Monday, May 29, 2006


WRITE FOR A SMALL NEWSPAPER HERE IN BAKERSFIELD HERE IS MY
LATEST:
GRAY GHOSTs Of MINTER FIELD: (circa 2002)
By Ray Harwood
I went to the Minter Field air
show last month . It was War Birds in
Action. Very nice. Met some old W.W.II
Pilots and crew members, it was an
inspiring outing filled with history .
Like always there was great die cast
models of every war bird, books, videos
and working models. The Birds
themselves were awesome; B25, B17,
P51, Corsairs, BT trainers and much
more. The thunder of the massive War
Bird engines inspired the soul and as the
thunder pierced my ears I squinted my
eyes and imagined what it was like here
during the War years. Arms swinging,
heads erect, shoulders back, feet
pounding the pavement. Squad drill,
platoon drill, squadron drill. Shin
splints, blisters, sore muscles. Parades
three times a week-white gloves,
glistening sabers, clean khakis, straight
lines, martial music. Shoes shined, brass
flashing, uniform-perfection...inspection
after inspection. Flight training,
studying, testing and the horror of
washing out.
Named in honor of First
Lieutenant Hugh C. Minter, from a
locally prominent family. The
Lieutenant, a was killed in a mid-air
collision in 1932. Minter Field
had become the largest training base of
its type on the West Coast, During
World War II, over 11,000 Army Air
Corps Cadets graduated from Minter
Field, deploying to fly in all theaters of
operations.
Thet raining aircraft were the Vultee
Valiant, affectionately known as the
"Vultee Vibrator", powered by a 450 HP
Pratt & Whitney Wasp R985
nine-cylinder radial. Aircraft also used
for training on the field during W.W.II
included the AT-6 Texan trainer and
Cessna UC-78 Bobcat.
My own father was a W.W.II
pilot himself, he was noted for being
responsible for one of the first known
downing of a jet in the field of Arial
combat. My father, 1st Lt. T.V. Harwood
was the pilot of a Martin B-26 Marauder,
a plane nick named "the flying coffin".
Here my father that documented the
episode: The mission , one of 45 combat
missions I flew, was flown on the
morning of 4-20-45 and lasted 4:20
hours. 35 ships went up at 11,000 feet.
Our plane, Martin B26 Marauder;
42-96090 WT-M (Blitz Wagon), dropped
2 2000lbs bombs on the railroad yard at
Memmingen, Germany. Crew: Theodore
V. Harwood (P) 2nd/1st Lt., Eugene T.
Muszynski (CP) 2nd/1st Lt., Anthony B.
Caezza (NB) S/SGT., James N. Night (?)
T/Sgt., George W. Boyd (RG) S/Sgt.,
Raymond Deboer (TG) S/Sgt. Base of
operations; Denain/Prouvy, France. It
was April 20th, 1945, in the afternoon.
Thirty-five .B-26 Marauders flew out
toward Nordlingen, Germany to drop
their bomb load from 10,000 feet in the
sky to the railroad yard below. This was
our next to the last mission of the war
and like any mission, it could have been
our last. From the skies below came a
vision of death, the foremost of the
German Luftwaffe Jet, rocket aircraft,
the ME-262 armed with a 50 mm
cannon. It was only seconds before the
ME-262 was upon us. I could see the 50
mm cannon of the ME-262 cut loose. It
was very close. The whole ordeal was
like watching it happen right in front of
you in the fast lane of the freeway. The
50 mm cannon bursts hit the number two
plane, right wing man, and sheered the
nacelle door off. I could see it as clear as
day. We had no fighter escort on most
missions and on this mission we were
alone, no fighter escort, so we had to
take care of the problem ourselves. The
entire squadron opened up with
everything we had. Quite possible it was
out turret gunner, but someone found the
target and the ME-262 went down. One
of the first jets ever shot down in combat.
One interesting story from the
Minter show is this. I was in line to buy
a B26 pin, and the lady in front of me
was buying all the B26 stuff she could
find. I told her my dad was a W.W.II
B26 pilot and she told me an interesting
story. She was abandoned as a baby and
wound up adopted, she only recently
found this out, maybe a year ago. Since
then she was on a quest to find her
biological parents. Well she found them
last week and her father was a B26 pilot,
she and her husband were ecstatic, her
father was a war hero and an important
part of world history, I just smiled like
the straw suck'n hick I am and said -
yup-me too! In the afternoon, at home
after the air show, I heard a roar above,
we ran out and looked to see the shinny
metal B17 flying low above our
home---Wow.

