Monday, August 1, 2011

Supine Sue

Over the last several months I have been doing research on my grandfather’s WWII service and the aircraft he served on, Z Square 42 AKA “Supine Sue”. I don’t have a date on the picture that is posted here, but my grandfather is front row third from the left. I have authored a Wikipedia article on the Supine Sue.
The most interesting thing found was hand made notations in the back of my grandfather’s Operating Manual. He had made hand written notes of each mission flown. I have transcribed those notes and put them in this blog entry.

S/Sgt Donald C. Hetrick #17120349 - Hand written notes found in the back of the B-29 Gunners Information File *Operating Manual for gunners on a B-29*

First 2 memo pages have drawings that appear to be made during gunnery training. On the top of the second page there is a notation. “Mar 24 Nag 6400ft” -- Mission listing does not include information on a mission flown on March 24, 1945.

Hand written notes on 7 pages, note a # assumed to be his mission number presented in roman numerals. There are 36 missions listed, however official records only indicate 35 missions flown by this crew.

Notes are as follows (*transcribed exactly as written*)

I.Nov-11 First mission to Truk Islands 25,000 Ft, moderate flak 3 fighters an several phosphorus bombs. exellent bombing.
II. Nov-24 First Tokyo mission 3 fighters were encountered no flak. Solid undercast did instrument bombing from 33,000 FT. Results unobserved
III. Nov-27 Mission to Tokyo no fighters were seen and no flack solid undercast. instrument bombing 34,000 FT results - unobserved.
IV. Dec-3 Mission to Tokyo saw several fighters and moderate flack visual bombing from 31,500 FT Fair results
V. Dec-13 Mission to Nagoya several fighters made poor attacks moderate and accurate flak. Visual bombing from 32,000 Ft good results.
VI. Dec-18 Mission to Nagoya 31,500 FT weak fighter opposition moderate flak visual bombing with good results.
VII. Jan-19 Mission to Akashi - 27,000 FT a few fighters and moderate flak visual bombing with excellent results
VIII. Jan-25 Mission to Tokyo - single aircraft night weather strike. Encountered approx 100 search lights light flak 27,000 FT unobserved results
IX. Feb-10 Mission to OA 27,000 FT Moderate flak several fighters visual bombing with exellent results
X. Mar-9 Night mission to Tokyo 5000 FT. inst bombing with exl. results. intense earch light directed accurate flak.
XI. Mar-11 Night mission to Nagoya 5600FT search lights + moderate flak instrument bombing with good results.
XII. Mar-13 Night mission to osaka 5400 FT. moderate search lite directed Flak. Instrument bombing good results.
XIII. Mar-16 Night mission to nagoya 5400 FT. Moderate flak + search lights. Instrument bombing good results
XIV. Mar-27 Mission to Oita day light again. 15,000 FT moderate flak and fighters. visual - bombing good results.
XV. Mar-31 Mission to Tachiaria 16,000 FT moderate fighters no flak visual bombing good results.
XVI. Apr-1 Night mission to Tokyo 5000 FT no flak instrument bombing results unobserved.
XVII. Apr-3 Night mission to Tokyo 6800 FT no opposition insturment bombing unobserved results.
XVIII. Apr-7 Mission to Mushishino 15,000 FT intense flak and fighters both were accurate visual bombing fair results
XIX. Apr-12 Mission to Tokyo 15,000 FT. Moderate flak and fighters visual bombing fair results.
XX. Apr-22 Mission to Izumi - 16,000 FT moderate flak + fighters visual bombing exellent results.
XXI. Apr-27 Another mission to Izumi 16,000 meager flak no fighters visual bombing exellent results
XXII. May-5 Mission to Kuri 24,000 FT intense accurate flak no fighters visual bombing exellent results.
XXIII. May-14 Mission to Nagoya 17,000 FT moderate flak and fighters visual bombing good results.
XXIV. May-17 Night mission to Nagoya 9000 FT Moderate flak Inst Bomb good results.
XXV. May-23 Night mission to Tokyo 10,000 FT moderate flak inst bombing exellent results.
XXVI. June-1 Mission to Osaka 19,000 FT moderate flak no fighters visual bombing exellent results
XXVII. June-7 Mission to Osaka 20,000 FT moderate flak no fighters inst bombin results unobserved
XXVIII. June-10 Mission to Hitachi 21,000 FT moderate flak no fighters visual bombing exell results.
XXIX. June-17 Navigational escort for P-47s to Okinawa
XXX. June-19 Night Mission to Fukuoka 9,000 FT No Enemy opposition inst bomb exell results.
XXXI. June-26 Night Photo recon mission to Kumumoto + Nagasaki 10,000 FT to 18,000 Ft no opposition
XXXII. July-1 Night mission to Kumumoto 10,000 FT No opposition inst bomb good results
XXXIII. July-3 Night mission to Kochi 10,000 FT no opposition inst bomb good results.
XXXIV. July-9 Night mission to Sakai 10,400 moderate opposition inst bombing with good results.
XXXV. July-19 Night mission to Hathachi 12,000 FT no enemy opposition inst bombing good results.
XXXVI. July-25 Night Photo recon mission 15,000 to the empire for my last time no opposition. END *Additional Note in Blue ink* THIS MAPPED HIROSHIMA

