Thursday, March 31, 2011

Profile 46 - More of Satan's Chille'n (update)

My call for help in capturing the half-naked pinup girl painted on Satan's Chille'n was as expected - so, thank you to those who helped with the "research."  (ha ha).  But suffice it to state, until we have a Time Machine, I'm confident enough that this B-17's nose art is going to be accurate.   Shown is my progress as of 10:32pm this evening.

I'm now giving the countdown for about 2 weeks.   One more progress post after this and I hope to have it finished!  

Did you watch the video of Dick - Satan's Chille'n's bombardier - describe a particularly interesting bomb-run?  If not, scroll down.

However, I thought you might like to see what Dick looked like back in 1944 when he was undoubtedly one of the best bombardiers in the 8th Air Force.  At least good enough to fly as lead bombardier in 15 of his 30 combat missions.

This is a good time for a bit of explanation.  Just because a young man sat in the nose and had his finger on "the button," it didn't mean he was a "Bombardier."  The term describes a Role more than a Function.
Bombardiers were men who had the gift of control over their Norden branded bomb sites, the ability to fly the bomber during the last twenty or so miles to the target and of course, put the pickle in the pickle barrel.  From 20,000+ feet.

These Bombardiers were the men who aimed for the Squadron.  The rest of the men in the noses of their respective B-17s watched the Lead Plane and waited until they saw the stack of death fall away, then punch their own buttons. These 'rest of the men' were called "Toggliers."

The reason?  For one, there weren't enough Norden bomb sites to equip EVERY bomber in combat. Plus, these bomb sites were considered a Top Secret weapon.  Bombardiers were commanded to shoot the eyepiece out of their Norden in the event they were to crash land - or even bail out - in case the device would end up in the hands of the enemy.

But also, the Army Air Force had spent a terrific amount of time analyzing bomb blast patterns and concluded that the best results were obtained with one man leading, the others following.  In short, the Bombardier was the guy, the master that signaled the Squadron to drop their terrifying load onto the target.  

I asked Dick why he thought he was such a good Bombardier and he replied, "I gave that task my all!  I wanted to!"  

One thing I've learned from talking with old guys, is this - a vital ingredient to success is Passion.  Today, Dick still gets animated describing how he would mentally prepare to lead the Squadron on the run, even when not flying.  To Dick, success isn't so much about Luck or Skill as it is Desire.

Anyway, back to that picture of Dick circa'44 - he's the second from the left.  When I see him, I see the same nervous energy, the same restless motion that I know today. He still walks faster than a few teenagers I know and last week, he let me know that his car will top 100mph, "easy!"

More to come...