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42-40787

B-24 Liberator

B-24D Liberator #42-40787 "Vagabond King" was in the 565th Bombing Squadron, the 389th Bombing Group, the 8th Air Force. It flew on 1st Aug, 1943 on Operation Tidal Wave, to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, piloted by John B McCormick. It successfully bombed it's target, was struck by flak injuring one crewman and diverted safely back to the British air field at Nicosia, Cyprus.

August 1, 1943 - Over Ploesti, Romania, German-occupied Europe: On it's bomb run into the target, the "Vagabond King", B-24 Liberator #42-40787, shook from the flak concussions, from bullets smashing its windows, and from the roaring rumbling of its four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 fourteen-cylinder radial engines. 1st Lt. John McCormick cursed as the gunner in the top turret opened up with his twin fifties. He was ruining the bomb run! And McCormick wanted to hit this target, the Steaua Romana oil refinery outside Ploesti. General Brereton had told them this raid could shorten the war by six months.

McCormick barked out orders to his crew, just as he had done so often in the past two weeks, when the 389th Bomb Group practiced for Operation "Tidal Wave" over the god forsaken Libyan desert outside Benghazi.

"Mosco, bomb bay doors open," to the bombardier, 1st Lt. Marvin Mosco. "Start the camera, Van," to the radioman, enlisted man Martin Van Buren. He steadied the yoke as the big Liberator sped along the deck at 225 mile per hour, staying close to the B-24 "Hitler's Hearse", Captain R.C. Mooney's plane immediately ahead, so that Mooney's bombs, with 45 second delay fuses, didn't blow up in "Vagabond King's" nose. Down at chimney height, as black smoke from the bombs and sooty burning hydrocarbons boiled up all around them, suddenly "Bombs away!", and "Vagabond King" jumped up, 4,000 pounds lighter. At that instant, "Hitler's Hearse", grimly lived up to its name, and took several direct flak hits, killing it's pilot, Capt. Mooney. As more bullets tore into his own bomber, McCormick hoped those workers at Consolidated's San Diego plant had been paying attention when they built his plane. They had. The Vagabond had taken a lot of punishment! One anti-aircraft shell had hit Van and he was a bloody mess.

Paul Miller, the gunner in the A-6 power tail turret, reported that their particular target, the boiler house, had been flattened and was burning fiercely. McCormick hugged the deck as he made his getaway, figuring that the German fighters couldn't dive on them down that low.

The "Vagabond King" headed south, desperate to get medical attention for the badly wounded Van. They flew over Turkey and touched down at Nicosia airfield, Cyprus as it was getting dark, fourteen hours after they had taken off. They were one of the lucky ones; of 178 B-24's that took off that morning, 54 didn't come back.

After returning to England, "Vagabond King" was shot down over the North Sea by FW-190 fighters, 18 Nov 1943, on a mission to Oslo, Norway with the entire crew, 11 KIA. MACR 2885.

Service

Units

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 9th Air Force
  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 565th Bomb Squadron

People

  • George Brinton

    Military | Lieutenant | Co-pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787.

  • William Budai

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1921, he enlisted in the Army in Aug. 1942. Despite surviving the harrowing Ploesti raid in August 1943, he was shot down on 18 November 1943 while a gunner on the B-24 "Vagabond King" (42-40787). He was killed when his plane...

  • Enrico Chelini

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Observer | 389th Bomb Group
    Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 #4240787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • John McCormick

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 42-40787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). Pilot 1/Lt John B.McCormick, DFC MIA/KIA ...

  • Marvin Mendlesohn

    Military | Lieutenant | Navigator | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787. Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 42-40787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action.

  • Paul Miller

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787.

  • Marvin Mosco

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787. Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 42-40787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Gerald Murphy

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787. Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 #4240787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Lewis Raines

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 #4240787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Alfred Rossi

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40787. Shot down 18 November 1943 in B-24 42-40787 'Vagabond King. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).

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...

  • VIII Bomber Command 132

    18 November 1943
    The German airfield of Oslo/Kjeller, Norway is the target for a force of 102 B-24s from 2nd Bomb Division that included: 44BG (34); 93BG (20); 389BG (26); and 392BG (22). 82 aircraft are effective on the target. 9 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 61KIA...

Events

Event Location Date
Survived Ploesti Ploiești, Romania 1 August 1943

Flew on 1st Aug 43 Ploesti raid piloted by John B McCormick, diverting safely to Cypress.

Failed To Return FTR Over Water North Sea 18 November 1943

Shot down over the North Sea by German fighters 18 Nov 43 on a mission to Oslo, Norway with entire crew 11 KIA. MACR 2885.

Assigned Benghazi, Libya

565th BS, 389th BG, 8th AF, TDY 9th AF.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
03 May 2019 04:24:44 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Acepilots.com

Date Contributor Update
03 May 2019 04:16:12 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames and unit associations
Sources

Acepilots.com

Date Contributor Update
03 May 2019 04:11:47 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Acepilots.com

Date Contributor Update
21 April 2015 22:52:24 Al_Skiff Changes to production block number, nicknames, description, events, unit associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

http://usaafdata.com / http://www.aviationarchaeology.com / MACR 2885 / http://www.freewebs.com

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:52 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 2885 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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