Skip to main content
Edit entry 

41-11768

B-24 Liberator

The B-24D Liberator #41-11768, 'KICKAPOO', was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane and was Young's second regular assigned aircraft flying out of Berca and Lete airfields at Benghazi, Libya in the Mediterranean theater of World War II in 1943 after his first B-24 was shot down earlier in an air fight off the coast of Crete after being attacked by German fighters. Later in August of 1943, for Operation Tidal Wave, against Ploesti, Lt. Young and most of his regular crew on the 'KICKAPOO' were reassigned just before the mission by Col. John R. Kane to fly with him in the 98th's lead ship, the B-24D, 'Hail Columbia', renamed by Kane for his alma mater, Columbia University. 'KICKAPOO' was reassigned to another of the 344th Bombing Squadron's pilots, 1st Lt. Robert Nespor and Lt. John C. Riley, Nespor's copilot , and a replacement crew for the Ploesti mission from the 93rd Bomb Group . But, the morning of the mission, fate dealt Lt. Nespor, Lt. John Riley, and his replacement crew from the 93rd Bomb Group, a very bad hand when 'KICKAPOO''s number 4 engine failed at the worst possible time, on takeoff, just after getting airborne. Lt. Nespor and Riley crashed and were killed, desperately trying to save, maneuver, and guide 'KICKAPOO', their stricken, and now burning, B-24 back to land, trying heroically to save the valuable ship instead of ditching it into the Mediterranean Sea.

After jettisoning all of his bombs over the water, Nespor requested being guided back to the field for an emergency landing, but was forced to abort and circle around, due to conflicting aircraft still on the runway at Lete. He made a second approach to the field from the West. In doing so, he lost power in his remaining three engines. Now on fire with failing engines, and sinking, Nespor's B-24 wing tip clipped a concrete pole on short final approach, cartwheeling the plane into the ground where it exploded in flames, killing Nespor, his copilot, Lt. John Riley, and all but two of the rest of the crew, Lt. Russell W. Polivka, the navigator, and S/Sgt. Eugene R. Garner, gunner, who both survived despite severe burns.

The photo above, shows John Young's crew standing in front of #41-11768, with Lt. Young on the far right hand side of this photo and his crew. 'KICKAPOO' was named by Lt. Young after "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from Al Capp's cartoon, "Lil Abner". Col. John Kane, John Young, Lt. Korger, and Lt. Norm Whalen, and all the men in Kane's plane, 'Hail Columbia' survived the Ploesti mission without major injury in spite of 150 flak hits on the aircraft. 'KICKAPOO' was destroyed and all but two of it's crew were killed on takeoff for the Ploesti mission, at Lete Airfield the morning of August 1, 1943.
'KICKAPOO's regular crew :
- Lt. John S. Young - Pilot - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Lt. Norman M. Whalen - Navigator - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Lt. Harold F. Korger - Bombardier - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Fredrick A. Leard - Waist Gunner - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti Mission
- William Leo - Tail Gunner - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Raymond B. Hubbard - Radio Operator - Reassigned To 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Joseph J. LaBranche - TB - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Harvey L. Treace - Engineer / Top Turret Gunner - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- Nevill C. Bensen - Waist Gunner - Reassigned to 'Hail Columbia' for Ploesti mission
- 'Hail Columbia' completed mission, crash landed Cyprus. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 'KICKAPOO''s reassigned crew for Ploesti bombing mission : --- 1st Lt. Robert J. Nespor - Pilot - (KIA) - 2nd Lt. John C. Riley - Co Pilot (KIA) Detached Service from 93rd BG - (KIA)
2nd Lt. Russell W. Polivka - Navigator (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
T/Sgt. Vaun D. Wenrich - Engineer/Top Turret (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG T/Sgt. Armand R. Massart - Radio Op (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
S/Sgt. George W. Lawlor - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG S/Sgt. Edwin G. Sliwa - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG
S/Sgt. Eugene R. Garner - Gunner (WIA) D.S. from 93rd BG S/Sgt. John P. D'Armour - Gunner (KIA) D.S. from 93rd BG ~ 'KICKAPOO' crashed on takeoff for Ploesti mission - destroyed 1 Aug 1943

Service

Aircraft

  • 41-24311 'Hadley's Harem'

    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. ...

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

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron as 'HAIL COLUMBIA'. It was 344th's CO Col. John R. Kane's personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group CO and turned it over to Herman ...

  • 41-11768 'Kickapoo'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator #41-11768, 'KICKAPOO', was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane and was...

Show more

Units

  • 9th Air Force
  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron


    Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

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

People

  • John D'Amour

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member of B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking...

  • Eugene Garner

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | Bombardier Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. He flew on the famous mission, Operation Tidal Wave, Aug 1, 1943, to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. ...

  • George Lawlor

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

  • Armand Massart

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    . ...

  • Russell Polivka

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 93rd Bomb Group
    Navigator B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. John Clark Riley was a B-24 pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 330th Bomb Squadron at Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean theater during WWII. Riley and his crew from the 93rd Bomb Group were placed on temporary duty with...

