Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bolos over the Bay

I'm not sure why, but I find this old Army Air Corps 8x10 glossy of six Douglas B-18 Bolos over San Francisco's Bay Bridge to be quite remarkable.

While there are six Bolos that can be seen, there are shadows of 19 down on the water! That must have been quite a sight as seen from the ground, the sound of all those radials reverberating through the city below. The planes belong to the 88th Reconnaisance Squadron, which was part of the 7th Bombardment Group, based at Hamilton Airfield, near Novato, Californa.

Surprisingly, the piers right below the bridge still exist today!

The photo isn't dated, but does have a stamp on the reverse indicating that it was shot by the 45th Air Base Group Photographic Section. The 45th ABG was activated on 25 August 1940, so that could be considered the earliest date possible. The 88th RS moved, along with the rest of the 7th Bombardment Group, to Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, UT on 7 September, 1940, so theoretically there was only roughly a two-week period when this shot could have been taken. Given the mass formation, it's entirely possible that this was the squadron's "farewell" flight over The City. The B-18s didn't have much time left with the 88th, as the squadron was in the midst of transitioning to the B-17, and some of the 88ths B-17s were among those which arrived over Pearl Harbor - quite likely flown by some of the crews on that fateful 7th of December. Because they were recon aircraft, and thus not armed, the Japanese made mince meat out of them.

Wikimedia Commons hosts the photo on the right,which appears to have been taken on the same flight. Since tail number 24 appears in both photos, but the lead plane in the photo above is 67 while the one on the right is 65, it's possible that both 65 and 67 had photographers onboard and they took turns swapping places in the formation.

No comments:

Post a Comment