Air Group One Museum Audio Tour

Presented by Members David Hanson & Cheryl Bailey


Welcome to Air Group One's Museum Audio Tour, please click below hear our Welcome Message and begin the tour.


#1

 

On April 21, 1945, A-26s and A-20s of the 9th Air Force flew over 120 interdiction sorties against the railroad marshalling yards at Attnanpucheim in Austria. The low flying bombers caused tremendous damage and lost not a single aircraft as they cut the main line from Vienna to southern Germany. The remaining seasoned troops in Germany would go nowhere for the rest of the war.

#2

 

Many strikes were carried out against the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul. The attack pictured above took place on November 2, 1943 when B-25s and P-38s of the Fifth Air Force braved the massive anti-aircraft defenses of Rabaul to press home their attacks. The B-25 shown above is flown by Major Paul "Pappy" Gunn, and is modified as a strafer with four 50-caliber machine guns in the nose, and two each mounted on the fuselage just underneath the wings. Combined with the '50s in the top turret and using skip-bombing techniques, these aircraft could inflict tremendous damage.


#3

 

Despite its reputation as a "widow maker", the B-26 proved to be a great bomber and a truly safe airplane. When the final numbers were in, the Marauder held the record for the lowest combat loss rate of all bombers, less than one-half of one percent. This painting shows the B-26 "Flak Bait" pulling up and away after making an attack run on a German V-1 launching site.  "Flak Bait" flew no less than 202 combat missions and is now on display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

#4

 

Most B-17 paintings show them in combat over Hitler's Europe, but Flying Fortresses played a role in the Pacific too. Here we see two B-17Es of the 13th Air Force, 98th Squadron, "Galloping Gus" and "Typhoon McGoon II" hooking it home after a bombing mission against Japanese positions in New Guinea.   Nakajima Rufe floatplanes rise to engage them, but prove to be no match for the Fortress gunners.


#5

 

On August 1, 1943, 178 Liberators made a famous low-level bombing raid on the oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania. This scene shows John R. "Killer" Kane's B-24 named "Hail Columbia" and another Pyramidier B-24 "The Squaw" making their attack through the thick smoke over the target. These B-24s have a cluster of 50-caliber machine guns mounted in their nose which clears a swath before them.

#6

 

On May 23, 1945, Mission #181 is undertaken by the B-29s of the 20th Air Force against Tokyo, Japan. The incendiary bombs dropped that night would turn the Japanese capital into a raging firestorm. The print shows a stricken B-29 named "Eddie Allen" coming off the target with a fire beginning near the #1 engine from a dud anti-aircraft round. While the "Eddie Allen" would survive the mission, it would be her last, as the damage she received that night made her unsafe to fly again.


#7

 

The first in a series of prints known as "Southwest Pacific", this scene portrays a Lockheed P-38L Lightning passing a Japanese Ki-61 "Tony" fighter that it has just mortally wounded off the coast of New Guinea.

 #8

 

A P-400 (the export version of the P-39 Airacobra) does what it does best: flying down on the deck pounding Japanese ground positions. This P-400 was originally destined for the RAF in the Pacific, but like the others it became part of the 67th Fighter Squadron based at Guadalcanal in 1942. Though it still wears British camouflage, its newly added sharkmouth and American insignia make it clear what unit is dealing out the punishment.


 #9

 

The exploits of the A.V.G. (American Volunteer Group), also known as the Flying Tigers, are now legendary.  Their high kill-to-loss ratios and colorful story is well known. During the brief time that the Flying Tigers defended China and Burma against the incursions of the Japanese, they racked up a high kill-to-loss ratio and the gratitude of a nation. Here we see a pair of Tigers downing a Japanese fighter over the winding Burma Road.

 #10

 

The barrel-shaped Republic P-47 was the biggest, heaviest single-seat fighter produced by America during the war. This rugged airplane was well suited for ground attack missions, as their large radial engines could withstand flak damage better than the inline engines of the Mustangs. This scene shows Thunderbolts of the 373rd Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force screaming down out of the sky to shoot up barges on the Rhine River, denying these much needed supplies to the enemy.


#11

 

Flying Tiger ace Major James H. Howard single-handedly defends the B-17s of the 401st Bombardment Group from numerous enemy fighter attacks, saving the group and downing a number of enemy planes. For this action he received the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor.

 #12

 

During a bomber escort mission Major Nevin Cranfill (of the 359th Fighter Group) damaged one German ME-262 jet fighter that was pursuing a P-51. He then closed on another ME-262 and commenced firing from 800 yards, downing the German jet.


#13

 

One of the more famous roles of the PBY was as a rescue aircraft. Many "May Day" victims owed their lives to the "Cats" or "Dumbos", as the great craft were fondly called. This print shows a Catalina as it begins cranking down its wingtip floats in preparation for a water landing somewhere in the Coral Sea. Two more airmen will be saved to fight again.