B26 MARTIN MARAUDERS FLOWN BY HARWOOD

I have updated my list of research on my father's planes, I still need help. Thank you for the help thus far! Here is the new list of the planes he flew. (456th 323rd BG)1st Lt. T.V. Harwood, pilot.
SERIAL CODE NAME:
1. 41-31801 WT-J Black Fury II
2. 42-43281 WT-D Little Mike
3. 41-31708 WT-B The Gremlin II
4. 41-34967 WT-R Hell's Belle
5. 42-96212 WT-Q Patty's Pig
6. 41-34033 WT-A Ole 33 & Gal, Dale Rush Death.
7. 42-107842 WT-W Georgia Miss
8. 42-96090 WT-M Blitz Wagon
9. 41-34969 WT-S Crew 13
10. 41-31861 WT-N Weary Willie,Jr
11. 41-31787 WT-K City of Sherman
12 41-35022 YU-V 455th.BS airplane
13. 41-31964 WT-L Hade’s Lady
14. 41-35040 WT-F Buzzin Huzzy
15. 42-107538 WT-T
16 44-68181 WT-R



Harwood on tape for Meonch
(Recorded and owned by Pima Air museum)


“It’s August 1st 1986, this is Ted Harwood at Van Nuys, CA. I’m a poor writer so I thought I would try this on tape, maybe I won’t get the penmanship cramp. For your first question, for your roister, my beginner grade while entering the 323rd was 2nd Lt. and ah, I flew 28 missions as copilot, then I got my crew and flew 17 missions as first pilot, I came out the ah conflict rated as 1st Lt. . And your second question on your chapter on Marauder Men devoted to the night bombing missions. I don’t think I was frightened, it was just a new experience to us, we went in on a Pathfinder, ah, our biggest problem was on take off the was a white line like we have here at the end of the runway, only it was it was in the British stripe in the center. The white line came up and we pulled off, almost at stalling speed and we had quite a problem maintaining flight speed, finally we got our flaps up and went out over the harbor and we just barely cleared the barrage balloon. which were all over the place. It was uneventful on course, ah we picked up the ah initial point flare, dropped our bombs, turned off and ah at that point we hit prop wash very severely which ah raised the hackles on our backs because we knew just a second before there was another 26 there. On our return flight we drifted off course and got over ah I don’t recall either the Gernsey or Jersey Island, ah the Germans promptly through up very high intensity para flare that lit up the whole scene and then they proceeded to shoot at us, fortunately they missed and that is about all I can recount on that mission. Ah the second question you have ah on the last mission April 25, 1945 to Arding, Germany of the 262s ah I was in ship 040 in the low flight ah, as I recall, according to your diagram everything was in the rear of the flight, however aha as I recall, I saw the Me262 come up from our right - position itself below us and shoot at the lead flight, as I recall, according to your diagram here number 969 which was on the right of 131 the lead ship, I don’t recall any other ship numbers except our own, ah however I could see the 37 MM. puffs of ah smoke from his cannon as he fired, and as I recall the right nacelle door flew off number 969 in your position ah, that was about all there was to that mission as I could see. Our top turret gunner was firing which that was the first mission in my 45 mission that the gunners ever fired a shot and that was sort of startling because I didn’t know they were going to fire made considerable rattle, the whole sky in front of me was filled with 50 Caliber empties coming out of ah, I guess the lead flight there but I don’t know how they got back there because according to your diagram, this ME 262 was ah unless I got this thing reversed, but I wasn’t in the lead flight, but this trail you got here shows everything in the rear of the flight, but defiantly we saw the 262 and I saw it fire and saw the smoke from the, when the cannon went off you could see a little puff black smoke every time it fired. Ah, our top turret gunner engineer was considerably ah -hepped up he thought he hit the thing (laughs) I don’t know there was so much brass in the air, that was by big problem worrying about the brass coming though the canopy or through the ah bombardier’s nose compartment. Then ah, I did not fly the D-Day mission, the first mission I flew was the night mission which was way after- that was ah, way after the D-Day operation (cough). Ah, I have no other news on Parker, I would give you some names, John Kuzwara who was our navigator was the ah lead navigator and he went through school with this -these- his address is 11306 Linda Way, Los Alamedos, California 90720 and his phone number is 213 594-0102 you might contact him and the ah this bombardier was on Lt. Flitties crew and Art Pacula was his copilot and he lives at 1423 pulaski St. in Peru, Illinois 61354 phone number 815-223-4442, now he would definatly know about Flittie’s bombardier who was killed you can contact him in regards to that. Ah the only, now according to this ah note here you have “J.V. Harwood is that you?” well I am not J.V. Harwood I am T.V. Harwood and “J” is evidently a miss type I have several of my orders with a “J” where either “T” or “V” should have been. I’ll send you some information on that, the only other thing I say that may be of interest on my 37th mission to Hanover, Germany, we were bombing a fuel dump and I was in ship 967, this was on April 8th, 45, we has eight 500 pound bombs and ah going into the initial point to the bomb release point I was hit with flak on my main fuel cell left between the Nacelle and the pilots compartment -we got a big rupture in the main fuel cell and the ah hydraulic system out, our electrical system was out and the ah engineer went and automatically cranked open the bomb doors triggered out the ah bombs -cranked the bomb bay doors shut -started transferring fuel from the outer wings to the inner tank and we kept the engines running and I called to Johnny Kuzwara who was the flight leading bombardier/ navigator on that mission and he gave me a heading to the alternate field which was a Spit-Fire base just behind the bomb line and ah- we proceed there -crash landed. The wheels went down but they wouldn’t lock cause there was no hydraulic pressure, but our crew managed to get down and we lost no one -had no injuries on that flight, they picked us up the next day in a B26 and went back to our base and they ah- loaded me on another mission on April 10th so they didn’t give me time to think about it, but that was our only other real thrill as far as ah close calls. That’s about all I can think of now if I can be of any further help to ya let me know, thank you very much."

