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B 24 42-7638 Big
Banner Emergency bomb release handle (pg5 Armaments)
This is a great piece of
History from a named aircraft B24 Liberator serial number
42-7638 which was recovered from the Zuyder Zee in Holland a
large part of which is now dry land. The piece itself
firstly opened the bomb doors and on the second pull
jettisoned the bombs. Emergency bomb release pull until bomb
doors open . Pull again to release bombs . Red light on
instrument panel indicates doors are open.
B-24 Liberator, nicknamed Big Banner, was piloted by Capt.
Kent Miller and went on it’s final bombing mission on
December 22, 1943. It set out from an airbase at Shipdham,
England and headed to Munster, Germany where it successfully
emptied its payload. It was hit by flak on route back to
Shipdham. The Big Banner was ditched in Lake IJsselmeer,
Netherlands where it rested until its excavation in August
of 1975. All crew members perished with the exception of
the co-pilot Charles E. Taylor.
The co-pilot, Charles E. Taylor, wrote the
following: “On December 22, 1943, our group bombed Muenster,
Germany. We were flying on Oakley’s wing, and after leaving
the target realized we were both losing the formation. Flak
had damaged three of our engines and when we realized we
would never make it back to England, Miller gave the order
to bail out. Four of the crew did bail out in the rear, but
when we opened the bomb bay doors, there was a break in the
clouds and we saw we were over water, so the order was
changed to prepare for ditching, which six of us did. “We
hit the water at over 100-mph and submerged immediately.
When I released my seat belt, I floated free
of the plane. No one else appeared in the water, which I
have never understood! I swam around for a few minutes,
thinking the plane would sink, but it never did, so I
released one of the dinghies, which floated away from me. I
caught up with it, but with my wet winter flying suit, flak
jacket and Mae West on, I could not climb into it, but just
put my arm over the side and passed out.
“Obviously, it was not long before a German
patrol boat picked me up or I would have died from
hypothermia within 15 or 20 minutes, I am quite sure. I was
taken to a jail in Amsterdam, awaiting transfer to Frankfurt
for interrogation, when I saw that Doug Powers, from
Oakley’s crew was also there. We chatted for a few moments,
until the Germans broke it up. After interrogation, we were
sent to Stalag Luft.
“The war in Europe ended on May 8th and on
May 13th we were flown to France in B-17s. In June we sailed
home, and in September I was ‘separated’ from the service.
The next month I went back to my old job with AT&T Long
Lines Department. “Thirty years later [in 1975], the
Westfield police called me and informed me that the Royal
Dutch Air Force had found my plane, after draining a large
area of the Zuyder Zee.
Here is a link with more
information on the aircraft http://www.zzairwar.nl/dossiers/148.html