Old Able, the Plane with Personality
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|The only airplane I knew with a history and a personality was
called "Old Able". At first I thought I was the only one to call
her that but later I learned that nearly everyone called her "Old
Able" - except for the people who called her "patches," of which
she had many. The Air Force called her #44-34287.
In August 1951 "Old Able" had been a beautiful gloss black airplane,
with red trim on the wing and tail tips, prop lines, and ID specification
|Some really fine artist had painted a picture of a bare bosomed
beauty on the left side of her nose and named her "Versatile Lady."
|When I knew her in 1952 she was a faded, grey black, except for
the rudder which was silver. No one ever got around to painting
it black after it was last changed from battle damage. The exhaust
pattern had made heavy streaks along both engine nacellels.
The Grim Reaper insignia on the right side of the nose was different
than newer planes. It was a simpler emblem of Oscar on a blue
field striding into action with his scythe at the ready, and was
evidently the logo left over from WWII. Most of the insignia on
the 13th planes of the '52 era had a white background with Oscar
on a blue field, with Oscar's white skeleton, mostly upright,
holding a brown handled scythe with a dripping red blade.
There were lots of PR pictures taken by the right side of Able's
"Able ca. 1952"
|"Old Able" carried a lot of weight. I remember her with six 500
pounders in the belly, one 500 pounder between the fuselage and
each engine nacelle, two 250s outboard of the engines and further
outboard two 100 pound firebombs.
"Old Able" was the subject of a ceremony on June 28, 1951. Capt.
Tony Curto, Operations Officer, awarded her a Distinguished Flying
Cross and served up a cake for 203 missions during the first year
of the war. Able was one of 12 planes on the first bombing mission
on June 28, 1950. The 13th lost three planes that day: one off
the runway at Suwon, one into the harbor on the return to Ashiya
and the other so badly damaged it was scrapped.
"Able receives the DFC from Tony Curto"