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August 2013

B-29/B-24 Squadron Officer & Staff Listing Position




Squadron Leader

Neils Agather


Executive Officer

Tom Travis


Adjutant & Personnel Officer

Debbie Travis King


Crew Chief

Rick Garvis


Finance Officer

Gerald Oliver


Maintenance Officer

Don Obreiter


Operations Officer & B-29 Tour Coordinator

David Oliver


Public Information Officer

Kim Pardon


Ride Captain

Jon Oliver


Safety & Training Officer B-29 Scheduling Officer

John Flynn


B-24 Scheduling Officer

Chuck Burton


Facility Manager

Jim Neill


Appearance Captain

Henry Bordelon


Docent Emeritus

Jack Bradshaw



Rick Greer

The Flyer Editor

Konley Kelley



In this Issue: • Summer and Fall Tour Schedule • Officer Reports *with special message from Neils Agather • “Keep FIFI Flying” Fundraiser & Website • Diamond Lil B-24 Go Team Report • “Keep Diamond Lil Flying” Fundraiser & Website • “Warbirds on Parade” Flyer / DFW Wing • Member News • Special Feature “The Last Atomic Mission” • Photo Album “Summer B Tour and Oshkosh” • Editor’s Corner • Squadron Contact Information

Congratulations to our Squadron maintenance crew and volunteers for this prestigious honor at EAA AirVenture. Diamond Lil has never looked better thanks to you!

Asst. Crew Chief and FE, Ben Powers, with FIFI at Oshkosh. Photo by Rick Garvis


Summer Tour A Birmingham, AL Atlanta, GA Charlotte, NC Manassas, VA Baltimore, MD Reading, PA Pittsburgh, PA Akron, OH Dayton, OH Cincinnati, OH Nashville, TN

May 16 – 19 May 20 – 22 May 23 – 27 May 29 – June 2 June 3 – 5 June 6 – 9 June 12 – 16 June 17 – 19 June 20 – 23 June 26 – 30 July 2 – 7

Maintenance Break

July 8 – 18

B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / SBD / PT-26 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / SBD / PT-26 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / BT-13 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow B-29 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / T-28 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow

Summer Tour B Carbondale, IL Rockford, IL Madison, WI Oshkosh, WI Duluth, MN Fargo, ND Sioux Falls, SD Denver, CO Colorado Springs, CO Kansas City, MO

July 19 – 21 July 22 – 24 July 25 – 28 July 29 – Aug 4 Aug 5 – 7 Aug 8 – 11 Aug 12 - 14 Aug 16 – 18 Aug 19 – 21 Aug 23 - 25

B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman / EAA B-17 B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6/ Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman

Lancaster, TX Fayetteville, AR

Aug 31 Sep 19 – 22

B-24 “Warbirds on Parade”

Lake Charles, LA Dallas, TX Midland, TX Houston, TX

Sep 26-28 Oct 3 – 6 Oct 11 – 13 Oct 25 – 27

Fall Events B-29 / B-24 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Bikers, Blues, BarBQ and Bombers B-29 Chennault Airshow B-29 / B-24 / B-17 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 + many more B-29 / B-24 / CAF fleet of aircraft: CAF AirSho B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow

Red/Bold indicates both bombers appearing together

Please check for the latest schedule

Rocky’s new trailer wrap for the AirPower History Tour


Squadron Report Heard over Memphis Center ATC shortly after FIFI checked in: “How does it feel to have a rock star flying through your air space?” That sure made me proud. I am also proud to see Diamond Lil back on the road. And the interest in her is strong. The cockpit tour lines are long. The crowds are enthusiastic. And, one of the most sought after photos to have taken is the one in front of Lil’s nose art, which though not new to us, is new on the road and immensely popular. It is nice to have her back. All the hard effort by our maintenance crews and our volunteers is paying off and with it we continue to fulfill the CAF mission. Speaking of the CAF, we dominated the central square at Oshkosh and in my opinion dominated the weekend air show. The CAF was well represented in numbers and in the quality and condition of their aircraft. Without the US military at air shows due to the Sequester, we ARE the US military representatives, and we do it well. At this juncture we are on the tail end of our second tour and all is going well. Soon, for the Fall, we will have out-and-back and shorter tour stops which will probably suit some of our members’ schedules a little better. For those of you wanting to tour, but unable to go far or for long stretches, this is your opportunity to hit the road with FIFI and Lil. The date for the General Membership meeting is near. You will receive from CAF HQ an absentee ballot request form. Please be sure to fill out the form and send it in. Even if you are planning to attend the General Membership meeting in October, go ahead and request that absentee ballot. There is always a chance something will come up and you can’t make it to Midland. Your vote is more important than ever and the absentee ballot is a good way to insure you cast it. Besides the important vote for General Staff members, the vote for moving CAF Headquarters will be on the ballot. If you have been following the process, the General Staff has narrowed the choices to eight locations; six in Texas and two out of State. It is highly likely that before the vote is taken in October, the number of choices will be reduced even further, perhaps two, three, or four. From my long term involvement at Headquarters, I am well aware of the generous and steady support of Midland and Odessa to the CAF. I fully expect that support to continue for the High Sky wing and the Museum, which will remain there and with new investment. Yet, I am also certain that it is in the best interest of the CAF as a whole, over the long run, to move our Headquarters, just Headquarters, to a larger metropolitan area with a population of 1.0 million or more, a large reliever airport, at least two intersecting interstate roads. I hope you feel the same way and will request your absentee ballot and vote for the move when you receive it. Thank you in advance for your support. Neils Agather Squadron Leader

