13, 1944 found 195 "combat crewmen" shipped to Alamogordo,
New Mexico for training. These orders did not include officers.
We, enlisted men, were being trained, as were the officers.
The planes we flew were painted olive drab and I was told
that they were the factory prototypes, We were the test
crews. Since the rush was on to get the B-29's into combat,
they were working the bugs out as we flew.
factor representative accompanied each flight, clip board
and all. It was an adventure. The engines always overheated.
This was especially true as we lined up on the ramp waiting
for our turn for take-off. Many times' cylinder head temperature
reached redline when full power was applied for take-off.
More than one plane never got more than 50 feet off the
scenario as I understand it went like this
flaps too large
resistance, slower speed
back to cool engines
advised at 50 feet
than one aluminum bird pancaked in the desert sand.
No harm done! Just jack up the plane, lower the wheels,
tow her to a hanger, replace all four props, check her
over and she was flying the next day.
was at this base that we learned much of the craft of
being a crewmember of a B-29. I took electrical specialist
as my second MOS. I'm sure happy they never needed me
because I really never felt adequate in that role.
air base, I was told, had been originally built for the
British. It was built in a triangle, the triangle being
formed by three runways that almost touched at each corner.
The rest of the base was spread all around the sides of
the runways. You needed a bus to go anywhere. The swimming
pool is where most of us went as often as we could. Not
only was the cool water a needed respite in the desert
but the WACS went swimming also in the afternoon. In fact,
their barracks were next to the pool area and the PX.
town of Alamogordo was not much to speak of but one tavern
in town made the best whiskey sours I ever tasted. It
was the heat maybe; anything would have tasted good. Three-day
passes were good for a bus trip up into the mountains.
Get a motel room and rent a cow pony and ride all over
the place. I loved it but had a hard time finding guys
that would rather ride horses than chase skirts and get
21 Flight A through Crew 37 Flight C arrived at Smoky
Hill Army Air Base on November 15, 1944. We arrived in
crew assignments, but we had never met each other until
then. First was phase training and learning to do our
combat jobs properly and I loved it. Night flying included
many "touch and go's" (hits and gits), cross country navigation,
round robin flights, bombing runs, camera target practice
and live ammunition when we had convinced our instructors
that we wouldn't shoot down the plane flying on our wing.
pilots first started doing night take-offs, many of them
were rotating too steeply and were dragging the tailskid
(that's why they Were put! r guess). The skid sparks at
night annoyed the flight instructors so they decided to
paint the skids with white paint. Any pilot who left his
mark on the runway had to buy drinks for the other pilots
flying that night, Styron never bought a drink so he informed
of 1944 brought my wife of 6 months to visit me in Salina,
Kansas. We were scheduled for a round robin mission to
Seattle, Washington ion her first day in town. Before
we had gone far, we began to lose oil in one engine (so
what's new about that?) and eventually had to feather
it. Not much later we lost another one Capt. Styron was
for continuing. but the engineer convinced him that the
remaining two were overheating enough to get your attention.
We made an emergency landing at what we thought was an
active air base on the navigational charts. We communicated
with the tower after we laneded, to learn we landed at
a decommissioned field with only a skeleton crew maintenance
crew. The radio tower we had talked to was some 50 miles
away. We couldn't take off on two engines so the Army
Air Corps sent a B-17 with a repair crew on board and
tools and parts. My crewmates were thrilled at the prospect
of a night in town. I wanted to go back to my bride. Our
good Captain had the B-17 take me back that night and
even gave me keys to his car He flew the mechanics back
the next day.