,000

 

Hawker Hurricane                                        14,533

 

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk                                 13,738

 

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress                         12,731

 

Vought F4U Corsair                                      12,571

 

Grumman F6F Hellcat                                  12,275

 

Petlyakov Pe-2                                             11,400

 

Lockheed P-38 Lightning                              10,037

 

Mitsubishi A6M Zero                                    10,449

 

North American B-25 Mitchell                        9,984

 

Lavochkin LaGG-5                                         9,920

Note: The LaGG-5 was produced with both water-cooled (top) and air-cooled (bottom) engines.

 

Grumman TBM Avenger                                9,837

 

Bell P-39 Airacobra                                        9,584

 

Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar                                    5,919

 

DeHavilland Mosquito                                   7,780

 

Avro Lancaster                                              7,377

 

Heinkel He-111                                              6,508

 

Handley-Page Halifax                                     6,176

 

Messerschmitt Bf-110                                    6,150

 

Lavochkin LaGG-7                                         5,753

 

Boeing B-29 Superfortress                            3,970

 

Short Stirling                                                   2,383

 

Sources:  Rene Francillon,  Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries;  Ray Wagner, American Combat Planes; Wikipedia.
[Notice an interesting detail: the insignia on the side of US planes had a red dot in the middle of the star until the planes were sent to fight the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. Japanese planes had a rising sun emblem, and to prevent misidentification by American pilots, the red dots on their planes were painted over, and discontinued on subsequently made aircraft.]

According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes — inside the continental United States. They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months. Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month, or nearly 40 a day. (Fewer than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.) It gets worse: Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign countries. But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.
In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England. In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe. Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas. On the average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number “liberated” by the Soviets but never returned. More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands. Total combat casualties were 121,867.
US manpower made up the deficit. The AAF’s peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year’s figure. The losses were huge, but so were production totals.  From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China and Russia. In fact, from 1943 on, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined, and more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.
However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month. And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.

Experience Level:

Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.

The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s.   The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.

A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type.  Many had fewer than five hours.  Some had one hour.

With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat.  The attitude was, “They all have a stick and a throttle.  Go fly `em.” When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.   The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, “You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target.

A future P-47 ace said, “I was sent to England to die.”  He was not alone.   Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft.  Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade:  of Jimmy Doolittle’s 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941.   All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.

In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat. The AAF’s worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.

Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively– a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force’s major mishap rate was less than 2.

The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world’s most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.

The original cadre of the 58th Bomber Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion.  Only ten percent had overseas experience.  Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month “safety pause” rather than declare a “stand down”, let alone grounding. The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone.   But they made it work.

Navigators:

Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators.  The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War.  And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving “Uncle Sugar” for a war zone.  Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel — a stirring tribute to the AAF’s educational establishments.

 

Cadet To Colonel:

It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders.  That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941.  He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 2½ in P-40s.  He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group — at age 24.

As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions. By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training. At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.

At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types. Today, the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft. The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.

Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq.  But within living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.