Neils at the podium


To: B-29/B-24 Squadron Members From: Neils Agather Date: 21 August 2013 Hopefully you have read my letter to the Squadron and my message about the move of CAF Headquarters. The idea is simple, really. The goal is to maintain in Midland/Odessa, pretty much everything we have there, and strengthen the 20 year investment in the CAF Museum and the High Sky Wing. The General Staff has put great effort and thought into ensuring the success of both. A successful move of Headquarters is not a full success without the Museum and the High Sky Wing thriving, too. The goal, of course, is to have Headquarters, and I mean just Headquarters, located in a large metropolitan area with good infrastructure, interstate roads, airport and a corporate presence and population that is supportive of the mission of the CAF. Below find a re-print of a good piece by Steve Brown that addresses our goals very well. “Pop it up; take a big bite!” This was a phrase I used to hear from my West Point buddies when I was in the Army. It alluded to them sitting up straight and taking a big bite at the Chow Hall. But I adopted it as my own philosophy: Make a big reach to try and accomplish something great. And that is what the CAF is embarking upon now: trying to accomplish something great. At the Wing Staff Conference, I put forth the notion that the CAF could become the most influential aviation association in America — and there is no doubt we have that capability. We fly in more air shows and in front of more Americans than any air show performer has, does or ever will. We have 60 physical locations, many with significant museums available to the public, and all with significant historical aircraft. What we are missing and will provide us with the opportunity to make this claim is a National Headquarters in a major American city. This National Headquarters would be the shining beacon of what the Commemorative Air Force is about — using airplanes and educational programs to influence a lot of people. Now is the time to make that a reality. Last month you read about the definition, rationale, requirements and time frame to select a location for the CAF National Airbase. Naturally, the first question members might have is, “How much will it cost, and how are you going to pay for it?” The answer to both of these questions is: I don’t know, exactly. But don’t let that answer frighten you; it doesn’t frighten me. It does challenge me and all of the Staff, General Staff and members who will ultimately make this National Airbase a reality. So, although I can’t give you a firm answer, I can tell you that there is a plan. The plan is to select the location that brings us the most economic incentive to move. That may come in many forms, including: buildings, money, grants — or some combination of all of these. The remaining needs will be handled the old-fashioned way, the way we have acquired so many facilities, airplanes and restoration funds before: fundraising! We have talent on Staff and in the membership, as well as professional firms we work with. And we will do it! To accomplish this monumental and important task, we need to look back to the history that we seek to preserve. When the U.S. didn’t have the resources to enter World War II, we committed anyway with the determination to accomplish what we had to do: Win the war. We will accomplish our stated goal of establishing a world-class Headquarters with the same determination as those heroes of the Greatest Generation. Please remember to make this important strategic move possible by requesting an absentee ballot between now and Oct. 6, then voting “YES” to give the General Staff the authority to make the final selection for the CAF National Airbase. If you are not planning to attend the Annual Membership Meeting at AIRSHO this year, please be sure to request an absentee ballot from Headquarters. You must submit your request in writing by Oct. 6, 2013. Request by email to, or by regular mail to CAF, P.O. Box 62000, Midland, Texas 79711. Let’s keep the CAF flying … and moving forward!


Executive Officer Report Al Benzing has figured out a better way to conduct tours with the B-24. By using story boards and a banner attached to the side of the plane to give visitors more information before they get to the aircraft door and by limiting access to the rear of the airplane only, Al has managed to shorten up the time people spend inside the B-24. It also eliminates the need for a docent to be in the cockpit. Views of the cockpit are provided by putting stands up near the front of the plane so people can see inside. That’s a lifesaver on these hot summer days. If you’ve ever been stuck in the cockpit when the temperature is pushing triple digits, you will appreciate this new system. Thanks Al. Thanks to Jim Neil and the other volunteers for helping make the signs and for conducting the tours. Touring with these old airplanes is always interesting. Some tour stops are busy and some are slow and it’s often hard to figure out in advance which it will be. Marion and Rockford, Illinois are good examples. Marion is a relatively small town yet the gate receipts at Marion were the second highest of the entire year. Rockford, a suburb of Chicago, was fairly slow. Lots of factors obviously come into play such as the local economy, weather, advance publicity, and other attractions which compete for the guests’ dollars and attention. It appears that often a smaller city with fewer things to do may be our best bet. Tom Travis Executive Officer

Debbie Travis King and Tom Travis aboard Diamond Lil


Maintenance Report Both FIFI and Diamond Lil have been on the road since late July and I'm happy to report both aircraft are doing very well. Diamond Lil will be back on the 26th of August. That is when we will resume our normal Mon-Fri maintenance schedule. FIFI will be spending three weeks in Midland starting the 26th. Some of the maintenance staff will be bouncing back and forth between Addison and Midland over the next several weeks to get FIFI ready for the Fall tour. Don, Ben and I would like to thank all of you who have helped make this a successful Summer Tour for the Squadron. Rick Garvis Crew Chief

SIU interns Jake and Kyle doing their FE training in Diamond Lil

Lil’s nose holding strong!

