458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

B-24J-100-CO 42-100408 J4 D  Lady Luck / The Beast


Pictured at Horsham St Faith mid-June 1944

This Liberator had quite the career with the 458th.  An original aircraft, it was flown on the  February 24th and 25th, 1944  diversionary missions in support of "Big Week"; and on the group's 239th mission (second to last) on April 20, 1945 to Zwiesel, Germany.  This ship remained in the 753rd Squadron for its entire career, amassing a total of 54 credited sorties. A former group lead aircraft, it was relegated to a "wing" ship in June 1944.  This ship also took part on six AZON missions flown by the 753rd Squadron in the summer of 1944.

There are several gaps in the Liberator's mission dates that may explain the relatively low mission count.  Between June 22 and July 20 no missions are recorded.  There is evidence that an emergency landing took place at Horsham on June 23rd and may be the reason for this. Former 458th radio operator
Walter Fifer (Crew 21), who had been transferred to the 93BG in May, made the following entry in his daily journal: "June 23 & 24- Sack time. Our old ship Lady Luck was shot up & crash landed at our old base. Our squadron has been stood down for a few days to get the ships back in condition".  Records for this particular incident are currently not available.  The second, and much longer period between combat flights came in mid-October 1944, when the last recorded mission was on the 19th to Mainz, Germany.  The next time #408 appears on records is January 29, 1945.  The reason for this three month hiatus is unknown.

Exactly when Lady Luck became The Beast (or, as some called it, Beastface), and the artwork changed is unknown.  Perhaps during one of the long spells of apparent inactivity, someone decided to spice up the nose a bit.

Missions

Missions-LadyLuck-TheBeast
Date Target Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot Ld RCL Sqdn A/C Msn Comments
24-Feb-44 DIVERSION - DUTCH COAST CLARK D1 -- O'NEILL D1 -- J4 D1 Diversion Mission
25-Feb-44 DUTCH COAST CLARK D2 -- ISBELL L2 -- J4 D2 Diversion Mission
02-Mar-44 FRANKFURT CLARK 1 1 BOGUSCH D2 D J4 1  
03-Mar-44 BERLIN TOOMAN 2 1 O'NEILL L2 -- J4 2  
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC CLARK 3 2     D J4 3  
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN CLARK 8 ABT O'NEILL D1 D J4 -- ABORT - WINGS ICED OVER, 2 TO's CNFF
18-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN CLARK 9 ABT HENSLER L2 D J4 -- ABORT - GAS LEAK IN HTR
22-Mar-44 BERLIN GOLDSMITH 11 ABT     D J4 -- ABORT - A/C SLOW TO CLIMB
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER WATSON 13 5     D J4 4  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES CLARK 14 5 O'NEILL L1 D J4 5 FIFER LOG - O'NEILL CMD P
08-Apr-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM CLARK 17 6 O'NEILL L2 D J4 6  
09-Apr-44 TUTOW A/F SCHUMAN 18 9     D J4 7  
19-Apr-44 PADERBORN A/F CLARK 23 NTO CHAMBERLAIN D1 D J4 -- NO TAKE OFF - STARTER SHAFT
29-Apr-44 BERLIN ROBESON 31 21     D J4 8  
01-May-44 MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES CLARK 32 12     D J4 9  
01-May-44 LIEGE M/Y WOODWARD 33 15 HOGG L1 D J4 10 SAWYER - LEAD NAV
04-May-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM CLARK 34 13 HENSON L2 D J4 11  
07-May-44 OSNABRUCK CLARK 36 14 FREEMAN L D J4 12 MALONEY (LEAD NAV?)
08-May-44 BRUNSWICK CLARK 37 15     D J4 13  
09-May-44 ST. TROND CLARK 38 16 HENSLER L D J4 14 THOMPSON (LEAD NAV?)
12-May-44 BOHLEN CLARK 40 17 MOORE L D J4 15  
19-May-44 BRUNSWICK ANDREW 42 17     D J4 16  
08-Jun-44 UNSPECIFIED TARGETS ANDREW AZ04 --     D J4 -- ABANDONED - WEATHER
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS ANDREW AZ06 19     D J4 17  AZON MISSION
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES GRIFFITH AZ07 4     D J4 18  AZON MISSION
22-Jun-44 Saumer, Tours - Tact Bridges JONES, J AZ09 6     D J4 19  AZON MISSION
20-Jul-44 EISENACH ANDREW 95 22     D J4 20  
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA THOMPSON 97 25     D J4 21  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" SULLIVAN, E 98 5     D J4 22  
31-Jul-44 LUDWIGSHAFEN GIBNEY 99 1     D J4 23  
08-Aug-44 CLASTRES ANDREW 108 29     D J4 24  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN ANDREW 109 30     D J4 25  
16-Aug-44 MAGDEBURG MORRIS, F 115 4     D J4 26  
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETHERLANDS MATZE AZ12 16     D J4 27 AZON MISSION - SMITH, AL (Pltg Nav)
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOLLAND McCARTHY AZ14 24     D J4 28  AZON MISSION
25-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE DANE TR08-1 --     D J4 T1 CARGO FLIGHT
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG KLEIN 130 8     D J4 29  
19-Oct-44 MAINZ EIDELSBERG 136 2     D J4 30  
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER SEALY 175 18     I J4 31  
31-Jan-45 BRUNSWICK McCORMICK 176 23     I J4 32 RECALL - SORTIE CREDIT
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG WILBURN 177 8     I J4 33  
06-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG WILBURN 178 9     I J4 34  
08-Feb-45 RHEINE M/Y, OSNABRUCK SHANNON REC --     I J4 -- RECALL - WEATHER
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG SHANNON 179 9     I J4 35  
11-Feb-45 DULMEN McCORMICK 180 25     I J4 36 REPLACED 287
11-Feb-45 DULMEN WILBURN 180 10     I J4 37  
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG SEALY 182 19     I J4 38  
16-Feb-45 OSNABRUCK SEALY 183 20     I J4 39  
20-Feb-45 NUREMBURG TANK FACT SEALY REC --     I J4 -- RECALL - WEATHER
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG SEALY 185 21     I J4 40  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM SEALY 186 22     I J4 41  
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH HOEY 187 23     I J4 42  
24-Feb-45 BIELEFELD SEALY 188 23     I J4 43  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL HOOD 189 26     I J4 44  
26-Feb-45 BERLIN SEALY 190 24     I J4 45 GROUP 200TH MISSION
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART SEALY 196 28     I J4 46  
05-Mar-45 HARBURG HARTSWICK 197 9     I J4 47  
07-Mar-45 SOEST EIDELSBERG 198 21     I J4 48  
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK SEALY 200 29     I J4 49  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG McCOY 201 11     I J4 50 REPLACED 285
12-Mar-45 FRIEDBURG SEALY 202 30     I J4 51  
14-Mar-45 HOLZWICKEDE HARTSWICK 203 ACC     I J4 -- DAMAGED IN GRND EXPLOSION
29-Mar-45 Non-Operational Mission Gardner -- ACC     I J4 -- TAXI ACCIDENT - AAF123
14-Apr-45 POINTE DE GRAVE BROWN, R 225 18     I J4 52  
16-Apr-45 LANDSHUT BROWN, R 227 19     I J4 53  
19-Apr-45 ZWIESEL PELTON SCR --     I J4 -- SCRUBBED
20-Apr-45 ZWIESEL PELTON 229 12     I J4 54

