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This B24 was originally assigned to 44BG but then transferred into the 98th's 343rd Bomb Squadron. It was assigned to the crew of Lt Muehlberg who flew it on at least 24 combat sorties -- the first being against the Corinth Canal in Greece on 25th August 1942. Later missions were flown to strike shipping targets in Benghasi harbour. It was almost lost on 2nd December when another crew (Lt Groff) took the B24 to strike Naples. One hour into the flight, all four engines cut out simultaneously but, fortunately, were restarted as the airplane plummeted towards the sea.
Prior to the invasion of Sicily, "Jersey Jackass" pounded the ferry terminal at Messina to prevent German forces evacuating the island. Strikes against Palermo, Naples and other Italian targets continued well into 1943 and on 17th July it had another lucky escape when flak ripped 40 holes in the side, shot away hydraulic lines and shattered the bomb doors. However, the veteran B24 was repaired and was one of those famed ships which flew the daring low level strike against the Ploesti oil refineries on 1st August 1943. On that day it was assigned to a crew from 389BG (Lt McGraw) but was shot down over Romania with the loss of six of its crew and three listed as POWs.
The nose art cleverly incorporated Hitler's distinctive features into his simplistic artwork of an ass's rear end -- it was undoubtedly a popular image amongst air and ground crew men. If you have any further knowledge or photographs of this aircraft or its crews please make contact.
Known Mission List
© Ray Bowden 13 November 2018