Laundry day in Madison, WI FIFI in Madison, WI


Rick Garvis’ spectacular shots from the road


Flight Operations Report Flight Operations B-29 & B-24 Update: The B-24 is running great and making good use of its excellent looks and stunning static display. Ride sales are steady and we are keeping flights full for maximum profit. Pilots are quickly coming up to speed. We are no doubt short of left seat B-24 pilots but are training and gathering experience quickly. The B-29 has a momentum all its own. Crews and pilots are doing well and extremely competent. Lets continue to train excellent crews and keep the momentum going. I'm proud to say that FIFI's crew is the highest trained crew in the history of the aircraft. C-45 & T-6 Update: The C-45 went into a maintenance period in Vicksburg, MS for about 4 weeks and unfortunately missed Oshkosh. It was disappointing to see it loose a small portion of the tour, but now it’s back and better than ever. Place your bets now for how many ride flights she will complete the season with. The C-45 is already about to cross our 200 ride flight mark for the year. The T-6 unfortunately is a less fortunate story of an aircraft that is caught in FAA litigation. The paperwork for the ride program has not come through yet and we are patiently waiting for approval. The great news is that at Oshkosh the CAF Wisconsin Wing stepped up and loaned their T-6 for us to use. In three days, we grossed over $12,000 in revenue for the T-6 and wrote the Wisconsin Wing a handsome check for the use of their aircraft. This significantly benefits the B-29/B-24 Squadron as we collect a commission on each of these rides sold through our efforts. Squadron Website: The squadron maintains and cross promotes two websites. The first ( is our tour website which promotes the aircraft and the CAF AirPower Tour. The second is our B-29/B-24 Squadron website ( The Squadron website has been under utilized in the past and we are working to revamp and beta test a new site. Please visit the site when you have a chance and send your feedback and comments to You'll notice that on the new website we have a members only tab. This tab is accessed through one generic password. In the past, you had a unique colonel number and password but we sought to make it even simpler by using only one generic password for everyone. Please pass the word that the password is: superfortress 10

Fall Schedule 2013: In this issue, you can see the details of our Fall Schedule. You'll notice that there is no prolonged multi stop tour. This year we choose to allow out and back stops that will hopefully generate more opportunity for those who are unable to make the long tours. Many of these air show bookings depart on either Thursday or Friday and return Sunday evening. Be sure to check the schedule and reserve your crew slots now. Please contact John Flynn for all crew bookings with the exception of Lancaster, TX. Lancaster, TX (B-24 Only): Warbirds on Parade is back this year at the CAF DFW Wing. The date is August 31st and is a Saturday only show. We will have the C-45 Bucket of Bolts and the B-24 Liberator attending this year. Please contact Allen Benzing to coordinate crew positions. We have a maximum seating of 16 people on the B-24 so aircraft seats may fill fast. Please see Al's contact info below to coordinate. Allen Benzing 214-707-2726 Dallas AirPower Expo in McKinney, TX: Please mark your calendars for our first annual B-29/B-24 Squadron home show. This year October 3-6 we are flying all aircraft possible to McKinney airport for an AirPower Expo stop. More details to follow soon on how you can get involved. We will need all hands on deck for this event and it promises to be an absolutely great time. Everything from a big band dance to four massive heavy bombers on the ramp. This event is surely going to be the hit of the DFW area.

David Oliver Flight Operations Officer 630-853-9624

David on the Jumbotron at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Photo by Gerald Oliver


Training & Safety Report The successful 2013 summer tour season is nearly over. Our aircraft have safely participated in an unprecedented number of tour stops during our Summer A and B tours. Our hard working aircrews and ground support crews persevered under some very trying conditions to maintain our aircraft, handle the large crowds and make each tour stop a success. They always stood up to the task to provide a safe and memorable ride experience for our customers; especially as we flew many back-to-back flights at both Reading and Oshkosh. Even with our very busy and demanding summer tour schedule, we have continued to train and check out new crew members. Our instructors’ hard work this summer has been instrumental in making certain we continue to have the best qualified crew members needed for us to operate safely. We need to keep up this good work as we wrap up the Summer B Tour and continue on with the Fall Tour stops. John Flynn Safety Officer


