- Hi Mike:
- First I want to commend you on your B26.com site. I have found it to
be very interesting and informative through the years and check it out
frequently. Also, I had the fortune to meet and to hear Trevor Allen at
Akron in 1995, I believe, when he and Roger Freeman were Master of
Ceremonies at the B-26 Marauderman meeting there. A truly GALA EVENT.
- I believe that the early problems with the B-26 were mainly due to a
lack of experience with both the aircrews and maintenance personnel.
Modifications were made along the way which did make the aircraft safer
but also took away from the performance.
- I graduated in Class 43-B at Stockton, Calif. and was assigned to
the 336th Bomb Group, 479th Bomb Sqdn. directly out of flying school.
This was prior to the forming of the B-26 Transition Schools at Del Rio
and Dodge City. The 336th had just moved to Avon Park AAF from Page
Field, Fort Myers, Florida, and there weren't many B-26's assigned and
those that were assigned were in pretty poor shape. It was difficult to
get in even enough time to qualify for flight pay in the early days. In
checking my flight records for early 1943, I find that I logged no time
in February; only 4:25 co-pilot time in March and 8:30 co-pilot time and
3:30 qualified dual in April. Things started picking up after that, and
I was selected to be an instructor pilot and flew more often. After
accumulating 100 total hours in the B-26, I began duty as an IP and
ended up as instructor and instructed some of my classmates from 43-B.
Kind of like the blind leading the blind.
- I was fortunate to have gotten to fly the AT-9 during advanced
training. About half of my time was in the AT-9 and the other half was
in the AT-17. The AT-17 was kind of a waste of time. We didn't even have
constant speed propellers on them, just wooden fixed-pitch propellers.
The AT-9 was an excellent trainer for high performance aircraft. I might
add that there were some, including instructors, who were afraid to fly
the AT-9. Too hot I guess.
- Some of our aircraft in the early days were B-26B-2's and B-4's with
the short wings. I guess that the change to the longer wings made for a
safer aircraft but resulted in reduced cruising speed as did the
increased angle of incidence in the wings on the F's and G's.
- There were a few pilots that I know of that refused to fly the B-26;
however, I think that story of widespread fear is kind of an
exaggeration. One of my classmates wasn't particularly afraid of the
B-26 but refused to fly it as he wanted to fly single-engine aircraft.
He was transferred to an A-24 squadron and
was killed in a crash. Also, the saying "One a day in Tampa Bay" and
"One a day is the Barksdale way" are exaggerations. Surely a lot of
B-26's crashed due to maintenance error and/or pilot error, but nowhere
near one a day in the bay.
- After the change from the 12 volt to 24 volt electrical system,
runaway propellers became less of a problem. Maintenance personnel
became more experienced and pilots also became more proficient. Also,
the B-26 transition schools were a big improvement in getting pilot's
somewhat proficient in the aircraft before beginning tactical training.
- There were about a dozen pilots from Class 43-B who were selected to
be instructor pilots in the 479th, and I believe this was true of the
other three squadrons too. The 336th moved from Avon park to MacDill in
November 1943, were there about a month and then moved to Lake Charles.
Most of the instructor pilots who were at Avon Park stayed with the
336th until along in June 1944 when pilots who had finished their combat
tours were assigned and the IP's were reassigned most of them to combat
assignments in Europe.
- I finally trained with a crew, left the 336th in August 1944, went
across the pond on the Queen Mary, went across the English Channel on a
Liberty Ship, was transferred to a landing craft and dumped onto French
soil and finally ended up with the 586th Bomb Sqdn., 394th Bomb Group at
Cambrai, France. I had my first B-26 flight at Cambrai on 19 October and
flew 33 combat missions before the war ended.
- My flight record shows a total of 1,375 hours in the B-26. The
aircraft always treated me well, and I have nothing bad to say about it
- Again, I really enjoy your B26.com site and appreciate your efforts.
- Don Frisbie