Lady Luck

LEFT: Lieutenant's Lloyd Andrew and Frank Rizzo of Crew 36RIGHT Lt Robert Maloney (B - Crew 36) and Capt Leland Griffith, 753BS Ops Officer
 
Members of the Morford Crew with Lady Luck.  Notice "pinup girl" is a cutout and not painted on.

Standing: Charles Ailett, George Strand, Robert Vincent, Robert Morford, John Butler
Kneeling: Unknown, Joseph Kania, Charlie Fowler, Unknown, Unknown
 
On the other side of the aircraft - same day.  Notice the shadow from the "pinup girl".

Standing: Robert Morford, Robert Vincent, John Butler, George Strand, Joseph Kania
Kneeling, 3rd from left: Charlie Fowler, Far right: Charles Aillett

The Beast


Profile: Mike Bailey

 
LEFT: Rare color photo with an unknown airman;   RIGHT: S/Sgt Herman H. Hetzel, Photographic Section NCO
 

February 26, 1945 - The Beast at the head of the line for the group's 200th mission


February 26, 1945 - Notice the caravan at left in the far background
 
June 1945 - Ferry crew ready to leave for the States
(Click image for a closer look)

Disposition

B-24J-100 CO 42-100408     D     J4 (753)    LADY LUCK
             OD                        I      J4 (753)    THE BEAST (nose painted to resemble a beast’s head)
Lead aircraft.
Radio call letter changed from D to I between 5 Nov 44 & 16 Jan 45.
On 14 Mar 44 at Horsham St. Faith, a waist gunner preparing for a mission on board 42-50555, failed to check for ammunition in his gun before pulling the trigger. Several rounds went off which ricocheted into the bomb bay and left wing tank of 44-40118, igniting an incendiary bomb and gas tanks. This set 44-40118 afire, exploding the bomb load which completely destroyed the aircraft. It also caused major damage to 44-40273, 44-40285, 44-40287, 42-100408, 42-50555 and 44-10602 and minor damage to 42-110141, 44-40277 and 42-50912. The damage to this aircraft was repaired at Horsham St Faith 14 Mar 45 by 469th Sub Depot..
RZI.

Gallery