By:Bill Goodman
World war 2 B-17 bomber follow the story of this world war 2 B-17 crew, as told by a man who was there

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The attached letters were written to my sons, Richard and Bob, and to two of my grandchildren, Brant and Margaret Jane, now in college. I wrote the first one fifty years from the day I flew across the North Atlantic Ocean, .......................<snip> ..............................All I write is from memory, notes I made at the time of the event, and talking to David Hutchens and Hilbert Braun, the tail gunner who saw a lot from another view. I remember a lot dimly and some vividly............... -Bill Goodman-

August 31,1994

I think you may be interested in some key points of this world war called II. The Nazi Party Program of the 1920's made the explicit proclamation " No Jew can be considered a countryman." On April 1, 1933, a boycott of all Jewish businesses officially began. In April, 1935, the Nazi Government ordered all Jewish children expelled from school. In December, 1935 all Jewish property was seized by the Nazi Government. October 31, 1938, was Crystal Night (Kryastallnacht). This was the beginning of the Holocaust which lasted until September, 1945. This night the German storm troopers smashed the windows of all the Jewish jewelry stores, entered the buildings, and smashed every thing inside including the Jewish owners. The troopers were merciless and thorough, and the Jews were helpless in this show of inhuman behavior. All the world heard of this the next morning and did absolutely nothing about it. England had disposed of their Jews about 1650,and this was nothing off their skins.

This action was acceptable in Germany. The Jews were considered less than people, and the German people continued with the Holocaust. Ten million Jews were slaughtered without mercy - old men, old women, young men, young women, children, babes in arms. I was not aware of this at the time. I thought it was like the Japanese containment camps in California in which the Japanese had everything except freedom.

The German Government offered to let 160,000 Jews leave Germany if any country would take the them. They were first offered to the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who was negotiating with the Germans at this time. His objective was "peace in our time." Hitler saw this as a weakness and broke every treaty that was secured. However, Chamberlin declined to accept any Jews with the question "where would put we them?" The Jews were next offered to the United States. This was referred to Cordell Hull, Chief of the State Department at this time. Hull asked the same question "where shall we put them?" On behalf of the US Government he declined to accept the Jews. Roosevelt was privy to this decision and did nothing, but kept the truth a secret. This was despite the fact that his best advisor was a Jew. Cordell Hull later was involved in peace negotiations with the Japanese. Negotiations became very tense just prior to December 7, 1941. We had copies of the instructions to the Japanese negotiators but Hull refused to read them even though the information indicated that a war was imminent saying " Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail." He was a political appointee with no special talent in this area.

The Germans had developed an unbreakable code based on machine technology. The United State obtained one of the decoding machines as follows: A Polish worker (probably a Jew), stole one of the decoding devices from the factory, and was able to pass it to an English secret agent who managed to get it to 10 Downing Street in London. The English passed the only machine, called Enigma, to the United States. Since the top Japanese used Enigma, we used Enigma all through the rest of the war to great advantage.

In September, 1939, our peacetime preparation for war began very slowly. Two years later we had one mortar per division and a division needs about 3000. A mortar is only a piece of stovepipe with three legs and an aiming system - nothing complicated.

In September, 1940, the air war began in England. England's Spitfires and were no match for Messerschmidt 109. PS: The English always named their airplanes. We used letters and numbers as follows: P - Pursuit, 51- number assigned to the airplane, G Model -the last and best. The English called it a Mustang. At this time we were building P-40's, not as good as a Spitfire. December 6, 1941, a fleet of US ships was bombed at Pearl Harbor, and all battleships were sunk with a great loss of life. The aircraft carriers were at sea, and were not touched. Admiral Halsey perceived we could not risk exposure of our aircraft carriers and Halsey seldom came into Pearl. When he did he only entered one carrier at a time. The Admiral commanding the battleships came into Pearl every weekend. I think he said " What? Me worry? "