Photo by Michael Szemplinski


PIO Report As they say, “What a long strange trip it’s being.” (Yes, Dead Heads, I do know the real words -- this just seems like a particularly long trip.) Holy Toledo! Summer Tour B has been a busy time for me and also the entire crew. We had a great start to the tour in Marion, Illinois where we relied on local help to get the word out. And did they ever! We probably had more news stories, print, radio and television, than any stop we’ve done this year. A big shout out to Sam Hoskins and Charles Rodriguez for helping me out by working the local press. After an early week stop in Rockford we moved on to Madison, Wisconsin where local EAA member Pete Buffington did an outstanding job getting news coverage for “Big Bomber Weekend.” We shared the ramp with EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast and once again proved having a lot of airplanes on the ramp is a good thing for all involved. Diamond Lil has been a huge draw on the ramp and we owe a lot to the 24 crew this tour. They have done an amazing job with the crowd on the ramp – aircraft tours in the heat are tough duty and our 24 crew has been fabulous at every stop. Here is just one of the news stories from Madison:

Then on to EAA AirVenture where Debbie King was the star of the show when she and Tom Travis landed the B-24 and taxied her in to show center. I think Debbie did 4 or 5 interviews that day – and I thank her for that. Later in the week she and Tom flew the B-29 into Oshkosh from Appleton. Here’s what Debbie had to say about flying the B-29: We had really solid stops in Duluth, Fargo and Sioux Falls. The CAF Lake Superior Squadron worked hard to get the word out for our early week stop there. Fargo Air Museum was a great partner for us and I was also very fortunate to have the help of Chris Trobridge at those stops. I went home after Oshkosh and Chris stepped up as press liaison which meant he had to do some of those 5 a.m. interviews – tough duty and it makes for a long day. Thank you Chris. It was great to see you back on the road with us. This weekend we are doing our first Air Expo in Kansas City partnering with the CAF Heart of America Wing. The aircraft arrive today and I am looking forward to a very busy and very fun weekend. Fingers crossed for great media coverage – I’ve done all the preliminary work. Now we wait. We start the event with a “B29/B24 Watch Party” for Veterans at noon today. And then there’s the Dallas Air Expo next month. Good grief! I have to stop writing and get back to work. . . Kim Pardon Public Information Officer


Financial Report By Gerald Oliver, Finance Officer Ride Sales The AirPower History Tour continues to be very successful in generating sales for our Squadron, as well as a number of other CAF aircraft. Our Squadron is fortunate enough to have the resources to do a number of things. These include having the funds to advertise, a good web site, a good ride buying process, great volunteers who man the phones and ride desk‌ and a historic treasure in FIFI that does more than her part in attracting attention. So it’s only logical that other planes of the CAF want to hook up with FIFI and ride her coattails to financial success. The AirPower History Tour is about celebrating all the rare and historic aircraft of the CAF. Now that our ride selling process and operation has been built, we have turned our attention to helping other aircraft. For this assistance, the Squadron earns (and deservedly so) a commission on their sales of 10%. We are finding an increasing number of other CAF aircraft that want our help and are more than willing to pay the commission. They are finding ride sales that they would not otherwise get. The numbers and amount of success have far exceeded all of our expectations. Listed below are the results of those numbers:

These are just the results of ride sales through the Sioux Falls tour stop on August 15, 2013. There will be a number of other sales throughout the remainder of the year. The number of paid passengers so far is in excess of 2,000. 14

Congrats and a big thanks to our ride selling operation, especially Kim Pardon who answers the phone, places ads and garners media, and Jon Oliver, Sarah Blakesly, Cindy Armour and a number of other great volunteers who operate the Ride Desk. In addition to these dedicated volunteers, David Oliver does a great job on the web site and making all the digital things work. Go to the AirPower Tour web site and look it over… its impressive. Superfortress Calendar Coming Soon… Your Squadron is hard at work preparing a 2014 Superfortress Calendar. In 1974 FIFI began flying on a regular basis with the CAF. In 2014 we will be celebrating her 40th Anniversary of successfully flying with the CAF. As part of that celebration, a 40th Anniversary Superfortress calendar is being prepared. Famed aviation photographer Scott Slocum has donated his photographs and services to help prepare this large format calendar. Its final size will be 14” X 20” (BIG). Thanks also to Brad Pilgrim, Chris Trobridge, Paul Maupin, Neils Agather and Kim Pardon for their contributions. There will only be 1,000 of these calendars printed. We will be using the funds to help replenish the FIFI engine fund. A very few of these calendars will be signed by Dutch Van Kirk (the sole surviving member of the Enola Gay crew) and Paul Tibbets IV (the grandson of Paul Tibbets). Keep an eye on the Newsletter for more information on how to get your copy. AirPower History Tour Coming To McKinney In spite of all the touring we do across the country, we don’t do much in the DFW area. That is about to change. On October 3 – 6, the AirPower History Tour is holding a DFW event at the Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney. It is being called the AirPower Expo – McKinney. In addition to our Squadron aircraft, a number of other planes will be there including the B-17 Sentimental Journey, SB2C Helldiver, planes from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum and a number of other planes. Sponsors include the Kiwanis Club, Craig Ranch, Daughters of WWII, McKinney Visitors and Convention Bureau, Cavanaugh Flight Museum and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. There will cockpit tours and airplane rides. A number of WWII veterans will be there. A big band is booked for Friday night. Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. will be the Volunteers and Squadron Members party. Please add this to your calendar and plan on coming out to volunteer. We are going to need a number of Squadron members to help with cockpit tours and other duties. More info to follow. 15


