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Richard J Hruby


Shot down 29 April 1944 in B-24 41-29513. Returned to base.

Homeward bound following a mission to Berlin 29th October 1944 they were attacked by a large formation of enemy fighters. The fuel tanks were punctured, the plane rapidly lost altitude over the North Sea and about 40 miles off NE of Cromer all engines cut out and they prepared to ditch. Hruby managed to glide down onto the water, sending out distress signals as the crew fixed life jackets and prepared the life rafts. As they landed water flooded the cockpit but fortunately all the crew managed to exit and inflate their life jackets. However in spite of all efforts they only succeeded in launching one of the life rafts and that only partly inflated; the crew in the water all clinging to the sides. After about 40 minutes a Royal Navy minesweeper found them and hauled everybody on board. They were given rum, wrapped in warm blankets and given a rub down by 'some burly English seaman' and quickly recovered from their ordeal, arriving at Yarmouth in an 'advanced state of inebriation.'

Returning home from bombing the Friedrichstrause Railroad Station in Berlin, 29 April 1944, 2nd. Lt. Richard J. Hruby , flying # 41-29513, had come through heavy and intense anti-aircraft fire and damaging attacks by many enemy aircraft. It is believed that flak damage caused a leak in either the main gas tank or gas lines. The prop-governor stuck at 2500 rpm, and #2 engine was surging as much as 600 rpm. In addition, the formation was nearly 45 minutes late on the flight plan, prior to reaching the enemy coast on the way out. On the return, as they were leaving the Dutch Coast, Sgt. Cletus Clark, Engineer & Top Turret Gunner, reported that all gas gauges registered nearly empty. Determined to bring his A/C back to Shipdham, Hruby cut back his RPM on all four engines. He instructed his crew to throw out all possible equipment, and told Clark to switch all engines to cross-feed fuel, to keep all engines running as long as possible.
The men assumed ditching positions. The VHF radio equipment malfunctioned, so they were not able to transmit their dilemma. Flying at 5500 feet and with the English
coast barely in view, all four engines quit!! Hruby and his Co-pilot, Thomas Smith, lowered one-half flaps and put their plane into a dive to maintain airspeed. As they neared the water's surface, Lt. Hruby leveled off; and after skimming off one swell, settled down into the next one in a slightly nose-high position. The nose of the A/C buried itself for approximately 30 seconds; then the plane came to rest on the surface - floating and intact. The pilots hit the water so skillfully, not only was the plane not visibly damaged, but the plexiglass in the nose turret remained unbroken. No member of the crew was injured! The crew exited the upper hatch and released the two life rafts. One of them was unserviceable; the other would only partially inflate. The plane slowly sank and was gone in approximately fifteen minutes. One man got into the raft, the others clung to the ropes and remained in the water. In about one half hour, luckily, a British minesweeper arrived and picked them up.


Units served with

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 506th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-95209 Sabrina III

    B-24 Liberator
    Sabrina III, #42-95209, 506 Sq. was built at the Ford Willow Run plant and first flown in combat by the Richard Hruby crew. Her 106 missions were an amazing record for any B-24 at a time when 15 missions were about average. ...


Event Location Date
Born Mount Holly, New Jersey


Date Contributor Update
08 April 2021 02:44:01 Adam Bartley Changes to biography

Date Contributor Update
07 April 2021 21:24:48 Adam Bartley Changes to aircraft associations

Date Contributor Update
04 December 2019 14:44:54 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and aircraft associations

Biography completed by historian Helen Millgate. Information sourced from correspondence files and articles related to the service of Richard J. Hruby.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:22:38 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Roll of Honor & Page 302 in the book THE SECOND AIR DIVISION by Turner Publishing Company, 1998 edition, D790.A2S45