TED HARWOOD CREWS




Dear B26 folks, I am seeking information or contact with any of the Marauder Men below or their relatives. My father was in the 323rd BG 456th BS.

1ST CREW:
Harwood (CP) 2nd/1st Lt.John W. Kuczwara (Nav) 2nd/1ST Lt.William B. Gerrant Jr. (P) 2nd
Lt/1st Lt.Jack A. Reynolds (TG) Cpl./S/Sgt.John H. Knight ( E ) Cpl/SgtVelton J. O’Neal Jr. (
RG ) Sgt T/Sgt..

2ND CREW;
Theodore V. Harwood (P) 2nd/1st Lt.Thomas O. Harves (CP) 2nd/1st Lt.Duran (John or Manual
J ?), Alan Hammel (Aaron) S/Sgt, Richard P. Baily ( ) T/Sgt, John H Stewart ( TG ) Sgt

3rd: Crew:
Theodore V. Harwood (P) 2nd/1st Lt., Eugene T. Muszynski (CP) 2nd/1st Lt., Anthony B.
Caezza (NB) S/SGT., James N. Night (?) T/Sgt., George W. Boyd (RG) S/Sgt., Raymond
Deboer (TG) S/Sgt.

HARWOODS' FIRST B26 NIGHT MISSION.
POSTED BY RAY HARWOOD



Theodore V. Harwood (CP./ P.) 2nd/1st Lt flew in a Martin B26
Marauder, first night mission:
Mission 1, official 456th target/mission designation #235, was flown
from England on the night
of 08-13-1944, Harwood flew in Martin B26 Marauder, 41-31708 WT-B
(Gremlin II) . 28 100
lb.. bombs were released onto the Flers fuel dump in France from an
altitude of 7,500 feet, it was
a 3 hour mission with 3 pathfinders and 34 other ships of the 323rd -
456th. Crew: Theodore V. Harwood (CP.)
2nd/1st Lt. John W. Kuczwara (Nav.) 2nd/1ST Lt. William B. Guerrant
Jr. (P) 2nd Lt./1st Lt.
Jack A. Reynolds (TG) Cpl./S/Sgt. John H. Knight ( E ) Cpl./Sgt.
Velton J. O'Neal Jr. (WG. )
Sgt. T/Sgt. Base of operations Beaulieu, England.
The following are several a detailed post war accounts of
Mission #1 from Theodore V.
Harwood (CP.) 2nd/1st Lt., one from the Pima Air Museum in Arizona,
interviewed by Major
General John O. Meonch (1986) and one from an interview with Ray
Harwood in 1989:
"Our first mission was extremely adventuresome. I will
remember this the rest of my life. I
walked out to the flight line and looked at all the different
aircraft parked in the darkness. There
were no heavy bombers, but I remember other bombers; Night fighter
P70, all black with radar
and Douglas A20's for night bombing raids. Just prior to the first
mission, a French lady gave us a
lesson in the French language, basic phrases. The first phrase that
we learned and memorized was
"I am an American" ("Je suis Americain") and the second phrase "I am
wounded" ("Je suis
Blesse"). We placed all of our ID materials, all of our personal
items, including rings, momentos,
jewelry and such items in secure bags which were left with the
section, the same place we picked
up the chutes and survival bags, which had franks, a map, butt hole
compass (named for where
you hide it) etc.. The idea was if we went down not to let the enemy
know much about us. The
survival bags were about twice the size of a wallet. These "escape
kits" were not large, they fit
inside the zipper pocket of a flight suit. Before every mission the
entire craft had to be inspected
thoroughly for any possible mechanical problem. This pre-flight
inspection was done
systematically and by the book, so as to protect the lives of each
member of the crew. Before the
engines were started you could hear the putt putts going, and smell
their exhaust. The list was
huge, from hydraulics to tire pressure. On the balloon cables: The
British would lower the barrage
balloons to let our planes fly out. After our entire group was out,
the balloons were allowed to
float up again. When we took off, we took off at 20 second intervals.
Everyone had a place to be
and things to do of importance, often it was within five minutes
from leaving the cold hard
wooden briefing bench to firing up the two Pratt and Whitney R-2800,
18 cylinder, 2,000 hp each,
engines, taxiing out for take-off. The anticipation to be the plane
thundering down the darkened
runway was an exciting experience. After the "Green Go" flare all the
planes insert themselves into
their assigned slot in line and head for the main runway. Mentally
and physically checking details
pertaining to the mission. A somber and introverted attitude prevails
as the Marauder takes flight, which
is quite opposite from the return flight homeward, listening to the
radio and chatting after safely
completing the mission. We flew at 20 second intervals at a
designated fixed air speed toward the
target. The first mission was flown at night so the usual evasive
type flying patterns were
unnecessary. The pathfinder ship would locate the target and drop a
flare at the "IP" (Initial Point)
