494th BG c1945
494th BG May 4, 1945
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Glenn R. Custer, O-2058730 (KIA, BNR)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Irving R. Brown, O-778710 (KIA, BR)
Navigator 2nd Lt Wallace F. Kaufman, O-931082 (POW, executed)
Bombardier 2nd Lt Norbert J. Giese, O-929814 (KIA, BR)
Radio T/Sgt James R. Tenney, 32677148 (KIA, BR)
Engineer Sgt Richard E. Grimes, 32974352 (KIA, BR)
Nose Gunner Cpl Victor B. Wilson, 13195222 (KIA, BR)
Top Turret Cpl Irving Topp, 12177268 (KIA, BR)
Ball Turret Cpl Robert N. Shillenn, 33576063 (KIA, BR)
Tail Gunner Cpl Albin Rynkiewicz, 4205866 (KIA, BR)
Passenger Sgt Floyd Collins Bennett, 14185619 (KIA, BR)
Crashed May 4, 1945
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Flown overseas to Hawaii.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 494th Bombardment Group, 867th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Brief".
When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial number 45-5366, 45-5448, 45-5918, 45-5304. The bomber's 50 caliber machine gun serial numbers: 1665019, 1415253, 1266567, 1266886, 1540482, 1052918, 1220912, 1220827, 1266615, 1221313.
On May 4, 1945 took off from Angaur Airfield flying in the #4 position on a bombing mission against anti-aircraft installations on Koror. Over the target, while on the bomb run, this B-24 was hit by anti-aircraft fire between the inboard #2 engine and fuselage, causing the left wing to fold, then break off. The fuselage fell in a flat spiral until it crashed.
Film footage appearing in "Mission to Koror and Arakabesan, Palau Islands" and a photograph record this B-24 hit and falling earthward. Also, several crew members aboard other B-24s witness the crash.
Fates of the Crew
Declared dead the day of the mission, the entire crew was killed in the crash, with the exception of Kaufman. He was captured by the Japanese an executed.
Pat Scannon adds:
"In '01, working with
Professor Donald Shuster and his wife at the University of Guam,
we located his executioner in Japan and I was able to interview
him there - quite an experience. [This interview is included in the documentary Last Flight Home]. None of these
executed airmen's remains, except for LT Kaufman, have yet been
After the crash a US Navy PBY Catalina attempted a search, but the site was in close proximity to enemy installations and could not get close enough to search.
The wreckage landed just off shore and the wing into shallow water south of Koror at roughly 7° 20' N 134° 29' E, and remains 'in situ' to this day. Some of the wreckage is on Iberor Island.
The left wing of this bomber was identified by Pat Scannon in 1994 on the top of a small island about a mile from the wing of B-24J 44-40603.
Pat Scannon adds:
"There is a myth about an American bomb striking the wing. We dispelled when Dan got his superbly cleaned up version [of this footage]. When looking frame by frame (which I have done for hours), one can see no bomb strike the wing (although you can see plenty of bombs falling from above, as he points out) and one can clearly see the wing explode from below. Even the vets from 494th go back and forth on this but it all happened so fast that the only way to tell is by examining the cleaned up film. The wing streaming fuel in that footage is also from this same B-24. Dan O'Brien found that footage with the better known wing collapse footage."
The entire crew with the exception of Kaufman were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the following crew members are buried together at Long Island National Cemetery on August 31, 1949 at section J at sites 13630, 13631, 13649, 13650: Rynkiewicz, Brown, Tenney,
Grimes, Wilson, Shillenn,
Bennett, Giese and Topp.
Charles A. Bennett adds:
"My uncle was Sgt Floyd Collins Bennett."
NARA "Mission to Koror and Arakabesan, Palau Islands" B&W 35mm Film
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - 2nd Lt Wallace F. Kaufman
Last Flight Home tells the story of this bomber and execution of Kaufman
Bent Prop "The '058 B-24"
Thanks to Pat Scannon / BentProp.org for additional information
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January 3, 2015
7° 20' N
134° 29' E