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41-24311

B-24 Liberator

The B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew, with his CoPilot, Lt. James Lindsey, on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. As Hadley was approaching his target refinery, code named, "White IV", his plane, Hadley's Harem, took two direct flak hits, killing his bombardier. Lt. Leon Storms, instantly, badly damaging his plane's nose section and number two engine, which caught on fire. “We were two to three miles from our target, flying about 50 feet off the ground when we got hit,” one of the gunners, SSgt. Newton, remembers. “We couldn’t turn because we were in a tight formation with the other planes next to us and behind us in our flight, Flight 1, so we kept flying straight ahead, powering up to climb over and clear the 200 foot tall smokestacks ahead of us."

As they were leaving the refinery area behind them, Lt. Hadley and Copilot James Lindsey of Texarkana, Texas, pointed their damaged airplane south toward Turkey and Cyprus. They jettisoned their bombs and ordered their crew to jettison everything else, ammunition, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the airship, which was struggling to stay in the air on only three good engines. South of Ploesti, they joined up with another group of shot up straggler B-24s, like themselves, Robert Sternfels' B-24D, The Sandman, led by the 98th Bomb Group's Leader, Col. John R. "Killer" Kane, in his B-24D that he had twice named, Hail Columbia, and Lt. Royden Lebrecht in, The Squaw, flying with the other planes for cover, relatively intact, and continued following the entire group of planes south, first, to make it out of the greater Ploesti area alive, and, then, if possible, to make it all the way to the British airbase at Nicosia, Cyprus.

Lt. Hadley made it all the way past, the southern coast of Turkey in his badly crippled plane. But, almost out of gasoline and engine oil for the three big Pratt & Whitney engines, still running, he had to break away from Hail Columbia, The Squaw, and, The Sandman. Hadley radioed a goodbye to the group of his friends and turned his plane back in the darkness toward the Turkish coast. “We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying barely above stall speed,” SSgt. Newton recalled. “Hadley had turned left toward land. It was about 8 o’clock at night, and we were losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembers Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “You want to bail out, or try for the beach or the water ?” Shortly thereafter, two of the three remaining engines failed and froze, out of gas and engine oil, and the ship plunged 150 feet, hitting the water, nose first, breaking into pieces, in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey. Neither Lt. Hadley, nor CoPilot Lt. Lindsey, emerged from the sinking wreckage. They were caught, trapped in their collapsed cockpit and drowned. Seven of the crew of ten escaped their sinking B-24D after crashing while trying to ditch, and were able to swim to shore. The seven survivors were captured by the Turks, and survived the war, interned. 3 KIA. 7 INT-TURK. ~ Aircraft Failed To Return (FTR) - 1 Aug 1943.

All crewmen who flew on the Ploesti mission received DFCs for flying the mission. Both pilots, Lt. Gilbert Hadley, Lt. James Rex Lindsey, and Bombardier Lt. Leon M. Storms, received their Distinguished Flying Crosses and Purple Hearts, posthumously, for their valor and sacrifice over Ploesti. August 1, 1943. MACR 167.

The Crew on Hadley's Harem On The Ploesti Mission :
Pilot Gilbert B. Hadley - KIA -
CoPilot James R. Lindsey - KIA -
Bombardier Leon Storms - KIA -
Navigator Harold Tabacoff - INT-TURKEY-WIA -
Top Turret Gunner Russell B. Page - INT-TURKEY -
Ball Turret Gunner William F. Leonard - INT-TURKEY -
Tail Gunner G. Frank Nemoth - INT-TURKEY -
Gunner Pershing W. Waples - INT-TURKEY -
Waist Gunner Leroy Newton - INT-TURKEY -
Waist Gunner Christopher N. Holweger - INT-TURKEY -

B-24D - 41-24311 - Hadley's Harem
23 Nov 42 through 5 Dec 42 - Built in San Diego
10 Dec 42 - 2 Test Flights
12 Dec 42 - ACC AAF
13 Dec 42 - Delivered
24 Dec 42 - Flown to Fort Worth for MOD
01 Jan 43 - MODs Completed
12 Jan 43 - ACC again by AAF
26 Mar 43 - Went Overseas
09 Jun 43 - Cairo
15 Jul 43 - Flew First 98th BG Mission (Flew 10 missions including last)
01 Aug 43 - Crashed off Turkish Coast - MACR 167
1995 - 2 Crew Recovered
1996 - Cockpit and forward aircraft section recovered from the sea
Dec 1997 - Installed in Rahni M. Koc Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)

Service

Aircraft

  • 41-24226 - Joisey Bounce - Utah Man

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 41-24226, Joisey Bounce, was assigned to Pilot Lt. Walter Travis Stewart in the the 330th Bomb Squadron, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 8th Air Force, for the large mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Col. Stewart changed...

