Bombardment Squadron on Corsica
B-25J Mitchells from the 487th Bomb Squadron, 340th Bomb Group, courtesy of tail-gunner Hank Del Percio.
Planes, Part 4
These photographs from tail-gunner Hank Del Percio of the 487th Bombardment Squadron, 340th Bombardment Group stationed at Miramare Di Rimini, Italy in April 1945
show several examples of the classic Bill Mauldin noseart adopted by the 487th squadron. Hank says there were 13 different Bill
Mauldin cartoon characters used as noseart in his squadron. The picture in the bottom right panel shows Hank Del Percio's crew. From left to right
standing in the back row: Co-pilot Telander, pilot Chumney, Bombardier Di Orio. Kneeling in the front row: Radio-gunner Ritterbusch, tail-gunner Hank
Del Percio and Engineer, top turret-gunner Lazarowitz. Here's how tail-gunner Hank Del Percio sums it up:
"I was on Corsica Jan., Feb., March 1945 then Rimini Italy.
I was very proud to serve with the men of the 340th B.G.
Some of the memories I have are that it is very lonely in the tail of the plane.
You can't see any of the crew! And you feel that the Germans were shooting
specifically at you! There was no glory in combat, just a sad, tough,
necessary job. A tail gunner had an excellent view of the target and destruction
after the bomb run [+flack]. Pilots love tail gunners, they are the eyes in the
back of their heads."
These insignia are from an original journal for American GIs stationed in Italy that was presented to Dominique
Taddei at the 1998 57th Bomb Wing reunion held in Dayton, Ohio. Note the circled Bill Mauldin characters.
Left photograph: Private Barton paints a Bill Mauldin "dogface" character on the side of a 487th Bombardment Squadron B-25J as Major John E. Rapp,
General Knapp (to the right of Barton) and Colonel Chapman look on. Right photograph: Sgt. Durley Bratton, a crew chief and artist from the 488th Bomb Squadron, stands
in front of another classic Bill Mauldin noseart 'dogface' plane from the 487th squadron.
Photos courtesy of Dominique Taddei.
Click here to see a color picture of a Bill Mauldin dogface plane from the 487th Bombardment Squadron. This is one of the
remarkable color slides discovered by Jeff Wolford that can be seen on the subsequent pages. Here's another great dogface photo
I just received from Dominique Taddei via 1st Lieutenant, Bombardier Dave Mershon of the 487th Squadron. This plane was 7E with serial# 43-27540.
Here's another 487th Bombardment Squadron B-25J named "YAHOUDI" sent to me by Hank Del Percio. In the background there
is another Bill Mauldin "dogface" plane.
This photo taken at Rimini, Italy in April or May of 1945 comes from George Wells via Dominique Taddei. The flight crew is on the right with
Major George Wells pilot (488th), Copilot
Major Fred Dyer (489th), Navigator John Vernon (487th), Bombardier Captain
Vincent (Chief) Myers (488th), Radio Gunner T/Sgt John Wisanowski (487th),
Top Gunner T/Sgt Robert Helferich (486th) and Tail Gunner Major Richard H.
Nash. Dominique Taddei explains: "Robert Helferich had made two stays in the US Army Air corps which
means that he flew 100 missions the same numbers than the 7F.
Unfortunately a pilot of the 15th Air Force told to the Group that a
plane had flown 102 missions in the Pacific so Colonel Chapman could
not take the risk to send again these men to try to beat the record.
The 7F "Willie" was the 327510. Confirmation of Major Georges Wells,
retired US Air Force Colonel, living in Pennsylvania, still alive, him
and his wife Shirley are good friends of mine, their best friend was
Chief Vincent Myers, you may read his history in the one of the
Colonel Willis F. Chapman, Commanding Officer of
the 340th Bombardment Group as of March 15, 1944 is standing in the center. The ground crew on the left with ladder most likely had just
finished painting the 100th bomb on the fuselage representing B-25J-7F's 100th combat mission. Compare with first photo on this page
from Hank Del Percio and this photo from Dominique Taddei.
My father, Quentin Kaiser, took this photograph of the sign by the 487th Bombardment Squadron tent camp area at Alesani, Corsica.
The 487th was so well known for their Bill Mauldin "Dogface" noseart, they became known as the "Dogface Squadron," as the addition to bottom of the sign says.
Go on to Planes of the 489th, Part 5.