B-24 Go Team Report Diamond Lil is on Tour! On July 18th, the B-24 and crew departed for Carbondale, IL, the first of many destinations our her first tour since early last year. I am pleased to report that not only is Lil running well, but she is popular with the public. Carbondale, Marion and Rockford, IL and Madison, WI were the build-up to Oshkosh and served to prove that our new method of conducting cockpit - or aircraft - tours is not only workable, but well received.

Part of our mission is to renew a connection to the B-24 for Veterans and their families and introduce new generations to the realities the crews faced. The effort to present the history and context of the B-24 and her brave crews to the public has been quite effective, with the large banner, A-Frames and interior signage. Information is now available with more detail, accuracy and efficiency than just through verbal communication. Ride flights are also doing well, though we've only used online sales to a limited degree, to be sure of our ability to crew the flights. The most rewarding aspect of a tour is meeting crewmembers or their families who have a past connection to the B-24. Cockpit tours and Ride flights are so meaningful for them. In several cases, logbooks, photo albums and personal stories have been entrusted to our care. The Summer B Tour schedule continued with Duluth, Fargo, Sioux Fall, Broomfield (Denver), Colorado Springs, and New Century, Kansas. Diamond Lil is due back in Addison on August 26th. The B-24 will then fly to Lancaster, TX on August 31st for the DFW Wing "Warbirds on Parade". After a few weeks off, events in September and October will keep Lil and her crews busy in Texas and nearby. Al Benzing B-24 Go Team




Member News August, 2013

In July, the Squadron welcomed the following new members: George Lodge, McKinney, Texas Brandon Lee, Wichita, Kansas Dr. Benjamin Lee, Wichita, Kansas Chris Schaich, China Valley,Arizona If you have any membership questions, please feel free to contact me at: Dues and new member applications can be mailed to:

A smile and a wave from Debbie King

Member Mail Debbie King 13562 Braemar Drive Dallas, Texas 75234 B29/B24 Squadron Adjutant 469-688-1709 Squadron Monthly Meeting September 21, 2013 3 p.m. @ the Addison Hangar

Good Friends, There may be a few of you that are wondering about my health, since it was discovered last year that I had Lymphoma Cancer and I let you all know. Last Thursday was my last trip to M D Anderson, cancer hospital in Houston. I had done as they asked as best as I could, so I was rewarded with the news that the Lymph cancer is gone. My Diabetes is pretty well under control. NOW, I need to get the rest of my body under control, it seems like everything else has gone bad. But I feel good, that is all that is important. I am keeping up with the B-29,B-24 Squadron and sure wish I could be with you like I used to be. But you guys are doing a fantastic job, much better then we used to in the older days. Keep it up. I still work my “E” Mail and send on “E”’s as I think you might enjoy, if any of you want me to delete you from my list, just let me know. We all get a lot of “E’s and if it gets boring, let me know. Anyway, I hope some of you have been praying for me and I thank you, As Red Skelton used to say – “God Bless”

B-29 / B-24 Squadron PX

Bill Godwin Find us on


Special Feature “Last Atomic Mission” August 9, 1945 By Max Rawlings Over the past year, I have read several books, and one of those books gave great detail on the last atomic mission which is often just a footnote in history compared to the Hiroshima mission.. The book is by Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney the pilot of Bock’s Car to Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The book is titled “War’s End” and Sweeney not only details his mission, but he adds other insights on the Hiroshima mission since he flew that mission also as Enola Gay’s right wingman in “The Great Artiste” which was his plane. As a cadet pilot prior to Pearl Harbor, Sweeney and his fellow cadets flew obsolete B-10’s, B-12’s, and B-18’s. He really gained his experience in Lockheed Hudson’s that needed 300 hours of flight time put on them to qualify as “used” in order to meet the requirements as Lend-Lease aircraft and then shipped to England. It was a mere coincidence that the Hudson’s were already built to British specifications. Sweeney and the rest of his class graduated from flight training on December 12, 1941 and they each received changes in assignments because of Pearl Harbor. Sweeney was one of only two from his class assigned as test pilots to the Jefferson Proving Grounds in Ohio where they tested heavy ordinance samples from production to see if they detonated properly when dropped from B-24’s, B-25’s, A-20’s and P47’s. Sweeney flew everything he could get his hands on and he loved it. After 18 months in Ohio, and hearing that one of his classmates had been killed in the Pacific flying a B-17, he wanted to get closer to the action. An opening at Eglin Field in Florida opened up for a Base Operations Officer, and he jumped at the opportunity. The depot at Eglin fixed aircraft that could not be fixed on the flightline and each of those planes needed testing once they were fixed. Sweeney worked a deal with the major in charge of the depot that if he would let Sweeney test his choice of aircraft, then he would let the Major tag along for the test and he would take him to see his girlfriend. This kept Sweeney flying all that he wanted. In 1943, Sweeney had already volunteered for an assignment in India flying B-25’s when a B-29 from Seattle was scheduled to come in to Eglin and he was asked to arrange the security for it. 21

