458th Bombardment Group (H)

  Honoring those who served with the 458th BG during World War II

Spotted Ape - 458th Assembly Ship (June 44 - March 45)

B-24H-10-DT 41-28697 Z5 Z

Spotted Ape, Spotted Ass Ape, or Wonder Bread were but a few of the names for the 458th Bomb Group’s second assembly ship.  After “First Sergeant” was destroyed on May 27, 1944 in a flare accident on the runway, B-24H-10-DT 41-28697 Z5 P named Dixie Bell II was removed from combat operations after only eight missions with the 754th Squadron, and decorated in the same paint scheme as her predecessor.  All but one of the eight missions were flown by Lt Watson’s crew.  By a strange coincidence, Lt Watson was the assigned pilot on the day that First Sergeant went up in flames.


Spotted Ape had a long career in forming the 458th in the crowded skies above East Anglia on mission days.  With colored flares and a lighted fuselage, the 458th would form on this aircraft which could be easily spotted from far off.  After the group was in proper formation, the assembly ship with its scaled down crew would return to base, their job complete.


The crew would usually consist of a pilot, co-pilot, radio operator, and a flight engineer.  Records indicate no less than 59 pilots from all four squadrons drew assembly ship duty on Spotted Ape between May 44 and March 45.  Several times a command pilot from the group would also tag along either as co-pilot or observer.


Spotted Ape’s career as the group’s formator came to an end on March 9, 1945.  2Lt William B. Cheney, Jr., pilot, along with 2Lt Kenneth O. Gilbert as co-pilot were assigned to fly the ship that morning.  Landing upon their return to Horsham, the plane skidded off the runway and ended up on her belly.  The aircraft was written off as salvage. [See report below]


The 458th put up only two more assembly aircraft on the remainder of their missions, one on March 12, 1945 and one on April 6th.



THE SHOW OFF SHIP
That's what the boys of a Liberator base of the U.S Army 8th Air Force somewhere in England, call this gaudily painted Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber.  Major John A. Hensler, Santa Monica, California, a squadron commander pilots, who holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal, walks away from the raucous Lib, which he has just returned to its base.  The plane is used as a "formation" plane.  Its easily seen, brightly colored fuselage serves as a marker on which the other Libs "form up" before leaving the skies over England on a mission to blast Hitler's factories and troops.  The "show off" returns to its base once the other planes are in formation.