  • 42-40402 - The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, named, The Sandman, was named, and flown, by Lt. Robert Sternfels and his co-pilot, Lt. Barney Jackson, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, on Operation Tidal Wave, the famous mission to...

  • 41-24198 - The Vulgar Virgin - Hell From Heaven - Shoot You're Faded

    B-24 Liberator
    - The B-24D, 41-24198, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron, was one of 2 B-24Ds in the MTO based at Benghazi, Libya, with identical nose art pictures, and both named, The Vulgar Virgin, this one, 41-24198, flown...

  • 41-11819 - Raunchy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, Raunchy, 41-11819, was in the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in early 1943. ...

  • 41-11761 - The Squaw - Sleepy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11761, was first named, Sleepy, by the men in the 8th Air Force and the 93rd Bomb Group in the U.K. It was, later, renamed, The Squaw, by it's Command Pilot, Lt. Royden LeBrecht, after being transferred to the 9th Air...

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

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, Hail Columbia, 41-11825, was assigned to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was first assigned to the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 42-40629 - The Scorpion

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, 42-40629, The Scorpion, in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron, flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing mission on the oil refineries, piloted by Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell and Col. Jack Wood...

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Units

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

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

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

People

  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Gilbert Ben "Gib" Hadley was born and raised in Arkansas City, Kansas. He was the son of Perry Arthur Hadley and Beulah Pearl Bacastow, born 6-May-21. Kansas was his home and enlistment state, and Cowley County was included within the archival record. ...

  • Christopher Holweger

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Airplane Mechanic-Gunner | 490th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 848BS, 490BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY to 9AF USAAF. Member of David Kilpatrick crew. Flew Ploesti mission 1-Aug-43 in B-24 41-24311 'Hadleys Harem'; ditched, interned (INT) Turkey Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME (3 x Battle Stars).

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and, later, in the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | B-24 - B-52 Bombardier | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Francis Korger was a B-24 bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based in Benghazi, Libya, 1943. He flew on the B-24D, Hail Columbia, with the Element Group Leader Col. John R. Kane, on the...

  • Royden LeBrecht

    Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew his B-24D, he named, The Squaw, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at...

  • James Lindsey

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's co-pilot on Hadley's B-24D, Hadley's Harem, in North Africa. He participated in, and had completed his part of the bombing mission, Operation Tidal Wave. But, Lt. Lindsey and Lt. "Gib" Hadley were...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D bomber command pilot in WWII in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group, the Pyramiders, and the 345th Bombing Squadron. Lt. Sternfels flew the famous B-24D bomber, THE SANDMAN, on Operation Tidal Wave, which sought...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" and ...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D 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...

Places

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Antalya, Turkey 1 August 1943

Failed To Return - Ploesti oil refinery raid. Pilot Gilbert B Hadley. MACR 167
Approaching the target, the A/C was hit by a shell, causing a fatality and serious damage. The crew managed to drop their bombs and then set course for home. Subsequent engine problems led to a decision to divert to Cyprus, but the aircraft couldn’t maintain flight and it ditched in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey.

Assigned

344th BS 98th BG 9th AF.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
16 May 2022 11:07:59 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations
Sources

AAM Database.

Date Contributor Update
24 January 2022 09:56:22 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Details added, spelling, word spacing changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
24 January 2022 09:53:52 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Details added, spelling, word spacing changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
24 January 2022 09:51:25 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

Wording, punctuation, detail, changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
19 December 2021 20:42:12 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - Hadley's harem

Date Contributor Update
19 December 2021 18:53:15 Kickapoo Changes to markings and description
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - Hadley's Harem

Date Contributor Update
02 December 2021 01:17:00 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames and markings
Sources

Details added. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 02:47:51 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

black Sunday - Ploesti - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2021 08:13:52 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description and person associations
Sources

Added information, spelling, spacing errors. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2021 12:23:39 Kickapoo Changes to markings and description
Sources

Removed and added some details to "Markings" per standard practices. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2021 13:39:08 Emily Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

Changed all instances of aircraft name into sentence case to as per best practice for accessibility.

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2021 09:45:13 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2021 08:39:09 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Word changes to text. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 10:42:02 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date Contributor Update
01 August 2021 11:17:28 Kickapoo Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2021 19:33:34 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Added punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2021 21:17:23 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Corrected a typo in the A/C "Description" - "crew" was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 23:01:21 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 22:55:07 Kickapoo Changes to description and person associations
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:52:35 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:01:57 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - Hadley's Harem'

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:10:18 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:07:52 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:57:23 Kickapoo Changes to aircraft associations, unit associations, person associations and place associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:52:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:44:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:31:09 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:27:23 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description, events, aircraft associations and person associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:05:42 Al_Skiff Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, description, events, unit associations and mission associations
Sources

AAM Database.

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