When the gleaming B-29 rolled to a stop Captain Sweeney was waiting with a General and his aid on the tarmac inside of the security perimeter. After the crew exited the plane, it soon became Sweeney’s turn to shake hands with Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets. Sweeney knew immediately that he wanted to be on Tibbets’ team. The reason for the visit to Eglin was to test the central fire control systems that were competing for a contract. The XB-29 had the Sperry system on board, and the YB-29 had the General Electric system on board. Sweeney waited around at the Officer’s Club and when Tibbets entered, he invited him to join him for dinner, and he accepted. During the conversation, Sweeney was bold enough to tell Tibbets that he would love to join his unit, but that he had already accepted an assignment with the 10th Air Force in India. Tibbets said that was not a problem. A few days later,Tibbets called and needed a plane to go to Georgia so Sweeney arranged the plane and volunteered as the co-pilot. The only plane available was the Martin B-26. Sweeney had never flown one before, and when they got into the plane he found out that Tibbets had not flown one either. Gratefully, the crew chief started the engines for them, and they were off. After landing in Marietta, Sweeney stayed with the plane while Tibbets took care of business. When they took off for the second leg of the flight which was to Wichita, Kansas, Tibbets said “your orders to India have been cancelled, you’re assigned to my unit.” On the way to Wichita, the ADF went out with Sweeney navigating and he ended up looking out the window at 200 mph to read names of towns on water towers to find their way around. In addition to being lost, the right engine started sputtering and quit but Tibbets did not hesitate and they kept on going. The four hour flight ended up taking six hours and as darkness settled in, Tibbets made a one shot perfect landing at Wichita. Sweeney was devastated because he felt responsible for getting them lost, and he thought for sure that he would be on his way to India after all. The next morning at breakfast, tibbets asked Sweeney to have the B-26 ferried back to Eglin and the two fo them would be flying the YB-29. Tibbets never mentioned the Wichita flight again and Sweeney figured that keeping his cool and reacting professionally under difficult circumstances is why Tibbets kept him in the unit. Sweeney tells the story of a colonel in Clovis, New Mexico commanding a group of B-29’s in training. The Clovis pilots were worried about engine fires and the B-29 was getting a reputation as being dangerous and unreliable. Tibbets selected two WASP’s from his unit and secretely took them to Alabama to train them to fly the B-29. When they were trained, Tibbets ordered them to Clovis. When they arrived at Clovis, and taxied to the ramp, all of the men gathered around were shocked to see two women exit the front wheel well with big smiles and full of confidence. The colonel at Clovis received no more complaints from his pilots and Tibbets unit had two more qualified B-29 pilots. Eventually there were four women qualified to fly the B-29 in Tibbets unit according to Dora Dougherty who was one of the original four. Sweeney was privileged to fly the B-29 with Charles Lindberg in the left seat and then Tibbets asked him to train Gen. Curtis LeMay prior to him taking over the 20th Air Force. LeMay asked for one day of ground school with Sweeney telling him everything he knew about the B-29 while they sat in the cockpit in a hangar followed by a full day of flying with LeMay in the left seat. At the time, Sweeney had the most flight time of anyone in the B-29. 22

On September 11, 1944, Sweeney and others arrived at their new base in Wendover, Utah. Their first Sunday at Wendover, a uniformed security officer pulled Sweeney aside and asked him to go for a ride. Far out in the desert they got out of the jeep and the officer started talking about Einstein and the theory of relativity. The officer basically explained the purpose for being in Wendover and he told Sweeney to never refer to what they were doing as anything more than a “gimmick” or a “gadget.” He was also told that if there was a breach of security, “you’ll be out of here and never heard from again.”In Wendover, Tibbets organized the 509th Composite Group based on the nucleus of the 393rd Squadron out of the 504th Group in Harvard, Nebraska. The group would include its own transport, military police, material, ordnance, engineering, air service, and base service squadrons. Sweeney was in charge of training the 509th in their delivery techniques and in the beginning they used concrete filled yellow “pumpkins” about ten feet long and five feet in diameter for practice drops in the desert. At first there was no way to get the pumpkins into the front bomb bay. The Army Corp of Engineers took two months to build a bomb loading pit. So while they were waiting for the pit, they would securely chock the main gear of the plane and then with six to eight men on either side of the tail, they would throw a tarp over the top of the 29 1/2 foot tail and pull down to raise the nose while a pumpkin was pushed under the bomb bay. Previously, in another article I stated that the bomb pit at Wendover is the only one still in existence, but since that time I have found out that the bomb pit on Tinian is still there covered with plexiglass and there was also a bomb loading pit built on Iwo Jima where a back-up plane was stationed for each of the atomic missions to Japan. As the 509th continued to train and do tests from Wendover, Tibbets ordered new B-29’s. The new planes were without turrets because the ones they retro-fitted in Wendover could not handle the pressure at 30,000 feet. The new B-29’s also included a modified crew tunnel to accommodate the large bombs, pneumatic bomb bay doors, fuel injection for better fuel economy and Curtis Electric reversible propellers to be able to stop in a shorter distance in case they had to return with an atomic bomb on board because they could not afford to just salvo the expensive and rare bombs in the ocean. The only armament on the new B-29’s was two 20mm cannon in the tail. One other note that both Sweeney and Tibbets mention is that the XB-29 and the Silverplate 509th B-29’s had leather pilot seats. Sweeney arrived with his plane and crew on Tinian’s North Field on June 23, 1945. Tinian with its four 8,500 foot runways was the largest airfield in the world at the time. From the desolate Utah desert to the tropical Marianas, the 509th inherited the Seabee quarters at North Field, and Sweeney described the change as “lush.” Crew of “Bocks Car” [back row (L-R)] Captain Beahan, Captain Van Pelt, Jr., First Lt. Albury, Second Lt. Olivi, Major Sweeney [front row (L-R)] Staff Sgt. Buckley, Master Sgt. Kuharek, 23 Sgt. Gallagher, Staff Sgt. DeHart, Sgt. Spitzer