Courtesy: Mike Bailey

Combat Missions & Assembly Flights

SpottedApeMissions2
DATE TARGET PILOT 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot RCL A/C Msn A/C Name Notes
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC WATSON 3 1   P 1 DIXIE BELL II  
06-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER WATSON 4 2   P 2 DIXIE BELL II  
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER WATSON 5 3   P 3 DIXIE BELL II  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES WATSON 14 6   P 4 DIXIE BELL II  
29-Apr-44 BERLIN WATSON 31 15   P 5 DIXIE BELL II  
04-May-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM WATSON 34 16   P 6 DIXIE BELL II  
07-May-44 OSNABRUCK WATSON 36 18   P 7 DIXIE BELL II ATTACHED TO 2ND CBW
08-May-44 BRUNSWICK GLENN 37 17   P 8 DIXIE BELL II  
12-Jun-44 EVREUX/FAUVILLE SIMES 64 ASSY   Z A1 SPOTTED APE ZEBRA A/C
28-Jun-44 SAARBRUCKEN STILSON 81 ASSY   Z A2 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
02-Jul-44 COUBRONNE DAVIS 83 ASSY   Z A3 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" BRUDOS 98 ASSY   Z A4 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
28-Jul-44 LEIPHEIM & CREEL A/F MIDDLETON SCR ASSY LaROCHE Z A5 SPOTTED APE BRIEFED AND SCRUBBED
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE LeBEUF 100 ASSY HENSON Z A6 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
02-Aug-44 3 NO BALLS GLENN 101 ASSY JAMISON Z A7 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
06-Aug-44 HAMBURG GLENN 106 ASSY JAMISON Z A8 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
07-Aug-44 GHENT McCOLLOUGH 107 ASSY HENSON Z A9 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
12-Aug-44 MOURMELON TEBBS 111 ASSY LaROCHE Z A10 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
16-Aug-44 MAGDEBURG McCOLLOUGH 115 ASSY LaROCHE Z A11 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
26-Aug-44 DULMEN MARTIN, L 120 ASSY   Z A12 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
01-Sep-44 PFAFFENHOFFEN RUARK ABN ASSY BREVAKIS Z A13 SPOTTED APE ABANDONED
08-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE PISKIN 123 ASSY ROBESON Z A14 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
09-Sep-44 MAINZ WILLIAMS, E 124 ASSY   Z A15 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
11-Sep-44 MAGDEBURG GIBNEY 126 ASSY HAYDON Z A16 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
05-Oct-44 PADERBORN COYLE 128 ASSY   Z A17 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
06-Oct-44 WENZENDORF HEMRICH 129 ASSY   Z A18 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG HELFRECHT 130 ASSY   Z A19 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
09-Oct-44 KOBLENZ GLASS 131 ASSY   Z A20 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
15-Oct-44 MONHEIM WILLIAMS, E 134 ASSY   Z A21 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
19-Oct-44 MAINZ FIELDS 136 ASSY NELSON Z A22 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY SHIP (CA)
22-Oct-44 HAMM GIESEN 137 ASSY   Z A23 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
26-Oct-44 MINDEN ROBERTS, J 138 ASSY   Z A24 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
30-Oct-44 HARBURG TRACY 139 ASSY   Z A25 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD FLOYD 140 ASSY   Z A26 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
04-Nov-44 MISBURG VEHSLAGE 141 ASSY ALLEN Z A27 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE FUSON 142 ASSY   Z A28 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
06-Nov-44 MINDEN HOEY 143 ASSY   Z A29 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
08-Nov-44 RHEINE BENO 144 ASSY   Z A30 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD HELFRECHT 150 ASSY   Z A31 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
04-Dec-44 BEBRA McCARTHY 152 ASSY   Z A32 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
06-Dec-44 BIELEFELD DYER 153 9   Z 9 SPOTTED APE COMBAT MISSION
10-Dec-44 BINGEN DAHM 154 ASSY   Z A33 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
11-Dec-44 HANAU STOESSER 155 ASSY   Z A34 SPOTTED APE ASSY & WTHR SHIP 752
12-Dec-44 HANAU HEALY 156 ASSY   Z A35 SPOTTED APE ASSY & WTHR SHIP 753
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ McCARTHY REC ASSY   Z A36 SPOTTED APE RECALL DUTCH ISLE
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD COOK 158 ASSY   Z A37 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
27-Dec-44 NEUNKIRCHEN BOUCEK 159 ASSY   Z A38 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL SMITH, WF 160 ASSY   Z A39 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED HANSEN 161 ASSY   Z A40 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
31-Dec-44 KOBLENZ BOYLE 162 ASSY   Z A41 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ ZANELLA 163 ASSY   Z A42 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
02-Jan-45 REMAGEN SULLIVAN, E 164 ASSY   Z A43 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
03-Jan-45 NEUNKIRCHEN HEMRICH 165 ASSY   Z A44 SPOTTED APE ASSY & WTHR SHIP 755
07-Jan-45 RASTATT SEALY 166 ASSY   Z A45 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
08-Jan-45 STADTKYLL LEHR 167 ASSY   Z A46 SPOTTED APE ASSY & WTHR SHIP 752
10-Jan-45 SCHONBERG CHIMPLES 168 ASSY   Z A47 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG EVANS 171 ASSY   Z A50 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN GRICE 173 ASSY   Z A51 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND SKIDMORE 174 ASSY   Z A52 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER WARRELL 175 ASSY   Z A53 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
31-Jan-45 BRUNSWICK TEBBS 176 ASSY   Z A54 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG HEMRICH 177 ASSY   Z A55 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 755
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG BROWN, R 179 ASSY   Z A56 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
11-Feb-45 DULMEN HEMRICH 180 ASSY   Z A57 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
14-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG McCORMICK 181 ASSY   Z A58 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG HAYNES 182 ASSY   Z A59 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
16-Feb-45 OSNABRUCK HEMRICH 183 ASSY   Z A60 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE FERRIELL 184 ASSY   Z A61 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG HESS 185 ASSY   Z A62 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH JACKSON, WE 187 ASSY   Z A63 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
24-Feb-45 BIELEFELD HEMRICH 188 ASSY   Z A64 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
28-Feb-45 BIELEFELD LAMERS 192 ASSY   Z A65 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
01-Mar-45 INGOLSTADT HODGES 193 ASSY   Z A66 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG BESTEN 194 ASSY   Z A67 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 754
03-Mar-45 NIENBURG SIEVERTSON 195 ASSY   Z A68 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 752
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK GILBERT 200 ASSY   Z A69 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - 753
09-Mar-45 ASSEMBLY DUTIES CHENNEY -- ACC   Z -- SPOTTED APE LANDING ACCIDENT

