12 June 2009

The Final Mission of 42-41152

On 23 Jan 1945 B-24D 42-41152 departed from the airfield at Shemya, Alaska along with three other B-24s. The other aircraft were B-24L 44-49474 (Lt. Corbin U. Terry), B-24D 42-40998 (Lt. Richard J. Korpanty) and B-24L 44-49807 (Lt. Charles A. Weniger), they left beginning at 1009 in the above order with 42-41152 being second in the formation.
The mission was to photograph Suribachi and Kakumabetsu airfields on Paramushiro Island, and the Paramushiro Straits. They were also to bomb any targets of opportunity. After about 4 and a half hours the flight arrived over Paramushiro. Lt. Talbot and Lt. Weniger were able to drop their bombs near the Kakumabetsu cannery, the other 2 bombers had problems with the bombs hanging up in their shackles. At 1510 the bombers were intercepted by 8 to 10 Japanese fighters, most of the fighters were Navy Mitsubishi A6M "Zeros," with some Army Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscars" and Nakajima Ki-44 "Tojos." One of Lt. Weniger's waist gunners claimed to have shot down a Zero, one of Lt. Terry's waist gunners claimed another Zero and his top turret gunner downed an Oscar. During the attack Lt. Talbot's bomber was shot down, Missing Air Crew Report 11780 provides the following description of the loss of 42-41152.
"While the formation was crossing northern Shumushu, members of Lt. Weniger’s crew reported a silver colored enemy fighter attacking Lt. Talbot’s plane from below at 12 o’clock. A red flash was observed to come from the front of the fighter’s fuselage. The fighter attacked aggressively, pressing home to a near collision range and breaking away from below Lt. Talbot in a chandelle. Immediately a red flash was emitted from Lt. Talbot’s No. 2 Engine [left inboard]. It appeared to be momentarily extinguished but again caught on fire. Flames shot out of the bomb bay and waist window as Lt. Talbot left the formation in a diving left turn, followed shortly by a turn to the right, apparently in an attempt to get to Cape Lopatka. The left waist gunner was observed to be sprawled over his gun. An explosion appeared to tear off the left wing with the B-24 falling into a spin. Approximately 2000 feet lower a second explosion occurred, with the plane disintegrating.This happened about 1532(N), over the Shumushu Straits, just off the northeast coast of Shumushu. It was estimated that the plane had been at about 15,000 feet at the time of the second explosion. Three parachutes were seen to open. Three crew members were evidently blown clear of the wreckage, but it is not known whether they opened the chutes themselves or whether it was the result of the explosion. At the time the stricken plane left the formation, four fighters continued to attack it. When the three chutes were seen to open they were continually circled by three of these fighters until they were last observed close to the water. Returning crew members could not state whether or not the fighters were strafing the descending parachutes. The last observed position of these three parachutes was just about midway between Cape Lopatka and Kokutan-Saki.” The remaining three bombers returned safely to Shemya.

The aircrew for the fateful 23 January 1945 mission were:
2nd Lieutenant Charles Nicoll Talbot, Jr. – Pilot
2nd Lieutenant Verdie Ewen Smith – Co-pilot
2nd Lieutenant Herman Asa Welch – Navigator
2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Edwin Young – Bombardier
Sergeant Rodney Richard Schubring – Flight Engineer/Gunner
Sergeant Jackson E. Brown – Assistant Flight Engineer/Gunner
Sergeant Anthony Pearson Bedell – Radio Operator/Gunner
Sergeant James Edward Neal – Assistant Radio Operator/Gunner
Sergeant Solomon Pollack – Armorer/Gunner
Sergeant Cloyd Roger Kunkel – Gunner
Sergeant Jack Terry Hefley – Photographer
Corporal Norris Dean Chaney – Radar Observer
United States Army Air Forces. Missing Air Crew Report 11780. All references to Japanese place names have been standardized to the correct modern spelling.
Cloe, John Haile. Kurile Islands Operations August 1943-December 1945. Unpublished manuscript from the Elmendorf Air Force Base History Office.


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful information. - Peter J. Talbot (cousin of Charles N. Talbot)

  2. My father, Staff Sgt Bernard McDermott, passed away last May. He was assigned to the 404th as a flight engineer, who flew with several crews. After his death, his service diary turned up. Our family was moved by his mission entries. He normally added the tail no. of the ship he flew with, but not this day. Here is the post mission observations of a 21 YO from Chicago:

    We went down to Matsuwa to locate there (sic) radar stations + find ther (sic) frequency. 6 more bombers were sent to bomb Katoka. Were intercepted 40mi from the target. Talbot was seen going down in flames None of the crew got out. Three Japs were shot down. 4 probables. We heard all this over radio while we were down at Matsuwa. We were lucky again. (flight) Time 11hrs 30 min

  3. I hadn't looked at my dad's 404th combat misson diary since early last summer, just after I lost him. We were best friends - I was blessed to have him so long. Here is his diary entry on his last mission:
    June 6, 1945 Last mission today. We flew weather reconnisance for the fleet. Went down to Matsuwa. Overcast all the way. Wenegar was with us. The boss told us we were done flying. Oh happy day.
    Time 11hrs 30min Ship-807 Alt 3000 to 50

    I hope to have his scanned diary and pix up on the web soon. As well as video I shot when I surprised him with a B-24 ride in the Collins Foundation B-24 in 2006.

  4. My uncle, James E. Neal, was lost on this mission. For years our family didn't know the details, only that he was MIA. The mothers of the lost crew members wrote each other hoping that someone might have gotten word as to whether anyone was alive. I have the gold star to treasure his memory that was given to my grandmother.