The 509th continued to practice their bombing techniques on Japanese occupied islands, but instead of concrete filled pumpkins, the pumpkins were now filled with Torpex an enhanced explosive. Their missions with Torpex pumpkins finally took them to Japan and this served to get the Japanese accustomed to a single B-29 with one bomb on board. On July 29th, the 509th flew its final Torpex mission hitting nine cities that day. Tibbets flew Enola Gay with the 9,000 pound “Little Boy” on Board to Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. On Tibbets right wing was Sweeney flying his plane “The Great Artiste” loaded with scientific instruments and George Marquardt on his left wing with photographic equipment. Three other planes had been sent ahead as weather planes to each of the possible destinations and one plane was based at Iwo Jima as a backup. A total of seven planes took part in the Hiroshima mission and they executed a picture perfect mission from beginning to end. Fat Man was made up of two inch thick aluminum with dimensions similar to the concrete and Torpex pumpkins. The bomb was put together as two half spheres about five feet in diameter and then a 550 pound tail section was attached. The sphere portion was yellow and the tail was black. This bomb used a detonation system that imploded towards the center to activate the plutonium core. All of the documentation out there consistently puts the weight of “Little Boy” at 9,000 pounds, but I have seen publications listing “Fat Man” anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 pounds. Sweeney states several times in his book that “Fat Man” weighed 10,300 pounds. Sweeney thought it was senseless to take all of the instruments from his plane “The Great Artiste” so that the bomb could be loaded onto it. Instead, he asked Fred Bock to fly his plane as the instrument plane and he would take Fred’s plane “ Bock’s Car” as the delivery plane. The Nagasaki Mission would have six planes involved with only two planes used for weather because there were only two possible targets, Kokura and Nagasaki. Sweeney would still have an instrument plane and a photo plane flying in formation with a backup waiting at Iwo Jima. At the walk around, “Bock’s Car” looked pristine, not a drop of fluid on the ground, tire pressure perfect, surfaces clean and clear, everything in tiptop condition. After a few words to the crew about the mission, they got on board and proceeded to do their pre-flight checks. They were almost ready to start engines when the flight engineer leaned forward and said ”we have a problem.” The fuel in our reserve tank in the rear bomb bay bladder isn’t pumping. We’ve got 600 gallons of fuel trapped back there. It would take hours to fix the problem and it would also take hours to transfer the already armed bomb to another plane. Sweeney unbuckled and went out to talk to Tibbets. After explaining the situation, Tibbets said “it’s your call Chuck.” Sweeney decided to go ahead with the mission and at 2:45 am they were on their way slightly behind schedule. 24

