458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

B-24H-20-FO 42-94946 7V R  The Cat's (Ass)


This aircraft was an early replacement to bolster the group's compliment after losing 22 Liberators in March and April 1944. Arriving in either late April or early May, it was assigned to the 752nd Squadron (7V) and several crews flew her over the Continent.  It seems that Crew 18 (pilot 1Lt James E. Nedrow) claimed this as "their ship", as photos show the name "Barney" under the co-pilot's window and "Sutters" under the right waist window for 2Lt Bernard O. Wilson (CP) and T/Sgt Elmer J. Sutters (E) respectively.  The nose art depicted a cat standing on a fence with it's tail high, looking at the moon.  While named, "The Cat's", the "Ass" part may or may not have been implied, although the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR 5388) refers to
the plane as "the 'Cat's Ass'".  Crew 18 flew "The Cat's (Ass)" on six missions, including an abortive attempt on May 19th and on its last on May 27th when they landed in Switzerland and were interned.

MACR 5388
1. B-24 the "Cat's Ass" picture on plane went to Switzerland at 1231, no visual damage, vicinity of 4810-0450 (Longchamp, France).
2. Nedrow left formation near Straburg headed for Switzerland.  #4 feathered, had four fighters escorting him.
3. #946 headed for Switzerland at (4808-0418) 1 engine feathered and four P-51s.
4. One B-24 thought to be Nedrow, seen to head toward Switzerland 1317.  Just before target.

Profile Courtesy: Mark Styling

Missions

TheCatsAss-Missions
Date Target Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn RCL Sqdn A/C Msn Comments
05-May-44 SOTTEVAST NYMAN 35 14 R 7V 1  
08-May-44 BRUNSWICK NEDROW 37 15 R 7V 2  
11-May-44 EPINAL ZIMMERMAN  39 14 R 7V 3  
12-May-44 BOHLEN NEDROW 40 16 R 7V 4  
13-May-44 TUTOW A/F NEDROW 41 17 R 7V 5  
19-May-44 BRUNSWICK NEDROW 42 ABT R 7V -- ABORT - OXY LEAK BALL TURRET
20-May-44 RHEIMS A/D NEDROW 43 18 R 7V 6  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y THOMPSON 47 ABT R 7V -- ABORT - CO-PILOT BECAME ILL
27-May-44 NEUNKIRCHEN NEDROW 48 FTR R 7V 7 LAND IN SWITZERLAND - CREW 18 

May 27, 1944 - T/Sgt Elmer J. Sutters

May 27, 1944 was like any other day.  Up at 2:30 AM, breakfast at 4:00AM. Briefing, loading guns, checking plane, getting instructions for takeoff about 8:00 AM. Had some trouble with #2 engine, but it finally straightened out so we took off on schedule.

Most of us felt uneasy, tired, listless, but once in the air this perked up.  We were late getting assembled over England and that day we were flying Purple Heart Corner with a new crew
on our right. Half way to target, #2 engine began to run rough and heat up, but we kept going, but started to drop back losing air speed. As we approached the target, we had to feather #2 engine to keep [from increasing] the load on the other engines putting them under strain.  So we pulled out of formation. To make it back to England on three engines was too far and #4 engine began to show the results of strain.  We were in trouble with flak and the possibility of fighters.

The pilot made the decision to go to Switzerland, which was about ½ hour away.  We picked up fighter escort for protection.  Five minutes later, the co-pilot, who was my best friend, showed up in the back of the plane, told me to go forward [and] help the pilot and then bailed out! He looked funny with glazed eyes and upset, but no explanation.  Something had happened and I had no idea what!  I made my way to the cockpit and climbed into the co-pilot’s seat, the pilot looked like he had lost it, and was flying on instinct only.  We were losing altitude, I got him out of his dilemma – don’t ask how, it wasn’t nice, and we got together and babied #4 for what it was worth.

By this time we were close to Switzerland.  The P-51’s left us and two Me-109 German-Swiss planes approached us and took us to the nearest airfield.  By this time #4 was running on luck. We lined up on the runway at a place called Payerne. It only had a 3000’ runway and our minimum was 5000’.  So [as] soon as we hit, we both cut engines, #4 was shot, lower the flaps and jumped on the brakes, which caused them to overheat, but we stopped at the end of the runway.

By the time we had stopped, we were surrounded by guards in German uniforms, speaking German, but the Swiss Army.  They took us by force, using machine guns, bayonets and guard dogs, plied us in a truck and took us to a building where we were searched, finger-printed, photos taken, and stuck in a room with just one door.  Soon, two Swiss officers came in, speaking English with German accents [and] tried to find out where we were from, etc. They wanted to know why we had only nine men aboard. This presented a problem with no solution.

Later, they came and informed us the co-pilot had been captured by the Germans and accused us of being a spy plane.  They knew more about us than we did ourselves. They kept us overnight and next day, under guard, took us to an international prison in Olton, Switzerland.

"The Cat's (Ass)" in Switzerland


Notice No. 4 engine is feathered


"Sutters" painted under the waist window


Disposition

B-24H-20 FO 42-94946        R     7V (752)    THE CAT'S ASS
                                       OD                     THE CAT'S
Name changed from THE CAT'S ASS to THE CAT'S.
Lost 27 May 44 - # 4 engine had to be feathered and # 3 engine malfunctioned - landed at Payerne, Vaud canton, SWITZERLAND. (Neunkirchen)
Was moved to Dübendorf, Zürich canton, for internment.
Flown back to BAD 1, Burtonwood, Lancashire, on 8 Oct 45.
MACR 5388