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Old Able's Story
Old Able, the Plane with Personality
(Click on any thumbnail to see a larger picture. All pictures are set to open in a new window. To return here, just close the window you're in.)

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 background.
Old Able
"Old Able"

Versatile Lady
"Versatile Lady"
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 nose.

Able, ca. 1952
"Able ca. 1952"
Able's Nose
"Able's Nose"

"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 DFC
"Able receives the DFC from Tony Curto"

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