Strawberry Bitch - Preserved and on display at the World War II Gallery of the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, near Wright-Patterson AFB.
'Hail Columbia' at Lete Airfield, Benghazi, 1943. One of five lead aircraft for the Ploesti bombing mission, flown by Group Leader Col. John R. Kane, command pilot, and Lt. John S. Young, his copilot. The airplane was extensively damaged by German flak over Ploesti. After joining up with several other crippled straggler B-24s exiting the battle area, including Lt. Robert Sternfels in 'The Sandman', Col. Walter Stewart in 'Utah Man', and Lt. Gib hadley in 'Hadley's Harem'. 'Hail Columbia' continued leading the crippled ships out of Romania, south, over the Pindus mountains, and was able to limp as far as Nicosia, Cyprus, minus Lt. Hadley, whose failing B-24 caused him to attempt a ditching off the Turkish coast, and was drowned and went down with his plane with most of his crew. The rest of the planes following 'Hail Columbia' landed safely at the British airbase at Nicosia. Col. Kane and Lt. Young crash landed 'Hail Columbia' on the British airbase after hitting a ditch across the runway there. The plane was written off as a total loss. 1 Aug 1943.
B-24D "Strawberry Bitch" SN 42-72843 was assembled at the Consolidated plant in San Diego, and later ferried to Europe to join the 9th Air Force in Cairo, Egypt. Daniel Rice was the pilot whose crew accepted delivery of the new B-24, ferried her overseas, and delivered her to the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group, 512th Bombing Squadron.
The bomber then flew over 50 combat missions from North Africa during September of 1943 thru June of 1944 with the 512th Bomb Squadron of the 376th BG. It took part in and survived the Ploesti oil refinery raid of August, 1943.
Each aircraft of the 376th was assigned a Recall Code (RCL), painted on its nose and vertical tail. Strawberry Bitch was assigned RCL 24.
The plane was selected for preservation after World War II, and stored beginning in 1946 at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base boneyard in Tucson, Arizona. It was flown from Tucson to the Air Force museum for restoration and display in Dayton in May of 1959.
The B-24 is painted pink desert camouflage as it was during its World War II campaigns in North Africa.
Constituted as 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 Oct 1942 and activated in Palestine on 31 Oct. Began combat immediately, using B-24 aircraft. Operated with Ninth AF from bases in the Middle East, Nov 1942-Sep 1943, and with Twelfth AF from Tunisia...
Military | Pilot | 376th Bomb Group
He flew 24 missions before he was shot down December 19, 1943 on a mission over Augsburg, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW)