Note The B-24 that crashed was a B-24 J. This is a B-24 D, an older model.
At 7:40 a.m. Jan. 25, 1944, five B-24 Liberator heavy bombers from the 308th Bombardment Group, 425th Squadron, took off from their base at Kunming, China, on a routine supply run to India. Their route took them over the Hump, a treacherous eastern stretch of tall peaks in the Himalayan mountains. At 10:45 a.m., flying […]
This is an excellent look at a pivotal period from an unusual perspective. I’ve read several unit histories. Often they are a bit dull, except presumably to those with a close connection to the unit. But this book really stands out for several reasons. First is just that the squadron’s period of activity is so key to the history of the Pacific War. Torpedo Eight was operational from late 1941 to late 1942, but more to the point the unit saw action at the Battle of Midway and in the Guadalcanal campaign.
The book further stands out for telling the story at a very human level while weaving anecdotes and reminiscences into the greater historic narrative. So we get a nice balance of exciting, tragic and funny combined with why these things mattered. It is an extremely effective way of writing such a…
A group of pilots of No 1 Squadron RCAF, gather round one of their Hawker Hurricane Mark Is at Prestwick, Scotland.
30 October 1940.
The Squadron Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader E A McNab, stands fifth from the right, wearing a forage cap.
Left to Right: Frank Hillock, Toronto ON; Frederick Watson, Winnipeg MB; Robert Norris, Saskatoon SK; Norman Richard Johnstone, Winnipeg MB; Joseph A. J. Chevrier, Saint-Lambert QC; John David Morrison, Regina SK; Sq/Ldr Ernest Archibald McNab, Rosthern, SK; Arthur Yuile, Montréal QC; Paul Pitcher, Montréal QC; William Sprenger, Montréal QC; and Dean Nesbitt, Montréal QC. It is interesting to note that all five men on the right are from Montréal.
No. 1 Squadron RCAF left for Great Britain in June of 1940, with the Battle well under way. After a short period of training in England, they became the only RCAF Squadron involved in the Battle of Britain, first engaging the enemy on 23 August 1940. The following year, No. 1 became 401 Squadron. 401 Squadron ended the war as the RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force’s highest scoring fighter squadron with 186.5 victories—29 of which were earned during the Battle of Britain.
Arguably the best-known fighter in the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the first year of direct American participation in the war was the Curtiss P-40. Designed by Donovan Reese Berlin, the prototype XP-40 was more evolutionary than revolutionary in conception, being nothing more than the tenth production airframe of Berlin’s P-36A Hawk fighter with an Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled inline engine substituted for the P-36’s 875-horsepower Wright GR-1820-G3 Cyclone air-cooled radial.
Donovan’s original monoplane design dated to 1934. He designated it the Curtiss Model 75, reflecting his obsession with that number, while the emotive nickname of “Hawk,” already famous from an earlier generation of Curtiss biplane fighters, was revived for the new-generation monoplane. Although the Hawk 75 first flew in 1935, engine problems delayed its development until July 7, 1937, when the Army Air Corps gave Curtiss the largest American peacetime production order up to that time—210 P-36s, as the…