I could not have been more surprised or pleased than the day I received the October 1986 CRUSADERS NEWSLETTER published by the 386th Bomb Group (M) Assn. Inc. There was a picture of 606 -- RAT POISON. After 176 missions this B-26 model B-15 with the short wing and the flexible B-7 bomb-sight mount has to be a candidate for Number One in U.S.A.F. COMBAT HISTORY.
In May 1943 this plane was delivered brand new to the 553rd Bomb Squadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan. It headed for Europe flying the Northern Route by way of Greenland, Iceland, Scotland then to our destination, England. The Pilot of 606 Was Major F. W. Harris, 553rd C.O. The Bombardier was Lt. WM. E. Smith. The Navigator was Lt. H. P. Dye.
I have no record of how many times 606 flew in the Lead position out of that total of 176. I feel sure that for the last 40 or so missions that Bill Smith and I flew, we both requested 606 as often as possible when we were scheduled to function as Lead Crew. Since each of us were listed as Lead Bombardier about 90% of the time during that period, meant that 606 was out in front very frequently. So much so that at one time she was condemned by the Air Inspector for too many hours and too many patches. I went to Col. Joe Kelly and suggested to him that if he wanted our Bomb Group to have the best chance to stay in First Place in the Ninth Bomber Command that he should consider saving 606 from the junk pile. He did. And, the 386th did.
606 would trim out so smooth on a bomb run that I could almost glue the cross-hairs to the aiming point. Smitty felt that he could do the same. I left for home just before the Group moved to France. Up to that time no other B-26 or A-26 that either of us ever used could perform as well. Literally hundreds, maybe thousands of bomb-loaded B-26s dropped their loads right on the target by following the lead of this twin-engine marvel. I salute Number 606 - RAT POISON - upon her completion of 176 Flack-scarred Combat Missions for the 386th Bomb Group.
Albert E. Hill