and a flare on the target. At the "IP" the bombardier took over the
controls and flies the plane
with the bomb site until over the target area. When over the target
area, every third plane flies at
an altitude variation of 1000 feet, no formation or flight leader.
The altitude variation was to
prevent mid air collision during flight. So it was 1000 feet altitude
variations and 20 second
intervals. We were flying in the dark, and with radio silence. We
were flying with our instruments
with only small ultraviolet lamps over the instruments. It was so
dark you could not see the other
planes, even inside your own plane. The only visible light was
the "IP" flare, target flare, and the
distant, mute flash of our bombs exploding on the ground far below.
After the bombardier yells,
"Bombs away", the pilot regains control of the plane from the
bombardier. The pilot returns the
plane to the base. While on the return flight back to base we passed
over the Island of Guernsey.
The island was still heavily fortified and as we crossed over, an
aerial flare exploded with massive
flash. The entire sky lit up and the Marauders were like huge
silhouettes in the sky. The aerial
flare was so bright it nearly blinded us. Almost simultaneously, the
German artillery opened fire
on our position with 88 millimeter anti-aircraft guns. Each deadly
shell exploded when reaching a
preset altitude. The German Flak firepower was strengthened by
increasing the size of the 88 mm
light batteries from 4 guns to 8. To guard the more important
targets "Gross Batteries"
comprising 2 or 3 of the enlarged single batteries were created (up
to 40 heavy flak guns) firing
rectangular patterns of shells known as box barrages that often
proved deadly. Each battery,
large or small, was controlled by a single "predictor" (a device used
to estimate where the
aircraft would be by the time the shell reached it and thus provide
information as to where to
aim) which meant that up to 18 guns might engage one bomber a time.
When the flak batteries
pinpointed an aircraft the guns were fired in salvoes designed to
burst in a sphere of 60 yards in
diameter in which it was hoped to entrap the target and send it
plunging to its death. Each gun,
usually of 88mm caliber, could project a shell to amazing 20,000 feet
and could knock out an
aircraft within 30 yards of the shell burst. However, the shrapnel
from the explosion was still
capable of inflicting serious damage, tearing through metal and flesh
up to 200 yards away .
They sky was still lit up, aerial flare, flak blast, and search
lights from the frantic Germans below,
it was to bright to see the flash of the immense cannons below and to
loud to hear their air raid
sirens. As the flare faded, you could see the heavy contrast of the
brightly exploding flak
projectiles against the pitch darkness of the night. After a time,
the incoming artillery fell away
behind our aircraft and we came in and all landed safely with no
injuries or battle damage
reported. I slept well that night."
Harwood speaking with Maj. Gen. John O. Moench "I don't
think I was frightened, it
was just a new experience to us, we went in on a Pathfinder, ah, our
biggest problem was on take
off there was a white line like we have here at the end of the
runway, only it was it was in the
British stripe in the center. The white line came up and we pulled
off, almost at stalling speed and
we had quite a problem maintaining flight speed, finally we got our
flaps up and went out over the
harbor and we just barely cleared the barrage balloon. which were all
over the place. It was
uneventful on course, ah we picked up the ah initial point flare,
dropped our bombs, turned off
and ah at that point we hit prop wash very severely which ah raised
the hackles on our backs
because we knew just a second before there was another 26 there. On
our return flight we drifted
off course and got over - ah I don't recall either the Gernsey or
Jersey Island, the Germans
promptly through up a very high intensity para flare that lit up the
whole scene and then they
proceeded to shoot at us, fortunately they missed and that is about
all I can recount on that
mission."
According to a post war account by Maj. Gen. John O.
Moench; returning aircrews
reported their bombs set off violent explosions and ignited major
fires. It wasn't the kind of
mission that aircrews would have liked to have flown but the job was
done and done well. One
aircraft was damaged by flak in the target area but it was minor.