The attack on Pearl Harbor was considered by the politicians as a "sneak"attack. Roosevelt's words were " a day that will live in infamy." But for hundreds of years combat forces would try to catch their opponents off guard, and the only place where intentions are announced is the game of hide and seek where the "it" person says " coming ready or not" Japan had a good reason for the attack. When sailboats began to sail across the oceans, the Pope distributed the world. Indo China was given to France, England got India, the Portuguese got Japan, and Spain got North and South America. England did a fine job in India, stealing only what they needed, but France stole whatever they wanted and began a campaign of systematic looting of the country for more than a century. A Vietnamese named Ho Chi Minh, with a battle cry of " Asia for the Asiatics" began a revolt against the French. Japan began to sell the tools of war to Vietnam. France immediately went to the US for help which we readily gave, and issued a paper which was a blockade of the Japanese ports. Japan, that small island, had to import or die, and chose to attack our battleships at Pearl Harbor, and sunk all of them. No carriers were sunk- they were all at sea. These Commanders at Pearl Harbor were a motley crew - one Commander cared more for his weekends with his battleships tied to the pier so he could party. Combat ready? No. Early in his career another commander planned an airplane flight around the world but got lost on the first leg of the flight and crashed his plane. But one commander was doing his duty and safeguarding his trust - his aircraft and the men that manned the ships. He stayed at sea as much as was possible, and his ships were untouched by the Japanese. The war continued, and we were able to almost destroy Japan with the B-29 's but an atomic bomb at Hiroshima and one at Nagasaki ended the war with Japan. We immediately returned Vietnam to the French. PS: The Bridge On The River Quai was in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in December 1941,the P-39 and the P-51 appear, and the US began jet engine and airframe development. The jet was smooth as glass and with great power. It would cruise at 900 kilometers per hour, but we were unable to manufacture the hot rotor blades that would last more than five hours without a major overhaul of the jet engine. The cold rotor blades are located in the front of the engine, and the hot rotor blades are located in the tailpipe Normal tailpipe temperature is 1700 degrees but a hot start will have a tailpipe temperature much higher. However, a real downer is when the copilot says calmly "Number 1 is going cold ." The man who came up with this solution said " I can't find a metal that will stand these high temperatures but I can blow cool air through the inside of the main shaft and then through the blades." October 1942, the Germans had solved the hot blade Problem. The blades were nitrited cast iron, and worked to perfection.

In June of 1941, the Russians, flying slow ILU -2s, begin to win some air battles against the Me-109s but the big news is that the German Panzers are stopped by the Russian army, and the Germans begin their retreat leaving their Third Army behind to starve or be shot. The Third Army was a total loss.

On June 6,1942, three top of the line battleships, the Shornhorst, the Prince Engen, and the Gneisesenau leave Brest and sail up the English Channel to Norway. England's attempts to damage these ships were futile in an attempt by four Swordfish ( a seaplane which is big, slow, and could carry only one torpedo ).I think the Battleships were going faster than the Swordfish.

Also on June 6,1942, B-25's led by Jimmy Doolittle, departed from a 467 foot flight deck of an aircraft carrier(1), and bombed Japan. All of the planes but one took off with full flaps. The one without flaps dropped out of sight to those on deck ; there was a long silence and the B25 appeared directly in front of the carrier slowly, slowly gaining altitude. Fourteen of the eighteen were lost primarily because the carrier was out of range of the B-25's when they departed, but the task force had been seen by a fishing boat. The captain thought the boat might have a radio and would advise Japan of our presence. They didn't.

On July 18, 1943, a German pilot flying a Me 262 jet attained an airspeed of 800km per hour. The next time he flew this airplane the air speed was 900 km per hour. The rotor blade problem had been solved.

