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345th BG Sept 1943
345th BG c1943
345th BG c1944
|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert K. Cavins, 501st BS (injured, survived)
Radio Sgt Albert J. Mazerolle, 500th BS (survived)
Passenger Captain Edward F. Egan (injured, survived)
Passenger Sgt Russell E. Peters (injured, survived)
MIA March 30, 1945
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number 87-8834. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-20 Mitchell serial number 41-30669. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia. Converted into a B-25D-1 strafer variant by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field in Townsville.
On August 23, 1943 assigned to the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) "Air Apaches", 500th Bombardment Squadron (500th BS) "Rough Raiders" as an early replacement aircraft. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Ralph G. Wallace with crew chief was SSgt Allen R. Puckett.
Nicknamed "Tondelayo" on both sides of the nose with the nose art of a reclining female figure depicting Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr's character "Tondelayo" in the Hollywood film White Cargo (1942). This bomber had red rings around each engine cowling plus a white fuselage stripe. On the left side of the nose was a scoreboard with two rows of five Japanese rising sun flags indicating enemy aircraft claimed by gunners. The first was claimed on October 12, 1943. The other nine represent the claims on October 18, 1943, plus the silhouette of a ship silhouette claimed that same mission.
The regular crew was 1st Lt. Ralph G. Wallace, co-pilot 2nd Lt. Edward J. Hick, engineer SSgt Weldon Isler, radio SSgt Burton E. Eaton and turret gunner SSgt John A. Murphy.
This B-25 flew combat missions over New Guinea and New Britain. Known missions include
On September 27, 1943 took off piloted by Wallace on a low level strike against Wewak.
On October 12, 1943 took off piloted by Wallace on a low level strike over Wewak and claimed one Zero [likely a Ki-43 Oscar].
On October 18, 1943 took off from Dobodura piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph G. Wallace on a bombing mission over Rabaul without fighter escort. Inbound to the target, Japanese spotters observed the B-25 formation and at Rabaul over a hundred Japanese fighters took off to intercept area airfields including A6M Zeros from the 201 Kokutai, 204 Kokutai and 253 Kokutai and orbited St. Georges Channel and Blanche Bay at 5,000' altitude expecting to face escorting fighters. When they realized the formation was only B-25s, they dove down to intercept as they were starting their attack runs. Over the target, this B-25 with B-25D "Sorry Satchul" 41-30056 and B-25D "SNAFU" 41-30054 attacked a 6,000 ton ship in Blanche Bay off Vunapope. While lining up on the target, this B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the right engine that caused a hole in the cowling and left an exposed engine piston. Immediately, the right engine was feathered and continued the bomb run while intercepted by three Japanese fighters as they released their bombs on the ship scoring near misses and claimed the vessel as badly damaged and probably sunk but was not reported as sunk or damage by the Japanese.
Returning from the mission, roughly fifty Japanese fighters intercepted the B-25s in a running air battle that lasted seventy-five minutes and resulted in the loss of B-25D "SNAFU" 41-30054 (ditched, MIA/KIA one rescued) and B-25D "Sorry Satchul" 41-30056 (MIA).
Both of the wing men in the flight were shot down. During the escape, turret gunner Murphy was credited with five victories, plus four others credited that crashed into the sea, attempting to attack the bomber skimming the surface of the ocean, and misjudging their attacks. It successfully returned to base with heavy damage.
Afterwards, the 500th Bombardment Squadron (500th BS) received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for this mission. For the important role in this mission, this B-25 became the most famous bomber in the entire 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) and there was talk about using it on a war bond tour but was too damaged to fly back to the United States.
The extensive damage sustained require the wing and both engines to be replaced and the repairs took six months.
In the middle of May 1944, rejoined the 500th Bombardment Squadron (500th BS) and continued to fly combat missions. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Frederick W. Dick and crew chief T/Sgt Walter W. Sabo and Puckett.
On July 30, 1944 took off piloted by 1st Lt. Frederick W. Dick on a strike mission against Halmahera.
On August 9, 1944 took off piloted by Bagshaw against Wasile Bay at the southern end of Celebes (Sulawesi).