B26 MARAUDER BLOG MEMORIAL DAY DEDICATION



B26 MARAUDER BLOG MEMORIAL DAY DEDICATION:

To all the brave Marauder Men, one of whom was my father. "So they will know".

I am starting the text with two poems I penned on the subject:

Sheet metal angles drift through the cloud - with Prat & whitney
engines playing so loud-
the sad eyed mother & father cry they are proud -in a sky full of
angles they're now part
of the crowd-

. Ray Harwood



"Ode to Marauder Men: Dedicated to Major General John O.Meonch;
Peyton Magruder got the call - to engineer the greatest
plane of all. Without
much testing the Marauder Men say -it was one a day in Tampa Bay.
Africa and Asia's' skies so eerie blue the B26 Marauder its
deadly missions flew.
Terror ragged in Germany and France until the Marauders did their
deadly dance. When
Uncle Sam said go- MacArthur bought the tickets but the Marauder Men
saw the show.
In the frozen Ardennes the Huns came thundering though - not
realizing what the
brave Marauder Men could do. Mindful of the fighting men down there
on the ground -
the Marauders came from heaven and laid them Germans down.
When the horror of the war was nearly set - when into the
skies came the German
jet. The 262s placed it- but the Marauder Men won the bet. The
bloody war came to an
end - but the brave B26 Marauders - to home they would not send.
Sheet metal angles drift through the cloud - with Prat &
Whitney engines playing
so loud- the sad eyed mother & father cry they are proud -in a sky
full of angles they're
now part of the crowd-"

. Ray Harwood (Son of a B26 pilot in the 456th)