Hardest Fighting Bomber arrives in Miami
Old "Zero Four", the most battle-tested plane ever to fly in the Mediterranean theater, rested at Miami Army Air Field Friday on its way to honorable retirement.
Veteran of the 148 missions against every major target in Sicily and Italy, the B-26 Marauder has dropped close to 500,000 pounds of bombs and flown 190,000 miles, the Air Force revealed.
Its crew claims to has flown more missions than any other Marauder - 25 times as group leader, 53 missions as flight leader and 24 as element leader. Its crewmen have shot down five German fighters and sank a surface vessel.
Now using its sixth and seventh engine replacements, the once was forced down by flak hits on one engine and landed safely on Pantelleria.
It was a mission that the gunners accounted for three of the five fighters accredited it. The forth, an ME-109, was knocked down over Terni, Italy, and the final kill was made near Orti, Italy. Other targets included Naples, Rome, Florence, Cassino, Anzio, Legghorn, Pisa, Marseilles and Toulon.
The plane flew in air assault for five amphibious landings and amasses 988 flying hours, more than 600 of them in action.
The crew that flew Zero Four on most of her missions brought her back across the Atlantic. It includes Capt. Richard C. Bushee, North Fond du Lac, WI., Pilot; Capt. Robert Whitten, Rosenburg, Texas, bombardier; Lt. Blake Palmer, Framingham, MA, Co-Pilot; T/Sgt. Al Rosenblum, Brooklyn, radio operator; T/Sgt. Leo Walker, Boston, MA, flight engineer; T/Sgt. Charles Vannoy, Winston-Salem, NC., gunner.
Capt. Bushee said the most flak holes the ship ever picked up on a mission was 22.
"But one day when I was still flying co-pilot, a piece of flak was stopped by the window frame just a few inches from me." he continued. "Another piece just behind me, coming in one side of the plane and going out the other, and a third smashed the navigator's window. It was pretty close but I was lucky. On the old scenic tour around the Hitler line in Italy I had my windshield cracked twice and a few glass splinters were flying around. No one was hurt. I had a plenty close call during the biggest battle B-26s ever fought in, over Salerno, August 22, 1943. It was then the Marauders shot down 24 German fighters and probably destroyed 14 others for a loss of five B-26s. When we got back to our base, I found an unexploded 20mm shell in the wing immediately above a gas tank. It was a miracle it did not explode."
Crewman of the plane mentioned in article
Capt. Richard C. Bushee, Lt. Blake Palmer, Capt. Robert Whitten,