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42-100374

B-24 Liberator

In mid-December, 1943, Lt. Suitch received orders to proceed to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take possession of a newly-built B-24 Liberator bomber. The bomber assigned to Lt. Suitch's crew was built at the Consolidated plant in San Diego, California, as part of production block B-24J-95-CO. It cost over $336,000 to build at the time.
On February 24, 1944 as they passed over the Zuider Zee on their way to Gotha, Lt. Suitch's bomber lost an engine, possibly due to enemy fire. Lt. Suitch chose to carry on with the mission. At 1317,Lt. Peterson began the bomb run over Gotha. Two minutes later it was all over: the fourteen remaining bombers of the 445th had “cleared their racks.” As they headed back, they lost a second engine. Lt. Suitch and Capt. Waldher struggled to hold the B-24 in steady flight. As they lost speed and drifted back through the formation they prepared to bail out. What came next happened almost immediately: a catastrophic explosion up front. A rocket or 20mm cannon shell came through the nose. Whatever the cause, their plane had sustained an explosive hit that set the bomb bay on fire. Amazingly, eight of the nine men managed to get out of the crippled bomber before it split in two and crashed.

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. ...

  • 2nd Air Division

    2nd Air Division

    Division
    In December 1944, the 2nd Bomb Division was redesginated the 2nd Air Division.

  • 445th Bomb Group

    445th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 445th Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators from Tibenham, Norfolk. The crews' first mission was bombing U-boat installations at Kiel on 13 December 1943. The Group continued to hit strategic targets in Germany, including the aircraft components factory...

  • 700th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Howard Bohn

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Howard J. Bohn was born in New Jersey in 1922. He was 19 or 20 when he enlisted on December 1, 1942, in New York City, New York. He had completed 4 years of high school, was single with no dependents, and listed Queens, New York, as his place of...

  • Robert Eckard

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down by fighters just after bommbing the mission target at Gotha, GR and crashed SW of Gotha on 24 Feb 1944 in B-24J #42-100374. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • John Hurst

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down by fighters just after bommbing the mission target at Gotha, GR and crashed SW of Gotha on 24 Feb 1944 in B-24J #42-100374. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • James Murphy

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down by fighters and crashed N of Furstenau, GR on a mission to Genshagen, GR on 6 Mar 1944 in B-24J #42-109796 'Balls of Fire'. Prisoner of War (POW). ...

  • Harold Palmer

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 445th Bomb Group
    T/Sgt. Harold G. Palmer was the radio operator. He bailed out of the aircraft and spent the remainder of the war as a POW. ...

  • Robert Peterson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 445th Bomb Group
    Bob loved God, family and his country. He grew up during the depression and began working at age 8 or 9. He lettered in 4 varsity sports in high school (Football, Basketball, Tennis and Track) and went to Michigan Tech on a football scholarship in...

  • John Suitch

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    Pilot of B-24 J # 42-100374. Shot down by fighters just after bombing the mission target at Gotha, Germany and crashed SW of Gotha on 24 Feb 1944. Bailed out, but did not survive. Possibly descended too fast due to flak holes in parachute. PH

  • Robert Teichgraeber

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down by fighters just after bombing the mission target at Gotha, Germany and crashed SW of Gotha on 24 Feb 1944 in B-24J #42-100374. S/Sgt. Robert (Bob) T. Teichgraeber was the right waist gunner. He broke his ankle while bailing out of the...

  • Frank Ulmer

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Frank H. Ulmer was born in Canada in 1924. He was 18 when he enlisted on November 6, 1942, at Ft. Thomas, Newport, Kentucky. He had completed 3 years of high school, was single with no dependents, and listed Cabell county, West Virginia, as his place...

  • Eugene Waldher

    Military | Captain | Co-Pilot | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down by fighters just after bommbing the mission target at Gotha, GR and crashed SW of Gotha on 24 Feb 1944 in B-24J #42-100374. Prisoner of War (POW). ...

Missions

  • 8th Air Force 200

    30 January 1944
    This mission has the aviation industry at Brunswick, Germany as the primary target. The mission is composed of a combined force pf 777 heavy bomber aircraft despatched in three elements: 1st Bomb Division; 2nd Bomb Division and 3rd Bomb Division. The...

  • 8th Air Force 233 BIG WEEK - DAY 5

    24 February 1944
    BIG WEEK resumes with full intensity against the German aircraft industry. Bomber tactics are changed slightly in that each Air Division will be directed at more widely dispersed primary targets whoch it is thought will frustrate concentration...

Places

  • Tibenham

    Military site : airfield
    Tibenham was built in 1941-1942 by W and C French Ltd with a standard 2,000 yard main runway, and two other runways both 1,400 feet in length. Accommodation was provided for a full USAAF heavy bomber group in dispersed sites. Personnel of the 320th...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Germany 24 February 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
21 April 2021 14:54:23 bombardier_daughter Changes to nicknames, markings, description, unit associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Nancy Wilson

Date Contributor Update
21 April 2021 14:28:40 bombardier_daughter Changes to media associations
Sources

Nancy Wilson

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:08 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 2562 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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