This mission was full of snafu’s and mistakes. The photographer on the 3rd plane who was trained to operate the special high-speed cameras forgot to get his parachute and when the pilot found out about this, he kicked him out of the plane on the taxiway and left without him. It took an hour for the photographer to walk back to HQ and when the General found out he was furious. Four hours into the flight, the fuse sensors on the bomb started to flash warning lights and they thought that the bomb might prematurely explode. The technician took the sensor apart as he was trained, and found that it was wired wrong so he fixed it and they continued on. The three formation planes were planned to rendezvous over Yakoshima at 7:45 am but the photo plane never showed up and because of their radio silence, they could not find him. They circled for 40 minutes burning precious fuel and finally left with out them. Over Kokura, the arsenal was the main target but the aiming point was obscured by smoke from the bombing mission to Yawata the night before. It took three passes with no visual on the target plus the flak batteries were finding their altitude and 10 Zero’s were spotted coming up to greet them so they decided to head for Nagasaki. On their first pass over Nagasaki they were preparing to drop using radar, but the bombardier got a visual on the target and at 11:01 it was bomb away. They did the standard 155 degree dive away from the bomb and felt about five shock waves similar to what they felt over Hiroshima. However, the flash was much brighter. The flight engineer then reported that they had only 300 gallons of usable fuel and it was 350 miles to Okinawa. The crew was upbeat from completing the mission even though they knew they were probably going to end up in the ocean. Sweeney remembered what Paul Tibbets had taught him about “flying on the step.” The theory is simple. If you keep the power settings steady and put the aircraft into a gradual decent, the airplane would pick up a fraction more airspeed without using more power and fuel. The pilot would then level off to retain the increased airspeed and possibly supplement it even more by taking another step down and so on. Sweeney started at 30,000 feet and was taking baby steps toward Okinawa. He also throttled back to 1600 rpm which could damage the engines, but he figured it was better to use up the engines if he could get the crew back safely. They caught site of Okinawa just as engine #4 quit and the engineer announced that all gauges read empty. They could talk to the tower at Ie Shima, but could get no response from the tower at Okinawa. They were coming in high and hot and still with no contact to the tower, Sweeney had his crew fire all 20 flares for their straight in approach. They hit the concrete runway at 140 mph, bounced up about 20 feet and came down again just as engine #1 quit. Sweeney hit the reversible props and emergency brakes and barely kept the plane from veering into a neatly parked row of B24’s. The plane came under control just short of the end of the runway and Sweeney just let the plane roll to the side of the runway and onto a taxiway as another engine quit. Sweeney knew he needed to contact Tinian to report on the mission so he was ushered over to Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s Headquarters. The irony struck Sweeney as he was about to meet the man who had flown the first strike against Japan in 1942. In the book “The Doolittle Raid”, the author recounts how Jacob de Shazer who flew on the Doolittle Raid and had been a prisoner of war since then woke up the morning of August 9th in his cell and heard a quiet voice that said “start praying”. Jacob asked “what should I pray for” the voice said pray for peace and pray without ceasing. At about 2:00 pm, the voice told him “you don’t need to pray anymore the victory is won.” Sweeney’s meeting with Doolittle was professional and brief. 25

It took two hours to refuel the plane and the engineer told Sweeney that there were about seven gallons left when they touched down. At 10:30 pm, Bock’s Car landed on runway A at Tinian almost 20 hours since they had left. There were no crowds, brass bands, film crews or microphones like Enola Gay had when she landed, only the ground crew, one photographer, Paul Tibbets and Admiral Purnell. In the debrief with all of the problems and snafu’s, they found out that the Admirals and Generals were worried about the mission but Tibbets assured them that if anyone could do it, it was Sweeney. This compliment meant more than all of the crowds or brass bands.

Bock’s Car and a replica of “Fat Man” on display at the National Museum of the United State Air Force in Dayton, OH


History Tour Summer B *Thank you for all picture contributions. If I have a caption wrong or don’t have the photographer correctly identified, my apologies.

Marion, IL

Al Benzing

Madison, WI

Rick Garvis

Rick Garvis

Rockford, IL

Brian Audette

Al Benzing


Gerald Oliver

Debbie King

On approach to Oshkosh

Al Benzing

Al Benzing

Lil being pulled into Phillips 66 Plaza at Oshkosh Gerald Oliver

Al Benzing

Brian Audette


Michael Szemplinski

Brian Audette Michael Szemplinski

FIFI taxiing to Phillips 66 Plaza at Oshkosh

Gerald Oliver


Don Thurston

Lucas Ryan Photography


Editor’s Corner August 14, 1945 VJ Day – WWII ends Famous kiss in Times Square With the radio announcement the war had ended, celebrations broke out across the country. Alfred Eisentaedt captured this iconic photo of a young sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. The nurse is Edith Shain. She and a friend took the subway to Times Square and the “kiss” happened moments after they set foot on the street. Edith did not know the sailor and to this day he has never been identified.

Two famous August missions recreated in 3D “Operation Tidal Wave” otherwise known as the Ploesti Raid, occurred August 1, 1943. Konley Kelley researched this mission and his image below depicts two B-24 Liberators flown by Col. Leon Johnson and Col. John “Killer” Kane. Both men survived the mission and won the Medal-ofHonor. On August 6, 1945, the B-29 “Enola Gay” dropped the first atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima leading to the end of WW2 and beginning of the nuclear age.

THE FLYER WANTS YOU! You are welcome to contribute a story, photographs and artwork for this decades-old newsletter. If you are a veteran, please tell us your story. Squadron members continually meet veterans at the hangar, on tour and in everyday life – let us know their stories. We’re also looking for contributors for “This Month in History” and news spotlighting our aircraft and members. Thank you and “Keep ‘em Flying!” Konley Kelley THE FLYER editor


B-29 / B-24 Squadron Addison Airport 4730 George Haddaway Drive Addison, Texas 75001 972-387-2924 (Hangar) 432-413-4100 (Ride Desk) 32

The Flyer August 2013  
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