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41-24311

B-24 Liberator

The B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, in 1943. As Hadley was approaching his target refinery, code named, "White IV", Hadley's Harem, took two direct flak hits, killing his bombardier. Lt. Leon Storms, instantly, and damaging two engines. “We were two to three miles from our target, flying about 50 feet off the ground when we got hit,” one of the gunners, SSgt. Newton, remembers. “We couldn’t turn because we were in a tight formation with the other planes behind us and in our flight, so we kept flying, powering up to clear the smokestacks ahead of us, 200 feet tall.”

Upon leaving the refinery area behind them, Lt. Hadley and Copilot James Lindsey of Texarkana, Texas, pointed their damaged airplane south toward Turkey and Cyprus. They jettisoned their bombs and ordered their crew to get rid of everything else, ammunition, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the airship, which was struggling to stay in the air on only two good engines. South of Ploesti, they joined up with another group of shot up straggler B-24s, like themselves, led by the 98th Bomb Group's Leader, Col. John R. "Killer" Kane, in his B-24D that he had twice named, Hail Columbia, and continued following the entire group of planes south, first, to try make it out of the area alive, and, then, to the British air base at Nicosia, Cyprus.

Lt. Hadley made it all the way past the southern coast of Turkey in his badly crippled plane. But, almost out of gasoline and engine oil for the two big Pratt & Whitney engines, still running, he had to break away from Hail Columbia, The Squaw, The Sandman, and Walter Stewart in, Utah Man. Hadley radioed a goodbye to the group of his friends and turned his plane back, in the darkness, toward the Turkish coast. “We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying barely above stall speed,” Newton recalled. “Hadley had turned left toward land. It was about 8 o’clock at night, and we were losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembers Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “You want to try the beach - or the water?” Shortly thereafter, the two remaining engines failed and froze, out of gas and engine oil, and the ship plunged 150 feet, hitting the water nose first and breaking into three pieces, in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey. Neither Lt. Hadley, nor Lt. Lindsey, emerged from the sinking wreckage. They were caught in their collapsed cockpit and drowned. Seven of the crew of ten escaped their sinking B-24 after crashing while trying to ditch, and were able to swim to shore. The seven survivors were captured by the Turks, and survived the war, interned. ~ Aircraft Failed To Return (FTR) - Ploesti oil refinery raid. Pilot 1st Lt. Gilbert B. Hadley, (KIA) - Copilot 2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey, (KIA) - Bombardier Leon Storms, (KIA). All crewmen received DFCs for flying the mission. Both pilots, Lt. Gilbert Hadley, Lt. James Rex Lindsey, and Bombardier Lt. Leon M. Storms, received their Distinguished Flying Crosses and Purple Hearts, posthumously, for their valor and sacrifice over Ploesti. August 1, 1943. MACR 167.

The Crew on Hadley's Harem On The Ploesti Mission :
Pilot Gilbert B. Hadley KIA -
CP James R. Lindsey (KIA) -
N Harold Tabacoff INT-TURKEY (WIA) -
B Leon Storms (KIA) -
TT Russell B. Page (INT-TURKEY) -
TB William F. Leonard (INT-TURKEY) -
TG Frank Nemoth (INT-TURKEY) -
G Pershing W. Waples (INT-TURKEY) -
WC Leroy Newton (INT-TURKEY) -
WG Christopher N. Holweger (INT-TURKEY)

B-24D - 41-24311
23 Nov 42 through 5 Dec 42 - Built in San Diego
10 Dec 42 - 2 Test Flights
12 Dec 42 - ACC AAF
13 Dec 42 - Delivered
24 Dec 42 - Flown to Fort Worth for MOD
01 Jan 43 - MODs Completed
12 Jan 43 - ACC again by AAF
26 Mar 43 - Went Overseas
09 Jun 43 - Cairo
15 Jul 43 - Flew First 98th BG Mission (Flew 10 missions including last)
01 Aug 43 - Crashed off Turkish Coast - MACR 167
1995 - 2 Crew Recovered
1996 - Cockpit and forward aircraft section recovered from the sea
Dec 1997 - Installed in Rahni M Koc Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)

Service

Aircraft

  • 41-24226 Joisey Bounce - Utah Man

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 41-24226, Joisey Bounce, was assigned to Pilot Lt. Walter Travis Stewart of the 330th Bomb Squadron, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 8th Air Force, for the large mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Col. Stewart changed his...

  • 41-24198 The Vulgar Virgin - Hell From Heaven - Shoot You're Faded

    B-24 Liberator
    - The B-24D, 41-24198, named, The Vulgar Virgin, flown by Capt. Wallace Taylor, in the 9th AF, the 98th BG, and the 344th BS, based in Benghazi, Libya, should not be confused with Lt. Claude A. Turner's B-24D, 42-40608, also named, The Vulgar Virgin...

  • 41-11819 Raunchy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, Raunchy, 41-11819, was in the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in early 1943. ...

  • 41-11761 Sleepy - The Squaw

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11761, was first named, Sleepy, and, later, renamed, The Squaw. It flew on the famous Ploesti bombing mission, returning to Cyprus, piloted by Lt. Royden L. Lebrecht. After Ploesti and and the completion of his combat...

  • 41-11825 Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, Hail Columbia, 41-11825, was assigned to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was first assigned to the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 42-40629 The Scorpion

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 42-40629, The Scorpion, in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron, flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing mission on the oil refineries, piloted by Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell and Col. Jack Wood...

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Units

  • 9th Air Force
  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

People

  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Name : Gilbert Ben Hadley ...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and heroism for...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bombardier | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Francis Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based in Benghazi, Libya. He flew on the B-24D, Hail Columbia, with Group Leader Col. John R. Kane, on the famous mission,...

  • Royden LeBrecht

    Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew his B-24D, he named, The Squaw, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at...

  • James Lindsey

    Military | Flight Officer | B-24D Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    James Rex Lindsey ...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D bomber command pilot in WWII in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group, the Pyramiders, and the 345th Bombing Squadron. Lt. Sternfels flew the famous B-24D bomber, THE SANDMAN, on Operation Tidal Wave, which sought...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" or ...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Places

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Antalya, Turkey 1 August 1943

Failed To Return - Ploesti oil refinery raid. Pilot Gilbert B Hadley. MACR 167
Approaching the target, the A/C was hit by a shell, causing a fatality and serious damage. The crew managed to drop their bombs and then set course for home. Subsequent engine problems led to a decision to divert to Cyprus, but the aircraft couldn’t maintain flight and it ditched in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey.

Assigned

344th BS 98th BG 9th AF.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 02:47:51 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

black Sunday - Ploesti - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2021 08:13:52 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description and person associations
Sources

Added information, spelling, spacing errors. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2021 12:23:39 Kickapoo Changes to markings and description
Sources

Removed and added some details to "Markings" per standard practices. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2021 13:39:08 Emily Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

Changed all instances of aircraft name into sentence case to as per best practice for accessibility.

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2021 09:45:13 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2021 08:39:09 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Word changes to text. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 10:42:02 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
01 August 2021 11:17:28 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2021 19:33:34 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Added punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2021 21:17:23 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Corrected a typo in the A/C "Description" - "crew" was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 23:01:21 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 22:55:07 Kickapoo Changes to description and person associations
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:52:35 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:01:57 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - Hadley's Harem'

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:10:18 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:07:52 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:57:23 Kickapoo Changes to aircraft associations, unit associations, person associations and place associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:52:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:44:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:31:09 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:27:23 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description, events, aircraft associations and person associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:05:42 Al_Skiff Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, description, events, unit associations and mission associations
Sources

AAM Database.

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