Lt. Delbert Hahn's B-24D Liberator - 41-23661 - Black Jack - in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, and crew. Black Jack, 41-23661, flew on Ploesti oil refinery mission, diverting to Sicily with flak damage. Later it returned to base at Benghazi, Libya, after repairs. RTB. Aug 1, 1943 - TSgt Louis A. Hoffman Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, 2nd from left, kneeling.
~ Note : Photo of, Black Jack, 41-23661, flown by Pilot Lt. Delbert Hahn, with an apparently robbed part installed, from the B-24D, Valient Virgin, one of, Valient Virgin's, vertical stabilizer fins with, Valient Virgin's, ETO olive drab paint, and it's abbreviated serial number, 240765. This picture of, Black Jack, 41-23661, taken by color photographer Ivan Dmitri after the Ploesti mission, shows that the abbreviated serial number, 240765, the olive drab paint on the inside of the RH vertical stabilizer, just installed on this plane, are original parts from, Valient Virgin. But, somehow, this usable tail fin from, Valient Virgin, was robbed and installed on Lt. Del Hahn's, Black Jack, 41-23661, which had landed in Sicily, with flak damage after the Ploesti mission, or back at Benghazi, after Aug, 5-8, 1943, when this photo was taken.
B-24D, Black Jack, 41-23661, with, the B-24D, Valient Virgin's, vertical stabilizer fin installation to repair battle damage to, Black Jack's, flak damaged fin, over Ploesti. The fin was, apparently, removed undamaged and robbed (serviceable) by, Black Jack's, mechanics from the, Valient Virgin, some time after the Ploesti mission, on 1 Aug 43, still painted with the olive drab camouflage paint from the 8th Air Force ETO markings, and still showing, Valient Virgin's abbreviated serial number, 240765. 5-7 Aug 43.
Lt. Delbert H. Hahn (center) and his B-24D, Black Jack, in the background. 1943
The B-24D, 41-23661, Black Jack, one of two B-24Ds, named, Back Jack. This one, 41-23661, was from the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, shown with the vertical fin markings of a fin robbed from, Valient Virgin, from the 8th Air Force, with, Valient Virgin' s olive drab painted tail fin and it's (hidden in this photo) abbreviated serial number, This fin was, apparently, robbed from the, Valient Virgin, for installation on, Black Jack. August 5-7, 1943, when these color photos were taken.
Command Pilot : Major Delbert Henry Hahn
Born : Feb 16, 1915
Hometown : Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Squadron : 345th Bomb Squadron - 98th Bomb Group - 9th Air Force
Awards : Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 5
Oak Leaf Clusters, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign with three campaign stars, WWII Victory Medal
Target : Low level mission to destroy Rumanian Oil Refineries at Ploesti.
Mission Date : 1 Aug 43
Aircraft Serial Number : 41-23661 - 9th AF - 98th BG - 345th BS
Aircraft Model : B-24D
Aircraft Letter : U
Aircraft Name : Black Jack
Location : Diverted to Sicily.
Cause : Aircraft damage over Ploesti. RTB. Crew of 10 Returned to duty. 10 RTD.
Command Pilot Major Delbert H. Hahn and his crew on his B-24D Liberator bomber, Black Jack, 41-23661, flew on Operation Tidal Wave, over Ploesti, Romania, one of the most heavily defended targets, and one of the most dangerous missions, of WW2 in the ETO. Flying in at below tree top level, at 200 miles per hour, the 98th and 44th Bomb Group's large formation of airplanes successfully bombed the oil refineries at their targets, White IV, for Major Hahn and, Black Jack, at Ploesti, Romania. 1 Aug, 1943. Major Hahn's B-24D, Black Jack, flew in the center of Flight 4, three airplanes directly behind Col. John Kane in the center of Flight 1, in the Element Lead ship, Hail Columbia. Hahn's B-24D was heavily hit and damaged by the defending anti aircraft flak guns, as he was approaching, flying over, and leaving his target, White IV. Yet, Major Hahn and his copilot, Lt. John Viewers, maintained control of their aircraft, rolling and bucking in the extreme turbulence in the walls of smoke and fire, and the explosions of the delayed action bombs, which had been dropped by the 93rd and 376th Bomb Groups ahead of the arrival of the 98th and 44th Bomb Groups, also, flying over and under the planes of the rogue B-24s of those same two bomb groups flying through their formation at the extremely low levels they all were flying, in the target area. Still, Maj. Hahn, his copilot, Lt. Viewers, and his bombardier, Lt. Ray Vengelen, in spite of the chaos, the impossible dangers of the moment, and the almost impossible conditions, found their targets and toggled their bombs into the large Astra Romano Refinery complex. Major Hahn successfully survived the mission, and WWII. He escaped the Ploesti area, diverting his heavily damaged B-24D to a safe landing at Sicily, saving his plane, himself, and his entire crew. All ten men in his crew returned to service. 10 RTS. For his valor, his absolute leadership, and determination to accomplish his mission at Ploesti, Major Hahn was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He had already earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, for his many combat missions earlier in 1943, before Operation Tidal Wave. 1 Aug 1943.
Major Hahn served his country in a long and distinguished military career, ending it with the final rank of Colonel, including service in the Korean conflict, and later in Vietnam.
Major Delbert Henry Hahn's Distinguished Service Cross Citation Synopsis :
- The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major Delbert H. Hahn, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, while serving as Pilot of a B-24 Heavy Bomber in the 345th Bombardment Squadron, the 98th Bombardment Group (H), and the 9th Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission on 1 August 1943, against the Ploesti Oil Refineries in Rumania. In a long and hazardous attack against a vital enemy oil installation made at low altitude by a formation of B-24 type aircraft, Major Hahn flew through heavy enemy fire against impossible odds. Despite absorbing heavy damage to his aircraft, he kept his bomber under control over his target and on the long flight out of the combat area until he could divert to a safe landing at Sicily, without the loss of a single man. The personal courage and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Major Hahn on this occasion, even when confronted with practically certain destruction, he exemplified the highest traditions of the military service and reflected great credit and honor upon himself, the 9th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.
Major Hahn's Crew on the B-24D - Black Jack - 41-23661, on Operation Tidal Wave :
Maj. Delbert H. Hahn - Pilot
Lt. John W. Viewers - CoPilot
Lt. Nathan Nowak - Navigator
Lt. Raymond F. Vengelen - Bombardier
TSgt. Robert L. Baird - Engineer
TSgt. James E. Creighton - Radio Operator
SSgt. John H. Chapman - Gunner
SSgt. Leslie J. Foster - Gunner
SSgt. Curtis Washburn - Gunner
SSgt. Isadore I. Klein - Tail Gunner
- Information contributed by John Dowdy - 47791572
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