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Heavens Above Crew

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Pilot Notes
I should warn you not to expect good photography in any case. When we were in Manduria, my wife purchased a used 16mm movie camera & projector and sent the camera to me along with some tapes. I had little experience with any camera and none with movie cameras. Our gunners took most of the ariel tape and they were equally inexperienced. There was no instructions with the camera and I could not send the tapes in for development to see the results, because the censor would have confiscated them. Therefore, I accumulated them and brought them home with me when we came back to the US.

After years of use and abuse by my family, Pete took the tapes to a laboratory where they added information and music to put together the tape we have now. It was very poor photography to begin with and the tapes have experienced some deterioration in the 26 years since they were made.

I hope the quality will not affect the memories.

Pete copied the tape to DVD.

Charles Herrington

About The Film

Scenes of Manduria. Note, there were no motorized vehicles except our military. The Germans had confiscated the Italian vehicles for their retreat to north Italy. On our visit in 2001, cars were so plentiful it was very difficult to find a parking place in the area around the park.

A bit of horseplay on the skeet range and in the launch house.

The four Officers shared the tent that is shown. We built it with cigarettes, i.e. we traded cigarettes for the cement floor and the hand hewn limestone blocks for the side walls and the labor to build it.

That's me in the Link Trainer for practice flying on instruments (no outside visibility).

The Sq Commander and the Sq mascot.

Pre-flighting the airplane and some of the maintenance crew.

Loading into the truck after the landing from the mission.

Pre-flighting for another mission.

Entering the bomb bay to start the engines. The pilots, navigator, bombardier and engineer/top gunner had to enter through the bomb bay. The radio and other gunners entered through a camera hatch in the aft section of the B-24.

Starting engines. The engines were numbered from the left side 1 & 2, on the right, 3 & 4. We started #3 first, then 4,2, and 1.

Taxiing to the takeoff position. Taxiways were crushed limestone base and created some dust when taxiing.

Takeoff at approx 30 second intervals. Actually we were in position holding the brakes until the previous aircraft lifted off, then we were rolling down the runway.

Our crew toured the allied held part of Italy. We flew around the rim of the volcano on Mt. Vesuvius. The rubble & standing walls were the remains of the monastery on Mt Cassino. The Germans had been using the site to direct artillery fire during the advance from Anzio Beach and US bombers destroyed it.

Scenes of formations and bombing with a few bursts of anti-aircraft fire from the Germans.

Playing around in formation. Our Sq Commander liked close formation and we tried to show him we could do it well. It was all business on the way to the target, but on the way home, we got a little closer. One time we were less than ten feet below with him in the lead airplane.

Returning from the mission and peeling out of the formation for landing. We flew over the runway in formation, then, one at a time we left the formation and entered the landing pattern. The goal was 30 seconds between aircraft, but they were seldom that far apart. Notice the good landings, not a bounce in the bunch.

I had a second promotion in the process and elected to delay my last mission to be sure the promotion came through before leaving the 15th AF. Another pilot flew with the crew in order to avoid delaying their return home. I met the crew with a bottle of Old Methuselah whiskey that I had been saving. They passed it down the line for everyone to take a drink.

The Officers threw a party for the crew in our tent. I was a bit of a tea totaler, so I know everyone enjoyed the party. Miller passed out. So Pete & AI staggered all over as they carried him home.

Movies courtesy of Charles Herrington, 720th Squadron

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