B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Feb 192017
 

Robert Brocklehurst

ABC News aired a story tonight about Bob Brocklehurst, a World War II fighter pilot.  Recently at age 96, he went up again in a P-51 Mustang, the same type of plane he flew in the Pacific Theater during World War II.  Interestingly, he wore a cap that indicated “41-G.”  I recognized that immediately as his graduating class number, meaning he graduated as a fighter pilot in 1941.  I found his picture in the AAF Collection in a class book from Kelly Field, near San Antonio, Texas.1

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Citations

  1. Army Air Forces Collection, “Gig Sheet, The: Class 41-G, Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas” (item 000421), AAF Collection, http://AAFCollection.info/items/list.php?item=000421 (accessed 19 February 2017), page 41.
Dec 292014
 
One Way Ticket to Hell

One Way Ticket to Hell

One of the things I love about America is our willingness to stand up to threats.  Not only to stand up against them, but to respond to them head on.  In a class book from Pampa Army Air Field1 published near the end of 1943, I noticed something.

One Way Ticket to Hell” it said, and there was space to write one’s name.  “This ticket entitles the above pilot to a one way trip to Hell.  Ticket also entitles bearer to stop over enroute at Japan to enjoy the AAF Stag Party on the Roof Garden at Tokyo.”  It’s signed, “Here’s lookin’ down your chimney, Tojo.”

Strange, I thought at first.  Then I did a little digging and found a news report from April 22, 1943.

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Citations

  1. Army Air Forces Collection, “Gig Sheet, The: Class 44-E, Pampa Army Air Field, Pampa, Texas” (item 000431), AAF Collection, http://AAFCollection.info/items/list.php?item=000431 (accessed 29 December 2014), page 15.
May 182014
 
Air Cadet Ralph I. Jones Primary Flight School, Gibbs Field, Fort Stockton, Texas, circa 1943. (AAFC, 2014)

Air Cadet Ralph I. Jones
Primary Flight School, Gibbs Field, Fort Stockton, Texas, circa 1943. (AAFC, 2014)

Monday, August 28, 1944. It was a bright sunny day in the small village of Boskovštejn, in then Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic. Shortly before 9:00 am, five hundred miles to the south, nineteen year old Second Lieutenant Ralph I. Jones climbed aboard “Birmingham Boomerang,” his P-51B Mustang, a single-seat, single-engine fighter airplane. That day was his first combat mission. It was also his last.

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Jan 242014
 

Movietone NewsIn the class book for Eagle Pass Army Air Field Class 43-F and 43-G, there is a narrative history of the base.  One paragraph describes the day the base was dedicated, which coincided with graduation day for Class 43-B:

Next in the recorded annals was the formal dedication of the field on February 16, 1943. Another class of cadets was graduated that day–Class 43-B–and its members sprouted their wings to stage a sparkling aerial revue in which they machine-gunned an oil-soaked cardboard replica of an Axis train carrying pictorial effigies of Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini. Satisfactory clouds of black smoke pillared into the air, and everybody loved the exhibition–including the newsreel cameramen who were there.

The dedication ceremony mentioned was indeed captured by Fox Movietone News. You can view the actual clip at University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections. The Eagle Pass segment starts at about 6 minutes 25 seconds into the movie. You can also view the actual script and cameraman’s “Dope Sheet” about this episode there.

From a brief mention of newsreel cameramen, to a quick search of the Internet, a bit of history comes alive.  You can read the rest of the base history. (Note: Click on “Site Details” there.)

Dec 172013
 

500th ItemThe AAF Collection today reached another milestone with the addition of the 500th item!

This could not be possible without the generous support of contributors like you.  Thank you contributors! A special thanks to those who contributed over ten items.  They include Ben Guttery, Larry Caldwell, Marty Upchurch, Stephen Quint, and Bronson Gardner.

Please consider contributing digital copies of items from your own collection, or that of a loved one.  Many people have enjoyed reading these historical documents and finding pictures of family members among these pages.  For more information about contributing, please see How-To: Contribute Items.

Nov 102013
 

us-gbHere’s an interesting look at the different terminology used by American and British airmen. This table was adapted from an appendix to the Pilot’s Manual for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.  I can imagine the use of the wrong word to the wrong person might result in injuries.

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Nov 052013
 
A Bombardier is Born

A Bombardier is Born

Here’s an interesting, if not disconcerting, cartoon drawn by Walt Disney.  It appears in the On Course class book for Class 45-1B at the Childress Army Air Field.

This field near Childress, Texas, was a bombardier school during World War II.  Graduating cadets earned their wings as bombardiers.

Apr 152013
 

CBS News 60 MinutesI enjoyed watching the recent 60 Minutes story on Marfa, Texas.1  Apparently this isolated, rural town is attracting lots of different people today.  In the story, they briefly mentioned the remnants of an old army base there.

Marfa Army Air FieldActually it was the Marfa Army Air Field, a twin-engine advanced pilot training school.  Hundreds of Army Air Force pilots earned their silver wings at Marfa.  So, the town must have been a hub of activity about 1943 before slipping back into obscurity, then rediscovery.

The AAF Collection has a few pilot class books from Marfa.

Citations

  1. CBS News, 60 Minutes, “Marfa Texas: The Capital of Quirkiness,” aired April 14, 2013.
Feb 052013
 

Bombardiers' Information File

I recently visited the United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  On display behind glass were four training manuals.  One was the Bombardiers’ Information File, a copy of which is available to view in the AAF Collection.

Training Manuals

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Feb 052013
 
Astro Compass

Astro Compass

The Navigator’s Information File has a description of the Astro Compass (or Astrocompass) .  This device was used by navigators to determine the true heading of the airplane, to steer a true heading, to identify a star, or as a pelorus, a device without magnetic needles used to read bearings.

It is unclear to me if, or how often, this device was actually used.  I ran across an Astro Compass while visiting the United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

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