*July 25 recon mission was 11 days prior to the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima, assumption was this was in preparation of that bombing.


John said...

Thanks for writing this. My dad, Alvah Willis, was flight engineer on Supine Sue.

JD said...

Very interesting; my Uncle, Sam B Durham jr., was in the 878th as an A/C. He was later assistant to William H. Blanchard (Lemay's Operations Chief), helping plan the missions.

Unknown said...

My grandfather is front row, second from the left. His name is Robert Wetter. He's told me stories of that time but nothing like what is posted above. It's pretty amazing stuff!

John Trier said...

I have 3 photographs of Supine Sue taken by my dad Paul J. Trier who was one of the doctors on Saipan. I would forward them if desired. Contact me on FaceBook. John Trier

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this. My dad Linas Dietz was the tail gunner on Supine Sue. He is in the front row on the right end.
Ron Dietz

Unknown said...

My Dad, Joe Dell'Ario, is the flight engineer, 3d from the left, back row. He would tell us of the decision by MG Curtis LeMay to eschew the high-altitude bombing for low runs of saturation bombing. Malcom Gladwell has just released an audio book called the Bomber Mafia which details the efforts of our fathers and grandfather. Thanks for doing this. ~Chuck Dell'Ario

Unknown said...

Peter Famiglio

My father was their bomb/navigator George Famiglio, standing second from the right. he would not talk much about the war other then he truly love his crew and smiled when mentioning any of the above names.

He had a large piece of flack on his office desk and one day as a teenager I asked dad what is this.....he just replied 6 inches closer and we would not be having this conversation. That put things in perspective.

Next month flying in his seat on the last remaining flying B-29 FIFI Reading Pa air show. which prompted this search. So proud he was my Dad.

Unknown said...

Peter, my dad was Joe Dell'Ario, flight engineer before Wills (above), also in the back row with the cap pulled down. You can spot the Italian guys right away! He and my mother exchanged Christmas cards with your folks for many years. If I recall, your dad was a successful plaintiffs' lawyer in Philadelphia. I'm an appellate specialist here in San Francisco. I rode in FIFI a few years ago when it came to Napa, CA where I live. It was quite a trip. Best to you and your family. Those guys were the best.
~Charles Dell'Ario

Unknown said...

PS - to my last comment. Everyone on this feed should read "Bomber Mafia" by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell tells the story of the Norden bombsight and how they couldn't use it effectively on the B-29 (Famiglio would have known!). He also describes the incendiary raid on Tokyo 9 March 1945 in which Supine Sue participated. The picture was taken just days later on 15 March, according to my dad's inscription on the back.

"Kim" said...

My grandfather was the Line Chief on the Supine Sue.