23 February, 2019

Profile 134 - "The April 18th Project" (post #3)


This project keeps getting more fascinating...and if it goes where (we all) hope, you're going to have a scoop here.  Really.  As in, "OMG! REALLY!"

But more on that later.

*break break*

I think I know why "History" so-often gets the short-end of the stick when it comes to teaching.  Two words:  IT'S.  HARD.  (actually that's three words, but I hated English).

Have a look at my progress on the Doolittle Raider B-25 as flown by Donald Smith.  It contains proof of my point that teaching history is the most difficult of any of the accepted subjects in school.

Can you find it?

Of course, we know the serial number on the tail, 40-2267, is accurate.  The U.S. Army Air Forces did a great job of recording the serial numbers of the things it purchased.  And, in case you're wondering where the "4" went, the first-digit was often omitted, hence the "02267."

I closed my eyes really tight and sent out pensive thoughts into the time-wave-space of The Universe/Force in case the eternal energies of Crew #15 could offer clarity.

I didn't get a response. So I drew this.

But the proof of my putting is above—the nose art.  I'm 99.9% sure it's wrong.  But, so is every other attempt to recreate the livery of Smith's aircraft.   And, the accepted Name of Smith's B-25, "TNT" isn't even on the airplane.  Instead, it's rumored that the chemical formula for the stuff (otherwise known as 2-methyl-1,3,4 trinitrobenzene) was actually used.

"TNT" is an explosive, btw.  Just in case you didn't pay attention in Chemistry class.

Indeed, there are photos of 02267 that can verify certain aesthetic detail but none regarding the nose art.  In fact, there's no complete proof that it was even painted on the nose save for reference by fellow Doolittle Raider,  Ted Lawson in his book, "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and the accepted oral histories of the aircraft's crew (which have all Flown West).

Check the upper right-hand corner.
Have a look at the graphic above.

I found it online somewhere and can't testify as to its origin.  But, notice the upper-right-hand nose; supposedly that's "TNT".  Nevertheless, the symbol is mystifying as it's just not the chemical symbol for TNT.  Considering that pilot Donald Smith was a student of South Dakota State University, let's assume he would have thought enough to ask, "Hey. Anyone know what the symbol for TNT is?!"

Adding to the marking-mystery, there's one more very-crucial* bit of nose art that remains to be added but I'm going to do that last, pending comms with someone who fortunate enough to interview Gunner/Navigator on TNT, Edward Saylor.  Click here for that.

Why the white, hand-written scrawl?  Because the crews had chalk and wrote on the side of the airplane.  More on this later.

Why the darker, surrounding area?  Because it's likely (repeat) that the crew would have cleaned the surface area before applying any artwork.  The ubiquitous Olive Drab paint of WWII, especially the stuff applied early-war, was notorious for fading and oxidizing.   Thus, it's a safe bet that whomever the artist was would have wiped the surface down with a rag soaked in 100 octane gasoline or soapy water beforehand resulting in a freshening of the paint.

So, why add the (dubious) artwork in the first place?  Good question!   My answer is that adding it is just-the-same as not.  Yet, by adding something new to the fray, the question stays alive and thus adds to the beauty of studying history at all: History fuels our imagination.

Again, the nose art on this bird isn't "done" yet.  There's more to the story.  But, in the space between now and the next post, have a listen to the short interview with Saylor.  It's only 4 minutes in length but at the very least, it's accurate—it's tough to argue History with someone who was there.

*Crucial and politically incorrect.  Trigger warning: prepare to get offended in my next post.