  • Edwin Sliwa

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    Crew member B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

  • Thurman Ward

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 93rd Bomb Group
    Bombardier B-24 liberator 41-11768 'Kickapoo' of 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF. Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 43 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost an engine just after getting airborne and then caught fire while banking back...

Show more

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D 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 B...

Places

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Benghazi, Libya 1 August 1943

Crashed shortly after take-off for the August 1, 1943 low-level Ploesti, Romania mission. She lost No 4 engine just after getting airborne, after jettisoning all bombs at sea, 'KICKAPOO' was guided back for an emergency landing. Due to a conflicting aircraft on the runway, 1st Lt Nespor was forced to approach the field from the West. In doing so a wing tip smashed into a concrete pole and burst into flames, killing Nespor and all but two of the crew.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
07 October 2019 15:59:01 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:34:21 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:31:01 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2019 01:26:33 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - An Anatomy Of A disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
07 September 2019 15:33:55 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description, events and aircraft associations
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 September 2019 01:56:03 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 September 2019 00:52:52 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- John S. Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 September 2019 00:18:13 Kickapoo Changes to markings and description
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz ---- FindAGrave Memorials ---- John S. Young, Jr. personal archives

Date Contributor Update
07 August 2019 10:16:14 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz ---- FindAGrave Memorials ---- John S. Young, Jr. personal archives

Date Contributor Update
07 August 2019 09:21:29 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz ---- FindAGrave Memorials ---- John S. Young, Jr. personal archives

Date Contributor Update
07 August 2019 08:31:48 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames and description
Sources

Ploesti - Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The fire - Duane Schultz ---- John S. Young, Jr. personal archives ---- FindAGrave Memorials

Date Contributor Update
01 July 2019 13:39:19 Kickapoo Changes to production block number, description and place associations
Sources

Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Together We Served.com ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date Contributor Update
01 July 2019 07:10:50 Kickapoo Changes to description and events
Sources

Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Together We Served.com ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2019 01:42:38 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
25 December 2018 05:08:56 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
25 December 2018 05:05:12 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
21 December 2018 04:22:28 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill personal archives

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2018 09:08:24 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2018 14:20:16 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 23:07:56 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill - The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:11:04 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:08:43 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:00:55 Kickapoo Changes to markings and description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 23:49:23 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 23:47:48 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 23:35:32 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 23:24:25 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 23:05:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
08 April 2018 05:49:02 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Kickapoo and it's original crew. Capt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas is on the far right.

Date Contributor Update
10 March 2018 08:48:41 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

Date Contributor Update
10 March 2018 08:44:11 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2018 15:21:19 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Operation Tidal Wave

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2018 15:10:27 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames
Sources

Operation Tidal Wave

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:43:12 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:42:17 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:41:21 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:39:47 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:37:29 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:36:09 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:34:59 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:33:02 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air force - Together We served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:31:15 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:23:02 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:22:05 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:21:24 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:20:42 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:19:58 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:19:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:18:17 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:17:33 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:16:50 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:15:46 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:14:56 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:13:50 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:13:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:11:46 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:10:45 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:09:35 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:07:56 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:06:53 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:05:25 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:03:08 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 13:01:30 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 12:57:39 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Air Force - Together We served

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2018 12:53:43 Kickapoo Changes to description and events
Sources

Air Force - Together We Served

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 01:09:24 Kickapoo Changes to description and events
Sources

" Into the Fire " by Duane Schultz Part III Chap 6 p. 104, 105

Date Contributor Update
14 January 2018 00:59:56 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

" Into The Fire " by Duane Schultz Part III Chap 6 p. 104

Date Contributor Update
13 January 2018 15:02:31 Kickapoo Changes to manufacturer
Sources

The Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Co. in Fort Worth, Texas built the B-24D, named "Kickapoo".

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2017 23:24:38 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

41-11768 B-24D Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2017 22:16:34 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

41-11768 This photo is the original crew of the Kickapoo. The Kickapoo was named by Capt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas after "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from Al Capp's cartoon, Dogpatch. Capt. Young is on the far right hand side of this photo. He was the tallest man in the 98th Bomb Group at 6'3". Also pictured are Lt. Norman "The Baron" Whalen, his navigator, and Lt. Harold Korger, his bombardier. All three were hand picked by Col. John R. Kane to fly with him in the Hail Columbia for the mission over Ploesti, Rumania. All three men survived the mission and the war, as did Col. Kane.

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2017 22:10:29 Kickapoo Changes to events
Sources

41-11768 This photo is the original crew of the Kickapoo. The Kickapoo was named by Capt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas after "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from Al Capp's cartoon, Dogpatch. Capt. Young is on the far right hand side of this photo. He was the tallest man in the 98th Bomb Group at 6'3". Also pictured are Lt. Norman "The Baron" Whalen, his navigator, and Lt. Harold Korger, his bombardier. All three were hand picked by Col. John R. Kane to fly with him in the Hail Columbia for the mission over Ploesti, Rumania. All three men survived the mission and the war, as did Col. Kane.

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2015 14:11:47 Al_Skiff Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, description, events, unit associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

http://www.findagrave.com / http://usaafdata.com

Share