photo: John F. Heyn Collection
90th Squadron’s Mitchell after the emergency landing at Dobodura base in New Guinea.
He calculated that point and requested
the flying boat pickup. General Kenney
of course disproved such an antic. Pappy
did not give up and proposed to fly alone
after removing both the dorsal and rear
gun turrets and instead of the bomb load
keeping only the full incendiary ammunition load for the gun machines.
Thanks to saved weight he would attach
two three hundred gallon drop tanks
under the wings so he would have sufficient fuel for the return flight as well.
end General had to assign him to another
task in Australia just to get rid of him.
“Pappy, from the maintenance unit in
Australia I want you to recruit a special
detachment of some fifty men who can
do anything. They had to be able to shoot,
dig the trenches, build improvised shelters, install steel plates for runways, repair aircraft, engines, live in the wild and
fight even with fists or stones.” On the
12th, eight days before the landings, two
C-47 landed at Hollandia where Kenney’s
heavily damaged by bombing and too
small for the number of aircraft Kenney
wished to allocate there. Pappy’s landing craft was rocking on the mild waves.
Hundreds of ships, boats and vessels of
all sizes around him. It was a force never seen before, a mind-boggling effort
of the massive war economy of a country
with such industrial might which mankind has not experienced before. Instead
of thousands of kilometers he was separated from Polly and kids just by several
“He almost cried when I refused this plan
as well. I tried to explain to him that for
these planned operations I could not
afford to spare a single B-25 for the time
necessary for all these modifications”
recalled General Kenney. Ultimately, he
had to reject Pappy’s third idea in which
he counted on a clandestine landing in the
Philippines, organizing a small army with
which, thanks to his terrain knowledge,
would give the Japanese hell by attacking
from the rear during the landing. Gunn’s
effort to return to the Philippines as soon
as possible was understood and at the
headquarters was, and fifty armed rough
men disembarked with backpacks full of
tools and spare parts. “These are the men
you wanted, General. What now?” asked
Gunn. Their task was to start establishing
the airbase right after the landing. And
so Pappy and his men were transferred
under the command of Col. David Hutchinson, the Air Task Force commander.
On October 20, after a thorough shelling
and bombing, four American divisions
landed near Tacloban and in Dulag twenty
miles further south. There were airfields
used by the Japanese in both areas but
Pappy proposed to fly alone after removing both the dorsal and rear
gun turrets and instead of the bomb load keeping only the full incendiary ammunition load for the gun machines. Thanks to saved weight
he would attach two three hundred gallon drop tanks under the wings
so he would have sufficient fuel for the return flight as well.
General George Churchill Kenney, one of the architects of the “Skip Bombing” method.