458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

B-24H-15-FO 42-52335 Z5 R  Admirable Little Character


Shortly after nose art was applied - notice chalk marks and half-finished Shamrock.

Shot down April 25, 1944 (MACR 4342)

Admirable Little Character (ALC) was an original 754BS ship, normally flown by Crew 47, pilot 2Lt Gilbert E. Schulze, who claimed it as their own.  They flew a total of 14 of their missions in this aircraft.  ALC amassed a total of 20 combat missions and was lost on its 21st on April 25, 1944.  On this date, 1Lt John H. Combs and Crew 44 (754BS) were flying their 10th mission to the marshaling yards near Mannheim, Germany. 


Take off that morning was 6:09 AM. According to the S-2 Mission report, after the group had crossed the French coast, "Approximately twenty enemy fighters variously described as ME-109’s and FW-190’s attacked the lead flight of the lead squadron at 0855 hours just east of Vitry, France.  The attack was made from twelve to one o’clock high out of the sun after the E/A had simulated the actions of friendly fighters escorting the formation from sufficient distance to be recognizable.  The tactics employed were in the nature of a scissors attack with half of the fighters swooping down through our formation while the remainder passed below.  One of our A/C was shot down and two suffered major battle damage."

Combs' plane was hit hard in the tail section and according to co-pilot Charles Roof, "the plane was out of control caused by a fighter shooting off the tail; elevator damaged beyond usefulness."  Eugene Hoag, substituting for the crews regular navigator, recalled that, "elevator controls [were] damaged, [and] both fins shot off; no fire."


Eight of the crew were able to bail out.  For reasons unknown two men, Clayton Miller (BTG) and Harry Tamboer (WG) did not exit the plane, and both of their bodies were found in the wreckage.  In a questionnaire filled out by Eugene Hoag (N), he recalled that Miller was last seen in the plane near his station in the waist and that he was uninjured.  Hoag also remembered that Tamboer had his parachute on in the waist when the plane was still at 20.000 feet.

Bombardier Charles Bieber did make it out, but delayed his jump until it was too late.  His parachute did not have time to fully open and he was seen lying about forty feet from the plane near his partially deployed parachute.  Tail gunner Richard McCarthy also made it out of the plane, but conversely to Bieber he opened his chute too soon.  It fouled the wing and he was dragged down to the ground with the aircraft.  All four of these men were buried, according to Hoag, “by Maurice Collet of Le Buisson, Par Haussignemont, Marne France.  I was staying at his home at the time.”

John Combs was captured fairly quickly by a German corporal on a transport train. Joe Wagner (G) made it to the Spanish border before being captured.  Both men were eventually taken to prison camps in Germany.

With the help of the French Underground, four of the crew, Roof, Hoag, Behrens (RO), and McKeon (TTG) were able to successfully evade capture and in June all but Roof were back in England.  Roof made it back at the end of July.


Missions

Missions-AdmirableLittleChar
Date Target Pilot 458th Msn  Pilot Msn  RCL  Sqdn  A/C Msn  Comments
02-Mar-44 FRANKFURT SCHULZE 1 1 R Z5 1  
03-Mar-44 BERLIN SCHULZE 2 2 -- Z5 2  
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC  SCHULZE 3 3 R Z5 3  
06-Mar-44 BERLIN/GENSHAGEN MANGERICH 4 2 R Z5 4  
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER SCHULZE 5 4 R Z5 5  
15-Mar-44 BRUNSWICK SCHULZE 7 5 R Z5 6  
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN SCHULZE 8 NTO R Z5 -- NO TAKE OFF - #1 CARB JETS CLOGGED
18-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN SCHULZE 9 6 R Z5 7  
21-Mar-44 WATTEN, near ST. OMER BARTON 10 1 R Z5 8  
22-Mar-44 BERLIN DAVIS 11 4 R Z5 9  
23-Mar-44 OSNABRUCK SCHULZE 12 7 R Z5 10  
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER SCHULZE 13 8 R Z5 11  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES SCHULZE 14 9 R Z5 12  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ SCHULZE 15 10   Z5 13  
05-Apr-44 ST. POL-SIRACOURT SCHULZE 16 11 R Z5 14  
08-Apr-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM WELLS 17 8 R Z5 15  
09-Apr-44 TUTOW A/F WATSON 18 ABT R Z5 -- ABORT - COULD NOT FIND FORMATION
10-Apr-44 BOURGES A/F VOGEL 19 10 R Z5 16  
11-Apr-44 OSCHERSLEBEN SCHULZE 20 12 R Z5 17  
18-Apr-44 BRANDENBURG SCHULZE 22 14 R Z5 18  
22-Apr-44 HAMM M/Y WRIGHT 25 2 R Z5 19 SCHULZE CROSSED OUT
24-Apr-44 LEIPHEIM A/F SCHULZE 26 16 R Z5 20  
25-Apr-44 MANNHEIM A/F COMBS 27 FTR R Z5 21 SHOT DOWN ME109s NEAR VITRY, FRA

 ALC Air Crew and Ground Crew


Pictured mid-April 1944, just a few days prior to the loss of ALC.

Standing: Richard Christensen (RO), Matt Davan (N), Don Harrington (B), B.J. Newmark (CP), Gilbert Schulze (P)
Kneeling: Charles Metcalf (BTG), Richard Black (NTG), Herbert Shaffer (WG), Roger Brown (E), William Burk (TG)

(Photo: Tony North)



Ground Crew of ALC, same time frame as the crew photo above


Pete Meyer (Engine Mech), Glenn Mayo, Howard Tibbits (Engine Mech), George Schott (Crew Chief)


(Photo: Geneva Schulze)


April 11, 1944


April 11, 1944 - Admirable Little Character flying in the 2nd element of the lead squadron with #4 engine feathered.  Pilot Gilbert Schulze and crew would go on to bomb the JU88 aircraft factory at Oschersleben, Germany for their 20th mission (17th for ALC).  B-24H-15-FO 42-52441 J3 I  Last Card Louie, a 755BS aircraft, is just off their starboard wing. 

(Click the photo for a closer look.)

(Photo: Geneva Schulze)

ALC Wreckage - Ponthion, France

Caption: "Remains of B-24 near Marne Canal, France"

(Photo: Don Church)


Portion of German KU1639, (translated after the war) regarding the shooting down of ALC.
(Click for larger image)

Disposition

B-24H-15 FO 42-52335        R     Z5 (754)    ADMIRABLE LITTLE CHARACTER
             OD
Original aircraft.
Lost 25 Apr 44 - went down at Ponthion (near St. Dizier), France.
MACR 4342

(Info Courtesy: Tom Brittan)