On September 16, 1944 took off piloted by 1st Lt. Frederick W. Dick on a low level strike against a Japanese supply base at Gorontalo on northern Celebes (Sulawesi).
During late 1944, when the squadron was equipped with new B-25J Mitchells, this bomber was retired from flying combat missions and regulated to non-combat missions and stripped to bare metal finish with the original nose art and markings stripped off an all armament removed.
In November 1944, assigned to the 501st Bombardment Squadron (501st BS) "Black Panthers", but served as a hack for the entire 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG). Assigned to crew chief TSgt Adolph K. Singerman.
Nicknamed "Chow Hound" with the Walt Disney cartoon dog Pluto holding in the mouth a picnic basket overflowing with food including links of sausage stretched out the side dragging on the ground, a dead chicken and a bottle of liquor walking on a street with a fire hydrant. The nose art was painted inside a cloud shape with a dark border edge the with the forward portion the nickname. The outer side of both the left and right tail had the Air Apaches motif of an Apaches Indian wearing a headdress inside a circle with a border, the motif of the 345th Bombardment Group and "669" (last three digits of the serial number) above in large block numbers with outline.
This aircraft flew "fat cat" missions from Biak to Australia where the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) was based.
On March 30, 1945 took off from Biak piloted by 1st Lt. Robert K. Cavins on a "fat cat" non-combat flight transporting cargo and two passengers bound for San Marcelino on Luzon in the Philippines. The crew included: pilot 1st Lt. Robert K. Cavins, radio operator Sgt Albert J. Mazerolle, passenger Captain Edward F. Egan and passenger Sgt Russell E. Peters. Two hours into the flight, the aircraft encountered bad weather and was blown of course and had a radio malfunction. Out of fuel, this B-25 force landed in the sea off Catanduanes Island and skidded across the beach until it impacted a small hill on the island. Aboard, everyone aboard sustained injuries during the landing except for Mazerolle.
During the landing, Peters was severely injured and was trapped inside the wreckage. The others used the plane's fire ax to cut a hole in the metal skin to free him and other trapped inside.
Fates of the Crew
The crew were found by Filipino guerrillas who took them to Tilod where they were fed and given medical treatment. Cavins stayed with severely injured Peters in Tilod.
On March 31, 1945 Egan and Mazerolle were taken by canoe to a nearby town where they attended a parade and party and afterwards were taken by the guerrillas on a sailboat canoe bound for Leyte. While at sea, the sailboat was located by a U. S. Navy (USN) destroyer and were picked up.
Meanwhile, Cavins and Peters remained at Tilod. After the other two were rescued, a Catalina was dispatched to rescue them both and flew them to San Marcelino Airfield. While landing, the nose wheel of the Catalina failed to extend and resulted in a force landing without injury to those aboard.
Afterwards, another B-25D-20 Mitchell was selected as a fat cat and nicknamed "Chow Hound Junior" after the loss of this aircraft.
B-25J Mitchell 44-28932 owned by the Collins Foundation is painted in the markings of this aircraft.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-20 Mitchell 41-30669
Warpath Across The Pacific (1996) pages 46 (Fat Cat missions), 55 (October 12, 1943), 66 (October 18, 1943 hit by AA attacks ship), 68-72 (October 18, 1943 epic of Tondelayo), 164 (photo Tondelayo), 188 (September 16, 1944), 189 (photo taken from Tondelayo), 194 (Caption for Painting), 195 (Painting "The Epic of Tondelayo" by Jack Fellows of October 18, 1943 mission), 207 (reference to Chow Hound), 218 (Artwork Profile #23 Tondelayo), 243 (photos December 1944), 289 (March 30, 1945), 392 (Appendix II, 345th BG Planes, Pilots and Crew Chiefs: 500th BS), 400 (Appendix II, 345th BG Planes, Pilots and Crew Chiefs: 501st BS), 421 (Dick later assigned Tondelayo), 423 (Profile #23 Tondelayo June 1944 photo), 439 (index Chow Hound), 447 (index Tondelayo)
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