Close-Formation Flying - A B-24 Casualty

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Flying in close formation, sometimes the B-24s were damaged by another plane - like this one which had its tail turret, right rudder and a section of the horizontal stabilizer sliced away by the propeller of another plane.  The accident killed the gunner.

The plane - called "El Lobo" is a B-24H-1-FO Liberator, bearing serial number 42-7510.  She was with the 579th Bomb Squadron, 392nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.

The U.S. Air Force provides more information about the incident:

The damage in the photo occured on the December 20,1943 mission to Bremen,Germany. It is still not completely known what happened other than a propeller from another plane sliced away the tail turret,right rudder and part of the horizontal stabilizer and killing the gunner.

There are two stories about this mishap.  One says it was a prop which came off another plane; another says "El Lobo" slowed, suddenly, and was hit by another aircraft.

The tail gunner - S/Sgt. Donald D. Pippitt - died as a result, and the plane returned to the 392nd a month later. She was later reported as MIA [missing in action] on an April 29,1944 mission to Berlin.

Crew - on the April 29,1944 mission - were:

2nd Lt. Bert W. Wyatt - pilot

2nd Lt. Aubert M. Tufts - copilot

2nd Lt. Douglas N. Franke - navigator

S/Sgt. William S. Womer - nose turret gunner

S/Sgt. Robert W. Monroe - radio operator

Sgt. John F. Sorrells - gunner

T/Sgt. Byron E. Hassett - engineer/top turret guner

Sgt. Robert E. Thompson - gunner

S/Sgt. David E. Harbaugh - gunner

Sgt. Alfred P. Archambeau - gunner

Click on the image for a closer view.

Media Credits

Photo online, courtesy U.S. Air Force and U.S. National Archives.

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"Close-Formation Flying - A B-24 Casualty" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Mar 23, 2019.
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