On This Day…April 8th
Pilots of No. 40 Squadron comparing notes in SAAF Spitfire at Gabes Gap, Tunisia, early April, 1943.
These Spitfires were, I believe, VB’s. Photo quite possibly taken 8th April.
US Submarines S-18, S-47, and S-44 at Groton, Connecticut, United States, 8 Apr 1924.
One of the most enduring images of WWII, ‘Wee Willie’. On the 8th April, 1945, this B-17 left it’s home airfield of RAF Bassingbourne, England, on a mission to bomb the railway marshalling yards in Stendhal, Germany. While flying at 20, 500ft above the target, Wee Willie was hit by AA flack at the root of the port wing and despite the initial devastation some of the crew managed to parachute.
The pilot, Robert Fuller, was the only survivor, parachuting to safety and taken as a PoW.
Pilot: 1st LT Robert M. Fuller (Hollywood, CA)
Co-Pilot: 2nd LT Woodrow A. Lien (Brockton, MT)
Navigator: TSGT Francis J. McCarthy (Nashville, TN)
Bombardier: SSGT Richard D. Proudfit (Grenada, MS)
Top Turret Gunner: SSGT Wylie McNatt, Jr. (Corpus Christi, TX)
Ball Turret Gunner: SSGT William H. Cassidy (Brooklyn, NY)
Radio (Radar) Operator: SSGT Ralph J. Leffelman (Seattle, WA)
Waist Gunner : SSGT James D. Houtchens (Kearney, NB)
Tail Gunner: SGT Lemoyne Miller (Butler, PA)
The very seldom modelled USS Chicago (CA-29) being prepared for launching, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 8th April, 1930.
…just in case anyone feels inspired…
In the second of a tryptich of ships this is the USS Ranger, CV-4 (foreground), USS Lexington, CV-2, and USS Saratoga, CV-3 at anchor off Honolulu in Hawaii, 8th of April, 1936.
…and the ‘Lady Lex’, again at anchor off Honolulu, Hawaii, two years later to the day – 8 Apr 1938.
The nose-art of B-25B Mitchell bomber ‘Hari Carrier’ as she sits on the flight deck of the carrier Hornet (note the tie downs) just days before embarking on the ‘Doolittle Raid’, Apr 8th, 1942.
Dominic Salvatore Gentile was born in Ohio, the son of Italian immigrants who immigrated to the USA in 1907. His father bought him with his own Aerosport Biplane due to his son’s intense and unwavering passion about aircraft. Gentile managed to log over 300 hours flying time by July 1941 which is when he attempted to join the United States Army Air Forces.
Because of the stringent two year training rule in the States for student military fliers, Gentile joined the Canadian Royal Air Force, from where he was posted to England.
Gentile flew the Supermarine Spitfire Mark V with No. 133 Squadron, one of the famed ‘Eagle Squadron’ (North American volunteers) during 1942.
His first kills (a Ju 88 and Fw 190) were on August 19, 1942, during Operation Jubilee, a failed attempt for a small invasion force to take Dieppe harbour from the occupying German forces.
On April 8th, 1944, Gentile shot down 3 Fw-190s in one day to become the top scoring 8th Air Force ace.
He crashed his personal P-51, named ‘Shangri La’, less than a week later while pulling stunts over 4th Fighter Group’s airfield at Debden for assembled press reporters and movie cameras.
He was immediately grounded and he was sent back to the US for a tour selling war bonds. In 1944, Gentile co-wrote with well-known war correspondent Ira Wolfert One Man Air Force, an autobiography and account of his combat missions.
Dom died on January 28th, 1951 when he crashed in a T-33A-1-LO Shooting Star trainer.
Vickers ‘Vellox’ – advertisement April 8th, 1931.
The question of neutrality was a complex and arcane issue in WWII and several countries played fast and loose with the rules ‘governing’ neutral status. These rules centred around not providing any advantage to belligerents, retaining the right to defend it’s own territory, detaining prisoners of any participants for the duration of the conflict, and supplying neither ‘side’ with materials or help.
The painting above shows two damaged Mitchell B-24’s that ‘strayed’ into Swiss territory while bombing Northern Italy, being escorted into Swiss airspace. Both aircraft force landed and crews detained.
The B24’s were ‘Strange Cargo’ (above) and ‘Dopey’…