#14

 

This particular scene shows a typical mission for an L-5 of the 25th Liason Squadron, better known as the "Guinea Short Lines". An A-20 Havoc bomber has been shot down during an attack on a Japanese base somewhere in the Pacific. Having been discovered by a prowling Sentinel, the downed aviators hacked down enough of the tall Kunai grass to form a makeshift runway. The L-5 put down, and took aboard two of the bomber crewmen, despite a 400-pound gross load limit. Ignoring the limits specified in the L-5's tech order, the L-5 pilot somehow managed to get airborne and threaded his way through the jungle, gaining altitude at every opportunity. Another miraculous rescue, but just a day's work for the men of the "Guinea Short Lines".


#15

 

A P-61 Black Widow (of the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron) named the "Lady Gen" makes a kill of a German ME-410 in the nightime skies over Belgium in 1944. This crew went on to become one of three ace crews in the 422nd, and the Black Widow went on to become America's premier night fighter of WWII.

#16

 

Although the Bell P-63 Kingcobra looked like the Bell P-39 Airacobra, the two aircraft were, in fact, two entirely different designs. The Kingcobra was larger, utilized a laminar flow wing, and had a more powerful engine.The Kingcobra was not lacking in aerial performance, however, by the time it entered into U.S. Army service in late 1943, the P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s had the fighter plane assignments filled. Of the 3,308 Kingcobras built, 2,421 were destined for delivery to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program. While in service with the Russians, the P-63 won great acclaim as a ground support aircraft. Its heavy armament and ability to absorb punishment and still come home made the plane a favorite among the Russian pilots. This scene shows a Kingcobra down low strafing a German armored column.


#17

This print shows elements of Lieutenant Commander Clarence W. McClusky's eighteen SBD dive bombers from the USS Enterprise as they plunge from 17,000 feet to pulverize the Japanese carrier Soryu during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Despite attacks by a variety of U.S. aircraft, only the Dauntlesses were able to score any hits. The victory at Midway turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. 

#18

In this print, TBD Devastators of USS Yorktown's VT-5 engage Japanese ships in the Battle of Tulagi, a minor prelude to the Battle of the Coral Sea in May of 1942. In two separate attacks the TBDs launched a total of 22 torpedoes in Tulagi harbor, but their only success was the sinking of the minesweeper Tama Maru. This was probably due to the poor quality of the aerial torpedoes, and the inexperience of the American flight crews. 


#19

The Avenger was first used in combat in June of 1942 at the Battle of Midway. Only six examples were available at that time, and they arrived too late to be put aboard the U.S. carriers enroute to the battle. These six were deployed from the airbase on Midway Island, and the pilots of Torpedo Squadron 8 were the first to sight and attack the Japanese fleet. The heroism of VT-8 is reflected here as we see Lieutenant A.K. Bert Earnest piloting Avenger 8-T-1 through withering fire as he hurtles toward his target, the Japanese carrier Akagi on June 4, 1942. All of the other Avengers were lost, with 8-T-1 being the sole survivor of the group. This plane was badly shot up with the radio operator dead and the bombardier wounded, barely making it back to base.

#20

The only combat action involving Buffalos (in U.S. hands) was at the Battle of Midway, where the Marine pilots of VMF-221 flew from the island's airbase and intercepted an incoming Japanese aerial strike. Several Val dive bombers fell to the Buffalo's guns, but they were quickly jumped by Zeros and most were shot down in the ensuing battle. Buffaloes were then withdrawn from front-line duties and never used by U.S. forces in combat again.


#21

This painting shows a Helldiver pilot from the USS Hancock (part of Halsey's Third Fleet) on the day after the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 26th, 1944), as he dives on one of the fleeing remnants from Admiral Ozawa's shattered fleet. Four Japanese carriers, a cruiser, and a number of destroyers were sunk during this battle.

 #22

In this print two F4Fs from the Yorktown's VF-42 rise up out of the flak from the damaged but fighting Japanese carrier Shokaku during the Battle of the Coral Sea. The F4Fs protected the Dauntless dive bombers who planted 3 bombs into the Shokaku, which resulted in it missing the Battle of Midway a mere month later.


#23

This action portrays the F6F-5 "Minsi II", flown by the Air Group Commander of VF-15 (Fabled Fifteen) off the carrier Essex. Here Commander David McCampbell is engaged with Japanese aircraft over the Phillipines on October 24, 1944. Commander McCampbell and his wingman intercepted 60 enemy aircraft enroute to an attack on the U.S. Fleet, and in the ensuing fight he shot down nine of the enemy and forced them to abandon their attack. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for this action.


#24

The Corsairs were mainly used by the U.S. Marines, who usually flew them from island bases, rather than from carriers. This is because the Corsair was initially thought to be unsuitable for carrier use due to visibility problems with the long nose during landing. In late 1944 this was proved to be untrue, and some Corsairs found themselves temporarily operating off of Navy carriers as additional fighter resources. This print portrays Marine Corsairs of VMF-124 (temporarily stationed on the USS Essex) as they break up a Japanese kamikaze attack over the Phillipines in late 1944.


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