Spotted Ape in Flight and in Color

Spotted Ape leading three AZON ships in a publicity photo

Photo: FOLD3.com

Assembly on the July12, 1944 mission to Evreux/Fauville.  Two 466BG Liberators are at lower left

On the hardstand

Photo: K
arl Lake

The white band in the red circle on the fuselage contained lights making identification that much easier in the dark


Photo: George Reynolds


Assembly Crew

Captain Rodney Freeman (center), 752nd  Squadron Operations Officer and an assembly crew



AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE LIBERATOR STATION, ENGLAND

BACK FROM A MISSION OVER THE INVASION COAST OF FRANCE, FOUR FLIERS ARE INTERROGATED ON THEIR OPERATION AS THEY LISTEN TO THE RADIO BROADCAST OF THE PROGRESS OF ALLIED LANDINGS.  LEFT TO RIGHT ARE CAPT. VALIN R. WOODWARD, PILOT, OF ARLINGTON, TEXAS; LT. COL. PAUL SCHWARTZ, A WING OPERATIONS OFFICER OF 1720 WATROUS AVE., TAMPA, FLA.; CAPT. RODNEY FREEMAN, PILOT AND SQUADRON OPERATIONS OFFICER, OF XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX FREDERICKSBURG, VA.; CAPT. CHRISTOPHER HARRIS, INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, OF 206 E. 44TH STREET, KANSAS CITY, MO; AND CAPT. FRED J. VACEK, GROUP BOMBARDIER, OF 721 SOUTHCOTE ROAD, RIVERSIDE, ILL.


Photos: Stephen Legg


March 9, 1945 - Accident Report 45-3-9-528

Spotted Ape bellied in with Lt William B. Cheney at the controls


Photo: Mike Bailey


STATEMENT of 2d Lieutenant WILLIAM B. CHENEY, JR, Pilot, 753rd Bombardment Squadron, 458th Bombardment Group (H), AAF 123, APO 558.


“I returned to the field in the assembly ship on 9th March 1945 and entered a normal traffic pattern at 1400 feet, airspeed 150.  Turned on approach and started descent.  Touched down near end of runway and ballooned slightly.  Last airspeed that I heard engineer call out was 125.  When the plane settled to the ground there was about 5 degrees crab to the left.  The plane was edging near the side of the R/W.  I tried to kick out crab with rudder without success.  I applied right brake and the brake pedal snapped off.  My right foot slipped up and over the pedal.  I yelled to Lt. Gilbert to get on the brake because mine was broken.  At first he did not understand what was wrong.  By the time he applied brakes we were well off the R/W headed about 10 degrees from R/W 05.  Marks in the dirt show that right brake was applied about 100 feet before the left brake.  Marks showed that both wheels were locked and sliding on damp grass.  The track of the nose wheel was in the center of the [main] wheels when the plane left R/W, but as the plane moved on the nose wheel track came closer to left wheel track.  The course of the plane was in a straight line from the R/W to an old dispersal area 150 feet from where the airplane came to rest.  When the plane’s left wheel hit the pavement of the dispersal area the course of the plane was altered due to the increased friction on the left side.  The plane turned sideways and both main gear snapped off. “


/Signed/

WILLIAM B. CHENEY, JR
2d Lt, AIR CORPS.


See full Accident Report



Photo:FOLD3.com


Salvaged


Photo: Brendan Wood

Disposition

B-24H-10 DT 41-28697             P    Z5 (754)    DIXIE BELLE 2nd
             OD    - POLKA DOT    Z    Z5 (754)    SPOTTED APE
Original aircraft.
Became second assembly ship and radio call letter changed from P to Z between 27 May & 29 May 44. Crash-landed 9 Mar 45 at Horsham St Faith, pulling both landing gears. Salvaged on the same date. Accident Rpt: 45-3-9-528