Kneeling L-R: Mike Kolar, Loren R. Dunn (?), Gilbert E. Esquidel.
Standing L-R: Lt. Larry C Rodgers (?), Lt. Jack F Watson (?),
Lt. Reuben "Bud" Jackson, bombardier-navigator.
See inscription on nose turret...Bud's Bung
Hole.) This is the same plane the famous war correspondent Edward R. Murrow took on a mission, but my father was not the navigator at the time.
The following is an account from Larry C. Rogers, who piloted the Bad
Penny during the crash landing. My father is the bombardier mentioned in
the account (Lt. Bud Jackson). :
A bunch of years ago we had a reunion in Baltimore with other B-26 Groups
which included my old group, the 386th. My squadron was the 554th. I was
with the 386th from Feb 1943 until July 1944 and based at MacDill Lake
Charles, Boxted (Colechester) and Great Dunmow (Little I Easton Lodge). In
the process, I completed 76 combat missions as pilot or copilot and then
went back to the states before the group moved onto the continent.
You may recall that I did a TV bit with you in which I indicated having
reached over 475 MPH and perhaps 500 in a dive on 22 June 1944. As you
might surmise, not many people believed me and not much has ever been said
about the statement. More recently, I have had time to think through the
situation as it developed and think I can explain how and why it actually
took place. When I wrote the story "The Demise Of The Bad Penny" for our
Crusader Book, I really had not tried to figure out How or Why, I just
accepted it and thanked God for the recovery from the dive. In later
years, I realized people really didn't believe it so I did some checking
with some maintenance people and determined what probably happened.
I remembered a puff of dust coming up from the flight deck just behind the
Turbo Handles and that Flak particle hit the pilot in the wrist causing
him to spurt blood all over the cockpit. We were flying in the #4 slot of
the lead flight and were almost to the release point for the headquarters
at Caen, France. The Flak was intense and at our elevation and tracking
our line with about 100 yards in width which didn't give us any effective
evasive action. The right engine acted as if it was hit from the
instrument indications but I was able to hold into the formation and then
the other engine started acting peculiar. About this time my bombardier
said they had over shot the target (we later found that the lead
bombardier was injured but we had not been advised so our bomb sight was
not wired in to drop on the indices crossing).
I thought I knew that I was about to loose both engines and the Flak was
so thick that I figured we needed to remove ourselves from the area and
that to do that rapidly the best thing to do was Split S with a long down
side and while going straight down I moved my seat back so the bombardier
could get out of the nose to help the pilot. By the time I could get my
seat back to position and applied back pressure, I could not budge the
controls. I even put my feet on the instrument panel to get leverage but
still couldn't budge the controls. When I looked at the airspeed indicator
it was passing 475. At this point, I think God spoke to me and said to
roll all the up elevator trim in as fast as you can. I did so and the
airplane started to come out of the dive. As we bottomed out near 350 Feet
AGL I realized the trim tab had to be rolled back out but we had gained
back to 1000 Feet. Then I tested my throttles and found that they didn't
work anything but the gauges so I decided to look out the front and found
we were coming up on the coast and right in front of us were several
Allied Barges and each one had a Barrage Balloon above our elevation so I
had to loft up over them and then turn and return toward Beaux where I had
seen an air strip under construction on our side of the front.
As I made a down wind leg I realized that I was still running around 300
MPH so with a thousand feet of altitude and half way down the runway I cut
the mixtures and waited until I had 275 MPH to put the wheels down and
turned on to the base leg and as the airspeed reduced to 225 MPH I put the
Flaps down and turned on Final only to realize the Flaps were only down
1/4 and I was high and hot and the forest was still on the far end of the
runway. Then I decided to force the plane onto the ground and hope I could
get it stopped before the tree line came up. As we hit the ground I
realized it was soft dirt and the left main gear had flipped up through
the wing and left us skidding into a ground loop.
I was so pleased with the sturdy bird that I had always wished for a
photograph of the result. Then 49.5 years after the fact I received one.
It seems an RAF Photographer came into a meeting place called "Buddies of
the Ninth" and offered this picture to them. They had read the story and
were able to get the picture to me through Skip Young. The picture was
taken some time after the crash because the guns are gone and probably the
bombs but it looks just like I remembered it with the pilot hatches open.
The weeds are up but it does not look like it was moved.
I've enclosed a copy of the plane for your use as you see fit. If you
desire any additional information let me know and I'll try to respond as
best I can.