The V-1 and the V-2 weapons appear. The V-1 was an unmanned airplane equipped with a pulse jet engine which flew at about 300 MPH. It was launched from a car riding on a short section of railroad track located in the Brest area. Faster than almost any propeller driven conventional airplane, and flying low, they did tremendous damage to London. They flew making a put-put noise. When the gas ran out, the put- put stopped, and the plane dived into the ground, buildings, barns. I have seen them flying directly over my head with the fighters trying to shoot them down, but the put- put stopped very soon after it passed over. We bombed one of these sites, and the bombardier could not see the site it was so well camouflaged. We were flying second lead, the lead plane had to abort, and we took the lead. This was Colonel Leber's first flight as commanding officer of the 381st bomb group, and he contributed absolutely nothing, At pilots meeting he really dug into Clore's flying, but Clore was tops. The V-2 was a pure rocket- you never heard it or saw it, and the terminal damage was tremendous. I think Von Braun designed them and aimed them at me.

In September, 1943, a later model of the P-39 appeared. The P-39 was a poor airplane. It sounded great- tricycle landing gear, engine behind the pilot, firing a 37 mm cannon through the propeller hub. It was too small for me to get in. I could get in, but could not close the side door. The plane was too small, too heavy, too slow, too low ( about an 18000 foot ceiling, and easily and quickly slipped into a flat spin from which there was no recovery. It also badly overheated during taxiing.

However, the chief of aircraft procurement loved a lady at the P-39 headquarters, and he pushed the P-39 beyond all reason. For instance, he did not want the P-51's to have any Packard engines. The Allison engine had a ceiling of 18000 feet, the Packard had a ceiling of 40000 feet, and the B-17's flew up to 40000 feet. The problem was helped when an Air Force pilot went directly to Hap Arnold and told Hap that the P-39 was a flying coffin and the P-51 would win the war. Hap decreed that the P-51's would get half the Packard engines. Whereupon the lady got the General to let them build the jet airframe. The plane's apparent results looked good but they had only stuck the jet engines on each side of the P-39's body, and still had the NACA 1930 wing which was too fat. The pilots who flew the P-39 jet all said that it was not going as fast as the instruments indicated, and a thorough search revealed the pitot tube had been modified (a bump of solder) to create a vacuum on the static line. This increased the apparent speed and rate of climb. At this juncture the Truman Committee became involved, and the P-39 company was out of business.

On April 4,1944, the Germans had completed twelve Me 262's with big guns and rockets, but B-17's bombings had destroyed eleven of the twelve. The remaining Me 262 attacked a formation of 54 B-17's and destroyed three B-17's and one P-51. The 262 could throw 96 pounds of lead at 1300 feet per second in three seconds. The jet was going so fast the gunners could not track the jet and the jet was untouched. The jet attacked the B-17 formation diagonally, and his first shot of three seconds knocked an engine and a wing off the target B-17. The other two B-17's destruction was similar. The P-51 was chasing, went supersonic, had control lock and crashed. If the 262 had not run out of fuel he probably would have shot down all 54 B-17's. We did not have a jet until after the war. I think they finally gave the project to Kelly Johnson down at the Skunk Works who finally put it all together.

I think there were 58000 thousand casualties in the 8th Air Force. If we had had the P-51 in 1942, I estimate the casualties would have been cut in half. That's enough people to be a small town. Of course, there is a statue of the Procurement officer at Muroc Air Force Base.

The aircraft factories or the engine factories were slow to build a top of the line jet fighter, and did not complete the jet fighter until about 1947, two years after the war ended. The plane that was developed was the F-80, and was called the shooting star. In 1947 an F-80 came to Birmingham on Memorial Day for a fly-over of the Birmingham Airport, but as the F-80 crossed the airport at maximum speed, a P-51 flown by Lt. Dan Nunnaly, passed the F80 easily. On the return flight Dan passed it again.

In the meantime the Squadron Commander, Lt. Sam. McClurkin, was trying desperately to stop the embarrassment as General Donaldson on the ground was telling Sam what he would do to Sam if the F-80 didn't win. However , the P-51 won again. I asked Sam later why he didn't stop Dan. He said "I explained it as best I could. I would have shot Dan down if the guns had been loaded."

Dan later flew into a mountain and was killed. Sam was called up and went to Korea. He survived the war.

(1) See C. Faulkner.

(this story is and remains the sole property of the author, Bill Goodman. It is presented here with with his gracious permission. All rights are retained by same)

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