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lady be good

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by denny, Nov 1, 2015.

  1. denny

    denny Member

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    Always a fascinating story.
    Vernon Moore (RIP) is the only guy that never came home.
    One of the most Heroic/Sad tales in any branch of the service, on either side.
    By all acounts, fine young men.
    War is an evil bitch.......

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y27-rOl7gqY
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Not strictly true as many military personnel have never been recovered. Further A British patrol found a single human remains in 1953, but since they had not known of the aircraft's loss, simply buried the remains at or near the place they were found. It's not absolutely him, but highly likely.

    Photo of wreck
     

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  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    That is a sad story. New crew, first mission... You'd think the navigator would have enough training to know they'd overshot the field at some point, just by compass and time in the air.
     
  4. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    There was a TV movie that came out in the 70s called "Sole Survivor" that was inspired by this incident. Richard Basehart played the navigator that bailed out over the Med. The rest of the crew and the plane continued on and crashed in the desert. No more spoilers! It's not out on DVD but it is available on Youtube. Pretty good flick.
     
  5. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    There is also a "Twilight Zone" episode titled: "King 9 Will not Return" that was inspired by the finding of the grew remains in February of 1960. There is actually quite a bit on the interweb about this crash.
     
  6. denny

    denny Member

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    Regards the navigator.....the video makes it pretty clear.....NO Navigating (by the navigator) was done on the return flight.!
    He had either gotten sick, or was manning a gun, maybe both. But he made NO entries in his log, and all Nav Toos were packed up during return to Benghazi.
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    It was my understanding that a great many navigators were at best rudimentary trained and on more than one occasion, when the lead navigator of the bomb group was lost or forced to turn back, significant errors were plotted throwing off bomb runs or returns, especially across the Mediterranean. The Ploesti mission comes to mind where the groups got severely mixed up.
     
  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    It hardly matters. The pilot, the co-pilot and the navigator knew the direction, speed and approximate distance to the African coast. They overshot it by 440 miles!

    If you're driving on a southbound road at night and you know your destination is 70-80 miles away and you're driving 70 MPH, you'd know that after 90 minutes or so you've missed your exit and turn around I didn't watch the video, but other sources point out that Radio Direction equipment was primitive in that it gave a direction forward and rearward - you didn't know whether the signal is straight ahead or 180 degrees away, straight behind you. And it didn't give a distance, just a bearing. You had to coordinate that with your other basic equipment and knowledge. It sounds like inexperience fixated them on the RD equipment and they ignored basic compass, time, distance that would have made them realize they'd overshot the field.
     
  9. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    While lead navigators were used, all rated navigators had completed a course of approximately 400 hours of ground instruction and 100 air hours.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My uncle taught Navigation School for a while in WWII then became a lead navigator for his squadron. He mentioned a couple of times they almost "had issues" due to course errors. Flying over to Africa from Brazil he suspected that they had encountered a head wind so had the pilot get above the cloud layer and shot a astronomical (opening a window at that altitude tends to lower the temperature of the plane well below the comfort zone) and it turned out he was correct so they waited a bit longer to turn North and made it to the field they were suppose to in Africa. The plane behind them turned North too soon and never made it to Africa. Later flying from Africa to Wales they spotted a light house off thier starbord side. The fact that it was lit was rather telling. After some searching of the charts they ID it as being in Portugal. They had encountered an unexpected crosswind. They made it to Wales but had to land at different airport than the one intended. Fog and german raids that affected the radio homing system forced those changes. (He also mentioned that the scarriest part of the trip was the car ride from the airport to town, the fog was apparently quite thick but the British female service member who was their driver new the roads well enough to travel at speeds well beyond what he was comfortable with.
     
  11. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    I read a book on it long ago....if he wasn't navigating, then what were the pilots doing!?? they should've had a rough idea of which direction they were going ..and where they were? some accounts say they calculated the reverse course of what they were givin when they asked for one....and their was as sandstorm?
     
  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I think that it is a combination of several things that leads to aircraft being lost in situations as Lady Be Good and others like it. When there's a large number of hastily trained naviguessers early in their flying career, they tend to rely on the lead or more experienced navigators in the flight, or on technology. I remember reading about a newly formed squadron of B-26s leaving Harding Field in Baton Rouge, La enroute to England. They were to lock onto radio waves and fly to it. The waves would lead them to their airfields in England. Turns out that the Germans determined what was going on and shot radio beams in the direction of the bombers approaching from the US. The entire flight overshot their airfields in England and crash landed in the Netherlands. A whole brand new squadron gone before it got into the game. Could be worse I guess, landing in the drink or the endless sands of the Sahara, or on Greenland.
     
  13. denny

    denny Member

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    They were not the lead plane, but 60-70% of their group turned back due to mechanical troubles. This first mission crew found themselves in the lead slot.
    The weather was bad and it was DARK...could not identify the target, so The Lady Be Good pilot scrubbed the mission and turned for home.

    They climbed out of the weather and picked up Twice The Tail Winds that they thought they had.
    They were warned that The Germans had a Powerful Transmitter on Sicily, and it might F with their compass.
    So they got to North Africa a lot faster than realized. Their compass said their base was behind them, but they thought they were picking up The German transmitter, so they kept on going.

    No moon, even an experienced pilot cannot tell the difference between flat sand and smooth ocean when that dark. When they first saw dunes, they thought they had "just" over-shot their base, so they bailed out. The plane was running out of gas so they let it go and thought they could just walk 15-25 miles back to base, or be spotted by rescue planes.

    Little did they know, they were 350-400 miles past home.
    They walked for 6-7 days before they died.

    I know lots of guys think they could have done better.......
     

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